The man who was No. 16

The Man Who Was No. 16 | Partner in Crime | A Tommy & Tuppence Mystery | Agatha Christie

Mr. Carter and an unknown enemy

Mr. Carter commends the Beresfords in their success in solving many mysteries and crimes, but warns them that Moscow has grown suspicious at the failure of their agents to report and they might investigate the matter. Mr. Carter suspects that a special agent has been dispatched from Moscow, a ubiquitous fellow, his real name unknown, could arrive with any assumed name, Russian by birth, an accomplished linguist, master of disguise, who had given them trouble during the war, a brainy person who devised the No. 16 code.

Mr. Carter is certain that this person will surely cometo the office, probably on pretect of some case. Not acquainted with the real Mr. Theodore Blunt, he might test Beresfords with passwords. He reviews the two known passwords with Beresfords. Not taking any chance, as the man they seek, might be more astute than they assume, Carter gets a Dictaphone installed in their office to keep all the onversations in scrutiny, for safety of Beresfords.

Tommy & Tuppence arrive at the agency

When Beresfords arrive at the agency, they see to many leaves torn off the calender. When they inquire, they find out that Albert only tore two leaves, the rest probably removed by a client, a hospital nurse who arrived in their absence. Albert asked her to wait in “Clerks” as it was warmer. Tommy deduced that from”Clerks” she must have reached his office escaping Albert’s eyes, and torn off the calender leaves.

Prince Vladiroffsky arrives

After a while, a client that goes by the name Prince Vladiroffsky is shown in and tests the codes shared with Beresfords by Carter. Tommy tells him that a treachery is afoot. Vladiroffsky assumes Tuppence as Marice, and asks her to accompany him to the Blitz and lunch with him there. He asks Tommy to meet him at the headquarters at three o’clock. Tommy agrees, despite not knowing headquarter location. Tommy immediately connect with Carter who reassures him and asks to come at the Blitz.

Blitz trap

By the time Tommy arrives at Blitz, Carter had already planted his men there to keep an eye on prince and Tuppence. Hidden from view, they watch Tuppence and prince reach the lift to go go to prince’s booked suite. Carter assures Tommy that his man is already present in the suite. Later they find out that prince took Tuppence to third floor instead of second. They hurry to the third floor, where Carter’s man already present, informs them that prince and Tuppence went to suite No. 318. He further adds that there is no chance of them leaving the place as there are only two door from the suite into the corridor and they need to pass through them to exit the place.

On inquiring, they find that Mrs Cotlandt Van Snyder of Detroit booked that suite. Sensing something fishy , Carter gets the master key and enter the suite, joined now by Evans and Clydesly. Inside the suite, in the bedroom they find a gagged, tied, middle-aged woman. They untie, ungag her, but there is no sign of the prince or Tuppence. The woman informs them that a man sprung on her from behind and broke a little glass bottle(of ethyl chloride) under her nose, when she got back to her sense she was tied and gagged. According to the woman, the man went out with a seemingly limp woman through the door on the opposite wall.

They find the door in question is double door and bolted on either side. Carter discovers that the door is bolted on their side. Thus, if woman’s statement is true, the only possibility is that someone bolted the door after they left.

Carter begins to explore other possibilities. Tommy while scrutinizing the door, finds that the bolt has been filed through. It was done so close to the socket that the join was hardly perceptible when they earlier checked, and the door did not open because it was locked on the other side. They immediately reach the adjoining suite and find the bolt filed and door locked there, with no signs of Tuppence or Russian.

Disappearance Theory

Inquiry regarding the other suite ensures, and they find that it was occupied by a French invalid M. Paul de Vareze. A hospital nurse also stayed with him. A secret service man, planted as waiter soon realises that an ivalid boy and a nurse passed him in the passage, he did not watch her face since they crossed him multiple times over the past few days. Carter deduces that Tuppence was doped and Russian disguised as nurse to escape They counting on the faces not getting checked. Tuppence clothes, discovered by Tommy from under the bed, and a hypodermic needle confirming doping further cement the theory.

Disappearance Fact

Tommy is distraught and on the verge of giving up when Albert reminds him of his resourcefulness and presses him to revisit the series of events. While going through the timeline of events, an idea strikes Tommy and he rushes back to the Blitz. He accompanies by one of Carter’s men return to Mrs. Van Snyder’s room. They find Tuppence under the bolster on the bed.

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