Tommy takes Tuppence to lunch at an ABC shop where he decides to mimic the tastes and habits of the Old Man in the Corner with Tuppence playing the part of Polly Burton. To test his abilities as this detective, he has brought along a cutting from a newspaper on the recent case known as the Sunnigdale Mystery
A Mysterious Woman
Captain Anthony Sessle and Mr Hollaby, business partners and members of Sunnigdale Golf Club, played a full round of golf on the course on a Wednesday and then decided to play a few more holes before it became dark. As they approached the tee on the seventh hole, Hollaby saw Sessle talking to a mysterious woman in a brown coat. They went off, talking, down a side path, and after a moment Sessle reappeared. Something had upset him for his game fell apart and two holes later Sessle gave up and walked off alone, presumably to his bungalow home. The existence of the woman in brown, Sessle’s temporary departure with her, and his subsequent poor game were witnessed by two other members who were behind them on the course.
Doris Evans story
The next morning, Sessle was found dead on the seventh tee, stabbed with a hatpin through the heart. The police found forensic evidence on the man that led them to trace a young woman called Doris Evans. She was arrested and told a story of meeting Sessle at a cinema. He invited her to his bungalow on a day when, as she learned later, his wife and servants would be away. On the day in question, the man met her as he arrived home from the golf course. He behaved strangely and then, suggesting a stroll, he took her to the golf course. On the seventh tee he suddenly became deranged and produced a revolver, wildly suggesting a suicide pact. Doris escaped his grasp and ran off.
It has come to light that Sessle and Hollaby’s assurance business is in liquidations and the funds embezzled.
Over their table, Tuppence counters that Doris did not murder the man, as very few women nowadays use hatpins. That suggests that a man not conversant with fashion committed the crime and tried to frame a woman. Tommy soon remembers that near the seventh hole on the course is a small hut, and the two talk about the possibility that the woman in brown could have been a man in disguise. This leads them to wonder which man. Linked to Tuppence’s theory that the embezzler of the company was not Sessle but Hollaby and his son, they speculate that the woman was Hollaby Junior in disguise. They reconstruct the crime: Hollaby’s son in disguise lures Sessle away in full view of the other two players on the course. He stabs him with a hatpin and hides the body in a hut, changing into the coat of the dead man. The two witnesses on the course see at a distance the deterioration in his game and “Sessle” then goes to his bungalow where he meets Doris Evans as arranged and goes through a series of actions which lead to the innocent woman being arrested.
The Beresfords wonder how to convince the police of the plausibility of their theory. Inspector Marriot sits at the next table, listening intently to them. He was suspicious of the Hollabys and promises to set enquiries in motion.