…,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.”
Well, the time has come for the solution to “Death in the Sun,” too–so here goes…
I’m trying to decide how to do this one: I’m having a little difficulty writing the dénouement (which, to be perfectly honest, is why I’ve taken so long to write this), so I’ll just do what I did before and describe the solution. (I hope you don’t mind!)
As noted, JJ correctly noted the clue about “being able to see the beach from the house”; in fact, the Arning house is “…right next to the public beach,” according to the sheriff.
Silver Screenings correctly noticed that the shoulder is an odd place to shoot someone with intent to kill–which is indeed a major clue that we should keep in mind.
JJ then suggested that Thurlow could not have been shot outside, but rather that he was shot in the house and then walked out. But–as he wrote–“would there not be a trail of blood along the sand from the gunshot wound?”
“The deed must have been done in the house,” Colin wrote–and, as noted, correct!
What other points should we keep in mind? “Sadly, said hand and not seen fit to deliver him as brazened as the other sardines…” Thus: he could not have been on the beach long, on that very hot day, if he were not sunburned, as is inferrable, also, from his personality. Where could he have come from? The house, obviously, which is right nearby. So why, as Geoff asked, should he have been at the public beach? The point is what JJ noted: that he had been shot in the house and walked out to the public beach so that someone could see him.
Substantiating evidence? Naturally, he could not have been shot at close range on the sandbar, with no one around him. At close range–and that, my friends, is the point.
George Thurlow, remember, was shot twice: once in the shoulder and once in the back. The shot in the shoulder had powder burns–indicating a shot at close range–but the shot in the back did not.
Conclusion: we assumed that both bullets entered the body at the same time because two shots were heard at once.
But there’s the secret: George Thurlow was shot once in one place (close-range) and once in another (long-range).
In other words, he was shot once in the house (in the shoulder) and once, long-range, on the beach, from the house. Substantiation? In the back–he was facing away–long-range. He had recently come from the house; the people on the beach watched him walk out–he’d been shot in the shoulder at this point–and didn’t see anyone, or any kind of weapon, around.
Who could have committed the crime? The person who was standing on the roof when the shot was fired–the person who brought up “golf clubs” when nobody was up there to take any golf clubs–the person who had argued with Mrs. Ball and with his employer over changes to the house–the person who, obviously from his demeanor and attitude, loved and missed his former employer–the person who had only a few minutes before shown that former employer through what had been her home…
To wit, Billy Cummings.