· Superintendent Dalgliesh: he must investigate the murders of Fallon and Pearce
Sergeant Charles Masterson: he’s Dalgliesh’s helper
They are both of the New Scotland Yard.
· Sister Mary Taylor: Matron (=head) of the Nurses and Sisters Department; she’s in fact Irmgard Grobel (a German Nurse who was withouth herself knowing responsible for the deaths of mentally ill patients); she murders Sister Brumfett in the end (died because of a fire in a wooden shed). She commits suicide at the end of the book.
Sister Hilda Rolfe: she has a relationship with Julia Pardoe (she’ll leave the hospital in the end); she’s General Tutor (of the Nurses)
Sister Brumfett: she’s head of the Ward (= room(s) for patients); she’s a good friend of Mary Taylor; she murdered Pearce and Fallon for the Matron
Sister Mavis Gearing: she’s a regular Tutor and loves gardening; she holds the demonstration for Miss Beale (that’s the event in which Pearce dies); she provides a clue to Dalgliesh: the rose spray that’s responsible for Fallon’s death
· General Surgeon Stephen Courtney-Briggs: he’s a good surgeon, but arrogant and always thinking of himself; seems the prime suspect, but isn’t; he had a brother Peter who hanged himself three years ago: the actor was presumably gay and didn’t like his wife (the widow married Stephen though)
· Miss Muriel Beale: inspector for the G.N.C (General Nursing Council); she only plays a role in the beginning (witnessing the murder of Pearce) and in the end (coming back at that “horrible” building of Nightingale House which is torn down now)
· Leonard Morris: he’s a pharmacist; lover of Sister Gearing; completely innocent (he’s a suspect because he sneaks around the house to meet Sister Gearing in secret (there’s no privacy in the House))
· Dettinger: Pearce took care of this patient and found out a clue that Irmgard Grobel was in the hospital; unfortunately he dies
· Nurse Heather Pearce: she lent a book from the library and found out that the Matron was Irmgard Grobel; she wanted to blacmail Taylor, but she was one step ahead of her and ordered Brumfett to kill Pearce; She dies because of intra-gastric feeding (a tube that leads into her stomach brings “milk” into her and her stomach burns out); personality: quite lonesome, loves to blackmail people
Nurse Josephine Fallon: she dies later because she might ask questions about the library card and token Pearce borrowed; Brumfett disposes of her by putting some rose spray into her daily nightcap of scotch; personality: she prefers solitude, has a boyfriend
Nurse Christine Dakers: a naive innocent girl who throws up when she sees Pearce writhing and dying and writes to her mother about the events; she’s mostly a witness
Nurses Maureen and Shirley Burt: these are twins who administered the intra-gastric feeding to Pearce; both are innocent; clue to Dalgliesh: they saw Brumfett running around the House in the middle of the night (supposedly “just back from a patient of Courtney-Briggs)
Nurse Diane Harper: she doesn’t play a big role in the book; she’s taken away from Nightingale House after the death of Pearce; her father wants her to marry immediately to the son of a business associate
Nurse Madeleine Goodale: sensible girl who asks questions like Dalgliesh and is intrigued by the mystery; she doesn’t play a big role in the book either
B) Personal thoughs:
This is a typical who-dunnit, though the subject is far fetched (Nurses getting murdered with acid and rose spray??? Strange). Difficult vocabulary and because of that it doesn’t read too easily. But it provides a good story just because of the strange subject.
Miss Beale must inspect Nightingale House where Sister Gearing holds a demonstration for her. The persons accompanying Miss Beale are the Matron, Sister Rolfe and Surgeon Courtney-Briggs. All the nurses except Nurse Fallon are there. The Burt twins who administered the intra-gastric feeding to Pearce. Pearce dies (the given “milk” was a white acid) and the nurses must be taken away to the room next door. Surgeon Courtney-Briggs administers hart massage, but it’s too late. The police investigates the matter, but doesn’t come with an answer. Did Fallon kill Pearce, because Fallon went into the house while she was supposed to be lying sick in the Ward?
A month later, Nurse Fallon’s murdered. The night before the Burt twins have noticed Sister Brumfett outside her room. Nurse Dakers is the one who finds Fallon’s body. Then the New Scotland Yard is called in. This seems suicide, but it isn’t because Fallon left no letter. Dalgliesh finds out that Fallon was pregnant and because of that went back to the House a month earlier, to fetch the results of the pregnancy test (that could be a reason to commit suicide, but it wasn’t).
Gradually Dalgliesh finds out the pieces of the puzzle that come together: Pearce’s borrowed library card for a book about Second World War Trials (that’s how Irmgard Grobel was discovered), Fallon’s death (for possible questions about the missing library card), the rose spray in a can à (cause of death for Fallon) (a clue of Sister Gearing), Brumfett’s confession in a letter,...
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