Oh, man, this is such a good book, even on the re-read. I keep looking for the clues that I might have missed the first time that would solve some of my questions.
Instead of answers, I get more layers of awesomeness as I get to see even deeper into the levels of contempt that lies underneath much of the story.
But, as intended by the author no doubt, everything is so ambiguous that you can argue both sides of the story, except...I am pretty sure the solution is one particular one.
‘Them,’ he said, with a jerk of his chin. ‘They’ll get word from us, all right. We’re taking this matter further, you can be sure.’ I’d been half expecting this, but was dismayed by the bitterness in his voice.
Straightening up again, I said, ‘What do you mean? You’ve informed the police?’
‘Not yet, but we intend to. At the very least we want to see that dog destroyed.’
‘But, well, Gyp’s such a foolish old thing.’
‘And turning senile, clearly!’
‘As far as I know, this incident was quite out of character.’
‘That’s small comfort to my wife and me. You don’t expect us to rest until that dog is got rid of?’
He glanced up at the narrow mullioned windows above the porch, one of which was open, and lowered his voice.
‘Gillian’s life will be fairly ruined by this; you can see that, surely. Dr Seeley tells me it was probably only the merest chance that her blood wasn’t poisoned! And all because those people, the Ayreses, think themselves too grand to tie up a dangerous dog! Suppose it attacks another child?’
I didn’t believe Gyp would, and though I said nothing, he must have seen the doubt in my expression.
He went on, ‘Look, I know you’re something of a friend to the family. I don’t expect you to take my side against them. But I can also see what perhaps you can’t: that they believe they can swan it over everyone around here like so many lords of the manor. Probably they’ve trained the dog up, to see off trespassers! They ought to take a good look at that scrap-heap they’re living in. They’re out of date, Doctor. To tell you the truth, I’ve begun to think this whole bloody county’s out of date.’
I almost replied that, as I’d understood it, the out-of-datedness of the county was what had attracted him to it in the first place. Instead, I asked him at the very least not to take the matter to the police until he had seen Mrs Ayres again; and he said at last, ‘All right. I’ll go over there as soon as I know Gillie’s out of danger. But if they have any consideration at all, they’ll have destroyed the dog before I get there.’
Also, if anyone is looking for an excellent read for:
- Country House,
- Terror in a Small Town,
- and to some extent Locked Room,
this checks off all of them.