'We exist, this University exists, to educate young men, make them take an interest in passing their examinations, make them not want to climb into College, make them less interested in shop-girls with nothing but a pair of legs and pretty face and fair hair and no conversation or brains. Damn it,' he said again as he walked back to College, 'I must have a word with the Dean - a very sharp word. This is all wrong.'
Professor Glyn Daniel was an archaeologist who taught at Cambridge University and published mystery fiction under the pseudonym Dilwyn Rees. My early copy of The Cambridge Murders bears his pseudonym; the later issue bears his name. Here he creates an amateur sleuth somewhat in his own mould: Sir Richard Cherrington is an academic and an archaeologist, and Vice-President of Fisher College. His enthusiasm for detective work seems to derive from its similarities with scientific enquiry; he cares more about the puzzle than the people, and he never doubts that his profession is ideal for developing the skills essential and sufficient for murder investigation.
Dr Landon was its Dean, and he seems to have been a man who lacked empathy, or perhaps it was just that he thrived on conflict. In the space of a few years he had made many enemies, alienating his wife, ending the careers of a number of students, interfering in the spheres and responsibilities of his colleagues, and engaging in ongoing academic disputes. He is hated by his wife and her lover, and by various undergraduates, tutors, and dons. Now that he is dead, there are those contending that whoever it was that committed the murder had acted as a benefactor of the College.
But the Dean was not the only man killed that night, and while some may have been willing to overlook his murder, no one can countenance the killing of the Porter. He had been shot while on his nightly survey of the college grounds, and it seems to have been a murder committed in cold blood. The police consider two possibilities: first that the murderer panicked when he or she was recognised by the Porter, and second - appallingly - that his death was intended merely to provide a red herring, and to baffle the police by confusing their inferences with respect to timing and intent.
The Cambridge Murders seemed, for the first few chapters, to be principally a celebration of Cambridge University, with the mystery set within its environs almost an afterthought. Glyn Daniel was clearly intent on weaving every arcane nomenclature, cultural reference and stereotype associated with the University into his tale, along with a series of private jokes for his fellow academics. The story read as though the structure and motivation came first, and the plot second.