Top critical review
The Parallax View
on September 24, 2015
This is my generic comments on the stories that says “Lizzie Dunnit”.
This story is dedicated to the ace typewriter mechanic Martin Tytell, who built a duplicate typewriter when the experts said it couldn't be done.
Perry Bricker was reading his legal journal when his secretary Della Lane opened the door to his office. "Chief, there's a young woman here to see you about a problem." "Show her in, Della." "Hello Mr. Bricker, my name is Lizzie Berdan and my parents were really sick last night. I think our milk was poisoned by an enemy of my father." Perry knew about Andrew Jackson Berdan, a self-made man famous for his avariciousness. "You must not be buying Borden Dairy Milk" said Perry. "No" said Miss Lizzie. "Father used his position at the bank to award a supply contract to Farmer Gray and now he gets his milk at a special rate." Perry said he would use his detective Paul Gander to investigate.
The next day a telephone call brought news about the murder of Andrew and his second wife Abby. The only two people known to be in the house, Lizzie and the maid Bridget, were the chief suspects. Bridget was soon cleared, she was outside at the time of Abby's murder. Paul Gander reported that his operative talked to Bridget, who told of an unexpected visit from Uncle John the day before. Lizzie and Uncle John spoke in a low voice when Bridget was near, this was unusual. The house was searched from top to bottom but no bloody axe was found, nor any blood-stained clothes. When Lizzie was arrested Perry visited her in jail. "Is there anything new to tell me?" asked Perry. "Mr. Bricker, I didn't tell you about my cousin William. He had a debt that was coming due and was supposed to see father. William has a terrible temper and was once sent to a hospital. I want William's name kept out of this for family reasons. I am innocent of committing this crime." "Well Miss Lizzie, you would be surprised by the number of innocent men in prison" said Perry.
When the trial of Miss Lizzie began Perry, with the information developed by Paul Gander, was able to cast reasonable doubt on the testimony of the state's witnesses. The gilt paint in Abby's skull proved a fairly new axe was used. One of Gander's operatives obtained information about Raymond and his half-brother William. The former was seen to be waiting in front of the Berdan home, as if resting his wagon in the shade on that hot August morning. Raymond was called to the stand but said little. William was called to the stand and didn't say much. Then Perry asked him about the loan and if he was late in payment. His face flushed and he shouted "Yes, I did it and I'm glad! I'd do it again if I had the chance!" "Once is enough" said Perry.
Judge Arnold Brown directed a verdict of not guilty, and so a guiltless Lizzie Berdan returned home. But tongues wagged, and public opinion turned against Lizzie. She was guilty except a slick lawyer fooled a half-wit into confessing. Or maybe they were both in cahoots. And so the legend of Lizzie grew. There was a jingle that was repeated like a popular song. To this day most people think she was guilty.