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Book Review: In a Crystal Ball: A Mussoorie Mystery by Ruskin Bond

In a Crystal Ball: A Mussoorie Mystery by Ruskin Bond is a short story about a murder in which the investigation of the case couldn’t be completed because of lack of details or it was done with such precision and care that the murderer got away without any air of doubt. Well, this story has been tweaked by adding the names of Rudyard Kipling and Conan Doyle.

In September of 1912, an English lady named Miss Garnette-Orme, with good amount of fortune, was found dead in her room in Mussoorie. The room was locked from inside. Autopsy revealed that she died of prussic acid. Well, the question was how? She was interested in spiritualism and séance. There was one more lady by the name of Miss Mountstephen who too was interested in the same and they often took relish in speaking to dead ones. Miss Garnette-Orme was a chirpy lady but following the death of her father and fiancé, she turned to occult and witching.

In Mussoorie they lived together in a hotel called Savoy. People suspected they were lesbians. Well, they could be. On September 12, Miss Mountstephen left for Jhansi – they were planning to spend their wintertime there - as Mussoorie could be very cold and harsh during winter. After she was gone, on September 19 Miss Garnette-Orme was found dead in her room. Police and doctors came but to no avail. Though Miss Mountstephen was the prime suspect, well she was away from the murder venue. She was arrested but later on released as there was no proof against her. After some time, she appealed to have the property of Miss Garnette-Orme as a legal claimant, but she was refused by the court.

So, from the story it looks like as Miss Mountstephen was behind the murder but how she did that. This question is unsolved. Rudyard Kipling writes a letter to Conan Doyle to solve this mystery but the story sees no involvement from him. It could have been a different story if Conan Doyle had investigated it. Well, unlike other Ruskin Bond books or stories about murder mystery, this one is little diverted off the track and sounds a bit insipid. Fans may feel little disappointed. No qualms for writing and other aspects.

Enjoyed reading this story! Here is your chance to read 30 best stories by Ruskin Bond -


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