Ulf Durling is a name that very few people , I suspect, will know . Yet he deserved a mention in the appendix of the famous Mystères à huis clos by Roland Lacourbe, examined ( with its french title: Pour un bout de fromage ) in his beautiful article, A Locked Room Library, by a friend of mine, John Pugmire
The reason is clear: in that list , the best Locked Rooms were designed in the opinion of a pool of experts. And Gammal ost has a very nice Locked Room : no doubt about it !
Ulf Durling is a Swedish writer , born in 1940 in Stockholm and became then, after graduation and specialization , a famous psychiatrist. In 1971 he tried to start their own com Gammal Ost ( trans. old cheese ) which was a great success , so much to convince others to write . It ‘s still alive .
The plot takes place in a Swedish pensioner , where they live : the retired printer , founder of the Club of Mystery , Johann Lundgren ; Carl Bergmann , bookseller retired , he also a founding member , and a physician, Dr. Nylander , belonging to the club of mystery ; Alex Nilsson ; the traveling salesman Johanson ; the two teachers , Miss Hurting – Olofson and Mrs. Soderstrom ; Marshal of the army Renqvist .
One of the guests of the pension, Alex Nilsson , 52, already abiding by a few weeks in retirement, is found dead in his room , locked from the inside : lies ” fully clothed, next to the bed , as if he were beating the wounded head against the back … blood on his face and the front of the shirt. On the table .. a bottle of wine and the wine upside down .. spilled on the floor … and even on the face and shirt Nilsson “. In addition, it is found in the trash a piece of cheese ; and on the bedside table , a very powerful diuretic , the Diclorotride -K. There is also a towel stained with red ( wine only ? ) .
But has anyone heard a commotion in the room the night before , as if there had been a quarrel and then there was a second person , because even appears the request of a patch, by the victim to Mr Blom, the owner of the pension: yet there is no injury , even very small body of Nilsson.
Ephraim Nylander assumed that the quarrel ended in tragedy , and that the murderer didn’t of what it had happened : in essence, the death would have occurred at a later time , and then the same victim would have been to turn off the radio , remained on during most of the night , to close the door and then to remain, and then to succumb for a stroke previously reported ; Johann Lundgren instead ties to Alex Nilsson to his brother, the mysterious visitor Edvin Nilsson , who would be responsible for a fatal poisoning by methanol (a little ‘ what happened in Italy many years ago), and would be back by a mysterious inheritance. Edvin Nilsson would have been the guest of his brother in his room at the pension house , without anyone knowing , and to do so they would come up with a trick , that Alex would pretend to be lame because his brother was, and in this way they would be were traded for one another, and there would be no problems. The two would have had a row and Edvin would kill the other brother . Finally Carl offers his theory : the radio “on” during the night, would mean the manner with which Nilsson would fall asleep because of the wine drunk , because he would have an appointment with his murderer who is supposed to be the husband of the daughter: i.e. Edvin Nilsson would blackmail Edvin his daughter and her husband. In practice, according to this latest reconstruction, there would have been two visits : the first of a random buddy of Nilsson , with whom he woluld eat cheese and drink wine, and during which the visitor is injured so much as Nilsson ask s Blom a patch ; then this goes away and here occurs the second visit, during which the second visitor kills Nilsson and then, after killing him with a blunt object , jump out of the window , using a mattress of blankets taken from the pension , which then he sneaks back in across a secondary port.
The second part of the novel instead supports the theory of Gunnar Bergmann , son of Carl , and police officer (Deputy Commissioner ) , according to which the death was due to natural causes : a cerebral hemorrhage not caused by the blow, but that would have caused the heel to the base of the blow.
The third section is one in which one of the three fans , Dr. Nylander , revises his previous theory integrating it with all the new learned: he remodulates it. Nilsson would have had before his return to Sweden from America , a stroke or a cerebral hemorrhage, which would have caused a emiparalisi: from it, the lame movement lame . In addition, he would suffer for high blood pressure. Just to his state of health would be connected the medicine found on the bedside table , a very powerful diuretic , the Diclorotride -K. How could a patient very diligent in taking the medication, die for a brain hemorrhage? For a piece of hard cheese and another medicine completely harmless .
Ephraim Nylander finds the murderer , who had to protect someone, for which the Nilsson return would have been a damage. A simple murder but equally highly ingenious.
In essence, at the novel by Durling , the 3 major hypotheses head to three different sections of the novel, of course, that frame the same truths , according to three perspectives and three different views.
The novel is an excuse to compare 3 different ways of seeing things. In essence Ulf Durling develops, to the extreme, the confrontation / clash that it’s at Case for Three Detectives by Leo Bruce , where the three detectives are caricatures of Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey and Father Brown. Moreover it must be remembered that already at the The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley, different exposures of the same background , performed by different characters, led to the identification of several hypotheses with many different makers . It ‘s the case yet to report , as the same procedure was adopted in The Five Fragments by George Dyers , another extraordinary novel very little known ; the same fact , that seen from the perspective of five different witnesses, different angles and reveals the truth.
In fact, I would almost think that since space in the novel are many references to the authors of the Mystery , which the novel is a tribute ( Bentley, Sayers , Carr, Allingham , Christie , Millar , Brand, Milne , etc. .. ) , and even a reference to the Conference of Dr. Fell in The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr, could very well be that happened rather than taking such Case for Three Detectives by Leo Bruce , he had taken as his inspiration , just The Five Fragments by George Dyers : could be valid both the first and the second hypothesis . In fact, if the three sections of the book underlying to three different formulations of the hypothesis accusatory , it is also true that for the first formulation (the one that provides the Locked Room ) you get three different sub- hypotheses , which, along with the second and third , they would become five.
As part of the divertissement , which is what is ultimately , the novel is , moreover , written in the form of parody . It is not a unique case , because at least in very close to us , other authors have tried to bring their brick building of the palace of Mystery, writing novels in which the protagonists are amateur detectives who take the moves from other : so John Sladek , so Isaac Asimov, so Peter Lovesey , so … Ulf Durling .
The Locked Room is explained only in the first three hypotheses of the first part , because they belong to the idea of murder that includes the direct presence of the murderer with the victim, while in the second , there is not mention of murder because it is a natural death, while at the third par, the death by Nilsson designed with a murder in a few moments before it happens, assumes that the murderer is not in the room when Alex dies .
All at a very interesting novel , whose solution is already present in the first part , only that it is not probed properly, and that the final solution is made in front of the reader’s amazement, distracted by something else, not having a way to digest what he reads .
Pietro De Palma