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By Bernard Benstock (eds.)

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In Holiday the three Egg stories come close to the mere mechanical expansion of a thematic discovery: thus the garage clock motif is preceded by a sketch that recurs in Dorothy L. Sayers: the commercial room at the Pig and Pewter is filled with chattering drinking men. One man is aloof, silent or hidden behind a newspaper. In other stories the scene can be a railway carriage (Sayers is extremely fond of the mystique of British railways, of duped ticket-collectors, missed connections, labelled luggage, chance meetings with would-be murderer or future victim), a hairdresser's shop, a hotel lounge, a dinner table.

The judiciary does not have a part to play, though lawyers are often consulted on points of information (as in Unnatural). Inquests and coroners' courts provide in fact a more favoured stamping ground for the hunters and the hangers-on than the police station and the criminal court. Journalists and menabout-town seem every bit as knowledgeable as detectives and professional men. These reflections lead Sayers' everyman reader very easily to the story 'The Man Who Knew How', a brilliant composition based on irony and misunderstanding.

The anonymous railway passenger hints that 'sulphate of thanatol' plus a hot bath will kill anyone without trace. Pender starts noticing bath deaths in his daily newspaper. He starts attending inquests on them. The stranger is usually there too. The stranger comes to his home for a drink, calling himself (of course) 'Smith'. Pender falls ill, suspecting 'Smith' of doctoring his whisky. Eventually he confronts Smith with attempted murder, after a meeting at an inquest; he is restrained by the police.

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