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Georgette Heyer is best known for her Regency romances, but early in her career:

Georgette decided to try her hand at detective fiction. In March 1923 ‘Linckes’ Great Case’ appeared in The Detective Magazine. […] This first effort in the detective-thriller genre is not a good example of Georgette’s writing. Transparent plotting, stilted dialogue and an obvious ending make it probably the worst story she ever wrote.

Jennifer Kloester (2011). Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller, p. 62. London : William Heinemann.

In addition to the problems identified by Kloester, two aspects of the plot of ‘Linckes’ Great Case’ are baffling. First, the detective must identify a spy who is stealing military secrets (in the manner of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Submarine Plans’, published the same year). It turns out that

the spy is exchanging places from time to time with an identical twin or doppelganger.

What did Heyer imagine the character was hoping to achieve by this? No explanation is given in the story, and the rigmarole seems counter-productive as it exposes the character to risk while not assisting with the theft of the secrets.

Second, the detective sets out to confirm his suspicions by pretending to send some military secrets to the suspect, but actually sending blank pieces of paper, so that it will look as if someone has stolen the secrets in transit. How did Heyer imagine the detective intended this gambit to confirm his theory? Again, no explanation is given in the story, and I do not see that the gambit yielded any clues.

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  • Are you looking for documentary evidence of what Heyer thought, which seems unlikely given her quietly dropping mention of this work from her catalogue, or people's theories as to how these things might have had potential to help the story? is the text available online anywhere? I see it is available in a collected edition, but curious though I am I'm slightly loth to lash out eight quid just to satisfy our curiosity.
    – Spagirl
    Sep 7 at 16:50
  • I'm really looking for any plausible explanation! Possibly the whole thing is a parody or deliberate absurdity, though if that was the intention it would have been nice to have some signposts. (Compare, e.g., "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba" where the absurdity is well-signposted and the story hangs together according to its own dreamlike logic.) Sep 7 at 17:15
  • @Spagirl Sorry about the lack of online text, I looked but could not find any either. Sep 7 at 17:18
  • I can't promise great insights, but i have spend very nearly a fiver on a book of collected short stories which I believe contains the elusive tale. I'll read it tonight over my sgadan le buntàta is pònairean (after I've done my Duolingo Gaelic)
    – Spagirl
    Sep 8 at 10:49
  • I hope you don't regret it! (I think the collection is worth it for the stories by Upfield and Brand.) Sep 8 at 11:30

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