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Literature / Montague Egg

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Montague Egg features in a series of short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, better known for her Lord Peter Wimsey stories. Egg is a traveling salesman for Plummett & Rose Wines and Spirits, and usually has a couplet from his Salesman's Handbook to cover the situation. He is often embroiled in murder cases.

This series provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: False Weight is about the murder of a salesman with a Secret Other Family in every town he visits.
  • Bitter Almonds: Actually the title of one of his stories, where an elderly man was supposedly poisoned by his nephew after threatening to disown him over his engagement to an actress. In reality, after the young man had stormed from the table, the "victim" pulled out a bottle of almond liqueur that had sat in his liquor cabinet unopened for twenty years. The small amount of bitter almond oil in the liqueur had risen to the top and concentrated over the years, giving the first glass poured out a lethal dose of cyanide. This is a case of Ripped from the Headlines - such a liqueur actually did exist and at least one death was attributed to the phenomenon.
  • The Butler Did It: The Poisoned Dow '08 is a rare example of the trope actually played straight.
  • Canon Welding: In Dirt Cheap, Mr. Waters is a traveling salesman for Brotherhood, the soft drinks firm last seen when Lord Peter Wimsey forgot he was under an alias and pwned the Brotherhood employees' cricket team in Murder Must Advertise.
  • Crying Wolf: In one story, the murderer invokes this in order to get off the hook. It doesn't work.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: In Murder in the Morning, it's a plot point that two petrol stations are built from standard prefabricated parts (and operated by similar-looking brothers).
  • False Confession: Mr Temple in Murder at Pentecost has a reputation with the police as an attention-seeking eccentric who claims responsibility each time there's a murder in the town. So they don't take the possibility seriously that he actually did it this time.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death
  • Fictional Document: The Salesman's Handbook.
  • Fright Deathtrap: Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "Account with rigid honesty/For £. and s. and even d." At the time Dirt Cheap was published, LSD was a very new chemical synthesis and certainly not a household word.
  • I Have Many Names: See Secret Other Family, below.
  • Kick the Dog: Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz features cruelty to cats.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Montague Egg is a 'good egg'.
    • Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz means "he who makes haste to the spoils"—a warrior's name for a cat who fights off the person trying to drown him and finds his way across London back to his home.
  • Once an Episode: At least once in each story, Monty quotes a rhyming couplet from the Salesman's Handbook. At the start of Murder at Pentecost he can't think of one that suits his current situation, so composes a new one on the spot.
  • Secret Other Family: Wagstaffe from False Weight had married a woman (using various aliases) in every town his rounds took him to.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: A vital clue in A Shot at Goal.
  • Traveling Salesman: Monty Egg.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz, once the ailurophobic old man had his heart attack, the murderers had no further use for the cats. Into the water barrel they went, and only one got away.
  • You Just Told Me: In Sleuths on the Scent, Monty tricks the murderer into making a run for it by suddenly calling his real name.