Who Killed Milton Krest?

DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
edited September 2016 in Literary 007 Posts: 14,247
No, film-only fans, the answer is not Franz Sanchez. :D

I'm referring of course to the murder of Milton Krest in Ian Fleming's short story 'The Hildebrand Rarity' (1960). We the readers know that the murder suspect is either the deceased's wife Liz Krest or Fidele Barbey. Bond has difficulty in working out whodunit and so does the reader. There is probably no definitive answer to this question but it is a fascinating one to pose anyway.

To my mind there is a stronger prima facie case against Liz Krest as her husband was strangled first with 'The Corrector' stingray tail that he had illegally fashioned into a whip. This seems like a symbolic revenge, before the fish was stuffed into his mouth.

It's an open-ended story of course and one could make a case for both Liz Krest and Fidele Barbey being the culprit. With perhaps 'Octopussy' aside, it represents Ian Fleming's only real foray into the realm of crime/whodunit fiction, of which the spy story is an offshoot of course.

Those are my views, but I'd be very interested to know what others think about who is culpable for the homicide of Milton Krest. It's likely that there is no right or wrong answer, but I could be wrong of course.
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Comments

  • stagstag In the thick of it!
    edited September 2016 Posts: 943
    It's quite a while since I read the story but Fleming sets it up nicely. As I recall MK is abusive to all on board thus opening up the possibility that the murderer could be several people. Personally I always thought it was his wife, though that's only my own opinion.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    edited September 2016 Posts: 5,119
    I always thought it was Liz Krest. Bond suspects her more and is even scared to go on a cruise with her because of this (after the murder). She has suffered years of abuse and would inherit a fortune. (Although not acceptable) Fidele Barbey only suffers racist insults during a cruise, not anything worthy of murder. Remember Krest was always drunk so he wouldn't be as difficult to over power and strangle for Liz.
  • Posts: 4,622
    I do think Fleming intended that we point the finger at Liz, and also that we not judge..ie that Milton got what he deserved.
    Deftly written, as I don't think any of us would have reported her or even accused her.
    Some things best left alone....
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Does anyone else want to give their opinion on this one? :)
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,343
    Fleming definitely wanted the weight of suspicion to fall on Liz Krest, it's in there. But he also wanted to keep that door of doubt open.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Fleming definitely wanted the weight of suspicion to fall on Liz Krest, it's in there. But he also wanted to keep that door of doubt open.

    Yes, thank you @Birdleson. I think that that is exactly it. Fleming wanted to keep the ending ambiguous and as I said in the OP, open-ended. It's a bit of a curious ending to a crime story, as Kingsley Amis noted in The James Bond Dossier (1965) that one can't call it a secret service story.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,119
    I was always disappointed that Bond didn't take her up on the cruise and shag her. Boring.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    suavejmf wrote: »
    I was always disappointed that Bond didn't take her up on the cruise and shag her. Boring.

    Bond didn't fancy choking on an exotic fish I'd wager. Sensible man.
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    edited October 2016 Posts: 5,119
    She wouldn't have killed him though. She only killed Krest because he deserved it. Bond would have had a good time. Plus the gun would be under the pillow just in case. Also the fish had gone ha ha.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited October 2016 Posts: 14,247
    suavejmf wrote: »
    She wouldn't have killed him though. She only killed Krest because he deserved it. Bond would have had a good time. Plus the gun would be under the pillow just in case. Also the fish had gone ha ha.

    Yes, I know, but it was enough to put Bond off. Can't say that I blame the man!
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,315
    I like dangerous women. Grrr.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    royale65 wrote: »
    I like dangerous women. Grrr.

    I do too, but I draw the line at murder. It's still illegal in my country.
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,116
    I feel like Colombo. Not really .... :(
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    I feel like Colombo. Not really .... :(

    Could you clarify - the American TV detective or the Fleming character?
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,116
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    I feel like Colombo. Not really .... :(

    Could you clarify - the American TV detective or the Fleming character?

    Ah good point... the American TV detective.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    I feel like Colombo. Not really .... :(

    Could you clarify - the American TV detective or the Fleming character?

    Ah good point... the American TV detective.

    Yes, thought so. I'm a big fan. It's 'Columbo' just to clarify.
  • mcdonbbmcdonbb deep in the Heart of Texas
    Posts: 4,116
    You're correct .. Embarrassing mistake. Thanks.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    mcdonbb wrote: »
    You're correct .. Embarrassing mistake. Thanks.

    Not to worry. Loads of people make the same mistake!
  • suavejmfsuavejmf Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England
    Posts: 5,119
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    royale65 wrote: »
    I like dangerous women. Grrr.

    I do too, but I draw the line at murder. It's still illegal in my country.

    It was justified self defense after years of abuse. She would have got away with Manslaughter. I can see how Bond was put off though. Rogers Bond would have stayed. ....he slept with Mayday!
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 2,509
    I think that Bond killed Krest and when he was relating the events to Fleming for the short story, he obviously had to lie about what really happened. Let's not forget that, according to Pearson, Bond was quite young at the time of THR incident (but the book was released along with the other short stories that took place when Bond was older). ;)
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    Bounine wrote: »
    I think that Bond killed Krest and when he was relating the events to Fleming for the short story, he obviously had to lie about what really happened. Let's not forget that, according to Pearson, Bond was quite young at the time of THR incident (but the book was released along with the other short stories that took place when Bond was older). ;)

    Oh, so Ian Fleming actually wrote the very first 'Young Bond' story. How quaint. ;)
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited October 2016 Posts: 30,343
    Pearson's account should hardly be considered canon. If so, we'd have to write off the best Bond literary adventure, MOONRAKER, as having not occurred, as Pearson does in his time-line.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,247
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Pearson's account should hardly be considered canon. If so we'd have to write off the best Bond library adventure, MOONRAKER, as having not occurred, as Pearson does in his time-line.

    Yes, and I'm actually very opposed to that. Ian Fleming's Moonraker is the best of all the Bond novels and I'd be loath to give it up the way that Pearson breezily does in his 1973 fictional biography of Bond. Pearson says the whole thing was dreamt up by British Intelligence as a cover operation in order to Pearson guided some of the decisions in the continuations - James Suzuki in Raymond Benson's 'Blast from the Past' (1996), Bond's uncle Bruce in John Gardner's Role of Honour (1984).
  • Posts: 4,621
    Dragonpol wrote: »

    Oh, so Ian Fleming actually wrote the very first 'Young Bond' story. How quaint. ;)

    Nope. That was Agatha Christie. Everybody know that.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    edited October 2016 Posts: 14,247
    Gerard wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »

    Oh, so Ian Fleming actually wrote the very first 'Young Bond' story. How quaint. ;)

    Nope. That was Agatha Christie. Everybody know that.

    Yes, I knew that, but 'Young Bond' was my point here.

    I actually found that story, 'The Rajah's Emerald', in an old short story anthology in my house in 2002 before I ever read of it elsewhere.
  • Posts: 13,041
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Gerard wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »

    Oh, so Ian Fleming actually wrote the very first 'Young Bond' story. How quaint. ;)

    Nope. That was Agatha Christie. Everybody know that.

    Yes, I knew that, but 'Young Bond' was my point here.

    I actually found that story, 'The Rajah's Emerald', in an old short story anthology in my house in 2002 before I ever read of it elsewhere.

    I was thinking about starting a thread about this one, or maybe more about the links between Agatha Christie and James Bond (she is mentioned in OHMSS and of course many actors from the Bond movies played in adaptations of Christie's novels).

    Back on topic, I tend to say Liz did it, but I would not be completely certain. The victim in the story is more important than the identity of the murderer. In a way, it is an anti-whodunit. We don't know for sure who did it, we don't really care. There is this gross, vulgar, lewd, evil man who dies and gets punished for his crimes through his contrapasso . And that is all that matter. The story also has a beautifully ambiguous moral: murder is justifiable... or is it? Actually I say we don't care about who did it... But can the murder be more moral depending of who murdered Milton Krest?
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    edited October 2016 Posts: 15,423
    Years of abuse under Krest's absurd violence, if I remember correctly, I always thought clearly it was Liz who did it.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    Posts: 30,343
    That was certainly the implication.
  • Posts: 13,041
    The implication is that it's is likely her... but it might not be.
  • edited October 2016 Posts: 2,509
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Pearson's account should hardly be considered canon. If so we'd have to write off the best Bond library adventure, MOONRAKER, as having not occurred, as Pearson does in his time-line.

    Yes, and I'm actually very opposed to that. Ian Fleming's Moonraker is the best of all the Bond novels and I'd be loath to give it up the way that Pearson breezily does in his 1973 fictional biography of Bond. Pearson says the whole thing was dreamt up by British Intelligence as a cover operation in order to Pearson guided some of the decisions in the continuations - James Suzuki in Raymond Benson's 'Blast from the Past' (1996), Bond's uncle Bruce in John Gardner's Role of Honour (1984).

    I loved Pearson's Bond biography but I wasn't really happy about what he did regarding the whole Moonraker affair. I lived with it though seeing the rest of the bio was outstanding.

    Is there anyone here who prefers the Fleming short stories to the novels by the same author? I wouldn't go so far as to say they're better than the books but they are bloody good - taut, down to earth, imaginative thrillers. THR is probably my favourite.
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