Judith Lee, one of the 100 Greatest Literary Detectives is described by one adversary as “a young woman who calls herself a teacher of the deaf and dumb; in reality she is the most dangerous thing in England. The police aren’t in it compared with her: they make blunders, thank God; she doesn’t. If she catches sight of your face at distance of I don’t know how many miles, and you happen to open your lips, you are done.”
Her great talent is lip-reading and having an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time to “overhear” conversations of a criminal nature. And yet twice in this short story she takes absolutely no precautions when she opens what she knows are very likely dangerous parcels (compare this to Dr Thorndyke’s elaborate actions in “As a Thief in the Night” when dealing with a much less suspect package) and almost loses her life both times. I knew I had come across one of the methods used before and on looking it up found it to have been in a short story written by Marsh twenty years earlier.
Judith does a neat job of work to get close to a suspect but beyond that there was little of interest to me and no reason to get hold of either volume that collects her other twenty-one cases. Why she made the cut when the aforementioned Thorndyke did not is a much bigger puzzle than what happened in Finchley.