Summary of Chapter LIII: The Track
Inspector Bucket is “studious in his observation of human nature” and basically “a benignant philosopher” (p. 539). He has set up at the Dedlock house in London as he runs his investigation.
At Tulkinghorn’s funeral he sits in a carriage with Mrs. Bucket and their unnamed lodger, scanning the crowd. In the Dedlock library he takes out the anonymous letters he has been receiving that say “Lady Dedlock, Murderess.” Sir Leicester tells Bucket no expense should be spared in finding the killer for Tulkinghorn’s death is a blot on his name. Bucket says the case is pretty well complete, and he will speak to him in the morning.
Bucket begins questioning a footman (Mercury) in his clever way, interlacing unimportant questions with pertinent ones, such as, when does Lady Dedlock go for walks, and did she go out on the night in question.
Commentary on Chapter LIII
This and the next chapter are Bucket’s solution to the murder case, and his character is one of the more amusing ones in the story. He is basically a good-hearted man, skillful in putting puzzles together and observing. In addition, he approaches people with a friendly agreeable air like the TV detective, Columbo, and gently slips through their defenses. He creates false security and traps for the criminals.
He seems to want to spare Sir Leicester too much pain, but he also cannot hold back the truth. He tries to prepare the old baronet for bad news. In this chapter it seems he is pursuing Lady Dedlock as the suspect.