If you’ve been watching BBC1’s Dickensian, you’ll understand that this question is one of the major plot lines – and I think I may have worked out a solution. Whether or not I’m right will have to wait another six weeks to be discovered, but it’s been fun so far and I can’t see anything changing in that department.
If you haven’t been watching BBC1’s Dickensian – well, why not? It’s a Victorian EastEnders (right down to the cliffhanger endings at the end of each episode) featuring characters from pretty much all of Dickens’ novels – although so far Edwin Drood, Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities are yet to warrant a mention, unless my memory’s gone. Which is a shame, because Jasper Johns would have been quite high on my list of suspects, otherwise.
Anyway, back to the question in hand. As Scrooge tells Inspector Bucket in Episode 1, “There are no shortage of possibilities”. Some, however, can be disregarded as being rather obvious – Bill Sikes being one, although there is always the possibility that I may be wrong on that point, so he’s on my list of suspects just in case – and some can be disregarded as so unlikely as to be impossible – I’ve put Little Nell in that category. I mean, really? Going through all the characters in this way left me with a decent list of possible suspects, which are:
(1) Ebenezer Scrooge. Although it’s unlikely that Scrooge would murder his business partner, he had means, motive and opportunity. With Marley out of the way (and given that Jaggers lets slip that Marley wanted to terminate the partnership), Scrooge takes control of the business – and all the money.
(2) Fagin. Fagin often did little odd jobs for Marley – and was also instrumental in allowing Marley to enjoy Nancy’s services, shall we say. I doubt very much that Fagin himself did the deed, but it wouldn’t surprise me that he goaded Bill Sikes enough to get him to do the dirty work. Besides, Fagin also has the late Mr Marley’s wallet, and how did he come by that, I wonder?
(3) Meriweather Compeyson. Aside from having one of the dafter names Mr Dickens ever came up with, Mr Compeyson also has means, motive and opportunity. Quite aside from being a generally nasty piece of work – he is key in the subplot involving Amelia Havisham – my reading of Great Expectations recalls him being on a convict ship although I doubt very much this would be for murder, as he would have hanged for that. But there’s no reason for him not to have blamed someone else in his stead…
(4) An as yet unintroduced character. This is my Jasper John theory, but it would be highly unfair of the BBC to do this, as it breaches all the golden rules of detective writing. Of course, my final theory is that Stephen Moffatt did it – after all, he’s got form hasn’t he?
I’m fairly certain the clues are there, but this is the best I can do at the moment. I would be interested to hear any other theories, if you have them, as to who the murderer is. I’m fairly sure there’s someone I’ve forgotten.