Summary of Detective Short Story The Landlady



A young man named Billy Weaver was off on a business trip when he came across a bed and breakfast. After being accepted in by the landlady, it was apparent he was the only one in the house after the landlady states, “we have it all to ourselves.”   

Throughout the night, the landlady begins to show signs of being dotty and not fully there. Later on in the night, Mr. Weaver signs in, writing his name under two others, Christopher Mulholland and Gregory Temple, who had gone missing in the same area 2 to 3 years prior. Before Mr. Weaver can recognize them, the landlady poisons his tea with cyanide in an attempt to possibly stuff/taxidermy him; he states, “the tea tasted faintly of bitter almonds,” a common sign of cyanide. 

Throughout the interaction, the landlady hints that both boys previously mentioned were stuffed and stayed on the third floor. During his final conversation with the landlady, she informs Mr. Weaver that her parrot and dog are taxidermied.

What Crimes Did She Commit: The landlady is currently being charged with three accounts of first-degree murder. She is being accused of stuffing her former and current guests Billy Weaver, Christopher Mulholland, and Gregory Temple. 

During Mr. Weaver's stay, the landlady states that they were the only guest in the entire bed and breakfast. Towards the end of their interactions, she says, "But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr. Temple is also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together." Confusing Mr. Weaver, she persistently switches between having more guests to only housing him.

When Mr. Weaver is downstairs, the landlady offers him tea which he ended up not enjoying after claiming, “tea tasted faintly of bitter almonds” which is a common trait of cyanide. While he is having his poisoned tea, the landlady also continues to say, “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away. ” More alarmingly, she told Mr. Weaver, "There wasn’t a blemish on his body” as well as “His skin was just like a baby’s” when referencing Mr. Temple. This evidence suggests that she had taxidermied her former guests. We can also guess this from her pattern of stuffing her pets.

What Was Her Motive: Her motive is not entirely clear. Mr. Weaver believes the landlady may have lost a son in the war and had not fully gotten over it. This speculation could explain why she is very specific when accepting her guest and why she may taxidermy the men.

Another speculation is that she sees all of her guests as pets, so after she poisons/kills them, she taxidermies them just like her other pets. 

According to Mr. Weaver, she was very picky with the guest she invited into her home, and that she referenced multiple times how similar he was to the other two boys. Showing how she was deliberately looking for a specific person that met her standards, maybe even to match someone else she once knew. The landlady later stated, “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away.”

Will She Take Responsibility: I do not think that the landlady will take responsibility. 

During the three years that she had the body of Mr. Mulholland and Mr. Temple, not once did she tell someone or turn herself in. If she planned to kill another man, it shows that she will not confess or take responsibility for her actions. 

Evidence That Supports My Theory:  The most convincing evidence against the landlady is the bitter almond taste in the tea. As well as the landlady, stating, “But my dear boy, he never left. He’s still here. Mr. Temple is also here. They’re on the third floor, both of them together.” More alarmingly, she told Billy, “There wasn’t a blemish on his body,” and, “His skin was just like a baby’s.” Further proving that she had killed and stuffed the two previous boys and had plans to do the same to Mr. Weaver.