Gregory, a Scotland Yard lieutenant detective. Tall and lean, with a broad face, square jaw, and dark complexion, he lives in a mysterious rooming house, where barely audible noises at night disturb his sleep. The first case of his career involves finding the perpetrator of a series of apparently related crimes: Several corpses have been removed from mortuaries and strangely mutilated. A well-trained detective, Gregory must find a human cause for these events, but his odd methods of investigation and his passion for truth gradually convince him that these are “natural” reanimations of corpses rather than crimes. He then faces a paradox: Although he believes that there has been no crime, he must still act as if there has been. He cooperates with Chief Inspector Sheppard in fabricating an explanation in which there is a human criminal agent.
Sheppard, a Scotland Yard chief inspector. An older man with rheumatism, he is an eccentric, keeping pictures of executed criminals on the walls of his study. Sheppard directs the strange case, reluctantly giving it to the inexperienced Gregory. He follows Gregory closely, evaluating his work and sometimes criticizing his methods, especially when Gregory makes Sciss his main suspect. He offers a number of hypothetical explanations in which rational agents of various kinds figure. Finally, he provides a workable but fictional solution for the “crimes” that...
(The entire section is 541 words.)