Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 600
In The Conjure-Man Dies, a doctor and a detective attempt to solve the murder of a fortune teller who was found with a head wound. They find that not everyone they interview is what they seem—and that, in fact, the case itself is different from what they had first imagined.
The story opens with the supposed corpse of Frimbo, the mystic, brought to a physician's office. Rudolph Fisher writes,
Beneath his black satin robe the patient wore ordinary clothing—trousers, vest, shirt, collar, and tie. Deftly the physician bared the chest; with one hand he palpated the heart area while with the other he adjusted the ear-pieces of his stethoscope. He bent over, placed the bell of his instrument on the motionless dark chest, and listened a long time.
He is sure that the man is dead. There is a head wound that bled enough to leave blood in the hair. The corpse has no heartbeat.
As the detective works on the case, he interviews a number of suspects. One of them is the man who found the body. His story doesn't completely add up. The detective ends up eventually arresting him when he gets more evidence, because not only does physical evidence exist, but his story isn't believable. Fisher writes,
For a moment he meditated the irreconcilable points in Jinx's story—the immobility of Frimbo's figure, from which nevertheless the turban had fallen, the absence of any sound of an attack, yet a sudden change in Frimbo's speech and manner just before he was discovered dead; the remoteness of any opportunity—except for Jinx himself—to reach the prostrate victim, cram that handkerchief in place, and depart during the three minutes when Jinx claimed to be in the hall, without noticeably disturbing the body.
When more facts come to light, these improbable points begin to make sense.
The most important break in the case comes when everyone finds out that Frimbo is not dead. Instead, the person who wanted to murder him mistakenly killed his assistant. This is why when Jinx found the body, so many things in his story didn't add up. The characters are shocked when Frimbo reveals himself to them:
Quickly, ere Dart could speak, Martha Crouch stepped forward in wide-eyed wonder.
"Frimbo—you're—alive . . . ?"
"Yes, I am...
(The entire section contains 600 words.)
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