The Real Inspector Hound

The Real Inspector Hound Summary and Analysis of Section 6 (Pages 35-40)


In this section, Cynthia and Felicity refer to Birdboot as ‘Simon,’ confirming that their dialogue is directed toward the fictive character Simon and not toward the philandering theater critic Birdboot. Birdboot, however, ignores this fact and continues to respond to their lines as if they were discussing his real life. Even onstage, he analyzes the play as a critic. With Moon, he has a quick nonsensical discussion about the identity of the murderer. It is difficult to glean much from it.

The four characters onstage — Birdboot, Cynthia, Felicity, and Magnus — begin a game of cards, but their dialogue diverges from the lines in the original card game scene. It is a collection of nonsensical jargon pulled from various card games and even games like chess and cricket. For example, Cynthia says, “I’ll trump your contract with five dummy no-bid trumps there, [discards] and I support your re-bid with a banker for the solo ruff in the dummy trick there.”

Following the card game, Magnus and Birdboot argue over their shared infatuation with Cynthia. Birdboot proclaims that Cynthia would never choose a cripple over a renowned theater critic. Again, there is a conflation of Birdboot’s real life and the play that he is mixed up in. He compares his real job to the status of the fictive character Magnus. Mirroring the original scene, Cynthia asks Birdboot if there was anything between him and Felicity. Moon then urges Birdboot to pull himself together, but Birdboot says that he can’t help it. He knows he is a ‘goner’ and will have to resign his post as theater critic, but weighed against his lust, he doesn’t care.

Birdboot inspects the body that has been sprawled out on the stage since the play began. He declares, “It’s Higgs.” Bewildered, Moon rises from his seat. He understands that Higgs’ death means he will ascend to first-string critic. Birdboot speculates about who would have motive to kill Higgs, and he says, “Moon?” in a way that seems accusatory. Before he can say any more, he is shot and killed, just as Simon was earlier. Moon rushes on to the stage.

Cynthia turns to Moon and asks, “Oh my God — what happened, Inspector?” This line suggests that Moon is now standing-in as the Inspector in the play. Just as Birdboot did with Simon’s role, Moon answers as himself, rather than as a character in the play. He tries to return to his seat, but finds Simon and the Inspector Hound occupying the critics’ seats. Simon and Hound begin to critique the play, just as Birdboot and Moon had done earlier.


In this section, we learn that the dead man sprawled out across the floor is none other than Higgs, the first-string theater critic — and Moon’s competition. Importantly, he is not just playing dead. He is actually lying dead on the floor.

This revelation widens the scope of the murder mystery. No longer is it a fictive mystery at Muldoon Manor. Now, there is a second murder mystery to be solved, one that pertains to Moon and Birdboot’s real lives. Someone killed the first-string theater critic Higgs. Moreover, the fictive characters Simon and Hound, occupying the critics’ seats, begin to critique the real murder mystery transpiring onstage. It becomes nearly impossible to draw the lines between fiction and reality as this scene unfolds.

Just when Birdboot identifies the dead man as Higgs, Birdboot is shot to his death. This shouldn’t surprise us. So far, the repeated scenes have unfolded in nearly the same way as the original ones. Since Birdboot fills Simon’s shoes, and Simon was shot dead, so too should we have expected that Birdboot would be shot dead.

What’s puzzling is that Birdboot himself didn’t see this coming. In the critic’s seat, he forecasted Simon’s demise almost from the start. But in Simon’s shoes, he is shot by surprise. This disjunction instructs us about point-of-view. In the heat of the moment, Birdboot didn’t see what he had been able to from the detached, uninvested view of critic. What was generic and predictable from a spectator’s view became mysterious and unpredictable from a participant's point-of-view.

When Moon jumps onstage and stands in as Inspector Hound, the title of the play — The Real Inspector Hound — begins to make more sense. As reality and fiction conflate, the identity of Inspector Hound comes into question. Could Moon be the real Inspector Hound? Is there even a real Inspector Hound, or is the title just a farce? Which murder — the fictive one or the real one — is the Inspector investigating? Moreover, if Moon killed Higgs, as Birdboot seems to have intimated, does that mean that he could be investigating a crime that he himself committed? All of these questions will be answered in the next section.