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DIAL ‘M’ FOR MASKELYNE

A bizarre anecdote occurs in Maskelyne’s notes on the 1960s screenplay:
“One day I was called on by a Major, unknown to me and asked to go to Cairo where I was taken to two brigadier generals and introduced. This was all very formal. I was told “Major Maskelyne you have quite a reputation for ingenuity. Can you kill a man without anybody becoming suspicious?” The problem was outlined. I was never told the name of the man, who he was or what he had done. He had to be killed. It was explained that normal methods like poisoning his food, straightforward shooting or knifing or a fake accident would very likely set in motion a train of events which would interfere with British Intelligence activities. The man had to die mysteriously. I was told he lived in a certain hotel and given the room number.
“We don’t want to know how you kill him,” said the Brigadier, “ and we don’t want anyone else involved. Just kill him and forget about it.”
I decided that the only indirect approach to the man was through his shoes that, as was customary, were left outside his hotel door each night. The hotel was used by many British officers. I booked in and that night stole his shoes left outside the door. I took them to my room and took off the two lower layers of the leather heel carefully and then tapped a gramophone needle up from the heel so that it protruded inside the shoe, just covered by the inner light leather. On the tip I painted a particularly quick acting poison which had been flown into Cairo for me from Nairobi. It was a native poison used by elephant hunters. The idea being that the needle would penetrate the heel of the victim’s foot when he stood up after putting shoes on. It worked perfectly. The man died before he could be taken to hospital.
I learned afterwards that the man was a British medical officer who had been passing on information to enemy. He had previously been captured and presumably released on the promise that he would ‘cooperate’.”

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