D.E. Ireland applied the Page 69 Test to Wouldn’t It Be Deadly and reported the following:
Higgins is a renowned phonetician who has publicly exposed his professional rival Emil Nepommuck as a criminal. Although Higgins is arrogant and short-tempered, he is neither malicious nor unkind. Therefore he is upset to learn someone has murdered Nepommuck following the shocking revelations in the newspaper that morning. Page 69 indicates to the reader that Higgins is a decent man capable of feeling guilt for his actions, even though the murder victim is not deserving of anyone’s sympathy. This page also reveals that Higgins cares for Eliza’s good opinion and knows she will not approve of his rash – if understandable – reaction.Learn more about the book and author at D. E. Ireland's website.
In fact, his decision to expose the Hungarian is fueled by resentment: Nepommuck hired Higgins’s former pupil Eliza as an instructor and then took credit for turning her from a Cockney flower girl into a lady. Both Eliza and Higgins know it’s a lie. What they don’t know yet is that Higgins is now the prime suspect in Nepommuck’s death. After all, he had motive and opportunity, especially since no one can verify his whereabouts during the time of the murder. And although Eliza suspects Higgins is not being entirely truthful with her about where he was that fateful morning, she knows he is not capable of such a violent act.
Indeed this is the calm before the storm.
From Page 69:If ever a scoundrel deserved a comeuppance, it was that blasted Hungarian. And seeing as how he had lied about so much else in his background, Higgins was amazed Nepommuck had been honest about being Hungarian. Since the lying bloke was fluent in thirty-two languages, he could have passed himself off as a native of any number of countries. It certainly would have made sense for Nepommuck – or Bela Kardos as he was really called – to have taken on another nationality along with that fabricated royal lineage.
Higgins could only guess that the mountebank genuinely missed his homeland. The tiresome fellow loved to prattle about the glory of the Carpathian Mountains and the beauty of the Danube. He had even extolled the wonders of Hungarian cuisine, which as far as Higgins knew consisted largely of goulash.
Nepommuck wouldn’t be suffering homesickness any longer. Higgins was shocked at how quickly word of the murder had traveled from the police to the evening editions of the penny dailies. For the past hour, newsboys had been crying out, “Disgraced Hungarian Royal found murdered at Belgrave Square!” from every London corner. Of course, Higgins had felt compelled to buy a copy. And he was dismayed to read that a Miss Doolittle had found the dead body. Higgins knew that Eliza wouldn’t forgive him for this, not with her damnable moral code.
In fact, he could hear her now, “Look what you’ve done, you arrogant bully. Just look what you’ve done!”