In recent years, the position of Bursar at old College has been fraught with danger. Senior Bursar was electrocuted by a deliberately mis-wired kettle and Junior Bursar was forced to flee to Tuscany after his murderous rampage was uncovered. Perhaps deciding that two Bursars are more trouble than they’re worth, The Master has seen fit to replenish this post with just the one Bursar – newcomer Professor Dexter Sinistrov.
We first met Professor Sinistrov in The Vanishing Lord, where he was an unsettling presence in the College and suspected to be involved with the disappearance of the priceless Lord Layton portrait. Noted for his odd haircut, wandering accent and pointy shoes, The Bursar is known to be an old university chum of The Master. He is a professor of chemistry and has spent many years undertaking protracted research in Russia, which no doubt assisted his endeavours in poisoning Hawkins Master Lord Bernard and attempting the same with Hawkins Head Porter.
The Bursar did little to enamour himself to Deputy Head Porter by seeming to stalk her through the cloisters at every opportunity. The purpose of this behaviour was unknown at the time, although his reasoning becomes clear in Sinister Dexter. Deputy Head Porter did voice her concerns to Detective Chief Inspector Thompson, but he dismissed them with typical withering disdain, citing ‘being creepy’ as not a police matter. This could prove to be a rare error of judgement on his part and we must hope it does not come back to haunt him.
Despite his underhand nature and penchant for poisoning people (which The Dean believes makes him a perfect fit for The Fellowship), the biggest concern about The Bursar is his wilful decimation of the catering budget. This has resulted in sausages being delayed and the Porters’ Lodge having to survive on just three tea bags and not a single biscuit. Under ordinary circumstances this would have driven Deputy Head Porter to a vocal of protest of righteous indignation, but there is something about The Bursar that makes her incredibly nervous. Could it be the rumours about his involvement with the Russian Secret Service? The Dean’s claims that he is a witch? Or the growing realisation that he has something against her personally?
As the true reasons behind The Bursar’s arrival gradually unravel, it becomes impossible to know who or what to trust. One thing is certain, however. If the tea and biscuit situation is not resolved soon, there are going to be consequences…