This diagram shows a cast of characters for a book entitled Wycliffe and the Dream Castle. The diagram gives the age of each individual which suggests that Burley was already some way into the planning process (see planning a new book).
This is not, strictly speaking, unfinished work in the sense of something that the writer had started late in life but could not finish because his time had run out.
In Burley's manuscript book entitled Plot Notes, the diagram for Wycliffe and the Dream Castle appears four pages earlier than that of Wycliffe and the Winsor Blue, which was published in 1987, fifteen years before his death. This manuscript book is not of a loose-leaf format, it is bound, so it is reasonable to assume that the planning of Wycliffe and the Dream Castle preceded that of Wycliffe and the Winsor Blue.
Whatever the explanation, the diagram gives us sight of a Burley story that we will never read. Let us look at a few points of detail - for the avoidance of magnifying glasses some of these are shown enlarged.
The first character on the page is George Prideaux, aged 43. We also have the beginnings of the family structure in that he is described as "brother". And we have an arrowed line running between George and a character identified as Nessa, aged 28.
Listed below George are two more family members, Beryl Prideaux, an older sister, and Lola Giles, a younger sister. Below Lola is a seventeen year old called Stella Giles, probably her daughter.
Nessa appears at the bottom right-hand corner of the diagram below one Peter Floyd, presumably, her husband. There is no indication of the manner of the relationship between George and Nessa.
At the lower left another family is listed, Arthur and Alice May, and Richard, their seventeen year old son. Is it a coincidence that Stella and Richard are of the same age or does it indicate a relationship?
What is it that links these ten people (no doubt there would have been more to come) and which of these characters would have been the first murder victim? Where in Cornwall or Devon would it have been set? How would Wycliffe have set about working out the motive and identifying the person responsible? What new insights into his nature would we have been given?
And what was it about Wycliffe and the Dream Castle that caused Burley to lose interest? Or was it that his imagination became fired up by a new story that simply could not wait?
© M de Pace