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Suspicions at the Window


From the Private Diary of A. Christie (Mrs)

Dear Diary

This morning I experienced an epiphany, or more truthfully, the germ of an idea that forced me to stop banging away at my Remington Victor T and sit back from my desk. I’d wasted several hours chewing pencils, staring at my typewriter, and mulling over the characteristics of the killer in my new book, ‘An Excruciatingly Painful Murder is Announced’. I’d even spent half an hour tying to work up a sweat on my other current work-in-progress, ‘Humping Miss Daisy’ (though I suspect Bodley Head won’t touch that one with even the longest of barge poles, due to its working-class connotations).

It was something Inspector Lestrade mentioned, as we sauntered across the golf course the other day, that gave me cause to ponder. He talked about the use of masks (utilising my very own visage) and wondering why on earth anyone would place such an item on their victim’s faces. We had come to the joint conclusion the perpetrator must either be completely bonkers or simply endeavouring to throw Mister Holmes off the scent, vis a vis the murders.

And then it hit me – Lestrade is not the only person to put the idea of mask-wearing in my mind recently. A fan of mine (whose name I forget) appeared at my window one morning a few months ago, having somehow evaded the chaps at the main gate, and tapped her fat fingers on my windowpane until I gave up trying to ignore her and lifted the sash.

“Arr,” she began, climbing through the opening, “never thought Oi’d see the day when Oi might come face ter face wi’ the famous writer Missus Christie.” Sitting on the open sill, she clumped her boots onto the floor and grinned up at me.

I forced myself to suppress a sigh and held out my hand. “Very well, then, where is it?”

“Where’s what, moi luv?” said the dull-witted woman.

“The book you wish me to sign.”

“Oh-arr,” she said, gurgling like a drain. “This ‘ere.” And with that, she pulled out a paperback copy of ‘The Merder of Bodger Ackrood’ by Egetha Chroosty.

This time, I did not attempt to supress a sigh, and instead let out what I can only describe as a very definite grunt of irritation. “This is not one of mine,” I said, tapping the cover with my forefinger. “As you can see from the title, it is by one of those copycat writers who steal the manuscripts of famous authors like myself and put them out with a slightly different title in order to sell them to stupid people. Like you.”

The woman scarcely reacted to this put-down (almost as if she’d expected it), and with a shrug, stuffed the book back into her overcoat.

“If you’d care to buy a genuine copy of one my books, I’d be happy to sign it,” I said, adopting an air of pretended bonhomie. “Until then, goodbye.”

“Oh, oh,” she muttered, “can’t Oi jest take a picture of you for moi scrapbook, please?”

I sniffed and gave a curt nod. “If you must.”

The woman produced one of those cheap cameras that are all the rage these days and began snapping away.

“Happy now?” I said, my natural churlishness beginning to get the better of me.

“Thank ye muchly,” said the fool, clambering back through the window. “Oi’ll get it printed life size so Oi can wear it and look just like what you do.”

“Why on earth should you wish to do that?” I said.

“Oh, no partic’lar reason.” So saying, she hurried away across the lawn, just as one of my chaps came into view, brandishing a shotgun.

“And stay out, you fuckin bitch!” he shouted. Then making his way over to the still-open window, he lifted his hat. “Excuse the language, Aggie, but that bloody cow put something in me tea. I been out cold for the last twenty minutes.” He peered into the room. “Didn’t cause you no trouble, did she?”

I glanced around the room in case I had somehow missed something. “No, I don’t think so. She wanted a photo, that’s all.”

“I see,” he said. “Well if she shows her face again, I’ll stick my boot up her fat arschfotze.”

“Excuse me?” I said, a little taken aback.

“Oh, sorry, Aggie. Something she said as she was running off just now. German, I believe. It means–”

“Yes, I know what it means, thank you Brian. Look here, I don’t know what that silly woman put in your drink, but I suggest you pop round to the kitchen and ask cook for some tea and Battenberg. I think you deserve it.”

“Thanks very much,” he said, raising his hat again.

“You’re welcome. And if you fancy a quick one later, you know where I am.” I gave him a wink and he reddened slightly, but giggled, nevertheless. Then he was off round the side of the house in search of cake.

The memory of this incident suddenly seemed vitally important, and after pondering on it for a while longer, it occurred to me that the strange woman and her Deutschlandish colloquialisms might well have something to do with the goings-on at Huge Island.

Striding over to the mantelpiece, I tugged on the bell, drumming my fingers on the shelf as I waited.

Maudie popped her head around the door a few seconds later. “Yes ma’am?”

“Ask my chauffeur to pop up here, will you? I’m going on a little trip.”

“Sorry ma’am, William’s got a dose of the clap. He’s gone to the doctors.”

“Really? Well, I suppose that’s what he gets for hanging around with those tarts in the village.” I hesitated for moment, unsure what to do.

Then Maudie piped up, “Oi can drive, ma’am, if you like?”

“Oh, jolly good.” I looked her up and down. “Can’t have you going out in that skimpy skirt though, Maudie. Come up to my bedroom and you can try on a pair of my jodhpurs.”

And so half an hour later we were speeding towards Devon and the small village of Dolphin Cove. I could only pray we’d get there in time.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Point of the Game


Diary of Doctor J Watson

General MacArthur’s bound hands flew up in front of his face, as if he might somehow possess the ability to stop a bullet merely by waving it away, but there was no need. I heard a dull ‘click’ as the revolver’s hammer hit the firing pin, revealing that the weapon was not actually loaded.

The old man dropped his hands. “Nearly shat myself there,” he muttered. Then letting out a loud guffaw, added, “Knew you wouldn’t have the nerve, Holmes. Ha!”

“Nerves don’t come into it, General,” murmured Holmes, sliding the gun back into his pocket. “However, bluffing can work miracles.” He glanced at me, “Eh, Watson?”

I nodded, though I too had been convinced in those few short seconds that he fully intended to commit murder right there in front of us. I let out a long sigh. “Probably best not to shoot the prisoners, though.”

Holmes sniffed and said nothing.

“Well then,” said MacArthur, his bravado returning in spades. “Like I told you, won’t get anything out of me. Old soldier. Sworn to secrecy.” He jerked his head forward defiantly, sticking his chin out at Holmes. “And you can’t shoot me, so you’re buggered.” He chuckled and settled back in his chair, his face a portrait of arrogant self-satisfaction.

“I zink zat you are right, Herr General,” said a quiet voice behind me, “Holmes cannot shoot you, but I can, and I vill.”

Whirling round, my gaze met the deep-set dark green eyes and stark white face of Professor Helga Klopp, her stout, leather-clad body framed in the doorway. I observed her raised arm, the German luger grasped in her right hand. But before I could move, the gun went off with an ear-splitting roar.

For a moment, my senses were filled with a high-pitched whine and the stench of cordite, then turning back to look at the general, I saw the neat round hole in his temple, the glazed look in his eyes and the splatter of blood and brains across the far wall.

“Oh, fuck,” gasped Mary. “She’s killed him.”

The Professor stuck a hand down her knickers and pulled out another gun, aiming it directly at me. “Vell, Doctor Vatson, ve meet again, you handsome man.” She gave me a saucy wink, then looked at Mary. “And you? His slut of a vife, ay?” She turned back to me. “Vonce again you dizappoint me, Johnny. We could have made zuch beautiful muzak togezer.”

“You fiend,” said Holmes, spitting out the words. “You’ll never get away with this.”

“Vell, I might.”

Mary tugged at my sleeve. “What does she mean – making beautiful music together?”

“Tell you later,” I whispered. I was intent on sliding a finger into the trigger guard of my own revolver, but as I’d been silly enough to put it in my rear trouser pocket, I’d have to be careful. At best, I might easily shoot my arse off, at worst I might get in a couple of rounds before Klopp killed us all. I decided to bide my time. Holmes would have something up his sleeve for sure.

Lestrade had remained dumbstruck through all of this but now he stepped forward. “Alright, alright, Miss Plopp, this ‘as gone far enough. I’m arresting you for murder and several other incidences of bad behaviour that I’ll detail later. Get yer hands up.”

“It’s Klopp, dummkopf, and no, I don’t zink I vill get my hands up.” She turned the luger on him and after a moment’s hesitation, Lestrade did the sensible thing and stepped back, leaning against the dining table.

We all stood there staring at her, unable to say anything. Then Holmes sniffed and clicked his teeth. Recognising this secret signal, I glanced at him and he gave a small nod. I saw his eyes flick up to the ceiling and grasped his meaning immediately. Such a dangerous move could get us all killed. Even so, I reached up and scratched my nose to let him know I was willing to try.

“So, Professor,” said Holmes, sliding his hands into his trouser pockets, casually. “What now? Going to shoot us all?”

“Eventually.” She looked at me, her tongue sliding seductively around her wicked mouth. “But first we haff to finish ze game.”

“Ah,” said Holmes. “The game.” He ambled slowly across the carpet to a point just shy of the exact centre of the room. “And what is the point of this game?”

“Ze point, Mister Holmes is wewenge.”

“It’s what?” said Holmes.

“Wewenge,” she said again.

“Revenge, you mean?” said Holmes, mockingly.

“Off course zat’s vot I mean, you imbecile. Do not play me for ze fool, Holmes.”

“Why not,” said he, “you’re rather good at it.”

Klopp strode right up to Holmes and pointed both guns in his face. “Do not push your luck Mister Holmes…”

Whatever she intended to say next will remain a mystery, for it was at that precise moment that I made my move. Stepping quickly to one side, I pulled out my gun, took aim, and fired. The chain holding up the chandelier parted company with its housing and the whole thing crashed to the floor. Or more specifically, it crashed on top of Professor Klopp.

“Run!” yelled Holmes, waving his hands frantically.

We ran.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Scent of a Woman


The Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

“Quickly, Mary,” yelled Johnny, looking up. “Smelling salts.”

“Smelling salts?” I said. “Why on earth would I possess smelling salts?”

He waved a hand at Holmes. “For emergencies, of course – we have to jolt him out of this oblivion.”

I glanced at Lestrade, but his startled expression told me he’d be of no use. “Right, then,” I muttered. “Have to resort to my womanly wiles.” With that, I hoisted up my skirts, pushed Johnny out of the way and placed my feet on either side of Sherlock’s head. With a quick movement, I squatted down and plopped my womanly parts onto the detective’s face.

“Mary,” gasped Johnny, “what the hell–?”

“Count to ten, dear,” I said, praying that my unusual response to the crisis would prompt some sign of life from Holmes. For a long, long moment nothing happened, then a sudden lurch beneath me followed by a sucking sensation (which was actually rather pleasant), told me I hadn’t made the wrong decision and I found myself hurled aside with some force.

“Jesus Fucking Christ, woman!” gasped Holmes, sitting up, his mouth gulping air like an irate haddock. “You trying to suffocate me?”

I had landed with my skirts around my waist, displaying my personal assets to the world, but Lestrade, taking the gentlemanly initiative for once, stepped forward and helped me to my feet. After making myself respectable, I looked at Holmes.

“Not dead, then?”

He blinked, sniffed and frowned. Then, presumably recalling what had occurred only a few moments before, shook his head. “No, it seems not, but please, Mary, never do that again.”

Johnny took his friend’s arm and pulled him upright, seating him back on the chair he’d so recently vacated. “Think we’d better give you a dose of something to make you sick,” he said, examining his companion’s eyes, mouth and ears.

Holmes batted him away. “No, no, leave me be, all I need is a glass of water to get this awful…” he glanced at me and coughed. “To get that interesting and unusual piquancy out of my system.”

“No need to be polite, Holmes,” I said. “The plumbing in this house is atrocious – I haven’t had a bath in ages. If this had been a week later, my lady parts might well have finished you off.”

“Thank heaven for small mercies,” he said, a smile playing around his mouth. “Now,” he continued, surveying our four captives who had watched the whole scene with a mixture of amusement and abject horror. “Let’s split this lot up.”

We spent the next few minutes transporting three of the villains to other rooms nearby, leaving only General MacArthur in the dining room.

“Won’t do you any good, you know?” said the old man, when the four of us had returned. “Won’t get anything out of me. Old soldier, you know. Sworn to secrecy.”

“I might remind you,” said Holmes, “that only a short while ago you did tell us one of those secrets.”

“I did?” He grunted. “Bugger.”

“We’re not much wiser for it, though,” said Johnny.

“Perhaps not,” I said, “but at least we know what Professor Klopp’s plan is.”

Holmes leaned forward, hands on his knees, peering into MacArthur’s grizzled face. “Indeed, Watsons. Both quite correct. In fact…” Reaching into his inside pocket he pulled out his revolver. “So much so that we no longer need these pitiful acolytes.”

Stepping back, he held up the gun, aiming at a spot between General MacArthur’s eyes.

“Now, just a bally minute,” blustered the old man. “Shooting me won’t do you a jot of good, you know?”

“It’ll make me feel better,” quipped Holmes.

Seeing Sherlock’s idea, I joined in. “Yes, you’re right, Holmes, blow his bloody head off. One less for breakfast, if nothing else.”

MacArthur’s eyes widened and his mouth opened so far, I though his jaw might fall off. “But…but…but…” he spluttered.

“But me no buts, General. Your time has come.” And with that, Holmes pulled the trigger.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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The Pigeon Poisoner


Diary of Doctor J Watson

Glancing at the faces of my colleagues, I could see I was not the only one to feel somewhat out of my depth. Knowing it would take a little while for Billy Blah’s sobering revelation to sink into our respective intellects and produce a solution (if indeed there was one), it seemed logical to proceed with those tasks we were able to deal with.

“Tie him up, eh?” I said, looking at Holmes for approval.

The Great Detective nodded. “Yes. In fact, I suggest we tie them all up, stick them in separate rooms and boil their toes till they squawk.”

“Boil their toes?” said Mary, her face tinged with alarm.

“Metaphorically speaking,” said Holmes, giving her a wink.

“Lestrade,” I said, crossing the room, “let’s you and I round up the others. Mary, would you fetch my emergency villain-apprehending kit from our room, please?”

Mary acquiesced and followed us up the stairs.

“Seems ter me, Doctor,” said Lestrade as we walked along to General MacArthur’s room, “that it mightn’t be a completely stupid idea to get a team of constables over ‘ere ter lend a hand.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” said I, “but that would simply scare away our nemesis, and we don’t want to risk her fleeing the scene, as it were. At least, not before we’ve had the chance to run her to ground.”

“Or before she kills us all,” muttered Lestrade, solemnly.

We’d reached the General’s room and giving a quick knock, I went in. The man himself was sitting on his bed, with Dilip Lombardi lounging on an easy chair nearby. The pair had a guilty look about them and I suspected they’d been in the midst of plotting some devious scheme.

“Oh, er…” said MacArthur, spluttering over his words. “Just ahm…just discussing the funeral, etcetera.”

“No need to continue the charade, General,” I said, as disdainfully as possible. “As you both know, Holmes is alive and well and looking forward to applying a little pressure to your villainous brains.”

The General laughed. “Ah, game’s up, eh?” He glanced at Lombardi and I caught the quick exchange between them that could well have been some secret message. But what that message might be, I had no clue.

“Just get yerselves dahn the stairs,” said Lestrade, coming over all authoritarian. He moved back to the door and waved a hand. “Out.”

I followed the pair back down to the dining room while Lestrade went to fetch Miss Claymore, whose intermittent moaning had lapsed into occasional grunts of annoyance.

Mary emerged from our room carrying the emergency kit and holding a note.

“Look – a pigeon was waiting on our windowsill.”

I took the piece of paper and glanced at the tiny writing, but it was far too small to make out the words.

Back in the dining room, I took a length of rope from the emergency villain-apprehending kit and cut it into lengths to tie up the three men. Lestrade appeared, dragging a grouchy Vera Claymore behind him.

Holmes had arranged four chairs in a line. The first was occupied by Mister Blah, and now General MacArthur and Mister Lombardi were pushed onto the second and third chairs. Miss Claymore’s injury appeared to have improved for, though she still walked rather bowleggedly, she’d given up trying to elicit sympathy from us.

We spent a few minutes securing the four captives to their respective chairs, and ensured they were free of weapons. Rather oddly, all four sat quietly, watching the four of us, as if expecting something interesting to occur.

“Mary found this on our windowsill,” I said to Holmes, handing him the pigeon’s note.

He took it carefully, glanced at the writing then pulled a magnifying glass from his inside jacket pocket. Seating himself at the table, he ran a hand over the paper, flattening it out, then holding the glass over it, leaned down, his eyes only inches away from the tiny lettering.

“Why on earth would anyone pen a letter in such…” He sniffed a few times, coughed and dropped the magnifying glass, then sitting bolt upright, looked pointedly at me and murmured, “Oh, dear…” And with that, Holmes fell off his chair.

As I leaped to his side, I was aware of a merry chuckling from the quartet of villains behind me. Ignoring them, I dragged Sherlock away from the chair, so he now lay flat on his back. I unfastened my companion’s collar and slipped a hand under his neck, titling his head back slightly to ease his breathing.

“Holmes? What is it, Holmes?”

Already his lips were turning a deep blue and his eyelids flickered, wanly. Leaning over him, I lowered my ear to catch his words.

“Pij…pij…pigeon…post…” And with that he lapsed into unconsciousness.

“My God,” I gasped, looking up at Mary. “He’s been poisoned – by pigeons!”

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Caught in the Act


Diary of Doctor J Watson

Beneath the bedsheet, the sounds of the house came to me in subtle, oddly-subdued ways. I heard the soft creak of the French windows in the drawing room followed by the familiar slap-slap of General MacArthur’s hob-nailed boots as he crossed the hall, the soft swish as his heels caught on the carpet, then a hesitant, halting step as the old man paused outside the dining room. I imagined I could feel his gaze on me and wondered what he might be thinking.

There was a deep, almost mournful sigh, a cough, then the footsteps retreated back into the hall and the slow clop, clop up the stairs.

One down.

More footsteps in the hall. This time there had been no creak at the French widows – had someone wedged them open? The step was light and quick, reminding me of the confident, swaggering gait of that infernal ice-cream seller, Mario, whose amorous attentions towards my dear Mary had almost brought us to blows. Suppressing a growl of anger, I forced myself to concentrate. The footsteps had stopped in the hall and there came a swishing noise as if the individual turned sharply on his heel. Two steps on the soft carpet followed, then receded back into the hall. Whoever it was, had changed his mind about gazing upon the body of Sherlock Holmes. Again, I discerned the clop, clop of footsteps up the stairs.

The next sound was unexpected. It was as if something, or someone, had disturbed the air in the room. I stared up at the bedsheet that covered my face, striving to see through the thin material, but there was only whiteness.

A soft breeze seemed to waft the sheet, and I wondered if someone had opened the window. But that was impossible – at the very least, I’d have heard the scrape of wood against wood as the sash was forced upwards. So that wasn’t it. But still this soft wind blew against the sheet, as if someone was blowing gently in my ear. What could it be?

A soft intake of breath, then, “Hallo, Dokter Vatson. I haf come to kill you.”

It was her! Professor Klopp! With a swift movement, I threw back the sheet, jumped up, and thrust my hands forward. Making contact with the villain’s face, I twisted my fingers, grinding the chilli sauce into her damned eyes.

“Ow, ow, you fuckin arsehole!” screamed the man, rubbing his injured orbs.

In the same instant, Sherlock Holmes sprang out of the cupboard. “Ha!” he yelled. “Now we’ve got you. Klopp.”

“It seems not,” said I, sitting on the edge of the dining table.

Billy Blah had crumpled and sat on the floor, cross-legged like a naughty schoolboy. “What the hell was that for?” he whined. “Wasn’t going to do anyfing…”

“No, of course you weren’t,” said Holmes, his face creased in a snarl. Then leaning forward, he dug his hands into Blah’s jacket and pulled out a vegetable knife. “And you wouldn’t dream of stabbing Johnny through the heart?”

“No, I were just gonner…” He let out a loud sob and continued rubbing his eyes.

Mary and Lestrade appeared in the doorway.

“Where’s Klopp?” said Lestrade, staring at Mister Blah.

Mary glanced at me. “Are you alright, Johnny?”

I nodded and turned back to our captive. “How did you know Holmes wasn’t dead,” I said, handing the man a handkerchief. “And that it was me on the table, not him?”

Blah sniffed and wiped the hankie across his face, blinking furiously. “It’s what she said.”

“Talk sense, man,” barked Holmes. “What did she say, exactly?”

Blah looked at the Great Detective, his lower lip trembling. “She told us what you would do.”

Holmes rolled his eyes. “Which bit of it?”

“All of it,” said Blah, blowing his nose on my handkerchief. “From when Dixie Dean first went to see you at Baker Street.”

At this, Holmes sank down and sat with a thump on the floor. “All of it? Every detail?”

Kneeling beside them, I took my handkerchief back and wiped the chilli sauce from my throbbing hands. “Dixie Dean was the fellow masquerading as Doctor Armstrong?”

Blah nodded.

I looked at Holmes and saw from his face that this was as much a blow to him as it was to me.

“I think, dear friends,” said Holmes, in a low voice, “that we have greatly underestimated Frau Klopp.” He poked a thin finger at Blah. “Where is she, Billy?”

The other man shook his head. “More’n me life’s worth, mate. Yer don’t know what she’d do.”

“I know what I shall do if you don’t tell us,” said Holmes.

“Don’t care,” he sobbed, looking up at Mary. “She ain’t a woman like what you are, Mrs Watson. She ain’t human.”

“Of course she’s human, you stupid man,” said Holmes. “Though I suspect she has more resources in her arsenal of skills than we could ever have imagined.”

Blah nodded sadly. “She ‘as. And you lot are gonner be bloody sorry by the time she’s finished.”

“Why, said Holmes, his voice almost inaudible. “What is she going to do?”

Billy looked at each of us in turn. “She’s going to kill yer. Kill all of yer. And it’s gonner hurt. A lot.”

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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A Detective in the Cupboard


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“Well,” said Holmes, “I think we can safely assume Miss Claymore is in the employ of Professor Klopp.”

“But why would she go up to the second floor?” I said.

Holmes smiled sardonically. “Elementary, Watson. Claymore probably feared we were getting too close to the truth and wanted to warn Klopp. She took the knife in case you got in the way.”

I shook my head. “That can’t be right, Holmes – I did get in the way and she could very easily have stabbed me as she ran out onto the landing.”

The Great Detective shrugged. “What can I say – women!”

“Now just wait a minute…” Mary butted in.

But Holmes held up a hand. “I shall take great pleasure in arguing the proverbial toss with you my dear when we have the luxury of having Frau Klopp in custody. For the moment, please listen.”

Holmes quickly outlined his idea, then massaging his chin thoughtfully, gazed around the room. “Ah-ha,” he said, “this will do nicely.” He crossed to one of the cabinets that contained serving dishes, plates and crockery and flinging the doors open, began piling teh contents on the floor. I saw his plan immediately and opening the other cabinet, transferred various items of cutlery and silverware into the lower section to make room for the additional items.

“Should be enough space for a small one,” said Holmes, sliding his backside onto the now empty middle shelf. With a little manoeuvring, he was able to fit himself into the cabinet without too much trouble. “Shut the door, Johnny, would you?”

Carefully closing the door, I gave it a gentle shove as the catch slipped into place. Taking my hand away, the door remained firmly shut, giving no clue to the cabinet’s newly-acquired cargo.

“Excellent,” said Holmes, his voice sounding oddly echoey from inside the wooden refuge. “Now, you all know what to do, so get about it.”

I nodded to Mary and Lestrade, who slipped out of the room to fetch the items Holmes had asked for. Meanwhile, I busied myself fastening the false knife onto my chest with the aid of the belt from my trousers, then I moved the little Indian miniatures to the far end of the dining table. A minute later, Mary was back carrying a large bedsheet, followed by Lestrade with a few items from the pantry.

Once I’d prepared myself on the table, my dear wife covered me over with the sheet, the false knife sticking up from my chest.

“That should do it,” she said, fussing over the edges of the sheet. “You’re not quite as tall as Holmes, darling, but I don’t think that German bitch will notice.” She patted my forehead and leaning over me, kissed the part of the sheet that covered my mouth. “Try not to breathe.”

I heard the door open and someone kicked the wooden wedge into place to stop it closing by itself. Two sets of footsteps receded down the corridor, leaving Holmes and I to our fates.

The Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Having left Johnny wrapped up like a corpse on the table, Inspector Lestrade and I went back into the hall where Holmes had been ‘stabbed’. Looking up, I could see Miss Claymore’s hand waving forlornly through the banister rails on the upper landing. She was still whining softly, but from the sound of it, her raging anger had subsided.

“Reckon we’d better do summat about that one,” said Lestrade, tugging at his moustache.

“Let’s get the others together first,” I said. He agreed and we hurried back outside and walked across the lawn to the icehouse where Billy Blah, Dilip Lombardi and General MacArthur hovered near the open doorway. All three looked at Lestrade but made no comment on his sudden appearance, as if they’d expected him to turn up at any moment.

“Bally bad show,” muttered the general as we approached. “Hitting a fellow from behind.”

I looked at Mister Rogers, whose body lay face down just inside the doorway. An ice-pick was lodged in the back of his head, its handle attached to a length of wire which in turn connected to a spring-like mechanism above the doorframe. The contraception reminded me of the old bucket-over-the-open-door trick we used to play on unwary teachers at school. Though of course this version was rather more deadly.

“Anyone see what happened?” said Lestrade.

Lombardi shook his head sadly. “Holmes got here first and called us over.” He looked over Lestrade’s shoulder. “Where is he, by the way? And Doctor Watson, is he..?” He looked pointedly at me, as if I might be hiding something.

I glanced at Lestrade and he gave a small nod.

“Unfortunately,” he began, “Sherlock Holmes has been murdered.”

I watched each of them as they took in this news, but all three reacted as if they were completely innocent, though I knew that such a circumstance was quite impossible.

Lestrade explained how Holmes had been the victim of a knife attack and that Johnny had laid his body out in the dining room.

“And what about Vera?” said Mister Blah. “I mean, Miss Claymore,” he added, with a cough.

“She too has had an accident, though she’s largely unhurt,” I said.

“Ah, well that’s something.”

“So,” I said, rubbing my hands together in a let’s-get-going sort of way, “my husband asked that we should all go to our rooms for now and he will decide what to do shortly.”

“Really?” said Mister Lombardi. “Go to our rooms? Where any or all of us might be murdered at any moment?”

At this, I was sorely tempted to say something else, but I reigned myself in and simply said, “We’re all to go to our rooms and Johnny will gather us all together soon.”

The three of them grumbled for a moment, then began to make their way across to the house.

“Right then, “said Lestrade, his little eyes twinkling. “Which one of ‘em’s going to crack first, eh?”

“I think that rather depends on which one Professor Klopp finds first, don’t you?”

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Lestrade to the Rescue (Again)


Journal of Inspector G. Lestrade

Reaching the front door, I launched myself against it. Luckily, it was ajar and swung inwards as my shoulder made painful contact with the large brass knocker.

Getting to my feet, I looked up and saw across the hall a familiar figure lying prostrate on the floor. It was Holmes and he had a knife sticking out of his chest.

“Oh, bloody Nora,” I yelped, my hand going to my mouth in a girly display of fright. Pulling myself together, I ran to his side, aware of the clatter of footsteps somewhere above me.

“Holmes,” I screamed. “You’re not bloody dead, are yer?”

Doctor and Mrs Watson tore down the stairs and knelt beside me, the good doctor immediately taking over and checking his friend’s vital signs.

“Sherlock?” said Watson, running his fingers around the area of the apparent wound. “Is this what I hope it is?”

At that, Holmes raised his head. “What d’you hope it is, Watson?”

“I hope it’s one of Mycroft’s knife-proof vests.”

Holmes sighed. “Ah, yes. That would have been a capital idea. Had I thought of it.” His head dropped to the floor with a thump, his eyes closed and his mouth open, a last gasp of life escaping his thin lips.

Sherlock Holmes was dead.

Watson’s lower lip trembled. He placed a hand over his friend’s eyes, then murmured something that sounded like a prayer. He sniffed, then sat up and turned to me. “Lestrade. You came.”

“Too late, it seems,” said I, a sense of despair washing over me. I gazed down at the lifeless face of our former colleague. “We’ll not see the like of ‘im again,” I said. “Not in this life.”

“Hold the eulogies, chaps,” muttered Holmes.

“Bloody hell,” I gasped. “He ain’t dead at all.”

“Christ,” said Watson, “give me a hand.” Grasping Holmes under the arms we took a firm hold and hauled the undead detective to his feet, the knife in his chest waving slightly with the effort, then shuffled him over to a nearby chair.

It was only then that we noticed the other weapon – a large kitchen knife – on the floor. Holmes had apparently been lying on top of it.

Watson stared at it, then looked at Holmes. “If that’s the knife there…” He let out a low growl. “Where did this one come from?”

“What? This?” Holmes gave the knife sticking out of his chest a playful flick with his finger. The implement waved back and forth as if made of rubber.

Watson straightened up. “You fucking twat,” he hissed. “I thought you were dead.” Snatching the knife, he gave it a sharp tug and it came away from Holmes’ chest, revealing it to be little more than a handle and a two-inch ‘blade’ that had been fastened in place with the aid of sticky tape.

“Keep it down, please, John,” said Holmes, glancing around in a rather furtive manner. “Common-or-garden joke-shop, as it happens.”

Standing up, Holmes ripped off the remaining pieces of sticky tape and fastened his shirt. Then, signalling our silence with a finger to his lips, whispered, “This way.” And with that, he scurried off towards the dining room. Once inside, he shut the door softly and crossed over to the windows to draw the curtains.

Watson stood and watched him, hands on hips, indicating that he was still very angry.

“What’s going on, Holmes?” said Mary, stroking her husband’s arm in a calming motion.

“Fink he’s ‘aving one of ‘is clever clogs moments,” said I.

Holmes held up a warning hand. “Shh.” He cocked his head as if listening, then indicated for us to gather round. “Now,” he said. “Admittedly my little performance may appear to you to be in poor taste, Watson, but I have my reasons. Had you been a little quicker in looking over the banister rail just now you would have observed another individual peering down at me from the first-floor landing.”

“Oh, shit,” said Watson. “Klopp.”

“Correct. Seeing that Miss Claymore’s knife-throwing act had apparently killed me instead of you, she quite naturally decided to make herself scarce. I suggest we do not avail her of the news that I am still very much alive until we can track her down.”

“Hang on,” said I. “Is this the Professor Klopp that…”

“Yes, yes,” said Holmes, “the very same, and if she’s not the mastermind behind this whole affair, then I’m a monkey’s carbuncle.”

“I don’t understand,” said Watson. “When did you strap that device to your chest?”

“Unlike you, friend John, I prepared myself for a successful attempt to be made on my life, and as there is an abundance of large knives in this house, I suspected the killer, one of them at least, to utilise such a weapon in an attempt to kill me.”

“But you said I was to be the next victim,” said Watson.

Holmes coughed. “Ah, yes. A ploy devised purely to protect you.” He looked at the floor. “Of course, I didn’t know Miss Claymore would actually try to kill you – I thought she was merely after a bit of…” He waved a hand in a suggestive manner.

“For God’s sake,” said Mary. “And you didn’t think it necessary to tell us the truth?”

“Mea culpa,” said Holmes, the beginnings of a sardonic smile playing around his mouth. “The fact is, Mary, I expected you two would be safely out of the way leaving me free to tackle our Germanic friend. Who, by the way, is still at large.”

“Wait a minute,” persisted Mary. “So you didn’t go off to the icehouse to follow Rogers?”

“I did, actually,” said Holmes, a look of concern sliding over his features.

“Oh,” said Mary, “but you didn’t think he might be in league with Klopp?”

“Again,” said Holmes, “I did, actually.”

Mary stamped her foot. “So you know what Rogers is doing right now, then?”

“Yes,” he said, simply.

“And what might that be?”

“Right now? He’s lying dead in the icehouse with an ice-pick in his head.”

We were all too stunned to speak.

After a moment, Holmes continued. “Some sort of spring mechanism attached to the door. Rather clever, actually. Poor chap didn’t have a chance.”

“Oh shit,” said Watson. “Look.”

We all turned to look at the row of miniature Indians on the dining table. One of them was lying down, his head melting into an ice cube.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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