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Monthly Archives: September 2019

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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