Tag Archives: Flora Poste

In the Mooood for Murder…

Moood for Murder 350
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“Have to say, old bean,” I said, passing round the Peek Freans, “You couldn’t have left if much later.”

Holmes clasped the mug between his hooves and sipped his cocoa. “Would’ve been quicker off the mark, Watson, but my accessories kept catching on the stair rods.”

“Humph.” Mary put the kettle back on the stove and gave the famous consulting detective a fierce sideways glance. “That’ve sounded good in court – sorry m’lud, if I hadn’t caught my udders on the banister, I’d have been able to avert the stabbing to death of Flora, Doctor Watson and his beautiful wife.”

I coughed, nervously. “Alright my dear, Holmes has apologised.”

Flora helped herself to another biscuit and waved it at me like a baton. “No, Mary’s right. Another few seconds and it would have been curtains for the lot of us.”

I was about to apologise again for the general lack of appreciation, but Holmes shook his head.

“It’s fine, Watson. The ladies have every right to complain – after all, I was well aware of your plight. It took longer than I expected to curtail the killer’s movements.”

Mary thumped his arm. “Well aware, were you? Well aware? Fat lot of good that’d do us with a knife in our backs.”

Sherlock Holmes rubbed his bruised arm. “Perhaps it’s time I filled you in on the details, then.” He gave me a hopeful smile. “Mind taking notes, Johnny?”

“No, no, not at all.” I took another slurp of cocoa and pulled out my pocket diary. “Fire away.”

Holmes slipped off the remainder of his bovine costume and made himself more comfortable. “After your husband left me in the field to welcome you, Mary, I spent a few minutes with my animal friends before heading towards the barn. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was masquerading as a cow, rather than a bull, and had not made provision for the consequences of milking time. I shan’t bore you with the details, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more surprised milkmaid.”

I leaned forward. “How did you manage to approach the house without being seen?”

“Ah-ha,” said Holmes, giving me a sardonic smile. “Being a cow has its advantages. I was able to make my way into the farmyard behind the gathering crowd without drawing attention to myself, simply by mooing occasionally. It was while I was watching the proceedings after the dastardly murder of the police officer, that I noticed Judith Starkadder counting the heads of the throng. I studied her features carefully, Watson, and I saw a strange expression slide across her hard, bony face. I therefore deduced that she had worked out who the killer was.”

At this, Holmes took out his Meerschaum pipe and began to stuff it with Hard Old Shag (one of his favourite tobaccos). I glanced at Mary and she rolled her eyes, while Flora affected a yawn.

“And then?” I said, hoping he would take the hint. But Holmes is never a man to be rushed and he took his time lighting the pipe, taking a few thoughtful puffs before continuing with his tale.

“It occurred to me,” he said, “that if another murder was going to be committed – and I believed it was – the killer would have not only had to be present when the police officer was stabbed, but would also have needed to be able to watch you three in Ada Doom’s bedroom.”

“Sorry.” Mary waved a hand dismissively at Holmes. “But we already know who the murderer is – Adam Shitebreath.”

“Yes,” put in Flora. “After he turned into a zombie.” She nodded enthusiastically.

Holmes sniggered in a way that seemed to suggest he believed himself to be the only individual in possession of all the facts. I myself have become almost immune to this annoying habit, but I could see temperatures were rising in the faces of the womenfolk.

“Actually, Holmes…” I began.

“Not zombies, in fact, Miss Starkadder, but a member of your own family.” He turned to look at the still-naked figure in the corner. The three of us followed his gaze.

Adam Shitebreath had been securely fastened to the chair, but his face was still a mass of silent rage. Holmes got up and crossed the room.

“You see, Mary, your theory about the knives was quite correct.”

Mary sniffed and allowed herself a smile. “Course it was.”

“However, the conclusion you had not reached was why Adam was strangled, and not stabbed.”

“Strangled?” Echoed all three of us.

Holmes puffed at his pipe. “The murderer is left-handed as you deduced, but there is another factor we must consider. It’s far easier to make believe you’ve been strangled than to have been stabbed, wouldn’t you agree, Doctor?”

I nodded. “Of course, Holmes. Goes without saying.”

The great detective turned to Mary. “Have you read any of those trashy crime novels by that Christie woman?”

Mary nodded warily. “Some, yes.”

Holmes glanced at me, gave a slight smile, then turned back to my wife. “What about ‘And Then There Were None’. Read that one?”

Mary nodded, a frown forming on her already wrinkled brow.

“Then you will know that the murderer is a man who pretends to be killed in order to draw suspicion away from himself. In order to do so, he enlists the help of one of the other suspects.”

“What are you getting at, Holmes?” I was beginning to feel I’d missed a vital clue.

“Adam could not have killed Sergeant Flange, because Adam at that very moment was lying on the table covered by a bed sheet, was he not”

“Well, yes he was, as a matter of fact,” said I.

“So the murderer must have been someone very close by. Close enough to use that old circus trick known as the ‘boomerang throw’.” Holmes smiled sardonically. “Isn’t that right, Flora? Or should I say – Dexterous Dixie the Knife-Throwing Queen?”

We all turned to look at Flora and for a moment, I thought she was going to burst into tears, then her face began to change and a low growl came from her lips.

“Think you’re so clever, don’t you, Mister Holmes?”

Holmes nodded. “Yes, actually, I do.”

“I say, Holmes, you can’t be serious – Flora was standing next to me when Flange was killed.”

Holmes raised an eyebrow. “Was she, or is that simply what she allowed you to believe?” His right hand flicked up suddenly and a pair of standard-issue handcuffs flew across the room. In a second, Flora’s left hand came up and caught them.

Holmes laughed. “Hoist by her own petard. Cuff her, friend Watson.”

Somewhat taken aback I nevertheless obeyed my companion and clasped Flora’s wrists together with the dreaded manacles.

“And so,” Holmes continued, moving back towards the silent figure of Adam. “Now we come to the unmasking.” And with a deft movement, he grabbed the back of Adam’s neck and pulled it sharply downwards. The man’s whole head seemed to give way and fell to the ground. Underneath was a familiar, but shocking face – Aunt Ada Doom.

“Bloody hell,” said I.

“Christ on a bike,” muttered my wife.

“Fuck,” said Flora Poste.

“You see,” said Holmes. “When Flora’s parents were killed, everyone assumed it was an accident, but – and I’m making one or two assumptions here – I believe Flora found something in her mother, Melanie Poste’s, effects that told her something that shook her world.” He waved a hand at Flora. “Would you mind?”

Flora shrugged. “Yes, alright, clever clogs. I did find something in my mother’s knicker drawer – a letter from Fig Poste, Ada Doom’s husband, declaring his undying love for my mother. The cheating bitch made my father’s life unbearable.”

Holmes nodded. “So you decided to get your own back on the family by killing them all and inheriting whatever fortune was left.”

Flora nodded solemnly.

“Sorry Holmes,” I said. “I still don’t understand.”

“Naturally,” said Holmes. “It turns out that Aunt Ada Doom did see something nasty in the woodshed all those years ago – she saw her husband banging the arse off Melanie Poste. And she knew when Flora turned up at Cold Comfort, she’d have to ‘cut a deal’ as they say in the flicks, in order to avoid ending up dead.”

“So where’s Adam?” asked Mary.

Holmes pointed upwards. “On the bed. They skinned him and used it as a costume. Much like my own disguise,” he said with a chuckle.

“Sorry Holmes,” I muttered, “But I’m still confused. Isn’t Ada Doom lying on the bed too?”

“No. That is in fact the body of Melanie. Flora’s mother.” He frowned and gave Flora a hard stare. “I expect she brought the body to the farm in the hope of scaring Ada to death. As it turned out, they simply substituted one body for another.”

“You mean..?” I said.

“Yes, Watson – the two women were twin sisters. Obvious, really. No doubt when Ada had outlived her usefulness as a killer, she herself would have been killed.” He stuck his pipe in his mouth and busied himself relighting it.

“But why on earth did Flora involve us?”

“Like all villains, she believed herself infallible. Knowing I was in France, she thought silly old Doctor Watson would toddle along, go through the motions but in time, give up, effectively clearing her of any blame.” He looked up at me. “But she was wrong.”

“Right, then,” I said. “Better call the police, eh Holmes?”

“No need, Watson, they’re already here. Inspector Lestrade is in the barn. He’s the Holstein Friesian.” Pulling out his pocket watch, he frowned. “Better be quick – he’s due for milking in five minutes.”


Posted by on June 26, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Reflections of Doom…

Three Knives 350
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Having carried the body of the former police officer upstairs, Flora, Mary and myself laid him out next to the similarly lifeless corpses of Adam Shitebreath and Aunt Ada Doom. The double bed was getting a little crowded.

“If there’s any more murders, we’ll have to start putting them in the wardrobe!” Flora’s voice had a merry tone to it, but I could barley raise a smile.

I turned to my wife and grasped her bony fingers. “Mary, would you help me examine the murder weapons, please?”

She nodded enthusiastically. “Delighted.”

I had taken the blade from the latest victim and placed it on the dressing table next to the other one. Mary crouched down and peered at the knives.

“These two have the same markings on the handles, Johnny.” Mary looked up at me with a grim expression. “They’ve been used by the same person. A left-handed person.”

I rolled my eyes round in my head, trying to focus on the problem. More specifically, I wondered what Holmes would make of it. No doubt he’d be able to see through the fog that clouded my deductive abilities. “Even so,” I ventured, “Anyone could have picked up either of these knives and committed murder.”

Mary shook her head. “To use a baking metaphor, these killings have a leftish whisk action to them – you see dear, the angle of entry in each case shows the stabbing action was made by a left-handed person.”

I cleared my throat noisily. “I hardly think whisking comes into it…”

But my wife was not to be outdone. “I’m not making this up, Johnny – there’s an obvious modus operandi in the killer’s method of attack. Actually, there was a lovely article on that very subject in The Police Gazette last week.” She gave me a rueful smile. “You should read more, dear.”

“Pshaw!” I muttered. “Police Gazette? Codswallop. I wouldn’t wipe my bottom on that piece of trash.”

“I’m afraid I agree with Mary, “ said Flora in a small voice. “It makes the most sense.”

“Oh, I see,” I rejoindered. “Makes sense does it? And the only left-handed person in the house is..?”

Flora pouted. “Well – Adam.”

“Exactly – so how in God’s name do you imagine the man not only killed himself, but then stabbed someone else after he himself was already dead, eh? And that’s assuming that he was the one who killed Ada Doom in the first place.” I waved my hands expansively. “Explain that if you can.”

The two women looked at each other.

I harrumphed and turned to look out the window. “See? You can’t, can you, and d’you know why?”

While I waited for their response, my eyes scanned the farmyard below, where the rest of the family and various workers were gathering in the gloom. As I watched, Judith Starkadder began pointing up at me, gesticulating at what I took to be my right shoulder. Only half-aware she might be trying to tell me something, I nevertheless continued with my train of thought.

“Well, Mary? Got an explanation, have you, dear?” I glared at her reflection in the bedroom window. But even as the words left my lips, I realised my mistake. As Sherlock Holmes himself would say – When you have eliminated the impossible, Watson, that which remains must be the truth. I stared at my wife’s reflection and took in the scene behind her: the naked body of Adam Shitebreath had heaved itself off the bed and was striding towards the unsuspecting women, it’s left hand raised high above its head. Clasped in its (apparently) undead grip, was a large kitchen knife.

I whirled round and opened my mouth to scream, but all that came out was “Oh, fu – ”

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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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A Woman’s Touch…

They Shook Hands 350
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Sitting by my window overlooking the meadow, watching the gentle rise and fall of my wife’s chest as she gently snores in our makeshift bed, I cannot help but feel that her arrival has only complicated matters. Admittedly, I am now in possession of facts I had not previously been aware of, but those facts have not, so far, helped me identify the murderer.

To continue my narrative…

Having collected Mrs Watson and walked back at the farm, I introduced her to Flora:

“Flora, this is Mrs Watson.”

The two women shook hands rather solemnly and I noted my wife’s interest quickly moved from the young woman’s face to that of the dead man, whose head was still resting on the table.

“Ah-ha. So the killer’s left handed?” Mrs Watson fingered the knife protruding from the victim’s back.

Flora and I glanced at each other and though we both opened our mouths, no sound was produced.

My wife gave me a bemused look. “Am I mistaken?”

I shook my head. “Not at all, Mrs Watson, it’s just that I haven’t had a chance to examine the body yet – the murder occurred only a few minutes ago, for goodness sake!” I moved forward and peered at the knife. “Left handed, eh? And your deduction is based on what, exactly?”

The slap was quick and painful. “Don’t you dare quote Sherlock Holmes at me, Johnny. I’m not some simple-minded farm-hand, you know?” As she said this, she glanced at Flora and I prayed to God my dear wife wasn’t lumping Miss Poste in with the agricultural workers – a bout of female one-upmanship was a circumstance I could well do without.

As I rubbed my face huffily, I was glad to see Flora hadn’t noticed the slight. In fact, the young woman herself was smiling, and for a moment a fearful dread filled my entire being. However, her next comment was not what I expected.

“Why does he call you Mrs Watson?”

Mrs Watson rolled her eyes. “Unfortunately, my husband is the victim of an abnormally severe Victorian upbringing and the accompanying severity of manners.” She leaned towards Flora and whispered conspiratorially, “On our wedding night he kept moaning ‘Mrs Watson, Mrs Watson’ and I thought he must be talking about his fucking mother, until I realised he meant me!” This last provoked a burst of laughter from both my wife and Miss Poste. I could feel my temperature rising.

“Language, my dear…”

But my wife cut me off with a raised finger. “Don’t, Johnny. Just don’t.”

Flora took Mrs Watson’s arm. “So what is your name, then?”

“Magdalena. But my friends call me Mary.” She glared at me. “My husband can’t get past the biblical implications of being named after a so-called prostitute, so…”

Flora nodded as if she knew exactly what Mrs Watson was talking about and her face adopted a pitying expression. “Poor Johnny.” She patted my arm. No wonder you’re always so uptight.”

“I am NOT uptight,” I retorted sharply. “I am simply a well-mannered Englishman.”

At this, my wife effected a perfectly executed aside to Flora: “He’s Scottish, actually – but don’t tell him.”

I thumped my fist on the table, but once again missed my mark and slapped my thigh. This time however, I was able to refrain from shouting Hoorah! Instead, I coughed, gathered myself together and leaned forward to examine the corpse. “So. Left-handed you say?”

Mrs Watson – who I shall from here onwards refer to as Mary (anything for a quiet life), ran a finger along the handle of the knife. “See – the wood is marked on this side where the holder’s fingernails have dug into it. No doubt over a period of several years.”

“Really?” Said I.

“Yes, and look here – you can see where the blade was sharpened with a degree of pressure on the right side of the knife. The person who sharpened it could not help but draw the blade towards them. Therefore, left handed.”

I must admit I was seeing my Mary in a new light. Though I had of course invited her here to aid my investigation, I was a little stunned at the intelligence of her deductions. I turned to Flora. “Who in this household is left-handed?”

Flora took a deep breath. “You’re not going to like this.”

“Perhaps not, but the truth must be told.”

“There’s only one person in the household who is left-handed.” She blinked. “Adam Shitebreath.”

I closed my eyes. “Bugger.”

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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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The Unusual Suspects…

Mrs Watson at the Fence 350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Had my voice possessed an ounce of the gravitas of Sherlock Holmes, I am in no doubt the entire gathering would have suspended their movements entirely. Sadly, this did not happen, and instead every person in the room (save Flora and myself) began screaming and running around. However, in the instant before this travesty occurred, I caught a glimpse of Seth’s face and I could swear there was a gleam of vengeance in his dark eyes. Though it might have been shock, I suppose. Or dismay. In any case, I determined to advance his name to the top of my list of suspects, followed closely by Judith, Amos and Elfine (whose innocent, virgin-like charm is surely a front).

The sharp retort of my revolver brought the madness to a standstill, and every face turned towards me. I slipped my trusty weapon back into my trousers and allowed a very serious expression to take up residence on my ruddy features. “No-one must leave this room.” I narrowed my eyes for added effect.

“Aw, gorn zuk yer bollecks.” The voice came from a farm-hand in the corner. “Yorn thenk Oim gonner ang round ere time yer werk out oo mur’drer is, yer can gorn get fuck’d.” He nodded his fat head, lest there be any doubt vis a vis his intentions.

I glared at the man, then muttered, “That’s alright, you can go. But the rest of you stay right here!”

For a long moment no-one moved, then as one, the entire assemblage fled the scene via the stairs, window, dumb waiter and kitchen door. Three seconds later, only Flora, myself and the dead man were left in the room.

“That went well.” Flora patted my arm. “Never mind, you did your best.”

I grunted. “Best wasn’t good enough, though. Was it?” I sniffed and headed for the back door. “Just going to have a quick word with Ho…” I caught myself in time and coughed loudly.

Flora’s brow developed a frown. “Have a quick word with who?”

“Oh, er…H-Ho-Hossenfeffer. One of the bovine creatures.”

“Really? I don’t know that one.”

“Yes.” I nodded vigorously to hide my embarrassment. “I’ve developed a bit of a relationship with some of those lovely, er, cows.” Her frown increased, so I added, “There’s nothing sordid about it, Flora – I just talk to them.”

“Well, I’ll stay here and watch the er…” She pointed to the dead man.

“Yes. By the way, who is he?”

She cleared her throat. “You don’t want to know.”

It was my turn to frown. “Yes, I do, actually.”

She shook her head. “No, you don’t.”

“I most certainly do, Flora. Now spit it out – who is he?” I went to thump my hand on the table for emphasis, but missed and slapped my thigh instead. Unfortunately, my automatic reaction to that particular gesture, prompted me to shout ‘Hurrah!’ like a pantomime dame. I coughed again.

Flora graciously turned her gaze to at the floor. “You recall I told you the policeman who came up here was never seen again?”

I nodded, a sickening feeling growing in my loins.

She pointed to the corpse. “That was him. Undercover detective Sergeant Flange.”

My mouth dropped open. I closed it. “Flange? You mean like an outcrop or protuberance?”

“Don’t be a dick, Johnny. That’s just his name – Flange.”

“Oh. Right, well you stay here and I’ll just go and converse with my, ahm, bovine associates…” I headed for the door.

Outside it was already dark and I took a few gulps of fresh air – or rather, air tinged with cowshit and stale urine, but at least fresher than that of the room I’d vacated. Crossing the yard, I made my way down to the field where I’d seen Holmes, but it was so gloomy, I could barely make out the edge of the fence. Leaning over, I tried my best to effect a loud whisper. “Sherl! Sherlock! Where are you?”

A sudden noise behind me caused my to whirl round and pull out my gun, waving it in front of my face. “Don’t you bloody kill me too, you murdering bastard whoever you are…”

A figure slid out of the darkness towards me. “Well, that’s a nice way to greet your beloved.”

My wife stopped and smiled, and for once the sight of her gappy teeth and wonky eyes filled me only with relief, and dare I say it – love. “Thank the Lord,” I gushed. “My darling Mrs Watson – am I glad to see you!”

She handed me her bag and turned to wave at someone in the field. A gush of hot vapour and a pounding of Bakelite on rubber told me a steam-powered gyrocopter was in the throes of taking off. I frowned – only one man could have arranged such a mode of transport.

As the huge machine lifted into the night sky, my wife stepped forward and slipped a hand round my waist. “You don’t object to Mycroft dropping me off, do you, darling?”

I harrumphed. “I wasn’t aware you were acquainted with him. You’ve always given the impression you couldn’t stand to be near either of the Holmes’ boys.”

She rolled her eyes. “No, dear, it’s only Sherlock who gets on my tits – Mycroft and I frequently have tea together, in fact that’s what we were doing when your telegraph arrived. How else could I have got here so quickly?” She snuggled her nose into my shoulder and made that infernal purring noise that always gets me going.

“Well, you’re here now.” I lowered my voice. “Listen – there’s been another murder.”

Her eyes lit up. “Excellent! Lead me to it.” She paused, then “I’m doing this on the understanding you include me in your journals. And you’re to be truthful – I won’t be the butt of your smutty innuendos or those caustic comments about my womanly needs.” She raised an eyuebrow. “Clear?”

“Of course, dear.” Inwardly, I groaned. Outwardly, I smiled. “I shall write you as you are. For the most part…” As I pulled out my notebook, my wife set off up the track towards the farm.


Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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The Last Breath of Adam…

The Last Breath of Adam 350
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

On examining the corpse, I was gratified that at least he did not have a large pointy object sticking out of his chest – the sight of blood at that time of night was more than I could have borne. The marks around Mr. Shitebreath’s neck indicated he had been strangled (although I admit the presence of a length of rope in the vicinity of his collar, did help qualify this conclusion).

“Who could have done this,” muttered Flora, descending the stairs.

I looked at her. “More to the point – why is he naked?” I glanced down at Adam’s nether regions and wondered at nature’s methodology in awarding a small man such a large appendage. I’m only glad my dear wife was not present to witness such unnecessary cockage, since I could imagine how the conversation would run, come bedtime.

“Oh,” said Flora. “That’s easy – Adam always washed the dishes in the nude. He claimed it saved his clothes getting wet from waving his cletterin stick”

I walked across to the stone sink and studied the evidence. The cletterin stick was on the window sill as usual, while the dishes were all washed and draining at the side. I peered out the window. Four farm hands were standing idly in the yard, peering back at me. No doubt Flora’s screams had brought them running, though clearly their eagerness to discover the cause had not sustained their curiosity enough to prompt them to actually enter the house.

“I want to speak to everyone. Now.”

Flora waved a hand at Adam’s body. “Shouldn’t we move him first?”

I coughed. “Yes of course, I’ll cover him up, but it is imperative that I question everyone while their individual movements are still fresh in their minds.”

Flora nodded. “I’ll gather them together.” After she had departed, I covered Adam’s body with a bed sheet, but not before noticing that he had a quantity of cottage cheese between his fingers. Curiouser and curiouser.

Ten minutes later, I stood on the stairs gazing at the whole family and several of the workers. I studied the list of names Flora had kindly provided and tried to work out which was which. Since I’d had little contact with the Starkadders as a whole, I allowed myself a moment to put names to faces:

Judith and her son Seth stood by the fireplace, and noting their physical proximity to one another, I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with Flora and her implication that an ‘unhealthy relationship’ might be under way. Judith’s pouting mouth and wandering hands did little to dismiss this theory. Next to them stood Judith’s husband Amos, who busied himself with caressing the breasts of Mrs. Beatle, the cleaning lady. Only the waiflike Elfine (as rare a beauty as I’ve ever set eyes on) seemed not to have her hands full, or her bounties fondled. Arms folded across her ample chest, she stared back at me with eyes that could light a fire or two on a dark night.

Dragging my gaze away from hers, I took in the various half-brothers, cousins, half-cousins, third-cousins, second uncles, wayward aunts and other relations that stood around the room. It occurred to me that almost everyone in the house seemed to be romantically preoccupied with someone else to whom they were related, but not married. If the motive for killing Ada Doom had been money (understandable), there might be more than a dozen possible suspects, but in the case of Adam Shitebreath, I couldn’t see what possible reason there might be for his murder.

“Good evening,” I began when the general hubbub had subsided. “As you know, there has been another death…” I paused, allowing my eyes to skim across the assembled group in the hope the guilty party might give themselves away with an involuntary shudder or self-conscious twitch, but all faces were turned towards me, and even Judith Starkadder removed her busy hands from her son’s trousers to listen to what I had to say.

“I would like you all to line up and give me a few minutes of your time so that I may take details of your whereabouts during the last half an hour.” I waited for the expected growl of annoyance, but they simply nodded their heads and quietly formed into an orderly queue. For a moment, I wondered if there was some sort of mass conspiracy going on involving them all. Glancing at Flora, I saw from her expression that the same thought had occurred to her.

Moving to a small table at the other end of the kitchen I prepared myself to take the first statement.

The first to sit down opposite me was Judith herself, hanging on to her son’s hand. “I was upstairs.” She glanced at Seth.

“I see,” said I, making a note of this. “And were you alone?”

She shook her head and smirked. “Let’s just say I have an alibi.”

“Or an accomplice,” I suggested. Her smile fell away and she sniffed in a rather sniffy way.

“Anyway, I didn’t kill him. Why would I?”

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.” I gave her a hard stare, but she merely stared back.

“Very well, I said. “That’s all for now.”

Judith stood up. “Appen you should be looking elsewhere for murderers.” And with that she walked off. I turned to my next interviewee.

“Oright Dotter Watton, what yer antin ter know, en?”

I took a deep breath and studied the man’s face. “And who might you be?”

“Oi be yer prime witness, that oo.” He grinned. “Cos Oi did saw oo did in owld Adam.”

I leaned forward. “Really? Go on.”

The man’s face seemed to freeze in an expression of smiling benevolence. Then it sagged, lost its grin and his eyes rolled back in his head. For a moment I wondered if he was having a seizure, but then his head dropped and he slumped across the table, emitting a low groan. I immediately discerned the probable cause of this change in his demeanour – there was a knife sticking out of his back.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake…” I leaped up and threw out my hands. “Nobody move!”

The Watson Letters Vol 1 5_25x8_Cream_110 NEW COVER copy
The Watson Letters – Volume 1: Something Wicker This Way Comes

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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Knife to See You, to See You…

Aunt Ada Doom 350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

My companion’s failure to materialise at the farm has begun to vex me somewhat. I have been here two days now and though I’m making progress in my investigations, the list of suspects grows almost by the minute. My pigeon-post communication to Holmes went off last evening and I’d hoped to receive confirmation that he was at least still interested in the case, but there has been no word.

However, I am not one to harp on about petty irritations, so I shall continue to chart my movements at Cold Comfort Farm:

Having examined the body of Aunt Ada Doom, I determined that she could not have inflicted the wound upon herself (even allowing for my early theory of some knife-throwing trick gone wrong). It’s true the knife had pierced her heart, but it had done so from behind – that is, it had been thrust with some considerable force through her back, leaving a good three inches of the blade (garden variety kitchen, I suspect) protruding out of her chest. On turning the corpse over, I saw that the handle had been removed. Whether this was by chance or design was impossible to tell, but it meant Ms Doom was able to lay face up without the discomfort of the handle sticking out of her back. (Of course, being dead, she would not in fact have experienced any discomfort at all, apart from the pain of having a sharp implement driven though her torso).

Rather more curious was the small plate on the bedside cabinet bearing a quantity of cottage cheese. I sniffed at the substance and determined that even more curiously (given the amount of time that had elapsed since the murder), it had not gone off but was in fact quite fresh, as if it had only recently been placed there.

I turned back to the victim and removed the knife, then straightened up from my examination and glanced at Flora. Her face had drained of colour. “I say, are you alright, m’dear?” I touched a hand to her forehead.

She waved me away. “Fine, thanks. It was just the horrid squelching noise the knife made when you pulled it out.” She swallowed hard.

I held up the remains of the murder weapon and examined it closely. There were strange markings along the surface of the blade. I pulled out my handkerchief and wiped it down. “What d’you make of these, Flora?”

The young woman leaned forward. “Cletterin stick.”

“Excuse me?”

She pointed to the markings. “Adam uses a cletterin stick to wash all our dishes. We get these scratch marks on everything.”

So, the knife definitely belonged to the farm. I had hoped the killer might be some crazed lunatic, but it seemed more likely our victim had met her end at the hands of someone known to her. I rubbed my chin thoughtfully. “Earlier – what you said about the woodshed. What did you mean, exactly?”

She shrugged. “Nobody knows. Aunt Ada always said there was something nasty in the woodshed.”

“But you don’t know what?”


I rubbed my chin thoughtfully again. “So there might not, in fact, be anything in the woodshed at all?”

Flora’s mouth dropped open. “What, you saying she imagined it?”

“Well, she was a bit mad, wasn’t she?”

Flora seemed to take umbrage at this and her voice hardened. “Just because she was an old woman, why would you think she was mad?”

I pointed at her deceased relative. “Because the words ‘I’m a Mad Bitch’ are tattooed on her forehead…?”

“Oh. Well, that was just a joke.” She sniffed. “Anyway, what’s that got to do with her murder?”

I sighed. “I don’t know.” I wrapped the knife in my handkerchief and slid it into a pocket in the side of my rucksack. “I need to call the police. Where’s the nearest telegraph office?”

Flora stepped towards me. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

I narrowed my eyes, making myself look serious. “Why on earth not?”

“The last policeman who came up here…” She hesitated. “Well, let’s just say he was never seen again.” She grasped my arm. “Please Doctor, don’t get them involved. You have to solve this yourself.”

I stared into her dark blue-green eyes. “I can’t do this myself, Flora. I need my companion, but since Holmes isn’t here…” I shrugged.

“Isn’t there anyone else you can ask for help?”

I considered this for a moment. “What I need is someone who’s an expert on kitchen knives, has knowledge of woman’s complaints and is a keen observer of agricultural policies. And cheese-making techniques.”

Flora’s eyes sparkled. “You mean…”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m going to send for my wife.”

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Cletterin, Mollockin and Murderin…

Sunset Cold Comfort 350

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

My Dear Holmes,

I write these lines sitting by my window overlooking the meadow, watching the sun slowly sink in the gray of the sky. Or at least I would if Flora’s description of the farm had been stuffed with actual facts, rather than pathetically idealistic notions of country living. The truth of the matter is that I have been billeted in what can only be described as a bit of a shithole above a slightly larger shithole, locally termed ‘the cow shed’.

While it’s true that I can indeed see the meadow, this latter geographical feature might be more readily recognised by persons such as yourself, as ‘a field’. A field covered in cowshit. Indeed, the whole place is pretty much covered in cowshit – I’m beginning to think the substance must be revered as some sort of priceless local currency. Next, they’ll be telling me they grow potatoes with it!

However, I digress. I’m sure you will be less interested in my domestic situation than in the goings-on at the farm itself.

We arrived in the early evening just as the workers were gathering for their meal. Our driver (Adam Shitebreath) led the horse away while Flora bid me follow her up to the house. The farm itself is situated at the brow of a hill, which I imagine must present a fetching scene when viewed as a silhouette at sunset. Flora led me across the farmyard, taking care to tread on a series of filthy planks that had been laid out in lieu of a path, thus saving our footwear from the worst of the mud and aforementioned cowshit that covered everything.

Pushing open the back door (no-one uses the front door for some reason), I was led into a large kitchen area packed with men of various ages, along with a couple of odd-looking women. The genial hubbub ceased as I came into view and all eyes turned to me.

“Everyone – this is Doctor Watson. He’s from Londen.”

At the mention of my name, a low groan rumbled round the room and a single voice piped up “Ar be gon ter bring Mistress Doom backer loife, en?”

I looked to Flora for a translation, but she simply advised the speaker to ‘stop talking shite’, which was language I could understand.

We then pushed through the crowd towards the stairs, leaving the workers to their meal. I clutched my rucksack to my chest, mindful that poor Henri was still nestling inside.

Upstairs, Flora directed me along a series of complicated passageways that I assumed were leading to the room I was to stay in. Unfortunately, this was not the case and as the young woman opened the door at the end of a particularly long and dark corridor, I realised what it was she wanted me to do.

The smell was the first thing to hit me, followed by a familiar gurgling in my tummy. I swallowed hard, praying my luncheon would not resurface from either orifice. Thankfully, Flora guessed my predicament and crossed the room, drew back the curtains and threw open the windows, allowing sufficient fresh air into the place to quell my surging stomach.

I took a few deep breaths and turned my attention to the body lying on the bed. “She’s still here, then?”

Flora nodded. “I thought you’d want to examine her.”

“Well, yes, normally I would, but I’d assumed the police would’ve…” I looked at the body, the blood-encrusted knife glinting in the fading sunlight. I looked at Flora. “The police have been, haven’t they?”

She coughed. “I’m afraid they won’t come up this far.”

“What? There isn’t a constable in the village?”

She shook her head, then nodded. “There is, but he won’t come up here.”

I sensed my next question was one I probably didn’t want to hear the answer to. But it had to be asked. “Why not?”

“Because of the thing in the woodshed.”

“In the woodshed.” I swallowed hard. Again. “And what exactly is in the woodshed?”

Flora gave a regretful shrug. “Something nasty.”

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Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Very Cold Comfort at the Farm…

At the Station 350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

Having made it clear to my dear wife that I would be catching the early train, I should have expected some kerfuffle on my departure. It wasn’t enough that I’d spent most of the night seeing to her ‘womanly needs’, preparing breakfast in bed and then bathing her in that ‘special’ way, no – before I was allowed to leave, I was forced to endure one of her lectures on the perils of consuming unpasteurized milk and mixing with ‘loose-limbed country folk’. I shall have to cancel her subscription to Dairy Farming for the Middle Classes – it’s giving her far too many ideas. Quite what she imagines I’ll be getting up to on a farm is beyond me – although to be fair, I may have trumped on rather a lot about the young and vibrant Flora Poste, so perhaps the fault is my own.

I finally escaped my wife’s clutches in the front hall, and as I opened the door, I heard the familiar call of a certain feathered friend coming in to land.

Like most of Sherlock Holmes’ missives, his ‘French Letter’ had arrived in the nick of time. Fluttering down onto the pavement, Henri, as is his wont, walked the last few yards pigeon-toed up the path, then looked up at me as if to say ‘What’s Up Doc?’ I removed the small canister from the bird’s leg and unrolled the message, sliding the latter (the message) into my top pocket and the former (the bird) into my rucksack, where he proceeded to make himself comfortable.

Later, as the train chugged its weary way southwards, I re-read my companion’s letter over and over, his words echoing in my head like strange echoey things. It had not occurred to me that the death of Ada Doom might be anything other than a freak accident – perchance a slip of the hand while slicing an apple, or a knife-juggling trick gone wrong. Perhaps I was foolish to imagine a simple explanation, but I can see how my initial reaction that – as Holmes himself says – the case might be ‘an interesting distraction’ was completely wrong. I should have concentrated on the rather more obvious clue that Ada Doom’s death was in fact murder, and whoever killed her is more than likely still in the vicinity of Cold Comfort.

It was this very thought that reverberated yet again as I stood on the deserted platform at the curiously-named village of Howling. Gazing up and down, I noted that not only did I appear to be without a lift to the farm, but it was also pissing down with rain.

For some minutes, I was at a loss. Taking a look round, I was not heartened to find that the station itself was about as isolated as it’s possible to get, and the village, if in fact it existed at all, was nowhere to be seen.

As I stood at one end of the platform looking into the distance, I saw movement in the bushes further up the line and after a moment was able to discern a horse’s head, a cart and two figures trundling along at the other side of the hedge.

“Coo-ee!” called a female voice in a not-unpleasant tone. “Doctor Watson? Is that you?”

I collected my bag and hurried to the gate where I awaited their approach. The young woman waving from her perch on the rickety cart, was of course Flora herself – an image of radiant beauty and sparkling eyes (it seems my wife had good reason to be jealous). Beside her sat a man with a face so wrinkled it might have been made out of cheese. Mouldy cheese, with lots of wrinkles in it.

“Clar oop yer, dottor watton,” said the old man, leaning down to help me up.

I clambered onto the seat next to Flora and threw my rucksack in the back, quite forgetting about poor Henri, who let out an indignant squawk.

The old man (who I later learned was named Adam Shitebreath) hummed a strange tune as he hauled the cart around in a circle and set off back the way he’d come.

As the skies cleared and the sun began to break through, I noticed a dead pig in the back of the cart. I glanced down at Flora’s ample cleavage and wondered what I’d let myself in for.

To be continued


Posted by on May 18, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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English Words, French Letters…

From Sherlock Holmes Esq to Doctor J. Watson

(Chateaux Pompadour, Rue de l’Ocean, Pornic, France)

Dearest Johnny

Chateaux Pompadour 350

As you will see from my current address, I am holidaying in a quaint little chateaux overlooking ‘Le Mer’ (excuse any shortcomings in my grammar – I haven’t locked lips with the lingo since prep school). After our last escapade, I decided to get away from it all for a while. Naturally, I would have invited you along, but given our recent adventures and the considerable time you and Mrs Watson have been apart, I thought it best to at least give her the opportunity of catching up on marital (ahem) activities.

You will be heartened that your missives are being forwarded to me via Henri the carrier pigeon, who is perched at my table as I write, awaiting the return communication. I perused your letter with great interest – the Starkadder brood sound fascinating and the case will no doubt provide an interesting distraction (I already have eight possible motives/murderers in mind). By all means sally forth down to Sussex and infiltrate the family. I will endeavour to join you in a few days, although Madame Pompadour and her large bosom appear to have one or two petites faveurs’ on her agenda before I am able to depart this tranquil idyll.

Incidentally, I recall the incident at Folsom Lake and it may interest you to know that Henry Poste and his lady friend (mistress, actually, not wife), may have been the victims of foul play. In fact, I wondered at the time if it might be Miss Flora Poste herself who was behind the shenanigans. I have no wish to cast aspersions on your former classmate’s family, but please have a care in your dealings with the young woman – just in case.

By the by, you might wish to pack your trusty revolver – if at least one of my theories is correct, there will be another murder in the next few days.

Be alert!

Yours, Sherl.

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Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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A Curious Communication…

Folsom Crash Paper 350

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

My Dear Holmes

I trust you’ve heard about the ‘Moriarty’s Ma’ debacle at Scotland Yard? I can’t believe Lestrade thought it was a good idea to let the Evil Genius have visitors, but that’s what a public school education does for you, eh? At least the aforementioned villain had the decency to let me have transcripts of his recordings before disguising himself as his own mother and disappearing into the mists once again. My account of what I’m calling ‘Not the Thirty Nine Steps’ will be appearing in The Strand Magazine next week.

More interestingly, I had a curious communication from the daughter an old acquaintance this morning: it seems that my former school chum Henry Poste has popped his clogs after a typically ill-fated adventure charting the inlets of the California River. He and his good lady wife (who I never met) fell to their deaths after the wind dropped and the water-cooled glider aeroplane they were travelling in plummeted into the murky depths of Folsom Lake. He always was a bit of a risk-taker, so it’s no surprise, really.

However, their daughter Flora has found herself in a rather sticky situation, and it is she who wrote asking for assistance. Having stayed temporarily with an old friend, she accepted an invitation from distant relatives the Starkadders. Arriving at the oddly named ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ last weekend, she was given a reasonably warm welcome, and while family relationships appeared normal at first, two days ago she was wakened during the night by a ‘blood-curdling’ scream. It transpired that the Starkadder matriarch Aunt Ada Doom, had been stabbed in the heart and is, unsurprisingly, dead.

Reading between the lines, I suspect Flora is concerned that something sinister may be afoot. I suggest we take ourselves off to Sussex without further delay. At the very least, she promises we shall be well fed, and if things take a turn for the worse, we will be on hand to intervene.

I look forward to your speedy response.



Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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