Tag Archives: Fu Manchu

The Archivist’s Letter

Diary of Doctor Watson

It has been a few months since our adventure at the home of Roderick Usher, and my visits to Baker Street have become somewhat irregular. Following the capture of the dreaded arch villain, Doctor Fu Manchu, Holmes and Lestrade busied themselves in matters of law, guaranteeing that the infamous crook would not be free to practice his evil doings for the next several decades.

The court case, quite naturally, provoked renewed interest in the Great Detective’s powers of deduction in the Londen press, resulting in numerous requests for his services. Many of these proved to be of the missing-husband variety, which Holmes cast aside with his usual disdain. However, given his depleted personal finances, I took pains to persuade him to at least consider one or two cases, if only to counteract Mrs Hudson’s incessant whinging in relation to the regular payment of rent. I’m glad to say he finally took my advice and swallowed his enormous pride. Solving a series of straightforward and—it has to be said—boring cases, without the necessity of leaving his rooms, the ensuing remuneration, though being anathema to his sense of logic, has nevertheless allowed him to maintain the spendthrift existence to which he has become accustomed.

This morning, having not heard from my erstwhile companion for several weeks, I determined to pop along to see him. However, while ruminating on this plan, a letter appeared on my breakfast table.

“When did this arrive, darling?” I said, peering at the envelope.

Mary poured herself another cup of Darjeeling. “Just now. A messenger brought it. If you paid more attention to your surroundings, you’d have seen him.” She gave me a playful wink and tapped a finger on the letter. “From Big Nose, is it?”

“I do wish you wouldn’t call him that, dear. He is, after all, the world’s greatest detective.”

“With the biggest nose.”

“In any case, while the handwriting does bear some resemblance to his characteristic scrawl, there’s a distinct smell about the envelope which suggests its author to be someone who enjoys a rather more intense existence.” Holding it up to my nose, I inhaled the slightly putrid odour. “Hmm. A whiff of garlic, plaster of Paris and…a hint of hair tonic.”

“Quite the detective, aren’t you, darling?” said Mary, with a tinge of sarcasm. “I suppose the writer will turn out to be of French origin, wearing a well-lubricated toupee while constructing models of the Eiffel tower.”

Ignoring her jibes, I slit open the missive and read the following letter:

Dear Doctor Watson

I trust you will forgive this unsolicited pressure on your valuable time, but as you will see, I believe Sherlock Holmes and your good self may be able to assist me.

In my role as Chief Archivist at the Londen Museum of Antiquities and Interesting Artefacts, I have of late become aware of the theft of several Egyptian relics from the museum. These relics have on each occasion, disappeared during the hours when the museum is closed and as our beloved police force have demonstrated themselves to be quite inept in securing the person or persons responsible, I should be most humbled if yourself and Mr Holmes might look into the matter with some urgency.

(I would of course have approached Mr Holmes in person, but knowing your role as his biographer allows some degree of, shall we say, persuasive abilities when it comes to demands on the great man’s time, I hoped that in the circumstances you might press upon him the importance of my request.)

Needless to say, the museum would be happy to reimburse any expenses, as well as a substantial fee for the recovery of the missing objects.

Yours sincerely
B Ravensburg (MA, ARA, DPhil)

Passing the letter to Mary, I said, “As I suspected—it’s from the Londen Museum.”

Mary scanned the missive. “His name sounds familiar. I wonder if it’s Ben Ravensburg, the famous gothic novelist.”

I rolled my eyes. “I think you mean alcoholic novelist, m’dear. The fellow’s well known for his drunkenness and debauchery.”

Mary’s eyes lit up. “Debauchery? How interesting.”

“Anyway, I continued, “What on earth would a novelist be doing working in a museum?”

“If you decide to see him, perhaps I might accompany you.”

I smiled at her. “Of course, my dear. If only to prove your theory wrong.”

An hour later, I climbed the stairs at 221B Baker Street and rapped on the door. It opened immediately.

“Ah, Watson,” said Holmes, shaking my hand vigorously. “I see you received my message.”

“Which message would that be, old bean?”

My friend’s smile vanished. “My telepathical communication, of course.”

“Ah. Sadly not.”

Knowing how boredom irritates Holmes, I should not have been surprised to learn that he had persisted in a preposterous series of experiments on the theory of mind transfer. Our previous discussions on the matter had only succeeded in frustrating me, so on this occasion I determined not to take the bait. Instead, I advanced to my usual seat by the fire and waited while Holmes stuffed a portion of Hard Shag into his meerschaum, lit it with a Swan Vesta and settled himself in the chair opposite.

“Nothing at all, then?” he said.

“Not a whisper.”

His mouth turned downwards. “Damn. Must be a fault with my transmutational analysis of the text.”

“What was the message?”

He shrugged. “Nothing of any import. I simply wished you to come at once on receiving my missive. But here you are anyway.”

Passing Mr Ravensburg’s letter across to him, I said, “Interesting proposition. Came this morning.”

Holmes held the envelope between slender fingers, examining it carefully. Holding it up to his nose, he sniffed. “I should hazard a guess that the writer works at the Londen Museum of Antiquities and Interesting Artefacts. Probably an archivist or curator in the Egyptian section.”

I couldn’t help let out a gasp. “How on earth—”

“Elementary, Watson. Before your arrival, my attention was drawn to a small article in The Times relating to the theft of certain relics. As our friend Lestrade and his comrades have once again proved themselves to be incompetent in tracking down the thieves, it could only be a matter of time before the museum’s board of directors called on the skills of the world’s greatest consulting detective.” He paused. “And his noble companion.”

“Excellent. I shall arrange a meeting.”

Holmes took out the letter and perused it. “Ravensburg.” He looked up. “Wouldn’t be Ben Ravensburg, the gothic novelist, by any chance?”

I suppressed a groan. “As it happens, Mary had the same ridiculous idea.”

Holmes stared at me. “Then she had better accompany us when we meet this fellow. Your wife’s ridiculous ideas have a habit of proving to be correct. Besides, we may require her diversionary skills if the situation turns out to be more complex than the theft of a few Egyptian ornaments.”

I should have felt grateful that Holmes now seemed to acknowledge my wife’s contributions to our adventures but having been outwitted by them both on several occasions, I found myself feeling a little miffed. I also managed to completely miss Sherlock’s inference that the investigation may not be all it appeared. As it turned out, the mystery we were about to embark on had nothing to do with missing artefacts and the events of the next seven days would place each one of us in the gravest danger.


Posted by on October 30, 2020 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , , , ,

Holmes Explains – Mostly…

Journal of Inspector G. Lestrade

‘I don’t bloody believe it,’ said Holmes. ‘Professor James Moriarty.’ The Great Detective shook his head. ‘But it makes no sense—why would you go to all this trouble just to kill me?’

‘As it happens,’ said Moriarty, rubbing the last traces of rubber from his face, ‘killing you would be an added bonus. Take a look around you—not everything is about Sherlock Holmes.’ With a sneer, he turned and nodded to a group of individuals who had so far remained hidden behind a screen further up the hall. As they moved forward, I recognised one of them immediately.

‘Klopp.’ Holmes laughed. ‘Still striving for that ultimate wewenge?’

‘Do not taunt me, Holmes,’ she said, scornfully. ‘You haf no more chances in your community chest.’

‘What’s she bleedin on about?’ said I.

‘Monopoly,’ whispered Mary.

‘Oh, right.’ I was none the wiser.

‘And now we are all here, perhaps you are acquainted wiz my colleagues?’ Klopp waved a hand and the four strangers moved closer.

Holmes let out a long, low groan.

‘I reckon I know who the Chinese bloke is,’ I muttered to Watson, ‘but what about the others?’

The doctor was about to reply when Holmes piped up, ‘The one with the drooping moustache, as you guessed, is Fu Manchu, apparently not in Burma. Next to him is the forger Austin Bidwell. Then there’s the Lambeth Garage Poisoner Reggie Stocks and of course, our old pal Colonel Sebastian Moran. A veritable bevvy of bunglers.’

‘Oh yes, Moran,’ I said. ‘Didn’t recognise ‘im wiv that beard.’

‘And you, Inspector Lestrade,’ said Moriarty, turning his attention to me. ‘So nice of you to join us. I feel we’ve left you out of our adventures of late.’

‘That’s all right,’ I said. ‘I ain’t bovvered.’ Despite my bravado, my face flushed and a horrible feeling of uncertainty swept over me.

‘But I’m happy that you can take part in this small … how must we say … conclusion?’

‘You mean murder,’ said Holmes.

‘Call it what you will, but as I told you, ending your miserable little lives was Professor Klopp’s aim, not mine. Unlike her, I rather enjoy your little interferences.’ He stepped to one side. ‘And now, if Doctor Watson would be so good as to ask his question …’

Watson coughed. ‘Sorry, what question?’

Moriarty sighed. ‘The one you always ask when Holmes solves a case.’

The Doc looked blank for a moment, then his face lit up. ‘Ah.’ He hesitated, glanced at Holmes, then said, ‘But what I still don’t understand is, why set up all these people to kill each other for no reason?’

Frau Klopp smiled. ‘You see, Holmes, at least your rather stupid friend has ze decency to ask ze question, vhich of course, you cannot answer.’ She shrugged.

‘Oh, but I know the answer,’ said Holmes, rather smugly.

Klopp’s face dropped. ‘No, you don’t. You cannot know. You haf no idea.’

‘Yes, I have, actually,’ Holmes continued, ‘and I’d be happy to share it with you.’

Klopp’s face turned beetroot with rage, her mouth twisting into a snarling grimace much like my Aunt Bertha’s pet bulldog. Finally, she nodded. ‘Fine. Haf it your vay.’

‘Well,’ said Holmes, taking out his meerschaum, ‘I must admit the whole thing did rather stump me for a while. You see, I couldn’t work out why you’d go to all the bother of having each guest kill another guest.’ He stuck the pipe in his mouth but didn’t take the trouble to light it.

‘Zat’s easy,’ said Klopp, ‘I zimply—’

‘Hold your fire, Frau Rent-a-mouth. I haven’t finished.’

Klopp growled, but said nothing.

‘You see,’ Holmes went on, ‘the thing made no sense at all, unless you looked at it from that precise point of view.’

‘And vot point of view is zat?’ said Klopp.

‘That it makes no sense. In which case the only sense one can make of it is that the whole thing intends to make the detective—me—think he cannot solve it.’

‘Vich is entirely correct,’ said Klopp, triumphantly. ‘It vas a game, a game designed to baffle and befuddle you and force you to admit that you are not ze greatest detectif in ze vorld after all. And so, because you haf not solved it, you vill haf to kill yourself.’ She clapped her hands together. ‘Tah-Dah!’

Holmes took out a box of Swan Vestas and lit a match. ‘And that’s where your plan falls apart, Klopp.’ Taking his time, he relit his pipe and puffed away. ‘Because, being Englishmen, my companions and I do not view failure as a reason to take our own lives.’

Klopp’s face had turned an even deeper shade of beetroot. ‘Yes, you vould! Zat is vot Englishmen do!’

‘Sorry, old thing,’ said Holmes. ‘But it isn’t.’

‘Told you it wouldn’t work,’ said Colonel Moran, striding forward. ‘Let me get my elephant gun. Blow them all to buggery.’

‘Perhaps I could shoot them all with poisoned darts?’ suggested Fu Manchu.

‘Or I could give ‘em a nice glass of cyanide,’ muttered the Lambeth Garage Poisoner.

‘What about a death sentence, signed by the Queen?’ said Bidwell the forger. ‘It’d be no bother to run one off the press. Easy as pie, actually.’

‘No, I don’t think so,’ said Moriarty. ‘The fact is, killing these pieces of garbage was only a means of ridding ourselves of the four people in Londen who cause each of us the most trouble.’

‘But if zey are not going to kill themselves, vot are we going to do wiz zem?’ demanded Klopp.

‘Simple,’ said Moriarty. ‘We’ll leave them in the capable hands of Agatha Christie.’

I glanced at Holmes and saw his face darken. This was something he hadn’t expected.

Moriarty pulled out a half hunter and glanced at it. ‘By my calculations, she will at this very moment be making the trip across to the island in a paddle steamer accompanied by her faithful maid, Maudie.’

Klopp’s face brightened. ‘Ah, Maudie. I vonder if she still does a bit of nursing on ze side.’ She cackled fiercely.

I looked at Holmes. ‘Nursing?’

Holmes gave a short, humourless laugh. ‘I see,’ he said. ‘Maudie. Also known as Mathilda. Mathilda Ratched, in fact, formerly of The Ullswater Institute for the Utterly Indisposed, where I spent a little time during a previous adventure.’

‘Yes,’ said Moriarty. ‘I believe she had a few difficulties finding work after your, ahm, meddling. I further believe she would like to settle your hash, if that’s the correct expression?’

‘Yes, Professor,’ said Holmes. ‘It is.’

‘Zen,’ said Klopp, ‘zer is only one more zing to zay.’ She looked at Moriarty.

The master villain smiled, and said, ‘Mwah, hah, hah!’


Posted by on October 20, 2019 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ghost Train Coming…

From the Diary of Mary Watson (Mrs)

Dear Diary

All three of us whirled round at the sound of the voice. The man in front of us was wearing a dress. My dress, in fact. I felt a rather sickly sort of rumbling in my tummy.

“You!” He said, pointing directly at me. “Vot are you doingk vearingk my clothes?”

I smoothed a hand down my stolen overcoat and was in the midst of forming a witty riposte when Harry stepped in front of me and addressed the interloper:

“Keep your voice down, man. If Lord Manchu hears of your desultory behaviour, you’ll be on a court martial.” He glanced around then took the man’s arm. “Tell you what, come in here and I’ll bring you up to speed.”

And with that, he led the poor fool into our former prison and closed the door. Johnny and I looked at each other, but a moment later there was a dull thud and Harry emerged from the cell wiping his hands.

“That’ll keep him quiet for a while. Now, we’d better get moving.”

Continuing towards our destination, we marched in single file to the open end of the tunnel. A few soldiers busied themselves unloading hand grenades and other dangerous objects, placing them at intervals along a line of trestle tables.

“Probably intending to hand those bally things out when the troops come in,” muttered my husband as we passed by.

Harry shushed us with a sturdy finger and we hurried out into the cold night air.

Once outside, all three of us were startled by a shrill whistle from the train above us. Extra carriages had been added to the locomotive and even as we watched, the steaming beast began its return journey across the bridge.

“Damn them,” said Harry. “We’d better get up there.”

No-one took any notice of us as we climbed back up the steps to the track. A handful of overall-clad men were on their way down, but thankfully, were in too much of a hurry to pay us any attention.

Up on the bridge once more, we retraced our route along the line, the train building up speed ahead of us. The walk was longer than I remembered, but we made good time and the locomotive was just disappearing out of sight as we drew level with the station platform.

Harry leapt up onto the darkened platform and pulled Johnny and I up in one easy movement.

“Is there anyone else around here I should know about?” said Harry, keeping his voice low.

“Yes,” said Johnny. “There’s a young married couple and an old chap in a raincoat.”

“And the stationmaster,” I added.

Harry nodded. “Oh yeah, we know about that guy – we think he’s one of them.”

Johnny shook his head. “Surely not – I’m sure he said he was married.”

“Not one of them – one of them!”

“Oh.” My husband adopted his silly-me look.

Heading for the waiting room, Harry pushed through the door. Inside, the young couple were sitting at the table eating chocolate and Mac Man was standing by the window watching them.

“I say,” said Mr Raincoat. “Who the devil are you?”

Harry flashed an ID card at him. “Hollywoodland Secret Service, that’s who. Now sit down and shut up.”

The man did as he was told, apparently too shocked to object.

“Is the train coming, then?” the young woman asked, looking at me as she popped the last bit of chocolate into her mouth.

“You could say that,” I said.

“Ooh eck,” she went on, gazing at Harry. “Is he that famous actor bloke?”

“Yes he is,” I said, “and he’s not interested in you.”

Harry had pulled a length of twine from his pocket and handed it to the young man. “If the Stationmaster comes back, tie him up.”

“Really,” said the young man, waving a chocolate-stained finger. “That’s not very sportsmanlike.”

Harry nodded. “You’re damn right it ain’t, son, and if you don’t do as I say, you’ll get the same treatment.” He glanced at me and Johnny. “Come on you two, we’ve got a train to catch.”

We followed him back out onto the platform where he stood rubbing his chin.

“What now?” I said.

“Now? Well, I reckon we’ve got about five damn minutes before that choo-choo comes screaming back through here. And if we three can’t bring it to a standstill, Manchu will carry out his dastardly plan and the world as we know it is gonna change forever. And not in a good way.”

“Holmes would know what to do,” muttered Johnny, giving Harry a doubtful look.

“Oh he would, would he? Well he ain’t here right now so if you’ll put your stiff upper lip away for a moment I suggest we come up with a plan.”

My husband glared at him, but nodded in agreement.

Harry was gazing along the track in the direction the train would be coming from. “Christ, I don’t know…” He glanced at me. “Maybe if you could lie down on the track…?”

Johnnie strode forward, his hand covering my womanly bits in a protective attitude. “She bloody well will not! If you want to lay down your life, that’s fine with me, Harry, but you can leave my Mary out of it, thank you very much.”

I gave him a hug and murmured a thank you. “Actually, I did wonder about something…” Beckoning to them both to follow me, I hurried off along the platform.

Reaching my objective, I delved inside my knickers and produced a bunch of skeleton keys.

Johnny nodded approvingly. “What else have you got hidden in there?”

I gave him a mischievous grin. “Nothing you’re going to get tonight, Johnny. Now, let’s see if we can move this.”

A minute later, I had the padlock open and the three of us heaved the great iron wheel towards the Open side, tensing as the mechanism clicked into place.

“That should do it,” I said.

Harry looked up. “Sounds like just the nick of time.” We turned to look down the track and could just make out the dull glow of the engine as it thundered towards us, steam and smoke billowing upwards.

We could do nothing but stand there as the mighty beast thundered past, the additional dozen or so coaches packed with uniformed men, all gazing dumfoundedly at us from the carriage windows. As the last carriage drew level with us, a familiar face came into view. Sherlock Holmes was clinging gamely to the roof of the locomotive, a knife between his teeth. When his eyes met mine, a puzzled expression slid over his face. Then, as we watched, the Stationmaster emerged above Holmes. Struggling to keep his balance on the juddering vehicle, he rose to his full height and reached out his hands towards the bared neck of the great detective.

“Fuck,” said Johnny.

“Crap,” said Harry.

“Heavens,” said I. Then, turning to my husband, I grasped his sleeve. “He’ll be able to jump off, won’t he? I mean, before the train…?”

Johnny’s face was ghostly. “Before it plunges into the river and kills everyone onboard?” He bit his lip. “Bloody hope so, otherwise it’ll be the Reichenbach Falls all over again…”

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2017 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , , ,

The Theme From…

From the Diary of Doctor Watson

The man standing in the doorway smiled at my wife in a way I might’ve thought a little suspicious if it were not for the fact of him being a total stranger.

“And who are you?” I said, pulling the door wide. “Some Nazi fiend sent to torture us til we reveal our plans?”

“Don’t be silly, darling,” Mary chided. “We don’t have any plans.”

“Of course we don’t,” said I, clearing my throat. “It was a trick question.”

The man nodded. “Clearly Doctor Watson, your reputation as a man of guile and cunning is a worthy one.” His accent had a faint American twang to it, and his turn of phrase reminded me of someone. “But there’s no time to waste – I’m here to get you guys out.”

I sniffed. “Really? Well, that’s very noble of you but I think we can manage, thank you.” Stepping forward, I peeked into the tunnel and noted that although several of Fu Manchu’s men were standing close by, none of them seemed to have noticed the man standing in the doorway of our prison-like chamber.

Taking my arm, the newcomer led me back inside and closed the door quietly. Stepping to one side, he undid the collar of his overalls and unzipped himself, letting the apparent disguise fall to the ground, revealing a dark herringbone-style overcoat underneath. Then sliding a finger around his neckline, he tugged on a piece of what I initially thought to be a flap of loose skin. But as he pulled the thing off his face, I realised it was another of those silly masks Holmes is so fond of.

Dropping the rubber facade to the floor, our evident saviour pulled a black Fedora from his pocket and placed it on his head at a jaunty angle. He raised an eyebrow and smiled at me.

“My God!” I turned to Mary. “Darling – look who it is: the Hollywoodland actor Harry Lime.” I turned to shake his hand, but my wife was already hugging him, her hands around his neck, her chest pressed perhaps a little too eagerly against his substantial torso.

“I’d recognise your silhouette anywhere, Harry,” she gushed. “That manly upper body, those impressive shoulders, that massive –”

“Darling! D’you mind?” Taking a firm hold of her, I pulled my dear wife away from our guest. “Sorry Mr Lime, I don’t what’s got into her lately.”

“It’s quite alright Doctor.” He gave Mary a curious look and murmured, “Remember Vienna?”

“How could I forget?” She murmured back.

I coughed loudly. “Sorry, but excuse me just one moment Mr Lime.” Grabbing Mary’s arm, I led her to the other side of the chamber. Keeping my voice low so as not to appear rude in the presence of a famous actor, I muttered, “Vienna? What?”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head in a dismissive way that signalled quite plainly she had no intention of explaining herself. “It was a long time ago, Johnny. Before I met you.”

“Oh.” I let go her arm. “I see. Another one of your…” I tried to think of an appropriate phrase, but Mary held up a finger to my lips.

“Darling, you know I love only you, so there’s no reason to be jealous of Harry just because he’s incredibly good looking, is charming and witty and has a massive –”

“Yes! Alright, I get the picture, but I shall require a full explanation of this…whatever it is, when we get out of here.”

She nodded meekly, though I caught the quick glance of delight she cast in our companion’s direction. Nevertheless, more important matters were at hand so I determined to put aside my suspicions and take the proverbial by the whatsits.

Harry was pacing back and forth, frowning. “I take it Sherlock Holmes has already escaped?”

I pointed upwards. “Yes, just now.”

He nodded. “Then we must complete the mission ourselves.”

I glanced at Mary. “Mission? What mission?”

“Why, the mission to stop Fu Manchu from committing murder.”

My mouth dropped open. “What?”

Harry gave me a smile that could only be described as sardonic. I made a mental note to slap Sherlock’s face next time we met.

“Don’t you realise what he’s been doing here?” He waved a hand in a way I assumed was meant to encompass the tunnel, the chimney and the whole Ghost train scenario.

“Of course, we do,” I said.

Harry looked at me. “Go ahead then, tell me.” He folded his arms and waited.

“Well, he’s made this tunnel to er…to tunnel under the English countryside from Milford Junction to the Houses of Parliament.”

“That’s right. But what for?”

I chewed my lip thoughtfully. “Well, to break into the houses of Parliament. I suppose.”

Harry shook his head. “You know, Doctor, I sometimes think if we Americans had got involved in your little war with Germany, the whole thing would’ve been straightened out in four years instead of twenty-seven. Anyhow, the point is, your head honcho is meeting with the Chinese Emperor Wing Wang in Westminster Hall in less than an hour from now. Manchu plans to break through into the Hall and kill the Emperor.”

“My God!” said I. “But the Chinese people will think the British government are responsible and…”

“And war will break out between your two countries, leaving the way open for Manchu and his troops to take over whatever’s left when everyone else is dead.”

“But if that’s true, why would he bother to construct this ridiculous tunnel?”

“Because, Doctor, Manchu is at this very moment flying in more troops via a secret squadron of hydro-lifty-planes. I’ve just watched his engineers fitting an extra thirty carriages to the Ghost Train. When it comes back over the bridge, those troops will scuttle in here like thousands of tiny ants. Except, not tiny. Fu Manchu will have the equivalent of a small army down here.”

“Egad!” I exclaimed. “And that very same small army will emerge from underneath the Houses of Parliament like…well, like a small army.”

“Precisely. So if you don’t mind..?” He leaned out of the doorway and looked around. “Fall in behind me. With any luck, the villains will be too stunned by my boyish good looks to stop us and won’t see you two for my massive shoulders.”

As we stepped into the tunnel once more, Harry set off at a brisk pace, but we’d only gone a few yards when a shout came from behind us:

“Stop right there!”


Posted by on December 17, 2016 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , , ,

Perilous Impersonations…

From the Diary of Doctor Watson

As we were being herded along the tunnel like so many sheep, I whispered my apologies to my dear wife, who (perhaps quite rightly), gave me a quick dig in the ribs. I thus turned my attention to Holmes, who was now at my side.

“Look here, Sherl, you don’t think this is some mad plan to tunnel under the English countryside from Milford Junction to the Houses of Parliament?”

“For once, Watson, you are thinking logically,” muttered Holmes. “However, your theory is somewhat wide of the mark. Nevertheless, we still have the upper hand.”

“We do?” said I.

He nodded. “I take it you noticed our captors appear to be impersonating German soldiers?”

“Of course, Holmes.” I retorted. “Even I noticed that!”

We had moved into the main part of the tunnel and were now forced to walk two abreast. In the distance I could see only the receding lights that hung from the ceiling in an unending line above us.

“And you are also aware of the calamity that befell Herr Hitler shortly before he fell into the giant chasm that opened up beneath the Munich Molehill during his final hours?”

“I’ve read about it, yes. ”

“And how the blueprint for his invasion of England, clutched in his sweaty little hand, fell into that very same chasm?”

“Absolutely. Lost forever, as they say. But what are you getting at, old bean?”

“What I am getting at, Watson, is that Moriarty would not be stupid enough to attempt to replicate Hitler’s ridiculous plan to tunnel under the English countryside from Milford Junction to the Houses of Parliament.”

“He wouldn’t?”

“No. However, we have another old enemy who would be prepared to do precisely that, and it is he who is currently masquerading as our old adversary Moriarty in whose likeness he was previously masquerading as Herr Hitler.”

“My God, Holmes!” I cried. “A double bluff?”

“Nothing less, Watson.”

“But Holmes,” I muttered, “who is this old enemy are you referring to?”

My companion gave me a sardonic smile. “Take a look at our adversary’s hairline.”

I peered at the man marching ahead of us. “What am I looking for, Holmes?”

“Describe his hair, Watson.”

“Well, it’s quite neat, cut in the short-back-n-sides style so popular with the gay boys.”

“And what else?”

“Well, apart from the braided pigtail, it looks perfectly normal.”

Holmes rolled his eyes. “For fuck’s sake, John, how many villains do we know with a braided pigtail?”

I stared at him. “Oh My God! You mean –”

“Yes, Watson – Fu Manchu.”


Posted by on November 17, 2016 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , ,

And From the Comfort of His Armchair…

From the diary of Doctor Watson.baker Street fireside

“I still don’t understand why you let that man go, Holmes,” I muttered, spreading a dollop of butter on one of Mrs Hudson’s hot muffins. “After all, he could have led us directly to Fu Manchu.”

Sherlock Holmes leaned back in his chair and puffed on his favourite Meerschaum pipe (the one whose carved bowl depicted a mountain goat and an eager youth engaged in a variety of deviant pursuits).  “Really, Watson? How ironic.” And he smiled that sardonic smile of his.

I turned to Lestrade, who was also buttering Mrs Hudson’s muffins. “Have you any idea, Inspector?”

Holmes made a tutting noise that I interpreted as meaning our police companion’s opinion was not worth listening to. I realised later that the particular tutting sound Holmes had uttered was the one signifying a failure on my part to have reached the same conclusions as he had himself.

Lestrade shook his head. “I believe I may have a small inclination, Doctor.”

“Naturally,” said Holmes. (I noticed for the first time that my friend’s attention had not been absent from Lestrade’s features since we had arrived back at Baker Street). I shuffled round in my chair and turned myself towards the policeman.

Lestrade sniffed and held the well-buttered muffin to his lips. “Is this margarine?” He looked at Holmes, then at me. Then at the muffin. Which is when a rather strange thing happened – his arm began to descend back towards the occasional table beside his chair. He replaced the muffin on the tea plate and taking out his handkerchief, wiped his fingers.

I glanced at Holmes, who glanced at me, then we both glanced at Lestrade.

There was a long pause during which I began to feel the need to break wind. Thankfully, I was able to maintain my dignity by clenching my buttocks, since the expression of such an intimate bodily function in front of our guest would not have endeared me to my companion.

Lestrade frowned. “Just tell me this – what gave me away?”

Staring hard at Lestrade, Holmes steepled his fingers and smiled. “Everyone knows that a certain Asian villain is lactose intolerant.” He chuckled. “Well?”

Lestrade pursed his lips and raising both hands towards his brow, began to peel away the rubber mask that concealed his true identity.

“My God! Holmes!” I cried. “It’s Fu Manchu!”

Holmes rolled his eyes. “Really Watson, you must desist from that infernal habit of using exclamation marks after your exclamations.”

“Sorry, Holmes,” said I, feeling slightly miffed. “But it’s him…”

“Yes, I know it’s him,” said Holmes, with another sardonic smile. Then, leaping to his feet, he grasped the edges of his dressing gown and flung out his arms, displaying his massive weapon.

“Bloody Hell, Holmes,” said I.

“Indeed.” And in an instant he had whipped the Samurai sword out of its sheath and brought it down on Fu Manchu’s head. Or rather, within an inch of the little bald patch on the top of his head.

Manchu rose slowly to his feet, keeping his beady little eyes on the blade, lest it should slip and lop off one of his ears. “Mr Holmes. It seems you win again.”

“Oh, for God’s sake!” I cried.

Holmes smiled, lowered his weapon and returned it to its sheath. Then holding out one hand towards Fu Manchu, made a little ‘come hither’ motion with his slender, but firm fingers.

“Very well,” said the arch villain. “You win this time,” and reaching into his jacket, pulled out a leather purse. Withdrawing a small coin, he handed it to my companion. “As usual?”

Holmes took the sixpenny piece and slipped it into his own pocket. “Thank you, Fu.”

And with that, Fu Manchu turned on his heel and left the room.

“What the fu…” I began.

But Holmes held up a hand. “Don’t you understand, Watson?”

I shook my head, feeling that something important had passed me by. Again.

Holmes shrugged. “It’s a game, Watson. Just a bloody game.”

“Sorry, what?”

The annoyance must have shown in my face for Holmes stepped forward and took my hairy little face in his hands. “You know how I often say ‘Game On,’ Watson?”

I nodded.

He gave me (for once) a wry smile. “Sometimes, my dear friend, it pays to take things literally. “

The look of pure condescension on my companion’s face threw me into an absolute rage and before I could stop myself, I was swinging my arm back and would have given him a jolly good right hook, but as with many things, the action of raising my arm prompted a reaction, and I let out a rather sudden, and loud (and smelly), fart.

We did laugh.


Leave a comment

Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , , ,

What the Fu…

From the diary of Doctor Watson

Lestrade and I stood there for a long moment as the eyes of the mob stared back at us. Then with a deft movement, I unleashed my Anti-Moriarty device (a gadget I’ve been working on for some time) and my trusty revolver slid down my sleeve and into my waiting hand.

I held the gun high, ensuring everyone could see it, and for about three seconds I actually believed we might overcome the hoard, locate Fu Manchu, make the necessary arrests and be home in time for tea. But alas, it was not to be so, for at that instant, Fu himself appeared at my feet – apparently having cleverly concealed himself in the very dirt we stood on.Crates with Lettering copy

“Ha!” Yelled he, whipping the weapon out of my grasp. “Once again, I have the upper hand.”

Lestrade rolled his eyes. “For Fuck’s Sake, Watson…”

I turned to my companion with the intention of giving him a quick slap across the chops, but our opponent was even quicker and bopped Lestrade over the head with a small cosh. Even as I saw the inspector fall to his knees I knew what would happen next.

It was dark when I came to. My first response was to rub my head but it seemed my hands were tied. Literally. I blinked and looked around. We were inside the warehouse, Lestrade lying on his side next to me, and a small Chinese man sitting on a chair a few yards away, pointing my own revolver at my head. I tugged at my bonds but they had about as much give in them as a banker at Christmas.

“You cannot escape.” The man with the gun smiled. “However, my master instructed me to encourage you to try. Then I can shoot you.” He smiled again.

The space around us was bare, but the rest of the warehouse was packed floor to ceiling with wooden crates, all marked ‘Landen Tahn’. I was about to comment on the poor spelling when Lestrade stirred.


“You alright, old bean?” I leaned over, hoping our captor would think I was merely showing concern for my companion, but in reality, I was reaching for the watch chain that dangled from Lestrade’s pocket. Muttering away in a calming tone as if I were offering medical advice to my friend, I was able to loop a finger through the chain. Giving it a smart tug, I pulled it free of his pocket and gathered the item into my stiff little fingers. Quite how I was to carry out the next stage of my plan was not, at that moment, obvious.

To be continued…

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , ,

In Search of Fu…

From the diary of Doctor Watson

It has been some time since I was able to put pen to paper in this most terrifying of cases, but as I sit here at my desk, I know that the Demon who has taunted us for the last few weeks will shortly be behind bars.

Leaving Holmes in the care of the oddly named Dr Ormond Sacker and his team of virgin-like nurses, I determined to hunt down Fu Manchu and bring him to justice. My first port of call was to accompany Lestrade to the house at No 1A, Hangman’s Lane. Needless to say, neither of us were surprised to find that not only the house, but in fact the entire lane, was no longer in existence. The room where I had been held captive was nothing more than a pile of rubble.

“I fear our bird has flown,” muttered Lestrade.450px-Roper_Street,_Hull_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1226846

I nodded. “But we do have one clue…” I opened my bag and pulled out the carefully wrapped copy of ‘The Mask of Fu Manchu’. Opening the package just enough to examine the wording on the back of the book, I pointed at the name of the printer.

Lestrade’s face began to change, and after a moment I realised he was smiling. “Ah ha!” Said he. “The Fat Bum Press.”

I coughed. “I believe it’s pronounced ‘Phantom Press’, Inspector.”

“Ah, yes of course.” His newly acquired smile was replaced by the more familiar smirk. “In any case, I know where the place is – to the Docks!

And so it was a mere thirty short minutes later that we approached a forlorn-looking warehouse by the River, and proceeded to circle the building to ascertain how we might gain entry.

As we rounded the corner, any doubt that we had arrived at Fu Manchu’s hideout, was blown away like a puff of smoke up a particularly unsoiled chimney. There in front of us stood fourteen individuals of Chinese origin performing a strange, ritualistic dance.

A moment later, all movement ceased as the eyes of the mob turned towards us.

To be continued.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , ,

The Poo of Fu Manchu…

From the Diary of Dr J Watson:

When I heard nothing from my illustrious companion followFront Door Arch with Crows Foot Hardwood Painteding the delivery of a certain publication, I began to experience a growing feeling of dread. (It put me in mind of the opening passage of a story by our old pal Poe – ‘The Balls of the Pants of Usher’ or some such thing). In any case, I determined to seek out my friend and reassure myself that he was in no danger and was in fact simply ignoring me. As usual.

However, my anxiety was not to be so easily exorcised, for as I approached the door to 221B Baker Street, I ran smack into Inspector Lestrade, who was exiting that very building with some haste.

“Lestrade, old fellow, what’s to do?”

The inspector’s usually pallid features were even more pallid than usual and he gripped my arm, pulling me to one side. “Watson, thank God you’re alive – after witnessing the…” and here he held a hand to his face as if he were about to experience his breakfast a second time. “I was about to fetch a doctor, but you’ll do. Quickly…” And he pushed me through the doors and up the stairs.

My companion’s rooms were untidy (even by his standards) and Holmes himself was lying on a makeshift bed in the centre of the room, his face a rather nice shade of scarlet. The hue was so fetching that it put me in mind of our first case together – ‘A Study in Deep Purple’ but my short reverie was indeed short-lived as a shriek from my friend’s beautiful lips jerked me back to reality.

“Arrrrggh!” He said.

“Holmes!” I shrieked.

“Watson!” Screamed Lestrade. “Control yourself, man.”

I knelt down by the bed and held a hand to my companion’s forehead. “Tell me what you know, Inspector.”

And he did just that. It seems that the pages of the book I had sent to Holmes had been infused with a strange potion. Holmes, being thorough as was his wont, had scrutinised the pages over the course of a few days and at the end of that time had begun to realise that in doing so he had actually poisoned himself. Calling for Lestrade, he was able to utter a few garbled phrases (mostly containing the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shite’) before lapsing into the coma that I now found him in.

During the next few hours, Lestrade and I were able to transport Holmes to Hardacre’s Sanatorium,  which deals with many such strange cases. I collected my bag on the way, along with my old chemistry set and four pairs of latex gloves, and set to work to identify whatever it was that had laid out my companion in this way.

Late into that first night, I sat back from my studies and rubbed my head. Lestrade, who had stayed by Holmes’ bedside mopping his brow, cast me a hopeful glance.

“Any luck?”

I shook my head. “I haven’t been able to identify the exact quantities involved, but I’m certain of one thing – the pages of this book were drenched in the poo of Fu Manchu.”

“Oh, shit.”

I nodded. “Indeed.”

(To be continued)


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 29, 2015 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , ,

Curiouser and Curiouser…

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

Dear HolmesThe_Mask_of_Fu_Manchu_by_Sax_Rohmer_-_Illustration_by_Ron_Lesser_-_Pyramid_Books_F-740_1962

I received a curious package in my morning mail today, containing what appears to be an account of the adventures of my recent captor, Mr Fu Manchu. The report is in the form of a novel by some chap named Sax Rohmer (clearly a foreigner) who details the antics of the zealous Chinaman and his plan to ‘take over the world’.

The book was apparently sent to me by one Mr Nayland Smith, who is currently Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard. My dilemma, as you will no doubt have guessed, is that Nayland Smith is himself a character in the book!

I am sending the complete package to you via my errand boy, Loose Lennie, in the hope that you can fathom out exactly what is afoot (for surely some sinister plan is in the offing).

I remain yours,

Rather worriedly


Leave a comment

Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Detective Fiction


Tags: , , ,

%d bloggers like this: