Tag Archives: Richard Hannay

The Cutting Table…

Circular saw350

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

The next few hours passed like a blur as Holmes, Lestrade and I were trussed up and bundled into the back of one of those new-fangled ‘horseless carriage’ machineries and transported to the place of our execution. Had my focus not been drawn by our perilous situation, I might have admired the strange vehicle as it trundled through the dark streets of Edinburgh, clouds of noxious gas bellowing from its rear, accompanied by intermittent phart-like gurgling noises. A similar mode of transport chugged along behind, bearing Moriarty and the rest of the film crew.

We had been tied up and shoved onto the passenger seat of the vehicle, while the arsehole formerly known as Hannay sat at the wheel, casting the odd glance over his shoulder and grinning like the proverbial cat. Holmes sat beside me and (to my consternation), spent the whole journey attempting to engineer ‘a quiet smoke’. Having managed to extract his Meerschaum pipe from his top pocket using only his teeth, he gave me one of those ‘Would you mind, Watson?’ looks, and urged me to lean over his crotch to grasp his pouch with my own sturdy incisors and pull it out of his trouser pocket. How he succeeded in opening the small bag of Hard Shag, stuffing his pipe and lighting it using only his mouth and left ear, will forever remain a mystery.

Lestrade, on the other hand, was considerably less relaxed, screaming, “Arrrgggh!” and “Eeargh!” several times throughout the journey (in a surprisingly varied selection of tonal ranges). Thankfully, he eventually settled down and adopted a ‘fed-up’ expression.

We arrived at our destination in the early hours of the morning – a remote farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. In the dim light, I could make out two or three large barns. While Moriarty supervised, the three of us were manhandled off the motor vehicle and into the nearest of these, where we were made to stand in one corner of the building while the crew set things up. Once again, had I not been preoccupied with thoughts of my impending death, I might have enjoyed watching the proceedings: several large pieces of ‘set’ were arranged to resemble what I eventually realised was a representation of a stage play I’d seen at the Almeida a few months ago, entitled ‘Herr Batman Gets Cut in Half by Count Von Joker’, a piece of German-expressionistic theatre I hadn’t understood at the time, but which now made perfect sense.

“Don’t worry, friend Watson,” purred Holmes, still puffing on his pipe. “I have a plan.”

I snorted rather scornfully. “It’d better involve a bloody miracle then, or we three are about to be well and truly fucked.”

“Now, now, Watson, no need for that sort of talk. Stiff upper lip and all that.”

I didn’t bother replying as my attention was taken by the extended workbench that Moriarty’s henchman had manoeuvred into the middle of the ‘theatre’ set. Slotted in one end of the thing was a shiny circular saw, with a small steam engine fixed beneath. More worryingly, the parallel conveyor belts that ran the length of the table would ensure any item placed there would quickly be thrust towards the jagged, yet twinkling, teeth of the saw. I began to feel sick.

“Now gentlemen,” said Moriarty, tying a bloodstained apron around his waist. “Who’d like to go first?”

At this point, Lestrade gave way to his cowardly side. “It’s Holmes you want – do him, let me and the Doc go.” A familiar smell hit my nasal passages and I realised the poor chap had weed himself.

Hitchcock finished setting up the cameras and wobbled over to where we were waiting. “I assume you don’t want to rehearse this bit?”

Moriarty grinned. “I’d be happy to do a run-through, but I think Mr Holmes might find it a bit difficult. The first cut, as they say, is the deepest.” He broke into a hearty laugh.

Holmes gave him a sardonic smile. “Shoot me from the left, won’t you, Hitch? It’s my best side.”

At a signal from the Evil Genius, four henchmen dragged Holmes to the saw bench, untied the ropes that held him and strapped his manly form onto the despicable device. My companion now lay face up with his legs either side of the circular saw. It didn’t take an evil genius to work out what would happen when the machine screamed into life and the conveyor belt shunted the great detective towards his final problem.

“Wait!” I yelled. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”

Moriarty inclined his head and gave me a condescending smile. “Really, Doctor Watson? Don’t you think it’s time to give up?”

I knew I was grasping at straw-like articles, but I soldiered on. “Of course it is, any fool can see that, but I wanted to point out that you haven’t filmed the scene before this one – the one where you capture Holmes and bring him here.”

Hitchcock glanced at Moriarty. “He’s right, you know. We haven’t.”

Moriarty glared at me. “A small matter – we’ll use stooges dressed as you three. A couple of long shots should do it, I think.” He took a step towards me. “In any case, the punters won’t remember the penultimate scene, they’ll remember the last one: the one where Sherlock Holmes gets sawn in two. Mwah, hah, hah…”

The next few minutes passed in a blur (much like the earlier one), and I had to force myself to concentrate. As the circular saw started up and the set was lit, I saw Moriarty take up his position next to the staircase at the edge of the set.

“Action!” Hitchcock clicked his fingers and the next few seconds seemed to slow into some sort of slow motion that was very, very slow. I watched transfixed as Moriarty took his cue:

“And so, Mr Holmes, this is the end. I will be rid of your meddling forever. Goodbye.” He started up the staircase and moved along the gantry. The cameras tracked his progress as he looked down on Holmes, the conveyor belt juddering my friend’s nether regions ever closer to the saw.

Holmes, however, appeared unconcerned. “Do you expect me to talk?” he called.

“No Mr Holmes, I expect you to die.” Moriarty laughed again.

Holmes stared up at him. “But what about the plans for a top secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?”

Moriarty sneered. “You cannot distract me from my purpose, Holmes.”

My soon-to-be-sliced companion chuckled. “You don’t know what they are, do you?”

Moriarty stopped. “I’ll have an abundance of time to peruse them, Holmes, after I’ve seen you in halves – preferably two.”

Holmes lifted his head and peered at the screaming blade. I detected a note of concern in his voice as he looked straight up at the ceiling and yelled, “I think we can safely say this would be a good time, dear brother!”

At that moment, it seemed that the whole roof of the barn was lifted away as if by some gigantic, unseen hand. The cold air gushed in and the whirling blades from the flying machines hovering above us filled the air with a great noise. Seconds later, dozens of hunky, leather-clad men descended into the barn on ropes, and in the melee that followed, Hitchcock, Buchan, Moriarty and his men were caught and tied up, Lestrade and I were set free and (most thankfully) the deft flick of a switch ensured that the circular saw juddered to a halt a mere three millimetres from the testicles of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.

“You took your bloody time,” barked Holmes to the man in the white suit.

Mycroft smiled and helped him up, then gazed around as his men dragged their prisoners into the centre of the barn. “You know me, dear brother, I like a dramatic ending.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Good thing we gave you that locating device, eh?”

Holmes stuck a hand down his trousers and fiddled around for a moment before pulling out a small metal box. “Your patented Telegraphical Steam Conduit.” He handed the device to his brother. “Indeed, as Watson pointed out, we’d have been fucked without it.”

Mycroft slipped the device into his own pocket. “I suppose you do still have the plans for the submarine?”

Holmes nodded. “Of course. In fact I never gave them to John Buchan at all – what he thought were the submarine plans was merely a design for a new type of exploding cigar I’ve been working on. Would have been rather fun if Moriarty had tried to build it.”

“So the plans are…?”

“In the safest place I could think of – inside Mrs Hudson’s knickers.”

Out of the corner of my eye, a sudden flash of Evil Genius tore towards my companion, his face fixed in a snarl of rage. I stuck out my leg and Moriarty fell in a heap on the ground.


“Tch,” muttered Mycroft. “Keep him under control, can’t you?” Two of his men hauled the Evil Genius to his feet and tied him up. Again.

As we climbed into one of the steam-powered gyrocopters, I slid in behind Holmes and half-listened to the idle bickering between the brothers. Another adventure at an end, I thought, allowing myself a satisfied sigh. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help wonder if all this might have been resolved more easily and with considerably fewer threats to human life. But then, it wouldn’t have been half so much fun!

As the machine rose into the early dawn, Lestrade rested his head on my shoulder. He stank of wee, but I didn’t mind – I was already thinking about the title for this adventure…



Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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The Director’s Cut…

Hitchcock Holmes
From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As I sit here in front of a warm fire, a mug of Cocoa on the arm of my favourite chair, my dear wife rubbing my poor feet in that special way of hers, I can only thank God that this nasty business is all over. In detailing this final account of the adventure I’m calling ‘Not the Thirty-Nine Steps’, I’m indebted both to Inspector Lestrade and (somewhat unusually), to the Evil Genius Professor Moriarty, who sent me his own account of events (no doubt in the hope that I might paint him in a more favourable light than I might otherwise be inclined).

Lestrade’s contribution was, I felt, a little begrudging – as he handed over his notes, I detected a hint of cynicism. He muttered a half-hearted ‘For the record’ then cajoled his features into what he likes to think of as a smile. I was unsurprised, therefore, to read a footnote in one of his entries commenting on the ‘utter drivel Watson will conjure up’ in place of actual conversation. Well, he can just bugger off if he thinks I shall write anything but the truth – drivel or otherwise!

So, to continue…

As I stared up into the face of the silent movie director and impresario Alfred (Tch!) Hitchcock, I noticed another familiar visage at his shoulder.

“Hannay!” I exclaimed. “What the hell..?”

But Hitchcock was quick to silence me with a finger to his bulbous lips. “Not a word, Doctor – we are filming!”

I struggled to my feet and couldn’t help the sarcastic quip that slipped out as I dusted myself down. “Would’ve thought it’d be rather superfluous in a silent movie…”

The little fat man slapped me so suddenly and so vehemently that it was all I could do not to scream like a girl.

“Cut!” There was a general murmur of disapproval in the background and Hitchcock turned back to me. “This is the age of sound, Doctor, so be a good chap and shut the fuck up during filming.” He smiled genially and with a hand on Hannay’s elbow, urged the other man to step forward. “And as it happens, you are mistaken about our friend here.”

“Ah, sorry old bean,” said the man who apparently wasn’t Hannay. He gave me what was obviously a practised wry smile and added, “Buchan’s the name, Johnny to my pals.”

“Ah,” said I. “I see.” I shrugged as nonchalantly as I was able and offered him my own wry smile. “So you’re not in league with Moriarty after all?”

Buchan laughed quietly. “On the contrary, Doctor Watson, we’re all in league with Moriarty.” He glanced at Hitchcock and the fat man winked conspiratorially. “Shall we re-set, Hitch?”

“Better tie them up first,” said an all-too-familiar voice behind me. I felt a sliver of ice slip down my spine as I turned to see Holmes and Lestrade pushed roughly to the ground. Professor Moriarty strode through the ripped scenery, brandishing a large pistol. “The final scene approaches, I think.”

I helped Holmes and Lestrade to their feet and the three of us stood in the centre of what was now a large circle of sour-faced villains.

“You’ll never get away with this, you know,” muttered Holmes, straightening his tie.

“Oh, I think we will,” said Moriarty. “You’re to star in an extraordinarily ingenious scene involving a circular saw and several large skewers. I’ve also commissioned a new musical score by Herman Herrmann with lots of ‘Eee! Eee! sounds. It’ll be a hit at the box office – especially when I reveal how a terrible accident resulted in the death of that stupid detective Sherlock Holmes. The punters love a good murder, you know.” He signalled for his men to bind our wrists while he, Buchan and Hitchcock huddled together.

“I say, Holmes,” I whispered. “I’m awfully sorry about this.”

Holmes smiled that sardonic smile of his. “Don’t worry, Watson – everything’s going to plan.”

I put on a brave face, but couldn’t help wonder if Holmes might be talking bollocks…


Posted by on April 16, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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A Word From Our Sponsor…

Moriarty MovieFrom the Memoirs of Criminal Genius Professor James (Napoleon) Moriarty

Via M-CRaP

I am documenting this narrative via a recent, and fantastically clever, invention of mine. It is a relatively small and inconspicuous device, which I am easily able to conceal about my person by means of an elasticised waistband.

As I speak, my patented Moriarty-Conical-Rite-a-Phone (or M-CRaP) machine, interprets my words and scribbles them down by means of a copper nib onto a wax cylinder. The cylinder will be replayed at a later date by one of my evil assistants and transposed into text, a copy of which I shall send to that pea-brain Watson, to be included in what I am certain will be yet another of his ridiculous ‘adventures’ for the Strand Magazine, assuming he lives to tell the tale, which of course he won’t, in which case I shall publish it myself under the pseudonym ‘Maury Artie’.

Of course, all this information is already known to me so I am actually wasting my time telling myself this.

[Note to Evil Assistant – please delete the last sentence. And obviously that one as well. And this one. You know what I mean]

So, having left Sherlock Holmes and his dim-witted associate in the under stairs chamber, I am now making my way to the Stabb Inn to meet another idiot – Inspector Lestrade. If my calculations are correct, I expect that at this very moment, Holmes has already found the second underground chamber, discovered the wax head of Lestrade that my men swiped from the Policemen’s Benevolent Society, and put two and two together to make six and a half. In other words, he thinks the so-called thriller writer Hannay is in league with me and will no doubt be in hot pursuit of that very man as we speak! What a fool.

The truth, as always, is far simpler – I stole the Bruce Partridger plans, planted them in the public park where I knew Hannay took his morning walks, and ensured he found them. Then, knowing the man has a photographic memory, it was simply a matter of time before the stupidest detective in Londen got involved via the stupidest villain in Londen, Bill Sikes. Then it was simply another matter of time until Holmes and Watson ‘found’ my hideout here in Edinburgh.

[Note to Evil Assistant – there were too many mentions of the word ‘simply’. Have them shot. I mean er, removed]

And so, as I stroll nonchalantly down to Fleshmarket Close, I know in my dark heart that Holmes and the troglodyte Watson will follow Hannay into the subterranean passages I happened to mention in my earlier monologue. And as I’m sure you’ve guessed dear reader (whoever you are) there are in fact no subterranean passages. Ha ha ha! That was simply a ruse [note to Evil Assistant – please remove the word ‘simply’], to enable me to lure all three of them into taking part in my next moving picture project entitled ‘Moriarty and the Death of that Stupid Detective Sherlock Holmes’, which I suspect may do rather well at the box office. Especially in the penultimate scene when Sherlock Holmes actually dies at the hands of his arch-enemy – me.

[Note to Evil Assistant – find out what a box office is]

I am now approaching the Stabb Inn so I will stop talking to myself in case the local peasants think I am a little soft in the head. Clearly I am not a little soft in the head or I wouldn’t have been able to invent such a clever device as I am now utilising for the celebration of my evil ways. I will stop talking now.

Ah, there is Lestrade, sitting in the corner like a virgin at a funeral.

[Note to Evil Assistant – remove that last line. And this one]

To be continued


Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Up, Up and Away…

TWL Submarine Plans copyFrom the Diary of Doctor J. Watson

“Look here, Holmes,” I muttered as my companion plopped his boot into my waiting grip. “If all this stuff is in Hannay’s head, what was all that about the secret plans?”

Holmes dragged himself up my quivering body, reaching for a handhold in the shattered ceiling above. “Ah. I’m glad you mentioned that, Watson…” Wriggling his lithe torso over the ragged ledge, he hauled himself onto the floor of our previous place of captivity. Then, kneeling over the edge he smiled down at me. “You’re referring to the plans for a top secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger?”

“That’s the one,” said I.

Holmes moved out of my line of sight. There was a loud wrenching noise and a moment later a length of wood slid down towards me. I recognized it as the banister rail from the stairs that led out of the underground chamber (the first underground chamber, that is).

Bracing one end against the foot of the work bench, I shimmied up the sturdy shaft and into the room above.

“Glad to see you haven’t lost any of your gymnastic skills,” chuckled Holmes.

I stood up and dusted myself down. “Nothing to do with gymnastics, Holmes, “ I said, with a sniff. “I learned how to climb trees when Bummer Harris used to chase me across the common at home. The rotter was always trying to inveigle himself into my trousers.”

Holmes gazed off into the distance. “Ah, yes. The yearnings of youth. I remember it well…”

His eyes began to glaze over and a familiar smile slid across his features. I gave him a punch on the arm. “You were saying…?”

“What? Oh, yes, the Partridger plans.” He leaned against the wall in a nonchalant fashion. “Hannay did find the blueprints as I said before, but what is not clear is how he assimilated those plans into his internal version of ‘Die 39 Stufen’, since they were clearly not part of the original book.” He rubbed his crotch thoughtfully. “I’m beginning to think I may have misjudged Hannay.”

I started up the steps to the door. “We’d better catch him, then, hadn’t we?”

Holmes shook his head. “On the contrary, Watson, Hannay is of no further interest to me. By now he will have passed on his knowledge to Moriarty – including details of the secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship which, if that evil genius has his way, I fear may bring down not only our Government, but our country, our civilization and indeed, life as we know it.”

“Bugger,” said I.

“Bugger indeed,” said Holmes, as he pushed past me, banged open the door and stormed into the house above.

To be continued.


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Posted by on March 17, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Hannay Gets Ahead…

From the Diary of Doctor J. Watson
Die 39 Stufen Book
In what seemed like an instant, but was probably about half an hour, we were free, our bonds cast aside on the dirty floor as we struggled to our feet and brushed ourselves down.

I gazed at the sombre-faced head still sitting on the bench. My desire to touch Lestrade’s likeness had melted like the wax that created it, and I felt only a genuine wish to see the man himself alive and with his be-whiskered bonce unharmed. I turned my attention to the hole in the ceiling. “Give me a leg up, Holmes.”

My bosom companion shook his head. “No, Watson. You give me a leg up – I’m lighter than you.”

I frowned. “Are you inferring I’m fat, Holmes?”

“No, no, no, Watson.” He paused, a sly smile creeping across his rugged features. “A little on the stocky side, perhaps?”

I gritted my teeth and was about to throw him a witty riposte when Hannay butted in:

“Actually, chaps, I’m probably lighter than both of you.” His dark eyes flicked back and forth between us as if we were part of some bizarre underground tennis tournament that had turned sour due to lack of strawberries and cream.

I waited for Holmes to slap the man down with one of his amusing rejoinders. But he didn’t. “Excellent idea, Dickie.” And with that he bade me clasp my hands together with his, forming a cradle of fingers in preparation for Hannay’s foot. Bracing ourselves, we took our companion’s boot in our grip and hoisted him upwards.

“A little higher, chaps,” he muttered, reaching for one of the sturdier joists.

A moment later, Hannay was standing on the floor above. Peering down, he effected a small bow, waggled his fingers in a sort of ‘toodle-oo’ gesture and was gone.

“Come along man!” I shouted to the empty space. “Find a rope, a ladder, a sturdy plant – anything to get us out of here.”

But there was no reply, only Hannay’s retreating footsteps above us.

“Oh for fu – ” I began but Holmes silenced me with a warning look.

“I knew it, Watson. The cad’s double-crossed us.”

I stared at him for a moment. “Holmes, sometimes I despair of you – if you’d suspected such underhandedness, then why the buggering hell didn’t you take some sort of..some sort of…” I struggled for a suitable phrase.

“Evasive action?” quipped Holmes. “And alert him to my superior intelligence?”

“Well, yes. I mean, no. I mean…” I took a deep breath and indulged in a moment of internal reflection, albeit tinged with a degree of resignation. I breathed out slowly, releasing the tension in my shoulders, my torso, my nether regions. “Very well, Holmes. Since I clearly have no idea what’s going on, here, why don’t you share your enormous perspective?”

Holmes picked up one of the chairs from the floor and settled himself onto it. He took out his prized Meerschaum pipe and began to stuff it with shag. “This book of Hannay’s. You’ve seen it eh?”

I felt the tension returning. “Not seen it as such, no.”

“But you believe he has written it? Or has at least made a measure of progress with the manuscript?” He patted down the rough shag with his little finger in a slightly ‘camp’ fashion, and proceeded to light the pipe. I watched as a plume of blue-grey smoke spiralled up through the hole in the ceiling.

“Well…can’t really say for sure.”

Holmes stared into space. “Then you are clearly unaware that the title of his so-called book ‘The 39 Steps’ is also the title of a previously published volume by one Johannes Buchanus? In German, of course, but nevertheless a thrilling read.”

I could barely contain my astonishment. “Sorry Holmes – are you saying you’ve read a book? A piece of fiction? A collection of what you yourself have often termed mindless drivel?”

His features twisted into what I’ve come to recognize as his ‘innocent’ face. (The one he wears when I’ve inadvertently touched on one of his many contradictory habits). “I do occasionally read, Watson.”

I huffed. “Never read anything of mine, expect to criticize, point out its inadequacies, its…”

He held up a hand. “I’ve no wish to upset you Watson. I’m simply pointing out that the book as Hannay relates it has already been written by someone else, and it is in fact that very story you and I, and indeed Hannay himself, are playing out here for the benefit of Professor Moriarty.”


“Except of course, Moriarty has not yet realized it.”


Holmes sighed noisily. “For God’s sake, Watson!” He pointed the stem of his Meerschaum at me in a badgering way. “In actual fact, I was not certain of his treachery until a moment ago, when our former colleague disappeared through that hole – carrying out, as it happens, the events described in Chapter Six. You see, Watson, I don’t believe Hannay has written down one word of this so-called novel. He is in fact a victim of subliminally-acquired literature: having read Buchanus’ book some years ago, he has unconsciously assimilated the text as if it were his own work and in an effort to test its authenticity as a piece of literature, he is, also unconsciously, acting out the whole thing before our eyes.” He shrugged. “You and I are simply playing our parts.”

I stared at him. “Really?”

He nodded. “Afraid so.”

“So what do we do now?”

Holmes gazed up at the ceiling. “Now, Watson? We move onto Chapter Seven. Escape.”

To be continued.


Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Getting Ahead…

From the Diary of Doctor J. WatsonCops Series Cards 350

We stared at the severed head and I felt a familiar sensation in my bowels as my nether regions prepared themselves for an immediate loss of control.

I glanced at Homes who, with his eyes fixed on the shocking sight before us, muttered “Keep ‘em clenched, Watson. Keep ‘em clenched.”

I nodded, took a few deep breaths to reassure myself, and a moment later the feeling had passed. I was once more myself – though I suspected a small stain might have manifested itself in my undergarments. I looked back at the grisly scene.

Hannay was the first to speak. “Arrrgh!”

I leaned towards him and patted his arm with my head. “There, there, it’s not so bad. He had a good life. Relatively speaking.”

“I think we may have succumbed too easily in our conclusions.” said Holmes. “Answer me this, friend Watson, how could this gruesome article before us be what we think it is?”

I blinked several times and steeled myself. Staring hard at Lestrade’s head, I studied it’s all-too familiar lines, it’s jutting cheekbones, it’s manly forehead and flabby mouth. “I must say, on closer inspection…” I paused. “You think it isn’t Lestrade?”

“Consider – Moriarty left this building to meet Lestrade less than ten minutes ago.” He raised in eyebrow. “Even allowing for the man’s murderous genius, how could this so-called murder have been committed with such speed?”

A thought struck me. “It’s Lestrade’s death mask!”

“Exactly, “said Holmes. “Or to be more precise – his near-death mask. The very near-death mask I created myself when Poor Lestrade was holed-up in bed with Yellow Fever last year.” His gaze moved away from mine and I could see his pleasure at recalling that special day, with hot wax, rubber gloves and an almost dead policeman to play with. “Lestrade’s wife wanted something to remember him by – I had suggested removing a certain appendage and popping it along to my old pal Risible Ronnie the Teasing Taxidermist, but she said she never let him shag her when he was alive, and he certainly wasn’t going to when he’d passed on!”

“I remember it well,” I said. “You covered her dear husband’s head with wax in the style of a death mask, but of course, as the fellow didn’t die, it ended up as an unclaimed raffle prize for The Policemen’s Benevolent Society.”

He nodded. “Yes, which is why, for the last few months it’s been sitting on top of the cistern in their toilet.” He cast me a quick glance. “From where Moriarty’s men undoubtedly swiped it.”

“We have to escape,” I muttered. And without further hesitation, I began shuffling my chair forward towards the workbench. Or at least, that was my intention. What actually happened was that my chair fell forwards and I whacked my face on the filthy floorboards.

Behind me I heard the twin sharp intakes of breath as Holmes and Hannay took in my calamity. But I didn’t care, for I had discovered something: wedged between the floorboards was a broken piece of blade – perhaps from an old knife. Sliding my aching face around in the muck, I was able to pick up the blade between my upper lip and my nose. Then, shuffling sideways, I made my way slowly and somewhat painfully towards Holmes’ chair.

A sudden “Ouch-fuck!” sounded in my ear and looking up I saw that Holmes himself was now on the floor beside me, though he’d had the foresight to turn his manly features to one side, thus avoiding damage to that handsome Roman nose.

“Good thinking, Watson,” said he, as he manoeuvred himself around so that I could pass the short blade into his tied hands. “Just like old times, eh?” he said with a sly wink. And then slowly, ever so slowly, he began to saw his way through the ropes…


Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Chants for the Memory…

In the Cellar copyFrom the Diary of Doctor Watson

As the three of us were still bound tightly to our chairs, I cannot describe the relief that flooded over me when Holmes confirmed he did in fact have a plan. I think I may even have closed my eyes for a moment and uttered a quiet prayer (highly untypical of me, I might add). But my relief was short-lived, for Holmes began to chant. And not just any old chant, but a droning, bagpipey screeching that seemed to emanate from his very bowels.

Now, while I have nothing against chanting per se, having witnessed my colleague’s distinct mantra several times, I could well imagine the utter nonsense behind yet another of his ridiculous theories. “I see, Holmes,” I muttered with more than a degree of irritation. “So you’re aiming to utilise your entire body in some ritualistic quivering, which I expect will rise up from your anal region, into your throat, cascade back down your manly torso and out through the souls of your feet, and then I shouldn’t be at all surprised if the vibration did not crack open the very floor on which we stand, allowing us to make our escape.”

Holmes ceased his monotonous droning and cast me a sidelong glance. “That’s right, Watson.”

“Oh, for f – ”

“Watson!” Holmes gave me a hard stare. “A little understanding, please?” He nodded to Hannay, whose face was drenched in tears.

“I say, old man,” I said in as kindly a voice as I could muster. “Don’t worry yourself – Holmes will have us out of this fix in a trice.”

Hannay turned to me, sniffling quietly. “It’s all my fault.”

“No, no, no…” I began. But he shook his head.

“If it hadn’t been for that damned book…”

I looked at Holmes. He looked at me. We both looked at Hannay.

“You mean,” said Holmes, “that if you had not included in your narrative the details of those secret plans you happened to find in a small paper bag down the side of a park bench a few weeks ago when you were strolling in the park one Wednesday evening, none of this would have happened?”

Hannay gasped. “You know?”

Holmes smiled that sardonic smile of his. “Of course. My brother Mycroft asked me to keep an eye on things vis-a-vis stolen Government documents detailing plans for a top secret steam-powered undersea torpedo-ship designed by the famous submarine boffin Bruce Partridger. That’s why I allowed my trusty companion here to inveigle himself into your affairs.”

I twisted round in my chair. “You’re fucking joking?”

“I’m fucking not,” quipped Holmes.

“You mean…” My gander was up and raring to go. “You knew all along? And you didn’t think to tell me? Oh, I can’t believe it – no wonder you weren’t interested in helping out! You absolute boundah!”

“Language, Watson.”

I shook my head in rage. “Not only do you keep me in the damn dark about EVERYTHING, but you sit there like the Mad Bloody Monk chanting that stupid tune. It really is the – ”

And at that moment my anger had piqued to such a height that I stamped my feet, lifting my chair clean off the ground. A second later it crashed back down with a resounding, well, crash.

“You see, Watson?”

“See what, damn you?”

Holmes looked at me, then swivelled his piggy little eyes downwards. I followed his gaze and saw (to my astonishment) that the wooden floorboards on which we sat had split right across from one side of the cellar to the other.

“Oh.” Said I.

Holmes smirked. “I know how much you despise my singing, Watson, so I knew if I wound you up tightly enough, sooner or later you would do what you always do in these circumstances.”

I frowned. “I haven’t wet myself.”

“No, I meant the other thing…”

I looked down at the floor again. “Ah, you mean have a temper tantrum?”

He nodded. “So now, if all three of us jump up and down a little more, I’m sure we can…ready? One, two…”

And as the three chairs and combined size-tens of our boots hit the floor again, the ground gave way and we tumbled into the cellar below.

“Ah ha,” said Holmes gazing up through the hole in the ceiling. “Now all we need to do is something to cut these bonds with…” And he cast his eyes around the dark room. “There we are.” He nodded towards a bench at the other side of the room where an array of bloodstained carving knives, hatchets and other stabbing instruments lay next to a pile of cardboard boxes of varying sizes, along with an abundance of brown paper, string and a few labels bearing the following meaty message:

Best Scottish Beef

However, it was not these chilling items that caught our attention, but the object that lay at the end of the bench. It was a head. A severed head. The severed head, in fact, of Inspector Lestrade…



Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Not the 39 Steps…

Not the 39 Steps blogFrom the Diary of Doctor Watson

I’m happy to report that I’m writing this from the comfort of my favourite armchair beside a roaring fire at Baker Street. My companion is tentatively fingering another of Mrs Hudson’s tea-time delights and I’m ashamed to say I’ve just finished off her hot muffins. It seems unthinkable that only a few hours ago Holmes and I faced such peril as I have rarely imagined. Only this morning, as we struggled against our bonds, I remember thinking that perhaps this would be our last adventure. But I digress…

When that wizened old crone gurgled Moriarty’s name, I admit that my blood ran cold. I turned to Holmes but his attention was on the staircase. I barely had time to follow his gaze when the crunching of splintering wood caused me to jump backwards in fright. The staircase (or what was left of it) had split in two halves, each section moving up and to the sides revealing a secret chamber beneath.

“I say,” came a voice behind us. “What’s all the kafuffle about, chaps?” Hannay squeezed between us, saw what we saw and immediately gave way at the knees. Holmes grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet.

“Stiff upper lip, Hannay,” he barked. “Don’t let the side down.” Then switching his sharp eyes to me, muttered. “Don’t suppose that’s a gun in your pocket, Watson?”

I glanced down at myself and adjusted my stance. “Ahm, no, actually, Holmes. Just a little…excitement, don’t you know?”

My companion nodded. “Perfectly understandable, Watson, considering the gargantuan intellect that is now upon us.” And turning to the space where the staircase had been, he smiled and gave a short bow. “Ah. Professor. How lovely to see you again.”

Moriarty strode up the steps from the underground room, followed by a brace of disagreeable henchmen. “Shirley, Johnnie and Dickie. Glad you could join us.” He made a small gesture and the henchmen moved forward waving their weapons.

“Get dahn the stairs,” said one, pointing his gun at my head.

“An don’t try no funny stuff neither,” said the other.

Holmes groaned. “It’s Don’t try any funny stuff, you dullard.”

And so it was that we were ushered unceremoniously into the nerve centre of Moriarty’s villainous emporium. In a matter of minutes we were trust up on three chairs against the back wall. Moriarty advanced toward us waving a pointy knife.

“It never fails to amaze me how stupid you are, Holmesy. Even now, as you face certain death at the hands of your arch enemy – ”

“What? Again?” Holmes laughed contemptuously.

“Don’t bloody interrupt me!” Moriarty jumped up and down several times, rather like a small child might react to having their favourite toy confiscated. He took a deep breath. “As I was saying – even now you have no clue what is going on.”

“Hah!” said I. “Holmes knows exactly what’s going on, don’t you Holmes?” I turned to my companion but he merely shrugged.

“Actually I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps the Professor might care to enlighten us?”

Moriarty straightened up, preening himself. “Why, of course, I should take great delight in doing so…”

Over the next few hours Moriarty explained his elaborate plans for world domination and other mad ideas. He went into great detail regarding the subterranean passages that (apparently) ran under the city, connecting his various hideouts, arms depots and sundry meeting places. I was beginning to grow rather tired, but then I noticed Holmes was shuffling around in his chair. I suspected he’d managed to free himself using some clever device he’d had the foresight to secrete about his person in case of such an emergency. But then he let out a loud phart and I realised he was simply suffering from his usual stomach trouble. I also realised something else – if Holmes couldn’t get us out of this, nobody could.

Moriarty’s rambling continued. “…and that is why I sent a message to that fool Lestrade.” He glanced at his pocket watch. “Ah. We are to meet in a few minutes, after which I shall kill him and then all of you. Mwah, hah, hah.”

When the staircase had closed behind him and his henchmen, I turned to Holmes. “Well?”

“Well what?” said he.

I sighed loudly. “You do have a plan?”

“Of course, Watson.” And he smiled.


To be continued.

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Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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Some Murders are Announced…

By Carrier Pigeon to Inspector Lestrade

Best Beef
My Dear Lestrade

I am writing to advise you of the current situation vis a vis Messrs Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John (Big Boy) Watson. If you have been exercising your underemployed observational skills recently, you may be aware that the aforementioned pair evaded your constables and boarded a train to Edinburgh, and further, that the well-known novelist and misanthrope Richard (mine’s a pint) Hannay had engaged them in a bid to solve a mystery pertaining to yet another of his lacklustre tales of woe, ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’.

I am at this moment entertaining this trio of tiresome tricksters at one of my lodging houses near the Anatomical Museum – an unintentional, but rather fitting geographical location, considering the procedures I have in mind for the three unfortunates.

Naturally, I wouldn’t as a rule choose to enlighten ‘The Fuzz’ regarding my preparations for what I imagine you would term ‘a triple murder’, but my enjoyment of a good brawl has thus far remained unfulfilled (Holmes in particular is being somewhat droll in his attempts at retaliation, and Watson is a useless twat at the best of times). I should be obliged, therefore, if you would be good enough to hop on the next train. We could meet for a drink in a quaint little hostelry just off Fleshmarket Close known as The Stab Inn, where I shall take pleasure in availing you of my plans. This will allow you, should you so wish, to attempt a rescue, and that in turn, will add (I hope) the necessary modicum of excitement to the proceedings to make it worth my while.

Should you not wish to attend, I shall be happy to post the various body parts back to Baker Street for the delectation of that slattern Mrs Hudson, labelled, of course, as ‘Finest Scottish Beef’. It would tickle me to imagine the silly cow stuffing her favourite detective into one of her ghastly pies.

I look forward to killing you seeing you later,

Yours murderously
Professor Moriarty

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Posted by on February 27, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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The House of Hell…

From the Diary of Doctor WatsonStaricase

Clattering through the dark streets to our proposed abode was not a journey I’d wish to repeat – Holmes had nabbed a seat next to the driver, leaving Hannay and myself to make the most of the meagre space in the back of the cart. Perched on a sack of coal with the night air stinging my face undoubtedly brought a new freshness to my cheeks, but otherwise did nothing to endear me to my companion.

“Come along Watson,” Holmes barked as we pulled up outside a drab-looking residence. “A hearty meal and a warm fire awaits!” Grasping my arm as I half-fell onto the wet cobblestones, Holmes turned away from the driver and gave me a hard stare. “Be vigilant Watson,” he muttered. “I fear we may be undone.”

Turning back to the driver, he resumed the hearty bonhomie and clapped a hand on the man’s back. “This way is it, old bean?”

The house was not what I expected. Or rather, it was (in some manner at least) exactly what I’d expected: the building resembled a collection of rotten timbers and crumbling stone that appeared to have been dropped between two rather more substantial structures on either side. The words ‘ramshackle’, ‘demolition-job’ and ‘shithouse’ loomed large as we entered the murky dwelling.

A small, wiry woman of indeterminate age sprang upon us on entering. She glared up at me and screeched “No room at the Inn!”

As I stared into her bloodshot eyes, her cackling laughter sent more than a chill up my spine and I swear one of her bony hands found its way into the crevice between my buttocks (though I may have imagined it). However, I was rescued from the woman’s mad gaze and probing digits by the Driver, who, pulling her aside, whispered in her ear, after which the woman’s expression changed to one of quiet expectancy.

We were shown into the parlour – a room whose only advantage was a roaring fire. The three us pulled up chairs and warmed ourselves in front of the blaze while our harridan-like host scuttled off to fetch food.

As soon as she’d gone. I leaned across to Holmes. “What’s afoot, Sherl?”

His sharp eyes flicked between myself and Hannay. “You haven’t worked it out yet, Watson?”

The man was infuriating. “No, I haven’t.”

He chuckled and began playing with his Meerschaum.

“You know, Holmes,” I muttered with some pique, “You could just tell us.”

“Actually, that’s quite true Mr Holmes,” said Hannay, coming to my assistance. “You are being a bit of an arse.”

My companion grinned and shook his head. “No. I shall share my theories only if the perceived menace threatens to overcome us.”

Half an hour later, having consumed large quantities of mince-and-something pies, Holmes and Hannay had dozed off in their chairs. I decided to go upstairs to our rooms (intending to take advantage of choosing the least appealing one of the three for myself). At the foot of the stairs, a familiar hand caught the back of my trousers.

“Mr Holmes…”

I whirled round to find myself staring into that face again, her brown teeth smiling up at me like a Cheshire cat whose face has died, been buried, and dug up again.

“Fancy a bit of the other?” She purred.

I stepped back to remove myself from her fetid breath. “Ahm, no, actually. I’m rather tired.” I feigned a yawn. “Really must get to bed.”

“That’s what I were thinkin’ too, my dear.” And she grasped my hand. “Let us ascend the thirty-nine steps to heaven.”

She started up the stairs dragging me behind her, but I pulled her back sharply. “What? The thirty-nine steps? What do you know about the thirty-nine steps?”


To be continued.


Posted by on February 18, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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