Tag Archives: Richard Hannay

The Train Now Standing…


From the Diary of Doctor Watson

It was late when we chugged into Edinburgh Waverly and I was doubtful of us being able to secure suitable transport, however, Holmes set off at a gallop, leaping from the train and grasping the lapel of the nearest porter.

“Ah, my good man,” said he. “Be so good as to arrange transport for myself and my colleagues and I shall compensate you to the tune of one new penny.” So saying, he produced that very item and waved it in front of the man’s face.

“Och, get tae fuck, ye great ninny.”

“Now, now, there’s no need for that sort of talk.” He pulled the surly fellow aside and whispered a few words to him. As he did so, I noticed he pointed me out to the porter as if I were of some significance. A moment later, the man had thrown aside his clipboard and advanced towards the exit, a broad grin across his features.

I clambered down from the carriage and helped Hannay step down (he was feeling a little queasy from the trip). “I say old man, what on earth did you say to that chap?”

Holmes grinned. “I merely told him he was in the presence of the eminent consulting detective Mr Sherlock Holmes.”

“But you were pointing at me!2928243489_0359c8309b

He nodded. “Indeed. I believe the fellow will expect some recompense for his efforts – ah! Here he comes now.” He stepped forward and spoke in low tones amid the throngs of travellers that were now pouring from the train.

I pushed my way through the crowds and reached Holmes just as the porter turned to greet me.

“Och, I’m fair chuffed to dae a service fer the famous Mr Holmes. I hope yous gentl’min enjoy your stay at the but an ben.” And with that he handed Holmes a piece of paper, and disappeared into the crowd

“What was all that about?” Hannay was clinging to my arm.

“Come along, now,” said Holmes. “We’ve a cabbie waiting.” He turned to go but I caught his arm.

“To Newton Stewart?”

“Of course not, Watson, are you mad?” He clipped me playfully round the ear. “It’s past ten o’clock and the place is over a hundred miles away! No, I’ve arranged for us to stay with Effie McThick at her private hotel for prominent gentlemen. The porter is her husband.”

And he was off. I hurried along behind him, Hannay clinging to me like a drunken limpet. As I caught sight of the ‘cab’ (in reality, a ramshackle horse and cart) my heart sank and I had the awful feeling that whatever payment was due for the coming night, was going to involve me and some indescribably sordid act…

To be continued…



Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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To Bonnie Scotland (Again…)

From the Diary of Doctor Watson

At the sight of Lestrade’s grinning visage, it was clear there was only one course of action open to me – I smacked him in the mouth.

Lestrade barely flinched. He reached up and touched his lower lip. “That right hook of yours is improving, Watty.” His voice had dropped an octave and the familiar Baker Street drawl took me completely by surprise.
Book Illustration Depicting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a Train Cabin
“Holmes!” I cried. “What on earth…?”

My old pal peeled the rubber mask from his face and rolled it up carefully. “Only way I could evade Lestrade and his poncy peelers – they’re all over the station like a dose of clap.”

“But, but, but…” I tried.

“Don’t but me no buts, Watson.” Holmes held onto the luggage rack as the train began to pull away. “Now, tell me what you know…”

Hannay and I sketched out the details of our adventure so far. When the sketch was finished, we added cartoon-type balloons containing the text. I could tell Holmes was, on the whole, fascinated, but after an hour, his attention began to wander.

“Might I ask what you are currently working on, Mr Hannay?”

“Oh, well, as you can see from the sketch here…”

“No, no, no, just tell me in your own words.”

Hannay was clearly overawed by the presence of the great detective, but he managed to explain the basic plot of ‘The 39 Steps’, its barely-concealed subtext and the underlying themes.

“Very interesting,” said Holmes, adopting that ‘yes-but-you’re-hiding-something’ tone I knew so well. “I wonder if I might expand on a theory of my own…?” He smiled winsomely and touched Hannay’s knee, making the other man visibly tremble with excitement.

“Of course, Mr Holmes, of course,” gushed Hannay like a simpering girl. “I’m all ears.” He shuffled forward in his seat, so his knees were almost touching those of my companion.

I began to feel a little put out. I tapped Hannay on the leg. “I say, old man, would you mind swapping seats with me – travel sickness, you know?” He acquiesced at once and I was again able to command the full attention of my detecting friend.

“On second thoughts,”said Holmes, giving me a sly wink. “I’d prefer to keep my theory close to my chest for the moment, if you don’t mind? However, I am looking forward to visiting Newton Stewart.”

“You think we’re right to go there, Holmes?” said I.

He nodded. “I do, Watson, and I think within a few minutes or arriving, we shall know all there is to know about this affair.”

And with that, he curled up and went to sleep.

To be continued.

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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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To Bonnie Scotland (or Not…)

From the Diary of Doctor Watson

Kins Cross Station Postcard newIt wasn’t until Hannay and myself had boarded the 18:47 to Edinburgh (having avoided the usual ticket-buying process) and squeezed ourselves into the toilet compartment on the Flying Scotsman, that it occurred to me we’d neglected to do anything about the body.


“What’s wrong,” whispered my companion. “You eager to get moving?”

“Not that – we forgot Scudder.”

He blinked several times. “You think we ought to have brought him with us?”

“No, of course not,” I chided, slapping his stupid face. “But we should have bundled him into the laundry chute or something.” I cursed my own stupidity and idly wondered how Holmes would phrase his chastisement on my lack of forethought. “Never mind, I don’t suppose the body’ll be discovered for several days.”Engaged 200x

At that point I became aware of a newsvendor touting his wares on the platform. At first I couldn’t make out what he was saying – it sounded like ‘Cliff Richard’s Stash of Meth in Bed on the Escarpment’, but that didn’t make sense. I leaned past Hannay, pulled down the window and the vendor’s chilling message rang out clearly above the noise of the station: ‘Stiff Found Stabbed to Death in Famous Author’s Apartment’.

I looked at Hannay. “That’s torn it.”

“Oh God – you don’t think the police will board the train suspecting we’re headed for a sleepy Scottish village?”

I considered this for a moment. “No, but I think they might board the train suspecting that you’re headed for a sleepy Scottish village.” I chuckled. “They’re hardly likely to suspect me, are they?”

His face fell floorwards faster than Mrs Watson’s underwear on a Friday night.

“Don’t worry, old chap,” said I. “I’ll put them right.”

He pouted like a spoilt child, then began to smile as the newsvendor’s next words came to our ears:

“Police search for Missing Murderer Doctor Watson. Sherlock Holmes Outraged.”

I said nothing and spent a few minutes in quiet contemplation, assessing the viability of my plan. Just then, the train began to move and I dared to think we might have escaped any police intrusion, at least for the time being.

But our safe haven was destined not to last – as the train lurched forward, the toilet door thudded open and a familiar face hove into view.

“Ah, Doctor Watson,” murmured Inspector Lestrade. “Sorry, old bean, but you’re under arrest.”

To be continued.


Posted by on February 2, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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A Deadman’s Pockets…

From the Diary of Doctor WatsonPostcard

There was little need to check the man’s vital signs, but I went through the motions nevertheless. Given my companion’s somewhat heightened sense of terror, I decided to break the news to him as gently as possible:

“He’s snuffed it.”

“My God! I’m next!” Hannay’s hands flew to his face, cupping those rosy cheeks in a girlish manner that put me in mind of my own dear wife and the ‘swooning maiden’ act she sometimes adopts when I show her my rhododendrons.

“We must fetch Sherlock Holmes,” he cried, tugging at my lapel. “Only he can save us.”

I brushed him aside. “Don’t be such a nancy-boy, Hannay. Pull yourself together.” I checked through the dead man’s pockets and found two items: a picture postcard of some obscure Scottish village and a small white card displaying a silhouette of a man and the slogan ‘Scudder’s Marital Aids’. Slipping both articles into my pocket I stood up. “His name’s Scudder and judging from his business card I don’t believe him to be involved in creative writing. Now, Hannay, this is very important – the word he uttered before he fell…”

Hannay rubbed his chin. “I thought he was asking for the Post Office.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s meaningless. I thought he said ‘Ostovich’, which is obviously Russian. This man is a secret agent.”

“But what’s that got to do with Scudder Card copyme?”

I walked over to the window and retrieved my cup of tea. “I think this has something to do with your writing, Hannay, but it’s also got something to do with spies.”

“But I don’t know anything about spying,” he wailed.

“Ah,” said I. “But in your recent novel ‘The Forty-Seven Arsewipes’ you went into great detail about the process of creating false passports.”

“Oh, you read my books?” His manner changed abruptly and he began pawing at my chest like a lovesick pig.

“Indeed,” I muttered, moving out range. “I didn’t like to say so before, but I’m rather fond of a good story and the depth of research that goes into your work might easily prompt a less intelligent casual reader to think you were involved in spying yourself.”

He shrugged. “Actually, I make it all up, but I suppose it’s possible…”

“Not only possible, but highly likely. You said yourself that someone was trying to steal your new novel.” I rubbed my chin the way I’ve seen Holmes do in such situations. “I believe that the men who have been following you are enemy agents. Scudder here was obviously involved – perhaps he was a double agent. A triple agent, even.” I peeked through the curtains and noted with a grim nod that the two men at the phone box where still there. “We have to leave.”

“And go where?”

At that precise moment in time I had no idea, but then a thought occurred to me. Pulling the postcard out of my pocket I studied the picture closely – it depicted a traditional Scottish village and the slogan ‘Frae Bonnie Scotland’. “We need time to consider our next move,” I said, waving the card. “We’ll catch the next train to Edinburgh and head for Newton Stewart – no-one will think of looking for us there.”

To be continued


Posted by on January 29, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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From a Window…

From the Diary of Dr WatsonPhone Box men.jpg 250x

It was dark when Hannay and myself arrived at his apartment. My companion’s initial enthusiasm (spurred by the knowledge of the gun in my pocket), had by this time dissipated somewhat. He began to display signs of anxiety – sweating profusely from every pore, an inability to get his key in the lock, visibly starting at the click of the light switch etc. I made myself useful by making a pot of tea while he hurried to the window and drew the curtains.

“Here we are, old bean,” I said, handing him a mug of Darjeeling. “This’ll perk you up.”

Holding the edge of the curtain open, Hannay took the cup but his gaze was fixed on the street outside. “They’re back again, see?” He turned to me, a look of utter fright in his eyes. “What the devil can they want?”

I shrugged and peered over his shoulder. In the street below, two rather dubious looking men were standing by a telephone box, looking up at the flat. I determined to put a brave face on it: “Looks perfectly innocent to me – just a couple of chaps having a quiet smoke.”

Hannay shook his head. “No, they’re after my plot.”

I blinked. “Your what?”

“My plot,” said he. “They want to steal The 39 Steps.”

I considered this for a long moment, debating the consequences of such a proposition. “Sorry, what?”

He uttered a sound that underlined his apparent pissed-offness. “Watson! Don’t you get it? It’s all about my book – The 39 Steps. They want to steal the plot.”

I began to experience a growing sensation of annoyance. “What, you mean this isn’t about some international spy ring? ”

“Spy ring? God no, it’s much, much worse.”

My blood ran cold. “You mean – they’re writers?”

“Of course they’re bloody writers, damn it. Ever since I came up with a cracking good idea for my new novel, everyone’s been after it.”

I sighed. “You’re an idiot. Sorry Hannay, but I’m going home.” I began to put on my underpants, my socks and my string vest. However, a knock at the door startled us both. “Who the fuck’s that?”

“It’s them!” Screamed Hannay, “they’re going to kill me.”

I pulled on my trousers. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably just someone who’s lost their way and seeking directions.” I hastened to the door and pulled it open.

Standing before us was a moustachioed man wearing a frock coat. He leaned forward slightly and muttered, “Ostovich.”

“What?” said I. But our visitor spake no more. He pitched forward and fell in a heap on the floor. And that’s when I noticed the knife in his back…

To be continued.

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Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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The Spy at Night…

To Sherlock Holmes Esq from Doctor Watson

Dear HolmesPub Sign

As you appear to be ignoring my messages, I have taken it upon myself to investigate the matter I brought to your attention the other day. Since our old pal Bill Sikes is unwilling to inveigle himself any further in the affair, I sent a telegram to ‘Vicki’s Titties’ (a public house of dubious repute) arranging to meet with Mr Hannay and attempt some sort of intervention.

When I arrived at the aforementioned hostelry last evening, I alighted from my Hansom in a flurry of excitement. I hasten to say the excitement was not of my doing, but created by a group of young apprentices in the midst of a series of strange tasks: some bigwig by the name of Lord Shagger had demanded they ascertain the cost of performing an appendectomy on the cheap, and to this end they pinned me to the wall and fired a barrage of questions regarding surgical cuts etc. I brandished my Doctor’s bag and swung it to and fro til they spotted the old fiend Dr Knox across the road (still on the run in regard to that body-snatching phase of his).

As the yobs turned to chase after Knoxie, I scurried into the public house and located the landlord. He glanced around nervously and bade me make haste to an upstairs room where I found our client, Richard Hannay.

“Where’s Sherlock Holmes?” said he, with what I deduced to be a rather unhelpful degree of resentment.

I explained that Mr Holmes was engaged on another matter, but that I would do all I could to help. At this, he crumpled in a heap on the fireside rug and began to sob loudly. Feeling somewhat embarrassed at this show of unmanliness, I determined to explore my feminine side and knelt down beside him. Slipping an arm around his shoulder I must admit I found the experience of human contact rather comforting (as you know, Mrs Watson has been somewhat distant lately, following her fling with that Italian ice cream seller).

It transpires that Hannay cannot return to his own flat as one of his admirers is tormenting him with threats of libel etc. (I use this term loosely, since his melodramatic plots are nothing more than completely ridiculous and unlikely to provoke anything other than utter boredom). However, I persuaded him that it was foolish to stay away from his own home and that we should go there at once and face whoever (or whatever) awaits us.

In the end, I only managed to convince him to take my advice after showing him my trusty weapon. His eyes lit up on seeing it, and he begged me to let him touch it. I agreed to this, since I didn’t see any harm in letting him feel its solid shaft and hair trigger, so long as the damn thing didn’t go off in his hand!

Thus empowered, he became considerably animated and minutes later, we hailed a cab and set off for his apartment. Had I known what lurked in the shadows of that deadly spot, I might have taken more notice of Hannay’s concerns.

To be continued


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Posted by on January 17, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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A Timely Missive…

Hand-delivered by Urchin

Deer Docter WatsenBig Ben small

I am sure yule forgiv this intrushon inter your privat life, but I have come upon a situashon what you might be abel ter help with (or indeed, your pal Mister Holmes). As you knowe, I have lately been on the strayt and narrow after being a bit of a robber fer most of my lyfe, so have been involvd in doin some cleanin fer the gover ment. In fact, I have been cleanin the basement in the monument what is knowne as Big Ben. An while doin so I have come inter contact with a gentleman by the name of Mister Hannay.

Anyway, I will get to the point of this letter: Mister Hannay is a writer what is interested in writin crim books and books about villins an that, an he was arskin me what I thought about stuff. Well, whil we was talkin, he arsked how many steps there was up to the tower, so I said there were about four undred.

He was a bit upset at this and said “So not thirty-nine, then?”

“No,” said I.

“Bugger,” said he.

Anyway, then he said he would have ter go and I watched him goin off down the streete. Then I appened ter notice that two surly-lookin fellers was following him, so I hurried on down and catched up with him and took him inter a nearby pub.

The long and the short and the tall of it, Docter, is that Mister Hannay needs your help. I have enclosed the address at where he is stayin and have told him to expect you shortly.

I ope this were alright

Yours sinseerly

Bill Sikes

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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Detective Fiction


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