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Londen Calling


Journal of Inspector G. Lestrade
Mrs Miniver’s Bunk-Up
Dolphin Cove

I am happy to report that Mrs Miniver has finally heeded my request to desist from sexual shenanigans, and last evening, for the first time since arriving here, I spent a peaceful and wonderfully unmolested night. Arising feeling refreshed and ready for anything, I washed, dressed and brushed my sideburns, before bounding downstairs for breakfast. However, it turned out that I was not, after all, ready for anything. This morning’s news has put me out of sorts a good deal and I am a little concerned that my Baker Street pals may be in grave danger.

Following my most recent message to Mister Holmes yesterday, I received by first pigeon-post this morning his return communication, indicating that the current toll of corpses has now risen to four. I have to admit to feeling more than a little uneasy to learn that Holmes is no longer concealing himself as a rectangle of lawn grass (which did at least afford him the luxury of remaining unknown to the other guests). In showing himself, Holmes has made himself a target for the deranged killer (in my humble opinion), along with Doctor and Mrs Watson. My sense of agitation has further been heightened with the knowledge that Holmes has still not requested assistance from either myself or his brother Mycroft. This fact alone would seem to leave him open to the very real threat of death. Nevertheless, I realise that a horde of coppers pouring over the island won’t necessarily help the situation and may well cause the killer to go to ground.

After ruminating on the problem over a breakfast of muffins and quince jelly, I walked up to the post office in the hope of collecting Mister Stallworthy’s post-mortem report on Anthony Marston. (I thought it best to have all mail forwarded to a central collection point that would ensure some degree of confidentially, since the murderer may well have spies on the mainland, and Mrs Miniver, while of sound mind and willing body, has a complete absence of insight regarding discretion and police matters in general. (She told me over supper last evening that she once dropped a police officer in the shit when she related the full details of her affair with him to the man’s wife – a matter not helped by her description of how she had employed the officer’s own truncheon for a purpose which most definitely was not part of official procedures.)

The little woman in the post office gave me a toothy grin as she handed over two large brown envelopes and a smaller white one bearing the Scotland Yard crest. “Ar ye go, Inspec’or Lesbian,” said she, “Oi expect you’ll be a-solving of that murder the other night, eh?”

“For your information, missus, my name is Lestrade, not Lesbian, and this is confidential police business that I’ll thank you to keep your gob shut about.”

At this, the other people waiting in line turned to look at me as if I’d uttered a blood-curdling threat at the old dear, so I coughed and lowering my voice, added, “that is to say, it isn’t information what you want to be putting about, if you see what I mean.”

The woman grinned, but it was obvious that I had offended her. As way of recompense, I purchased four second class stamps and a packet of envelopes.

Hurrying back to my lodgings, I perused the contents of the envelopes in the privacy of my room. The first was from the lady novelist Mrs Agatha Christie and listed several possible methodologies that a killer might utilise if he or she were to concoct a murder that takes place on a remote island. I deemed none of these worthy of further study, as one relied on the application of mass hypnotism, another required the cooperation of the psycho-killer Kay Kersey (who is currently serving a life-sentence in Durham jail for slaughtering a family of Geordie miners and their pet whippet), and the others are all too far-fetched to even consider.

Putting the papers aside, I opened the other envelope and read through the autopsy report for Mr Marston. This appeared to be very much as Watson and myself had expected, including details of the damage to the hands and the strangulation, which is of course what killed him. In any case, there was nothing that would give us a clue to who the murderer might be or how they had engineered the whole thing.

I tossed the document aside and it was only then that my eye caught the third envelope. I had assumed it to be some tedious reminder of the workload awaiting me on my return to Londen, but I was mistaken. The letter was from Sergeant Radish, who is best known among my colleagues as a fairy fancier and lover of Lancashire beer. However, one of his roles is to update the files on unidentified bodies. His letter ran thus:

Dear Inspector Lestrade

Just a short note to say how we is all missing you down at the Yard and hoping you are enjoying your holiday.

Oh, by the by, you might be interested to know something what I discovered relating to a chap known to your friend Mister Holmes. Doctor Edward Armstrong, who apparently visited Holmes a few weeks ago, has died of consumption. This is not news in itself of course (I hear you say!) but the reason it came to my attention was due to the Doctor not having no living relatives to identify him other than a cousin who lives in Cambridge. Anyways, this cousin eventually arrived to do his duty and lo and behold, it turns out that the dead man is not Doctor Armstrong after all, but an anonymous imposter.

Well, that’s all – I just thought it might be of interest to you, though I do not suppose it will be relevant to whatever it is you are up to down there in Devon (nudge nudge, wink wink!)

Well, that is all for now, Inspector.

Your faithful friend,
Sergeant Radish.

A cold chill ran up my spine as if someone had walked over my grave. However, it turned out to be a draught from the window. I put the letter in my pocket, but then I said to myself, could this Armstrong business have something to do with these murders? Nah, I told to myself. But then, I said to myself again, as I was not in fact present when Holmes met with Doctor Armstrong, I probably ought to pass the information on to him.

Just in case.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2019 in Detective Fiction

 

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Into the Fray…


Diary of Doctor J. Watson

In setting down the final chapter in this bloody saga, I am gratified that I’m able to do so from the comfort of my own home. This evening, Mary kept me supplied with Custard Creams and hot chocolate while I revised my notes, reviewing and rewriting the sequence of events that led to the deaths of two of the protagonists. Now, she sits on the floor massaging my feet while I consider how best to relate the conclusion to this gory tale…

By the time we made our final rail connection on the last leg of our journey back to Londen, it was the afternoon of the following day. Inspector Schitt, not having brought a suit with him, was still clad in a dress, giving him the appearance of a rather miserable and wholly unconvincing female impersonator. His face reflected a sense of the annoyance he had revealed earlier, and a permanent scowl now lodged across his unshaven countenance.

Holmes, as usual, had reverted to his customary reluctance to share information, so we were no nearer to knowing exactly what had happened in his bedroom. Nevertheless, it didn’t take a genius to work out that while Holmes was at his toilet, Schitt had dressed up as some sort of pretend werewolf in a bid to scare us. If the man had not succumbed to the sleeping potion, Christ knows what he might have done – intentionally or otherwise. Presumably he’d employed the same tactic some days earlier in order to ‘attack’ Inspector Caddy on the moors for the benefit of the locals at The Slaughtered Lamb, giving credence to the werewolf rumours.

Since he could not have repeated this scenario a second time with the rest of us in the immediate vicinity, the truth of the matter had come from Caddy himself, who admitted that on the last occasion, the slashes to his neck were self-inflicted. Apparently, he’d borrowed one of Schitt’s knifey gloves and had unintentionally cut a little too deeply, which nevertheless served the purpose of, at least partly, convincing Holmes and I that some wolf-type beast had set upon him.

Even so, if we discovered that David Kessler was the real werewolf (and Holmes seemed convinced that this was the case), none of the Schitt/Caddy shenanigans really meant anything.

In an effort to avert further fisticuffs from the aforementioned pair, Holmes had seated himself between them, allowing exchanges of only stern glances and suitably insulting hand-signals. Mary and I sat opposite, taking turns trying to persuade Holmes to divulge his plans.

“I’ve told you, Watson,” said Holmes for the umpteenth time, “there is no specific plan other than to apprehend David Kessler.”

“You’re not going to…you know?” said Mary.

“You know my methods, Mary – the taking of another human life is not one of my usual solutions, though if it becomes the only viable option…” He tailed off, clearly not wanting to put into words what we were all thinking.

For my own part, I couldn’t see how keeping the fellow in some sort of confinement would be any different to taking his life, though as I was only too well aware, our old pal Doctor Lecter had not found any institution capable of permanently removing his liberty. That very morning, The Times had reported the famous cannibal’s latest bid for freedom. It seemed Lecter had beaten up two guards, hung one of them up on a meat hook and removed the other’s face in order to wear it as a mask, thus giving himself the perfect disguise. When the authorities whisked him off to hospital thinking he was a prison guard in the final throes of life, the canny doctor had overpowered his captors and escaped into the night.

It was hard to imagine Kessler being more adept at escape than Lecter, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d been proved completely wrong.

I was aroused from my meanderings by the conductor, who announced that we would shortly be approaching King’s Cross.

“I suggest we stick together,” said Holmes, gathering his belongings. “Lestrade is meeting us at the station with a Hackney, so we should reach Bishopsgate within the next half an hour.”

Allowing our companions to leave the carriage first, I grasped Mary’s hand and urged her to stick by me at all costs – I didn’t want to be stitching her wounds if things turned nasty.

“Don’t worry, Johnny,” she said, “I’ll keep us safe.” And with that she produced a small repeating pistol from her handbag. “If he comes near me, I’ll blow his bloody brains out.”

I had to admire my wife’s courage – given what she’d been through, it was reassuring she hadn’t run screaming all the way back to Marlborough Hill. Checking my own weapon, I experienced a modicum of relief that my pistol was fully loaded and ready for action. My one concern lay in the old legend that werewolves could only be killed by a silver bullet. Though, truth be told, if it all came down to legends, we were all going to be well and truly buggered.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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On the Rocks…



Diary of Doctor J. Watson

As the three of us hurtled downwards, I closed my eyes in the firm belief that Holmes was a complete chump and we would shortly perish in the icy waters. But then, knowing that my companion often made apparently foolhardy decisions only to prove a theory he already knew to be true, I opened my eyes again – just in case. And then something amazing happened:

A giant spoon-shaped object appeared out of nowhere and we fell into its ladle-like cavity with a thud. Or, three thuds, to be precise.

“Oh, my arse!” exclaimed Mary, rubbing her hindquarters.

Looking up, I saw that the giant spoon-shaped object was in fact a giant spoon and had emerged from the side of the iceberg like a mechanical arm. With a metallic grinding of gears and a juddering shudder, the thing began to retract itself and we disappeared through a hatchway into the darkness of the iceberg.

“See, Watson,” said Holmes, giving me a sardonic smile. “Something always turns up.”

I was about to reply, but as the hatch clanged shut, we found ourselves in total darkness. “Wish we’d brought Mary’s lamp,” I muttered.

“I dare say all will be revealed shortly,” said Holmes. And a moment later, a light came on above us.

Blinking in the sudden glare, we stared at our surroundings.

We were in a kind of workshop with a planked wooden floor beneath us and work benches around the walls. There was a door in the wall opposite the hatchway and as the giant ladle lowered us to the ground, the door swung open and a familiar figure hove into view, followed by another familiar figure.

“Ah, said Holmes. “The Grin Twins.”

Beside me, I heard Mary gasp and realised she had never met the Claw’s companion before. “My dear, this is Professor Moriarty.” I nodded to the evil genius. “Professor, this is my wife, Mary Watson.”

Moriarty moved towards us, his eyes focused on Mary. “My dear lady,” he gushed, proffering his hand. “How lovely to meet you at last.”

Taking her fingers in his, he gave her hand a gentle shake and I noticed a smile slide across Mary’s face.

“Delighted, I’m sure,” she said, though I was pleased to observe her tone was one of pure condescension.

“Ah, me,” said the Professor, giving a short laugh. “I should not have expected anything but disdain from the wife of a man who can barely dress himself without help. However, I’m glad to have met you, if only to have the pleasure of saying goodbye.”

Mary’s mouth dropped open. “Goodbye? But you just saved our lives.”

Holmes snorted. “Of course he did, because he wanted to be sure of our deaths. Isn’t that right Professor?”

“Alas, yes,” said the villain, with an evil grin. “And while I should be thrilled to spend a little time exploring your delicacies, dear lady, we do have to kill you all, and I promised Claw I’d let him do the honours.”

“What?” I spouted. “You scooped us into this ridiculous contraption only to commit murder?”

At this point, the Hooded Claw stepped forward. “Actually, that was my idea. You see, knowing the ineptitude of the lovely Captain Smith, we couldn’t rely on the ship sinking and the three of you, along with Mr Phogg, slipping into a watery grave. There was always the possibility of your being inexplicably rescued at the eleventh hour, so we took the precaution of making sure we could finish you off ourselves.”

“Really,” said I, my temperature rising. “And what about the twelve hundred other people on the liner? Are you going to kill them too?”

The Claw looked aghast. “Oh, no, we’d never do anything as meanspirited as that. No, some of them are bound to survive. The strong ones. The good swimmers. Of the others, well, freezing to death in the icy waters of the English Channel isn’t such a bad way to go, is it?”

“You absolute rotter,” I muttered. “I’ve a good mind to…”

But whatever I’d been about to say was lost, when a man was thrown into the room by the two would-be-nuns we’d met earlier.

“Phileas Phogg, I believe,” said Holmes, giving him a cheery wave. “My name is Holmes, this is my assistant Doctor Watson and his wife. You’re safe now.”

Moriarty guffawed. “Oh, Mr Holmes, you do make me laugh.” He nodded to one of the henchmen and another man was thrown into the room.

“And you must be Passepartout,” said Holmes. “I’d offer you tea, but as you can see, we’re somewhat indisposed.”

Passepartout and Phogg stumbled across the floor towards us as the entire room began to tilt to one side.

“Ah-ha,” said Moriarty, looking upwards. “We’re casting off.” He lifted his hat and smiled. “Duty calls, I’m afraid, but I promise to see you before you die. Adieu.” The Professor and his Hooded companion slipped out, slamming the door behind them, leaving the five of us looking at each other.

“Eeh, well,” said Phogg. “Ah’m rate glad to see thee, Mr Holmes, but Ah reckon us lot’re up Shite Street wi’ nowhere to go.”

“We may well be in the location of that particular avenue, Mr Phogg, but all is not lost.”

“You have a plan?” I said.

“I do,” said Holmes, “and it involves a small tube of lubricant and your wife.” Turning to Mary, he said, “So, if you could pop your clothes off…”

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2018 in Detective Fiction

 

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