The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man

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9781848564923: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Ectoplasmic Man

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Ectoplasmic Man When Harry Houdini is framed and jailed for espionage, Sherlock Holmes vows to clear his name, with the two joining forces to take on blackmailers who have targeted the Prince of Wales. It's a case that requires all of their skills - both mental and physical. Can the daring duo solve what people are calling 'The Crime of the Century'? Full description

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Extrait :

Chapter VIII - Sherlock Holmes Investigates

In the wooded upper reaches of Stoke Newington, four miles from any other structure, sits the government office known as Gairstowe House. In all respects it appears to be an ordinary country estate, but for the two-storey row of offices jutting from its left wing. This oddly shaped building is surrounded by a tall wrought-iron fence, at the entrance of which stands a uniformed guard. On the morning following our episode at the Diogenes, the guard on duty was named Ian Turks. Upon our arrival at Gairstowe, I found myself making this young man's acquaintance while Holmes immediately threw himself down on all fours and began crawling about the grounds of the estate.

I have no doubt that Turks had never before seen a well turned-out, middle-aged gentleman behave in such a manner. Holmes sniffed about like a bloodhound, examining patches of grass with his convex lens and occasionally lying prostate for several moments, evidently absorbed in the deepest concentration. Though Turks, like the Palace Guards, was obviously trained to remain impassive in unusual situations, at length the young man was unable to contain his curiosity.

“Pardon me asking, mate,” said he, “but what is that fellow doing on the ground there?”

“Looking for footprints, no doubt,” I answered.

“Footprints! But all the footprints are inside! The bobbies found 'em.”

“He is aware of that, but he tends to carry his examinations a step or two beyond those of the official detectives.”

“Who is he then?”

“Mr. Sherlock Holmes.”

Turks gave a low whistle and stared again at my companion who had now rolled over on his back to survey the soles of his own shoes. “That's who he is? Cor! He's better looking in the drawings, isn't he!”*

Before I could formulate a reply, Holmes leapt to his feet and shouted across the grass to me. “Come along, Watson! There is nothing more to be learned here!”

Together we climbed the marble steps which led into the large entrance hall. There our cards were taken by a butler - rather too formally dressed for the early hour - who returned in a moment to conduct us into the presence of Lord O'Neill, the Secretary for European Affairs.

We were shown through a narrow corridor hung with oriental tapestries and into a large study lined with oak bookcases. Behind a scrivener's desk sat the man whom I took to be Lord O'Neill, and across from him sat a very large gentleman of stiff bearing, whom I did not recognise.

“Sherlock Holmes!” cried Lord O'Neill, rising so hastily that he swept a small stack of papers onto the floor. “I was delighted to receive your wire this morning! I wanted to send for you myself, but your brother, Mycroft, he, well-” He trailed off nervously. “And you must be Dr. Watson! You are welcome here, sir. Ah! Forgive me! I have been remiss! Allow me to present the honourable Herr Nichlaus Osey of Germany.”

The German rose and bowed formally in our direction. “I am pleased to meet the famous crime specialist,” he said in well-praised English, “though I did not expect that you would look quite this way”, he added, looking askance at Holmes's dishevelled, grass-stained clothing.

“Mr. Holmes's methods are a bit unorthodox,” Lord O'Neill said quickly, “but his results speak for themselves I assure you, I assure you. I was telling Herr Osey of your invaluable assistance during that ugly business back in 1900.”

“Ah, yes,” said Holmes carelessly, “a simple case, but not without some features of interest. I have recorded it in my notes as 'The Adventure of the Discursive Italian'.”

“Holmes,” I asked, though I saw that Lord O'Neill was anxious to proceed, “do you mean to say that you keep your own records of your cases?”

“Don't look hurt, old fellow! At the time you had deserted me for Mrs. Watson. I could not allow your lapse to disrupt the flow of crime history.”

“Fascinating,” I said. “ May I-?”

“Gentlemen, please!” Lord O'Neill cried. “The affair before us is a most pressing one! We must attend to it. Shall I ring for tea? Yes, we must have tea.” He darted to the bell-rope and pulled it urgently.

“Tea!” exclaimed Herr Osey. “At such a time! And all of this talk about records and discursive Italians. It is a wonder you British ever accomplish anything!”

Herr Osey, please,” said Lord O'Neill anxiously. “I'm sure-”

“Who is this remarkable woman with whom the prince has been so indiscreet?”

Many times in my years with Holmes have I seen him produce a startling revelation from the mist of seemingly unexceptional circumstances, but never has one of the abrupt observations had such tremendous impact. It was as if the two diplomats had been struck by lightning.

“Mr. Holmes!” cried Lord O'Neill, leaping to his feet.

Mein Gott!” shouted Herr Osey. “Can this be? How could you-”

“Your tea, sir,” announced the butler, rolling in a large tea-trolley.

Herr Osey thrust his fists into his pockets and turned to the wall. Lord O'Neill fell heavily into a chair, the colour draining from his face, but he managed to collect himself sufficiently to acknowledge the arrival of the tea. The butler then withdrew, and both men turned to stare at Sherlock Holmes.

“Gentlemen! It is perfectly obvious! Allow me to explain. Lestrade has been good enough to leave the room in order, so it is difficult to see that a conference of some sort took place on the night of the crime. The brandy snifters on the sideboard point to a late evening, very likely while the larger gathering was taking place downstairs. The desk calendar has not been advanced since the day before yesterday. As Lord O'Neill is rather fastidious in such details, we may assume that the room has not been in use since then.”

“Perfectly sound,” admitted Lord O'Neill. “But how-”

“That the conference was an important one is rather strongly suggested by the presence of the Prince of Wales. Here is a cigar stub bearing the mark of his private stock. Even more revealing are the contents of this ashtray beside the armchair. In it there are two cigarette ends stained red. Unless one of you two gentlemen has taken to painting his lips, we may infer the presence of a woman.

“What sort of woman is is who smokes in such company? A rather strong-willed woman, certainly. Also, it would seem, a familiar of the Prince. Yet, rather than make use of the cigarette case we see here upon the desk, this woman's cigarettes were provided for her by Herr Osey, whose own stubs we see here in the same ashtray. This fact is not without implication.”

Herr Osey took the cigarette from his lips and stamped it out peevishly.

“The woman is a German, involved in some sort of diplomatic unpleasantness. This much is obvious by the involvement of you two gentlemen. So, what is the scene we have evolved? A large gathering at Gairstowe House after the theatre. While they are entertained downstairs, a smaller party assembles in this room to discuss business. This business must concern the documents which have since vanished. The prince and this mysterious woman-” Holmes paused and looked to Herr Osey.

“The Countess Valenka,” the German provided.

Holmes nodded. “-would not customarily be present at such an interview. Therefore they are the principals and you gentlemen are their representatives.”

“What can be the unpleasantness which would induce two former intimates to employ diplomatic representation? Well, now. The Prince has certain… compromising tendencies which are well known. Perhaps he has placed himself in the awkward-”

“Mr. Holmes, please!” cried Lord O'Neill wildly. “We have followed your reasoning quite closely. Pray do not continue!” While Herr Osey had listened to Holmes' discourse with a fascinated detachment, Lord O'Neill had become increasingly anxious, and he was now unable to control himself. “You have perceived the nature of our difficulty, and can now appreciate that it is sensitive beyond my ability to speculate.”

“Letters then?”

“Letters,” confirmed Herr Osey.

“Confound it! There is no milk for this tea!”

“No matter, my friend,” said Herr Osey. “We shall take it dark.”

“Yes, quite right,” said Lord O'Neill with an embarrassed laugh. “It's a silly thing, I know, but my nerves-“

“Indeed. We are all on edge.” Herr Osey took a cup of tea. “It is as you say, Mr. Holmes. We had met to discuss a number of indiscreet letters of which the Countess was threatening to make use.”

“And it is this letters we are now missing?”

“Yes,” Lord O'Neill resumed. “She had turned them over to us, after much discussion and a promise of rather substantial remuneration. But when I returned the following morning, the letters were missing.”

“Did you examine the room thoroughly? Was it disturbed in any way?”

“Nothing was disturbed or missing save the letters. And the only evidence of an intruder was these footprints behind the desk.”

“The footprints! Of course, let us have a look at the footprints,” said Holmes, crawling behind the desk. “Humm. Most remarkable. Watson, would you step over here?” he asked, brandishing his convex lens. “Have a look, will you?”

Behind the desk was a muddy cluster of footprints which seemed to have been made by some...

Revue de presse :

"Magician Daniel Stashower pairs [Sherlock Holmes] with Harry Houdini (who was a friend of Conan Doyle) in a romp that cleverly combines history and legend, taking a few liberties with each. Mr. Stashower has done his homework...This is charming...it might have amused Conan Doyle." - New York Times

"Stashower’s clever adaptation of the Conan Doyle conventions--Holmes’s uncanny powers of observation and of disguise, the scenes and customs of Victorian life--makes it fun to read. Descriptions and explanations of some of Houdini’s astonishing magic routines add an extra dimension to this pleasant adventure." - Publishers Weekly

"Stashower has done a fantastic job on several levels. He has captured the flavor of Holmes as well as anyone I’ve seen recently (better than Nicholas Meyer, to my taste). He has done a good job with Houdini, thanks I presume to his own background in stage magic. And he has put the two together in an excellent mystery. I enjoyed this book immensely."- Drood Review

"In his first mystery, Stashower paired Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes to marvelous effect." - Chicago Tribune

"Cleveland native Daniel Stashower’s first novel is one of the better, and possible the best recombinant of the Arthur Conan Doyle style and characters since Nicholas Meyer resurrected the genre in 1974...Stashower understands the Sherlockian Weltanschauung perfectly, and has recreated it in loving, often sly detail....Stashower has invested the magic sequences of his book with a suspense and excitement worthy of both the great escape artist and the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes." - The Plain Dealer

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Description du livre Titan Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. État : New. 202 x 126 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle s timeless creation returns in a new series of handsomely designed, long out-of-print detective stories. From the earliest days of Holmes career to his astonishing encounters with Martian invaders, the Further Adventures series encapsulates the most varied and thrilling cases of the worlds greatest detective. When Harry Houdini is framed and jailed for espionage, Sherlock Holmes vows to clear his name, with the two joining forces to take on blackmailers who have targeted the Prince of Wales. It s a case that requires all of their skills - both mental and physical. Can the daring duo solve what people are calling The Crime of the Century ?. N° de réf. du libraire AA29781848564923

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