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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

November 20, 2003


Editor's note: The following story is taken from "The Singular Casebook of Inspector Blancmange" (1905), although it first appeared in the London magazine "Fascinating Crimes" in 1897. In it, the Great Detective attempts to solve the gruesome murder of Sir Ponsonby-Bleek. There were few clues: on the day of his murder, Ponsonby-Bleek left his country estate in Writhing-in-Agony, Sussex, and took dinner at his club in London. From there he left for the theatre, but never arrived. The next day, parts of his dismembered corpse began turning up in a series of hat boxes all over London. The baffling case caused Scotland Yard to bring in Inspector Blancmange, who often consulted on crimes of such a unique nature.

As Blancmange had requested, Inspector Glucose summoned the solicitors Pommeroy, Wolfbane, Harker and Cohen to Sir Ponsonby-Bleek's country estate, Writhing-In-Agony, where we were to meet them, along with all the household servants. Taking the 902 from Paddington, we arrived at the brooding Sussex manor at 11:00.

"A beastly place!" I said, as the cab brought us up the driveway. "I'm surprised the murder didn't happen here!"

"The obvious choice isn't always the correct one, my dear Broadbeam!" Blancmange replied. "Do you remember 'The Case of the Chortling Corpse', as you called it in your memoirs of our adventures?"

"Quite so! Everyone assumed Leslie Boringham to be the victim of murder, simply because his severed head was found in the coal scuttle, when in fact he was the murderer!"

We were met at the door by Fatswaller, the butler. A thick set man with large mutton chop side whiskers, he seemed quite capable of a dismember murder.

"Welcome to Writhing-In-Agony, gentleman. The others are in the study!" He lead us to a large, book-lined library, where Inspector Glucose had assembled everyone known to be connected to the case.

"Welcome, gentlemen! I think everyone here is familiar with the great Inspector Blancmange, and his friend and biographer, Captain Sebastian Broadbeam, late of the Royal Horse Marine!"

The room was filled with a motley collection of British society. The solicitors, Mssrs. Pommeroy, Wolfbane, Harker and Cohen stood about nervously, as though being lawyers made them automatically suspect. Also in attendance were the household servants. In addition to Fatswaller, there was Smails, the groundskeeper, Mrs. Smails, the cook, Maireid, the Irish serving girl and young Moxley, Ponsonby-Bleek's personal secretary.

"Thank you for indulging me", said Blancmange, "For today. I shall reveal the perpetrator of this foul murder!"

There was an audible gasp in the room. "But how, Mr. Blancmange?" said Moxley. "all the forces of Scotland Yard have been unable solve this heinous crime!"

"I have methods unavailable to the Metropolitan police, as you will soon see. Please, everyone, take your seats. Even the servants. I don't think Sir Ponsonby-Bleek will object!"

A laugh broke the tension, and when all were seated, Blancmange said, "This was a difficult case indeed! Let me say first that I've eliminated all the servants and Mr. Moxley as suspects. As you can see from this copy of his will, which he kept framed on the wall of the study, not only didn't he leave you so much as a farthing, he gave you one week to clear off his property. As none of you stood to inherit, none had motive to kill him. Then, I thought about it... no heirs, a confiscatory estate tax... it lead me on one conclusion. The murderer was... Queen Victoria!"

Another audible gasp filled the room. "We are not amused!" said the Queen.

I jumped to my feet. "I say! When did you come in, Your Majesty!

"We were passing by and saw that you were having a yard sale."

"And that was your undoing, Your Highness! During your last parade, I noticed the "We brake for yard sales" sticker on the royal carriage. I knew that you wouldn't be able to resist my bait! Take her away, Glucose!"

The Queen leapt back. "You'll never take us alive!", she said, pulling a derringer from her snood. "We took out Lincoln with this, we know how to use it!"

With that she crashed through the window and ran to her carriage. Blancmange was nonplussed.

"She won't get far. I took the liberty of having Sergeant Haffwitt garrote her driver. By the time she realizes it, Glucose's men will have her surrounded!"

"Brilliant, Blancmange!" I said.

"And that's not all. If you look in the carriage, you'll find a leather apron and blood stained knives! I think we can also put the Ripper murders to rest!"

The nation owes you a debt it can never repay, Blancmange!" said Glucose, "Although I wouldn't expect a knighthood if I were you!"

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Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11