The Legendary Detectives: Eight More Classic Novelettes Featuring the World's Greatest Super-Sleuths [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Jean Marie Stine
eBook Category: Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature
eBook Description: Superb Collection of Classic Mystery Tales. The Legendary Detectives II is a real treat for aficionados of classic detective fiction: Eight tales of the greatest fictional sleuths who prowled in search of murder and mystery through the era of gaslight and hansom cabs. A follow-up to the bestselling eBook, The Legendary Detectives, grand treats await inside. To wit: the rarest adventure of that legendary blind detective, Max Carrados, "The Bunch of Violets," never reprinted in any Carrados collection. Then for lovers of the exotic, Mr. Commissioner Sanders untangles a web of intrigue along the remote outposts of the Congo River, in "The Ghost Walker." The exotic as well as the scientific are in display in "The Silent Bullet," the very first story to feature that Golden Age scientific sleuth, Craig Kennedy. The exotic is also front and center in "The Headless Mummies," an adventure of Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer's extraordinary detective Moris Klaw. Next is a pair of tales featuring the two most famous brains among gaslight detectives: the Man in the Corner in "The York Mystery," and The Thinking Machine in "The Great Auto Mystery." Next, that inimitable, priest-detective, Father Brown, tackles the case of "The Head of Caesar." Included is the last adventure of the world's greatest detective, "His Last Bow: An Episode from the War Service of Sherlock Holmes." The aging sleuth is dragged from retirement to match wits with the Huns master-spy in the darkest days of World War I, in this story recorded by his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. There are hours of mystery reading pleasure in this exclusive eBook, edited and introduced by Jean Marie Stine.
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/PageTurner, Published: 2005
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2005
THE BUNCH OF VIOLETS (Detective: Max Carrados) Ernest Bramah
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Max Carrados has been hailed as "the first and best blind detective," a well-deserved appellation. His creator, Ernest Bramah (1868-1942), was so reclusive that for many years reviewers speculated that the name must be a pseudonym disguising some well-known writer. Finally, Bramah was forced to refute the claim, writing woefully that, "Either I am to have no existence, or I am to have decidedly too much: on the one hand banished into space as a mythical creation; on the other regarded askance as the leader of a double (literary) life." In fact, Ernest Bramah was his real name, Ernest Bramah Smith, and he labored anonymously on the editorial staff of a number of highly regarded publications. Bramah was also the creator of another celebrated literary figure, Kai Lung, a fictive Chinese storyteller, whose ironic tales amuse and entertain while concealing a poniard for human foibles. No less an authority than Ellery Queen singled out the first of the four volumes of the Max Carrados stories, The Eyes of Max Carrados (1923), as "one of the ten best books of detective shorts ever written."
When Mr. J. Beringer Hulse, in the course of one of his periodical calls at the War Office, had been introduced to Max Carrados he attached no particular significance to the meeting. His own business there lay with Mr. Flinders, one of the quite inconspicuous departmental powers so lavishly produced by a few years of intensive warfare: business that was more confidential than exacting at that stage, and hitherto carried on a deux. The presence on this occasion of a third, this quiet, suave, personable stranger, was not out of line with Mr. Hulse's open-minded generalities on British methods: "A little singular, perhaps, but not remarkable," would have been the extent of his private comment. He favored Max with a hard, entirely friendly, American stare, said, "Vurry pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Carrados," as they shook hands, and went on with his own affair.
Of course Hulse was not to know that Carrados had been brought in especially to genialise with him. Most of the blind man's activities during that period came within the "Q-class" order. No one ever heard of them, very often they would have seemed quite meaningless under description, and generally they were things that he alone could do--or do as effectively at all events. In the obsolete phraseology of the day, they were his "bit."
"There's this man Hulse," Flinders had proceeded, when it came to the business on which Carrados had been asked to call at Whitehall. "Needless to say, he's no fool or Jonathan wouldn't have sent him on the ticket he carries. If anything, he's too keen--wants to see everything, do anything and go everywhere. In the meanwhile he's kicking up his heels here in London with endless time on his hands and the Lord only knows who mayn't have a go at him."
"You mean for information--or does he carry papers?" asked Carrados.
"Well, at present, information chiefly. He necessarily knows a lot of things that would be priceless to the Huns, and a clever man or woman might find it profitable to nurse him."
"Still, he must be on his guard if, as you say, he is. No one imagines that London in 1917 is a snakeless, Eden or expects that German agents today are elderly professors who say, 'How vos you?' and 'Ja, ja!'"
"My dear fellow," said Flinders sapiently, "every American who came to London before the war was on his guard against a pleasant-spoken gentleman who would accost him with, 'Say, stranger, does this happen to be your wallet lying around here, on the sidewalk?' and yet an 'unending procession of astute, long-headed citizens met him, exactly as described, year after year, and handed over their five hundred or five thousand pounds on a tale that would have made a common or Michaelmas goose blush to be caught listening to."
"It's a curious fact, admitted Carrados thoughtfully. "And this Hulse?"
"Oh, he's quite an agreeable chap, you'll find. He may know a trifle more than you and be a little wider awake and see further through a brick wall and so on, but he won't hurt your feelings about it. Well, will you do it for us?"
"Certainly," replied Carrados. "What is it, by the way?"
Flinders laughed his apologies and explained more precisely.
"Hulse has been over here a month now, and it may be another month before the details come through which he will take on to Paris. Then he will certainly have documents of very special importance that he must carry about with him. Well, in the meanwhile, of course, he is entertained and may pal up with anyone or get himself into Lord knows what. We can't keep him here under lock and key or expect him to make a report of every fellow he has a drink with or every girl he meets."
"Quite so," nodded the blind man.
"Actually, we have been asked to take precautions. It isn't quite a case for the C.I.D.--not at this stage, that is to say. So if I introduce him to you and you fix up an evening for him or something of the sort and find out where his tastes lie, and--and, in fact, keep a general shepherding eye upon him--" He broke off abruptly, and Carrados divined that he had reddened furiously and was kicking himself in spirit. The blind man raised a deprecating hand.
"Why should you think that so neat a compliment would pain me, Flinders?" he asked quietly. "Now if you had questioned the genuineness of some of my favorite tetradrachms I might have had reason to be annoyed. As it is, yes, I will gladly keep a general shepherding ear on J. Beringer as long as may be needful."
"That's curious," said Flinders looking up quickly. "I didn't think that I had mentioned his front name."
"I don't think that you have," agreed Carrados.
"Then how-? Had you heard of him before?"
"You don't give an amateur conjurer much chance," replied the other whimsically. "When you brought me to this chair I found a table by me, and happening to rest a hand on it my fingers had 'read' a line of writing before I realized it--just as your glance might as unconsciously do," and he held up an envelope addressed to Hulse.
"That is about the limit," exclaimed Flinders with some emphasis. "Do you know, Carrados, if I hadn't always led a very blameless life I should be afraid to have you around the place."
Thus it came about that the introduction was made and in due course the two callers left together.
"You'll see Mr. Carrados down, won't you?" Flinders had asked, and, slightly puzzled but not disposed to question English ways, Hulse had assented. In the passage Carrados laid a light hand on his companion's arm. Through some subtle perception he read Hulse's mild surprise.
"By the way, I don't think that Flinders mentioned my infirmity," he remarked. "This part of the building is new to me and I happen to be quite blind."
"You astonish me," declared Hulse, and he had to be assured that the statement was literally exact. "You don't seem to miss much by it, Mr. Carrados. Ever happen to hear of Laura Bridgman?"
"Oh, yes," replied Carrados. "She was one of your star cases. But Laura Bridgman's attainments really were wonderful. She was also deaf and dumb, if you remember."
"That is so," assented Hulse. "My people come from New Hampshire not far from Laura's home, and my mother had some of her needlework framed as though it was a picture. That's how I come to know of her, I reckon."
They had reached the street meanwhile and Carrados heard the door of his waiting car opened to receive him.
"I'm going on to my club now to lunch," he remarked with his hand still on his companion's arm. "Of course we only have a wartime menu, but if you would keep me company you would be acting the Good Samaritan," and Beringer Hulse, who was out to see as much as possible of England, France and Berlin within the time--perhaps, also, not uninfluenced by the appearance of the rather sumptuous vehicle--did not refuse.
"Vurry kind of you to put it in that way, Mr. Carrados," he said, in his slightly business-like, easy style. "Why, certainly I will."
During the following weeks Carrados continued to make himself very useful to the visitor, and Hulse did not find his stay in London any less agreeably varied thereby. He had a few other friends--acquaintances rather--he had occasion now and then to mention, but they, one might infer, were either not quite so expansive in their range of hospitality or so pressing for his company. The only one for whom he had ever to excuse himself was a Mr. Darragh, who appeared to have a house in Densham Gardens (he was a little shrewdly curious as to what might be inferred of the status of a man who lived in Densham Gardens), and, well, yes, there was Darragh's sister, Violet. Carrados began to take a private interest in the Darragh household, but there was little to be learned beyond the fact that the house was let furnished to the occupant from month to month. Even during the complexities of war that fact alone could not be regarded as particularly incriminating.