Rub-A-Dub-Dub

Rub-A-Dub-Dub

by Robert L. Fish

NOOK Book(eBook)

$9.49 $9.99 Save 5% Current price is $9.49, Original price is $9.99. You Save 5%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
LendMe® See Details
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now

Overview

Rub-A-Dub-Dub by Robert L. Fish

On a transatlantic cruise, three elderly gentlemen have the adventure of a lifetime

When the captain of the SS Sunderland sees the three grey-haired passengers, he does not expect them to cause any trouble. He is mistaken. If he knew how much trouble they will cause, he’d likely leap over the railing and swim for shore. Carruthers, Simpson, and Briggs are three of the most dangerous men in the world. Founders of the British Mystery Writers Club, they were once well-known authors of detective fiction. But recently, their business has shifted from writing about murders to committing them.
 
As members of the Murder League, the men are willing to kill any man on earth for the price of $1,000, and kill him in style. The Sunderland is in for a very blood crossing, and there will be plenty of work for the Murder League.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497649958
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 06/16/2015
Series: Carruthers, Simpson, and Briggs Mysteries , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 206
Sales rank: 617,170
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Robert L. Fish, the youngest of three children, was born on August 21, 1912, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the local schools in Cleveland and went to Case University (now Case Western Reserve), from which he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He married Mamie Kates, also from Cleveland, and together they have two daughters. Fish worked as a civil engineer, traveling and moving throughout the United States. In 1953 he was asked to set up a plastics factory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He and his family moved to Brazil, where they remained for nine years. He played golf and bridge in the little spare time he had. One rainy weekend in the late 1950s, when the weather prohibited him from playing golf, he sat down and wrote a short story that he submitted to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. When the story was accepted, Fish continued to write short stories. In 1962 he returned to the United States; he took one year to write full time and then returned to engineering and writing. His first novel, The Fugitive, won an Edgar Award for Best First Mystery. When his health prevented him from pursuing both careers, Fish retired from engineering and spent his time writing. His published works include more than forty books and countless short stories. Mute Witness was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.
 
Fish died February 23, 1981, at his home in Connecticut. Each year at the annual Mystery Writers of America dinner, a memorial award is presented in his name for the best first short story. This is a fitting tribute, as Fish was always eager to assist young writers with their craft.
Robert L. Fish, the youngest of three children, was born on August 21, 1912, in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the local schools in Cleveland and went to Case University (now Case Western Reserve), from which he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He married Mamie Kates, also from Cleveland, and together they have two daughters. Fish worked as a civil engineer, traveling and moving throughout the United States. In 1953 he was asked to set up a plastics factory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He and his family moved to Brazil, where they remained for nine years. He played golf and bridge in the little spare time he had. One rainy weekend in the late 1950s, when the weather prohibited him from playing golf, he sat down and wrote a short story that he submitted to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. When the story was accepted, Fish continued to write short stories. In 1962 he returned to the United States; he took one year to write full time and then returned to engineering and writing. His first novel, The Fugitive, won an Edgar Award for Best First Mystery. When his health prevented him from pursuing both careers, Fish retired from engineering and spent his time writing. His published works include more than forty books and countless short stories. Mute Witness was made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.

Fish died February 23, 1981, at his home in Connecticut. Each year at the annual Mystery Writers of America dinner, a memorial award is presented in his name for the best first short story. This is a fitting tribute, as Fish was always eager to assist young writers with their craft.

Read an Excerpt

Rub-A-Dub-Dub

A Carruthers, Simpson, and Briggs Mystery


By Robert L. Fish

MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1971 Robert L. Fish
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-4995-8


CHAPTER 1

Captain Charles Everton Manley-Norville, master of the luxury liner the S.S. Sunderland out of Southampton, stood on the bridge of his pride and joy and smiled mechanically down on the bobbing heads of passengers clambering bravely up the sharply tilted gangplank to disappear gratefully into the purser's square on the Main Deck. Behind the captain, his youngish executive officer leaned casually on the polished railing, awaiting the time to call the idling tugs into action to pull them into the Solent, wondering what was in store for lunch and if any single girls with decent shapes and indecent morals might be included in the passenger list for the cruise. Beyond him, the stained red brick and chimney pots of Southampton appeared lilliputian from the august height of the liner's bridge.

The dock below was strewn with friends and relatives screaming to the travelers above; those on deck screamed back. Nobody could understand a word, but then, nobody was truly expected to. At the stern of the ship, using a second gangplank leading to the open portion of a lower deck, porters trundled back and forth, handing luggage with the insouciance and the it's-not-my-bloody-luggage- it-belongs-to-them-rich-baskits attitude of porters the world over, throwing the bags at the room stewards as if testing their bowling ability. On the deck children dashed back and forth, adding their shrill cries to the cacophony and knocking down other children while pursued by parents, nannys and deck stewards. The tall yard cranes, finished with their loading tasks, waited patiently like so many gigantic flamingos; their operators, perched midway up the monsters, blew their horns every few minutes for no reason whatsoever. With a good half hour yet until the actual sailing, the lineup for complaints had already formed in the purser's square, interfering with incoming traffic and compounding the general confusion. Unintelligible noises issued echoingly from loudspeakers mounted haphazardly about the ship; they sounded quite official and even dire. The ship's whistle, as if to clear its throat in order to be prepared for any contingency, blasted at irregular intervals.

It was, in fine, a typical departure of a typical passenger ocean liner off on a cruise.

Captain Manley-Norville appeared quite deaf to the racket that rose from both above and below him. The captain was a large, florid, rather handsome man, with a properly corseted figure encased in a properly blue-and-gold uniform, heavily striped at the cuffs. He had a thick mane of gray hair, piercing gray eyes beneath bushy eyebrows, and a manner that could be brusque or breezy as the occasion demanded. His smile, as he stood watching the animals herded two by two into his ark, remained a fixed, humorless affair. Captain Manley-Norville had seen the same scene too many times to exhibit enthusiasm.

But then, suddenly, his smile widened into a genuine expression of pleasure. His eye had caught and held three elderly gentlemen laboriously mounting the shaky gangplank. The trio were celebrities of the moment, widely publicized in the press, and Captain Manley-Norville liked nothing better than having celebrities aboard his ship, particularly if they were aging gentlemen in their seventies who would leave the stewardesses alone, not play Beatle records at three in the morning and in general cause no disturbance save, possibly, to the ship's surgeon. It was something, unfortunately, that could not always be said for young Brazilian millionaires, American television stars, French actresses or oversexed divorcées.

Over the years, Captain Charles Everton Manley-Norville had reached his high rank of authority because of his great discernment, his almost infallible judgment, and his extraordinarily sharp eye for hanky-panky in any form among either crew or passengers. He was not, however, prescient: the future did not reveal itself to him. Nor, of course, could he read minds. It is therefore possible to forgive him for having widened his smile at sight of the three, for he had nothing more to go on than their general appearance of harmlessness and the stories the press had so recently printed about them. With more basis for judgment, his smile most certainly would have been a grimace of deep pain; assuredly he would have exercised his authority to have the master-at-arms ban the three from the ship or possibly even drop them overboard; or, failing these, the captain might well have ordered the S.S.Sunderland into midstream and there, personally, scuttled her. In the long run it might well have saved him grief.

Of course, had the captain taken any of these eminently sensible precautionary measures, our three elderly gentlemen would not have been able to enjoy the holiday cruise for which they had planned and anticipated so many months. And in that case—more importantly—we should not have had our story.

But he didn't, so they did, and we have....


Leading the oddly paired (in any combination) trio up the swaying, slightly frightening gangplank was William (Billy-boy to his friends) Carruthers. He was a rotund, cherubic-looking man with exceedingly bright china-blue eyes set in a round face framed beneath a halo of pure white hair. He might well have posed for Missionary-of-the-Week in the Christian Advocate, or portrayed the part of an American senator in the cinema. He was dressed in a lightweight suit that was the only lightweight thing about him; it was faintly ecru in color—or possibly light mustard—and it did nothing to hide his portliness although it seemed to emphasize his innocence, since no villain would have been caught dead in it. He appeared the type to whom perfect strangers might well turn to ask the holding of wager stakes. He mounted the steps of the gangplank, taking them in dignified pace and smiling down at them pleasantly, as if counting them for some obscure reason of his own; then he glanced up as he approached the top, serene in his knowledge that he had acted the role of elderly-man-mounting-gangplank to perfection.

Behind him came Timothy Briggs, a tiny mite of a man with spikes of iron-gray hair standing out rebelliously from his tiny head. His little face was well seamed with wrinkles, but the sharpness of his small dark eyes might have warned the wary not to underestimate him. Tim Briggs was originally from Willington Quay on Tyneside and suspiciously required proof of all things. Besides, his experiences of late had taught him nothing if not caution of his fellowman, particularly if his fellowman happened to be a barrister and especially if that barrister happened to be named Pugh. Briggs had the general appearance of a sedately clad toy on an overwound spring, barely being held back from shoving Billy-boy Carruthers to one side and dashing up the remaining steps, either as a release for an excess of energy not to be denied or because he could not be sure the unstable gangplank would hold until he had made it safely to the top.

Clifford Simpson brought up the rear of the triumvirate. He was a gangling beanpole of a man, an unfolded ruler, roughly the height of his two friends placed one upon the other. He had a perpetual look of mild curiosity upon his long, thoughtful face, as if wondering what foible life could next produce but sure that it would be interesting. He had light-brown hair, little touched by age, although an occasional glimpse of pink scalp could be seen peeking through. His eyes were light green, a trifle hooded and always inquisitive. He was dressed in his usual tweeds, and his ever-present (when he could afford them) Corona cigar was locked between his well-fitting plates. He took the steps calmly, as he did everything else, although the unconsciously excessive movement of elbow and knee, Ichabod Crane style, made it appear he was taking them two at a time when, in fact, he was not.

The three made it to the purser's square on the Main Deck in one piece and paused to take stock of their surroundings. The racket about them was deafening, but it seemed to do nothing to dampen their spirits. The purser, casting his eyes about desperately in an attempt to avoid the complaint of the young American woman who had him by the collar, used their arrival as a welcome excuse to tear himself loose and hustle to their side, smiling brightly.

"Mr. Carruthers! Mr. Briggs! Mr. Simpson! Welcome aboard the S.S.Sunderland! I'd have recognized you from your pictures in a minute! A pleasure to have you traveling with us! Everything has been handled. Your luggage is in your stateroom—Number 45 on A Deck. And your keys—your keys!" He swung in the direction of the desk, babbling over his shoulder. "I'll get you your keys! One for each of you!"

Briggs frowned. Oddly enough, despite the fact that he had written scores of stories in which ships played a part, it was his first time on one, but he still wanted all protocol clear in his mind. He turned to Carruthers, speaking out of the corner of his mouth.

"Who's old Henry Helpful?"

While Carruthers had not traveled as a passenger for many years, his memory was infallible.

"That's the purser."

"And how much does he get tipped?"

"He doesn't," Carruthers said calmly, and then added in the interests of complete truth, "of course, he's about the only one on board who doesn't, I believe." He nodded his thanks to the uniformed figure, accepted the handful of keys, smiled a pleasant dismissal and then looked at his companions. "Well? Anyone for a quick wash? The loo? Or shall we watch our departure from the Promenade Deck?"

"We watch, of course!" Briggs said firmly. "I've never seen one, you know. And besides—at these prices?"

"We watch," Simpson agreed. "It's been years since I've been on a ship, you know—and then it was only an old army transport down to Gibraltar, in '15, I believe...."

Carruthers, nothing loath, nodded his agreement, and the three moved in the direction of the elevator that served the various decks. One quick study of its size—which would have scarcely stood Billy-boy's girth let alone Simpson's height—and they forewent the mechanism, marching instead up the center stairway leading from the purser's square to the upper reaches of the ship. A turn in the steps and they had disappeared.

The irate young woman who had been abandoned by the purser captured him again before he could find a new excuse. Her voice, when she spoke, was more curious than angry.

"And just who are Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear? To get the red carpet rolled out for them, I mean?"

Fortunately the purser had traveled with colonials before and understood the intricacies of their language.

"They, Madam," he said with national pride ringing in his voice, "are the founding members of the Mystery Authors Club of Great Britain. Of course," he added a bit sadly, "they haven't any of them written anything for some thirty or forty years, but—" his voice rose again, undeterred "—at one time they were the most famous writers in England. A long time ago, it's true, but still ..."

"And they're still big shots? What was the last thing they wrote? Fanny Hill?"

"No, Madam," said the purser, a bit stiffly. "That was John Cleland. They're not now famous for writing; they happen to be this year's winners of the J.G.L.H.N.M.S. award."

The young lady stared at him: "The who's what?"

The purser took a deep breath. The woman was after all, a foreigner and really not to be blamed for her ignorance. Besides, as long as they remained on other subjects, the young lady's complaint was—albeit temporarily—shelved, although he had a sad feeling that it wouldn't be shelved for long. There was something in her eye to make him believe it.

"The Jarvis-Greater-Love-Hath-No-Man-Society award, Mrs. Carpenter," he explained, trying to sound genial. "It is given each year to a person or persons whose personal sacrifice in the interests of a fellowman demonstrates a loyalty to the principles of friendship above and beyond the call of—" He seemed to realize he was sounding a bit like a recruiting poster and also that he was losing the attention of his audience. "That is—ah—well, friendship, you know. Yes. Yes, indeed. It—the award, that is—amounts to a matter of twenty thousand quid. Pounds, that is, ma'am."

The wavering attention of the young woman returned instantly.

"Twenty thousand pounds? You did say twenty thousand pounds?" Mrs. Carpenter's hidden antennae had begun to rotate, picking up signals. "What on earth did the old—I mean, what did they ever do to earn it?"

The purser was pleased to be able to furnish the details. After all, the press had printed little else for several weeks.

"Well, ma'am, one of them—Mr. Simpson, the tall one—was accused of murder, and his two friends sacrificed everything they had to hire England's leading barrister—lawyer to you, ma'am—Sir Percival Pugh, to save him. Sir Percival is famous for his exorbitant fees, but Mr. Briggs and Mr. Carruthers did not hesitate. They sold their meager possessions, spent the last of their small savings, borrowed extensively—" He saw he was in danger of losing his audience a second time and hurried to a conclusion. "Still," he ended, "they did win the award, and twenty thousand pounds is a lot of money."

"Over forty grand? Yes," Mrs. Carpenter agreed. "I wouldn't be the one to call it cheese." She frowned in deep thought for several moments and then, almost reluctantly, returned to the original purpose of her being there. "Now, Buster, about that midget broom closet you put me and my husband in ..."

The three founding members of the Mystery Writers Club—and, although the purser was unaware of it, the Murder League as well—pushed through the heavy doors to the Promenade Deck and wandered to the rail. The decibel volume of parting had risen considerably; the loudspeakers were now exhorting those who should be ashore to get cracking, but they seemed to be doing so in some foreign language. It was a warm day and a faint sheen of perspiration beaded the brow of Mr. Carruthers; he attempted to get some relief from the breeze generated by several hundreds of frantically waving handkerchiefs, but it was insufficient. He patted his brow with his own and returned it neatly to his sleeve. Tim Briggs saw the gesture and glanced about almost truculently.

"No deck chairs?"

There were, in fact, deck chairs, but they were piled against the outer wall of the main salon, awaiting the ship's departure before being set out and assigned, for a fee, by the deck steward. Mr. Carruthers was familiar with this procedure, but he had never clearly understood the reason for it. Mr. Briggs, having never sailed on a cruise ship before, was not familiar with this form of piracy on the high seas, but he would have opposed it on general principles. If Mr. Simpson had ever known the rules and regulations governing deck chairs, he had long since forgotten them. Being the tallest, he therefore moved to one of the piles and handed down three of the complicated wooden puzzles. Briggs, oddly enough, managed to untangle them in record time; he snapped them into a semblance of a seating arrangement and spread them about. The three dropped into the chairs with sighs of relief.

The first thing that happened was that a small boy, screaming imprecations at his nursemaid and running without watching traffic, sprawled over Briggs and as a result was captured and led back by the ear to incarceration. He managed to squirm about long enough to treat the three to a most reproachful glance.

The second thing that happened—almost as quickly—was the appearance of the deck steward. His shocked look seemed to say that while he knew iconoclasm and revolution were the order of the day, still, there were limits.

"'Ere, now!" he said sternly. "Yer can't open deck chairs before the ship sails! And as a matter o' fact, yer can't open 'em at all, see? That's me job! And anyways, them chairs is to be rented; they ain't for free!"

Briggs leaned back, considering the white-jacketed man with scorn.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Rub-A-Dub-Dub by Robert L. Fish. Copyright © 1971 Robert L. Fish. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews