- Pub. Date:
Two Cases for Inspector Mac
Meet Inspector Alec MacDonald—Mac, to his friends—an up-and-coming policeman from Scotland Yard. Unlike Inspector Lestrade, MacDonald is happy to work with Sherlock Holmes, especially when Lady Anne Wescott loses her treasured ruby. And just when that mystery seems resolved, Lady Wescott goes missing herself! Can Holmes and Mr. Mac solve the disappearance before Lady Wescott vanishes forever?
In the second case, Mr. Mac and Holmes are stymied by a rash of murders. Society members are being shot down on the streets of London. There must be a connection between these seemingly random murders, but what can it be? A window washer, a banker, a newly elected MP... Holmes, Watson, and Mr. Mac must find the connection before more innocent lives are lost.
Related collections and offers
Read an Excerpt
The Affair of Lady Westcott's Lost Ruby/The Case of the Unseen Assassin
By Gary Lovisi
Stark House PressCopyright © 2017 Gary Lovisi
All rights reserved.
22IB Baker Street:
"I have often noticed that crime can become a double-edge sword, Watson," Sherlock Holmes mentioned to me one brisk Autumn day in 1890.
"How so?" I prompted him eagerly.
Holmes smiled rather enigmatically. "The law of unintended consequences, of course. All actions precipitate reactions — some of which can not be anticipated and may make matters worse — from our point of view — in solving criminal cases. And of course, usually from the point of view of the criminal as well — often landing them in prison. You are trying to bait me, eh, my friend?" Holmes was in one of his rare talkative moods and I decided to take advantage of it to press him to recount one of his hitherto unrecorded cases. Who knew what gem I might unearth?
"Or perhaps it is you who are trying to whet my appetite to hear a new story? Are you referring to a specific case?" I was baiting him now!
"Hah!" Holmes laughed. "You seem eager enough!"
"Of course! I am always ready. I would certainly like to hear whatever you have to say — upon whatever topic — but especially if you feel like talking about one of the cases I have yet to record."
"Well, you are in luck, old man, I am certainly in the mood for talk now. So ask away."
I suddenly paused. Well, that put me in a quandary, I was actually taken aback by his seemingly open ended invitation to ask him whatever I would ask him, upon any topic I chose. It was like opening Pandora's Box. A million questions crossed my mind, each one fighting for dominance. I hardly even knew what to ask him. I was suddenly silent, thinking.
Holmes smiled gingerly, "Perhaps I should begin it?"
"Perhaps you should, yes, please do," I replied a bit perplexed by this sudden turn of events. I had known this man for many years and I can tell you that it was most unusual for Holmes to be so open and forthcoming as he appeared to be now. Did I sense an ulterior motive?
There was a long pause, Holmes obviously considering his words carefully, while I was taking deep breaths of nervous eager anticipation.
Sherlock Holmes began by stating briskly, "Well, Watson, I have first to tell you that I have lately read your chronicle of my Brilstone Manor Case — what you have so melodramatically entitled 'The Valley of Fear'."
"Yes, I am always interested to hear your comments on what I have written up of your cases."
He gave me a rather dour frown. "Ah-hem! Really, old man, you must be more specific and pander less to popular taste. Your choice of title makes the case sound like some cheap and lurid penny dreadful. I do not think that you should offer this one for publication at this time. Certainly not for some years at any rate. That is my decision for the present, and I must ask you to accept that prohibition."
I said not a word, but I was surely crestfallen by these words.
Oh, cheer up, old man, in the writing of it, I find it to be a quite adequate tale, if a rather tall tale, as usual."
"Holmes, I feel you are too hard on me in this regard, you must make some allowances for poetic license and the popular taste."
"Hah! Never!" my companion chortled in a derisive tone.
"Oh, very well, in truth it is not at all bad. The Pennsylvania part concerning Birdy Edwards and the Scrowers was fine. Rather well done, actually, but please do not publish it until I allow you my permission to do so. I would not have this one out there so soon."
"Of course," I nodded my acknowledgement with these two grudging words at his stern prohibition — which I would of course respect, though I was severely disappointed. Then I dared ask him, "And what of the preamble concerning the affair at Brilstone Manor House?"
"Hmm ... well, yes, I suppose you had all the facts in order there as well," Holmes admitted, but with some obvious reluctance. He was not a man overly fond of giving praise unless it was for some striking accomplishment and only if well deserved.
I sat there wearing my stoic face, nevertheless glowing inside by his praise however faintly delivered. Then I ventured, "Inspector Alec MacDonald acquitted himself very well in that case, did he not?"
"He surely did, Watson. I have expected great things from that young Scot and he has not disappointed."
I thought about the man and the words I had written about him in the story that Holmes had now prohibited me to have published. I had written:
Those were the early days at the end of the '80s, when Alec MacDonald was far from having attained the national fame which he has now achieved. He was a young and trusted member of the detective force, who had distinguished himself in several cases which had been in-trusted to him. His tall, bony figure gave promise of exceptional physical strength, while his great cranium and deep-set, lustrous eyes spoke no less clearly of the keen intelligence which twinkled out from behind his bushy eyebrows. He was a silent, precise man with a dour nature and a hard Aberdonian accent.
Twice already in his career had Holmes helped him to attain success, his own sole reward being the intellectual joy of the problem. For this reason the affection and respect of the Scotsman for his amateur colleague were profound, and he showed them by the frankness with which he consulted Holmes in every difficulty. Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius, and MacDonald had talent enough for his profession to enable him to perceive that there was no humiliation in seeking the assistance of one who had already excelled in Europe, both in his gifts and in his experience. Holmes was not prone to friendship, but he was tolerant of the big Scotsman, and smiled at the sight of him.
"I wonder how he is getting along?" I mused.
"Oh, I am sure he is making a name for himself at The Yard," Holmes added rather off-handedly, apparently a bit tweaked by my bringing up the subject of Inspector MacDonald. The inspector had not come to Holmes with a case for some time now. Was he purposely staying away? I wondered. My companion's manner had suddenly changed now also. Holmes was like that. Mercurial in temperament as well as thought. I feared that the mood of talkativeness that had come upon him so suddenly but moments before, had now left him completely.
"What is it, Holmes?"
"Just thinking, old man, rearranging the furniture in the attic of my mind."
I shrugged. Holmes often spoke in such enigmatic terms. I put down my pipe, then stood up and walked towards the window of our sitting room. I opened the window to allow in some of the brisk Autumn breeze to air out our stuffy smoke-filled rooms. Perhaps the sharp cool breeze would improve my friend's mood or catch his attention.
As I opened the window, I casually looked down upon Baker Street to view with approval that the small world around us appeared as orderly and organized as always. I noted a group of young boys upon a stoop across the street, Wiggins and some of the young fellows he ran with that Holmes sometimes made use of in cases. Then nearby on the street below I was surprised to spot a familiar figure that I recognized immediately. I instantly blurted out, "It is him, Holmes!"
"Him?" My companion repeated in a languid tone, not moving a muscle, but I noticed his eyebrows were raised in evident curiosity.
"He is walking along Baker Street right this minute."
"Do you mean Mr. Mac?" Holmes replied with a further hint of curiosity.
"Yes, I do."
"Well, do tell!"
"Yes, it is certainly him. Who could ever fail to recognize the man. He is a most singular person in form and dress. Tall and slim, not unlike yourself. I wonder what he is up to?"
"So do I."
"Well, he is walking rather briskly down Baker Street right now." I stated, watching him eagerly. "Maybe he's coming here?"
"He's not coming here." Holmes stated as he looked over at the window with repressed curiosity. I could tell he was trying to hold back a growing impatient excitement. I knew my companion held considerable respect for Mr. Mac, as he was fond of calling the large dour Scot, and he knew that when the man came to him with a case, it would be a real challenge. And Sherlock Holmes always loved a challenge!
I watched the man's steps carefully. MacDonald was now directly across from 221, but then instead of crossing the street to our door, he continued on down the street and was soon gone from my view. I told my friend, "No, it does not appear he is coming here at all."
Holmes steepled his fingers in thoughtful contemplation, then nodded. "However he certainly will, when he is ready for us. The double-edged sword, I spoke of earlier, my friend. Mr. Mac is a man in rapid motion and upon a mission. Who knows where the threads will lead him?" "Perhaps here, to Baker Street?" I ventured.
"We shall see, but threads can become awfully twisted and complicated."
I looked over at Holmes wondering what he meant by that statement. Then I once again looked down below at Baker Street to see if I could get another glimpse of Inspector MacDonald, but no, he was gone from my sight as if London itself had swallowed him up. Nevertheless, I wondered about the Scotland Yard inspector and what case he might be working on now, and I am sure Sherlock Holmes was thinking the exact same thing.
Inspector Alec MacDonald:
He was keenly aware of what they were saying about him. He had excellent hearing among his many other keen attributes. He was a Scotland Yard detective after all, a man who had achieved some notoriety in a highly publicized case last year.
"That's 'im, lads!" the street Arabs gathered on a building stoop along Baker Street whispered furtively to each other as he walked briskly by them.
"Aye, they's that matter, like our Mr. 'Olmes call this one Mr. Mac. Why, look at him! Ain't he the dapper bloke!"
The man the boys were watching allowed a slim smile to escape his lips. He was certainly well dressed. He wore a starched white shirt with rounded collars and a knotted necktie — all the rage as the newest in men's fashion just then — which gave him a serious formal look which was almost funerary. He was a serious man and one you did not want to find yourself on the wrong side of.
Scotland Yard Inspector Alec MacDonald smiled as he walked by the group of young boys — who continued to whisper in awe about him — he knew the boys as an unofficial street gang that his friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, called his Baker Street Irregulars. He knew they were a group of boys who had proven their use on a number of criminal cases. They were good boys in his book.
MacDonald had known Sherlock Holmes for the last couple of years. The consulting detective had aided him on two earlier cases, and then there had been the big one — the Brilstone Manor murder mystery involving John Douglas and his wife a year back that the two detectives — the one official and other consulting — had been deeply involved in.
With the new location of Scotland Yard on the Victoria Embankment overlooking the majestic River Thames since 1890, he and the members of the Metropolitan Police had a new home and a new mission. Professional policing.
MacDonald allowed a grim smile, slowly twisting the drooping ends of his long handle-bar mustache as he remembered Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and he had gotten along rather well. The Great Detective, as MacDonald thought of Holmes fondly, was a most fascinating man. MacDonald treasured and respected the genius of Holmes. And Holmes respected MacDonald's talent.
MacDonald thoughtfully remembered the praise Holmes had given him in a case that had been the making of his career at the time. He was a crack detective for sure and one of Scotland Yard's best prospects. He would have liked to have been involved in The Ripper case back in '88, but his superiors had kept him out of it. That was just the way it was at The Yard sometimes, with the big cases going to the most senior or favored men with influence. Lestrade was one of those highly-placed men. It was difficult these days to catch the big cases with so much political power-play going on. The Ripper Case had been a sensation in the newspapers back then, and had never been solved. MacDonald would have loved to have sunk his teeth into that one, for when he was on a case, he was like a starving dog with a meaty bone, and he would never let go until the case was solved — one way or the other — but alas, now he had to focus on the task at hand.
MacDonald continued walking down Baker Street, passing across from Number 221, and a little smile crossed his lips. Holmes had told him once that he was a very talented but practical detective. He was a rather dour Scot. MacDonald now wondered if he was a bit too practical, a bit too sensible and too regular in his approach to crime. Holmes could be so mercurial — often a genius — while MacDonald was more by-the-book and tried-and-true in his investigation techniques. The men had different ways of doing things, but their methods were often complimentary to one another.
Sherlock Holmes obviously approved of MacDonald, and the man was a young and trusted member of Scotland Yard's detective force, though he had yet to really make his mark as a star of the department. He hoped that the opportunity afforded to him by this new investigation would yield that source of satisfaction in his chosen calling he so desperately craved. A new case was always cause for excitement.
This new investigation that Chief Inspector Sir Charles Maine had tasked MacDonald with today seemed promising. It was near the end of a busy day so he figured to stop by the home of the victim on his walk home. The case seemed to concern a minor member of the nobility or some such person of the upper class, wealthy to be certain, but much more importantly — there was a missing ruby. There could be promise in solving such a case and he hastened his footsteps until he reached number 20 on Abercrombie Road.
MacDonald saw the house was a large three storey brick fortress, a mansion to be sure, a building that oozed wealth and power — privilege and position. He trod up the six steps to the elegant white mahogany front door and briskly struck the shiny large brass knocker. The din his action caused rumbled resoundingly inside and outside the house. It brought to his mind the cacophony caused by a large Oriental temple gong he recalled from his early days as a constable in the Chinese quarter of the city.
After a moment the door was opened and an older rather distinguished gentleman in butler livery looked upon him with a world-weary and inquiring gaze.
"I am Inspector Alec MacDonald of Scotland Yard," he said simply to the man who had answered the door. His thick Aberdeen accent sounding most un-English here in the central environs of London. "I am here to see your mistress, Mrs. Westcott."
"Lady Westcott!" the butler corrected firmly.
"All right," MacDonald allowed, he was one not overly impressed with titles, but if this case involved a member of the nobility he was willing to play along. "Yes, Lady Westcott."
"Then you are here to see my lady about her lost Ruby? "
"Then please follow me."
The butler then led MacDonald into the large foyer and then up an elaborate circular staircase. Along the walls the inspector marveled at the many exquisite paintings of what were apparently famous ancestors, some of which MacDonald thought he could recognize as well-known figures out of British history.
"My mistress is indisposed at the moment unfortunately, so she will see you from her bedside," the butler explained, leading his visitor down the hallway to a large closed door at the head of the upper hall.
"Very much so, sir," the butler stated. He seemed a most proper British gentleman's gentleman — or in this case a gentle lady's gentleman.
"Well, I will not keep her any more than is absolutely necessary for me to gather all the facts I need."
"Thank you, sir," the butler stated in obvious relief. "My mistress is most alarmed and distressed by this sudden loss."
"I can well understand it," MacDonald replied with a sharp nod of his head. This certainly appeared to be something of considerable importance. A lost ruby? He wondered how valuable the obviously priceless bauble might be? A hundred thousand pounds? Perhaps a million pounds? There was no telling with such things and he certainly was no expert in fine gems. However he would find out. This could just be the one case that might make him he thought with a dash of excitement in his steps, as he followed the butler to the door to the old woman's bedchamber.
Excerpted from The Affair of Lady Westcott's Lost Ruby/The Case of the Unseen Assassin by Gary Lovisi. Copyright © 2017 Gary Lovisi. Excerpted by permission of Stark House Press.
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.