The novel that reintroduced the Napoleon of crime to the Victorian underworld – now back in print after forty years.
The London mists dissipate one morning on the shadowy streets of Limehouse to reveal that Professor James Moriarty, archrival of Sherlock Holmes, has returned. Their dramatic encounter at Reichenbach Falls three years earlier, it seems, was not the fateful confrontation the world had been led to believeand now, with his nefarious energies undiminished, Moriarty is back in England to resume his control over the criminal netherworld.
But what really did happen in Switzerland in 1891 between the Professor and the Great Detective? Why is the scrupulous Holmes, now back at 221B Baker Street, being curiously uncooperative with Scotland Yard? And what is behind Moriarty’s plan to meet with the major crime organizations from America and the Continent? In this atmospheric tale of the Victorian underworld, John Gardner delivers the dramatic first novel in his bestselling saga that confirms Professor James Moriarty as one of the most vividly imagined villains in literature.
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About the Author
John Gardner wrote, like Ian Fleming, fourteen James Bond novels (1981 to 1996). In all Gardner had fifty-five novels to his creditmany of them bestsellers (his novel Maestro was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year). John Gardner died in 2007. Visit his estate’s website at www.john-gardner.com.
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The Return of Moriarty
By John Gardner
PEGASUS BOOKSCopyright © 1974 John Gardner
All rights reserved.
Friday, April 6, 1894
(FANNY INVESTIGATED AND MORIARTY'S MEMORIES OF THE AUTUMN OF 1888)
When Moriarty finally got to his bed, in the very early hours of Friday morning, he could not sleep. The tiring events of the previous day had merged with anger upon finding that his business interests in London had been, to a large extent, neglected during his enforced stay on the Continent. With Moran in the hands of the police, the whole situation was in jeopardy, and he was particularly annoyed at the discovery that the Whitechapel area had virtually been taken over by such inferior personages as Michael the Peg and Lord Peter.
In those days Moriarty had used Whitechapel and Spitalfields as a training ground, a recruiting point and a place in which money, if only small sums, could be made. It had not been an easy matter, containing the vast and poverty-stricken, criminal-infested area, but he had done it for eight or nine years with the help of Moran—then a more agile and able man—and the abiding memory of that time was the autumn of 1888.
Whitechapel and the surrounding area were places where evil festered, stank and bloomed in a manner hideously agreeable to Moriarty's methods. It was here, in the heart of this damned area, that Moriarty was able to gather up a flock of supporters, a small criminal army, beholden to the Professor for the slightest favor, anxious to serve him with exceptional loyalty because of the many ways he could alleviate the deprivations and ills that surrounded them, willing to provide intelligence for minor amounts of cash or food. Indeed, it was well known to the floating populace of this part of London, east of the City, that Professor Moriarty's converts were better cared for and more numerous than those made by the zealous Christian Socialists, who periodically descended on the area, dispensing charitable works from places like Toynbee Hall.
Indeed, there was much high-flown talk about redevelopment plans, and renewed social work around Whitechapel and Spitalfields, but, Moriarty thanked Satan, little was actually done. Then, in the autumn of 1888, Moriarty's rich recruiting ground became a place of real terror, its lanes, streets, courts and alleys coming under the scrutiny of the police magnifying glass and the concern of the public at large.
At that time Moriarty lived in earnest comfort, nearer the West End, in a large house off the Strand. Both Paget and Spear were with him, lodged in style within the servants' quarters whence they worked with various other members of the Moriarty mob.
It was Spear who brought the first news of the trouble about to break upon them from Whitechapel. He had been out on business, as it happened, on a punitive action against some rampers who had been causing Sally Hodges a little bother and, having left on the previous evening, did not return until nearly eleven on the morning of Friday, August 31. He went straight to the Professor's office on the first floor and announced, "Polly Nicholls has had her throat cut. They found her in Buck's Row, half-three this morning."
The upper hierarchy of Moriarty's mob knew Polly Nicholls, a drab, sallow-complexioned, mousy woman of forty-two, who had sunk, through her predilection for alcohol, to the lowest depths of eastern London, making what little money she could on the streets and living hand to mouth in the lodging houses. But she had, on one or two occasions, been of use to Moriarty and his cohorts by passing information, mainly of a simple nature.
"We are going to have to take stronger measures with the High Rips," was Moriarty's first reaction. "That is the fourth since last Christmas."
That Moriarty himself had people working the High Rip, a bullying, sometimes violent, form of extortion from prostitutes, had no bearing on the matter. They were all aware that youthful gangs, including the Hoxton Market and Old Nichol Street mobs, had been working the High Rip in the Whitechapel and Spitalfields districts.
Moriarty's mention of Polly Nicholls being the fourth victim of fatal High Rip operations since Christmas concerned three other whores. Fairy Fay, whose real identity still remained hidden, was a woman whose body, horribly cut up, had been found near the Commercial Road on the previous Boxing Night; Emma Smith, badly assaulted by three men on Easter Monday, April 13, later died of her injuries, and Martha Tabram, found dead in almost the same spot as Emma Smith—in Osborn Street, Spitalfields—stabbed thirty-nine times in the early hours of August 7, only a little over two weeks before the discovery of the ill-fated Polly Nicholls.
Spear and Paget put the known High Rip mobs on the top of their list, but a week later things took a new turn when the body of yet another whore, Annie Chapman—Dark Annie, as she was known—was found, throat cut and stomach multilated in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street.
It was at this point that Moriarty became badly inconvenienced, as it was soon apparent that Annie Chapman's killer and whoever had slit Polly Nicholls' throat were one and the same person, while something akin to panic began to grip the Professor's territory. But there was more—the terror that lurked behind garbled tales and newspaper insinuations brought the police out in force, and the criminal world of the area found themselves more closely observed than ever before. Uniformed police were more numerous, and plainclothes men lurked and mingled with the people of the district.
Within a few days, Moriarty, Moran and those who served close to him, were left in no doubt that for the first time since the Professor had taken the area under his wing, the authorities were beginning to ask a lot of awkward questions.
As for the horrific nature of the affair, the full weight came out late in the inquest when the coroner called the police surgeon, George B. Phillips, to give evidence for the second time in the same hearing. Even though the report of Mr. Phillips' sensational revelations was not to be found in the newspapers, and women and children were removed from the court before he appeared, the word soon got about. As well as having her throat slit, the luckless Dark Annie's intestines had been cut out and placed on her shoulder, while the uterus, part of the vagina and the bladder were removed and never found.
These grisly details were more shocking since it was generally known that Polly Nicholls' murderer had, besides slashing her throat, disemboweled her with a deep, jagged incision running from the lower left part of the abdomen almost to the diaphragm, deep and cutting through the tissue so that part of the intestines protruded. There were several other wounds on the right side and a number of gashes across the abdomen.
It was this information, together with the sense of panic, the quantities of police and local vigilantes who stalked the streets, the haunting unnamed terror, and the certain information that all clues uncovered by the police led into blind alleys, that caused Moriarty to take his next step.
"The police are not dealing with any ordinary flash character," he told Spear and Paget. "They are up against some kind of lunatic, a fanatic who hates whores. He could be a religious fanatic, a moral avenger, or simply a person who has been unhinged by catching the glim from one of the ladies and is out to teach all of them a lesson."
"He's goin' to have his work cut out if he reckons to chiv the lot," Paget laughed.
Students of the period will know that some thirty years previously the rough estimate of the number of prostitutes in London was about 80,000, but the true figure could have been higher. It is certain that in 1856, no fewer than 30,000 cases of venereal disease were treated at Guy's, Bart's and King's.
Moriarty was to repeat his somewhat obvious statement to a larger gathering of his most trusted men and women, including many who worked for him in the Whitechapel Spitalfields territory. On this occasion he added some practical points:
"It would seem that the killer is likely to evade capture, just as it is certain, if he continues his trade, we will find ourselves more bitterly harrassed by the coppers."
Above all else Moriarty was worried that the criminal element would, under pressure, break with tradition and talk openly to the police: a situation he was determined to avoid at all costs. In this matter he had the whip hand. So far, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, and the government had studiously avoided offering any financial reward for the capture of Leather Apron, as the unknown assassin was then tagged. True, the Member of Parliament for Whitechapel, Samuel Montagu, offered 100 pounds, to which was added a further 50 pounds from Henry White, a magistrate. But Moriarty was in a position to outbid such figures as these.
"I want the word passed," he continued, "that we are better placed to catch Leather Apron than the bobbies. Any hints, rumors or suspicions from family people must be conveyed to me, through the usual runners and not to the coppers. If intelligence reaches us and leads to the identification or capture of Leather Apron, the person or persons concerned will receive a bounty of five hundred guineas."
The amount offered was staggering to the impoverished hard-core floating element within the territory, and the certain promise of such a sum ensured both gravelike silence toward the police and renewed efforts on the part of the terrified whores, cracksmen, dippers, bullies and rampsmen. Daily, Moriarty spent several hours sifting through the fragments of rumor, accusation and gossip that passed his way, through Spear and Paget, from people on the ground.
It came to nothing until the day before the next tragic bloodletting, the double murder of September 30. And it was after that ghoulish night's work that the killer became known by the name he chose for himself—Jack the Ripper.
On the evening of September 29, it being a Saturday, James Moriarty was giving himself a treat: a private selfindulgence to which he succumbed on an average of twice monthly. Earlier in the week he had arranged with Sal Hodges for her latest toffer, a splendidly tall, elegant girl, some twenty-four years of age, named Mildred Fenning, to attend on him at his house off the Strand.
As was his custom on such evenings, Moriarty made certain that Spear, Paget, and any other members of his dubious family, were out on business, making it clear that he did not expect to see them back until at least midday on Sunday. Those who spent much time close to the Professor were in no doubt about his habits, knowing exactly what the form was when they were ordered to spend the night away.
While none of Sal's girls who were chosen to entertain Moriarty were paid in cash, they seldom regretted an assignation. It was strange, but Moriarty was a shy man who did not rate himself as a ladies' companion, hence his consistent recourse to the better-class whores, who, in effect, found him charming, delightful company, both in bed and out, and extremely generous. Seldom did they leave without some gift of jewelry, or fripperies of the finest style; nor did they go hungry, for Moriarty delighted in good food, and his little evenings at home always began with an excellent supper.
On the evening of Miss Fenning's visit the Professor had provided an hors d'oeuvre of oysters, caviar, sardines, pickled tunny, anchovies, smoked eel, salmon, and eggs in aspic, followed by an assortment of chicken darioles, mutton cutlets in aspic, beef galantine and zephires of duck with tomato and artichoke salad, macédoine salad and an English salad containing lettuce, watercress, mustard and cress, radishes, spring onions and tomatoes, dressed after the French manner, the whole washed down with a fine champagne—the Royal Charter from Wachter & Co., Epernay.
While Moriarty was preparing his evening and actually enjoying it, other matters were taking place in the Whitechapel area. On that Saturday night there were many among those grim streets who would not eat hors d'oeuvres, nor even cold meats and salad, neither would they quaff champagne. One among them would, however, like hundreds more, consume an overabundance of gin.
Two days earlier a couple who went by the name of Kelly returned from a strenuous month's hop picking in the fields of Kent. The man was a market porter called John Kelly; the woman, who wore a dark green print dress with a pattern of Michaelmas daisies and golden lilies, a black cloth jacket trimmed with imitation fur and three metal buttons, and a black straw bonnet decorated with black beads and velvet in green and black, was known variously as Kate Kelly and Kate Conway. She was forty-three years old, small, birdlike, an alcoholic suffering from Bright's disease, a doss-house woman who hired her body for the price of a bed. Her real name was Catherine Eddowes and she had, on and off, been cohabiting with John Kelly for the past seven years. She did not know Moriarty, even by name, though she was known by Paget and several other agents in the area. She also had a regular beat and was known to many constables as a common prostitute.
The couple had returned early from their hopping because of a chance remark Eddowes had made to Kelly a week before. There was a certain sense of safety in the country, but even there, deep among the hop fields, the talk would inevitably turn, particularly at night, to the murders and the invisible fiend who seemed to watch them all from the shadows of the doorways and alleys of Spitalfields and Whitechapel. Kelly and Eddowes had been drinking with others of that closed-ranks community when one of the company mentioned the unofficial reward of 500 guineas. Neither Kelly nor Eddowes had heard that news, and Kelly questioned the man closely.
"I can understand not telling the coppers some things," he said. "But who in hell's name are we supposed to tell about bloody Leather Apron if not the police?"
"You go to a man called Alfred Davis who is usually found at The Lamb, in Lamb Street, up Bishopsgate way. He'll fetch the big cove and you talk to him."
Later, after the events of September 29 and 30, Kelly told the police that he had returned with Eddowes "after the reward money." They took it for granted that Kelly was talking of the one hundred and fifty pounds made up by Montagu and White and did not question him further on the matter. But there is no doubt that they were after the larger sum being offered through the criminal family.
The conversation continued with various people, now becoming fuddled with drink, putting forward their own terrors and pet theories. The whole group joined in except for Catherine Eddowes who fell strangely silent. Nor did she speak much the following day, Kelly later recalling that she "seemed to be in a dream"; but on the next evening she confided in her partner that she had "... a fair idea of who Leather Apron is." Later she said explicitly, "I think I know who he is."
She became so adamant about the matter that Kelly finally took her up on it, suggesting that they return to London and pass on the intelligence. He also asked her continually for a name or a clue, but Eddowes, with the cunning of the alcoholic combined with the secretive closeness of a confirmed doss-house occupant, refused to tell even him.
So, they returned to London, having enough of their hopping pay left to travel on the train, drink themselves stupid on gin and obtain a bed at the 55 Flower and Dean Street doss house.
On the morning of Friday, the twenty-eighth, they both felt the pangs of depression, the gloom rising from the amount of gin they had consumed on the previous evening, coupled with the knowledge, apparent to them on all sides, that they were back among the appalling dirt and crowded conditions of the East End of London.
Catherine Eddowes did not feel too well, a not unusual state, as the Bright's disease that ravaged her body was far advanced. They were also flat broke and argued for a while about Catherine walking up to The Lamb in order to contact Alfred Davis. But she said that she felt too unwell. "After we've had a drink or two, John, I'll be fine." Like all alcoholics who have reached a chronic stage, she was unable to face the true realities until the spirits had assuaged her craving.
But there was no money for drink. They quarreled violently for some time until, at last, Kelly agreed to pawn his boots. Eddowes took them from his feet, outside the pawnshop in Old Montague Street, carried them inside, popping them for an alderman.
With money in their collective pocket again, the urgency of getting to Lamb Street appeared to be reduced. Indeed, they started out in that general direction, but became lost in the small pond of gin they consumed. Time quickly loses its meaning to alcoholic vagrants. Warmed by the gin and bawdy chatter of the public houses around Old Montague and Wentworth Streets, they found themselves, suddenly, it seemed, outside, with only sixpence left and night well advanced.
Excerpted from The Return of Moriarty by John Gardner. Copyright © 1974 John Gardner. Excerpted by permission of PEGASUS BOOKS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Friday, April 6, 1894 (Fanny Investigated and Moriarty's Memories of the Autumn of 1888),
Friday, April 6, 1894 (The Real Moriarty),
Friday, April 6, 1894 (A Day in the Country),
Sunday, April 8, 1894 (Taking Stock),
Monday, April 9, 1894, 1:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. (The Enemy and the Truth Concerning Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls),
Monday, April 9, 1894, 9:00 P.M. onward (The Night of the Punishers),
Tuesday, April 10, to Thursday, April 12, 1894 (Crow Among the Pigeons),
Thursday, April 12, 1894 (The Manner in which Moriarty Procured Freedom for the Jacobs Brothers),
Friday, April 13, 1894 (The Continental Alliance),
Saturday, April 14, 1894 (An Assassination Is Arranged),
Sunday, April 15, to Wednesday, April 18, 1894 (The Wedding),
Saturday, April 21, 1894 (The Harrow Robbery),
Sunday, April 22, to Friday, April 27, 1894 (The Realms of Night),
Friday, April 27, 1894 (The Last Trick),
Saturday, April 28, 1894 (The Second Exile),
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