The Client
Someone close, but not too close. Someone the Great Detective knows well — an old friend, a forgotten lover, a favorite tradesperson, a former coworker — needs help. Not an innocent; they stepped outside the bounds of society out of greed or need or love and now they’re caught with their foot in the trap. Of course he’ll take the case.

The Mystery
Violence and the threat of violence hang in the air. The Great Detective is discomfited; this hits closer to home. Heavy footfalls echo off the walls of the alleyways he turns down; a sleek black car hops the curb and brushes against the hem of his coat. His Archnemesis is playing for keeps this time; the game has grown suddenly serious. The client is killed or kidnapped or beaten into a coma; something horrific that takes them out of the story and raises the stakes.

The Solution
Too late for the client, but the Great Detective has put the pieces together, pulled back the lid on the city’s seamy underbelly, revealing an elaborate network of crime operating with the implied blessing of the police, the courts, the wealthy; so long as they limit their depredations to the poorer sort, it’s not worth interfering. The Great Detective calls in his Lestrade to bring down the crime ring.

The Escalation
The leaders of the crime ring all die in their cells. Suicide is a plague in the prisons, say the cops, and cough mockingly into their sleeves. A check arrives by mail; for services rendered says the memo.

The Resolution
The Great Detective keeps pushing; Lestrade takes a leave of absence. He holds His Archnemesis at gunpoint, I know it was you. His Archnemesis laughs; you think I could do this all on my own? Give me a name, says the Great Detective. A shot rings out; the window shatters; the smell of gas in the apartment.

When he wakes, there are flowers by his hospital bed, signed by the richest man in town. Best wishes, they say, for services rendered.

The Cook

The Great Detective sleeps on the third floor, and the Other Detective on the second, and the Cook sleeps in the basement. A quiet man, it suits him; the windows are high against the ceiling and the light is filtered through the murmur of the city streets. He goes up to the third floor every morning, carrying breakfast to the Great Detective on a tray, but he has not been to the fourth floor in years. He knows what lives up there, in careful, tidy rows, in rooms cool and moderate and torrid; there was a time he marinated in that glory, but not now. There was a time too when he burned like a bachelor’s souffle for the Great Detective, but not for years, and not now.

The Other Detective he sees most days, partners in commiseration, brother wives in a house where music seldom plays, in the kitchen or the office; not infrequently in his basement rooms that, like every other, are soundproofed and discreet. Old friends, they are casual with each other, with their names and their loves and their bodies. The cook does not cloister himself within the house — he is not eccentric in his genius — but nevertheless his mind has risen with the yeast of years to fit its shape.

He does not like crime, and will not talk about it. There is always another body, another rule broken, another flurry of activity to come, but such moments can only be measured against the quiet, unbroken, remorseless tender of his craft.

Jewel Heist

This is an image post. Inspiration for this sketch came from this image.

We are such masters of disguise, The Great Detective and His Archnemesis, that we can never be sure which is which and who is who. Sometimes we slink through opium dens, the very soul of corruption and dissolution, and sometimes we ghost our way through the salons and fêtes of the idle rich, our long-fingered hands delicate and soft.

Tonight we are hunting each other at the opera. The Great Detective is elegant in a long velvet gown, wig piled high on his head, the fabulous scarlet emerald of Agafnd flashing at his aristocratic throat. Poor Inspector Cramer, who of course has no idea who the beautiful lady is that he’s chaperoning, dances attendance, bulldog eyes locked on the many faucets of the scarlet emerald while The Great Detective flirts outrageously with him.

There’s a commotion during the intermission. The jewel of Agafnd has been stolen! The Inspector is beside himself — he never took his eyes off the rock, not for a second! The Great Detective laughs, low and thrillingly, and kisses his mortified cheek. “No one could have done more, my dear Cramer, but this was not a crime we were meant to prevent.”

And with that, The Great Detective is gone, leaving the Inspector thinking — and blushing! — furiously.


The Great Detective keeps his gun over the map of the city with all the little pins stuck into it. The pins have little flags on them with the secret special code he invented that tells him where the file on that crime is in his secret special file cabinets. Every Thursday he takes the gun down and disassembles it, makes sure everything is in perfect working order, that the one bullet is still in the chamber.

Every weekend he goes to the firing range and drills until he can put six bullets through the same hole in the paper target, until he can hit the same pockmark on the concrete wall each and every time, until all of this comes to him as naturally as breathing. The Great Detective knows he will get only one shot, that he can’t afford to miss.

He is alone one night, brooding over the most recent crimes of His Archnemesis, when there is a step in the hallway, one he knows better than his own. There is a hand on the latch — the door opens — the beloved voice calls his name — the Great Detective’s gun cracks, just once, and a body crumples to the floor with the soft easy grace of a dry leaf. The Great Detective stands watch as the borrowed shape of his brother dissolves back into twenty years of grave rot.

Locked Room Puzzle

”Oh, this ice is cold,” she said. “Here’s your drink, darling.”

That’s odd, thinks Encyclopedia Brown later. Of course the ice was cold.

We dress ourselves up as The Great Detective and His Archnemesis just for the heck of it and go out on the town, His Archnemesis committing the crimes and The Great Detective coming along behind and solving all of them, bang, so easy, how could you not see it, Lestrade? Like so:

Lestrade: Dash it all, The Great Detective –

The Great Detective: [jovially, expansively; he can afford it, Lestrade’s no threat to him] Oh, you’re so formal. Just ‘The Great’ is fine. We’re friends after all, aren’t we?

Lestrade: [doggedly] Dash it all, The Great, after all a man can’t be in two places at once. It’s a physical impossibility.

The Great Detective: Ah, but you’ve overlooked the minor detail of the mud in the chimney corner, which I (with my extensive knowledge of local soil) have Positively Identified as Foreign! So you see the second pair of boots could not have belonged to His Archnemesis. The rest you can figure out for yourself.

Lestrade slaps himself in the forehead, how could he have been so blind, I mean come on!

His Archnemesis: Curses!

The Great Detective delivers a monologue on the importance of brushing your teeth and not committing crimes (in pantomime).

His Archnemesis: No jail can hold me!

Which is unfortunately true.

Sometimes we switch off, and The Great Detective commits the crimes and His Archnemesis solves ‘em. Lestrade, (or is it Inspector Cramer? Lassiter? Well, never mind.) poor dope, never notices the difference, though his hands do twitch near his pistol whenever he sees us. We worry about him, he works so hard. He deserves a vacation. Maybe this time next year.