Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Consulting Detective - Amnesia, She Wrote

Written by Joe Pranevich

Dr. Watson has taken to finding cases in the paper.

Last time, we wrapped up Holmes’s first case of the game and now it’s time to start in on the second. This one begins like the first with Watson reading about an interesting case in the London Times. A “Society Burglar” has managed to rob seven different high-society households, each time taking only a single valuable piece of jewelry and leaving the rest untouched. There were no signs of a search; it was as if the burglar knew exactly where to look each time. The most recent burglary was a Cleopatra tiara at the home of Sir Sanford Leeds on July 2. Holmes seems interested, but then he and Watson are interrupted by another case.

A gentleman named Gerald Locke arrives at Baker Street and tells us about the murder of Guy Clarendon. That case seems straight-forward: three days ago, Guy was shot dead in his hotel room with a woman, Frances Nolan, found standing over his body with a gun in her hand. Despite the evidence against her, Gerald is certain that she did not do it and his request is for us to prove her innocent. This sounds pretty fun!

Are these two cases connected? Or is the “Society Burglar” just foreshadowing the third case in the game? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Gerald Locke protests his lady’s innocence.

Before the introduction is over, Gerald gives us more details about the case. He covers quite a lot of ground and already this case is more complex than our previous adventure:
  • Both Gerald and Guy had been courting Frances; they were rivals to her affection. It is because Gerald knows Frances so well that he is sure she could not have done the crime.
  • Frances and her sister Loretta are children of tragedy. When they were young children, their parents were killed when a bomb was thrown into their carriage. Loretta was also injured in the blast. The Nolans were not the intended target of the murderer, but it was a case of tragic mistaken identity.
  • The sisters are the heiresses to the Caverdine Navigation Company and are quite wealthy.
  • Guy Clarendon was a well-known individual, a batsman for the London cricket team and a ranked fencer. He also was a drinker and a gambler with a poor relationship with his father. 
  • The murder happened at Halliday’s hotel in London.
  • Frances Nolan is currently being held at the Old Bailey awaiting trial.
There is a lot more backstory to weed through than in our previous case, but what we have already suggests some things. Guy Clarendon might have had enemies, especially if he had gambling debts. Even Mr. Locke would have had a motive to kill Guy if they were both after the same woman, but would he really have been dumb enough to go to Sherlock Holmes if he had done the deed? The court is getting ready to throw the book at Frances and from the outside it does seem to be pretty open and shut. Standing above a murdered man while holding a gun does inspire a certain level of suspicion.

Just like last time, I check the papers first. This case is chronologically before the previous one, July 4, 1888, so there are far fewer issues of the paper to scan through. Even so, I don’t find any articles in the paper about Mr. Clarendon’s death. There are many articles about the Society Burglar, but none about the murder of a cricketeer in a local hotel. Who should we talk to first? Let’s try the prime suspect: Frances Nolan.

Did maids really wear that outfit?

Unfortunately, I “miss”. I go to the directory as usual and pick Frances Nolan, but Holmes and Watson visit her house instead of her cell in the Old Bailey. She’s not home, but we are able to learn quite a bit from talking with her maid.

We learn that on the evening of the 1st, Frances was visited by Dr. Trevelyan. He’s a regular guest and always leaves around 10:00 PM. After he left, Frances asked for her usual cup of hot cocoa and settled in to read in front of the fire. The light in her room went out around 11:30 PM. Sometime in the night, a noise woke up the maid, but it passed quickly and she went back to sleep. At 7:30 in the morning, she came downstairs to find that Frances had just left. She must have been in a hurry because she never leaves before breakfast. That was the last she saw of Ms. Nolan.

Are you sure you didn’t kill him?
While that detour gives us a pretty good timeline of the night before, I still want to talk over the case with the main suspect. This time, I pick “Old Bailey” from the directory. This is actually the first time when the video narration takes a slightly different form: Holmes speaks to a judge to request to talk to Ms. Nolan, we get a old-timey title card saying “moments later”, and then a scene with Frances in an interrogation room. It’s a small thing, but a nice break from the usual cinematography.

The judge tells us that a lawyer has agreed to take Ms. Nolan’s case, Wilfrid Robarts. I jot down that name for later. When we get to talk to Ms. Nolan, she claims that she cannot remember what happened that night. Her first memory is seeing Guy’s body across the room and realizing that the pistol was in her hand. She has no idea where she got the gun, but the police are sure that it is hers. She also had never been to Guy’s room at Halliday’s before and she did not even know that was where he was staying. She claims that she would never have shot him-- she loved him! The last thing she remembers from the previous night was meeting with Dr. Trevelyan, then hot cocoa and bed. She and the doctor have become close friends as her sister is under his care. Everything she says matches up with what we heard from the maid earlier.

If you squint, you can just make out a party.

Ms. Nolan explains that she met Guy at the country estate of Cornelius Goldwine back in March (about three months earlier). She and Loretta were attending a party, but her sister must have enjoyed the party a bit too much because she dived into a fountain and caught pneumonia. Frances did not manage to catch Guy’s eye at that party and he seemed more interested in Loretta than her. She must have made more of an impression than she thought because a few weeks later, he came to visit her. It’s been a dream ever since: long carriage rides and picnic lunches. On June 5, he declared his love for Frances and asked for her hand in marriage.

Holmes pushes Frances to discuss her memory loss and she reveals that she had two other periods of amnesia in the past month. The first time, she was having lunch with her sister and suddenly found herself on a horse in Hyde Park-- and she is afraid of horses! A few days later, she was meeting with Dr. Davenport, her solicitor, when suddenly she’s at the Newgate Street Station. She discussed the spells with her physician (Dr. Mason), but he doesn’t know what is going on either.

Before departing, Holmes asks her about her relationship to Mr. Locke. She claims that “Jerry” is a dear old friend, but they recently had a falling out. Gerald had said very unkind things about Guy and they are no longer on speaking terms.

Guy and Frances, in happier times.

That is a lot of information to take in! The key to this case is clearly the memory loss. She must have purchased the gun during one of the amnesia spells, but why? My first guess is that she is being drugged, probably by Loretta working together with Dr. Trevelyan. They both had the opportunity to administer a drug (Loretta at lunch and Dr. Trevelyan in her evening cocoa), although that doesn’t explain the period with her solicitor. The whole engagement also rings false to me; were Loretta and Guy conspiring together somehow and it went south? Why would Loretta want to kill Guy if he was secretly “her” beau, rather than her sister’s? This is quite a puzzle! I wonder if Loretta wouldn’t shed some light on all of this...

Suddenly, it’s like we’re in an Elvira game.

We pick the other Nolan sister out of the directory and find ourselves at Loretta’s house. She’s another odd duck, greeting Holmes in a very revealing costume and expecting him to show deference to her as if she was a queen. When questioned, she does not seem unhappy about recent events. She doesn’t show remorse for Guy’s death, although she calls him a “chum”, and even seems happy that “Ms. Right-and-Proper”, her name for her sister, is in trouble. She admits that she had danced with Guy at a recent party, but that was it. She is also sure that Guy would not have been interested in Frances, but perhaps her sister was deluding herself into thinking that he was. She claims that on the night of Guy’s death, Frances told her that she wanted to talk to him about “their future”.

Loretta doesn’t come off as a reliable narrator at all and I’m not sure I trust anything she’s saying. Her comments about Guy might hint at her own jealousy of her sister’s relationship, and perhaps even a motive to killing her sister’s fiancee. I am tempted to try to check out her story of the party to see if perhaps she did more than just “dance” with Guy, but I doubt that will buy me much. Even if she had the motive, she does not have the means to have drugged Frances. I can’t imagine that she has the medical know-how to do it, even if she had the drugs. My best next target then is Dr. Trevelyan.

Have I mentioned how “brown” this game is?

We next pay a visit to Dr. Percy Trevelyan, but that doesn’t go at all like I expect. He admits that he dined with Frances on the evening of July 1, just as they did every Sunday. Loretta has been his patient for some time, first with Mesmer-Braid Institute and later in private practice, and so he has been close to the Nolan family for years for years. He explains that Loretta never recovered from the trauma of watching her parents die. She is mentally ill and maintains delusions, including that her father was the king of England. “As a princess,” he says, “she believes she can do no wrong.” He believes that Loretta is incapable of being close to people, she cannot feel love for anyone.

Princess Loretta.

I leave my conversation with the doctor very confused. He seems like a nice guy and invested in the health of his patients, not at all the scheming person that he would need to be to drug Frances’s cocoa. Unlike the last case where we had a means but no motive, here we have the reverse. Loretta could very easily have wanted Guy dead and it seems that she would show no remorse if her sister was punished for it, but there’s no way that I see that she could have done the deed. Does she take drugs that might cause memory loss? I send some Irregulars to the Mesmer-Braid Institute, but it’s closed now and there’s no one to talk to. I’m at a dead end.

We have investigated two of Frances’s memory loss incidents, but we know that a third happened while she was with her solicitor. Did he see anything? It’s a thin lead, but I’ll take it: we head off for Mr. Davenport next.

My grandmother still calls couches “Davenports”. It’s a regional thing.

Mr. Davenport is a gray-haired fellow in a nice suit. He explains that he’s actually only Frances’s solicitor, not Loretta’s, so he doesn’t know much about her situation. Even so, he believes that Loretta is not in good financial health. He also tells us of an odd meeting with the two sisters several weeks ago. They were having a conference when he was pulled away suddenly for around twenty minutes. When he returned, Frances had a “weird look” in her eye, mumbled something, and then quickly left. Meeting over.

This means that Loretta was present at two of the three memory-loss incidents! If there was any doubt that she’s responsible somehow, it’s fading rapidly. Her motive for killing Guy could be simple jealousy, especially if he had secretly been her lover first.

Could Loretta’s financial situation be so dire that she needed to kill Clarendon to get additional money? Would she have been in his will, for some reason? Or would she somehow get Frances’s inheritance if she were to be imprisoned (or executed) for murder? I send an Irregular to Somerset House, but he returned with nothing of value to the case. The Nolan sisters received an equal share of their parents’ fortune, but we probably could have guessed as much. I had hoped to find out about Clarendon’s will, but there’s no way in this game to be specific about your line of questioning.

The guy that named his son Guy.

Just grasping at straws, I select in the directory to go to Guy’s father’s house, Sir Francis Clarendon. In retrospect, it’s probably for the best that Ms. Nolan did not marry Guy, otherwise we’d have all sorts of confusion between Francis Clarendon (his father) and Frances Clarendon (his wife). Or maybe that’s just me.

Guy’s father has nothing nice to say about his son. He was a “wastrel” and a “neerdowell”. A few weeks back, he had run out of money and his father gave him 5,000 pounds and the admonition that it would be the last cash that he would ever receive. His father had been upset that Guy had been wasting his life on gambling and galavanting with “the lovely” Loretta Nolan.

This throws a wrench in the works. Was Guy with Loretta or Frances? Was he playing the sisters off of each other? Was he with Loretta first? Was his decision to pair up with Frances just some ruse to get access to her money? It could be any of those things, but none of them explain why Loretta would have wanted Guy dead, especially if they had been in on the conspiracy together. The pieces are not falling into place yet.

Maybe he just fell down the stairs. 

As Holmes is leaving, the family butler approaches with some additional information. Around four or five weeks ago, he had heard a noise downstairs one morning. He ran down to find Guy had been attacked and badly beaten. Guy seemed afraid for his life, but refused to tell the butler who attacked him or why. Is this a false lead? This sounds like it connects to Guy’s gambling debts, but we don’t have any connection from them to the Nolan sisters. I suppose Loretta could have lent him money, but we know she’s not in good financial health either. Could he have been courting Francis only so that he could marry her and get access to her money?

Here is my theory: Frances really did kill Guy. She had the gun and she was found next to his body and those kinds of details are difficult (but not impossible) to fake. Loretta has been drugging her sister with something that is both causing amnesia and also causing her to act out of character. While on this drug, she rode a horse, she bought a gun, and she may have killed Guy Clarendon. At some point, Frances learned the truth about Guy, that he was just courting her to get access to her money to help pay down his gambling debts. The next time she was drugged, Frances got angry, sought him out, and killed him. Loretta probably didn’t want Guy dead necessarily, but it’s not exactly a bad outcome for her either.

That’s not a great story, but it’s the best that I have. We don’t know how the drug is administered or where Loretta is getting it, but it’s pretty clear that she’s a key part. She knows that Frances does out-of-character things while under the influence and is setting her off like a game of Russian roulette. Even so, there are pieces missing. We don’t know for sure how Frances would even get Guy’s address at the hotel. I’m not fully satisfied, but all we can do is take it to the judge.

You again.

And… no dice. The judge won’t even let me select a murderer this time, only saying that we need to find more clues first. Am I even on the right track? This case is proving to be a tough one. This seems like as good a place as any to break. Will I be able to solve this next week?

Time played: 1 hr 10 min
Total time: 4 hr 35 min

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. Humble Sierra Bundle: https://www.humblebundle.com/sierra-bundle

    Good time to stock up on those classic adventure games ready to play along over the next few years!

    1. Between GOG, Steam and physical boxes, I own almost all of the adventure games in that bundle. But I'm going to buy the lot just for the Quest for Glory collection and the new King's Quest. I think I'm a bundle-holic.

      Also, I'm refusing to read this post until I've won this case myself :)

  2. I don´t think that Dr. Trevelyan could have poisoned the cocoa of Frances. Wasn´t it prepared afterwards by her maid? Or am I mistaken?

    1. I think you may be right! I was just stuck on him since he was the last person that interacted with her before her spell.

  3. The sisters look enough alike that I imagine there's probably going to be an instance of one of them masquerading as the other at some point in the solution.

    Locke seems like the only other person mentioned that you haven't looked into, so maybe see if there's anything more to do with him? Or see if there's some way you can follow up on Guy's gambling debts, do you have any underworld contacts?

    1. That may be true of the actresses, but in point of fact the game reminds you over and over again that Frances looks "homely" and "unattractive" and Loretta is a bombshell that everyone wants to be with. I don't think it's portrayed very well on screen, but that's what comes out of dialog.

      The trick with Mr. Locke is that he's the one that went to Holmes. Could anyone be that stupid to print to Holmes's attention a case when you're the one that did it? Especially when Holmes would not otherwise get involved because it appeared so open-and-shut?

    2. Joe, it's one of the oldest tricks in the book to start a murder investigation just to lure the suspicion away from you. It works even better if you are the supposedly intended victim of the homicide. Would it work in the real life? No, but murder mystery plots often hinge on the most unconvincing and still strictly logical turns of events.

    3. I know... but its HOLMES. He lives for tricks like that. But you might have a point!

    4. There's at least one case in Conan Doyle's canon where the murderer did indeed go to Holmes, to draw off suspicions ("it can't be him, he went to the Police and *even* Sherlock Holmes!").

    5. If they make a repeated point of the fact that one is "homely" and the other one is super attractive, then there's _definitely_ going to be an identity switch. :P

    6. Regarding identical twin cases, the most logical solution is that the imprisoned sister was drugged out of action and then the murder was done by the other one. If she hadn't been imprisoned I would have gone with a split-personality case a la Two-Face, but since she is under constant watch it would be hard to get out and "change personality". Another popular idea is that you don't know about a twin and usually those are the murderer since they could be in two places at the same time.

      Really, first paragraph and I wondered if not the wild sister would be the "Society burglar" and the nice one would cover up for her, of course being arrested usually isn't part of the plan.

      Or it might be the mysterious box from the last episode that is back with a vengeance:)

    7. The tricky thing is that Frances was found at the scene of the crime with a gun in her hand. That makes the switch much harder to pull off.

      But I like the Two-Face theory: Frances did the deed, but Loretta drugged her so that she would act other than her usual self. If she suspected that Guy wasn't being straight-up with her, she had a motive to kill him that he normal self wouldn't remember.

      (Have you seen Dragonball? There's a character in that series named Lunch (or "Launch") who alternates between a good and an evil-ish version every time she sneezes...)

    8. She may have been found at the scene of the crime, but did anyone see her committing the crime? ;)

      Actually never seen Dragonball (other than the bridge series of Dragonball Z), but I have been playing Tokyo Mirage Sessions for the Wii U where they had a subplot of a TV-series of a girl detective (of all things) with that kind of premise. So thanks for enlighten me on what might have inspired it.

    9. Yeah, that Sneeze Detective chapter is something else, isn't it? I love TMS#FE possibly despite itself or possibly because it's insane.

      One of the best combat systems I've enjoyed in a long time though!

    10. @Mark E
      Yes, great combat system and the music goes from awesome to guilty pleasure cheesy. I still can't get some of the songs out of my head.

    11. First game from Atlus where I didn't order the special edition, so naturally it's the one where I most wanted the soundtrack CD...

  4. I played this case in the board game version and it actually turned me off the game. The solution is idiotic as all get out and based on some incredibly shoddy science.

    I went back to it, but it's utterly insipid.

    1. Thus far, I'm enjoying this case. But I've played a bit ahead of where I've written and I think you and I may have some similar frustrations. Tune-in in a couple of days and I'll wrap this one up.

    2. Which edition of the board game? Apparently this is another case where the solution was changed between the original and the republished versions.

    3. Why did they change all the solutions? Did they feel the original was wrong? Or it just needed to be freshened up and adding an unexpected plot twist for players of the original was the cheapest way to do it?

    4. Not all solutions were changed, as I understand it - it just so happens that the two cases you've played so far are two where the solutions were changed. I'm not sure why some were, although given that one of the ones changed was the Mummy solution (and particularly the aspect that we discussed as weakest last time - the fact that Travis had little, or very obscure, motive for the murder of the first victim, which was changed by Travis not being his killer), I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that the intention was to "improve" the game experience. Not so much that the original was "wrong," but that a more satisfying solution existed. Whether they accomplished that goal or not - jury's still out (and we're on it).

    5. It's actually the original edition - I got it off eBay a million years ago (or a decade, close enough). I'd love to find they changed this one in the new version, it really is a weak mystery.

      I could have handled the drug solution; instead it comes off more like something out of bad 80's TV.

  5. Since you commented on it in the post, thought I'd mention that there's one place where you wrote Francis but must have meant Frances. "Could he have been courting Francis..." Unlikely! :)

    1. Argh. You are right. I'll try to fix it later. This game is frustrating with the similar names at times. Fortunately, you were able to work it out from context. ;)

  6. Hey guys, I need some help. I want to play ONE of the cases in the board game/gamebook so that I can see how it works. I'll look at the solution for the cases that I already solved as well, but I want to play one game straight if I can.

    There are 10 cases in the original "Consulting Detective" game, nine of which were adapted into this series. (There were more cases in expansion packs and had ICOM continued with the series, they would have had little problem getting more.)

    Can someone tell me which of the 10 is not adapted into any of the games? Some of the titles have changed and I'm trying to avoid spoilers so I don't want to peek at plot outlines.

    Is there any reason that was not adapted? Does it suck or is it a good case for me to do as a one-off? My thought is I will play it after I finish the third case and comment on it as part of the Final Rating or as a bonus post. Thanks!

    1. The republished edition has the following case names:

      1. The Munitions Magnate
      2. The Tin Soldier
      3. The Mystified Murderess
      4. The Lionized Lions
      5. The Cryptic Corpse
      6. The Mummy's Curse
      7. The Banker's Quietus
      8. The Thames Murders
      9. The Solicitous Solicitor
      10. The Pilfered Paintings

      According to Wikipedia, the ICOM games use the following cases:

      Vol. I
      - The Mummy's Curse
      - The Tin Soldier
      - The Mystified Murderess

      Vol. II
      - The Two Lions
      - The Pilfered Paintings
      - The Murdered Munitions Magnate

      Vol. III
      - The Solicitous Solicitor
      - The Banker's Final Debt
      - The Thames Murders

      I've confirmed from matching up descriptions with the hard copies I have that "The Lionized Lions" = "The Two Lions," and "The Banker's Quietus" = "The Banker's Final Debt."

      So, the one you want to play in hard copy, which hasn't appeared in the ICOM games, is "The Cryptic Corpse." I can't say (yet) why it wasn't adapted, although I note from a very quick glance at the case materials that there seems to be an actual cipher involved, which perhaps would have complicated things from a video gameplay perspective.

      I'll give it a shot in hard copy and see how it goes. I do love me a good cipher.

    2. However, I would advice against playing them out of order. The board game has every case to happen chronologically. The first one happens before the second one, and the second one before the third one. This is important because in some cases you have to read papers from previous dates (and cases) and in some of them you can find news regarding the solving of a previous case (although that doesn't happen too often to be honest)

    3. The video game already have him going out of order. It started him with case 6, moved "back" to case 3, and next will be giving him case 2.

      I've since played through cases 1, 4, and 5 in hard copy. I didn't see anything in the papers for cases 1 through 5 that were spoilers to the solutions of cases 1 or 4. If he plays case 5 in hard copy after completing ICOM vol. 1, I think he'll be fine.

  7. Reading more online, it appears the general consensus that, out of the 10 cases in the original game, the Mummy case and this Mystified Murderess case are the two weakest. Which boggles the mind why ICOM chose those two to start the series.

    1. Yeah, I think this game got by on its FMV back in the day. I haven't played the TG-16 version, but I would say that JB Harold's Murder Club is the better mystery, even though it is totally on rails and lets you try everything until you succeed bit by bit.

      The wonderful Famicom Detective Club remake for SNES succeeds with the same limitations.

      The Sherlock Holmes titles are more Encyclopedia Brown than Holmes, for my money. Heck, the brilliant Case of the Serrated Scalpel is a better game in this quite specific genre.

    2. Serrated Scalpel is possibly the best Sherlock Holmes adventure game ever made. I hope it scores higher in 1992 than, say, Fate of Atlantis (which I find overrated). The only other one that is a serious contender is IMO Crimes & Punishments, but the Frogwares games generally don't have as good and sophisticated writing as the Lost Files series.

  8. Finished the case, with 475 points. I had already gathered almost all necessary information but had to waste maybe 100-150 points on the tnzoyvat-eryngrq vasbezngvba.

    I hate it when I think I'm ready to solve the case but the judge is all "LOLNOPE".

    1. Completed the third case too, with 375 points. Got stuck for a bit because I missed the info on Cevaprff Gurnger.

    2. Nice! Make sure to come back in a few weeks when I post about it. We're so leisurely here...

      (Seriously, it takes me more time to write the posts than to play the game.)

    3. I just played this case myself and I share your frustration with the judge not even letting me try. I actually had the right killer, motive and method fairly early on but I had to spend a lot of time (and points) sorting out less important things.

  9. More help, please!

    Does anyone have the 1991 edition of this game? I've been playing a 1994 re-release.

    I believe the only difference is the addition of "VCR-like" controls to pause and rewind the videos. But if anyone has an original copy, can you please check that for me?

    I have a couple of weeks before I'll be ready to do a final rating, but this has been bugging me.

    1. This longplay states that it's version 1.0, at 35 seconds in.


  10. "Holmes speaks to a judge to request to talk to Ms. Nolan..."

    Actually it isn't a judge, it's Edward Hall, a barrister and one of your Regulars.

    I don't know this because I'm particularly clever or anything, I just got the same conversation by clicking on his name in the "Regulars' section.