Written by Joe Pranevich
|Is this the face of a murderer?|
Last week, we were trying to solve the case of the “Mystified Murderess”, a woman who awoke from amnesia to find that she had apparently killed her fiance. We’ve been asked to prove her innocence. That’s not going to be easy! I think I have it figured out that her sister arranged the murder (at least indirectly) but not how she carried it out.
Just a reminder, here are our dramatis personae
- Frances Nolan - Our “murderess”. She seems like a nice lady, was in love with Guy Clarendon (the victim), and is currently locked up in the Old Bailey awaiting trial. She’s an heiress to the Caverdine fortune.
- Loretta Nolan - Frances’s sister. As a young girl, she witnessed the murder of her parents and has been wrong in the head ever since. She thinks that she is a princess and her doctor believes that she is “incapable of love”. She seems to be our best suspect, but I have no idea how should could have accomplished it. She is also an heir of the Caverdine fortune but may have squandered much of her wealth.
- Guy Clarendon - The victim. He was a well-known athlete for a London cricket team but had gambling and drinking problems. He was dispossessed by his father recently and may have run up gambling debts. At the time of his death, he was engaged to Frances, but we found evidence that he was secretly with Loretta instead.
- Gerald Locke - A suitor for Frances’s hand and the one that brought the case to Holmes. He has plenty of motive to kill Guy, but then why take the case to the world’s greatest detective?
- Dr. Trevelyan - Loretta’s doctor, first at the Mesmer-Braid Institute and now in private practice. He’s known the Nolans for years and is good friends with Frances. He was also the last person to see her before she apparently went off to kill Guy. He could be working with Loretta, but he doesn’t seem like the murdering type.
We still also have a “Society Burglar” at large but have found no connections from him to the current case. Got all that? Let’s continue!
|A perfectly legitimate business meeting.|
Between this post and last, I took a breather from the case for a few days, to let it percolate in my head. I had been concentrating very hard on the “how” and not as much on the “why” of this case. Loretta has no known motive to kill guy, with the possible exception of a love triangle gone bad. Frances might have a motive if she discovered that Guy was cheating on her with her sister, but as far as we know she still thinks him a saint. I want to start today by focusing on who would want to kill Guy and hope that a means falls from that as well. Would Porky Shinwell know of Guy’s gambling debts? (He’s my “Regular” that keeps tabs on the underworld.) Let’s start there.
I select for Holmes to pay Porky a visit and he knows about Guy! He was a regular at Kilgore’s gaming parlor but would stop by Porky’s bar on the way with his “lady friend”. (Porky doesn’t let us know if that was Frances, Loretta, or someone else entirely.) Guy had at one point gone £7,000 into debt with Kilgore, even being roughed up over it by Gus Bollocks, Kilgore’s hired muscle. A month later, Porky tells us, Guy and Kilgore were suddenly the best of friends again. Guy must have paid the money back. How? Guy had also been seen with Calvin Leach, a known dealer in stolen goods. Porky claims that Leach was a “square dealer” who always paid out the fair value of the items fenced with a 50% commission. Guy, Kilgore, and Leach continued to meet regularly until Guy’s death. I’m a bit suspicious about how Porky knows so much about the comings and goings of folks at a casino down the road, but I assume his information can be trusted.
|Porky gives us the scoop.|
This drops a major puzzle piece into place: Guy Clarendon might be the Society Burglar! We know that Guy didn’t get enough money from his father to cover the debt and the burglaries start up at the right time. Could Guy be courting the Nolan sisters just to find out where their treasures are hidden? Even the switch from Loretta to Frances makes sense in that light as he realized which sister had the most wealth. We still don’t know how he found out exactly the location of each key item without searching, but we can guess he had access to the homes ahead of time. Unfortunately, this answers almost nothing for the case we are trying to solve. We now have more people with a motive to kill Guy but no idea how someone could use Frances (and mysterious amnesia) to do it.
I make my next stop Kilgore’s gaming house, but all he does is confirm that Guy was a visitor. He feigns ignorance of Calvin Leach, as you might expect. I visit Calvin after that and he claims to have never heard of Gus at all. Maybe talking to the underworld is not the best way to really learn what is going on...
|I can’t believe I forgot to go to the scene of the crime.|
I just realized that I have never visited the scene of the crime! How could I forget that? I select to head to Halliday’s Private Hotel. Holmes chats up a porter there and we learn a ton of stuff: Clarendon stayed there starting on the 29th of May, initially in a front room on the third floor. Two days later, he asked to be moved to room 205, one floor down. That was the same day that Guy was visited by a large guy with a walrus mustache and a scar down his cheek. We also learn that he was regularly visited by a woman with a distinctive laugh. That has to be Loretta! The hotel doors lock at 10:00 PM and anyone after that would have had to have been let in by the night staff, but Guy was always in his room before the curfew.
Homes pushes for details about the day of the murder and we learn that a woman entered around 9 AM. She knew exactly where to go; she didn’t pause for even a moment to look around. Less than a minute later, the porter heard a bang and a scream. He raced in to discover Frances laying in the center of the room with a pistol in her hand and Guy Clarendon dead. When she came to, she was totally disoriented. She did not know where she was or what had happened.
|Jinkies! A clue!|
Holmes and Watson are then taken up to see the room firsthand. Holmes discovers a discarded bank statement showing a series of deposits and withdraws, but I honestly can’t make heads or tails of it. Does it make sense to any of you? It looks to me like Guy kept removing money and putting it back again a day or so later, but the formatting is odd and the lines aren’t in chronological order. Maybe I don’t know how to read one of these things? They also find blood and sherry stains in the room, black clothing, and stained black canvas shoes. There is no doubt now that Guy was the Society Burglar! There’s even a trellis that he can climb to get into and out of the room at night without being spotted. I wish I had thought to visit the crime scene earlier, but I still do not know how someone used Frances to kill him.
|You, sir, are very scary. Good day!|
I search through my notes for passed-over leads:
- Gus Bollocks, the muscle that roughed up Guy, doesn’t want to talk to Watson and has him fleeing in terror. He had the scars to match the porter’s description but is otherwise a dead end.
- Otis Richmond hosted the party where Loretta and Guy danced together, but he tells us nothing about the party. Instead, we learn that he was robbed by the Society Burglar! That reinforces that Guy could have gone to the party just to case the joint.
|Does anyone know a conversion calculator to put these in modern dollars?|
Since Mr. Richmond was one of the Burglar’s victims, does it make sense to look at some of his other targets? The newspaper lists all seven known crimes. I try the first and last of them, Roger Baker and Sir Sanford Leeds, but neither add much. Both stress that the burglar knew exactly where to look and did not disturb anything other than his target. Sanford tells me that his wife was last wearing the tiara at a party. Guy was there and spilled champagne down her gown, forcing her to leave the party early. A few days later, the tiara was stolen from its hiding place amongst her undergarments. Did he spy on her putting it away? Is there a clue hidden here? How would Guy have known where to look? I thought that he had been seducing his victims, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I don’t see the trick. Somehow, Guy has the power to find valuable objects without looking, while someone else has the power to send amnesiac women out to kill people. I’m missing something key.
|Magnetism? Mesmerism? I am so confused.|
I search the newspaper again and find a potential clue: it has an ad for a show about “mesmerism” and mentions Milo de Meyer as an expert on the topic. Is it a coincidence that Loretta and Dr. Trevelyan were both at the Mesmer-Braid Institute? I seek him out, but he’s not home. And what does it mean to “magnetize” someone? It sounds like a levitation act.
I work my way down a few more stray leads:
- Murray, the police chemist, tells us about Guy’s gunshot wound. It was a close range shot, but the red on his shirt was not all blood: it was a “inferior quality red” wine. Guy is now a drunk with poor taste instead of just being a drunk.
- Meeks, the chief medical examiner, tells us that the body was recovered at 1 PM and had been dead for between four and ten hours. Since we know that Guy was killed shortly after 9 AM, this matches up.
- Dr. Mason, Frances’s doctor, tells me that he found nothing wrong with her after her first bouts of amnesia. His first thought had been a bump on the head, but her condition is a “complete mystery” to him.
- Gerald Locke, the suitor that brought this case to us, can be visited a second time for more information but does not add much. He was playing at a cribbage tournament at the time of the murder. How delightfully boring!
- I also rewatch Loretta’s video and notice that for part of our conversation she is wearing a tiara! Is it the same one that was stolen or just another piece of her princess cosplay?
|Is that a tiara I see before me?|
No one that I have talked to have mentioned an amnesia drug. I felt sure that was it, but now I’m not so sure. I’m missing something, but I interviewed every doctor that has been mentioned in the case.
Since I’m at the bottom of the barrel, I turn to the only person less likely to have figured this out than me: Lestrade of Scotland Yard. He tells me that he is sure of Frances’s guilt because she went to Guy’s room directly as if she knew where it was and that they found a receipt for the purchase of the gun with her name on it. The firearm was purchased from “S. Goff”, a dealer in such things. Holy heck! Lestrade was useful!
|In America we have a name for places like this: Walmart.|
We head to the shop and interview the owner. Almost immediately, we discover the deception: Loretta purchased the gun, not Frances. She even signed the receipt in her name. That answers a lot! But why would Loretta turn on Guy? If she could get Frances to kill her fiancé, why did she need to buy the gun herself? And how did she do any of that? I’m frustrated. I know a great deal yet the pieces don’t fit together.
Just to see what happens, I click to go to the judge. I don’t have everything, but maybe I have enough. And I do!
|Officer, I thought the gun was fake! I swear!|
The judge first asks who killed Guy Clarendon. This seems like a trick question but since Loretta was pulling the strings, I’ll select her. And I’m right! The motive is more difficult.
Since Loretta didn’t pull the trigger herself, we can discount the first option. This was not a “joke”. I see no reason Guy would have named Loretta in his will, nor did he have had enough money to make it worth it. We also got the hint from her doctor that Loretta was incapable of romantic feelings, so I doubt she was in love with Guy. That leaves only two options: jealousy or the tiara. I pick jealousy and am ushered out of the courtroom in disgrace. No! I play again and select the tiara and that is correct. Really? She killed him over a tiara? How did she know he had one to steal? If they were chums, couldn’t she just have asked for it?
|Umm. I don’t know?|
The judge asks us why Frances went to Halliday’s. This one is tough too. It’s not about Dr. Mason or the elder Clarendon. The idea that Frances wanted to tell Guy that she loved him is a bit pointless as they were engaged. That leaves two options: hypnotism and Loretta prompting her. Seriously? It does make some sense. I had been looking for a drug, but if Loretta could hypnotize her sister to make her do things… in a video game… where the laws of reality don’t apply… it could work. Right? I pick it and am correct! It violates my suspension of disbelief, but it works!
|Double dog dare.|
The judge is all set to let us thrill in our victory before Holmes offers up that he actually solved a second crime as well: the Society Burglar. I select that it was Guy Clarendon and that’s correct, but then we have to come up with a motive. We can quickly eliminate several options: Leach was a dealer in stolen goods but not someone to lend money. Doing it on a dare is ridiculous. Guy also wasn’t an accomplice of Gus, especially after the beatdown that he was given. We have two almost identical options left: because he owed money to Kilgore or because his father cut him off. They seem like two sides of the same coin. I select Kilgore, but that’s wrong and I have to start over again and pick that his father cut him off. I suppose that Kilgore forced him into a corner, but he didn’t specifically cause him to do burglary. Couldn’t the same be said of the other option? It doesn’t matter because we won!
|This is an improvement!|
I’m not completely happy about this "win". I didn’t work out that Frances was hypnotized and I’m still not sure it makes sense. I can see the clues all there in retrospect, especially the “Mesmer” institute, but it didn’t even occur to me. On the bright side, this is also less than half of my last score! Watson still makes fun of me but on the whole a big improvement.
|Holmes discusses the case while dabbling in chemistry.|
As before, Holmes explains how he solved the two cases. He starts with the “Society Burglar”:
- Guy was £7000 in debt to Kilgore but his father would only give him £5000. What was he going to do?
- Kilgore sent Gus Bollock to rough Guy up at his father’s house. That’s why he moved into Halliday's. To repay the rest of the debt, he turned to burglary.
- Guy picked victims whose homes he had visited often as a member of the upper class.
- He changed rooms at Halliday’s to allow for a stealthier entrance and exit.
- On June 1, Bollock tracked Guy down and confronted him in the hotel lobby. He gave the enforcer the £5000 from his father then launched his burglary career that night to get the rest.
- Holmes knew that Guy had seen Calvin Leech and that he takes a 50% share. When you add up the values of the first three burglaries and divide by two, that equals exactly £2000.
- The bank statement-- which I still do not understand-- shows that Guy made deposits after each successful job.
- Even after he paid off his debt, Guy continued thieving. He would have been able to keep at it longer if he hadn’t stolen the tiara.
Holmes transitions to talking about Loretta next, but I want to pause for a second. I had figured out most of these things but did not stitch them together as well. I doubt that Clarendon would get the exact amount that he needed and not a penny more in three heists, but it’s just convenient math. The story of Guy’s fall into crime makes sense even if Holmes doesn’t explain how he was able to find the treasures so quickly in every case. Presumably, he had not previously been in all of the ladies’ bedrooms. (Some were married!)
|I saw this in Willy Beamish once.|
As for Loretta, Holmes explains:
- Loretta’s delusion that she was of royal blood made the tiara a must-have item for her.
- She bought the gun in Frances’s name then snuck into Guy’s room via the trellis.
- When Guy returned from his evening out, he and Loretta drank two glasses of red wine together. She then shot him and took the tiara.
- She sought out Frances at home and hypnotized her to go to Guy’s room and fire the gun into the ceiling. This would implicate Frances in the shooting.
Holmes then says that he has no evidence for the rest, but he believes that Loretta and Guy were working together the whole time. She hypnotized the society ladies to reveal the locations of their jewels and gave that information to Guy to do the heavy lifting.
|Watson doesn’t seem too happy with this solution either.|
This leaves me with more questions than answers. If Loretta and Guy were working together, why did she need to kill him for the tiara? Couldn’t she have just asked for it? Stolen it herself? Hypnotized him to give it to her? There are so many reasons why she wouldn’t need to murder him especially when she had so much incentive to keep him and their crime spree alive. She’s a psychopath, but that’s just stupid. If she could hypnotize her sister and other people, that opens up a bunch of possibilities. She didn’t need a burglar if she could get the ladies to turn over their valuables over tea! And why would Frances shoot in the air? The bullet in the ceiling would be easily recoverable, not to mention just more straightforward to shoot the guy you are there to shoot. She could have used this power in so many more creative ways. Once you add something like hypnotism, you have to wonder why would she go through all of these steps just to frame her sister. There were a hundred better ways and I wish that it had worked out differently. Let’s see how I feel about this in a couple of weeks when the final rating comes out, but right now... meh.
|“One tin soldier rides away…”|
Up next: Is it our third murder plot? What ever happened to extortion, kidnapping, or grand theft?
: 1 hr 20 min
5 hr 55 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!
Once I saw mesmerism mentioned I immediately made the connection to hypnotism.ReplyDelete
You are a brighter man than I, apparently. I really had a blind spot for those references-- and even when I did notice them, I didn't put two and two together that it was the solution. I blame my own "suspension of disbelief" as I could not expect that we'd get a pseudo-science explanation in an otherwise real-world story.Delete
I'm surprised you weren't able to speak with Milo de Meyer (the mesmerist mentioned in the newspaper). In at least the republished board game version, you CAN speak to de Meyer and he explains a lot about the "ground rules" of mesmerism and what is and isn't possible via its use. Importantly, it's not possible to mesmerize someone into doing something actually morally repugnant to them. (In other words, Frances couldn't be mesmerized into ACTUALLY shooting Guy.)Delete
Query whether a "short-term amnesia drug" (is there even such a thing?) is any less pseudo-sciency than mesmerism/hypnotism. Mesmerism/hypnotism is at least more in line with beliefs of the time period. Also, this isn't the first Holmes "adaptation" to make use of it. I don't recall it showing up in any of the Conan Doyle stories though.
The other "adaptation" I mention above - which reference Blogger apparently ate - is The Woman in Green, a 1945 Basil Rathbone film.Delete
You can't meet with de Meyer in an obvious way, but perhaps I missed something. That would have been helpful.Delete
There ARE real-life short-term amnesia drugs, but I don't think they work in quite this way. (I had shoulder surgery once where I was conscious but they gave me a drug so that I couldn't make long-term memories. Most freaky thing that has ever happened to me.) I think I was imagining something like a "Jeckyll and Heyd" which while pseudoscience, was period-appropriate pseudoscience. But either way, I was grasping at straws that I didn't like.
The reason that I dismissed the "Frances couldn't be hypnotized to shoot someone" argument with the drug was that she states that she rode a horse during one one her spells, despite being afraid of horses. That says to me that whatever the cause could force you to do things you normally wouldn't do. (But kill someone? I agree that's a bit much. But shoot the ceiling in an occupied hotel? That's fine.)
Apparently you can't find de Meyer in the directory - presumably because he's not a London resident. Instead, you have to go to the theatre where he's performing (as noted in the news article), and can speak with him backstage.Delete
Checking on Milo de Meyer-- he IS in the directory, but you get a message that we've wasted Holmes's time by going there. He's supposed to be at Prince's Hall, but THAT isn't in the directory.Delete
Where did you go to find him? If he's in there and I missed him, that changes a lot of my view on this case in terms of solvability.
Maybe he's only added in the republished board game? In that, the news article says he's performing at the Olympia, and you can go directly to the Olympia and speak to him there.Delete
Is Piccadilly or Piccadilly Circus in the directory?
Neither Piccadilly nor Piccadilly Circus are in the directory.Delete
He might even be in the original game as well. I do not know how close of an adaptation they made of the original so perhaps some clues were lost in translation.
Not specific to Milo de Meyer, but here's another item related to sussing out the importance of hypnosis to this case: in the republished game, if you consult with Lomax at the London Library (one of Holmes' "allies"), he provides information about the Mesmer-Braid Institute and its link to hypnosis. Again, I can't say whether that lead is present in the original game.Delete
If you consult Holmes's files about the Mesmer-Braid Institute, you can also get a message about how they were studying hypnotism. But I didn't regularly check Holmes's files so missed this while I was playing.Delete
>What ever happened to extortion, kidnapping, or grand theft?ReplyDelete
The original Sherlock Holmes stories were a lot more varied, they weren't Always Murder.
Magnetism is a rather fun word, at face value one would suspect it's about magnets, but I recall a Phantom-comic taking place in the 19th century that used the word. Apparently people believed you could cure diseases that way so this one guy tries it when "modern" medicine failed to save a sick kid, that sick kid didn't get better and the magnetist got run out of town and swore vengeance. But a question, why didn't anyone hear the first shot that killed Guy? And a rather risky plot to wait for Frances to arrive before the body was found.ReplyDelete
And Tin Soildier? Oh, are we getting a Small Faces song or the Uriah Heep cover?
Aha! You have a fantastic point: why didn't anyone hear the first shot? I was so unhappy about the hypnotism aspect of the solution that I fully didn't notice this plot hole as well.Delete
And it IS a hole. The medical examiner gave us details of the fatal bullet bound so we know he was killed that way.
The coroner said Guy was killed between 4 and 10 hours before his body was recovered at 1 pm. So, between 3 am and 9 am. As I understand it, Loretta shot Guy much earlier - 3 am - at which time everyone in the hotel was asleep. At 9 am, people were awake to hear a gunshot, and more importantly Frances's scream (Loretta didn't scream for obvious reasons). In the board game version (at least the republished version), the witnesses make a point of the scream being much louder than the shot.Delete
I don't get that she could have shot him in the middle of the night but no one noticed, but I guess that has to be the reason. I can't imagine Victorian firearms were quiet, but I'm not an expert.Delete
I guess ballistics isn't advanced enough at this point to be able to tell that the shot fired into the ceiling by Frances (if they even found it??) was fired far later than the shot that killed Guy. Still, it's a very sloppy solution. Surely someone else was awake at 3am in a hotel?Delete
Again based on the republished version, the witnesses at the hotel report hearing a scream - most don't hear a shot - and the only one who does is the porter who was awake and working at 9 and heard a "faint bang" followed by a piercing scream. The gun used by the murderer is supposed to be the same type of small-caliber gun as Frances had, so the idea is that the actual gunshot would have been similarly quiet.Delete
When you visited the crime scene, did your characters observe plaster on the ground? That's in the republished version and a clue to there being a gunshot in the ceiling. Why the existence of such plaster doesn't prompt your characters to look up and see the bullet hole directly remains a mystery.
I just re-watched this portion. The porter reports hearing both the shot and the scream and there's nothing to suggest it was muffled. Holmes and Watson also fail to notice plaster on the ground. When they search the room, they find only blood and stains from "a fine sherry" on the floor.Delete
I have a feeling the plaster was left on the cutting room floor, if it was in this version at all.
Seems like a lot of the changes made to this case in the republished version were for the better. Unfortunately the change process wasn't perfect - at least one major clue (and arguably one minor clue) that should have been changed was inadvertently left "as is," thus still pointing to Loretta as the killer. Though I've also seen reports that the republished version will be getting a new printing in the near future, hopefully with those errors (and some issues with the Mummy case changes) rectified.Delete
I do recall someone saying they woke in the middle of the night to a noise but then went back to sleep, but I listened to the hotel guy's speech again and it wasn't him. So it was either something unrelated or something that I remembered incorrectly.Delete
I also never noticed Guy'd been killed earlier until Holmes mentioned it at the end. I assumed Frances did the killing at 9am under the influence.
The person that said that she woke to a noise in the middle of the night was Francis's maid, not at the hotel.Delete
The person that said that she woke to a noise in the middle of the night was Francis's maid, not at the hotel.Delete
Thanks, Joe. That's what happens when a detective doesn't take notes. I take 2 unrelated comments and link them incorrectly!Delete
Good news: I played The Tin Soldier in board game version, and I think you'll find it much more satisfying than either of the other two cases you've done so far. I know I did.ReplyDelete
And your issues with Loretta's motive were apparently keenly felt by the republishers as they changed the killer in this case (and removed the S. Goff firearm lead). The mesmerism/hypnotism angle is still present.
I've no idea what's going on with the bank statement. The version shown in the board game is vastly clearer. It shows a withdrawal of 5,000 pounds on June 1, which matches up with Guy's paying off the first 5,000 pounds of his debt (using the money given by his father); and then deposits made later on June after each of the Society Burglar's thefts (after Guy had finished paying off the remaining 2,000 pounds of his gambling debt).ReplyDelete
Even in this version, the first amount is the 5000 he paid off first, and then the transactions resume later and correspond to the later burglaries. But it's horribly confusing as written, and anyway the later deposits are each two days after the corresponding burglary, so until you're aware of the connection, you're probably not going to notice. I don't know what they were thinking there.Delete
While reading through this post, I made the connection that the deposits/withdrawals added up to $7000, which is exactly the 50% that the fence would have paid for the $14000 of jewels that the newspaper reported stolen, so that certainly solidified for me that Guy was the Society Burglar. I did not make the connection that the $5000 withdrawal was the money he got from his father, though, and that he was using the proceeds from the robbery to "pay himself back."Delete
That mesmerism angle though....vomit.
Does anyone (other than me) have the original gamebook/boardgame? I'd be interested in someone trolling through to compare notes whether that matched the computer game playthrough or if there were other differences?ReplyDelete
I own it, but right now I'm a bit focused on completing and writing about the next case. If anyone else can look and report back, that would be AWESOME. Otherwise, I'll try to find some time.
I think I have the original boardgame (in German). I´ll check it for you, but if I remember correctly the story is completely the same and there are no differences at all, bit I may be mistaken.ReplyDelete
"Does anyone know a conversion calculator to put these in modern dollars?"ReplyDelete
500 UK pounds is 69,274.32 2015 US$
I assumed Hypnotism as soon as I heard Loretta was in the Mesmer... institute and I heard the story of Frances waking up on a horse.ReplyDelete
But I also thought Loretta was the thief. She was wearing a lot of jewellery when I spoke to her and it was a lot of jewellery that was stolen. One party holder also made a point of how nimble she was when she climbed his fountain.
My motive was off though. I thought her and Guy were working together as thieves and they were going to share her sister's part of the inheritance (also solving Guy's gambling and money problems) but she had Frances kill Guy when he was no longer useful to her so she could keep all Frances' money to herself.
So I sort of guessed the killer correctly but my motive was wrong and my guess of the thief was wrong. I ended up with 645 points and was suitably admonished by Watson for being a bad detective!