Sunday 3 December 2017

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - The No. 1 Gentlemen’s Detective Agency

Written by Joe Pranevich

Returning to the scene of the crime.

Welcome back! Last week, we continued our exploration of Sarah Carroway’s alleyway murder, eventually navigating the crippling bureaucracy of Scotland Yard to secure the release of a key that she was holding when she died. Holmes seems to think that this is an important clue as it will let us back into the theater where she was murdered, to explore unhindered and to see if the key that she had hidden at her flat goes to anything there. As of right now, I feel as if we are in the early days of the investigation. We do not have a motive other than robbery, nor do we have anything that leads up anywhere near the suspect. All we can do is further investigate Sarah’s life and look for connections. I would like to apologize for this post being a bit late. Truth is, that I am stuck on the game and while it’s not “Request for Assistance”-level yet, I had hoped to make a bit more progress before sharing the next post. Nonetheless, here we are and I hope I manage to make some headway on the case soon.

I return to the scene of the crime, hardly pausing to notice the chalk outline or the pool of the blood that remains on the ground as I headed for the door. Our new key works and I can get into the theatre! Why we keep insisting on entering via the stage door, I have no idea, but in a few moments we are back to the dressing room. I expected to find it empty and explore in peace, but that was not to be.
Knock, knock… er… you did it wrong.

Back at the dressing room, we are surprised to find that it is not empty: Henry Carruthers, the stage manager, is there sitting at one of the desks. Why is he still hanging out in the ladies’ dressing room? Does he dream of being an actress? Or just is too shocked and depressed by the turn of events to move? I had been knocking on the door earlier and not getting a response; why didn’t he let me in? I’m not sure if there is a clue here or if it’s just that the game designers felt I needed to do a bureaucracy puzzle for the heck of it. In any event, we startle him and he sits at the desk while we resume our explorations of the scene.

I go first to the locked dresser, to try the key that we discovered hidden in the umbrella. That works! Most of the stuff in the drawers is theater flotsam, but Holmes locates a pair of season tickets to the opera. Holmes seems impressed that Ms. Carroway would be such a patron of the arts, but the tickets are extremely expensive and beyond the means of a starving actress. Watson also expresses displeasure that we are essentially stealing the tickets from a dead woman-- and we even get the option to return them to the drawer-- but I have Holmes respond that they are to further our investigation. Surely Watson knows that Holmes wouldn’t steal from a murder victim!

Without my input, Holmes asks Henry what he knows about the tickets. We learn that they are for the Chancery Opera House and that Sarah’s sister, Anne Carroway, is a lead performer there. Henry seems surprised that Holmes didn’t know of her sister already, but she hadn’t come up yet. I wonder if she is the female “secret admirer” that gave her sister the flowers. It could have been a knowing joke between the two of them and it’s easy to see how Anne might want Sarah to “chin up” and not lose faith that her theater life isn’t glamorous yet. We try to wring anything else out of Henry, but he says nothing useful. At least we have a new location on our map: the opera house!

No phantoms here!

We arrive at the Chancery Opera House in short order and are stopped at the entrance by an usher and the general manager. We chat up the usher and learn that the performance for this evening is “From on High”, but all tickets have been sold out for the next three weeks. We inform the manager, Frederick Epstien, of our investigation but he isn’t immediately very helpful. He knows Sarah Carroway and had met her a few times, but he has not seen her recently. Her sister, Anna, is out sick today with a sore throat. Suspiciously, he tells us that she moved recently so he does not have her address, plus she “called in sick” via telegram so he hasn’t heard from her directly. Is that suspicious or did everyone in this time period “call in sick” via telegram? We ask to search Anna dressing room but the manager refuses multiple times. I’m actually not sure why Holmes wants to check out her dressing room, but perhaps he expects there will be a hint there that will lead us to her current address.

With nothing else to do, I show the usher our (really Sarah’s) tickets and he directs us to a second usher who can help us find our seats. We interrogate him momentarily but he has nothing to add so we just head to the seats. The show is about to begin!

Do we look like vagrants to you, miss?

We arrive at what might easily be the best seat in the house: boss seats just above the stage. An elderly lady is already in the box and she initially assumes that we went to the wrong seat. Once we show her our tickets, she demands to know how we got them. It turns out that she is Mrs Worthington, the owner of the theater and a good friend of Sarah’s. She and Sarah would watch operas together in this box. We tell her of her friend’s death but that doesn’t seem to dissuade her from trying to enjoy the show that is about to start. We interrogate her quickly and learn that Anna recently gave her sister a pendant, possibly the same one that was stolen in the attack. Mrs. Worthington also reveals that Sarah would keep the pendant under her shirt at all times, so if it was the target then the attacker must have known where to look. Sarah’s boyfriend in particular did not like the pendant and, in passing, Mrs. Worthington happens to mention that his name is “James”. Eureka! After that, the show is about to start and we need to leave. Mrs. Worthington at least gives us a permission note to search Anna’s dressing room.

This dressing room is much nicer than the last one...

Even with the note, the manager lets us in only begrudgingly; he does not like that we went over his head at all. To make this all the more difficult on us, after we get there, he watches us like a hawk. We cannot touch or take any of Anna’s property or the opera house’s. We can look around but touch nothing. Under those constraints, I search the room and do not find much. There are pictures and a coat rack, even a gigantic walk-in closet, but little beyond Anna’s dresser that attracts much interest. Any time we go near the drawers in the dresser or a jewelry box that is sitting on top, Mr. Epstein takes special notice and stops us. In the end, we come up with absolutely nothing.

As soon as we are back outside, Watson volunteers an idea that I wish he would have had five minutes ago: he will distract the manager to let us investigate more carefully. We ask to be taken to the dressing room again, but this time Holmes asks Watson to search the closet for a particular dress. With Mr. Epstein in the closet with Watson (ahem), I can quickly search the jewelry box and drawers. The box turns out to be empty except for some cheap costume stuff that Holmes dismisses out of hand. The drawers are filled with normal drawer-stuff, but we do manage to find (and pocket) a set of keys from the middle drawer. Strangely, there are things that seem to immediately trigger Mr. Epstein and Watson returning: trying to pick up the jewelry box or inspecting a hairbrush. Each time, I have to send Watson on a different crazy errand in the closet. I leave with the keys but I have no idea what they open. I assume they will come in handy if I ever find Anna’s flat.

Bond. James Bond.

Now, here’s where I am more or less stuck. I can return to the rugby pitch and say that I want to talk to James, but that doesn’t get me far as that name is very common among the players. Even with a full description, the coach isn’t able to identify our player. He also asks if I know what brand or cigarette James smokes-- as if that would narrow it down!-- but I don’t even know that James smokes yet. I just tell him that I don’t know. We end by asking to interview every James on the team, but that is turned down. And since the coach says that none of the players are allowed to have girlfriends due to their distracting-nature, we must be barking up the wrong tree. I don’t really believe him, but what can we do?

I re-play and re-visit every location to see what I can find. The only other lead I have is that I can ask Wiggins to track down the flower vendor for me that sold the flower given to Anna, but Wiggins claims it to too common to track down. Dead end and this is where I will remain stuck for now.

Updated Theories:
  • My new guess is that Sarah’s sister is her “secret admirer”. I was hoping for a lesbian lover, but I think that Anna supports her sister’s acting career even though it has not taken off yet.
  • The key macguffin will be Sarah’s pendant. Anna must have gotten it from somewhere and passed it off to Sarah, not knowing that it was desired by someone else. This whole case is just a ruse to deflect suspicion from the real attacker.
  • Anna might be dead. Her telegram was suspicious and whomever killed Sarah may be after others that might be connected to the pendant. James might even be in on it, but I doubt it. I need to find the guy first.

A night at the opera!

Before I close, I did a bit of research on the opera house. While there is no Chancery Opera House that I could find, the map suggests that it’s near Chancery St. so that makes some amount of sense. Looking at pictures of 19th century opera houses, I can clearly see the “box” style that I found when visiting Mrs. Worthington’s box. I remain impressed!

Time played: 2 hr 45 min
Total time: 6 hr 15 min

Inventory: message requesting help, business cards, iron bar, perfume bottle, pink carnation, card, sample of powder, cigarette butts, analysis results, a brass key, a large key, opera tickets, and a note to enter Anna’s dressing room.


  1. From what I see so far, there is not much item combination in this game, is there? Most of the puzzles seem to involve looking at the right places, asking the right things and distracting the annoying people.

    1. There does not appear to be a way to combine inventory items in the interface. When you "use" an item on another item, it just changes to "use" the other item.

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  3. So... after another fruitless hour of trying everything I can think of, I still seem to be stuck. If anyone wants to make up a rot13 hint that just nudges me in the right direction, I would appreciate it. I hope I am not stuck.

    Does this game have any dead-man-walking situations that I might have wandered into?

    1. Since I am here, I might as well give a hint. Hopefully I will not lose any non-existing CAPs.
      Regarding the flowers:
      - Hopefully a hint: Unir lbh ybbxrq ng gur sybjref pybfryl? Gurl znl abg or fb pbzzba.
      - Outright spoiler: Vs lbh ybbx ng gur sybjref va lbhe vairagbel, Ubyzrf abgrf gurl ner qlrq. Hfvat lbhe yno qrgrezvarf ubj vg jnf qbar.

    2. The hint was asked for and appreciated!

      Just knowing that it has something to do with the flower is a start. I'll read your ROT13 if that doesn't help after a while.

  4. Since there are multiple ways of go with the game (and no zombie situations), here's a vague hint with one of the puzzles you are stuck:

    Gurer'f fbzrbar jub pna uryc jvgu gur pvtneerggrf, ohg gung crefba vf haqre fhcreivfvba, lbh arrq gb qvfgenpg fbzrbar svefg gb trg gur vasb

  5. Good news! Just knowing it was something with the flower was enough that I eventually discovered that I could analyze it in Holmes's lab and from there... well, I'll write about that soon.

  6. "Why is he still hanging out in the ladies’ dressing room?"

    For some reason Henry Carruthers is now making me think of Harvey Weinstein


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