Friday, 12 January 2018

The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Murder on the 9:10 Express to Bedford

Written by Joe Pranevich



Welcome back! Last time out, we arrived at what I think will be the meat of the case: adultery. An aristocrat named Lord Brumwell had an affair, and a child, with a servant (and eventual opera singer), Anne Carroway. He accepted the child as his own but hid her parentage even as he kept his former lover on as a nanny. Years later, she was let go and was only permitted to see her son on brief visits outside his private school. Lord Brumwell caught wind that she was going to try to claim paternity-- she had a letter which proved that Paul was her son-- and so he hired a small-time crook to try to steal it from her. The robbery was double-botched both because he killed his victim and because he targeted the wrong sister, but completely by accident he got away with the letter anyway, only to pawn it off thinking that it was just a pendant. He tried to make the whole mess look like a Jack the Ripper crime, but we managed to pin it on him. Anne is now in hiding somewhere and we have to try to find her and prove that Lord Brumwell is the “real” murderer. It feels like we are nearing the end.

I ended last time having just visited Lady Brumwell, but while she knows about Paul, she doesn’t want to admit to anything. I had a lead of some foul-smelling and specialized tobacco that we found in her house, but the tobacco shop surprisingly didn’t have anything to say about it. Without leads, I checked and re-checked every location until I found something new: this time when I visit the murderer, Mr. Blackthown, in jail, Holmes taunts him that he had the letter all along and didn’t know it. Somehow this convinces him to tell Holmes where be pawned it. We run off to the pawn shop and the owner is reluctant to talk, but Holmes manages to convince him as well. He’s a very convincing detective! And I just have to keep hitting the “Talk” button! The shop owner provides us the address of the man, Mr. Moorehead, that he sold it to, but also a warning: another man, Robert Hunt, is searching for the same pendant. That name isn’t familiar, but the pawn shop owners tells us that he is “rough trade” and implies he is someone not to trifle with. Is he on Anna’s trail as well? A second criminal hired by Lord Brumwell or someone involved for some other reason?

Must… resist… Harry Potter joke...

We arrive at the address and discover that it is a detective agency, not a house, and Mr. Moorehead is one of the two detectives in residence. It’s all very quaint and they have a secretary and everything; all we have is Mrs. Hudson! Holmes makes a few biting comments about the competition, but Watson scolds him for his professional jealousy. This whole setup has a “detective noir” feeling to it, like I stepped into a slightly more “hard boiled” detective story. Mr. Moorehead has just stepped out, but the secretary says that we can leave our card. We ask to speak to his partner instead, but she tells us that he is also out on a case and hasn’t been seen since last night. We pry further (dialog options galore!) and we learn that he was meeting a client in a midnight appointment at the zoo and hasn’t been seen since. He was supposed to be returning some jewelry. Aha! Anne had mentioned in her diary that she was hiring private detectives and so it all clicks together. We ask to search Moorehead’s office but the secretary refuses saying that she doesn’t even have a key. We leave our card (the first time in the game that actually works!) and head out.

Surprise, surprise, the zoo now appears as a destination. Let’s see what we can learn there. I make sure to put on some zoo-appropriate music. (What can I say? I have a preschooler.)


I can’t find any modern or historic photo of the Regency Park Zoo
that shows an entrance like this one.

We arrive at the zoo to find it closed for the first time in years. A constable stands guard outside. We talk with him and he reveals that there has been a murder and that Inspector Gregson is inside investigating. We manage to talk out way inside. The last time we saw Mr. Gregson, he was at the morgue. Was he working on this case then? I do not think so. Time really is somewhat confusing in this game.


An elephant! And nothing else.


But look over here: a murder. 

We enter the zoo near the elephant pen and have a choice: left to animal exhibits or right to the office. We head right first and find our second murder. Detective Gardener is dead with a crushed skull and lacerations on his legs. Holmes and Watson immediately spring to work and we explore the crime scene. Gardener is covered in claw marks and has a broken leg, but there is a strange lack of blood on the ground considering his wounds. Holmes is convinced that his broken leg was caused by a fall, but it’s a strange set of injuries. Gregson is, as usual, behind the times. He just knows that the body is a John Doe and that it appears that the motive was robbery. Holmes cannot keep from showing off, telling him that the man was killed by a hired assassin in a damp location before being dragged here by a small person. To show off further, he adds that Gardner was a detective (an ”inquiry agent”, to use Holmes’s term), left-handed, and an ex-policeman. Gregson gets upset at Holmes’s impropriety and refuses to give any more information to an “amateur”. Holmes snarks back that Gregson finally has an interesting case and doesn’t even see it. We continue exploring.


So many one-room offices and flats in this game.

As Gardner’s body was found in front of the zookeeper’s office, we head in there next. It is occupied by Mr. Hollingston who tells us that he discovered the body when he arrived for work in the morning. We ask him about the previous day and he lets us know that the staff usually leaves by 6 PM, except for one animal-keeper, Simon Kingsley, who leaves an hour later. Of course, we know that Mr. Gardner and Anna were scheduled to meet at midnight so that is still quite a bit earlier. Holmes asks for Simon’s address so that we can meet with him. Of particular note is that there are an awful lot of stuffed/deceased animals in the room, so many so that even Holmes remarks on it. Watson muses that perhaps if the choices were between stuffing (or, er… making a rug out of) an animal or just cremation, the staff may have felt better having some memento of the deceased animal around. It all seems very weird to me, but perhaps I do not quite understand the impulse that leads to keeping mummified versions of deceased pets around, or discussing the practice at length in an adventure game.


If you could talk to the animals… just imagine it!

Our last stop is to visit the animals, but we only get a one-room abbreviated look at the zoo: the lion enclosure. That one is important because we find a shiny object in the cage that is too far away to make out. Unfortunately, Watson doesn’t let me climb down to get it because we’d get eaten by the lion. That might be a funny death scene, but the game doesn’t seem to have any way to kill off Holmes or Watson. This seems like a really strong hint that I need to meet with the lion keeper right away.


I did say, just a few seconds ago. Didn’t you hear?

We find the lion-keeper at his home and sit down to chat with him. His good friend the lion is named Felix and he last cleaned his cage between 6 and 6:30 PM. He insists that the animal is a passive one and would only attack someone if provoked. As we explore Simon’s room, we find that he even has a picture of the lion on his wall. I also know the strong bond between man and kitty, but this might be taking things a bit far. It takes some doing (mostly just clicking the “talk” icon a lot and picking different dialog options), but Simon eventually cracks and admits that he found Felix gnawing on a man’s leg between 10:00 and 10:30 PM. He speculated that the man was drunk and fell into the lion’s cage. He moved the body and cleaned the mess so that Felix would not be blamed for the death. Holmes insists that we don’t have any ill-will towards the lion and that he will not share Felix’s involvement in the matter… and not to worry because Scotland Yard seems entirely incapable of figuring it out themselves. (Even Gregson should have been able to figure out gnawed legs…)


 
He’s gonna be the “mane” event!

We return to the zoo with Kingsley and he helps to distract the lion while we fetch the mysterious object out of its cage: it’s Gardener’s pocket watch. It was given to him for 25 years of service as a policeman and has a date 11/17/86. This game takes place in November 1888, so I suspect this is the date that he retired from the police force. At least he wasn’t a week away from retirement.



We return to Gardner and Moorehead’s detective agency to give Moorehead and his secretary the bad news. Unfortunately, while Mr. Moorehead had come back, he just stepped out again in a hurry after a young boy delivered a message. Holmes says that he is in grave danger and that we need access to his office, but again the secretary does not have the key.

The solution is to do it the hard way: if we “use” the typewriter in the office, Holmes tosses it through the detective’s office window and unlocks the door that way. (Neither the hammer nor the iron bar did the trick.) We find the note that the boy delivered saying that he is to meet at St. Pancras Station in 10 minutes or his partner and client will be killed. We know that Mr. Gardner is already dead, so this threat is quite real. Anne may be dead already as well, especially if she was also at the zoo last night. There is no time to explore as the game forces us to run off off to St. Pancras Station for an exciting (and voice acted!) scene.


Yes, if the cheap pendant contains an expensive letter.


He’s half right. I just hope he’s not completely right...


What? They’re on the… OH. 


Well, that sucked.


And your little partner, too. 

We arrive at the station just as Mr. Hunt is threatening Moorehead who refuses to hand over the pendant. Our arrival distracted Hunt enough that Moorehead was able to knock the gun out of the assassin’s hand, but it was for nothing because Hunt just pushed him off onto the tracks in front of a coming train. Holmes retrieved the weapon and held Hunt at gunpoint until the police arrived. He tells us that we we will never find Anna alive and that we do not have enough evidence to convict him of anything. He’ll claim self-defense against Moorehead. In the end, he will get out of jail, and when he does he will come after us. He’s a slippery devil and good at his job, but for now he’s carted off to jail with his associate Mr. Blackwood.

And with that, I’m going to end for this week as Holmes and Watson are automatically returned to Baker Street as we begin a new phase of the investigation: finding Anna, alive if possible. I can’t say that there is much “mystery” left, but here are some predictions:
  • Anna is alive still, otherwise the game would be quite dark. Still, we had two murders in a row and it’s clear the stakes are escalating now that a hired assassin is in the mix.
  • Speaking of Mr. Hunt, he’ll be correct that he has alibis and knows how to wiggle his way out of legal jeopardy. He could remain an antagonist against Holmes for the remainder of the game.
  • We still don’t have the pendant. It wasn’t found on Moorehead’s body so it is probably back at the detective agency or he passed it off to someone else. 
  • Even with Blackwood and Hunt in jail, we still don’t have Brumwell yet. The jail has three cells. My guess is that we’ll have it filled before the end of the game.
See you soon!

Time played: 2 hr 20 min
Total time: 17 hr 40 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, a note to enter Anna’s dressing room, cufflinks, wire hook, feather, Catarrh Preparation, serrated scalpel, bloody smock, leash, hammer, rope, wet rag, La Cote de Azur perfume, barrister’s calling card, Paul’s cap, Anne’s diary, pocket watch

5 comments:

  1. I wish the whole game was voice acted like that. Yes, there is the 3DO port, but I prefer the performances briefly seen here.

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  2. My notes on this part:

    The best music of the game is inside the office of the detectives. Wow, I love that piece, very melancholic and mysterious, I have it as my ringtone.

    One very confusing aspect appears in the spanish translated version of the game, the translator made a horrible work on the trainyard cutscene, in the part that Moorehead says "you're a fiend", was translated as "you're a friend". So for tons of years I thought Moorehead and Hunt were supposed to be colleagues, detectives, or just friends.

    Also, and to correct you, you don't solve the "crack Simon" puzzle by just talking to Simon, AFAIK, you need to look at the boots (they have mud in it, so he must have gone to the lions cage), and you have to look at the picture (to understand that Simon and the lion are very close)

    Good job as usual !

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    Replies
    1. You are probably right-- I usually look around the room before I talk to people. I don't recall seeing the boots, but I absolutely saw the picture.

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  3. Ha. Something in this entry reminds me of one of the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective cases. But it's not one of the three already played for the blog, so... I'll just stay mum for now.

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  4. Is it just me or do detective stories always make a point of knowing someone is left handed, which usually help solve the case somehow?

    Also, regarding mummified pets. I saw a very interesting documentary once about a guy who does that for a living.

    He pointed out that people come to him and ask him to mummify their pet in a certain pose so they can remember how it looked, but by the time he's finished, over half of them never come to pick it up, often not even returning his phone calls.

    Apparently most of the time when people come to him just after a loved pet has died they're looking for a very physical way to keep the memory alive but after a few weeks realise the memories remain in their mind and having a stuffed version of their pet is not the way they want to remember their companion.

    I found it fascinating that the guy is very much a part of the bereavement process, with the hiring of him more important to people than the result of his work.

    ReplyDelete