Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Consulting Detective Vol. II - Sleuth Solves Spy Special! Satisfactory Send-off to Second Saga (Won!)

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to the final gameplay installment in Consulting Detective Vol II! I know this one has dragged on a bit, especially as we have had some slowdowns in Ween as well, but we arrived at the finish line with the best case of the set. I am getting ahead of myself, but suffice it to say that I’m ending this one with higher spirits than when I started.

Last week, I ended with a bold prediction: Lord Ragland was the killer! I didn’t know his motive, but I decided that it had to be him based entirely on his smug face and choice in cigarettes. I mean, look at him! Don’t you just want to punch him in the face? Maybe I am a bit overboard, but we’ll see whether my investigations lead to the same conclusion or make me look like an idiot.

Before we begin, let's recap the key points:
Once upon a time, about two weeks ago, a “munitions magnate” named Courtney Allen was shot in the alleyway outside his office. It appeared to be a robbery, but while the thief lifted his gold watch, he (or she) left his wedding ring. Also missing were files marked “SP10” taken from Allen’s briefcase. Holmes and Watson (with some help from me) traced Allen’s day based on the planner left in his briefcase. We discovered an appointment with Lord Ragland in the morning, Captain Egan from the British Navy in the evening, and a mysterious evening rendezvous at a Spanish restaurant with someone named “A.M.” Allen believed that foreign powers were trying to spy on his “Special Project 10” and he may have feared for his safety; he even went to Lord Ragland for help. We eventually learned that the killer waited for Allen in the alley while smoking a rare brand of “Burns & Hills” cigarettes. These are the same smokes that Lord Ragland smoked. He must be the killer!
In addition to the above, there were two other side-stories that may connect yet. The first is Richard Camp, a member of Special Project #10 that may have been secreting out documents to the French embassy. Ragland investigated and found him to be innocent, but if he’s the killer then he likely cannot be trusted. Additionally, we learned that Allen was having an affair with one (or more!) women at the time of his death. Could that connect somehow? I do not know, but thus far I have not been digging into his personal life.

With no motive for Ragland to be the killer, I’m going to start today by trying to work out who he was working with. Let’s see if my theory is correct!

Snooker is the game of choice for upper class criminals in Sherlock Holmes games.

To track down Ragland’s accomplices, I start with Captain Egan’s suspect list. That may not be perfect, but if he was concerned about Zobar, Von Schulenberg, Del Gatta, and Metkof, I will be too. Since “Metkof” starts with an “M” and “A.M.” were initials found in Allen’s notes, I’d like to try him first. Unfortunately, he’s not in the directory. (This turns out to be wrong and that his name is actually “Meshkoff”, but I won’t work that out for a bit yet. Yet another example of how this game would be improved by subtitles!)

My first stop is the French Embassy. This is where Richard Camp delivered his secret parcels that Egan suspected were spycraft. When we head to the embassy, we have a humorous diversion as Watson finds the wrong Zobar: we wanted Emile Zobar, but Paul Zobar is the guy at the embassy. Paul becomes very flustered when Watson brings up Mr. Camp so there could be something to that rumor. I track down Emile directly to find out.

That Zobar is locatable in the Directory and Holmes meets up with him at a snooker hall. Emile seems a bit under the weather and Watson scolds him for smoking while ill. What is he smoking? Burns & Hills Imperials! Maybe basing my entire argument on Ragland smoking an obscure brand was misfounded. Emile has an alibi for the night of the murder as he was playing chess at “Simpson’s” with “Alfie” at the time of the murder. I still believe Ragland was the triggerman; we don’t need him to be free at the time of the crime to have been involved with it. The conversation turns to Richard Camp and we learn the truth: he is secretly engaged to Annette Zobar and has been visiting her discreetly in the embassy! Paul Zobar, her father, is against their union, but either way Camp’s tokens of affection appear to have nothing to do with our case. One down, a few more suspects to go.

Cigarettes are the corsages of this game.

My next country to check is Germany and their military attaché, Von Schulenberg. He’s not actually at the embassy, but we have no difficulty tracking him down at his home. Much like everyone else, he also smokes Burns & Hill Imperials. My suspicion of Ragland looks more and more premature. He and his wife were at the home of Hector del Guerra, his Spanish counterpart, at the time of the murder.

Since I need to confirm his alibi anyway, I go to Del Guerra’s next. He tells us that March 9 was his wedding anniversary and that he had a party with 30 guests. Although nearly everyone arrived at 6:30, Von Schulenberg actually did not arrive until 8:30! Could he be the killer after all? Is that enough time to shoot someone, rob them, presumably change clothes, and get across town in time for a party? That seems rough to me, but we don’t know how far it is from the plant to the party. Let’s chalk this up as a “maybe”.

My final embassy in the tour is the Russian one. This is when I realize that I had his name spelling incorrect and I should have been looking for “Meshkoff” instead of “Metkof”. Since I had the correct first letter, I'm shocked that I somehow missed that in the directory. Watson seeks out Meshkoff at home, but talks only to a “7-foot giant in a Cossack uniform” who told him to check at the embassy. Regretfully, this is done only in narration as I would have loved to see that acted out in costume! Meshkoff’s Russian accent doesn’t seem quite right to my ears, but we learn that he is aware of the work that Grant Arms is secretly doing for the British Navy. His description, including that he walks with a cane, matches what the waiter gave us from the previous session. He claims to have been at a performance at Covent Gardens at the time of the murder. Notably, he’s not smoking so I am inclined to believe him.

No corsages or cigarettes!

With no more embassies to check, I need a new strategy. The final appointment in Allen’s appointment book was his 8:00 AM with Lord Ragland at the Deveral Street Plant. I had already met with Ragland so I didn’t check the plant directly last time, but it’s worth a look. We arrive and talk to Walter Keyhoe, Lord Ragland’s assistant. I learn that Ragland actually missed the morning appointment on March 9; Allen waited for him for some time before leaving. He left a note, but otherwise asked to not mention his visit. That seems odd! Did Allen forge the note from Alexi (“A.M.”), asking for them to meet at Spaniard's at 10:00 PM? Was he trying to prove that Ragland and Meshkoff were working together?

Allen absolutely wanted Richard Camp off his project, so perhaps that bears further investigation. I visit him but learn almost nothing new. We already knew about his secret engagement, but he also mentions that he purchased B&H cigarettes as a birthday gift for Emil Zobar. That doesn’t change anything except to make me even less confident in my selection of Lord Ragland based solely on his smoking habits. How can this “rare” brand be used by nearly every witness in this case?

I want YOU… for Consulting Detective Vol. III!

The Trial

Although I don’t have full confidence about Ragland yet, final judgement is open! He still seems like the most likely killer, even if my latching onto the cigarettes was premature. Allen thought that Ragland and Meshkoff were working together and they had ample time to trade briefcases at the restaurant. While absolutely everything doesn’t click in as to why Courtney Allen needed to be killed yet, it may make sense as we see the judge’s line of questioning.

Question #1: Who killed Courtney Allen?

The first question gets right to the heart of the matter. There is nothing for me to do but swallow nervously and select Lord Ragland. I am correct! Even if he wasn’t the only B&H smoker, he was in the best position to know Allen’s habits as well as stalk him outside his office. He also knew that Allen was concerned about the project’s security. The fox was guarding the henhouse!

Never forget Billy’s mother’s birthday!

Question #2: Why was Courtney Allen murdered?

The second question is harder: why was Allen murdered? We are given multiple choices and there are several okay answers. “C” appears to just be stupid, but the the rest seem plausible. We never investigated Allen’s affair, so I cannot say whether A is true. Given that we’re in the judging without figuring out who he was diddling, I think we’re on solid ground. While Marlowe had a motive to kill Allen, he and Ragland would not have been cooperating. In the end, “D” is the only choice that lines up with all of the facts. I hadn’t worked out that Ragland was the one trying to sell the plans, but I knew that he had been up to something with Alexi.

I select “D” and am correct! Let’s move on to the next question.

E. It was a corsage of unbridled accuracy and might.

Question #3: What is the significance of the project?

The third question is easy enough that we don’t need to think about it. We know from Captain Egan that the work was being done for the Navy, so that leaves A and D. The Grant Arms company is unlikely to sell armor anyway, but I think we were told at some point that it was a gun. I select “A” and am correct again!

I am disappointed that we never heard about their wonderful paella. 

Question #4: What transpired at Spaniard’s Inn?

What happened at Spaniard’s Inn? We can surmise from the waiter that there was spy stuff going on. I thought at first that Allen was impersonating Alexi Meshkoff with that note, to lead Ragland there for some reason, but that doesn’t hold up. Why would he forge a note and then keep it? We also know that he intended to “pounce at 10” with Captain Egan; I had interpreted that as “Project 10” rather than “10:00 PM”, but I believe now that Allen discovered Ragland’s and Meshkoff’s dinner plans and copied the note as evidence. He intended to crash their party with Captain Egan later but was killed before he made it there. Ragland must have realized that Allen was on to his plot and had him eliminated.

The only answer that works with all of the evidence is B. Ragland planned to meet with Meshkoff to sell the plans. Allen intended to stop him, but Ragland “stopped” Allen first. Presumably, the Russians have the plans now.

Duolingo est idéal pour apprendre le français.

Question #5: What was Camp actually doing?

The judge next turns to Richard Camp and what he was up to that inspired Allen’s suspicions. We confirmed that he had been (A) visiting his fiancee, Annette. The whole bit with him sneaking off packages to the French Embassy was a red herring of the cutest variety and I am glad that he wasn’t evil.

Umm. What?

Question #6: Why was the cigarette at the scene of the crime pinched evenly all around?

Oh crud. The next question is much harder. Was this even mentioned in the interviews? I don’t remember the cigarette being pinched evenly, nor do I know why that would be a big deal. This will be a guess more than anything else.

I’m sure the answer isn’t B because forcing a lock on a military briefcase isn’t something a cigarette butt would be useful for. It could be A, C, or D. I search back through my screenshots, but I never took a grab of Ragland smoking to see if it was using a cigarette holder. Still, that seems the best choice. If I am wrong, I’ll just start the judging again and pick something else.

And I’m right! Whew! That was a close one.

The game is over! We did it!

That was it! The judge commends us on our work and the case is over! This may be my best score yet. Holmes worked it out in 42 points compared to my 131, but I feel good about it anyway. Is this the first time that I went through judging correctly in one go? I don’t remember the first game’s cases that well, but I wouldn’t be surprised. This is my favorite case of these three in terms of solvability, plus the solution is not insane. Using cigarette butts, a common trope in Holmes fiction, was a very nice touch. Previous cases all had things that I could not get over, but this one seems internally consistent and has interesting plot beats. I’ll take it!

I do like these little illustrations during the videos. I don’t think I’ve shown any in this game.

All that is left is for Holmes to give us his version of events and there are a few small surprises:
  • Holmes was sure it wasn’t a common robbery because the thief would not have overlooked Allen’s gold ring, nor would he bothered to have stolen notes from only that specific folder. 
  • Holmes then obtained the customer list for Burns & Hill. This is something I did not think to do because surely that would have been a huge list, but no. The cigarettes are exclusive and there are only a handful of names that have bought them recently. They just happen to be all the people in this exclusive social circle.
  • Since the murderer knew Allen’s habits, it must have been one of his coworkers. That leaves only Ragland and Camp on the customer list.
  • But Mr. Camp purchased his cigarettes as a present! That means that Ragland was the murderer.
  • Allen grabbed the files to SP10 when he visited Ragland’s office in the morning. Ragland realized that he had been caught and needed to get his hands back on the plans to sell them to Meshkoff. Ragland then killed Allen to steal back the plans so that he could sell them later in the evening.
This ties up the loose ends nicely. I half want to keep playing to find out who Allen was having an affair with, if the game even has a subplot devoted to that, but I think I’ll pass on that for now. It’s to its credit that I want to go back in so props for that. This leaves with a lot to think about as I enter the final rating.

Time Played: 40 min
Total Time: 11 hr 25 min


  1. Man, you could have used (Success) for (Won) and got a Flawless Alliteration Victory!

    1. That is such a good idea that I'm almost tempted to change it!

      I wrote this post before remembering that the final entries are all supposed to just be "Won!"... so I cheated and gave it a title anyway. :)

    2. It already reads like an old-time newspaper headline, I can just hear it being shouted after "Extra Extra" by a paperboy, nicely done!

  2. Did they ever mention what the murder weapon was? Either I missed it or they forgot it. Its odd considering that the murder weapon is usually the most important piece of real murder investigations and most fictional ones. Wait, does that mean this game isn't realistic? I'm reeling in horror.

    1. Unfortunately, no. The only clue about the weapon that I found was that it was an unusually large caliber and that the bullet was never recovered. We never tracked it back to Ragland or mention it ever again. It might have come up with other witnesses, but not part of Holmes's solution.

    2. I recall that, in at least the tabletop version, one of the Scotland Yard contacts (either the medical examiner or the criminologist) tells you that the murder weapon must have been a large gun manufactured by Grant Arms. "Large gun" doesn't seem helpful, but "manufactured by Grant Arms" seems to me to be another clue pointing towards the killer being a Grant Arms employee.

    3. Yeah. Scotland Yard is just about like that in the video although they did not mention Grant Arms.

  3. Wow, those multiple-choice answers could really have used another proofreading pass.

    Also, I never noticed this being a problem in past cases, but this time I was having trouble following the judging sequence because the answer screenshots are placed above their questions. I would start reading the answers but have no idea what they were for until I glanced down to read the question. I think past cases didn't show the answers for every question.

    Also also I just noticed that the label/category links don't seem to appear anywhere in the mobile layout.