The Curious Case of The Black Swan Song
Sherman Holmes has reached a crossroads in his life, having inherited a large fortune from a hitherto unknown relative.
John Garden also has a decision to make that will have a far-reaching effect on his future.
The two happen to book into the same hotel, The Black Swan, on the same weekend,to mull over the changes to their lives that both of them are thinking of making.
Meeting purely by chance, foundations for a friendship are laid based on their mutual love of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. When a murder occurs in the hotel, though, it isn’t long before their bond strengthens, as they decide to form an alliance and unmask the murderer. They soon find that Death is following them like a faithful dog and, as the case gets more tangled, they make the decision to cement their alliance formally and set up as private investigators.
This first book in the series is a romp through a small English town, featuring a pompous would-be Holmes of Baker Street and his own, cross-dressing, ‘Watson’. Mercurially tempered Colin, Holmes’ cat, also makes his first appearance …
When they had eaten, they sipped their coffee and discussed the suitability of the local premises, then Garden expressed his desire to go outside and have a smoke. The evening was warm, and smoking was absolutely forbidden inside the hotel.
‘Splendid idea,’ agreed Holmes, with enthusiasm. ‘I’ll just nip up to my room to get my pipe. You toddle on out and park yourself on a bench, and I’ll catch up with you in a couple of shakes of a lamb’s tail.’
‘It’s not a meerschaum, is it?’
‘’Fraid not. Can’t stand the sight or the feel of the stuff. No, I’m afraid I favour the model smoked by Basil Rathbone in his film portrayals of the great man.’
As they both rose from the table, the differences in their height became pronounced. While sitting down they had appeared of similar height, Holmes, a rather portly figure, proved to be of just less-than-average height, but long in the body. Garden, who was short in the body but stood at exactly five feet eleven inches, was decidedly long of leg, and towered over his companion from across the table.
They were, in fact, not just different in age-group, Holmes being a good twenty or more years the senior, but very different in their outward appearance. Whereas Garden had a long, thin face and very thick, wavy brown hair[E1] – now spiked with gel – Holmes had what might have been described as a ‘chrome dome’.
He[E2] had hair only round the sides and back of his head. From his forehead to back beyond where his crown would have been there was hardly a follicle to be seen. He had inherited his male pattern baldness from his father who, since he was in his twenties, had divided his hair in a parting just above his left ear, and combed the strands from this side, which he had allowed to grow long, in a sad little brilliantined comb-over.
His son scorned this overt sign of being ‘in denial’ about his lack of hair, and always instructed his barber that he required ‘a short back and sides: nothing off the top’. This was the cue for the barber to give a polite little titter, to acknowledge his customer’s wit, although the routine was wearing thin after so many years.
Holmes made his way to the stairs to collect his oh-so-non-PC smoking gear and consequently it was Garden who heard the harsh voices emanating from the kitchen as he searched for the doors to the rear of the property.
‘But it’s bland, dated, and, frankly, unappetising,’ shouted a voice he had not heard before.
‘Who do you think you are, you jumped up little burger-griller? Who owns this place, you or me? I decide the menu and you cook it. Understand?’
‘But we get so many plates returned hardly touched.’
‘Nonsense! The locals love our food. Do you pay the bills for this place?’
‘Of course I don’t, but I could make it more profitable if only you’d let me be a bit more creative.’
‘The locals like our fare, and I won’t be swayed by a couple of dim guests who don’t know good food when it’s served to them.’
‘They would, if only you’d let me cook it.’
‘Terry, unless you drop this matter once and for all, you’ll be getting your P45 sooner than you think.’
‘Just you try it. I’ll be off to a tribunal quicker than you could say “salmonella”.’
‘Don’t push me too far.’
At that moment, the owner, Berkeley Bellamy, shouldered his way through the swing door and stormed off in the direction of the bar. Oo-er, thought Garden. He wasn’t the only one with unresolved troubles.
Not sure about this construction
Garden or Holmes?