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First edition, June 2017
© Paul D. Gilbert
Ebook Edition © 2017 Delos Digital srl
Piazza Bonomelli 6/6 20139 Milano Italy
Crime does not go on holiday, even at Christmas
Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson have their Christmas Eve interrupted with the news of a stolen piece of valuable jewellery.
However, they soon discover that their new client is harbouring a deadly secret… not everyone will have a merry Christmas!
Paul D. Gilbert was born in 1954 and has lived in and around London throughout this time. He has been married to Jackie for 40 years and she has always shared his great passion for Sherlock Holmes! They have two sons, one of whom farms in Spain. He has been in clothing retail for most of his working life, although he is now an undertaker. He has a passion for ancient history and he enjoys music, sport and movies. His remaining ambition is to be able to write full time; he enjoys the process so much.
Among his books: The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes (2007), The Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes (2009), Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra (2011), The Annals of Sherlock Holmes (2013) and Sherlock Holmes and the Unholy Trinity (2015).
The Christmas of 1890 had proven to be the coldest in living memory. The temperature had not risen above freezing for many a long day and the snow that still lay upon the ground had been compacted into a deep shell of ice.
The bustling throng of Londoners that were going about their last minute festive preparations were huddled under a mass of mufflers and overcoats as they went about their business. Desperate to escape the biting cold, many found it difficult to maintain their footing on the ice as they made their way towards the warmth of a glowing fire and an expectant family.
By the time that I had completed my own arrangements and finally arrived back at 221b Baker Street, the threatening snow had restarted in earnest and I was grateful for Mrs. Hudson’s fussing and sympathetic welcome. She helped me with my parcels and coat and by the time that I had thawed off in front of the fire upstairs, she had arrived with a steaming pot of tea. Our rooms were festooned with holly and I was surprised to note that upon the table lay a brightly wrapped gift, addressed to me from my friend and colleague, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
I say surprised because Holmes was not normally a man who enthused upon making any form of yuletide celebrations. It was not that he objected to such activity, he was certainly no Ebenezer Scrooge, but this time of year normally found him engaged upon one case or another and he would barely set foot over the threshold when he was so involved. Conversely, if he found himself singularly unemployed, a dark mood would descend upon him from which no amount of festive cheer would rouse him. For reasons best known to him alone, this year seemed to be an exception to the rule. We had not seen a client since the Fairweather suicide case of early November, when Holmes had deduced a subtle and despicable form of murder by analysing the scrapings from under the victim’s thumb nails! Yet this dearth of work had done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the imminent celebrations. He was delighted to discover a new Persian slipper beneath the wrappings of a gift that I had presented him with and I in turn was overwhelmed by a large box of my favourite cigars within mine.
We were encouraged by the sounds of activity emanating from our land lady’s kitchen and we knew that a veritable feast would be forthcoming by the following lunch time. Holmes and I took our ports and cigars over to the cheery, crackling fire and barely gave a thought to the arctic conditions that were prevailing outside. A vicious northerly wind had suddenly picked up and had whipped the steady snowfall into a treacherous blizzard. Therefore, our surprise at hearing the sound of the bell rope being pulled on such a night should be easily understood.
Mrs. Hudson appeared to be greatly put out by this interruption to her preparations and equally embarrassed at having to interrupt our convivial evening.
“I apologise Mr. Holmes, but the gentleman downstairs just simply will not be put off. Christmas Eve, indeed!” She protested.