The Art of Deception by Leonard Goldberg (The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Series, Book 4)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 5.4 MB
USA Today bestselling author Leonard Goldberg returns with another puzzling case for the daughter of Sherlock Holmes to unravel in this exciting mystery, The Art of Deception, sure to be enjoyed by fans of Sherlock Holmes as well Laurie R. King and Charles Finch.
In the west end of London, an apparently crazed individual is on the loose, breaking into art galleries and private homes to slash valuable paintings of women. Despite Scotland Yard’s best efforts, the criminal remains at large and continues on his destructive path.
When Joanna and the Watsons are called in to solve the mystery, they soon discover that although the canvases have been slashed, their backings remain pristine, with no cuts or scratches. The criminal, it seems, is no mere vandal-he’s searching for something hidden behind the portraits.
Suspicion soon falls on two skilled art restorers who previously worked at the gallery where all the vandalized art was purchased. When Joanna finds the body of one in a bricked off fireplace at the gallery, the other is left as the prime suspect. But then he’s discovered dead as well. Luckily, Joanna has a plan for ensnaring the criminal once and for all. But it must not fail, or more paintings-and lives-will be lost.
“That remains unknown, but there are a few helpful hints you may find of value.” Joanna returned to the Persian slipper for another cigarette and went back to pacing. “You should be searching for a man in his middle years who once had a quite good income, but now has fallen on hard times. He is neat and tidy and cares greatly about appearance. I also note that he suffers from an obvious skin condition that affects his neck and scalp, and requires treatment with coal tar lotion.” She stopped pacing to smile at Lestrade and waited while he hurriedly took down notes.
“You gathered all this from the old, worn scarf?” Lestrade asked incredulously.
“There is more,” Joanna continued on. “Your vandal is tall and thin, with a height that may well reach six feet.”
Lestrade jerked his head up abruptly. “Really, madam! You must certainly be joking.”
“I never joke about clues,” Joanna replied. “You know my methods. I do not simply see, but observe, and all the information that I have just given you is based entirely on findings within or on the scarf. Shall I elucidate?”
“Please do so.”
“The scarf is made of Harris tweed, an expensive, fine weave, so we can reason the vandal was once a man of some means. Yet he continues to wear this worn, tattered garment which indicates he has fallen on hard times. I can deduce he is neat and tidy because he carefully and evenly cuts off any dangling threads, with scissors I suspect, thus attempting to remove evidence that the garment is old and threadbare. It is obvious he suffers from a chronic skin condition, for there is the distinct odor of coal tar, which is a remedy for a number of skin ailments involving the neck and scalp. Since the smell is so strong on his scarf, we can rightly reason that the skin condition affects the back of his neck as well as his scalp.”
“How can you be aware that the vandal’s scalp is likewise involved?” Lestrade challenged. “He would not wear the scarf on top of his head.”
“Again it was a matter of simple observation,” Joanna explained. “Stuck firmly in the coal tar lotion on the garment are long strands of hair, to which was affixed large, reddened scales which therefore must originate from the man’s scalp. Some of these strands, by the way, are gray in color while others are brown, indicating the vandal is in his middle years.”
Even I, who was accustomed to watching Joanna arrive at extraordinary deductions from the smallest clue, had to be impressed with her ability to make so much from so little. But for her to determine the vandal’s frame and height from the scarf did seem a stretch too far. I was about to inquire into her line of reasoning, but Lestrade asked the question for me.
“How could you possibly establish the vandal’s shape and height with any degree of exactness?” asked he.