In the corner of the ABC teashop on Norfolk Street, Polly Burton of the Evening Observer sets down her morning paper, filled with news of the latest outrages, and eagerly waits for her mysterious acquaintance to begin. For no matter how ghastly or confounding the crime, or how fiendishly tangled the plot, the Teahouse Detective can invariably find the solution without leaving the comfort of his café seat.
The man in the corner paused in his narrative and blinked at me over his bone-rimmed spectacles, like some lean and frowzy tom-cat eager for a fight.
The Case of Miss Elliot: A qualified medical professional in charge of the Convalescent Home in Suffolk avenue is found dead. Her throat is slit and the knife used to commit the crime is in her hand. Is this murder or suicide?
The Hocussing of Cigarette: Cigarette is a race horse that is secretly trained to represent the Earl of Okehampton. On the day of the race, the horse is found ill. The groom claims that he is a light sleeper but he slept unusually sound the whole night and couldn’t hear a thing until morning.
The Tragedy in Dartmoor Terrace: Mrs Yule fell down the stairs and died. Her biological son, William, married against her wishes and she disowned him. She adopted her gardener’s son, Willian Bloggs. She recently made a will saying that once William Bloggs is 21, he gets all her money and property. But just days before his 21st birthday, Mrs Yule falls to her death. Is her death a foul play or an accident?
Who Stole the Black Diamonds?: A royal family moves to Eton Chase, Chislehurst. They are in need of money and choose to sell rare black diamonds for half a million. They throw a party and during the party, the diamonds are stolen. The Wilsons, the interested party in purchasing the black diamonds are suspected of theft. A year later, the stones are found on the neck of Mrs Vanderdellen, a rich American widow.
The Murder of Miss Pebmarsh: Lucy Ann Pebmarsh lives with an elderly servant and her niece in one of the newly built houses not far from the railway station at Boreham Wood. On the fateful day, the servant goes to meet her ill sister while the young niece, Pamela, goes to the city for the day. In the middle of the night, the neighbours wake up to piercing screams. Pamela came home a few minutes ago to find her aunt lying dead on the floor. The next day, Pamela is arrested.
The Lisson Grove Mystery: Two boys playing outside Wembley Park station come across three packages. On opening the packages, they find a dismembered body. 3 days later, Amelia Dyke, residing at Lisson Grove Crescent comes home to find her father missing. Being an invalid, the old man couldn’t have gone out of his own. The dismembered body is found to be that of old Dyke. Amelia and her fiance`, Alfred Wyatt, are arrested for the murder.
The Tremarn Case: Two well-dressed men hail a cab. One gets down and asks the cab-man to drop the other at his destination. On reaching the destination, the cab-man waits for the man to get down but he doesn’t. On inspection, the cab-man finds that the man is murdered. The victim is none other than Philip Le Cheminant, nephew and heir-presumptive of the Earl of Tremarn.
The Fate of the Artemis: A ship is on it’s way to its destination, carrying arms and something important. Two hours after its departure from the port, the owner receives the news that the destination port might be full of sea mines. A trusted associate is sent to give in the message but on the day he was supposed to meet the ship at its port, he’s found gagged and the message is missing.
The Disappearance of Count Collini: Mr. Turnour is given the responsibility to be the guardian of his friend’s daughter. The girl, Alice, is supposed to marry Mr Turnour’s younger brother. But with loads of money in her account (thanks to her late father), she cold-shoulders Henry Turnour. Henry is devastated that the love of his life doesn’t want him anymore. Soon, Alice meets a rich Italian, Count Collini. After a brief affair, the duo get married. Henry meets the duo for a friendly get-together before Alice moves to Italy for good. The same night, Count Collini goes missing and is never found.
The Ayrsham Mystery: Old Mat Newton is found dead by two passer-byes. Newton was a happy man until his daughter ran away from home leaving behind a letter which said she’s going to marry a Lord. She came back four years later, pale and sick. The man she was supposed to marry left her. Mat Newton is now an angry man and wants the cheater to pay for what he did to his beloved daughter. But who could have murdered Mat Newton? His daughter’s lover? Or someone who wanted revenge?
The Affair at the Novelty Theater: Miss Phyllis Morgan, a fashionable and popular actress is in possession of exquisite pearls worth €10,000. She gave them to be restrung to a local jeweler – Mr Kidd. The man decides to take the pearls to the theater by himself as he can get to see the actress before her play as well as watch her performance. The actress decides to wear the pearls in the last act. The stage doorkeeper rushes in to say that someone tried to steal the pearl necklace but he managed to save the pearls from the perp. But the actress feels something is wrong and asks a jeweler to examine the pearls. The jeweler says that the pearls are fake.
The Tragedy of Barnsdale Manor: The house party at the Barnsdale Manor included a number of sporting and fashionable friends of Lord and Lady Barnsdale. Mme Quesnard, aunt of Lord Barnsdale, dislikes Lady Barnsdale. Alice Holt, Mme Quesnard’s maid, wakes up in the middle of the night to hear strange noises from her employer’s room. She sees that the door is locked from the outside and wakes the entire household by creating a scene. Lord Barnsdale unlocks the door to find his aunt dead.
After reading the first book in this series – The Old Man in the Corner, I was very much looking forward to read the second volume of The Teahouse Detective. I must say the collection of short stories in this volume are more interesting than the ones in Volume I. Also, it seems there is a third and final volume in this series. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
“What will you have with your tea?” he asked politely, the moment I was seated.
“A roll and butter and the end of the story,” I replied.
“Oh, the story has no end,” he said with a chuckle; “at least, not for the public. As for me, why, I never met a more simple ‘mystery’. Perhaps that is why the police were so completely at sea.”
The old man is quirky, witty and intelligent. He always manages to get a front seat at an inquest. I wonder how he does that! Consider the Ayrsham Mystery for instance, the old man goes to a small town just because the case interests him! The cases he solves are the ones that the police couldn’t. Like Polly Burton, even I wait to see what the old man has to offer next. Each of the cases he picks are distinct.
Go ahead and read The Teahouse Detective series by Baroness Emmuska Orczy because this is one of the best short story collection out there.
Title: The Teahouse Detective: The Case of Miss Elliot (Teahouse Detective Volume II)
Author: Baroness Emmuska Orczy
First published in 1905; reprint by Pushkin Vertigo on 13th August 2019
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Short Stories
Thank you, Pushkin Vertigo, for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.