The Case of the Uneven Grey

Marshall Rodes, Contributing Writer

My companion Lock smiled as we walked through the honorable and stimulating squalor of London. “To insist on lending us her driver, through these roads.” He shook his head at the receding view of an ornate coach and handsome horse bracketed by all manners of bare buggies and uncombed manes. A lady had sent with the carriage an inquisition and request, the letter, which Lock read while deftly dodging traffic and navigating to the postmarked address. Below is a transcription of the letter.


To whom it may concern (eg. skilled deducers),

I bid you come at once to investigate a tragic event involving my husband, the now late Henry Clarence. Early this morning I came to my senses hearing a dreadful thud, rushing out to see my husband (now late) already cold with deadness. I immediately dashed off this letter –please excuse the various improprieties, abbreviations, poor stationary, etc.– am in such a hurry to implore you to come to the address on the envelope. My mind is in such disarray at the possibility of foul play, it seems impossible with only me and old Cooke (the servant) in the house and he has never once lied.

Your humble and anxious servant, 

Mrs. Henry Clarence


We arrived at the house. Lock had raised his fist to knock the heavy oaken door when it swung open smoothly by the hand of a tired manservant wearing a grey coat, one tail shorter than the other. Lock strode into the hall. The foyer was tastefully decorated with ancestors past, Turkish rugs and tiger skins. The precise tick and tock from the grandfather clock pierced the gloom of the dark entry hall whilst an ebony umbrella stand and narwhale ivory hatrack stood sentinel. Mr. Clarence had been a man of eminence and his political and economic, if not his personal, health was evidenced by the artifacts collected over some 60 years of life. The outline of the body lay immovable, between a threadbare sheet and a threadbare carpet. He was morbidly obese, quite morbidly it had turned out.

“My dear Mrs. Clarence, my condolences. It is my understanding that you are not the only occupant of the house, besides the recently departed.”

“Hmm”, she pecked distractedly, “Mhmm, yes. Cooke, behind you there. Lived here since he was a boy. He has always been an honest man”

“So I may deduce from your words he will tell the truth if I ask him a question?”

“Yes, quite true, quite a deduction.”

“Cooke, I would like to ask you a question. What occupied your time this morning?”

“Well sir, I woke up, set the fires around the house, prepared breakfast and then set about stabbing Mr. Clarence.”

“Gordon, I believe I have solved the case.”

“Why! Sir we have only been here for the better part of five minutes, I’m still in my galoshes! How could any man have deduced the series of events that lead up to this man’s death so quickly?”

“You see my dear Gordon, it was elementary. I made a series of deductions, the sieve of reason eliminates possibilities leading to an inexorable conclusion, the murderer was Cooke.”

“My God!” exclaimed the lady, forgetting herself. “What will you accept, 40 guinea? Your services have been beyond the value of monetary compensation”

Gorden frowned, “Do you not think you lend Mr. Lock too much credit? After all, I did say I murdered Mr. Clarence. I am a very honest man. Perhaps I deserve some praise as well?”

Lock simply stretched his face into a grin. Turning on his heel, Cooke held the door open. The carriage was just arriving as we walked out into the world, daring a puzzle even greater to put the brilliant mind of Lock to the test, or perhaps a test even greater to puzzle him.