26 November 2022
: MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
Our final in-store event of the year is happening on Saturday, on December 3rd, 2022 at 11:00 AM, with a Mystery Writers panel featuring the East Bay’s own Jospehine Mele, Camille Minichino and Donna Darling! This will be a reading and Q&A event, celebrating Josphine’s latest book Sicilian Sanctuary
and Donna’s debut historical novel The 3 Marias
Josephine (Jo) Mele is a world traveler, tour guide, magazine editor, and life-long mystery reader. Jo is the author of: The Odd Grandmothers
, a memoir of three generations of her Italian immigrant family; and the Travel Mystery
series, including Bullets in Bolivia
, Homicide in Havana
, Mystery in Monte Carlo
, Bandits in Brussels
, Death on the Danube
, Corpse in the Castle
, and her newly released Sicilian Sanctuary
. She is a member of Sisters in Crime
and California Writers Club
Camille Minichino (also known as Ada Madison and Margaret Grace), has been a factory worker, a translator, a teacher, an experimental physicist, a nuclear safeguards engineer, a writer, a waitress, a miniaturist, a paralegal, a nun, a minister, a short order cook, a ticket taker, an editor, a crafter, and a cotton candy twirler. She has also written five mystery series. What more can we say? You can learn more on her website Minichino.com
Donna Darling writes historical fiction, short stories, and novels for all ages. She worked in sales and marketing for over twenty years. Her Puerto Rican ancestry intrigued her, and she found many people knew little about the island that captured her heart. Her debut book, The 3 Marias, tells the story of a fictional family living through actual events that shaped the island. Her next book in the series follows the family to Hawaii. When not writing, Donna is traveling or sketching characters from her books. She is a member of the California Writers Club
, and a writers group with published authors.
This is an early talk, at 11:00 AM, so come and enjoy the conversation, and perhaps look at some books and chocolates, before carrying on with your Saturday lunch and afternoon plans!
26 November 2022
: GREAT NEWS! We're very excited to welcome the Hofssi Chocolates Pop-up Store in the shop for the holiday season!
19 November 2022
: Congratulations to Donna Darling on her debut novel The 3 Marias
! This work of historical fiction is set in Puerto Rico, 1895, a period of tumultuous change for the island, and tells the story of three sisters embroiled in rebellion, betrayal and lost love.
A secret threatens their bond when they are caught in a web of murder during the Spanish American War. After the massive hurricane of 1899, the three Marias are faced with the diffcult choice to stay and rebuild, or leave their home and their land.
(Oh, and there is one more thing. Donna will be speaking with her fellow local authors on mystery writing in a couple of weeks. More details to come!)
15 November 2022
: Mark your calendars!
This Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 3:00 PM
, we will be hosting a presentation and Q&A with Kelechi Ubozoh and Sharon Sobotta, Resiliency & Revisions: Navigating Our Mental Health & Meeting Ourselves Where We Are
. Come and hear our guests discuss their books, their journey and mental health.
Kelechi Ubozoh is a Nigerian-American writer, mental health advocate, and facilitator with over a decade of experience working in the California mental health system in the areas of research, advocacy, community engagement, suicide prevention, and peer support. Her book with LD Green, We’ve Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health
, elevates marginalized voices of lived experience who have endured psychiatric mistreatment is featured in the curriculum at Boston University and New York University. Her story of surviving a suicide attempt is featured in The S Word documentary
, O, The Oprah Magazine
and CBS This Morning with Gayle King
. In 2021, she was named a Mental Health Champion by the Steinberg Institute. Learn more at kelechiubozoh.com
Life can be overwhelming at times and often throws curve balls. What would happen if we set aside the expectations of others, stopped dimming our own lights and allowed ourselves to imagine or live a version of our own deferred dreams. As the daughter of a janitor dad who bounced in and out of her life as she grew up in a small Wisconsin town that was unforgiving of differences, Sharon Sobotta reveals what happened when she made good on a deferred childhood dream in her early thirties of taking Oprah's place as she discusses Confessions of a Dream Chaser
. Sharon invites us to embrace our authentic selves, own our past (even the turbulent portions of it), to live our best lives in the present. You can learn more about Sharon on her St. Mary's College Spotlight page
9 November 2022: Orinda's own Bob Albo joins our Local Authors bookcase with Her Dark Matter Necklace! This fast-paced metaphysical novel is the first book of a planned three book series.
Alice learns that as she sleeps, her consciousness actually explores the dark matter universe of Thronos, the universal spirit. And as Robert reveals the science of dark matter, the human soul, and other mysteries, he gives her a monumental task: bring beauty to your world. Alice meets Reina, an alien child, and together they learn that beauty can be many things, like a mother's love for a child, compassion for others, art. But what she doesn't know is that she is playing the key role in St. Robert's prophecy.
1 November 2022: Come visit Reasonable Books for a Meet-and-Greet with Meghan Joyce Tozer, this Saturday, November 5, 2022 starting at 3:00 PM! Meghan's debut novel, Night, Forgotten, is a psychological thriller that explores the consequences of sexual assualt for a young couple seemingly on the cusp of the life of their dreams.
“Absolutely, undeniably thrilling & crazy suspenseful!”
“A compelling jigsaw puzzle, a domestic thriller you won’t be able to put down and when you have finished it, you’ll want to reread it to see what you missed.”
“The ending was spine-tingling and will leave you speechless.”
We're looking forward to seeing you for this event! (Of course, we're always looking forward to seeing our customers :)
29 October 2022: The latest book to join our Local Authors bookcase is an eco-thriller set in the world of scientific research into disease and climate change on the island of Galveston, a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards by Mary Rae, M.D. and Wanda Venters, M.D., Break Bone Fever:
When Dr. Gennifer Drake's body washes up on a foggy beach on Galveston Island, Texas, Dr. Louise Finnerty, an emergency medicine physician, and Dr. Marnie Liccione, a recently widowed pediatrician, are shocked by their friend's death. As they delve into the murder investigation, they discover Gen had been researching a deadly new form of dengue fever at the ultra-high security Gulf National Laboratory. Aided by climate change, this mosquito borne illness, known as Break Bone Fever, is spreading northward and threatening the United States.
24 October 2022: Join us this Friday for our crime fiction writers' panel! This Friday, October 28, 2022 at 1:30 PM, it is our great pleasure to host "From Work to Fiction", with Bay Area authors T.L. Bequette, Bruce Lewis and Deven Greene, in a panel discussion and Q&A sure to be of interest to aspiring writers as well as fans of the genre interested in a behind-the-scenes look into its craft. An attorney, a journalist, and a physician describe how their work experience informs their crime fiction writing.
T.L. Bequette’s Joe Carroll mystery series draws on his 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney where he has tried more than 20 murder cases. His debut novel, Good Lookin', won the Independent Press Award for Crime Fiction, a Chanticleer International Book Award, and was recently named a Finalist for an American Fiction Award. Follow him at TLBequette.com.
In his crime thriller Bloody Paws, former journalist Bruce Lewis used his newspaper experience to create a fictional crime reporter who keeps readers updated on police progress in their murder investigation. Lewis is the author of three crime thrillers with a message, including Bloody Paws (homelessness), Bloody Pages (intergenerational abuse), and Bloody Feathers (wildlife preservation). Follow him at BloodyThrillers.com.
Deven Greene uses her experience as a biochemist and pathologist in her writing of medical suspense. She recently completed the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, comprised of Unnatural, Unwitting, and Unforeseen, involving human embryonic gene editing, autism, and the pharmaceutical industry. Follow her at DevenGreene.com.
We look forward to seeing you this Friday, and please feel free to RSVP for this event at email@example.com!
19 October 2022: From Roxbury, MA to a career with IBM in New York followed by a career as restaurateur in Costa Rica, Anthony Florence's life has been about "trying to hold on", and it is a pleasure to welcome his memoir Hell's Heaven to the Local Authors bookcase!
I attended the University of Massachusetts and a computer electronics class at Benjamin Franklin Institute, where IBM hired me. After 20 years in the world of high technology, I became disillusioned with corporate life and moved with my family to Costa Rica, where I had the pleasure of meeting a man named Dr. Deepak Chopra, who contacted me and invited my wife and I to join him at his private lunch with the presidential candidate of Costa Rica during his one-day conference. How? TheAnthonyFlorence.com
13 October 2022: Mark your calendars! This Saturday, October 15, 2022, we will be visited by adoptable cats from Community Concern for Cats with a Blessing of the Animals, and Marty Nemko, author of Careers for Dummies and numerous other books about life and career choices! The cats will arrive at 11:00 AM and Marty joins us at 3:00 PM to discuss his books and answer your questions.
From Community Concern for Cats: In honor of St. Francis (whose feast day was October 4), Reasonable Books will feature animals inside and out on October 15 from 11:00 to 2:00. Inside, Community Concern for Cats will have a playpen full of adorable, adoptable kittens for you to ooh and aww over. Outside, Pastor Lauren Michelle of Lafayette United Methodist Church will perform the traditional Blessing of the Animals. Pets should be on a leash or in a secure carrier. Only bring your pet if you know they are comfortable with other animals and people. If your pet is not able to attend, Pastor Lauren Michelle will be happy to bless a picture of a pet instead!
12 October 2022: Congratulations to Isidra Mencos on the release of her memoir, Promenade of Desire! Born and raised in Barcelona during and after the Franco dictatorship, Isidra joins our Local Authors bookcase with a frank and moving story of entering adulthood during a time of immense cultural and political change.
"A brave and unblinkingly honest portrait of a young woman's sensual and sexual awakening in the face of censure and repression, and her refusal to be held back by the constraints of her family, culture, and religion... Her story is shameless, in the very best sense of the word." Joyce Maynard, New York Times best-selling author of Labor Day, To Die For, and Count The Ways
14 September 2022: UPDATE: SOLD OUT! Mark your calendars again! Our second in-store event of the season is happening the weekend after Glen Dahlgren's in-store talk about his Chronicles of Chaos series, Saturday September 24th, from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM, with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Kevin Fisher-Paulson, and Jill Hedgecock, internationally published author and most recently the author of Queen of the Rhino!
(As you know, space in the shop is limited. You can email an RSVP for any of our in-store events to firstname.lastname@example.org to help us prepare for the use of the space and seating.)
10 September 2022: Mark your calendars! Our first in-store event of the season is happening next week, Saturday September 17th, from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM, with fantasy fiction and Chronicles of Chaos author Glen Dahlgren. Geln will be here to speak about his writing and his latest book, The House of Prophecy.
2 September 2022: John Steinbeck is believed to have remarked, "I guess there are never enough books," and he was right! Congratulations to Jill Hedgecock for her latest novel, Queen of the Rhino!: Seventeen-year-old Claire’s role in a dramatic effort to save two rhinos while visiting South Africa caused her to become a social media sensation known as #QueenoftheRhino, but the trauma of the encounter left her with emotional scars. When Claire agrees to travel to Kenya with her father and his annoying new wife to meet a potential donor for her Rhino in the Room Foundation, she suspects she may have been brought to Africa under false pretenses. Can Claire face her demons and unravel who is behind the sinister events in time to save the endangered rhinos she cares so much for?
16 August 2022: Congratulations to Deven Greene on the publication of the third book in her Erica Rosen MD trilogy, "Unforeseen"! Pediatrician Erica Rosen is stymied when two of her patients don't respond to medicine as expected. When other patients later develop strange, unexpected illnesses, she is determined to get to the bottom of it... Erica is convinced something nefarious is underfoot, and Dr. Nilsen, rather than simply being after her job, is engaged in a dangerous scheme involving her patients. Unable to recruit the help of law enforcement in a timely manner, she realizes she must take matters into her own hands. As she proceeds with her investigation, she is unaware of the dangers she is about to encounter.
13 August 2022: In “Bloody Pages”, Bruce Lewis reprises Detective Kim Jansen in the riveting follow-up to 2021’s “Bloody Paws”: The theft of priceless books from a public library and the bloody attack on a security guard trying to protect them set Jansen on a twisting road of contradictory evidence and multiple suspects. At the center of the mystery is a 100-year-old family secret tied to photographer Edward S. Curtis' 20- volume masterpiece, The North American Indian.
10 August 2022: Our collection of books by local authors is growing! Martin Patin brings us a novel for young readers, Roebell Sandwich, a fictional story about the ups and downs in the life of one twelve-year-old boy growing up in Queens, New York, in the 1970s.
31 May 2022: Michael Barrington, East Bay resident and native of Manchester, England, joins our Local Authors bookcase with his memoir and three novels!
Set during a pivotal period in the history of the Catholic church and bloody civil war in Nigeria, The Bishop Wears No Drawers is a true-to-life "survivor" tale replete with adrenaline-pumping adventures, daunting challenges and the added dimension of one priest's profound religious struggle to find his true self.
Michael has also penned three novels, Let the Peacock Sing, Becoming Anya, and The Ethiopian Affair.
Let the Peacock Sing is a captivating and unrequited love story set against the action-packed background of the French Resistance in 1942.
In Becoming Anya, an historical novel set in World War Two and its aftermath, a nun overcomes tragedy and crisis through loving relationships to finally become the woman she was meant to be.
Michael's latest novel, The Ethiopian Affair, is an international thriller about a plot to kidnap the US ambassador to Ethiopia. Two super code-breaking agents a man from M16 and woman from the CIA, with the clock ticking, struggle with their emotions and mutual attraction while their whirlwind investigation takes them through Somalia, Kenya, El Salvador, Egypt, England and the USA, raising more questions than answers
27 May 2022: Just in time for Summer traveling, Paul Kalas joins the Local Authors bookcase! "Crete Swim" is a new adventure guide for people who love to travel and swim, with over 20 locations around the Mediterranean island of Crete, where open water swimmers can discover routes between 25 meters and 6 km that have a particular beauty, novelty, scenery, or history. You can learn more about the book here.
10 May 2022: Concord's Al Garrotto joins the Local Authors bookcase with his latest novel based on Victor Hugo's classic Les Misérables, "Inspector Javert at the Gates of Hell". This book is literally "Big in Japan"! Inspector Javert, Victor Hugo’s fictional antihero, stands on the parapet. Below him, the swirling River Seine beckons. He hesitates, then… steps forward. What happens next? Does he cease to exist. Does he find life on the other side of life as we know it here on Earth? If he does what sort of existence awaits Javert on that “other side”?
28 April 2022: The East Bay's own Josephine Mele has just published the sequel to her "Two Travel Mysteries"! In "Two Travel Mysteries: Book 2" you can enjoy June Gordon's latest adventures with "Death on the Danube" and "Corpse in the Castle". As Camille Minichino writes, "Grab your favorite regional dessert (June always does) and be ready for engaging trips throught he means, motives and opportunities of amateur sleuthing."
27 April 2022: Support local businesses and double your spending power! The Lafayette City Council has allocated American Rescue Plan Act funds to support its local businesses with the Lafayette Shop Local eCard Pilot Program. Each eCard purchase will be matched with a second eCard of equal value for use at local businesses including Reasonable Books. You can learn more here, and purchase eCards here.
23 March 2022: In anticipation of her upcoming book event in Orinda (Friday, April 29, 2022 at the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church), Francie Low's memoir "Alive and Fixable" joins the Local Authors bookcase. For fifteen months after Tony's cycling accident, Francie protected Tony on his bumpy road to recovery and he protected his family from knowing just how much he hurt. Together they learned to never give up and to accept help. Love was everywhere, inspiring Tony and Francie to stay positive and look for the community of angels floating into their lives.
18 March 2022: Andree Prendergast joins our Local Authors bookcase with three delightful books for young children! Meet Callie, a free spirited and lovable girl who has a great family and lots of friends, but who thinks she could be happier if only she were a princess. Come on the journey with Callie as she uncovers the secrets of becoming a princess, and in the process, makes some greater discoveries about herself. Every Little Girl is a Princess.
In "Toby Got Out!", Toby is a great dog – just about the best pet ever, except for one detail: Toby likes adventure!
And in "Snug Bug Makes New Friends", a lonely bug learns that friendship is about who you are, not what you look like.
29 December 2021: Season's Greetings and best wishes for the New Year to you from Reasonable Books! The impressive collection of novels from our Local Authors bookcase continues to grow with the addition of "Typhoon Coast" by Mark R. Clifford. You can learn more about Mark's wide ranging background in this recent article from the Lamorinda Weekly. Trent and Eddie follow childhood’s illusions of grandeur through San Francisco, then become men in the vast Philippine mountains. Mount Pinatubo explodes with apocalyptic fury, but does it take the Golden Lily Treasure with it? Eddie and Trent are not alone in the hunt. The trillions in treasure could afford the US government incredible power in international affairs and bankroll the nation’s black operations. It’s all fair game.
9 December 2021: Welcome to the Local Authors bookcase, Lydia Osborn! Lydia wrote Ideal, the first book of her two-novel duology, in 2018 at the age of thirteen. The world of twin sisters Mara and Kat Cyania was ideal. As magically-enhanced Witch Warriors the girls spend their days happily training and fighting in martial and magical arts, preparing to battle the soulless killers that have been plaguing their planet for centuries. All goes well until Mara discovers a deadly secret - one of their kind has betrayed them and is preparing to destroy their world.
Lydia penned her sequel Revenant just this year. All too easily, the hunters can become the hunted. That's what Mara and Kat learn as their lives are upended by the sudden appearance of their mother, bringing questions about their past and their destiny as the not-so-holy children of Angels. After spending their entire lives hunting monsters, Mara and Kat are forced to confront the possibility that they could be the biggest monsters of them all.
24 November 2021: Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, Bruce Lewis joins our Local Authors bookcase with "Bloody Paws: A Kim Jansen Detective Novel". When veterinary college sweethearts Jim Briggs and Helen Williams broke up to pursue careers in other parts of the country, they had no idea a tragedy would reunite them around a common cause six years later in Portland, Oregon where Briggs operated a mobile canine care service.
18 November 2021: As we get ready for tomorrow's author event, "Connecting Through Stories", we are happy to welcome Ben Schwartz to our Local Authors bookcase with his collection of stories, "Everything There Was To Tell". Brothers and sisters drawn by their father’s death back home to the family farm, a friend wrestling with the ghastly consequences of his own inattention, a very-ill man’s pilgrimage to the high mountains of California—these spare and deeply western stories crackle with hard-earned grief, love, and, when it matters most, humor. (Daniel Duane)
9 November 2021: It's with great pleasure that we welcome Lee Gale Gruen to our Local Authors bookcase! Lee Gale retired at age sixty from her thirty-seven-year career as a probation officer and started attending an acting class for seniors just as a pastime. A few weeks later her mother died, and she invited her grieving, eighty-five-year-old father to come to class with her. "Adventures with Dad" is the true story of their magical journey attending that class together for three years, and their bonding through that experience more than ever before.
Lee Gale has also penned "Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement Years: Find Joy, Excitement, and Purpose After You Retire". Not a one-size-fits-all approach, this book offers an individualized guide for retirees and seniors in this new stage of their life based on their own likes and comfort level. It offers ways to identify what might interest you and suggests numerous activities and pursuits as well as how and where to find them. You can read more about Lee Gale's journeys here.
SOMETHING TO READ
Dorothy L. Sayers
A Lord Peter Whimsy novel, 1923.
“Oh, damn!” said Lord Peter Wimsey at Piccadilly Circus. “Hi, driver!”
The taxi man, irritated at receiving this appeal while negotiating the
intricacies of turning into Lower Regent Street across the route of a
19 ’bus, a 38-B and a bicycle, bent an unwilling ear.
“I’ve left the catalogue behind,” said Lord Peter deprecatingly.
“Uncommonly careless of me. D’you mind puttin’ back to where we came
“To the Savile Club, sir?”
“No—110 Piccadilly—just beyond—thank you.”
“Thought you was in a hurry,” said the man, overcome with a sense of
“I’m afraid it’s an awkward place to turn in,” said Lord Peter,
answering the thought rather than the words. His long, amiable face
looked as if it had generated spontaneously from his top hat, as white
maggots breed from Gorgonzola.
The taxi, under the severe eye of a policeman, revolved by slow jerks,
with a noise like the grinding of teeth.
The block of new, perfect and expensive flats in which Lord Peter
dwelt upon the second floor, stood directly opposite the Green Park,
in a spot for many years occupied by the skeleton of a frustrate
commercial enterprise. As Lord Peter let himself in he heard his man’s
voice in the library, uplifted in that throttled stridency peculiar to
well-trained persons using the telephone.
“I believe that’s his lordship just coming in again—if your Grace would
kindly hold the line a moment.”
“What is it, Bunter?”
“Her Grace has just called up from Denver, my lord. I was just saying
your lordship had gone to the sale when I heard your lordship’s
“Thanks,” said Lord Peter; “and you might find me my catalogue, would
you? I think I must have left it in my bedroom, or on the desk.”
He sat down to the telephone with an air of leisurely courtesy, as
though it were an acquaintance dropped in for a chat.
“Hullo, Mother—that you?”
“Oh, there you are, dear,” replied the voice of the Dowager Duchess. “I
was afraid I’d just missed you.”
“Well, you had, as a matter of fact. I’d just started off to
Brocklebury’s sale to pick up a book or two, but I had to come back for
the catalogue. What’s up?”
“Such a quaint thing,” said the Duchess. “I thought I’d tell you. You
know little Mr. Thipps?”
“Thipps?” said Lord Peter. “Thipps? Oh, yes, the little architect man
who’s doing the church roof. Yes. What about him?”
“Mrs. Throgmorton’s just been in, in quite a state of mind.”
“Sorry, Mother, I can’t hear. Mrs. Who?”
“Throgmorton—Throgmorton—the vicar’s wife.”
“Oh, Throgmorton, yes?”
“Mr. Thipps rang them up this morning. It was his day to come down, you
“He rang them up to say he couldn’t. He was so upset, poor little man.
He’d found a dead body in his bath.”
“Sorry, Mother, I can’t hear; found what, where?”
“A dead body, dear, in his bath.”
“What?—no, no, we haven’t finished. Please don’t cut us off. Hullo!
Hullo! Is that you, Mother? Hullo!—Mother!—Oh, yes—sorry, the girl was
trying to cut us off. What sort of body?”
“A dead man, dear, with nothing on but a pair of pince-nez. Mrs.
Throgmorton positively blushed when she was telling me. I’m afraid
people do get a little narrow-minded in country vicarages.”
“Well, it sounds a bit unusual. Was it anybody he knew?”
“No, dear, I don’t think so, but, of course, he couldn’t give her many
details. She said he sounded quite distracted. He’s such a respectable
little man—and having the police in the house and so on, really worried
“Poor little Thipps! Uncommonly awkward for him. Let’s see, he lives in
Battersea, doesn’t he?”
“Yes, dear; 59, Queen Caroline Mansions; opposite the Park. That big
block just round the corner from the Hospital. I thought perhaps you’d
like to run round and see him and ask if there’s anything we can do. I
always thought him a nice little man.”
“Oh, quite,” said Lord Peter, grinning at the telephone. The Duchess
was always of the greatest assistance to his hobby of criminal
investigation, though she never alluded to it, and maintained a polite
fiction of its non-existence.
“What time did it happen, Mother?”
“I think he found it early this morning, but, of course, he didn’t
think of telling the Throgmortons just at first. She came up to me just
before lunch—so tiresome, I had to ask her to stay. Fortunately, I was
alone. I don’t mind being bored myself, but I hate having my guests
“Poor old Mother! Well, thanks awfully for tellin’ me. I think I’ll
send Bunter to the sale and toddle round to Battersea now an’ try and
console the poor little beast. So-long.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Her Grace tells me that a respectable Battersea architect has
discovered a dead man in his bath.”
“Indeed, my lord? That’s very gratifying.”
“Very, Bunter. Your choice of words is unerring. I wish Eton and
Balliol had done as much for me. Have you found the catalogue?”
“Here it is, my lord.”
“Thanks. I am going to Battersea at once. I want you to attend the sale
for me. Don’t lose time—I don’t want to miss the Folio Dante[A] nor the
de Voragine—here you are—see? ‘Golden Legend’—Wynkyn de Worde, 1493—got
that?—and, I say, make a special effort for the Caxton folio of the
‘Four Sons of Aymon’—it’s the 1489 folio and unique. Look! I’ve marked
the lots I want, and put my outside offer against each. Do your best
for me. I shall be back to dinner.”
“Very good, my lord.”
“Take my cab and tell him to hurry. He may for you; he doesn’t like
me very much. Can I,” said Lord Peter, looking at himself in the
eighteenth-century mirror over the mantelpiece, “can I have the heart
to fluster the flustered Thipps further—that’s very difficult to say
quickly—by appearing in a top-hat and frock-coat? I think not. Ten to
one he will overlook my trousers and mistake me for the undertaker.
A grey suit, I fancy, neat but not gaudy, with a hat to tone, suits
my other self better. Exit the amateur of first editions; new motive
introduced by solo bassoon; enter Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a
walking gentleman. There goes Bunter. Invaluable fellow—never offers to
do his job when you’ve told him to do somethin’ else. Hope he doesn’t
miss the ‘Four Sons of Aymon.’ Still, there _is_ another copy of
that—in the Vatican.[B] It might become available, you never know —if
the Church of Rome went to pot or Switzerland invaded Italy—whereas a
strange corpse doesn’t turn up in a suburban bathroom more than once
in a lifetime—at least, I should think not—at any rate, the number
of times it’s happened, _with_ a pince-nez, might be counted on the
fingers of one hand, I imagine. Dear me! it’s a dreadful mistake to
ride two hobbies at once.”
He had drifted across the passage into his bedroom, and was changing
with a rapidity one might not have expected from a man of his
mannerisms. He selected a dark-green tie to match his socks and tied it
accurately without hesitation or the slightest compression of his lips;
substituted a pair of brown shoes for his black ones, slipped a monocle
into a breast pocket, and took up a beautiful Malacca walking-stick
with a heavy silver knob.
“That’s all, I think,” he murmured to himself. “Stay—I may as well have
you—you may come in useful—one never knows.” He added a flat silver
matchbox to his equipment, glanced at his watch, and seeing that it
was already a quarter to three, ran briskly downstairs, and, hailing a
taxi, was carried to Battersea Park.
* * * * *
Mr. Alfred Thipps was a small, nervous man, whose flaxen hair was
beginning to abandon the unequal struggle with destiny. One might
say that his only really marked feature was a large bruise over the
left eyebrow, which gave him a faintly dissipated air incongruous
with the rest of his appearance. Almost in the same breath with his
first greeting, he made a self-conscious apology for it, murmuring
something about having run against the dining-room door in the dark.
He was touched almost to tears by Lord Peter’s thoughtfulness and
condescension in calling.
“I’m sure it’s most kind of your lordship,” he repeated for the
dozenth time, rapidly blinking his weak little eyelids. “I appreciate
it very deeply, very deeply, indeed, and so would Mother, only she’s
so deaf, I don’t like to trouble you with making her understand. It’s
been very hard all day,” he added, “with the policemen in the house
and all this commotion. It’s what Mother and me have never been used
to, always living very retired, and it’s most distressing to a man of
regular habits, my lord, and reely, I’m almost thankful Mother doesn’t
understand, for I’m sure it would worry her terribly if she was to know
about it. She was upset at first, but she’s made up some idea of her
own about it now, and I’m sure it’s all for the best.”
The old lady who sat knitting by the fire nodded grimly in response to
a look from her son.
“I always said as you ought to complain about that bath, Alfred,” she
said suddenly, in the high, piping voice peculiar to the deaf, “and
it’s to be ’oped the landlord’ll see about it now; not but what I think
you might have managed without having the police in, but there! you
always were one to make a fuss about a little thing, from chicken-pox
“There now,” said Mr. Thipps apologetically, “you see how it is.
Not but what it’s just as well she’s settled on that, because she
understands we’ve locked up the bathroom and don’t try to go in
there. But it’s been a terrible shock to me, sir—my lord, I should
say, but there! my nerves are all to pieces. Such a thing has never
’appened—happened to me in all my born days. Such a state I was in this
morning—I didn’t know if I was on my head or my heels—I reely didn’t,
and my heart not being too strong, I hardly knew how to get out of
that horrid room and telephone for the police. It’s affected me, sir,
it’s affected me, it reely has—I couldn’t touch a bit of breakfast,
nor lunch neither, and what with telephoning and putting off clients
and interviewing people all morning, I’ve hardly known what to do with
“I’m sure it must have been uncommonly distressin’,” said Lord Peter,
sympathetically, “especially comin’ like that before breakfast. Hate
anything tiresome happenin’ before breakfast. Takes a man at such a
confounded disadvantage, what?”
“That’s just it, that’s just it,” said Mr. Thipps, eagerly. “When I saw
that dreadful thing lying there in my bath, mother-naked, too, except
for a pair of eyeglasses, I assure you, my lord, it regularly turned
my stomach, if you’ll excuse the expression. I’m not very strong, sir,
and I get that sinking feeling sometimes in the morning, and what with
one thing and another I ’ad—had to send the girl for a stiff brandy,
or I don’t know _what_ mightn’t have happened. I felt so queer, though
I’m anything but partial to spirits as a rule. Still, I make it a rule
never to be without brandy in the house, in case of emergency, you
“Very wise of you,” said Lord Peter, cheerfully. “You’re a very
far-seein’ man, Mr. Thipps. Wonderful what a little nip’ll do in case
of need, and the less you’re used to it the more good it does you.
Hope your girl is a sensible young woman, what? Nuisance to have women
faintin’ and shriekin’ all over the place.”
“Oh, Gladys is a good girl,” said Mr. Thipps, “very reasonable indeed.
She was shocked, of course; that’s very understandable. I was shocked
myself, and it wouldn’t be proper in a young woman not to be shocked
under the circumstances, but she is reely a helpful, energetic girl in
a crisis, if you understand me. I consider myself very fortunate these
days to have got a good, decent girl to do for me and Mother, even
though she is a bit careless and forgetful about little things, but
that’s only natural. She was very sorry indeed about having left the
bathroom window open, she reely was, and though I was angry at first,
seeing what’s come of it, it wasn’t anything to speak of, not in the
ordinary way, as you might say. Girls will forget things, you know, my
lord, and reely she was so distressed I didn’t like to say too much to
her. All I said was: ‘It might have been burglars,’ I said, ‘remember
that, next time you leave a window open all night; this time it was
a dead man,’ I said, ‘and that’s unpleasant enough, but next time it
might be burglars,’ I said, ‘and all of us murdered in our beds.’ But
the police-inspector—Inspector Sugg, they called him, from the Yard—he
was very sharp with her, poor girl. Quite frightened her, and made her
think he suspected her of something, though what good a body could be
to her, poor girl, I can’t imagine, and so I told the Inspector. He was
quite rude to me, my lord—I may say I didn’t like his manner at all.
‘If you’ve got anything definite to accuse Gladys or me of, Inspector,’
I said to him, ‘bring it forward, that’s what you have to do,’ I said,
‘but I’ve yet to learn that you’re paid to be rude to a gentleman in
his own ’ouse—house.’ Reely,” said Mr. Thipps, growing quite pink on
the top of his head, “he regularly roused me, regularly roused me, my
lord, and I’m a mild man as a rule.”
“Sugg all over,” said Lord Peter. “I know him. When he don’t know what
else to say, he’s rude. Stands to reason you and the girl wouldn’t
go collectin’ bodies. Who’d want to saddle himself with a body?
Difficulty’s usually to get rid of ’em. Have you got rid of this one
yet, by the way?”
“It’s still in the bathroom,” said Mr. Thipps. “Inspector Sugg
said nothing was to be touched till his men came in to move it. I’m
expecting them at any time. If it would interest your lordship to have
a look at it—”
“Thanks awfully,” said Lord Peter. “I’d like to very much, if I’m not
puttin’ you out.”
“Not at all,” said Mr. Thipps. His manner as he led the way along
the passage convinced Lord Peter of two things—first, that, gruesome
as his exhibit was, he rejoiced in the importance it reflected upon
himself and his flat, and secondly, that Inspector Sugg had forbidden
him to exhibit it to anyone. The latter supposition was confirmed by
the action of Mr. Thipps, who stopped to fetch the door-key from his
bedroom, saying that the police had the other, but that he made it a
rule to have two keys to every door, in case of accident.
The bathroom was in no way remarkable. It was long and narrow, the
window being exactly over the head of the bath. The panes were of
frosted glass; the frame wide enough to admit a man’s body. Lord Peter
stepped rapidly across to it, opened it and looked out.
The flat was the top one of the building and situated about the middle
of the block. The bathroom window looked out upon the back-yards of the
flats, which were occupied by various small outbuildings, coal-holes,
garages, and the like. Beyond these were the back gardens of a parallel
line of houses. On the right rose the extensive edifice of St. Luke’s
Hospital, Battersea, with its grounds, and, connected with it by a
covered way, the residence of the famous surgeon, Sir Julian Freke,
who directed the surgical side of the great new hospital, and was, in
addition, known in Harley Street as a distinguished neurologist with a
highly individual point of view.
This information was poured into Lord Peter’s ear at considerable
length by Mr. Thipps, who seemed to feel that the neighbourhood of
anybody so distinguished shed a kind of halo of glory over Queen
“We had him round here himself this morning,” he said, “about this
horrid business. Inspector Sugg thought one of the young medical
gentlemen at the hospital might have brought the corpse round
for a joke, as you might say, they always having bodies in the
dissecting-room. So Inspector Sugg went round to see Sir Julian this
morning to ask if there was a body missing. He was very kind, was Sir
Julian, very kind indeed, though he was at work when they got there, in
the dissecting-room. He looked up the books to see that all the bodies
were accounted for, and then very obligingly came round here to look at
this”—he indicated the bath—“and said he was afraid he couldn’t help
us—there was no corpse missing from the hospital, and this one didn’t
answer to the description of any they’d had.”
“Nor to the description of any of the patients, I hope,” suggested Lord
At this grisly hint Mr. Thipps turned pale.
“I didn’t hear Inspector Sugg inquire,” he said, with some agitation.
“What a very horrid thing that would be—God bless my soul, my lord, I
never thought of it.”
“Well, if they had missed a patient they’d probably have discovered it
by now,” said Lord Peter. “Let’s have a look at this one.”
He screwed his monocle into his eye, adding: “I see you’re troubled
here with the soot blowing in. Beastly nuisance, ain’t it? I get it,
too—spoils all my books, you know. Here, don’t you trouble, if you
don’t care about lookin’ at it.”
He took from Mr. Thipps’s hesitating hand the sheet which had been
flung over the bath, and turned it back.
The body which lay in the bath was that of a tall, stout man of
about fifty. The hair, which was thick and black and naturally curly,
had been cut and parted by a master hand, and exuded a faint violet
perfume, perfectly recognisable in the close air of the bathroom. The
features were thick, fleshy and strongly marked, with prominent dark
eyes, and a long nose curving down to a heavy chin. The clean-shaven
lips were full and sensual, and the dropped jaw showed teeth stained
with tobacco. On the dead face the handsome pair of gold pince-nez
mocked death with grotesque elegance; the fine gold chain curved over
the naked breast. The legs lay stiffly stretched out side by side; the
arms reposed close to the body; the fingers were flexed naturally. Lord
Peter lifted one arm, and looked at the hand with a little frown.
“Bit of a dandy, your visitor, what?” he murmured. “Parma violet and
manicure.” He bent again, slipping his hand beneath the head. The
absurd eyeglasses slipped off, clattering into the bath, and the noise
put the last touch to Mr. Thipps’s growing nervousness.
“If you’ll excuse me,” he murmured, “it makes me feel quite faint, it
He slipped outside, and he had no sooner done so than Lord Peter,
lifting the body quickly and cautiously, turned it over and inspected
it with his head on one side, bringing his monocle into play with
the air of the late Joseph Chamberlain approving a rare orchid. He
then laid the head over his arm, and bringing out the silver matchbox
from his pocket, slipped it into the open mouth. Then making the
noise usually written “Tut-tut,” he laid the body down, picked up
the mysterious pince-nez, looked at it, put it on his nose and looked
through it, made the same noise again, readjusted the pince-nez upon
the nose of the corpse, so as to leave no traces of interference for
the irritation of Inspector Sugg; rearranged the body; returned to
the window and, leaning out, reached upwards and sideways with his
walking-stick, which he had somewhat incongruously brought along with
him. Nothing appearing to come of these investigations, he withdrew his
head, closed the window, and rejoined Mr. Thipps in the passage.
Mr. Thipps, touched by this sympathetic interest in the younger son
of a duke, took the liberty, on their return to the sitting-room, of
offering him a cup of tea. Lord Peter, who had strolled over to the
window and was admiring the outlook on Battersea Park, was about to
accept, when an ambulance came into view at the end of Prince of Wales
Road. Its appearance reminded Lord Peter of an important engagement,
and with a hurried “By Jove!” he took his leave of Mr. Thipps.
“My mother sent kind regards and all that,” he said, shaking hands
fervently; “hopes you’ll soon be down at Denver again. Good-bye, Mrs.
Thipps,” he bawled kindly into the ear of the old lady. “Oh, no, my
dear sir, please don’t trouble to come down.”
He was none too soon. As he stepped out of the door and turned towards
the station, the ambulance drew up from the other direction, and
Inspector Sugg emerged from it with two constables. The Inspector spoke
to the officer on duty at the Mansions, and turned a suspicious gaze on
Lord Peter’s retreating back.
“Dear old Sugg,” said that nobleman, fondly, “dear, dear old bird! How
he does hate me, to be sure.”