17 April 2021
: Those who enjoy good mysteries may be familiar with Dorothy L. Sayers, a contemporary of Agathie Christie during the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" in the period between the World Wars. Arguably the better writer, if not the more accomplished plotter, she wrote numerous novels including "Whose Body?" the first chapter of which you can read below
. We also have a few scarce first editions of her novels in the store.
14 April 2021
: Debut thriller "Good Lookin'" joins the Local Authors bookcase! T. L. Bequette weaves a drama focused on a fight for justice involving a lawyer and his, obscure young client accused of murder. You can read the detailed review (itself quite a piece) on Kirkus Reviews
31 March 2021
: Adria Martinez adds a fun book for little readers to the Local Authors bookcase with "Tartlin the Terrific Tortoise Dog
". Tartlin is a desert tortoise who is adopted by a lively little girl on her eighth birthday. The little girl's disappointment at gaining a reptile instead of a dog or even a cat quickly fades, as she learns to accept Tartlin for the slow-moving and expressionless reptile that he is.
26 March 2021
: The commemorative edition of Amanda Gorman's Inaugural Poem for the Country, "The Hill We Climb", goes on sale next Tuesday, 30 March 2021! We will have a few in-store for you on that day.
16 March 2021
: Victoria Lorrekovich-Miller's "If a Mantis Finds a Fly in the Sky" joins our other local authors in the Local Authors Bookcase. Victoria is an award-winning author of short stories and essays. She writes for animal magazines like The Bark, Dog & Kennel, and Animal Wellness Magazine, and her fiction can be seen in Cricket magazine and on the WOW website.
12 March 2021
: Hello, friends! Our greatest hope is that you will enjoy visiting the store and browsing our bookcases. However, we are now partnering with Bookshop.org for those who would like to support their local bookstore online. You can order books via Reasonable Books here.
Please send any comments or suggestions to us at email@example.com.
3 March 2021
: Josephine Mele brings mystery and memoir to the Reasonable Books Local Authors bookcase with four titles. The first three books are a page-turning blend of travelogue and mystery that will keep you up at night trying to solve the puzzle amid exotic locales. Learn about the culture, food, and people of each country as you travel along with June Gordon to try and solve a murder.
In "The Odd Grandmothers", Josephine tells the story of three generations of strong Italian matriarchs, and how they struggled to make a better life for their children. The book takes us from old Sicily, to Brooklyn, to San Francisco and back.
26 February 2021
: Kent Gordon has added two of his books to the Local Authors bookcase. The first is "Victory over Anxiety, Depression & the Human Condition":
"This book is a compassionate and easy read for those who are hurting and in need of rescue on the road. It opens up possibilities where only dead ends are thought to exist. It gets those in need back on the road with the understanding and insight God intended."
Kent Gordon's second book is "Difficult Conversations: Restoring the Relationships Between our LGBT-Q Friends, Families and the Church":
"This book is a compassionate introduction to and discussion of Gods’ viewpoint for both the open-minded non-Christian and the Christian struggling to believe."
25 February 2021
: Thank you, Peter Boffey, for adding two volumes of his series "The Three Naked Ladies of Cliffport" to the Local Authors bookcase!
"In Volume I, we hear the distinct yet disparate voices of Elisabeth and Katelyn Lowrie, and Jan McLoughlin, as they struggle to come to terms with one another and themselves. We witness Elise--despairing over failing communications with her headstrong daughter--retreat to the attic, there to embark upon her memoir composed as a long letter to her only child. Meanwhile, downstairs, buoyed up by her bottles of whisky and cartons of unfiltered cigarettes, Jan--the outspoken landowner returning after fifty years--launches out on telling her life story to Katie aloud.
"In Volume II, we watch Katie spanning the gap between the two older women while hatching a plan that may enable the Lowries (and Donald Duncan, Katie's 10-year-old son) to remain living on the place."
30 January 2021
: Two books from James Benney have joined the popular "Native American Indian Sites in the East Bay Hills" in the Local Authors bookcase!
The Volvon tribal territory remains virtually untouched today. Many village and camp sites lie undisturbed in the Black Hills behind Mount Diablo, part of the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. One can still walk the paths Kaaknu the Volvon tribal leader walked, and see the same panoramic views of central California that he saw. In thirty-five short years he saw the complete dissolution of his tribe and the total loss of all of their ancestral territory to Spanish soldiers and settlers and the Jesuit Missions.
"Grandpa: Eldred Tyrrell Benney" is a moving, wonderful tribute to the San Francisco Bay Area's rich history and a soulful retelling of one man's outstanding life.
23 January 2021
: Hello, friends! The American Bookseller's Association has sent us a big collection of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of upcoming books. They also make it easy for us to send you an email preview of upcoming releases (like the printed ones we have in the store). If you are an avid reader and would like to learn about new books via email, and especially if you are interested in teaming up with us to read and write a short review of an upcoming book, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Spam is not our thing, we won't use your email ourselves for that, and there is a very high probability that the ABA won't, either :)
14 January 2021
: Two books from Ken Kerkhoff have been added to the Local Authors bookcase: one, a collection of stories about the history and culture of India, and the other, a novel of historical fiction set in 21st century Central Africa.
Appreciate the incredible history and culture of India through the fascinating tales of Kerkhoff and Pejathaya in "Paper Boat: Discovering India with a Master Storyteller". Both write with remarkable feeling as they interweave Indian experiences. Their stories offer a refreshing look at a remarkable country, its people, customs and its maze of religious proclivity.
In "Four Degrees North: Confronting Terror in Central Africa", Alan Burke accepts his first assignment with the U.S. State Department and travels to Africa. His wife, Mona, plans to join him in Cameroon after she finishes an assignment in Nigeria for her U.S. law firm. Mona is forcefully abducted and held hostage by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group. Alan, frustrated by the inability of the various governments to assist his wife, acts on his own. In defiance of protocol, he crosses the Cameroon-Nigeria border to track the terrorists. He is aided by Eric Mbando, a Cameroonian, who risks his life for righteousness and justice.
12 January 2021
: Reasonable Books is pleased to announce that we have received copies of Deven Greene's newly released book, "Unnatural". Deven is a local author and this is the first book in the Erica Rosen MD trilogy.
From Indies Today
Unnatural is a flawlessly written medical thriller that focuses on a Chinese mother who will sacrifice everything to save her children. Erica is a bold protagonist who follows her instincts to some amazing discoveries. The narrative is driven by intelligent dialogue and a clever, yet heinous, plot. The cultural aspects between Ting and Erica feel authentic and the technical medical language is just complicated enough to feel genuine without becoming difficult to read. Deven Greene has created a truly gripping international thriller with just the right amount of humanity and compassion.
6 January 2021
: Our first new local author title of 2021 is "Journey To Self: Discovering Paths Beyond My Dreams" by Barry Hampshire.
For the National Association of Memoir Writers
, he writes:
Over the past roughly seven years, I have written my memoir Journey to Self. It describes how a journey I took 42 years ago affected me and resulted in who I have become. In the last few years before retirement, I wrote short stories about my earlier life that I hoped my daughter may read, someday. As I looked at this mass of material, much of which related to the journey, I couldn’t deny that I’d had and was still living an incredible life. There were lessons to be found that could help other people steer their own lives to maturity and/or fulfillment.
2 January 2021
: In celebration of the 101st anniversary of Isaac Asimov's birth, you will find an excerpt from his 1955 short story, "Youth", below
. You can read the entire short story at gutenberg.org
31 December 2020
26 December 2020
: A pair of new authors have joined our Local Authors section during this holiday season!
Denise P. Kalm is a Board-Certified Coach and President of DPK Coaching offering personalized transition coaching services and workshops. In "Retirement Savvy" she offers excellent practical advice and real-world examples about how people experience the challenges and opportunities related to retirement.
Denise also wrote "First Job Savvy" to show first-time and returning job seekers how to create a plan for success. "Readers will learn how to hit the ground running and be a standout success in their new job."
Spencer Mains shares how he sees the world around him, and asks, "What do you see?". Visit his website here
17 December 2020
: We have added a pair of new books to the Local Authors bookcase. The subject matter is a little different and hopefully timely for this holiday season.
Susana Sanchez-Young has turned a pandemic side-project into a purposeful activity, finding a following on social media
. Her coloring book captures many themes of 2020 in a book that will delight young and old.
Local resident Carol Green has written a short, colorful picture book for the very young who have a new sibling on the way. Illustrated by Ron Clelland, it is meant as an encouraging and engaging aid for the growing family.
14 December 2020
: The Local Authors section has a new bookcase today, and that's all the room we have for new furniture — for now. By the way, we are on Twitter here
, but please note that it is not (only) typical marketing and promotion :)
10 December 2020
: St. Mary's alumna Madison Mooney has published "Manny the Monkey", an engaging book for children, and we are pleased to have it available in our Local Authors section!
From Readers' Favorite
: "Manny The Monkey by Madison Mooney is a charming story about self-discovery, self-confidence, and being unique, and Manny's inner journey will encourage readers to find themselves and understand that they can do anything as long as they use their minds. The illustrations are colorful and lively and breathe life into the characters and the scenes. The book is also a good way to introduce children to different types of animals and travel. Parents and tutors can use it for read-aloud and storytelling sessions at home and in schools to motivate children to find themselves, discover their life's purpose, and decide what they want to do in life."
4 December 2020
: "The Lafayette Reservoir: A Visual Celebration" by Steve Hobbs is a beautiful book of photographs from Lafayette's own man-made lake, and has joined our growing collection of works by local authors. From the jacket:
People fall in love with the Lafayette Reservoir. Local photographer Steve Hobbs has conceived of this book of his photographs and essays as a tribute to that amazing place. His book celebrates the "lifescapes." of the Reservoir - its striking landscapes, the diversity and beauty of its birds and wildlife, and the people from all backgrounds who come there to walk and jog, boat and fish, or pursue other outdoor passions. Steve also includes a section devoted to the beloved dogs of the Reservoir. His evocative images capture the beauty and rich variety of the Reservoir, with a touch of humor and playfulness thrown in.
2 December 2020
: It is typically a great pleasure to meet the residents of Lafayette and nearby either in person, or on the phone, or via email, and so we are keeping online ordering from Reasonable Books to a bare minimum. This means you should feel free to send us enquiries at email@example.com
. We'll do our best to get you information on availability and pricing, and will happily place an order for you when you'd like us to do so.
We are also looking into hosting book-related events online, and are currently trying to gauge local interest in Richard Haiduck's "Shifting Gears: 50 Baby Boomers Share Their Meaningful Journeys in Retirement". Shifting Gears is based on interviews with retirees, telling how they are shifting gears in their retirement. Sometimes they shift smoothly, sometimes they grind the gears, and often they take some time to find their groove. The stories reveal the rich abundance of retirement ventures, from the exotic to the mundane. Discover their joys, challenges, and inspirations that were part of their journey in this next stage of life. If you belong to a book club or similar group that might be interested in attending an online event with the author (and perhaps someone from Reasonable Books), please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. You will find the book in our Local Authors section.
29 November 2020
: An update to our reading section can be found below with an excerpt from the logician Charles Dodgson
28 November 2020
: Thanks to everyone for their support during 2020's Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. We hope you have a safe holiday season and thank you for your patience when visiting the store; we are currently permitted six persons at a time in the store according to the county's public health guidance.
The Local Authors section now includes "Invisible Wounds" by Lyn Roberts, "a powerful portrait of one man's struggle to heal from his trauma experienced in both war and personal life. When Steven discovers David Lane's Civil War letters, the similarities that haunt his own war in Vietnam set him on a path of redemption. With each discovered letter, Steven learns another part of the secret to healing and building a fearless life of purpose."
24 November 2020
: We wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving for 2020! Our Local Authors display continues to grow with a book sure to draw the East Bay hiker and historical enthusiast, as well as a compelling work of historico-cultural fiction.
"Native American Indian Sites In the East Bay Hills" by James Benney guides you across Native American sites in the East Bay Hills along with a brief history of indigenous culture in the East Bay Hills. You can read more about it here
Cheryl Vaught is a teacher, writer, and ex-Mormon activist. She lives in Northern California with her husband and near her two grandchildren. "Plural Bride To Be" captures in novel form the the historic 1953 statewide police investigation of polygamy called Operation Seagull as it leads to young Karen Hardy's Utah farm family. You can read more about it on GoodReads
21 November 2020
: We're very pleased to include Jill Hedgecock in our Local Authors section next to the counter. Jill is an award-winning and internationally-published author.
Rhino in the Room is a beautifully written and an intellectually stimulating debut novel from Jill Hedgecock. It's power is in advocating for a worthy cause-that of the rhino, using the storyteller's eye. This is a novel for anyone with an interest in the natural world and the rhino. This is a novel for everyone!
: Read more here.
After orphaned sixteen-year-old Sarah Whitman rescues a Doberman, her secret living situation is jeopardized. Shadow’s incessant barking has drawn unwanted attention from the authorities. Desperate to keep her pet, Sarah turns to an animal behaviorist, Dr. Claudia Griffin, only to be informed that Shadow barks because her house is haunted. Sarah is skeptical until a chance discovery reveals that she can see ghosts through Shadow by placing her fingers between her dog’s eyes — an act that inadvertently draws her into a deadly feud instigated by Dr. Griffin. Can Sarah find a way to save herself and Shadow?
: Read more here.
From the moment orphaned teen Sarah stepped through the door of her temporary foster home, her guardian’s “Mean Girl” granddaughter has made her life a living hell. More than anything Sarah longs to take her ghost-seeing Doberman, Shadow, and move back into the cozy home her father bought for her before he died. When Sarah brings Shadow to her new high school to model for a class art project, she spots the ghost of a toddler boy while petting the space between her dog’s eyes. Despite being warned to forget the incident, she becomes obsessed with finding out the child’s identity. Sarah’s investigation into the little boy’s death draws the attention of his murderer and she finds herself struggling to avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.
: Read more here.
17 November 2020
: "A Promised Land" has been getting a lot of attention and is available as of today. We also have two additional titles in the Local Authors section of the store from Mike Metcalf.
"In his new book, Inklings: John Wilkins Carter and the Carter’s Ink Company, Michael F. Metcalf tells the story of an old New England family and the companies they created and operated— beginning with Timothy Carter’s Old Corner Bookstore in downtown Boston and spanning a 150-year period." You can read more about this beautiful book here
"In September 1979, newlyweds Michael and Sharon Metcalf set out on a yearlong adventure at sea on their yacht, Mystic Isle." "What's Luck Got To Do With It? Adventures at Sea on Mystic Isle" tells the story of how they "planned, prepared, hard sailed, made friendships, and, most important, how they learned self-reliance, faith in each other, and perseverance."
10 November 2020
: Our selection of featured books by local authors is growing and has moved to the wall next to the counter. Six titles have been added to group.
Claudia Long's historical novel "Nine Tenths of the Law" is about "two sisters, their mother, and a Nazi thief: combining the strands of history, mystery and the enduring power of buried memories." You can read more about it here
Raea Gragg's "MUP" is "a graphic novel for children ages 7-12. It's a coming of age tale that follows two girls on their adventure to save the earth and learn to accept the changes that come with time while staying true to themselves." You can read more about Raea and her book here
Steven Burchik's "Compass and a Camera" documents his experience in the Vietnam war through his memories, wartime correspondence and photographs. You can learn more about the book at Goodreads
Brian Donohue's "The Spirit of Fiat Lux" is a hard bound coffee table book with beautiful photography, prose and poetry; it is also a key source of information about Public Service Contracts to help fund public higher education.
Brian Donohue has also recently published "In the Company of Men", an examination of men's issues and Christian life.
"Al Davis: Behind the Raiders Shield" is "an accurate, detailed portrayal of a man in the pantheon of notable sports figures of the 20th century" written by some of the men who worked closely with him, including longtime Oakland Raiders scout and Lafayette resident Jon Kingdon.
6 November 2020
: It's a good time to step back from your troubles and read a bit. Here's a story from James Joyce
1 November 2020
: Winston Churchill was an American novelist, and below
you'll find an excerpt from his best-selling novel from 1901, The Crisis. Thanks to the Lamorinda Weekly
and the East Bay Times
for telling our story this week!
26 October 2020
: Thanks to the patrons asking for gift certificates! We now have them available in a variety of amounts.
20 October 2020
: We are very pleased to have books released recently by local authors. One is "Say Goodbye to Plastic: A Survival Guide for Plastic-Free Living" by Sandra Ann Harris. Sandra's book will help you live more sustainably in your daily life.
We are also happy to carry copies of "Meet the Principal: My Journey Beyond the Curriculum" by Jane Blomstrand, a veteran of public school leadership in California. Jane's stories will inspire and educate anyone with an interest in the important institution of education for the young.
17 October 2020
: Do you know that the "Read"
link above takes you to a bite-sized selection of public domain reading material that updates occasionally? The latest selection may help set the tone for Halloween season
16 October 2020
: A fallacy is an invalid
pattern of reasoning, that is, a form of argument whose premises do not imply its conclusion (which may be true or false). For example, TU QUOQUE
or APPEAL TO HYPOCRISY
: Denying or excusing guilt by attributing it to the accuser.
15 October 2020
: Shopping locally is an important way to help make up for the shortfall in local sales tax revenue, and doing so helps local businesses struggling during the public health emergency. You can find alternatives to online shopping by consulting the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Member Directory
. Thank you for considering your local businesses!
2 October 2020
: It is a pleasure to open the store each day and meet everyone who visits. Even short conversations about books and the love of reading are special. For those wondering, "Reasonable LLC" uses the word in this sense: fair, commonsensical, rational, practical and polite.
30 September 2020
: The bookcases have been delivered and are now in place! This means we will be reorganizing the new and used books shortly, and expanding our selection. A number of visitors have asked for books we did not have, and we have copies of them now. We'll gratefully take any suggestions for good titles we lack.
24 September 2020
: It has been a pleasure meeting so many visitors during our first two weeks! The topic of used books has come up on occasion. Currently, we are accepting used book donations and will try to find them a home, either through the store or with outside non-profit organizations. We hope to have a credit policy in the future, as space and time permit.
19 September 2020
: What a week!
18 September 2020
: Not making much noise about this, but... we are open for browsing, counter service and pickups. Still waiting on bookcases, so the inventory is tucked away in the back of the store. It has been nice to meet so many people during the quiet opening. The chairs in front are for anyone to use; we're thinking about how to put some reading material there for friends, neighbors and visitors. :)
13 September 2020
: Thanks to our friends for all the work on the sign! Next: some chairs, tables, plants, bookcases. We will require safe practices for visitors, and hope to welcome you very soon :)
9 September 2020
: An alpha version of our in-store inventory is available here
7 September 2020
: The latest work has been twofold: sorting and preparing new books for display on shelves arriving in the next week, and getting the new signage ready for installation next weekend. Once the sign is up, we have an eager crew ready to prepare the storefront with book displays and other elements to make an inviting shop. We will adhere to current safety precautions diligently while being ready to welcome visitors in numbers of three or so, safely distanced.
An online service via email should be straightforward since the kids have helped to create a database of all the current inventory. You will see a rough-and-ready list of everything we have soon, and please feel free to send comments. Soft-open will be the week after the sign is installed (this is an aspirational statement). Thanks for all the good wishes so far, Lafayette!
3 September 2020
: Most of the new book inventory has arrived, and there are sizable offerings in the following areas: Current Fiction, Classic Literature, History, Philosophy, Humanities, Young Adult. The new sign will be delivered this Sunday, and after a week of preparation, painting and lettering, we intend to install it the following Sunday. We intend to soft-launch Reasonable Books the following week, with some work left to do :)
26 August 2020
: That's a lot of boxes of books and it's only halfway done.
25 August 2020
: The initial used book inventory has been moved to the store, and for now these books are living on our repurposed library shelves (we are fairly certain these came from the Alameda County Public Library). The timing on this is good, since the new book inventory will begin delivery tomorrow and continue through the rest of the week.
The store signage will be a challenge as it involves a full rebuild of the sign and installation over a sizable awning. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this will happen within a week or so.
10 August 2020
: The build out of our space continues at the former Papyrus storefront at 3645C Mount Diablo Boulevard, in the West End Shops near Trader Joe's. This was the second Papyrus store and will feel familiar even after it has been repurposed for books. Stationery and children's books are already served in Lafayette, so please visit our neighbors as the holidays approach.
So far, a lot of the messy work is done, including patching, painting and cleaning, with flooring up next, and then installing shelving and stocking the initial inventory of books. This has already been fun as well as hard work, and it has been a pleasure to meet so many people. More updates are forthcoming :)
Retail restrictions related to public health circumstances are a challenge in addition to those one would already expect of a new independent bookstore, and we appreciate your understanding and thank you for your input as we launch Reasonable Books to serve the residents of Lafayette, and the greater Lamorinda and East Bay Areas.
Work is in progress to provide online and delivery services locally. This may begin with email orders and personal deliveries in accordance with required safety protocols. It will be great to meet you however we can.
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.”