Thinking about a great read.

Hours: Tues. - Sat. 10 AM to 5:00+ PM

3645 C Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA, 94549

(925) 385-3026

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Reasonable Books is an independent bookstore in the East San Francisco Bay Area located in Lafayette, California. We are here to serve as a general bookstore with an emphasis on thoughtful and important subjects for the interested and discerning reader.

While we strive to make available illuminating materials you may not even realize you want to read, we also believe that the mind benefits from rest and healthy distractions. You will find books that can help you relax or escape for a well-deserved break here.


31 December 2020: 明けましておめでとうございます!

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.

Book cover with couple on sailboat.

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."

Book cover with man in business attire in starting position to run a race.

Spencer Mains shares how he sees the world around him, and asks, "What do you see?". Visit his website here.

Book cover with startled man cartoon.

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.

Book cover with uncolored ink drawing of woman with wild western vegetation.

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.

Book cover with house with duck, frog and question marks.

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."

Book cover with monkey in tree with empty thought cloud.

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.

Book cover with fisherman in boat on reservoir.

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 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 You will find the book in our Local Authors section.

Book cover with multiple retirement activities.

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."

Book cover with antique personal correspondence.

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.

Book cover with Native American village.

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.

Book cover with bride in front of snowy mountains.

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.

Book cover with rhinoceros.

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.

Book cover with dog.

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.

Book cover with dog and child.

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.

Book cover with antique Carter's inkwell.

"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."

Book cover with couple on sailboat.

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.

Book cover with hand holding Nazi label on work of art.

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.

Book cover with two children diving into water.

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.

Book cover with medics carrying wounded soldier on stretcher.

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.

Book cover with images of Campanile and Sather Gate at Cal campus.

Brian Donohue has also recently published "In the Company of Men", an examination of men's issues and Christian life.

Book cover with meeting hall.

"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.

Book cover with Al Davis.

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.

Book cover with whale and plastic trash.

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.

Book cover with raised hands.

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 :)

Owners and friends in front of store after installing sign.

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.


Reasonable is owned and operated by Rudy and Betty Winnacker. Email:

(Public Domain)

Whose Body?

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 from?”

“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 injury.

“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 latchkey.”

“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 know.”


“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 him.”

“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 bored.”

“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.”

“Good-bye, dear.”


“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 up.”

“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 myself.”

“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 know?”

“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 Caroline Mansions.

“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 Peter casually.

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 reely does.”

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.”

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