About the Author: Michael Mallory is the author of the "Dave Beauchamp" and "Amelia Watson" mysteries series, as well as some 160 short stories. By day he is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist.
During the four years through which I have shared both rooms and adventures with my great and good friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, I had yet to be the primary instigator of any one of his cases. It was normal procedure for Holmes to be contacted either by a prospective client or the police, whenever they came across an enigma whose solution was beyond that of normal intelligence. Yet on a warm day in August of 1885 a man arrived at my surgery complaining of a case of gout in his right foot. I did the best I could for the chap, including advising that he stay off of it for the time being.
“That shouldn’t be a problem now, doctor,” said the man, a middle-aged, burly fellow named Jonfer, “seeing as how I’m out of work for the nonce.”
“Oh?” I responded. “And what do you do?”
“I’m a construction workman, specializing in stone. For the last few months I’ve been working on the renovation of the Lanthorn Tower.”
“The Lanthorn Tower?”
“At the Tower of London. More and more people want to come visit the place, so we’re redoing Lanthorn to make it look more medieval.”
“I would have thought the entire place was medieval,” I said.
“Oh, it is, so far as I know,” Mr. Jonfer confirmed, “but it doesn’t look it. An old wall’s just an old wall unless you make it look like an illustration out of penny dreadful, and that’s what we’re doing. Things were going well, too, until …”
“Until, Mr. Jonfer?”