Now back in print after forty years: the second novel in John Gardner’s bestselling series of Victorian crime thrillers.
With riches accumulated from an American crime spree, Professor Moriarty proceeds to annihilate his enemies. He murders the leaders of Europe’s underworld one by one, then prepares his most hideous revenge for his arch-enemy, Sherlock Holmes. Will he succeed in this most terrible plan?
In this vivid, suspenseful novel of London underworld crime, John Gardner has created another brilliant novel in his acclaimed series pitting the Napoleon of Crime, James Moriarty, against mystery fiction’s Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes.
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About the Author
John Gardner (1926–2007) was a British novelist best known for writing spy thrillers. During World War II, Gardner served in the Home Guard and the Royal Marine Commandos. At the war’s end Gardner decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an Anglican priest. After five years in the church, Gardner left to pursue journalism. His first book, Spin the Bottle (1964), was a memoir about his struggles with alcoholism. That year, he also published a spy novel that would make him famous. The Liquidator introduced Boysie Oakes, an international man of mystery whose extreme cowardice makes him afraid to use his license to kill. Gardner published eight novels in the series, and his success spoofing James Bond led the publishers of the Bond novels to hire him to continue the series after creator Ian Fleming’s death. In addition to writing more than a dozen Bond books, Gardner created series characters Herbie Kruger and Suzie Mountford. His last novel was the posthumously published Moriarty (2008).
Read an Excerpt
The Revenge of Moriarty
Sherlock Holmes' Nemesis Lives Again
By John Gardner
Pegasus Books LLCCopyright © 1975 John Gardner
All rights reserved.
LONDON AND AMERICA: Friday, 25 May 1894 – Friday 22 August 1896
(Crow on the trail)
At a little before five o'clock on a Friday afternoon towards the end of May, in that chilly spring of 1894, a hansom drew up outside 221B Baker Street and deposited a tall, craggy man, straight of bearing and with that authoritative stamp about him which marks a person who has spent his life with either the military or the police.
In this case it was the police, for he was none other than Inspector Angus McCready Crow of the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard.
An hour or so earlier, Crow had stood at his window in the Police Office, looking out across the busy river, a telegram stretched tight between the thumbs and forefingers of his hands.
The message was brief and to the point –
I would be grateful if you could call upon me at five o'clock today.
The signature was that of Sherlock Holmes, and, as he read the missive, Crow reflected that there was only one subject he wished to discuss with the great detective.
His hands trembled slightly – an emotional reaction of hope. Crow mistrusted emotion, especially when he was a prey to it. His business stood or fell by facts, logic and the law. Logic told him now that, though Holmes expressed a desire to see him, it was not certain they would talk of Professor James Moriarty.
On the last occasion the two men had spoken, Holmes had given Crow short shrift on that matter.
'My feud with Professor Moriarty ended a long time ago at the Reichenbach Falls,' he had said bluntly. 'There is no more for anyone else's ears.'
That was a few weeks past: before Crow had proved beyond doubt that Moriarty lived, and still ran his criminal empire from the secret headquarters in Limehouse; before he had become aware of the meeting of European criminal leaders, with Moriarty at their head; before the disgraceful business at Sandringham, when Crow had come within an ace of putting the evil Professor behind bars.
Now he stood in front of the Baker Street house, his hand reaching for the knocker. Moriarty had gone: disappeared as though he had never been, and the sense of failure and frustration at so narrowly missing the villain was constantly in the forefront of Crow's mind, often blotting out other matters – including his own forthcoming marriage.
The faithful Mrs Hudson answered Crow's knock, told him that he was expected and led him upstairs where he found the great man awaiting him in a mood of high excitement.
'Come in and sit yourself down, my dear fellow. Here in the basket chair,' Holmes said quite cheerfully, leading Crow over to the fireplace of his somewhat cluttered sitting room.
Having asked Mrs Hudson if she would be so good as to bring them some tea, the consulting detective waited until the door was closed before seating himself in his favourite place and fixing Crow with a steady gaze.
'I trust you are not inconvenienced,' he began. 'I see that you have come straight from your office.'
Crow must have looked surprised, for Holmes smiled indulgently and added, 'It is not hard to deduce, for I see that you have some specks of pink blotting paper adhering to your cuff. If my eyes do not deceive me, it is pink blotting of the type usually found on the official desks of the Metropolitan Police. It is in small details like this, Mr Crow, that we lead criminals to their rightful fate.'
Crow laughed and nodded. 'Indeed, Mr Holmes, I have come directly from my office at the Yard. Just as I know that earlier this afternoon you were at the Foreign Office.'
It was Holmes's turn to look amazed. 'Astute, Crow. Pray tell me how you deduced that.'
'Not a deduction, I'm afraid, sir. It just so happened that my sergeant, a lad named Tanner, was passing down Whitehall and spotted you. When I told him that I was off to see you, he remarked upon it.'
Holmes looked a little put out, but was soon back in his excited mood. 'I particularly wished to see you at this hour. My good friend and colleague, Dr Watson, is at present in the process of selling his practice in Kensington, with a view to moving back here before either of us is much older. He is, of course, a constant and welcome visitor, though at the moment I know he is engaged until after eight tonight, therefore he will not disturb us. You see, my dear Crow, what I have to say to you is for your ears alone and those of no other living being.'
At this point Mrs Hudson arrived with the tea, so further conversation was abandoned until the cheering brew had been poured and they had helped themselves from the array of jams and interesting cakes which the housekeeper provided.
Once they were again alone, Holmes continued his monologue. 'I have only recently returned to London,' he began. 'You may be aware that I have been occupied in the past weeks with that thoroughly unwholesome business concerning the banker, Mr Crosby. But then I do not suppose you are much interested in red leeches?'
The great detective paused for a second, as though waiting for Crow to reveal a great passion for the subject, but, as no such revelation was forthcoming, Holmes sighed and started to speak in a grave tone.
'It was only this afternoon that I became acquainted with this terrible Sandringham business.'
At this, Crow was startled, for, to his own knowledge, Holmes' name was not among those authorized to see the file.
'It is highly confidential. I trust ...'
Holmes gestured impatiently with his right hand.
'Your sergeant spotted me leaving the Foreign Office this afternoon. I had been visiting my brother, Mycroft. His Royal Highness had consulted him on the matter. Mycroft in turn promised to speak with me. I was shocked and more distressed than I can tell you, or, I suspect, even admit to myself. I recall that at our last meeting I told you my feud with James Moriarty ended at the Reichenbach Falls. Well, Crow, that is what the world must believe – at least for many years to come. But this monstrous act of anarchy puts a new complexion on the matter. He paused, as if on the brink of some momentous statement. 'I have no intention of being publicly associated with any investigations concerning the despicable Moriarty, but I will now give you what help I can in a private and confidential capacity. And help you will surely need, Crow.'
Angus McCready Crow nodded, scarcely able to believe his ears.
'However, I have to warn you,' Holmes continued, 'that you must not divulge the source of your intelligence. There are personal reasons for this, which, no doubt, in the fullness of time shall be revealed. But at this juncture I shall need your solemn oath that you will keep counsel and disclose to no living soul that you have access to my eyes, ears and mind.'
'You have my word, Holmes. Of course you have my most sacred word.'
Crow was so amazed at Holmes' unexpected change of heart that he had to suppress a wild desire to bombard the man with a volley of queries. But, rightly, he held himself in check, knowing this was not the way.
'Strange as it may seem,' Holmes continued to transfix Crow with a steady eye, 'I find myself somewhat on the horns of the proverbial dilemma. There are certain people whom I have to protect. Yet I must also do my duty as an Englishman – beggin' your pardon as one who comes from North of the border.' He chuckled for a second at his own little quip. In a flash the laughter was gone and Holmes was all seriousness again. 'This outrage against a royal personage leaves me scant margin for manoeuvre. I have little time for the official detective force, as you must well know. However, good Crow, my observations tell me that you are possibly the best of a bad bunch, so I have no option but to turn to you.'
There was the mildest pause, during which Crow opened his mouth as if to object to Sherlock Holmes' opprobrious remarks. Yet, before he could translate thoughts to speech, the great detective was talking again in a most animated fashion.
'Now, to work. There are two questions I must put to you. First, have you had any of the bank accounts examined? Second, have you been to the Berkshire house?'
Crow was flummoxed. 'I know of no bank accounts, and have never heard of the Berkshire house.'
Holmes smiled. 'I thought not. Well, listen carefully.'
It transpired that Holmes was a mine of information regarding Moriarty and his habits ('You think I do not know of his lurkers, the Praetorian Guard, his punishers, demanders, and the control he has over the family people?' he asked at one point). The Berkshire house, as he called it, was a large country dwelling, built in the early years of the previous century, known as Steventon Hall, and situated roughly half-way between the market towns of Faringdon and Wallingford, a few miles outside the hamlet of Steventon. According to Holmes, the house had been purchased by Moriarty some years before, and the great detective had deduced that its sole purpose was that of a bolt-hole in time of need.
'I would arrange some kind of raiding party if I were in your boots,' said Holmes without a hint of humour. 'Though I should imagine the birds have long since flown these shores.'
The bank accounts were another matter, and Holmes explained them at length. For some years he had been aware of a number of accounts, in various names, run by Moriarty in England. Also some fourteen or fifteen more abroad, mainly with the Deutsche Bank and Crédit Lyonnais. He had gone as far as noting the details of all these upon a sheet of notepaper bearing the letterhead of 'The Great Northern Hotel' at King's Cross. This paper he handed over to Crow who accepted it gratefully.
'Do not hesitate to seek me out when you require further assistance,' Holmes told him. 'But I pray that you will use your discretion.'
Later, as the Scotland Yard man was taking his leave, Holmes looked at him gravely.
'Bring the blackguard to book, Crow. That is my dearest wish. Would that I could do it myself. Bring him to book.'
Angus McCready Crow, a radical policeman, warmed heartily to the attitude and brilliance of the great detective. This one meeting with Holmes strengthened his resolve regarding the Professor, and, from this time forth, the two men worked in secret harmony towards Moriarty's downfall.
Though distracted by his impending marriage, Crow wasted no time. That very night he set about arrangements regarding the bank accounts, and was also quickly in touch with the local constabulary in Berkshire.
Within two days he led a force of detectives, together with a large party of constables, in a raid upon Steventon Hall. But, as Sherlock Holmes had predicted, they were too late. There was no evidence that the Professor himself had recently been in the house, but after examination of the buildings, and some intense questioning of the local populace, there was little doubt that at least some of Moriarty's henchmen had, until a short time before, inhabited the place.
Indeed, they had been almost flagrant about it; making no secret of their presence, with many comings and goings of rough-looking men from London.
In all, Crow deduced that at least five persons had been permanently quartered at Steventon Hall. Two of these had even gone through a form of marriage, quite openly, giving their names as Albert George Spear and Bridget Mary Coyle, the ceremony being conducted with all the religious and legal requirements in the local parish church. There was also a pair of men described variously as 'big and brawny'; 'smartly dressed but with a rough quality to them'; and 'like a brace of brothers. Very burly in their physique'. The fifth person was Chinese, and so much noticed in this little pocket of countryside, where people remarked upon his polite manners and cheerful countenance.
Crow had little difficulty in identifying the Chinese – a man called Lee Chow already known to him. Albert Spear was no problem either – a big man with a broken nose and a jagged scar running down the right-hand side of his face, narrowly missing the eye but connecting with the corner of his mouth. Both of these men, the detective knew, were close to Moriarty, being part of the quartet the Professor liked to speak of as his 'Praetorian Guard'. As to the other members of this elite bodyguard – the large Pip Paget and whippet-like Ember – there was no sign. Crow reflected that Paget had probably gone to ground after the rout of Moriarty's organization in April, but the whereabouts of Ember worried him.
The burly pair were another matter, as they could well have been any of the dozens of mobsmen employed by the Professor before his last desperate escape from Crow's clutches.
The larder of Steventon Hall was well-stocked, a fact which led Crow to believe this oddly-assorted quintet had left in haste. There was little else of note, except for a fragment of paper upon which the sailing times of the Dover packet to France had been scrawled. Further enquiries made it plain that the Chinese man, at least, had been seen on the packet during its crossing only three days before the police raid upon the Berkshire house.
As for Moriarty's bank accounts in England, all but one had been closed and funds removed, within two weeks of the Professor's disappearance. The one account that remained was in the name of Bridgeman at the City and National Bank. The total amount on deposit was £3 2s 9¾d.
'It would seem that the Steventon Hall crew have departed for France,' Holmes said when Crow next consulted him. 'I'd wager they've joined their leader there. They will all be snug with Grisombre by now.'
Crow raised his eyebrows and Holmes chuckled with pleasure.
'There is little that escapes my notice. I know about the meeting between Moriarty and his continental friends. I presume you have all the names?'
'Well,' Crow shifted his feet uneasily.
He had imagined this piece of intelligence was the sole prerogative of Scotland Yard, for the men of whom Holmes spoke included Jean Grisombre, the Paris-based captain of French crime; Wilhelm Schleifstein, the Führer of the Berlin underworld; Luigi Sanzionare, the most dangerous man in Italy, and Esteban Bernado Segorbe, the shadow of Spain.
'It would seem likely that they are with Grisombre,' Crow agreed unhappily. 'I only wish that we knew the purpose of so many major continental criminals meeting in London.'
'An unholy alliance of some kind, I have little doubt.' Holmes appeared grave. 'That meeting is but a portent of evil things to come. I have the feeling that we have already seen the first result with the Sandringham business.'
Crow felt instinctively that Holmes was right. As indeed he was. But, if the Scotland Yard man wished to catch up with Moriarty now, he would have to travel to Paris, and there was no method of obtaining permission for this. His nuptials would soon be upon him, and the Commissioner, sensing that for some time there would be little work from the newly-wed Crow, was pressing hard regarding the many other cases to which he was assigned. There was much for Crow to do, both in his office and out of it, and even when he returned home to the house which he already shared with his former landlady and future bride, the nubile Mrs Sylvia Cowles, at 63 King Street, he found himself whirled around with the wedding preparations.
The Commissioner, Crow rightly reasoned, would no more listen to requests for a special warrant to visit Paris in search of the Professor, than he would grant leave for an audience with the Pope of Rome himself.
For a few days, Crow worried at the problem like the tenacious Scot he was; but at last, one afternoon when London was laced with an unseasonable drizzle accompanied by a chill gusting wind, he came to a conclusion. Making an excuse to his sergeant, young Tanner, Crow took a cab to the offices of Messrs Cook & Son of Ludgate Circus where he spent the best part of an hour making arrangements.
The result of this visit to the tourist agent was not immediately made apparent. When it was revealed, the person most affected turned out to be Mrs Sylvia Cowles, and by that time she had become Mrs Angus McCready Crow.
In spite of the fact that many of their friends knew Angus Crow had lodged with Sylvia Cowles for some considerable time, few were coarse enough to openly suggest that the couple had ever engaged themselves in any premarital larks. True there were many who thought it, and, indeed, were correct in their deductions. But, whether they thought it or not, friends, colleagues and a goodly number of relations gathered together at two o'clock in the afternoon of Friday, 15 June, at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, to see, as one waggish police officer put it, 'Angus and Sylvia turned off.'
Excerpted from The Revenge of Moriarty by John Gardner. Copyright © 1975 John Gardner. Excerpted by permission of Pegasus Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
LONDON AND AMERICA: Friday, 25 May 1894 – Friday, 22 August 1896 (Crow on the trail),
LIVERPOOL AND LONDON: Monday, 28 September – Tuesday, 29 September 1896 (Reunion),
LONDON: Wednesday, 30 September – Thursday, 29 October 1896 (A desirable residence),
LONDON: Thursday, 29 October – Monday, 16 November 1896 (The art of robbery),
LONDON: Monday, 16 November – Monday, 23 November 1896 (The cracking of the Cornhill crib),
LONDON AND PARIS: Saturday, 28 November 1896 – Monday, 8 March 1897 (The robbery of art),
LONDON AND ROME: Tuesday, 9 March – Monday, 19 April 1897 (A fall from grace and a Roman interlude),
LONDON, ANNECY AND PARIS: Tuesday, 20 April – Monday, 3 May 1897 (The Spanish lesson),
LONDON AND PARIS: Tuesday, 4 May – Friday, 14 May 1897 (Vice-versa),