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Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

DECEMBER 3, 2010

An Inspector Blancmange Mystery

Inspector Blancmange and I had been called to the country estate of Lord Wexley Nebbish to help solve the murder of the unfortunate nobleman. Lord Nebbish had been found earlier in the day by his butler in a series of cigar humidors in his study. Our old friend Inspector Glucose of Scotland Yard was lead detective on the case, but was having difficulty putting the pieces together.

"Gather everyone in the library," said Blancmange as we alighted from the carriage that had brought us down from London, "and I shall reveal the twisted fiend who perpetrated this heinous crime!"

"Surely you haven't solved it already, Blancmange!" said Glucose, "You and Colonel Broadbeam have just arrived! You haven't even seen the crime scene yet!"

"Sometimes you don't need to see the crime scene to solve the crime, my dear Inspector! Remember the Case of the Shrieking Albino? I solved that while on holiday in Sussex."

"Yes!" I said, "I remember it well!" I had written an account of the case for Pipsqueak's Weekly Magazine, one of the most popular in London. "And don't forget the blackmailing of Grand Duke Meerschaum by his mistress, the opera singer Alma Brasso! You weren't even conscious at the time!"

Blancmange absently admired a bust of Pallas that was just above the chamber door while Glucose gathered the members of the household. They were a queer bunch; the fragile, wheelchair bound Lady Nebbish, a cousin named Owens-Corning who was clearly an inebriate, young Nigel Lackstud, a nephew who was down for the fortnight, his fiance Portia and, of course, the butler, a small, elderly Gentleman's Gentleman who had been in the Nebbish's service for decades. Lackstud was a sallow, weak chinned specimen that was obviously a product of generations of inbreeding, Portia was a bright young thing with flaxen hair and eyes the color of the opium poppies I remembered from my time in Afghanistan.

"I shan't waste anyone's time" said Blancmange after introductions were made. "The killer is..."

You could have heard a pin drop, or in the case of Lady Nebbish a syringe, but that's a tale for another day.

"Sir Basil Sigerson Notlob-Jones!"

There was an audible gasp from those assembled in the library. Nigel Lackstud broke the silence.


"Yes", said Lady Nebbish, "I've never heard of him!"

"Nor have I", said Portia.

"That's because he wasn't in this story! A brilliant scheme, worthy of that master villain, the Wellington of Crime, Professor Magnus Hangnail!"


Blancmange continued. "Yes, a scheme of pure genius!"

"But where is this Sir Basil whatzisname now?" I asked, as surprised as the others at the sudden and unexpected plot twist.

"Right now Sergeant Haffwit and a squad of his best truncheon-men are arresting him at his club."

"Ironic, really," I interjected. "Truncheon, club... never mind."

You could have cut the ennui with a knife, or lacking that a rather sharp spoon.

"Well, it's a relief to know that there's not a killer amongst us!" said Nigel.

"On the contrary, young Lackstud! One of you is indeed a murderer!"

There was another audible gasp as the motley assembly eyed each other nervously.

"Who?" asked Portia innocently.

"You, madam!" said Blancmange. "Last year in Dorking you shot Colonel Valentine Vivian-Vance as he slept in his favorite chair, after drugging his gin and tonic to guarantee that he wouldn't awaken as you rolled in the cannon! Seize her, Inspector Glucose!"

"I did it alright!" shrieked Portia. "He deserved it! I should have done it years before had I but the nerve!" Glucose put her in handcuffs and lead her to a waiting cab.

"I remember that case! How did you know it was Portia, and not his half brother Nelson, who was hanged for the crime later that week?"

"Simple, my dear Broadbeam! Everyone knows a cannon is a woman's weapon, like poison or a darning egg! Had he simply been shot, stabbed, garroted, torn apart by highly trained wolverines or run through a meat grinder I would have known it was a man!"


"I never heard of Colonel Valentine Vivian-Vance" said Lady Nebbish.

"Nor I" said Nigel.

"Nor I!" said the greengrocer, who had nothing to do with the case but happened to be passing by.

"That's because he wasn't in the story, either! That's what gave me the idea about the murderer of Lord Nebbish!"

"I'm confused", said Owens-Corning, who up to this point had little to add to the conversation, being deep in the grip of dipsomania.

"As am I," said Lady Nebbish.

"That's why Inspector Blancmange was called in!" I beamed. "To see what others can't!"

Everyone agreed it was brilliant and retired to the parlor for tea.


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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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The Cartoonists ..In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . .Number 9