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The International Writers Magazine - Our 18th Year: Novel Extract - + new iTunes Edition

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Sam North
ISBN:13: 978-1-4116-3748-1
302 pages - Lulu Press USA & UK
Amazon UK + Amazon USA
The Baker Street Bunker - Extract from First Chapter
Revealed here for the first time the great detective's role in WW11. December 1939 Germany and Great Britain are in the fog of the phoney war. The First Sea Lord Churchill knows that England is not nearly ready for the fight. Four British spies have perished in strange circumstances in Nuremberg trying to discover the biggest secret of the Third Reich. Churchill turns to the only man he knows who can solve the mystery. But Lord Sherlock Holmes is now 83, Dr Watson even older. Are they still up to it?


Mrs Hudson found it impossible to hide her surprise.
“Pray come in sir and leave the fog behind. The two gentlemen have not had visitors in a long time.”

“Thought they’d been forgotten, eh?” Churchill asked, stepping into the musty, brown hallway, closing the door firmly behind him.  “Now there’s a thing.  It would be a bitter day for England if Holmes and Watson were to be forgotten. The gentlemen are well, I trust?”

 

            “The gentlemen don’t get out as much as they used to sir.  Now poor Sir John Watson’s second wife upped and died, he came to live here, although Lord Holmes was reluctant, if you know what I mean sir.  Likes his privacy.  They fight like two schoolboys, they do sir, but they’re still best of friends.”

 

            “I’m pleased to hear that, Mrs Hudson, now if you’ll be good enough to announce me.”

 

            Mrs Hudson looked at Mr Churchill then looked at the stairs, (none too well dusted) and sighed.  “I must warn you sir, their room is much changed, there has been a lot of banging about of late, I’m almost afraid to look myself.”

 

            “Then I shall announce myself.  I trust their hearts are sound?”

 

            “If their appetites are anything to go by sir, sound as a bell I’d declare.”

 

            “That is reassuring, most reassuring.”

 

            With that, the First Lord began to ascend the stairs, leaning heavily upon his much abused cane. Perhaps his first sense of euphoria abandoned him when he had the door open but a few inches and the very first thing he caught sight of was Sir John Watson standing beside a map of Bohemia-Moravia in full German General uniform.  By the time the door was fully open and his extended frame was passing through the entrance, Churchill’s open astonishment was apparent for all to see.

 

            “Good evening, Winston, so interesting you could stop by,” Holmes declared, brushing some of the dust off his blanket. “Forgive me if I don’t get up, but I have had a cold these past few days and find that an afternoon nap does wonders for the recovery.”

 

            Churchill was now speechless.  Holmes and Watson were changed men.  So old, so very old and white haired, and Watson did look a trifle ridiculous in that uniform. 

“Mr Churchill, you see before you two very worried men.  That is to say, Watson and myself have long been concerned with developments in Europe.
You find men ignored by their country in a time of need; men who saw a time would come, sooner or later, when that country would turn to them, reach out and grasp for men of experience, proven experience in matters criminal and politic.  We decided some months ago, after the strangulation of Eastern Europe in fact, that we had to come to terms with Herr Hitler, grow to understand him, to do that we had to engineer the necessary, shall we say, mood?”

 

            Holmes abruptly sat down, his legs obviously unsteady, not used to long bouts of standing.

 

            “Watson and I constructed a replica of the Third Reich command post, taken from a drawing in an American magazine.  We began to live a German life, absorb German thinking and thus hope to reach into the minds of those who would seek to control our destiny.

 

            “Watson eats knackwurst, drinks schnapps and German lagers in great profusion and I observe.  It is a curious fact that Watson has gained no weight in this enterprise. And thus we live, eat, think Germany and it is through this process Winston we perceive not only the strength of Herr Hitler’s Socialist method, but the weakness too, not only of Germany, but of Europe as well.  It is our deduction, Winston, England will see the Germans beating a path to our shores in the spring at the very earliest, but more likely after France is beaten, an easy victory that, for the French wear the Maginot line like a rabbit’s foot.  I see the jackboot in Sussex by July 1940. What say you?”

 

            Winston put down his whisky and breathed a sigh of relief.  With Holmes back in the picture, England might yet be saved.

 

            “Yes, that is our conclusion too, Sherlock, I can only admire your method.”  He looked about the room impressed, the pieces all fitting together now. “A veritable think-tank Sherlock.  We should have you in the Cabinet, there’s none to touch you Holmes, or you Watson.”

 

            “And you should be Premier, Winston, we need strong hands on the tiller, nothing but a rubber band holding onto it now.”

 

            Winston could only nod in total agreement, his was the very same thought.

 

            “By God, Holmes, you make me a happy man this day.  England has found need of your services again and it gives me the greatest pleasure to be the one who calls you back to duty.”

 

            “It is no more than we expected.”

 

            “Indeed yes, Mr Churchill, the day Mr Chamberlain declared war, we began our exercises.”  Watson exclaimed, slapping his knees with obvious pleasure.  “Holmes here said he expected a member of the Cabinet to call upon us, though it must be recorded that I’d given up hope.  I did think we had been forgotten.”

 

            “I thought you’d retired to your bees,” Churchill remarked to Holmes.

 

            “My bees hibernate in winter, Mr Churchill, it is something man could learn a great deal from.  There hasn’t been a decent case to solve since Inspector Lestrade retired.  The modern police force aren’t interested in the analytical mind, everything is entrusted to dashing about in flash new Wolseys, detection is a thing of the past.”

 

            Churchill nodded in agreement.  He tried to collect his thoughts, think of a way to present to the men the body of his request and observe the two men he had not seen for as many as fifteen years, at least.

 

            Holmes was old, it was true, but that brain wasn’t tired, he could see that now.  Nevertheless, one couldn’t ask a man of eighty-three, in the moonlight of his life, brilliant as he was, to re-enter the battlefield on behalf of the nation.  It was asking too much, far too much.  But who else could he turn to?

 

            As for Watson, he looked cheerful enough, his eyes brighter than ever, as far as he could see.  An admirable companion, and two men better suited to entrust the nation’s secret he would never find.  But there remained the doubt.  Their fitness, and perhaps their death, would be his responsibility.  Who in England would want the death of the world’s most famous analytical mind on their conscience?

 

            Holmes was the first to break the silence.

 

            “With regard to your abrupt, but hardly unexpected visit, Winston, I think I can deduce what you have in mind for us.”

 

            “You can?” Churchill asked, always a little unnerved by Holmes’ perceptive powers.

 

            “The nation is up against the wall, we have no planes, hardly any guns, the appeasement boys have done Britain a great disservice, run the nation down to nothing.  You, yourself, were jeered in August of 1933 for warning of the German peril.  I, myself, witnessed the burning of the books in May of that year, being a guest of the Winifred Wagner in Bayreuth.  It has been my own opinion that appeasement was a deliberate attempt to ripen this country for a right wing dictatorship.  Mosley’s black shirts were but a warning of things to come.  Now weakened by treaty with an implacable enemy, we are launched into a war over the issue of Poland, a country in which the average Englishman has no interest and a country we could not defend, even if we tried.  We should never have signed anything with Poland.  It was sheer folly, plain emotional nonsense on Chamberlain’s part and a country’s leader cannot afford the price of such sentimentality.”

 

            “Hear, hear,” Churchill intoned, pleased by Holmes’ reasoning so far.

 

            “As I understand it, the Russian-German non-aggression pact was a surprise for Whitehall?”

 

            “Quite a shock,” Winston confessed, “we’d been negotiating with Stalin right up to the last minute.  The man’s a swine Sherlock, first class swine.”

 

            “No doubt the Poles have also discovered that.  But here we are, Winston, December ‘39 and the brave Finns are to be crushed by the overwhelming might of Russia and no doubt we shall lose Norway, possibly Sweden.  All of Europe is threatened, France, the Low countries.  Do we have the means to stop Herr Hitler?  Could we launch an invasion of Germany?  A pre-emptive attack co-ordinated with France?”

 

            Churchill slowly shook his head.

 

            “The sad truth is France is misled and blind, Sherlock.  She has not the will to fight, she lies like a dog waiting for her underbelly to be scratched, for she doesn’t understand Herr Hitler has planned a fine kick between her ribs.”

 

            “So we have until July before we ourselves receive that kick?”

 

            “Perhaps not so long.”

 

            “My word,” Watson declared, wearing a worried frown. “My word.”

 

            “But we could be brought to our knees before that,” Churchill reminded them.  “The U-boats could cut off our supplies, the nation could starve before a bullet is fired.”

 

            Holmes nodded, he understood the problem well enough.  “So, in short, Winston, what can the modest services of both Dr Watson and myself do for our country in this hour of need, but endeavour to stay the hand of the executioner a while, whilst planes, tanks and men are prepared for the dark days ahead?”

 

            Churchill nodded, furrowing his brow, grateful Holmes was so understanding.

 

            “We need time Sherlock, we need to know those weaknesses, we need to turn the advantages to us, no easy task, no easy thing to ask of the Holmes-Watson team, but who else Sherlock? Who could I turn to?”

 
*The Curse of the Nibelung is available as paperback or e-book now


 © Sam North 2017
Sam is the joint editor of Hackwriters.com
The Curse of the Nibelung

'Chocolate will never seem quite the same again. With an irresistable, high-quality Goon-like zaniness, this dynamically-paced thriller follows its own lager-than-life logic. Not to be missed.'
Sunday Express


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The Curse of the Nibelung is a great addition to the growing body of Holmesian adventures ...a lot of fun ...borders on the zany. Charles Dickinson Amazon.com

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