"No. Page two?"
"And on page three?"
"A woman in her underwear - and nothing on top. Shall I read the caption?" Ilsa giggled just slightly, because she was beginning to understand the British fondness for bad puns, and she was looking forward to demonstrating that knowledge.
"No, Ilsa. I don't need to know about the page-three girl. Go to page four."
"Two headlines on page four," said Ilsa. "The first is: 'Taxi Drivers a Terror to Tourists?'"
It was an article about a spate of robberies and nonlethal assaults against patrons of Black Cabs. Ilsa read the headline with the proper inflexion, making it sound as alarming as the headline writer clearly intended it to be.
"Hmm." Ilsa's employer seemed disappointed and began to butter a scone.
"And the second is a lawyer on Baker Street who denies that he's Sherlock Holmes," continued Ilsa. "There's a photo. I think one might call him good-looking, in a stuffy sort of way."
Her employer abruptly stopped buttering. There was silence for a moment. Then -
"Let me see it."
It was just three short paragraphs, not even breaking news; just a follow-up piece, about one Reggie Health - a thirty-five-year-old London barrister - and the unusual circumstances of a trip he had taken to Los Angeles a short time earlier.
Ilsa watched as her employer stared at the passage for a very long time, eyes searching intently, as though there were something more on the page than just the words.
"Is something wrong?" said Ilsa.
"It's like trying to find a gray cat in the fog," said Ilsa's employer finally, getting up from the table, with the Daily News in hand, and without finishing breakfast. "But I think I am beginning to remember."
Ilsa did not ask what was being remembered. She took the tray away, saw that the medications were again untouched, and wished it were not so.
Excerpted from The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson. Copyright © 2011 by Michael Robertson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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