The Case of The Musical Butler by Martin Edwards

by Arun

Source: Best Eaten Cold and Other Stories

Story Number: 108

This Sherlockian pastiche happens to be the only one in this collection which would qualify as a traditional detective story – a story which not only demonstrates Holmes’ skill as a puzzle solver but also gives a rear insight into an unexpectedly compassionate side to his personality!

Bloodstained clothes belonging to a tramp has been found recently near the Oaklands Estate and Holmes is not at all surprised when the owner of this property turns up on his doorstep. Holmes is hardly interested in hearing the grievance of Sir Greville Davidson (probably a first in the canon?) as he believes that even if a crime has been committed, Greville would be least interested in finding the perpetrator. He gives him only 5 minutes to state his case but the story from Greville indeed proves to be an interesting one, worthy enough to cure his ennui for the time being.

Greville has employed a young butler by the name of Mark Meade after getting a very positive reference from the folks who had employed him before. And the butler has lived up to his expectations in every way and he has some unusual talents – the chief one being his musical talent to play Chopin exquisitely on the piano! Other unusual traits turn out to be the butler’s keen interest in literature and his unwillingness to mingle with people or go out of the house during his day off!  His services have been so indispensable that the heirless Greville decides to adopt him and name him as his successor. But as soon he breaks this news to the butler, he disappears without a trace. A few days later, he gets a mail from the butler but that mail still doesn’t reveal the cause for his disappearance.

Holmes employs the Irregulars to get a few facts and his deductive capabilities are on full display as he goes about solving the case of the musical butler – with the final revelation of the identity of the butler coming as quite a pleasant surprise!