In Competition No. 3158 you were invited to supply an extract describing a well-known fictional detective who finds themselves catapulted into an unfamiliar milieu.
This was a crowd-pleasing comp, attracting a large field of old hands and newcomers alike. But it turned out to be a tricky one too and terrific beginnings were often marred by weak finishing.
Lots of you imagined Hercule Poirot and co grappling with Zoom; only Brian Murdoch thought of sending Morse to Narnia. Lord Peter Wimsey found himself in Wetherspoon’s one minute, and in the company of astronaut Nicholas Patrick the next.
Nick MacKinnon, who submitted one of many entries featuring Sherlock Holmes, came closest to capturing the spirit of Conan Doyle. Honourable mentions also go to Sarah Lambirth, Harriet Elvin, David Harris and Janine Beacham. The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £30 each.
I always had the idea Vulcans were fussy, but Spock gave me the creeps. His ears were shaped like the teeth of a Great White Shark, and he acted superior, like he was the quartermaster and you were aiming to snitch an extra blanket. He spoke like a memorandum. But when the Enterprise blew into a fleet of Klingon ships, you had to respect the guy. The others looked sick to the lips.
‘You carrying, Mike?’ said Spock, as Klingons minced aboard. Their froggy foreheads looked like imitation footballs, ready to burst.
‘You’re kidding,’ I said. I took my gat out and whacked their leader on the proboscis. He went down, and stayed down. ‘Scram back to Kronos,’ I told them, and pressed EJECT. ‘Fire all engines, Sulu,’ I snarled. ‘Warp Factor 500. We have to reach D4987/Q by nightfall.’
That’s when I clocked Uhura. Our mouths met like flames.
Bill Greenwell/Mike Hammer
I knew a thing or two about finding stolen jewellery, but this case stank like an anchovy in a martini. The leggy broad with the pointy ears piped up again.
‘Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky…’
‘Can it, Lady,’ I said. ‘You hired me to find one ring. If you want three it’ll cost more.’
The heavy with the fancy sword threw me the evil eye, but the Luger in my jacket pocket could have cared less.
A short, hairy guy with the look of an overstuffed armchair — Gimlet? — fondled his axe handle like it was Carole Lombard. I ignored them both.
It was the little fellow that bothered me. What had they called him? Bill O’Baggins? Probably with the Irish mob out of Hell’s Kitchen and in cahoots with the skinny albino, Legs O’Lass.
I pointed at O’Baggins.
‘You. What have you got in your pocket?’
Joe Houlihan/Philip Marlowe
‘Now his Lordship,’ said Mr Bunter, gravely accepting another slice of ham pie from Mrs Pettican, ‘is a very versatile gentleman. He saw at once that the identification of the murderer — and it was child’s play for him to deduce that Nigel Plankton murdered Countess Oskoska by the application of taipan venom to her ear trumpet — was of less import than the identity of the murderer. For that was the greater crime.’ Bunter gently shook his head: ‘Plankton … was never at Repton. He went to a Board School near Worksop.’
Mrs Pettican put her hand to her mouth:
‘How did his Lordship…?’
‘The vents of his blazer,’ said Bunter, ‘and the cake forks, naturally.’
Hannah the parlour maid’s eyes were wide with horror:
‘But that cultural ’propriation!’ she gasped — ‘how could he…?’
‘On this very street!’ said Mrs Pettican. ‘It makes my blood run cold, Mr Bunter, really it does.’
Nick Syrett/Lord Peter Wimsey
Montalbano studied the menu again. He was a long way from the azure skies of Sicily and a fresh caprese salad. The voices in the Edinburgh chip-shop sounded strange to him, though they had tried their best to explain the culinary offerings. The white pudding was not an actual dessert; the pizza was deep-fried; a fish supper could be eaten at any time of day; and the confectionary items were liberally dipped in batter. No one seemed to know what a king rib comprised, and everything, once cooked, was drenched in a vinegary brown concoction and too much salt. He began now to see that the Italian tourist had not died from natural causes. The Scottish diet was nothing less than a lethal weapon…
Ian Rankin/Salvo Montalbano
Leaving my thirties, I regaled myself with an extra hour in bed, then checked mail while the coffee percolated — two bills and a flyer from a Bay City outfit pimping a range of handcuffs.
Nobody called me, no one arrived to discuss their kidnapped dog or faithless spouse or the voices in their head. At noon I hit the street wondering if the whole city had gone honest. The sidewalks were burning. I lunched at a place on Yucca Avenue where the Gibsons were fashioned with love.
The afternoon became siesta time. I was dreaming of cool double Gibsons when the buzzer intruded. The reception room bulged with strangers. Only they weren’t strangers. They were the old gang from Santa Rosa, generations of them, fronted by Uncle Chester and his duck-faced wife.
Horror. As ‘Happy Birthday’ began I felt the repudiated past descend like a dark, asphyxiating cloud.
Basil Ransome-Davies/Philip Marlowe
No 3161: bout rimés
You are invited to supply a sonnet with the following rhyme words in the given order: dead, sun, run, mead, lead, done, fun, weed, never, frost, shrills, ever, lost, hills. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 5 August. NB. We are unable to accept postal entries for the time being. />
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