Sunday, May 18, 2014
Crossover of the Week
THE ANOMALY OF THE EMPTY MAN
Lamb is consulted by his friend Inspector Abrahams regarding the mysterious disappearance of James Stambaugh, who left only his clothes behind. Lamb then meets with Dr. Horace Verner, who is between seventy and a hundred, and tells him about the mystery. Verner tells Lamb that the record he is about to play for him is of the greatest dramatic soprano of the century, and lists some others, including Lena Geyer. Verner says that in this recording lies the solution to Stambaugh’s disappearance, and begins telling him a tale of an incident in the autumn of 1901. Verner was a great fan of the soprano, Carina, whose lovers seemed to all commit suicide. Verner’s cousin, also a great admirer of Carina, investigated her unexplained death. After her passing, men began disappearing in a manner similar to Stambaugh’s vanishing, including the Bishop of Cloisterham. Both Verner (who worked as an occult detective) and his cousin were hired by the family of one of the victims to investigate. Verner’s cousin called him “a man of singular accomplishments,” and Verner remarks that his cousin, as his (Verner’s) great-uncle Etienne used to remark of General Masséna, was famous for the accuracy of his information. Verner’s cousin mentions his Boswell.
Short story by Martin Lamb, edited by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1952, and reprinted in The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sebastian Wolfe, ed., 1989. Martin Lamb also appears in Boucher’s novel The Case of the Seven of Calvary, as well as the short story “The Way I Heard It.” In “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder,” Dr. Watson says that “a young doctor, named Verner,” a distant relative of Sherlock Holmes, bought his former Kensington practice. Carina is from the Holmes story “The Adventure of the Retired Colourman.” Of Lena Geyer is a 1936 novel by Marcia Davenport. The Cathedral town of Cloisterham is the setting of Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Verner’s great-uncle is Doyle’s Brigadier Etienne Gerard, who made the remark about Masséna in “How the Brigadier Slew the Fox” (aka “The Crime of the Brigadier.”)