The Library That Whispered Murder, part one

Good Morning, Everyone!

I have some great news! It’s story time again. This time we have an all new mystery from everyone’s favorite dual personality occult detective! That’s right: One Man, Two Detectives.

For those that have been following along, you may remember Alan and Arlo’s first two cases. If you need a refresher or if you’re new to the tale, you can read them by following the link below.

Double Croste

Croste Your Heart

Today I give you the first part of their newest mystery. As usual, when the conclusion of the tale is posted I will add the complete story to my Short Fiction  page so you can enjoy it whenever you want.

Feel free to comment and share your love or not-love of the story. Have a great day everyone. Enjoy the beginning of the tale and thanks for stopping by!

*     *     *     *     *

The Library That Whispered Murder

We got a call from Detective Sergeant Berkowitz; that was the first thing that made this case odd to begin with. Berkowitz didn’t like us much. More so, having never actually met me, he didn’t like Alan.

Alan looked into the rear view mirror. He’d not like you if he met you, Arlo. You just make me talk to everyone. If you could get over your shyness-

I’m not shy; I just don’t like people, Alan. Anyway, we knew something was wrong with this case since Berkowitz was the last person to call us in to help the Police. So far the only information he let us in on was that a body had been found at Harold Huxley’s manor on the Upper West Side. Just to spite Detective Berkowitz, we almost said no; but the truth was we needed the money. We were already two months behind on rent and the car had this shudder when we turned left.

It was a quick drive, as quick as anyone could figure for driving through downtown. But there was no other way to reach the ritzy mansions in the Upper West. We knew we were getting close; all the cars we passed had a well-polished shine and private drivers. And most of the people had round haircuts, the men with five dollar cigars and the women with their fur coats. We always wondered if they smelled like wet animal when it rained.

The car pulled into the long driveway of Huxley Manor and was promptly stopped by the gate guards. A man in a red coat and pant approached the window and leaned in. He looked as if he could have served in the military, clean cut and muscles tight against the fabric of his uniform.

“Private property,” he said. He pulled a white gloved hand from the car and grimaced at the dust coating his clean glove. “Do you have business here?”

We smiled a quiet laugh. “Yeah, I was called in by Detective Sergeant Berkowitz. I hear you’ve got some kind of murder here?” Alan passed the guard a business card.

A. Croste

Occult Detectives

555-8838

“Detectives? Do you have a partner coming?”

“No, we work alone. We’re expected.”

The guard didn’t know what to make of us. He only saw Alan behind the wheel, simply because I couldn’t drive. Thank the Gods, all of them, that Alan got the right side of the body. Although I guess if you think about it, I’m left handed and Alan is right handed, we’re basically ambidextrous as far as anyone knew.

The guard stepped into the small booth and made a quick phone call to the manor house. He hung the phone on the cradle and came back to the car.

“Drive on up, the Police are waiting for you.”

“Of course they are. Hey, uh, can I have that card back? It’s the only one we got.” Alan, be careful, it’s only we when talking to ourselves. “Ahem- It’s the only one I got.”

The guard returned the business card, confusion had a firm hold of the man. We started the old Buick and drove on. The driveway was lined with trees and seemed to be almost as long as the street our office and home was on. This guy certainly had money.

He’s loaded, Arlo. He owns six magazines, the local newspaper, and a film studio. You’ve heard of HGM; Huxley, Goldwyn, and Mayer?

This is that Harold Huxley; with the barking dog film logo? Maybe we can charge more for this? I’m sure he’ll want it kept quiet- hush, hush, and on the Q.T. We can do that, Alan.

We parked alongside the patrol cars and noticed immediately that we should have at least washed out dusty old Buick before coming along. The Police sure seemed to have waxed their cars for the case. We climbed out and opened the trunk. Alan grabbed the revolver, his trusted .38 Special I had modified with the proper arcane symbols to make it useful against all manner of supernatural baddies. I took out the Babylonian Lens, the flask of Holy Water, and the Black Candle-just in case. We still didn’t know what we were up against.

Rasputin’s Journal was fluttering its pages in our coat pocket; Alan gave it a quick slap to calm it down. Whatever it had to say could wait. Although you should be nicer to the Book, it’s saved our hide more than a few times.

The front doors were open, two doors large enough to dwarf the wall of my first floor residence. We made our way inside passing a few officers, each pointing us down hallway after hallway. Finally we came to the doorway that led into a large private library.

The beautiful woodwork and spiral staircases, the three tiers of balconies with floor to ceiling books, and the immense crystal chandelier, were all lost at the gruesome sight of the corpse. Alan swallowed hard, trying to keep the vomit down. Keep it together, Alan, I can take this one.

It’s all yours, Arlo.

We could smell the almond scent in the air as we made our way across the room. Detective Berkowitz wore what had to be his only suit with his trademark tobacco stain on the lapel. He spit into a Styrofoam cup and pretended not to notice us.

We turned our attention back to the body. If it had been Harold Huxley, it hard to recognize the prominent figure now. The body was hanging upside down by one leg with its belly split wide, the intestines spilled on the floor beneath it. The fingers from both hands were severed and stuffed into its mouth.

“Jesus Christ,” we said. “You don’t see this every day.”

“Mr. Croste, so glad you could join us.” Berkowitz set his cup on the edge of the walnut desk. “Us poor Detectives might not have solved this murder without you.”

“Probably not.” We tried hard to make it sound jovial. “This is ritualistic. He was poisoned for starters, I can smell the cyanide.”

We walked to the desk and sniffed at the glass of brandy, the scent of almonds was strong. As we stood we saw a small bullet hole in the side of the body’s head. As we moved closer we could see ligature marks around its throat.

“You know he’s been shot, looks like a .22 caliber, and strangled? Or were you too busy cleaning spit from your mustache?”

Berkowitz choked on his chewing tobacco and fumbled for his cup to spit the mouthful out. “What? You want to run that by me again?” He leaned closer, knitting his brow and trying to look intimidating.

Arlo, I’ve seen this before. The way the body is hanging, the guts, the fingers… It’s a picture from one of your books.

I know, Alan, that’s what worries me.

“Berkowitz, this is a ritualistic killing. I’m willing to bet his tongue has been removed. Have your coroner confirm after the fingers are removed.”

We stood and looked down at the puddle of intestines. The entrails were spiraled out in a pattern around the liver with the lungs positioned on opposite sides. We knew this was the first killing in a ritual to summon a demon.

*     *     *     *     *

Tune in Thursday for the next part of the mystery! Thanks for reading.

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12 thoughts on “The Library That Whispered Murder, part one

  1. Terrific title! It’s perfect for these two. Completely fits their era. Some of my favorite lines:”…women with their fur coats. We always wondered if they smelled like wet animal when it rained, .”Detectives? Do you have a partner coming?”“No, we work alone.”, I’m left handed and Alan is right handed, we’re basically ambidextrous as far as anyone knew., You’ve heard of HGM; Huxley, Goldwyn, and Mayer?…with the barking dog film logo?,” I can go to any of your stories and easily pick out several lines that I just love. You have a knack.

    Now, that corpse…disgustingly well done! I think I’ve been talking to you about my serial killer too much…graphic murders seem to be rubbing off on you! LOL! Can’t wait for the next installment. There’s a mystery afoot!! Tally Ho!

    • Thanks for reading! 🙂 I’m glad you found so much to enjoy. Indeed there is a mystery afoot, and it only gets more mysterious in the next bit… I think. I haven’t written that far yet, hehe.

  2. I have missed almost 2 days of reading blogs, I have just made tea and you made my night!
    I love how you always stick and wield the duos dialogues and monologues. I am very intrigued and will be anticipating the next part, you allready know these two are one of my favourite characters and I just love reading more about them, new cases, new situations, everything!

    • I’m glad I could brighten your day! 🙂
      When I posted the new Croste story I knew you would be happy to find it. Thank you for joining me on this new mystery. It should be a fun one! 🙂

      • The pleasure’s mine, Joe. I look forward to eventually managing to catch up on whatever I’ve missed. I’m afraid preparing for the anthology Kickstarter is taking even longer than I thought. Anyway, keep up the good work!

      • Thank you! 🙂
        I have complete faith in the Arcane Synthesis Anthology for Cosmothea. I’m certain all the work you’ve been putting into it will pay off. It’s going to be a grand ride indeed! 🙂

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