Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Deal Me in Week #1: "The Riddle of the Rainbow Pearl"

This is my first year participating in Jay's Deal Me In Challenge . In a nutshell--we line up 52 short stories for the year, we match those stories up to a card in a regular deck of card, and each week we shuffle our deck (of real cards) and draw a card from whatever remains in the deck. My opening card was the seven of clubs...which gave me "The Riddle of the Rainbow Pearl" by Thomas W. Hanshew.

image credit

The image above, which I found in a quick search for the seven of clubs, is really quite apt for the story. Henshew's vignette appears in 7th volume of The World's Best One Hundred Detective Stories edited by Eugene Thwing. It first appeared in a collection of stories titled Cleek, The Master Detective published in 1918, and, as the title might suggest, features a clever detective by the name of Monsieur Cleek. 

In this particular tale, Cleek is approached by Maverick Narkom of the Yard to assist in a matter of international importance. The coronation of King Ulric of Mauretania is set to take place in the near future and a scandal of huger proportions threatens the king and his kingdom. He had once gotten himself entangled with a beautiful Russian woman who, when scorned, managed to run off with the kingdom's most prized possession, The Rainbow Pearl, as well as some very incriminating documents. A fake pearl was left it in its place and no one but she and the king know of the replacement. If the king does not agree to install her as a wife (he already has one) in the palace with a suitable allowance and servants before the coronation, then she will wear the pearl to the ceremony--revealing the theft--and publish the damaging documents.

Cleek is asked to retrieve the items, but he is reluctant to do so. He does not admire King Ulric--who deposed the rightful heirs to the throne. His mind is changed when he discovers the Ulric's current wife is the daughter of the previous king--for he has some reverence for her and her family and off he goes to Mauretania to save the kingdom for the sake of the Queen. The Russian lady, when she discovers Cleek on the case, reduces the time frame--giving an ultimatum that the king must do as she demands in three days. Cleek responds and says that he will have possession of the pearl and the documents in two. And he does. The entertainment is in figuring out where the items were kept (the lady's possessions and servants had been searched repeatedly) and how Cleek was able to remove them. 

I couldn't help but be reminded of the Sherlock Holmes story about The Woman. There are several parallels to "A Scandal in Bohemia"--the main difference being that the Russian lady does not get the better of Cleek. 

1 comment:

Jay said...

I've only read a few mysteries over the years as part of my Deal Me In challenges. I have read "The Complete Stories" of Sherlock Holmes, though, and just like you I was thinking of "A Scandal in Bohemia" when I started reading your description of this story. Sounds like you're off to a good start!

I always enjoy seeing the different playing cards participants sometimes include in their posts. I've actually started collecting decks of cards because of this challenge. I have a whole box full now. ("Nerd Alert!") :-)