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Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 61

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

November 26

Lestrade pored over the footage in the J-drive. It was pretty incriminating by itself, but it might be inadmissible in court. Then he realized that one of the scenes involved Mordecai and DAFT working on the door to his office while he was away. It dawned on him that there were surveillance cameras in his own office, and that they were now secure. Eureka.

He accessed the last 48 hours' worth of footage from his office cameras and found a veritable gold mine of evidence there. DAFT and Mordecai had assumed that their bugs were still in place, but they assumed wrong. Thinking that Lestrade's office was the securest possible place to review their strategy, they went over everything they had done, implicating Whimsley and Fred Jackson and even the office boy who brought coffee every morning. Well, the office boy didn't seem to realize he was involved in something dastardly. He just told Mordecai what Lestrade was up to, so they could go wherever Lestrade wouldn't be.

Lestrade called selected agents and showed them the footage. In short order the Prime Minister and Her Majesty knew about it. Whimsley and Jackson were fairly easy to round up, but Mordecai had disappeared. Nevertheless, this got Parliament and her Majesty off Lestrade's back. Prince Philip probably still thought Lestrade was a horse's smiley - bleep, but at least he was silent about his thoughts this time.

Corroborating evidence was piling up, making the government's case against the miscreants stronger and stronger. Quality Oats was back on track. The Securities and Exchange Commission had even tracked down the account from which Mordecai had made millions of dollars by shorting Quality Oats stock. The dust had not yet settled from this, but there was a possibility that some of the money would go to heirs of the murder victims as reparations.

Freed from the stigma of her brother's bad oats, Sarah Crocker had been hired by Theda Ocher as a partner in the Blue Violet Tea Shop. "Authentic oat scones would be very popular here, Theda had told her. Let's not put any caraway seeds in them, though. That wouldn't go down at all well."


November 27

Dimity was back. Her little car arrived in Lestrade's office a few days after the arrest of Whimsley, Jackson, and DAFT. Jessica was with her.

"Lars helped me a lot," Lestrade told her. "I'd like to meet his ghost some time."

"He'll be free to come here in a few days," Dimity said. "In the meantime, let's discuss fees over some tea and Wibblescones."

"Um, I had forgotten about fees," Lestrade admitted. "Did I sign a contract at all? I can't recall."

"Well, Off the Beaten Track has bills to pay," Jessica said. "Granted, we've just completed some other cases for which we earned some money, but helping Scotland Yard was supposed to be the feather in our cap, the case that put us into the ranks of elite detective agencies."

"I do have some discretionary funds form which I could pay you," Lestrade said. When Dimity and Jessica heard the amount available, they looked uneasy.

"Could you throw in something intangible?" Jessica asked.

"Such as?"

"Do you have an expense account for transportation to crime scenes?"


"Do you remember that we gave you free transportation to the coast of Maine, the southern city of Chartreuse, and a lovely village in Scotland?"

"Well, yes."

"All right, then, let's book a couple of days in a nice inn in one of those spots. You can tell the Yard that you're investigating possible new evidence," Dimity said.

"Well, I've always wanted to go on a whale-watching expedition," Lestrade said.

"Good, let's go to the Plaid Whale Inn for a couple days and enjoy ourselves," Jessica said. "We'll make something up as an official reason for going."

"It's a good thing the camera on my wall can't see or hear what we're saying in this force field," Lestrade said. "Otherwise, we could be in trouble for conspiring to defraud the Yard out of a few pounds. "

"Shall I tell him, then?" Jessica said to Dimity. Dimity nodded.

"We actually *do* have a legitimate reason for going to Cabbage Cove," Jessica told Lestrade.

"What is it?" Lestrade wondered.

"I'll tell you when we get there."

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 62


smiley - laugh

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 63

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

November 28

Lestrade had to admit that Cabbage Cove was quaint, with water lapping against the piers, the seagulls crying overhead, and people visiting the charming shops. The Plaid Whale Inn was brimming with rustic charm, but it also had a lovely dining room with a first-rate buffet.

"I've bought us tickets on the deluxe whale-watching boat," Jessica said.

"How is it deluxe?" Lestrade asked.

"It stops for half an hour at Prince of Whales island, which is about a mile offshore. The island has a hill from which the view s spectacular."

"Will Dimity meet us there?"

"Yes. She's bringing someone to help us with Mordecai."

"Wait, Mordecai is there?"

"I told you there was a legitimate reason for our trip here."

"But shouldn't you have told me earlier, so I could bring my gun?"

"You have your gun anyway."


As promised, the view from the hill on Prince of Whales Island was spectacular. The only thing that spoiled it was Mordecai, who came out of a cave at the bottom of the hill with one of his stooges. Mordecai held Lestrade and Jessica at gunpoint while the stooge tied them to a rock by the water's edge. "When the tide comes up, you'll drown," Mordecai said, "but by then we'll be far away."

Just then, Dimity arrived with an agent of the FBI. Unfortunately, Mordecai and his associate overpowered the FBI agent as well.

"This is a pretty fix you've gotten me into," Lestrade told Jessica through grated teeth.

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 64

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

November 29

All was not lost, though. Lestrade and Jessica could see Dimity, but Mordecai and his stooge could not. Dimity quickly tied a rope around Mordecai's feet, and Lars pushed him over. Alarmed, Mordecai shot his gun in Dimity's direction, but the bullet hit the stooge.
Lars finished the process by tying Mordecai up and untying Lestrade and Jessica and the FBI Agent.

The FBI agent called for helicopter support, and soon the news media were swarming around the island as well.

The next day Lestrade and Jessica were featured on the front pages of newspapers around the world.

The day after that, they had an audience with the Queen, who broadly hinted that there might be a knighthood in Lestrade's future.

Because of the publicity, Off the Beaten Track soon had all the business it could desire. Offices in Paris and London were being planned, and Dimity was scouting for ghosts with sleuthing talent to help out.

Soon it was apparent that Mordecai's links to the Crakkerjack Ripper case would result in cracking that case as well.

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 65


smiley - applause

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 66

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

November 30

Jessica talked Lestrade into visiting a tropical island with Dimity, Lorelei, and Beth.

Sipping tropical cocktails on the beach, lestrade wondered how it was that Brilford had tricked the fat French women into eating the lethal cream puffs. "Oat bran tastes awful no matter what you combine it with," he observed.

"There's the guilt factor, multiplied by cultural constraints," Beth replied. "You can be fat and relatively tranquil anywhere in the world except France. In France, you can say goodbye to a good job, especially if you deal with the public. So, they were doubly anxious to eat something healthful -- oat bran -- while enjoying something delicious -- cream filling. Not that illogical after all."

"Plus, if they looked up oat bran cream pffs on the Internet, they would have found that reputable shops in Cabbage Cove and Chartreuse, South Carolina offered them. How were they to know that Brilford's twisted mind had the lethal version in mind for them?"

"I feel that there is still one more thing you can for Off the Beaten Track as part of your bill," Dimity said. When lestrade tried to react to this, Dimity added, "It won't cost you a cent. You may even make some bucks as a co-author."

"Surely you aren't thinking about asking me to write about the case," Lestrade sputtered. "I'm no writer."

"You can hire a ghostwriter," Dimity said.

"Where would I find one?" Lestrade sounded genuinely puzzled.

"Try asking a ghost. Ask me, for instance. Yes, I accept. The publicity you've gotten should translate into huge sails."

"Isn't the key to book sales a first-rate title?" Lestrade asked.

"Yes. I've got one. If you were in a bookstore, tell me you wouldn't jump at the chance to buy a book with the title 'The Cream Puff Murders: In Search of a Cereal Killer.'"

The end.

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 67

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

Here's a link to the whole story


Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 68


'In Search of a Cereal Killer' smiley - laugh

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 69

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

[I didn't realize, until almost the end, that I had been setting the story up for that pun smiley - groan.]

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 70

Pierce The Pirate ~ in Hotblack Desiato mode ~

Maybe the pun knew? They seem to be everywhere these days. Maybe they are taking over? smiley - erm

smiley - pirate

PS: Great story smiley - oksmiley - applause

Off the BeatenTrack Detective Agency (Najopomo)

Post 71

paulh, not fond of Lord Mudpants

Thanks, Pierce.

I've become fonder and fonder of detective stories over the years. It didn't hurt that the publishing industry puts out great quantities of the things.

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