Wednesday, 16th of December, 1925
Sir Malcolm is awoken shortly after midnight by one of the servants at the Wentworth Club. There is an urgent telephone call waiting for him downstairs. It is Doctor Laurence from the Bethlem Hospital, asking for the investigators to come as quickly as possible.
When they arrive at the hospital, they find a scene of chaos. There are firetrucks and police cars outside, along with a lot of police and firemen, hospital staff and wandering patients. Four obvious bodies lie under blankets. They are taking to see Doctor Laurence and Inspector Lennox who inform them that a riot broke out at about nine in the evening when a group of women from a ward for the criminally insane managed to arm themselves and leave their ward. The riot spread and has only just been brought under control. But during the confusion, Willard Puncheon has gone missing. Inspector Lennox has been ordered to stay on the scene pending a full investigation and in the circumstances, he is willing to ask the investigators, as people interested in Puncheon to see if they can find him. Given the attempt on his life, the previous night, he suspects that Puncheon has falling into the hands of those who mean him harm – if he isn’t already dead, he may be in considerable danger. Inspector Lennox offers the investigators the loan of some firearms and though he can not officially sanction them reminds them of the powers of citizens arrest and the right to use force to defend your own life or that of another innocent party. He intimates that as long as the investigators stay within these limits, he will do his best to keep them out of trouble. A man’s life is at stake.
The only real clue is that the security guard who was helping to watch Puncheon and who had access to all the keys in the hospital, John Elwick, is missing. He lives in Stepney Green, Tower Hamlets and the investigators head to his home.
There they encounter his mother, displeased at being woken in the middle of the night. But eventually she tells them that her son is probably at the Seven Stars pub just down the road. When they head there, they find the pub is closed but the door is wide open, having been obviously forced open. And John Elwick sits at the bar drowning his sorrows.
The man is in a maudlin state. He admits that he accepted twenty pounds to release the dangerous women from their rooms and to turn a blind eye to the removal of Willard Puncheon, but nobody was meant to be hurt, let alone killed. The amount of money is ridiculously small for a man to throw away his career, if not his liberty and life, but he says he took it partly out of fear of the man who paid him. This is a doctor – a surgeon – named Lucien Sauvageot, a Frenchman, who performs illicit surgeries out of his home in Berwick Street, Soho. Elwick encountered him when the man was willing to perform a dangerous surgery that saved Elwick’s mother when other Doctors wouldn’t. Sir Malcolm has vague memories of the name Lucien Sauvageot – a Doctor who was struck off for some sort of offence who had the nickname, The Butcher of Marais, but cannot recall the details. Having told Elwick, that his best course of action is to turn himself in, the investigators hasten to Soho.
There, they manage to identify the correct address and reconnoitre the location from an alleyway running behind. They encounter a heavy set man, who opens his coat to reveal a Thompson Submachine Gun.
A gunfight ensues. The investigators triumph largely due to extraordinary good luck when their assailants Thompson Submachine Gun jams on its first burst. He is cut down by their own returning fire.
The investigators then make their entry into the back door of what they believe to be Sauvageot's house. Once inside they confirm this suspicion when they discover the rear kitchen has been turned into a makeshift surgical sluice room. They head down into the cellar where they discover a locked door. Mister Peelman returns upstairs and confronts two hired toughs, both of whom he persuades to leave.
Once entry is gained to the locked room in the cellar, they investigators are confronted by the sight of Willard Puncheon, naked and hanging from chains. Sauvageot holds a scalpel to Puncheon's neck and attempts to negotiate his freedom. But after a short discussion, tries to make a run for it, and is shot down. He is seriously wounded but not dead.
The investigators summon police assistance and an ambulance. Sauvageot and Puncheon are taking to hospital. The investigators are able to search Sauvageot's home and locate two items of interest – a ledger and a journal.
True to his word, Inspector Lennox smooths over the legal issues with regards to their use of force. Sauvageot has died in hospital and they also killed one of his associates, but while there will at some stage be an inquest, Inspector Lennox has made it clear, he will give evidence that they were acting in lawful self defence while assisting police.
The Curse of Nineveh
Contains spoilers for 'The Curse of Nineveh'
Wednesday, 16th of December, 1925