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"The Royal Russian Murders."
It was cold and the snow that had fallen overnight lay crisp on the
pavement outside Inspector Hadley’s house in Camden. The
winter always disagreed with him and he felt that the cold slowed
his ability to think clearly. January was his least favourite month
of the year and this one was no exception. He had enjoyed a happy
Christmas with his wife, Alice and their two children, Arthur and
Anne but after his adventurous investigations in the previous year
he wondered what 1881 had in store for him. He waited for an age
by the kerb before a Hansom cab came trotting along and stopped
when he hailed it. The ride to New Scotland Yard was slow as the
London horse traffic struggled to keep moving in the snow
covered streets. At last he arrived and was pleased that George, his
clerk, had prepared a pot of tea for him and Sergeant Cooper.
“I thought I was going to be late this morning, sir” said
Sergeant Cooper brightly from his desk.
“I’m pleased to note that you arrived on time, Sergeant.”
“Whilst I was nearly late, but not quite” said Hadley with a
grin. He was pleased to have Cooper with him and the young
Sergeant was delighted to be working with the Inspector. Cooper
had proved himself to be a very courageous Officer who had been
wounded in each of the two cases that Hadley had investigated
with him. They had hardly begun to drink their tea when Mr
Jenkins, Chief Inspector Bell’s clerk, came into the office.
“Good morning, sir” said Jenkins.
“Morning, Mr Jenkins.”
“The Chief Inspector would like to see you straight away, sir”
said the clerk.
“Very good” replied Hadley as he took a quick sip of tea before
standing up and following Jenkins out of the office.
The Chief Inspector Bell looked grim and ashen faced as Hadley
entered his office. “Better sit down, Hadley” he said.
“Thank you, sir” replied Hadley as he lowered his tall frame
down onto a creaking chair before fixing the Chief with his sharp,
blue eyes. He instinctively knew that something very serious had
“A report has just come in of a murder at the Tower of
London…” began Bell, he then paused and Hadley waited for him
“It could have security implications because of the Crown
Jewels and I want you to mount a discreet investigation into the
“The Commissioner has been informed and he has given strict
instructions that the Press must not get wind of this, on any
“I think that’s a bit of a tall order, sir, but I’ll do my best.”
“Well, those are his instructions, now get over to the Tower
and begin straight away.”
“Let me have a report on your findings by the end of the day so
I can brief the Commissioner on your progress before he goes
“There’s a Sergeant Collins, with two constables at the crime
scene, they will give you any assistance” said Bell.
“Thank you, sir.”
“I hope this bad start to the year will not continue” sighed Bell.
“I’m sure it won’t, sir” smiled Hadley.
“I admire your optimism, Inspector” said Bell as he returned
his gaze to the paperwork before him.
Within twenty minutes Hadley and Cooper were in a Hansom cab
and on their way to the Tower of London, the fortress that had
guarded the city since the time of William the Conqueror. The
Hansom struggled up Ludgate Hill amongst all the other traffic,
slipping in the snow, then passing Saint Paul’s before making
progress along Cannon Street and then eventually on to Tower
Hill. Hadley had remained silent throughout the journey, deep in
thought and Cooper knew that it was best to remain quiet at such
times. As the Hansom made its way cautiously down Tower Hill
towards the main gate of the imposing Tower, Hadley said “I fear
that this investigation will be very difficult, Sergeant.”
“Why is that, sir?”
“Because of the nature of the place, it’s dark and concealing,
that must have an effect on all those who live within its walls”
replied Hadley as the Hansom stopped. Cooper paid the driver
whilst Hadley walked slowly towards the main gate, conscious of
the history of the place, steeped in intrigue, murder and execution.
As Cooper joined him he said “in Shakespeare’s Richard the
Third, the murderous Richard says to the young Prince ‘your
highness shall repose you at the Tower…’ and the Prince replies ‘I
do not like the Tower, of any place…’ and who could blame
“Quite so, sir, it is a forbidding place” replied Cooper.
“And this is where the Princes met their untimely deaths at the
hands of their uncle, Richard of Gloucester.”
“What evil, sir.”
“Indeed, I find it all very sad” replied Hadley as Sergeant
Collins approached them.
They followed the Sergeant, in sombre mood, through the Middle
Tower and along to the Byward Tower, then passed Traitors Gate
before turning left, passing through the arch of the Bloody Tower
and up the slope to the White Tower.
“It’s the devils work, sir” said Collins as they approached the
steps leading up to the imposing door of the Tower.
“We’re prepared, Sergeant” replied Hadley and Collins nodded
before murmuring “I hope you are, sir” as they entered the
building. There were two constables, pale faced and looking
anxious, standing at the end of the great hall by the doorway that
led down to the armoury. They both nodded and murmured “sir”
to Hadley before he and Cooper followed Collins down the well
worn steps to the large room below. They were horrified by what
they saw in the flickering gas light.
“Good God Almighty” whispered Hadley while Cooper stood
silent and transfixed as they observed the scene from hell. Before
them was the decapitated body of an Army Officer, slumped
against an executioners block. The head was some feet away on
the blood soaked stone floor, with its mouth open and eyes staring.
The executioner’s axe was still embedded in the block after the
fatal blow had been struck, it was covered in blood.