TGIF! Here’s my latest snippet from A Most Malicious Murder — Eddy and Charles are puzzling over a mysterious clue left on the chambermaid’s body (and starting to get on each other’s nerves). Enjoy!
The undergraduates of Christ Church were housed in small but attractive rooms, a far cry from the catch-as-catch-can housing Eddy remembered from his time at the University of Virginia. “A pleasant space,” he said, fighting down a surge of jealousy as he studied the paneled walls and leaded windows.
Dodgson shrugged. “I’m more ap-preciative of the solitude, to be truthful,” he said, waving Eddy to a seat at an ancient oak table that doubled as a desk. “Now, if you can show me what needs to be translated?”
He pulled the paper from his breast pocket, smoothing it on the tabletop. “Does this make any sense to you?”
Dodgson studied the scrawled letters. “Hm. The alphabet is indeed Greek,” he said after a moment. “But the words are nonsensical. It’s as if someone simply c-copied down Greek letters in no particular order.”
Eddy felt his hopes sink. “Damn it all.”
The young man glanced at him, mouth pursed in disapproval. “Really, Mr. Poe, there’s no need to curse.”
Just his luck that he’d attracted an Oxford bluenose. “Dodgson, if you’d had the kind of morning I had, you’d be cursing like a sailor as well,” he said, rubbing his forehead. The hangover, held in abeyance by the need to find a translator, was making itself felt once more. “So this note is nothing but arrant nonsense?”
“I’m afraid so,” Dodgson agreed. “Unless someone is in the habit of sending c-coded messages in Ancient Greek, of course.”
A thought bulled through his headache. Coded messages, hidden meanings secreted behind a cryptological wall. “The words themselves may be nonsense,” he said slowly, “but could the arrangement of them form the pattern of a proper sentence, or whatever served as such in Ancient Greek?”
“Possibly,” Dodgson murmured. “You’re suggesting that this could be an anagram?”
“I am indeed. Can you try unscrambling it?”
“I believe so.” The undergraduate bent further over the desk, rapidly scribbling out combinations. “Yes, I think you’re right,” he muttered, writing out a revised version of the original code. “It appears to be a simple enough sentence—”
He stopped. “Oh, dear.”
“What does it say?” Eddy demanded.
Slowly, Dodgson took up the pen again and wrote five words in English underneath the revised Greek symbols. The two men stared at the translation, then at each other.
Catch me if you can.
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