A woman appears in the famous flat at Baker Street. She is an heir of a splendid fortune from her mother, accumulated in India, and lives in a mansion of her stepfather. She talks about her sister that died in mysterious circumstances. Dying in her arms she told her about weird metallic sounds which she had heard just before death and her last word were ‘the speckled band‘.
Helen also heard the sounds the night before so, terrified, she went to the best detective in England. Holmes takes a puff at his pipe and looks curiously at the woman, he‘s only interested in extraordinary cases.
Sherlock or Jerome?
So, we are at 221b Baker Street – in a flat rented by Holmes and dr. Watson at the end of the 19th century, that has become a cult place for Holmes‘ fans and was turned into his museum.
We‘re sitting next to the gentlemen and observing how the investigation unfolds. But where are we? The answer is quite simple – in the mind of Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of novels about Sherlock that was set in the non-existing flat. The real museum is at Baker Street but between 237 and 241. Does it mean that the real Sherlock has never existed and we are sitting next to a figment of Doyle‘s imagination?
That‘s not the case! At least not most of it. When Doyle created his first short stories featuring Holmes, that is around 1880, there was a brilliant police officer known all over England, who could resolve the most complicated criminal cases.
Jerome Caminada didn‘t work in London, but in Manchester, yet his reputation surely reached the writer and became a big inspiration to him. So, we‘re sitting next to Caminada, though his 221b Baker Street is‘ the last church pew, where he meets his informers from the criminal ring. This is where it all starts or gets into gear. Let‘s have a closer look at Jerome to investigate his case.
Real Sherlock Holmes
Jerome Caminada is a self-confident and bit arrogant man, dedicated to his investigations that with time became his obsession. He gathers pieces of vital information from thorough observation of every detail that most policemen do not pay any attention to, not to mention draw any deduction from them.
To gain trust or get access to various places he often pretends to be somebody else. He, willingly and without scruple, flirts with women just so that they, unaware of his real intentions, tell him all he needs. One of these ladies is not a brief fling as their acquaintance changes into something more serious. This woman‘s name in the literary world is Irene Adler and she is the only one that Sherlock has ever loved.
The full range of his untypical working methods is used for a long-standing investigation against the Fenian Brotherhood – a secret republican organisation fighting for independence of Ireland using brutal methods. Caminada hunts them through half of Europe, he even manages to join them and reach the higher members. Once, he enters a study room of one of the Brothers and notices a note with a French address of one of the bosses of the organisation – he reads the address from an impressed reflection left on a blotting pad!
Real James Moriarty
The true worry for Camida is not the organisation but one man – his very own James Moriarty, Bob Horridge – a thief and burglar, notorious in whole Manchester.
Since Caminada caught him in 1870 for stealing a watch, Horridge swore revenge and for the next 17 years the both men have ferociously chased each other. Eventually, in 1887 Horridge commits a crime more serious than an ordinary burglary – he kills two police officers. The case lands in Caminada‘s hands who follows his lead as far as Liverpool.
The area of their life-and-death combat are Liverpool docks. Jerome recognises the opponent from afar thanks to his specific way of walk. He approaches him, puts a gun to his head and coolly says ‘Hello Bob, how are you?‘. But Bob is fine and he quickly reaches his gun.
The scuffle begins, one of the guns can shot in any moment. But Caminada is not only a clever observer but also great at hand-to-hand struggle. He incapacitates the opponent and says ‘If there‘s any nonsense with you, you‘ll get the contents of this‘.
This case was famous all over England, his face appeared at the front page of every newspaper but, as it was to turn out, his most prominent case was yet before him.
The toxic four-wheeled cab
Chilly night in February 1889. The driver of the horse drawn cab does not know what the two men sitting at the back are talking about, he does not see nor hear them as they are separated by a black barrier. Streets of Manchester are empty, the city is sleeping. An hour passes and nothing happens, the cold driver gets impatient, he goes down from the cab and opens the door. Then he freezes – John Fletcher is lying on a set – dead!
Caminada appears at the murder scene. Fletcher wasn‘t beaten or strangled, so what has happened in the cab?
Police suspects that John, known to hit the bottle now and then, died from alcohol overdose. But Caminada is not convinced. It turns out that a poisonous substance is found in his organism – chloral hydrate and it was the cause of his death.
Jerome has almost encyclopaedic knowledge on chemicals, he instantly puts two and two together, as this substance is used in illegal boxing matches – cheaters add it to water that boxers use to wash their mouth during break.
That‘s how Caminada picked up the trail of an old trouper in the criminal underworld, called ‘Pig Jack‘. However, the elderly man does not match the case, as the cab driver is sure the other man was rather young.
It all runs in the family though. Caminada reaches his son, who refutes the murder charges by stating that he was in Liverpool that night, so he couldn‘t kill the man. But Jerome is smarter than that, as he checks that that very night a bottle of chloral hydrate was stolen from a Liverpool pharmacy. Then all became clear, and Camida became a national hero.
Between the book and reality
We are sitting in the last church pew in Manchester‘ or rather in a cosy armchair in the flat in London at 221b Baker Street. Holmes is looking at the terrified woman who has just told him about the death of her sister.
Sherlock comes to her manor and remains calm when her stepfather tries to throw him out. His behaviour gives him an idea to have a closer look at the will left by his dead wife, Mrs. Stoner. There he finds the answer. According to the document, if one of the daughters gets married, Mr. Roylott will lose a considerate part of the fortune. The only remaining question is what were the strange noises and ‘the speckled band‘.
Holmes makes an experiment, he visits Mrs. Stoner‘s house again and together with Watson they‘re planning to spend a night in the woman‘s room. This time the host is away, so they can freely inspect the premises. In the sister‘s room, they discover a bell cord that does not work and a ventilator hole leading to an adjacent room where‘s only a metal box.
The night is calm up to a point when the detectives hear a hissing sound of the ventilator. Then Holmes quickly hits a prepared beforehand bell and a moment later the house is filled with Mr. Roylott‘s scream. Sherlock and Watson run into his room and the man is sitting on a chair, dead, and a snake is slithering around his head, ‘the speckled band‘ ‘ one of the most venomous vipers.
Be like Sherlock Holmes
Jerome Caminada died in 1914, in the same year as one of the last Sherlock novels was written by Arthur Doyle.
Caminada has become an inspiration for Holmes and Holmes became inspiration for whole generations of detectives. In this way, life was transformed into an amazing story by Doyle and the story has begun living on its own in the real world ‘ it‘s come full circle.
Nowadays, a detective can take advantage of multifunctional cameras, meticulous laboratory research and spying gadgets. However, no gear can replace a clever mind that, paired with technology, can become a mastermind.
We are aware of that, that is why we offer detective service appreciated by our clients. Would you like to meet our Sherlock Holmes?