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The Crafty Herbalist

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Summary: Why would a woman in good health drop dead of a heart attack, and what does the new resident of 221C Baker Street have to do with it? Post TRF.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Crime > Sherlock HolmesAnnadelFR1578,9560107,57427 Mar 125 Apr 12No


Author’s Note: I know Sherlock might have seemed just a tad OOC toward the end of the last chapter. Keep in mind though, he’s been known to act a bit, and he always has a reason for everything he does. Also, it’s been quite a bit longer between chapters this round. Sorry about that. Spring break ended, so I’m back to homeschooling the young ones. Plus, I ended up getting a new PR client over last weekend and have been a bit busy with them. Chapters will keep coming regularly, but not exactly on an almost daily basis like last week.

“What is it you find so amusing?” Sherlock asked with a roll of his eyes once we were in the cab and on our way to St. Bart’s.

“I just never thought I’d see the day someone would successfully bargain with you.” I’d been trying not to grin like a fool since he’d agreed, and I finally just gave it up.

“Why wouldn’t I agree?” he asked. I knew my confusion was showing as he smirked. “The killer is a member of this Londoner’s team. Odds are good they will be participating in the expo, and helping Mrs. Northton grants us access tonight.”

“So you only agreed to her terms…”

“As a way to ensure access to further information as quickly as possible should Richard Rife prove a dead end, yes.”

I shook my head and looked out the window at the shops passing by. “I don’t know why I’m surprised,” I mumbled.

We passed the rest of the drive in relative silence. Sherlock was once again typing away at his phone, looking up something or other. He hadn’t slept much if at all last night so far as I could tell. He’d been awake when I’d gone upstairs to my room, and he was up, showered, and dressed when I came back down this morning. What more could he be hoping to find if he’d sat up researching the group and Richard Rife half the night?

Molly was rounding the corner, heading toward her lab from the employee locker room, when Sherlock pushed the double doors open. Her arms were full of files and her usual clipboard, so chances were good she’d already picked up the lab results.

“Oh.” She greeted us with her usual grin. “Good morning.”

“Morning, Molly,” I returned the same time Sherlock demanded the test results.

She shifted through the file folders in her arms. “There wasn’t much left in Rife’s stomach, so it’d been a few hours since he’d eaten when he died,” she explained as she handed two files to Sherlock. “There were traces of borage left there and just tons of it in his blood.”

Sherlock looked up from the files to raise an eyebrow at her. Molly’s smile faltered a bit and she blushed.

“The dosage could have killed a small horse,” she explained. “Literally.”

“How could someone ingest that much borage seed oil?” I asked. “The stuff available is so diluted; you’d need a gallon or more.” I turned a little green just thinking about that much oil.

“They would concentrate it,” Sherlock answered. “I need a copy of both…” He trailed off as Molly handed him an envelope with her usual shy smile.

I haven’t often seen Sherlock surprised, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be pleasantly surprised. Though I think the quiet huff followed by the half grin he rewarded her with as he returned the original files and accepted the envelope counted.

“Thank you, Dr. Hooper,” he said and nodded to her. He turned, coat swirling, and started back toward the doors.

Molly’s eyes light up whenever he does that, and this morning was no different. Sherlock knows exactly what she thinks of the thing. I can tell, and he does it just to get a reaction out of her. Sometimes I can’t decide if he’s a massive showoff, the world’s most clueless flirt, or both. I thanked her and gave her a wave and hurried to catch Sherlock up.

“Don’t you need to examine the body?” I asked.

“No point,” he answered. “Any information of value will have been destroyed during the autopsy.”

Sherlock pulled his phone out of his coat pocket and dialed.

“Annie McDoogle was murdered. Poison meant to make it look like a heart attack, and she wasn’t the only victim.” He paused, self-pleased smirk playing on his face as he listened to Lestrade. “Richard Rife, forty-five, overweight, and already suffered two heart attacks. It would have been overlooked if Molly hadn’t performed both autopsies yesterday afternoon and recognized the similarities.” Another pause. Sherlock rolled his eyes. “Of course I have the reports. Meet us at Rife’s flat.”

Sherlock handed the autopsy reports to me. I waited until we’d hailed a cab and gotten inside to start flipping through to give my usual second opinion. It wasn’t often I managed to catch some detail Sherlock or Molly overlooked, but I did from time to time. Today wouldn’t be one of those times.

Rife’s flat was just a couple blocks from Scotland Yard, and we ended up arriving at the same time as Lestrade. I handed him the autopsy reports as Sherlock led the way upstairs. By the time Lestrade and I caught up, Sherlock had already opened the door with the key that’d been included in the file along with Richard Rife’s other personal effects. And wouldn’t you know it, the flat wasn’t empty.

“Who are you?” demanded a surprised looking man in a business suit. He looked to be boxing up Rife’s belongings. “What are you doing here?”

“Scotland Yard,” Lestrade answered and produced his badge. “It was discovered this morning Richard Rife’s death was a homicide. This is now a crime scene. Who are you?”

“Rife’s lawyers, obviously,” Sherlock said. The lawyer stood there eyes wide and mouth opening and closing like he was trying to say something but couldn’t form a coherent sentence. Another suited fellow picked that moment to come around the corner. “They’re here to prepare his estate for auction.”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to leave it for now, boys,” said Lestrade.

“We’ll need to see the proper documentation,” said the second lawyer.

“Of course,” answered Lestrade. “If you’ll leave the boxes and come with me.”

They both regarded Sherlock and me with suspicion, but they put down the boxes they were carrying and followed Lestrade out into the hall. Sherlock immediately went to work deducing.

“You going to fill me in on what you found about Rife last night?” I asked. I started looking through the box of files the first lawyer had been filling.

“He was a broker. Like you, he had a fondness for inflicting his opinion on the world in a blog and was preoccupied with dating.” I could hear a sneer in his voice at the last. Apparently bored with the parlor, he walked into the kitchen and began looking through the cabinets and refrigerator.

I lifted a packet of paperwork. Underneath was the deed to a commercial property downtown. There were four more under it, and bills of sale for still more were under those. I pulled them from the box.

“Judging by the state of his pantry and fridge, the spare furnishings, and relative cleanliness of his flat, he had a housekeeper that came in once a week,” said Sherlock as he reentered the parlor. “No signs of family.” He held up a leather bound day planner. “And according to this, he had a dinner planned with ‘Carrie’ the night of his death.”

“And it looks like he flipped commercial properties on the side,” I added holding up the papers I’d found. “I found several deeds and bills of sale. I suspect there’s paperwork for renovations made here somewhere.”

He took the papers from me and looked through them. I turned back to the boxes of files and continued looking. I could hear Sherlock flipping through papers rapidly a moment later, and looked back to see him looking through the planner he’d found before returning his attention to the papers I’d handed him. His eyes got wide, and he smiled moments later.

“Seems ‘Carrie’ was interested in one of Rife’s properties,” he said. Sherlock pulled one of the deeds to the front of the stack.

He walked back out into the hall where the two lawyers were still arguing with Lestrade. They’d already begun advertising the estate auction and were understandably upset over the delay. Sherlock showed them the deed he’d singled out and asked what was to be done with it. All the properties were to be auctioned ‘as is’ along with all the other items in Rife’s estate come Sunday afternoon.

“We are trying to investigate and find the guilty party as quickly as possible,” he said. As often as I’ve seen him act over the last few years, it still surprises me every time. I’ve gotten better at hiding it though. At least I think I have; no one’s noticed of late. “We really need to take a look around this particular property. You wouldn’t mind helping speed things along, would you?”

He gave them that fake smile of his, but like anyone who doesn’t actually know Sherlock, they fell for the act and agreed. The lawyers drove us out to the property in question. It was a small shop in a busy but boring group of shops. Absolutely every other shop on the street was some box chain or other.

The inside of the old shop was completely bare. There wasn’t a clue even to what it used to be left. It’d been cleaned out in preparation for renovations, but none had been started yet.

After most of an hour of searching fruitlessly for clues, we left and headed back to Baker Street. Sherlock pinned the pertinent information to the wall as is his habit, slapped on a fresh nicotine patch, and simply stared. I looked in the ice box for something to quiet my grumbling stomach, and finding it lacking, decided I should tend to the weekly shopping before we were to meet Jennifer.

The End?

You have reached the end of "The Crafty Herbalist" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 5 Apr 12.

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