Thursday, January 24, 2013
Case of The Greek Room - Sax Rohmer
Story: Case of The Greek Room
Author: Sax Rohmer
Book: The Dream Detective (Queen’s Quorum Title)
Theme for the Month: Locked Room or Impossible Crime Stories
Sax Rohmer is most famous for the creation of Dr. Fu Manchu and has a number of other creations to his name - Paul Harley, Gaston Max, Red Kerry, Morris Klaw and The Crime Magnet.
The first story in this collection introduces us to the Occult detective Moris Klaw, an old antique dealer who has been fancying his chances as an amateur investigator by hanging about the Criminal Court. He has the eccentric habit of applying a scented spray (verbena) upon his bald brows from a cylindrical container hidden in the lining of his flat-topped hat.
The night attendant of the Menzies Museum is found dead in strange circumstances in the Greek Room: there are only two entrances to the Greek Room – one leads to the private quarters of the curator and is kept locked at all instances and the other through which the general public use to enter the Greek room and this has been locked by the guard with the key on him and all the doors of the museum are bolted from inside which would make it impossible for anyone to even enter the Museum even if he had a duplicate key. Cause of death is determined to be due to broken neck, after being in the last stages of exhaustion - as though there was a great fight and he was hurled upon by an opponent possessing more than ordinary strength. Further investigation of the premises brings to light the unlocked state of the glass display containing the Athenean Harp.
Enter Moris Klaw – he requests the curator to allow him to spend a night alone in the Greek room – upon the very spot of floor where the poor attendant fell – so that he could from the surrounding atmosphere recover a picture of the thing that the dead man had at the last! He says the Odic Force, the ether carries the wireless message – it’s a huge, sensitive plate – where the supreme thought preceding death is imprinted on the surrounding atmosphere like a photograph and he has trained himself to reproduce those photographs! And he has his beautiful daughter Isis to assist him in developing the negatives for these photographs. The next day Klaw declares that his psychic photograph is that of a woman dressed all in white; the attendant died with this picture in his mind and great fear of the Athenean Harp which she was playing! He makes his departure as quickly as his untimely entrance to carry out more research.
A few days later, the replacement attendant meets the same fate in the Greek room, the only difference being the presence of the Harp on the floor right next to the fallen man. A few other peculiar features come to light but none that can help them solve the problem – until Moris Klaw comes back on one fine day (after completing his research abroad) and elucidates the secrets of the Greek Room. An impressive debut for Moris Klaw!