Cover image for Lestrade and the guardian angel
Lestrade and the guardian angel
Trow, M. J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, DC : Regnery Pub. ; Lanham, MD : Distributed to the trade by National Book Network, [1999]

Physical Description:
235 pages ; 21 cm.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The first fatality in a series of killings that was to become the most bizarre in the celebrate Victorian Inspector's career.

Author Notes

Author M. J. Trow was born in Ferndale, South Wales in 1949. He graduated from King's College, London and Cambridge. He writes the Lestrade Mystery series and the Peter Maxwell Mystery series. He has also written biographies on Kit Marlowe, Vlad the Impaler, Boudicca and Cnut. He also teaches history and politics at Ryde High School. He currently lives on the Isle of Wight.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

British history teacher Trow clearly enjoys writing his period mysteries about the Scotland Yard inspector Sholto Lestrade; his latest (after Lestrade and the Brother of Death, Forecasts, Oct. 4) is stuffed with enough broad humor, bad puns and knockabout physical humor to delight an audience of nine-year-olds. Unfortunately, in this outing the author's enthusiasm isn't contagious: neither Lestrade nor the murders he is investigating provoke much interest. The inspector is supposed to be a seasoned professional, a man of intelligence who has consorted with the likes of Winston Churchill and the Prince of Wales, but as he struggles to find a pattern behind a series of corpses found with strange objects stuffed into their mouths--a soldier with medal, an archeologist with a scarab, etc.--Lestrade seems more like the bumbling Inspector Clouseau than Holmes's occasionally worthy adversary. The investigation is further complicated by Lestrade's long-standing friendship with the main suspect--an affectionate but hot-headed young man. It's 1897, and--as Trow tells us when Lestrade meets Dr. John Watson--the exploits of the "late and legendary Sherlock Holmes" are being "embroidered and indeed invented by Watson's coauthor, another quack by the name of Conan Doyle: "Conan the Barbarian, as one reviewer had called him." You don't have to be a Holmes purist to flinch at the line, and Holmes fans may be put off by Trow's version of the English Inspector. Nonetheless, others may enjoy the novel's strong period setting and loopy humor. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Alpha Harry Bandicoot straightened himself with a groan, leaning gratefully on the scythe. To his right and left, his tenants toiled under the August sun, leather-gaitered and steel-sickled to mow down the golden corn. Across the field the reaper clanked and rattled on its furrow, the great black horses lifting their iron hoofs as one, straining sinew and shoulder. Bandicoot caught the nearest rein, throwing the scythe to a labourer, and hauled himself on to the harvester.     `Warm work, sir,' the driver called, passing him a jug. Bandicoot nodded, swigging gratefully. His eyes crossed as it reached those parts other jugs could not and the driver noticed.     `It's the Missus's,' he explained.     `Yes, I thought it must be,' scowled Bandicoot, and remembering his upbringing and his status, `Good brew, Jack, good brew. Give my compliments to the Missus.'     Jack grinned broadly, tugging on his forelock, and cracked the horses into the furrow again.     `Rider comin', Mr Bandicoot,' a young voice called. The squire looked up to the top of the harvester, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun. `From the `All, I'd say.'     He looked across in the direction of the pointing finger and saw a horseman galloping across the meadow and clashing through the stream.     `Can you make out who it is, Jem?' Bandicoot asked the boy.     `It do look like Tom Wyatt,' the boy called back, cupping his hands to shout over the grinding of the machine.     Bandicoot climbed still higher so that he stood beside the driver and saw that young Jem was right. The groom was lashing Bandicoot's bay for all he was worth and was standing in the stirrups as he took the crest of the hill and burst through the corn.     `You'll flatten it, you bloody idiot!' Jack bellowed, but Bandicoot's hand on his shoulder quietened him.     `You know Tom better than that, Jack,' the squire said. `He'll have his reasons.'     Wyatt was yelling now, plunging through the harvest field and waving hysterically. He drew rein within inches of the plodding blacks who threw up their heads and looked at him.     `You look flushed, Tom,' Bandicoot greeted him, taking in the groom's open waistcoat and matted hair. `What's the matter?'     `It's Mrs Bandicoot, sir,' Wyatt gasped, kicking himself free of the stirrups. `She's started.'     `Started what?'     There was a silence in which all eyes turned to the squire. Jack, the driver, tugged on the squire's belt with one hand and began to light his pipe with the other. `Whelping, sir,' he whispered, `beggin' your pardon an' all.'     `Good God! She's three weeks early!' Bandicoot stood bolt upright like a recently castrated calf and leapt in one fluid movement into the saddle of the bay. It was as well it had been recently vacated by the groom.     `Carry on, Jack,' Bandicoot shouted, and drove his heels into the animal's flanks, crashing back through the devastation caused by the groom.     `That I will, sir,' Jack chuckled and threw his jug down to Tom Wyatt. The groom pulled off the stopper.     `Your Missus's?' he asked.     Jack nodded, and the groom replaced the stopper.     Squire Bandicoot hurtled through the stream, his legs straight in the stirrups, his head low to miss the branches. The two miles felt like twenty as he thrashed the bay's neck with his reins. The animal swerved on the gravel and then he was weaving between the gnarled old trees of the orchard, ducking and bobbing. The swans flapped noisily from the lake as his hoofbeats frightened them and he saw a flurry of activity on the terrace ahead. Another groom caught the lathered, snorting bay as Bandicoot leapt from its back, running like the Old Etonian he was up the slope.     `Oh, sir,' wailed the hysterical girl on the terrace as he arrived.     `What is it, Maisie?' He held her heaving shoulders and attempted to sound calm.     `It's bad news, sir,' she sobbed.     Bandicoot stared at the tearful eyes and the red, throbbing nose.     `What? What?' he shouted.     `It's Grizzle. She's ... she's dead,' and the maid sank to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably.     Bandicoot looked helplessly around him. It was something he had been doing now for more than thirty years. He was quite accomplished at it. It was with exquisite relief he welcomed the arrival of Miss Balsam, as gnarled as any of the trees he had just ridden past and a little riper, to boot.     `Tsk, girl,' she snarled at the maid, who bobbed up, curtsied to the squire and left, wailing.     `Grizzle? What's happening, Nanny Balsam?'     `Grizzle?' Miss Balsam repeated. `Oh, that tiresome child. I think she must be referring to the frog of the same name.'     `A frog, Miss Balsam?' Bandicoot couldn't understand it. Everyone had been sane when he left the Hall that morning. What could have happened since?     `A pet, I understand.' Miss Balsam was shepherding the squire to a chair on the terrace. `Cook accidentally trod on it this morning. I am, as you know, trained in resuscitation, but I fear I drew the line at Rana temporaria . Had it been Rana esculenta , of course ...'     `Miss Balsam!' Bandicoot was near to breaking point. `Letitia ...'     `... is doing very nicely without you, thank you very much,' and she pushed him bodily into the wicker. `Men!' She clicked her tongue.     `Has she ...? Is she ...? I must go to her!' He stood up.     `Never!' Miss Balsam's five foot one bowled over Squire Bandicoot's six foot two with all the force of her sensibilities and her sex. `What goes on in that room', she wagged her finger at the leaded window above, `is no business of yours.' Then calmer, `You've done your part. Now let Lettie do hers.'     She patted his bewildered curls. `You need an amontillado,' and she swept indoors.     Bandicoot fumbled for his hunter. `Half-past three,' he said aloud, and began to pace the terrace. He looked up at the window to see shadows and reflections flitter this way and that. He heard no sound inside but the occasional roar of Miss Balsam. `Towels!' interspersed with `Hot water!'     `Beggin' your pardon, sir.' A voice caused Bandicoot to spin round to see the red-nosed Maisie standing with a glass of sherry wine on a tray of Bandicoot silver. `Your armadillo, sir,' she sniffed.     `My ...? Oh, I see. Thank you, Maisie ... and I'm very sorry about your frog.'     The tray clashed loudly on the terrace and the maid hauled up her petticoats and rushed away howling.     An iron-grey head poked itself through the leaded panes. `Be quiet down there!'     Bandicoot sat down and sipped his sherry as quietly as he knew how. With all his other worries, the last thing he wanted was to cross Miss Balsam now. He watched the sunshine ripple on the waters of the lake and old Wiggins trailing the far bank with his nets, trawling for pike. One of them would get him, one of these days, and old Wiggins would take his place in the trophy room of Bandicoot Hall, framed and glazed with the rest. The swans had come back now, gliding in on silent wings to ruffle the still surface of the water. From the reeds to his left, Grizzle's relatives kept up their watery lament, throaty organs swelling in the afternoon stillness.     Then he heard an alien sound and it took him a while to place it. It was a slap, of skin on skin, followed by a cry, sharp, surprised, indignant. It wasn't little Emma, whose six-month noise had a more worldly tone to it. Bandicoot dropped his glass and dashed through the French windows, tearing back the heavy velvet, hurtling across his study and through the hall. Servants appeared from nowhere, anxiously peering after the Master, as he bounded up the stairs three at a time. There was a second slap as he reached the landing and another appalled noise joined the first. But Bandicoot did not hear it. Only his own heart thumped and banged in his ears. Raised to the scrum and the Wall Game, the Old Etonian lowered his shoulder for the charge. No footling time wasting with the niceties of door handles for him. Time was of the essence. And he knew that it and something else waits for no man.     In the event, Miss Balsam obligingly opened the doors for him so all Bandicoot had to do was to trip neatly over Joris, the cat, and catch his nose a sharp one on the bedstead.     `Harry!' Letitia looked at him in some alarm, blood trickling over his lips and all.     `Letitia!' he shouted back and saw, flanking his pink, radiant wife, two other heads, smaller, wrinkled like little old men.     `Harry,' she said, `I'd like you to meet Ivo,' she lifted the little old man on her right arm, `and Rupert,' she lifted the little old man on her left arm.     Bandicoot stood there.     `Like this, Mr Bandicoot,' said Miss Balsam, placing the squire's arms just so, `hold them like this.'     He took first one little wrapped bundle, then the other.     `Hello. old man,' he said to Ivo, `Hello,' to Rupert.     They both looked at him blearily, each with one eye open. Letitia beamed proudly. `Before you take them to see the horses, Harry,' she said, `could I hold them for a while?'     `Oh, my darling, of course,' and he very carefully handed them back. He was about to assert himself as Master of the House and kick out the roomful of women, when he turned and saw they had gone. All save Miss Balsam, who handed him a cigar. `Noisome things, of course,' she smiled, `but fitting at times like these,' and she hurried away, dabbing her eyes. On the landing, Miss Balsam rested against the double doors, her work done. How many babies, she wondered, had she helped into the world? And why, oh why, did they not stay as innocent as the little boys inside?     Bandicoot sat gingerly on the counterpane. `My dearest,' he said, `how are you?'     `Fine, Harry,' she smiled, looking lovingly at her three men.     He smoothed her cheek. `It's funny,' he said. `All the way up here from the fields, all I could think of was Sarah Lestrade and poor old Sholto. What if, I thought. What if?'     Letitia caught for a moment the eyes wet with tears. `Harry Bandicoot!' she said sharply. ` Floreat Etona . We loved Sarah. And we love Sholto. And most of all we love their little Emma. But we have our own children now. They'll grow together. Emma and the boys. Brothers for her. A sister for them.'     `You're right,' he smiled, sniffing hard. Then, springing to his feet, `I must send Sholto a telegram.'     `In a moment, Mr Bandicoot,' she said softly.     He knelt again, resting his head on her breasts between the boys. `In a moment, Mrs Bandicoot ...' Copyright © 1999 Regnery Publishing. All rights reserved.