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Detective Müller: Imperial Austrian Police—Volume 2

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Detective Müller: Imperial Austrian Police—Volume 2
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Augusta Groner
Date Published: 2010/10
Page Count: 332
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-285-7
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-286-4

Volume two of the cases of Joseph Müller

The success of stories of mystery, crime and detection rely inevitably and heavily on the persona of the central character. The eccentric detective or the sleuth with his ever faithful, not always especially bright assistant are familiar and often welcome stereotypes. Familiar too is the self effacing small man, the man who would not and does not wish to stand out in a crowd, the plain, humble, apparently harmless man with an unpleasant surprise up his sleeve for criminals. This kind of man is not a man of physical action but one with an observant incisive intellect finely tuned to his purpose—bringing villains to book! Edgar Wallace’s J. G Reeder was such a man and the hero of these stories by Groner, Detective Joseph Müller is another. With promotion denied as a result of a tainted past and a spell in prison, Müller is, nevertheless, the man to be brought in when the task seems most daunting. Detective Müller’s stage is an unusual one, for he is a member of that secret and shadowy organisation, the Imperial Austrian Police. Set in the period that led up to the Great War, the twilight years of the decadent and declining Hapsburg Empire, these fascinating tales of crime and detection from a lost era have become true classics.
Volume 2 contains The Lamp That Went Out, Mene Tekel: a Tale of Strange Happenings & The Case of the Golden Bullet. Available in softback and hardback with dust jacket for collectors.

“I think I have everything ready for the first experiment. You will need only a few words of explanation to prepare you for what you are to see. This trial will be merely the first part of our problem, the simplest part of it. As I have told you already, I shall force blank surfaces to show again the lights and shadows they have received and retained through so many years. In this first experiment the light will have no colour, merely varying degrees of shadow.<br>
“But as every surface is exposed to a constantly changing impression of light and darkness (if only in the natural change from night to day) and as these lights and shadows will move before us with incredible quickness, giving in less than an hour the impressions of a year or even a decade—if we look at the surface itself we shall see nothing but a glimmering of grey, with uncertain outlines. To obviate this difficulty I shall take photographs of the impression, photographs made by an invention of my own. In the experiments I hope to make there among the ruins, my arrangements will be so perfected that the photographs will be necessary only to preserve the record of what we shall see. Just now we need them to see anything at all. I have invented a camera by means of which what happens on the surface under treatment will be caught on a specially prepared paper, moving on a roll, and developed instantaneously by simply passing through an acid bath. The paper runs on big spools and can be rolled or unrolled at will.”<br>
“Wonderful!” exclaimed Lund.<br>
“And now let us commence at once.” The professor rose from his chair, pulled over his photographic apparatus and showed Lund how to work it.<br>
Tannemore looked on in silence. His firm-set lips and the rise and fall of his chest alone told of his suppressed excitement. Whatever the success or failure of this experiment meant to others in the interests of science, to him it was more, much more. It was life or death, honour or disgrace.<br>
Finally Clusius looked up from the apparatus: “And now, friends, remember!” he whispered. “These cabin walls are only wooden partitions, and no one must know what we are doing here.” The others nodded and the scientist continued: “I thought that all was ready—but—we haven’t anything to experiment on. Funny, but that slipped my mind entirely. What shall we take for our first object? Why, what’s this on the table?—a woman’s fan? What’s it doing here?”<br>
“One of the ladies left it in the saloon,” explained Lund in embarrassment; “I was about to take it up on deck to give it to her when Lord Tannemore came to fetch me.”<br>
“And so you brought it in with you? Well, that will do very nicely for our purpose.”<br>
Clusius fastened the outstretched fan in a steel rack on the table. Under it he placed a metal jar with a screw top, turned the lens of the camera on the silken surface, and asked Lund to stand ready. Then he closed the window tightly, drew the dark curtains over it and shut the door to the inner cabin.<br>
Deep silence reigned in the darkened room, broken only by the gentle lapping of the waves against the ship’s wall outside, and by the monotonous stamp of the engine.<br>
“When you hear the click of my watch-cover, Hjalmar, you may start your camera.”<br>
There was a pause, then Lund caught the little signal. He took the cap from the lens and loosened the catch that held the roll of paper. The latter began to move with a gentle humming noise.<br>
Slowly a gleam arose from the open fan, a faint gleam that now shone out more brightly, now faded into blackness. One moment it would be quite dark, and again a brighter ray would lighten the cabin like fleeting sunshine through opening clouds.<br>
“The pictures are passing with incredible swiftness. In sixty seconds we have taken up the impressions of an entire year,” whispered Clusius.<br>
“It’s marvellous,” gasped Lund, his hand on the bars of the apparatus.<br>
Tannemore stood gazing with wide eyes at the mysterious glimmering light.<br>
“Six hundred seconds,” Clusius counted. “Ten years, the fan is old. There, that will do,” he said a little later; “stop the paper. This is sufficient.”<br>
Lund checked the machinery and Tannemore started for the window.<br>
“Wait a moment,” said Clusius; “we must pass the paper through the bath. Now you may open the window,” he added a few moments later.<br>
Tannemore’s hand shook as he drew the curtain and raised the shutter. “Is it successful?” he asked hoarsely.<br>
“We’ll see,” returned Clusius. He drew up a little table in front of the window, placed the spools holding the paper upon it, and sat down. Tannemore and Lund stood behind him, bending over his shoulder.<br>
“It begins here,” said Clusius, unrolling the paper. “Here’s the bright spot made by the sunlight when I opened the fan.”<br>
“And here’s a big dark blotch,” said Tannemore. “What does that mean?”<br>
“Queer—that’s no shadow!” exclaimed Clusius. “It has no shape at all; what can it be?”<br>
“Could it be a spot on the fan?” suggested Tannemore.<br>
“Yes, that must be it,” said Lund hastily.<br>
“And these lines of light through it, up-and-down streaks!” exclaimed Tannemore. “Oh, I know; it’s a grease spot that was taken out by some cleansing process.”<br>
“Very likely,” said Clusius; “that sounds feasible.”<br>
“How wonderful that we should be looking on at processes that happened possibly many years ago!” exclaimed the Englishman eagerly.<br>
Lund moved uneasily and was about to answer, when the professor spoke: “No, this spot is of very recent date. Ah, here’s a real shadow.”<br>
“At last,” breathed Tannemore.<br>
“And the object that threw the shadow came very close to the fan—the outlines are more distinct—it’s a head.”<br>
“A man’s head in profile. Now the features are becoming more distinct,” Tannemore bent over the moving paper as he spoke. “Why—it looks like, it is Lund.”<br>
“Undoubtedly,” said the professor, smiling. “And here he is still and more of him. What were you doing with this fan, Hjalmar? You must have been bending over it for nearly half an hour in bright sunlight.”<br>
Lund was too embarrassed to answer and Tannemore relieved him of the task. “I begin to understand,” he said merrily; “it was some one we know who cleaned the spot out of this fan, in sharp sunlight to make it disappear more quickly.”<br>
“Dear me—dear me,” sighed Lund. “This new scientific discovery is extremely interesting, but it’s very indiscreet.”<br>
The paper was now all dark. “This is the natural darkness of the night!” exclaimed Clusius; “now we can measure the time exactly.” He rolled the paper off quickly. “Here is the spot again; it was on the fan yesterday, then. And here’s a series of indefinite shadows—now it’s quite dark again for a long time.”<br>
“What does that mean?” asked Tannemore. <br>
“The fan must have lain in a tightly closed box for a long time,” replied Clusius, rolling off the paper rapidly. “Ah, here comes the light again—a brilliant light. It is spring or early summer—see the leaves on the trees, the young leaves—see how they move; there was a slight wind but it was a brilliantly clear sunny day. Look, look, friends; whoever used this fan was sitting in a trellised arbour—see the shape of the bars and the leaves of the vine. The leaves change their outline—they are moving in the wind. But whoever carried the fan was sitting still. Ah, here is the shadow of a head, a woman’s head—what a delicate, pretty profile—this is a young woman and I’ve seen her somewhere.”