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"The Marlbourne Point Mystery, Part 1" is the first part of the two-part episode that comprises the fifth and final series of the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by Bert Coules. It was first broadcast on April 5, 2010, with Part 2 broadcast the following day. In it, Holmes travels to an isolated lighthouse to investigate a suicide and a murder sharing the same victim, and it becomes clear that the safety of the Empire depends on him defeating an unusually malevolent intelligence.

Plot[]

Mycroft summons Holmes and Watson to the Diogenes Club, where he lays out an unusual new case concerning a suicide and a murder - both with the same victim. The victim was a simpleminded young man named Harold Jefferstone, a resident of a isolated place in Kent called Marlbourne Point. The suicide occurred at an abandoned lighthouse located off the point. The previous day, Harold had appeared on the balcony of the old building during a rehearsal for the inauguration of the a new lighthouse, and thrown himself into the sea. However, his body was later found in a derelict hut nearby, with stab wounds in his back and chest. Mycroft asks Holmes to determine the motive for this attack. The boy's father, who had witnessed the suicide, is a local dignitary and organizer of the inauguration. The night of the death, there had been a break-in at their house, and someone had left an envelope with £200.

Mycroft introduces Holmes and Watson to Sir Charles Steele, the owner of Marlbourne Point and MP for its constituency. Sir Charles is wealthy, widely popular, and influential in government; Watson indicates that he is in line for the premiership. He is to be the guest of honor at the opening of the new lighthouse on Saturday. Sir Charles insists that Mycroft, not himself, insisted on the investigation out of concern for his safety; nevertheless, Holmes perceives that Sir Charles is afraid. Mycroft insists his interest is unofficial, but Holmes is convinced his brother has not told him everything. Nevertheless, Holmes agrees to take the case, and he and Watson depart for Kent.

When they get off the train, the duo are met by Constable Powell, the head of the local constabulary. He complains about Whitehall's meddling, and his orders not to call reinforcements. He offers a carriage to take them to their lodgings in the nearby village of Brockhill. However, Holmes asks to go to Marlbourne Point first. When they reach the point, Watson is awed by the desolate beauty of the place. Constable Powell tells them it is mostly deserted, apart from a few transient artists. The only permanent resident in the area is an old Chinese hermit named Mrs Chang, the woman who found Jefferstone's body. The three walk to the new lighthouse, where a stage has been constructed in preparation for the inauguration. Constable Powell tells them that the rehearsal had occurred at nine in the morning, the same time as the planned event, and that he had personally been in attendance. He points out where Mr Jefferstone stood on the stage, and Holmes notes the view of the balcony on the disused building. He runs off to inspect the old lighthouse, leaving Watson alone with Powell. Powell tells Watson Harold was universally known, but mostly ignored by the locals; he denies that the boy had any enemies. Powell describes how that morning, Mr Jefferston had been running through the ceremony when his assistant Mr Lade had pointed out Harold on the balcony opposite. Harold had appeared perfectly calm before jumping, and as he fell he sounded neither afraid nor surprised. Shockingly, Mr Jefferston seemed hardly affected by the suicide, and continued with the rehearsal as planned. At the inn that night, Holmes shows Watson a number of wicker fragments he collected at the old lighthouse. Holmes notes that Powell seemed irritated by their presence. However, Watson is more interested with the animosity he observed in Powell towards the dead boy.

The following morning, Holmes and Watson visit Mr Jefferstone. Jefferstone seems irritated with the interruption, but answers their questions. He confirms that his son had a mental deficiency, and it became apparent that he considers his son an inconvenience, if not an embarrassment. Nevertheless, he assures them that he did his duty as a father and provided for his son. He also shows Holmes the envelope containing the money, which he had been asked to retain by Whitehall, and tells him that the intruder entered the house through a back window, which had apparently been left unlocked. Jefferstone then leaves with Sir Charles' assistant, Mr Lade.

While Holmes examines the window, the Jefferstone's maid tells him and Watson that she believes Harold was under the "maze", an enchantment or madness that infects the area around Marlbourne Point and had caused numerous people to kill themselves there over the years. She relates how Harold had shown numerous signs of madness in the preceding weeks, including wearing two coats on the day of his death. As they leave the house, Watson in surprised that Holmes seems to believe in the possibility of the maze. Holmes relates a story from his childhood, where he felt an oppressive atmosphere when exploring a derelict house. Holmes informs Watson that he intends to investigate the point further; in the meantime, he asks Watson to learn why Constable Powell disliked Harold Jefferstone. He tells Watson to meet him at the point later that day.

Down at the point, Holmes meets Mrs Chang, the woman who found Harold's body, who asks him to join her for tea. She tells him that Harold had wanted to leave, but that he felt indebted to his father. However, she had noticed that for several days before his death, he had been noticeably happier. She also clarifies that Harold's body had been found by her trained cormorant, which she uses for fishing.

Watson, meanwhile, has tea with Constable Powell, who becomes noticeably friendlier after Watson assures him that Holmes will let him take the credit for solving the case. After their meeting, the constable drops Watson off at the point to rendezvous with Holmes. Watson hears his friend call out to him from the old lighthouse, and Holmes tells him to observe closely. As Watson watches, Holmes disappears around the corner for a moment; then, to his horror, Holmes throws himself over the balcony into the sea.

Cast[]

Trivia[]

  • The case was inspired by a reference in "The Adventure of the Priory School": ""I deprecate, however, in the strongest way the attempts which have been made lately to get at and to destroy these {Watson's} papers. The source of these outrages is known, and if they are repeated I have Mr. Holmes’s authority for saying that the whole story concerning the politician, the lighthouse, and the trained cormorant will be given to the public."
  • Cormorant fishing is a traditional technique used in southern China since ancient times. A string is tied around the bird's throat, preventing them from swallowing large fish. They are trained to return to the fisherman's boat, where they spit up the fish.
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