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"The Singular Inheritance of Miss Gloria Wilson" is the fourth episode of Series 1 of the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by Bert Coules. It was first broadcast on February 20, 2002. In it, Sherlock Holmes must investigate a series of thefts apparently committed by a master burglar returned after years of inactivity.

Plot[]

A dull morning at Baker Street is enlivened by the arrival of Scotland Yard's inspector Athelney Jones, who brings Holmes news of a remarkable fresh burglary. It bears the hallmarks of the infamous Ghost, a master thief who committed a series of audacious burglaries over 25 years before stopping seven years previously. The thief was never seen, and no evidence was ever found besides a black calling card with a single letter "G". Such a card has now been found at the site of a burglary in Hampstead, where a priceless diamond has been stolen from Lord Torrington.

Holmes and Watson visit the scene of the first theft, but are turned away by the butler, who tells him that Lord Torrington has given strict instructions not to let anyone but the official police force in. Holmes is annoyed, but Watson points out that the Ghost is likely to perform more burglaries. Soon after, Jones brings Holmes news of a second burglary, this time from the Secretary of War; however, he tells him that the secretary has also forbidden any outside involvement. Holmes is suspicious that both victims have forbidden his involvement, but decides he will have to pursue the case second-hand.

He and Watson travel to Scotland Yard to investigate the records of the Ghost's previous burglaries. They confirm that there were never signs of entry or exit. The Ghost was only ever seen once, on his last job, and servant managed to lock him in a room with no other apparent exits; however, when the door was opened again, he had disappeared. Holmes is impressed by the criminal's apparent genius.

Athelney Jones visits Holmes with news of a third burglary, from a retired bishop in Greenwich. This time, he invites Holmes to come with him (which Holmes suspects is because of his lack of progress on the case). Jones also tells him that this time, there was a witness to the crime - Miss Marshall, a maid in the victim's house. Holmes questions Miss Marshall, who has a poor memory of the event as the Ghost apparently knocked her out. She tells Holmes that he had just appeared suddenly in the room, and describes him as short and thin, dressed in black. At the bishop's house, Holmes' investigation of the library reveals few additional clues. He only notes that the missing Bible was in a cabinet that is still locked, and that the maid fell onto the fireplace fender. There are no signs of how the criminal entered the room.

The following morning Jones visits Holmes, irate that details of the burglaries have leaked into the press by an unknown person. They are interrupted by a man named James Phillimore, who waits for Jones to leave before telling Holmes that the Ghost also robbed him the previous evening. As they travel to Phillimore's home, Phillimore tells Holmes an emerald tiara has been stolen, and that the circumstances match the recently reported crimes exactly. He places no trust in the police's ability to identify the burglar. Holmes examines the scene of the crime and confirms Phillimore's account. However, he discovers another mistake on the part of the burglar; a bit of mud on the window-sill, with embedded sawdust. Watson surmises that the burglar must be able to lock the windows from the outside; however, Holmes also points out that the dust on the sill was undisturbed.

The mud leads Holmes and Watson to a traveling circus outside London. The abilities demonstrated during the show by an escape artist called Georgiano lead Watson to conclude he could be their man. Holmes, however, says he's only half-right: when Georgiano removes his mask, Watson realizes she is actually a woman.

Cast[]

Trivia[]

  • The case was inspired by a reference in "The Problem of Thor Bridge": ""Among these unfinished tales is that of Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world." Holmes also mentions the other unpublished case described in that story, the disappearance of the cutter Alicia, which he was never able to solve.
  • Athelney Jones is the leading police detective in the canon novel The Sign of the Four.
  • Watson is working on finishing The Hound of the Baskervilles during this story, setting it sometime around 1900-1902.
  • The emerald tiara Phillimore claims was stolen from him may be the same one Holmes mentions the Ghost stole from Lady Rothermere during his initial conversation with Athelney Jones.
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