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"The Tragedy of Hanbury Street" is the third episode of Series 2 of the BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, written by Bert Coules. It was first broadcast on June 1, 2004. In it, Holmes and Watson investigate why a happy young idealist should kill herself.

Plot[]

A woman named Margaret Adams visits Holmes to implore his help. Three days ago, her daughter, Charlotte, hanged herself at the East End clinic where she volunteered. The only clue to the reason was a note she left, saying "Forgive me, I didn't know". Holmes warns Mrs Adams that he may be unable to determine her reason, or else may uncover information she does not want to hear, but agrees to take the case.

Holmes and Watson travel to the Crosby Clinic on Hanbury Street in Whitechapel, where Charlotte volunteered. The building is old and dilapidated, and is clearly a converted rooming house. They meet Miss Wallace, the clinic's manager. She explains how its founder, Frederick Crosby, was born in the building, and later became very wealthy through his own efforts. He had established the clinic 20 years ago to provide medicine, hot food, and shelter to the London poor. As had passed away about a decade previously, the clinic is now run by his son, Dr Jonathan Crosby. However, she tells them that Dr Crosby is not in, as he is occupied with personal matter. Asked about Charlotte, she replies that she had been a volunteer for about 3 months. She had been assisting Dr Crosby with a routine procedure, when she had suddenly run out. When she had not reappeared, a search was done, which found her body in an old cold storage. Miss Wallace firmly denies the suicide had anything to do with clinic.

Holmes investigates the suicide site, but learns little. Meanwhile, Dr Watson interviews the clinic's acting doctor, Dr Kelly. He tells Watson that while he does the best he can, the clinic has little money and outdated treatments. He mentions that Charlotte wanted to be doctor, and was very invested in clinic - a hardworking, dedicated girl who truly wanted to help people.

Holmes and Watson return to Mrs Adams' home. She tells them Charlotte spent almost every day at clinic. She was quiet, and had few friends, preferring instead to spend her time reading. Holmes stops by Charlotte's room, but finds it has been cleaned out. He insists Charlotte must have kept a diary, but is unable to find it. While Holmes returns to questioning Mrs Adams, Watson heads downstairs to talk to the maid, Alice. She tells him that Charlotte considered her a friend in spite of her mother's disapproval, and that Charlotte liked to spend time downstairs with her while Mrs Adams was out. Alice reveals that while she didn't know what was troubling her, she would sometimes hear Charlotte crying. She says Charlotte loved the clinic, and really liked Jonathan Crosby. However, a few days before she had come down very angry, only saying "wait 'til he gets it." All Holmes learns from Mrs Adams is that her daughter hadn't expressed that anything was wrong, but that she wouldn't necessarily have anyway.

Holmes and Watson go to visit Dr Crosby, only to discover he shot himself the previous night. They learn that Crosby had been severely depressed following death of brother, which occurred two days before Charlotte Adams' suicide. Holmes searches the papers for an obituary, and learns that Crosby's brother, the prominent banker Matthew Crosby, died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. The obituary indicates the other Crosby also had philanthropic interests, and praises his tireless efforts to educate London poor. Watson suggests that Jonathan may have upset Charlotte by telling her of his brother's death, but Holmes finds suicide a strange overreaction to the news. Watson next suggests that Crosby may have made unwanted advances on Charlotte; this is flatly denied by Miss Wallace, who reminds them they were operating on a patient when Charlotte ran from the room. She tells them that Jonathan had been upset over his brother's death, as he had been close to his brother. After leaving, Holmes notes that Miss Wallace didn't mention Jonathan's suicide. As they leave the clinic, Holmes and Watson are invovled in a scuffle with an acoholic patient.

Holmes wants to find the patient that Dr Crosby was operating on to learn the contents of his last conversation with Charlotte. He goes undercover in the clinic to learn the identity of the patient and eventually finds him. Holmes learns Crosby had indeed informed Charlotte that his brother had died in the surgery, as Watson suggested, but that she had not been upset until she learned how he died.

Meanwhile, Watson talks to Mrs Quilley, a volunteer at the clinic. She confides in him that the clinic has been losing money for years. She also tells him that contrary to Miss Wallace's statements, the Crosby brothers had a well-known hatred for each other. They had recently had a very public row over money, which Charlotte had witnessed.

Surprisingly, Holmes discovers that Jonathan and Matthew Crosby both lived in the same house. He and Watson returns to the Crosby home and persuade Treeves, the butler, to allow them to examine Matthew Crosby's bedroom. Treeves tells them that he discovered Matthew in the morning, with blood around his nose and ears, indicating a cerebral hemorrhage. Holmes asks to see Matthew's post, and finds a box with no return address. The contents of the box confirm Holmes' conclusions.

Holmes gathers Mrs Adams and Miss Wallace to reveal the reason for Charlotte's suicide. First, he accuses Miss Wallace of hiding the imminent danger the clinic faced. He reveals that Matthew Crosby believed the enterprise to be naïve and misguided, wasting money on drunks and criminals. He had been attempting to take control of and shut down clinic to found an educational institute for the "deserving poor". Charlotte, hearing his plans, had sent him a box of leeches for metaphorically "sucking the clinic dry". When she later learned Matthew had haemophilia and had died from bleeding, she incorrectly believed that she had killed him and hanged herself out of guilt. Miss Wallace reveals that had taken Charlotte's diary, which revealed the whole story, but hidden it to protect the clinic. The secret out, she gives it to a grateful Mrs Adams.

Outside, Watson asks why Jonathan killed himself. Holmes suggests that he felt guilt over Charlotte's suicide; he suspects that Jonathan killed his brother by inducing a hemorrhage in a bid to save their father's clinic. Holmes, however, declines to go to the police with this information, as he has no proof and wishes to spare the clinic any further scandal.

Cast[]

Trivia[]

  • The case was inspired by a reference in "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez": "As I turn over the pages I see my notes upon the repulsive story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby the banker."
  • Hanbury Street was the site of the murder of Annie Chapman, Jack the Ripper's second canonical victim.
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