REVIEW: The Haunting of the Desks: A Sparks & Bainbridge Short Story (Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery) by Allison Montclair
Sparks and Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau return in this short story from Allison Montclair as their expansion into a new office – and acquisition of a new desk – results in unexplainable phenomena that can only mean that their new digs are haunted!
In London, 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Agency is off to a good start and their early success means that Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge can now afford to expand into the long-empty office across the hall. And with that long closed office comes some more professional furniture – including a partner’s desk from Harrods. But something is afoot in that office – strange noises at unusual hours, some of the furniture seeming moved around and cleaned, all behind a locked door. The building’s janitor is convinced that this is proof that the office is haunted.
But Sparks and Bainbridge are not so sure that’s the only, or even the correct, conclusion. Instead, they suspect there’s something going on related to the locked partner’s desk and the long closed office. With their detective hats on, Sparks and Bainbridge are determined to uncover the truth about the mystery of the haunted partner’s desk…or die trying?
I was meandering through Amazon and noticed this short story that I somehow missed last year when it came out. If you want to see Iris and Gwen stick to solving a mystery and avoid personal stuff and the over-the-top-ness that is “A Royal Affair,” check this out. The time is right as the duo are fixing up and moving into the office beside their original one. Part of the reason they’re interested in this office space are the two grand “partner” desks that are monuments to Harrods and to which you can attach the phrase “they don’t make them like this anymore.”
Instead of picking the locks (which we know Iris could totally do), the women head over to Harrods to see if the store still has keys to fit the locks. It is then that we are treated to a view of tradition, customer service, and formality that is hard to find today.
What about the mystery? It’s cleverly done with clues in plain sight which attentive and observant minds just have to put together. I was delighted about which partner does this and how it brings in Detective Superintendent Parham. It’s a fun short story but note that it’s a short story. Half of the file size is taken up by a sneak peek at “A Rogue’s Company.” B