The Mysterious Bookshop


The Brown Recluse In: Mayhem At Six-Eighteen


Ellen Amora, alias the Brown Recluse, was racing along the street just as fast as her heart was racing in her chest as she dashed to the scene of the ‘Officer in trouble’ call that she’d heard on her police radio.  She turned the corner and now where was Six-Eighteen?  There!  But where was everybody?  The street was deserted!  There were supposed to be officers in need of assistance here, but there was no one around, not even a stray dog or sparrow.  The Recluse checked her upper arm where she’d written the address down: yep, Six-Eighteen North West Way.  So what was going on?  Almost in passing, she looked at the street sign.  Shucks!  This was North East Way!  Cursing herself for haste making waste, she dashed towards the other side of Grover, where the west side was, and hoped that she could arrive in time to help defuse the situation.

Ellen fervently hoped that no one ever found out about her mistake with the address--in so many ways her private self belied her hard-boiled exterior.

At last she got to the right place, cop cars and officers milling about all over the place, but carefully, since everyone expected more shots to ring out at any moment.  She recognized detectives Costello and Avery from her checkered but mostly innocent past as the wife of the recently slain Martin ‘Amigo’ Amora, whose gangland murder galvanized her into a life of crimefighting.  They’ll never recognize me in this getup, thought Ellen, as she approached the two men, who had their shields pinned to the breast pockets of their jackets.

Avery eyed her up and down. ‘Kind of early for Halloween, ain’t you, sonny?’

‘Knock off that ‘sonny’ stuff, Avery!  Now what’s the situation?’

Avery answered almost reflexively.  ‘We’ve got a man barricaded in the house at Six-Eighteen.  He’s taking potshots at us and we think that there are at least two other people in the house. Whether they are hostages or not, I don’t know.’

Costello was looking at her funny.  Presently he said, ‘Ellen?  Ellen Amora?’

The Brown Recluse shushed him, but it did no good.  ‘Be quiet, you oaf!  Do you want to give my secret identity away to the whole world!’

With exquisite dryness, Costello replied, ‘Your mustache is crooked, and you are wearing your late husband’s trench coat, which I recognize.’

Stifling a laugh, Avery asked, ‘What’s the idea with the super-hero jazz?’

‘I’m doing your job for you!  What have you done to fix this situation?’

‘We’re operating according to the book!  Why don’t you go home?’

‘Don’t patronize me!  I’ll show you how to fight crime!’  And with that the Brown Recluse dashed up toward the house only to be met with a fusillade of gunfire.  Prudently backing down, she returned to the perimeter where the detectives were now openly chuckling.

‘Nice work, Batman,’ said Avery.  ‘Lucky you didn’t get shot!’

‘Never mind, I’ve got a better idea,’ she squealed.  

‘Will you do me a favor and let us handle the police work?  Leave your comic books at home, what do you say?’ said Costello.

Seething with resentment at the cops’ condescension, Ellen snuck behind a large tree at the front of the lawn next door and quickly doffed her costume, although in her haste she forgot to remove her crooked fake mustache.  It only took a moment, as at this point her costume consisted only of clear spectacles, a fedora, her late husband’s trench coat, and the fake mustache. By this time she’d been forgotten by the phalanx of police outside the besieged house, which suited her just fine.  She crept alongside the house next door, being careful to stay in the shadows.  Around the back, underneath the deck and through the cobwebs just to be on the safe side, and to the corner.  Look, look, look,!  Dashing across the gap between the two houses, Ellen thankfully heard no more gunfire, and no more interference from the cops was evident.  She peered into the corner of the window at the rear of the crime house, and saw nothing.  Why didn’t they turn a light on in there?  Did they have something to hide?  Suddenly a bank of lights came on, blinding Ellen.  ‘There’s someone out here, Jerry!’ cried a voice from within.  Then rough hands grabbed Ellen and dragged her into the house.

Several people were gathered around the dining room table, which was covered in weapons and ammunition.  No one seemed unduly alarmed, perhaps this wasn’t a hostage situation.  But before Ellen could take any action, a man dressed only in camouflage pants ran up to Ellen and yelled, ‘Darling!  You waited for me!’ and caught her in a sweaty bear hug that took her breath away.  So she couldn’t speak even if she had known what to say.  Taking her silence for uncertainty, the man released her, stepped back and said, ‘Don’t you know your own husband?  It’s me, Amigo!’

And all Ellen could say was, ‘’re dead!’


Tune in next time for the next installment of ‘Mayhem at Six-Eighteen!’


Meanwhile, take a gander at some or all of these titles that have something to do with disguises:


Pen Davenport is a bookaneer, who hijacks popular titles for publication as cheap pirated editions, enabled by lax copyright laws.  But this era is ending, and so the bookaneer fraternity plans one last spectacular heist!


Parisian detective Gaston Max, master of disguise, battles two fiends who seek nothing less than the destruction of British society!


Grazia Negro battles a master of disguise and murder code named 'Pit Bull' in this sequel to Almost Blue.


Questions/Comments/Ridiculous costume with a cape that gets caught in doors all the time?

Written by Ian Kern — October 03, 2016

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

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