Tracy Cooper-Posey

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A solitary spy slips into Turkey during World War I, to tangle with the German apparatus and find his brother's killer.

The Case Of The Reluctant Agent.
A Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Historical mystery.
Sequel to Chronicles of the Lost Years
Now available at Turnstone Press and
(Click on cover image to buy the book)

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  Outline. Excerpt. Author's Notes.

The English Patient meets Gallipolli, and Where Eagles Dare ... Casting the Movie


Holmes must travel to Constantinople as a British operative to find his brother's killer.

It is 1917 and the Great War has been raging for three long years. Mycroft Holmes grows suspicious of one of his agents who reports back to him from the heart of the Ottoman Empire: Constantinople. Naturally, he wants to send out a man to investigate - one who knows the area, the language, the poeple, and has an exemplary war service record, including a fourteen-month stint posing as a German officer at the High Command in Berlin. But Sherlock Holmes proves to be, for once, stubbornly reluctant to fulfill his older brother's request.

When Mycroft is shot and left for dead, Sherlock Holmes is forced to go to Constantinople to uncover the man behind the deed. Unfortunately, before he was assaulted, Mycroft failed to communicate which agent was the turncoat.

So begins Holmes' reluctant return to the Near East. Not only does the adventure provoke a bagful of memories both bitter and sweet, but the hunt for the agent who betrayed them unravels with twists and turns and breath-robbing surprises that even Holmes, with all his skills, could never have anticipated.

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Chapter One

November 5th, 1917.
Sussex Downs, England.

"Gawd, it's quiet, ain't it, guv?"

"Too quiet." Gregson said from the back seat. He drew a calming breath, curled his gloved hand over the lowered window and peered into the gloaming.

The November evening was bitterly cold and drab, matching Gregson's mood. He stared at the dim glow of white-washed walls glimpsed through a copse of alders and poplars beginning just ahead of the elegant nose of the Bentley. Digby had extinguished the lamps, leaving only the gibbous moon aloft to light the scene.

"I'd say 'e's not 'ome," Digby murmured. "But even if he is, can't we just go up an' knock?"

"For any other night, for any other person, perhaps." He saw the whites of Digby's eyes roll, and added, "Why don't you go ahead and knock, then?"

"Right, sir." The bobby reached for the door handle with alacrity, and Gregson, not for the first time, envied him his innocence.

Digby put only one foot on the gravel, his hands swinging the door wide, when a single shot, loud in its unexpectedness, volleyed across the clearing. The bullet itself kissed the frame of the windscreen, and careened away with a sour note, sliding neatly between the Bentley and Digby's remarkable ear.

"Strewth!" It was a high, breathless hiss. Digby froze.

Gregson remained silent.

"I aimed to miss," came a low, guarded call from a patch of total darkness beneath the trees.

"I appreciate that," Gregson remarked through the open window.

"Your contraption has been sitting staring at my abode for ten minutes now. If you were innnocent in purpose you would have at least come up and knocked on the door."

"Told you we should've," Digby muttered under his breath.

Gregson shifted closer to the window, and wound it down fully. He addressed the patch of black shadows. "Forgive me, Holmes. I would have knocked, but I had been warned your mood today would be...less than jovial."

Again, there was a thoughtful silence, while the tops of the poplars rubbed in the little wind.

A long, thin shadow detached itself from the main, and moved out onto the roadway, a pace or two from the car. A wide brimmed hat, a great coat, the collar standing up, leaving the face in complete darkness. Only the flesh on the hand that held the revolver showed white.

"Bloody 'ell...." Digby muttered, startled again.

From beneath the brim issued the familiar voice. "Gregson. Chief of Police, Tobias Gregson. And young Digby, I assume. Get back in, lad. You'll freeze without your coat."

Digby scrambled back into the Bentley, and slammed the door, rocking the vehicle.

Holmes pocketed the revolver. "You've obviously been sent, Gregson. Only two people could have warned you of my mood, and I wouldn't put it above either of them to send a message boy. I'm surprised it's you they ferretted out. All the way from Scotland Yard on a night like this -- should I be flattered?"

"You've already guessed otherwise, I'm sure," Gregson said mildly.

"As soon as I heard your voice and realized who it was sitting staring at my cottage," Holmes agreed. "Come, Gregson, you've had courage enough in the past to bait me in my den regardless of my mood. Why baulk now?"

Gregson gripped the window again, feeling the chill creep further into his flesh.

"It's your brother, Holmes."

Again, there was a small, telling silence. Holmes would be reaching for those logical connections that to a lay man appeared to be plucked from thin air.

"Mycroft wasn't the one that sent you," Holmes said.

"No, Holmes."

"Is he dead?"

"He's at Saint Thomas's Hospital. It was a messy affair...they don't expect him to live, Holmes. I'm sorry."

Gregson heard him draw a deep breath, and let it out. A sigh. Holmes' voice came again, lower. "Someone attempted to murder him. That is why you're here."

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Author's note:

The Case of the Reluctant Agent was a double first for me: A sequel, and a book written in response to reader demand. It was also the first book I shaped in response to reader feedback -- I tested the first few chapters with dedicated Sherlockian readers and other readers who had contact me about the first book.

As I plotted the book I was very aware of the readers out there waiting for it, and worked very hard to make it a true mystery, one that would not be figured out in an instant. I laid in switches, surprises, anything that would keep the reader on their toes.

So I had a small fit when I saw the first cover art files. For any reader who had read Chronicles of the Lost Years, the cover gave part of the story away, and completely ruined one of my better surprises. But the marketing forces of the publishing industry prevailed: Sales reps liked the cover, so the cover would stay. Regardless, the book was enormous fun to write, and apparently just as much fun to read because no-one has come back to me to gripe about the give-away cover.

-- Tracy.

  Casting the Movie...

I often get asked who I would cast in the movie of my book, if it should ever come to pass, so just for fun:

Movie producer's pitch:

The English Patient meets Gallipolli, and Where Eagles Dare
The twists and reversals keep piling up.

Casting call:

Sherlock Holmes.  Donald Sutherland.

Elizabeth Sigerson.  Francis Fisher (Rose's mother, Titanic)

Dr. Watson.  Denholm Elliott

Mycroft Holmes.  John Rhys Davies

Von Stein.  John Isaacs (Malfoy in Harry Potter, Hook in Peter Pan)

Don't agree with my picks?  Can think of someone who's just perfect
 Let me know!  I'll add your choices to this page, too!

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