On a frigid Friday afternoon in February, Eleanor Harkness shows up at the door of the “granite palace,” Sherrod Colsne’s New York townhouse. Her unexpected yet incredibly timely appearance not only knocks Colsne’s normally unflappable assistant, Monty Weston, off stride, but takes both of them down a winding path of romance, past and present, and decades-old, bitter hatred. Though only four days actually elapse in the telling, Murder by Bequest is a story spanning over twenty-five years, three continents, and two primary cultures, and surrounding America’s foremost family of wealth, and social and political position. Bertrand Wellman Harkness, IV, director of the Harkness Foundation, and statesman in three presidential administrations, not quite two weeks before the “blizzard of 2006,” is brutally murdered, and grotesquely, sexually mutilated after the fact.
What follows is another murder, and another attempted, seemingly the inexorable assault of a bête noire. Only Colsne’s genius is able to run the culprit to ground. In the end, however, even his prodigious powers cannot save Eleanor, who is also killed, with the villain revealed as the lady who practically everyone took to be her mother, but who in fact is her step-mother. Deep-seated and long-nursed hurt, resentment, and malice, from that emotionally dark woman, and another quite distant quarter, produce the terrible killing spree, bringing almost total dissolution to the Bertrand Wellman Harkness, IV family.
John Spencer Yantiss was born in Louisville, KY to parents of Anglo-Scotch-Irish, and Lithuanian descent. A musician and singer, he started piano lessons at age 5, and began writing poems and songs at age 8. While still in high school he began playing guitar professionally, and over the years shared the stage with such notable figures as Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley, Ronnie Van Zant, and others.
His first love of writing poems continued on over the years, and branched out into fiction, beginning with some attempts at fantasy, in the tradition of "Lord Of The Rings." In 1993 he began writing classic detective mysteries, based on the character Sherrod Reynard Colsne, in the transatlantic and cumulative tradition of Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe. "Murder By Bequest," his inaugural effort, first appears in publication via Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book.
There are several more in what is a growing series, with "Code Name, Erelim," a novella, "The Golden Dart" and "The Weerwolf Problem," both short stories, all Kindle books. Coming are "Sa Kainitan," based in The Philippines, and "The Seiðr Affair," a bone chiller about a doomsday computer weapon.
Years ago one of Rex Stout's fellow authors, many of whom were members of "The Baker Street Irregulars," an association of Holmes enthusiasts, postulated that Wolfe was the son of Sherlock Holmes, by Irene Adler. Wolfe, telling Archie Goodwin about his "starving to death," following the Spanish Civil War, talks of making his way to America via France and England. Did he engage in a liaison with a French woman? If so, what happened to the issue, and what took place in England? Much room for conjecture. As Holmes was fond of telling Watson, "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
Murder By Bequest
For those devotees of Sherlock Holmes
and Nero Wolfe who, like me, yearn for “just one more,” story, episode,
adventure, or affair, but know that that will certainly never
happen—notwithstanding those written by stand-in authors—the next best thing,
in fact, perhaps even better, is a continuation of the family.