Author Colleen Gleason introduces us to Mina and Evaline, investigators in 1800s London. They have very
different approaches to solving crimes... and pretty much everything
Pedantic Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, and vampire-hunting
Evaline Stoker (sister of Bram) are partnered up in The Clockwork Scarab to help solve the mystery when a young woman
goes missing in 1889 London. It’s a London that runs wholly on steam power, and
a world where gadgetry and mechanisms are as prevalent as fog and pickpockets.
Though they are partnered up, drawn together by the infamous Ms.
Irene Adler, Mina and Evaline have very different approaches to solving
crimes…and pretty much everything else.
Mina: I believe the
most important element in detection is the skill of observation--that is, if
one actually puts one’s brain to good use. In my opinion, most people merely
look but do not see. Miss Stoker, surely you have come to agree that most people’s
skills (present company included) are lacking when it comes to observation?
Evaline: Well, one
certainly must have a brain and should notice things. But it doesn’t do you
much good if you cower in a shadowy corner and wait for something to happen! I
prefer to take charge of the situation, keeping the villain off-guard and—
Mina: Charging about
all willy-nilly! You nearly got us killed, might I remind you, Miss Stoker,
because of your impetuousness. Not to mention that your actions caused me to
break my heel. There are times when one must sit back and observe, make
deductions, and wait to concoct a
plan--something I’ve rarely seen you do.
For example, as I’ve previously mentioned, the art of disguising
oneself is one that is lost on many people. One must pay attention to small
details--like covering one’s hands or altering the shape of one’s eyebrows. One
must take time and have a plan.
Evaline: You are quite
a mistress of disguise, I have to agree. I didn’t recognize you that
night—until you began lecturing me about going into the opium den. It’s a
wonder the guards didn’t find us, for you made me stand there out in the open
for five minutes before you were finished bending my ear.
Speaking of art and skills...here’s one you could work on: listening. Or just being quiet, even. I
believe I’m not the only one who’d appreciate that. Just ask Inspector
Mina (sniffing): At least I don’t consort with disreputable
young men like that pickpocket, Miss Stoker. What does he call himself? Some unfortunate
name that makes no sense whatsoever. And he lurks about, always hiding in the
Evaline: Might I
remind you that if it wasn’t for Pix--yes, that is his name, or at least the
one he goes by--you’d have more than a singed dress hem and eyebrows covered in
ash. However, I cannot disagree that he is on the disreputable side, and the
very next time I lay eyes on him, I will report him to Scotland Yard.
Mina: It seems to me
you’ve had ample opportunity to do just that, Miss Stoker. And so far, you seem
to have been more enamored with the culprit than intending to report him. Perhaps I should take matters into my own
hands, as I am so often forced to do.
Evaline: I think you
should spend your time worrying about the odd Egyptian scarab and who is using
it to collect young women, instead of worrying about Pix. I can handle him. All
I need is my stake and my unnatural strength and I’m a match for any man. Just
ask Pix about the incident in Whitechapel. He learned not to underestimate me.
Mina: ‘Unnatural’ is
correct. Incidentally, I do find it quite amusing you prefer to utilize only
the most primitive of weapons in your work. A simple stake, and even, I believe
you’ve mentioned, occasionally a sword--both of which require being in close
proximity to the villain. Very impractical, if you ask me.
My Uncle Sherlock has loaned me his Steam-Stream gun on several
occasions, and of course, I employ an Ocular-Magnifyer when investigating the
scene of a crime. It makes it much easier to observe clues, and I always make
use of the latest gadgets and mechanisms in my
Evaline: And I suppose
you use the Sure-Step Debonair Dance-Tutor to help you practice your waltzing,
don’t you, Mina? And I’ll wager you also
have a Milford’s Gentlelady Easy-Un-Lacer in your bedroom as well.
Mina: It makes it much
easier to remove those dratted corsets. Especially when I return home late at
night and don’t want to awaken Mrs. Raskill. At least I’m considerate of others.
considerate of others. Didn’t I come back and fetch you when you got left
behind in the dark?
Mina: I was merely
taking my time--and observing.
Evaline: Right. Of
course you were. That’s why your knuckles were dead white, and you had your eyes closed.
Mina: Really, Miss
Stoker. That is neither here nor there. We did solve the mystery and stop the
Evaline: We did
indeed. I cannot disagree, though there were more than a few unexpected twists
and turns. Not to mention some very narrow escapes. But thanks to me—
Mina: And my deductive
skills, not to mention my plan—
Evaline: I had a plan
too...and you ruined it.
Regardless, we solved the mystery. And who knows how many lives we saved. Miss
Adler is very pleased, and so, presumably, is Princess Alexandra. Perhaps the
next time we are called into action, Miss Stoker, you will take heed of my
warnings and be a bit more...deliberate in your work.
Evaline: And perhaps
you’ll learn how to waltz without catching your heel in your crinolines.