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Thursday, 15 October 2015

THE FULHAM STRANGLER


The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Professor Moriarty is published today, October 15. It is another splendid anthology of short stories edited by Maxim Jakubowski.



There are 37 stories about Sherlock Holmes's arch enemy, Professor James Moriarty. The Fulham Strangler by my alter ego Keith Moray is a tale featuring both the professor and the detective.


Fulham is, of course, an area of London. It was renowned in days gone by for dice tricksters, who manufactured various types of crooked dice. Some were known as Fulhams. And that is the lead into the story.

As for who is The Fulham Strangler, well, you might like to read and find out.

It is available today in paperback, ebook or audiobook.


A bit about crooked dice
The Museum of London has in its possession a most curious little item that shows that dice-tricksters were thriving and presumably plying a lively trade in the sixteenth century. It consists of a small pewter pot that was found buried in centuries old silt on the north bank of the River Thames, near to London Bridge. When cleaned up they found an engraved double-headed eagle within a shield. Inside it were twenty-four small dice, and not one of them was an honest one. 


            Eighteen of the dice were loaded. X-rays revealed small bored holes containing mercury which made them fall a certain way. These would have been known as ‘Fulhams,’ since the Thames side village of that name was notorious for dice-tricksters. Eleven of these eighteen would land as a five or a six, while seven would land as a one or two.
            Three others were ‘high men’ which means that they only had the numbers six, five and four on them. And the remaining three were ‘low men’ with only one two and threes. These work on the principle that only three faces will show at a time. A practiced dice-trickster could easily palm and replace honest dice for his chosen crooked ones.
            Yet it was a risky business, for flogging in the public pillory with the crooked dice strung round one’s neck was one of the penalties for being caught with such dice. Habitual offenders could expect a one-way trip to the gallows.

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