Tall, thin, androgynous Shirley Combs considers herself the world’s greatest living detective because she uses the methods and casebook of Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes of the gentry of the American city most closely resembling London, England -- in terms of the weather, at least. Sidekick/narrator Dr. Mary Watson both delights in and is frustrated by her partner’s behavioral resemblance to Sherlock. Combs is unemotional, analytical, and given to pacing through the night in the streets of the almost perfectly livable city of Portland, Oregon. Her ability to observe details and understand their relationship to a case is unmatched; her demands on Watson’s time are too.
Shirley Combs bills herself as the world’s greatest living detective, and why not? Taunted and teased as a child because her name sounded so much like Sherlock Holmes's, she developed an early obsession with the adventures and methods of Sherlock himself. She considered her fate sealed when she met up with Dr. Mary Watson. Shirley adds the technology of today to Holmes’s 100-year-old casebook and solves the mysteries of her much-beloved hometown. Mary Watson assists, and - of course - chronicles their exciting exploits. The planned series of novels incorporates and explores current events, types of people, social/economic situations that occur in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.
In their first documented adventure, Shirley is hired by 19-year-old Goldenhawk Vandeleur to investigate her wealthy mother’s untimely death. Timber heiress Priscilla Vandeleur Leoni, direct descendant of Sir Charles Baskerville, decides to spend the family fortune saving the old-growth forests of Oregon. She is a product of the 1960’s - former hippie and free-love advocate who gave birth out-of-wedlock, experimented with lesbian separatism, and married late. When faced with midlife, she tries to outrun her fears and give away her huge fortune. Haunted by a phobia of dogs, she is literally frightened to death by a pair of hounds.
Cilla can’t seem to shake the nightmare. She almost gives up her daily run rather than face the possibility of meeting those dogs in real life. Dogs are reality for every marathon runner, and each runner finds a way to deal with them. But for Cilla, the fear of being attacked runs so deep she feels it is part of her genetic makeup.
She jerks awake at 5:37 a.m. the sky barely light as she sits up, shaking, sweating, her heart pounding as she listens for the heavy breath, the pounding footsteps that haunt her awake.
Breakfast, newspaper, even the Today Show doesn’t erase the feeling that the giant hound is waiting for her around the next corner.
Finally she dons her running gear and sets out, determined to do her eight miles anyway. The Portland Marathon is seven weeks away, and Cilla intends to achieve her personal best. She adds a light windbreaker to her outfit, tying it loosely around her waist by the sleeves, because even though the calendar says August second, the temperature at ten a.m. is only 51 degrees.
As she crosses Highway 43 at Glenmorrie Road and starts the three point one mile trek that becomes Old River Road, Cilla breathes one small sigh of relief. She knows this stretch of road like no other. This is the one she includes on every run, every walk, and every bicycle ride. This beautiful road along the Willamette River has more trees and fewer dogs per square foot than any other property she knows.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. See more of her work at www.SandradeHelen.com. de Helen is also a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and International Centre for Women Playwrights.
Follow her on Twitter @dehelen
Read her blog www.Redcrested.com
Like her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/drmarywatson
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