Excerpt “Queen’s Gambit” by author Bradley Harper

Office of the German Reichskanzler, Berlin, Friday, May 21

Chlodwig Carl Viktor, Prince of Hohenlohe, Prime Minister of Prussia and Chancellor of Germany, was glaring. The two men sit- ting opposite him at the small table looked down at their hands, trying their best to avoid the heat of the chancellor’s gaze.

“Explain to me, gentlemen,” he said, his slow, exact speech mim- icking the tone one would use with a dull child, “how our agents can plan an operation for months, only to find the nest of traitors empty? Three times now we have had good intelligence on the location of these anar- chists, only to find they have slipped the net. Is there a spy in our midst?”

Oberst (Colonel) Adler, the head of the Security Service, twisted his hat in his hand. He looked out the window at a passing bird before he replied, “I’ve studied the logs of all who were present for meetings concerning the operations, and the only person involved in every case was”—he looked down, twisting his hat more viciously—“me.”

The chancellor snorted. “Then you are either the worst double spy in history, or the cleverest, to hide yourself in plain sight. What other explanation is there?”

Adler spread his hands before him. “I have none, mein Herr. Coin- cidence is most unlikely. Somehow, they are getting intelligence from my office but are too clumsy to hide that fact effectively.”

Herr Schork, the chancellor’s private secretary, had kept silent until now. He cleared his throat. The two older gentlemen looked at him as though the furniture had just spoken. “Gentlemen, I have a pro- posal, if I may.”


His superior looked down his nose but nodded. “Very well. A new idea would be welcome.”

“I think we need someone from outside to look for our spy. Someone who would not be known within our usual circles and could be discrete.”

“But also someone we could trust!” Adler added. “Where could you find such a person?”

The chancellor interrupted, “Herr Oberst, since you are a suspect, I request you leave the room before Schork and I continue this conver- sation. If you know the identity of our ‘consultant,’ the findings would be suspect if you are cleared.”

Adler’s jaw tightened as he glared at Schork, then he rose and left the room as quickly as his dignity allowed.

Once the breeze from the security chief’s departure subsided, the chancellor looked at Schork with a new respect. “You know of course, once this matter is settled it is unlikely you can ever work with Adler again? Not to worry. If you can resolve this matter to my satisfaction, you will find yourself promoted. Of course, if you do not, you will have made a bitter enemy of Adler with no profit to show for it. Now, the name of this remarkable individual?”

Schork swallowed at the implication of the chancellor’s words, then said, “You are aware I believe, of the fictional character, Sherlock Holmes?”

The prince of Hohenlohe slammed the table before replying, “You want to employ a make-believe detective?”

“N-No, sir!” Schork stuttered. “But the man who inspired the character is very real. He has helped the police in more than one case. I suggest we call in Professor Joseph Bell, the real Sherlock Holmes!”


Bradley Harper is a retired US Army Pathologist with over thirty-seven years of worldwide military/medical experience, ultimately serving as a Colonel/Physician in the Pentagon. During his Army career, Harper performed some two hundred autopsies, twenty of which were forensic.

Upon retiring from the Army, Harper earned an Associate’s Degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. He has been published in The Strand MagazineFlash Fiction Magazine, The Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine and a short story he wrote involving Professor Moriarty in the Holmes tale of The Red Headed League (entitled The Red Herring League) won Honorable Mention in an international short fiction contest. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, Authors Guild, and Sisters in Crime, Harper is a regular contributor to the Sisters in Crime bi-monthly newsletter.

Harper’s first novel, A Knife in the Fog, involves a young Arthur Conan Doyle joining in the hunt for Jack the Ripper, and was a finalist for a 2019 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel by an American Author and the 2019 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award winner for Best Mystery. The audiobook, narrated by former Royal Shakespeare Company actor Matthew Lloyd Davies, won Audiofile Magazine’s 2019 Earphone award for Mystery and Suspense.

“I first fell in love with Margaret Harkness in Bradley Harper’s Edgar-nominated ‘A Knife in the Fog’ as she helps Sir Arthur Conan Doyle investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. Now, I’m delighted that Harper has brought Harkness – and history – alive again. This is both thriller and love story written with wit and elegance.” — John DeDakis, Novelist, writing couch and former Senior Copy Editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”

  • John DeDakis, Novelist, writing coach, and former Senior Copy Editor for CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer


Website: bharperauthor.com

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