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Title: Lies, Damn Lies, and Police Procedurals
Character: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson
Rating: PG
Length: 1,000 words
Spoilers/Warnings: None
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the BBC, Moffat, and possibly ACD.
Thanks to: My beta, panther_kitten
Summary: In which John Watson issues a challenge, and Sherlock accepts.

It’s a quiet evening in 221B. John insists that ‘a curry and some bad telly’ is the only remedy for the week we've had; an exhilarating game of pursuit and evasion with arms smugglers through the maze of wharves, docks, and terminals that make up the Port of London, regularly interrupted by John's dull insistence on reporting each day for a shift at the surgery.

John had lobbied for an action film tonight, but I vetoed it.

I settle down in my chair with an article about some controversial forensic serology findings in an Australian serial rapist case. The television captures my attention with a rather amusing reconstruction of a blunt force head trauma.

“What’s this?” I ask John.

“Some American police procedural,” he answers. John glances over at me. “Wonder how long it’ll take you to figure out who done it?”

I set the journal down and pull my feet up onto the chair, focusing on the television in acceptance of my blogger’s challenge.

‘She’s been dead six to eight hours,’ says the pathologist crouching beside the body. I automatically sniff the air for confirmation, but the hint of sickly-sweet decay is from the foot in the kitchen sink. There will be no olfactory clues on this case.

“Show me her hands,” I murmur. The camera pans quickly past the body to focus on the detective as he makes a joke. The corpse’s skin coloration is all wrong for that recent a death. I find myself leaning to the side, as if that might give me another glimpse of the body, just off-screen. There – the victim’s bare right arm, just as they zip the body bag closed. It was covered in goosebumps. What could … ah. I slump back into my chair, disgusted. It wasn’t even a proper corpse, just a woman in stage make-up.

The uniformed officers bring a witness to the scene. Meant to be homeless, judging by the dirty Army jacket, wild hair and ragged beard. However, given the man’s tanning bed addiction and perfect teeth, he’s never spent a night sleeping rough in his life. He claims to have seen a red car drive away shortly after midnight.

A lab now; the police chatting away with a man in a lab coat. They’re discussing the blood found under the victim’s fingernails, waiting on the results of a DNA test. Highly unlikely that they'll find a match in the database. From what I saw of the wound, the attack was personal, not professional, and even the Met knows enough to round up any known associates with a violent criminal history. A blood sugar test, now that would be useful, at least to rule out any other diabetics in her family.

What are those test tubes of brightly colored liquids he’s using to analyze the blood? Indicators? Staining solutions? The blue one isn’t Coomassie. It looks like an aqueous solution of cobalt chloride, but of what possible use would that be in a forensics lab? Is the man writing his reports in invisible ink? Preposterous.

A police interview room, astonishingly bright, clean, and airy. The police are questioning the victim’s sister. They’re asking about her red car, reported stolen last night. They should be asking about the woman’s meth habit. She’s in the early stages of addiction, but the signs are clear. I suppose that’s the actress. Mrs. Hudson is always going on about Hollywood celebrities. I’ve deleted the details, but apparently they spend all their time off in rehab, making sex tapes.

The cuff of the suspect’s blouse pulls back for a moment, revealing a pale circle of skin, hinting at a missing watch. Why? Was it broken? Stolen? Or did she remove it intentionally, when called into the police station? Perhaps it was a gift from a secret lover? Was there a watch on the victim’s wrist? “Ask her about the watch, you imbeciles!”

The camera focuses in on the sister’s face; a single tear travels down her cheek, and a piece of music begins.

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64. New Scotland Yard’s never bothered piping in music during interrogations. I should suggest it. I’m not familiar with this particular performance of the piece, but it’s lovely. Shame about the soloist’s incipient arthritis. Iona Brown, perhaps? The music cuts off abruptly; I wince.

The sister is sobbing now, talking about her abusive husband. She’s lying. There are seven markers in body posture, facial expression and vocal pattern that reliably indicate shame. The victim in a ‘domestic’ invariably exhibits at least three of those markers. This woman displays only one. The hunched shoulders are appropriate, but her head is up and she’s actively seeking out eye contact, eyes wide, as she tries to impress the detectives with her sincerity. Her voice is audible, diction clear and consistent, with no pauses, repetitions, or digressions. The story she’s telling is clearly well-rehearsed.

More importantly, look at the way her blouse is ironed – quick, confident strokes, a bit sloppy. Hardly the housework of an abused wife. Maybe she uses a laundry service? No, not with those earrings.

Except it’s all just a costume, isn’t it, props chosen by some assistant on a Hollywood soundstage. My head begins to throb. Perhaps she’s a terrible actress, and looks like she’s lying because she’s no idea how an abused wife should behave. Or she might be an excellent actress, and trying to show me that her character is lying. Oh, this is pointless.

I snatch up the remote and turn the ridiculous thing off.

“So,” John asks, “how long did it take you to find the murderer?”

I glare at him.

“Bit obvious, I know,” he responds with a shrug. “Chekov’s gun, right?”

There were no Russians in this case. There was no gun.

“I prefer reality shows,” I tell John coldly, making it clear I’ll not be subjected to such a farce again. I pick up my journal and stalk off to my bedroom, where I can read in peace.


John waits for Sherlock’s bedroom door to slam shut. Then he gets up, turns the TV back on, and changes the channel. The sounds of a car chase cover his contented sigh as he sinks back down into his chair.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
Sherlock, Sherlock, Sherlock. That is not the point.
Jul. 12th, 2012 04:08 am (UTC)
In his defense, John did set him up for this one!
Jul. 12th, 2012 02:42 am (UTC)
hehe I love how this played out :) You got inside his head :) great writing :)
Jul. 12th, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Thank you mi'lady!
Jul. 12th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
Hee! This is great! Sherlock and police procedurals definitely do not mix well. ;)
Jul. 12th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
Definitely NOT. Glad you enjoyed, hoppytoad!
Jul. 12th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC)
Wonderful job! Lovely, nice and concise use of language, elegant character insight. Terrific piece, really, and thank you for a fun read.
Jul. 12th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
Re: Lies...
Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Sometimes, keeping the peace in 221B requires some guerilla tactics on John's part.
Jul. 12th, 2012 07:03 am (UTC)
Hee I loved this.
Jul. 12th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I had fun writing it.
Jul. 12th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
*snicker* Oh, that's lovely. Sherlock's focus on the details is perfect. And the end had me shouting with delight!
Jul. 12th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
That focus is what allows him to solve real cases! It just doesn't work so well for fictional ones. Can't you just picture John pulling something like that? Thanks, rabidsamfan!
Jul. 13th, 2012 10:48 am (UTC)
Ha, I love how it's easy for John, but not actually for Sherlock. Also John setting him up so he can watch some action.
Jul. 14th, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
You know how people with ADD have a reputation for not paying attention, when in fact the problem is that they are paying attention to EVERYTHING? I think Sherlock's like that, only he actually manages to process every detail. It works marvelously for him on cases, but not so much when the TV is feeding him misinformation.

John, on the other hand, knows all about genre, and tropes, annd musical cues, and all the ways that TV sets up and fulfills out expectations.

I think John must pull stuff like this, every now and again, for the sake of his own sanity. Thanks for the comment, luzula!
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)
Huh, I never thought about Sherlock analyzing a TV show like this...the trope is that he's just as good with those as with real murders. Well done!
Dec. 24th, 2012 01:53 am (UTC)
It calls for an entirely different skill set. Thanks, noirsaleen!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )