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In the quiet cathedral city of Beorminster, so unusual an event can only bring on dizzying excitement. Amateur detectives by the dozen gather on street corners to thrash out the problem -- and in public-houses, where they develop their most intricate theories over their beer.
But now there appears in Beorminster the strangest figure: an elderly, weather-beaten man with the quick, alert eye of a fowl. For all he looks like a sailor, he calls himself a missionary -- saying he has labored these many years in the Lord's vineyard of the South Seas, and has returned to England for "a smack of civilization." He has the hoarse voice of a mariner accustomed to out-roar storms, but his conversation is oddly free of the colorful oaths of the nautical man.
His name is Ben Baltic -- and his entrance marks the reader's first acquaintance with the most interesting and colorful of detectives created by Fergus Hume (1859-1932), author of "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab" and "The Secret Passage."
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