Part II, Chapter 2: Bodymasters, coiners and Lodge 341

“Scowrers! I’ve heard of them before. It’s Scowrers here and Scowrers there, and always in a whisper! What are you all afraid of? Who are the Scowrers?”

Part II continues with a bit of romance to lighten the mood before the violent introduction to Lodge 341 and its members. McMurdo, escaping his past in Chicago as a murderer and a coiner gets a job as a bookkeeper, but then ingratiates himself with the local branch of the ‘Ancient Order of Freemen’, or should it be the Scowrers (‘the bosses of the one are the bosses of the other’). We finally meet Mr Baldwin, this time with his head on his shoulders. But it is the Bodymaster, municipal councilor McGinty, that dominates the chapter. He is evocatively described, his jovial disposition merely  ‘a mask’, the narrator tells us. McGinty is ‘as hairy as a gorilla’, and pouncing at Baldwin ‘like a tiger’; there is something of Holmes’s habit of describing people as animals here, and so perhaps his impact is felt even when not directly involved in the story. Let me know what you think of the story in the comments section below, what do you make of these motley bunch of characters? Remember too that the Shafters, although Swedish here, were originally German. Is there perhaps something of contemporary politics in the doings and organisations of Vermissa Valley?

Cheerio for now,


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