|This page is a transcript for the Season Four episode A Study in Charlotte.|
Joan Watson: Sherlock, they're at it again! Hey. Hey, can you hear me?
Sherlock Holmes: You can remove my headphones!
Watson: The people next door are at it again.
Holmes: Again? I wasn't aware they stopped.
Watson: This is the third night in a row.
Holmes: I know. I also know that you spend far too much time in slumber. If you want my advice, you should take advantage of this disturbance, forgo sleep, and find an activity which tests your abilities. Escaping elaborate restraints, for example.
Watson: If that doesn't bother you, then why did you choose an activity that included noise-canceling headphones?
Holmes: I didn't say I was impervious to the noise, I merely said I was using it as an impetus. In any case, our rhythm-obsessed neighbor should be done soon. He's been trying to master a particular riff, and I think that last attempt was successful. Yeah. You can safely resume your nightly rituals. Could...no, that's not...
Joe Ballantine: Nature provides us with so many wonders. But for me, this is her greatest gift. Psilocybin. A naturally-occurring compound found in simple mushrooms, which can open our minds to the realm of spirit, allowing us to touch the eternal. Unfortunately, the mushrooms themselves taste like crap. But the taste and any nausea or discomfort that you feel, that's part of the experience, too. I'll be with you every step of the way. To the journey. The effects usually take about 30 minutes. The first thing you will probably notice...that is not part of your experience. That is my oaf of a neighbor. I will take care of that.
Ballantine: Chad, might I ask you to uh, don headphones while you play your video games? I'm hosting an experience.
Chad: Sure. As long as you save a little magic tea for me.
Ballantine: Uh, I'll bring you a to-go cup in the morning if there are no further disruptions.
Ballantine: As I said, the universe rarely allows enlightenment without throwing up a challenge or two. Oh, no. No!
911 Operator: 911. Where's the emergency? Hello? Is anyone there?
Detective Lydel: Uh, looks like a drug party gone wrong. That's Joseph Ballantine, botany professor at QBU. Neighbor says he throws these mushroom parties a couple times a year.
Captain: Some party.
Lydel: Yeah, I figure he picked the wrong 'shrooms this time around, poisoned himself and his customers.
Holmes: Uh, wrong.
Lydel: That's some consultant from Major Cases. He just showed up. Said he heard about it on his scanner.
Captain: You made him sit in a corner?
Lydel: No, he did that himself.
Holmes: I was asked not to disturb any evidence. I thought I might also avert my gaze. Your detective believes this to be a mistake on Ballantine's part, but the professor was an authority on psychedelic mushrooms. He wrote several excellent books on the subject. And despite his idiotic mysticism, he was a peerless mycologist who would never mistake poisonous mushrooms for psychedelic ones.
Captain: Tommy Gregson asked us to give you five minutes. You've got two.
Holmes: As I thought. The mushrooms the professor has in his tea are pure psilocybe azurescens, also known as Blue Angels. They are a potent and relatively rare species native to the Columbia River Delta. There's not a toadstool in the pot.
Lydel: And you can tell that just by looking?
Holmes: Identifying fungi is one of a host of skills a good detective should have. These people died quickly. Note the lack of smearing in the various effluvia. No one tried to stagger for help or to crawl for the door. They died where they fell, meaning they were exposed to a highly concentrated poison.
Captain: They were murdered. Somebody put something in their drinks.
Holmes: More likely, someone put something in the professor's mushrooms. If I had to guess, I'd say extract of amanita phalloides, the aptly-named death cap mushroom. That would make him the likely target and the students collateral damage. Fortunately, I've already got a motive and suspect in mind, so it was a pleasure meeting the both of you.
Watson: I'm sorry. Did I wake you? You must be exhausted. You were up till what, 5:00 in the morning playing bass?
Luuk: You live next door.
Watson: I do.
Luuk: Sorry. Our landlord told us the walls were thick and we could make as much noise as we liked.
Watson: Yeah, well, I can hear everything, okay? That party you had three weeks ago, those little kids you had screaming at each other for six hours...
Luuk: Yeah, that wasn't us.
Watson: I heard you.
Luuk: Uh, no. Someone else threw that party. And someone else had the kids over. We've only been here five days.
Watson: Five days?
Luuk: Yeah. Uh, we're just in town to meet agents and music executives. We'll be gone by the end of the week.
Watson: So you're not the new tenants?
Watson: Are you guests?
Luuk: You know this place is an AwayKay, right?
Watson: I, I don't know what that is.
Luuk: It's like, um, vacation rental. Our drummer found it online. AwayKay.com. "Party pads for party people." I'm sorry about the noise. But I think you're gonna have to get used to it.
Alston Harper: The fight or flight response starts in the hypothalamus, which activates the adrenal gland in two different ways. Chemically, via the pituitary gland, and with a nerve impulse via the spinal cord. This triggers the adrenal gland, the release of adrenaline, and that's when things really kick into high gear. We will pick up with that next week. Remember to read chapter five. Thank you. Can I help you gentlemen?
Holmes: What about cortisol? The adrenal gland releases two hormones, epinephrine, aka adrenaline, but also cortisol, and both of those hormones are crucial to the fight or flight response.
Harper: I was just teasing the next lesson. And adrenaline is sexier than cortisol. Are you with the accreditation review? Because I wasn't expecting you until next week.
Detective Bell: We're with the NYPD. We're here to ask a few questions about the murder of Joseph Ballantine.
Harper: I always knew Joe's research might get him into trouble. But murdered?
Holmes: Preliminary tests indicate that the mushrooms he used were infused with poison from another mushroom. The two of you wrote three books together. Two explorations on the biochemical effects of psilocybin and one textbook on the chemistry of psychedelics.
Bell: Then you two had a falling out.
Harper: I wouldn't call it that.
Holmes: Two years ago, you published an article in the Northeastern Journal of Psychobiology repudiating his work. You called his stance on the benefits of psychedelic mushrooms "dangerous pseudoscience." It was an evisceration, and it was a complete reversal of the position that the two of you took in the books you wrote together.
Bell: Those books? Not available anymore. Pulled from the market.
Holmes: I'm assuming that was at his request. And that would've cost you tens of thousands of dollars in royalties, right?
Harper: Look you're right that Joe and I went our separate ways. But that was my choice. Joe invited me to work on those books with him. He wanted an expert in brain chemistry. Part of the deal was that I take mushrooms myself. He wanted me to have first-hand experience.
Harper: I didn't like what the psilocybin and other drugs did to me. I did stupid things when I was using. I needed a clean break. Pulling the books was my idea. I didn't want my name on anything that endorsed Joe's theories.
Bell: How did he take that?
Harper: He was fine. And he didn't care when I ripped him in the scientific press. It fit with his image as a rebel fighting the establishment.
Holmes: So there were no hard feelings?
Harper: Joe and I were in the same department here. We ran into each other all the time. Ask anyone, there was never any trouble. We made our peace.
Watson: So what did I miss?
Holmes: Professor Harper, it seems, did not have motive to kill Professor Ballantine after all.
Watson: Oh, so you were wrong.
Holmes: While Marcus confirms Harper's story, I've been casting about for clues as to who else might have wanted Ballantine dead, and, failing that, where he acquired his lethal mushrooms. Would you care to join me? I mean, if you're sufficiently rested, of course.
Watson: I wasn't sleeping in, I was meeting our new neighbors.
Holmes: Did you intimidate them into silence?
Watson: I did. But it doesn't matter, they're short-term renters. New people are coming in on Sunday. The building is advertised on a Web site called AwayKay. They cater to people looking for party pads in trendy neighborhoods. They have five or six locations within a few blocks of us.
Holmes: Another unfortunate sign of gentrification. Perhaps we should encourage our local muggers to increase their activity.
Watson: We are not the only ones with a problem. I checked the neighborhood Web site, and it is filled with noise complaints about the AwayKays. And local hotels are losing business. I'm gonna talk to the owner next door tomorrow and let him know we are not happy. There's a safe inside the sofa?
Holmes: Yeah. One that relies on concealment rather than a sophisticated locking mechanism, fortunately. Should be simple enough. There. Professor Ballantine's stash.
Watson: Three bags of dried mushrooms.
Holmes: These are poor quality psilocybe cubensis. This is not what was used in his ill-fated ceremony. But these are Blue Angels. This is the exact same strain I found in his tea. "Looking forward to your thoughts. Danke. C. K."
Watson: I saw a manuscript that Ballantine was proofing about lichen. It was written by someone named Charlotte Konig.
Watson: If you could just wait here, sir, and keep the meter running. Thanks.
Holmes: According to university records, Charlotte Konig is a German-born biochemist and Ballantine's former teaching assistant. Here's a photograph of her in her student days. She's the one with the tattoos.
Watson: The lights are on. I hear music. Hey, maybe we should wait till Marcus gets here. I mean, Charlotte gave Ballantine those mushrooms. She could be a murderer.
Holmes: Even if she is, she's a poisoner. Just don't eat or drink anything, we should be okay.
Watson: What are you doing?
Holmes: I smell mushrooms.
Watson: That's really great, but um, is it really enough to break and enter in front of our cabbie?
Holmes: I smell mushrooms.
Watson: He smells mushrooms.
Holmes: Told you I smelled mushrooms.
Holmes: Toxicology confirms she died from death cap poison. Someone sprayed her entire crop with the stuff.
Captain Gregson: These were growing on her?
Watson: We think, as she was dying, she knocked over a jar of mature mushrooms. They spored, and the spores landed on her body.
Holmes: We now think that she was the intended target of the poisoner, not Joseph Ballantine. As you can tell from these photographs, her crop was too small for her to be a dealer, she grew just enough for her own use and occasional gifts for friends.
Watson: Seems unlikely the person who did it would've known she would share her crop with Ballantine. Also, there was psilocybin residue in her tea kettle and cups, which indicates she was a regular user.
Bell: We figure it must be someone close to her, someone who knew she grew her own mushrooms and used them regularly.
Holmes: Or someone who studied her extensively. Having said that, a study of Charlotte would be no simple endeavor. She might have been a whiz with botany and biochemistry, but she was not keen on electronics.
Watson: Yeah. She didn't use social media. Didn't even have a cell phone.
Bell: What we know so far is she was born in Germany, came to the U.S. for college, studied under Ballantine, then had a series of low-paying, short-term lab jobs since she got her degree.
Holmes: Another clue to her personal life might be her tattoos.
Bell: She had a lot of them. There's a fresh griffin tattoo on her shoulder, an om on her neck, vines on her forearm, assorted flowers.
Gregson: What's that on her back?
Watson: Uh, I think there's a photo in the MLI's report.
Gregson: "Rache." What is that, short for Rachel?
Holmes: That's possible. But Charlotte's native language is German. And in German, that word is "rache," which means revenge.
Bell: Maybe it's the name of a band or some...
Holmes: Or the ink could speak for itself and Fraulein Konig craved revenge.
Gregson: If she did, you got to wonder who killed her to keep her from getting it.
Watson: Actually, we may already have a pretty good idea.
Gregson: Charlotte Konig was suing your company for $100 million, correct?
Gira Pal: She claimed we stole her process for turning algae into biofuel.
Bell: Did you?
Pal: Of course not. Zerakem developed the same process she did at roughly the same time, it's coincidence.
Bell: That's not how Ms. Konig saw it. Her lawsuit claims she published her process almost six months before Zerakem announced theirs.
Watson: Your company does not have the best reputation. We've heard accusations that Zerakem engaged in corporate espionage, as well as bribing government officials.
Holmes: It's not such a great leap to think that if you saw Charlotte Konig as an obstacle, you might have had her removed.
Pal: These are denied motions from Charlotte Konig's lawyers. We had no reason to kill her. We were crushing her in court.
Watson: Did Charlotte ever try to take matters into her own hands, threaten you or anyone else at Zerakem?
Pal: I have no record of that. But even if she did try, we wouldn't have her killed. We'd get a restraining order. I have a question of my own, if that's all right. You think that Charlotte and those other people were killed by death cap poison?
Gregson: Toxicology proved it.
Pal: Before I made VP, I worked my way up as a biochemist, and I know for a fact there's no way naturally-occurring death cap poison could kill those people so quickly.
Holmes: On that, we agree. Our current theory is that the killer extracted mycotoxin from a large number of mushrooms and then concentrated it to produce a lethal dose.
Pal: That is one way to do it, but it's slow and inefficient. A better way would be to synthesize the poison, build it up from scratch from biochemical building blocks. I mean, if it helps, I could give you a list of facilities around here that do that kind of work.
Trent Garby: Welcome. If I can help you with anything, let me know.
Watson: Um, actually, I was hoping I could talk to you about the building you turned into an AwayKay.
Garby: I remember you. You're the girlfriend, Sherlock's. Yeah, you moved in with him about a year before I left.
Watson: Uh, I'm not his girlfriend. And I didn't realize you two knew each other.
Garby: We don't. I introduced myself on the day he moved in. Got his name, his e-mail. That's it. Are you thinking of turning your place into an AwayKay? It's easy. I can tell you all about it.
Watson: We've been having some problems with noise. People coming in at all hours. It...is there something funny?
Garby: I'm sorry, it's...that's rich, you two complaining about the noise.
Watson: How so? Because you're the reason that I can't live in my own building. You're the reason that I can't keep tenants in there for more than six months at a time. You're not happy that I turned my place into an AwayKay? Yeah, too bad. You brought it on yourselves.
Watson: I don't know what you're talking about.
Garby: I moved out because of you two. I couldn't take it anymore. The weird noises, the strange smells, the explosions, and the damn bees on the roof. Oh, come on, please. Don't pretend that this is news to you.
Watson: Actually, it is. Look, you didn't just list your place on AwayKay. You went out of your way to attract problem tenants. I read the ad. "Parties welcome. Noise not an issue." This is not just about paying the mortgage.
Garby: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That's physics.
Watson: That's crazy. We could've talked about this and fixed it a long time ago.
Garby: I e-mailed Sherlock dozens of times. I practically begged him to be more considerate. But it only got worse. And then the, the roosters, that was the last straw.
Watson: I forgot about the roosters.
Garby: Yeah, I did, too. Eventually. By moving out.
Watson: Those e-mails you sent, could you show them to me?
Lab Director: I suppose we could synthesize death cap poison, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to kill Charlotte.
Holmes: You knew her?
Lab Director: She used to work here. Until about a year ago. She was sweet, and much quieter than you'd think. All those tattoos.
Bell: Um, she have any issues with anyone? Conflicts over work duties, sexual harassment, anything like that?
Lab Director: No, not that I'm aware of.
Holmes: Thank you, Doctor, you've been most helpful. Excuse me. Uh, I work with the police. I was hoping we might have a chat.
Holmes: About Charlotte Konig. And whether your sleeping together had anything to do with her murder.
Franklin: Nobody knew about us here, so how did you?
Holmes: Your forearm tattoo. It's almost identical to the one that Charlotte had. In fact, if you were to line them up, those vines would interconnect, would they not? So the two of you were lovers. That's not in any doubt. What is in question is...
Franklin: We were together for almost a year. I would never have hurt her.
Bell: But you're not together anymore?
Franklin: When we started hanging out, she was fun. She liked to take mushrooms, drop acid, do Molly. Chemists, we get the best stuff, 'cause we make it ourselves. Charlotte was a nonstop party.
Holmes: Until she wasn't?
Franklin: About a year ago, her biological clock started ticking, loud. She was talking about wanting kids, getting married.
Bell: Which didn't interest you? Well, how did Charlotte take it when you broke things off?
Franklin: Not well, at first, but then she got over it, 'cause last I heard, she'd met some guy, and they were gonna get married. So, she got what she wanted, and I did, too. Win, win.
Bell: You know her fiance's name?
Franklin: I was on something that night. It's fuzzy.
Holmes: Do you know the story behind Charlotte's "rache" tattoo?
Franklin: I know it meant "revenge." Aside from that, she didn't really like to talk about it. Griffin.
Bell: Excuse me?
Franklin: Just came to me. New guy's first name, Griffin.
Holmes: What about his last name?
Franklin: I don't think it ever came up.
Holmes: You remember the newly-inked tattoo on Charlotte's shoulder?
Bell: A griffin.
Holmes: Mmm. If I'm not mistaken, it was by the same artist that did that tattoo. What was the name of the tattoo shop?
Watson: Any progress?
Holmes: Incremental, but significant. I was able to contact Charlotte's tattoo artist, Aviv, who told me the tale of Charlotte and her newest beau, Griffin.
Watson: So they went into the shop together.
Holmes: As people are wont to do when they wish to immortalize their love via the tattoo needle. Never a good idea, in my opinion. Life is far too fluid for such mementos. Imagine me with a giant "Moriarty" across my stomach.
Watson: It would have said "Irene" but I take your point.
Holmes: Anyway, Charlotte's griffin went on without a hitch, but when it was Griffin's turn, things went awry. He filled out the release, but no sooner had the needle gun started up than he had a change of heart.
Watson: He chickened out.
Holmes: In his defense, he invoked his membership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They view tattooing as a defilement of the body temple. To Charlotte's dismay, he left the tattoo shop uninked, never to return.
Watson: But he signed the release. If Aviv kept it, that means he has Griffin's full name and address.
Holmes: More than a week passed without him reporting her missing, and I would like to know why. Aviv is searching his files and will get back to us presently.
Watson: Good. So we have some time to talk.
Holmes: About what?
Watson: About the AwayKay next door and how the whole thing is your fault.
Watson: Hmm? That's it? We chased some poor guy out of his home, and all you can say is hmm.
Holmes: You do see that this is not my current e-mail address.
Holmes: So, when I first met Mr. Garby, I was on drugs, didn't think I'd be living here for very long. I had no desire to make any new friends, so I gave him an e-mail address I hadn't used since the late '90s. Instead of issuing his grievances electronically, he could've just knocked on our front door.
Watson: He was afraid of you.
Holmes: Did I threaten him?
Watson: You don't even remember if you threatened him.
Holmes: I was on drugs. May I point out that by the time Mr. Garby vacated his premises, you had been living here for almost two years.
Watson: What, you're trying to blame this on me?
Holmes: I'm saying there's plenty of blame to go around.
Watson: You are the one who makes all the noise.
Holmes: And you're the one who never stops me. Why? Because you know that the work I do is important. It's for...
Watson: Okay, if you say it's for the greater good, I am gonna punch you.
Holmes: You accompanied me once to my former residence in London, 221B. Did I ever tell you about the people in 221A?
Holmes: They didn't like having me for a neighbor, either.
Watson: What did you do?
Holmes: I took care of it.
Watson: What do you mean, you took care of it?
Holmes: It's the tattoo artist. He's located Griffin's personal information.
Griffin: I couldn't have killed Charlotte. I loved her.
Holmes: If you don't mind me saying so, you seem like a you seem like an unlikely match.
Griffin: I mean, Charlotte had a checkered past. And sometimes she fell back into old habits, but I wasn't perfect, either. We were working to put all that behind us.
Watson: How were you doing that exactly?
Griffin: We started going to services together at the local ward. She was considering converting. We were talking about getting married, having kids.
Holmes: Sir, excuse me. I just need to bathroom.
Watson: I have to ask. Charlotte has been dead for over a week. If you two were so happy together, why didn't you report her missing?
Griffin: Sometimes she'd slip. We'd fight. Usually when that happened, she'd disappear for a while, she wouldn't return my calls. Once, she even went home to Germany without telling me, so I just thought it was the same thing this time.
Watson: And why did you think that? Did you two have a fight?
Griffin: She wanted me to get a tattoo. Uh, it just felt wrong, so I said no. She got upset, we argued, she left. I went by her place a few days later, but uh, she didn't answer the door, so I just decided to give her some space. And I was sure she would come back eventually. She always had before. What the heck? Hey. Hey! Hey, he can't do that! Hey! Hey, what are you doing?! That's breaking and entering!
Holmes: Griffin, you seem like an exemplary young man, so perhaps you'd like to explain to me why you have a drug lab in your backyard.
Griffin: It was Charlotte's idea. We were both struggling. We needed to earn some extra money.
Holmes: So you began to manufacture illegal drugs.
Griffin: Not illegal. Counterfeit.
Gregson: Counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills, to be specific.
Holmes: What's your local bishop going to have to say about that?
Griffin: He's not gonna like it. But do you know how much the pharmaceutical companies charge for just one of those pills? $40 or $50. And most insurance won't cover them. That's robbery.
Watson: So you and Charlotte decided to strike a blow against Big Pharma.
Griffin: We can make pills every bit as good as the real thing for under five dollars each.
Gregson: Assuming you sold them to a distributor for ten, $15 a pill, you would have raked in about 100 grand a batch?
Holmes: Yet, the both of you are still renting, there's no appreciable increase in your bank accounts? What little money that Charlotte made from her legitimate jobs was going to the lawyers handling her Zerakem lawsuit. And between paying off your student loans and your grandmother's medical bills, you're barely getting by.
Gregson: Which raises the question, where did the money go?
Griffin: I don't know.
Holmes: That's hard to believe. You're a chemist, as well, so you have the requisite skills to create the mycotoxin that took her life.
Griffin: I would never do that.
Watson: Then explain where the money went.
Griffin: I can't. I don't even know who we were selling to. Charlotte handled the money, she dealt with the distributor, all of it. Whenever I asked, she said everything was going according to plan, and that we would be set for life. That's it.
Gregson: And you believed her?
Griffin: I did until today. But maybe she was putting a happy face on things. You know, she did that sometimes. Maybe whoever she was working with wasn't paying, she pushed, and they killed her. I mean, I don't know. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.
Watson (phone): Hey.
Bell (phone): Hey. So I just got a report from the forensic accountant. There's no sign Griffin's been hiding the money from those counterfeit E.D. pills, and there's no evidence in his home or his lab that he's handled the precursors you'd need to synthesize the mushroom poison.
Watson (phone): So his story checks out?
Bell (phone): Yeah. We're holding him on the drug charges, but I don't think he's our killer. So, I don't suppose you and Sherlock have had any luck identifying Charlotte's distributor?
Watson (phone): Well, Sherlock said he had a plan. I just took a break to get some groceries, so I'm almost...Marcus, I'm gonna have to call you back.
Watson: Tell me you did not start that fire.
Holmes: I did not start that fire.
Watson: You said that you were gonna take care of the AwayKay problem.
Holmes: Through folk art. Specifically, chain saw sculpting. One uses a chain saw to artfully sculpt entire tree trunks into a bear perhaps or an eagle. All rather kitsch and extremely loud. I'd retrieved my chain saw from storage, and I was in the process of oiling it when that fire broke out.
Watson: So your alibi is that you were oiling your chain saw. Is this how you solved your problem at 221A? Folk art?
Holmes: I bought 221A. I was quite willing to do the same in our current situation, but the chain saw seemed like a logical first step.
Watson: Well, I am sorry that I accused you of arson.
Holmes: Well, I was the obvious suspect. The fire marshal believes that the fire was electrical in nature, started by a faulty amplifier. An accident. In other news, I've placed express orders for erectile dysfunction medication from several dozen online pharmacies. Given the volume of pills Charlotte and Griffin were manufacturing, it seems like the most likely route for distribution. Note the subtle difference between the counterfeits and the real thing.
Watson: Charlotte and Griffin's pills are a little less blue.
Holmes: Hmm. If I can find pills in the same shade, I might be able to identify which online pharmacy they were using to distribute their wares.
Lenny Fung: Okay. So I inadvertently sold some counterfeit medicine. We talking a warning, a fine?
Watson: You don't seem very concerned.
Fung: In my line of work, fines are just part of the cost of doing business.
Holmes: What about murder? Is that part of your business model as well?
Fung: Who got murdered?
Bell: Charlotte Konig. The woman who made those pills.
Holmes: She was poisoned. You're a licensed pharmacist, Mr. Fong. I assume you know your way around a biochem lab.
Fung: Why would I kill Charlotte? She made a great product.
Bell: So you admit to being her distributor?
Fung: Yeah, fine, but I didn't kill her.
Holmes: So where's the money?
Fung: What money?
Holmes: The money that you should've paid her for her product, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fung: I paid Charlotte every dime that I owed her. I just did it in real estate. Look. She had me buy up a bunch of rundown properties in Newark, put them in a trust where she was a secret sole beneficiary.
Watson: Those are all interest-only loans.
Fung: And I pay the interest, in exchange for more product. But I don't think she was gonna hold on to the properties for long. I got a feeling she was working on a deal to unload them at a profit, but she never told me the details.
Holmes: You got a map of these properties?
Watson: Those are all near Zerakem facilities.
Holmes: I think we've finally found Charlotte's revenge.
Holmes: Note the location of Charlotte's properties here. All of them bordering these two Zerakem facilities.
Pal: I see.
Holmes: Now, Zerakem has three facilities in the area, right? These two, further inland, and this main one here by the Passaic River. These are separated by a little over a quarter of a mile. Correct?
Holmes: Right. Could you explain to us why that distance is important?
Pal: For these facilities to be considered separate entities by the EPA, they have to be more than a quarter of a mile apart. If they're any closer, they count as one facility for the sake of pollution regulation.
Holmes: And one larger facility is subject to much more stringent regulation than three smaller ones.
Holmes: Now, according to plans Zerakem's filed with the city, they plan to implement Charlotte's biofuel process at this plant here. Algae tanks here, processing here.
Watson: Except there's a problem. By expanding, you close the gap between the facilities, which will trigger much more stringent EPA regulations that will cost you millions per year, unless...
Pal: We expand these two facilities further inland.
Holmes: Mmm. Because the EPA measures the distance between facilities not from border to border, but from center to center. So if you expand these facilities like so...
Watson: And Zerakem can continue to pollute at their old levels without paying fines or making upgrades.
Bell: Charlotte figured that out before you did. She roadblocked you.
Holmes: She was trying to gouge Zerakem into paying her the money that she believed she was owed for her biofuel process.
Pal: $15 million above market, that's what the trust that holds these properties was demanding.
Bell: Except now Charlotte is dead. As far as we can tell, she has no heirs, so the banks will foreclose on her properties, and Zerakem will be able to purchase them at fair market value.
Holmes: Thus saving millions and avoiding paying off a gadfly who's been making you suffer. Sounds like a motive for murder to me.
Pal: I have worked my entire adult life at Zerakem. I've never believed the rumors about what the company is capable of. I've never seen any real evidence of any wrongdoing. But if Charlotte Konig is behind the trust and now she's dead I won't work for a company that murders people. What do you need?
Holmes: You're offering to cooperate?
Pal: I'm offering to burn Zerakem to the ground.
Holmes: Miss Pal gave us everything. Every memo that anyone at Zerakem ever wrote about the New Jersey expansion, every e-mail. The only way any of it would be useful is lining the bottom of several thousand birdcages.
Watson: Oh, you're not finding anything.
Holmes: I found a great deal. All of it indicates that, in all likelihood, Zerakem did not kill Charlotte Konig. As recently as two days ago, the senior management were instructing their lawyers to attempt to identify the principals behind the land trust.
Watson: They didn't know it was Charlotte.
Holmes: They did not, and even if they had, they would not have been able to profit from it.
Watson: The company would have saved $15 million.
Holmes: But no one at the company was in line for a specific bonus over the deal. The $15 million savings would not have moved Zerakem's stock price one iota. And stock options are the only way the executives could share in the corporation's success. So while Zerakem itself has motive, no human being at the company does.
Watson: So we're back to the drawing board.
Holmes: Mm-hmm. What is it?
Watson: Uh, it's an e-mail from Trent Garby. He's saying that his insurance company is refusing to pay out on the fire, because he was using his property for short-term rentals. So it was technically a hotel. He doesn't have the right coverage.
Holmes: That's good. We can carry out plan B, aka plan 221A. Buy the place, now at a discount.
Watson: I would say that you're a callous jerk, but that's actually why he's reaching out. He's giving us and the other neighbor first crack.
Holmes: Forward me the e-mail, I'll investigate it in the morning.
Watson: Don't you feel even a little bit bad?
Watson: I mean, it's our fault that Trent moved out. If he was still living next door, he wouldn't have this issue with his insurance.
Holmes: That's the way of the world, Watson. We were an irresistible force, he was a movable object. He moved. If you want to feel bad about something, feel bad about the fact that we're no closer to identifying Charlotte's killer than we were five hours ago.
Watson: What if Charlotte wasn't the target? What if the killer knew that she was gonna share her mushrooms with Ballantine?
Holmes: You have a new suspect in mind?
Watson: Old one, actually. Maybe we gave up too quickly on Alston Harper. I mean, he said he and Ballantine buried the hatchet, but who knows? Maybe we should take a look at him again, see if we missed anything.
Holmes: Alston C. Harper. Charlotte's "rache" tattoo. I seem to remember the "R" and the "E" incrementally darker than the other letters. First, I thought that was by design. What if there was another reason? I think you're right. Harper is worth looking at again, but not because he wanted to kill Ballantine, because he wanted to kill Charlotte.
Watson: What would Harper have against Charlotte?
Holmes: What does any man have against his ex?
Holmes: Alston C. Harper.
Harper: Uh, class doesn't start for another 15 minutes. I assume you're here for the lecture on cortisol.
Holmes: No, we're here to see the fight-or-flight response in person. You're being arrested for the murder of Charlotte Konig.
Harper: Why would I murder my former grad student?
Watson: Not just a student, your wife. Apparently, one of the stupid things you did when you were on hallucinogens was marry Charlotte.
Bell: Marriage certificate for Alston C. Harper and Charlotte Konig, issued four years ago in Bad Tolz, Germany. There's no divorce decree on file, so legally you and Charlotte were still husband and wife at the time of her death.
Harper: We were estranged. When I made my break from Joe and his expanded lifestyle, I couldn't be with Charlotte anymore. It wasn't good for me.
Holmes: She didn't like that though, did she? She was still in love with you. I mean, she'd already gone to the trouble of having your initials tattooed on the back of her shoulder.
Watson: After you broke her heart, she added an "R" and an "E", turning "A.C.H." into "rache." You were the one she wanted to take revenge against.
Bell: She tried to hold you up on the divorce, right? Claimed a chunk of the proceeds from your books. After all, she helped you do the research.
Watson: That's why you had them pulled, to spite her.
Harper: This is all conjecture.
Holmes: No, it's not. You recently hired a private detective, one Duane Weaver. Fortunately for us, P.I.s are not legally bound by client privilege. They're quite free to discuss their cases with the police.
Bell: Duane told us Charlotte approached you a few months ago and finally offered a divorce, no strings attached. You got suspicious and hired him to look into her.
Harper: That's not illegal.
Holmes: Duane's more than competent. He uncovered Charlotte's real estate holdings and her attempts to strong-arm Zerakem into a generous buyout.
Watson: That's why she was finally willing to grant you the divorce. She was in love, she was about to get rich, she didn't need to seek revenge anymore.
Holmes: Only, you wanted revenge against her, for the years she'd held your feet to the flames. You realized that you could have it and get rich in the process.
Watson: As Charlotte's legal husband, you would inherit all of her properties when she died. Then you could sell them to Zerakem.
Harper: You have no evidence. Duane is lying.
Bell: We have enough for a warrant. We already searched your on-campus lab. Guess what we found.
Holmes: You manufactured synthetic death cap poison. We found residue in your equipment. You poisoned Charlotte, and then you inadvertently killed Ballantine and five innocent people.
Garby: I take it you got my offer. Here to talk terms or just gloat?
Watson: Bearing gifts, actually. If you can prove arson, you should be able to collect insurance for the fire. So this should do it.
Garby: Pictures of a van?
Watson: Captured by our security cameras. This van was parked outside our Brownstone a few hours before the fire, when your guests were out. But no one in the neighborhood hired an electrician that day. And in fact, this electrician works almost exclusively for the Point Center, a boutique hotel.
Garby: Oh, I know it, it's a couple of blocks down. In fact, the owner of the hotel has tried to get every AwayKay in the neighborhood to shut down.
Watson: Yesterday he tried again. He said that your fire proved that AwayKays were unsafe and underinsured.
Garby: He hired an electrician to start the fire?
Watson: I spoke to the arson investigators. The electrician is in custody, and the hotel's owner should be in jail by the end of the day.
Garby: Well, if I get an insurance settlement, I, I can rebuild, I don't have to sell.
Watson: You can also reopen your AwayKay, but we would much rather you moved back in. Robert Frost said that fences make good neighbors. But maybe that's because there wasn't sound-dampening insulation back then. Since you are rebuilding anyway, we can have it installed for you as a belated housewarming gift. So a quieter home for you, and a neighbor who knows what he's getting into for us.
Garby: You don't even know me.
Watson: We'd like to.
Garby: All right. When I get the insurance settlement, I'll let you know.
Watson: This is from Sherlock. He wants you to know that bees can be good neighbors, too.