The Psychoanalytic Adventures of Inspector Canal

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Psychoanalysts make the best detectives! When it comes to divining motives, deciphering ambiguous pronouncements, detecting delusions, and foiling the tricks memory plays, famed French analyst Jacques Lacan - turned self-proclaimed retired Inspector Quesjac Canal - is second to none (apologies to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, Edgar Allen Poe's Dupin, and Umberto Eco's William of Baskerville).Reluctantly drawn into helping hapless New York City police detectives with crimes reported by luminaries like Rolland Saalem, music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and involving prominent personages like Tobias Trickler, Mayor of New York City, and Sandra Errand, Vice-President for North American sales at YVEH Distributors of Spirits, Canal solves cases that are anything but what they appear to be and mends tears of the heart and soul at the same time.

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THE CASE OF THE LOST OBJECT

ePub

The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief;
He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.

—Shakespeare

The rain was coming down in buckets and the lights had already flickered twice when the telephone rang in the spacious study of Inspector Canal's Manhattan apartment. After two rings, the phrase jamais deux sans trois flashed through Canal's mind. He reflected that the closest expression in English, “the third time is a charm,” was optimistic. And yet the French was decidedly pessimistic: if something happened twice, it was doomed to happen a third time.

The French and the Americans, Canal mused as the phone continued to ring, were a study in contrasts, as opposite as could be. It was not just in their so-called national characters—it was built right into their languages. Tocqueville, reflected Canal, could have spared himself a long and dangerous boat trip and spent the time more profitably studying American idioms …

By the time Canal roused himself from his reverie, realized that his valet who usually answered the phone was off that day, and picked up the receiver, the line had reverted to a dial tone. But the moment the purportedly retired French Secret Service inspector sat down again to concentrate on the short paper on negation he had been dissecting, the ringing began anew. This time he seized the handset without delay.

 

THE CASE OF THE PIRATED FORMULA

ePub

Words are twisted but reach the center
Things are both flaunted and hidden.

The Book of Changes

It was not as if Canal, the purportedly retired inspector from the French Secret Service who had been living in America for several years, had not been forewarned. Ferguson, his valet, had made it amply clear that New York police agent Olivetti had telephoned several times and had declared that he was prepared to camp out on the Frenchman's doorstep, if need be. Having just returned from an invigorating week snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in New England, the sprightly inspector was none too eager to see the dour detective whose pallid, sallow mien bespoke windowless offices illuminated solely by fluorescent lighting, gridlocked streets full of exhaust-belching vehicles of every size and toxicity—in a word, New York City in the dead of winter. It was, if the televised news reports were to be believed, snowing heavily in the Alps and, were it not for the record numbers of skiers flocking to the snowcapped peaks, Canal might have been tempted to leave Olivetti in the lurch. As it was, the thought of congested ski resorts at which he would have to stand in line to get a nice glass of port après-ski helped Canal resign himself to the idea of February in Manhattan, despite the horribly shrill sound of police sirens that pierced their way into his upper story apartment. “A few fingers of port would do me good right now,” Canal thought to himself, and with that he poured a small glass and sank wistfully onto a comfortable leather Chesterfield.

 

THE CASE OF THE LIQUIDITY SQUEEZE

ePub

Where they love they do not desire and where they desire they
cannot love.

—Freud

The hoopla around the Mayor of New York City was still going strong when Inspector Ponlevek, who was investigating the fiscal allegations against the politician, realized that he was out of his depth.

His older colleague at the New York Police Department, Inspector Olivetti, was investigating the sexual accusations against Mayor Trickler, and Ponlevek himself had been appointed to determine whether or not serious quantities of public funds had been embezzled. But the municipal accounts had turned out to be so complex— and, indeed, so bizarre—that, after countless hours spent with accountants and comptrollers lasting into the wee hours of the morning, he had thrown up his hands in exasperation and made the call. Once or twice in the past he had been inclined to, but he had never done so—out of laziness, he told himself. Quite some time before, Inspector Olivetti had given him the calling card of an eccentric Frenchman living in New York who had supposedly retired from the French Secret Service, a certain Quesjac Canal. This brainy, well-to-do kook had helped Olivetti solve a few cases that might otherwise have proven intractable. Nevertheless, there had been a strange note in the tenor of Olivetti's recommendation, as if there were something about the retired inspector that troubled him. But where else was Ponlevek going to turn without looking like a fool to his Bureau Chief?

 

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