Today Sub-Inspector Max H. and I were working a new case. We were assigned it because it concerned trouble that came over from the continent. A strange new fad arrived on the shores of our adopted Britain. It announced itself in bright blue fliers and with its name, untranslated into English: “Visage-livre.” The flyer came with a room full of people, drained of life but identical in every way right down to their absent faces.
While I enjoyed reading the exploits of C. Auguste Dupin or Sherlock Holmes to whittle away my time, or even the odd detective story that arrived from Russia entitled “Crime and Punishment,” Weisengrund scoffed at them. Especially Holmes. While I tried to emulate Holmes’ deductive methods, enshrined in his oft-repeated “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” Weisengrund could not hear any more of it. He tried to set me right. “Sub-Inspector Max, you can hardly call this logic at all,” he said. “You must understand that Holmes, who seems to have revolutionized detection is merely traditional. He thinks that he as an inspector is independent of the events and reasoning he puts forward. He does not think that logic has anything to do with the conditions of times, the substance of the air and media that surround us, and the wretched industrie culturelle. Most of all, Holmes does not see how he himself is part of the crime that he investigates.” Weisengrund would then go on to state that he seeks to abandon traditional detection, instead formulating a critical detection, one that attempts to fight crime everywhere, especially in those places where crime is made by the crime-fighters. The Inspector went on: “This critical organon will be the star to guide our voyage, Sub-Inspector. To start with the negative, with the injury and crime, and to never let go of that moment, we shall be able to not only solve each case in its uniqueness but also find those places where something is missing, crimes unreported and pervasive.”
Obviously, we had a problem. We needed to know more about this strange device known as the “Visage-livre.” It had to do with whatever this book of face is and with the facelessness of each of the victims we found together in that room. From what we could tell from the flyer, the Visage-livre is a device that people uses to have their profiles drawn, accentuating them and making them unique. But the remain, the result, is that their faces outside of the machine become a smooth and utterly uniform shape.
[Continue Reading Part Two]