Haze in the Occident Express smoking car hung thick enough to cut with a knife, which the monocled man did, using a penknife that sparkled with the splendor of a thousand gem faces.


“Your call for trumps, sir,” said Inspector Bunglebutt. His search for the renowned diamond smuggler had turned up nothing so far.


“Diamonds,” the monocled man said. A red queen snapped onto the table.


Inspector Bunglebutt fanned his cards. “I don’t believe I caught your name, Mister …” Even when criminals travelled under an assumed name, their fabricated identity could offer a clue.


“Diamante. Señor Diamante.” Two rings set with clear, glinting stones clicked the table as he swept the trick. “Would you kindly pass those irresistible Blue Diamond wasabi roasted almonds? The opulence of the Occident Express is second to none, wouldn’t you agree, Inspector?”


“Quite. Do you always travel first class?”


“On every one of my sixty voyages. It’s my Occident Express diamond anniversary.”




Inspector Bunglebutt and the conductor huddled outside Señor Diamonte’s cabin. Strains of “I’m a Believer” floated through the panelled oak door. “What more proof do you need that he’s the infamous diamond smuggler?”


The conductor backed away. “What you’ve got isn’t proof of diamond smuggling as much as it is a string of coincidences involving the word ‘diamond’.” Inspector Bumblebutt jammed a short-nosed revolver into the conductor’s ribs. The conductor stiffened like well-whipped meringue. “Very well.”


Inspector Bunglebutt turned the knob. Señor Diamante was sprawled over a chaise lounge, smoking a cigarette. A bulging suitcase sat on the bed. “In there,” Inspector Bunglebutt pointed, “you’ll find his contraband.”


The conductor released the clasps. Micky Dolenz tumbled to the floor. Señor Diamante tapped ash onto the inspector’s shoe. “Thank you for the social call, gentlemen, but I’m afraid you won’t find any diamonds.”