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Bristow's Colleagues

The Casebook of Mr. Tracer

Highslide JS
Strip 2633 was published in the Evening Standard in August 1969 and in Bristow (1970)

Mr. Tracer, the firm's sleuth, may be found on extension 221B. He is equipped with magnifying glass, fingerprint set and meerschaum pipe and though ostensibly employed in the Time and Motion department (do they still exist?), he appears to be able to drop all to assist a client when some dastardly crime besets Chester-Perry's.

We first encounter this desktop detective in December 1968 when he is called in to investigate the baffling case of the rubbish that someone is dumping in the Buying Department. Having first fingerprinted and opened a dossier on Bristow, his analysis of the problem quickly leads to the unmasking of the culprits from the Accounts. Soon after he is called upon in the mysterious affair of the defaced girly calendar (something that seems to happen quite a lot in the C-P building) and this time he accurately fingers female malefactors (or the girls in the typing pool anyway).

His finest hour must surely be the Adventure of the Missing Cushion. Bristow, confused and dismayed at the loss of his essential comfort, consults the oracle and is reassured with his choice of detective when he hears the immortal words "To begin with we assume everyone in the building is guilty". And indeed Tracer does nail the evildoer at the very scene of the crime in a denoument that makes the Hound of the Baskervilles look like the Andrex puppy* - strip 2635
Strip 2635 was published in the Evening Standard in August 1969. This strip is from the Melbourne Age December 1969
A few months later yet another girly calendar is purloined, but the 'tec seems curiously detached whilst he scrutinises his...calendar. But in early 1970 his powers have clearly impressed someone higher up. In the Adventure of the Bread-roll Hurler, Tracer is tasked with catching the malefactor whose well aimed barrage of crusty balls disrupted the annual dinner and dance. A chance photo of the criminal actually exists (published in the House Journal) as you can see in strip 2773
Strip 2773 was published in the Evening Standard in February 1970. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald April 1970
, but the picture only shows the back view of what looks suspiciously like a certain buying clerk. Tracer goes so far as to interview Bristow but fails to make what would be a spectacular arrest strip 2775.
Strip 2775 was published in the Evening Standard in February 1970. This scan is from the Sydney Morning Herald April 1970
He gets his man, or at least a man, in the form of Mr. Meeke the firm's scapegoat.

Baffled as to who might have the reputation of being the firm's scrounger, Bristow consults Tracer and discovers that the question leads back to himself. Then in an astonishing personal attack, someone pins a derogatory note about Bristow on the firm's noticeboard. Once again Tracer seems curiously uninterested and it is Bristow himself who unmasks the author - the lift boy.

Tracer's Last Bow was in May 1971. A wave of petty pilfering sweeps over Chester-Perrys and draconian measures are taken to protect the stationary stores. Tracer is confident he can pinpoint the villains - unfortunately the names are stored in his wallet which appears to have been pilfered. But he is strong and resolute. Pausing merely to gather a huge quantity of blotting paper and pins, his creation of a dummy figure into which he can stick pins whilst he waits for the criminals to go off sick is the work of a truly towering figure of genius.

*Note for non-UK readers - don't worry about it.