Lawyers acting for the Threadbone Press moved quickly today to scotch rumours that extracts from Death in A Dentist's Chair - recently serialised in the April edition of Dorset Untrue Crime Detective Monthly and "represented therein and thereby as the work of authoress Crola Haress" - were not, in fact, the work of the famed Suffolk-based crime writer, but rather a "piss poor simulacrum" ghosted by Fleet Street hack and controversial "official" Ziggy Osmington biographer Lorca Saresh aka the poor man's Clora Resash.
In a hastily cobbled-together communiqué delivered to the world's press, Mr Joshua Threadbone, Senior Partner of Threadbone, Threadbone and Threadbone the Great Heaving-based solicitors, said that the excerpts had been offered and sold to the award-winning investigative journal [aka good toilet reading magazine] in good faith and that the Threadbone Press - which recently acquired the rights to all of Ms Haress's works from former publisher the Permanently Reliable Press Group Ltd - would be investigating any suggestions to the contrary "as a matter of extreme urgency". "In the meantime", he added, "the whole of the Threadbone Corporation is standing by the decision to publish the extracts which we believe to be the authentic fruits of Ms Haress's considerable labours".
Whilst fraudulent misrepresentation and, more specifically, the production and sale of fake manuscripts purporting to be the work of famous [and therefore valuable] authors is by no means uncommon [think of the dozens of fake Thrupieces hanging in galleries county-wide], capitalising on such doubtful assets would, analysts believe, be entirely new to the Threadbone Press which, recent publicly available accounts revealed has rarely if ever made money from its crime fiction titles*.
*in disclosing what is possibly the world's worst kept secret, a 2020 FOI inquiry confirmed that in 2019 - and for the twenty-fifth year in succession - it was sales of Professor Thrupiece's non-fiction titles which generated the majority of the Threadbone Press's profits, offsetting losses made by the other 85% of the publisher's output. The distinguished academic's An Introduction to Everyday Culinary Bio-ethics [which was first published in 1984, has been translated into 28 languages and has sold over 168 million copies] generated £12.5 million in analogue and digital sales between April 2018 and December 2019. It remains - closely followed by The Wit and Wisdom of Professor Thrupiece [After Dinner and Other Speeches 1989-2003], the Company's single best-selling title.
Fake manuscript expert and University of Afpuddle Royston Binstock Reader in Post CONTRIK-69 Forensic Biblio-Criminology, Dr Roneo du Plikater says that distinguishing authentic manuscripts from "good quality fakes" is no easy task, particularly since few manuscripts come to light in hand-written form these days and the great majority of crime writers tend to adopt "a similar Agatha Panthusesque* voice". That said, she concedes: "Crola Haress is one of the more distinctive stylists which means that whilst she stands out from the crowd for the quality of her output, her prose is, in consequence, pretty easy to imitate".
*aka The ~Minor Royal of Crime [Ed]
So exactly who is taking who for a ride in the saga now known as Group-Captaingate?The authoress? - almost certainly not; the Threadbone Press? - unlikely given its proven record of probity and its super-ethical CEO Mrs Amanda J Threadbone; Dorset Untrue Crimes Detective Monthly? - possibly but would it risk its hard-won reputation for disseminating other people's untruths rather than inventing untruths of its own? All of which suggests that suspicion must now fall on the shadowy and now-defunct Permanently Reliable Press Group Ltd - a convenient scapegoat if ever there was one, since not a single shareholder, former employee or investor can now be traced.
In the absence of a clear statement from authoress Crola Harris and/or her agent speculation is bound to continue as the real-life narrative surrounding Death in a Dentist's Chair assumes a level of intrigue not surpassed in the imaginary world of which she herself is the authentic architect: that of deceptively sleepy Cavendish and the singular investigations of the Group Captain and the Lady.
THAT FIRST SUSPICIOUS EXTRACT: A DIGI-FORM COLLECTORS ITEM
Download your copy of Wednesday's extract from Death in a Dentist's Chair as serialised in this month's Dorset Untrue Crimes Detective Monthly before it is removed by the lawyers HERE
Our Senior Biblio-crime Correspondent Fay Kitt writes:
Surely this whole matter could be resolved by Ms Haress herself. Key questions to which - subject to a relatively low level of RDC coercion - she alone can provide answers include:
Did she write Death in a Dentist's Chair?
Was it first published in recognisable form by the Permanently Reliable Press Group Ltd and do authentic copies of that version still exist in - say - the dustier corners of Charity Shops and all branches of W H Smiths?
Is the version acquired by The Threadbone Press identical in every respect to the original version?
Does an alternative manuscript by another hand exist somewhere in the cyber-crime ether?
Did the Threadbone Press offer the right version to Dorset Untrue Crimes Detective Monthly for use in its serialisation or was it mixed up with another due to a 'not really working from home "clerical error" '?
Did Dorset Untrue Crimes Detective Monthly publish the right version or one typeset on the cheap by a dodgy digital printer [eg Cheap Prints R'Us, The High Street, Chetnole]?
What level of Biblio security is in place at the offices, printing sheds and warehouses of Dorset Untrue Crimes Detective Monthly and does it conform to Dorset Post-Drexit Security Standard B56H?
Did the Lady really fail to produce an adequate lunch for the Group Captain after his exigent morning exertions [See Extract Page 1]?
NB She can't actually answer: Parts of Question 2 or Questions 3-7 and may prefer not to answer Question 8 [Ed].
Time will tell [FK].