Robert Barr, the author of "The Absent-Minded Coterie," was a good friend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in spite of the fact that he wrote the very first blatant Holmes spoof ("The Adventures of Sherlaw Kombs," 1892). His character Eugene Valmont (Charles Gray) is a self-described "amateur detective" and homesick Frenchman living in the foggiest version of London ever depicted onscreen. The tale has a tongue-in-cheek style as Valmont whips up frogs' legs for an unsuspecting (and horrified) police inspector and parries wits with an unflappable female opponent in the mold of Doyle's Irene Adler. The involved plot about a gang of scam artists is a little tricky to follow. Gray is beloved by fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) as "The Criminologist" who dances the Time Warp on top of his desk. He also played Mycroft Holmes several times, including in the movie The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976).
"The Looting of the Specie Room" presents a different type of crime-solving protagonist: Mr. Horrocks (Ronald Fraser), a ship's purser. As purser, he is responsible for the ship's valuables and the comfort of the passengers, supervising the stewards who attend directly to their needs. He therefore has a very ego-battering job, with entitled passengers' complaints in one ear and unsympathetic criticisms and demands from the captain, officers, company owners and his coworkers in the other. The ship is carrying a large cargo of gold bullion, and when it arrives in Liverpool with half the bullion impossibly missing, Horrocks is in deep doo-doo. He dedicates himself to figuring out how the theft was accomplished. The original story was penned by Charles John Cutcliffe Wright Hyne, best known for The Lost Continent: the Story of Atlantis, the seminal 1900 fantasy novel that established the fictional Atlantis trope. Hyne was constantly on the move and spent a lot of time at sea, and wrote a series of stories about a character named Captain Kettle, so his depiction of the travails of a ship's purser comes from direct experience. "The Looting of the Specie Room" features Jean Marsh (soon to achieve fame as a star of the 1971-75 BBC series Upstairs, Downstairs) as a supposed widow who crams her stateroom with a suspicious number of trunks and luggage.
Most of the stories from this time period have one thing in common: a deficiency of strong female characters. If women appear at all, they tend to be frivolous, helpless, or seductive manipulators. "The Mystery of the Amber Beads" by Fergus Hume is among the rare exceptions, one of a collection of stories showcasing "Hagar of the Pawn Shop, the Gypsy Detective." Hagar Stanley (Sara Kestleman), an earthy, worldly-wise, and very no-nonsense businesswoman, runs a pawn shop in London and solves crimes related to items brought to her shop—in this case, an amber necklace which is left by a hooded woman who refuses to speak. The necklace soon is identified as stolen from a recently murdered dowager.