It was in the late summer of 2007 as I recall that Mr Sherlock Holmes and I sojourned in the Portuguese resort of Praia Da Luz, that fishing village so burdened by the hopes of a world desperate for news of the missing infant Madeline McCann.
In the twisted maze of alleys towards the southerly end of the town we found the very restaurant where the wretched mother and father had tossed their car keys into a pint pot on the table as the child slept; and it was there we ordered the finest calamari and chips our worthy chef could muster.
For several minutes Holmes toyed with our battered rings. He had pulled out his instrument to fiddle with several of the local women earlier in the evening and appeared distracted, perhaps if he could still hear their laughter as his elbow thrust in and out with a rhythm of ever increasing intensity.
At last he spoke with the air of insouciance to which I had become so accustomed to in my dear friend.
'I shall have to take the case after all Watson, if only to rid this infernal restaurant of the Portuguese police officer who sits in the corner over there, so that in future I may finish up your ring in peace.'
'My dear Holmes! I exclaimed. 'How could you possibly know that swarthy reprobate was in the employ of the local constabulary? Is it his suspicious dark glasses? Or the guide dog that lies faithfully at his side? Or the fact he appears to have a child's shoe with the initials MM inscribed on its sole poking from his pocket?
'No Watson, it was simplicity in itself. I simply noticed he happens to be wearing a police officer's uniform.'
At that moment Mrs Kate McCann herself rushed into the building.
'Mister Holmes, Mister Holmes, thank God you are here,' she cried.
'Fear not, good woman, I have decided to look into the case,' my friend replied.
'Oh my stars sir! That is such a relief to my weary heart, indeed it is,' said she. 'Only don't look into the case too closely because we didn't scrub it out when we had it in the back of the hire car, if you'll get me meaning,' said she, winking a twinkling eye under her black veil.