TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant
‘We’ve talked to a few of his mates from Oxford,’ Lewis continues smoothly and it’s obvious that there’s some pattern to this, a well honed and tried out technique of giving out seemingly random, casual information and picking up the missing pieces in return. ‘Kevin Corrigan is a successful solicitor in Loughborough. Says he was amazed when Grant suddenly changed his tack and joined the Force. His understanding had been that in rebellion against the parents, the famous Hamilton Grants, he wanted to enter a lucrative private career of his own instead of looking after the Family business, as they hoped he was going to.’
‘As I said, he was young and idealistic,’ Emma repeats stubbornly. She isn’t going to get caught into that game. Not even if she had any knowledge or understanding of what Lewis was talking about.
‘Corrigan directed us to Alex Carroll, Grant’s best friend atOxford,’ Lewis continues. ‘Carroll had been as surprised as anyone else, he said. Grant had never shown any interest in the police before and the news of him joining just like that blew him over, he said. What’s more, Grant severed all the ties with all his school friends. Never initiated any contact, never encouraged any.’
‘Fast work,’ Emma snorts. ‘How have you managed to collect all the information that fast? How did you know who his friends used to be and where to find them?’
Her companion doesn’t answer immediately. As if weighing up the benefits of any disclosure. ‘It’s all been sitting there in his file for ages…from the start…’
‘His file?!’ Emma cries. ‘You keep a file on him?’
Lewis still isn’t sure how much to say, it seems. ‘It’s not as bad as it looks. But, back there, as you can imagine, certain amount of caution was necessary. I mean,’ he shrugged as if it was all of very little importance, just a casual chat, ‘all officers have to be vetted. Doctors like you are vetted…’ He smiled disarmingly. ‘But,’ it was as if he couldn’t resist putting it into words, ‘but there was bound to be a heightened interest in the motives of the son of Hamilton Grants, the known dissidents…’
‘No, not dissidents,’ she protests. ‘They’re… free thinkers. Philosophers,’ and suddenly she realises that she doesn’t know very much more now than she knew on Tuesday. Simon never explained. Just refused. Point blank.
‘Well, whatever,’ Lewis nods good-naturedly. ‘The file hasn’t been amended or updated for years. As I said, it’s not as bad as it looks.’ He’s finished off his coffee and holds the plastic cup in his hand as if wondering what to do with it. ‘Of course that’ll change now…’
‘Oh, no, don’t even think of saying it.’
He smiles and pats her knee quickly. ‘I don’t mean… I mean, nothing drastic will happen here… No, no, you mustn’t think… I was thinking of the break-up of his marriage. Your sister seems to have left him.’
‘She didn’t leave him,’ Emma contradicts. ‘She’s only saving herself travelling to London day in day out. She’s come home for the weekend. You can check…’ she ends uncertainly. Pippa may be well on her way back to London by now. With half a dozen or more neat brandies inside her.
‘You’re here, she is not,’ Lewis snaps matter-of-factly.
Lock Up Your Daughters
The dinner party at the Wishing Well was spectacular. Trevor and Sheila Westwood were there, of course, and Dennis Wilkinson with his youthful and exceedingly shy partner Moss, and another couple who had driven all the way from Kendal for the occasion.
‘Sue and Joe Harper couldn’t get a baby sitter for Jason,’ said Gladys. ‘And this is only a very small cottage anyway.’ Probably an excuse for leaving the Mortimer sisters out altogether. The blonde hair showing only the tiniest of dark and grey roots was carefully folded up at the back, leaving a lot of bare flesh to wiggle about at each move outside a tight, sequined black dress.
‘Five inch stiletto heels must be a murder for arthritis,’ murmured Pippa behind her glass of gin and tonic. ‘But, I could do wonders with that turtle neck and frowning cleavage. Even at her age.’
Jacob in his white hat, an exceptionally tall affair rakishly pulled to one side of the shiny, bald head, was serving the soufflé with parmesan shavings, optional chilly sauce and carefully chosen stylish little comments. In his heyday he was a much quoted master of on-screen catchphrase. The undisputed creator of such gems as “wine with attitude” and “seasoning with intent”.
‘The one thing about this soufflé — it’s not boring. There’s nothing as boring as a boring soufflé. But not this one. The chilli’s strictly for the super indulgent,’ he reassured the Lady from Kendal whose palate was feeling somewhat fragile tonight.
The fronts of his white tunic didn’t meet further than the top two buttons. ‘I cook too well,’ he’d pat his front, his proof of the pudding, from time to time.
Petra and Mikko shared the table with everyone else but it was Mikko who jumped up from his seat to bring a fresh pair of glasses when the couple from Kendal changed their minds about their drinks. He also brought a plastic squeezy to the table for Moss who never ate anything without a good dollop of brown sauce. In between the courses Petra and Mikko removed the used plates and cutlery from the table and could be heard laughing in the kitchen to the sound of running water.
The food was stretching forever. As did the evening. Trevor was challenging Jacob to a three months cooking experience on Ai Stratis in summer. ‘The fishermen will bring you the best they’ve got, Jake my old son, the seawater still dripping off it. You don’t get fish like on a Greek island anywhere else in the world.’
‘You only eat sea trout there and even that only if carefully filleted, deep fried and with chips,’ said Sheila. ‘And salt and vinegar.’
‘You can have anything you like,’ Trevor continued undeterred, ‘from sea or land. What the hell, I practically own the bloody place.’
‘What do you do, Trevor?’ Simon interrupted innocently. Jacob muttered something and hastily retreated into the kitchen. ‘For a living, I mean.’
‘This and that.’
‘In roughly what proportion?’ Simon’s smile was still disarmingly innocent.
‘Eh?’ Trevor looked at him as if he’d gone mad.
‘Are you doing more of this or of that?’ Pippa helped out and winked at Sheila.
Gladys laughed, nervously, anxious to join in. ‘Droll, so droll,’ she chirped when Trevor failed to answer. ‘More wine, anyone?’
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