TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – Chapter 19
‘No, Boss. Well, Pinder’s report is in. She was killed on Friday night. He’s positive. At or around 8 p.m., give or take. She had lunch at two. You remember, the girl at the office said the same. So, by the contents of her stomach…’
‘All right. Spare me the details.’
‘And the farmer said the light didn’t come on.’
Grant sighed, inwardly. Warner was much better with his pad to read from. ‘What farmer? What light?’
‘I’ve typed it all out for you, Boss,’ Warner waved a few sheets of paper at him. ‘Swan used to put her burglar light on every night. She used to do it manually, at around 8 p.m. this time of year. Blue light comes on whenever something cuts across the beam, could be anything, a cat or even a bird. The farmer and his wife took to sleeping in their back bedroom so they can keep their windows open at night and not be woken up by it. But there was no burglar light on Friday night. She didn’t switch it on. And he also said the make-up didn’t match.’
Grant raised his eyebrows and squinted at the flushed face above him. ‘The farmer said the make-up didn’t match? How very observant of him.’
‘No, Sir. I mean, Brendan Shea said. Remember the make-up powder spilled all over the victim’s dressing table?’
Grant didn’t but nodded anyway.
‘Well, Shea says it’s not the same make-up as her own. Different colour and make altogether. Something a blonde would use, not a brunette. More like professional stuff.’
Grant frowned. ‘And the container it came from hasn’t been found at the Old Mill?’
Warner shook his head. ‘No, no container. There was a clean circle in the middle of the spill where the powder case must have been, but no powder case.’
Lock Up Your Daughters – Chapter 19
There were few things in life that gave Dr. Bennett as much pleasure as spreading his palms on the smooth, cool surface of his desk first thing in the morning and looking out into the garden through the square panelled Georgian window. The time of day or night wasn’t making any difference to that expensive, satisfying feeling of owning something intrinsically beautiful, nor did the weather or the seasons change the sense of having arrived to his own, long dreamed of destination.
The catalogue at the auction where he’d bought the desk twenty-five years ago described it as the “Queen Anne Style” and Dr. Bennett had never argued with that verdict. Once she was able to, Sara took out the drawers and inspected the dove-tailing, examined the discolouration of the untreated wood inside and underneath the elegant but solid wooden structure, and scrutinized the escutcheons with a magnifying glass. Finally, she declared that it may have actually been a genuine article. She also added that she wasn’t an expert, but then she always said that.
It didn’t matter. The desk felt genuine.
There was something that had escaped Sara’s investigation, though. It would have escaped Dr. Bennett’s as well if he wasn’t clumsy on the day he was packing to move to the Little Manor and happened to drop one of the drawers of the desk on the floor. He must have loosened a hinge and the panel slid open to reveal a false bottom. He was excited like a child. The desk had delivered its promise to the full.
At first there didn’t seem to be much in the space in between the two panels except for dust, a couple of pieces of string and a small, sharp nail. His fingers searched and searched and finally found it. Clamped to the hardwood side of the drawer was the unmistakeable shape. He detached the object slowly, careful not to damage the fittings that held it in place.
A gun. A heavy, military looking gun, tightly wrapped in an oilcloth.
He searched some more but there was nothing else there. No ammunition. His meagre knowledge of weapons suggested to him that the gun must have been of fairly recent make, World War II or thereabouts, which would have squared very nicely with the fact that the desk used to belong to a retired army officer. But Dr. Bennett wasn’t going to stop at his own guesswork. Or leave his find without a matching, contemporaneous, box of ammunition to complement it.
The next time business took him to London he took the gun in its oilcloth with him and spent an interesting quarter of an hour in the back of an establishment in Spitalfields that specialised in every type of hand-held weaponry known to man. The visit opened up more questions than it answered and at one point on the way back he was sorely tempted to throw the gun through the window of the train to relieve his disappointment. But among other surprising and deeply hidden characteristics of his complex makeup, Gordon Bennett also had his own brand of humour. The gun was returned to its hideout, carefully wrapped in its oilcloth and its secret. It felt right. In some odd way, both the desk and the gun were like himself. Not quite what they seemed to be.
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