TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 37
Lynda Fraser will probably be the only one who’ll look back on this past week as the time when lady luck smiled at her.
Emma ran into her at the supermarket car park on Wednesday. She was on her way to meet Dominic for lunch, and dashed in for some toilet paper and coffee. When she returned to the car Lynda was reversing into the opposite slot and may not have seen her. Emma was pleased. For no apparent reason, having first refused to talk to his parents, Simon later changed his mind. On Tuesday. Before they parted he’d promised to arrange the interview for Lynda, but Emma still felt uncomfortable about it. She knew she’d put her size five foot into something strange. Something that fitted with all the things Simon had never talked about. It reminded her that Simon was probably the only person she’d ever known who never talked about his childhood. Or about his family. Strange, yes, that’s the word. Strange. Pippa thought Hamilton Grants were wonderful. And why did he call himself just Grant? Why not Hamilton Grant? Something to do with the police? Maybe the police didn’t approve of double barrel names?
Anyway, on Friday morning, there was no escaping her. Lynda was already in the bakery when Emma came in to get some bread and rolls. It was awkward.
Emma mentioned the weather. Hannah said she was fed up with it and it was doing her arthritis no good at all. Lynda smiled and said she was in a bit of a hurry.
The desperate nakedness of the scene in the library at the Women’s Centre mixed poorly with the mundane, homely smell of freshly baked bread and Hannah’s red striped apron.
‘I’ll get back to you on that interview as soon as Simon comes up with something,’ Emma said quickly when Hannah popped to the back to see if there was any smoked salmon left for Lynda Fraser’s sandwich.
‘Very kind,’ said Lynda, rummaging through her handbag. ‘The service here could do with some improvement.’
Hannah came back with a few generous slices of orangey flesh. No, Ms Fraser didn’t want any mayonnaise or chutney. Just the salad. And no onions please.
‘About that interview, Dr. Martin,’ Lynda stopped at the door on her way out, ‘there’s no point bothering the Inspector with it. All that social conscience stuff, a bit of an old hat, wouldn’t you say?’
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 37
Thursday 22. 7. 1993
‘Wandsworth from SO 19,’ Chief Superintendent Michaud pointed his thumb over his shoulder towards the officer in the back seat of the helicopter. ‘He’ll be heading this operation. You and I will stay in our VIP seats and watch. Understood?’
Grant nodded. He had been fitted wit a set of earphones with an integral mike and talking was easy. ‘What do you think it is?’
Michaud shrugged. ‘I’m almost certain it’s drugs. But the Warwickshire CID have been watching Sawbridge House for some time quite independently after our pretty abortive effort at Christmas. They say it could be people traffic.’
‘I suppose so. Who else could it be? Only, they haven’t had enough on Arbuthnot for a proper search warrant. After all, he runs a country house, a hotel of sorts, and comings and goings are not unusual. The drugs team placed an undercover couple as guests there for a week, but they drew a blank as well. They reported back that the place was a bit seedy, probably specialising in illicit coupling, given the décor and some of the … ahem … facilities, and certainly second rate and badly in need of repair, but that was it.’
‘The usual,’ Michaud shrugged with the indifference of someone who’d spent a good part of his career with the Vice Squad. ‘Mirrors on ceilings and every other available surface, cameras …’
‘Cameras?’ Grant interrupted. ‘A spot of blackmail?’
‘Didn’t look like it, according to those fake lovebirds. Cameras are for hire. So, on the face of it, you can take one out on a walk with you and commemorate your stay by filming cranes and wild geese. Or else, you can take it back to your room and fix it on top of the tripod that’s already there, a part of the furniture.’
‘Why did Warwick start watching it in the first place? Sawbridge House has belonged to the Arbuthnot family for a few generations. Well regarded in the community, they were, I’ve been given to understand.’
Michaud was looking at his luminous watch. ‘Don’t know exactly yet. Their man mentioned something about too much unidentified traffic incompatible with the nature of the establishment. He also mentioned the new wife…’
‘Girlfriend,’ Grant corrected. ‘Arbuthnot is not legally divorced yet.’
‘Whatever. As I’ve said, they’ve never had enough to actually raid the place.’
Grant nodded. ‘So, what’s changed? What makes you think you’ve got enough now?’
‘You did,’ Michaud laughed and dug his sharp elbow into Grant’s ribs. ‘It’s all started coming together when you told us about Adele Nagel’s Kilburn number in the phone box in Coniston and the missing passports and money. My own watchers have been saying for a couple of days that Grundy, Hornblower and Hoggarty seemed to be winding up their ungodly interests. Warwickshire had another look at Sawbridge House tonight and sure enough, there was some activity there. So far, they’ve only made visual identification of Arbuthnot himself, but there’s more of them in there …’
Grant was shaking his head. ‘But, I don’t understand, Sir. How did you make the connection between Bender and his mates and Sawbridge House at such a short notice?’
Michaud laughed again. ‘That helpful bastard did it for us. As you’d predicted, he took his Romanian straight home from the Rœburn Clinic. In the course of the next two or three hours he made three phone calls, all three to Sawbridge House. No one answered but the calls may have been prearranged signals. Each time he let the phone ring that little bit longer. Then, about one hour and a half ago he got the answering machine and simply said that he was coming over and wanted some answers. Whatever that means. He gave his ETA as one and a half hours. If he’s as good as his word, and he seems to be according to my sources, we and Wandsworth’s people should be there at about the same time as him. A nice surprise for the bugger.’
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