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Daily Quotes 43


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 43

Oh, yes, it happened. Such a long time ago, and yet it may have been yesterday. The rainy Easter Monday in Oxfordin 1973. People talk about shattered expectations, broken trust. But when it happens there’s nothing shattering about it. No sharp pieces cutting into the flesh, no particular pain, no drama. More like molten lead that spreads and slowly coats everything in its path.

And presiding over that process, magnificent in his oblivion, was Rudi. The big brother.

At lunchtime it was still raining and they ran all the way to the Turf as fast as Rudi’s wheezing allowed. The pub was crammed with noisy strangers with cameras and college scarves, fresh from gift shops and wrapped over their hooded anoraks.

‘Bloody tourists,’ said Rudi and set about finding them two chairs.

Rudi was considering going vegetarian so he ordered cheese pie with chips and Simon had gammon steak with a burnt ring of pineapple on top. They were both given a pile of tiny, unnaturally green peas to go with a couple of overcooked carrots.

‘You shouldn’t drink beer after all that wine you had at the flat,’ Simon warned out of a fairly recent and seemingly unforgettable experience, and Rudi agreed because he always agreed with anything anyone told him. They didn’t talk much on account of the noise and the distance between their seats, but half way through Rudi jumped on his feet with the agility of a former rugby player and claimed a just vacated table for two in the alcove next to the fireplace.

There followed an embarrassing moment. They had talked out the school gossip the night before and there didn’t seem much left to say. Simon had been hoping to tell Rudi about Celia. She was Stinky’s latest stepmother and very generous during the last half term. Stinky, Marcus Smithers, whose elder brother Rufus used to be in Rudi’s class at school, Stinky was under strict orders from Celia to bring Simon home to Somerset for at least a week that Easter break. Mr. Smithers had to be away somewhere overseas where they didn’t have Easter. Simon thought he was in love with Celia. But what was the point of telling Rudi about all that if he wasn’t into sex?

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 43

‘Can you ring the Hallbrook surgery?’Lynn buzzed through. ‘It’s urgent.’ She sounded worried.

‘It won’t have anything to do with Debbie,Lynn. That would be just my sister-in-law,’ he said lightly.

Just my sister-in-law. Playing the game, living a lie. How easy it all comes with practice.

‘Should you be working?’ he teased, relieved that Emma had answered the phone herself and he didn’t have to explain himself to Heather Rickman, her personal Cerberus.

‘I’m pregnant, not ill,’ she said predictably. ‘Got my message, then?’

‘Lunch?’

She chose ‘My Plaice’ even though the smell of fish made her feel sick. But the chippy held romantic memories for the two of them, she said, then reminded him that they’d had coffee there once in the room at the back that was nearly always empty. A good place to talk.

Simon could have added that their one and only meeting there nine months ago had happened three days before they become lovers and that his memories of it were not exactly happy or romantic. Another visit to the rarely used dining room of the Hallbrook fish and chips shop reminded him that he still hadn’t told her everything about himself and that he couldn’t, shouldn’t expect her to make up her mind about their joint future before she’d inspected all the skeletons in his cupboard.

This was an opportunity to make up for what he’d failed to do the first time around. Tell Emma the truth about Nicola Finsbury.

But, she didn’t come to listen. She attacked the steak and kidney pudding, the mushy peas and chips, all swimming in thick, dark brown gravy with determined urgency as if they were about to leave her plate of their own volition unless tamed. ‘I’m still sick every morning,’ she informed him. ‘Then I’m constantly hungry for the rest of the day.’

Simon couldn’t see much change in her. The loose red top and baggy jeans covered the bump completely, and her over-large eyes and lips still registered every thought she had, every sensation she experienced like fine-tuned, built-in seismographs of her very private turbulences. There was none of the much talked about introverted serenity of pregnant women about her.

‘Is that how it should be? Everything is okay?’ He felt marginal, kept on the sidelines.

She shrugged. ‘I suppose so.’ The food was disappearing fast from her plate, but she seemed to need it more than enjoy it. ‘When Pippa couldn’t track you down the night before last …’ she started.

‘I’ve got to talk to you about that. Well, not about that exactly. But, it’s connected,’ he interrupted. His insides were churning in the same way they used to when he was very little but keenly aware that Chloe’s idea of truth differed significantly from his own. ‘There are things you should know before you make your final decision about us.’

‘Oh, I’ve decided,’ she said calmly. ‘That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. There is, will be no us.’  She sounded casual, off-hand, but her cutlery stopped working.

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Posted by on 15/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Quotes 42


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 42

Saturday night. The night after the Friday night. And after Saturday morning.

Jesus!

The meal was delicious. Emma was grateful that Mandy’s Pantry provided detailed menu cards for she wouldn’t have had a clue what each of the dishes was called or what went into it. Graham, Julian’s boyfriend, made it his business to exclaim over each plate, admire the colours and absorb the smells, then move the food around his mouth as wine connoisseurs mull the wine, detecting each herb and spice separately.

‘Graham’s in his element,’ said Julian. ‘I’m more of a fish and chips man myself.’

‘Would you believe it?! I had to drag him over. Literally,’ Pippa was repeating from time to time to no one in particular. She had said the same thing twice before at the door when they first arrived, shaking her head at Simon who stood behind her and actually looked dragged over.

‘You’re glad you came now, aren’t you, the love of my life?’ she made an uncertain attempt to sit on Simon’s knee on her way back from the toilet, but abandoned the idea in favour of another glass of wine.

Emma made it easier for him to answer by removing herself from the table. She carried the used starter plates back into their tissue-lined wicker baskets. It was such fun, the crockery Mandy’s Pantry had sent. The colours and shapes matched the food. The small sounds of crinkled paper and the clink of cutlery muffled Simon’s voice. He wasn’t talking very much anyway.

‘They won’t stay long, will they?’ Phil materialised noiselessly behind her. He whispered something inaudible into her ear and licked it with the tip of his tongue. ‘We could have done without them tonight.’ His right hand squeezed her breast and as he leaned forward towards the wine rack his hardness pressed in between her buttocks once, then again and again.

‘Down, boy! Down!’ she objected and pushed him away. Her cheeks were burning. Two thoughts flashed through her mind at exactly the same time. One, how lucky it was that Simon was sitting with his back to the sideboard. The other, that this new antiperspirant she’d used didn’t live up to the adverts.

 

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 42

The last thing he’d expected was to find Pippa peering through the window into the intensive care ward. She wore a simple blue T-shirt and jeans, and there was a long-handled bag he didn’t recognise hanging off her shoulder. The short, honey coloured hair looked freshly washed, the wisps flying in all directions as she turned her head to inspect another end of the ward.

Unaware that she was watched, she looked very still, deeply absorbed and painfully young. There was none of the thirty-four years old poise about her. The corridor was too dark to tell from a distance if her always carefully, skilfully applied makeup was in place.

‘I thought I might find you here,’ she said softly when he walked up. ‘Why?’

‘I’ve been hoping to get something more than ‘holding her own’ from that lot,’ he pointed at a male nurse inside who was filling in the bed chart.

‘Why did she ask for you, I mean?’ Pippa wasn’t looking at him, but wasn’t looking at the bed either. ‘Why you? They phoned, a DI phoned last night and said you were desperately needed. Why? Hasn’t she got a boyfriend? Or family? How come you’re the closest she’s got?’

Absurdly, that wasn’t that far off the truth. Except for perhaps Matthew, or maybe the child Melissa, there was no one Debbie would have asked for. She’d learned never to count on Tibb. Matthew was for fun, Melissa a responsibility rather than comfort. And that left only himself.

‘She didn’t,’ he said flatly. ‘Debbie’s never asked for anyone. She hasn’t regained consciousness at all. Rav Singh, the DI who phoned home, was just passing a message from the Chief Super. He wants me to head this…’ He stopped and tried intercepting a tall, dangly, elderly man in a khaki coloured coat before he disappeared behind the double door. ‘What can you tell me…’

‘Nothing at all,’ said the man curtly. ‘I collect the urine samples.’

 

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Daily Quotes 41


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 41

Emma waits for a few minutes and then, as noiselessly as she is able, she presses the door handle. There’s no light on the landing, only the moonlight pouring in from the window above the stairwell. The men are gone. She tiptoes to the stairs thanking providence for the softness of her trainers and the solid floor under her feet. All she can see down below is a bright lit patch of the terra-cotta tiled hall floor and the legs of an overturned chair. She bends over, listening. There’s nothing other than  thumping of her blood in her ears. If she crept down just a few steps, just to the first bend…

A hand clamps her jaw firmly upwards and an arm lifts her off the floor. Her feet are dangling, unable to kick, until she’s dropped back onto the bedroom floor and steadied into position.

‘Don’t you ever dare do this again or else we’ll remove you immediately. Do you understand?’

Emma nods.

‘There will be a lot of people climbing in through this window soon. The cherry-picker has been removed and they’ll be using just the ropes. It’ll be very quick. Keep out of the way. And make sure if you patient wakes up that he doesn’t start screaming. Do you understand?’ The zip that he opened earlier to take out the pink beaker is still undone down to the middle of his chest.

‘Yes. I understand.’

The door is closing behind the soft dark overall again.

‘Sorry,’ she says but he’s gone.

 

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 41

‘I’ve been through it over and over again,’ said Singh with a sigh. ‘There’s nothing here that should cause so much grief.’

‘Debbie was meeting Tibb at the building site last night. What has he got to say for himself?’

‘I know,’ Singh nodded. ‘Jones was discovered by a courting couple after midnight last night. Cunningham and I went out when the call came. There were quite a few of us there, as you can imagine. Even PCI Procter turned up but by that time Debbie had already been taken away in the ambulance. The commotion woke up the Tibbs and they came out in their sleepwear. Barbara tells me that Tibb asked her on the quiet to interview them separately so Karen wouldn’t suspect that he’d had anything to do with it…’

‘If Tibb had something to do with it Karen will be the least of his problems,’ Grant exploded.

‘According to Barbara, Karen’s never the least of anyone’s problems,’ Singh smiled. ‘Anyhow, she ended up interviewing the wife and I was left with Tibb. He says, and his wife’s statement corroborates his, he says that his only offence is that he’d stood Debbie up. He’d assumed Karen was going to go to her choir practice and he was going to meet Debbie as agreed. And she did, Karen went to the choir practice but she needed help with boxes of sheet music and someone’s cello and something else. It’s all in Barbara’s notes, how all those items got to be in Karen Tibb’s custody. Tibb didn’t have a good excuse not to, so he gave his wife a lift, still hoping to be back in time for his assignation. Only, those things never run smoothly so he got roped into helping out some more at the Baptist Church Hall. All in all, he was over an hour late. He said he’d looked for Debbie, hoped that she waited, but she wasn’t there.’ Singh hesitated a little. ‘It’s understandable that he wasn’t exactly searching the site, isn’t it? I mean … well … who would have thought that she’d be lying unconscious at the bottom of the drain trench by the foundation wall…’

‘Certainly not Tibb,’ Grant retorted sharply. And unfairly.

 

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Posted by on 13/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Quotes 40


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 40

Friday afternoon was infuriating. So much ado with so little to show at the end. Debbie said Masters had refused to say a word or budge from his office until he’d had a chance to talk to Merryfield, the old fox. At the station and for the benefit of the tape Merryfield simply stated that his client had no reason to answer any questions until he was satisfied that the blood found on his shoes really belonged to the victim or indeed that the substance was blood in the first place. A thoroughly cleaned pair of shoes wasn’t a crime in this country. No sir. Not yet. They, Merryfield and his atypically quiet client, demanded that an independent lab carry out another test. That was the end of that. Debbie said Masters spoke just once in the car on the way to the station and that was to ask if his wife had been questioned at all. Debbie asked back why he would have expected Mrs. Masters to be questioned. Questioned about what? Upon which Masters fell silent and left the rest of the proceedings completely to his legal counsel.

‘But,’ Debbie said later, ‘I thought maybe we really should have a closer look at Mrs. Masters. Unfortunately, she’s gone to some health farm for a few days. Unless you think the occasion warrants a nationwide search, we’ll have to wait till Monday. Bowles’ diary shows that he planned to meet her on Monday, so she’ll be back for that, presumably.’

‘Monday will be fine,’ said Grant.

‘Or maybe we’ll find her under some floorboards before that,’ said Tully, and it wasn’t funny.

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 40

Grant first spoke to the doctor who had very little to say. They’d done what they could. Yes, as with any head injury, there was a possibility of long-term consequences, but their immediate concern was to prevent the onset of any infection. He couldn’t say how long before the patient might regain consciousness. Or, if ever. There are some injuries that are impossible to predict.

‘How did it happen, Rav?’ Grant turned to Singh.

The DI’s big, dark eyes smiled up at him.

‘Chief Inspector Grant?’ The senior sister must have been approaching retirement, but her uniform fitted her in all the right places and the grey hair around the smooth-skinned, handsome face looked like a grandmother’s wig. ‘I understand you may need treatment yourself. At least an x-ray.’

Grant shook his head. ‘I’m okay. Honest. There are more important things…’ he pointed towards Debbie’s bed behind the glass.

‘You won’t do the girl any good by staring at her, and the staff could do without you breathing down their necks all the time and asking them questions they don’t know the answers to,’ she said cheerfully. ‘C’mon.’

‘What’s up with you?’ Singh asked in the oh-no-not-you-as-well fashion. ‘What’s wrong, Sir?’ he rephrased himself quickly as he seemed to take in the state of Grant’s clothes and dirt smeared face for the first time.

‘How do you know…’ Grant followed the sister two doors down simply because she was the kind one didn’t argue with.

‘Your high-up phoned our high-up,’ she pulled the swing door open and stood aside to let the two policemen in.

‘At four in the morning?’

She shrugged and opened another door. ‘I’m Sister Franks, by the way.’

It was like finding oneself on a conveyer belt.

A male nurse took some blood out of his finger and some more from his arm. Then he handed him a glass jar.

‘A sample, please,’ and pointed to a door marked WC.

‘What’s that for?’ Grant protested. ‘It’s not as if…’

‘Won’t do any harm,’ Sister Franks turned him bodily in the right direction. The male nurse ignored him, busy putting his needles away.

After that he stopped protesting. A taciturn woman doctor pressed her hand into his ribs a few times and seemed pleased each time he winced in pain. She stuck a pin-light into his eyes and listened to his chest and back.

Singh was disappearing from time to time, returning with a ‘No change’ or a shake of the head. On the way to the x-ray suite Grant handed him his coat. ‘There’s some broken glass and saliva belonging to two different people all over the left pocket. Can you please get them analysed against the DNA print we found on La Chasse, Inspector.’

They x-rayed him first behind a screen, then again on a table. The plate felt heavy on his chest and, out of the corset, he was fighting for breath again.

Finally, back in the examination room, Sister Franks removed the plaster from the inside of his elbow left there by the giggly paramedic at Sawbridge and stuck a needle into the other one. ‘I want you to lay down for a few minutes.’ She patted the white dressed surface of the examination couch.

‘Maybe later…’ he muttered. She was dissolving, fading out. Her voice was becoming distant.

 

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Posted by on 12/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Quotes 39


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 39

Dancer is explaining. Earnestly. Objectively.

‘It’s the old instinct of self-preservation that takes over virtually immediately. You don’t control it, it controls you. You forget everything that’s been sacred to you because the most sacred has been desecrated. That’s when corruption sets in. Self-degradation. Before you know it you’re rolling down that slope so fast that it feels like winning. Like you’re getting somewhere. You forget what it was all about in the first place. The first rage is the sacred rage. It’s real aim is to preserve, not to destroy. But once you’ve destroyed all you remember is that it’s you who’s been fatally wounded and that you needed to kill the pain by killing its causes.’ Dancer stops, seemingly dissatisfied with the words used, looking for more, for better ones. ‘You forget because you’re already dead yourself; or maybe it’s that you die because you’ve forgotten.’

The last refresher course in handling hostage situations that Grant attended was held somewhere nearWarwickabout a year ago. The central theme was the Hostage Syndrome. Apparently, at some point, and there was no time limit on that, it all depended on the situation and the individuals involved, but almost invariably the hostage, or one or more of the hostages in group situations, will first go through the outrage stage, the hero act. Grant has already been there. Looking back on it now it’s obvious how hopelessly absurd that attempt really was. But, he survived. Rather predictably, according to the middle-aged, bushy eye-browed, cantankerous lecturer in purple corduroy jeans and grey cardigan with brown, leather covered buttons. They dubbed him BushEye. The hostage taker isn’t ready to kill immediately. No point in taking hostages if you kill them straight off, BushEye reasoned. Unless he or she are on drugs. Drug addicts are notoriously unpredictable.

The next stage was that of compliance and appeasement. If the hostage taker realises that I’m not the enemy, I’ll be allowed to go free. Or, at least, I won’t get killed. Grant takes his mental hat off to BushEye. He’s been there. Played it well, too.

It’s what comes after that’s a bit tricky. Usually, there’s a kind of a contract. Privileges for good behaviour. Punishment for any breach or insubordination. The hostage values the privilege and accepts the punishment as deserved. And from that, there’s just one small step to empathy.

‘Gradually, the hostage becomes receptive to his captor’s motives. He, the hostage, understands the problem, he commiserates, he’s outraged on his captor’s behalf,’ the BushEye was saying and it didn’t sound real. Only a short year ago and after thirteen years of hard edge policing, it was a backroom boys’ namby pamby, just so much hot air.

‘I’m in the empathy stage,’ Grant reminds himself. ‘It’s natural, it happens to everyone. I’m listening to Dancer and thinking yes, that’s me, I’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. We’re all brothers and sisters under the skin. I’m in the empathy stage.’

‘You wouldn’t understand,’ says Dancer. ‘Not until it happens to you.’

‘That must make a difference,’ says Grant, friendlier than before. He’s found his way back from the dark caves of an hour ago. Two hours ago? Who knows? Who cares? ‘You mean Bowles?’

Dancer nods. ‘It seemed logical. Necessary. And it was ridiculously easy.’

 

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 39

Sawbridge House

Thursday 22. 07. 1993

According to a paramedic, it was less than an hour later that Grant fully came to in a half sitting position and on a stretcher to a gleeful ‘…and not a safety belt or an air cushion in sight,’ from Chief Superintendent Michaud who gave him thumbs up and hurried past.

There was a powerful light source somewhere at the back and a noise he couldn’t place. He tried turning his head but gave it up as a bad job. The medic was kneeling by the bottom end of the stretcher, fastening a belt around Grant’s ankles to match the one already in place around his bitterly painful chest. Straight in front of him, two people in orange overalls were loading another stretcher into the ambulance. The rescuers must have had a job getting him andPetraout of the horse carrier.

‘Is she…?’ Grant tried to lift his arm to point but it fell back with no muscle power to support it just as the young paramedic excused himself briefly and dashed off.

‘Dead? Afraid not,’ said Wandsworth, somewhere from the left.

‘I’m sure I heard her gun,’ Grant muttered to himself. There were no bullets in him. He was fairly certain of that.

‘Would you believe it,’ Wandsworth laughed, moving to the bottom of the stretcher and into full view, ‘she actually shot herself in the proverbial foot. Probably when the encounter with the dashboard knocked her out. The best joke I’ve heard tonight. While you, my friend,’ he pointed an accusing finger into the centre of Grant’s chest, precisely to the point where the pain was the worst, ‘if they hadn’t second-guessed you, you would have flattened three of my lads and two of my lasses. They were just getting in place when you tumbled 20 tons of steel on top of them.’

‘I …’ Grant started.

‘It’s okay. You’re the hero of the night. A night knight. You’ll come out of this smelling of roses once that lot has cleaned you up a bit,’ Wandsworth pointed to the medical team still busy inside the ambulance, then walked off.

Grant closed his eyes. A part of him wanted to ask questions, find out, the other part longed to opt out, fade out again. But the decision was taken out of his hands.

‘Nothing seems to be broken.’ Two pairs of orange coloured sleeves undid the straps fastened only five minutes ago, lifted him gently yet painfully into the full sitting position and expertly relieved him of his coat and shirt. ‘Something for the pain.’

One of the two paramedics, a man in his late fifties with a tuft of grey hair growing out of his right ear, wrapped a stretch of stiffly reinforced, flesh-coloured fabric around his ribs and was fastening it firmly at the back. A corset. Grant felt something move and lift inside him and some air returned to his lungs.

‘This won’t hurt,’ said another voice, a slip of a girl with long, brown hair clipped high at the back of her head. She giggled as she dabbed his skin with a wet, pungent smelling cotton pad. ‘Honest, it won’t. Trust me; I’m a trainee paramedic.’ The needle went smoothly into the vein in the crook of his elbow.

‘I don’t want to go to sleep,’ Grant protested half-heartedly, not sure if he really meant it.

‘You won’t,’ she quickly stuck a plaster where the needle had been, pulled his shirt and coat sleeve on and folded his arm upwards. ‘Keep it up for a few minutes.’ The man was already busy pulling the other side of both garments over his right arm and fastening his shirt.

‘There’s some broken glass in your coat pocket, Sir,’ he said. ‘I got most of it out but there could be a few slivers still left. Shall I …’

‘Leave it,’ Grant shook his head. Breathing was easier, and the pain was subsiding as if my magic. ‘Thank you,’ he added. ‘Thank you very much.’

Then he was alone. In the midst of the infernal noise and dozens of people moving about, he was alone. Gingerly, he swung his legs around and put both his feet on the ground. He was a little dizzy from the speed of the movement and possibly the jab, but otherwise in a remarkably good shape. His chest hurt on touch, but he could breathe and the corset held him upright.

 

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Posted by on 11/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Quotes 38


TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 38

‘That gives Hale a clear motive,’ Debbie said and Tully agreed. ‘He’s killed her for the money that he needs so badly.’

‘It goes to Hale, or rather theRiverside, only under the conditions of a written codicil. Hartman hasn’t got the codicil, and neither does Hale. Do you think he’d deny its existence if it meant inheriting the Swan money?’

Debbie said ‘Hmmm…’ Tully made an uncomfortably similar sound.

At the Station, Hale stuck to his story. He had been with Alicia Masters. He was her escort at the party at the Gables. Grant could ask Alicia and their hosts, what’s their name, he’s into house alarms and the security business in general, doing extremely well thank you, didn’t talk about anything else. There were loads of people at the Gables; Grant could ask anyone and they’d tell him he was there with Alicia all the time.

But, in the meantime, in the meantime. Where was Hale in the meantime? In between say six thirty or seven o’clock in the evening when he saw Masters and his wife arguing and nine o’clock when he picked Alicia Masters from her house and drove her to the Gables?

‘I told you. At the Riverside. Going through the books. Worrying myself to death about the future.’

And the letters? How did the letters get into the back of his chair? Surely, Hale couldn’t deny they were addressed to him.

Oh, but Hale could. He denied it absolutely. He’d never heard such nonsense in his life. XY? How childish. Grant couldn’t possibly believe he, Hale, would get involved in a silly game like that. He didn’t care what everyone else said, he didn’t have an affair with Fran. For heaven’s sake, what did they take him for?

How did the letters get into the pocket?

How would Hale know? Any member of the cast, any member of the audience even, could have stuffed them there at any time. During the rehearsals, during a performance, at any time at all. There were seven sets of keys in all. Hale had two, the landlord had one, Elaine Rickman had one, Fran and Lennie shared another one, and two other people had their own sets only Hale couldn’t remember off the top of his head who those people were. Not many people used their own keys anyhow. He, Hale, was always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

What was Hale’s part in Humberside’s escape?

In whose escape? What had old Cedric had to with any of it? When pressed, Hale declared himself prepared to swear on the holy Bible and his own life that the last time he’d seen Cedric Humberside was some six month ago in London.

They were going round and round in circles.

 

LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 38

Almost a year ago Lucille La Chasse and Alex used to spend hours around this table discussing her divorce. She and Ransome had been separated for a while by then and she was living inLondon. He’d watch them from his study, while still busy making it his own, quietly taking over, mindful not to upset Alex’s feelings.

Angel would join them occasionally, but more often it would be Bella with the latest passion of her life, her laptop. It worked on batteries if necessary, but half way through she’d plug the extension cable into the socket in the back hall, roll it out long enough to reach her seat and shout to him to be careful and not trip over it. Alex was usually walking about, circling the table while dictating, with Bella typing away under the blue and white striped umbrella to keep the glare of the sun off the screen, and Lucille and Angel saying something very occasionally, but mostly drinking from tall glasses and moving the straps of their tops off their shoulders to ensure an even tan.

Dr. Bennett had once told Alex that the La Chasse girl reminded him of Nicola Finsbury. He fully expected his son-in-law to laugh at him. But, he didn’t. Alex gave him a long, strange look. ‘You’re a very perceptive old bird, Gordon. Like Nicola, Lucille is looking for a shortcut into the world of plenty, aiming for what she shouldn’t have and going the wrong way about it.’

Dr. Bennett was familiar with the tortuous, complex and uncertain road to the world of plenty and the absence of shortcuts. He had sympathy with the woman. As he used to feel sorry for Nicola. To him the similarity between the two came from the injured look they’d shared. Where Nicola used to be spotty, sallow faced and angular, Lucille was cream-skinned with or without makeup and shapely in a very modern way. Not like Sara. Every inch of Sara was a welcoming party to the eye and touch. Lucille was more for show. Then, there was the difference in manner. Nicola was uncouth, foulmouthed, awkward and easily put on the defensive. Lucille was playful, coquettish and openly calculated. But under the prickly camouflage of one and the glossy lacquer of the other, both considered themselves hard done by, short-changed by fate.

 

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Posted by on 10/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Daily Quotes 37


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

Sawbridge, Warwickshire

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.’

‘Illegals?’

‘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.’

‘What facilities?’

‘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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Posted by on 09/01/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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