Detective Inspector Malcolm Nealy looked around the dingy C.I.D. office at his London police station and wondered if he could persuade the holders of the purse strings to splurge on a couple of tins of paint. He was checking what he called his task list, as he always did on Monday morning, deciding which cases should be dealt with first. Just as he finished planning his day Gregory Gresham, his sergeant, came into the room.
“A report of an assault has just come in and I think you need to look at it.”
“Anyone killed?” Murder always had priority.
“No, Sir, but Roland Downing is in pretty bad shape. The D.C.S. wants a word”.
Roland Downing hit the headlines when the owner of a large American web search engine, paid him millions of dollars for a programme. Malcolm had no idea what it might be except some kind of code that made the engine run faster. Much publicity was given to what one tabloid called a feather in an Englishman’s cap. There were rumours of a knighthood in the next Honours’ List.
“Come in Inspector. A fine way to start the week. An attack I’m told. Any details?”
Detective Chief Superintendent Robert Mannering was approaching retiring age and he looked as if it could not come soon enough. Even though the week had not yet begun he was already planning to go straight from the station on Friday to the cottage he and his wife bought in Sussex five years ago ready for the day when, as he described it, “I make my escape”, and could spend unlimited time on the local golf course. When Malcolm told him about the attack and who was involved he could see his weekend vanish before his eyes.
“No, Sir, I’m totally in the dark. All I know is what sergeant Gresham told me. Someone bashed Mr. Downing over the head in his own house”.
“That’s where he has his office, isn’t it”.
“Yes, Sir, and it’s quite close by. He bought two houses when he hit the jackpot, I mean when he sold his programme, and combined them. He lives in one part and his staff work in the other. They share a large garden at the back so it hardly seems you’re in a city. I went there when a neighbour complained about the noise the builders were making.”
A knock and the door opened. Sergeant Gresham handed the Inspector a piece of paper and waited.
“The doctors say Mr. Downing is out of immediate danger. They can let us have more details tomorrow, or by Wednesday morning at the latest.”
“Any idea what he was bashed with? And please don’t tell me it was a blunt instrument. Considering how high profile he is, maybe we should pass this straight to the Yard.”
“Sir, I don’t see why. It happened in our territory and I think we should take it on. Nobody knows yet what the instrument was but, as there was no open wound and no blood, it most likely was a blunt instrument I’m sorry to say. There was no sign of a break in.”
“Well, I know you and Gresham will do a good job so let’s see how it goes. But there can’t be much of a delay. Did it happen today or yesterday? If today, why didn’t someone discover it sooner?”
“It happened yesterday and his wife discovered him slumped unconscious at his desk when she came back from Paris. Lucky for him. If she had not, he probably would still be there. The caretaker told Gresham it was odd that everyone was in the office on a Sunday but it was some kind of celebration as they all had lunch, quite a liquid one apparently. Perhaps that explains why nobody has turned up for work yet.”
“Well, I’ll leave it to you. But I want to hear something soon.”
Malcolm went back to his office where the sergeant was waiting. An ambitious, hard working young man, Gregory Gresham never complained when asked to go the extra yard, unlike some who always seemed to have a time sheet at hand to check every minute of overtime. As a young boy he spent many school holidays in Rouen with his aunt, her French husband and their son Pierre, who was almost his own age, so he spoke excellent French and was learning Italian. Malcolm suspected he had his eye on a future with Interpol.
“Gregory, try to get in touch with Downing’s wife. She’ll be at the hospital. And check the staff’s files for their names, phone numbers, and so on. And see exactly who they are.”
The day was spent making enquiries and Gresham prepared a list of employees. For a company that produced spectacular results it was a very modest operation. There were only nine on the payroll including Mrs. Downing who was listed as Office Manager.
Malcolm studied the list Gresham handed to him:
Penelope Downing, Office Manager
Stewart Ramsey, Mathematician
Martha Grant, Mathematician
Peter Grant, Mathematician
Alistair Monroe, Senior Assistant
Stanley Quinn, Senior Assistant
Gavin Payne, Assistant (Communications)
Chelsea Browne, Assistant (Coordination)
Emily Jones, Assistant (Catering)
“Why do parents have to call their children after places? Chelsea, for heaven’s sake!”
“Maybe her dad’s a football fan”
“And what does catering mean?”
“As far as I can make out she’s the tea and cleaning lady. The Communications Assistant is the driver, and the Coordination Assistant is the receptionist who also answers the phone and writes letters. ”
“You’re joking!” But I see his wife gets a modest salary while all the others are very well paid, especially the mathematicians. Are they really mathematicians or do they just use calculators?”
“They are indeed mathematicians and apparently the brains of the company. They are probably responsible for Mr. Downing’s success. His wife is an accountant and keeps an eye on the books. At the end of the month she hands them over to a large accounting firm. She also does private work here and in Paris. I have asked them, except Mrs. Downing, to come in tomorrow. Maybe you could talk to her at the hospital and she could come in on Wednesday if she feels up to it. I’m told her husband is doing well so at least it’s not a murder enquiry”
“Thank you, I think we can call it a day and start the interviews early tomorrow. Isn’t tonight your Italian lesson?”
“Tonight we’re having a conversation class which is more fun.”
“Well, goodnight then.”
It was 7.00 by the time Malcolm got home to the flat in Battersea. When he opened the door he was surprised to see an empty table -- the room was so small with the door open everything was in view. He and Valerie bought the flat two years ago after renting ever since they got married. They thought of buying a house in the suburbs but they wanted something central that would not involve either of them in a long commute. They struggled, saved every penny and got used to what they called their frugal lifestyle. Then a very small flat became available just across the river from Cheney Walk, right on the banks of the Thames and, as prices had eased, they could afford it. They jumped at the chance. Small as it was the room extended into a mini-kitchen, making it more spacious. The attraction was a floor to ceiling window giving an uninterrupted view of the river with a French door leading to a small balcony on which up to six people could have a meal. The rest of the flat consisted of two tiny bedrooms they converted into one, a bathroom with a shower. They had a lock-up garage. Without a car or any desire for one, that gave them plenty of storage space.
Valerie came out of the bathroom and told Malcolm he should take a quick shower and put on something smart. She would explain later.
He did as he was told although he had been looking forward to a quiet evening and the last thing he wanted was to start the week by going to some friend’s for dinner or, even worse, a party.
Out of the bathroom he followed instructions and put on something decent. Valerie had put the fold-up table on the balcony and on it were two long glasses with a pink drink. She was wearing a dress that only appeared on special occasions and had done her hair.
“We`re having a Campari soda before we go to Luigi’s. My treat”.
I said pinch me. I thought you said you’re inviting me for dinner at Luigi’s. I want to be sure I’m not dreaming.”
“You’re not dreaming. Last week was tough as I was trying to finish the bank job and today was even worse. Now that it’s over and the work delivered I decided I had to celebrate”.
“I’d rather you’d call it the job for the bank. An awkward customer?”
Valerie designed patterns for tea sets and dinnerware. She had been given a very lucrative dinnerware assignment for a large bank and had spent the previous week discussing the contract with one of their top men. He could find nothing to criticize about the design but he insisted that the shade she used for the leaves was not quite right. Leaves are leaves and she had used the same shade of green many times with never a complaint. He kept saying the shade did not sit well. She was tempted to tell him it was not supposed to sit; he was the one who was supposed to sit in front of it. When today, just before the contract was to be signed, he went on about it again she would gladly have told him exactly what he could do with his dinnerware except that the pay was too good. This morning, feeling thoroughly exasperated, she showed him another shade and he said it was just what he was looking for. It was the first one he had seen.
When she finished telling Malcolm of her sufferings he burst out laughing. That cheered her up so she could finish her Campari in good spirits. Because of what the banks had done, Malcolm thought they should be eating off plastic plates and drinking out of Styrofoam mugs instead of porcelain.
In an area full of restaurants and takeaways of all types Luigi’s stood out as a typical Italian family trattoria. His parents brought him to London as a very young boy when his father, also Luigi, got a job as a waiter in a swanky Italian West End restaurant. One night when the Chef had to leave suddenly because of a family mishap and they were shorthanded the owner discovered that his new waiter knew how to cook and did it very well. He was kept on as the Chef’s assistant and learned even more about his craft.
He saved enough to rent space in Battersea to open his own trattoria – Luigi’s. His wife Renata looked after the business side and from a very early age his eldest son helped in the kitchen whenever he had a chance. When he left school the young Luigi got a job with the same swanky restaurant in the West End where he said he got his real education.
Luigi had two other sons and a daughter. They all had different jobs but they too were taught how to prepare the most popular Italian dishes so that there were always extra hands available in an emergency.
When Luigi decided it was time to slow down junior stepped in and ever since had been running the place with great success with his dad in the background as what he called his “consigliere”. The restaurant was a local favourite and most of the customers were regulars.
Valerie had booked for 8.00 o’clock by which time it was nearly full. They ordered and when her order included a bottle of Chianti Malcolm said he would drink to many more awkward customers.
Valerie sipped her wine and said cheers. “Now we can forget about him and enjoy our meal. But what about you? A quiet day?”
“I wouldn’t call it that. Someone bashed Roland Downing’s head in his own house. He’s in poor shape but improving”.
“Didn’t he make a pile when he sold something to do with the internet for millions?”
“Yes, he did. And he made a healthy contribution to the Police Benevolent Fund, making it urgent that we find out who did it”.
“Any ideas? What does his wife say”.
“None, so far. She was in Paris and, lucky for him, arrived back yesterday evening when she found him. We have absolutely nothing to go on except that it’s odd the staff were there on Sunday but not today. Gresham is on to it and tomorrow we’ll know more. So, for the moment all I can say is Salute!”
On Tuesday morning Sergeant Gresham told Malcolm he had asked Mr. and Mrs. Grant to come to the station at 10.00 o’clock. The others would be coming later. As there were no signs of an intruder it seemed clear one of the staff was the guilty party. But who and why? Whatever anyone might say about Downing he was a very generous employer. Malcolm decided it was unlikely the Grants had conspired to bump off their boss so they might be the best source of information.
“Sir, Mr. and Mrs. Grant are here.”
“Thank you Sergeant. I would like to talk to them separately so please show Mr. Grant in first.”
“Come in, Mr. Grant. Please take a seat. First of all, can you explain why no-one turned up at the office today, and perhaps tell me how the company operates.”
“We were here on Sunday because Roland had just had confirmation the contract had been signed and decided a celebration was in order. He invited us all to lunch and told us to take Monday off. That’s why no-one was here yesterday not because we imbibed too much at the lunch. As to how the company operates, as you have seen, I am sure, three of us are mathematicians. Roland explains what he has in mind and it is up to us to tell him how it can be done. Martha and I were math teachers at private schools, hers in Essex and mine close to Uxbridge, a long trek for us both from our Shepherd’s Bush flat. Martha replied to an ad in a math magazine, was interviewed by Stewart, a pioneer in the company, and got the job. It was he who decided another mathematician was needed and Martha asked him to interview me. When he hired me it made much easier for us both and the change from teaching suited us. In case you’re wondering, Stewart is paid more because he’s the best.”
“Better than you and Mrs. Grant?”
“I think I can say Martha and I are both very good, even excellent, mathematicians. And then there is Stewart Ramsey. He seems to exist on another plane.”
“I’m sure the three of you put a lot of effort into Mr. Downing’s programme. Were you not, how shall I put it, disappointed that he got all the kudos?”
“Why should we be? He is the one who risked everything. He even borrowed money, £50,000 I heard, from his in-laws to start up. And employing us was also a risk. By the way, he offered his in-laws five per cent of the company instead of repaying the cash. They accepted so now their investment is worth hundreds of thousands if not more. Besides, we knew everyone on the payroll would get a good bonus when he signed the contract. I can assure you, Inspector, you can cross the mathematicians off your list of suspects. The grapevine tells me there was no sign of a break in.”
Malcolm made no comment and asked “What do the Senior Assistants do?”
“They help us. We come up with the ideas and then ask Alistair and Stanley to test them and see if they run. It’s very important work and saves us a lot of time.
“Just one more thing Mr. Grant. On Sunday were you all together all the time?”
“I think so. No, after lunch Mr. Downing told us he had papers about the company to prepare and would be spending the rest of the day in his private office in the other building. He said goodbye and told us we should stay and enjoy the afternoon. We were all in the garden until we left except Alistair who was watching some t.v. programme.”
“Thank you Mr. Grant. You’ve been most helpful. Would you please ask your wife to come in.”
Roger Grant left and Sergeant Gresham ushered his wife in.
Martha Grant, about 40 Malcolm guessed, bore such an uncanny resemblance to one of his elementary teachers he felt he should sit up straight and let her do the talking.
“Mrs. Grant, thank you for taking the time. Your husband has explained a lot but I’d like your views. What’s the set up in the office? Do you all have your own spaces or cubicles, or do you all sit together?”
“The three of us, Stewart, Roger and me, have the largest room overlooking the garden. It is what Mr. Downing calls the Thinkers’ Room. But it is not as exclusive as that sounds. Anyone can come in at any time either to ask us something or, what we encourage, to make suggestions. If we get fed up sitting in the room we can go into the garden and have tea or coffee. Working conditions you only dream about.”
“What about the Senior Assistants? How are they accommodated? A bit envious perhaps?”
“Not at all. They have their own, very nice, room. Gavin and Chelsea share a room and Mrs. Jones has the splendid kitchen. There are computers everywhere; there is even one in the kitchen and Gavin is teaching Mrs. Jones how to use it. She has started asking me when she should download the sandwiches. Stanley, one of the Senior Assistants, often comes into our office but Alistair tends to keep his distance, even preferring to have his coffee at his desk instead of with the rest of us. I get the feeling he thinks his talents are not really appreciated. Not true, by the way. He’s very good at what he does, but he has his limitations. We can’t all be geniuses.” She laughed as she said “Please don’t put that in your notes.”
Malcolm joined in the laughter and said “Don’t put what in my notes? Why were the other three given such special titles?”
“You mean our driver, receptionist and tea lady? Their titles were dreamt up one afternoon by Penelope Downing and me when we thought the staff list looked a bit limp. Besides, their new titles are more in keeping with what they do. For instance, Chelsea is much more than a receptionist and Gavin has very little driving to do so he helps around the office, photocopying, doing routine computer work and so on. And Mrs. Jones bakes delicious biscuits and makes mouth-watering cucumber sandwiches. But I have to confess we had probably hit the sherry bottle a bit too hard. Besides, Roland said nobody should be less than an assistant. Don’t look at me like that, Inspector, most of the time we’re quite normal.”
When Mrs. Grant left his office Malcolm made a few notes and asked the sergeant to show in one of the Senior Assistants.
“Sir, Mr. Stanley Quinn.”
“Come in, Mr. Quinn. Just a few words. A terrible thing to happen, and just after you’d all been celebrating. You were with the others in the garden I understand.”
“Yes, Martha and Peter were playing tennis, Inspector, or at least hitting the ball over the net. Stewart and I were doing our best at the ping-pong table and Gavin and Chelsea were fooling around as usual. Mrs. Jones, who was supposed to be enjoying herself like the rest of us, was busy making coffee, tea and sandwiches although we had eaten more than enough at lunch. We were all in the garden except Alistair. He was looking at a rugby match on the tele.”
“No-one else wanted to see it?”
“No-one else is interested in or knows anything about rugby. Besides, it seemed a shame to be stuck inside when it was such a nice day.”
“Is the t.v. room near the garden? How do you know your friend was there?”
“Not that near but we could all hear it. I had to go and tell him to turn it down. He apologized and said he couldn’t find the remote.”
Malcolm wondered why nobody seemed to know a television could be turned on and off, up and down, without a remote control.
“Inspector, I hope you find out who did it soon. It must have been someone from outside. None of us would want to hurt Mr. Downing.”
Malcolm thought that if it was someone from outside, it’s a pity they didn’t leave any sign of a break in. “Thank you, Mr. Quinn, I don’t think there is anything else for the moment.”
“Sergeant, ask Mr. Monroe to come in.”
“Mr. Monroe, please take a seat. I think your colleagues have given me most of what I need. I just want to confirm that you were not in the garden with the rest of them after lunch.”
“No, I was in the t.v. room watching the Ireland-Italy rugby match. I make a point never to miss an international match.”
“Do you play rugby? I’m a football man myself.”
“No, I don’t play but I’ve enjoyed it ever since I was a schoolboy. My cousins played and I always went to see them. The match I was watching ended just as everyone was about to go, so we all left together.”
“Can you think of anyone who might want to hurt or even kill Mr. Downing? Everyone seems to like and get on well with him. From what I’ve heard he’s a great boss.”
“He’s all right, and so he should be with all the money he’s made. He could retire and never do another day’s work.”
“My impression is that’s not quite his style. Well, thank you Mr. Monroe. I assure you we won’t rest until we find the guilty party.”
Alistair Monroe left and Sergeant Gresham said Mrs. Jones would like to see the Inspector. Malcolm asked him to show her in and she appeared carrying a small tray with coffee and biscuits.
“Mrs. Jones, thank you very much. That’s most thoughtful and very welcome. Perhaps we can have a quick word.”
“An awful thing to happen, Sir. Such a nice man and so friendly with everyone. It must have been someone from outside although I don’t see how they got in. I hope you catch him soon.”
“Assuming it is a he. But we will do our best. Did you notice anything unusual about anyone’s behaviour on Sunday after lunch?”
“No, Sir. Mr. and Mrs. Grant played tennis with a break now and then for coffee. I had made some iced cappuccinos that everyone seemed to like. Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Quinn played ping-pong and Gavin and Chelsea were horsing around as they do whenever they get a chance. The only one who was not there was Mr. Monroe. He was in the t.v. room, but then he’s always a bit standoffish.”
“Thank you very much Mrs. Jones. You’ve been most helpful. By the way, good luck with the computer.”
“Thank you, Sir. I’m getting on real well. You can’t imagine all the recipes I’m downloading.”
Malcolm saw no need to talk to Gavin and Chelsea but he asked Gresham to show them both in. He did not want them to think he was ignoring them.
“Come in Gavin, Chelsea. I see you are Communications and Coordination Assistants.”
Chelsea giggled and said: “That’s a hoot, isn’t it? But it pleases Mr. Downing so what the heck.”
“Did either of you notice anything out of the ordinary on Sunday afternoon. What about you Gavin.”
“No, Inspector. Everyone was just as usual. It was such a nice afternoon we enjoyed being in the garden and having Mrs. Jones’ great iced coffee and sandwiches. The only one not with us was Alistair Monroe but then he always keeps himself to himself. Afraid he might be infected with something if he got too close to us. A real pain in the neck if you ask me.”
“And you, Chelsea?”
“Nothing unusual Inspector. As Gavin says, Monroe was the odd man out as he always is. But when he came out of the t.v. room he looked pleased. So I suppose he enjoyed himself in his own way.”
“Thank you both. I won’t keep you any more. I am sure the work must go on whatever the circumstances. No doubt lots of phone calls to answer.”
Malcolm poured another cup of coffee and called Sergeant Gresham.
“I don’t think we need stay any longer. I’ve already made up my mind about who it is. But he has an alibi and no motive as far as I can see. Maybe my brain will function better tomorrow. I’d like to talk to Mrs. Grant again.”
When Malcolm was getting ready to leave the flat in the morning Valerie asked if he could get away for lunch. She had a meeting at her office not far from the station to look at a couple of prospects. He said he’d meet her at 1.00 at the delicatessen near Sloan Square.
Gresham was waiting for him when he got to the station and said. “Sir, I think I’ve got a clue”.
Malcolm could hardly believe people still said that but asked: “A clue! Well, what is it?”
“I stayed for a while last night after you left and rummaged through the desks. In Monroe’s I found a folder with a photo of him cheek-to-cheek with a very attractive woman. I wonder who she can be? The picture behind them shows it’s in the company’s main office. I made a copy and put the folder back.”
“That’s Mrs. Downing. Another reason for me to talk to Mrs. Grant. Tell her I’m on my way”
“Right you are, Sir.”
This photo threw a whole new light on the affair. But Mrs. Downing and Alistair Monroe? It seemed unlikely but stranger things had happened.
Mrs. Grant was waiting for him. When he showed her the photo and asked for her comments she burst out laughing. “That’s part of a photo taken at the Christmas party. It’s been chopped. We were all having a good time and taking photos and Roland insisted on taking some of his wife with each of the men but always with other people in the frame. All the men made a funny face, especially Mr. Jones. I hadn’t noticed that Alistair didn’t. She opened a drawer, took out an envelope and showed him copies of the party photos.
“Take these with you if you, but I would like to have them back. I can’t believe Alistair really took it all seriously. Poor fellow if he did. Penelope is here if you’d like to talk to her. I can take you to her office”.
“Thank you. But not to ask about the photo, just to enquire about her husband. So it was a good party?
”The best. We all had to invite someone, even Peter and me. I invited my sister Sheila and Peter asked his cousin Nicholas. They know one another and are good friends. No-one was surprised when Alistair turned up with his sister – at least it wasn’t his mother. I don’t know who we expected to come with Stewart. We were taken aback when he arrived in a smart suit (I had never seen him in anything but jeans) and wearing dancing shoes. His partner was a very attractive young woman, Sandra. Before lunch he announced they would entertain us with a repertoire of twentieth century dances. They started off with a Charleston and went on to perform a quick step, fox trot, cha-cha-cha, rumba and so on. Flabbergasted isn’t the word.”
“A case of still waters?”
“When I got over my shock I asked Sandra when they practised. She said almost every evening and they hoped to compete at Blackpool next year. If they do I don’t think Blackpool will ever be the same. Their tango was especially impressive. Stewart, always the stickler, was quick to point out that it was not strictly speaking a twentieth century dance and gave us a brief history. Still waters indeed, Inspector.”
When Martha took Malcolm to see Penelope Downing she looked so relaxed he guessed the news was good. Her husband was doing so well he would be released in a couple of days. Malcolm congratulated her and took his leave.
As soon as he heard about the attack Malcolm had asked one of the doctors if he had any idea what the weapon might be. He said his best guess was a dumbbell or weight but that it hadn’t been a particularly vicious attack – more an attempt to hurt rather than kill, or perhaps the attacker was disturbed. The consequences could have been a lot worse if he had not been discovered until Monday.
That made sense because there was a gym where, as Sergeant Gresham said, they could go to work out when thinking became too much of a strain. Whoever did it was running a great risk but surely would not have been careless enough to leave fingerprints. Still, they would have to check all the weights in the gym.
Malcolm had a couple of other urgent cases to deal with. He got out the files, went over them and gave instructions to Sergeant Gresham before leaving to meet Valerie for lunch. She had already arrived at the delicatessen.
“Anything new? Any clues?”
“Gregory came up with one but it went nowhere. Whenever I’ve talked to any of those people, either at the station or in their offices, I end up feeling I’ve just left a mad house. This is the easiest case I’ve ever had. And it’s the hardest case I’ve ever had. I know who did it and now I even think I know why. But I can’t prove it. He has an alibi that there’s no way I can break.”
“If you and the sergeant keep on interrogating him maybe you can catch him out in a lie.”
“Not easy when he hardly opens his mouth. He says he was in a certain place when the attack occurred and there’s no way of proving otherwise. While everyone else was in the garden he was watching the tele, an international rugby match. Stanley Quinn, one of the Senior Assistants, saw him in the t.v. room just after it started and he was seen to come out when it ended. Of course, he could have slipped out at any time but how can I prove that?”
“I take it you mean Monroe? The one you say is the odd man out. What teams were playing?”
“Who knows? Wait a minute. He said it was an Ireland-Italy match and he never missed an international. Although he’s not a rugby player.”
“I think I know how you might catch him out. Ask him which Irish team was playing. The Republic of Ireland team or the Northern Ireland team.”
“If you say so, but I can’t see why that should matter. A rugby match is a rugby match. I’ll call Gresham. Hello, Gregory, are you at the station? Oh good, ask Monroe whether the match he saw was between Italy and the Republic or Ireland or Northern Ireland. Yes, I know it seems odd but it might have a bearing. But don’t blurt it out. Yes, I realize you know how to ask questions.” He put the phone away and told Valerie “He’s at Downing’s office so he should get back soon. When did you become an expert on international rugby matches?”
“You know my brother plays and I used to go to rugby get togethers where a great time was had by all. Some of it rubbed off on me.”
“And no doubt you fell for the rugby he-men.”
“For all of them. That was the problem. I just couldn’t decide. Odd as the question may seem I have a reason for asking it.”
They ordered their meal and Valerie was telling him about her prospective jobs when his phone rang.
“Yes, Gregory. Any luck? Thanks, I think that will help. He says Monroe seemed surprised at the question but after thinking for a while he said it was the Republic of Ireland team.”
“You’ve got him! He’s lying! It wasn’t the Republic of Ireland team.”
“How do you know it was Northern Ireland? You didn’t watch the game because you were with me the whole afternoon.”
“What I know is it was neither the Republic of Ireland nor the Northern Ireland rugby team. Unlike football and maybe other sports, rugby in Ireland is played by a single team, the Irish Rugby Team, which anyone who is a fan would know, especially someone who supposedly never misses an international match.”
“So at an international match they play both God Save the Queen and the Irish national anthem?”
“Neither, they have their own anthem, Ireland Calls, that’s played at international matches. Our friend did not have to be there all the time so long as he was there to see how the match ended and hear the commentator’s summary. My bet is you confront him with that lie and he’ll fall to pieces.”
“They have their own anthem. Is that allowed?”
“It’s not only allowed but I believe, although I’m not sure, it’s also used by Irish cricket and hockey teams.”
“Gregory did say he found a paperback science fiction book on the sofa where Monroe was supposedly watching the match. He was probably reading it and just turned on the t.v. when it was near the end to see the result and, as you say, hear the summing up. I’d better get back”.
Malcolm left Valerie to pay the bill while he rushed back to the station where Sergeant Gregory was finishing a sandwich lunch.
“Gregory, I think we’ve got him.” He explained, without mentioning his wife, how he found out Monroe was lying and said he wanted to see the D.C.S.
“You mean they can have their own anthem? Maybe you could mention that to the D.C.S?”
“Don’t go there, Sergeant”.
When Malcolm got back to the flat around 7.00 he told Valerie about his interview with his boss.
“It was embarrassing. He jumped out of his chair, grabbed my hand and kept shaking it. For a minute I was afraid he was going to hug me. He had already spoken to the A.C. who was, he said, over the moon that there might be an arrest soon. Congratulations all round, that is to me and Gregory. I felt I should have said something but, coward that I am, I didn’t.”
“And quite right too. You had a job to do and you did it. How you did it is none of the boss’s business. You don’t’ have to tell him everything. He’s only interested in the result”.
“Well perhaps, but I felt such a fraud when he was saying things like great detective work, astute, intelligent, perceptive, good thinking, sound judgement, etc. This is one case where no detective work was needed to find the culprit. The most junior recruit would have seen who it was. And as to the detective work to discover he was lying, the less said the better. Fortunately he had to rush off before I could spill the beans. So its Luigi’s again, this time on me.”
“Can we do it tomorrow? I should never have had the coleslaw as a side dish to the corned beef sandwich. I’m still feeling the effects. Twice in one week. Luigi will think we won the lottery.”
“Well, I feel as if I did.”
“You shouldn’t feel any guilt about how you solved the case. Besides, everything Mannering said about you is true. You’re all the above and much more.”
“Very flattering, but what makes you say that?
“You married me!”