From now on we’re keep­ing a close eye on Cos­sett. We’ll watch ev­ery move he makes

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - SERIAL -

Alf Cos­set, Guv’nor!” de­clared Tommy Burke, with a mean­ing glance at his em­ployer. “I’ll bet he’s our man. He spe­cialises in jew­ellers’ shops, and al­ways “cases” the job by pre­tend­ing to be in­ter­ested in buy­ing a wed­ding ring. He’s got an eye for the best stuff, and never takes any­thing else.”

“As you say, Tommy,” agreed Hawke, “ev­ery­thing points to Cos­set. We’ve nabbed him twice for jewel rob­beries, and his record at Scot­land Yard gives all the facts you’ve men­tioned. All the same,” added the pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor,” sus­pect­ing Cos­set is one thing – pin­ning this crime on him quite an­other. He’s a slip­pery cus­tomer, you know.”

“You mean, he’s prob­a­bly got a wa­ter-tight al­ibi all nicely cooked up, Guv’nor?”

“It’ll sur­prise me greatly if he hasn’t,” was Hawke’s grim re­tort.

“We’ll have to go and talk to him, of course. There’s al­ways the chance that, if he is the man we want, he may slip up and give him­self away.”

The Dover Street de­tec­tives had been called in to in­ves­ti­gate the theft of £15,000 worth of jew­ellery from the premises of a large shop in Cur­zon Street. The rob­bery had oc­curred the night be­fore and it did not seem as though any­one em­ployed by the firm could be im­pli­cated. One of the part­ners had been work­ing un­til 11 pm and he was em­phatic that all was in or­der when he left. The chief as­sis­tant had dis­cov­ered the crime on open­ing the shop at 8.30 that morn­ing.

In­quiries in the neigh­bour­hood had brought the de­tec­tives no use­ful in­for­ma­tion – noth­ing sus­pi­cious had been seen or heard dur­ing the hours of dark­ness. But the de­tails which Hawke and Tommy had noted pointed to a pro­fes­sional crook named Alf Cos­set hav­ing been re­spon­si­ble.

The nec­es­sary fin­ger-print­ing and other rou­tine mat­ters hav­ing been at­tended to, the de­tec­tives left Cur­zon Street and made their way to CID head­quar­ters in West­min­ster, where they checked on Cos­set’s re­cent move­ments. They were told that he had been out of jail for nearly a year, but he was sus­pected of be­ing im­pli­cated in four re­cent jewel rob­beries.

“We didn’t have enough ev­i­dence to pin them on him, Mr Hawke,” the po­lice of­fi­cer said with a shrug. “So far, Alf’s been too smart for us. Maybe you’ll have bet­ter luck, though.”

From Scot­land Yard, Dixon Hawke and Tommy Burke went along to the Brix­ton ad­dress they had been given, and found their man at home. Alf Cos­set re­ceived them with­out blink­ing an eye­lid. In an­swer to their ques­tions he blandly in­formed them that he and a pal named Dan Miller had been out of Lon­don last night vis­it­ing a mu­tual ac­quain­tance in Berk­shire. They had only got back a cou­ple of hours ago.

“Too bad, Hawke,” Alf wound up com­pla­cently. “You’ve had a lot of trou­ble for noth­ing. Time you chaps learned not to jump to con­clu­sions.”

Out­side the house, Tommy Burke turned to his boss an­grily.

“He’s got a bloomin’ nerve, Guv’nor! He did that Cur­zon Street job, all right, but if his two pre­cious cronies swear he was with them in Berk­shire – well, we’ve had it.”

“We’re not let­ting it go at that,” replied Dixon Hawke. “From now on we’re keep­ing a close eye on Cos­set. We’ll watch ev­ery move he makes, and see who he con­tacts. You can start right now, and if any­thing sig­nif­i­cant hap­pens be­fore I take over, phone me im­me­di­ately.”

Tommy’s re­port

Just be­fore mid­night, when it was ap­par­ent that Alf Cos­set had bed­ded down for the night, Tommy Burke re­turned to Dover Street to re­port.

“Don’t know what you’ll make of this, Guv’nor,” he be­gan, “but dur­ing the evening Dan Miller dropped in on Alf Cos­set. I re­mem­ber Miller, be­cause he was able to wrig­gle out of the Ful­ham jewel rob­bery that we got Alf for, two or three years ago. Well, the pair of them left Brix­ton about half-past eight, and went by bus to St John’s Wood.

They called at quite an im­pos­ing-look­ing house and stayed there the best part of an hour. They sep­a­rated when they left, and I de­cided to keep on Cos­set’s tail, since we weren’t so in­ter­ested in the other bloke.”

Dixon Hawke nod­ded. “Good show, Tommy. What hap­pened af­ter that?”

“Cos­set went straight back home, and stayed there. I hung on un­til now, but it’s not likely he’ll go out again. I’ll be back there early in the morn­ing, though.”

“This house in St John’s Wood – any idea who lives there?” in­quired Hawke.

“Sure,” replied Tommy. “I made a few in­quiries, and dis­cov­ered it’s a chap called Bass­ing­ton Bru­ford, who’s well known in the world of mu­sic. Plays the gui­tar and the man­dolin, and has quite a rep­u­ta­tion on the con­cert plat­form abroad.”

Dixon Hawke was frown­ing as he crossed to a shelf of ref­er­ence books to con­sult a large vol­ume.

“That’s right,” he said. “R Bass­ing­ton Bru­ford is listed here as a well-known author­ity on early English string mu­sic, es­pe­cially the work of the 16th Cen­tury lutists. As you say Tommy, he is quite an im­por­tant man in his own line. But what the dick­ens,” asked the pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, clos­ing the ref­er­ence books, “could a cou­ple of crooks like Cos­set and Miller want with a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian?”

“Per­haps Bru­ford is also a crook?” sug­gested Tommy. “You know the old say­ing about birds of a feather.”

“That’s quite pos­si­ble,” com­mented Hawke, “and I must ad­mit I can’t see any other rea­son for their visit.” “Maybe they’re learn­ing the gui­tar,” smiled Tommy. Dixon Hawke laughed. “I hardly think so. Yet, what­ever we may think, I don’t know what we can do about it. If we call on Bru­ford and he’s not as­so­ci­ated with Cos­set and Miller in any­thing shady, we’d look com­plete fools. If he is, a visit from us would only put him on his guard.”

“So what, Guv’nor?”

“We shan’t do any­thing for the mo­ment, ex­cept con­tinue to keep a watch on Cos­set and make some in­quiries about Bru­ford.”

Blither­ing id­iot

“We’re go­ing to have to do some­thing about Cos­set,” said Mr Bass­ing­ton Bru­ford, pass­ing a slen­der hand over his scanty hair, “He’s get­ting moody, Miller – and I don’t like it. The last time he brought me sam­ples, he hinted that he wanted a big­ger cut – said he’d get real nasty if the ex­tra money were not forth­com­ing.”

“Blither­ing id­iot!” de­clared Miller. “Surely he knows which side his bread’s but­tered?”

“Pos­si­bly, he does,” was the dry re­tort, “but he went too far yes­ter­day. I tried to make him un­der­stand that, al­though he gets all the trou­ble of pick­ing up the stuff, I have to take the risk of mar­ket­ing it. He didn’t seem to ap­pre­ci­ate my point, and threat­ened to ‘squeal’!”

“The dirty lit­tle rat!” snorted Miller in­dig­nantly. “If he does that we’ve all had it. You can’t let him get away with it.”

More to­mor­row.

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