The Moon Street Mur­der by A.J. Red­cliffe

The wife of a suc­cess­ful au­thor was on trial for the crime. Would the jury find her in­no­cent or guilty?

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AT two min­utes past seven on Tues­day, Novem­ber 6, 1952, a re­luc­tant sun raised a dull red rim above the hori­zon and the first in­ti­ma­tions of dawn crept over the tow­ers and spires of Lon­don town.

In the sit­ting-room at 13, Moon Street, May­fair, the faint out­lines of fine fur­nish­ings be­gan to take on shape.

There was a large cream-coloured sofa and arm­chairs, a mar­ble-topped cof­fee ta­ble and Bake­lite tele­phone. On the man­tel­piece of a grey stone fire­place, an or­nate porce­lain­faced clock qui­etly ticked.

On the grey car­pet a hud­dle of shad­ows be­gan to dis­solve into the shape of a man, ly­ing prone, arms out­stretched, eyes open wide, gaz­ing sight­lessly at the ceil­ing.

The house was silent, with just the tick­ing of the clock and the mu­si­cal chimes of the quar­ter hours un­til, at 8 a.m., it chimed the hour and the grainy light showed the man clearly.

He was aged about forty, clean shaven, slightly re­ced­ing, f ine fair hair, rather good look­ing. He wore grey trousers and a blue, Royal Ox­ford check shirt, heav­ily stained. Vic­tor Ed­ward Sut­ton lay dead. The clock chimed eight, and for a few more min­utes noth­ing hap­pened, as though the room was hold­ing its breath.

There was the sound of a key in the front door, then the front door open­ing and clos­ing and the clat­ter of keys be­ing dropped on to a small ta­ble.

“Hello, Mr Sut­ton,” a woman’s voice called. A cheery voice. “I’ll just put the ket­tle on, then I’ll see what you want for break­fast.”

There was the sound of a door open­ing and of a tap run­ning, a ket­tle f illing and the soft pop of a gas ring.

“Do you know, you can still smell fire­works ev­ery­where. I don’t know, money to burn, some folk, and at the end of the week they’ll be plead­ing poverty.”

A mo­ment later the sit­ting-room door was opened by Mrs Dorothy Hart­ley. She was a thin, wiry lit­tle woman, aged seventy-one, in a flo­ral apron, with cot­ton-white fluffy hair and flat black shoes. She paused. “He’s not here,” she said to her­self. Then she saw that he was. “Oh!” Her hands went to her face. “Oh, dear Lord!”

She took a pace nearer to the body, then stopped. She made a move as though to bend and touch it, then stopped. In­stead she edged around it. “Oh, dear!” she re­peated. She reached for the tele­phone. She didn’t like tele­phones. Why did it take so long to dial three num­bers? When she heard the nasal tones of the op­er­a­tor, she spoke into the mouth­piece with the an­swer. “Am­bu­lance. Oh, and po­lice.” Of course, there was all that blood. And the gun.


An hour or so later, Mrs Hart­ley was sit­ting op­po­site De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Cameron Grant. They sat at the kitchen ta­ble with cups of tea. At thirty-four, Cameron Grant was one of the youngest in­spec­tors in the City of Lon­don Po­lice. He had short, dark hair, grey eyes and a ready and pleas­ing smile.

“Are you feel­ing a lit­tle bet­ter now?” he asked. She nod­ded. “A cup of tea al­ways helps, but it was an aw­ful shock. Poor Mr Sut­ton.”

“Vic­tor Sut­ton. That rings a bell,” Grant said.

“Well, he’s fa­mous. He writes books. You may have read one of them. I tried one, but it wasn’t to my lik­ing. Very gloomy, and some bits a bit near the knuckle, if you get my drift. Still, he made a lot of money.” She took a sip of tea.

Out­side the open door of­fi­cers passed in and out of the sit­ting-room. There was the oc­ca­sional pop and flash of a cam­era.

“What about Mrs Sut­ton?” Grant prompted.

“Well, she’s a writer, too. But dif­fer­ent. A copy­writer, what­ever that is. Some­thing to do with advertising, I think. She spends most of the week at a cot­tage in Kent. Comes up to town on Thurs­days or Fri­days. She needs to be quiet to work, she told me. Funny how-d’ye-do, if you ask me.” She sniffed. Grant smiled at her. “That’s why I’m ask­ing you, Mrs Hart­ley. What was the mar­riage like?” “Well . . .” She hes­i­tated, re­luc­tant. “You can’t hurt Mr Sut­ton now, Mrs Hart­ley, and we need to know.”

“That’s true.” She sighed. “God rest his soul. To do such a thing. The truth is, he could be dif­fi­cult. One minute as happy as Larry, the next minute as mis­er­able as sin. And he had a tem­per on him, oh, gosh, yes, es­pe­cially af­ter drink. I’m not sur­prised Mrs Sut­ton spent time at the cot­tage.” “So it wasn’t a happy mar­riage?” Mrs Hart­ley shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that. All mar­riages have their ups and downs, don’t they?”

“I wouldn’t know, Mrs Hart­ley.” He smiled.

“Some­times they were fine, es­pe­cially when he was off the drink or his book was go­ing well. At other times Mrs Sut­ton would roll her eyes and say, ‘What am I go­ing to do with him, Mrs Hart­ley?’ Poor woman.”

She sud­denly pushed back her chair and stood up.

“She’ll need to be told. Oh, how shall I . . .”

“That’s all right, Mrs Hart­ley,” Grant re­as­sured her. “The Kent po­lice have been to break the news. She’s on her way.”

Mrs Hart­ley took a han­kie from her apron pocket and dabbed her eyes.

“I’ll tell you one thing, In­spec­tor, if I’d known there was a gun in this house I wouldn’t have stayed.”


Mrs Hart­ley’s sis­ter, Betty, came to 13, Moon Street and took her home. In­spec­tor Grant un­der­stood that Betty was tak­ing Dorothy to the Dol­phin for a hot port and le­mon “to stiffen her.”

Cameron Grant sat at the kitchen ta­ble. He’d looked around the house. It was full of money, fine paint­ings, an­tiques, thick car­pets and, of course, any home in May­fair was worth a for­tune. So a com­fort­able lifestyle, but a dis­turbed life. A WPC popped her head around the door. “Mrs Sut­ton’s here, sir, with a friend.” “Right.” Grant stood up. Ellen Sut­ton was a slim, at­trac­tive young woman in her mid-thir­ties with shoul­der­length blonde hair, blue eyes and a pale com­plex­ion.

There was a man with her. He was a few years older. He was tall, quite good look­ing with dark hair. He wore a belted trench coat and held a dark grey trilby. In­spec­tor Grant held out his hand. “I’m In­spec­tor Grant, Mrs Sut­ton. I know that this must be aw­ful for you.” They shook hands. She looked at the man at her side. “This is Mr Stone. Sa­muel Stone; a friend. I called him when I heard. I just needed some­one, you know.” Her eyes came back to the in­spec­tor. He nod­ded. “Of course, Mrs Sut­ton, but I will need to speak to you alone. Just for a few min­utes.”

“Of course.” She turned to the man. “I’ll be all right, Sa­muel, but if you’ll wait for me . . . ” He put a hand on her arm. “Of course.” He looked at Grant. “I’ll wait in the din­ing-room if that’s all right, in­spec­tor?” Grant nod­ded. “Yes, sir, the din­ing-room.” As Sa­muel Stone left, Grant pulled out a kitchen chair.

“Come and sit down, Mrs Sut­ton.” She sat with her hands in her lap. “When did you last see your hus­band?”

“I spoke to him yesterday on the tele­phone and saw him the day be­fore, when I left to go to the cot­tage.” “I see. Where is the cot­tage, Mrs Sut­ton?” “Near Chisle­hurst in Kent, about an hour away. I need quiet to work. Vic­tor is, or can be, noisy. He acts out each chap­ter be­fore writ­ing it. Charles Dick­ens used to do that, you know.” Grant smiled. “Ac­tu­ally, I did. How was your hus­band’s mood when you last saw him or spoke to him?” She shrugged. “He seemed fine. But Vic­tor could change so quickly. They say that’s a sign of ge­nius, a fine line be­tween rea­son and un­rea­son.” She reached into her coat pocket for a hand­ker­chief and dabbed her eyes. She looked at Grant. “You know, I’ve not cried. Just the odd sob com­ing into my throat. You see, I can’t grasp it.” Grant nod­ded sym­pa­thet­i­cally. “You have Mr Stone to sup­port you. Who is he?” She put a hand to her fore­head. “Sa­muel is my agent, and Vic­tor’s, too. He han­dles com­mis­sions, ad­vances, roy­al­ties and

so on. Vic­tor’s is the real money. Sa­muel’s been our agent for about six months. And also a friend. To us both.” “Is there a gun in the house, Mrs Sut­ton?” “Yes.” He waited for a mo­ment, a half smile on his lips. “Can you tell me some­thing about it?” “It’s a re­volver, a Colt. Not very big; a snub-nosed, evil-look­ing thing. Vic­tor had a per­mit or li­cence, what­ever you call it.”

“Yes, it’s on our firearms register. Why did your hus­band need a gun, Mrs Sut­ton?”

“He got it some months ago. There had been a spate of bur­glar­ies nearby and one man had been as­saulted. Vic­tor said no creep­ing lit­tle thief was go­ing to take what was his. What he had he’d hold.” In­spec­tor Grant pursed his lips. “Were you happy to have a gun in the house?” She shook her head. “Good heav­ens, no. I was anx­ious that Mrs Hart­ley didn’t know. I was fright­ened be­cause . . .” She stopped. “Be­cause?” Grant prompted her. She sighed. “Some­times when Vic­tor had been drink­ing, or when he was go­ing through one of his black moods, he’d wave the gun about. It ter­rif ied me. One lit­tle bullet, he’d say, and ev­ery­thing ends. Death is life’s great­est ex­pe­ri­ence.” “Where was the gun kept, Mrs Sut­ton?” “He had it in a bed­side cab­i­net. But I hid it. I wish now I’d thrown it in the Thames. He must have found it. Oh, Vic­tor!” Again she dabbed her eyes.

“We found the gun be­side your hus­band’s body,” Grant said qui­etly. “The doc­tor es­ti­mates time of death at be­tween six and nine p.m. last night.

“Our firearms of­fi­cer es­ti­mates that the re­volver was dis­charged from a dis­tance of four or five feet. Very few sui­cides shoot them­selves twice. This isn’t sui­cide, Mrs Sut­ton. This is mur­der.”


Sa­man­tha Trent walked quickly to­wards her cham­bers in Lin­coln’s Inn. She car­ried a blue cot­ton damask sack that con­tained her robe and her white horse-hair wig. The new year of 1953 had ar­rived bright but cold.

There was a coal fire in her room. She used the tongs to put on more coal and warmed her hands for a minute be­fore tak­ing off her coat.

A quick, per­func­tory knock at the open door was fol­lowed by the portly fig­ure of Tommy Tay­lor, Clerk of Cham­bers.

He was in his six­ties and was re­spon­si­ble for ne­go­ti­at­ing the fees of each bar­ris­ter. He was al­ways im­pec­ca­bly dressed in black jacket, pin­stripe trousers and grey silk tie.

Sa­man­tha saw that he had a brief tied in the tra­di­tional red rib­bon close to his chest.

“You have some­thing for me, Tommy?” she asked.

“I have, from La­timer and Cook,” he replied. “And I must be straight with you, Miss Trent, they wanted to in­struct Sir An­drew.”

Sir An­drew Barnes Q.C. was Head of Cham­bers.

“He’s turned it down, but . . .” he raised a fin­ger as though to pre­vent any protest from Sa­man­tha “. . . he rec­om­mended you and La­timer and Cook are quite happy. It’s the Moon Street mur­der.”

He held out the red-rib­boned brief. Sa­man­tha took it.

On the cover it read In The High Court of Jus­tice, Queen’s Bench Di­vi­sion, Regina v Ellen Louise Sut­ton. She looked at Tommy quizzi­cally. “Sir An­drew turned it down?” Tommy was not to be drawn. “It’s go­ing to at­tract a lot of at­ten­tion. It can only be good for your rep­u­ta­tion, and it’s a good fee at thirty guineas a day.”

When Tommy had bus­tled away, Sa­man­tha slipped the red rib­bon off the brief and be­gan to read.

Half an hour later she un­der­stood why Sir An­drew Barnes Q.C. had turned it down. The trial would be sen­sa­tional – a fa­mous nov­el­ist mur­dered in his own house! His wife ac­cused, fac­ing the gal­lows.

Yes, it would at­tract a lot of pub­lic­ity, but it wouldn’t do any­thing for Sir An­drew’s rep­u­ta­tion.

If the ev­i­dence was cor­rect, and un­less some­thing new or un­ex­pected turned up, Ellen Louise Sut­ton was a dead woman walk­ing.


Sa­man­tha at­tended the pro­ceed­ings at the mag­is­trates’ court to make a plea for bail, which she knew would be re­fused, and to meet her client. She found her in a hold­ing cell in the base­ment of the court.

There was a bed, a con­crete slab with a thin mat­tress on top, a small hand basin and a chair.

Ellen Sut­ton was sit­ting on the chair, dressed in a dark skirt, a pale blue blouse and a grey cardi­gan. Her blonde hair was tied back in a bun, show­ing the slim white­ness of her neck. Her only jew­ellery was a gold wed­ding ring. She stood up. The two women shook hands. “My life is in your hands,” Ellen said. “More im­por­tantly, Mrs Sut­ton,” Sa­man­tha be­gan, “in the hands of a jury. Please sit down; I’ll perch here.” She sat on the bed. “I’ll just tell you what will hap­pen to­day. You’ll be for­mally charged and you will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty. And what will you say?” She looked at her client.

“Not guilty,” Mrs Sut­ton replied qui­etly.

“Right. I’ll ask for bail, but it will be re­fused, I’m afraid.” “So it’s back to Hol­loway?” “I’m afraid so. Now, can you tell me, Mrs Sut­ton, if you can think of any­one who hated your hus­band, had a grudge against him or had any rea­son at all to kill him?” “No. There just isn’t any­one.” “Who else, apart from you, was clos­est to your hus­band?”

“Vic­tor has a half sis­ter, Alma, who used to drop in quite fre­quently, usu­ally when I wasn’t there. She and I don’t get on par­tic­u­larly well. We were civil, of course, but never close.” Sa­man­tha was mak­ing notes. “Who else?” “Well, Ann was there at least three times a week. Ann Price. She typed up his work, an­swered letters and so on.”

“Right.” Sa­man­tha fin­ished writ­ing then looked straight at her client. “Were you hav­ing an af­fair, Mrs Sut­ton? Did your hus­band find out?”

“No, I was not hav­ing an af­fair! I have never had an af­fair.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s the kind of ques­tion that will even­tu­ally be put to you by the pros­e­cu­tion. You an­swered well.” Sa­man­tha won­dered if it was the truth. “Now it’s time to go into court.”

Ten min­utes later it was all over. Ellen Sut­ton was re­manded in cus­tody un­til the date of her trial. Even though the pro­ceed­ings were brief and a for­mal­ity, the court had been crowded with news­pa­per re­porters and the public.

It was the first time she had been put on show, and the re­porters’ pen­cils had been busy, scrib­bling about this strik­ingly beau­ti­ful blonde bomb­shell, pale and frag­ile, dig­ni­fied, with­out emo­tion. There would be many col­umn inches of newsprint, and this was only the be­gin­ning.

As Sa­man­tha be­gan to leave court a man ap­proached her, a hes­i­tant smile on his face.

“Miss Trent, I’m De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Grant. Cameron Grant.” His grey eyes were look­ing into hers. He seemed ner­vous.

“I just wanted to say that Mrs Sut­ton will be well rep­re­sented. I saw you the other day de­fend­ing some poor old chap for shoplift­ing. You made mince­meat of the store de­tec­tive. You wouldn’t have no­ticed me.” She had, ac­tu­ally. “What can I do for you, Mr Grant?” He wasn’t smil­ing. “Noth­ing. I just wanted you to know that we both want jus­tice. In that re­spect we are both on the same side.”

She looked at him un­cer­tainly. Both on the same side? He had pre­pared the case against Ellen Sut­ton; she was to de­fend it. What did he want? He was smil­ing at her again. “I’d like to take you for a cof­fee. There’s a café just around the cor­ner. Please say yes, be­cause you know a po­lice­man’s lot is not a happy one.” She laughed. “Gil­bert and Sul­li­van!”

“Do you like G and S?” “I do. Mum and Dad are still in­volved in their lo­cal so­ci­ety.”

He leaned for­ward and whis­pered in her ear.

“I was once a pi­rate, but that was in Pen­zance, of course. Don’t tell any­one. Prom­ise?” “I prom­ise,” she replied solemnly. “Cof­fee?” he prompted. “Yes, all right.”

Sa­man­tha de­cided she’d like to speak to Vic­tor Sut­ton’s sec­re­tary. She got her num­ber from her new friend In­spec­tor Grant, and set up a meet­ing.

Sa­man­tha and Cameron Grant had had cof­fee and chat­ted. They were both sin­gle, hav­ing been far too busy with ex­ams and es­tab­lish­ing a ca­reer to have more than pass­ing ro­man­tic in­ter­ludes, or skir­mishes, as Cameron called them.

Miss Price lived in a com­fort­able twobed­room flat about a 15-minute walk from Moon Street. Her mother lived with her.

Ann Price was in her early to mid-fifties, an el­e­gant-look­ing woman, smartly dressed with hair care­fully permed and two strands of pearls at her throat.

The older lady, in her eight­ies, sat in a wing-backed chair, a plaid shawl over her knees. Next to her chair was a small oval ta­ble with a teacup and saucer and two small bot­tles, one of which Sa­man­tha could see con­tained bar­bi­tu­rates. Sa­man­tha be­gan. “As you may know, I am rep­re­sent­ing Mrs Sut­ton in this dread­ful busi­ness, and I hoped you might help me to get a bet­ter pic­ture of the back­ground to the shoot­ing.” Ann Price gave a slight shrug. “I don’t know if I can shed much light on things, but go ahead.”

“What kind of work ex­actly did you do for Mr Sut­ton?”

“He would only write in long­hand. Ter­ri­ble hand­writ­ing, but I could read it. And he would dic­tate his cor­re­spon­dence.” “Was there much of that?” “Oh, yes. Peo­ple all over the world would write to him about his work, and there were al­ways young writ­ers ask­ing for ad­vice. He al­ways an­swered. He was bril­liant.” Ann Price’s eyes were shin­ing. “No-one re­ally knew how pas­sion­ate he was about his work. That’s why he was some­times wild or an­gry. He was a bril­liant artist.”

Her face was flushed, her breath­ing heav­ier. Sa­man­tha could tell that Miss Price was in love with Mr Sut­ton. Had she told him? Was she a woman scorned, per­haps? A mid­dle-aged woman in love with a younger man, then re­jected?

“Did you ever meet Mr Sut­ton’s sis­ter?” Sa­man­tha asked.

“Half sis­ter. Alma Vardy. She’s a widow. She has a hair­dresser’s, but she calls it a sa­lon.” “Did you get on with Alma?” Miss Price shrugged. “She said hello. For some rea­son I got the im­pres­sion that she saw me as some­one who was a ser­vant. Silly woman.” Old Mrs Price sud­denly piped up. “A snob, that’s what you said, Ann. Beg­gars on horse­back.” “Thank you, Mother.” The old lady sank back in her chair, sat­is­fied with her con­tri­bu­tion to events.

“How about Sa­muel Stone?” Sa­man­tha con­tin­ued.

“Ah, Mr Stone. He thinks rather a lot of him­self, does Mr Stone. A ladies’ man. Well, his charm didn’t cut any ice with me.”

“What about Mrs Sut­ton?” Sa­man­tha asked quickly.

“Oh, she liked him. He was al­ways fuss­ing around her like a puppy. But . . .” she paused and looked di­rectly at Sa­man­tha “. . . I never saw any­thing un­to­ward. Why would she en­ter­tain a man like Sa­muel Stone when she was mar­ried to a man like Vic­tor Sut­ton? The only con­so­la­tion is that he died at the height of his pow­ers, so his tal­ent can never fade.” They were both silent for a mo­ment. “One more thing, Miss Price,” Sa­man­tha be­gan. “Where were you –”

“When Mr Sut­ton was killed?” Miss Price fin­ished the sen­tence. “I was here all evening with Mother. We lis­tened to the wire­less, didn’t we, Mother?”

“We usu­ally do,” her mother con­firmed.

Damp driz­zle did not make Hol­loway Women’s Prison any more at­trac­tive. It was sad and grey on the out­side, and sad and pale green on the in­side.

A suc­ces­sion of heavy prison of­fi­cers and even heav­ier doors ad­mit­ted Sa­man­tha Trent to the re­mand sec­tion of the prison build­ing.

She was taken to a small in­ter­view room with a wooden ta­ble bolted to the floor and two wooden chairs. A high grilled win­dow ad­mit­ted the dull light of a dull day.

Sit­ting at the ta­ble, Sa­man­tha could hear the oc­ca­sional clang of doors and the odd un­in­tel­li­gi­ble shouts or bursts of laugh­ter that bounced off the bare green walls. There was the faint odour of cab­bage and dis­in­fec­tant.

Af­ter a few min­utes the door opened and a women of­fi­cer brought in Ellen Sut­ton.

“I’ll be out­side,” the off icer said and closed the door. Ellen sat op­po­site Sa­man­tha. “How are you?” Sa­man­tha asked. Ellen shrugged. “Your trial starts next Mon­day and I just wanted to go over a few points with you.” She smiled re­as­sur­ingly at Ellen. She was pale, rather hol­low-eyed and seemed thin­ner, but she was still an at­trac­tive woman.

“First of all,” Sa­man­tha went on, “we need to con­firm your ap­pear­ance. I want you to look as you do now, your hair in a neat bun and with­out make-up. Have you a dark dress with a V-neck?” Mrs Sut­ton nod­ded. “My grey.” “Good.” Sa­man­tha wanted her to look frail, vul­ner­a­ble. She had a slim, grace­ful neck. She wanted the jury to see that, but she didn’t tell Mrs Sut­ton why. “When you come into the dock, Mrs Sut­ton, I want you to look di­rectly at the jury and nowhere else. Es­tab­lish eye con­tact. Yes?” Her client nod­ded. “The pros­e­cu­tion will put their case and the wit­nesses for the pros­e­cu­tion will give ev­i­dence. I will try to sow seeds of doubt. We have to es­tab­lish rea­son­able doubt. Our main prob­lem is the wit­ness who says he saw you go into the house at about six o’clock that night.” Ellen Sut­ton sighed force­fully. “He didn’t, be­cause I didn’t. He’s mis­taken or telling lies. I know him. He’s old and of­ten smells of drink.”

“That’s the line we’ll take,” Sa­man­tha agreed. “Now, you are quite sure that no-one could ver­ify that you were in your cot­tage all that evening?”

Mrs Sut­ton’s hands were in front of her on the ta­ble, her fin­gers twist­ing to­gether. She shook her head.

“I spoke to no-one; I tele­phoned no-one; I saw no-one. I only wish some chil­dren had knocked at the door for a penny for the guy. Just think, a penny could have saved my life.” “What did you do that night?” “I worked most of the day. About seven in the evening I ran a bath. When I came down I had a whisky and soda and went to bed.”

“OK, Mrs Sut­ton, I’ll be work­ing on your case over the week­end and I’ll see you on Mon­day.” Sa­man­tha stood up. Ellen Sut­ton raised her eyes and looked at Sa­man­tha for a mo­ment.

“I keep wait­ing to wake up. I tell my­self this is all just a dream.”

Sa­man­tha could only feel that this dream might very well be­come a night­mare. She was at the door, ready to call the prison of­fi­cer when she turned.

“You said you hid the gun from your hus­band. Where did you hide it?”

“I put it in a lit­tle cup­board in the hall. There’s just the elec­tric­ity me­ter in there.”

“Right.” Sa­man­tha nod­ded. “Did you tell any­one you’d hid­den the gun?” “Only Sa­muel.” “Did you tell him where you’d hid­den it?” Ellen put a hand to her fore­head. “I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I might have. Is it im­por­tant?” Sa­man­tha knocked at the door. “Prob­a­bly not. I’ll see you on Mon­day.” Sa­man­tha was glad to get out of Hol­loway Prison and she had no doubt that was true for ev­ery­one.

She was walk­ing to­wards her car when a bur­gundy Wolse­ley swished to a halt a few yards away and Sa­muel Stone got out and locked the door. Sa­man­tha recog­nised him from the com­mit­tal pro­ceed­ings and she walked over.

“Mr Stone? I’m Sa­man­tha Trent, Mrs Sut­ton’s coun­sel.” He looked at her and smiled. “Ah, yes, of course.” “I take it you are vis­it­ing Mrs Sut­ton?” Sa­man­tha asked.

“Yes, She needs her friends to see her through this aw­ful busi­ness. Miss Trent,

Ellen is in­ca­pable of shoot­ing any­one.”

“Let’s hope the jury will agree. I’ll see you next week, Mr Stone.”


When Sa­man­tha left the grim en­vi­rons of Hol­loway, she de­cided that she would try to for­get the Moon Street mur­der com­pletely.

She would spend the en­tire week­end pre­par­ing for it, but for the rest of Fri­day she would think of more pleas­ant things. That evening she was go­ing out with a very at­trac­tive po­lice­man.

He’d phoned her in her cham­bers to say he had man­aged to pro­cure, with tremen­dous dif­fi­culty and great ex­pense, two tick­ets for a per­for­mance of “The Gon­doliers” by an am­a­teur com­pany in Hamp­stead, and would she like to go. It was in the church hall. Of course she said yes.

He picked her up promptly in his lit­tle black Austin 7.

“Well, In­spec­tor Grant, I ex­pected a shiny, black squad car with the siren blar­ing all the way to the theatre,” she said as she got in. “Sorry, church hall.”

“Sorry.” He grinned. “This was the only one I could bor­row from the sta­tion car park, but I could snap the cuffs on you, if you like!”

“No! I’ll come qui­etly.”


The one thing you get from an am­a­teur per­for­mance is en­thu­si­asm. You ac­cepted it for what it was, and it was fun. Sa­man­tha loved it and for­got for a while her re­spon­si­bil­ity for a woman fac­ing the gal­lows.

It was ex­actly what she needed, and as she glanced at her laugh­ing, clap­ping es­cort she re­alised that he had know that all along. He came back to her flat for a cof­fee. “It was good to see you laugh­ing tonight, and to see a pair of sparkling eyes. You’ll do a good job, you know, and all you can do is your best.”

“I know. And thank you for tonight, Cameron. You’re very kind and sen­si­tive. For a cop­per!”

His grey eyes were look­ing into her blue eyes, and then the long arm of the law came around her and they kissed good­night.

All thoughts of mur­der faded away in that ten­der em­brace.


The statue of Jus­tice that stands at the peak of the dome of the Old Bai­ley is not, as many peo­ple be­lieve, blind­folded. She gazes out at the world with clear, pen­e­trat­ing eyes, car­ry­ing the scales of jus­tice in her left hand and the great sword of jus­tice in her right.

The courts of the Old Bai­ley stand on the site of the no­to­ri­ous Newgate Prison, and once formed the de­fen­sive wall, or bai­ley, of the city. It was once a place of ex­e­cu­tion, too, and it is still pos­si­ble to trace the steps to that place be­tween the nar­row, tiled and arched walls of Dead­man’s Walk.

A hun­dred feet be­low the feet of Lady Jus­tice is Num­ber 1 Court, dark and oak-pan­elled with its tiers of wooden benches for the public. Be­low them are the benches for the lawyers and clerks, whilst look­ing down on them is the judge’s chair which faces the dock where so many had stood on trial for their life.

The jury that day con­sisted of ten men and two women, which pleased Sa­man­tha some­what, though she would have pre­ferred an all-male jury. Women were no­to­ri­ously harder on de­fen­dants of their own gen­der.

They per­haps would not be swayed by a beau­ti­ful woman with tear-filled eyes and a pale com­plex­ion. Men would.

Op­pos­ing Sa­man­tha, for the Crown, was Mr Rex Silverman. He was not a flam­boy­ant char­ac­ter. He was tall and thin with sharp fea­tures and a sharper mind. He nod­ded to Sa­man­tha.

“Good luck, Miss Trent. I rather fear you’ll need it.”

“Thank you. I’ll try to give you a run for your money.”

He gave her a thin-lipped smile.

The judge was His Hon­our Mr Jus­tice Finch, a bulky, florid-faced man. Sa­man­tha thought that he wouldn’t look out of place be­hind a butcher’s counter with a striped apron and a straw hat. But there he was in his red robes and full bot­tomed wig.

So all the par­tic­i­pants in the drama were gath­ered to­gether. The public had queued for hours and the benches were full. There was the rus­tle of pa­per bags of sweets. One woman had brought her knit­ting like a mod­ern-day Madame De­farge be­side the guil­lo­tine.

The lawyers in their black robes and white wigs sat fac­ing the judge, their backs to the dock. The jury, in their Sun­day clothes, sat ner­vous and tense. They were all there, save one. “Put up the pris­oner,” Mr Jus­tice Finch an­nounced.

There was a buzz in the court­room as if a great swarm of flies had been dis­turbed, and the eyes of ev­ery per­son in the room turned to the dock.

Ea­gerly they strained their necks to get a glimpse of her. Peo­ple in the back row stood up on tip­toe, oth­ers laid a hand on the shoul­der of the per­son in front of them to catch sight of her.

Ellen Louise Sut­ton, in the prime of life, stood in the shadow of death, and that was the fas­ci­na­tion that caused the buzz and the wide, hun­gry eyes.

She stood alone, a small fig­ure at the bar of the dock, in her dark grey dress with her pale blonde hair pinned up and her grace­ful, slen­der neck. As Sa­man­tha had asked, she looked di­rectly at the jury.

As the buzz set­tled, the Clerk of the Court stood up and faced the dock.

“Ellen Louise Sut­ton, you are charged that on the fifth day of Novem­ber, nine­teen fifty-two, you did un­law­fully mur­der Vic­tor Ed­ward Sut­ton. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?”

“Not guilty.” The voice was low but au­di­ble. And the trial be­gan.


The first wit­ness for the Crown was Dr Alan McKenna, who cer­ti­fied the cause of death as mas­sive trauma to the heart caused by two bullet wounds. He es­ti­mated the time of death at be­tween six and nine on the evening of Novem­ber 5, 1952.

“Was the de­ceased in a good state of health oth­er­wise, Doc­tor?” Mr Silverman asked. “He was.” “So he was struck down in the prime of his life.” Mr Silverman glanced at the jury. “Thank you, Doc­tor.” Sa­man­tha had no ques­tions. Mr Berry was the po­lice firearms ex­pert. He was a smartly dressed man of mil­i­tary bear­ing in a blue blazer and reg­i­men­tal tie. Mr Silverman held up a re­volver. “This is ex­hibit A, my lord. Mr Berry, you have ex­am­ined this weapon?” Mr Berry nod­ded. “I am sat­is­fied that it was the firearm that dis­charged the two bul­lets re­cov­ered from the de­ceased’s body. I cal­cu­late that it was fired from a dis­tance of four or five feet.”

“Thank you, Mr Berry.” Mr Silverman sat down. Sa­man­tha rose. “You say four or five feet, Mr Berry. Could it have been three or four?”

“Er, well . . . yes, I sup­pose it could have been.” “Could we sup­pose three? Or less?” Mr Berry screwed up his face. “That’s very un­likely.” “But not im­pos­si­ble?” The wit­ness shrugged and Sa­man­tha pressed on. She needed to sow tiny seeds.

“Couldn’t Mr Sut­ton have held the gun at arm’s length and pulled the trig­ger with his thumb? That wouldn’t have been im­pos­si­ble.”

Mr Berry shook his head and blew out his cheeks. The judge in­ter­vened. “I must re­mind the jury that we are deal­ing with mat­ters that are prob­a­ble, rather than things that are not im­pos­si­ble.”

Mr Silverman rose to his feet. Again he held up the re­volver. Sa­man­tha hadn’t touched it. She didn’t want the jury to see it in a woman’s hand.

“This is quite a small weapon, Mr Berry, is it not?” Mr Silverman said. “Nowhere near the size and weight of an Army is­sue We­b­ley, for ex­am­ple. A woman could easily fire it, do you think?”

“A woman could fire it, yes.”


DC Draper tes­ti­fied that he had searched Mrs Sut­ton’s car two days af­ter the mur­der and had found a park­ing ticket is­sued at 6:10 p.m. on Novem­ber 5, 1952 from

Safe Park Lim­ited, a car park about 200 yards from Moon Street. As Silverman sat, Sa­man­tha stood. “Where ex­actly did you find the ticket?” “Un­der the driver’s seat, miss.” “So it was easily seen, not pushed down the side of the seat. In plain view, al­most?” “Yes, miss.” “What kind of car is it?” “A beauty.” He glanced ap­pre­hen­sively at the judge. “Sorry, m’lord. It’s a 1949 MG, two-seater con­vert­ible. A TC in Bri­tish rac­ing green.” “TC?” The judge en­quired. “Tour­ing Car, m’lord. A small sports car.” “Did you make en­quiries at Safe Park?” Sa­man­tha con­tin­ued. “I did.” “Did the at­ten­dant on duty that night re­call see­ing that car? It’s quite a dis­tinc­tive car.”

“No, miss, but they have cars in and out all the –”

“Thank you, Mr Draper.” She cut him short.

Per­haps another small seed was planted, but the easy part was over.

Vic­tor Sut­ton’s half sis­ter was next to take the oath, the Bi­ble in her right hand.

“I swear by almighty God that the ev­i­dence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and noth­ing but the truth,” she re­cited in a strong, clear voice. Rex Silverman be­gan. “Mrs Vardy, you are the half sis­ter of Vic­tor Sut­ton, are you not?” “I am. We had the same fa­ther.” “You are a widow.” “I am. My hus­band was killed in the Nor­mandy land­ings. He won the MC. I have his medal, but not him.” This pro­duced an al­most pal­pa­ble wave of sym­pa­thy.

“How would you say re­la­tions were be­tween Mr Sut­ton and his wife? Were they happy?”

“No.” Her re­ply was quick, sharp. Her dark eyes flashed at the woman in the dock.

Alma Vardy’s eyes came back to Mr Silverman briefly, and then went back to Ellen Sut­ton.

“She was car­ry­ing on an af­fair with Sa­muel Stone.”

There was a stir. The two women stared at each other, one in anger, the other in dis­may. Alma Vardy went on. “It was ob­vi­ous. He was al­ways there. He vis­ited her at the cot­tage. The way they looked at each other. You can’t hide that. I told Vic­tor what I thought. He said he al­ready sus­pected and he was go­ing to have it out with her. If it was true he’d get rid of her. Di­vorce her, I mean. Well, she’d soon lose her life of lux­ury, wouldn’t she?”

The last sen­tence was di­rected to the jury and, Sa­man­tha thought, she had re­hearsed it. The woman had pro­vided a mo­tive for mur­der.

She stood up to cross-ex­am­ine this most dan­ger­ous woman.

“Mrs Vardy, did you ever wit­ness any phys­i­cal con­tact be­tween Ellen Sut­ton and Sa­muel Stone?” “No.” “So you never found them in each other’s arms?”

“No. They were care­ful. But she was de­ceiv­ing Vic­tor, a man who gave her ev­ery­thing she wanted.” She sud­denly ex­tended her arm and pointed at the dock with a red-nailed fin­ger. “And she killed him!”

The ef­fect on the court was im­me­di­ate. Now there was a buzzing! Again Sa­man­tha thought she must have re­hearsed this. She had to take the ini­tia­tive away from her, re­duce the ten­sion.

“Are you in­volved at all in am­a­teur dra­mat­ics, Mrs Vardy?”

There was a lit­tle mur­mur of amuse­ment. The judge did not in­ter­vene.

Mrs Vardy’s hard eyes were on Sa­man­tha. Sa­man­tha raised the vol­ume of her voice, louder and harder.

“You saw no phys­i­cal signs of af­fec­tion, but you’re ready to shout adul­tery and mur­der. It re­ally won’t do, Mrs Vardy. A court of law re­quires proof.” She sat down. Mr Silverman re-ex­am­ined the wit­ness, who in­sisted there was an af­fair go­ing on and Vic­tor must have con­fronted his wife.


The judge glanced at the clock on the wall.

“Have we time for your last wit­ness, Mr Silverman?” “His tes­ti­mony is quite brief, m’lord.” Quite brief, Sa­man­tha thought, but quite deadly. She must sow the seeds.

An el­derly man shuf­fled into the wit­ness box and took the oath. His grey hair was long and un­kempt and his face sug­gested a history of heavy drink­ing.

“You’re a news­pa­per seller, Mr Grafton, are you not?” Mr Silverman be­gan.

“That’s right. I sell pa­pers on the cor­ner of Moon Street, mornin’ and evenin’. Have done for two years. Peo­ple call me Billy Pa­pers.” He looked around the court­room as though ex­pect­ing some kind of ac­claim.

“So you know the in­hab­i­tants of Moon Street?”

“S’right. I knows all by sight and most by name. I sees all their com­ings and go­ings.” “Did you know Vic­tor Sut­ton?” “He some­times bought an ‘Evening Stan­dard’. I knew him.”

Mr Silverman was now ap­proach­ing his point.

“Do you know the per­son in the dock, Mrs Ellen Sut­ton?”

Billy Pa­pers didn’t look at the per­son in the dock.

“I know her, and that woman sec­re­tary who comes and goes. I knows ’em all.”

“Were you selling pa­pers on Moon Street on the evening of Novem­ber fifth last year?”

“Yes. I was there from five o’clock to just af­ter half-past six. Nor­mal.”

“Mr Grafton.” Mr Silverman paused for a sec­ond. “Mr Grafton, dur­ing that time did you see any­one en­ter or leave num­ber thir­teen Moon Street?” “Yes.” “Who?”

“I sees Mrs Sut­ton come down the street and go into num­ber thir­teen.” There was the buzz of the flies. “Si­lence! Si­lence!” the Clerk of the Court shouted, and the flies grad­u­ally set­tled. Mr Silverman con­tin­ued. “About what time was this, Mr Grafton?” “Shortly af­ter six, it was.” “Did you see Mrs Sut­ton again that night?” He nod­ded. “She come out again about twenty min­utes later and hur­ried off down the street.”

Mr Silverman sat down, try­ing not to look tri­umphant. Sa­man­tha stood up.

As Cameron had said, she could only do her best. She smiled up at the wit­ness. “I be­lieve you have been selling pa­pers on that cor­ner for two years, Mr Grafton?”

“That’s right.” He nod­ded. “Hail or shine.” He looked around for ap­proval.

“Ever since you came out of prison, in fact,” Sa­man­tha stated. “You’re no stranger to be­ing in a court of law, are you? Let’s see.”

She con­sulted a piece of pa­per she held in her hand.

“Con­vic­tions for drunk­en­ness, shop-lift­ing, as­sault­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer and theft. You are hardly a re­li­able, up­stand­ing citizen, are you, Mr Grafton?” She knew she was clutch­ing at straws. “I saw what I saw,” he replied sul­lenly. “What ex­actly did you see? You told the po­lice you saw a woman in a dark fur coat across the road. She had blonde hair. It’s a dark Novem­ber night. How many blonde women are there in Lon­don who have a fur coat? Were you sober?” “I saw what I saw, and I saw Mrs Sut­ton.” Sa­man­tha pressed him, she must make him fal­ter.

“You told the po­lice that when you no­ticed this woman she was walk­ing quickly with her head down, so how can you def­i­nitely iden­tify that woman as Mrs Sut­ton?”

“Be­cause a fire­work burst right over­head and she looked up and I saw her face clear. It was Mrs Sut­ton.”

That brought an end to the day’s pro­ceed­ings.


Sa­man­tha and Cameron had de­cided that it would be un­wise to meet whilst the trial was in progress, so she went home, cooked a meal, had a good soak in the bath and sat on the sofa in her py­ja­mas. She poured her­self a glass of red wine. Then her tele­phone rang. It was him. “I just needed to know how you are. You did well, you know. Very well.”

“Thank you, Cameron.” It was so good to hear his voice and to say his name.

“Have you had some­thing to eat?” he asked.

“Yes, I have. I’ve had a bath and brushed my teeth. Although I haven’t said my prayers yet.” He chuck­led. “I need to make sure you’re look­ing af­ter your­self. You’re pre­cious. What are you do­ing now?”

“I’m sit­ting on the sofa in my py­ja­mas sip­ping a glass of wine with Ed­ward.” For a few sec­onds there was si­lence. “Ed­ward? Who is Ed­ward?” His voice was a touch louder. She was pleased.

“He is Mr Ed­ward Bear. I’ve known him for a very long time.” Again he chuck­led. “See how quickly you can make me jeal­ous! Get to bed now and sleep well. I’ll be think­ing of you.” “Thank you. Good night.” He had made the day bet­ter and the prospect of to­mor­row less daunt­ing.


The ac­tors and the au­di­ence were again as­sem­bled. The queue wait­ing to scram­ble for the public seats had been even longer and the el­bow-jab­bing surge more de­ter­mined, be­cause to­day it was ex­pected that the woman ac­cused of mur­der would take the stand, and they were hun­gry to see her.

But be­fore the main course there would be the hors d’oeu­vre, and Sa­muel Stone was called to the stand. Stone was to be the only wit­ness for the de­fence, and Sa­man­tha knew that it was es­sen­tial to scotch the al­le­ga­tion of an il­licit af­fair, which could have pro­vided the spark for mur­der.

As he stood in the wit­ness box in a dark grey suit and brown tie, he looked smart and at­trac­tive.

“Mr Stone,” Sa­man­tha be­gan, “you acted as a literary agent for both Mr and Mrs Sut­ton, and you would fre­quently visit num­ber thir­teen Moon Street on busi­ness, is that cor­rect? How long have you been their agent?” Mr Stone nod­ded. “About six months. It just so hap­pened that my girl­friend went to Mrs Vardy’s hair sa­lon and men­tioned that I was a suc­cess­ful literary agent. Then one thing led to another, as they do.”

His girl­friend! That was an un­ex­pected gem! Sa­man­tha’s spir­its rose. She con­tin­ued with her ques­tions. “What is your per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with Mrs Sut­ton?” “I’m in love with her.” The flies be­gan to buzz, an en­tire swarm. Sa­man­tha stared at her de­fence wit­ness. Was the man a com­plete fool?

The judge al­lowed the flies to set­tle and she knew she would have to press on. “And Mrs Sut­ton’s feel­ings?” “She doesn’t feel the same about me as I do about her, although . . .” He stopped. Sa­man­tha had to grasp the net­tle. “Has there ever been any in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship be­tween you and Ellen Sut­ton?” “No.” Sa­man­tha de­cided to leave it at that, and Mr Silverman was quick on his feet.

“Mr Stone, did you ever visit Mrs Sut­ton at her cot­tage?”

“A few times. Just to dis­cuss busi­ness and we’d have a cup of tea.”

“A cup of tea? Re­ally?” Mr Silverman’s last dart was a sharp one. “You said your girl­friend used to go to Mrs Vardy’s hair sa­lon. Is she still your girl­friend, Mr Stone?” “No,” was the re­ply. “I thought not. Thank you.” Sa­man­tha looked at Judge Finch. “I call my last wit­ness, m’lord. I call Ellen Louise Sut­ton.”

Now there was a stir in the crowd. The au­di­ence had en­joyed their starters but were now look­ing for­ward to the main course. Here was some­thing they could get their teeth into.

Sa­man­tha in­tended to go through Ellen’s tes­ti­mony quickly and sim­ply, to show her to be a dis­traught young woman, be­wil­dered and in­no­cent.

“Mrs Sut­ton, did you love your hus­band?” “Yes, I did, and I still do.” “Were you, dur­ing the course of your mar­riage, ever un­faith­ful to him?” Ellen shook her head ve­he­mently. “No! Never. I loved Vic­tor.” “Did you, on the fifth night of Novem­ber, go to Moon Street?’”

“No. I was in Kent. I never went into Lon­don or to the house.”

“Do you deny that the woman Wil­liam Grafton says he saw was you?” She glanced des­per­ately at the jury. “He’s wrong. He’s mis­taken. He’s just hor­ri­bly, ter­ri­bly wrong.”

“Mrs Sut­ton, did you mur­der your hus­band?”

“No!” Again she pleaded to the jury. “You must be­lieve me!”

It was Rex Silverman’s turn. His voice was soft, al­most gen­tle.

“Mrs Sut­ton, you have no alibi, a park­ing ticket was found in your car, an eye wit­ness saw you en­ter and leave num­ber thir­teen Moon Street, your fin­ger­prints were on the gun as well as your hus­band’s. Now, isn’t it the truth that he ac­cused you of hav­ing an af­fair? He was an­gry.” His voice was softer now, coax­ing. “Per­haps he waved the gun about, threat­ened you. You were in fear of your life. Per­haps you seized the gun and he came at you. You pan­icked, and in your panic you fired. Isn’t that what hap­pened, Mrs Sut­ton?”

Sa­man­tha had to ad­mire Silverman. He was of­fer­ing Ellen a way out, an es­cape from the rope. Man­slaugh­ter, per­haps. Or even self de­fence. Bet­ter than mur­der.

Ellen Sut­ton’s voice came loud and strong.

“I did not shoot my hus­band! I was not there!”

Mr Jus­tice Finch summed up the ev­i­dence and the jury re­tired to con­sider their ver­dict.


The longer a jury is out, the bet­ter the chance of ac­quit­tal. It in­di­cates ar­gu­ment, dis­agree­ment, some­one not con­vinced. The jury in the Moon Street mur­der case was out for only three hours.

In the re­assem­bled court, the watch­ers sat with quicker beat­ing hearts, dry mouths, clenched hands. If they felt like this, how did the woman in the dock feel?

The 12 jurors filed in with­out a glance at the ac­cused who stood to face her fate. The Clerk of the Court stood. The fore­man of the jury stood.

The Clerk of the Court spoke first, his voice loud. “Are you agreed on your ver­dict?” “We are.” A smaller voice. The watch­ers craned for­ward.

“Do you find the ac­cused, Ellen Louise Sut­ton, guilty or not guilty?” “Guilty.” There was a sharp in­take of breath from the watch­ers, and ev­ery eye, ev­ery head, turned to the con­demned woman, frail, white-faced, with fear in her eyes.

Another clerk ap­peared from be­hind the judge’s chair and placed the black cap upon his head. The black cap is not a cap – it is a piece of black silk, rather like a large hand­ker­chief. Mr Jus­tice Finch spoke. “Ellen Louise Sut­ton, you have been found guilty of the un­law­ful killing of Vic­tor Ed­ward Sut­ton. It is the sen­tence of this court that you be taken hence to a law­ful place of ex­e­cu­tion and there hanged by the neck un­til you are dead. May God have mercy on your soul. Take her down.”


Later that af­ter­noon Sa­man­tha sat at her desk in cham­bers star­ing into space when Tommy Tay­lor ap­peared at the door. “Are you all right, Miss Trent?” “Yes, thank you, Tommy. I’ll sur­vive, which is more than Ellen Sut­ton will.”

“I don’t know, miss. I can’t see them hang­ing a woman.”

“They hanged Edith Thompson in 1923 for the mur­der of her hus­band, and it was her lover who did the killing while she was shout­ing for him to stop. So there you are, Tommy.”

“May I come in?” There was another man at the door­way now: Cameron Grant. Tommy slipped away. Soon Cameron was hold­ing her tightly in his arms.

“You did ev­ery­thing you could. Ev­ery­thing.”

“Cameron, I don’t be­lieve she did it.” A tear slid down her cheek. “Nei­ther do I.” She moved a lit­tle out of his arms and looked up at him. “You don’t?” He shook his head. “You re­mem­ber what Alma Vardy said

about see­ing glances be­tween Sa­muel Stone and Ellen? You can’t hide that, she said. Well, I think that’s true, and I saw such a glance – brief, quick – be­tween Sa­muel Stone and Alma Vardy.”

“You think there’s some­thing be­tween them? That Sa­muel Stone is Alma’s lover, not Ellen’s?” He shrugged. “It’s pos­si­ble. He wasn’t the most con­vinc­ing wit­ness for the de­fence, was he? Say­ing the right words, but leav­ing the wrong im­pres­sion.” Sa­man­tha put her hand to her fore­head. “Mo­tive! None for Stone, per­haps, but Alma? Of course! Un­der English law no mur­derer can profit from their vic­tim. As soon as Ellen is dead, Vic­tor’s house, his money and his roy­al­ties will go to his next of kin, who is his half sis­ter –”

“Alma Vardy!” Sa­man­tha and Cameron said to­gether. Sa­man­tha clutched Cameron’s arm. “If we are right and some­how they killed Vic­tor Sut­ton, what we are wit­ness­ing now is le­gal mur­der. They will have the state com­mit mur­der and Ellen Sut­ton is the vic­tim.” She shud­dered. “How hor­ri­ble.” Cameron Grant pro­duced a notebook from his pocket and started flick­ing through the pages.

“Ah, here we are. Wil­liam Grafton, the love­able Billy Pa­pers, said Mrs Sut­ton let her­self in to thir­teen Moon Street. She had a key.” He looked at Sa­man­tha. “Do we know who had a key to num­ber thir­teen?”

“No, but we can find out.” She reached for the tele­phone. A minute later she was speak­ing to Ann Price.

Af­ter a few pleas­antries she got to the point.

“Miss Price, can you tell me who had a key to the house?”

“Of course,” Miss Price replied. “Mr and Mrs Sut­ton nat­u­rally. Mrs Hart­ley had one, and I had one.”

“Miss Price, what about Mrs Vardy? Did she have a key?” “Oh, no. She al­ways rang the bell.” “Thank you for your help.” Sa­man­tha re­placed the re­ceiver and looked at Cameron.

“It means noth­ing,” he said. “When I got to the house that morn­ing the key was on a ta­ble in the hall. Mrs Hart­ley put it there each morn­ing and it stayed there un­til she left. Ei­ther Stone or Alma could have taken it for half an hour and had a copy cut.”

“Cameron, you know the park­ing ticket in Ellen’s car. Don’t you think it was stupidly care­less of her?” He held up his hands in sur­ren­der. “I know. Ev­ery­thing about the case was so neat, but the ev­i­dence was there and I had to present it.” Sa­man­tha reached for her coat. “Can we go to the park­ing lot? We know they couldn’t re­mem­ber the MG con­vert­ible, but per­haps they could re­mem­ber another car.” She sighed. “Although it’s very un­likely. What do you think?” “Let’s go.” They were lucky to find the car park at­ten­dant who had been on duty that night at his post.

“As I told you be­fore, I don’t re­mem­ber no rac­ing green MG con­vert­ible, but that don’t mean nothin’. It don’t mean it weren’t here.” Sa­man­tha spoke to him. “Yes, we un­der­stand, Mr Kelly, but I was won­der­ing if by any chance you could re­mem­ber a rather smart, bur­gundy red Wolse­ley. Please try.”

“S’mat­ter of fact, I do,” Mr Kelly an­nounced tri­umphantly.

Sa­man­tha and Cameron ex­changed ex­cited glances. Mr Kelly ex­plained. “This chap now, I can’t de­scribe him or nothin’, but he drove in. I give him his ticket and he re­versed and drove off. And it ain’t cheap here, be­ing in May­fair like.”

“Thank you, Mr Kelly,” they both said to­gether.

“He didn’t want to park, he just wanted the ticket to plant in Ellen Sut­ton’s car,” Cameron said as they re­turned to their own car. Sa­man­tha clutched Cameron’s arm. “Oh, Cameron, we may be get­ting some­where, but there’s still the ev­i­dence of Grafton, Billy Pa­pers. He iden­ti­fied Ellen go­ing into the house.”

“Well, you know, I just might pay Billy Pa­pers a visit,” Cameron said grimly. “Can I come?” He grinned. “Come on.” But there was no an­swer at Billy Pa­pers’s coun­cil flat. A neigh­bour said he’d gone on hol­i­day for about two weeks, though he’d never been known to go away be­fore.

A two-week hol­i­day and Ellen Sut­ton was due to hang by the neck in 17 days.


On Sa­man­tha Trent’s desk the tele­phone jan­gled. “Yes?” It was Cameron, his voice ur­gent. “Grafton is back. He’s in St Thomas’s hos­pi­tal. Meet me.”

Cameron Grant was talk­ing to a uni­formed of­fi­cer at the door of a hos­pi­tal room. He looked anx­ious.

“He’s still con­scious,” he told her, “but only just.” “What hap­pened?” “Hit and run. The con­sta­ble here tells me they’ve got pieces of glass from a head­lamp and a scrape of paint on a wall. Dark red, would you be­lieve.”

The door of the room opened and a young doc­tor came out.

“You know he hasn’t got long, don’t you?” she said. “Mas­sive in­ter­nal in­juries. You can go in.” The in­spec­tor looked at the con­sta­ble. “Got your notebook?” He turned to Sa­man­tha. “I’m go­ing to try for a deathbed tes­ti­mony.”

Billy Pa­pers, his eyes closed, was breath­ing heav­ily. They gath­ered by the bed. He opened his eyes.

Cameron spoke.

“Wil­liam Grafton, I am De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Grant. Wil­liam, do you know that you are dy­ing?” The old man nod­ded weakly. “Yes.” Cameron leaned closer. “Mr Grafton, Ellen Sut­ton is sit­ting in the con­demned cell at this mo­ment. To­mor­row she will die. Did you see her that night in Moon Street?”

The old man’s breath was rasp­ing. Sa­man­tha could feel her nails dig­ging into her hands.

“Saw a woman in fur coat. Had long blonde hair. Then the fire­works. She looked up. Not Mrs Sut­ton. Mrs Vardy.” Cameron nod­ded slowly. “Are you sure, Mr Grafton, that the woman you saw go­ing into thir­teen Moon Street was Alma Vardy?”

“Yes.” He nod­ded weakly. “She gave me money to lie. God for­give me. I just wanted a few years in com­fort so I asked for more. In­stead, this.”

He made an ef­fort to turn his face to Cameron.

“Tell her sorry. Bet­ter me than her.” Then his eyes closed.

Cameron stood up and looked at Sa­man­tha.

“That’s it. At the last gasp, that’s it.”


Sa­muel Stone was the first to crack. Yes, it was his car, he pleaded des­per­ately, but it was Alma Vardy who had taken it. When Grafton de­manded more money, she’d ar­ranged to meet him and ran him down.

Yes, he’d planted the park­ing ticket in Ellen’s car. He didn’t know why Alma wanted him to get the ticket. He didn’t know she was go­ing to shoot Vic­tor.

“You must be­lieve me,” he said des­per­ately. “That’s up to a jury,” In­spec­tor Grant said. Stone shook his head in de­spair. “I fell in love with the wrong woman.” Alma Vardy was much tougher. “You’d ex­pect to find a blonde wig in a hair sa­lon, wouldn’t you?” She sneered. Oth­er­wise she sat stony faced, cold and emo­tion­less.


“What’s the jury’s de­ci­sion go­ing to be, do you think?” Sa­man­tha asked.

Cameron took her hand across the crisp white ta­ble cloth.

“They’ll get what they de­serve, es­pe­cially when you think about the mur­der they nearly suc­ceeded in com­mit­ting.”

Sa­man­tha shud­dered then took a sip of wine. He smiled at her. “Did you en­joy the meal?” She re­turned his smile. “Cor, guv’nor, you cop­pers don’t ’alf know how to treat a poor girl.”

“It’s as it should be, my girl. What’s more, I’ve found a com­pany do­ing ‘The Pi­rates Of Pen­zance’. And they say a cop­per’s lot is not a happy one. Well, mine is. Most def­i­nitely.”

The End.

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