SE­RIAL A New Case For Har­ri­son by Val Bon­sall

There was one player in the case that Har­ri­son still needed to talk to . . .

The People's Friend - - This Week -

The Story So Far

JOHN HAR­RI­SON runs the Ladys­mile De­tec­tive Agency, em­ploy­ing ex po­lice of­fi­cer PHILIPPA (Pip) TAY­LOR, and EWAN, his apprentice.

So­lic­i­tor RUTH has asked Har­ri­son to look into a case she is work­ing for ar­chi­tect DUN­CAN, who has pre­pared plans for prop­erty de­vel­oper ROD­ER­ICK BAX­TER. The owner of the de­vel­op­ment site pulls out, and Rod­er­ick re­fuses to pay Dun­can, claim­ing he knew what would hap­pen.

Ewan hasn’t turned up at work. He’s help­ing BECCA, a friend from his time in care. She’s been ac­cused of steal­ing in her job. Ewan starts work for the same ho­tel, and is given the key to the wine cel­lar, as Becca was.

Ewan finds the son of su­per­vi­sor Mr GRIMP and fel­low worker, DAMIAN, sus­pi­cious and fol­lows him to a restau­rant and dis­cov­ers the miss­ing wine. Be­fore Ewan can tell Mr Grimp, he is ac­cused of steal­ing it.

Mean­while, har­bour­ing feel­ings for Ruth, Har­ri­son won­ders if her ur­gency about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is due to some ul­te­rior mo­tive . . .

I’M hop­ing to have more to re­port later to­day . . .” Pip, just ar­rived at the of­fice, smiled as she heard Har­ri­son fin­ish­ing what had be­come a reg­u­lar morn­ing fran­tic phone call from Ruth.

Why was Ruth mak­ing such a fuss? Pip didn’t get it, and she told Har­ri­son so when he put the phone down.

“This case she’s passed on to us, it’s a com­mer­cial dis­pute, the type of thing that so­lic­i­tors like her han­dle all the time. Two par­ties to a con­tract have fallen out, each says the other is ly­ing, but which one is it?”

“Which is ex­actly what Ruth wants us to find out,” Har­ri­son re­sponded rather too curtly.

He took a sip of the cof­fee he’d taken to buy­ing from the café round the cor­ner on his way in.

Was the rea­son that Ruth was so very keen to know whether it was Dun­can, the good-look­ing ar­chi­tect, who was ly­ing be­cause he was more than just a client to her?

Pip frowned. It was bad news for Har­ri­son if that was so, since he was clearly in love with Ruth. But what could you say?

It was clear to ev­ery­one they were made for each

other, but nei­ther would do any­thing about it.

“You made a valid point yes­ter­day, Pip,” he said now, “when you pointed out there are ac­tu­ally three par­ties in­volved in this mat­ter, not just two.”

“Yes, there’s the landown­ers, too,” Pip replied. “We haven’t spo­ken to them, but it’s they who caused this by pulling out of sell­ing the land at the last minute.”

“If you can hold the fort here, I’ll try to see them now,” Har­ri­son said, reach­ing for his leather jerkin.

“No fur­ther word from our young apprentice?”

“Just an­other text apol­o­gis­ing for rush­ing away, say­ing not to worry, and he’ll ex­plain later.” Pip frowned.

“It’s hard not to worry. Who else is there for him to turn to? Where on earth is he?”

In the sea­side ho­tel where Ewan had been work­ing for a few days, he scowled at Mr Grimp.

“I’m call­ing the po­lice,” Ewan re­peated his threat.

Grimpy scowled back at him.

“Now why would you do that?”

“Yes, why?” an­other voice said.

Turn­ing, Ewan saw that the man­ager – Jonathan – had come into the room.

Ewan men­tally sighed. His first im­pres­sions of Jonathan had not been pos­i­tive.

It didn’t mat­ter, he re­minded him­self. He was on firm ground, he had ev­i­dence, and he wasn’t back­ing off.

“I work for a pri­vate de­tec­tive,” he told Jonathan, “and I re­cently re­ceived sev­eral dis­tressed mes­sages from a friend.”

Ewan pro­ceeded to ex­plain how Becca, who had been given some part-time work at the ho­tel, had been ac­cused by Grimpy of steal­ing bot­tles of ex­pen­sive wine.

“She swore she hadn’t done it, so I came down and got my­self some work here to in­ves­ti­gate.”

“Mr Grimp gave you the job?” Jonathan asked.

“He did. And al­most im­me­di­ately he widened my du­ties to in­clude hav­ing the key for the wine cel­lar.”

Ewan paused a mo­ment, think­ing of the way Har­ri­son pre­sented re­ports. The or­der you gave the in­for­ma­tion was ev­ery­thing, Har­ri­son had told him.

“He gave me the key,” Ewan re­sumed, “just as he had a few weeks ear­lier pro­moted Becca to the job of bring­ing up the wine and given her the key.”

“I sus­pect he –” Ewan pointed at Grimpy “– set her up be­cause he knew she didn’t have a fam­ily and was less likely to make trou­ble. Same with me – he asked me if I had any fam­ily lo­cally when he in­ter­viewed me.”

Ewan ex­plained that when the wine went miss­ing and Grimpy ac­cused Becca, he’d told her that if she left right away, with­out col­lect­ing her wages, he would for­get she’d ever worked there.

“He said the same thing to me this morn­ing after more wine had gone miss­ing and he ac­cused me. Just to help us, of course.” Ewan’s voice was the one with the sar­casm now. “He was ly­ing.”

“He’s mak­ing it up,” Grimpy said to Jonathan. “He’s no proof –”

“Oh, but I have,” Ewan in­ter­rupted.

Jonathan in­di­cated Ewan should con­tinue and he ex­plained how a cou­ple of evenings pre­vi­ously he’d seen Grimpy’s son, Damian, who also worked at the ho­tel, go­ing into a very up­mar­ket restau­rant along the prom­e­nade.

“The type of place that sells top wines. I was out­side, but I saw enough to have no doubt that Damian knows the pro­pri­etor there very well.”

Jonathan now asked Ewan to stop, then he picked up the phone.

Ewan thought at first it was to call the po­lice. It was over. But it turned out it was to sum­mon Damian to join them.

This Damian did – look­ing, Ewan noted, ev­ery bit as edgy as his fa­ther.

“OK, your proof?” Jonathan said to Ewan.

Ewan ex­plained how the morn­ing after he’d seen Damian in the restau­rant, when bring­ing up bot­tles from the wine cel­lar, he’d marked the la­bels of sev­eral bot­tles of the most ex­pen­sive wines.

That evening, he’d re­turned to the restau­rant.

“This time I sneaked in­side, and the bot­tles with the marked la­bels were stacked up in their store room!” he fin­ished tri­umphantly, hold­ing up his phone to show Jonathan the pho­tos of the stolen wine he’d taken.

“I had no­ticed,” Jonathan said after a mo­ment’s si­lence, “that wine, and other items, were go­ing miss­ing and was con­cerned about the sud­den rapid turnover of staff.

“I in­tended to look into both mat­ters as soon as this big an­tiques event we’re hold­ing was over – Hey!”

Damian was mak­ing a dash for the door.

In a flash, Ewan was after him, whip­ping Damian’s arm be­hind his back.

As he watched Jonathan di­alling the po­lice, he re­flected that he re­ally had learned some use­ful moves from Har­ri­son and Pip!

“So the po­lice came?” Becca asked as she ac­com­pa­nied him to the sta­tion later to get his train.

“Yes,” Ewan an­swered for what seemed to him like the hun­dredth time. “And I gave a state­ment. You can re­lax now, Becca.”

He looked into her eyes and de­cided that this time his words had prop­erly sunk in. She was re­as­sured that there would be no fu­ture reper­cus­sions for her from the episode.

She could get back to the suc­cess­ful life that she was build­ing for her­self.

“I should have gone to the po­lice, or at least to the man­ager, at the time,” she ad­mit­ted. “But I pan­icked, I sup­pose.” “Yeah.”

They walked on in si­lence. With what he’d come to do now done, Ewan could at last en­joy just be­ing by the sea. He watched some soar­ing gulls and smelled the air.

An ad­ver­tis­ing board caught his at­ten­tion for some rea­son, and they found a lit­tle shop sell­ing jew­ellery made from shells, drift­wood and other seashore de­bris.

Ewan could just see Amy wear­ing one of the neck­laces there, so he bought it.

“Amy your girl­friend?” Becca asked.

“Yes.” Ewan felt happy just say­ing her name.

Soon they were at the sta­tion.

With a good­bye hug and some tears from Becca, Ewan got on the train and found a seat among some hol­i­day­mak­ers also go­ing home.

At last he had some­where he did think of as home. He had a job he loved, won­der­ful work­mates, and a won­der­ful girl­friend, too.

He was even look­ing for­ward to see­ing the weird guy in the flat above his who was for ever pes­ter­ing Ewan to play com­puter games with him!

With an­other smile, he felt in his pocket for his phone to text Amy that he was on his way.

It wasn’t there. He rum­maged in his bag. It wasn’t there, ei­ther.

He thought back to when he’d last seen it. His last mem­ory of his phone was at Becca’s flat.

Yes, he had clear re­call of plug­ging it in to charge up – but not of un­plug­ging it.

Never mind. He’d be see­ing Amy soon enough.

It was clear to ev­ery­one they were made for each other

“Not too dis­sim­i­lar to our place at Ladys­mile Lane.”

Har­ri­son did one of his light­ning as­sess­ments as he drove to­wards the of­fices of the landown­ers whose change of heart about sell­ing the land had cre­ated the present prob­lem.

Pip, do­ing all the in­ter­net re­search while Ewan was away, had found the ad­dress and the name of the manag­ing di­rec­tor.

“Saman­tha Smith. Sounds very dy­namic.”

He’d been ready to leave the of­fice, so hadn’t es­tab­lished on what ba­sis Pip was ar­riv­ing at this con­clu­sion.

He’d form his own opin­ion any­way, if and when he met her, he de­cided as he con­tin­ued weigh­ing up the build­ing ahead of him.

As much as its ar­chi­tec­tural style pleased him, its age pre­sented prob­lems. Con­structed be­fore the ad­vent of the car, there was a se­vere short­age of places to park.

But his luck was in; he’d spot­ted one.

He was pre­par­ing to ma­noeu­vre into it when an­other car beat him to it.

It was a pow­er­ful-look­ing sports car, though newer than the one Pip had.

Halt­ing his own con­sid­er­ably older ve­hi­cle, he mut­tered un­der his breath. The other driver was a woman, he noted, and she must have known he’d had his eye on it. He’d been sig­nalling his in­ten­tion.

Yes, she had pur­posely pipped him to the post, he con­firmed to him­self mo­ments later, for as the woman got out, she turned and gave him a smile which he couldn’t quite de­ci­pher. Tri­umph?

And she, he was cer­tain, was the woman he had come to see.

Stay­ing where he was, he now did one of his ap­praisals of her.

She was ob­vi­ously in a hurry, was well-dressed and had shiny dark hair like a sham­poo ad­vert.

She took out her phone and was now speak­ing into it. Giv­ing or­ders – he’d put money on it.

He found an­other park­ing space fur­ther along and walked back to the or­nate door, with carved pil­lars on ei­ther side, into which she’d dis­ap­peared.

“Do you have an ap­point­ment?” the young man at the re­cep­tion desk asked when he said he’d like to see Saman­tha Smith.

On the way, Har­ri­son had con­sid­ered sev­eral pos­si­ble sto­ries he could use to get to see her, and now he se­lected one.

“No. But I’m a jour­nal­ist work­ing on some­thing that should be of in­ter­est to your firm.”

The young man frowned and looked about to ask a load of ques­tions.

But then a voice said, “I’ll deal with this.”

Har­ri­son turned. It was her.

“Saman­tha Smith.” She took his hand in her own. “Or Sam to most peo­ple. I’m the manag­ing di­rec­tor.”

He fol­lowed her to an al­cove off the main re­cep­tion area. “Cof­fee?”

“Thank you.”

She briefly de­parted, he sup­posed to give in­struc­tions for this to be pro­vided, and when she re­turned she sat down be­side him on the squashy leather sofa he’d cho­sen.

“A jour­nal­ist?” she queried.

“Yes. I’m in­ves­ti­gat­ing a se­ries of scams I’ve heard about, cen­tring on land trans­ac­tions. So you your­selves be­ing sub­stan­tial lo­cal landown­ers, I won­dered if you’d had any, shall we say, sus­pi­cious ap­proaches?”

She shook her head, toss­ing her hair back from face.

“No. But then we’re not look­ing to sell any of our land, Mr Long.”

Har­ri­son hadn’t used his real name.

“Oh.” He frowned. “I thought I’d heard some­thing about that piece of land down by the canal be­ing on the mar­ket.”

“Then you heard wrong. That land is not for sale and never will be.”

“It must be very valu­able. I mean, with all the ur­ban re­gen­er­a­tion work that’s go­ing on there –”

“Per­haps, but of no rel­e­vance, Mr Long,” she in­ter­rupted. “As I’ve said, that land is not for sale and never will be.”

Her tone was per­fectly even. Busi­ness-like.

He de­cided there was a def­i­nite ir­ri­tabil­ity there, too.

Per­haps it was just at him, he won­dered. Tak­ing up her time.

But she’d seemed happy enough to talk to him, he re­minded him­self. She had ac­tu­ally in­ter­vened when the guy at re­cep­tion would prob­a­bly have tried to fob him off.

Mo­ments later he was cer­tain the im­pa­tience wasn’t di­rected at him when she smiled and moved closer to him.

So close that when she raised her hand to flick her hair back from her face, she nearly knocked his specs off.

“A jour­nal­ist,” she be­gan. “It’s al­ways sounded to me to be an in­ter­est­ing life. I bet you have fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries to tell!”

An­other smile, very much sug­gest­ing she’d be most happy to hear those sto­ries.

Har­ri­son smiled, too. Sud­denly he re­alised what it was, the look on her face that he hadn’t been quite able to pin down in their ear­lier en­counter over the car-park­ing space.

She fan­cies me, Har­ri­son thought, and he was still smil­ing as he hur­ried back out of the elab­o­rate door­way.

It had be­come clear to him that he wasn’t go­ing to get much more out of Saman­tha Smith – or, at least, not to do with Ruth’s case!

He shook his head. He’d never thought he was es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to women, but maybe he was un­der­es­ti­mat­ing him­self.

Maybe he would stand a chance with Ruth after all.

As­sum­ing she wasn’t in­volved with Dun­can.

He re­turned his mind to the talk with Saman­tha.

The visit to her, he de­cided, had been use­ful.

When Har­ri­son had seen Rod­er­ick, he had spec­u­lated to Har­ri­son that per­haps Saman­tha had re­ceived a bet­ter of­fer than his for the prime site.

And per­haps Dun­can was in­volved in this – that had been an­other of Rod­er­ick’s the­o­ries. All of them in it to­gether to swin­dle him out of money.

Har­ri­son hadn’t been con­vinced by this ar­gu­ment at the time, and now even less so.

He could see no rea­son for Saman­tha to have told him that that strip of land would never be sold if it wasn’t the truth.

He sighed. It was cer­tainly the case that Dun­can didn’t seem to be economis­ing. To say his busi­ness was at risk of go­ing bust, then to go out to Mar­cel’s ex­pen­sive restau­rant for all those meals didn’t make sense.

What had Ruth said? Dun­can was on the brink.

Get­ting into his car, Har­ri­son set off back to Ladys­mile Lane.

Though this case had been given pri­or­ity, they had other mat­ters to deal with, too, and hav­ing Ewan away was putting a lot of pres­sure on him and Pip.

How on earth he’d man­aged on his own, with­out ei­ther Ewan or Pip, he had no idea.

Some­times you didn’t know what you could do un­til you had to – he’d seen that fre­quently in his life.

None­the­less, he hoped Ewan would be back soon and he was sure Pip would agree with him.

Pip did agree with him. In the of­fice, await­ing Har­ri­son’s re­turn, she put the phone down, hav­ing just ac­cepted a new case: a surveil­lance job to start in a cou­ple of days. They re­ally needed Ewan.

“He should be do­ing this as well,” she said to her­self as she fin­ished print­ing off in­for­ma­tion she’d found on the in­ter­net about the three par­ties to Ruth’s case. “It’s his job to –”

She broke off at the sound of a tap on the of­fice door.

It was Amy.

Now, there were rea­sons why Amy might be in the of­fices, quite sep­a­rate from Ewan. Her dad had rooms in the build­ing and her step­mother owned it.

She knew ev­ery­one else in the place, too. You didn’t al­ways go for the first thing that came into your head – Pip re­ally be­lieved that.

But one look at the girl’s face and she knew it was about Ewan, and from the swollen eyes and blotchy look, it was ob­vi­ous she had been cry­ing.

She pushed aside the paper that had fin­ished leap­ing out of the printer and of­fered Amy a cup of tea, as much to give the girl time to com­pose her­self as any­thing.

“It’s Ewan,” Amy said as she ac­cepted one of the mugs Pip brought over. “Have you heard from him?”

“Not in any mean­ing­ful way,” Pip said. “He sent a few mes­sages to Har­ri­son say­ing he’s OK and that he’ll be back soon.”

“That’s all I’ve had from him, too.” Amy nod­ded. “I’ve tried to phone him but it al­ways goes to voice­mail.”

“Yes, we’ve found that, too. We as­sume it’s be­cause he’s busy.” “But busy with what?” Pip replied with a shrug. “I sent him an­other text to­day,” Amy con­tin­ued, “a say­ing that if he didn’t give me a proper ex­pla­na­tion, we’re through. Fin­ished.” She looked straight at Pip. “Do you think that was un­rea­son­able?”

Pip thought a mo­ment. It was best to be care­ful.

“No. I don’t think it’s un­rea­son­able. With the pro­viso that there may be things we don’t know.”

Ob­vi­ously there are things we don’t know, she added to her­self.

“Surely that’s the point,” Amy said, start­ing to look more an­gry than upset. “We’re an item. He should be straight with me, shouldn’t he? Not just keep me hang­ing on and mess me about.”

“How did Ewan re­spond to your text?” Pip asked. “To your ul­ti­ma­tum?”

“He didn’t even re­ply. So as far as I’m con­cerned –” she moved her hands in a ges­ture of fi­nal­ity “– that’s it. I just came to see you in case it was maybe a job away that you’ve sent him on.”

“No, he isn’t on a job for us. We don’t know where he is, ei­ther.”

They talked a while longer, till Amy fin­ished her tea.

“Thank you. I feel so much bet­ter for talk­ing to you,” Amy said as she picked up her back­pack ready to go. “You won’t tell Ewan, will you?”

“Of course I won’t. This is be­tween us, Amy.” “Thank you, Pip.”

She flashed her sweet smile and then she was gone.

Think­ing about the con­ver­sa­tion when she was again alone, Pip de­cided Amy had meant it about Ewan.

When he turned up she had no doubt Amy would tell him they were fin­ished.

Re­call­ing Amy’s words of grat­i­tude to her, she was pleased she’d ap­par­ently been of help.

Though she was sur­prised, be­cause she didn’t con­sider her­self to have much ex­pe­ri­ence in the ups and downs of young love. She’d been in her mid­dle years when she’d mar­ried her late hus­band.

She smiled. That she now had not one but two new pos­si­ble suit­ors – Mar­cel and the more bo­hemian Li­nus, who lived on a barge – was still a source of won­der to her!

Li­nus wasn’t a prob­lem – to­tally the sort just to take things as they came.

But Mar­cel? Whereas she saw their re­la­tion­ship as a friend­ship, it was be­com­ing clear to her that he wanted some­thing more.

She wasn’t sure she was ready for it. Maybe she’d never be.

She hadn’t spo­ken to Mar­cel about it. But what Amy had said was true. You should be straight with peo­ple. Not mess them about and keep them hang­ing on.

She picked up the phone and di­alled the num­ber of Mar­cel’s restau­rant.

“It isn’t that I don’t en­joy your com­pany,” she fin­ished, “but I’m not look­ing for any greater in­volve­ment than –”

“Phil-ee-pa,” Mar­cel in­ter­rupted in his charm­ing French ac­cent, “I am not a de­tec­tive, I am a restau­ra­teur, but I am still know­ing you are not seek­ing a ro­mance and this is fine with me.”

She pic­tured him giv­ing a Gal­lic shrug.

“Friends,” he con­tin­ued, “that is all we will re­main. Tonight, in any event, I have a date! I am go­ing to the the­atre with Car­rie who works for the com­pany I buy my wine from.”

He said a bit more. Pip thought it was some­thing about the the­atre or what play was on, but frankly she had stopped lis­ten­ing.

She felt quite gob­s­macked, as Amy or Ewan might say.

She should be feel­ing pleased, she ac­knowl­edged as she re­placed the tele­phone re­ceiver. She’d feared it might be an awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion with him, that Mar­cel might be a bit hurt and miffed.

But quite the con­trary – he was look­ing for­ward to a date with this Car­rie per­son he bought wine from!

A pic­ture of them to­gether popped into her head. She’d never seen Car­rie, nor heard of her till to­day, but imag­ined her chic and el­e­gant.

No, he wasn’t both­ered at all. But in a world sud­denly topsy-turvy, Pip wasn’t sure if she was.

She re­mained lost in thought un­til roused by foot­steps out­side the door.

Had Amy for­got­ten some­thing? Or maybe it was Har­ri­son – it was about the time she ex­pected his re­turn.

But it was nei­ther of them who came hes­i­tantly through the door.

“Pip, I hope you’ll for­give me.”

“The wan­derer re­turns.” Ar­riv­ing a few min­utes later, Har­ri­son nod­ded at Ewan.

“Yes. I’ve just apol­o­gised to Pip for leav­ing you in the lurch. But I felt I had to help. What hap­pened was –”

Sit­ting down, Har­ri­son lis­tened silently to Ewan’s ac­count of his ac­tions over the past few days.

Once or twice he glanced at Pip for her re­ac­tion, but she didn’t seem to be lis­ten­ing. Prob­a­bly be­cause she’d al­ready heard it all from Ewan, Har­ri­son de­cided.

“Well,” he said when Ewan had fin­ished, “you did a great job sort­ing it out, no doubt about that. But we’ve been wor­ried.

“Why couldn’t you have just told us where you were and what you were do­ing?”

Ewan didn’t an­swer im­me­di­ately, his face thought­ful.

“It’s hard to ex­plain,” he said even­tu­ally, “but when we were kids, Becca and me, nei­ther of us were happy and it felt like each other was all we had in the world.

“I guess we both kind of slipped back into that, just re­ly­ing on each other and no-one else. It’s crazy re­ally, but –”

“No, it’s un­der­stand­able,” Har­ri­son in­ter­rupted.

Again he looked across at Pip.

This time she did re­spond, though he still wasn’t sure she wasn’t think­ing about some­thing else as well.

“Ab­so­lutely. Yes, and good work, Ewan.”

“Well, I’ve had two bril­liant teach­ers,” Ewan replied, grin­ning.

Then he frowned. “Though, ac­tu­ally,” he added, “I didn’t get it ab­so­lutely right. I thought Grimpy and his son were in it to­gether, par­tic­u­larly when Damian tried to make a run for it.”

“A fair con­clu­sion to ar­rive at,” Har­ri­son rea­soned.

“Yes. But it turned out Damian was just scared that he’d be blamed. He wasn’t in­volved.

“The restau­rant is owned by Grimpy’s brother, Damian’s un­cle, and

Damian was just vis­it­ing his un­cle when I saw him there.”

“So he knew noth­ing about the scams his dad was in­volved in?”

“No. It was all down to his dad need­ing money to pay off gam­bling debts he’d built up. It was him – his fa­ther – run­ning the whole show.”

Time was by then tick­ing on.

Promis­ing he would be in early to­mor­row, Ewan was first to go.

“I can’t wait to see Amy,” he said as he heaved his bag on to his shoul­der. “I should just about catch her com­ing out of col­lege – she has a late class to­day.”

At last Pip seemed to Har­ri­son to now be fully con­cen­trat­ing on what was be­ing said. But she didn’t look happy, he thought.

Some­thing to do with Ewan and Amy, he sus­pected. That was the re­mark that seemed to have caused the changed at­ti­tude.

“I must go, too,” she said, grab­bing her things. “I’m glad Ewan’s back. I didn’t even get out for a sand­wich to­day and I’m starv­ing!”

“Stop by and see Mar­cel,” Har­ri­son said, smil­ing. “He’ll rus­tle you up some­thing tasty . . .”

He broke off at the look on her face.

“What have I said now?” he asked, aware that some­how he’d put his foot in it, which seemed to be a par­tic­u­lar skill of his.

No re­ply. She, too, had gone.

Har­ri­son didn’t fol­low his work­mates. He stayed on to give more thought to Ruth’s mat­ter.

Often you just needed to look at things dif­fer­ently. Just a slight shift in per­spec­tive and it all fell into place.

Nor­mally he was good at that. But this time he just didn’t seem able to pull it off.

They had now in­ter­viewed all the play­ers in the case. There should have been clues by this stage. Hints, at least, as to the rea­sons the deal had fallen through, and where, if any­where, the fault for that lay.

But the hard truth was he had noth­ing. He was no fur­ther for­ward than when Ruth had first ap­proached him.

Above him, he heard some­one clat­ter­ing about. Eloise prob­a­bly, get­ting ready to take one of her re­lax­ation classes, sched­uled in the evenings for peo­ple with busy lives.

Maybe he should try one, he thought with a smile. But no, he reck­oned it was more than a bit of yoga he needed.

He leaned back in his of­fice chair, quite comfy, up­hol­stered and with padded arm rests, and closed his eyes. Some­times it helped him think bet­ter.

Out of the dark­ness would come a flash of light.

“It was all down to his dad need­ing money to pay off gam­bling debts he’d built up . . .”

Har­ri­son heard Ewan ex­plain­ing again the fi­nale of his in­ves­ti­ga­tion on be­half of his child­hood friend, Becca.

“It was him – the fa­ther – run­ning the whole show.”

But how could it be Ewan speak­ing? Ewan had gone home.

Har­ri­son blinked in the dark­ness of his of­fice, for a mo­ment won­der­ing where he was, as some­times you do when you jolt awake from a dream.

Clearly he’d fallen asleep, and for sev­eral hours, he re­alised as he put on his desk lamp and glanced at his watch.

But he was wide awake now, even though it was the mid­dle of the night. He stood up.

“Yes!”

He punched the air in a ges­ture of vic­tory.

“That’s where we were go­ing wrong. I’ve got it now!”

To be con­cluded.

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