by Trevor Hopkins

Mayfield had left in a sober mood. I hoped she took the advice and moved into Lady Strowan's house. It would be safer there. More people around. There was just a possibility that whoever had attacked her Grandmother would have some grievance with her. I'd had felt a lot happier if I could have worked out some good reason for that view. But at the moment it was all just supposition and gut feelings.

Talking of gut feelings, my interview yesterday with Almon Methven had been interrupted for reason which seemed, with hindsight, just a little dubious. It was time to make a second trip. I stared at the telephone receiver on its hook, musing for a moment about making a telephone call to make an appointment. I decided against this course of action; after all, it made it all too easy to make an excuse, or even a swift getaway.

So I traipsed over the theatre district once more to visit the headquarters of Methven and Son, Theatrical Agents, anticipating facing the wrath of the office manager and the pleading glances of the wage serfs metaphorically chained to the lesser desks. I half-expected it would be a wasted journey, a wild-goose chase after a source of information which probably didn't have much to offer in the first place. But it was still the best lead I had.

As it turned out, Methven himself was declared to be officially present when I knocked at the entrance at the top of the steps. The grand promoter and theatre agent himself flung open the door of the inner sanctum to greet me in person as soon as my presence was announced over the persistently unintelligible intercom. He waddled forward with arms extended, determined to shake my hand with some pretence of warmth, even though in the event it was as limply fish-like as on the previous occasion.

"Mister Gask," Methven exclaimed, "Good to see you again. Come in, come in."

Somebody, it seemed, had been talking to Almon Methven. Somebody had persuaded him that it was worth his while to humour me, to be nice to me. I wondered who that somebody was.

The rotund Goblin ushered me into his office with much flapping of limbs and finely-honed pleasantries. Once we were both settled into the expensive davenports, I asked him directly if the police had now interviewed him.

"No," he said, "I have to admit I had expected a call. But no dice, so far."

"Uh-huh," I muttered noncommittally. I couldn't work out what Tewel was up to. I knew him to be a very good and insightful copper - despite his uncharacteristic outburst previously - and one likely to follow the procedures to the letter.

"Well, I'm sure Tewel and his pals will be along soon enough," I added, "But in the meantime, is there anything else you can tell me about Lady Strowan which might help my investigations?"

Methven was thoughtful for a moment.

"There is one thing," he said slowly, "It occurred to me after your last visit."

"Okay," I said encouragingly, "What is it?"

"Strowan Westwood was writing an autobiography."

Part 36 Part 38