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Findo Gask is a Goblin, a Private Detective licenced in both the surface world of the humans and the Lower Realms. When we first meet him, he is interviewing a young and slender female Goblin who berates him for accepting a commission from her fiance to investigate her. Findo Gask is persuaded to delay the delivery of his report to his client to allow the young female to admit to him the truth that Gask has already uncovered.
His work for the day done, Gask takes himself off to a cocktail bar where, much to his surprise, he is tracked down by Tibbermore, butler to the elderly and infirm Lady Strowan Westwood. Tibbermore requests that Gask attend her Ladyship that very evening, for dinner. Gask agrees and is guided by Tibbermore to Lady Strowan's house.
Findo Gask is introduced to the famous former actress Lady Strowan Westwood at a dining table set for two. Excellend food and wine is served by Tibbermore the butler, although her ladyship does not eat very much of it.
Lady Strowan admits that she does not have many visitors these days, the only regulars being her granddaughter Mayfield and Almon Methven, who used to be her theatrical agent from the time when she was still appearing on the stage.
During the course of dinner, Lady Strowan admits that a very expensive necklace has gone missing and that she suspects that her granddaughter Mayfield has taken it. Rather than involve te police, Strowan asks Gask to interview Mayfield who, perversely for a Goblin, is a resident of the surface world. Gask accepts the commission, as well as enjoying the remainder of the meal, enlivened by Strowan's many tales of the her life on the stage.
The following morning, Findo Gask adopts his familiar disguise as a human and sets off for the surface. He makes his way to an apparently-abandoned farmhouse in an obscure part of rural France where he first encounters the beautiful Mayfield Westwood.
Mayfield welcomes Gask to her home, and introduces him to Glen Morrison, a strikingly handsome human male with whom, against all conventions, she has struck up a long-term relationship.
Findo Gask quizzes Mayfield Westwood and Glen Morrison about the necklace missing from the home of her grandmother Lady Strowan Westwood. Neither Mayfield nor Glen admit to have taken the jewellery, and Mayfield is furious at the suggestion. Gask is invited to search the farmhouse, but declines, believing that the two youngsters are telling the truth.
Before the interview can be concluded, Gask, Glen and Mayfield are interrupted by a voice from outside the farmhouse. Spooked all three of them use a secret escape tunnel and regroup in a prepared hideaway deep in the woods. To Gask's surprise, Glen asks why they had run away, given that the voice, although speaking English, was clearly that of a Goblin.
Despite the elaborate escape plan, Findo Gask, Mayfield Westwood and Glen Morrison are easily tracked down by the newcomers. They are Tarsapple and his sidekick Glenshee, both members of the unnamed force which polices the Goblin presence on the surface. Both are known to Findo Gask from previous encounters.
Tarsapple is peeved to see Gask in the company of Mayfield. Nevertheless, he requires Mayfield to return to the caverns of the Goblins, although she formally requests Gask to accompany her. The four of them return to the Lower Realms, where Mayfield is given very bad news by Detective Mergie Tewel, that her grandmother Lady Strowan Westwood has been murdered.
The normally calm and phlegmatic Detective Mergie Tewel, accompanied by two thuggish officers, uncharacteristically threatens Findo Gask. Gask assures him that his hands are clean, although he is detained as a witness anyway.
Some hours later, Gask is released from the police station and makes his way home, shaking off a not-very-competent tail as he does so. The following morning, after a fortifying breakfast in David's diner, he again encounters Tibbermore. The old butler gives Gask a cheque to cover the late Lady Strowan Westwood's account, and then another, larger cheque as a retainer, asking Gask to discover her Ladyship's killer.
Tibbermore tells Gask what he knows of the circumstances of her Ladyship's death, and confirms that the only recent visitors, other than Gask himself, are Mayfield Westwood and Almon Methven. He also admits that Gask had been recommended to Lady Strowan by Sergeant Tewel, who had apparently known Strowan many years ago.
After Tibbermore leaves, Gask cogitates on the case. His musings are interrupted by Mayfield, who bursts in agitated. She too engages Gask to track down her grandmother's murderer, although she omits to provide any renumeration. She had formed a poor impression of Tewel's competence, she declared.
Gask locates Methven's offices and secures an interview, informing him of Lady Strowan's sudden demise. Methven is distraught, but nevertheless provides information to Gask; in particular, the fact that Cutmal Lundie was a regular visitor to Lady Strowan's house.
Much to Gask's surprise, Methven also asserts that Lundie is betrothed to Mayfield and has been for many years. The interview is terminated in a hurry, as Methven apparently has to leave for another appointment.
Findo Gask elects to make another visit to Lady Strowan Westwood's house to interview Tibbermore the butler again. The front door of the house is beseiged by the press trying to learn more about Lady Strowan's death, so Gask attempts to find an alternative entrance at the back of the house.
Gask has no problems gaining access at the rear. In the courtyard behind the house, he encounters an old maid whose name we later learn is Molly, and is apparently one of the few remaining servants. She directs him to Tibbermore, who appears to be expecting him.
Tibbermore admits that Cutmal Lundie was indeed a frequent visitor, a fact which he had successfully concealed from Lady Strowan at Mayfield Westwood's explicit request. Tibbermore also obliquely confirms that he was aware of the relationship between Mayfield and Glen Morrison.
Tibbermore relates to Findo Gask how Cutmal Lundie met and fell in love with Mayfield, even though she did not return the affection. He also tells that Lundie had taken to apearing unexpectedly at Lady Strowan's house, often when Almon Methven was invited to dinner.
Gask also quizzes Tibbermore about Lady Strowan's will, of which he professes no knowledge. However, Tibbermore reveals the existence of Mayfield's missing elder brother, Cairnie Westwood, who apparently disappeared before Mayfield was born.
Findo Gask leaves Tibbermore at Lady Strowan Westwood's house and elects to perform a little research on Mayfield Westwood's errant brother Cairnie Westwood. Cairnie had been a tearaway at school and a disappointment to his family, finally running away never to return.
The following morning, Findo Gask reviews the newspaper reports on Lady Strowan's death over breakfast at David's diner. David reminds Gask of the suddenness with which Lady Strowan abandoned the stage, with an observation that speculation had been discouraged at the time.
Gask returns to his office where he encounters a furious Mayfield Westwood, who informs him that her brother Cairnie had turned up uninvited at her grandmother's funeral. She accuses Gask of telling Cairnie about the funeral, but Gask convinces her otherwise. Mayfield confirms that the only others at the funeral were Tibbermore, Almon Methven and Detective Sergeant Mergie Tewel.
Gask speculates that Cairnie might also appear at the reading of Lady Strowan's will, scheduled for the following day at the Court of Probate presided over by Judge Kirkton. He plots a trap for Cairnie. He also advises that Mayfield herself might be in danger and that she should take precautions for her own safely.
After Mayfield Westwood leaves his office, Findo Gask elects to make a second unannounced call on Almon Methven. The theatrical agent welcomes Gask with pleasantries and apparent bonhomie before informing him that Lady Strowan Westwood had been writing an autobiography. Methven himself was acting as the agent for publication, while the text itself had been written longhand by Tibbermore from Lady Strowan's dictation.
Methven believes that the autobiography will make him a lot of money and is determined to make sure it is published, even after her Ladyship's death. Gask realises that there might be inconvenient secrets in the manuscript, secrets which might just have been a motive for Lady Strowan's murder, and he strongly advises Methven to take suitable precautions. Methven admits that it had been more than a week since Tibbermore had last visited with the most recent installment of the manuscript, and guesses that the document may still be lying around in Lady Strowan's house.
Gask moves swiftly to Lady Strowan's house, but is too late. Tibbermore is dead and the police are in attendance. Gask is intercepted by a couple of young coppers, and is then snarled at by Detective Sergeant Mergie Tewel.
The two surprisingly scruffy police officers accompanying Detective Sergeant Mergie Tewel drag Findo Gask to the servants hall in Lady Westwood's house. Tewel confirms that Tibbermore is dead, but declines to indicate how or why. Gask explains to the irate Tewel that Mayfield Westwood is his client as well as the deceased Tibbermore. Tewel is unimpressed and instructs Gask to stay out of his way.
Released by Tewel, Gask again encounters the maid Molly, who confirms that Mayfield has not yet arrived. He is relieved to be able to intercept Mayfield before she arrives at Lady Strowan's house by the back entrance. Gask directs Mayfield away but becomes aware that she is being followed discreetly and expertly. Gask persuades Mayfield to trust to his protection rather than the cops, and deploys a glamour to distract the unseen tail.
Findo Gask guides Mayfield Westwood to a hideout in the surface world: a hidden room behind Chill's Bar in New York once occupied by Findo's elder brother Nether Gask. Once in a place of safety, Mayfield receives a telephone message from Glen Morrison who is apparently in Hollywood, but she is repeatedly unable to reach by phone.
Gask contacts Martin Gamshack, often known as Gumshoe, a human private detective with whom Gask has formed a low-key but formal partnership. Gask requests Gumshoe to track down Glen, who he feels might also be in some danger, and to get him to contact Mayfield urgently.
Gask also receives a couple of telephone messages. One is from Detective Sergeant Mergie Tewel who makes it plain that the law resuires an interview with Mayfield. The other message is from Almon Methven, announcing that he is the executer of Lady Strowan Westwood's will, and strongly encouraging Gask to ensure that Mayfield attends the reading of the will, tomorrow.
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