by Trevor Hopkins

I thanked Argaty Dupplin again, asked her to mention that I called when Clathy returned, even encouraged her to think that I had some important news to impart. As I had been bid, I closed the door behind me carefully, listening to the clicks as some of the locks snapped into place. Then I listened carefully for a while, my ear pressed up against the closed door. There was no sound of a telephone receiver being lifted, just the silence of an old Goblin sitting in front of a fire.

From the Dupplin apartment block, I went straight to the 14th precinct headquarters to see Luncardy. There were too many eyes on my office and my own apartment just at the moment, or at least I felt that there might be. I had been at Clathy's place for so short a time that I could count on any tail not yet having caught up with me.

I enquired at the front desk for the Inspector. After a short muttered telephone conversation, I was asked to wait in an interview room. Not her office this time. I wasn't sure whether this represented a demotion of trust or just expediency. Even so, the door was left open and I was given every impression that I was free to leave at any time.

I paced up and down impatiently, smoking a cigarette as if my life depended on it. A uniformed type put his head in a couple of times to make sure I was okay; once to ask if I wanted a cup of coffee - I declined; police coffee is like Creosote with added sugar - and once to re-assure me that Luncardy would be with me very shortly. Finally, I slumped in one of the uncomfortable chairs that encircled the single table.

"Ah, Gask, there you are," Luncardy said unannounced as she swanned into the interview room trailed by a couple of juniors, "I had our handwriting expert take a look at that ransom note you found. He's compared it with the note on the matchbook."

"And?" I said, once again marvelling at Luncardy's incredibly focussed attitude.

"And it's a match - ha!" she snorted at her own pun, "Taking into account the writer was probably trying to disguise his hand and, on the matches, imitate your writing, my expert says there's an 95% probability that the two notes were written by the same person."

"That's good news," I said, "So Clunie's kidnapping is almost certainly related to the killing of Hosh."

"That's right," she said, looking pleased with herself.

"To be honest, I had assumed that was the case anyway," I said, "But it's always good to be sure."

"Quite so. And what brings you in here?" she asked, reaching into her pocket for cigarettes, "Anything important?"

"Well, not particularly," I said, inspecting my nails with ironic modesty, "It's just that I think I know where Drummond and Clathy are holding Clunie."

Part 79 Part 81