Death in the Mews
Guy stood aside, letting the detectives enter the house, then pinned Henrietta Fox. “Were you in that house?”
She faced him calmly. “As you could see, Officer Royce. I was.”
“What were you doing in there?”
“Doing my job, just like you. I didn’t touch anything, nor did I enter the kitchen, which is where you’ll find her body, by the way. Shouldn’t you be examining the crime scene instead of me?”
“It’s not my job. Those are murder squad detectives. I could prosecute you for obstructing justice.”
“Pull the other one, Guy. What if she’d been alive?”
Guy knew she wasn’t a suspect. He wanted to shake her up a bit. See what came out.
“Why do you know so much about this woman, Miss Fox? You knew about her and the PM, you knew she was at the football match. Now you’re here when she’s murdered.”
“I don’t. It’s all co-incidence. And do call me Henri. Miss Fox sounds like a spinster schoolmarm.”
Royce didn’t like co-incidences, especially when they came in threes. “What else do you know, Henri? Tell me and, maybe I’ll believe you.” He watched her brush aside a red curl and she engaged his eyes frankly.
“I don’t know anything.”
“How did you know to even be here?”
“Don’t you read the papers?”
He had to admit he did which was why he was here, too. He was just annoyed she knew more than he did.
She went on. “I do know a man who knows her secrets. A good contact.”
“Who is he?”
“I know where he is.”
“Take me to him now. I want to meet him.”
“Can you ride pillion?”
Guy gave her his Weary Warrior look. “I’ve got a cab. Come with me.”
She tugged at Chaz’s plastic sleeve. “I’ve got to go, Chaz. Keep an eye on the bike, will you?”
His face creased into a knowing smile. “You’re bein’ nicked, princess.”
She rolled her eyes and turned to follow Guy, adjusting her stride to keep up with him.
In the black cab Guy checked his voicemail. Commissioner Chambers had left three messages, each more incandescent than the last. He sighed. If it wasn’t Barclay it was Chambers chasing him. With the blonde dead this could not end well. Where did that leave him in the redundo stakes.
Henrietta Fox sat cradling her camera case. “Who killed her, Guy? So brutally.”
He nodded. “Why’s, more like it. Why kill her? A star must get enemies. A stalker? Spurned lover?”
“Burglar, more likely. The baby’s dead, too. How horrible.” She shuddered.
“But a burglar doesn’t stab someone through the eyes, Henri. That’s a crime of some passion. Or revenge.”
She said. “Certainly not Marcus Barclay – so who?”
“That’s where I must begin. What if the father isn’t Barclay? She never said it was. Discover the father then I’ll understand the killing.”
“Life’s very precious, Guy. She had everything and the baby to look forward to, but there she was, Marie Montague, dead at my feet.”
She studied the fine scar on his cheek in the confined cabin as the black cab swung into the Knightsbridge traffic. “You’re not married..?”
Guy nodded. He liked her directness but it unnerved him, too.
She went on, “you’re what…thirty-six? Seven? You’re running out of time.”
Guy suppressed his pleasure. Try Forty-four. “I was married. My wife died. I didn’t want to do it again.” What he wanted was to change the subject. He wanted to tell her, watch out! Most women I get close to disappear. My mother, my wife, Angela, Princess Diana and now Marie Montague, but she was still talking.
“Maybe you haven’t met the right woman. How were you injured?”
Guy took a breath. “It’s nothing. A pursuit that went wrong. My patrol car went off the road.”
“Did you catch them?”
“They died. Other people, too. I don’t want to talk about it.” What he wanted to say was he couldn’t talk about it. The funerals, the Tribunal. It took weeks to heal his face and seven years to cauterize the wounds in his mind.
They travelled on in silence into the Euston Road underpass and the cab pulled up outside the concrete and glass tower block of Euston Place Productions. In the foyer a gallery of film stills from forty years of movies, TV and theatre stared down from the walls, stars in black and white progressing into glossy colour. Guy studied them, remembering his youth and the movies he and his dead wife had seen together before her suicide. Posters accompanied each movie with sleekly groomed stars. All were household names to him.
Harry Hibbert, the Chief of Media Affairs, was aglow with pleasure. A man in his early fifties, he had a stoop that rendered him shorter than his actual height. He had a high forehead, a beaked, aquiline nose and thinning hair with narrow shoulders and a long neck above a loose collar that Guy thought gave him the look of a meerkat searching for trouble. He kissed Henrietta on both cheeks, gripping her by the shoulders.
He pumped Guy´s hand without knowing who he was.
“Harry, this is Detective Inspector Royce of Scotland Yard. We’re here for a bit of help about Marie Montague.”
Harry Hibbert froze. “Marie Montague? She’s not in my stable, Henri. She’s Chapple Theatre Management now, not Euston Place.”
Guy showed off his warrant card. “Yes, we know that, Harry, but I’m told you were once her agent. I’ve got some bad news. She’s been murdered. Her body was found at her home in Chelsea this morning.”
Harry Hibbert stooped a little more and wrinkled his nose. “Good God, Inspector. Murdered? But that’s terrible. My poor Marie.”
“You know she was pregnant? We’re trying to get information on the father.” Guy awaited his reaction. After a pause, the PR said. “It couldn’t last, y’know. You realise she’s paid more than the show earns? The National Theatre was asking for trouble. Mark my words. You heard it here first.” He scratched at his nose.
Guy said. “Why did she leave you, Harry? I suppose in your business you can’t have all the top stars.”
The PR took the statement like an insult. “Who says I can’t? We had a disagreement. It was about the direction her career was taking, that’s all.”
Guy asked, “what kind of disagreement, Harry?”
“I thought she should do more TV. She wanted movies.”
Henrietta said. “What’s the whisper in the business? Who was she seeing? Someone in the play? A cast member?”
He shook his head, his whole body turning with his lack of mobility when he spoke.
“Surely it’s Marcus Barclay?”
Guy probed. “But if it wasn’t?” He laid the question quietly for him to pick up.
“No. I would look further afield. Much further. She wanted more than I could give.”
“How much further, Harry? Someone outside the business? Sportsman, tycoon?”
Hibbert dismissed it with contempt. “No, no Inspector. Further afield, I said. Marie Montague was big in the UK. That’s nothing. It means she only gets to English-speaking Commonwealth countries. She wanted more. I’ve heard she spent a lot of time abroad, between the West End and Number Ten.”
“Where abroad, Harry?” Henrietta puzzled.
He turned to her. “Ask yourself, Henri. Where do they all go to make it big? Following in the footsteps of the greats: Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sean Connery, Dudley Moore, et cetera.” He counted off the names one by one on his fingers. “They’ve never been able to resist since Bristol-born Archie Leach became Hollywood star Cary Grant. Can’t resist it, you see.”
Guy raised an eyebrow. “Hollywood? That’s a bit of a jump for our girl, isn’t it, Harry?”
Hibbert nodded. “Why not? A well-trodden path. The best get there and the rest try it once.” He pointed to a framed photograph of Marie Montague on his wall inscribed in flowing, black ink.
’To Harry. My Guru’
Henrietta glanced at Guy. “Who was Marie seeing over there, Harry? I mean, who especially?”
“No idea, Miss Fox. None whatsoever. But that’s where I’d look.”
Guy flipped his notebook shut. “Thanks, Harry. Very useful. Non attributable, of course.” Guy slipped out his copy of the Morning Graphic front page with Henrietta’s photograph of Marie with the man at the soccer match. “Recognise him, Harry?”
The media man shook his head. “He’s no one I know. Definitely not him.”
Guy voiced his question: “So, we’re saying that the possible future wife of Britain’s Prime Minister was pregnant by an American movie star?”
Harry Hibbert spoke solemnly but a twinkle lit his eye. “I really couldn’t say, Detective Inspector.”
Guy was just itching to tell the Commissioner he needed to go to California.