The Visiting Detective – Episode 11


GABY thought for a moment.

“They liked the chairs? They’re brand new, as we spotted – no more than a few weeks out of the shop.”

“Don’t be silly. Burglars don’t respect interior design or other people’s furniture. I think Mr D supplied the chair.”

“You mean he was there when they arrived and they made him fetch a chair? Why not tell us, for goodness’ sake?”

“What if he knew they were coming?”

Gaby and Kit looked at each other.

“He’d spent half a year’s profits on green velvet to make his gallery look smarter and more profitable than it was. If he knew about the robbery – instigated the robbery? – then he wasn’t about to let the robbers wreak havoc with dirty boots.”

Kit looked triumphant.

“I knew there was something odd about the crime scene as soon as I walked in.”

Gaby nodded.

“It does fit with the old shoes.”

“Shoes?”

“Duchesne had a pair of very good shoes on when we met him. Robinson, you wouldn’t understand the concept. But they had seen better days. Was there a lack of money, but still a need to keep up appearances?”

“So he gained by the robbery somehow? He got a cut?”

Their eyes locked. Gaby recognised the thrill in his eyes, the excitement of the chase really beginning. She had seen it in a hundred police eyes, but this time she found it harder to drag her eyes away.

“If only he hadn’t been sent to the bottom of the Regent’s Park canal,” she said.

Kit coughed and looked away at last.

“Let’s do a proper search here. Now that we’re moving closer, we might do better than the lads.”

After half an hour, Kit held up a photograph album. He gestured to Gaby to sit beside him and they began at the beginning. The photos began in the 1920s – small square images of what they knew must be Joseph Duchesne as a toddler, with a smiling mother and dark, serious father. He grew as the album went on, and there was a graduation picture – Joseph with pimples in a black gown. Then a facing page was blank.

“As though he were starting again,” Kit said. He turned over the next leaf of thick black paper. A single photograph was centred on the next page. A curvaceous woman sat on a deckchair, smiling out at the camera. Her face was turned very slightly, a little coquettishly, to one side. Her clothes told them it was the late 30s or early 40s.

“Probably just pre-war,” Kit said. “You know they had hardly any photographic paper for domestic photography in the war. It all went to the war effort.”

“So,” Gaby surmised, “this is about nineteen thirty-nine. A girlfriend?”

“A special girlfriend, by the look of her. But he never married.”

“Any more photos?”

Kit turned the page again. The rest of the album was blank.

“Was she the love of his life?” he asked. Gaby shifted beside him, and he breathed a warm current of her Je Reviens perfume. “And does she have anything at all to do with this case, or are we wasting time flicking through a dead man’s photograph album?”

“I think she just might,” Gaby said. “Hand me that thing.”

Kit passed the album on to Gaby’s small lap, and she examined the picture. She looked up at Kit.

“Unless I’m very much mistaken,” she said, “I know that face, or at least I know a version that’s at least twenty-five years older. That’s Maureen Salter.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.