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chapter sixty-seven

Scire volunt secreta domus, atque inde timeri

(They watch for household secrets hour by hour

And feed therefrom their appetite for power)

(Juvenal, Satire III)


'what put you on it this time?' asked Lewis as they sat opposite each other in the small upstairs bar, Morse with a pint of real ale, Lewis himself with a much-iced orangeade.

'I think it wasn't so much finding Daley like he was out at Blenheim. It was the photographs they took of him there. I don't think it hit me at the time; but when I looked at the photographs I got the idea somehow that he'd just been dumped there that he hadn't been shot there at all.'

'You mean you just well, sort of had a feeling about it?'

'No. I don't mean that. You may think I work that way, Lewis, but I don't. I don't believe in some unaccountable intuition that just happens occasionally to turn out right. There's got to be something there, however vague. And here we had the hat, didn't we? The hat Daley wore wherever he was, whatever the weather. Same bloody hat! He never took it off, Lewis!'

'Probably took it off in bed?'

'We don't even know that, do we?' Morse drained his beer. 'Plenty of time for another.'

Lewis nodded. 'Plenty of time! Your round though, sir. I'll have another orange. Lovely. Lots of ice, please!'

'You see,' resumed Morse, a couple of minutes later, 'he was almost certainly wearing his hat when he was shot, and I very much doubt myself that it would have fallen off. I'd seen the tight sweat-mark round his forehead when we met him earlier. And even if it had fallen off when he dropped dead I just had the feeling'

Lewis lifted his eyebrows.

' it wouldn't have fallen far!

'So?'

'So, I reckon it was put down there deliberately, just beside his head after he was shot. Remember where it was? Three or four feet away from his head. So the conclusion's firm and satisfactory, as I see it. He was wearing his hat when he was shot, and like as not it stayed on his head. Then when he was moved, and finally dumped, it had come off; and it was placed there beside him.'

'What a palaver!'

Morse nodded. 'But they had to do it. They had to establish an alibi -'

'For David Michaels, you mean?'

'Yes. It was Michaels who shot Daley I've no doubts on that score. There was the agreement Hardinge told us about, wasn't there, the agreement the four of them made a statement by the way that contains quite as much truth as falsehood, Lewis. Then something comes along and buggers it all up. Daley got a letter spelling out his financial responsibilities for his boy, and Daley knew that he was the one who had a hold over well, over all the others, really. But particularly over David Michaels! I reckon Daley probably rang him and said he couldn't afford to stick by the agreement; said he was sorry but he needed more money. And if he didn't get more money pretty soon'

'Blackmail!'

'Exactly. And there may well have been a bit more of that than we think.'

'Quite a hold over Michaels, though, when you think of it: knowing he was married to a murderess.'

'Quite a hold. So Michaels agrees pretends he agrees to go along with it. They'll meet at Wytham earlyish on Monday -quarter to ten, say. No one around much at that time. No birdwatchers allowed in the woods till ten remember the notice?'

'The RSPB people were there.'

'They turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though.'

'Take it a bit slower, please!'

'Right. Let's just go back a minute. The rendezvous's settled. Daley drives up to Wytham. Michaels has said he'll have some money ready in notes, no doubt just after the bank's opened. He's ready. He waits for Daley to drive up to his office. He waits for a clear view of him as he gets out of his estate van. I don't know exactly where he was waiting, of course; what I do know is that someone as experienced as Michaels, with a telescopic sight, could hit this' Morse picked up his empty glass 'no problem! from a hundred, let alone from fifty yards.'

But any further reconstruction of Daley's murder was temporarily curtailed, since Johnson had walked in, and now sat down beside them.

'What'll you have?' asked Morse. 'Lewis here is in the chair.'

'Nothing for me, thank you, er, Lewis. Look! There's this call for you from forensics about the van. I told 'em I wasn't quite sure where you were-'

'What'd they say?'

'They found prints all over the shop mostly Daley's, of course. But like you said, they found other prints on the tail-board, on the steering wheel.'

'And I was right about them?'

Johnson nodded. 'Yes. They're Karin Eriksson's.'


At lunch-time that same day, Alasdair McBryde came out of the tube station at Manor House and walked briskly down the Seven Sisters Road finally turning into one of the parking-and-garage areas of a high-rise block of flats that flanks the Bethune Road. He had spotted the unmarked car immediately: the two men seated in the front, one of them reading the Sun. It was quite customary for him to spot danger a mile or so off; and he did so now. Number 14 was the garage he was interested in; but softly whistling the Prelude to Act Three of Lohengrin, he walked boldly into the nearest open garage (number 9), picked up a half-filled can of Mobiloil, before nonchalantly retracing his steps to the main road; where, still clutching the dirty can, he walked quietly and confidently away in the direction of Stamford Hill.

'False alarm!' said the policeman with the Sun, as he resumed his reading of various illicit liaisons among the glitterati.


At 3.25 p.m., no more than four or five yards from the spot where Chief Inspector Johnson had earlier stood, there amongst the nettles and the cow-parsley and other less readily recognizable plants and weeds, Constable Roy Wilks made his discovery: a.243 bullet the bullet (surely!) for which the party had been searching. Never, in his life hitherto, had Wilks been the focus of such attention; and never again (as he duly recognized) would he be likely to experience such felicitous congratulations.

Most particularly from Morse.


chapter sixty-six | The Way Through The Woods | chapter sixty-eight







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