فصل 03

مجموعه: کتاب های خیلی ساده / کتاب: شرکت بد / فصل 3

کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 03

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER THREE

Questions for Ms Johnson

Harriet Johnson was wearing black jeans and a pink blouse. She had long dark hair and looked very sure of herself. She sat down in front of Shepherd and Webb.

‘James told me the news,’ she said. ‘I understand you want to talk to me.’

‘Yes,’ said Shepherd slowly, giving Johnson a long look. ‘How well did you know Ms Engel?’

‘Well enough,’ replied Johnson. ‘We worked together for two years.’

Shepherd gave her another long look. Something was wrong.

‘You don’t look sad,’ said Shepherd.

Johnson gave a short laugh.

‘No, I don’t, do I?’ she said. Her mouth smiled, but not her eyes. ‘Well, I didn’t like Claudia Engel at all. Actually, I hated her.’

Shepherd looked questioningly at Johnson.

‘The old, old story,’ said Johnson, again with a short laugh. ‘I had a boyfriend. She took him away from me. They started going out while I thought he and I were still together. Then I found out what was happening. He left me for her - well, I told him not to come back actually. Then later she left him.’

‘I see,’ said Shepherd.

‘She made me very unhappy. Then she made my boyfriend unhappy. Mind you, he never really did know what he wanted anyway. This all happened two years ago, when she started at MMI. It all meant nothing to her. But it didn’t mean nothing to me.’

‘And you hated her,’ said Shepherd.

‘I did,’ said Johnson. ‘I probably still do.’

‘Yes,’ thought Shepherd. ‘You do.’ She could almost feel the hate coming across from the other side of the table.

‘But I didn’t kill her,’ said Johnson.

‘How did the others feel about Engel?’ asked Shepherd. ‘McNab, Chowdury.’

Johnson smiled again. ‘They didn’t like her much,’ she answered. ‘Ajit Chowdury wanted her job. OK, he’s the accountant, but he thinks he knows a lot about music. He doesn’t want to sit in an office all day. He wants to be out and about with famous musicians.’

‘And McNab?’ asked Shepherd.

‘Dear old James,’ answered Johnson. ‘He likes everyone to think he’s the boss, doesn’t he? But, actually… well, he’s just a little bit afraid of women. You probably saw that, Inspector.’

For a moment Shepherd thought about smiling, but decided against the idea.

‘Anyway,’ Johnson was speaking again, ‘he was certainly afraid of Claudia. Over the last two years she was the real brains behind the company. The musicians loved her. She knew what music the public wanted to buy. And James knew he just had to agree to her ideas.’

‘How long have you worked for MMI?’ asked Shepherd.

‘Fifteen years,’ answered Johnson. ‘Since James started the company.’

‘And the company is doing well?’ asked Shepherd.

‘Fine,’ replied Johnson quickly. Too quickly maybe, thought Shepherd.

‘Some of our musicians are big names all over the world,’ said Johnson. ‘And we’re taking on two new bands. I haven’t heard them, but people say they’re excellent.’

‘Tell us about last night,’ said Shepherd.

Johnson told Webb and Shepherd about the four of them having drinks in the bar.

‘Then we had dinner,’ said Johnson. ‘We finished about nine thirty.’

‘McNab told us about a man who came into the bar. Someone Claudia Engel knew,’ said Shepherd. ‘You haven’t told us about him.’

‘I didn’t see him,’ replied Johnson. ‘I had my back to the door, and by the time I turned round, he was gone.’

‘But you’re sure Ms Engel knew him?’ Shepherd made it a question.

‘Oh yes,’ said Johnson. ‘The look on her face told me that. Actually, I think she met him later. She certainly met someone.’

Shepherd looked questioningly at Johnson.

After dinner I sat in the lounge, had a coffee and read a book,’ began Johnson. ‘While I was there, Claudia came down from her room and went out of the front doors. From where I was sitting I could see through the doors - they’re glass - and she was standing there. Outside. Waiting. I’m sure she was waiting for someone. Then she walked away to the left. It was as if she could see the person she was meeting.’

‘Why did you think that?’ asked Shepherd.

‘Just the way she was walking,’ said Johnson.

‘But you didn’t see the person she was meeting?’ asked Shepherd.

‘No,’ said Johnson. ‘It was too dark.’

‘What time was this?’ asked Shepherd.

‘Probably about ten thirty,’ answered Johnson. ‘Maybe ten forty-five. I went up to my room soon after that.’ She moved uncomfortably on her chair.

‘And you didn’t see Ms Engel again?’ asked Shepherd.

‘No,’ replied Johnson.

Shepherd looked at Webb.

‘There’s salt on your shoes,’ he said to Johnson.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Johnson.

‘They’re white round the bottoms,’ said Webb. ‘That’s salt. From the sea. Have you been on the beach?’

Shepherd looked at Johnson’s shoes. They were black trainers. And there was salt round the bottom of them.

‘Not bad, Webb,’ she thought.

‘Well, I went for a walk on the beach yesterday afternoon,’ replied Johnson.

‘Yesterday afternoon?’ Webb made it a question.

‘Yes,’ replied Johnson.

‘You didn’t go out again in the evening? After ten thirty perhaps?’ asked Webb.

‘No,’ answered Johnson, her voice not as strong as before. ‘I’ve told you. I went up to my room.’

Webb said nothing. He just looked at Johnson.

Shepherd could see Johnson’s face beginning to go a little red. Maybe there was something she didn’t want the police to know.

Johnson moved uncomfortably on her chair again. ‘I’ve told you,’ she said again. ‘I went up to my room.’

Webb looked at Shepherd.

‘OK, Ms Johnson,’ said Shepherd. ‘You can go. We’ll want to talk to you again, so don’t leave the hotel. OK?’

‘Right,’ said Johnson quietly, and she left the room, head down.

Shepherd and Webb looked at each other.

‘She wasn’t very happy about something, was she?’ said Shepherd.

‘There’s something she’s not telling us,’ answered Webb. ‘Or maybe she just didn’t like my questions.’

Shepherd stood up.

‘I need some air,’ she said, taking her bag off the back of the chair. ‘And I’ve got a call to make. Go and see if there’s any news about our Mr X or from the officers in the rooms. I’ll be outside the front of the hotel.’


Fifteen minutes later Shepherd was standing outside the front doors of the hotel. Her phone was in her hand.

Webb came out of the hotel at a fast walk. He had a piece of paper in his hand.

‘Two things, Shep,’ he said.

Shepherd closed her phone. ‘Well?’ she asked.

‘We know who Mr X is,’ said Webb, looking pleased with himself. ‘And one of the receptionists agrees with Johnson that Engel left the hotel at ten thirty. But she also saw Chowdury leave the hotel at about ten forty-five.’

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