فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

Money Matters

Mr Larkin was a serious-looking man in his middle fifties. He was standing in front of his desk when the Inspector entered his office.

‘I’m Inspector Ainsworth, sir,’ the detective told him. ‘I’m investigating the murder, and I need to ask you some questions.’

‘Yes, of course,’ Mr Larkin said nervously, ‘I quite understand. It’s been terrible, Inspector, a terrible shock. Who would have thought…? Such a nice man. But really…’ He coughed, and made an effort to control himself. ‘I’m sorry, Inspector. Please ask your questions. I’ll tell you everything I can.’

‘I want to know as much as I can about the company and about Arthur Mowbray,’ the Inspector said. ‘It might help me in the investigation.’

‘Yes, I see,’ Mr Larkin agreed. ‘Well, Inspector, let’s start with the company finances, shall we? That’s my main responsibility.’

‘Thank you, sir,’ the Inspector said politely.

‘The company’s performance in the last year has been disappointing, I’m afraid,’ the director said. ‘Revenue is down on last year, and we’re facing some difficult decisions. We may have to make some people redundant in the near future, I’m afraid. That’s the fundamental situation.’

‘I suppose the death of Arthur Mowbray will make things worse.’ suggested the Inspector. ‘He must have played a big part in the financial decision making of the company.’

Mr Larkin smiled. The Inspector noticed the smile, and looked curiously at him.

‘I’m sorry, Inspector,’ the director said, ‘I shouldn’t smile. But the idea of Arthur Mowbray playing an important role in financial decision making is a strange one! He didn’t know anything about the world of finance,’ he explained. ‘He didn’t even know the difference between a bull market and a bear market, Inspector! I had to tell him…’

The director paused suddenly.

‘Let’s just say that Arthur Mowbray wasn’t interested in that side of the business, and leave it at that.’

‘I understand, sir,’ the Inspector said. ‘It’s interesting, what you say. Very interesting.’ He wrote something quickly in his notebook.

‘What about this morning’s meeting, Mr Larkin? Were you going to be there?’

‘Oh, yes, it was an informal meeting of the directors. We were all going to be there. There were one or two things that I thought we should discuss.’

‘What things in particular, Mr Larkin?’ the Inspector asked. Mr Larkin looked embarrassed, and then said quickly,

‘Just company matters, Inspector - nothing that would interest the police, I’m sure.’

Suddenly the Inspector spoke very seriously.

‘This is a murder investigation, Mr Larkin,’ he said quietly. ‘Withholding information is a serious offence, sir.’

‘Very well,’ Mr Larkin said unhappily. ‘If you put it like that I suppose I have no choice. The fact is, Inspector, I had noticed some unusual expenditure in the accounts, and I wanted to discuss it with the other directors. That’s all.’

‘What kind of expenditure?’ the Inspector asked.

‘It was in Sales and Marketing - Miss Markham’s responsibility, you know. I noticed that she had commissioned a lot of market research in recent months. I wondered if the expenditure was justified, that’s all. Miss Markham is quite new to the company, and she’s young. She’s very enthusiastic, of course, but I was worried about her judgement, that’s all.’

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