فصل 17

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فصل 17

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Putting the pieces together

Amanda Grant looked surprised when she opened the door to Eliot and Bowen. But she calmly asked them to come in. She was wearing the same jeans and sweater as on Saturday morning, and today she seemed more like a teenage girl than a successful journalist.

Eliot felt very disappointed. He had liked her from the moment he had first seen her, and he was not usually so wrong about people. She was certainly a woman of strong character and feelings. And he believed most people could kill if the situation was right. Perhaps she had found out about Forley’s affair and been unable to accept it. But he had thought she was a brave person. Why hadn’t she admitted the crime immediately, instead of trying to cover it up?

‘Miss Grant,’ he said, ‘we would like to know exactly what you did when you got back from Edinburgh.’

‘I told Detective Constable Bowen this morning,’ she said, in her deep voice. ‘The plane landed at London City Airport at five past two. I picked up my car from the car park, and drove back. It took over an hour. The traffic was terrible that day.’

‘I understand nobody saw you,’ continued Eliot.

‘No,’ she answered. ‘Is it important?’

‘These are just routine questions,’ said Eliot. ‘Now, what did you do when you got home?’

‘I unpacked and had a bath,’ she said. ‘Then I tried to phone Alex, as you’ll know if you’ve checked his answerphone.’

‘Miss Grant, do you have a mobile phone?’ asked Eliot.

‘Of course,’ she answered. ‘But I didn’t use it to ring Alex, if that’s what you’re asking. I used that phone over there.’

Eliot was suddenly very pleased. Her story would be easy to check. The airport car park would be able to tell them when she had left, and the phone company would have a record of her calls. If she had phoned from home, it would not have been possible for her to kill Forley. With all that traffic, she could not have got to his house before 3.20 at the earliest. And she certainly would not have been home again by 3.45. For once, he was thankful for the traffic.

In the car Bowen was silent, and Eliot knew he was angry with himself. He had forgotten to ask her about the mobile phone when he saw her that morning. But it would only have saved a little time. Much less time than they had wasted on the Crowthers. Back at the station, it took Bowen only twenty minutes to check Amanda’s story. Someone from her office in Edinburgh had driven her to the airport, and the plane had arrived at five past two, as she had said. Both the car park and the phone company gave the same information as she had given them.

‘So it looks as though she’s not guilty either,’ said Eliot. ‘And she’s the one who gets everything he owned. We’ve just spoken to his lawyer. It seems Forley made a will two weeks ago, and left everything to her. But I’m not sure how pleased she’ll be. She didn’t seem very comfortable about his money.’

Was this case really as unusual as it seemed? Money or love were at the root of most situations the police had to work with. And there were plenty of both here. He felt they must have something to do with Alex Forley’s death. But he could not discover what it was. He was finding more and more people with a reason for killing Forley. But it seemed that none of them had had the opportunity.

Eliot did not believe Lisa Wilver would tell them anything useful when they spoke to her. He was beginning to think that Alex Forley had killed himself after all. That evening, Eliot was quieter than usual, though he always tried not to bring his work home. It was not fair that his family should suffer because of his job. He made a great effort to listen to one of Micky’s long stories about his school friends. But Eliot felt something about the case was wrong. He trusted his feelings, and he did not have much time.

‘So then Paul hit David, and Miss Thomas made him sit by himself for half an hour. I’m glad he hit him,’ Micky was saying.

‘But you shouldn’t hit people,’ said Eliot automatically.

‘Yes, but do you know what David did, Dad? He told Paul Miss Thomas had given us five pages of homework, but she hadn’t given us any.’

‘Why did he tell a lie like that?’ Eliot tried to be interested.

‘Paul broke his pen and he was angry with him. Do you know how long Paul took to do his homework? Two and a half hours. And he hates maths. Wasn’t David horrible? Dad! What are you doing? Put me down!’

Eliot had suddenly picked up his surprised son and was dancing with him round the kitchen.

‘Thanks, Micky,’ he said. ‘I understand it now. Your story was a great help.’ Eliot had suddenly realised what he had missed. Now he thought he knew what had happened to Forley. But before he could be sure, there was something he needed to check. And he would have to ask Bowen to finish reading Forley’s diary.

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