فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

A hell of a fighter

At lunch time I met Jonty in our usual bar in Piccadilly. He seemed even more nervous than usual. I assumed that the reason for this was that the police weren’t getting any further with the Kawaguchi and Ito murder cases. He was wearing a pink tie with the Pink Panther on it. I tried not to look too disgusted, but my face must have shown something because he looked at the tie and smiled stupidly.

‘Ah… birthday present,’ he said. I didn’t trust myself to speak.

Finally I said, ‘Jonty, I spoke to James Benson, Peter’s brother. He’s almost certain that his brother committed the murder. He told me that he had told the police a few times. Do you know anything about it?’

‘Not much,’ Jonty said. ‘I just think that the evidence against Murphy was so strong

I remembered Dad telling me about the Manchester alibi. There was hardly any evidence against Murphy.

‘So what do you know about public enquiries into the London Road murder case?’ I asked. ‘Surely the police must be aware of the connection with Kawaguchi?’

‘I don’t think anybody is very keen to look into the Murphy case again. There have already been two public enquiries,’ he said, smoking his usual Rothmans, ‘which both concluded that Murphy was the London Road murderer. But they’re going to have to do something. This Avenger is really hotting up. Two murders and the attempted murder of the Home Secretary. Not bad for ten days’ work.’

I rarely expected Jonty tell me anything I didn’t already know. He, on his side, rarely disappointed me.

I finished my beer and stood up to go. If Jonty knew anything, he would say it now. Jonty said nothing, apart from ‘bye-bye’, and I left for the office. I was no nearer to knowing who The Avenger was, even though he or she (I was beginning to feel with more certainty that this person was a woman) definitely knew who I was. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Back at the office I got down to some serious thinking. I had given the handwriting sample from the letter bomb to our handwriting expert, Sandra Watts. She was a careful woman who never spoke before being absolutely certain. ‘Well, Kate,’ she said, ‘in my opinion there’s a seventy-five per cent chance that it’s a woman.’

‘Can you tell her age?’ I asked. ‘Not exactly, but certainly not older than forty. You generally don’t find this style of handwriting in people over forty.’

I was now almost sure that she was a woman. Fairly young - no older than her early thirties, judging by her attack on me. If it was her who attacked me. She wasn’t alive at the time of the London Road murder, or only just. My age, in other words. Perhaps she was a relative of Brendan Murphy’s. But who? I rang the information department upstairs to ask them to find out about any female relatives of Brendan Murphy, however distant, of that age. They came up with zero. But then suddenly I had an idea…

I rang Paddy Murphy in Peterborough.

‘Mr Murphy, you said Brendan had lots of girlfriends,’ I began. ‘Can you remember any of their names?’

Paddy Murphy laughed.

‘Good Lord, Miss Jensen. Brendan had so many girlfriends. It’d take me a week to tell you all their names, even if could remember them. He was what you might call a ladies’ man.’

‘But was there any one in particular, Mr Murphy, just one who might have been special, who perhaps lasted longer than the others?’

Paddy Murphy thought for a while.

‘Well, the only one I can remember at all is Janey Lovat. She used to live near us. I can remember her because Brendan always used to call her “Lovely Lovat”. He was a bit of a joker.’

Lovat. Not a terribly common name. I looked at the list of registered black belts in London. There were two Lovats. One Brian Lovat, 2nd dan, who trained in Wimbledon, the other Brenda Lovat, 4th dan, who was a member of the Zanshin Karate club, Kawaguchi-sensei’s club. The name was familiar. I rang Sanjay and confirmed it was who I thought it was. Brenda Lovat was a top fighter - one of the top three women fighters in the country. I had seen her in the Internationals once; she was in Ticky Donovan’s team fighting for Great Britain. She was a hell of a fighter.

I thought back to Ando-sensei’s advice to me when I was in Tokyo. ‘Keep off the line of attack and wait until the time is right,’ he had said. I had a strong feeling that the time had now come. If my guess was right, The Avenger was fighting a single-handed battle against everyone - the police, the government, the whole world. It was a lonely business: perhaps she would be glad of some company. I had an idea, but first I had to get Balzano to agree to it - and Dad.

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