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John Creasey - Inspector West At Home

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Inspector West At Home
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JOHN CREASEY

Inspector West At Home

Copyright Note

This e-book was created by papachanjo, with the purpose of providing a digitized format of the books written by John Creasey without the least intention of commercial gain of any sort. This e-book should hence be utilized for reading only and if you like it and can buy it, please do to support the publishers.

I am trying to create at least an ample collection of all the John Creasey books which are in the excess of 500 novels. Having read and possess just a meager 10 of his books does not qualify me to be a fan but the 10 I read were enough for me to rake up some effort to scan and create these e-books.

If you happen to have any John Creasey book and would like to add to the free online collection which I’m hoping to bring together, you can do the following:

Scan the book in greyscale

Save as djvu - use the free DJVU SOLO software to compress the images

Send it to my e-mail: [email protected]

I’ll do the rest and will add a note of credit in the finished document.

from back cover

Frame-up!

Chief Inspector Roger ‘Handsome’ West opened his front door to Superintendent Abbott.

“I think you know why I’ve called,” said Abbott. He drew a folded slip of paper from his coat.

It was an official search warrant. . .

To save his career from being ruined and his name blackened. West plunges into a mystery that involves murder, international conspiracy — and corruption at the Yard!

Table of Contents

 

Copyright Note

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

CHAPTER 1

Roger West Has a Day Off

 

SUPERINTENDENT ABBOTT inserted his tall figure and expressionless face into the narrow opening of the door of the Chief Inspector’s office on B Floor at New Scotland Yard. Abbott seemed never to enter a door in natural fashion, but to slide in as if he were anxious to be unobserved.

When Roger West, who was in the office with Chief Inspector Eddie Day, looked up and saw the vacant face of the Superintendent, his heart dropped. He had schemed to take this particular day off, because it was his wife’s birthday, but he had been pessimistic until, when he had arrived an hour before, he had found a note from Abbott telling him to give details of one or two reports and go off. It was a dull, grey day, with early April making a passable imitation of late November; lights were burning over the desks furthest from the windows.

At the Yard, they called Abbott the Apostle of Gloom, for he was invariably the bearer of evil tidings, which perhaps accounted for his cold, vacuous expression.

Eddie Day looked up, pushed his chair back, and grinned. Eddie was not handsome, and when he grinned he showed most of his prominent front teeth.

“Oh, West,” said Abbott. “Will you be at home this afternoon ?”

Roger looked puzzled. “I expect so, yes.”

“Can you make sure that you will be in ?”

“I had thought of doing a show with my wife, but that wouldn’t be until this evening.” Abbott was not a man with whom it was wise to take liberties. “You’re not going to bring me back, are you ?”

“I just wanted to be sure where I could find you,” Abbott promptly effaced himself, closing the door without a sound.

“What a ruddy nerve!” Eddie declared. “Trying to put you in a fix so’s you don’t know what to do. I’ll tell you what, Handsome, take Janet out and let Abbott get someone else to chase round after him.” Eddie, who was a shrewd officer and at his particular job — the detection of forgery — head and shoulders above anyone else at the Yard, still looked and talked like a detective-sergeant newly promoted from a beat. “Cold as a fish, that’s what I always think the Apostle is.” Then he frowned at Roger’s expression. “Say, what’s biting you. Handsome? You look as if you’ve eaten something that don’t agree with you.”

“It’s nothing,” said Roger. “He might have given me one day without wanting me on tap.” He locked his desk and took his hat and mackintosh from a hat-stand. “Head him off for me if you can, Eddie.”

“Trust me,” said Eddie. “I won’t let you down. Give my love to Janet!”

His laughter echoed in Roger’s ears as he went out, and walked thoughtfully along the passage.

A soft drizzle of rain, a mist which threatened to become a fog and a sky of a uniform dull grey did not depress him. He slipped into a shop, for Janet, and contemplated an afternoon in front of a log fire after a good lunch at a hotel in Chelsea.

When he reached his small detached house in Bell Street, Chelsea, she was waiting in the lounge in a gaily-coloured mackintosh. She was tucking in a few stray curls of her dark hair beneath a wide-brimmed felt hat.

“Will I do, darling?”

Slowly, Roger West looked her up and down. As slowly, he began to smile. The wicked gleam in his eyes brought a flush to Janet’s cheeks.

“You ass !” she exclaimed.

“Yes, you’ll do,” declared Roger. “Although why we want to go out I don’t know. I’d much rather stay in. Catch!” He tossed the package to her.

She caught the package, moved to him and kissed him. “I thought we said “no presents, only a day out”,” she said. “Roger, you haven’t got to go back ?”

He laughed at her sudden alarm. “Not as far as I know. That’s not a peace-offering !”

Yet as she opened the present he wished that she had not reminded him of the Yard.

Janet enthused over a locknit twin set.

She dropped the set on a table. A few minutes later, with her hair slightly rumpled and faint smears of lipstick on his lips and cheeks, Roger had completely forgotten Abbott.

Throughout the meal, at the hotel ten minutes walk from the house, they talked of trifles. Only when they were in the lounge drinking coffee, and Roger could see into the street, did a frown darken his face.

“What’s the matter?” asked Janet.

“Nothing,” said Roger.

“Darling,” said Janet, “you can probably deceive all the criminals in the world but it’s no use lying to me. What did you see?”

“Now, would I lie to you?” asked Roger. “I caught a glimpse of Tiny Martin outside and wondered why he’s here. He’s been on a job at Bethnal Green.”

“Who’s Tiny Martin?”

“A sergeant who does Abbott’s leg work,” said Roger. “Let’s forget him.”

But Martin was not so easily forgotten. He was a tall, thin, cadaverous-looking man who always worked with Abbott and had something of the Superintendent’s strange coldness.

In spite of the drizzle, Roger and Janet sauntered along the Chelsea Embankment before returning to Bell Street. Twice Roger caught a glimpse of Martin, although Janet had completely forgotten the man and was busy speculating on Roger’s chances of a month’s holiday so that they could go abroad. They were still discussing it when they reached the house. He thought that he caught a glimpse of Martin at the end of the road, but dismissed the idea and went indoors. He sat back in an easy chair and told himself that he was both a happy man and a lucky one. He looked a little drawn — Janet knew that overwork explained it, but although there was a tinge of grey at his temples he looked absurdly young to be a Chief Inspector at the Yard. Their closest friend, Mark Lessing, frequently declared that Roger amazed him, so rarely did good looks and a keen mind go together.

“What time must we leave?” Janet asked.

“We shouldn’t start later than six,” said Roger, “the curtain rises at a quarter past seven and I don’t suppose we’ll be able to get a cab.” He reached out for his cup and then sat upright, hearing footsteps on the front path. The lounge was at the front of the house.

The footsteps were heavy and deliberate.

“Darling, why are you on edge so?” demanded Janet. “It’s probably the laundryman.” She put the lid over a dish of toasted crumpets and hurried to the front door. Roger glanced towards the hall, not knowing himself why he felt so worked up, until he heard Abbott’s familiar voice.

“Good afternoon,” said the Superintendent, “is Inspector West in, please ?”

“Yes, he’s at home,” said Janet, her tone reflecting the keenness of her disappointment.

“Ask him to be good enough to spare me a few minutes, will you? I am Superintendent Abbott of New Scotland Yard.”

“Yes, I know,” said Janet. She asked Abbott into the hall, then came to tell Roger, who was standing up and sipping his tea.

“Shall I ask him in here?”

“Yes, you’d better,” said Roger, reluctantly.

“I suppose I’ll have to offer him some tea,” said Janet. She made a moué and then went out into the hall again, but she sounded brighter as she invited Abbott to come into the lounge.

“It is a private matter, Mrs West. I would rather see him alone,” Abbott said.

Roger went into the hall with a manner which could hardly be called inviting.

“Wouldn’t a phone call have done as well?” He was on surer ground in his home than at the Yard. He saw Detective Sergeant Martin standing by the gate, looking gloomier because it was raining harder. Drops fell from the turned-down brim of his trilby. Roger frowned and added more sharply : “What is it?”

Deliberately, Abbott wiped his feet on the door-mat and shook the rain from his hat into the porch before putting it on the hall-stand. Janet closed the door. Abbott did not take off his mackintosh as he said :

“I’d like a word with you, West, alone.”

Feeling angry, Roger led the way to the dining-room. He stood aside for Abbott to pass and the Superintendent sidled in.

Roger waited as Abbott regarded him with narrowed eyes; he was a spare man with a curiously fleshless face and lips which were almost colourless.

“Well, what is it?” Roger’s exasperation got the better of his discretion.

“I think you know why I’ve called,” said Abbott.

“I certainly don’t,” Roger said. “And I hope it won’t take long. Is it the Micklejohn case?”

“It is not,” Abbott said. “West, I don’t wish to make this more unpleasant than I have to. You know why I’ve come and your aggressive attitude won’t help you.”

Roger stared. “Aggressive attitude?” he echoed. “If you mean a reasonable annoyance at being visited at home when I’m off duty —”

“I mean nothing of the kind,” said Abbott, and sighed, as if what he had to say was extremely distasteful. “I’ve come, of course, to search your house.”

Roger looked at him stupidly. “You’ve come to —” he began, then stopped abruptly. He was no longer angry, but was simply puzzled. “I wish you’d tell me what all this is about. It’s got past the joking stage.”

Abbott pushed his hand into his coat and drew out a folded slip of paper. There was something familiar about it; it was an official search warrant. Even when it was upside down he recognised the flourishes of the signature of Sir Guy Chatworth, the then Assistant Commissioner at the Yard, but until he had read it he did not really believe that it authorised Abbott to search his house. He drew in a deep breath, dropped the warrant on the dining-table and said :

“I think you owe me an explanation. I have no idea what this is all about.”

Abbott did not immediately answer and before Roger could speak again, still shocked by Abbott’s announcement, a second knock came at the front door and Janet’s footsteps followed. He paid little attention to what was happening outside, but looked into Abbott’s narrowed eyes and tried to quieten the heavy thumping of his heart.

CHAPTER 2

A Policeman Under a Shadow

“IT is not a pleasant task for me to present this warrant and X I think you should stop pretending that you know nothing about it,” said Abbott.

“I tell you I haven’t the faintest idea,” insisted Roger.

“Hallo, Jan !” cried a man from the hall. Roger recognised the voice of a close friend, Mark Lessing. Abbott was so surprised that he looked towards the door and Mark continued: “How’s the birthday party going?” There was a smacking sound and then, in a gasping voice, Janet said :

“Mark, you ass !”

“Now what is a kiss between friends on a birthday?” demanded Lessing. “Especially on the twenty-first — it is your twenty-first, isn’t it?”

Abbott pinched his nostrils. “Well, West?” he said.

Roger was thanking the fates for sending Mark Lessing just then. Mark had given him time to realise that he would be wise to adopt a less hostile attitude. There was some absurd mistake, but it could be rectified.

So he forced a smile.

“I haven’t anything to say about it, Superintendent, except that I’m completely at a loss.” His attempt to be affable faded out in the face of Abbott’s cold stare. “Obviously you must have some reason for getting a warrant sworn for me.”

“You must know the reason,” insisted Abbott.

Roger fancied that the faint emphasis on the ‘must’ implied a query. Before he could speak again, however, there came from the lounge an astonishing sound — astonishing because of the previous quiet. It was the deep, throbbing bass notes of the piano. Almost at once Mark began to sing, more loudly than harmoniously. A suspicion entered Roger’s mind : that Mark was drunk.

“Is that din necessary?” Abbott demanded irritably.

“Is any of this necessary?” asked Roger, tartly. “I thought I was going to have a day off. I’m taking my wife to a show as I told you. Are you serious about executing this warrant?”

“Of course I’m serious.”

“Why did you get it?” demanded Roger.

He had to raise his voice to make himself heard for Mark was going wild. He crashed wrong note after wrong note and he was thumping so heavily that the piano frame was quivering and groaning.

“If you will stop that noise I will tell you,” said Abbott. He stepped to the door. Roger had to go with him. When it was open, the whole house seemed to be in uproar, and he heard a bump upstairs.

Then he pushed open the lounge door.

Janet was by the mantelpiece, doubled up with laughter, for Mark was playing with idiotic abandon. As he crashed his hands on the keys he bobbed his head and his dark hair fell over his forehead; after each note he raised his hand high into the air, flexing his wrist. His pale face was flushed and his eyes were glistening.

“What the devil do you think you’re doing?” Roger demanded, striding across the room and grabbing Mark’s shoulder. “Stop it, you fool !” Mark continued, bobbing his head up and down vigorously. Boom! went the C sharp and then Mark played a run superbly. Boom! went the A, then G sharp, then C again.

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