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John Creasey - Triumph For Inspector West

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JOHN CREASEY

Triumph For Inspector West

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

West wanted Raeburn— and he wanted him badly

For two years Chief Inspector West had been watching Paul Raeburn — millionaire and racketeer, a man with a great capacity for evil . . .

Now, after the killing of a small-time crook, West began a one man crusade to put Raeburn where he belonged — behind bars.

Table of Contents

Copyright Note

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

CHAPTER XXV

CHAPTER I

A LITTLE MAN DIES

THE POWERFUL car moved swiftly and quietly along the road which led across Clapham Common. The beams of its headlights caught the grass and trees, making them a vivid green. It was nearly one o’clock in the morning, and the driver had not seen a soul since he had turned on to the Common road. He was humming under his breath.

Suddenly a man appeared.

The driver saw him dart forward, and took his foot off the accelerator. The man stopped in the middle of the road, his feet wide apart, his hands held above his head. The driver trod heavily on the brake and the car jolted to a standstill. As he did so, the man who had caused the emergency came quickly towards the car, and opened the door.

“Well, well,” he said in a sneering voice, “if it isn’t Mr Raeburn. The great Paul Raeburn himself! How’s it going, Mr Raeburn?”

In the light from the dashboard, his face showed thin and pale. His hands, gripping the side of the door, were white. Despite the sneer, his nervousness was unmistakable.

The driver showed no signs of nerves. “Who are you, and what’s this all about?” he demanded.

“What a question to ask, Mr Raeburn,” jeered the little man. “You don’t forget your old friends as easily as all that, surely. Just think back a few years. Perhaps it will help you if I say ‘Southampton’. You ought to have a good memory.” He now sounded breathless, as if he had been running. “Driving about in a Rolls, too. You’ve come up in the world, haven’t you?”

The driver took a cigarette case from his pocket.

“You’re Halliwell,” he said in a flat voice.

“Well, isn’t that marvellous!” exclaimed Halliwell. “You’ve remembered your old pal! You didn’t think I was alive, did you, Paul? You thought you were safe from me, but what a mistake. Supposing you get out and we have a little chat?”

“Supposing you get in beside me.”

“I’m not falling for any tricks like that, Paul,” Halliwell said. “I’m older and much smarter than I was, and I want a chat with you.”

Raeburn sat quite still, watching the other, seeing the indications that Halliwell had screwed himself up to a great pitch to do this. He had a pinched, hungry look and his eyes were watering.

Then, suddenly:

“How much do you want?” Raeburn asked.

“How much do I want?” Halliwell stretched out his hand and clutched Raeburn’s wrist. “That’s easy to answer. I want half of everything. I’m after a fifty-fifty partnership. I’m going into partnership with a millionaire! You are a millionaire, Paul, aren’t you? One of the great ‘I ams’. But if I were to tell all I know, where would you be?”

“You wouldn’t do that, would you?” asked Raeburn softly,

Halliwell began to laugh, but the laugh turned into a fit of coughing. Raeburn waited, quite impassively, but his fingers were tight on the cigarette case. Once he raised it, like a club.

Some distance ahead, the wavering light of a cycle appeared; Halliwell was still coughing when the cyclist passed, but soon managed to speak again.

“I’m going to have my share back, they’re my only terms—full partnership, or I talk. I’ve served my sentence, three bloody years in jail. Years you owe me, Paul. If I talk, nothing else can happen to me, I’ve paid in full, but you—well, just you think about it.”

“I’m thinking,” Raeburn said. “Get in, and we’ll go to my flat and have a drink.”

“We’ll talk where I want to,” insisted Halliwell. “I’ve worked it all out, to the last comma. I’ve watched you night after night, driving across the Common. Do you know I didn’t recognise you at first? I saw the Rolls, and used to think if my partner had acted rightly by me I’d be in a car like that. Then I recognised you, and saw how right I was.”

“If you won’t come and talk it over, I can’t help you,” Raeburn said flatly.

“You’ll come and talk with me,” said Halliwell. “I’ll give you my address, and I’ll have some friends as witnesses. Don’t think you’ll get away with anything but a partnership, Paul.”

Raeburn said: “We’ll see about that.” He flipped open the cigarette case and pushed it under Halliwell’s nose, and Halliwell backed away in alarm. Raeburn glanced into the driving mirror, and saw no light reflected on it. He leaned out, and punched Halliwell savagely in the stomach, bringing his head forward; then he struck Halliwell behind the ear with a corner of the case. Halliwell grunted, and slumped against the car. Raeburn pushed him away, and he fell, dazed if not unconscious.

Raeburn turned off the headlights, stabbed the self- starter, slapped the gear into reverse, and drove the Rolls back a few yards, until the sidelights picked out Halliwell’s face, and even showed the mark of bleeding just behind his ear.

Raeburn moistened his lips as he looked at the offside wheel, then at Halliwell’s head. He clenched his teeth, put the car into forward gear and trod on the accelerator. The Rolls Royce surged forward, and jolted.

Raeburn changed gear and drove on, his lips still set very tightly, and he stared into the driving mirror. He saw no light; nor did he see a little man with a wriggly nose, who appeared from some bushes near the spot where murder had been done; he did not look at Halliwell, just stared after the disappearing car.

The man began to walk in the other direction, smiling faintly. The Common seemed completely deserted, until a cyclist appeared, fifty yards in front of him. The little man moved back into the shadows, and drew in his breath sharply when he saw a policeman’s uniform.

Several nights a week, Paul Raeburn drove from a club near the Common to his Park Lane flat. When feeling in the mood, he would drive for twenty miles out of London and return along the deserted roads, revelling in the speed of his car and the power under his control. It was a kind of relaxation. Tonight, he drove to Battersea, crossed the Thames and swung the car left, towards Fulham and Putney. Once at the top of Putney Hill, he turned towards Roehampton. Little traffic was about. Now and again he saw a policeman and his lips tightened, but his hands were steady.

Near Roehampton he pulled into the side of the road, leaned over to the back of the car, and took a flask from a pocket behind his seat. He unscrewed the cap, and put the mouth of the flask to his lips. He took three or four gulps, then took the flask away, and screwed on the cap.

He took out his cigarette case, lit a cigarette and examined each corner of the case; there was a faint red stain on one.

He got out of the car, wiped the case on the grass, slipped it back into his pocket, tossed the cigarette away, and took the wheel again. He sat still, thinking intently, then moved suddenly, rubbed his pigskin gloves over the door where Halliwell had touched it.

He was reversing when he saw the headlights of a car coming from Roehampton, and was in the middle of the road when he noticed the blue-and-white sign: POLICE.

He waved the driver on. The police car passed, only to swing across his hood. He put on the brakes, staring at the two uniformed policemen who jumped out and hurried back.

He opened his window.

“Good evening, sir,” said one of the men. “Are you Mr Paul Raeburn?”

“Eh?” On the instant Raeburn’s voice became thick and hoarse, and he looked bleary-eyed as he peered at the man. “Whassat?”

“I said, are you Mr Paul Raeburn?”

“ ‘Smy name. No business of yours.” Raeburn hiccuped. “Every right to drive if—hic—I want to.”

“Of course you have, sir,” said the policeman, soothingly. “You’re not feeling well, are you?”

“Feel wunnerful,” muttered Raeburn. “Wunnerful party—hic. Want to go home.”

“I think, if you don’t mind, I’ll drive you,” said the policeman, with careful politeness. “You don’t want another accident, do you?”

“ ‘Nother what?” asked Raeburn, thickly. “Never had an accident in my life! Clean record—hie.” He glared at the man, who began to push him to the other side of the car. “Oh, well, drive the dam’ thing if you want to.”

When the car pulled up outside Clapham Police Station, half an hour later, Raeburn was breathing heavily, and seemed to be asleep or in a stupor.

Chief Inspector Roger West, in shirtsleeves and without a collar and tie, was having breakfast in the kitchen of his Chelsea home. The kitchen was warm because the domestic boiler was roaring away while Roger read the Morning Cry and devoured sausages, bubble-and-squeak and scrambled egg. In the scullery, a daily woman was washing up; upstairs, Janet West was in the bedroom shared by their two sons, who had left for school half an hour ago.

West’s fair hair was untidy, and his careless, casual air gave an almost swashbuckling look to a face which earned him his nickname: ‘Handsome’. The telephone bell rang in the hall, and West finished a paragraph about a film star and her husbands, went out, and called: “I’ll answer it,” and went into the front room, where the telephone was on a table near his large armchair. It rang again as he sat on the arm.

“West speaking.”

“It’s the Yard, sir. Mr Turnbull would like a word with you.”

“Put him through,” said Roger.

He reached forward for a cigarette from a packet left on the table the previous night. He could reach the cigarettes but not the matches near them, and his lighter was in his coat pocket in the kitchen. He put the receiver down and grabbed the matches, and was striking one when he heard Turnbull’s powerful voice.

“Handsome?”

“Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I promised myself a day off.”

“This won’t keep for five minutes.” Turnbull seldom allowed himself to be excited, but he did now. “We’ve got something you’ve been waiting for since the year Methuselah was born. Paul Raeburn’s under arrest.”

Roger said: “Say that again.”

Turnbull spoke with great deliberation: “Paul- Raeburn’s-under-arrest.”

Roger drew on the cigarette, and rested it carefully on an ash tray. He could hear Turnbull speaking impatiently to someone in the office; Turnbull was impatient by nature. Roger stared at the fireplace, his lips set and his eyes half closed.

Turnbull’s voice became loud again. “Are you still there? Did you get it?”

“Yes, I got it,” said Roger. “It isn’t April 1st.”

“It isn’t a joke, either. Raeburn ran over a man on Clapham Common last night. A divisional copper found the body. He’d seen Raeburn’s Rolls pass him near the Common, and had stopped because of trouble with his lamp. He says he thinks the Rolls stopped after the collision, then went on. The copper knew the Rolls belonged to Raeburn, who was picked up an hour or so afterward blind drunk.” Turnbull was still elated. “They kept him at Clapham overnight. We’ve got the swine on a hit-and- run-charge. Better than nothing anyhow.”

“Undoubtedly,” said Roger, but none of Turnbull’s excitement sounded in his voice. “Who did he knock down?”

“We haven’t identified the poor devil yet,” said Turn- bull. “We’ll get Raeburn for manslaughter, though, it’s in the bag. No doubt that it was his car, there’s blood on the offside wheel and a splash or two underneath the wing. He was on the Common about the time of the accident, too. How about it?”

“Where’s the body?”

“At the Clapham morgue,” Turnbull answered. “You sound as if it couldn’t matter less.”

“Just remembering all I know about Raeburn,” Roger said, carefully. “Sure it was manslaughter?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s not like Raeburn to be tight at the wheel, and he’s a better than average driver,” Roger replied. “Ask Gubby if he can go and sec the body at once, will you? I’ll be there in half an hour’s time. And—are you listening?”

“Yes, but —”

“Never mind the buts.” Roger was suddenly sharper. “Get that dead man identified, and go all out to find evidence that he and Raeburn were acquainted. Have you tried Records yet?”

“No.” Turnbull sounded subdued.

“Try ‘em, and ring me at Clapham,” said Roger, briskly. “Get hold of the doctor who examined Raeburn and certified him as drunk last night, too, and trace Raeburn’s movements for the earlier part of the evening.”

“See what you’re driving at,” conceded Turnbull. “Never satisfied, are you? But I can answer the last question off the cuff. He’d been to a little club near Clapham Common, The Daytime. Had plenty to drink, too.”

“Raeburn has quite a reputation for holding his liquor,” Roger said. “I want you, personally, to go through everything we get on the dead man as if this were a murder case. Has Raeburn sent for legal aid?”

“Yes. Abel Melville.”

“Don’t give Melville an inch of rope,” warned Roger, urgently. “If there’s any trouble, get Abbott cracking. Abbott’s about the only man who can really freeze Melville.” He paused, then went on almost like a machine. “By twelve o’clock, I want to see the copper who found the body, and to know the name of everyone who was on the Common about one o’clock last night. Ask the Division chaps to give it priority. Then check at The Daytime, to find out if Raeburn had really been drinking heavily. Try to find at least two people who’ll say he was sober when he left. Okay?”

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