Design for Murder

Design for Murder by Nancy Buckingham Read Free Book Online

Book: Design for Murder by Nancy Buckingham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nancy Buckingham
Tags: British Mystery/Romantic Suspense
but I gather that he and his father were constantly at loggerheads.”
    “So what happened?”
    “Sir Robert arranged for him to join his stockbroker’s firm in London. But that didn’t work out either, and Oliver drifted from one job to another, coming home in between times. Meanwhile, Sir Robert’s second wife died, and he married for the third tune.”
    “That’s the present Lady Medway?”
    “Yes. She wanted changes made at the Hall, and Oliver came up with some brilliant ideas. Everyone realised suddenly that he’d got a real flair for interior design. So that was how the studio got started.”
    Neil got up from the desk and strolled to the window, standing there with his fingertips resting on the sill, staring out.
    “There’s another son, isn’t there?”
    “A stepson, actually,” I said, “but Sebastian has also been legally adopted. You see, he was only about three years old when his mother became Sir Robert’s second wife. Sebastian is much younger than Oliver, of course. He’s still up at Oxford.”
    “I presume that he will inherit now, when the time comes?”
    “I imagine so.”
    “What’s he like? I’ve not met him yet.”
    I shrugged. “I’ve only met Sebastian a couple of times, so I don’t really know him. But he struck me as being very different from Oliver.”
    Neil turned round to face me. “In what way?”
    I pondered. I hadn’t liked Sebastian Medway one bit. He was reported to be very clever, and good at just about everything he tried. A shade too good to be true, it seemed to me, and I thought of him as a sanctimonious young prig. Or was I just accepting Oliver’s assessment of his stepbrother?
    “He’s ... a more serious type,” I said warily.
    “More dependable?”
    I shrugged. “If you like.”
    “Do you think,” said Neil, “that all along it might have been Sir Robert’s intention to leave control of the estate to this adopted son, in view of the fact that he thought Oliver was incapable of running it properly?”
    I shook my head. “I can’t believe that.”
    “Why not? There’s no entail involved, is there?”
    “No, but the Haslop Hall estate has passed from father to son for at least five generations, so it would be unthinkable for him to will it away from Oliver. That was always Oliver’s trump card. He knew that he would triumph in the end.” I sighed. “Only of course he hasn’t now. Oliver and his father were quite fond of each other in a curious sort of way.”
    Neil glanced at his wristwatch. “I seem to remember that they do a good lunch at the Trout Inn. Care to join me?”
    I groped for an excuse. “I haven’t finished this list you asked me for.”
    “That can wait till this afternoon. You’ve got to eat.” When I still hesitated, he said, “Come on, Tracy, I don’t bite.”
    Me lunching with the detective inspector from Gilchester gave a surprise to the regulars at the Trout. It was obvious that they were all busy speculating about us. Neil grinned, understanding my discomfort.
    “You get used to it, Tracy, in this job of mine.” “I suppose you do.”
    “Tell me about your job. How do you come to be in that line? You always were artistic, I know.”
    “I have my aunt to thank for giving me a push in the right direction,” I said. “She was a sculptor, you remember.”
    Neil grinned. “She was a formidable lady. Once a crowd of us called round for you to go swimming, and while you were getting ready she showed us her workshop. I was terribly impressed, but scared to open my mouth in case I revealed my abysmal ignorance of things artistic. I had a feeling that she didn’t suffer fools gladly.”
    “Aunt Verity was an absolute darling, really,” I said. “It must have been a dreadful bind for her, when my parents were killed and she found herself landed with her little niece. But there was no one else to do it—my mother was an only child. Aunt Verity responded nobly, if somewhat eccen trically. Conventions meant

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