Morning Frost

Morning Frost by Henry James Read Free Book Online

Book: Morning Frost by Henry James Read Free Book Online
Authors: Henry James
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
behind his head. ‘Why would anyone want to take a pot-shot at you?’
    ‘Why indeed, that’s what I want to know—’
    ‘Could it have been …’
    ‘It was some bird.’
    Frost raised his eyebrows. ‘“Some bird”. That narrows the field.’
    Waters pulled out his notebook. ‘Can you give us a description?’
    ‘Didn’t get much of a chance – it all happened so damned quickly.’ Baskin winced irritably as he tried to adjust himself in the bed. ‘Cecil says there’s a stripper to see me, next second he’s splattered across me financials. And I’m lying in a pool of me own claret. It was a bit of a shock, I can tell you.’
    Frost got up as if bored and stared out of the window, tapping his foot impatiently. Was he listening? Difficult to say. He didn’t make a comment, so Waters continued: ‘But you must have noticed something – height, hair colour?’
    ‘About five six or five eight. Blonde – peroxide blonde. A bob – with a fringe.’ Baskin marked a line across his forehead. ‘Striking cheekbones. Tasty bird; big hooters.’
    ‘Only you would remember her breasts, Harry,’ Frost said, turning back to him. His eyes looked devastatingly tired, the eyelids a livid red under the unforgiving hospital strip lights. Must be the booze, Waters thought.
    ‘Me? Nah. Seen one tit, you’ve seen them all. Cecil alerted me to it – last words the poor bugger said. There’ll be hell to pay from my sister Phyllis for getting her boy shot. And from my wife.’ He sighed.
    ‘Age?’ Waters asked.
    ‘Couldn’t tell you. She was well made up, a bit over the top, in fact. If I’d taken her on ’arf the warpaint would’ve had to go.’
    ‘So she really was a stripper you think?’ Waters asked.
    ‘Could be … but why one would take a pop is beyond me; I’ve always been good to the girls, don’t knock ’em around. There’s been ups and downs over the years, but like any business, really. I’ve taken good care of ’em mainly.’
    ‘Yes, like a kindly uncle,’ Frost said with distaste, stepping back from the window. ‘OK, let’s ignore your chequered past for now; we start trawling through that we’ll never get out of here. Let’s start with who you could have annoyed recently, right? Where have you been in the last twenty-four hours?’
    ‘At the Coconut Grove,’ Baskin said sardonically.
    ‘What, you’ve not even been home?’
    ‘We had a card game going.’
    ‘Cards.’ Frost shook his head regretfully. ‘So, you’ve been fleecing the punters.’
    ‘No money was taken from the crime scene,’ Waters interjected.
    ‘Precisely, to allay any obvious suspicion that money was the motive … but it’s unlikely anyone would rub you out over a little game of poker … unless you’ve moved into a bigger league, Harry?’
    ‘Oi, I’ve not been rubbed out,’ complained Baskin from the bed. ‘No, nobody I’d not played with before.’
    ‘You’re still with us, granted, but your nephew is not in such good shape, he’s lost a lot of blood. Come on, I want those names. It’s a start.’
    Waters took the names down in his notebook, but he instinctively agreed with Frost; it seemed unlikely Baskin had been shot over a card game. These local types – Jeremy Tile who ran the bookie’s in London Street; Raymond Shooter, the publican of the Bird in Hand; Harvey Evans, the alcoholic Welsh coach of Denton RFC, and Gavin Cribbs, a solicitor on Gentlemen’s Walk – were hardly a threatening bunch. Plus they were all men.
    ‘We’d better check out the girls too – disgruntled employees, any that have left under a cloud in the last month, and so forth. Where do you keep your personnel files?’
    Harry snorted. ‘Records are pretty sketchy … it’s all cash in hand; part-time in the main. The women we get, very few of them are actually dancers.’
    ‘Really?’ Frost exclaimed. ‘And there’s me thinking they were trained by the Royal Ballet. So, what kind of women do you

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