The Price of Love and Other Stories

The Price of Love and Other Stories by Peter Robinson Read Free Book Online

Book: The Price of Love and Other Stories by Peter Robinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Robinson
Tags: Suspense
Victor Vancalm’s. But people panic and call an ambulance anyway. Denise Vancalm hadn’t.
    “What did you do next?” Banks asked.
    “I don’t know. I suppose I just sat down to wait.”
    “And then?”
    “Nothing. People started to arrive very quickly. The paramedics. A police patrol car. Your assistant. Those crime scene people. You must know how long it took. I’m afraid I lost all sense of time. I was in a daze.”
    “That’s understandable,” said Banks. He knew that it had taken seven minutes from the emergency phone call to the arrival of the first patrol car – a good response time, especially given the weather. “How many people knew about the wall safe?” he asked.
    Denise Vancalm shrugged. “I don’t know. Victor always kept the key in his pocket, with all his keys. I suppose Colin must have known. Anyone else who visited the house, really.”
    “Colin?”
    “Colin Whitman. Victor’s business partner.”
    Banks paused and made a note. “Where had you been all evening?” he asked.
    “Me? Gabriella Mountjoy’s house, on Castle Terrace.”
    Banks knew the street. Expensive, in the town centre, it commanded superb views of Eastvale Castle, rumoured, like so many others in the Dales, to have provided a brief home for Mary, Queen of Scots. He estimated it was probably a fifteen-or twenty-minute drive from Hill Crest, depending on the traffic.
    “What were you doing there? Book club or something?”
    She gave Banks a cool glance. “The Eastvale Ladies’ Poker Circle. It was Gabriella’s
turn
.”
    “Poker?”
    “Yes. Hadn’t you heard, Chief Inspector? It’s become quite popular these days, especially among women. Texas hold’em.”
    “I’ve heard of it,” said Banks, not much of a card player himself.
    “Four or five of us get together once a month for dinner, drinks and a few games. As I said, it was Gabriella’s turn to host us this time.”
    “How many of you were there tonight?”
    She raised an eyebrow at the question but said, “Five. Gabriella, me, Natasha Goldwell, Evangeline White and Heather Murchison. I’ll give you their addresses if you like.”
    “Please,” said Banks.
    Denise Vancalm picked up her handbag and took out a sleek PalmPilot encased in tan leather. She read out the names and addresses. “Is that all?” she asked. “I’m tired. I –”
    “Nearly finished,” said Banks. “What time did you arrive at Mrs. Mountjoy’s house?”
    “I went there straight from the office. Well, I met Natasha in the Old Oak after work for a drink first, then I drove her over to Gabriella’s. It’s not far, I know, but I had the car with me for work anyway.”
    The Old Oak was a trendy pub off the market square. Banks knew it but never drank there. “What kind of car do you drive?” he asked.
    “A Mercedes Cabriolet. Red.”
    Hardly inconspicuous, Banks thought. “Where was your husband?”
    “He’d been away on a business meeting. Berlin. He was due back from the airport about half past seven.”
    “Did you see him?”
    “I haven’t seen him since last week. Look, Chief Inspector, I’ve had a terrible shock and I’m very tired. Do you think … ?”
    “Of course,” said Banks. He had wanted to get as many of the preliminaries out of the way as possible – and whether she knew it ornot, the spouse was usually the first suspect in a domestic murder – but he didn’t want to appear as if he were grilling Denise Vancalm. “Is there someone you can go to, or would you like me to –”
    She shook her head. “There are plenty of people I could go to, but believe it or not, I just want to be by myself.”
    “You don’t … I mean, are there any children?”
    “No.” She paused. “Thank God.”
    “Right. Well, you clearly can’t stay here.” It was true. Banks had checked out the house, and whoever had killed Victor Vancalm and ransacked the study had also been through the master bedroom, separating the expensive jewellery from the cheap – not that

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