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"The American Murders."
“The Commissioner has been contacted by the American Embassy over the matter this morning and he wants immediate action” said Bell gravely.
“Can you tell me briefly what’s in the file, sir?”
“Yes, last summer, a Lord Mortlake travelled to New York, where he met and married an heiress called Nancy Riley, the only daughter of the steel magnate, Arthur J. Riley, then after the marriage they returned to his Northamptonshire home, where apparently things did not go well.”
“Ah, marry in haste and repent at leisure, sir” smiled Hadley.
“This is not funny, Hadley, the young woman is now dead!”
“I’m sorry, sir…”
“Well you might be, now she is reported to have died as a result of a riding accident, but there are rumours that she was murdered.”
“Yes and the Northamptonshire police were not at their best in investigating this case, I’m sorry to say, and the post mortem report is less than satisfactory.”
“That’s unfortunate, sir.”
“Indeed, now, after a hurried funeral, Lord Mortlake is pressing the family solicitors to release his wife’s very substantial fortune to him but her father has managed to stop this with a court injunction.”
“Why is the American Embassy involved, sir?”
“Because they’ve been advised by Mr Riley in New York that he is sending two agents over from the Pinkerton Detective Agency to investigate his daughter’s death!”
“Oh, no, sir.”
“Oh, yes, Hadley, apparently his doesn’t trust the British Police!”
“How unfortunate, sir.”
“Yes, it is, Hadley, and the Embassy has informed the Commissioner out of courtesy.”
“When do they arrive, sir?”
“Their ship is due to dock next Monday in Liverpool, so they’ll be down in London by the Tuesday, that means you’ve got just a week to get the investigation moving, Hadley.”
“And work all next weekend if necessary!”
“Right you are, sir.”
“Now, read the file and get things under way, we don’t want American private detectives trampling all over us!”
“Quite so, sir.”
“And make sure you keep me up to date with everything!”
When Hadley returned to his office he told George that he did not want to be disturbed for any reason and then asked Cooper to draw up a chair and sit with him at his desk. He told the Sergeant what the Chief had said with regard to Lady Mortlake and Cooper listened carefully.
“Now, I’ll read this file out aloud and you make notes about salient points, Sergeant.”
Hadley opened the file and began “Lady Nancy Beatrice Mortlake, nee, Riley, was married on the 30th June, 1880, to Lord Andrew Mortimer Richard Mortlake, in New York, America. The couple left New York on the 15th of July, with a female companion and travelled in first class accommodation aboard the S.S. Atlantic to Liverpool. Lord and Lady Mortlake took up residence at Holcot Manor, their mansion in Northamptonshire. Lord Mortlake apparently remained at Holcot Manor for just a week after their arrival before returning, alone, to his London house in Connaught Square. From then on, he spent time on business and at his club, The Dreyfus Club in Curzon Street, where he could be found most evening’s playing cards with fellow members. During the months up until Christmas, 1880, Lord Mortlake only returned three times to his mansion and stayed for less than a week on each occasion. According to the police report, some staff at the mansion suggested that there was considerable friction between Lady and Lord Mortlake every time they were together. The couple lived apart and contact was rarely made until May of this year, when Lord Mortlake went home several times during the month and a day after he left to return to London, Lady Mortlake was found dead in the grounds of Holcot Manor with her favourite horse roaming close by.” Hadley stopped reading and glanced at Cooper.
“What do you make of this, Sergeant?”
“All very suspicious if you ask me, sir.”
“Yes, make a note to remind me to find this woman companion who sailed with them from New York, Sergeant.”
“I’ve already done that, sir.”
“Well done, now let’s see what our colleagues in Northampton make of it all.”
“This will be interesting, sir.”
“Yes” replied Hadley as he looked at the file and began to read once more.
“Investigations into the circumstances of Lady Mortlake’s death were carried out by Inspector Peter West of the Northampton police. His report is attached herewith and the Inquest verdict is that Lady Mortlake’s death was a tragic riding accident. According to the autopsy report issued by Doctor James Ogilvie of the Northampton Infirmary, death was instantaneous after she fell from her horse and broke her neck. Lady Mortlake was buried in the family vault at Holcot Church on the 20th of May.”