The Holiday Murders

The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott

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Authors: Robert Gott
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but he knew that it wasn’t Mary Quinn. She must be the friend , Jones thought. Where was Mary Quinn? There were other rooms. Perhaps she was in a bedroom.
    He took a step forward and, just as he did so, Sheila Draper looked up from her book and, out of the corner of her eye, saw something move in the darkness behind her. She stood up suddenly, gave a little cry, and found herself facing Ptolemy Jones. She couldn’t see him properly because her eyes weren’t adjusted to the dark outside the lamp’s light, and before she could cry out again he was upon her. He stuffed his handkerchief into her mouth and forced her to the floor. She was winded into silence.
    He stripped off his clothes, folded them neatly, and looked down at the curled-up woman. If Mary Quinn wasn’t here, well, that was too bad. He’d take it slowly with her friend, and maybe she’d return before he’d finished. It didn’t matter. She’d find out soon enough that he’d come calling. He put his face close to Sheila Draper’s. ‘Merry Christmas,’ he said.

Boxing Day
    -8-
    Joe Sable had spent Christmas night reading the information on Mitchell Magill and other known Hitlerites that Intelligence had provided. He’d been astonished, dumbfounded, by the proudly expressed beliefs of several individuals. Goad had mentioned Mills, with his absurd, pagan aspirations. But there was another man, W. Hardy Wilson, whose views were improbably bizarre and extreme. Joe decided to adopt Wilson’s ideas as his own when he met Magill. From the notes, it was clear that both Wilson and Magill were aesthetes, and Joe was confident that he knew enough about the arts to be convincing. He tried saying some of Wilson’s words out loud, to hear what they sounded like and to judge how they made him feel: ‘Jews are noxious irritants who cause social disease.’ He wondered when these words rose into his mouth if he could go through with this. Just saying them made his guts churn violently.
    On Boxing Day morning, very early, he walked down to Russell Street headquarters. He hadn’t worked out how to orchestrate a meeting with Magill directly, but among Magill’s associates was a woman named Peggy Montford, whom Intelligence believed to be Magill’s lover. She worked as an instructor at the Glaciarium in the city, where the doughboys liked to take or pick up girls . As it happened, Joe had been ice-skating a few times over the years, and he’d acquired bog-standard competence at it. He could stay on his feet; in fact, he could even glide and come to a stop without crashing. And he knew that the Glaciarium would be open on Boxing Day.
    There was no photograph of Peggy Montford in the file — just a description of her as being about twenty-five years old, and blonde. Joe was confident that he’d recognise her at the Glaciarium, but he only had a vague plan as to how he’d go about it. He’d come into the Homicide office early, simply because he thought something more concrete might occur to him there. Should he ask Sheila Draper to go with him, to play the part of his companion? No, he couldn’t embroil her in this; in any case, Inspector Lambert would never permit it. Lambert had said often that when it came to murder, everyone was a suspect until the killer was found. That made Sheila Draper a suspect in the murders of John and Xavier Quinn. Joe thought he’d need someone to go with him to the Glaciarium, just in case a civilian on his own was unusual enough to stand out. There were a few female constables at Russell Street, and many more women from the Women’s Police Auxiliary Force. They did mostly clerical work, replacing men who’d filled those positions before the war. Some were drivers, and some conducted licence tests. While they’d been sworn in as special constables, Joe wanted a more experienced woman for the job — a fully sworn member of the force.
    Titus Lambert arrived not long after Joe. He was slightly annoyed when Joe outlined his

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