As it turned out, one of Queenie’s predictions came true. The Foreign Office did phone. He learned during that call, though they could not confirm it, that his son had been imprisoned either at Lemberg or at Posen near the Polish border. To his dismay, the list of questions he asked were unsatisfactorily answered. By the end of their conversation he had concluded they knew little to nothing about his son, his fiancée Elsa, or her family. When his inquiries turned to Captain Hall, he was abruptly left holding an empty line.
The orgy of anti-Jewish disorders in Germany, the wrecking and looting of Jewish shops and burning of synagogues, deeply concerned him. The news from Vienna was no better. Jews waiting at the British Consulate to obtain visas were all arrested—ten thousand in all—and sent to a concentration camp. Nationality did not matter. Whether Jewish or a Jewish sympathizer, you became part of the roundup.
When his phone rang an hour later, he was surprised to learn it was from the Foreign Office. He became the interrogatee to a barrage of questions about how he knew Captain Hall. Questions he tap-danced around to hide that his source was a psychic. If he learned nothing more by the time he hung up, he had established that Captain Hall not only existed but, for the present, was a carefully guarded secret. And that pricked his curiosity because now he wondered how Queenie could have known that name.
Later that day, he and Constable Dubin drove to the boarding house. But to his chagrin, none of the families living there met the criteria Queenie had related to him. They arrived at the Stoddard household shortly after darkness. The front door was open. Entering, they ascertained that neither Queenie nor her husband was present. The bedrooms and consulting rooms were in disarray. Except for a porcelain doll and a child’s blanket in one of the bedrooms, nothing of consequence was found. It appeared the notorious couple had vanished into the night in great haste. Collier was now fearful for Queenie’s safety
Preoccupied with that day’s investigation, he cursorily glanced at the wall-clock in his office. “Bollocks!” Almost tripping...