The Noose Tightens
Inspector Collier turned onto the road outside the gates of Lambert Manor. Earlier, light snow had fallen making the road slick. An inky, cloud-spattered and brooding sky blotted out the moon. Gusts of wind rattled windows in the Wolseley. His unfamiliarity with the country route made driving conditions treacherous. He slowed down. At each turn, his headlights splashed off the embankments while on the straightaway their beams barely sliced through the moist-laden darkness. The route’s edge, his only means of navigation, shimmered at the periphery from the car’s lights. Beyond the shoulder lay deep, unforgiving gullies. A thin film of perspiration had formed on his forehead. White knuckled, he refused to release a hand from the steering wheel to wipe it away.
Captain Hall turned on the overhead light.
“Oi! Turn off that bloody light.”
The car swerved one way then the other before sliding to a stop. He reached to turn off the light when her hand locked onto his wrist like a trap. Gently, with strength, she redirected his intent. If he could have spit bullets, he would have done it right then and there. Biting down on his lower lip, he let his eyes say it instead.
For a long moment neither said a word. Finally, she broke the silence. “I’m sorry.” She looked out the windshield before turning back. “I was thoughtless. But I thought if I could decipher this code before we got back to the station maybe it would speed up things.”
“The one I found in Werner’s bedroom.” She pulled up her collar and wrapped her arms around herself to ward off the chill.
“You took it? Was that wise?”
She smiled. “No, I didn’t take it, at least not in a manner of speaking. It’s here.” She pointed to her head.
“Uh-huh. Okay. Is he likely to know that someone has been rummaging through his things?” He felt uncomfortab...