J enny McLean was tapping away on her computer when Nightingale walked in and tossed his raincoat over the chair by the door. ‘I hate the Welsh,’ he said.
‘That’s a bit racist, isn’t it?’ she said. ‘Catherine Zeta-Jones seems quite sweet. And Richard Burton. What an actor.’
‘Let me be more specific. Welsh cops. I hate Welsh cops.’
‘Yes, I rather gather that you got on the wrong side of Superintendent Thomas. He didn’t seem a happy bunny at all on the phone yesterday. I definitely got the impression that you weren’t winning friends and influencing people in the valleys.’
Nightingale strode through to his office and picked up the mail that Jenny had left on his desk. ‘Any chance of a coffee?’
‘I hear and obey, oh master.’
Nightingale dropped down into his high-backed fake-leather chair and swung his feet up onto his desk. He flicked through the mail. Three bills, a threatening letter from the VAT man, a CV from a former soldier who had been injured in Iraq, a mail shot offering him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sign up for an investment seminar where he would learn how to be a millionaire within five years, and a letter from a fitness centre down the road offering him twenty per cent off a year’s membership plus the offer of three sessions with a personal trainer.
Jenny carried his mug of coffee over to him and put it on the blotter in front of the computer. As she sat down on the edge of his desk she noticed the plaster on the side of his head. ‘What happened?’
Nightingale picked up his mug and sipped his coffee. ‘I cut myself shaving.’
‘I’m serious, Jack.’ She reached out to touch the plaster but Nightingale moved his head away.
‘It’s nothing,’ he said. ‘The official report probably says that I head-butted the cop’s baton.’
‘A policeman hit you? Why?’
‘Let’s just say that my trip to Wales didn’t go as planned,’ he said.
‘You didn’t tell him about the seance, did you?’
‘I didn’t think that would be a good idea,’ said Nightingale. ‘He wanted to know what I was doing in her house. I told him that I thought she was my sister but then he tried to pin me down on where I’d got the info from. I figured that telling him my dead partner gave me the intel at a seance probably wouldn’t get a sympathetic hearing.’
‘But why were the police involved anyway?’ she said. ‘You were just going to talk to her, right?’
‘That was the plan,’ he said. ‘But she went and spoiled it by killing herself.’
‘Hanged herself, just before I got there. Didn’t Thomas tell you any of this when he called you?’
‘He was only interested in why you’d gone to Abersoch. I said you’d been tipped off about your sister and then he asked me about Robbie. I figured that something was up so I told him you knew about Constance, but I said I didn’t know who gave you her name.’
‘Yeah, well, I called you but your mobile was off.’
‘They’d taken my phone off me,’ said Nightingale. ‘They took bloody everything off me, as it happens. Kept me in a forensic suit all afternoon and I didn’t get back to London until after midnight.’
‘Why did she kill herself?’
‘No idea,’ he said. ‘There was no note, and according to the cops she wasn’t depressed. I got there, the door was open, I went inside, she was hanging from the banisters. And the Welsh cops are adamant that she’s not my sister.’
Jenny frowned. ‘But she was the only Constance in Abersoch. I checked.’
‘Robbie got it wrong, then,’ said Nightingale. ‘Or somebody was pushing the pointer thing on the Ouija board.’
‘There were only the two of us, Jack, and I certainly wasn’t pushing.’
‘And there’d be no point in me sending myself on a wild goose chase,’ said Nightingale.
‘So what went wrong? We did everything we were supposed to do with the Ouija board, didn’t we? We got through to Robbie and Robbie said your sister was in Abersoch.’
‘Strictly speaking, we asked him where my sister was and we got two words. Constance and Abersoch. And that’s all we got. Maybe talking to the recently departed isn’t an exact science.’ He sipped his coffee again. ‘Or maybe the cops are wrong. I never knew that I was adopted, right? I was thirty-two years old before I found out that Ainsley Gosling was my real father. He did my adoption in total secrecy and he’d have done my sister’s adoption the same way. He hid his trail and he hid it well.’ He sighed. ‘I’ll give it a day or two and go back to talk to her parents. I need to nail it down for sure.’ He put his coffee mug back on the desk. ‘Much happen while I was away?’
‘You had a phone call from that solicitor in Hamdale. Ernest Turtledove.’
Nightingale frowned. Turtledove was the man who had turned his life upside down when he broke the news that William and Irene Nightingale weren’t Jack’s real parents and that he was actually the son of a Satanist and devil-worshipper, who committed suicide after naming Nightingale as his sole heir. ‘What did he want? Is it about the estate?’
‘Said he needed to see you. I asked but he wouldn’t say what it was about. He said that it was private.’
‘I’m not schlepping all the way out to Hamdale on a whim,’ said Nightingale. ‘Can you get him on the phone for me?’
Jenny went through to her office to make the call. A few minutes later she shouted that Turtledove was on the line.
‘Mr Nightingale?’ said the solicitor hesitantly, as if he was expecting someone else.
‘Yes,’ said Nightingale. ‘My assistant said that you needed to see me.’
‘That’s right. Something has come up.’
‘I’m afraid I can’t go into details over the phone,’ said the solicitor. ‘I really need to see you in person.’
‘You’re more than welcome to come to my office, Mr Turtledove.’
The solicitor sighed. ‘I don’t travel, I’m afraid,’ he said. ‘My leg, you know. I can’t drive, and you know what public transport is like.’
‘It’s a long trip either way, Mr Turtledove. Can you at least tell me what it is that’s so important that you need to see me in person?’
‘I have to give you something.’
‘Why didn’t you give it to me three weeks ago when I first came to see you?’
‘Because it has only recently come into my possession,’ said the solicitor. ‘I do apologise for this, Mr Nightingale, but I have been given strict instructions and I have to follow them.’
‘What is it you have to give me?’
‘It’s an A4 envelope.’
‘Why not courier it to me?’
‘I really can’t, I’m afraid. As I said, I do have strict instructions.’
‘This is connected to Ainsley Gosling, I assume?’
‘I assume so, too,’ said Turtledove. ‘Can you be here this afternoon?’