After lunch with Nell, I went back to the office after stopping at a cake shop for some treats for us with our tea. I found that Daniel had beaten me back to the office and was writing up some notes he’d made at his meeting.
“Productive lunch?” I asked, he nodded.
“I’ve found out some interesting things, one of my contacts is a sports journalist and was at the race where Guy Wilson-Wright was killed. He said there was a consensus among the journalists there that something wasn’t right. It looked like the car lost control, hit the fencing, spun across the track and hit the fencing on the field but didn’t explode right away; a few seconds passed before it did. Even then they said it wasn’t usual – when gasoline explodes the flame is yellow, when Guy’s car exploded the flame was white and incredibly hot – my contact said that there wasn’t a lot of him left, the fire was that hot. James’ car had just been refuelled, it seemed he tried to push Paul St Claire off the racing line, slid across the track and crashed, and a full tank of gas exploded . . .” he finished.
“So your contacts are saying that there’s something not quite right with Guy Wilson-Wright’s crash but James’ was an accident because he tried to bump another driver out of the way, which Michael says wasn’t like him, right?” I replied.
“My contact said the same thing, that James Munroe was a gentleman, he played fair, he was ambitious but he wasn’t reckless, that he liked to win, who doesn’t but it wasn’t the be all and end all of his career – he just enjoyed driving cars fast,” Daniel said.
“There was another big crash, wasn’t there, at the end of last year, I think he was Italian, how did that happen?” I asked.
“Gino Callisto. His steering wheel came off in his hand, then he careered over the track and crashed, full tank of gas again . . . boom!” he replied. I gasped.
“There’s a pattern forming here. James and Gino Callisto’s cars had full fuel tanks when something happens, Gino’s steering wheel comes off and James tries to bump another driver off the track, then both cars slide across the track and explode in big fireballs because of the full tanks – what happened to Guy’s car, did it have a full tank?” I asked. Daniel checked his notes.
“Not as full as James and Gino, they’d just come out of the pits when their accidents happened. Guy’s car had completed five laps before he just lost control. Are you thinking sabotage?” Daniel asked.
“It’s certainly beginning to look like it,” I replied. Daniel nodded.
“Tom and Stewart – they are my contacts – said as much, they’ve been following motor racing for a few years and they’ve seen a lot of accidents but they are both suspicious about these accidents. They think someone is tinkering with the cars to make it look like accidents or that the driver is at fault; in fact, they’re happy we’re investigating the death of James Munroe, they were thinking of going to the police but they don’t have any evidence,” Daniel said.
“Nell said that Cheetah Racing and the Nelumbo team are rivals, do you think that has anything to do with it?” I asked.
“I’m not sure; teams have been known to nobble each other’s cars, sugar in the gas tank, undoing the spark plugs, needle in the start leads, that kind of thing, but nothing to this extent. If it is inter-team rivalry, it’s taken a dangerous turn. I’ll call Tom and see which teams all the drivers drove for,” he replied.
“I’ll be seeing Jasmine Butler-Monkton tonight at a party. Nell said Pietro Fallini will be there too, I’ll ask him if he’s noticed any funny goings on,” I said. Daniel nodded.
“Tomorrow we’ll start planning how we’re going to do this, at the moment, I don’t have a clue,” Daniel replied.
Daniel and I parted ways and I went home to prepare for tonight’s party at the Aston-Lacey’s. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, I didn’t like Primrose very much, she could be very catty and self absorbed, but her sister was doing the season and this party was one of the must attends for everyone in my set. In addition, having everyone in one place, it would be handy to pick up gossip, on this case and others that we may pick up in the future.
I had a long soak in the bath while I thought about how I could infiltrate the motor racing fraternity. I could pass myself off as a devotee of the sport; Nell had told me that many young women hung around the racetracks hoping to get close to the drivers. I wondered if I could pass myself off as Nell’s assistant, or maybe as a writer for The Tatler. I had written for them before, usually an Astrology piece for their New Year edition. Daniel had contacts at some of the newspapers, I decided it was about time I acquired some contacts at magazines.
I got out of my bath and let my maid Mary help me dress and fix my hair, I told her not to wait up for me as I didn’t know what time I’d be home. I picked up my coat and went downstairs where my taxi was waiting; I shuddered, I suddenly felt very cold – I hoped it didn’t mean what I thought it meant.