The next morning I awoke with a hangover – Nell and I did drink a lot of champagne and had a lot of fun. I made my way, unsteadily, into the office and started to write up everything I’d learned the previous night. Janet slipped another cup of coffee in front of me as Daniel came into the office.
“So how did it go last night?” he asked. I sighed and held my head in my hands.
“It’s the last time I let Nell talk me into ‘Champagne and fun’! I’ve got the most awful hangover, I don’t know how those Flappers do it night after night!
Daniel chuckled, “Did you find out anything interesting?”
“I met Charles Chapman, Reginald and Johnny Markham and Pietro Fallini. I told them all I was looking to invest in a motor racing team so got invites to the races as a guest of Cheetah and Nelumbo.”
“Inspired! All teams are looking for an investor and I’m guessing they all saw you as a pushover.”
“Reginald Markham did for sure, Charles Chapman would like to let his hard work do the talking, I think, and Pietro didn’t think of his team at all, he spoke of his friend’s ambitions to start his own team.”
“So now you’ve met a lot of the big players, what do you think?” Daniel asked.
“I definitely don’t like Reginald Markham, he’s shifty. Nell said he’s lied, cheated and bought his way to the top,” I said.
Daniel sighed. “She’s not kidding either, he’s always giving interviews to the papers; he can be really nasty about other teams, especially if they beat Cheetah. He’s nobbled other teams, given backhanders to the stewards and overseers and he’s definitely got it in for Nelumbo – some of the stuff he’s said about them is libellous at best. So what about Charles Chapman?”
“Hard worker; Nell said he’s built the team from scratch, builds the cars and the engines himself. He seems driven, if you’ll pardon the pun; he wants to succeed and knows he can but it will take time, and he’s not prepared to push the boundaries, not yet at least. Pietro just loves driving, he loves the danger and the thrill of it, but I don’t think he’d deliberately kill another driver for the win – a sense of honour seeps out of him, if you know what I mean.”
Daniel nodded. “He’s a Gentleman racer, like James, and he values honour among his fellow racers above everything else, from what I’ve heard anyway.”
“So now what? We know Markham is an ambitious man who will stop at nothing to succeed, and Chapman is driven to succeed – he’s invested a lot of hard work in his team to see it fail,” Daniel said.
“Well Pietro invited me to the Mille Maglia,” I replied, “which is a thousand mile race around Italy and with me wanting to invest in a team, it’s a foot in the door.”
Daniel nodded. “It’s an idea, but where does that leave me and would your father let you go to the Continent by yourself? After what happened in your last adventure, he’s not going to be happy.”
I smiled. “You’ll be coming with me as my driver, only Nell and Jasmine know I can drive. We’ll just say that the only way Father would let me go to the Continent was if his ’Chauffeur’ accompanied me. Does that sound plausible?”
Daniel thought for a moment and nodded. “Sounds perfect, although I don’t think some of the ex pat society matrons will be too pleased about an un-chaperoned young woman and a chauffeur being alone in Europe – it sounds like a story from a Penny Dreadful or Peg’s Paper.”
I laughed. “I’m used to disapproving society matrons, so we need to find out when the Mille Maglia takes place and make travel arrangements.”
“Well, it start’s in a month’s time in Brescia, it’ll be easy enough to get a train to Monte Carlo then the ferry to Italy, hire a car and drive to Brescia.”
“I’ll see to the tickets and everything, make sure passports are up to date and things.”
“Leave the passports to Janet,” Daniel interjected. “I think the American embassy are frightened of her; the last time she contacted them for me, they tried to snowball her, but she took no notice and told them what she thought of them and they’ve been like lambs ever since. Well, I’ll go and give Janet the good news, then.”
Daniela go up and I did so as well.
“I’m going to go and see Charlie,” I said. “What you said about Markham and his nasty remarks, I’m wondering if someone might have threatened to sue for slander and libel, and also who benefitted from James’ will? And the others, we may be looking in the wrong place and this could be all about money.”
“Ok, it’ll be interesting to see if James was killed for money rather than murdered because he knew something he shouldn’t have,” Daniel replied.
I left the office and hailed a cab, which took me to Lincoln’s Inn, to the office of my brother Charlie. After what had happened to Daisy Knellar, Charlie had given up his Bright Young Thing ways and the Stock Market and gone back to the Law. He was now making a name for himself helping women through the minefield of the Matrimonial Causes Act and the Married Women’s Property Act. Ever since Daisy’s murder, because she wanted a divorce from her philandering husband, he’s been on a crusade to help women shackled in such marriages to escape.
I was ushered into his office by Muriel, his secretary, who by all accounts is more of a treasure than Janet is. He stood up and hugged me before I sat down.
“So, to what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked after Muriel had brought in some tea.
“I’m intelligence gathering, not on a divorce case this time.” I often sent women to Charlie who’d found their husbands were having affairs, and in return he’d pass on gossip. “We’re looking into the death of James Munroe, the racing driver.”
Charlie’s eyes widened. “It wasn’t an accident?”
“His brother doesn’t seem to think so. He thinks James found something out that made someone stage the accident that killed him, and he’s not the only one. Daniel and I think that at least two other accidents may have been deliberate.”
“How can I help? This sounds more like a job for the police.”
“One thought we want to investigate,” I explained, “is that he was killed for money. If he’d left money in his will to another driver or his team, they may have killed him to get hold of it. One thing I’ve learned working with Daniel is that people are very willing to kill for money.”
Charlie shook his head. “Sorry to disappoint you but not this time. A friend of mine works for the Munroe family’s solicitor. The will reading was yesterday, and James left all his money in trust, in order that a fund be set up to help racing drivers hurt on the track find the care and recuperation they need – after family bequests of course.”
I sighed. I didn’t think this was the case, but we had to find out.
“Have you heard of Reginald Markham, head of the Cheetah racing team?” I asked.
“Yes, I have, nasty piece of work, interviewed in the Times on Friday, said some awful things about Charles Chapman, really nasty. As a lawyer I’m surprised Chapman hasn’t sued for slander because the things he said gave him definite grounds.”
“Have you heard if anyone has sued him for slander and libel?” I asked.
Charlie shook his head. “No, something like that I’d have heard about, it would be in all the papers too. A lot of people would like to see Reginald Markham brought to his knees for the things he’s said, though.”
“So why haven’t they?” I asked.
Charlie sighed. “Fear sister dearest, pure naked fear. Men like Reginald Markham can buy the best lawyers in the country, intimidate witnesses, nobble trials, buy Judges all kinds of things like that. They can also bankrupt anyone who is foolish enough to try.”
My shoulders sagged; I shouldn’t have been surprised at this news.
“So what are you going to do now?” Charlie asked.
“Jasmine’s beau, Pietro Fallini invited me to the Mille Maglia next month so that’s how we’re going to start investigating if something is going on. I’ve told everyone I’m looking to invest in a team, so I’ve had a lot of invites behind the scenes at races. Pietro has a friend called Enzo who’s looking at starting his own team, so it’s a start.”
Charlie looked shocked. “Have you told Father about this? I don’t think he’s going to be too happy about you chasing a murderer across the Continent.”
“No, I haven’t told Father yet but don’t worry. Daniel is coming with me, as my bodyguard-cum-chauffeur. We’ll get some disapproving looks from the society matrons, but I’d rather put up with that and have Daniel with me than go on my own.”
Charlie looked happier at that news, and we chatted for a few more minutes, then I left.
I was contemplating whether I should hail a taxi or take the omnibus back to the office when I heard someone calling my name; I turned and saw Johnny Markham waving to me.
“Hello Amy, I thought it was you. What are you doing in the legal part of town?” he asked.
“I came to see my brother. He works in one of the offices here, and I often pop in to see him when I’m out.”
Johnny smiled. “I say, would you like to join me for lunch? The Savoy is only a taxi ride away.”
I thought about this and agreed; at least I could get some motor racing gossip from him. Just as he raised his hand to hail a taxi, I heard a loud bang, and something sailed past my cheek and hit the wall beside me, creating a puff of brick dust. I threw myself to the ground dragging Johnny with me as another gunshot rang out.