Diamonds by Gwen Leader (Chapter Nine)
Book one of The Selbright Mysteries
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, character and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Gwen Leader 2014
Gwen Leader asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be copied in any way without the express permission of the copyright owner.
Proof read and edited by Kate Pittel
Mike Griffiths looked shifty, he was quite obviously nervous. “Well Inspector, what can I do for you?”
Jane decided to come straight to the point and see what this reaction was, “Do you know Anneke Van der Heuvel at all sir?”
He stared at her. Whatever he had expected it was not this, and whilst he looked guarded he seemed more surprised by the question than anything else, “Anneke Van der Heuvel, no why should I?” He had put emphasis on the name Anneke as if he knew another Van der Heuvel.
“But you do know the name Van der Heuvel sir?” That rattled him he was unsure how to answer that, “Well it seems vaguely familiar Inspector, but at present I can’t place it. Is it significant?”
Jane decided to ignore that and press on, “So you are not aware of anyone by that name being a club member sir?”
He shook his head, “No should I be?”
“And you’ve never met Ms Van der Heuvel at all, either socially or at the club or through business of any kind?”
He shook his head again, “No Inspector I have not. Can I ask what this is all about?”
“Just routine sir, tying up a few loose ends that’s all.”
“I see, well I’m sorry but I can’t help you. I don’t know this person.”
“Well thank you for your time sir, if you think of anything at all I’m sure you’ll let me know.”
“Yes inspector. I will. Good bye.”
“That was odd,” observed Maureen as they got into the car.
“Oh what?” Jane queried.
“Well when you mentioned Anneke Van der Heuvel, I rather got the impression that he knew the name but not Anneke, just the surname. He was expecting a different Christian name.”
“You noticed that too did you? I got that impression too. As you say odd, there aren’t any more Van der Heuvels round here are there?”
Maureen shrugged, “Not that I know of, hardly a local name is it or even an English one, but I’ll get Churchill to check the phone book.”
“No more Van de Heuvels in the phone book gov, at least not that I can find.” Sarah informed Jane.
“Ok, get onto BT and see if there are unlisted ones.”
Some time later Sarah shook her head, “No, no unlisted ones either.”
“That’s it then. It has to be her, but why did Griffiths seem surprised? It doesn’t make sense, unless that’s an alias like Marlene,” said Maureen.
Whilst the officers at the station had been trying to figure out why Mike Griffiths had been surprised at the name, he was sitting mulling over their visit. Odd that - them asking about Anneke Van der Heuvel. He’d never heard of her so who the hell was she and what did she have to do with this? He decided he would have to risk it and ask the only person who could tell him. He couldn’t afford to be kept in the dark with the police sniffing round. He lifted the phone and dialled, “Mike, what can I do for you?” asked the voice he knew only too well.
“I’ve just had the police here and they asked me a very odd question which I feel sure you will be able to answer.”
“Oh? What question would that be?”
“They asked me if I knew someone by the name of Anneke Van der Heuvel.”
Silence then a chuckle, “Did they really? Well,well, that’s interesting.”
“Who is she and what has she got to do with this?”
“She has absolutely nothing to do with any of this, but if they are interested in her it certainly won’t do me any harm. Yes, very fortuitous I must say and very amusing. It’s payback time Mike my friend, oh yes - payback time.”
Mike didn’t like the way this conversation was going. What the hell did payback time mean? “What does that mean, and how does this affect us?” he asked.
“Nothing for you to worry about I assure you. Just leave everything to me, I’ll be in touch soon.” The line went dead.
Jane and Maureen looked across the desk at Anneke. They had returned to ask her about her movements at the times of the murders; she looked at them with cold hard eyes. “I can assure you Inspector, I have a perfectly valid alibi for both those times and dates.”
“Well then, can you tell me where you were at the times I have specified and do you have any witnesses who can corroborate your story?” asked Jane. She refused to allow this woman to intimidate her just because she was a big shot on the TV.
She flipped through a desk diary and said, “I was in meetings on both those occasions.”
“I see. Could you give me the names of those present at the meetings?”
Anneke glared at her. “Certainly. I will ask my secretary to give them to you. Now - if you will excuse me I am late for another meeting,” With that she flounced out of the office and without stopping, threw over her shoulder, “Femke, give these officers the information they want, will you.” Femke stared after her boss, then looked at Jane and Maureen.
“I’m sorry, what is it that you need?” Jane told her and she looked through her diary.
“Yes, Ms Van der Heuvel was in a meeting on both of those occasions Inspector. I will give you the details of the others who were also there.” Jane thanked her and took the list; there were five names in all. “Right Phipps, you take those three and I’ll take the rest.” She handed Maureen the torn off part of the list and they went their separate ways. Maureen’s first port of call was Joanne Tomlinson, Chief Executive in charge of the news room. Maureen explained what she wanted and gave her the dates and times. Joanne raised her eyebrows slightly - she exuded authority from every pore. She was slightly built, about five foot four with fair hair and hazel eyes and she observed Maureen through dark framed glasses which somehow enhanced her looks and made her look like a stern headmistress. When she smiled though, she was quite attractive. “Yes Sergeant, I can confirm that Ms Van der Heuvel was in the meeting we held on those dates.”
“I see, and did she leave either of those meetings at all madam?”
Joanne smiled at her as if she was not quite right. “No she did not. I can assure you that we are not in the habit of walking out in the middle of important meetings. Now, is there anything else you need I am rather busy?” Clearly she had been dismissed and Maureen smiled at her; obviously there was no more to glean here. She thanked Joanne for her time and left. Her next interviewee was a rather vapid looking young man who chewed his nails. His hair was far too long and his face looked extremely thin and long (he was far too thin in Maureen’s opinion). He went by the rather curious name of Tarquine Flack, and yes, he confirmed that Anneke had been in the meetings and had not left either one, and both meetings had lasted at least three hours. Maureen thanked him and left, this was getting them nowhere and it didn’t make any sense at all. Her final interviewee also confirmed that Anneke Van der Heuvel had been in the meetings and had not left them and yes, they had lasted three hours.
Jane wasn’t faring any better. She’d interviewed Rosemary Pullman who had confirmed that Anneke had been in the meetings and had not left them. John Woodvine was the last to be interviewed; he was around fifty years of age with a head of pure white hair, his face was rather craggy but nevertheless quite attractive, he was approximately five five to five six and was very friendly. “Well Inspector, so what’s all this about? Anneke’s not been up to anything she shouldn’t have has she?”
Jane smiled, “No sir just routine. I understand she was attending a meeting on April 9th and again on April 21st and both meetings were held from around seven forty-five to approximately eleven in the morning.”
He nodded his head, “Yes that is correct.”
“And she didn’t leave either one for the entire time?”
“No Inspector she did not. When we have these meetings they are very important and no-one leaves unless it’s an emergency.”
“I see, thank you sir. You’ve been very helpful.”
“Not at all inspector, always happy to help the police.” They shook hands and Jane joined Maureen in the car park. “It doesn’t make any sense at all gov. She has a cast iron alibi for both murders, unless they are all lying to cover for her, but why would they do that?”
“If I knew the answer to that Phipps, I’d have this case wrapped but you’re right, it doesn’t make any sense.” They were both quiet for a while mulling over what they knew. Suddenly Maureen said, “There is one way of course.”
Jane looked at her, “Yes go on.”
“Well maybe she hired a hit man.”
Jane stared at her, “A hit man, this isn’t nineteen thirties Chicago Phipps. It’s Selbright in the middle of bloody Warwickshire, a hit man!!”
“Well, how do you think she did it then gov? Because it’s all I can come up with - either that or someone else did it.”
Jane sighed and rubbed her hand over her eyes. God she was tired and she didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with this case. “I know Phipps. I’m sorry but we don’t seem to be getting very far and every time I think we have a case against someone they turn up with a bloody alibi we can’t break.”
“I know, we thought Marlene had murdered Charlotte, then she gets murdered, now this, ok back to the station and I’ll get you a cuppa, that’ll help.” Jane started to laugh - trust Phipps to think of tea, bless her.
Back in her office Anneke sat thinking. Why had the police come to her? She hardly knew either of the women murdered, so what had led them to her? It didn’t make sense, why had her name been linked to this case at all? She wanted answers and she intended to get them. However before she could address these issues there would be a development that would shatter her to her very core.
* Chapter Ten coming shortly!
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