Jigsaw Man

Free Jigsaw Man by Elena Forbes

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Authors: Elena Forbes
location alone, the business appeared to be successful. Minderedes
had called ahead and when he and Tartaglia arrived, they were told that Ian Armstrong
was finishing up a conference call and would be down shortly. They were shown into
a large, thickly carpeted meeting room at the front of the building on the ground
floor that reminded Tartaglia of an expensive dentist’s waiting room.
    ‘Black or white?’ Minderedes asked, helping himself to coffee from the selection
of hot and cold drinks on the side table.
    ‘Black,’ Tartaglia said, picking up a glossy brochure from a display rack by the
door. The name ‘Stoneleigh Park Hotel’ was printed across a picture of a neo-classical
Georgian mansion. Inside was a series of interior shots and a blurb about the place’s
history, its Michelin-starred restaurant and its spa. He had read about Stoneleigh
Park somewhere, he thought, not that he had the time or reason to go to a place like
that. Or maybe his sister, Nicoletta, had told him about it.
    Minderedes brought two cups of coffee over to the table. ‘You really think Lisa English
is somehow involved in her husband’s disappearance?’ he asked.
    ‘Anything’s possible.’ They had been through the various scenarios in the car together
but nothing stood out. ‘On paper, she has the most to gain financially.’
    As Minderedes sat down, his phone started to ring. ‘It’s English’s first wife,’ he
said, looking at the screen. ‘I left a message for her. Shall I take it here?’
    ‘No. You’d better go outside. Armstrong should be down any minute and I don’t want
him knowing what’s going on. Tell her we need a DNA swab asap from her son. And while
you’re at it, call the office and see if we’ve had any more luck with the DNA samples
from the mortuary. I’ll come and find you when I’m done.’
    A moment later, he heard the front door slam and saw Minderedes streak past the window,
one hand futilely attempting to shield his hair from the rain, his mobile phone
cradled in the other, as he ran in the direction of the car. Tartaglia looked around
the high-ceilinged room, then got up from the table and went over to study the numerous
framed business awards hanging on one of the walls. Some related to hotels, others
to various property funds.
    He had just finished his coffee and was debating whether to help himself to a refill
when the door opened and a small, slim, grey-haired man walked in. He was conventionally
dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, with a plain blue silk tie, and wore polished
black lace-up shoes. Mr Nuts and Bolts was how Lisa English had described him; to
Tartaglia he looked like an accountant, albeit a well-heeled one.
    He held out his hand, with a flash of gold cufflink at the sleeve. ‘I’m Ian Armstrong.
I hear you’ve found Richard’s wallet – and that there’s a body. Can you tell me what
happened?’
    They sat down at the table and Tartaglia outlined the basic details of
the car park fire.
    ‘Are these his keys?’ He passed Armstrong the clear plastic bag.
    Armstrong peered at them, before passing them back. ‘Those are definitely Richard’s,
I recognise the fob. So it looks like it’s him in this car?’ He spoke quietly, with
an indeterminate northern twang.
    ‘We’re waiting for DNA confirmation.’
    ‘But you’re from a murder squad, so we’re talking foul play?’
    ‘It looks that way.’
    Armstrong examined his well-manicured nails, and nodded thoughtfully. ‘I suppose
it’s inevitable. I mean, I knew something must’ve happened to him, but where’s he
been all this time? That’s what I’d like to know.’
    ‘So would we, Mr Armstrong,’ Tartaglia replied, studying Armstrong closely. His face
gave little away but his reaction seemed genuine enough. ‘Could you tell me a bit
more about your business and Mr English’s role in it?’
    Armstrong leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers in front of him. ‘Richard
and I have known each other

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