Blackstone and the New World

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Authors: Sally Spencer
less than contempt.
    It was a neat trick to be able to do both things at the same time, Blackstone thought.
    ‘Have you seen Detective Sergeant Saddler today?’ Meade asked.
    The desk sergeant shook his head.
    ‘Do you know if he’s out on a case?’ Meade enquired.
    The sergeant shook his head a second time.
    Blackstone leant forward, with both his hands resting on the desk. ‘Do you know a cure for grazed knuckles?’ he asked politely.
    The desk sergeant glanced down at his hands. ‘Your knuckles ain’t grazed,’ he pointed out.
    ‘No, at the moment, they’re not,’ Blackstone said. ‘But they might be soon, about thirty seconds from now.’
    The desk sergeant quickly pushed his chair backwards. ‘Is that a threat?’ he asked, worriedly.
    ‘Why should I threaten you, of all people?’ Blackstone wondered. ‘After all, ever since this morning we’ve been like old pals, haven’t we?’
    ‘Look, I don’t know where Saddler is,’ the desk sergeant said. ‘I’d tell you if I did. But just ’cos I ain’t seen him don’t mean he ain’t come in, so why don’t you look in his office?’
    ‘Thank you very much, Sergeant,’ Blackstone said. ‘You really have been most helpful.’
    The office that Inspector O’Brien and Sergeant Saddler had shared was at the opposite end of the basement from the cells.
    ‘Is the whole of the Detective Bureau down here?’ Blackstone asked Meade, as they walked down the steps.
    ‘Nope, just Patrick’s room,’ Meade replied. ‘The rest of the Bureau wanted to keep him as far away from them as possible, and he always said that was all to the good – because when they began to feel comfortable in his presence, he’d really start to worry.’
    They had reached the door. Meade knocked, and, when there was no answer after a few seconds, he knocked again.
    ‘I don’t think he’s in there,’ Blackstone said.
    ‘I don’t think he is, either,’ Meade agreed.
    He reached down, and grasped the doorknob. When it turned, he quickly released it again.
    ‘Is there something wrong?’ Blackstone asked, and realized that he himself must think there was, since he was whispering.
    ‘Saddler would never leave the door unlocked,’ Meade hissed back.
    ‘Do you think there’s someone else in there?’
    Meade drew his .32 revolver from its holster. ‘I don’t know, but I’m sure as hell going to find out.’
    He grasped the revolver in both hands, and signalled with his eyes that the inspector should turn the knob again and push the door slightly.
    For a moment Blackstone hesitated, and even thought of counselling caution. But, when all was said and done, Meade was a man – and men made their own decisions.
    Blackstone grasped the knob, turned it, and gave it a slight shove.
    Meade kicked the door wide open and rushed into the room, his hands swinging his weapon in a wide arc, in search of a target.
    But there was no one in the office who needed shooting. In fact, there was no one in the office at all.
    Blackstone stepped over the threshold behind Meade. The office furniture consisted of two desks and a filing cabinet, he quickly noted. There was a plain calendar on the wall with all the previous days in the month firmly crossed off. In the corner of the room, there was a large blackboard – resting on an easel – which had been wiped clean of chalk. It was all very practical and very utilitarian – the working space of a serious-minded crusader like O’Brien.
    There was one jarring note, however – a framed poster from the Grand Theatre, Broadway, which proclaimed that Henry Mortimer and Mary Brookes would be appearing in a new production of Macbeth. The picture below the legend showed the two of them, Macbeth-Mortimer and Lady Macbeth-Brookes, gazing nobly and tragically into the near distance.
    ‘Was O’Brien a theatregoer?’ Blackstone wondered.
    But Meade had his mind on other – more pressing – matters. He had gone straight to the filing cabinet and opened

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