The little French fishing boat, lurking to the south of the Channel Islands, picked up two men, clinging, exhausted, to a large piece of wreckage. Instantly they made the connection. It had to do with the explosion they had heard an hour or so before, when the night sky had been afire with a blaze of light.
These men must be survivors from some kind of marine accident. They ought to have taken them to Jersey, but that would have meant answering some awkward questions about what they were doing in these waters. Jersey police and coast-guards were very strict about illegal fishing, and even more so about drug-running !
So instead they took them home with them to their little fishing village, on the French coast, and looked after them. They tended their minor injuries and gave them food and shelter.
The ungrateful wretches, however, abused their hosts' generous hospitality, by stealing money and clothes, and even the car belonging to 'le maire', the only one in the village, and disappearing into the night.
The disgruntled fishermen complained bitterly, of course, but only to each other. They could hardly go to the gendarmes about it, could they ?
A few days later, Monsieur le Maire's car was found abandoned in Paris, traced back to the village, and returned to them. So they wrote off the incident with typical Gallic shrugs, and got on with their normal quiet lives.
As soon as he had received permission from Dr. Lejeune, Bodie had triumphantly escorted Doyle from St Saviour's Hospital in St Helier, to the airport, and then back to London, nearly driving him crazy on the way with his fussing over-protective attitude
Back on home ground, Doyle had recovered rapidly and was soon back to work. As his closest colleagues learnt the story of his adventures, he had to endure a lot of teasing, with amused references to 'holidays in the country' or 'free sea cruises'. But he took it all in good part, knowing, as they did, that he was very lucky to have come out of it all alive.
There hadn't been a lot reported to them from the Jersey police. Three bodies had been found, they were told. The colour of his skin had identified Bruno, and, of course, the woman was Leila. I'm sorry about her, Doyle thought to himself. She wasn't a bad girl, just totally dominated by Leitener. The third body couldn't be accurately identified, but because of its size, must have been either Stewart or Wetherby.
Which left four unaccounted for, and they still hadn't been found. But, according to the locals, this wasn't unusual. Because of the irregular tides and currents round the islands and along the French coast, the bodies of fishermen, known to have been lost at sea, often took months to turn up, and some were never found at all. As time passed without any further news, the whole episode became just a less than pleasant memory.
Bodie and Doyle had just got back from a useless stake-out operation, and were about to hand in their report on it, when Cowley called them into his office.
"I'm afraid that was a wasted effort, sir," said Bodie. "According to the neighbours, the chap we were after, did a 'moonlight flit' some time last week, and hasn't been seen since."
"Yes, I thought that might happen," replied Cowley abstractedly.
Pity you didn't tell us, thought Doyle. It would have saved lugging all that equipment out there, just to bring it back again.
But Cowley's mind was already on something else.
"Have either of you any idea where McGavin is ?," he asked.
Both men shook their heads.
"No, sir," replied Doyle. "He tends to work very much on his own."
"Yes, I know," agreed Cowley. "He's always been a 'loner'. Knowing, as I do, the success of a good team, yourselves, for example, I've tried 'pairing' him with several different people, but it doesn't seem to work out."
"Is he on something important, sir ?," asked Bodie.
"Well, that's just it, I'm not sure," their boss replied. "He called me this morning to say he'd just had good information about a big drugs drop, but didn't know the location yet. He said he'd ring as soon as he knew it. But that was nearly three hours ago, and I haven't heard a word !"
"Have you risked calling him ?,"asked Doyle. This could be dangerous if a man was working under cover, and was usually a last resort.
"I finally decided I'd have to," replied Cowley, "but I found his radio-phone was de-activated."
"Suspicious !," commented Bodie.
Doyle raised an idea. "He sometimes calls for assistance from Mary Collins, who works in the Computer Centre. Maybe, she knows something."
This odd association was a matter for much speculation among McGavin's C.I.5 colleagues. The man himself was short, stocky and almost aggressive in his manner, and the girl in question was so different.
She was a tall, dark, slim woman, very good at her job, but one who kept herself very much to herself. Not being anything special to look at, she was the type who didn't attract notice, and perhaps this was the very reason that McGavin had chosen her to help him on occasions.
Cowley made a quick phone call, and listened to the response.
"That's odd," he said, as he put the receiver down. "She came in as usual this morning. She had a phone call, which she retired to the rest-room to take. Then she came out, collected her things, said she wasn't feeling well, and left in a hurry."
"Are they checking up on that, sir ?," asked Doyle.
"Yes," said Cowley, "I'll let you know what they report. Meanwhile, you'd better start a few enquiries of your own."
The pair left quickly to get on with it. Bodie organised an A.P.B. to search for McGavin's car, while Doyle tried to follow up on who McGavin's informants were. Then they received the report from those checking up on Mary Collins. She was not at her home, and neither was her car. So they quickly added a search for that too.
The next report they received was a disturbing one. McGavin's car had been found, in a derelict dockland site. A search of the area had discovered a man, shot and severely wounded. As the description fitted Mc Gavin, Doyle and Bodie were into a car and on their way at the double. They arrived just as the ambulance was about to leave. A quick glance confirmed that the victim was McGavin.
"You go with him, Ray," said Bodie. "You know him better than I do. I'll report to Cowley, and then follow on to the hospital.
Doyle quickly climbed into the ambulance, and looked with concern at the unconscious form on the stretcher. He turned to the attendant medic.
"How is he ?," he asked anxiously.
"Not good," replied the man. "He just might make it, though. He looks pretty tough."
They had almost reached the hospital when McGavin regained consciousness. Recognising Doyle, he pulled his hand from the medic's, who had been checking his pulse, and reached out to him. Doyle grabbed the wavering hand, and held it firmly, trying to will strength into the man.
"Collins !," gasped McGavin, "She took it all,- drugs worth a fortune.!"
"Did she shoot you ?," demanded Doyle. McGavin nodded weakly, and passed out again.
Doyle watched as the patient was whisked away into the hands of the medical staff, then moved outside to call in to Headquarters. He was put straight through to Cowley, and told him what Mc Gavin had said.
"How is he ?," asked Cowley
"Not very good, I'm afraid," replied Doyle "They're seeing to him now."
As something else caught his eye, he added, "and Bodie's just pulled into the car park."
"Well," said Cowley briskly, "Neither of you can do any more there. I'll send someone over to keep me up-dated. You and Bodie had better try to find Mary Collins !."
Doyle moved out to meet his team-mate and relayed the orders. "Find Mary Collins," said Bodie gloomily. "That's not going to be easy. Where do we start ?"
"I don't know either," replied Doyle. "Has her car been found yet ?"
It hadn't, in spite of extensive searching, but then, a small brown Mini in the thousands of dull streets in London, was not a highly visible quarry. By the time the pair knocked off, late in the evening, none of their enquiries or leads had produced any results.
Mary Collins appeared to have completely vanished !
When Doyle followed Bodie into their boss's office early next morning, he had a very thoughtful expression on his face. Cowley noted it and re-acted promptly. He knew Doyle was pretty intelligent, and if he'd been thinking a problem through, it was likely he'd have something useful to contribute.
"Something on your mind, Doyle ?," he asked.
"Well, yes, sir. Mary Collins," replied Doyle.
"Go on," said Cowley encouragingly.
"She's been with us a long time," went on Doyle. "So she must have been all right at the start, for the 'vetting system' is so thorough. And she's always been very good at her work. But maybe, over the years, she's become frustrated over lack of advancement. She's undoubtedly clever, so perhaps without us noticing it, she's changed herself into a self-appointed 'sleeper', soaking up all the information she could, and waiting for the right opportunity."
Cowley had been following this line of thought closely. "And McGavin gave her that, when he included her in dealing with this big drugs drop," he said. "She would know what it was worth !."
"And she knows who'll pay good money for it," added Bodie, as the possible scenario grew rapidly in all their minds.
"Good thinking, Doyle !," exclaimed Cowley, making his man feel good, for the boss did not hand out praise very often.
"But that means we've got it all wrong in the way we're looking for her," continued Doyle."
"What do you mean ?," asked Bodie, looking puzzled.
"Well, don't you see ?," said Doyle. "The Mary Collins we knew no longer exists ! She's burnt her boats now, and become a different person. You know what these 'drug barons' are like. If someone as inconspicuous as the woman we knew, tried to deal with them, they'd walk all over her."
"Of course !," exclaimed Cowley, "She'll have changed her appearance."
"Drastically, I'd say," replied Doyle. "New hairstyle, new clothes, new attitude. Maybe new car," he added, "That could be why we haven't found it."
Cowley's clever mind was racing ahead. "So we're probably looking for a smart, well-dressed, business woman. And not in some little back-street B & B, either, I think. She'll want smart but discreet accommodation somewhere, so that she can arrange to meet go-betweens on her own terms. A different search, gentlemen, though no easier."
"But, sir, there is one helpful thing," went on Doyle. "She can change her appearance completely, but she can't disguise her height ! She's a tall woman, and shoes with some sort of heel have to go with the image. 'Flatties' would be all wrong."
"Clever !," commented Bodie, with a grin, "but you're right."
"Right then, let's get on with it," said Cowley briskly. "A run down of any likely place that's just got a new, very tall, lady guest."
It took quite a while, of course, London is a very big place, and the hotel industry there is vast and widespread. But, with every possible agent called in, gradually the task was whittled down to a list of 'possibles', to be carefully looked into.
But what of Mary Collins ? She had, as Doyle had suggested, totally disappeared from the scene. What had she been doing ? A great many things !
First of all, she had gone to her bank, and closed her account, collecting all the money in there. Then she had driven her small brown car to the outskirts of London, and left it there, neatly parked in a side street.
She had travelled back into London on the Underground, carrying a small suitcase with her. That suitcase contained two things, all the money she owned, but more importantly, two very neat and valuable packages.
Her next step was to open an account at a different bank, under a new secret name, depositing most of her money there, and making good use of a safety-deposit box, to be securely kept in the bank's vaults until called for.
She then spent the rest of the afternoon in London's best shops, creating her new image. A smartly-styled blonde wig, an elegant black suit, neat court shoes, some false but expensive-looking jewellery, and a Mrs. Julia Fanshawe was born !
As she admired her new image in the long glass of a smart fitting-room, she had a sudden thought. Perhaps she was indulging a sub-conscious desire to become the attractive woman she had never been. Was there a more subtle alternative ?
So a few extra items were included in her purchases, and placed in the smart new suitcase, that a carried into the small exclusive hotel that she had chosen to be her 'pied a terre.'
She boldly booked a suite on the top floor, and retired there to await developments. Her work over the years had given her a lot of information about 'who' was 'who' in the criminal world, and she had a very useful notebook, containing names and telephone numbers, that she had spent years collecting with a view to making good use of them when the right opportunity arose.
And McGavin had given that to her !
Pity she'd had to shoot him, but he'd rejected her proposal that they should go off together and share whatever they made.
So she settled down to write letters and make phone calls, to put out tentative feelers to find who would give her the best price. She was very careful to remain anonymous as yet. Too clever to reveal her identity or whereabouts, she specified that replies must be made by putting certain words into certain advertisements in certain newspapers. She would respond if the offers interested her.
Mary Collins had been a very clever girl, and now Julia Fanshawe was going to be a rich woman !
Meanwhile a massive search was going on all over London. Operatives were calling in every likely hotel in London, asking the same question.
"Did a tall lady register here, on the afternoon or evening of May 17th."
Admittedly, the straight answer, "No" eliminated many very quickly, and the numbers were going down rapidly.
As soon as a few "Yes" answers emerged, Cowley sent in several of his best teams, chosen specifically from those who had been in the Computer Room often enough to have registered what Mary Collins looked like, although the warning was still in place that she probably looked very different now. It was tedious work, but those involved worked steadily through their lists, knowing how important it was, and gradually the numbers diminished.
Late one afternoon Bodie and Doyle had reduced their day's list to the last three. They pulled into the car-park of a small hotel in Chelsea, and went in to speak to the manager.
"You're enquiring about Mrs. Berresford," he said. "I think she's out at the moment." He checked his key-board, and turned back towards them. Then he looked beyond them to the hotel door.
"Oh, no," he said, "Here she is now. Do you want to speak to her ?"
"No, thank you," said Doyle hurriedly, for the stately grey-haired lady advancing slowly towards the desk was clearly not Mary Collins. She had the height it was true, but even with the cleverest disguise the features were not right.
It was another of the same failures that they had encountered all during this long day.
"Where's the next one ?," asked Doyle as they left hurriedly.
Bodie consulted his list. "The Dorset, in South Kensington," he replied, and they both quickly checked their street directories.
"Right, meet you there," said Doyle. "Wait for me in the car-park. I've got to put some more petrol in the car,"
Consequently, as Bodie got there first, he got a lucky parking-space in the hotel car-park only yards from the door, and so he grinned widely as his mate, only a few minutes after him, had to go right to the far end of the car-park to get his car in.
They entered the hotel foyer together, and approached the reception desk, just as they had done in a dozen previous places, in their long and tedious day. The manageress, a mature woman, smiled rather grimly at them.
"You're asking about Mrs. Fanshawe, I understand," she said. "A very nice lady. She keeps to her room, rarely goes out, and has her meals sent up."
"That's a bit unusual, isn't it ?," queried Bodie.
"Not really, sir," replied the woman stiffly. "I had occasion to see her the day after she registered, to sign a form, and she explained. She told me that her health is poor and she has to take things very quietly."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances. An invalid lady didn't seem a likely bet. Unless it was just a front, of course !
"But she explained," went on the manageress, "that her brother, who is also her business associate, would be visiting her daily, and he would be in and out frequently."
Bodie drew Doyle to one side as another guest came to the desk, to hand in her key."
"A brother, that doesn't sound right," he said. "Mary hasn't got a brother, as far as I know."
"No, she hasn't," agreed Doyle. Then a sudden thought came into his quick mind. "Unless ….,?," he whispered softly.
"What ?" said Bodie, then drew in a quick breath, as he suddenly followed his partner's line of thought.
He turned back to the manageress. "This brother ?," he asked. "What's he like ?"
"A very pleasant gentleman," she replied. "In and out every day, brings lots of papers in. Always waves if I see him."
"No, what does he look like ?," pressed Doyle.
"Tall, slim, dark-haired," she replied. "You can tell they are brother and sister. They are very alike."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged a quick look. Was this significant ?
"Is he there now ?," asked Bodie.
"No," she replied. "I saw him go out about an hour ago."
"So Mrs. Fanshawe should be there alone," said Bodie. "Could we have her room number, please."
The woman obligingly told them. She was warming to her questioners. "Shall I call her, and say you would like to see her ?," she asked helpfully.
"No, thank you," said Doyle quickly.
Fortunately the woman was diverted at that moment, by a large and noisy family, who crowded round the desk, demanding their keys, so she didn't press the point.
They quickly moved round a corner of the hallway, out of her sight, and, hopefully out of her mind.
"If what we suspect is true," said Doyle thoughtfully, "the room should be empty. Shall we go and have a look ?"
"Yes," said Bodie eagerly, "If Mrs. Fanshawe does answer the door, we'll have to think up a good excuse," he added with a grin.
They quickly mounted the stairs to the top floor, and found the numbered door they were seeking. They knocked and waited - no response ! They tried again, a bit louder, but still nothing happened.
Doyle whipped out his special set of keys. A few moments gentle twiddling, and the door was open. They slipped inside, guns at the ready, but as they had suspected, there was no-one there !
Bodie moved into the bedroom, while Doyle began to look round the lounge, nether of them quite sure what they were looking for.
"Ray," called Bodie softly, and as his team-mate looked up, he appeared in the doorway, holding aloft two items to show him, - a smart blonde wig, and a pair of high-heeled shoes.
Doyle raised a thumb in silent acknowledgement that their suspicions had been confirmed, and Bodie retreated to put the items back where he had found them.
There was a small desk, conveniently placed before the window, so that anyone sitting there could write their letters, and appreciate the view over the roof-tops at the same time. Doyle slid into the chair, and began to investigate the various drawers. He found a locked one, so out came his useful keys again.
What happened next could probably be blamed equally on either of them. Bodie for being clumsy enough to knock over a metal waste-paper bin, which fell with a noisy clatter, or Doyle for letting the sound and his pre-occupation with his keys make him miss the slight click as the main door to the suite was opened.
With his back to the door, he was taken totally by surprise by the whisper in his ear, "Looking for something, Doyle ?," and frozen into immobility by the pressure of cold steel against his temple. He knew a gun-barrel when he felt it, and held his breath.
The females in C.I.5 were as well-trained as the men in some techniques, and Mary quickly put her skills into action.
A strong left arm whipped across Doyle's throat, pulling him against the chair-back, and swinging the chair round to face the bedroom door. Mary crouched behind him, still keeping the gun pressed to his head.
Barely able to breathe, Doyle was totally at her mercy. His strength and skill could have broken the hold, but the gun was a different matter.
Mary called out. "Bodie," she said, "Come out, very slowly, - unless you want your partner to come to harm."
There was silence from the bedroom. Then Bodie appeared very cautiously in the doorway, his gun held in both hands before him. He stopped suddenly as he saw his team-mate's predicament, but held his gun steady.
Mary spoke again. "I suppose this is what they call a 'Mexican stand-off'," she mused. "At this range, you couldn't miss, but I'd undoubtedly take him with me."
"Don't push it, Mary," pleaded Bodie, trying to use a calming tone, though the anxiety was obvious in his voice.
"You pair really are team-mates, aren't you ?," said Mary. "I was never McGavin's team-mate," she added in a bitter tone. "He only used me when it suited him, because I don't attract much attention."
"But if this is the end of the line," she exclaimed, "It might be worth taking one of you with me, after the way you've treated me !"
"We've never done anything to you !," protested Bodie indignantly.
"No, that's just it !," she retorted. "Between you, the pair of you, you've chatted up every girl in the Computer Centre, but you've never given me a second look !"
Bodie had no answer to that, for it was completely true.
He was trying desperately to think of a way out of this. He realised he was dealing with a very unstable woman, who had completely thrown away her old way of life, and might now do anything. She had already killed one man, or thought she had. An idea suddenly came into his mind, - it was worth a try !
"Mary," he said, trying to keep his voice calm and reasonable, "You do know McGavin isn't dead, don't you ?."
"Not dead !," exclaimed Mary.
"No. He was badly hurt, but he is recovering," said Bodie, carefully watching the different expressions flit across as much of the woman's face as he could see.
Mary was thinking fast."That could make a difference," she said slowly. "If I'm not facing a charge of murder…."
Suddenly she made a decision. "Right," she said firmly. "I surrender !." She laid the gun down on the floor, and stood up, releasing Doyle.
He slid from the chair, one hand rubbing his throat, and went to stand by Bodie, and together they surveyed the new Mary Collins, totally changed from the quiet woman they had known.
Tall and lean, in a neat pin-stripe suit, and a dark wig, she made a very passable, good-looking man.
Bodie kept his gun steady just in case she tried anything. "Kick the gun gently this way," he ordered, and she complied.
Doyle darted under Bodie's line of fire and retrieved it, handling it carefully. No doubt Ballistics would want it, to prove it was the weapon that had shot McGavin.
"Where are the drugs you stole ?," asked Doyle.
"As if I'd tell you," replied Mary scornfully.
"You'll have to tell someone sooner or later," said Bodie.
"Eventually, maybe," admitted Mary, "but for the moment, that's the only card I've got left."
She's going to be difficult, thought Doyle to himself. I hope we don't get the job of interrogating her.
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and he went to answer it. It was the back-up teams they had called for, as soon as they had realised they had found their quarry. One lot took charge of Mary, and led her away, while the other began to employ their special skills to examine every detail of the rooms she had occupied.
As for Bodie and Doyle, their part in the job was over, and they made their way back downstairs. As they came through the door, on the way to retrieve their cars from the car-park, Bodie had a suggestion to make.
"I think we've earned a meal-break," he declared. "Where shall we go ?"
A few minutes wrangling, and they settled for their favourite pub. Bodie turned towards his car, close to the door, while Doyle set out to reach his, which was, of course, further away.
As Bodie inserted his key in the door, he was startled by a sudden shout, followed by the sound of a gun-shot.! He swung round quickly. There, half-way up the car-park, his mate was down, but far from out !
Clutching at his leg, he was scuttling sideways like a crab, into cover between the parked cars !
Bodie spotted a figure running away, and gave chase. But the man had a fair start on him. His quarry ran up the green bank at the end of the car-park, and disappeared down the other side. By the time Bodie topped the rise, the man was climbing into an already-revving car, which shot off at top speed, and vanished into the main-road traffic.
Frustrated, Bodie turned back to check on his friend. He found him leaning against one of the cars. There was a wet patch slowly spreading down his jeans on the outside of his thigh, but it was a dark red stain and not bright arterial blood, and his mate was on his feet, so it couldn't be too bad.
But the look on his face was not of pain, but rather of distinct puzzlement. He answered Bodie's questioning look. "I absolutely don't believe in ghosts," he stated firmly, "but I do think I've just seen one !"
"Who?," asked Bodie. Doyle wasn't given to imagining things.
"I'll swear it was Roscoe !," declared Doyle.
"Well," said Bodie, thoughtfully. "It could have been him. His body was never found, was it ? You and Sinclair survived. Maybe some of the others did too."
"Come on," he said, pointing to the sluggishly-bleeding injury. "Let's get that seen to. We'll come back for your car later."
He insisted on taking his mate to the hospital that C.I.5 always used, as they could use a little influence there to get seen quickly. Doyle protested that it wasn't that bad, but was over-ruled.
But he was right. The challenging shout and his quick reactions had enabled him to take evasive action, and the bullet had only nicked him, a deepish surface injury. A couple of stitches and a large plaster later, he was able to ease his stained jeans gingerly back into place. Then he had an idea.
"While we're here," he said, "Let's go and visit McGavin, and tell him about Mary."
McGavin, though still very weak, was pleased to see them, and listened intently as they told him the whole story.
"You haven't found the drugs yet ?," he queried.
"No," replied Doyle, "She wasn't inclined to tell us where they are, but at least they are not on the streets. They'll get it out of her eventually, I expect."
McGavin was studying the pair thoughtfully. "You two are a real team, aren't you ?," he mused. "You back each other up all the time."
"We support each other all the way," said Bodie smugly.
"Yes," agreed Doyle, "When we are on the job, I trust him totally."
"Cowley tries to find me a team-mate," said McGavin. "Maybe I'll let him try again."
As they left to find Bodie's car, and to return to collect Doyle's, for he declared himself perfectly fit to drive, Bodie took his mate to task. "When you said you trusted me," he complained, "you qualified it, by saying 'when we're on a job'. What did that mean ?."
"Just what I said," retorted Doyle cheekily, "Working, I trust you totally, but if I had a sister, I wouldn't trust you an inch."
And he dodged neatly, as his friend pretended to try to hit him.
As they mounted the stairs the following morning, to report to Cowley's office, Bodie noticed that his friend was rather pensive. Perhaps his leg injury was paining him.
"What's up, Ray ?," he asked.
"Something a bit odd," replied Doyle. "When I got back to my car yesterday, I found this stuck on the windscreen."
He passed Bodie a small white card. It simply said, in bold letters.
"Oh," Bodie smiled, "An old flame catching up with you ?"
"No," said Doyle, "I've never known a Caroline. There was a Carol once, but she married an Inspector and moved up north, Manchester, I think."
He was still puzzling, and turning the card in his fingers, as they entered their boss's office. Before he could stop him, Bodie had twitched it from his fingers, and was showing it to Cowley.
"Ray's fussing," he said, amusement in his voice, "because he found this on his car, and he can't 'remember Caroline.'
"You ought to," said Cowley, "for it ties in with you believing it was Roscoe who shot at you yesterday."
Doyle still looked blank, and now, too, did Bodie. Cowley felt mildly pleased that his memory was better than theirs in this.
"Caroline," he explained, "was the name of the boat that the Leitener gang stole, the one that blew up !."
Comprehension suddenly dawned on Bodie and Doyle.
"Of course, so it was," exclaimed Doyle. "Then maybe it really was Roscoe I saw yesterday." Then he frowned. "But Roscoe wouldn't have thought of this," he said, taking the little white card back. "It's much too subtle for him."
He turned a startled face to the other two. "But Leitener might ! It's much more his style," he exclaimed.
Bodie was thinking it through. "It is possible," he declared. "They might both have survived ! You did ! They could have ended up in France, maybe." He didn't know then, how right he was.
"And now, they are back," breathed Doyle.
"And after you, it seems," said Cowley. "Well, we don't want them back in our midst, so now you know what your next job is, don't you. Find out, fast."
The pair left hurriedly, with a myriad thoughts whirling round in their heads. Where to start ?
"Did you get a number on the car you saw ?," asked Doyle."
"Only half of it," admitted Bodie. "There was mud on the plate."
"It probably doesn't matter anyway," said Doyle, "If they think it was seen, they'll dump it, and steal another."
He was right about that. A car that had the half number Bodie had seen, and fitted his description, was found abandoned on a bit of waste ground. The handles of the doors and the steering-wheel had all been carefully wiped clean, but the clever Forensic team did manage to find a few smudged prints on a door-panel, and sent a definite confirmation through - Leitener !
"So he was driving the car," said Doyle. "Then I wasn't imagining things when I saw Roscoe."
"You weren't," agreed Bodie. "That nasty pair are definitely back. And we've got to find them before they get up to anything. But, where are they now ? That's our problem !."
Doyle had a sudden thought. "Sinclair," he said. "He might give us a clue. Do we know where he is ?"
"Still on remand at Bedford, I think," replied Bodie. "But why would he help us ?"
"He's bright enough in some things," explained Doyle, "but he's a newcomer to the criminal world. I bet he's scared stiff about going to jail. If I stress hard enough that he's in prison, and they are getting away with it, it might sway him."
They picked up a car from the pool, made the trip to Bedford, and arranged an interview with Sinclair. He received the news that Leitener and Roscoe had evidently survived, and were back in the country, with muted interest, and volunteered nothing. As Doyle had suspected, he was numb with dread at the thought of going to prison, and could think of nothing else. It looked as if it had been a wasted journey.
Then Doyle had a sudden inspiration. "It was down to you, Sinclair," he said, "impersonating me so well, that the Luton job was such a success. I hope you got a good share of the loot."
A flicker of expression on Sinclair's face showed that he had touched a sore spot.
"No, I didn't," exclaimed Sinclair angrily. "None of us did ! Leitener gave us each a bit of money, but he kept most of it. He said he was going to put it into a Swiss bank account, so we could use it to set us up when we got to France."
Doyle saw his chance and added fuel to the fire. "And I bet he and Roscoe are living well on it now," he suggested, and saw the anger growing in the young man's face.
"I don't suppose you know the account number ?," asked Bodie, not very hopefully. "Or which bank he used to arrange it.?"
"No, I don't," said Sinclair, "but he didn't go very far away to do it. He said he didn't like carrying all that cash any distance. He wasn't away from the house for long."
"But I don't know where the house is," said Doyle in frustration. "I never got further than the patio."
"It was quite near Grantham," said Sinclair obligingly, "but I expect he went into Nottingham to do the account."
The C.I 5 men exchanged glances, pleased with even this meagre bit of information. As they were already almost half-way there, they continued on to Nottingham, and tried to make some enquiries at the various banks they found. But bank-managers are distinctly un-cooperative about their dealings, and even with their authority they made little progress.
So they decided to return to London, to turn it over to Cowley to deal with. He could call in especially 'big guns' in the financial world, and they would get the answers they wanted, using the fact that it was the proceeds of a robbery they were after.
"Let's go back via Grantham," suggested Doyle.
Bodie grinned in understanding."You're hoping to spot the house you were kept in, aren't you ?" he said.
"It's a bit of a long shot, mate. You said it was remote."
"We might get lucky," coaxed Doyle persuasively, and Bodie capitulated.
"O.K.," he agreed, "but we're not doing a country-wide tour, mind."
They drove through the very attractive country-side, avoiding the main roads. Bodie was driving and Doyle was looking keenly all around as they went.
Suddenly, he yelled, "Stop !", and Bodie pulled the car to a halt.
"That drunken-looking signpost, leaning against the telephone box," Doyle exclaimed. "I saw that in the headlights, just after we came out of the gateway on our way south."
Bodie started the car again, and continued slowly along the road. Thirty yards further on, they came upon a gateway. Beside it was a very large board, with a 'FOR SALE' sign.
"Let's go and have a look," begged Doyle.
Bodie wasn't so sure. "There might be people still living there," he protested.
"If there are, I'll make up some excuse," said Doyle. "Please, Bodie."
His mate gave in to his pleading, and drove up the long drive till the house came into view.
"Is this it ?," he demanded.
"I don't know," replied Doyle, as he climbed out of the car, "I didn't see the front in daylight. I'm going round the back.
Bodie parked the car neatly, as his friend darted off. There didn't seem to be any sign of life in the house, so he hurried after his impetuous mate, and found him gazing in triumph at some old-fashioned, cast-iron garden furniture.
"It is the right place, Bodie," he said with a grin. "It seems to be empty. Do you think we can get in ?"
"Steady on, Ray !," admonished Bodie, for his mate was behaving like an over-excited schoolboy.
"I can see a broken window," exclaimed Doyle, and before Bodie could stop him, he was clambering up a convenient drain-pipe like a monkey. He got to the window, reached carefully through the broken pane, and opened it. With a bit of wriggling, he disappeared inside.
Bodie was still gazing upwards, when the patio doors nearby slid open, and Ray was beckoning him in.
"Come on," he said, "I'll show you where I was kept." He was bounding away up the stairs, so Bodie was obliged to follow after him, and eventually caught up with him in the nursery wing.
"Look," said Doyle, "there are the bolts they put on after I got out." He pulled the door open and showed his friend the little room that had been his prison for so many tedious nights.
"This is all very interesting, mate," said Bodie, "but it doesn't exactly help us much now, does it ?"
"No, I suppose not," agreed Doyle, his excitement abating. "I don't imagine they left anything that would give us a clue to where they are now."
Then Bodie had a helpful thought. "I don't know, though," he explained. "The agents that are offering it for sale. If they were the same ones who rented it to Leitener, they would have needed some sort of references, wouldn't they ? We might find a name and address that could help."
They hurried down the stairs again, remembering to stop on the way, so that Doyle could close the windows and doors he had opened, and left by the front door, which clicked firmly shut behind them.
They drove back down the drive and stopped by the gateway to collect the name address and phone number of the estate agents.
Bodie looked at his watch. "Time's getting on," he said. "They'll be closed by now. We'd better find a phone, to call Cowley, see if he'll give us permission to stay overnight somewhere, and continue in the morning."
As neither of them had sufficient change for a lengthy phone-call, they decided to take a chance, and find somewhere to stay first. Then they could make a more detailed report over the room-phone.
After a little searching, they found a pleasant country pub, and booked in, accepting the only accommodation on offer, a comfortable twin room.
Using the special code and numbers, Doyle got through to Cowley, who listened intently to his report on what they had done, and what they were planning to try.
"Hm," he said at last, "It's a bit of a long shot, but we've nothing else, and you might just get a break.. All right, carry on, but don't go mad on expenses !"
The listening pair exchanged a grin at this last bit. Wasn't that typical of their boss ?
They were able to relax for the evening, and spent a pleasant time down in the bar, talking to some of the locals. They didn't say who they were, of course, or what their business was in the area. Doyle did venture a casual question about the house they had found.
"Yes, nice old place," said one elderly man. "Used to belong to titled people once, but it's not been used much since they left. I expect it'll fall into ruin if they can't find a buyer. Shame, really ! But it's a bit too isolated for most people."
That's why it suited Leitener, thought Doyle to himself.
As early as was feasible next morning, they presented themselves at the estate agents, and were pleased to find a friendly, chatty man in charge.
"Yes," he said, in answer to their enquiry, "It was rented for a while, about six months ago. Funny business, that though.! The chap said he was bringing some friends for a rest in the country. He paid up front for a month, but they disappeared after two weeks, and I never heard from them again."
"Any paper-work ?," asked Bodie. "A name and address perhaps ?"
"Yes, I'll find it for you," said the man obligingly, and did so.
The pair looked through the document carefully. Leitener hadn't used his own name, but had registered as 'Mr. Mason'. There was a London address for reference, which they carefully noted down, but little else useful. Leitener had paid with cash, so there was nothing in the way of bank details to help them.
Thanking the man, they set off back towards London. They had gained a little information along the way, but whether it would assist them in their efforts to catch the men they were after, remained to be seen. They reported into Cowley, and told him every detail of what they had learned.
"I've already got them on to trying to trace that bank account that Sinclair told you about," he said. "We might get something there in a while, and in the meantime, we'd better stake-out that address."
"No !," exclaimed Doyle.
Cowley looked at him in some surprise. He wasn't used to having his orders questioned. But he knew his man, and that he must have a good reason for his objection. Doyle hurried to explain.
"It's the only possible lead we've got as to where they might be," he said, "so we must be extremely careful with it. To start with, we can't be sure that they are using the place at all."
"True," admitted Cowley, and waited for the rest.
"But more importantly," went on Doyle, "that pair are 'on the run' They know they're on every police force's 'wanted' list, so they'll be very cautious. And both of them are very 'street-wise'. They'd spot an 'observer', even our very best. Then they'd disappear, and we'd be worse off than before."
"What do you suggest then ?," asked Cowley, sure that his man had some alternative in mind.
"We do have one 'secret weapon'," said Doyle with a smile. "We could use Fred ! You know how good he is, and because he's disabled, people tend to discount him, and he doesn't get noticed"
"Sounds a good idea," commented Bodie, and Cowley nodded thoughtfully.
"Will you set it up, Doyle,?," he said, "but make sure you've got the best equipment to keep in constant touch. Leitener and Roscoe are ruthless men. I don't want him in danger."
"He'll just observe, no more," promised Doyle. "I'll get him a 'mug-shot' of Leitener. We haven't got one of Roscoe yet, have we ? We didn't follow up on his American activities."
"No," admitted Cowley, "Didn't seem necessary when we thought they'd all died in the explosion."
"I'll get Alma to do me an artist's impression," said Doyle'
"I'll help with that," volunteered Bodie. "I did see him walk through the bar."
Doyle smiled inwardly. Bodie's offer of help had an ulterior motive. He rather fancied Alma, and so far she'd resisted all his attempts to charm her.
It was soon all set up, and Fred was supplied with all the correct equipment so that he could keep in constant touch. Doyle and Bodie hadn't dared to go near the address, in case the wanted pair were using it, and spotted them.
Fred reported that it wasn't much of a place to look at, just a small terraced house towards the end of a dingy row, in a poor area of Mile End. After his first day of careful watching, he had nothing to report. There had been nobody in or out of the house, and no sign of any movement inside.
But on the second day things changed ! An urgent call came in from him, and Bodie and Doyle listened intently.
"They're in there, Ray," said Fred excitedly. "A man came up the road carrying several newspapers. I thought he was just delivering at first, but then he went up the steps and rang the bell. As he waited, I got a good look at him, and from the drawing you gave me, I'm sure it was Roscoe. Someone opened the door and let him in. I only got a quick glimpse, but I'm certain it was Leitener.!"
"Great work, Fred !," said Doyle. "Now you'd better make yourself scarce. We'll be going in in force soon, and there may be some shooting."
"I'm not leaving," replied Fred, in a determined tone. "They tried to kill you, didn't they ? I'd like to watch you get them. But I'll keep out of sight. I won't get in anyone's way, I promise."
Doyle decided to concede. Fred was a good friend, and he was sensible enough to take proper care.
A bit of quick organizing went on. Back-up teams crept cautiously into position, taking great care not to be visible. One team went round the back, investigating alleys and backyards, in order to get the best possible positions.
After a word from them, to say they'd got the back covered, Bodie and Doyle went into action. They crossed the road at the double and up the few steps. Two shots at the lock, and hefty kicks from two strong legs, and they were in !
A startled Leitener appeared in a doorway, clad only in a bathrobe and slippers, and immediately raised his hands in surrender.
Roscoe, however, who was towards the back of the house, let out a wild yell, and producing a gun, loosed off a couple of wild shots, which streaked past the two C.I 5 men, as they flattened themselves against the walls, and whistled out of the open door,
I hope Fred's kept his head down, thought Doyle.
Then Roscoe slammed the kitchen door in Bodie's face, and tried to make a break for it out of the back. Bodie was quickly in pursuit. He saw the open window over the sink, and heard the clattering as the fleeing man scrambled down the rusty fire-escape, and he was after him as fast as he could.
With his weapon firmly trained, Doyle backed Leitener into the lounge, where the big man sank gracefully into an arm-chair, looking quite at ease. After his initial shock, he seemed quickly to have regained his composure. Doyle watched him carefully, ready to deal with anything the man tried.
But Leitener appeared to have accepted the situation, and spoke quite calmly.
"Well, dear boy," he said silkily, "Fancy seeing you here ! How clever of you to find us. How did you do it ?"
Doyle declined to tell him, and was very much on the alert, for this man was full of trickery.
"I see Roscoe didn't get you the other day," Leitener went on. "I tried to talk him out of it, you know, but he was desperate to 'have a go'. I knew he would muff it up, and he did !."
At this point, Bodie came back into the room. Doyle threw him a questioning look, for he had heard some gun-fire, and Bodie made a 'thumbs down' sign.
"He tried to challenge Barton," he said simply.
'Nuff said', thought Doyle. Barton was one of their toughest men, and a crack shot too.
Bodie sidled round behind Leitener, and quickly ran his hands over the man's body. Leitener shrugged them off angrily.
"Course I'm not 'carrying'," he snapped crossly. "I'm not dressed, and you don't put a gun on under your clothes, do you?
He glared at Bodie. "Who's your ill-mannered friend, Doyle ?," he asked.
"My partner, Bodie," replied Doyle.
"Close friends, eh ?," said Leitener, with leering innuendo.
"Certainly not !," said Bodie, indignantly.
"He's trying to rile you, Bodie," said his friend. "Ignore it."
"Clever boy, Doyle," said Leitener. "You always could see through me, couldn't you.?"
He leaned back in the chair, and mused thoughtfully. "It's going to be another long stretch, I'm afraid," he said. "I can't see me getting out of the rap for the Luton job, or the boat theft, not with your evidence."
"And Sinclair's," said Doyle.
"Oh, did he survive too ?," said Leitener interestedly. "He did very well, when he impersonated you, didn't he ?" He smiled at the memory of his own clever planning.
"But he won't like prison much, will he ?," he commented. "Now me, I will handle it all right. I'm a great one for careful planning, and I'll have lots of time to do that !"
His expression changed suddenly, and an evil light shone in his eyes. "And I shall spend every minute plotting how to bring about your demise, Doyle," he snarled. "Because of you, I lost my lovely Leila when the boat blew up, and I'll never forgive you for that !"
"It was hardly Ray's fault the boat was wrecked," protested Bodie. "It was because you didn't know how to sail it. There must have been warning lights and dials, and a safety release-valve. I do know a bit about boats, you know !"
Leitener didn't have an answer. There had been a flashing red light, but as he didn't know what it meant, he'd ignored it, as had Roscoe.
By this time, the back-up teams were swarming into the house. One lot took charge of Leitener, let him get dressed, very closely watched, and carted him away. The other began to go through the house with their usual meticulous care.
Bodie and Doyle moved towards the door, pleased with the result of this day's work.
"What are you going to do now, Ray ?," asked Bodie.
"Well, we've got a detailed report to make for Cowley," said Doyle, not a task he enjoyed. Then his face brightened. "But first, I'm going to find Fred, take him for a drink, and then run him home," he exclaimed cheerfully.
"I'll come with you," said Bodie, with the same enthusiasm.
As they strolled across the street, Bodie looked at his friend with some concern.
"Leitener really hates you," he commented. "He's set on killing you !"
"Yes, I know," agreed Doyle. "But he's going to be out of the frame for some while now."
"He's got contacts," went on Bodie worriedly, "He could put out a 'contract' on you."
"No, he won't do that !," said his friend, with conviction. "That wouldn't give him personal satisfaction, would it ? No, he'll sit in prison, and plan and scheme down to the finest detail, but it'll be a long time before he can do anything about it."
He grinned at Bodie's bothered expression. "I won't lose any sleep over it, "he declared philosophically. "A lot could happen before then. Someone might even do the job for him, who knows ?"
Not if I can prevent it, thought Bodie to himself, marvelling inwardly at his friend's calm, pragmatic attitude to the dangerous life they led.