Thursday 29 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 35 - An interesting discussion

Mandy Prenderville went over to her high-backed chair behind the desk and sat down carefully.  She had motioned me to one opposite her, and I took the middle seat.

Harry thought he’d better open the conversation.  “How did you know I was coming?”

“It wouldn’t take you very long to discover the connection between your father and me via his golf.  I take it you are looking for him?”

“How could you possibly know that?”  OK, so curiosity got the better of him.

“He is missing, isn’t he?”

“The question still stands.”

“I happen to be looking for him too.  An outstanding matter he was working on.  I’m not used to people up and disappearing on me.”

As much as Harry hated to think it, according to some of the reports on the Prenderville’s, that’s exactly what happened to rivals and those who got in their way.

He didn’t bring that topic up for obvious reasons.

“My mother seems to think he had left her for another woman, which I might add, seems to be the thinking of a number of others.  I have a hard time believing that might be the case, this time.”

It was difficult to say what sort of expression she had, but it changed suddenly, to very dark, like Harry had just trodden on her toes.

“You have a different theory?”  Her tone had lost some of its geniality.

“I have no real theory at the moment other than going around and visiting his business and golfing associates and asked them a few questions about him and their relationship with him.  Yours, you say, is golf.  From what I’ve read about you, golf is hardly a sport I would associate you with.”

“Playing, yes.  It’s a bit tedious walking around hitting a little white ball.  But it seems it is a great medium for charitable outings, and, as you are no doubt away, I do run a Foundation, and we are always looking for new ways to raise money.  Your father, though you may not believe it to be the case, was very good at organising golf weekends for the foundation.”

“And now he’s gone will that fall to Emil Florenz.”

Expression changes again, hard to incredulous maybe.  Harry was not very good at analysing people’s expressions.

She took a moment to assess, in her mind, what she was going to tell Harry.  Then, after what could be called a shrug, she said, “Well, you have been a busy boy.  Your father once told me you were a failure at everything you tried, but I put that down to the fact you had just walked away from a promising legal career, the career he wanted for you.  I don’t think he ever appreciated your more interesting talents in the private investigatory area.  I assure you I will not make the same mistake.  Florenz is a golfer, and a friend of your fathers, and therefore by proxy, known to me yes.  And yes, he might have to organise the golf events while your father is away.  And before you ask me if I know where he is, I will reiterate, he was doing a job for me, and my people are trying to find him too.”

There was no doubting their connection was golf, she said it enough times.  But in watching her closely, and those facial expressions, Harry thought he had worked out when she was lying and when she was telling the truth.  And for the last few minutes, Harry believed he hadn’t heard one word of truth.

His father was more likely to be doing a legal consultation of some sort for her.  It might even have something to do with that portside block if she was the mysterious owner.

He could ask her, but Harry was willing to bet hr would not get further than her door before the security guards dragged him off.

But Harry still couldn’t tell if she had anything to do with his disappearance.

Change of tack.  “Do you know my mother?”

A half smile perhaps.  “In a manner of speaking.  She had attended a number of Foundation functions and been a contributor to our cause for a number of years.  Ever since I’ve known her I really couldn’t understand why she married your father.  You do know she is very wealthy in her own right, and she doesn’t need anything from either your father or his business.  And no, she had never put a penny of her family money into his practice, a sore point with him I can tell you.”

The fact Harry's mother had money was something she had told Corinne and him, but not necessarily his brothers, but not to the extent that it would make a difference.  He had checked it out when he had some idle time, and the sums involved in her parent’s businesses, and that of her fellow siblings made the Rockefellers look cheap.

She had lied and he’d never understood why.  She could also have invested in Harry's private investigator venture, but she refused that too, telling him that like his father he had to find his own way in the world.  It was a variation on the, ‘if I give you the money you won’t go out to work for it’ speech.

He could ask more about that, but it would only be from a third-party perspective, if at all.  Better to move on.  “What was my father doing for you?”

“A legal matter.”

“Couldn’t elaborate?”

“Perhaps if you were one of his lawyers I might, after signing a non-disclosure agreement, but as you are not, I can’t tell you?”

“A hint then, criminal or civil?”

“Your father doesn’t do criminal unless you think he was defending me.  I read the papers, and they do not like me.  I don’t know why, I’m out there every day looking after the homeless, and those who can’t afford proper medical help.”

“Perhaps it’s the reputation your brothers brought to the name Prenderville.  Perhaps if you changed the name of both yourself and the foundation…”

Advice, by the look on her face, was not sought.

“It might, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I do that.  Now, that’s all I can tell you, except for one observation, your father spent a lot of his time at the golf club, and I suspect it became his proxy office.  Dig a little, and see if he has left anything there.  You never know.  Now, I don’t expect to see you again.”

There was no doubt in Harry's opinion, the meeting was over.

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 34 - The Prenderville Foundation

The Prenderville Foundation was in a building off-Broadway, not far from where the twin towers used to stand.

It was not far from Wall Street or City Hall, and when I looked at my phone, I saw that Felicity was not far away, having followed Florenz from the Starbucks near the Woolworth building to City Hall.

It was an interesting place for a man of his profession to go.  Perhaps he was trying to drum up business among the civic leaders.

Was it significant that Mandy had set up her business in this district, not far from Wall Street, and Civic Hall, where a lot of her most ardent admirers were located?

To be honest, I wasn’t all that interested in where the Foundation's money came from, it was much the same as those ex-presidential foundations, always flush with funds, but you’re never sure what those funds are being used for, and the newspapers, every now and then made allegations which quickly died as fast as they rose when rich and powerful lawyers start arriving at the chief editor’s office in numbers.

I was just interested in whether she knew my father, and if she did, what their business relationship was.  Of course, I fully expected to get bundled out the door by two burly bouncers long before that happened.

That was how I found myself outside the front door, looking in.

A gust of cold air brushed me as I stood there, and for a day that had been still and warm, I had to take it as an omen.  Nothing good was going to come of this.  I should take heed, turn around, and walk away.

For about five seconds I had the resolve to do just that.

On the sixth second, I took a deep breath and walked through the doors.

I had been expecting a soup kitchen or something similar, with lines of homeless people gratefully accepting food and a place to sit in relative comfort and warmth behind the shaded windows.  It was anything but that, with a counter, a wall, and a door.  I assumed if you had a good enough excuse, you could get through the door, and to the other side.

I walked up to the counter and stood there, waiting.

There were two people behind the counter, dressed in clothes that told me they were Foundation workers, a uniform of sorts, and both were talking, a conversation that was not about work, but an upcoming party at the weekend.  One had been invited, the other not, and the not was wondering why.

Visitors clearly weren’t a priority.

A quick check at the ceiling level showed two cameras that would cover the whole foyer.  It would certainly pick up my face, and it was probably being viewed by a faceless security guard in a small room somewhere, assessing if I was a threat.

Still, the invitation-less employee was bemoaning his bad fortune.

I looked at my watch.  Three and a half minutes.  I was considering making them aware of my presence, but I decided this would be a game, betting mentally with myself on how long it would take before they realized I was standing on the other side of the counter.

Five minutes.  The phone rang, and the nearest staff member picked it up.

There were a number of changes in facial expression, from annoyance, to surprise, to fear, and then astonishment.  Then he replaced the receiver and turned.

“Miss Prenderville is sending her personal assistant down to collect you.  She said to say she’s been expecting you.”

OK, my turn for a surprise then astonishment.  “You don’t even know my name yet.”

“You are Harry Walthenson, aren’t you?”


“Then we do know who you are Mr Walthenson.”

The side door opened and a Chinese woman of indeterminate age came out.  “Mr Walthenson, I presume?”

I nodded.

“Then come this way please.”

Without another word I followed her through the door that led to a corridor running down a long wall, to an elevator lobby.  An elevator was waiting for us, one with a driver, we stepped in, he closed the door, and we went up.

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven.  Stop.

The door opened and we stepped out.  We walked along another corridor to what I thought was a corner office where the assistant knocked on the door, opened it, and motioned for me to pass through.

Once inside, the door closed behind me.

I was the only one in that room.  On two sides there were windows that looked out towards the Hudson, and, if I stood in the right position, I could see the Statue of Liberty.

It was largely empty except for a desk, three chairs and several sideboard cupboards.  Down the side to my left was a doorway, closed.

The room had CCTV cameras as had each of the corridors, so someone had been watching me from the moment I stepped into the building, or even as I approached the building.

I stood in the centre of the room and waited.

After two minutes, the side door opened and a woman I recognised as Mandy Prenderville came into the room.  She looked different from the photos I’d seen of her, then she had been about 200 pounds, now she was no more than 80.  It made a considerable difference, especially if I were to use some of the facial recognition software.

She came over to me, hand outstretched.

It’s good to see you, Harry.  You look just like your father at that age, you know.”

I shook hands which felt strange.

“Sit, let’s talk.”

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Monday 26 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 33 - Mandy Prenderville

Harry always tried to make out that computers and he didn’t get along. 

The truth was, he didn’t like them, not because they had suddenly become a universal tool on every desk, in every house, and now in everyone’s left or right hand, but because of the impact they had on your privacy.

And the fact, now, in the age of computers, you had none.

Unless, of course, you chose not to have a footprint, which was Harry s first choice.

Ellen had convinced him otherwise.  She had completed a computer course in college and said she could ‘put them on the map’ with a website.  Harry initially said no, but she worked on him, and in the end, persistence won over, and he left that side of the business to her.

On the strict proviso that little personal information found its way there.

He let Ellen set up a website for the investigative business, and she had spent days, if not weeks, finding a website host and reading a large number of books about programming.  Every day he’d come in, he picked one up off her desk, flicked through the pages, and put it back down again.  There were very few words that he understood.

Still, at the end of the first month there was something quite interesting to look at, and, the very day it went live, Ellen had taken two calls, one of which led to a job.  One she kept reminding him, that paid for the whole of the web sites costs.

He had to begrudgingly agree computers were going to be useful.


The one on his desk had lain ideal for months, and, today, he decided to turn it on.  The previous one had been stolen in the break-in, so this was new and different.  And Ellen had yet to set it up properly for him.

But he did know how to load the web browser and typed in the name of his father’s legal practice, and it went straight to the website.

He’d seen it before, and thought it very bland, but what he expected from a group of lawyers.  They left the impact of wealth and power to the visit to the office, not a flashy website.  All it had was small bios on everyone who was anyone and the types of law they handled.

There were, of course, closed areas of the site that needed a login, one which he didn’t have, but he was going to ask Giselle if he, or Ellen since Giselle knew her, could be granted access.  He vaguely remembered his father saying there were areas set up for each of the partners to keep a record of their activities, and notes on cases.

Perhaps there might be a clue in his files.

Harry had also noticed that Ellen had set up areas on their own website where each of the employees could log in, and she had left a post-it note on his desk with his login and temporary password.  There, she noted, were folders for each of his current cases.

When he logged in, he saw he could add new cases, and create case notebooks, so he created one for his next target, Mandy Prenderville.


About a minute after he created the file, Ellen was in the doorway, knocking on the door jamb to get his attention.

“Yes?” he said, looking up.

“Mandy Prenderville?  Seriously?  In what lifetime do you think she would have anything to do with any case you were investigating?”

She had a serious expression, and a look of fear in her eyes.  She obviously knew who Many Prenderville was.

“It’s one of the leads we’ve uncovered.  My father apparently had some connection to her, perhaps in a charity sense, but I have to find out.”

“Are you mad?  You know who she is?  Don’t believe everything you read about her in the papers.  My grandmother can tell you stories about her that would make your hair curl/”

“I know.  Tread carefully.  Since I’m not all that good at searching for information, can you have a look, and let me know what you find.  I’ll just poke around the edges.”

She shook her head and stopped short of saying ‘it’ll be your funeral.’  But I could read lips, and that’s what I thought she said.  It also could have been, you are a complete fool.


There were several different directions to go in relation to searching for information on Mandy Prenderville, the first, was to follow her brothers on an odyssey of drugs, crimes, and death.  The other, was that of a woman who was striving to make up for the shortcomings of her brothers, by running a charitable institution that had won everyone who was anyone over.

Except for one lone voice in the wilderness, a person with the internet handle of @downwithevilprendervilles, who made one simple statement, she was taking from the poor and giving it to the rich in the form of bribes.  Why else would anyone believe that sob story that she is trying to redeem the Prenderville’s.

Dangerous words to a very dangerous woman.  I wondered briefly if the person behind the handle had adequate protection.  I’d have to ask Ellen if she could track down to who the handle belonged to.

I went to the Prenderville Foundation page and it didn’t have a lot to say about the foundation or it’s principal.  The bio spoke of her in only glowing terms, and any reference to her brothers, or the criminal activities the family had been accused of over the years was sadly lacking.

I typed in the name and it came back with the father’s name at the top of the list.  He’d been killed in a gangster shootout, one family trying to gain the ascension over the other, and the Prenderville’s lost that day.  Several months later the head of the rival family was found floating face down in the Hudson, but no killer had yet been found.  And for the lack of evidence and witnesses, the Prenderville father’s killer had got away with it.

Next was Jason, the dead brother, and after reading three articles on his record as a master criminal, it was fair to say he was anything but.  Three jobs, three disasters, in fact, each of them vied for a spot on a show called ‘the world’s worst criminals.  But, as guilty as he seemed, they’d got him on charges that did not relate to his criminality.

Clever.  I would call that the Al Capone factor.  Careless though, an old rival in the jail they sent him and his brother, shanked and killed him.

The same assassin tried to kill Mason and failed.

Mason Prenderville was a different kettle of fish, as the saying goes.  He was squeaky clean, had others do his dirty work, and ruled by fear and intimidation.  Anyone questioned him, they were dead within 24 hours.  But in one instance, one that defied explanation, he had gone totally off book and killed a rival in front of witnesses, witnesses he could neither intimidate or buy.  Now he was serving a life sentence, or more than one.  He had only one lifetime and that’s how long he’d be staying in jail.

On whether they were guilty or innocent, Mandy had always maintained they had both been framed, and it was illogical that Jason could be guilty, despite the five independent witnesses produced to verify where he was and what he did.

She had bought the best lawyer, and the best lawyer couldn’t get him off.  The best lawyer was now a lawyer with a limp.  And not so many customers for his services.  I added him to my list of potential people who could tell me about Mandy, especially if he hated the family so much, he would waive his professional integrity.

I made a note of that particular lead and closed the file.

It was time to go and pay Mandy a visit.

She was going to be downtown at the coal face of her charity, meeting and greeting the needy.  1 had to wonder, though, what sort of needy people would turn up to a downtown storefront.

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Saturday 24 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 32 - – Giselle and her secrets

His mother’s email was sparely used, had various references to her charity work, and communications with the likes of Florenz, and others.  Florenz, it seemed, was happy to report on the activities of her husband.  It was clear that to him she had married the wrong man.  But there were no declarations of love between his mother and Florenz, nor anything that could be construed he disliked Xavier Walthenson.

Argeter didn't figure in any conversation.

But there were others, some of whom Harry knew of rather than knew personally, and one in particular, his mother's younger sister, and most vocal against Xavier from her side of the family.  Harry knew his aunt, had once been on a trip to Vegas with both women, and learned then his aunt was a drunk, drug addict and a sleaze, and whose bad conclusions about his father were borne from being rejected by him before he married her older sister.

He hadn't seen Aunt Betty for a few years, the last he'd been told was she was going through another stint of rehab and trying to dodge five to twenty years in jail for killing a passenger in her car, her last husband.  Perhaps she'd finally been jailed, not that it would do much to help her.  By all accounts the man had been a brute and was mixed up is some very dodgy business.

That Xavier was in charge of her defence was telling, because he didn’t have much time for the scornful, if not evil sister whom he had made an obvious mistake getting involved with.

And then Harry saw it.  An email from three days ago.  From the sister, Betty.  She was in town, at the Ritz Carleton hotel on Central Park, requesting a visit.  Just like her to issue commands, and expect to get her way, like the queen bee.

Another note in his book.  Room number, and there was no date she was leaving.

Harry was tempted to look at his brothers' emails but that could wait for another day.  He heard voices at the top of the stairs, one of them being Giselle, so he shut down the computer and moved to the sofa opposite her desk and sat down to wait for her arrival.


When she saw Harry sitting in the chair, she looked, momentarily, surprised, then covering it well with a slight stumble.

“Harry?  Tell me you haven’t stopped to sneaking up on people?”

“It’s my business to be both invisible, and stealthy.  But, no, not here, and definitely not with you.  Unless, of course, you have something to hide?”

“Me?  No.  An open book, as you know.”

She sat down behind the desk.  “But me thinks you have questions, perhaps about the Prendevilles'?”

Getting ahead of the narrative, Harry thought, and a sure sign that she wanted to control this interview.

“When you dropped that name, I’m sure you weren’t implying my father was having a relationship with Mandy.  I did some digging, and it seems she has a similar passion for charity events, perhaps trying to change public opinion of her.”

“She would like to think so.  Your father’s connection is only by way of charity unless of course, you have uncovered something else.  Have you spoken to her yet?”

“It’s on the list.  How much do you know about my mother and Florenz?”

She smiled.  “You have been a busy boy.  They are part of a tightly knit group from university days.  I don’t think you should be judging her given the antics of your father, I’m not surprised.”

Harry viewed his grandmother, the woman who was his father’s mother, the woman who had been scorned by his grandfather, in a new light, one, up to now, he would never have thought possible.  Quiet and unassuming, blending into the fabric in the background, always watching, always learning, Harry was sure she knew everything that was going on, and why.

And that somewhere in her armoury was that long knife she was going to stick in Alicia’s back at the appropriate time.  Perhaps she had one for all of them and was just biding her time, down in the basement, the metaphorical spider's web.

“You may not know where my father is, but you know why he’s not here.  And, don’t tell me it’s because of another woman.  He’s got himself mixed up in something that impinges on that group you were referring to, and I’m guessing Argeter is involved.  Mother really doesn’t like him.”

“Your mother had him worked over very early on when he tried to shake her down.  He’s not very endearing, and I always believed he had some hold over your father who was rather reckless in his younger days.  You might want to investigate what he got up to back in university.  But a word to the wise, be careful around Argeter.  He knows some very bad people.”

A name that needs to be moved up the list, perhaps Felicity could make discreet enquiries.

“Any chance I could see the file you have on Alicia.  I’m betting it’s the thickest in your filing cabinet, and nothing complimentary in it.”

“That’s for me to know and for you to find out.  I’m not going to make your job any easier for you.  Alicia is a special kind of animal in this jungle, and you really don’t want to make an enemy out of her.”

So, things learned, Harry thought.  There is a file, somewhere.  Giselle knew everything and everyone.  And, there was going to be a day of reckoning.

“If there’s nothing else, Harry, I’d better start justifying my presence here.”

“Don’t leave town.”

“Oh, I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon.  Believe me.”

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Thursday 22 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 31 - Harry and Giselle

Of all the people in the office, Harry considered Giselle his favourite, and she his.  At least that was the impression she gave him from the very first days he was taken there as a child, and later when doing work experience.

She had made the law fun and was one of the reasons why Harry had originally chosen to follow a career in law.  To begin with, at any rate.

But, as Harry began to discover when he started law school, the law was anything but fun.  It was a time when he also discovered that she hadn't been showing him the right way to do things.  And that, Harry considered, was wrong, and caused him to suspect her motives for doing so.

It went on to fuel an investigation into her background, her style of practising the law, and her knowledge of the law in practice.  And that investigation had ended with a discovery that changed everything, and especially his desire the practise law at all. 

A simple open and shut case, Sims v Simpson, a case brought by Sims that alleged that a piece of property belonged to him, and not the defendant.  Suffice to say, documents were discovered, documents were either altered or forged, and a travesty of justice was enacted. 

A year later, her role in the case was discovered, and it led to a very quiet end to what had been, up to then, an interesting career, if somewhat lacklustre after she had married the elder Walthenson.

It could be said she tried to use the case to impress her husband, but by then their relationship had fractured past the point of no return and the marriage was over.  What had been planned as her saving grace had exactly the opposite effect she had hoped for.

Officially, she had ended up in the basement because she decided it was time to stop front-line lawyering as she called it, and move into a research role.  And not long after that old man Walthenson divorced her.

Not because of another woman, younger and more motivated, but because of a legal disaster that cost the practice a small fortune to keep it private.

It was just another secret, one of many that pervaded any legal practice.  The saying, he had heard spoken of in hushed tones within those hallowed hallways, if the court doesn't know about it, no harm done.

Winning then, apparently, was everything, no matter what the cost.

But it was another powerful reason why Harry hated the idea of becoming a lawyer, and even more so in his father's practice.

And after making the discovery which Harry knew his father was privy to, but never spoken of, he decided to keep it to himself as well   No need to upset their rather fractious relationship any further. 

Not unless he needed it as a bargaining chip.


Giselle wasn't at her desk that morning he decided to visit the office.  Fortunately, neither of his brothers were there either, both out visiting clients. 

A quick chat with Merilyn told him that Giselle would not be in until later that morning, so it gave him time to poke around in the filing system, one that Giselle had devised to keep others from finding anything in the research system unless she delivered it.

She had told him a long time before what she had to do to ensure her continued employment and had shown it to Harry, whether deliberately or by mistake, and thus he also knew his way around the filing and computer systems.  He had been hoping she might be out because he wanted to look at some of the files, if there were any, relating to the dockside plot.

He needed to know what his father had known.

He also needed to look at his father's electronic diary, not something he could do by asking Merilyn his personal assistant, if she would open it for him.  His credentials for the investigation, given by his mother, were not all-encompassing, and anything she hadn't considered blocking, his brother Robert, had.  That was reason enough to believe his brother had something to hide or was currying favour from Alicia.

There were too many important company trade secrets that the practice could not afford to give access to his brother had told him, a valid enough reason.  Harry thought he would ask first, knowing that he wasn't going to take heed of his brother's decree.  It wouldn't be difficult to get what he needed, and the icing on the cake, he would do it using his brother's access code, and what that didn't cover, well, he had the back door login used by the programmers, people he had worked with when they were installing and setting up the systems.

It was this he could use to gain access to the master hard drive where everything was stored, and where, particularly, his father's and brothers' diaries were stored.  He was not interested, yet, in any other diaries other than those belonging to the family.  It also included his mother whom he knew sometimes consulted for the practice.

And there were also the email accounts, always a go-to when things went awry in business, and something the others didn't know, deleting emails didn't actually delete them, it just hid them from view.

Fortunately for him, the server bank was installed down in a room off the archive and was rarely visited except by the maintenance company, and any one of three servicemen.  Giselle also poked her head in the door from time to time, pretending she didn't know what was going on, and was, as far as Henry was concerned, more switched on to an opportunity when one presented itself to her, and poking around in the computer’s filing system was one of them.

She had been the first person to put her hand up as a network system administrator.

There were two computers side by side, near the server room door, one an administrative machine, the other for upstairs staff to use for searches of online documents.

The first thing Harry did was put a USB drive into the main server to upload a small program that Felicity said would enable her to log in as an administrator and leave no trace of her activity.  He trusted her when she said it would not do anything else.

Then Harry sat at the search machine so that if anyone came down, they would not see him on the admin machine and raise suspicions.  He knew the necessary login information worked on both machines, unlike those upstairs in the offices, set up for only one user, and their rather narrow permissions.

He logged into the mail administrator and brought up all the accounts.  His father was first, and he picked three days on either side of his disappearing.  Those emails before were standard requests and discussion points with clients as he gathered evidence and discussed strategy for his current cases, and then one, from Argeter, setting up lunch the day he disappeared.  Nothing was added to say what it was about, just a time and a place.  He noted down the details in his notebook.

Harry then narrowed the search to only Argeter's emails, and firstly, noted a consistent email on the 25th of May of each year reminding his father of the interest and principal repayment due but the end of the month.  An amount wasn't mentioned but Harry got the impression it was a substantial amount.

Harry then checked for an expense spreadsheet, a specially created ledger account each of the lawyers had so they could bill their time and expenses to clients and found no mention of Argeter.  It must be, he thought, somewhere else, though it was odd to Harry that the head of chambers didn't have such information.

Harry made a note that it might be a secret loan, his father not wanting to borrow money from his wife, or her family, or, for that matter, his father, what was once a sticking point for him.  Another note gave the impression that Argeter might be a reason for his disappearance, perhaps because he couldn't pay back the money.  Or did his father use the money for gambling?  He remembered a long time ago when he and his brothers were home for the holidays, the arguments their parents had over his father's drinking and gambling.

It was an odd memory that popped into his head, the fact that his father had resented the fact his wife was an heiress, and richer than he ever would be, and the fact that he had told her he would make his own way in the world, without the benefit of her wealth.  They seemed to him, now, such an unlikely couple, and more than once he had thought she might be better off without him.  That shine of those early days of marriage had long worn off, and she had often moved in her circle without him.

More than once his friends had told him his parents were 'odd fish'.

Odd fish indeed.

© Charles Heath 2020-2022

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Case 2 - Episode 30 – Being candid doesn’t describe it

It was doubtful children gave any thought to whether or not their parents were having affairs, international or domestic criminals, but more whether they were good or bad parents.

It may have been a little different for those children whose parents had a big profile in the community, because the obsession the general public had in following celebrities making fools of themselves.

There was a stage where Harry, and later Corinne, dreaded opening the newspaper at breakfast for fear of seeing their father’s latest folly.  That fear had faded once he left home, and Corinne to a lesser extent now she had grown up.

Their mother, on the other hand, often graced to pages of the newspapers for other reasons, and it was true when she said that if, and that was a very big if, she was to seek attachments, she would be very discreet.

"After all, it seems you took this long to find out, and then, only because I chose to admit it.  And I expect you to be equally discreet, because it has nothing to do with your investigation."

That was a moot point, it could have everything to do with it, but Harry was happy to tell her what she wanted to hear.

The admission though fuelled a personal curiosity.

"Did you always know he would be unfaithful?  You had the pick of any one of four, a group that interestingly called itself the four musketeers, and you chose him.  Why not Florenz?"

"Emile was not interested, then, committing to one girl, and still doesn't believe in monogamy.  At the time I did, and your father was of like mind.  He was under a lot of pressure to marry well, and my parents wanted me off their hands, as shocking as that might sound."

Harry had not had a very good relationship with his grandparents on his mother's side, and come to think of it, on his father's side either, not when he realised his heart was not in law.  His paternal grandfather was not a good role model, at least not after he dumped Giselle for Alicia, and coming on top of his father's infidelities, it was no surprise his brothers were like their father.

His mother’s parents had always looked down on his father, to the point where if they ever visited, it was when his father was away, or if they went there, it was almost always without their father.  Worse still, they had no interest in the progeny of their daughter, and for a long time Harry had attributed that attitude to their being among the wealthiest people in the country.

Now, it sees that it was simply a matter of disliking her choice of husband.  That could easily have been remedied by just leaving him and moving on, but she hadn't.

"So, why are you still here?"

"I could use that trite excuse of for the sake of the children, but you've all grown up now, and Corinne can look after herself.  I might be a lot of things but deserting you, no matter what the provocation, was never a priority.  These days marriage is a joke, just look at the number of divorce cases the practice handles, but it isn't to me, and despite everything your father still is my one and only real love.  That's a rarity in this disposable world, and you should count yourself lucky if you find the one.  That's why I would never harm him, even if the off thought passes through my mind from time to time."

Looking at her, listening to her, there was no doubting the affection she had for him.  And she was right about the world of disposable relationships, it was far too easy to rid yourself of a problem and move on to the next.

The practice had several clients who had been marries and divorced more times than fingers on one hand.  Out specially, and what should come as no surprise, was the prenuptial agreement.

In his mother’s case, there was no financial briefing in his premature death, not unless there was an insurance policy on his life.

"Does Dad have life insurance."

"No.  Never needed it."

"Or you?"

"No.  Anything happens to me; he gets an annuity that will be more than adequate.  Anything happens to him, I get nothing, just in case you are thinking of using money as motivation the kill him.  I don't need his money, not that there is any."

"What about his share in the practise?"

"Oh that?  There is very little he will see of it, the way his father had treated him in the will.  He'd promised Xavier a full half share along with that grubby little harlot he married, but died before he could change the will, which, after a blazing row between father and son, left Xavier with nothing.  His father was a proper bastard, and he should have just left after his father died and taken his clients with him."

So, no one in the practise was going to kill him for his share because there was no share.  A business he had successfully helped his father to build into the business it was now, and get no compensation or recognition, which must have hurt.  Just having to work with his father's mistress have been particularly galling.

There was question there, why didn't he leave?

Harry could see his mother was getting restless, and he realised that he had been dragged off track by a very skilled manipulator.  Had she been leading him away in the direction of Gillian?

"There's the other two musketeers, Alexander Argeter, and Clay Shawville.  I'm assuming you remember these two, who are Dads current golfing foursome, both date back to your university days, and I will not believe you if you day you don't know them.

He'd been watching her expression when he told her the two names, one was benign, but the other raised an expression that demonstrated hatred. Or worse.  Argeter.  It was obvious that she did not like him.  More digging into their school days was warranted

"I take it you dislike Argeter."

"He was a pest then and a worse pest now.  If you want to whatever that deep dive is that you referred to, he'd be the one I'd be looking at."

"What do you know about him?"

I saw her shudder, which to Harry meant something really bad happened.

"I don't want to talk about him, now or ever."

Harry shrugged.  She might not get that luxury later, depending in what he turned up.


"He's from very wealthy but remarkably sane parents, never had to do anything in his life, except go from one holiday to the next.  Only here a few times a year for golf and, well, I don't know what they get up to, and don't want to know."

"You see him when he's here?"


Her tone indicated that there might be more to it, and his expression might have showed it, because she added, “But not in the way you might think.”

Expect there was an inflection in it that told him otherwise, and just the way she mentioned his name.

“We were all friends back at University.”

If that was meant to be an explanation, it wasn’t helping.

“Make of it what you will Harry, but there’s nothing to be gained from it, and certainly nothing to do with your father disappearing.  Perhaps you should go to the den of iniquity called the golf club.  It’s where he spent the rest of his time when he was not in the office, and, if you ask me, it was his office.  Now, if that’s all…”

It would matter if it was not, Harry knew he was being dismissed, and that odd feeling he was being sent on a wild goose chase.

Before that, there was just enough time to catch up with Giselle.

© Charles Heath 2020-2022