Coffin in Fashion
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A corpse in his new house leads Scotland Yard detective John Coffin on the trail of a murderer that leads him into the world of high fashion and into the arms of a gorgeous designer. Reprint. AB. PW.
her hand was observed to shake. ‘Yes, that was Uncle Mosse’s AFS tunic. He wore it when he was doing any mucky jobs. Towards the end when he slipped out of himself a bit … Perhaps he thought he still had the right to wear it. Didn’t they ever give their uniforms back? Anyway, he hadn’t.’ She had examined the tunic, looking at it carefully, but not touching it. She did not have to, where clothes were concerned she knew what she was talking about. One or two other questions, of a routine kind
and walked to the window. Her suit made of nylon had stuck to her and outlined her figure. Out of the window, she could see the street outside, with one of her own vans drawing away from the kerb. A smaller delivery van from a wholesaler was just moving into her unloading yard. That would be the Italian silk jersey arriving. Good news on an ordinary day, a delight to the eye. This was not an ordinary day. ‘We don’t know a lot, do we?’ she said, fixing her eyes on a policeman in uniform who was
in breathing. Gabriel, silent all this time, moved to her side. ‘Are you all right?’ ‘Mrs Hilaire?’ said Davis questioningly. ‘I’m upset, that’s all! What is it you want from where I live? What are you looking for?’ ‘I can’t answer that because I don’t know.’ She didn’t believe him. ‘But once again, I promise the whole job will be done as expeditiously as possible.’ ‘But what’s it to do with?’ ‘It’s to do with a death, Mrs Hilaire, the death of a boy. It looks as though the body was moved
muttering away in the background. It wasn’t, he thought, that he and Jordan got lines so much worse than anyone else, it was just that more people were listening to them. Give something, get something. He would trade with Jordan. But first he would get the information he wanted. Standing in his own house, once his pride, now an abomination. It was still hot outside, and his house had at once the smell of summer and the smell of death. He was surprised he hadn’t recognized that smell the minute
evening. Hang about.’ This time it was his turn to give the one word answer. ‘Yes.’ As he put the receiver down he thought: Rose, I’ve got to find you fast. And first, before my friends and colleagues do. Then it boiled down to one simple reaction: dear Rose, I’ve got to find you. By the time Gabriel and he met in the late afternoon they knew that Rose had probably never got home the night before. ‘So I was the last one to see her?’ said Coffin. ‘Unless Steve … ?’ He looked at the boy. They