The Body On The Beach: 23

Simmonds had made one glaring omission to date in his investigation of Miss Margaret’s demise — he had not searched her room at the Hall. Not that he’d failed to consider it, but that Chief Inspector Dawson had flagged it early on as a course of action ‘not to be rushed into whilst emotions are still raw’. Undoubtedly, Simmonds had thought at the time, if the case had been of a lower caste family, no such account of feelings would have been taken. Nevertheless, he knew his place and did not push the point. So whether or not Dawson had recently spoken with Lord Bessingham on the matter Simmonds did not know, he simply and unexpectedly received an invitation back to the Hall to undertake the hitherto embargoed task.

*

Lord B handed Simmonds the key in an almost ritualistic fashion, saying that the room had been closed fast and remained undisturbed since Margaret’s death. Simmonds made it clear that he needed to inspect the room on his own, and so Bessingham departed. Simmonds wondered for a moment if effectively dismissing His Lordship would be viewed as a faux pas (especially by Dawson), but it was, after all, Simmonds who led the case and it never did any harm (usually) to impose one’s authority. The Inspector unlocked the door and entered; to him it did not have the stale odour of a room that had been fastened up.

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