The Body On The Beach: 44

Piccolo opened the neatly wrapped parcel. To her surprise it contained what appeared to be the very copy of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ she had looked at in Catchpole’s bookshop. She relayed this connection to Simmonds, adding the question as to how Catchpole could have seen her with the book, he having presented himself afterwards — had he been watching her?. There was a folded letter inside, it read:

‘My Dear Miss Piccolo,

Please excuse this intrusion, but I am going away for the seasonal festivities, and just wanted to send you a small gift in memory of our meeting. If I may impose, would you be so kind as to pass on my apologies to your husband for my behaviour at the police station? I was somewhat taken aback and my response was not that of a gentleman. I realise he has his job to do, and we all want dear Midge’s killer found. I have left a forwarding address with my lawyer, Mr George Whittle, should either of you need to contact me before my return.

Yours, in friendship,

Mortimer Catchpole’.

Simmonds recognised the exquisite copperplate handwriting from the Utopia inscription.

‘Good Lord’ said Piccolo.

‘Well, well, well’ said Simmonds.

‘So the blackmailer won’t be caught in Lady B’s trap’ said Piccolo ‘but then we have rather been assuming. Perhaps the blackmailer is someone else – in which case we have a new mystery on our hands’.

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