Nights in White Satin - A Laura Principal Investigation
London: Orion, 1999
Chapter 3 [pp. 26-44 (p.26 reproduced here)]
Browns Restaurant – where I was due to meet Helen Cochrane that evening for supper – is a meeting place that moves with the seasons. It sits on the edge of the old Addenbrooke’s Hospital site, on the other side of the street from the Fitzwilliam Museum.
In winter, as you bound up the stone steps, you get a blurry image of golden light from behind the slim blinds, and a rush of warmth and clatter as you push through the revolving door into the restaurant. But in June, the door of Browns no longer revolves. It is fixed at an oblique angle, the better to admit a breeze, and some of the side windows open to convert the bar area into a patio.
Chapter 5 [pp. 59-70 (p.59 reproduced here)]
Cambridge enjoys world renown. Is ancient university is an internationally recognised symbol of scholarly excellence. The city glows in reflected glory.
Every year, as a result, three and a half million tourists come to visit. They gaze at the colleges, catch the choir in King’s College Chapel, meander along the Backs, or rise in the open top of a double-decker bus. They take afternoon tea – a practice more or less abandoned by the English – in Aunties Tea Shop, or The Little Tea Room, or Henry’s. They browse in the bookshops and purchase postcards. Then they go off on further jaunts to Straford-upon-Avon, or Edinburgh, or Cornwall.
You can find people the world over who are familiar with the image and sometimes the details of the city of Cambridge. Who possess miniature jars of jam from the National Trust Shop on King’s Parade or hand-stencilled T-shirts from Magdalene Bridge; who recognise the lions on the flanks of the Fitzwilliam Museum; whose minds drift to the thought of a punt on the River Cam – and who enough to populate that punt with a young man in a waistcoat and straw boater, and a girl in a floppy-brimmed hat.
But these same people, these admirers of the city, would be hard pressed to recognize the part of central Cambridge that Katie Arkwright called home.
Chapter 16 [pp. 193-212 (pp.196-197 reproduced here)]
It always takes a minute or two to get the rhythm right. To lift the pole in one swift moment, so that it doesn’t stick in the mud on the bottom of the Cam. To swing it to its new position further ahead, without spraying river water over the passengers seated in the bottom of the punt. To drop the heavy pole smoothly, let its weight slip through your palms, to lean over and press down at the moment of impact – propelling the punt onwards. And then to begin the cycle over again.
After a minute, we were free of the crowds and moving at a stately place. Gliding towards Grantchester.
When it had become more or less automatic, Helen reopened the conversation. ‘The bag they found was yours?’
‘Mine, all right. Picked up by a papergirl first thing this morning.’ According to the police, she’d flicked a copy of the Daily Mail on to a doorstep; as she turned, she’d seen my bag stashed among the bushes. It was only a hundred yards or so from Bart’s.
‘And the contents?’ Helen asked.
She ducked, as I steered a little too close to an overhanging branch, then reached for the paddle and used it to help me get the punt back into the mainstream.
‘Sorry’, I said. ‘I’m obviously out of practice. What’s worrying, Helen, is that the contents had been selectively stripped. My house key is missing, and my address book. And of course, the cash. But they left the credit cards and the car keys.’
Helen understood the implications right away. ‘Not a professional job.’
‘No. Not someone who knew how to make use of stolen credit cards; not someone who was experienced at driving away. Worse than that, I’m afraid. Someone with an interest in me.’
Ginny was trailing a hand in the water, scooping up fronds of river weeds, and watching them as they dripped off her fingers. She was all ears.
‘Will you have the locks changed?’ Helen asked.
‘Mr Sparks is booked and my next-door neighbour’s on duty. By the time I get home this evening, my door should be fitted with a shiny new lock.’
We’d been going only a few minutes, but already we’d passed the back of the Fitzwilliam Museum.
‘Hey,’ Ginny said. ‘My turn.’ She stood up and stepped forward carefully. …
[Reproduction with kind permission of Orion]