Excerpt of The Innocent Spy by Laura Wilson
(Page 3 of 4)
Printer Friendly Excerpt
Stratton breathed in the familiar station smell of soap, disinfectant
and typewriter ribbons. Ballard, the young PC whod dealt with
Miss Morgan, was by the desk, admonishing Freddie the Flasher.
Ive got a weak bladder, theres nothing they can do for it, on my
life . . . Stratton grinned to himself: there was one in every district.
Female exhibitionists, as well - thered been one at his first posting
whod never closed her curtains when she undressed for bed. Every
night at 11.30. Good looking woman, too. Hed watched her several
times, a few of them had. Not that he was proud of it, but . . .
He waited until Ballard was finished, then nodded at Freddies
retreating back. Poor old sod. He cant be having much fun in the
No, sir. Ballard suppressed a grin.
You found Miss Morgan, didnt you?
Yes, sir. Ballard grimaced. I wont forget her in a hurry, I can
Who was with you?
PC 29, sir. Arliss.
I see. Fred Arliss, one of the old, horse-drawn brigade, was so
incompetent that Arlissing around had become station slang for
ballsing something up. Stratton wondered if Ballard knew this yet,
but decided not to enlighten him.
Did either of you notice anything unusual about her?
Ballard frowned. I dont know if youd say it was unusual, but
there was one thing that did strike me when we moved her - she
didnt have her teeth in.
No sir. Made me wonder if it wasnt some kind of accident. The
window was wide open, not much of a ledge, and if shed been
leaning out . . . Its only a thought, sir. It just seemed to me a shame
if the coroner said it was a suicide when it wasnt.
Certainly rough on the family.
She didnt have any relatives, and her husbands dead. Died in
a fire. Thats how she got the scars on her face. The young chap she
lived with told us.
Young chap? Stratton raised his eyebrows.
Nothing like that, sir. Ballard reddened. He wasnt . . . well . . .
he wasnt normal.
A kiss not a handshake, you mean?
Ballard looked grateful. Something like that, sir. It was like talking
to a girl.
Oh, well . . . Stratton shrugged. It takes all sorts. How are you
finding it at Beak Street? Ballard, like most of the young policemen,
lived in the section house. Stratton had lived there himself years
ago, when he had his first posting at Vine Street. Tiny cubicles, and
never enough blankets in the winter. Dont suppose its changed
much, has it?
I shouldnt think so, sir. Do you remember her, in the films?
Cant say I do.
Stratton thanked Ballard and returned to his desk to shake his
head at a heap of paperwork about the Italians they were supposed
to be helping to round up for internment. Bloody ridiculous, he
thought, staring at the list of names. It came from MI5, and they
hadnt screened anybody so, basically, every Gino, Maria and Mario
whod come to Britain after 1919 was for it, even if they had sons
or brothers serving in the army. Not to mention attacks on Italian
businesses . . . Admittedly, it was an easy way to get rid of some
of the gangs, although, with the Sabini Brothers safely out of the
way, the Yiddishers and the Malts would have the run of Soho,
which would mean shifting alliances - accompanied by a fair bit
of violence - until everyone settled down again. Not that the Jews
were having an easy time of it, either. Stratton sighed. It wasnt the
criminals he felt sorry for, it was the poor bastards who were trying
to make an honest living and getting bricks chucked through their
windows. Not to mention all the stories in the papers about Jews
profiteering and evading the call up.
Excerpted from The Innocent Spy
by Laura Wilson Copyright © 2009 by Laura Wilson. Excerpted by
permission of Minotaur Books, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.