Murder on the Flying Scotsman

BOOK: Murder on the Flying Scotsman
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C
AROLA
D
UNN
is the author of several mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple as
well as numerous historical novels. Born and raised in England, she lives in Eugene, Oregon.

 

The Daisy Dalrymple Series

Death at Wentwater Court*

The Winter Garden Mystery*

Requiem for a Mezzo*

Murder on the Flying Scotsman*

Damsel in Distress*

Dead in the Water*

Styx and Stones

Rattle His Bones

To Davy Jones Below

The Case of the Murdered Muckraker

Mistletoe and Murder

Die Laughing

A Mourning Wedding

Fall of a Philanderer

Gunpowder Plot

The Bloody Tower

The Black Ship*

Sheer Folly*

*Published by Constable & Robinson Ltd

www.constablerobinson.com

 

Constable & Robinson Ltd
3 The Lanchesters
162 Fulham Palace Rd
London W6 9ER
www.constablerobinson.com

First published in the US, 1997 by St Martin’s Press, New York

First UK edition published by Robinson, an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2010

Copyright © 1997, 2010 Carola Dunn

The right of Carola Dunn to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any
form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-1-84901-330-7
eISBN: 978-1-84901-838-8

Printed and bound in the EU

 

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My particular thanks to Peter N. Hall, LNER Steward and member of the Historical Model Railway Society, for his extensive research on the Flying Scotsman of 1923. Any errors
made or facts altered to suit the story are solely my responsibility.

Thanks also to the librarians of Berwick-on-Tweed. Their patience in demonstrating (more than once) the microfiche machine enabled me to discover, in the
Berwick Journal
of 1923,
Superintendent Halliday and his officers.

And I must both thank and apologize to Beryl Houghton of the Berwick Walls Hotel, which resembles the Raven’s Nest Hotel only in its location and exterior. The discomforts of the latter
emanate entirely from my imagination.

 

 

PROLOGUE

‘A month, hey, Doctor?’

‘I’ll no gi’ ye more than five weeks, Mr. McGowan, nor promise the end willna come sooner.’

‘Bah!’ The old man snorted with surprising vigour, considering his cadaverous face and the skeletal hand plucking at the patched counterpane. ‘Niver kenned a doctor yet
wha’d commit himsel’ one way or t’ither.’

His lips pursed, the doctor picked up his black bag and turned to the grey-haired, dowdy woman who stood at the foot of the four-poster bed. ‘I s’ll write twa prescriptions, Miss
Gillespie, for the pain and to help your uncle sleep. And I’ll drop by next week . . .’

‘That ye’ll not!’ Alistair McGowan snapped. ‘If there’s nowt to be done, I’ll no pay a guinea to hae ye not do’t.’

The doctor shrugged. ‘Verra weel. I’ll see ye again when I write oot the death certificate. Good-day tae ye, sir.’

Julia Gillespie led the way out of the gloomy, chilly, cavernous bedchamber into the equally gloomy and chilly if less cavernous passage with its threadbare carpet. As they descended the
magnificent Jacobean staircase, she noted with distress a thin layer of dust on the carved oak balusters. It was impossible to keep the house decent when Uncle Alistair refused to hire more than
an absolute minimum of staff, but at least the front stairs should be clean.

‘A month?’ she said, the news at last beginning to sink in.

‘Thereabouts. Ye’ll be sending for the family?’

‘Not unless Uncle Alistair tells me to. I shouldn’t dare. A month!’ A tiny smile lightened her careworn face. ‘It’s a shocking thing to say, Doctor, but I
can’t wait to shake the dust of Dunston Castle from my feet. I shan’t stay a moment longer than I must.’

‘Ye’re provided for?’ he asked gruffly.

‘A hundred a year, enough to live on if I’m careful, and I’ve practice enough at that.’

‘Imphm.’

Julia saw the look in his eyes: genteel poverty, it said, but was that not how she had lived for nearly a quarter of a century now, in this year of 1923? Twenty-five years ago, before the turn
of the century, the family had collectively made up its mind she was the one to be sacrificed on the altar of duty. Uncle Alistair’s older daughter, Amelia, was married. The younger,
Geraldine, had run away, disappeared beyond all ken. Somehow Julia had had no choice.

‘The wife sent her greetings,’ the doctor said now, ‘and she expects ye for coffee the morn’s morn as usual.’

‘Thank you. Yes, I’ll try to be there.’

He wrote out the prescriptions and took his leave. Julia hurried back up to her uncle’s bedroom.

‘Whaur the de’il hae ye been?’ he greeted her. ‘I’m cauld. Draw the bed-curtains and bring anither quilt.’

‘I’ll have a fire lit, Uncle.’

‘In April? Hae I no taught ye yet that a bawbee saved is a bawbee earned?’

Under her breath, Julia rebelliously muttered his other favourite maxim, ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.’ But in this case he was the only one
to suffer, so she did not make even the feeblest effort to persuade him.

She drew the faded brocade draperies on both sides, handling the worn, fragile material with care. As she reached for the curtain at the foot, he stopped her with a gesture of one claw-like
hand.

‘Wait. Write to my solicitor today and tell him I want to see him. Donald Braeburn o’ Braeburn, Braeburn, Tiddle and Plunkett. Ye’ll find the address in my desk.’

‘You want Mr. Braeburn to come all the way from London?’

‘I pay him, don’t I?’ the old man snarled. ‘And a pretty penny it costs to keep a Scottish lawyer in London, but almost worth it sin’ he’s bound to outwit the
Sassenachs. Then write to a’ the family and tell them to be here next Monday wi’out fail. Every single one, mind.’

‘But suppose they cannot get away?’

‘They’ll come, if ye tell ’em Braeburn’s on his way.’ He chuckled nastily. ‘Half o’ them’ll hope I’m going to change my will, and
t’ither half’ll hope I shan’t. Dinna fash yersel’, they’ll come running all right.’

 

CHAPTER 1

The vast vault of King’s Cross Station echoed and re-echoed to the thunder of pneumatic hammers. The air was thick with dust. Daisy tucked her extravagant first-class
ticket into her handbag, hitched up the camera’s strap securely on her shoulder, stuck her fingers in her ears, and looked about her.

The unification of three railway companies into one, the new London and North Eastern, was responsible for the current chaos. Why the merger necessitated the complete rebuilding of King’s
Cross escaped Daisy, but one result was that the clerk at the ticket window had not been able to tell her with any assurance which platform the Flying Scotsman would leave from today.

Another result was that the usual swarms of people were confined within a variety of barricades and temporary walls. Not only was the W. H. Smith’s bookstall out of bounds, so were the
slot machines, and Alec was not there this morning to see her off with a box of chocs. He was already in the North, the Northumberland police having called in Scotland Yard to solve some difficult
case for them. Daisy was not even likely to see him, since she was going still further north. She was on her way to a stately home near Edinburgh to collect information for her next
Town and
Country
article.

Her porter reappeared, battling through the crowd towards her with her bags and the portable typewriter. She removed one finger from one ear and he bellowed into it, ‘Platform Five,
miss’.

He led the way to the ticket barrier, where a reassuring sign announced
The Flying Scotsman: London – York – Edinburgh dep. 10:00
A.M.
A harassed
ticket-inspector was trying to deal with a long queue at the same time as fielding queries from anxious passengers who had expected
their
train to leave from Platform 5.

Daisy’s porter went ahead with her luggage and she joined the slow-moving queue. It looked as if the train was going to be pretty full and she was glad she had blown the extra three quid
odd on the first-class ticket. She could just about afford it since getting the American magazine commission for the series on London’s museums. For short trips third class was good enough;
for over eight hours, the extra comfort and space was worth the money.

All the same, it was a pity she had not been able to buy something to read, she thought as she walked along the platform beside the varnished teak coaches. Passengers in first tended to be less
chatty, more stand-offish, than their lower-class fellow-travelers. It was going to be a long, dull journey. Oh well, she could always buzz along and try to bag a seat in third for a while when the
scenery palled.

She did want a window-seat, though. Coming to the first-class carriage, she stepped up into the train and walked along the corridor. Some of the first few compartments were smokers, others had
both window-seats taken, but at last she came to an empty one with a
No Smoking
sign.

‘To face the engine or not to face the engine,’ she mused. ‘That is the question.’

Reluctantly she put down her handbag and Lucy’s camera on the backwards seat. She preferred traveling forwards, especially when she had nothing to read. However, she wanted to arrive
looking reasonably professional, and the frightful smuts which always floated in through the window invariably landed on one’s face. The window was bound to be opened, since the weather
forecast prophesied another unseasonably warm day.

In fact, it was jolly hot in the train already. Why the steam heating was always on at full blast on warm days and left one shivering on cold days was another of life’s little unsolvable
mysteries.

Brought up on ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’ (May month or May blossom? she had always wondered), Daisy was wearing her green tweed winter coat. As she unbuttoned it,
from the corridor came a male voice in rising tones of desperation.

BOOK: Murder on the Flying Scotsman
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