Inspector Hartle gave a slight nod to the constable standing by the door, who promptly disappeared and came back in carrying a walking stick. He held it carefully at the bottom, his hand encased in a handkerchief, and carefully lay it on the table.
“Recognize that?” the inspector asked, snuffing his cigarette now.
“Yes, that’s mine,” Wallace said nervously.
“That was found about a few hundred feet from the body, thrown into the woods. One of my men found it this morning. Blood on the end,” he said, pointing at the silver knob at the top. “Matches the head wound. We’ve sent samples to see if the blood is a match. We’d like your fingerprints, Mr. Howard.”
Wallace was thrown into a panic now. “Well, obviously my fingerprints are on it! It’s mine! But there’s been some mistake!” he said hurriedly, looking at Clive now, who shifted in his chair as he examined the walking stick. “I didn’t kill this chap! Look. I left, and I didn’t see him. I… I do remember not being able to find my stick, but I’m always leaving it.”
The inspector was unruffled and reached for another cigarette. “Where’d you go after you left the pub?” he said, lighting it. “The truth,” he said, pointing at him, the cigarette held tight between his two forefingers.
Wallace’s face blanched. “I… I can’t say.”
“Can’t or won’t?” he said, looking at him, and, to Clive’s surprise, Wallace’s face became stubbornly resolute. Clive thought Wallace would have crumbled by now.
“Wallace,” Clive said, leaning toward him, knowing what Hartle would do next. “Best tell him. It could go very bad for you if you don’t.”
Wallace gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head, closing his eyes as he did so.
I should say that this passage may be deceiving. There is indeed a mystery inside the story, which is the focus of the second part of the novel, but the story as a whole is a romance and be prepared to read a lot of it in the first part.
I didn’t read the first novel in the series (A Girl Like You), but I read the second (A Ring of Truth), and I have to say that I don’t find this third installment as strong as the second. The first part of the story is totally devoted to Henrietta and Clive’s wedding and there is little else going on (but it may b my less then romancy hear speaking!), while the second part is so full of events that it’s almost crammed. But if taken on the whole, the story is an eventful one. There is a lot of character development, the overarching plot of the series is clearly moving in a dramatic way and the novel ends on a stack cliffhanger.
I liked the depiction of 1930s England, where Clive and Henrietta travel for their honeymoon. The social and historical environment of this part is very reminiscent of Downton Abby, but is also very vividly depicted. The difference between the British social environment and the American environment (though it’s the countryside in England and a big city in America) come to the fore and I think this enriches the diversity of the story. I found particularly interesting that the European historical events filtered in in the English section of the novel. I don’t remember the same thing happening in the American part of the story so far.
Overall, it’s a positive experience. Next novel in the series must be a blast.
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