'The Adventure of The Old Ladies Book' -
Based on real events and Finally Written Using Original Notes and Diaries from the two protagonists. Mrs Derwent has sadly passed.
Paulie there’s an elderly lady here, a Mrs Derwent, she wants to talk to one of the Sauls, Mr Saul senior? Shall I tell her?
“No, I’ll tell her Jane, thanks.”
“Who’s that?” Mouthed John P to me from his large office opposite, across the neutral zone.
I stood up and walked to the doorway of my slightly smaller office.
“Someone for Saul investigators again, she’s probably seen the brass name plate, or the name in the glass. Who would put that kind of quality detail into a glass door pain these days? Can't we have our name in the glass?”
“Or she’s another repeat customer.” Said John laughing.
“How many is that in six months? Saul & Saul investigations get more business than you do, and they’ve been closed ten years...”
I gestured a message of disagreement using a minimal amount of digits at my oldest friend.
The door from reception opened and a kindly looking old lady walked into the ‘no mans land’ between our two offices. I walked forward to meet her but she automatically turned straight into John P’s office and sat down.
“Hello, I was looking for Mr Saul senior, but It was so very long ago when we last met.“
“Hello my name is John P,” said a slightly invaded looking John P.
“Paulie, maybe you could help me to explain to this dear lady?”
“Never mind,” she said, “I’m afraid you’re my last hope, you see the book is gone. I’ve had it for so many years, since I was a little girl in fact and now its gone. The special book is gone, my special book is gone!”
“I’m afraid there’s been a mist..” I started, as I entered John’s office.
“What book is gone Mrs Derwent?” Interrupted John P in his ‘Let’s get to the bottom of this voice’ accompanied by his flat hand of stop! His let's get to the bottom of this voice wasn't too bad, because it's more often than not been saving me from something . His flat hand of stop however was, well I didn't like it much.
“The book was given to me by the author, Mr Barrie. He signed & dedicated it to me on my birthday, it was one of the first books he got back from the printers, he said it was a very special book. I remember feeling very special when he gave it to me, the book somehow was able to soak up those feelings. From then whenever I picked up the book, or even just the thought of it made me happy.
“Did you say Mr Barrie, Mrs Derwent, not JM Barrie?” I asked .. Without response.
“What was the book called Mrs Derwent,” asked John?
Mrs Derwent was now rummaging in her bag, “I’ve got a photograph I can show you John P,” she said, “Peter And Wendy, oh and the drawings inside were delightful. The truth is I feel so disloyal.I had such a time of terrible sadness a few months ago that I forgot about the book. I didn't feel it leave. I can't bare that it's lost!”
She passed the photograph of the special book to her new best friend John P, who studied it for a second before looking me in the eyes all the way through his next “Mrs Derwent.”
“Mrs Derwent,” he said. “Paulie is going to make us all a nice cup of tea, and I’m going to ask you a few questions about your ‘Peter And Wendy’ book, would that be ok?
“Oh yes John P.” She said, I knew you would help me. You see I wanted to give it to my Granddaughter, she’s such a lovely girl. She helps me every day, her mother died you see, she didn’t know her Father, it’s just us two now.”
“Before you do that John P,” I interjected including a jabbing gesture for emphasis. “Could I have a quick word…please, now.”
“Excuse me Mrs Derwent,” bowed John, “I’ll be back in a minute.”
John P walked up to me, took me by the arm and ushered me firmly straight into my own office.
“John P we are not Saul & Saul Investigations!”
“Before you say another word Paulie, I don’t care! I am not having anyone stealing that old ladies book!”
“If indeed it has been stolen, ‘John P’?”
“So why don’t we find out if it has been stolen Paulie…?”
“Ok then we will, but why won’t she talk to me? And get off my arm.”
By the time I had returned with the tea, judging by his notes, John P had written down quite a comprehensive list of answers from Mrs Derwent. What had he been asking her?
He lifted his phone and buzzed our long suffering receptionist Jane.
“Jane are you driving today? Great could you do me a big favour and just turn into The Park estate off Maid Marion Way to drop Mrs Derwent home? Yes it's near the tennis courts I think, It’s not far out of your way. Thanks, she’s coming out now, you get an early as well, thanks.
Jane is going to drop you home Mrs Derwent, and I’ll call you in two days whether I’ve got any news or not. Is that ok?
“Yes, thank you so much John P ” Said Mrs Derwent. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.”
She took John’s arm and he walked her into the reception area where Jane was waiting to drive her home.
“Have you flipped John?” I said as calmly as I could when they had gone.
“No, listen, the first thing we need to do is make a national enquiry to buy a first edition ‘Peter And Wendy’,
I can do that, tomorrow. The dedication inside makes it completely unique.
You, have to find out everyone who has had access to Mrs Derwent’s flat. Meals on, cleaners, everyone. Then find out how squeaky clean the Granddaughter really is?”
“What about friends, boyfriends?” (Did I just say that?)
“Yes, exactly, and we’re looking for someone who realises the value in first edition books of course.”
“John what if the book was just stolen by a random burglar who studied literature at Uni before his life of crime?
“Then my dear Paulie, we’ll just track the special book down, return it at all cost to Mrs Derwent knowing that the law of Karma is on our side!”
“Right, ok then well it’s probably time for a large Whiskey in The Bell, agreed”