The Case of the Somerville Secret

The Case of the Somerville Secret

by Robert Newman

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Overview

Famous archaeologist Lord Somerville leads a quiet life behind high walls, but is he keeping something out—or in?

Things are looking up for Peter Wyatt. Now promoted to inspector and in possession of his own office, the sharp young detective is giving Andrew Tillet a tour of Scotland Yard when they run into an old friend—someone who Andrew is surprised to see again the next morning talking to police in front of Lord Somerville’s villa. He’s even more surprised a week later, when he learns that this man has been murdered.
 
Andrew and the fearless Sara Wiggins are determined to find out what’s inside the mysterious villa. With the help of Sara’s acting skills and a young French chimney sweep named Pierre, the sleuths begin to piece together the clues, which point to blackmail and a family secret . . . one that someone is willing to kill to conceal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497685987
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/30/2014
Series: Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt , #3
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 191
Sales rank: 628,182
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin’s Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.

Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.
Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin’s Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.
Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

The Case of the Somerville Secret

Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt, Book Three


By Robert Newman

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1981 Robert Newman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-8598-7


CHAPTER 1

The Man with the Yellow Eyes


"Will you be doing anything interesting over the holiday, Chadwick?"

"Not really. I'm going to Paris."

"And you don't consider that interesting?"

"Well, I've been there before. My family's there."

"Well, this is a nice time to go—chestnuts in blossom and all that. And it should be good for your French."

"Yes, sir."

They were walking back to school after cricket; Andrew, Chadwick and Ferguson, the new language master who was coaching the house team.

"What about you, Tillett? What will you be doing?"

"Nothing very much, sir. Staying in London."

"Where he'll solve a few crimes," murmured Chadwick. "Possibly even some murders."

Ferguson started to laugh, then paused. "Wait a minute. Is your mother Verna Tillett, the actress?"

"Yes, sir."

"It seems to me I read about something happening to her last summer. Wasn't she robbed?"

"Of a famous diamond necklace," said Chadwick. "Tillett was in the middle of the whole thing, helped solve the mystery and was along on the chase when they got the jewels back."

"I wouldn't say I helped solve the mystery."

"But you were involved?" asked Ferguson.

"In a way, I suppose I was."

Andrew was thinking about that exchange now, several days later, as he walked up the Embankment toward Scotland Yard. He hadn't told Chadwick, hadn't told anyone at school, what had happened during the summer holiday, hadn't realized that anyone knew about it. But it was clear that Chadwick not only knew, but was a little jealous of Andrew. Because, in spite of his offhand, half joking manner, there had been an undercurrent of envy in what he had said. And Andrew had to admit that he didn't blame him for being envious. Because most of what Chadwick had said was true, making the time after the robbery one of the most exciting times of Andrew's life. And of course it was because of what had happened then that he was now on his way to Scotland Yard to visit Peter Wyatt, who had been a constable in the Metropolitan Police then and was now an inspector in the C.I.D.

Andrew had walked up the Thames side of the Embankment so he could watch the boats in the river. Now, waiting to cross the road, he looked at the Yard. Even if he had not known it for what it was—the headquarters of the greatest police organization in the world—he would have found the large, baronial building impressive.

A line from The Mikado, one of Gilbert and Sullivan's recent operettas, came to him: "To make the punishment fit the crime." He couldn't imagine why, what that had to do with the Yard, until he remembered something that Wyatt had told him the last time he had seen him; that the stone used to build the Yard was Dartmoor granite, cut and dressed by the very convicts that the Yard had helped send to hard labor at Dartmoor.

Too impatient to wait any longer for a break in the stream of traffic, he cut in behind a hansom cab, ducked under the noses of the horses drawing an omnibus, and reached the other side of the road. He went through the stone and brick archway that faced the Thames, crossed the courtyard and entered the building. After identifying himself to the desk sergeant, he was directed up a flight of stairs and along several corridors. He knocked at a numbered door, was told to come in, and then he was shaking hands with Wyatt in an office that was just big enough for a desk, a file cabinet and two chairs.

"Where's Sara?" asked Wyatt.

"At dancing school."

"During the Easter holidays?"

"They're giving two performances tomorrow, and she had to rehearse."

"Did she know that you were coming here today?"

"No. When I heard about the rehearsal, realized she couldn't come, I decided not to say anything about it."

Wyatt looked at him thoughtfully. He knew what good friends Sara and Andrew were, but he also knew about Sara's temper.

"That was sensible," he said. "But it might be dangerous. Won't she be angry?"

"She may be."

"Well, if she is, you can bring her here some other time. How's your mother?"

"Fine. At least she was when I last heard from her. She's on tour, won't be back for about ten days."

"Give her my regards when you write to her."

"I will." He studied Wyatt for a moment, comparing the way he was dressed—the well-cut, dark suit and carefully knotted tie—with the costume of the only other member of Scotland Yard he had met. "I must say that you don't look much like an inspector," he said.

"What is an inspector supposed to look like—an off-duty policeman with thick soles to his boots? Or perhaps like Finch with that horrible hat of his?"

"You're right. An inspector can look like anything. Are you on any cases now?"

"Several."

"Any interesting ones?"

"They're all interesting. What you mean is, are any of them big or important? And the answer to that is, you never know. What may seem to be very minor—a few cases of shoplifting on Bond Street—may turn out to be very major indeed." Then, as Andrew nodded, "Now I suppose you'd like me to show you around."

"Yes, I would."

"Come along then."

During the next hour Wyatt gave him a quick tour of the Yard, showing him the laboratory, the central records office, the rear entrance where informers could come in to talk to police officers without being seen by anyone else and, most interesting of all, the Black Museum. Though Andrew had heard about it, he was not quite sure what it was. It turned out to be a collection of weapons used in famous murders, burglar's tools, forgers equipment and anything else in the many categories of crime that it might be instructive for a detective to know about as part of his training. For, as Wyatt told him, there is very little new under the sun and the tricks or devices of criminals today are only variations of ones used in the past.

Wyatt looked at his watch when they left the museum and said, "Ten after five. Are you going home?"

"Yes."

"I'll drop you."

"You needn't bother. I'll take the bus."

"It's no bother. I've rooms on Gloucester Place now, so it's on my way."

They went out the rear exit to Whitehall where Wyatt hailed a hansom, and a few minutes later they were bowling north and west toward Regent's Park and St. John's Wood.

Sitting there in the swaying hansom, Andrew glanced at Wyatt and, noticing it, Wyatt said, "Why the look?"

"No reason."

"None of that now. There's a reason for everything."

"Well, I suppose it's because I thought about you quite a lot while I was at school, wondered if I'd see you again."

"Why did you wonder? I told you to let me know when you were coming back to London."

"Yes, I know, but ... I suppose I thought you might be too busy to see me."

There was more to it than that, of course. While there was no mystery about why he felt as he did about Wyatt—what boy, even someone like Chadwick, wouldn't find him fascinating?—he was not sure he understood why Wyatt was interested in him.

"Anyone who's too busy to see his friends," said Wyatt, "doesn't deserve to have any."

He spoke, as he usually did, as directly as he would to an equal. And Andrew suddenly had the answer to his unspoken question. For while he, Andrew, might not have a father, Wyatt had been cut off—not only from his family, but from his friends too. For police work was not anything a gentleman went in for. And therefore Andrew—and Sara—did mean a good deal to him.

Their eyes met. Then, looking away, Andrew asked about Baron Beasley, a dealer in antiques and oddities who had been very helpful to Wyatt when he was investigating the theft of the Denham diamonds, and Wyatt said he saw him fairly frequently. This led to a more detailed discussion of some of the cases he was on, and he was telling Andrew about one in particular when he suddenly sat up, rapped on the overhead trapdoor of the hansom and ordered the driver to pull up. Then, leaning forward, he called, "Polk! Sergeant Polk!"

A square-shouldered man with a closely cropped mustache who was about to enter a pub turned sharply, glanced into the hansom and said, "Mr. Wyatt. It's never you, sir!"

"But it is. Going in there?" He nodded toward the pub.

"Yes, sir."

"We'll join you. At least ..." He glanced at Andrew. "It's just a short walk to your house. Would you like to come in with us? Or would you rather go home."

"I'd like to come with you."

"Good." Opening the leather half-door of the hansom, he got out and Andrew followed him. As Wyatt paid the cabby, Andrew looked at Polk. Though he had on a bowler and was dressed like a butler or a valet on his afternoon off in a dark grey suit, there was something unmistakably military about the way he carried himself.

"Now then," said Wyatt as the cabby touched his hat, and drove off, "my young friend here is Andrew Tillett. And this, my not-quite-so-young-friend, is Sergeant Major Polk."

"Sergeant Major," said Andrew.

"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tillett," said Polk. Andrew now saw that his hair was grey and realized that he must be well into his sixties. But his eyes were clear and his grip when they shook hands was firm.

"As you've probably gathered," said Wyatt to Andrew, "the sergeant major was with my father's regiment; he taught me everything I know about riding and shooting."

"Not true," said Polk. "Not with the general for a father and those two brothers of yours to take you in hand."

"Then let's say you taught me things no one else did, things I'll never forget. But let's go in and celebrate this properly. A pint for you?" he asked as he ushered them into the pub.

"Yes, Mr. Wyatt."

"Get a table, and I'll be with you in a minute."

Though the pub was starting to fill up, they found a table in the corner and sat down.

"How long is it since you've seen Mr. Wyatt?" asked Andrew.

"Let's see," said Polk. "It was just before he went up to Cambridge. Must be six or seven years."

Wyatt returned with tankards of beer for Polk and himself and a bottle of ginger beer for Andrew.

"Cheers," said Wyatt, raising his tankard. "You look fit as ever, Polk."

"So do you, sir. Though I must say you don't look quite the way I thought you would."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, I heard you were with the police—a constable."

"Oh, that. Who did you hear it from—my father?"

"Yes. He was right upset about it."

"I know he was. A disgrace to the family. Well, I'm still with the police, but not in uniform. I'm an inspector in the C.I.D."

"Oh. Well, he must be pleased about that."

"I doubt it. I don't think I could do anything that would please him once I refused to go to Sandhurst."

"That was a disappointment to him."

"When he already had two sons in the army? But let's not go on about that. Tell me about yourself and what you're up to."

"Well, as you've probably gathered, I've retired."

"Once father did, I suspected you would. He always said he couldn't run the regiment without you, and I didn't think you'd want to continue under anyone else."

"Well, I stayed on for another six months—Colonel Farnum asked me if I would. That took me to the end of my time—forty years in Her Majesty's uniform."

"You certainly don't look it. But what are you doing now?"

For the first time, Polk hesitated. "I ... Well, I guess I'm what you might call a caretaker."

"Of what?"

"I'm sorry, Mr. Wyatt, but I'm afraid I can't tell you."

"Oh. Well, will you tell me where you're living, then? How can I reach you if I want to get in touch with you?"

"You can leave a message with Jem, the landlord here," he said, nodding toward the crowded bar. "He'll see that I get it."

"Righto. I'm sure you know I'm not trying to pry, Sergeant. It's just ..." He broke off as Polk stiffened, staring across the pub. "What is it, man?"

"Nothing," said Polk. "Excuse me." He got up and made his way toward the bar. A heavyset man in rather flashy clothes had just come in and apparently ordered a beer, for the landlord was handing him a tankard. His hair was dark and, perhaps because he wore it so long or perhaps because he was so swarthy, there was something gypsy-looking about him. He turned when Polk reached him, and Andrew saw that he had yellow eyes and a scar on his cheek that ran from the corner of his eye to his chin. It must have been fairly recent for it was still red and angry looking.

Polk said something to him, and he answered briefly, started to turn back to the bar but Polk took him by the arm and pulled him around again. Pushing away, he went into a slight crouch that was so menacing Andrew would not have been surprised to see him whip out a knife. Polk seemed to expect that too, for he stepped back and raised his fists, prepared to defend himself. But now the landlord hurried over, spoke forcefully to both men. They continued to confront one another for a moment, then the scar-faced man shrugged and turned back toward the bar, and Polk turned the other way and came back toward Andrew and Wyatt. He was still quietly furious when he reached them.

"Are you all right?" Wyatt asked him.

"Yes, sir." He hesitated a moment. "What's a blodger?"

"It's Australian slang, not very complimentary."

"That's what I thought." He looked toward the bar and the scar-faced man grinned at him, raising his tankard mockingly. Polk was still standing and as he started back toward the bar, Wyatt put his hand on his arm.

"Steady on, Sergeant. That's a rum customer."

"That he is—even more rum than you think."

"Who is he?"

"Oh, just a chap I've had trouble with before." He remained on his feet, watching, as the man drained his tankard and put it down on the bar. Then, as he left the pub, Polk relaxed a bit.

"Well, he's gone now," said Wyatt. "Sit down and finish your beer."

"Thanks, but I think I'll be running along, too."

"After him?"

Polk smiled a little crookedly. "No, Mr. Wyatt. He may be a troublemaker, but I'm not." He held out his hand. "It was good to see you again, good to meet your young friend. Maybe next time we meet we'll really be able to talk."

"I hope so," said Wyatt. He watched as Polk crossed the pub, waved to the landlord who was behind the bar and left also.

"All right, Andrew," he said. "We're on a case together and we're comparing notes after an interview. What have you got to say about Polk?"

"Well, he didn't want to tell you exactly what he's doing or where he lives, but it's probably somewhere around here."

"What makes you say that?"

"He said if you want to get hold of him you can leave a message with the landlord here.

That means they must know one another."

"Right. But why didn't he want me to know what he's doing or where? Is he up to any hanky-panky?"

"No. I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"I just don't. The way he shook hands, looked you in the eye, talked ... he could just be a good actor, but I think he's straight, keeping quiet because he's supposed to."

"I agree. Unless he's changed a great deal—and I don't think he has—I believe him implicitly." He drained his tankard and set it down. "More ginger beer for you?"

"No thanks."

"Then perhaps we should trot along too. I'll walk you home."

This was one of London's quiet times, particularly in almost suburban St. John's Wood. The light of the setting sun was hazy and golden on the drawn blinds of the villas and neat brick houses, for this was tea time for all respectable people. And so the streets were deserted as Andrew and Wyatt left the pub and started walking toward Rysdale Road. No, not quite deserted, for a strange pair was coming toward them: a tall, cadaverous chimney sweep, and a small, thin boy. The man was wearing the uniform of his profession—a crooked, battered top hat and a long tailcoat—while the boy, his face smudged with soot, carried the brushes and a heavy bag of tools. The boy glanced at Andrew as he passed him, and it may have been because he was so small and his eyes were so large that he looked particularly lost and vulnerable.

Andrew looked back when he and Wyatt reached the corner. The chimney sweep had paused in front of the pub and was looking around. Then someone across the street waved to him. The chimney sweep waved back, started toward him. The man across the street—the man who had been waiting for him—was the scar-faced man with the yellow eyes whose appearance in the pub had so provoked Polk.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Case of the Somerville Secret by Robert Newman. Copyright © 1981 Robert Newman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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