Read The Victim in Victoria Station Online
Authors: Jeanne M. Dams
Table of Contents
The Dorothy Martin Mysteries
THE BODY IN THE TRANSEPT
TROUBLE IN THE TOWN HALL
HOLY TERROR IN THE HEBRIDES
MALICE IN MINIATURE
THE VICTIM IN VICTORIA STATION
TO PERISH IN PENZANCE
SINS OUT OF SCHOOL
WINTER OF DISCONTENT
A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT
THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
THE CORPSE OF ST JAMES'S
MURDER AT THE CASTLE
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First published in the United States of America in 1999
by Walker Publishing Company, Inc.
This eBook first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital an imprint of Severn House Publishers Ltd.
Copyright Â© 1999 by Jeanne M. Dams
The right of Jeanne M. Dams to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
ISBN-13: 978-1-4483-0092-1 (ePub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
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Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
This one is for Ruth
and Donna, who would
have enjoyed it so.
They were a lot alike;
I hope they've had the
chance to meet,
wherever they are now.
t last! The old, disused Battersea Power Station loomed into view, with its ugly cooling towers that always remind me of dirty milk bottles. Slowing, clicking over the points, we crossed the Thames and slowed further, and then the outside world disappeared from view as the train station enveloped us.
I stood, swaying as the train rocked a little, and gathered my raincoat and umbrella and hat from the rack above. It was a sign of my agitation that I spared little attention for the hat, a frivolous wide-brimmed straw decorated with dozens of little ribbon rosettes. It's one of my favorites, but I was too annoyed just then to be comforted by any hat. Thanks to an infuriating delay near Oxted, I was already nearly an hour late for my doctor's appointment, and I'd be later still by the time I finally reached Harley Street. I could get myself out of the train quickly enoughâthere was only one other person in the carâbut the taxi stand at Victoria Station is a long way from the trains, and I was, by doctor's orders, moving cautiously these days. By the time I made it to the taxis, there'd be a long waiting line.
I stuffed my collapsible umbrella into my purse and glowered at my cane. Drat the thing, anyway! It refused to hook over anything, slithered down into people's way every time I sat down, and made me look like an old woman. Surely I could dispense with it before long? The break in my leg had been somewhat nasty, but it had happened months ago. Oh, the doctor had made long faces and produced irritating comments about the body healing more slowly “at your age,” but a pox on that! I
about thirty-five; shouldn't that count for something? This was to be my last appointment with the specialist. I hoped he'd tell me I could now do anything I wanted, especially including running for cabs.
As the train lurched to a stop, I had a sudden thought. The nice young man across the aisle, who was now slumbering peacefully, had offered earlier to share the car that was coming to meet him. I had declined, but perhaps, after all, I'd take him up on it. A friendly person who had admired my hat, he'd seemed perfectly harmless. I hated to wake him, though.
I had gone for a cup of coffee about a half hour before, more for something to do than because I had any great desire for railway coffee, and he'd been asleep when I'd come back from the buffet car. I looked at him now, frowning with indecision. His own coffee cup, fortunately empty, had rolled off the tiny tray table with that last lurch, and his head lolled against the headrest. He looked very uncomfortable. What should I do? I didn't really know him, after all, but he was a fellow American, and we'd chatted pleasantly on the ridiculously protracted journey. He'd said he was still suffering from jet lag after only two days in England, so I could understand his sleepiness, but he was as much overdue for his commitments as I was for mine. I decided it would be a kindness to serve as his alarm clock.
I tapped him on the shoulder. “Ummm â¦ Mr.â” Oh, for heaven's sake, what was his name? Something Irish, I was sure. We'd talked about that. This was his first trip to the U.K., and he was going to look up his Irish forebears if he had time after he finished with his business. Riley, was it? O'Brien? No, something less common than those, but it wasn't coming to me.
His first name I did remember. “Bill! We're here, finally. We're in London. Bill, wake up!” I tapped him again, a little harder.
His head rolled to the side, and his shoulder and torso followed, slumping against me. I suppressed a yelp and tried to move him. He was unresponsive, a deadweight.
Suddenly there didn't seem to be quite enough air in my lungs. I reached with one hand for the handgrip on the back of a seat, and with the other put two fingers under Bill's collar. The flesh was warm, but I could feel no pulse. I gulped and tried to take deep breaths.
“Excuse me, may I pass through?”
I looked back, with infinite relief. Someone had come through from the next car. The man trying to get up the aisle looked, in his dark suit and hat, extremely respectable, a help in time of trouble. “I'm sorry, but this manâwell, the fact is, he seems to be â¦ I was just talking to him a little while ago, and it seems impossible, but I think he'sâdead.”
Why is it so hard to pronounce such a short, simple word?
Mr. Respectable gave me a sharp look. “He must be ill. Let me past, please, I'm a doctor.”
Even better! I moved carefully out of the way, trying to keep the pathetic thing that had been Bill from sliding farther out of its seat. I didn't quite like to leave, though I was by this time pretty sure Bill was beyond any help we could provide.
It took Respectable no more than a few seconds to come to the same conclusion. He looked at me blankly. “Isâwas he a friend of yours?”
“No, I didn't know him at all, but we talked while the train was stopped. He was a nice man; I can hardly believeâ”
“I see.” The man looked shaken, though as a doctor he must often have seen death before. Maybe he was a dermatologist, or a chiropodist, or something.
Maybe I'd better stop chasing irrelevancies and think what to do. “I suppose we ought to notify the police,” I suggested tentatively, “or will the railway authorities do that? Sudden death, after all.”
The doctor sighed and nodded. “Yes, of course. I'll take care of it, though his appearance is quite consistent with heart attack.” He shook his head. “A young man. What a pity.”
“Isn't it? Is there anythingâI mean, I don't quite like to leave, but I'm very late for an appointmentâ¦ .”
“I shouldn't think there's anything for you to do. I have a mobile phone, of course; I'll ring the police and give this poor chap a bit of an examination while I wait about for them to come. Thank you for your concern, madam, but I believe I can take care of anything further that is required. There's no reason for you to put yourself out.”
“Well, thenâmy name is Martin, Dorothy Martin, and I live in Sherebury, if you should need me for anything.”
He thanked me again, with the sort of bored voice that clearly indicated I was becoming a nuisance. The train was empty by this time; I'd be ages getting a taxi. Feeling heartless for leaving the poor manâwhich was ridiculousâI gathered my things together and walked away.
The streets, when I finally got out into them in one of London's wonderful black cabs, were crowded with traffic. They always are, but today seemed worse than usual. We were fast approaching high tourist season, and that means more foreigners trying to drive on the wrong side of the road. At least it wasn't raining, which creates an even worse snarl, though it looked as though it might start in at any time. A London June at its most typical, in fact.
I usually enjoy the luxury of a cab ride through my favorite city and make the most of it, rubbernecking at familiar landmarks like the rawest tourist, but today I was preoccupied. I spent that ride, and the half hour I had to wait in the doctor's office, thinking about the poor man on the train. He'd been young, as the doctor had remarked, no more than thirty, at a guess. How terrible and unexpected, to have a heart attack at that age! My first husband, Frank, had died of a massive heart attack that had come like a thief in the night to steal him away from me, but he'd been sixty-five and had done a lot of living. Poor Bill had had his life in front of him, or he'd thought he had. He'd never marry that pretty girl now, the one whose picture he carried around with him. He'd never look up those relatives in Ireland. He'd never have the chance to straighten out the problems his company was having in the London office, or even finish the Tom Clancy novel he'd abandoned when we'd started to talk.
He'd never see London. So close, and yet he'd never see one of the world's greatest cities. He'd been looking forward to it, too, after spending the weekend in the country with one of his business associates, recovering from jet lag. His book,
, began in London, and he was eager to see what he'd been reading about. I twisted in my uncomfortable doctor's-office chair. If I hadn't gone for coffee when I did â¦ if there hadn't been such a long line at the counter â¦ if I'd been more observant, and hadn't just thought he was asleep â¦