Authors: Roderic Jeffries
Inspector Enrique Alvarez, who is mourning the death of a close friend, is more than polite to Tracey Newcombe, an unconventional young New Zealand woman living on Mallorca, who has suffered a similar loss. The man she’d been living with was killed as his car went out of control on a steep bend. Despite his sister’s disapproval of the liaison, Alvarez soon finds that Tracey has captured his affections as well as his professional concern.
But even in love, Alvarez is still a policeman. He can’t stop wondering if there might be a connection between the death of Tracey ‘s lover and the mysterious death of another English resident, who drowned despite being a strong and skillful swimmer. When a third Englishman dies in an explosion aboard a motor yacht in Llueso Bay, he is convinced that the incidents are somehow linked. And where does the rebellious Tracey fit in?
As always in the delightful series of detective novels featuring the Mallorquin inspector whom H.R.F. Keating has called “human and humane,” Roderic Jeffries brings us a rewarding novel of compassion, intrigue, and neat plotting in his latest book. Three and One Make Five.
Three and One Make Five
by the same author
THREE AND ONE MAKE FIVE. Copyright © 1984 by Roderic Jeffries. All
rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this
book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without
written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in
critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin’s Press,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Ashford, Jeffrey, 1926-
Three and one make five.
PR6060.E43T5 1984 823’.914 84-13249
First published in Great Britain by William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.
First U.S. Edition
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Alvarez looked in the mirror and knew fresh sadness as he checked that his black tie was neat. Then he left the bedroom and went downstairs. Dolores, as crisply smart as ever, her strikingly handsome face expressing a sadness as great as his, came out of the kitchen. Few Mallorquins had heard of Donne but, being islanders of peasant stock, they knew the meaning of his words, ‘Any man’s death diminishes me . . .’
‘Are you off now?’ she asked.
‘Poor, poor Maria,’ she murmured.
Yet, he thought, it was only two days ago since Maria and Pedro had been one of the happiest couples on the island. His mind slipped back to January and the night of Revetla de San Sebastia when almost every street in the village built a bonfire on which was set a foguera. Pedro’s tableau had won third prize: all who saw it—with the exception of the judges—had been agreed that it should have won first prize. A couple, in traditional costume, were dancing: as was only right and proper, there was a decorous distance between them. But the man’s expression was so lecherous that no one could mistake his intentions. Old Grandma Villanova, 91 years old, toothless and refusing to wear her false teeth, had cackled with laughter and said that Pedro was a lad and a half and Maria’s stomach would very soon start to swell again . . .
He left. The house was set directly on the pavement and he crossed to his battered Seat 600, sat behind the wheel, and turned the key. Amazingly, the engine fired first time although for weeks it had been reluctant to start at all. The perversity of life, he thought bitterly: when he would have welcomed delay . . .
He drove to 15, Calle General Riera, Pedro and Maria’s home. The men were in the first room: they stood and were restless to the point of constantly moving about, yet they seldom spoke to each other and then only briefly. Ramon, Pedro’s younger brother, eyes red, came forward and he and Alvarez embraced. Then Ramon led him into the second room where the women were all sitting on chairs set around the walls: the shutters were closed and the women’s faces were indistinct, but the constant quiet sobbing testified to their misery.
He went to where Maria sat and bent down and kissed her tear-damped cheek. She gripped his arms. Was she remembering that night of Revetla de San Sebastia when Pedro had laughed so much he’d begun to choke? The crack of the bangers as the kids let them off without thought to safety, the cheers as the bonfire was lit, the way the man had twisted towards his partner as the flames reached round him, and the shrill cry of Old Grandmother Villanova, who’d been drinking brandy with reckless enjoyment, that, typical male, he was determined to have his fun whatever happened . . .
Maria released him. Ramon touched his arm and he followed, up the stairs and into the first bedroom.
Pedro lay on the bed, an immaculately ironed sheet drawn up to his chest. Four candles burned by the bed, two on either side: Maria had lit one and each of his three children had lit one. At his feet was a single wreath. On the chest-of-drawers, on a black linen cloth, were a dozen framed photographs, all of Pedro with the exception of one, the largest, which was of him and Maria on their wedding-day. On the ground at the foot of the bed were a set of chisels and two saws, marking his trade in life.
Alvarez crossed himself, then closed his eyes. But in his mind he continued to see the long, narrow face, touched with sly humour even in death, and he wondered. Was there a final mystery? Or, despite all the teachings of the church, had Pedro merely ceased to be?
He opened his eyes, looked for the last time at Pedro, then left, followed by Ramon. He passed through the room of women to the room of men, where he leaned against one of the walls.
Plans for a new HQ building for the guardia civil in Llueso had, it was said by some, already been approved and the site had been bought: the new HQ was to be spacious, air-conditioned, and centrally heated. There were to be attached, luxurious quarters for married men. One or two of the optimists even went on to claim that completion date was set for only a year ahead. Others, however, more experienced in the workings of Spanish bureaucracy, doubted even an intention to consider the possibility of studying the problem of the working and living conditions of the members of the guardia civil: such pessimists accepted the certainty that they would continue for the foreseeable future to work in conditions of such overcrowding that quite often a man found himself writing out someone else’s report.
Much to everyone’s annoyance, an annoyance exacerbated by the fact that, being a civil servant he shouldn’t have been in the post anyway, Alvarez had a room to himself on the first floor. Still, as he always claimed, in his very demanding job a man needed privacy if he were to work efficiently and effectively.
He leaned over and pulled open the bottom right-hand drawer of the desk to bring out a bottle and a glass. The phone rang. He ignored it and poured himself out a very large brandy. The ringing ceased. He settled back in his chair and drank and wondered why one man was taken and another was left. He’d known Pedro for twenty-five years: he’d been to the wedding and to each of the three christenings: he was godfather to little Maria . . .
The phone rang again. He stared at it with dislike, but eventually reached out and lifted the receiver.
‘Is that Inspector Alvarez?’
Only one woman spoke as if her mouth were full of unripe plums, Superior Chief Salas’s secretary. ‘Yes, señorita.’
‘There has been a fatal car crash on the road to the south of the monastery of San Miguel. Only the one car was involved and it seems probable that the driver, an Englishman, was under the influence of alcohol.’ She sniffed loudly. ‘The facts appear to be straightforward, but the woman with whom he was living’—she sniffed even more loudly—‘has raised certain queries. She states that an hour before the crash he was perfectly sober and although there was a broken bottle of whisky in the car, there was no bottle in it when he left home and in any case he had not been drinking whisky for many years. You are to check to see whether there’s cause for a full investigation.’
‘The monastery at San Miguel, señorita, is not within my department.’
‘Superior Chief Salas said he imagined you would raise that point. However, in view of the fact that you have had considerable experience in dealing with matters involving foreigners, he is directing you to investigate the case even though it lies in another department.’
‘Señorita, I would be most grateful if someone else could deal with it. A very great friend of mine has just died . . .’
She said she was very sorry to hear that and then added, with all the moral certainty of someone who was not being called upon to show such fortitude, that there were times when duty had to come before sentiment.
The monastery of San Miguel lay in the mountain range of the Sierra de Puig de Mas, to the north of the central plain, and it was built on a crest, as near to heaven as the builders could ever have reasonably hoped to get in their mortal state—the crests of higher mountains nearby had all proved to be too jagged and precipitous. The surrounding valleys were boulder-strewn and inhospitable and even the pine trees did not grow freely. Those few tourists who forsook the overcrowded beaches and drove here saw a land so different from the one they had left that they were bewildered and, quite often, uneasy, feeling as if their world of mindless play had somehow come under threat.
A road wound round the north side of the mountain and skirted the Garganta Verde. It had a spectacular setting. The gorge was so deep that only at noon in the height of the summer did sunshine ever reach its floor, and its sides were frequently almost sheer: over the centuries, rain had striated the rock face and now it looked as if some forgotten race of giants had drilled it for a reason it had become impossible to imagine. A few pine trees, roots somehow drawing sustenance from the rock, clung to the sides and there were infrequent clumps of weed grasses, dried brown and brittle by the heat. On the floor of the gorge there was a jumble of gnarled trees, bushes, and weeds, a sharp contrast to the poverty of the walls. Above both, riding the thermals, one could often see a black vulture, as graceful in flight as it was clumsy on the ground.
Like so many roads away from the centre of tourism, the edges of the one which skirted the gorge were not protected by stone copings or armco barrier and any misjudgement could have fatal consequences. They had been fatal for the driver of the Renault 18 which now lay, its roof crumpled down on to the seats, its wheels pointing skywards, half-way down the south side of the gorge, at rest on a wide ledge of rock.
Alvarez walked past the parked patrol car of the traffic police and went almost up to the edge of the road and looked down. Immediately, he experienced the stomach-churning terror of altophobia.
‘That’s the second one this year,’ said the uniform policeman. ‘Sometimes you wonder if they’ve ever driven before. Back in March three Germans in a Citroen went over the edge half a kilometre along and when they ended up you couldn’t tell what had been car and what had been human.’
Alvarez felt as if he were being pulled gently but inexorably into the void by some unseen power and it needed all his will-power to break the spell and move backwards.
‘You look like you don’t go for heights,’ said the policeman, a shade superciliously.