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An aeroplane passing over Dulworth Bay, crashes into a cliff, while a row boat watches and waits, then heads for the shore.
1: `Chapter One'.
Paul Temple and Steve are attending a party thrown by Paul's publisher Scott Reed, to launch a new book by Dr. Stern titled The Psychology of Crime. Also at the party representing Scotland Yard, are the assistant Commissioner - Sir Graham Forbes and Inspector Vosper. Temple, Vosper and Sir Graham all seem to agree that Dr Stern has no understanding of how to detect criminals and solve crime. Vosper states that hard work and attention to detail are what is needed. Sir Graham starts to give his opinion, and much to Vosper's annoyance, starts telling Paul Temple about a case involving two missing boys.
Vosper feels Sir Graham should be discreet in front of the Temple's, however Sir Graham states.. "discretion is for Inspectors... an assistant commissioner can be as indiscreet as he likes!"
The case involves two brothers who have gone missing from a minor public school, St Gilbert's at Dulworth Bay in Yorkshire. The Baxter brothers disappeared mysteriously on the same day 3 weeks before, and haven't been seen since. Vosper had been up to Yorkshire to check, and found no reason for the disappearance, Michael, the older brother is good friends with Diana Maxwell (niece of Lord Westerby), and the younger Baxter, Roger is very keen on cricket. He has collected the autographs of the school first eleven on the blade of his own cricket bat, however Vosper discovers there is one name that nobody can explain - Curzon. Nobody at the school or in the village knows a Curzon.
A couple of days after the party, Paul Temple receives a phone call from Diana Maxwell, she says she needs Temple's help as she now believe's her life is in danger. Paul initially tells her he is too busy and to go to the police, he asks her who she is in danger from, and she answers `Someone by the name of Curzon'. They agree to meet at eight o'clock that evening in a pub called the Three Boars. When Paul & Steve meet her at the pub she tells them that there have already been two attempts on her life, and she thinks sooner or later they will succeed. Paul admits he knows nothing about Curzon, and asks the girl to tell him what she knows. Unfortunately, before she can tell him anything, she is shot. Both the gunman and his partner escape. Steve announces `Diana Maxwell is dead', to which Paul says that this is not in fact the real Diana Maxwell.
Paul and Steve catch the same train from Whitby to Scarborough to trace the journey, the boy disappeared when the train was in a tunnel, and at the same point, in darkness, they hear someone whistling coming nearer and finally entering their carriage. The whistler knows who the Temple's are and introduces himself as Dr. Lawrence Stuart. The doctor knows a lot about the local community and they discuss the boys disappearance, and the recent air crash. Temple asks if he knows a Curzon? He says he knows everyone in Dulworth Bay, and has never heard of anyone by that name. The Doctor also tells them that he is not very popular in Dulworth Bay. He explains that they think he is a good doctor, but that they are afraid of him. Paul asks why, and the Doctor replies `...a long time ago I murdered a man. And the people of Dulworth Bay are very conventional.'
The Doctor gives them a lift to the school. The Temple's discuss matters with Mr. Elkington, and he enlightens them on Dr. Stuart - he had been a Harley St doctor until fifteen years before, when he had performed an emergency operation while drunk, and the patient had died.
They also think it is highly likely the doctor is the `whistler' close to the scene when the brothers disappeared.
Paul and Steve head to the village, in a local shop window they see a sign offering a reward for a missing parrot named Cheeta. They next move to the Baxter's home. On arriving they find the door open, but no one about, they enter and find a parrot which swawks `cheeta'..... The missing bird? Suddenly they hear a loud thud upstairs. Paul rushes to the stairs to see a semi conscious man whose face is covered in blood, standing there unsteadily.
`Stay where you are' shouts Paul, - but the injured man lurches forward onto the banisters, they give way under his weight, and he comes crashing down - head first. The dead man is Mr Philip Baxter (a retired stock broker - he has broken his neck in the fall) and he has also received a savage beating. The phone rings and Paul answers, it is Michael Baxter - he says he has seen their fathers message that it was safe to come home (the parrot message in the shop) - they have been staying with "Old Tom" in secret. Temple talks to Tom Doyle and tells him that he doesn't know what it's all about but that he must bring the brothers home now and that Mr. Baxter is dead. Doyle at first doesn't believe this, fearing a trap to capture the boys, Temple tells him it isn't and that he has some explaining to do to the police. Steve asks if Paul has any idea what is going on, Paul replies that he doesn't, and speculates as to whether Baxter was involved in the kidnapping of his own sons...
The police have arrived and Dr Stuart has examined the body. He confirms that Baxter died from a broken neck. Doyle and the two boys drive up, Inspector Morgan decides to take Tom Doyle down to the station to do his explaining, and he reluctantly agrees to give Paul a lift, and lets him sit in on the interview. Steve stays at the house to look after the boys.
Tom Doyle (a fisherman and odd job man) explains that after he witnessed an argument between Baxter and Lord Westerby and another man called Walters (over, he thinks a business deal or money), Baxter begged him to keep the boys at his place in secret, stating that they were in danger. Tom is reluctant - but as he likes the boys he is prepared to do what he can to help Baxter out. Baxter gives him some money for expenses and they arrange that a message about a missing parrot will be placed in a local shop window when it is safe for the boys to return. Doyle states he knows no more, and that Baxter did not explain what it was all about.
Inspector Morgan asks him about John Draper but Doyle knows nothing of his disappearance, stating that he thinks it has nothing to do with Baxter. The inspector asks if Baxter mentioned the name Curzon to him, but Tom has never heard the name.
Paul returns to the Baxter house for something to eat and a discussion with the brothers.
Paul asks Roger why he wrote the name Curzon on his cricket bat, and explains that he thinks it could be vital in helping to find out who murdered his father. Roger tells of overhearing his father arguing with another man, late one night, and the other man told Mr Baxter that `Curzon calls the tune, and we have to dance to it..' Baxter stated that he wasn't going to obey anymore of Curzon's instructions.
Paul starts examining Baxter's study. He finds a safe and is trying to work out how to open it when he smells smoke! The house is on fire. They all manage to escape but the house is gutted. Peter Malo and Diana Maxwell arrive by car, they have seen the fire from the hall and rung for the fire brigade. Diana draws Temple away (she doesn't want Malo to over hear) to tell him that she needs to speak with him (about Curzon) and they arrange a meeting on board the yacht Windswept for the following day. Now the boys have nowhere to live, Diana announces that she will take them back to the hall with here. Paul find the safe and is about to attempt to open it when Inspector Morgan arrives.
Back at the police station, Inspector Morgan reveals that Bobbie Jameson was the girlfriend of Carl Walters (the man with Lord Westerby at Baxter's), a very shady businessman. He gets a constable to open the safe - with a sledgehammer. They discover a scorched - but still intact notebook containing columns of figures. They agree that it must be a code of some sort. Morgan decides to send it to Vosper in London the next day, to get it decoded, Temple offers to take it personally, and Inspector Morgan agrees, stating he will get it photocopied first. He tells Paul to call back for it some time in the afternoon, and it will be ready - wrapped and sealed.
Temple replies `Don't worry.... you can trust me.'
Paul and Steve go off to have a picnic. They finish their food and Paul suggests some exploring. He has taken them to a place where there are some caves, and these may link to the railway tunnel. Steve asks what they are looking for and Paul replies `.. a boy'. Paul (torch in hand) & Steve proceed into the caves. Temple's theory is that the only thing that could have happened to Draper is that he got off the train when it slowed at a bend in the tunnel. They find the boy in a distressed condition - having got lost after jumping off the train.
Later in the afternoon Paul arrives at the jetty, and Tom Doyle offers to row him out to Windswept. Tom tells him that the yacht belonged to Lord Westerby but that it was now run by Diana Maxwell. Tom explains that Lord Westerby hadn't done much sailing this year, and then explains how he had taken Peter Malo out on his boat about 3 weeks before, but that he had been a nuisance - nearly falling out of the boat several times, and then spending all his time looking through his binoculars.
Tom deposits Paul safely on the yacht and leaves to head back to the shore. Diana is not on board, and returns shortly stating as she climbs the ladder; how she had seen Temple arrive from a nearby boat. When she reaches the top - a shot rings out. She freezes, then collapses.
The first person on the scene is Tom, who having heard the shot has come back. He takes charge of the yacht and they head for the harbour, radioing ahead to have a doctor waiting.
Lord Westerby and Dr Stuart are waiting when the boat arrives, the doctors verdict is that Diana will live but needs an emergency operation. Lord Westerby is grateful to Temple for his help, but Paul explains how it is Tom who really saved the day. Paul can't say where the shot came from, the shore or one of the other moored yachts?
Paul tries to question Westerby, but he is uncooperative, denying Tom Doyle's story about the meeting with Baxter, and saying he does not know anyone called Walters. Tom is waiting for Paul and he tells Doyle what Westerby said; Doyle now says he may have been mistaken, it might not have been Lord Westerby - just someone who looked like him, and the more he thinks about it, he is sure it was not Westerby.
Paul leaves Tom saying that he does believe what he says, but he believes the original story he told the police rather than the new version. He leaves Doyle protesting on the quayside.
Paul is writing his review of Dr. Stern's book when he hears Steve come in with Sir Graham who has just arrived. Steve tells them her story about Walters and Sir Graham finds it very funny, unkindly saying he must tell Vosper as he enjoys a good laugh. Steve's theory is that it must be about drug smuggling, as smuggling has been apart of life in that area for centuries. Paul thinks it may well be smuggling, but is not convinced about the commodity. Steve also reveals that Walters had claimed that Diana Maxwell was also Lord Westerby's mistress.
Sir Graham tells Temple that the notebook can't be decoded as the experts agree it isn't in code, just a lot of numbers related to something else. He thinks it may be measurements, Steve suggests a location, Sir Graham removes a file from his brief case and hands to Paul stating that it relates to the Dulworth Bay air crash, and that under no circumstances is he to tell Vosper where he got it from.
In bed Paul studies the file, there were 46 passengers on board the plane, but the suggestion is that one called Duprez may have something to do with the Curzon business. Duprez seems to be a mystery passenger (a Frenchman), but Paul concludes that to advance the case he must tackle Carl Walters.
Walters agrees to meet Paul for lunch at the Savoy, and says to bring Steve along as he had the pleasure of meeting her the day before. Paul checks up on Philip Baxter with a stock broker friend, and finds he had a very shady reputation before leaving London for Dulworth Bay.
The Temple's go to the Savoy, but Walters doesn't turn up. They return home and find Walters badly beaten on the floor, his dying words are `.. Temple, you've got to stop Curzon getting the diamonds.....'
Vosper can't work out why Walters would have turned over the Temple's flat himself, that he would have got one of his boys like Lou Kenzell (Lou the Dip) to do it? Paul thinks that Walters was probably on the other side, and that one of Curzon's men must have killed him.
He recognises the smell of `Old Spice' in the house, the same smell as Lou the Dip had when he stole the notebook. Vosper decides to pull him in as a major suspect.
Kenzell denies everything, but his story is quickly broken, finally he admits to being in the Temple's flat and having a fight with Walters. He also has a picture Rene Duprez in his wallet.
Kenzell signs a confession to causing the death of Walters and Temple acts as a witness.