Carson's Conspiracy (Sir John Appleby, Book 35)
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Businessman Carl Carson decides to make a dash for South America to escape the economic slump, leaving his home and his barmy wife. But he has a problem: if his company were seen to be drawing in its horns, it wouldn't last a week. His solution is his wife's favorite delusion—an imaginary son, named Robin. Carson plans to stage a fictitious kidnapping. After all, what could be more natural than a father liquidating his assets to pay the ransom demand? Unfortunately, Carson has a rather astute neighbor, Sir John Appleby, ex-Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.
on some further casual encounter with Lely. Reflecting on this, Carson roundly cursed the cable. In inventing it he had violated that Law of Parsimony which has become known to logicians as Occam’s razor. Being no logician, Carson didn’t actually call it this. He just told himself that one ought to be sparing with one’s fibs. This trifling one had unexpectedly proved distinctly awkward. Then he remembered that cables, like inland telegrams when such things still were, frequently arrived by
day in town, and was applying himself rather fretfully to the cocktail cabinet in the drawing-room. It was an elaborate affair, the cocktail cabinet – all chrome and perspex and funny little concealed lights – and he had come to be a shade doubtful about it, and particularly about its location. There were plenty of advertisements – in the colour-supplements and such places – which showed prosperous and persuasively top people standing beside, or in the more elaborate examples even within, this
sunshine, and no servant problems. Would you think of it yourself, Carson?’ Carson liked thus being ‘Carson’ rather than ‘Mr Carson’ quite early in an acquaintanceship of this sort. It was – as it wasn’t among Yanks – the upper-class thing. A reply, nevertheless, required a fraction of a second’s thought. ‘My dear Appleby,’ he said humorously, ‘I’m blessed if I could afford it.’ ‘Oh, Carl darling, what nonsense!’ This loyal interjection on Mrs Carson’s part was of most
associates. In low company (which he still at times frequented in a quiet way) he even had to listen to coarse jokes about stately piles. Small misadventures of this kind could irritate him for days. He even told himself occasionally that he would be quite glad to pack up and quit his stuffy native land for good. And the business of the portrait was proving curiously unsettling. It was going ahead at what he supposed was a brisk pace, since Humphry Lely came over to Garford almost every day
looking for signs of life. When he finds an elaborate feast laid out, he wonders who is expected… Operation Pax A two-bit con-man is thrown in at the deep end as a desperate hunt takes place in Oxford, in this gripping tale whose thrilling climax takes place in the vaults of the Bodeleian. A Private View Sir John and Lady Appleby attend a memorial exhibition of the oils, gouaches, collages and trouvailles of artist Gavin Limbert, who was recently found shot, under very suspicious