“District Attorney Charles P. Farnsworth, of Scott County, who has taken charge of the investigation, says, and we quote: ’There is strong evidence implicating certain prominent persons, whom we are not, as yet, prepared to name, and if the investigation, now under way and making excellent progress, justifies, they will be apprehended and formally charged. No effort will be spared, and no consideration of personal prominence will be allowed to deter us from clearing up this dastardly crime....’”
Rand swore again, with weary bitterness, wondering how much trouble he was going to have with District Attorney Charles P. Farnsworth, as he pulled to a stop in Stephen Gresham’s driveway.
Gresham must have been waiting inside the door; as soon as Rand came up onto the porch, he opened it, and motioned the detective inside. Beyond a hasty greeting as Rand passed the threshold, he did not speak until they were seated in the gunroom upstairs. Then he came straight to the point.
“Jeff, can you spare the time from this work you’re doing at the Flemings’ to investigate this Rivers business?” he asked. “And how much would an investigation cost me? It’s got to be a blitz job. I’m not interested in getting anybody convicted in court; I just want the case cleared up in a hurry.”
“Well—” Rand puffed at the cigar Gresham had given him, watching the ash form on the end. “I don’t work by the day, Stephen. I take a lump-sum fee, and, of course, it’s to my interest to get a case cleared up as soon as I can. But I can’t set any time limit on a job like this. This Rivers killing has more angles than Nude Descending a Staircase; I don’t know how much work I’ll have to do, or even what kind.”
“Well, it’ll have to be fast,” Gresham told him urgently. “Look. I didn’t kill Arnold Rivers. I hated his guts, and I think whoever did it ought to get a medal and a testimonial dinner, but I did not kill him. You believe me?”
“I’m inclined to,” Rand replied. “In your law practice, you know what a lying client is letting himself in for. As my client, you wouldn’t lie to me. You seem to think you may be suspected of purging Rivers. But why? Is there any reason, aside from that homemade North & Cheney he sold you, why anybody would think you’d killed him?”
“Great God, yes!” Gresham exclaimed. “Now look. I’m not worried about being railroaded for this. I didn’t do it, and I can beat any case that half-assed ex-ambulance-chaser, Farnsworth, could dream up against me. But I can’t afford even to be mentioned in connection with this. You know what that would do to me, in town. I just can’t get mixed up in this, at all. I want you to see to it that I don’t.”
“That sounds like a large order.” The ash was growing on Rand’s cigar; he took another heavy drag at it. “But why necessarily you? Rivers had plenty of other enemies.”