The Maze of Cadiz

EXTRACT:
Cotton’s second visit to the unhelpful British vice-consul 2 days after arriving in Cadiz

Cotton went directly to the vice-consulate, ignored the young man behind the desk, knocked on Henderson’s door, and walked in. The vice-consul was standing looking out of the window in the direction of a palm tree. He turned.

‘Have you come to deal with the funeral expenses?’ asked Henderson.
‘No,’ said Cotton.
‘May I ask why not?’
‘Because I have no intention of dealing with the funeral expenses just now,’ said Cotton.
‘I beg your pardon,’ said the vice-consul.
‘I believe you have a copy of the autopsy report.’
‘That is correct.’
‘You didn’t think I might like to see it?’
‘You didn’t ask,’ said Henderson stiffly. ‘I need the request in writing.’
‘I really don’t see why you felt able to allow the dead man’s clothes to be dumped in my office without any request, whether written or verbal, but to keep the report. I am disinclined to cooperate with you until I’m sure that I know of all the documents pertaining to May’s death and I have them in my possession.’
‘I don’t know what you mean and I take very strong exception to your tone.’
‘My apologies,’ said Cotton briskly. ‘Now, may I have the autopsy report? I will, of course, sign for it.’
‘Very well,’ said Henderson.
The report was, in fact, waiting on the vice-consul’s desk. He merely lifted it and dropped it a little nearer Cotton. ‘Sign at the top,’ he said.
Cotton signed and unclipped the report. ‘Is this in my keeping now?’
‘Yes,’ said Henderson. He sniffed. ‘I suppose you’ll want copies of the death certificates as well.’
‘Thank you. Do you know of any other documents I need to make my report?’
‘Not to my knowledge,’ said Henderson.
‘I see. Why didn’t you tell me that May had a boyfriend?’
The vice-consul blinked. ‘Because I didn’t know!’ snapped Henderson. ‘Should I have done? It’s not my business or responsibility to pry into other people’s private lives. And it is not my duty to tell you!’
‘Even when the death is not natural?’
‘What?’ said Henderson. ‘Who said that?’
‘May died by drowning, Mr. Henderson.’
‘Oh yes. Yes, I see.’ What had he been thinking of? Henderson frowned. ‘Who told you of May’s … proclivities?’

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