The Night of the Falling, Quinn Moosebroker (1)©
The body of Big Jim Brady lay in the bed of an upstairs bedroom, dead. His live-in ‘significant other’ had discovered his body when she returned from a shopping expedition in the city and called the police.
Officer Harcourt working the night shift heard the call from dispatch and arrived at the modest estate moments before the EMT’s. It seemed routine, until he opened the doors to the library and the shelved books where now a disheveled pile and some stacked by the door. He had heard of Brady, they said he was the wealthiest man in Clearview Terrace. He heard in conversation with Blake Knightly that he had the largest collection of Henry Farley outside the Houghton collection at Harvard. Harcourt admired the array of old artwork on the dust jackets of the first edition titles lying on the floor of the mahogany lined room. He noted a toppled display case that was now empty but had no way to determine if the contents now lay on the floor amongst all the other books.
Harcourt surveyed the house taking notes. He wondered if Detective DeLaMonte would be sent out to do a preliminary investigation or not. At the end of the hall on the second floor a window seemed to have been forced open. Harcourt noted it and would add it to his report. He wondered if this could be murder. ‘Two murders in Clearview Terrace in a matter of weeks?’ He asked himself. It was practically a crime wave.
The EMT’s were ready. They had removed the body. Harcourt put some, ‘Do Not Cross’ tape across the doorway of the library, told Eleanor Pennyworth, a distant cousin to the Pennyworth publishing business to keep out until a detective cleared the room and then the two emergency vehicles made their way to the Clearview Terrace Memorial Hospital where Jim Brady was pronounced dead.
Officer Harcourt sat at a local donut shop in the early hours of Sunday morning and wrote out his report of his observations at the Brady house. He drank his coffee and enjoyed his crumb donut hoping he could avoid an early morning call from Detective DeLaMonte by filing his report on his way off duty.
By morning all conversation at Millie’s Café and the Frosty Mug were about Jim Brady and who got his money or his art collection or his books.
Phillip Berkeley was ecstatic with the news. Two years earlier he had been in negotiations with Jim Brady’s lawyers for the Brady library. There were many first editions, but first editions were a dime a dozen in his circles. He coveted the Henry Farley manuscript of The Night of the Falling; that and two decades of correspondence between Farley and his publisher and between Farley and his Italian mistress. How Brady had beat out the major Universities for this prize is to this day a mystery to the universities. It meant Phillip Berkeley’s name would be on the cover of at least two volumes likely three. The Correspondence of Henry Farley published in two volumes a year apart and The Catalogue of the Jim Brady Collection, which would make him comfortable in his retirement.
It was sheer good fortune for Phillip Berkeley, that Jim Brady, wanted the material to stay in Clearview Terrance where he had returned after his long distinguished career in publishing. He would wait the appropriate time and make inquiries to the estate about moving the material to Hourglass Trinity College where he was head of the English Department and oversaw collections. He determined in his mind that Monday morning was the appropriate amount of time.
Blake Knightly owner of the local book shop heard about the news while having a quiet Sunday morning coffee at the Frosty Mug. He told the story of how he had long ago read in a tabloid that Ronald Colman and Clark Gable once had a fist fight in a bar over who would play, Read Fraser, the lead role, when The Night of the Falling was produced as a movie.
Blake Knightly sat and drank his coffee thinking he would not get his hands on one book from the Brady house. Pity, he thought. Every vulture within a thousand miles will be hovering over the Jim Brady Estate and there will be some very big vultures.
He turned to the classifieds and saw that the Clearview Terrace Library sale was happening this morning. He glanced at his watch and rushed off to search their offerings. It was a good place to acquire store stock and he was use to bumping elbows with the bookscouts.
Eleanor Pennyworth called her long time friend Lars Bragdon the owner of Stacks, the largest bookstore in Boston and told him of Jim’s passing. She told him the manuscript of The Night of the Falling was missing. She was aware of Jim’s commitment to keeping the manuscript in Clearview Terrace even though she knew both Harvard and Notre Dame would go into a bidding war that could run the price near the $30,000 level.
They talked about the material promised to Hourglass Trinity College but Eleanor assured him that the ephemera would make him salivate. “You would be dealing with his sons, and there are books not on the HTC inventory list,” she told him. He agreed to make the trip.
Eleanor Pennyworth flipped through the leather bound address book in Jim Brady’s study. By the name Moosebroker there was a word in Jim’s writing that said, ‘trusted’. She tapped her finger on her chin. It was just a matter of time before Jim’s sons showed up and invited her to leave. This was the down side of being a significant other rather than a wife. Covington R. Brady was the oldest. He would show up with a lawyer and Matheson Brady would do what he always did when he was in the house and that is guess the price of the things around him.
Detective DeLaMonte of the Clearview Police Department pulled his green Dodge Polaris into the drive of the Brady estate and climbed out of his car. He lumbered to the front door and knocked. Once inside and having Officer Harcourt’s preliminary report in hand looked around while talking to Eleanor Pennyworth.
“You found the body?” He asked.
Eleanor was annoyed; she had just answered these questions from the police ‘playbook’. “Yes.” She told him.
“We are going to have to wait for the Coroner’s Report to see if the death will be investigated as a crime. Is there anything missing?”
Eleanor led him to the library. “It is too early to tell, but there may be some books missing and a valuable manuscript is gone.”
DeLaMonte grunted, and made a note, ‘books’ and underlined it. He would not be spending anytime searching for any damn old books. He closed his notebook. “Thank you Miss Pennyworth. We will get back to you very soon. Keep the department aware of your whereabouts.”
She walked to the back of the house and grabbed two suitcases and brought them to the room sized closet that held her clothes. She began to bring things to the suitcase then paused, grabbed the address book and dialed Quinn Moosebroker’s number. When the phone was picked up Eleanor Pennyworth introduced herself; she mentioned Jim Brady and told Quinn that she needed his help.
He said into the receiver, “Ok, we’ll be right there.” He hung up and looked at Betty and said, “Get dressed, we have another case.”