Brother, Can You Spare a Crime? by Sheri Cobb South

Brother, Can You Spare a Crime?

Brother, Can You Spare a Crime? by Sheri Cobb South (Another John Pickett Mystery #10)
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller| ePUB | 3.2 MB

When one of his colleagues witnesses a robbery in which one of the participants, a child, bears a striking resemblance to a certain Bow Street Runner, John Pickett realizes he has a young half-brother who has been apprenticed to a criminal gang. The brutal murder of the pursuing constable makes the crime far more serious than a simple robbery would be-and ten-year-old Kit is linked to the crime by the toy soldier he dropped while fleeing the scene.

In spite of his tender years, he will certainly hang unless Pickett can extricate him before fellow Bow Street Runner Robert Maxwell solves the case. For the first time in his career, Pickett is obliged to work against one of his fellows, dogging Maxwell’s steps and trying to anticipate his next move in order to get to the boy first.

Pickett’s investigation will take him back to the rookeries of London where his own childhood was spent. But can he return to his old haunts without being pulled back into his old way of life?

Pickett read it aloud nonetheless. “ ‘Clerk wanted. Young man of good character with strong ciphering skills and neat penmanship.’ ” He glanced down at the desk, and the sheet of paper where he had demonstrated these abilities. “Were my calculations not correct?”

“They were,” Mr. Whitmore conceded the point, albeit reluctantly. In fact, they had been accurate down to the last farthing, including the one designed to trip up all but the most careful applicants.

“Has the position already been filled?”

“It has not,” the bank’s governor confessed somewhat sheepishly.

“I can only assume, then, that the sticking point is the matter of my character,” Pickett said with great dignity. “In fact, you don’t trust me to keep my hand out of the till.”

“It isn’t that.” Somehow Mr. Whitmore’s objection had the effect of confirming Pickett’s suspicions rather than allaying them. “But, well, one never knows what latent tendencies one might possess until actually faced with temptation. And you, with your, er, background, might be, let us say, more susceptible than most.”

“Let me remind you, sir, that I have been employed by Bow Street since I was nineteen years old. During that time, I have handled not only large sums of money, but jewelry and other valuables as well—and I returned every last farthing to its rightful owner, whether that rightful owner was the victim of a theft or the magistrate himself. If I had any ‘latent tendencies’ toward theft, don’t you think they would have shown themselves by now?”

“And yet, you have a criminal record, Mr. Pickett.”

“Yes—as a fourteen-year-old boy, trying to survive any way I could! But I made a vow to the man who rescued me, a vow I’ve kept for more than ten years. Even if I were tempted—which I beg leave to doubt—I would resist it out of loyalty to him.”

“And this would be”—he looked at the letter of recommendation Pickett had supplied—“Major James Pennington of Norwood Green in Somersetshire?”

“No. Patrick Colquhoun, the magistrate who oversees my work at Bow Street.”

“And yet you bring me no endorsement from him, Mr. Pickett. Why is that?”

For the first time in the interview, Pickett’s air of confidence faltered. “He—he doesn’t know I’m looking for a new position.” Neither did Major James Pennington, for that matter, and the major was his brother-in-law. But Pickett would cross that bridge when he came to it—an event that would not take place today, given the governor’s unenthusiastic response to his application.

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