All he needed was for the police to be tipped off now, before he could prove anything

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DeeDol

Senior Member
Slovak
Hi, this is from Galbraith's Career of Evil.

The detective has broken into the murderer's flat and was nearly exposed by a neighbour, but in the end he managed to persuade him that he was entitled to be there. We don't know what his plan is and we don't get to know later, because the original plan does not work out.
I have trouble understanding this though:

The man (=the neighbour) scuttled off and Strike (=the detective) closed the door thanking his lucky stars that he’d had the forethought to provide himself with a cover. All he needed was for the police to be tipped off now, before he could prove anything . . .

Could you please rewrite it so that it is easier to understand? Did the detective (Strike) want to tip off the police and call them to the flat where they would find evidence or what?

Thank you very much!
 
  • baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    It means exactly the opposite of what you are suggesting, and is equivalent to

    "The last thing he needed was for the police to be tipped off now, before he could prove anything . . . "

    meaning that Strike desired above anything that the police NOT be tipped off at this point in time - hence his delight ("thanked my lucky stars") that the neighbour believed his story.
     

    SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    It helps to understand that the detective is a private detective, not a member of a law enforcement agency.

    He probably was in the murderer's flat illegally, so he did not want the police to know of his actions.
     

    DeeDol

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thank you! I was not familiar with the construction that makes the whole sentence negative but now it makes sense :)
     
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