Yesterday I wrote my first ever attempt at an Agatha Christie style murder mystery.
I have linked to it here:
I was challenged with continuing the story, and so here is part two.
Inspector Thorpe, known as the bloodhound of the yard, had seen the crime scene and the forensic team had been in and taken everything they needed and removed the body. It wasn’t just the hangdog look on his face, with his wrinkles and droopy eye lids that had given him his nickname, but also his uncanny knack of picking up on a line of enquiry and following it to its end. The kindest thing that could be said of his face was that it had character. In addition to the wrinkles, he also had dark brown eyes and a large droopy brown moustache. He was generally good-natured and knew how to act tactfully among the wealthy set. He usually got results and quickly.
Now he would begin his investigation by speaking to everyone who was present. The lady of the house, Mrs Winthrop, had allocated a small study to him for this purpose. At that moment he was in the study with his sergeant, Sheldon who had been finding out as much about the victim as possible.
“So what have you been able to find out about him so far then” Asked the Inspector of his sergeant.
Sergeant Sheldon was a younger man than the inspector, in his late thirties with a large muscular frame, blue piercing eyes and light brown hair neatly parted on the left. He coughed and began speaking in his deep, soft voice.
“Well Sir, His full name was Jeremy Joseph Lancaster and he was 27 years old. He studied at Cambridge University, Maths and Physics, then went on to do a masters and a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He’s unmarried and lives in Pimlico in a shared apartment with two other scientists. His family all live in Norfolk, a Mother and Father in their fifties and a younger sister who still lives at home. So far, there is nothing to suggest why anyone would want to do away with him.”
“And who are our main suspects. Who was present at the poor lad’s death?”
“Mrs Dorothy Winthrop, who owns this house and was giving a small dinner party. Her husband, Mr Algernon Winthrop is a name at Lloyd’s and consequently worth a packet. He wasn’t home though. The other guests were all friends of Mrs Winthrop; Mrs Audrey Patterson, Mrs Jane Courtney and Mrs Patricia Atwood. None of them had their husbands with them. The other people present were the Butler, Reginald Hargreaves and a maid, Sarah Jones. There was also the Cook, Rachel Silverman, but she remained downstairs,”
“Thank you Sheldon, I suppose I shall start by speaking to the guests so they can go home. I’ll speak to the lady of the house last of all.
Show in” The Inspector paused to cast an eye over the list of names and chose a name, simply because it was his wife’s name. “Show in Mrs Audrey Patterson please.”
The door opened and in walked a woman of middle years with short curled brown hair and a bright intelligent look in her eye. She was dressed in a black gown that sparkled with sequins. She was neither what you would call fat or particularly slim. She had personality though.
“Good evening Inspector, I am Audrey Patterson, you wanted to speak to me? That poor, young man. I suppose he was poisoned, was it Strychnine? The way his limbs went all jerky, if it was poison it looked more like strychnine than cyanide to me.”
The Inspector was rather taken aback by this onslaught. He spoke slowly and calmly, in the hope that it would have a similar effect on the lady he was supposed to be questioning. Had he known Audrey Patterson better he would have known that any efforts to calm her were in vain.
“We have only just taken samples. We will not know for some time what the cause of death was, beyond asphyxiation, or which particular agent, if any caused it. I am impressed with your knowledge. Do you know much about poisons Mrs Patterson?”
“Oh I studied Chemistry, you know, at Oxford and I worked in a laboratory for a time, before I married Mr Patterson. I enjoyed my job; I never really wanted to give it up. What would you like to ask me Inspector?”
“How well did you know the deceased?”
“I didn’t know him at all. I only met him this evening. I hadn’t even heard of him, although he was supposed to be quite famous. Dolly, sorry, Mrs Winthrop invited me to dine with her tonight to meet this young man who is supposed to be well-known. I must say, although you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but I found him rather dull.”
“How far had the evening progressed?”
“We were still eating our starter, soup, when he started choking. It was really rather awful. He went purple.”
“Were you all eating the same thing?”
“No actually we were all eating Beef Consommé but Dr Lancaster said he was vegetarian and so he was given mushroom soup instead.”
“I see. How long after he began eating the soup did he start choking?”
“Oh, almost immediately, he could only have had two or three mouthfuls.”
“Thank you. So to confirm, you did not know the deceased or know any reason why anyone would want to kill him?”
“No I had never met him before tonight, but there was something odd about his behaviour. He seemed to be quite nervous all evening, but that may have been his usual manner.”
“Thank you Mrs Patterson. Oh, one other thing. Why were none of you accompanied by your husband’s tonight?”
“Well that was Dolly’s idea, Mrs Winthrop’s, I mean. She said that she wanted to speak to Dr Lancaster without the constant interruptions from our husbands. We told them it was a bridge evening and they’d be bored. My Husband didn’t mind, he’ll probably have a few whiskies and a couple of cigars and be quite content not to have me fussing around him.”
The Inspector didn’t doubt it for one minute. Tactfully he just said.
“Thank you, I think you can go home now Mrs Patterson, please leave your address with my Sergeant so we can contact you if we need anything else.”
“Thank you Inspector. Can you let me know if my hunch was correct? About the Strychnine, I mean. I would so like to know if I was right.”
“I am afraid that the information would have to be kept confidential, but you may find something about it in the local press. Good night Madam.”
End of part two…
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 28/April/2018