This is the Fourth part of a Murder Mystery that I have been writing. It is supposed to be in the style of the great Agatha Christie.
This is the first part if you want to read it from the beginning:
The Inspector was getting rather tired of asking the same questions over and over again.
So far, he had spoken to three ladies of the rather spoiled set and he still had to speak to the lady of the house, the Butler, the maid and the cook.
He contemplated the three different ladies he had already seen. One was nervous and on the defensive, was it the natural effect of being present when someone chokes to death, or was it more than that? Then another lady, ornate and decorative but with the apparent air of being without a brain. Was she really brainless or was it all a clever act? Then the first lady, Mrs Patterson, with such personality who had just blurted out the question “Was it Strychnine?” So offhand it was apt to astonish even him, an old seasoned veteran of Scotland Yard.
Of course, it was early days with nothing concrete to suggest that the young man had been poisoned at all, he could have just choked, but he didn’t like the look of the body. It was all contorted and rather beastly. He felt in his heart that this was going to turn out to be a murder enquiry. He wasn’t going to do anything flash though. He was known for his doglike tenacity to the process. It had earned him his nickname of ‘Bloodhound of the Yard’ something he was rather proud of. He looked up at his Sergeant with droopy eyes.
“OK Sheldon, let’s have the lady of the house in and see what she has to say.”
Sergeant Sheldon returned and held the door open for Mrs Winthrop. She was wearing a pale purple satin gown which clung rather daringly to each of her curves. She was no longer a Lady in the first flush of youth, indeed she was well and truly middle aged, and yet clearly had no qualms about her body. The Inspector rather admired her for that. So many women, his wife included, spent so much time worrying about whether they were too fat. He was already supporting his wife on her third different fad diet of the year. This one involved chewing your food one hundred times before swallowing. Meal times now took hours, but he put up with it for her sake. Sure, his wife had a few bumps but he loved every one of them and wished she didn’t feel so self-conscious. Here was a woman who too had a few bumps but was quite happy for the world to see them, completely content with herself. Inspector Thorpe definitely admired Mrs Winthrop’s confidence. Her dark curly hair had just a touch of grey at the temples, which she had attempted to hide under a black sequined band.
“Are you almost done Inspector? I would so like to retire to bed, it has been rather an ordeal and I have a slight headache coming on. Also, my Husband will surely be home soon and I don’t want to be awake and have to explain what’s happened to him when he does. I would rather tell him in the morning.”
“Yes Madam, I am almost finished. I will still need to speak to your Butler and maid, and the cook also, but that shouldn’t take too long. Can you tell me how you knew the deceased?”
“Well I didn’t know him that well. I first met him at an event in Pimlico. He was giving a speech on the importance of mechanical engineering and my husband wanted to go. We spoke to him briefly afterwards to congratulate him; he had spoken so eloquently. Then not long afterwards we met him again at a party in Bloomsbury. We found him very charming and I asked him then if he would like to come to dinner at some point and we could discuss more about his work. He seemed amenable to the idea. Then I mentioned it to my friends and they all seemed keen and so I arranged this little soiree. Seemed like such an excellent idea at the time but now I’m afraid it’s so awful. Such a poor young man.”
She sounded genuinely upset at the death of this young man. She had not known him very well though. His suspicious mind couldn’t help but think that perhaps she wasn’t quite as upset as she was making out to be.
“Why were no husbands invited along too? You said yourself that your husband was interested in mechanical engineering and yet you didn’t allow him to join you?”
“Well Inspector, he does so like to dominate a conversation. All our husbands are like that. They are all important men in their respective fields and I didn’t want to be pushed into the background. I wanted to be able to ask my own questions.”
“What is it your husband does for a living?”
“He is chairman of the board of trade. He worked his way up from nothing. Started with a market stall, then started a shop that sold everything, a ‘supermarket’ he calls it. Well he became very successful, I’m proud to say. They do say he’ll likely be in the new year’s honours list.”
“And how about the other lady’s husbands?”
“Jane Courtney’s husband is in the colonial office. Undersecretary of something or other. Audrey Patterson is married to a Scientist who works to the government. I am not sure what exactly he does. Patricia Atwood’s husband is quite high up in government, but she can’t tell us exactly what though; apparently it’s top secret.”
“Thank you, Mrs Winthrop. Can I ask you about your servants? How long have they been with you?”
“Hargreaves has been with us for years, so has the cook, Rachel. The maid, Sarah, only started a few weeks ago. Our previous made, Alice, left to get married.”
“Would you say they are reliable?”
“Oh yes. Hargreaves and Rachel definitely, I can attest to their devotion and loyalty. Sarah seems all right, but as I say it’s early days. Alice was so much more competent.”
“Before I have a word with your servants, I would just like to ask you if you felt there was anything odd about tonight that you would like to tell me? Anyone behaving slightly off?”
“Not really. Although now I come to think of it Patricia Atwood was very nervous all evening. I thought it strange because she normally is as quiet as a mouse. She knocked over Dr Lancaster’s drink when we were all talking, waiting for dinner to be served. They were both drinking Margarita’s and she gave him hers instead then got another from Hargreaves. Will that be all? Shall I send in Hargreaves to you?”
“Yes, thank you Mrs Winthrop, that will be good. You can retire to bed, I am sure Hargreaves can show us out when we are finished.”
So that was interesting, said the Inspector to himself. Strange that no one else had mentioned the drink being spilled.
End of Part Four…..
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 30/April/2018