Death of a Notable – Murder Mystery, Part Six

This is the Sixth part of a Murder Mystery that I have been writing. It is supposed to be in the style of the great Agatha Christie.

For those of you desperate for the end…we are almost there.

This is the first part if you want to read it from the beginning:

Inspector Thorpe yawned. It was Eleven thirty now. Well just one more interview then he could go home. He’ll file the report in the morning. Then they will have to wait for the results from the forensic team before taking any further steps. He had to keep an open mind about it. It could very well have been just an accident. Young men do choke to death, thankfully not too often, but it does happen. He wondered what Mrs Winthrop and the Young scientist had talked about for nearly half an hour before her other guests started to arrive. She was rather glamorously dressed too. His thoughts went through all the likely and unlikely scenarios before he brought himself up short again and reminded himself that as yet nothing was proved. He had one more hurdle to jump before he could leave too.

He decided to have the courtesy of visiting the cook in her own domain rather than have her come to him. It was a mark of respect that he hoped the cook would appreciate.

As he walked into the kitchen, he was amused to see Sergeant Sheldon sitting down drinking a cup of tea while the cook was reprimanding him with her large arms waving around. She was a statuesque woman of large proportions with black hair piled up on her head in the tight bun to keep it out-of-the-way. She had on a plain dress with her sleeves rolled up and a white apron. Her overall appearance was like that of a large opera singer. Only it wasn’t singing that was coming out of her mouth but an emotional tirade. Then she noticed the Inspector and her tirade was directed at him.

“So here you are at last? Have you any idea of how late it is? I have got to be up at six to start on breakfast. I do need some sleep you know! Well now you’re here, would you like a cup of tea? I think there’s one in the pot.”

“No please don’t trouble yourself. I will just ask my question then we will be off and leave you. I am sorry for the wait, I had to make my way round everyone. I must say you keep a very tidy kitchen.”

Inspector Thorpe hoped this would make her a little less hostile. It did seem to work.

“Yes, I can’t stand mess and disorder. Actually, the wait gave me time to do a thorough clean of all the work tops. So, what would you like to ask me Inspector?”

“Is there anything you can tell me about this evening?”

“Well I was down here the whole time. I never go upstairs, except to go up to bed; my room is on the top floor. I know there was a young man who choked to death. I hope you don’t think there was anything wrong with my cooking. There wasn’t a bone in that consommé, I can assure you.”

“I understand that he didn’t have the consommé, he had mushroom soup instead.”

“Oh, that explains it. I made the beef consommé and Reg, that’s Mr Hargreaves, took the soup upstairs. I was just warming up the mushroom soup that we were going to have for our tea. I had made it for the previous evenings dinner but there was quite a bit left and waste not want not I always say. Then Reg comes back down and grabs the saucepan, pours the soup into another bowl and walks away with it, without so much as a by your leave!”

“There was nothing else you can tell me? Nothing out-of-order?”

“No Sir, nothing what so ever. Except of course we have a topside of beef that didn’t get eaten. I will have to do something with that. I can’t think of anything else out of the ordinary.”

As she spoke, she kept stroking her hair which seemed to the inspector to be quite a nervous tic. She looked him right in the eye though. Perhaps his mind was playing tricks. It was late and sometimes you start reading too much into things.

“Thank you for your time. We will leave you now. Good night.”

Sergeant Sheldon quickly downed his tea. There was a door to the street from the kitchen that opened onto a basement with steps up to street level.

“Can we go out this door? Save going back through the house and disturbing everyone” Said the Inspector.

“No, you don’t want to go that way, that’s just for the servants.” Said the Cook rather taken aback that they would use a servant’s entrance.

“Has anybody used this door tonight at all? Anyone come through here?”

“No Inspector, no one at all. I can attest to that, I have been here all evening. The door is kept locked.”

“Well we’ll just use it to leave now if that’s OK.”

The Inspector turned the key and opened the door to the outside. In the basement area it was full of the usual collection of dustbins, kitchen waste and other bits of rags. It looked like a tramp had made his home there at some point, judging from the bottles and the pile of old clothes. Then he saw a small cylindrical object, black with just a touch of gold decoration. It appeared to be a lady’s lipstick. What was that doing there? Without drawing attention to himself the Inspector knelt down to tie up his shoelace and deftly picked up the lipstick with his handkerchief and put it into his pocket.

Turning back to the Cook who was standing at the door wiping her hands on her apron, the Inspector said “Good night.” Then they climbed the metal staircase up to street level. He heard the kitchen door close and the lock click.

Inspector Thorpe turned to Sergeant Sheldon and said, in a rather abrupt manner “Right, off you go Sergeant. I will see you first thing in the morning and we’ll write up the report then.”

They parted and both went back to their homes in far less fancy parts of London.

End of Part Six….

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 02/May/2018