The Story So Far...
It’s October. The shoot season is in full stride and to celebrate Lord and Lady Feversham are hosting an intimate dinner for a number of their closest circle. Every year it’s the same. Helmsley’s great and good get together at the height of the shoot season and the dinner marks the beginning of Lady Feversham’s own season of entertaining the shoot parties visiting her beautiful hideaway hotel. On the face of it, this year should be the same as every other, except for the slightest hint of friction in the air. Needless to say Lady Feversham is keen to mask the tension and will stop at nothing to make sure her night is one to remember.
From the master bedroom window in their apartment that runs the entire length of the top floor in the original wing, Lord Feversham looks down as the guests begin to arrive. As familiar faces enter the hotel lobby, he spies Doctor Alexander Abbey and his younger glamorous wife Jessica stepping out of his Jaguar just as business woman Natalie Wells pulls up in a taxi. She is followed by Ginger Reece, a journalist trying to make her name in Yorkshire. Last but by no means least, Carlton Bainbridge, the young, rich, successful art dealer, loathed and loved in equal measure makes his way up past the church to the lobby entrance.
“It’s time” he motions to his wife “ we should make our way downstairs to greet the guests, for the sooner we begin, the sooner we can draw this evening to a close.”
“Don’t be such a spoil sport George, they are our friends and the dinner will be a good opportunity to draw a line under the recent unpleasantness.”
“If you say so Katherine.”
Downstairs is a hive of activity and the guests are greeted with champagne as hotel manager, Floyd Cresswell ushers them through to the snug. While the guests gather round the glowing log fire, Lord and Lady Feversham sweep down the staircase, through the archway into the snug to welcome their guests and for the most part, their friends. Thomas Drover, one of the hotel waiters hands two champagne flutes to Lord Feversham as Lady Feversham makes a beeline for Doctor Abbey who is looking at the most recent acquisition to the hotel gallery’s art collection.
“It’s interesting Katherine, not quite what we’re used to but a talking point nonetheless.”
“I adore it Alex – Carlton suggested it and after a tussle in the auction room it was ours and it works just beautifully here. It’s a reflection of our new direction, of the hotel embracing a new era and there’s nobody who understands that better than Carlton. Speaking of the devil where is he?”
“There, with one eye on the conversation with your husband and the other on your young waitress, Kitty…surprise, surprise.”
Indeed he was, Carlton Bainbridge had had an eye for the ladies, well beautiful ladies at least, for as long as anyone could remember. Most people assumed his partner, Natalie Wells was his partner in more ways than one, but theirs was purely a professional affair, on his part anyway. He preferred to keep his love life fresh and exciting and Natalie was constant and reliable. She was great for business, but bore no attraction outside of their gallery. Kitty was his latest fancy and by far his biggest challenge as the young waitress had spurned his advances yet again earlier in the week. He couldn’t help but think that he may have gotten somewhere had Mr. Cresswell not been in the way. As his gaze followed Kitty around the room it was interrupted by that of another of his playthings, Jessica Abbey.
“You look good enough to eat this evening Jessica, I hope your efforts are entirely for me?”
“You toy with me Carlton, I saw you just now wistfully making eyes at the waitress. When will you ever learn? Am I not enough for you? What can she possibly offer you that I can’t?”
“Now, now Jessica, jealousy is an ugly trait.”
They were interrupted by Thomas the waiter offering more champagne and then by Doctor Abbey.
“Darling you remember Ginger Reece, the journalist who came to the surgery last week to interview me about the Jones inquiry.”
“Yes of course” Jessica lied. She was never good with names or faces for that matter unless they were of importance to her.
“It’s a pleasure to see you again Mrs. Abbey and you must be Mr. Bainbridge?” as Ginger held out her hand to Carlton.
“Yes Miss Reece we haven’t formally met as yet although I hear you have been causing quite the stir down at the Evening Post offices? You seem determined to tell a story even when there is none to tell.”
“Well that’s not strictly true Mr. Bainbridge. You’re right I am determined, but only determined to tell the truth.”
“And no care for the consequences?”
“It’s said the truth hurts Mr. Bainbridge. Surely you of all people must know that?”
This wasn’t the first time Ginger and Carlton’s paths had crossed. A few weeks earlier after arriving in Yorkshire from Manchester, she had masqueraded as a broker for an acclaimed piece of art he and Natalie had shipped over from France earlier that year. The artwork was in fact a forgery, although Carlton swore blind he wasn’t aware of this seemingly trivial detail as he set about securing a record bid for the piece. However, the deal was not struck thanks to Miss Reece’s investigative journalism and her story would have seriously damaged Carlton and Natalie’s business had it not been quashed by her editor in suspicious circumstances.
Ginger was just about to continue before she was interrupted by Lord Feversham who asked if he might have a quiet word with Carlton before dinner.
As they moved through to the library Lady Feversham watched her husband quietly touching his arm and shaking her head very gently as he passed. The gesture was discreet and no one in the room would have noticed. Yet, Henry, mixing cocktails behind the bar had been watching the party or more importantly, Carlton with great intent. The two gentlemen passed by and into the library where Lord Feversham gently closed the doors behind him. However, it wasn’t long before raised voices could be heard and the slamming of a door before Carlton re-emerged, smiled smugly towards Henry and strolled outside to the terrace to smoke by the pool. While glancing back over his shoulder towards the library where Lord Feversham was looking out of the window directly at him, seemingly staring right through him, such was the intensity of his gaze, he was startled by a voice behind him in the shadows.
“Mr. Bainbridge I wouldn’t stay too long outside, it’s cold this evening and very dark, who knows who or what may be lurking in the shadows.” It was Mary Spurlock the spa manager, recently appointed to run the newly opened spa at the hotel, but a fixture in the town for many years.
“Why Mary you made me jump.”
“Perhaps you are of a nervous disposition Mr. Bainbridge? Or maybe you fear being caught unawares.”
“Caught doing what Mary? I am only having a smoke”
“Well don’t let Doctor Abbey catch you. You know how he dislikes your nasty, dirty habit and thinks you are trying to give up. Never fear though I shan’t let on I have found you out.”
There was something in her voice and in the way she looked at him that made Carlton think she knew more than she was letting on. That the dirty habit she was referring to was not the cigarettes but his affair with Jessica, which naturally would irk Alex he thought as he smiled to himself. Then it was hardly surprising if she did suspect or know as she was always to be found following Doctor Abbey around like some lovesick puppy and as Jessica frequented the spa for their illicit meetings perhaps she had seen them together. He didn’t dwell on it though as she was right, there was a chill in the air, so he took one last drag before heading back indoors where he was promptly greeted by Henry who was carrying a tray of drinks into the private dining room ahead of dinner.
“Henry good to see you, how are you? Any chance I can grab one of those now?
“Mr Bainbridge” Henry answered coldly as he moved the laden tray away from Carlton. “No they are for dinner and Lady Feversham wouldn’t want me to spoil her plans.”
“Look here Henry, you can’t speak to me like that. Just because I told you I couldn’t help doesn’t give you the right to speak to me like that.” His hand moved towards the tray again.
“But you didn’t even look at my work. If you had you’d have seen its worth, seen it was good. Miss Wells thought it had potential and could be given some space in the local gallery or even here at the hotel.”
“Miss Wells hasn’t got the eye I have Henry, she’s not responsible for that side of the business. Now give me a god damn drink and remember who you are speaking to.”
“As Henry said Mr. Bainbridge, the drinks are for the dinner may I ask you to follow me back into the snug and we’ll fix you a drink there.” There was a hint of disdain in Mr. Cresswell’s voice but he was always there in the background watching over his loyal subjects. Carlton smiled wryly before nodding and following Floyd back towards the snug where Thomas promptly fetched him a drink.
Mr. Cresswell returned to check on Henry and to see that the dining room was set and ready for dinner, which was to be called imminently.
“Henry are you quite alright? Don’t let him anger you, he is an obnoxious and unkind man, but one we must no less suffer”
“I am thank you Mr. Cresswell and thank you for stepping in like that.”
“You are welcome, too long has he swanned around our hotel believing himself to be above reproach and I shan’t tolerate him belittling or bothering my staff not when we have a reputation to uphold. Now then, hurry back along to the bar and check on the wine I have just brought up from the cellar.”
As Henry left, Floyd took a deep breath and straightened his jacket before checking the table one last time. Had he spoken too abruptly to Carlton he wondered? No, he had struck just the right tone. He loved this hotel and had great admiration for Lady Feversham and he was not prepared to standby and have an upstart like Carlton Bainbridge unsettle his carefully chosen team or to use the hotel for his unsavoury antics. At that he opened the doors to the dining room wide, moved towards the gong and struck it sharply three times.
In the snug the guests heard the gong and slowly began moving towards the archway to head along the corridor to the dining room. As they were leaving Lady Feversham gently took hold of her husband’s arm before leading their party to the private dining room away from the main wing of the hotel.
“I heard raised voices George. I’m not sure anyone else did but I did nonetheless. I asked you not to bring it up again, it’s done and we should move on.”
“Katherine it is hard to let it lie especially when he is always here and it no longer is. And, to add insult to injury he shows no remorse whatsoever.”
“We’ve been over this countless times my dear. I am sure Carlton was not aware of the portrait’s true value until it went to auction so come now, let’s put it from our minds and enjoy dinner. Brockley may have outdone himself with tonight’s menu and I do love partridge.”
She smiled warmly at her husband as she squeezed his arm but behind her smile she was secretly seething.
She knew all too well that her husband, her quiet, caring and mild mannered husband was right. Carlton had conned them and swindled them out of a vast amount of money. His true stupidity lay in his ill judged belief that they would not realise this. They had only parted with the beloved family portrait to raise the capital for the new spa, which she had pushed and pushed her husband for, as she knew it would become the cornerstone of her beloved hotel over the coming years. To think it raised four times its value at auction after they had sold it to Carlton made her quite furious and she could understand her husband’s anger. Yet what good could come of it? The painting was gone but they had their spa. Deep down she was more concerned about Carlton’s frequent appearance at the hotel, which just so happened to coincide with visits from Jessica as she used the spa. She knew it was them using the yet to be opened new spa suites and she was not happy. She had made this hotel into what it was today and she was not going to let Carlton Bainbridge and his sordid affairs bring its reputation crashing back down around her. Not after the struggle she had endured, she couldn’t go back there.
Yet George knew all of this too and he was sorry he had caused Katherine stress ahead of the dinner, which he knew was important to her. But he would not stand back and let Carlton continue to treat people and he and his wife in particular, this way. He had had enough and was tired of sitting quiet and dutifully in the background. He would find a way to put Carlton firmly in his place and defend his wife’s honour and that of the hotel.
As the guests began to take their seats, Natalie pulled Carlton back away from the group on their way into dinner. As her hand touched his arm she smiled at him longingly before he pulled his arm away.
“What is it Natalie?”
“I just wanted to talk to you about Henry’s work before we become entrenched in dinner. It really is very good Carlton and I am sure we have a few clients who would be interested in his pieces, they are very 'of the moment'.”
“We’ve had this conversation, there isn’t enough margin in it for us. It would be a waste of our time.”
“Not everything is about our margin Carlton. It would be exciting to think that we had uncovered a raw talent, found the next big thing, don’t you think? We’d have such fun travelling to showcase his work.”
“Not really Natalie, I can think of far more exciting ways to amuse myself.” At this Kitty walked past carrying the hors d’oeuvres and Carlton brushed his arm down her lower back as he reached to open the door for her. She flinched and looked towards the floor, clearly uncomfortable by the attention and his actions.
“Yes I can see that.” Natalie sighed as she made her way into take her seat, once again cast aside when it suited Carlton.
A couple of hours had passed and dinner was in full swing. As Kitty and Thomas scurriedalong the corridor to the kitchen with the plates from the partridge they passed Reverend Ryedale and Aileen Hamilton Brooks making their way back from the ladies powder room, as thick as thieves and deep in conversation. From the bar Henry was watching Carlton smoking by the pool but his attention was caught by Jessica Abbey laughing as she walked arm in arm with the young dashing entrepreneur, Theo Black, a late addition to the dinner party. He wondered why they were heading towards the spa and the new suites but his attention was once again diverted by Brockley, the chef, who appeared and demanded a large whiskey. After downing the whiskey Brockley slammed the glass down hard on the bar and sighed.
“What’s wrong with you?” Henry asked?
“Nothing. Not now anyway. Give me another one of those will you Henry.” But there was something wrong with Brockley. He owed money, a large amount of money to Carlton. Henry knew it, in fact everyone knew it, as Carlton had delighted in lauding the gambling debt over the gregarious Feversham chef.
As Brockley headed back to the kitchen, glass in hand, Jill Cross, the gamekeeper’s wife was coming out of the snug with Lord Feversham and Bellona Morrigan, a secretive lady from County Kerry Ireland who was still wearing her scarf indoors. They were met by Robert Faulkener who had been trying to catch a moment with Bellona throughout the dinner as he had a property in mind on the outskirts of Helmsley he thought would be perfect for her.
“We could pop out to see it tomorrow Miss Morrigan if it suits you?”
“That would have been lovely Robert but my plans have changed and it’s likely I will be leaving for Ireland again tomorrow and unsure if I will be returning in thefuture.”
Before he could ask why, the gong announcing the dessert course rang, swiftly followed by the church bells chiming 11pm. While Mr. Cresswell oversaw the serving of the chocolate fondant and the Yorkshire cheese platter and Port, unbeknownst tothose in the hotel something terrible had occurred. Outside in the darkness, illuminated only by the moonlight, was a body floating face down in the pool. Carlton Bainbridge’s drink was smashed on the terrace close by and slowly but surely the water started to turn a deep, dark shade of crimson.
As the body was lifted from the water DCIJenner paced around the pool. From behind the windows the dinner guests were watching on intently and from a window in the new hotel wing, Jenner was convinced he could make out a shape in the shadows. However, he was interrupted by DS Crow who announced that the cause of death was yet unconfirmed.
“So he didn’t drown?” Jenner asked?
“It appears not sir, although it does look though he had a pretty hard knock to the head.”
“Really. That’s interesting. I wonder how he came to sustain the injury?”
“Perhaps he fell, sir? His glass issmashed just over here and from what I can ascertain from our initial statements he had been drinking heavily all evening.”
“Perhaps Crow. Or perhaps not. He may have been hit for all we know. Let’s wait to see what the CSI report yields within the hour and in the meantime let’s start to find out more about Mr. Bainbridge and indeed the rest of the party.”
Detective Jenner made his way inside towards the library where Lord and Lady Feversham were waiting to be questioned. Hecould hear hushed tones coming from within, but as he opened the door a deadly silence fell upon the room.
“Lord and Lady Feversham I must trouble you to answer a few of my questions – I’ll try and be brief as I appreciate this must be difficult for you.”
“Of course detective, we’ll do all we can to help.” replied Lord Feversham.
“How well did you know Mr. Bainbridge?”
“Very well. He was a frequent visitor to the hotel when it re-launched and he became a friend over the last couple of years.” Lady Feversham remarked.
“That said we weren’t all that close, ours was more of a professional relationship” added Lord Feversham.
“Professional relationship how, in what capacity?” probed Jenner.
Shifting uncomfortably in his chair, LordFeversham explained how Carlton acted as a broker for their art sales and acquisitions.
“You have a lot of art here, some of it valuable no doubt. Had Carlton aided you with any recent purchases or sales?”
“One or two but nothing out of the ordinary” quipped Lady Feversham.
“Well I’m sure you won’t mind talking me through them then” noted Jenner.
“Of course follow me” she smiled.
As they stood up to leave, Lord Fevershamgrabbed her arm and pulled her close before adding “I think we should tell Jenner everything dear. These things have a habit of coming out and best if he hears it straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak”.
“No George. Absolutely not. Don’t you see, we could be implicating ourselves.” At that she brushed past DCI Jenner and led the way. However, Jenner had heard part of the exchange and was determined to learn more.
After looking at the painting, Jenner took his leave of the Feversham’s and asked them to wait for him back in the library. He wasn’t’ finished with them just yet but he needed to dig around a little more first. As he entered the bar he found Natalie Wells.
“Ms. Wells just the person I was looking for.”
Her face was tearstained and her hand shook as she took a sip from what appeared to be a very large brandy.
“Would you like me to leave Sir?” asked Henry from behind the bar?
“Yes please but don’t wander too far as I have some questions for all of the staff shortly.” Henry moved away into the snug.
“So Ms. Wells how are you holding up. I suspect you’ve had quite a shock?”
A tear rolled down her cheek as she managed to whisper “Yes, I just can’t believe it, can’t accept it. Gone. My Carlton gone.”
“Well, no not really but we were partners. Partners at work in the business I mean. We were close, very close.”
“But not close like that. You weren’t lovers?”
“No.” she stammered.
He thought long and hard about his next question before asking “but you would have liked to have been?”
“I, I’m not sure what you are implying DCI Jenner” Natalie’s voice had risen now “We worked together, nothing more.”
“Of course, please accept my apologies it’s part of my job to ask difficult questions. One final thing. For now anyway.Where were you at 11pm?”
“I was talking to Miss Reece at the dining table, we were discussing a possible feature on a new avenue we’re exploring. Not that it matters much now.” She sighed.
“So you were nowhere near the pool”
“Good heavens no!” she exclaimed before taking a large gulp of her drink.
There was something in her voice that didn’t sit right with Jenner but then the same could be said for everyone he had spoken to so far. Heading out of the bar he bumped into Ginger Reece, he knew her from a couple of press conferences he had given. He liked her. She was tough and traditional in her approach to news and he respected this character trait.
“DCI Jenner, I thought you may make an appearance tonight. Awful business isn’t it?”
“Yes not quite the dinner party Lady Feversham was expecting. How did you come to be here?
“I am writing a series of features on the hotel and the new spa wing and Lady Feversham thought some of her guests may like to think there was a media buzz about the place.”
“And did they?”
“Well, yes and no” she smiled wryly.
“And Mr. Bainbridge? I know you knew him given the exclusive you were hoping to run earlier this year, exposing his somewhat less than squeaky clean dealings.”
“How do you know about that?”
“I know everything that goes on around here Ms. Reece, my mind is just as inquisitive as yours. Anyway, getting back to this evening, where you at 11pm?”
“With Natalie at the dinner table discussing a possible feature on her and Carlton for our business pages. A rather dull conversation to be frank, but she’s harmless nonetheless if not a little deluded when it comes to her business partner. I’m not sure how she has put up with him all these years. She truly cares about the art and the people she deals with, unlike Carlton who has always been out for himself.”
“Always. I thought you had only known each other a short while?”
Before Ginger could answer, Bellona Morgan and Robert Faulkener appeared with DS Crow. Jenner couldn’t help but think that Ginger seemed relieved by the interruption.
“DCI Jenner isn’t it?” Robert asked.
“Yes, and you are?”
“Robert Faulkener of Faulkener & Harrow.”
“Ah, the property consultants.”
“Yes that’s us.”
“And how is it you came to be here Mr. Faulkener?”
“I have managed the Feversham’s property portfolio for some three decades now and my father was entrusted by Lady Feversham’s father also. We’re very old family friends.”
“And did you know the victim?”
“Yes of course, who didn’t know Carlton?"
“Were you friends?”
“I wouldn’t say friends no, but I sold him his property when he moved here and so we knew each other that way.”
“Did you like him?”
“No not really, but that would put me in the majority and I certainly didn’t kill him.”
“And you Mrs…” Jenner looked in his note book “...Morrigan, that’s right isn’t it? How did you happen to be here tonight?”
“I have been staying here at the hotel while Robert tried to find me a suitable property, but my plans have now changed and I am leaving for Ireland in the morning.”
“Is that so? What brought you here in the first place, have you been to Helmsley before?”
“Mrs Morrigan clutched at her scarf nervously. “Yes many, many years ago. I was born here actually, before we left for Kerry.”
“I didn’t know that” Robert added in a surprised tone.
“I must have forgotten to mention it, I’m sorry.” She hadn’t wanted to reveal any of her family history but she felt compelled and didn’t want the detective to become any more suspicious than he had to be.
“When did you and your family move and why?”
“My parents sadly died and my brother and I were shipped off to our aunt’s where we were brought up.” She fidgeted with her scarf determined not to give away any more details.
“I am sorry to hear that, Mrs Morrigan. Both of your parents died you say. Was there an accident of sorts?”
“A fire, DCI Jenner,” she said curtly.
“I see.” At this Doctor Abbey appeared with DS Crow, who slipped Jenner a piece of paper. The detective read it crumpled it and threw it onto the fire, before making a note in his book and snapping it shut.
“Doctor Abbey I was hoping to speak with you for a moment or two?”
“Of course DCI Jenner, I was just coming to find you too. I was hoping to be of some help if possible.”
“Well let’s get started then shall we. Where were you at 11pm this evening?”
“You don’t beat around the bush do you Detective?” Alexander answered with a nervous laugh. “I was with my wife Jessica in the snug.”
“Really, why weren’t you at the table enjoying dessert?”
“I had gone to find her to give her her pashmina after she had snuck out for a cheeky cigarette. She tries to keep it from me you see, as she knows I disapprove but I didn’t want her to catch a chill.”
“But she was in the snug not outside on the terrace?”
“That’s right I looked outside but didn’t see anyone and so made my way through to the snug.”
“And you didn’t see Carlton outside?”
“No I don’t believe I did. But then I didn’t venture out as such, I only glanced to look for Jessica.”
“I see. And did you and Mr. Bainbridge get along?”
“Why yes, Carlton and I had know each other for some time and we’d never had a cross word or any reason not to get along. That said, I know he could be difficult and somewhat of a handful. Take George, Lord Feversham, he wouldn’t say ‘boo to a goose’ but it was no secret that Carlton had swindled him out of a considerable amount of money through an art deal. Then there was poor young Kitty, the waitress, she had received more than her fair share of unwanted attention and even Ginger Reece was keen toteach him a lesson or two, although I’m not entirely sure why she had taken such a dislike to him so quickly. Mr. Cresswell also had a clear disdain for Carlton and the way he swanned around the hotel and I am sure Natalie was putting a brave face on after he had rebuked her advances once again. One thing’s for certain though DCI Jenner, I don’t envy you, having to find the culprit, that’s for sure.”
Doctor Abbey’s over helpful attitude made Jenner suspicious. What did he have to hide? Alexander on the other hand had wanted to deflect as much suspicion onto his fellow guests as possible as the last thing he wanted was his wife’s tawdry affair being discussed and he certainly didn’t want anyone to know just how much he had despised Carlton.
DCI Jenner headed towards the kitchen where the staff were gathering. He had some questions for those involved in the dinner party and was determined to get some answers. While making his way along the corridor he stopped to look at some of the art hanging on the walls. Some of it was very traditional, exactly what you’d expect from a country hideaway hotel and some was very contemporary and daring “It’s as if Ms. Wells and Mr. Bainbridge are reflected in the pieces they have sold to Lord and Lady Feversham”, he thought. Just before he reached the kitchen he stopped to look at a sculpture on a table surrounded by candles and small decorative glass bottles. Jenner sat down on the chair next to the table to read through hisnotes, preparing himself for the next onslaught. Flicking through the pages he ringed the names of Kitty, Thomas, Henry and Mr. Cresswell and the chef, Brockley before underlining Brockley’s twice.
Pushing open the door Jenner could hear the clatter of plates as he scanned the kitchen for the town’s infamous chef. Brockley was stood with a group of the hotel staff and Jenner made his way over.
“Yes that would be me. How can I help?”
“You were seen looking angry and distressed earlier in the evening shortly before Mr. Bainbridge’s death. I wondered what was troubling you?
“As I said to Henry nothing. I was fine.”
“So you weren’t concerned about the £14,500 you owed Mr. Bainbridge?”
“How do you know about that?” Brockley stammered.
“We found a notebook in Mr. Bainbridge’s pocket. It was, how shall I put it…illuminating.”
“Well I did owe him some money from a poker game or two but I had found a way to wipe the slate clean.”
“How exactly? By killing him perhaps?”
At this Brockley squared up to DCI Peter Jenner and said quietly but firmly “No, I didn’t need to. He had bigger problems than me to worry about but that’s not to say I’m not happy to see him dead.”
“That’s all well and good Mr. Brockley but you still haven’t explained how you were going to pay off the debt?”
“I don’t see how this affects the case but alright then I have nothing to hide. It was Ms. Reece. She was going to pay it off in exchange for my help, for information and so on.”
With that Jenner turned on his heels and made his way out of the kitchen intent on finding Ms. Reece but he was met by Reverend Ryedale in the corridor shouting “She’s gone. She’s gone. She drove up out of the car park past the police without them even realising. I thought no one was allowed to leave.”
“Who has left Reverend? Calm down and tell me who has driven off into the night?”
“Mary Spurlock has gone DS Crow. Please can you alert uniform to find her and bring her back to the hotel immediately.”
“Yes sir it seems she has taken Doctor Abbey’s car as she doesn’t have one of her own and his is unaccounted for.”
“Yes, yes just find her.”
Why had she left? Jenner was puzzled, he hadn’t expected it to be her. What was she afraid of exactly? Until she returned he wouldn’t know but he headed out to find Doctor Abbey and his wife in the meantime.
They were in one of the new spa suites. She was draped across the bed and he was pacing backwards and forwards. There was a sense of tension in the air.
“Doctor Abbey I am sorry to have to inform you that your car has been stolen.”
“What I don’t understand? By who?”
“Mary Spurlock Sir.”
“Why would Mary steal my car. I didn’t think anyone was allowed to leave. Why has she gone?”
“We were hoping you could shed some light on that Doctor Abbey, given it’s your car she has taken?”
“I don’t know DCI Jenner.”
“Oh come off it Alexander you know she adores you so it’s no surprise she took your car as you’re all she thinks about I’m sure.”
“Well at least someone adores me Jessica, it’s just a shame it’s not you and to be honest I hadn’t noticed.”
“That’s because you never notice anything Alexander, except your confounded patients!”
“That’s not true Jessica, I notice much more that you realise and I am very aware of all that you have been getting up to.”
She blushed “not in front on the detective, Alexander, please.”
“Why the hell not, everyone else is talking about it so one more won’t hurt me anymore than I already am. If your sordid affair with Carlton wasn’t enough I find you here with Theo Black. Had Carlton cast you aside for the young waitress and you were hurt is that why you jumped into bed with the first eligible man you could find?”
“How dare you!”
“No how dare you.” Alexander spat back.
“I am sorry to interrupt” Jenner broke in “but it seems you haven’t been entirely truthful with me Doctor Abbey. You said you and Carlton were friends but how could you be if he and your wife, if you pardon my bluntness, were having an affair?”
“We are not friends, I can’t stand the man. He is a parasite, preying on all that is good and sucking the life out of it before casting it aside.” He stared at Jessica. “I am sorry for misleading you but I am a respectable man and I didn’t want to be the centre of any more tittle tattle, God knows the whole town has been talking about me and my not so innocent wife for long enough now. However, I did not kill Carlton but truthfully, I am glad someone did.”
DCI Jenner turned his attention to Jessica, who was now sobbing on the bed.
“And you Mrs. Abbey how were relations with Carlton from your perspective?”
Jessica looked at her husband who turned away from her to face the window. “Somewhat strained. I had ended our affair and…”
“Don’t lie Jessica,” spat Dr. Abbey “he has had his fun and now he’s moved on to someone else and to try and spite him you thought you’d try and make him jealous with Black.”
“Alex I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I don’t know what I was thinking…” she stammered.
“I am sorry Mrs. Abbey but if I can just ascertain where you were around 11pm?”
“I’m not sure, I think I was with Alex. Yes that’s right we were in the snug. I had been outside and was cold so he brought me my pashmina.”
Alex turned to stare at her.
“But I looked outside Jessica and you weren’t there” he said puzzled.
If she wasn’t there, where was she thought Jenner.
“I was there darling honestly. I was say by the hot tub, you may not have seen me because of the steps.”
“Don’t’ call me darling and I don’t believe you. You weren’t outside.” He turned around and walked out of the room.
DCI Jenner had to agree, he didn’t believe her either and was determined to find out where she had been hiding.
Before he could push her further, DS Crow entered the room.
“Sir please can I have a word?”
“Of course. Please wait for me in the library Mrs. Abbey. I have a few more questions for you.”
“Really? Yes of course. I will just find my husband first and head straight there.” She left the spa suite and hurried back along the corridor.
“Sir we have found Ms. Spurlock. She was in Harrogate but we have brought her back to the hotel. She’s in the spa under guard waiting for you.”
“Thank you Crow I’ll head there now.”
“Sir before you do there is something else you should know.” He hesitated before pulling a piece of paper from his inside pocket. “It’s the updates forensic report. It seems it wasn’t the blunt trauma that killed Mr. Bainbridge and neither was he drowned. He was poisoned.”
“Poisoned?” Jenner repeated.
“Yes sir apparently so.”
“Poisoned and then struck from behind before plunging into the pool?”
“Yes sir it seems whoever killed him wanted to disguise the method.”
“Indeed and they’ve achieved that well up until now anyway.”
“So do we know what he was poisoned with?”
“The toxicology report will be with us within the hour so we’ll know for sure then. I’ve asked for it to be brought to us in the library. In the meantime the kitchen has prepared some food and drinks in the restaurant to keep the team going Sir. I think you should take a short break and maybe we can evaluate all we have so far?”
“Yes good idea Crow. I will follow you back through in a moment.”
“Of course. Very good Sir,” Crow said as he left the suite.
Jenner headed towards the bed, took out an evidence bag from his coat pocket and scooped up an all but empty glass vial that was just poking out from under the bedstead. He would have this tested later if needs be.
Jenner joined Crow, his other officers and the dinner party guests in the restaurant. As he poured himself a coffee he gently shook his head as he was offered a sandwich by Jill Cross, who had assumed the role of host, as Lord and Lady Feversham sat quietly at a table in the corner.
He scanned the room. Everyone was there, even Mary Spurlock who was flanked by two of his officers as she sat holding her tea cup. Alexander Abbey, Reverend Ryedale and Natalie Wells were sat together in one corner of the room. Theo Black, Aileen Hamilton-Brooks and Robert Faulkener were chatting by the hearth while Henry, Thomas and Kitty were sat with Mr. Cresswell talking quietly amongst themselves. Every now and again Kitty would glance nervously in the direction of Jessica Abbey, who was sat alone until Ginger Reece joined her. Jenner watched as Ginger approached Mrs. Abbey and pulled up a chair beside her. The two young ladies began talking and Ms. Reece leaned across the table to reach something from inside her bag. As she did so, the table rocked and the jug of water began to topple. Jenner sprung out of his seat and leant across the table to steady the jug at the same time knocking Ginger’s bag to the floor. The contents spilled onto the floor and Jenner’s eye was immediately drawn to the pale blue folder bulging with paperwork, which quite simply read “CARLTON BAINBRIDGE”.
He picked up the folder as Ginger jumped up to retrieve it. Looking at her he could see the fear in her eyes. “This looks an interesting read Ms. Reece. I will borrow it for a few moments if that is ok with you?”
She didn’t say anything, just stepped back towards her chair her eyes fixed on the folder.
Jenner sat back down and began to flick through the pages. He didn’t look up but he could feel everyone’s eyes upon him and none more so than Ms. Reece. What would the folder reveal he wondered?
The folder was neatly categorised into sections; Carlton’s early years, college and university, business, deals and acquisitions, finances, friends and foes and then at the very back were a number of photographs and legal documents. Jenner wondered how she had amassed so much information in such a short space of time, as she had only moved to Yorkshire a few months ago and her story on Carlton did not require anywhere near this level of detail. What was her fascination with the man he pondered? He could see that he was a wealthy man, a very wealthy man and from the look of it that was in part thanks to a very hefty inheritance much of which he had been spending of fast cars and women judging by Ms. Reece’s take on the matter. In the friend and foes section it was clear that Ginger had uncovered all of Carlton’s enemies or those within Helmsley at least. The Feversham’s, Doctor Abbey, Bellona Morrigan, Henry Chiver and Thomas Drover were all on the list, which didn’t help Jenner much given they all remained suspects for him too.
What was interesting though was the legal paperwork and photographs. There was a photo of what he presumed was Carlton as a baby with his mother and father and then a second photograph of another baby in a pram with the same father but an entirely different mother. Jenner was puzzled by this but as he turned the photograph over many things started to become clear. The shots were taken a couple of years apart and in the bottom left hand corner of the first photo it simply read, “Carlton aged eight months with Mr. Jacob Bainbridge,” and in the second “Ginger, aged seven months with Mr. Jacob Bainbridge and Ms. Evelyn Reece.” He looked at Ginger in utter disbelief and quickly back down at the folder. Carlton and Ginger were siblings and she did not seem pleased about it. But why? She did not have the lifestyle of her half brother that was for sure but would this be enough for her to want to kill him? Jenner would have to get to the bottom of it and fast.
However, before he could question Ms. Reece he had Mary Spurlock to deal with. He stood up and headed over to where the spa manager was sat with Thomas Drover and Kitty Bloom.
“Sorry to interrupt but I need a word with Ms. Spurlock. That said, before you both leave may I just ask where you were at the time of the murder?”
Kitty looked to the ground nervously so Thomas answered first. “I was with Henry clearing glasses at the bar. I did see Mr. Bainbridge go outside though and we did exchange words earlier in the evening.”
“You did? About what exactly?”
“Well it’s a little embarrassing really, but you see, Jessica, I mean Mrs Abbey and I go back a long way, we grew up together, hard to believe I know” he said “I knew what he had been doing to her so I warned him off. Not that it made a difference to him, he just laughed in my face. I could have swung for him only Mr. Cresswell wouldn’t approve and I could have lost my job. But what I would have done to teach him a lesson.”
Jenner looked at Thomas long and hard. He was telling the truth he could tell but what of Kitty.
“And you Ms. Bloom where were you?”
“I was outside sir. But not with Mr. Bainbridge I promise you.”
She started to tremble. “It’s alright Kitty, just tell me who you were with”
She looked around nervously. “Mrs. Abbey asked me to step outside with her as she wanted to ask me about Mr. Bainbridge. I told her I didn’t want his attention and didn’t like him in that way but she scolded me nonetheless. I felt terrible so I ran off to the kitchen as the back door was open and left her by the hot tub.”
This was interesting Jenner thought. Jessica was outside after all just as she had said. Perhaps she had nothing to hide after all but then again it did place her near the victim around the time of his death. He was just about to turn to Mark Spurlock when Crow tapped him on the shoulder with the toxicology report in his hand.
“You’ll want to read this now Sir” Crow said.
“Pass it here sergeant does it shed more light on the means of death?”
“It does indeed Sir.”
“I’ll head to the library where it’s quieter.”
Jenner got up and left the restaurant aware that all eyes were on him. He noticed Ms. Reece and Mrs. Abbey look away as he passed and Lord Feversham also shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Heading down towards the library he passed Brockley in the corridor who nodded as he walked by. Sitting down in the library he opened the folder report. His eyes scanned the details and fixed upon the breakdown of the poison. “Ammonia” he muttered out loud. Further down the report there was a footnote which detailed that chlorine gas would have leached from the ammonia and proved deadly when consumed. There was also a suggestion from the CSI team that the poison would have been in liquid format given the quantity found in the victim’s bloodstream. “So he drank it then?” Jenner asked himself. They had also been kind enough to suggest the way in which the poison may have been added to. “Industrial cleaning products…” the inspector said out loud. The hotel would be full of such products surely he thought, so how will we identify it? A knock on the doorinterrupted his train of thought and he quickly folded the report away.
It was DS Crow.
“Well Sir what do you make of the report?”
“It’s illuminating in many ways but I fear we’re no closer to finding the actual murder weapon or the murderer.”
He stood up and moved towards the window. It was getting light now and as he gazed out the church bells chimed six times.
“What do you think Crow? Where do your suspicions lie and what do you think could have poisoned him?”
“It doesn’t help that he had a whole raft of enemies Sir, but for me there’s something odd about Lord Feversham and that Mrs. Morrigan makes me shiver every time I am near her. Then there’s Dr. Abbey, too good to be true if you ask me. As for the weapon, I don’t know DCI Jenner.”
Jenner had put his hand in his pocket and happened upon the glass vial in the evidence bag from the spa suite when he was interrogating Mrs. Abbey.
“Let’s get this tested for starters” he said handing it to Crow “and in the meantime I am going to speak to Ms. Spurlock. She would have ample access to specialist cleaning products and she did flee so let’s see what she has to say for herself. We need to start ruling people out.”
Jenner found Ms. Spurlock back in the spa.
“Ms. Spurlock nice to see you still here. Why did you leave earlier? Everyone had been told they must remain yet you left and even took Dr. Abbey’s car.”
“I just couldn’t stand it here that’s all; the waiting, the suspicion. I just wanted to get away, I realise now it was foolish of me.”
“Yes it was. You do see that I now suspect you have something to hide though?”
“Yes I can see that, so I’ll come clean. I was heading home to get rid of some papers. You, see I thought that once you had finished with the questioning here it would continue and there was a chance you would come to my home and find all of my notes and diaries.”
“Your notes and diaries?” Jenner pushed.
“I have been keeping tabs on Mrs. Abbey you see and noting all of her comings and goings with Carlton. I wanted to prove to Doctor abbey that he could do some much better than his Godforsaken cheap wife, but with Carlton dead and found in my pool I began to think that the notes could point towards a fascination with him instead of their true purpose. I panicked I suppose.”
“Yes I can see that now.” Jenner could see she was embarrassed but wanted to find out more about the products she used in the spa. “Now Ms Spurlock I need you to answer another question for me. Do any of the products you use to clean the spa contain ammonia?”
“Ammonia? No of course not, we prefer to use less harsh chemical substances. You can check all of our supplies, they are kept in the big white cupboard in the store room.”
“I will take some samples thank you.” As Jenner said it his intuition told him the samples would prove fruitless. She was again telling the truth he could see it in her eyes. The only crime she was guilty of jealousy and of loving another’s husband.
After leaving the spa he headed back towards the restaurant, but he caught a glimpse of Kent Brockley, which made him turn back on himself and enter the kitchen.
“Chef I wonder if I may trouble you to show me your cleaning products please?” Jenner asked the brusque chef.
“You can but why?”
“Carlton Bainbridge was poisoned before being struck on the head so we are looking at all possible means of poison.”
“You won’t find anything in here Inspector that’s for sure but you’re welcome to look. Poison, huh? Who’d have thought one of our ladies would have been responsible.”
“I beg your pardon? Why are you assuming the murderer is a woman?”
“It’s a well know saying DCI Jenner, that poison has the hallmarks of a woman’s touch about it and boy did he incur the wrath of many women.” Brockley laughed quietly to himself.
“Indeed chef and while that may be the case I will still have one of my officers check your kitchen supplies.”
Jenner left and exhaled deeply in the corridor. Brockley was right, poison was typically associated with female murderers but that didn’t necessarily explain the blow to the head. Just then a thought occurred to Jenner and he set off back towards the snug.
In the snug, Jenner asked one of his officers to find Bellona Morrigan and Ginger Reece.
As the officer left Jenner took a seat and began to think back over the last eight hours and what he had learned. He took his note book out and began to circle key facts as he saw them. After ringing various pieces of evidence and supposition he noticed a pattern emerging; that of unrequited love, which seemed to be in abundance amongst the key players in this tragic turn of events. There was Jessica Abbey and Carlton, Doctor Abbey and his wife, Mary Spurlock and the doctor, Natalie and Carlton and finally Carlton and Kitty, yet this was more unrequited lust from what he could tell. He wondered could this have been the motive for the murder or was money at the heart of Carlton’s sad and untimely demise? Before he could answer, the door opened and in stepped Ginger and Bellona.
“Please Mrs. Morrigan take a seat” he gestured towards the armchair alongside where he sat. “Ms. Reece if you wouldn’t mind waiting outside for a moment with DS Crow” he nodded to Ginger.
“Mrs. Morrigan please tell me precisely why you are here in Helmsley, I fear you haven’t been entirely honest with me to date. I notice you are still wearing your scarf, what does it cover exactly?”
She shifted uncomfortably in her seat before unwrapping her scarf carefully to reveal her severely scarred skin underneath.
“It hides this Inspector…scars I gained from my time spent in this neck of woods in my earlier years.”
“I am sorry to have to pry Mrs, Morrigan. Is it because of your scars you have returned?”
“Yes, but I’d rather not talk about it really as what I came to do I haven’t and I’d rather just leave it at that.”
“I am sorry but I must know.”
She looked away from Jenner “My family lived not far from here in a farmhouse which belonged to the Feversham’s, it was set alight mistakenly by other tenants frustrated with the Lord for his having to sell off all of the other properties on the estate. My brother and I managed to escape but our parents perished and then Henry died shortly afterwards from smoke inhalation and I was sent to Ireland to live with my aunt. There you have it.”
“Not quite, why had you returned?”
“I had heard about the resurgence of the Feversham’s and their new hotel and wanted to exact my revenge somehow.”
“So it wasn’t Carlton you had a gripe with?”
“No Inspector, just Lord and Lady Feversham and when I arrived here I realised that it wasn’t them I was angry with but her father and grandfather. So you see, that’s why I planned to leave tomorrow. Not because I had murdered someone. May I leave now?”
“Yes of course and you’re free to leave the hotel now too Mrs. Morrigan.
She stood up and fastened her scarf back around her neck.
Once Bellona had left the room he beckoned to Ms Reece to enter.
“So, Ms. Reece, I am going to cut straight to the chase. You and Carlton are siblings, am I right?”
“Well you have read my file so you know you are Inspector.”
“Did you kill him?”
“No I did not. He had lived a charmed life with his mother and our father while my mother raised me alone in a tiny hovel. Everything I have I have worked for but I knew my father had another family as my mother had warned me never to trust a man and to be prepared to make my own way in this world. I tracked him down a couple of years ago and have been watching and waiting for an opportunity to enact my revenge. So yes Inspector, I did want to cause him pain by bringing both him and his sordid little world crashing down, but I did not murder him.”
He wanted to believe her but he couldn’t be sure. His instinct was not aligning properly, he felt tired and his head heavy. He told her to wait for him back in the private dining room and motioned to Crow to accompany her.
Getting up he headed back towards the restaurant.
“Please can I have your attention.” The rooms fell silent as he spoke. “I would like the following people to make their way back into the dining room, the rest of you are free to go.” He read out the names slowly and carefully. Robert Faulkener and Jill Cross sighed deeply as their names were not called as did Theo Black, Mary Spurlock, Aileen Hamilton-Harris and Reverend Ryedale.
Natalie Wells approached DCI Jenner with Lady Feversham close behind. “Inspector, what is happening, are we suspects?”
“Please Ms. Wells, just follow the others into the dining room and all will become clear.” Or at least he hoped it would. She hurried along the corridor.
“Jenner, I really would urge you to provide me with an update. We can’t keep the hotel closed indefinitely, it’s shoot season, our busiest time of the year.”
“Lady Feversham this is a murder enquiry and we are doing all we can as quickly as we can. Our duty of care is to the victim, now please join your husband and the others in the private dining room.”
He bent down to collect his paperwork and he heard the door open behind him. Turning he saw Ms. Wells in the doorway.
“Sorry Inspector I’m afraid I left my handbag.”
“Not to worry Ms. Wells I will retrieve it for you.
“No I will get it DCI Jenner, you don’t want to be burdened with my belongings with all that paperwork you have to carry.”
“Don’t be silly, it’s fine. I insist. Now hurry back along.”
She did as she was told and he picked up her handbag before making his own way out of the restaurant.
The group had gathered in the private dining room and as Jenner entered, silence fell. He took a seat at the head of the table, placed his paperwork in front of him and rested his hands on the dining table. Looking around the room his gaze was met by the stares of the dinner party guests and hotel staff who had come together some fourteen hours earlier.
“Thank you all for your cooperation in what can only be described as a sad and unfortunate series of events. As you are all now aware, the victim, Carlton Bainbridge was poisoned before being struck and ultimately plunging into the pool. What originally appeared as a spare of the moment crime was in fact coldly calculated and then elaborately treated to prevent my team from making speedy progress in finding the culprit. However, the last few hours of our investigation have been crucial and a number of clues have helped identify the murderer.” Gasps rang around the room as the suspects looked from one another desperately wondering who was culpable.
“Before I go any further I would urge the murderer to identify themselves in order we may avoid the next uncomfortable chapter in this tragic saga.” Jenner looked around the room and while people shifted nervously in their seats, no one was forthcoming. “As you wish,” Jenner sighed “I will reveal the murderer by process of elimination.” He picked his paperwork up, opened the notebook and looked straight at Kitty Bloom.
“Miss Bloom it was no secret that Mr. Bainbridge had been paying you attention yesterday and on many previous occasions too, albeit unwanted. It must have been very frustrating for you, in your position, unable to do anything about it? And then, to make matters worse, you had Mrs. Abbey pressuring you to keep your distance from him. Yet for all his approaches and advances you remained professional.”
“Yes sir, I love my job and Mr. Cresswell would not have wanted me to reproach Mr. Bainbridge as it wouldn’t be proper.”
“Kitty,” Mr. Cresswell interjected “if I had known I would not have stood for it, I would have nipped it in the bud.”
She bowed her head meekly. “It is not important anymore Mr. Cresswell and Kitty you have acted with dignity and composure at all times and are of the gentlest nature. You were simply the focus of unwanted attention and are not our murderer.” Jenner announced.
She let out a sigh of relief.
“That said passion is most definitely at the heart of our crime and passion comes in many guises. There is the passion for another, the passion of love and also the passion for one’s work and reputation. Everyone sat before me here is guilty of harbouring some degree of passion that could be turned against our victim.”
Jenner looked back down at his notes and then back up at Lord Feversham. “Sir it was no secret that Carlton Bainbridge and swindled you and your wife out of a vast sum of money and used your hotel as his playground. But you are of such a mild mannered disposition that surely you would not resort to murder?”
“I am not the guilty party Inspector although I am not sorry he is dead.” There were gasps around the table.
“Cold as that may be, I believe you. You would not jeopardise your good wife’s name, it’s just not in your nature no matter how angry you were. You are not our murderer, but can the same be said for your wife?”
Jenner turned to look at Lady Feversham. “You too had reason enough to want Carlton dead. It was your good family name he was tarnishing and he was making a mockery of your husband, which you were finding increasingly difficult to bear.”
“Yes Inspector but that doesn’t make me a murderer.”
“No Lady Feversham it doesn’t and one thing is for certain you would go to any lengths imaginable to keep any further scandal away from your hotel. As such I know you too are innocent of his murder.”
“Thank you Inspector.”
“Your staff too however, were keen to uphold the good name of the hotel, isn’t that right Mr. Cresswell?”
“It is indeed Sir,” answered Floyd Cresswell, “I would do all I could to protect this establishment, my staff and the Feversham’s.”
“Would you go as far murder though?” Jenner mused. “No I think not Mr. Cresswell you are far too reserved and proper to cause such controversy and commotion on your own doorstep. And, for that reason too you are no longer a suspect.”
Floyd Cresswell bowed his head and clasped his hands together quietly relieved to be out of the frame.
“Yet you, Henry Chivers, had much more of a cross to bear with the victim. Your art is your passion and your pride is it not?”
“Yes Sir it is,” Henry answered.
“Then I can only imagine your anguish to be continuously knocked back by Mr. Bainbridge. To have a chance to make something of yourself dangled in front of you and then snatched away.”
“Yes Sir he was a cruel, vindictive man, but I know Ms. Wells was still championing me and my cause and I would not have killed for my art.”
“No, Henry I don’t believe you would. You too are free to go. As are you Thomas Drover for while you may have detested the way your old friend Jessica was being treated you were too busy keeping an eye on her and Kitty to have murdered Carlton.”
The group of suspects was getting smaller and smaller, and all eyes were on the few remaining suspects: Ginger Reece, Kent Brockley, Natalie Wells, Doctor Abbey and Jessica Abbey. But who was responsible for the murder of Carlton Bainbridge?
“So turning to you Kent,” Jenner began “you owed the victim a small fortune in relative terms didn’t you? And given your role here at the hotel, you had plenty of opportunity to poison him during the course of the party.”
“Yes I did have the motive but not the means Inspector and I would have done it a long time ago if I had wanted to. Am I pleased he is gone and my debt too? Of course. Did I kill him? No.” Brockley stood firm and did not avert his gaze from Jenner’s.
“I have to agree chef. The poison was not something we have been able to trace to the kitchen and so you too are off the hook as it were.”
“So we turn to you now Mrs. Abbey, the spurned lover. I found a small glass vial on the floor of the spa suite where you were discovered with Theo Black and of course where you regularly met with Mr. Bainbridge. Would you care to tell me what was in the vial?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about Inspector, it wasn’t my vial.” She seemed genuinely confused Jenner thought.
“It was mine.” Doctor Abbey interjected, looking at his wife. “I wanted to put an end to all of this once and for all. I was so ashamed at having my business bandied around for all to enjoy, that I simply wanted to stop her.”
“Stop me?” Jessica stood up “So the poison was meant for me not Carlton?”
“Poison? There was no poison Jessica don’t be so darn ridiculous. It was a sedative to make you sleep so you couldn’t do any more damage. Only problem was I dropped it during the interrogation with Jenner and it seeped into the carpet.”
“I don’t believe you!” she screamed.
“He is telling the truth Mrs. Abbey,” Jenner noted “I have had the vial tested and it does indeed show traces of a mild sedative, nothing more. While you both clearly had the motive to want Carlton out of the picture or to teach him a lesson you were far too wrapped up in your own jealousies to have planned a murder. Yet you Ms. Reece and you Ms. Wells have both played a clever game. For you Ms. Reece have managed to fool everyone here into thinking that you were simply an up and coming reporter determined to investigate Carlton for the good of your career. When in fact you wanted to destroy your brother and make him pay for the life that alluded you.”
There were gasps around the room. “He was your brother?” Lady Feversham stuttered, “but how?”
“How?” Ginger answered incredulously “Carlton and my father were very much alike, both wanting what they couldn’t have, and so my poor mother struggled while he went back to his wife and family without a care in the world. I did want to destroy him and I am pleased he is gone, just as is everyone else in this room no doubt.”
“And you Ms. Wells,” Jenner broke in, “you too are not quite as innocent as the picture you like to paint. For the love you have harboured for Carlton had cast a dark cloud over you and with each rebuke you felt more and more hatred towards to him didn’t you. What was worse, was that he didn’t even respect you at work either did he? Always disagreeing with you, refusing to take a chance on something you felt passionately about.”
“No Inspector you have it all wrong, he was my partner and I cared deeply about him.”
“That may be true Ms. Wells but your love and care had turned to bitterness and rage had it not?”
“No Inspector you are mistaken we were very much content with our working relationship.”
“Do not lie to me Ms. Wells,” Jenner said standing up, “tell me the truth or must I show everyone here your true colours?”
She stared coolly and indignantly at Jenner. He met her intent gaze but carefully bent down to pick up her handbag from the floor beside him where he reached inside and pulled a bottle from within. She too stood up now gripping the table.
“To the uninitiated here amongst us, this is artist’s picture cleaner, a resin designed to clean varnished artworks, no doubt from your gallery, which contains ammonia, the poison that killed him. You spiked his drink at dinner and then knowing when the poison would take hold you followed him outside to the terrace and watched from the darkness as he fell and hit his head on an urn, which you then carefully moved, before he plunged into the pool. You could not be cast aside anymore now could you?”
“No I couldn’t and I didn’t deserve to be. I hated him for the way he treated me yet I loved him too. He was a cold hearted man, whom I tried to love, but to no avail.”
Crow stepped towards Natalie Wells to take her away, while the suspects looked on in amazement.
“Please give me a moment and do not handcuff me, I will come quietly but I want to leave with some dignity at least.” Jenner nodded and Ms. Wells was led from the dining room to the police car.
One by one the dinner party guests and hotel staff filed out of the room watching the blue lights flash, as Natalie Wells was driven away from Feverhsam Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa and away from the quaint market town of Helmsley.