Chapter 26 Roger Bremer's Cover Up

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Roger Bremer stood in the doorway of his Pioneer Square apartment and stared at Inspector Riggs.

"I'd need to ask you a few more questions." Riggs explained.

Bremer glanced nervously up the building's main stairwell. "Yes of course, Inspector," he whispered as he waved the Inspector to enter. "But let's talk in my apartment, shall we? I'd hate for any of my neighbors to get the wrong idea. I mean no offense, but I'm a respectable art dealer and I wouldn't want my neighbors to think anything to the contrary. You know how people like to gossip."

Riggs came in. There was fire in the small fireplace and the apartment smelled like beef soup.

"I was just about to have my lunch," the art dealer explained. With the door firmly closed, he spoke in his normal volume. He pulled an elaborate gold pocket watch out of his vest pocket, glanced at it and tapped it twice. "And I'll need to get back to my gallery soon."

The inspector nodded and took off his hat. "This is just a formality, I won't keep you long."

"That is reassuring because I have very little time these days. I've had to let go of my cleaning lady and my assistant. Now, I must do everything myself. Today I must repair three frames." Bremer sat down in a red wingback chair by the fire and stared unhappily at the inspector. "Won't you sit down?"

Riggs sat down, putting his hat on his knee. "Mr. Bremer, I remember you saying you had nothing to do with Loretta Newcastle's murder."

"That's perfectly right. I disliked that terrible Jezebel but I didn't hurt her in any way."

"And you don't have anything else you'd like to tell me?"

"Of course not. I told you everything there was to tell. I'm concerned with art, not revenge."

"Then you wouldn't mind if I have a look around your place?"

Bremer jumped to his feet. "Now wait just a minute, Inspector, I have rights!"

"You do at that," Riggs agreed calmly, "and if you'd like to execute your rights, I'm more than happy to come back with an official warrant and a couple of uniformed policemen. I have to do my job, after all. But since you already told me that you're innocent, I thought you might prefer to handle things in a less theatrical manner."

Bremer frowned. "Oh, yes. I see what you mean. You're quite right. I have nothing to hide. Oh, I suppose you may as well go ahead then. Look at anything you like. You shan't find anything."

"I don't expect to." Riggs reassured him as he set his hat down on a chair and walked over to a bookshelf. "By the way, are you sure you weren't invited to Mr. Kent's dinner party on the night of the crime?"

Mr. Bremer paused for a few seconds and set his cup of coffee on the table and said, "Oh, inspector, I just remembered my lunch is still on the stove. Maybe you could start your search in there?"

Riggs agreed and he followed Mr. Bremer into the kitchen... There were a few tins of food and a surprising number of cookbooks. Bremer went to the stove and began stirring the pot. The window was ajar and Riggs could hear the raindrops pinging against something metal outside. As Victoria had reported, Bremer's boots were by the back door.

"No, I wasn't invited to Mr. Kent's party," Bremer said. "I've been rather busy lately and I don't always have the time to attend as many social engagements as I'd like. Now where is my coffee? Oh, I must have left it in the other room. You carry on here, Inspector, I'll be right back," Bremer said as he went back to the living room.

Riggs waited for a few seconds, then he cracked open the door and watched. Roger Bremer went to his desk, riffled through some papers in the pigeon hole, and extracted an envelope. It had already been opened. Without checking the contents, Bremer quickly tossed the envelope into the fire.

Riggs stepped away from the door.

When Bremer returned with his coffee, Riggs was inspecting Bremer's boots. He set them down and pointed to a door, "I suppose this leads to the bedroom."

Bremer smiled. "Yes, why don't you begin there?"

Fifteen minutes later Inspector Riggs was finished. There had been no shoebox and no newspaper clippings about Loretta Newcastle.

"Thank you, Mr. Bremer."

Bremer was looking very satisfied about something. "And I suppose you didn't find anything interesting after all."

"Nothing more than I expected. But I would like to take your boots to the stations. You'll get them back shortly."

Bremer nervously handed Riggs his hat.

"I don't know who gave you the idea that I was invited to Mr. Kent's party last Friday night," he said. "Although it is true that I'm a frequently a guest in artistic circles, but I wasn't invited to that particular party."

"Well, I appreciate your cooperation." Riggs grabbed his hat and Bremer walked the inspector to the door.

"By the way," Bremer asked as he straightened his vest, "who was it who told you that I was invited?"

"Mr. Kent," Riggs explained as he put on his hat. "And his mother."

Bremer's face turned red. He took a deep breath. "Really? Well, that is extraordinary.... I wouldn't want to contradict them, naturally. There must be some reasonable explanation. I suppose my invitation must have been lost in the mail. Yes, I suppose that's what happened. In any case, I never received it."

Riggs opened the door. "You know, a few minutes ago, the smoke from your wood fire smelled like burning paper but now it's gone back to smelling like wood."

Bremer's mouth fell open. "I don't know what you're implying, Inspector."

"Mr. Bremer, it's always best to be honest, especially when the police are investigating a murder." Riggs stepped out into the hallway. He turned back and held up the boots. "You may not have attended Kent's dinner party, but you were certainly in their neighborhood."

The art dealer's chest began to heave. Riggs stepped out and closed the door behind him.

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