Chapter 33 Falling into Place

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The telephone rang. Kent answered it, listen for a moment and handed it to Riggs.

It was Fisher's voice on the other end. "I'm with Miss Lake. She wanted to freshen up after the service. Should I bring her over there?"

"Yes. The sooner the better."

As soon as he hung up, Riggs leaned over to Victoria and whispered, "I don't suppose you've figured this out yet?"

She nodded. "There are two possibilities and it all depends on exactly when Loretta's pearl earrings disappear."

"Her earrings?"

Victoria opened up Winifred's sketchbook so he could see.

"Winifred sketched these from memory. They are identical because they are exactly what she saw."

Riggs grabbed the sketchbook and frowned.

"She wasn't wearing any earrings when I saw her," Victoria whispered. "If I'm wrong then those earrings made it to the morgue. Then I'm an idiot and you can have my resignation. But ten to one they disappeared after Winifred saw her and before I arrived. In that case, I know how both murders were committed and why, and I know who the killer is."

"Are you sure?

Victoria smirked. "Telephone the station and have someone check the report because we have to find out when those earrings disappeared."

Inspector Riggs used Woodrow's office so he could make that telephone call privately. And while he was out of the room, the guests began arriving. First, Elsbeth Snupter, followed by Roger Bremer, who was trying to appear appropriately respectful. A few minutes later Winifred and Philip arrived. About five minutes later, Inspector Fisher arrived with Hattie. And last of all, Clyde Newcastle.

The group mingled quietly while everyone got some refreshments and settled down. The conversation inevitably turned to Bernard's murder, which led everyone, except Victoria, looking to Inspector Riggs.

"We will be able to solve the murders," Riggs explained, "as soon as a few details are resolved. First of all, whoever murdered Loretta Newcastle wore gloves.

The left glove was at the scene of the crime; it was underneath her body. And the right glove was discovered three days later."

"Where?" Clyde asked.

"Under Jerry Tannenbaum's bed," Riggs said.

"I brought it straight to you!" Jerry interrupted. "I didn't hide anything."

Riggs ignored the outburst. "If someone had asked me this morning who killed Loretta Newcastle, I would have guessed it was Bernard Rompier. To my mind he had the right temperament. He was selfish, physical, and prone to strong moods."

"I think he took drugs," Mrs. Kent blurted out helpfully.

Riggs looked at her. "That may be. But even if he did, he's dead now and he didn't murder himself."

"But he still may have murdered Loretta," Woodrow reminded them.

"Let's review the events of last Friday," Riggs said. "Mr. Kent was hosting a dinner party. Loretta was supposed to pick up her cousin, Miss Lake, but Loretta canceled and Miss Lake arrived by taxi. Rompier arrived on time but he was agitated and irritable. Apart from Rompier's poor behavior, the evening was fairly predictable and after dinner the lights went out so everyone could watch a film. But, at precisely 7:46, a hundred yards away, the Foresters' dinner was interrupted by a woman's scream. The Foresters rushed to their back door and they saw a man strangling a woman in the driveway."

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