The fourth extract…

Chapter 4 – Friday, 2nd March – 8:15 am

“Good morning, Linda” said Knowles, smiling at her with an unusual amount of happiness, “I managed to balance on one of those Bosu Ball things this morning for ten seconds, on one leg – that is the longest I have done it for.”

“And why do you do that, sir?” replied Smythe.

“Well, it’s mainly for core strength, Linda, but there is some leg strengthening going on, as well as for the core.”

Smythe nodded her head slightly as if impressed. Inspector Knowles sounded as though he knew what he was talking about; on the other hand, he was very good at that, so she reserved judgement until she’d verified this information on the Internet.

“What are you doing this morning, sir?” asked Smythe.

“Sergeant Barnes and I will be interviewing a number of people who were mentioned in Marigold’s ledger as having been in her shop, yesterday, the day she was attacked.”

“Oh right, can I have a look at the ledger?”

Knowles unlocked his drawer and handed the item over to Smythe. He then scanned his emails. The Forensic investigation of the handwriting in Anne’s notebook had shown it to be all the same hand. The video of Joan’s Café in Scoresby Mall had shown nothing conclusive although a man matching the description of Kevin Edwards was shown standing near the café when someone had run into his leg, quite accidentally, with a large pram. Rosalia Wilcox could be seen sipping coffee, but left 20 minutes later, without any flowers, but there was no conclusive proof she had entered the café with flowers either, as people had been crowding around the entrance when she arrived. Knowles also watched the video from the branch entrance and spotted a hooded figure coming into the branch at about the right time. The mask must have been concealed under their clothing as they were not carrying a bag.

Whilst Knowles had been catching up on his emails, Smythe had leafed through the pages and found those for Tuesday. She had looked down the list, noted down a few names, and then turned to Thursday’s list.

“That is rather odd, Inspector, a lot of the people who bought flowers yesterday also bought flowers on Tuesday at a similar time. Sergeant Barnes bought some flowers on that day and he was noted as arriving early as were all the other people who bought flowers until lunch. After lunch, it seems as though everyone was almost on time. Remember we had that discussion about his watch on Tuesday, well that might have been because the clock was changed on Tuesday too, like a dry run for the attempt yesterday.”

“Was there anything on Wednesday, any notes about people being early on Wednesday?”

Smythe leafed through the pages and looked down the list – “No, there’s not a list of people who are consistently early, or late, just one or two odd cases, which I suppose you would expect, so it looks like Tuesday was the dry run and Thursday was the day of the event.”

“I never did ask you about the blue on the mask, did I?” said Knowles, suddenly remembering.

“Strange you should ask me that, sir, because the lady in the cosmetics section, called Sandra, left me a message last night – she checked her records just before closing and the last person to buy such a product – a nail polish called Deep Ocean – was Anne, Anne Richardson, three months ago, it’s not one of their most popular lines as you might say.”

“You mean to say that the attempted murderer of Marigold, who almost certainly killed Anne too, stole Anne’s nail polish to use on the mask she / he wore to attack Marigold?”

“It looks like it to me, sir,” replied Smythe.

“Why on earth would you do that? I suppose it shows the two attacks are linked?”

“I suppose so – I just wonder if Marigold was the intended target all along or whether it was Anne who was the original target and Marigold got in the way?”

“Really good questions, that I don’t know the answer to. Sorry, Linda, only one person knows those answers and that’s the killer. As a matter of interest, which names are the same on both Tuesday and Thursday?”

“Trevor Slim, Belinda Andrews, Ewan Novak, Rachel Pingalle, Kelly Martens – although that person didn’t show up on Tuesday – Wendy Neasden, and Rose Cheung.”

“Rose Cheung, that name keeps cropping up, and yet she always has an answer for our questions – she was there yesterday, in Goat Parva, and had answers for our questions, answers that made sense and were verified by other people, she’s always around. She had that complaint about being followed by a person, who subsequently we have heard nothing about, and yet he was seen by people at around about the same time. She is always able to have people who can verify her story.”

“I have not liked her from the very beginning,” said Smythe, “so I am kind of biased about her.”

“Who is that you’re talking about Linda?” asked Barnes, who’d just arrived in the office, “has someone got on the wrong side of you?”

Smythe coloured slightly before saying “only Rose Cheung.”