I do love reading a good whodunit at Christmas time.
Here’s one I discovered recently, called
And One For The Dame
by Agnetha Crispin
Obscured by the large Christmas tree in the drawing room, Miss Palmer put down her knitting and listened intently to the conversation going on in the hallway outside.
‘Listen Lucinda,’ a ridiculously plummy male voice said, ‘if that old bird keeps asking questions she’s going to rumble us, don’t you know.‘
‘Oh Rupert, darling, don’t be silly. She’s completely ga-ga. In any case, she’s not interested in us. She thinks she’s here to find out how dear old uncle Bertie died. All she’s really succeeding in doing is getting under the inspector’s feet. He told me so himself.’
‘Oh, Luce,’ Rupert Hayes-Hickson whispered softly. ‘You really are a first-rate sort of chap.’ The two of them drifted down the hallway and out of earshot. Miss Palmer resumed her knitting. She resolved to catch up with Inspector Petherbridge… or was it Carmichael? – these token policemen really were interchangeable – at the earliest opportunity. Ga-ga indeed!
* * * * * *
‘So you see, inspector,’ she said, ‘It’s becoming so much clearer who poisoned Bertie. When you think how like Colonel Arbuthnot he was…’
‘Colonel Arbuthnot?’ the inspector said with requisite weariness, ‘Who is Colonel Arbuthnot?’
‘Oh dearie me, yes,’ murmured Miss Palmer absently, as she purled another stitch. ‘Such a difficult man, you know.’
Colonel Arbuthnot or Bertie Mallowan?’ asked the inspector, irked with himself for showing interest in the old lady’s seemingly inconsequential remarks.
‘Arbuthnot, of course,’ she replied with gentle disapproval. ‘He moved into the old manor house in my quintessentially English village, St Mary-Westmacott. Dear me, no; Colonel Arbuthnot was not loved at all. It came as no surprise when my friend Dotty Lumley discovered him dead in his study with multiple gunshot wounds. Goodness me, the blood!’ she exclaimed. ‘That one took some sorting out, I can tell you.’
‘Miss Palmer, I really don’t see…’
‘Come closer, inspector,’ she said. The inspector reluctantly drew his chair up to hers. ‘It’s most suggestive, you see,’ she continued. ‘Yes, most suggestive.’ She turned towards the inspector, ‘So I really would prefer it if you did not address me as Anna.’
‘I don’t recall…’ began the inspector.
‘You know, it isn’t quite the thing to call respectable elderly spinsters by their Christian names, inspector. It is also as I say, much too suggestive. It all but announces how like an anagram my name is.’ She leant into him conspiratorially, ‘You do take my point, don’t you?’
The inspector’s eyes glazed over. He gurgled as the blood forced its way up his throat and into his mouth. ‘Yes, much too suggestive,’ repeated the old lady, withdrawing the knitting needle from between his ribs and wiping it on his pristine breast-pocket handkerchief.
Gathering up her wool, Miss Palmer glided surreptitiously from the room. There would have to be at least two more grisly murders – quite possibly Lucinda and Rupert’s – before she would reveal how poor old Uncle Bertie had met his end.