A Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel by Geraldine Evans
Publication: 24 February 2011 (UK) 1 June 2011 (US)
Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation - a poisoning, courtesy of a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the internet, the number of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim's fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.
EXCERPT FIVE from Chapter Two
Given that Dr Sam ‘Dilly’ Dally had performed the post mortem late on Tuesday and the toxicology reports hadn’t come through until the afternoon of the next day, it was eight in the evening by the time Rafferty and Llewellyn finished questioning the seven suspects amongst the reunees. They had also questioned the cook, Mrs Benton, who had got on her high horse when Rafferty had asked her if she had any idea how hemlock might have found its way into either Ainsley’s vichyssoise soup or his chicken salad.
‘That food was perfectly all right when it left my kitchen,’ she had insisted, bosom and grey curls bouncing indignantly. ‘Has anyone else died or been taken ill? No,’ she answered her own question. ‘Of course they haven’t. It’s that lot out there you need to interrogate.’ She stabbed her right index finger in the direction of the dining hall where the seven suspects had been joined by the other reunees for their evening meal. To judge from the racket going on beyond the serving hatch, the news of the day was still being avidly discussed, but Rafferty noticed that the seven were being given a wide berth. As though conscious of their leper status, they huddled together for warmth. Even the oh-so-confident Giles Harmsworth and the bad boy, Sebastian Kennedy seemed subdued and kept their heads bent over their melon and Parma ham starter.
Mrs Benton reclaimed Rafferty’s attention. ‘Thirty years I’ve worked at this school and some of that lot were vicious thugs back then; it seems they’re no better now. Yes, it’s them what you want to question, Mr Detective, not me. I’ve always been a good, honest woman, never done anything wrong in me life, not like that lot. That Giles – the one who’s now ‘something in the City’, he’s not as holier than thou as he’d have you believe. Teacher’s pet and a snitch is what he always was. I don’t suppose he’s changed much and it won’t be long before he’s confiding something to you. It just better not be about me, that’s all or I’ll fetch him a clout round the ear, big and self-important as he is, that he won’t forget in a hurry. And that Kennedy boy, he was always a troublemaker. Lives on a trust fund, or so I gather. The saying that the Devil finds mischief for idle hands is true enough. And another thing. You want to ask yourselves why it was that too handsome for his own good, Adam Ainsley was the one who was poisoned. He always had the girls after him. You mark my words, this’ll be one of them crimes of passion that the Froggies go in for. I always thought he’d come to a sticky end.’
Rafferty had, in spite of her unhidden antagonism, questioned the cook thoroughly, though she’d inadvertently told them as much about several of the suspects as any snitch. He thought he could discount Mrs Benton and Tom Harrison, the grounds-man cum caretaker from the list of suspects, as even though Mrs Benton had admitted little liking for the dead man or a number of his fellow reunees and had prepared Ainsley’s last meal on this Earth, he couldn’t see how she could have poisoned him without taking out some of the rest of the table: each table’s soup was served up in a tureen from which it was ladled out into the individual dishes at the table. The same applied to the salad main course. The lemon sponge that they’d had for pudding would have given no opportunity for doctoring. And, however chippy her personality, he didn’t have Mrs Benton tagged as a psycho. Harrison, the grounds-man, had been in the kitchen earlier in the day, for his elevenses, and could have added hemlock to the ingredients for the meal. But again, like Mrs Benton, he would have had to have no qualms about taking out whoever was unfortunate enough to share Ainsley’s table.
Mrs Benton had explained that one person at each of the dining hall’s eight-seater tables would come to her hatch and collect each course. For the suspects’ table, it had been the Senior Common Room peacemaker, Victoria ‘Brains’ Watson, who had collected the food and dished it out. This would then be passed along the row, first on one side and then on the other. Adam Ainsley had been sitting at the far end of the table on the opposite side from Victoria. From this, Rafferty had concluded that any one of four people would have had the best opportunity to slip something in Adam Ainsley’s food: There was Victoria ‘Brains’ Watson, who had served up each portion, Giles Harmsworth, the over-serious Alice Douglas and Simon Fairweather, the quiet young man who, beyond mentioning that he was a civil servant at the Home Office, had had little to say for himself, even at the interview. This left the other three as less than prime suspects: Sebastian Kennedy, Sophie Diaz and Asgar Sadiq, it seemed unlikely, though possible that either Kennedy, Ainsley’s left-hand neighbour or Gary Sadiq, Ainsley’s neighbour across the table from him might also have had a chance to slip a foreign substance in his food. Anyway, they would all remain on the suspects’ list for the present.
Rafferty had brought in some more uniforms to help question the other hundred reunees. Although it didn’t seem they would have had the opportunity to poison Ainsley, Rafferty had the feeling that the cause of this murder – if murder it was, as it might turn out that Llewellyn was right and they could still be labouring over a suicide – lay deep in the past when they had all been teenagers together. So they might well have useful information. The motive for murder was, he thought, going to take some digging out. But at least, for now, he was more than happy to simply burrow into the surface memories of each of them. Any deeper digging would have to wait until they’d separated those who’d been amongst Adam Ainsley’s intimates, whom Rafferty and Llewellyn would question more deeply, and the rest.
Paxton, beyond supplying them with their room, the map of the school and the list of the reunion’s attendees and their home addresses, had been able to provide them with little other information. Of course, he had been in post for less than a year. Rafferty made a mental note to find out the name and current address of the school’s previous headmaster, who had, according to Paxton, been in situ for several decades and who had certainly been in his post when the current reunees had attended the school.
They returned to the station and while Llewellyn typed up the interviews of the seven suspects, Rafferty sat and made a list of chores for the next day. If he was to find out about possible vendettas, soured love affairs and the like, he would need to go and see Adam Ainsley’s parents, who lived in Suffolk. And he would need to send somebody to question Adam Ainsley’s two ex-wives. For that he thought a woman’s touch was called for and Mary Carmody, the motherly, thirty-something, sergeant sprang immediately to mind. People confided in her; even Superintendent Bradley tended to seek her out in the canteen and bend her ear over budgetary worries and insubordinate inferiors – not that Mary had betrayed his confidence – but Bradley’s earnest stance over the tea cups and Mary’s motherly, head on one side air, had given it away. That, and the fact that, even when he was whispering, Long-Pockets Bradley had something of a booming voice. Quietness wasn’t in the man. Yes, he’d despatch Mary with Llewellyn, who was diffident with women, to one ex and he’d take the other himself.
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Geraldine Evans’s website: http://www.geraldineevans.com
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The draw of all the comments throughout the Tour will take place at the end of the Tour (end-Feb). There will only be three winners, each of whom wins one signed copy of Deadly Reunion, my latest hardback (fourteenth in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series), one copy of each of two ebooks that are the first and second novels in my Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, that is, one of Dead Before Morning and one of Down Among the Dead Men. They will also receive a subscription to my blog (which they can let lapse when it runs out).
Crime Author, Geraldine Evans
Geraldine Evans has been writing since her twenties, though only began to get novels published halfway through her thirties. As well as her popular Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series, she has a second crime series, Casey & Catt and has also had published an historical, a romance and articles on a variety of subjects, including, Historical Biography, Writing, Astrology, Palmistry and other New Age subjects. She has also written a dramatization of Dead Before Morning, the first book in her Rafferty series.
She is a Londoner, but now lives in Norfolk England where she moved, with her husband George, in 2000.
Deadly Reunion is her eighteenth novel and fourteenth in the humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. She is currently working on the next in the series.