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Page 19

The photographer started snapping pictures and the forensics team moved in. Collecting evidence from beneath the body. Including the clutch purse. The contents were carefully cataloged, tested, photographed, printed then brought to Beauvoir.

Lipstick, foundation, Kleenex, car keys, house keys and a wallet.

Beauvoir opened it and read the driver’s license then handed it to the Chief Inspector.

“We have a name, Chief. And an address.”

Gamache glanced at the driver’s license, then at the four villagers, watching him. He walked back across the lawn to join them.

“We know who the dead woman is.” Gamache consulted the driver’s license. “Lillian Dyson.”

“What?” exclaimed Clara. “Lillian Dyson?”

Gamache turned to her. “You know her?”

Clara stared at Gamache in disbelief then looked beyond her garden, across the meandering Rivière Bella Bella, and into the woods.

“Surely not,” she whispered.

“Who was she?” Gabri asked but Clara seemed to have fallen into a stupor, staring bewildered into the forest.

“Can I see her picture?” she finally asked.

Gamache handed her the driver’s license. It wasn’t the best photo, but certainly better than the one taken that morning. Clara examined it, then took a long, deep breath, and held it for a moment before exhaling.

“It could be her. The hair’s different. Blond. And she’s a lot older. Heavier. But it might be her.”

“Who?” demanded Gabri again.

“Lillian Dyson, of course,” said Olivier.

“Well I know that,” Gabri turned to, and on, his partner. “But who’s she?”

“Lillian was—”

Peter stopped as Gamache raised his hand. Not in a threat, but an instruction. To stop talking. And Peter did.

“I need to hear it from Clara first,” said the Chief Inspector. “Would you like to speak in private?”

Clara thought for a moment, then nodded.

“What? Without us?” asked Gabri.

“I’m sorry, mon beau Gabri,” said Clara. “But I’d rather speak to them quietly.”

Gabri looked hurt, but accepted. The two men left, walking around the corner of the home.

Gamache caught Agent Lacoste’s eye and nodded then he looked at the two Adirondack chairs in front of them. “Could we find two more chairs?”

With Peter’s help two more Adirondack chairs were brought over and the four of them sat in a circle. Had there been a campfire in the center it might have felt like a ghost story.

And in a way, it was.

FOUR

Gabri and Olivier returned to the bistro in time for the lunch hour rush. The place was packed, but all conversation, all activity stopped when the two men entered.

“Well,” demanded Ruth into the silence. “Who kakked?”

That broke the dam and a flood of questions followed.

“Was it someone we know?”

“I heard it was someone from the inn and spa.”

“A woman.”

“Must have been someone from the party. Did Clara know her?”

“Was it a villager?”

“Was it murder?” Ruth demanded.

And while she’d broken the silence, now she created it. All questions stopped and eyes swung from the old poet to the two owners of the bistro.

Gabri turned to Olivier.

“What should we say?”

Olivier shrugged. “Gamache didn’t tell us to be quiet.”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” snapped Ruth, “just tell us. And get me a drink. Better still, get me a drink, then tell us.”

There was a round of debate and Olivier raised his arms. “OK, OK. We’ll tell you what we know.”

And he did.

The body was a woman named Lillian Dyson. That was met with silence, then a small buzz as people compared notes. But there were no shrieks, no sudden faints, no rending of shirts.

No recognition.

She was found in the Morrows’ garden, Olivier confirmed.

Murdered.

There was a long pause after the word.

“Must be something in the water,” muttered Ruth, who paused neither for life nor death. “How was she killed?”

“Broken neck,” said Olivier.

“Who was this Lillian?” someone at the back of the crowded bistro asked.

“Clara seems to know her,” said Olivier. “But she never mentioned her to me.”

He looked over at Gabri, who shook his head.

In doing that he noticed that someone else had slipped in after them and was standing quietly by the door.

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