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Page 24

She took a hunk of baguette, twisted off a piece and smeared it with butter.

“Was it intentional, do you think?” she asked.

“Was what intentional?” Beauvoir asked. He picked at his food, not really hungry. Before lunch he’d gone into the bathroom and taken a painkiller. He didn’t want the Chief to see him taking it. Didn’t want him to know that he was still in pain, so many months after the shootings.

Now, sitting in the cool shade, he could feel the pain ease and the tension begin to slide away.

“What do you think?” asked Gamache.

“I can’t believe it was a coincidence that Lillian was killed here,” said Clara.

She twisted in her chair and saw movement through the deep green leaves. Agents, trying to piece together what happened.

Lillian had come here. On the night of the party. And been murdered.

That much was beyond dispute.

Beauvoir watched Clara turn in her seat. He agreed with her. It was strange.

The only thing that seemed to fit was that Clara herself had killed the woman. It was her home, her party, and her former friend. She had motive and opportunity. But Beauvoir didn’t know how many little pills he’d have to take to believe Clara was a killer. He knew most people were capable of murder. And, unlike Gamache who believed goodness existed, Beauvoir knew that was a temporary state. As long as the sun shone and there was poached salmon on the plate, people could be good.

But take that away, and see what happens. Take the food, the chairs, the flowers, the home. Take the friends, the supportive spouse, the income away, and see what happens.

The Chief believed if you sift through evil, at the very bottom you’ll find good. He believed that evil has its limits. Beauvoir didn’t. He believed that if you sift through good, you’ll find evil. Without borders, without brakes, without limit.

And every day it frightened him that Gamache couldn’t see that. That he was blind to it. Because out of blind spots terrible things appeared.

Someone had killed a woman not twenty feet from where they sat, having their genteel picnic. It was intentional, it was done with bare hands. And it was almost certainly no coincidence Lillian Dyson died here. In Clara Morrow’s perfect garden.

“Can we get a list of guests at your vernissage and the barbeque afterward?” Gamache asked.

“Well, we can tell you who we invited, but you’ll have to get the complete list from the Musée,” said Peter. “As for the party here in Three Pines last night…”

He looked at Clara, who grinned.

“We have no idea who came,” she admitted. “The whole village was invited and most of the countryside. People were told to just come and go as they pleased.”

“But you said some people from the Montréal opening came down,” said Gamache.

“True,” said Clara. “I can tell you who we invited. I’ll make a list.”

“Not everyone at the vernissage was invited down?” asked Gamache. He and Reine-Marie had been, as had Beauvoir. They hadn’t been able to make it, but he’d assumed it was an open invitation. Clearly it wasn’t.

“No. A vernissage is for working, networking, schmoozing,” said Clara. “We wanted this party to be more relaxed. A celebration.”

“Yeah, but—” said Peter.

“What?” asked Clara.

“André Castonguay?”

“Oh, him.”

“From the Galerie Castonguay?” asked Gamache. “He was there?”

“And here,” said Peter.

Clara nodded. She hadn’t admitted to Peter the only reason she’d invited Castonguay and some other dealers to the barbeque afterward was for him. In the hopes they’d give him a chance.

“I did invite a few big-wigs,” Clara said. “And a few artists. It was a lot of fun.”

She’d even enjoyed herself. It was amazing to see Myrna chatting with François Marois and Ruth trading insults with a few drunken artist friends. To see Billy Williams and the local farmers laughing and talking with elegant gallery owners.

And by the time midnight sounded, everyone was dancing.

Except Lillian, who was lying in Clara’s garden.

Ding, dong, thought Clara.

The witch is dead.

FIVE

Chief Inspector Gamache picked up the stack of papers just inside the yellow police cordon and handed them to Clara.

“I’m sure the critics loved your show,” he said.

“Why, oh why aren’t you an art critic instead of wasting your time in such a trivial profession?” Clara asked.

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