Fete Fatale

Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard

Book: Fete Fatale by Robert Barnard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Barnard
course he was killed,’ I said abruptly. ‘Sorry. But there was no other possible explanation, was there?’
    â€˜You don’t mean you know who might have done it?’
    â€˜Good God, no. I meant that he could hardly have got in there accidentally. And if there’s one thing I know about Marcus, it’s that he was not the suicidal type. That’s ruled out both by temperament and by religion. Someone killed him—but as to who had motives . . . Of course, there’s been all this unpleasantness recently about the appointment of Father Battersby, but I find it difficult . . . After all, it’s all so trivial , isn’t it?’
    Harold McPhail smiled.
    â€˜I can imagine you would think so. You’re not really a wholehearted churchwoman, are you, Helen?’
    â€˜I’m an agnostic, converted by marriage rather than reason,’ I admitted. ‘Still, even if I were passionately involved, I can’t see myself getting that het up about one kind of vicar rather than another. I mean, you’d have to be a pretty funny kind of Christian to murder for your point of view, wouldn’t you?’
    â€˜Other things get involved,’ said McPhail.
    I sat there thinking about that for a while, toying with a piece of lettuce.
    â€˜True,’ I said at last. ‘Other things like vanity, hurts to your senseof your own importance. That’s the only way I can make sense of this—as the result of wounded vanity. Some nasty little worm of conceit that couldn’t bear to be defeated and humiliated . . . But I still think that Father Battersby would have been a more likely victim.’
    â€˜I was only at the fête briefly,’ said McPhail, ‘but I wouldn’t have thought that Father Battersby was a very get-at-able victim, from what I saw.’
    â€˜No,’ I admitted. ‘He certainly wasn’t.’
    â€˜What the police are going to want to know,’ said McPhail, looking at me thoughtfully, ‘is where everyone was.’
    â€˜I know. I’ve been trying to think of that myself. What sort of time is it they’re interested in?’
    â€˜From about three onwards. Until the time he—’
    â€˜Was seen floating. Yes. I understand. The trouble is that it’s all so chaotic in my mind. The fête was beginning to wind down then. I think Mary was still around at about three, but I can’t be sure. Thyrza I hadn’t seen for quite a bit . . . Mr Horsforth was conspicuous by his absence most of the day. Whereas Franchita was conspicuous by her presence. She was lady of the fête, and was here, there and everywhere most of the time. I can’t believe it could be her, because I think we would have noticed if she had let up for the time it would take . . . Timothy and Fiona were swanning it around in their non-stop Bolero, and I kept seeing Timothy with Father Battersby, but I noticed them most during the morning . . . Mrs Nielson sold out and went home . . . The Mipchins were in and out, but the Westons were mostly with the outside games, so I don’t know about them . . . It’s all so difficult.’
    â€˜When I said that the police would want to know where everyone was,’ said Harold McPhail carefully, ‘I really meant that you should try to remember where you were.’
    I looked up at him, and suddenly I flushed bright red as a spurt of anger flashed through me.
    â€˜Oh, my God! I see what you’re getting at! You mean that the police will see me as the prime suspect! Christ! I only need that!’
    As I marched to the mantelpiece to get another cigarette, Harold McPhail said:
    â€˜I didn’t say you would be the prime suspect. But obviously youwill be among those that they have to consider. You don’t stand outside the investigation just because you know you didn’t do it.’
    â€˜Oh, I’ve

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