Murder in Bloom

Murder in Bloom by Lesley Cookman

Book: Murder in Bloom by Lesley Cookman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Cookman
is.’
    ‘Thanks,’ said Fran looking round the huge kitchen. ‘So this is Creekmarsh.’
    Libby switched on the kettle and went to find milk in the stylish silver refrigerator.
    ‘This is Creekmarsh,’ she confirmed. ‘What do you think?’
    Fran was silent for a moment. ‘I’m not sure,’ she said finally. ‘There’s a good deal of unhappiness here, isn’t there?’
    ‘Do you mean current unhappiness? Or sort of still-in-the-walls unhappiness?’ ‘Both.’ Fran was looking at the ceiling. ‘How old was Tony West?’ ‘Eh?’ Now it was Libby’s turn to look startled. ‘No idea. Why?’ ‘Oh, nothing.’ Fran shook her head. ‘Has that woman finished with your friend Lewis?’
    ‘I don’t know. She must have if she came down here. I suppose he’s upstairs overseeing the search.’
    ‘They do miss things, you know,’ said Fran, remembering her own visit to a murder scene eighteen months ago where she had uncovered evidence which at the time seemed irrelevant, but had eventually led to the solution of that and a previous murder.
    ‘You won’t be able to go over this place,’ warned Libby. ‘You saw what she was like.’
    ‘I know,’ said Fran serenely, ‘but it’s not being protected as a crime scene, is it? So Lewis will let me have a look.’
    ‘When they’ve gone, yes,’ said Libby. ‘I do hope they clean up after themselves.’
    ‘Oh, I expect they will. It isn’t as if they can just walk away with crime scene tape across the door, is it? Lewis is still living here.’
    ‘Will he much longer, do you think?’ mused Libby, as they heard hurrying steps on the stairs.
    ‘Lewis.’ Libby went to him and put a hand on his arm. ‘Come and meet Fran Castle.’
    Fran stood up and shook hands. Lewis looked grey and dishevelled.
    ‘What have they been doing to you?’ asked Libby, handing a mug to Fran, then pouring one, unasked, for Lewis.
    ‘Oh, nothing. They’re just turning over everything.’ Lewis pushed his hands through his spiky hair, which accounted for the dishevelment, thought Libby. ‘And that fucking woman –’ he stopped and looked guiltily at Fran. Not at her, Libby noticed. ‘Sorry,’ he went on. ‘But she’s turning me into a wreck.’
    ‘Not a pleasant lady,’ agreed Libby. ‘We’ve just met her.’
    ‘You have? Both of you?’
    ‘I only saw her briefly.’ Fran gave Libby an amused look. ‘I think she was getting the worst of an encounter with Mrs Sarjeant here.’
    ‘Ri-ight.’ Lewis nodded. ‘That’s why she was in an even fouler temper when she came back into the room.’
    ‘She didn’t tell you she’d met me?’ Libby grinned. ‘I thought she was impressed.’
    ‘I think she was.’ Lewis picked up his mug and grinned back. ‘Cow.’ He leant forward and poked at the covered plate in front of him. ‘Is this sandwiches?’
    ‘It is. Shall I call Adam?’
    ‘I’ll do it.’ Lewis stood up. ‘I know where he is, you don’t.’
    He strode out of the kitchen. Fran watched.
    ‘He isn’t quite what I expected,’ she said.
    ‘No. He’s not as openly camp as you might expect, and he’s a genuinely nice bloke,’ said Libby. ‘And at the moment he’s feeling really bad because he thinks he’s been let down by Tony West, which he has, and now he feels guilty for thinking that because West’s dead.’
    ‘Nothing to do with him, though,’ said Fran.
    ‘Really?’
    Fran turned to look at her friend. ‘As far as I can see,’ she said, ‘but I’d like a look over the house and grounds when the police have gone, all the same.’
    When all the sandwiches, fruit and cheese, supplemented by a very good white wine produced by Lewis, had gone Libby loaded the dishwasher, packed her own things in her basket and suggested they start the tour with a visit to the parterre, where Adam had vanished the minute the clearing up began.
    Lewis led the way across the front lawn, which Libby hadn’t seen before. She was pleasantly surprised at the open

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