A closed book
Detective Sergeant Abby Sweet rounded the corner in her jeep and the gates of the grand Mulberry Manor came into view. After being buzzed through, she steered expertly down the long sweeping driveway, pulling up next to an elaborate fountain that looked like it belonged on the Las Vegas strip.
“I’m starting to think we’re in the wrong job,” Abby said to her senior constable as they strode towards the four-pillared porch. “The closest I’ve got to a fountain in my house is a leaking tap.”
“William Griffin was a very successful businessman, by all accounts,” Scotty said, consulting his notebook.
The front door was flung open by a stern woman in her sixties. She had feline eyes and her greying hair was piled artfully on top of her head.
“Please park your vehicle at the end of the driveway, Detective,” she said, disdainfully. “It’s most unsightly.”
Abby raised her eyebrows then shrugged. She tossed the car keys to Scotty and watched as he drove the Jeep back down the drive, disappearing round the bend before he reached the front gate.
“Leonora Griffin,” the woman said brusquely, before turning and walking into the house.
“You’d better come through to the study,” she threw over her shoulder as she went.
Abby followed her inside.
In the study, the body of a balding man was slumped in a leather desk chair, a single stab wound to his chest. As Abby leaned in closer, she saw there was a bloody letter opener on the carpet by her feet.
“Bag that,” she said to Scotty, who had now joined them, slightly out of breath
“William was my husband,” Leonora sniffed, folding her arms across her chest. “We separated last year but are yet to divorce.”
“You still live together?” Abby frowned.
Leonora shook her head. “I’ve been renting a farmhouse down the road,” she said. “But I passed the front gate on my walk this morning and noticed the front door was wide open. It worried me.”
“Why?” Abby asked.
“Because William played golf every Friday, religiously,” she said. “In 42 years of marriage I’ve never known him to miss his tee-off time. I thought perhaps there’d been a break-in.”
“So you came up to the house to investigate?” Abby asked.
Leonora nodded weakly. “That’s when I found him.”
“Is there anyone else here?” Abby queried.
At that moment, a brassy blonde woman of around 40 barrelled into the study. She was wearing what looked like a red negligee with a man’s dressing gown thrown over the top.
Her eyes were filled with tears and mascara streaked her cheeks. “I’m Rita,” she choked. “William’s girlfriend.”
“Girlfriend!” Leonora mimicked. “I’m his wife!”
“But he dumped you, sweetie,” Rita said, ceasing her snivelling at once. “Out with the old, in with the…”
She ran her hands down her curves, letting her cleavage do the talking.
“Where were you this morning, Rita?” Abby interjected.
“I don’t live here, Detective, but I knew William would be out playing golf today, so I came around to surprise him when he got in,” she said. “I let myself in with my key and went up to the bedroom to get changed. Some of us know how to keep a man interested, you see.”
“Did you close the front door behind you?” Abby prompted.
“Of course,” Rita shrugged.
She went on. “So, I was, er, arranging myself on the bed when I heard a scream! “I raced downstairs and there was William… dead!
She started to cry again.
“Poor Billy,” she wailed, as Leonora rolled her cat-like eyes.
“Scotty, can I have the car keys please?” Abby said.
“Sure, he said, handing them over. “Where are you going?”
Abby took the keys and led Scotty to the front door. “I’m getting ready to leave, of course,” she said.
“But who killed William?” Scotty frowned.
“Think about it, it’s obvious,” Abby sighed impatiently. “It was the woman who lied to me.”
Who killed William?