“One of you”, said Inspector Harris to the group that had gathered in the library, “strangled Sir Anthony here in this very room!”
Everyone squirmed a little in their seats, as Inspector Harris paused to light his pipe. Who could have done such a thing? Was it Lady Boufant, the penniless dowager looking for revenge after her only daughter had a brief affair with Sir Anthony that led to her breakdown and subsequent committal? Was it Captain Bloomer, hoping to keep his terrible secret from being revealed? Perhaps it was Edward Delecourt, a tall thin man, fumbling in the pockets of his elegant smoking jacket to make sure the ring he had stolen from Sir Anthony was still safely hidden.
The maid, Regina also looked tense. Did the Inspector know why she was forced to work for Sir Anthony, and why she hated him so? If the Inspector did know he wasn’t giving anything away as he puffed thoughtfully at his pipe and filled the stuffy air with the smell of cherry tobacco. Perhaps it was Deacon John who owned the bible that was left in the room at the time of the murder. Perhaps it was Wilhimina, the Librarian with a taste for gambling that put her into debt with Sir Anthony…debt that was sometimes paid by letting the old letch extract the price from her flesh. Or was it Red Herring, the gardener who had red marks on his hands, and was seen going into the library at the time of the murder? The very man whose muddy boot prints matched those found on the library carpet, and who listed “Strangling the Aristocracy” under “Hobbies” on his resume? The same Red Herring who had published the bestseller “I’m Going to Strangle Sir Anthony in the Library of Burlington Manor”?
The sound of the old Grandfather clock in the great hall broke the tense silence. Inspector Harris cleared his throat and surveyed the room with authority.
“Wilhemina! Where were you on the night of the murder?” The inspector barked.
“Wha…I….you can’t possibly think…?” She stammered, turning paler by the second.
“I do think it…in fact the bible in question did NOT belong to the Deacon, but rather YOUR COLLECTION I’m certain of it…!” The Inspector roared triumphantly.
Red Herring smiled quietly to himself as the librarian sputtered out her protestations. It wasn’t the first murder he’d gotten away with…and it wouldn’t be the last.