Close Call

Close Call by J.M. Gregson Read Free Book Online

Book: Close Call by J.M. Gregson Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.M. Gregson
make him commit murder. There’s no evidence of any attempt at burglary.’
    â€˜No. Your men who were here this morning asked me to check my jewellery. There’s nothing missing.’
    â€˜So tell us what happened during the rest of the evening, when you came back from your stroll by the river.’
    â€˜We stayed in the garden. It was still very warm, even when it went completely dark. And I think all of us had drunk quite a lot, by then, so we weren’t feeling any chill. We sat and chatted and drank a little more. It got quieter, but everyone was very happy. Mellow, someone called it – I think it was Phil Smart who used that word.’
    â€˜So you sat for maybe an hour or so, like that? Just chatting.’
    â€˜Longer than that, I should think. We’d been there for some time when Robin decided to go round with the brandy bottle. We’d all had quite enough to drink already, I think, but I think most of us accepted a nightcap when he pressed us.’
    Except, perhaps, one person, who was keeping himself alert for what followed. ‘Can you remember any disagreements during the evening, anything which seemed to rankle between people?’
    â€˜No. I thought about that when I found him. But I can’t remember any fallings-out during the evening. Not even any mild disagreements.’
    â€˜And what time did you finally break up?’
    â€˜It must have been about one. I think Rosemary Lennox said that it was time for the oldies to get to bed, and within two minutes everyone was on their feet and leaving.’
    â€˜So everyone left together? You’re sure of that?’
    â€˜Yes. There were only three couples, you know.’ It seemed fair enough to call Lisa Holt and Jason Ritchie a couple, in this context. ‘Everyone was very light-hearted about not having to drive and being close to home, and everyone left together.’
    â€˜And this was about one a.m.?’
    â€˜Yes, it must have been. I remember looking at the clock as I got into bed and it was twenty past one. And it hadn’t taken me long to get to bed; we’d agreed to leave all the clearing up until the morning.’
    â€˜But your husband didn’t get ready for bed when you did?’
    â€˜I thought he was following on behind me. He said he’d just put the drink away and put the scraps of food into the rubbish bin. I heard him flushing the toilet in the downstairs cloakroom before I got into bed. But he never came up, did he?’ She was suddenly near to tears again.
    â€˜But you didn’t realize that until this morning.’
    â€˜No. I’m afraid looking at the time on that bedside clock is the last thing I remember. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was away. As I said, we’d all had quite a lot to drink. I certainly had. It was after half past seven this morning when I woke up and found that Robin wasn’t there. That he’d never been there. ’The tears ran silently down her cheeks. There was no great sobbing; it was as though she had no energy left for that.
    â€˜And a few minutes later, you found him in the garden.’
    â€˜Yes. He’d been there all night, hadn’t he? Since some bastard put a cord around his neck and strangled him.’
    â€˜That seems very likely, yes. Do you know of anyone who had a grievance against Robin?’
    â€˜And you’re sure you saw no disagreements during the evening?’
    â€˜No. The men were cautious, but they eventually all seemed pretty easy with each other. I remember thinking how well they were all getting on. What a good thing that was going to be for Gurney Close.’
    Lambert nodded, then said quietly, ‘It isn’t just the men we have to consider. The method of killing indicates that this crime could just as easily have been committed by a woman.’
    She looked shocked by that. Perhaps it was a reminder to her that she had not yet been ruled out as a

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