Graveyard Plots

Graveyard Plots by Bill Pronzini Read Free Book Online

Book: Graveyard Plots by Bill Pronzini Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bill Pronzini
Tags: Mystery, Mystery & Crime
have done it. It was so useless. .
    Sheffield exchanged glances with the two inspectors. Then he said, "You want to tell us how you did it, Mr. Franzen?"
    "How did you kill them?" Sheffield asked. "What kind of weapon did you use?"
    "A tenderizing mallet. One of those big wooden things with serrated ends that women keep in the kitchen to tenderize a piece of steak."
    It was silent in the cubicle now. Sheffield looked at Rauxton, and then at Tobias; they were all thinking the same thing: the police had released no details to the news media as to the kind of weapon involved in the slayings, other than the general information that it was a blunt instrument. But the initial lab report on the first victim—and the preliminary observations on the other two—stated the wounds of each had been made by a roughly square-shaped instrument, which had sharp "teeth" capable of making a series of deep indentations as it bit into the flesh. A mallet such as Franzen had just described fitted those characteristics exactly.
    Sheffield asked, "What did you do with the mallet, Mr. Franzen?"
    "I threw it away."
    "In Sausalito, into some bushes along the road."
    "Do you remember the location?"
    "I think so."
    "Then you can lead us there later on?"
    "I suppose so, yes."
    "Was Elaine Dunhill the last woman you killed?"
    "What room did you kill her in?"
    "The bedroom?"
    "Where in the bedroom?"
    "Beside her vanity."
    "Who was your first victim?" Rauxton asked.
    "Janet Flanders."
    "You killed her in the bathroom, is that right?"
    "No, no, in the kitchen . . ."
    "What was she wearing?"
    "A flowered housecoat."
    "Why did you strip her body?"
    "I didn't. Why would I—"
    "Mrs. Gordon was the middle victim, right?" Tobias asked.
    "Where did you kill her?"
    "The kitchen."
    "She was sewing, wasn't she?"
    "No, she was canning," Franzen said. "She was canning plum preserves. She had mason jars and boxes of plums and three big pressure cookers all over the table and stove . . ."
    There was wetness in Franzen's eyes now. He stopped talking and took his rimless glasses off and wiped at the tears with the back of his left hand. He seemed to be swaying slightly on the chair.
    Sheffield, watching him, felt a curious mixture of relief and sadness. The relief was due to the fact that there was no doubt in his mind—nor in the minds of Rauxton and Tobias; he could read their eyes—that Andrew Franzen was the slayer of the three women. They had thrown detail and "trip-up" questions at him, one right after another, and he had had all the right answers; he knew particulars that had also not been given to the news media, that no crank could possibly have known, that only the murderer could have been aware of. The case had turned out to be one of the simple ones, after all, and it was all but wrapped up now; there would be no more "bludgeon slayings," no public hue and cry, no attacks on police inefficiency in the press, no pressure from the commissioners or the mayor. The sadness was the result of twenty-six years of police work, of living with death and crime every day, of looking at a man who seemed to be the essence of normalcy and yet who was a cold-blooded multiple murderer.
    Why? Sheffield thought. That was the big question. Why did he do it?
    He said, "You want to tell us the reason, Mr. Franzen? Why you killed them?"
    The small man moistened his lips. "I was very happy, you see. My life had some meaning, some challenge . . .I was fulfilled—but they were going to destroy everything." He stared at his hands. "One of them had found out the truth—I don't know how—and tracked down the other two. I had come to Janet this morning, and she told me that they were going to expose me, and I just lost my head and picked up the mallet and killed her. Then I went to the others and killed them. I couldn't stop myself; it was as if I were moving in a nightmare."
    "What are you trying to say?" Sheffield asked.

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