Death of a Maid | Chapter 9 of 17 - Part: 1 of 11

Author: M.C. Beaton | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 4743 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Four

Everyone lives by selling something.

—Robert Louis Stevenson

Before visiting Mrs. Styles the following morning, Hamish decided to call in at the bakery in Braikie to have a talk with Mrs. Gillespie’s friend Queenie Hendry. He remembered Queenie as soon as he set eyes on her. He had interviewed her once before when he was tracking down a murderer. She was a pleasant-looking middle-aged woman with neat grey hair and a rosy-cheeked face. He found it hard to believe that she should have had anything in common with the late Mrs. Gillespie.

“Can I be having a word with you?” he asked.

“It’ll be about Mavis,” she said. She turned to her assistant. “Alice, mind the counter.”

Queenie raised the counter flap and walked through. “It’s a terrible business,” she said. “Poor Mavis.”

“I gather you were a friend of Mrs. Gillespie.”

“Yes, we often had a chat together after I’d closed up the shop. My, the poor woman did love cream cakes.”

“Did you ever get the impression—now, think carefully—that she might be a blackmailer?”

She turned a little pale.

“Look,” urged Hamish. “She’s dead. If you know anything at all, please tell me.”

“If I tell you, you’ll report me to the council,” she whispered.

“Come outside,” said Hamish. “We need a private chat.”

They walked together outside the shop. The wind had died down, and the day was warm and sunny.

“I’ll do you a deal,” said Hamish. “Whatever you tell me, I won’t report you to the council.”

She hugged herself with strong arms across her white-aproned chest.

“It’s like this. I had this plague o’ mice. Had a job getting rid o’ the things. The shop was quiet, and I happened to tell Mavis about it. ‘Let me see,’ she said. ‘I’ve a fair way with the mice.’

“I led her through to the back. I switched on the light, and there they were, mice scampering all over the place. To my horror, she took out a wee camera and started snapping off pictures. Then she said, ‘Now, Queenie, I think the health and safety people at the council would be interested in these photos.’ I told her the exterminator was coming in the morning, but I know there’s this bastard on the council who loves making life a misery for shopkeepers. She said she wouldn’t do anything about it as long as she could have a box of cream cakes every day. That wasn’t enough. She insisted she was my friend and kept dropping in for a chat. She frightened me.”

“You should have come to me,” said Hamish. “I’d soon have shut her up. I’ll need to ask you what you were doing yesterday morning.”

“I was in the shop all morning. I can tell you which customers came in, and Alice was with me the whole time.”

“Did it never dawn on you that if she was blackmailing you, she could have been blackmailing others?”

“No. She never asked for money. Just cream cakes.”

Hamish thanked her and told her if she could think of anything else or had any idea who else Mrs. Gillespie might have been blackmailing, to let him know.

As he drove off to interview Mrs. Styles, he glanced in his rear-view mirror and noticed a small car following him with Shona Fraser at the wheel. He stopped, got out as she parked behind him, and went to speak to her.

“You should be with the detective chief inspector,” he said.

“He does nothing but shout at people. I thought I’d catch up with you. I’m sure you’re the better story.”

Hamish leered down at her. “Aye, that would be grand. I can chust see myself on the telly. Which would you say wass my best side?”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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