Mitchell couldn’t quite quell the feeling of pride and triumph that overcame him on that day. He’d written novels, many novels, some good, some not so good, at least in his estimable opinion, but the day his first novel was published he was admittedly, in seventh heaven. He was beyond elated and words couldn’t possibly convey the feeling of excitement, sense of achievement and self-esteem generated upon receiving the news and the only one who knew about it was his father in whom he’d confided and he’d been pleased as punch to have been included in the secret which he’d kept diligently.
There wasn’t another soul other than his editor and publisher who knew he was the author of the mystery novels, after all, he’d used a pseudonym and had decided against adding a photo so his identity went unknown.
It was a great boon he could walk into a store and see his book on the shelf and a group of people, mostly women, surrounding it, ogling it, cooing over it and wondering who he might be.
Why what he looked like was important was beyond him. It was the depth of the book, the quality of the writing, the imparting of the story, the telling of the tale in all its complexity and simplicity that was the important part.
When his fifth novel had been published, his editor suggested the lure of the book wasn’t enough, sales had dropped off (by a couple thousand) and that wasn’t the issue either he told himself staunchly. If another book didn’t sell, financially he was set for life. It was the writing that mattered. And, he had to admit, knowing that someone was reading it with avid interest couldn’t be understated for it was after all the reason he wrote.
As he wandered the beach watching seagulls cavorting about, listening to distant voices and the waves gently lapping on the shore, a gentle twinkle skimming the water, he was at peace.
Until his thoughts returned to his father’s untimely death and he was brought up short by the horror of it, the needless violence against such a sweet gentleman who loved life and was such a support to family and friends. He was an advocate involved in helping spearhead the opening of the safehouse in town that offered solace to those in need whether it was a meal or emotional support and he volunteered daily while encouraging anyone that would listen to assist in any way possible.
Mitchell wrote romantic mysteries and had studied how investigations were carried out. Although similar to what you’d see on television shows, it wasn’t quite the same and absolutely depended on the diligence and doggedness of the detectives involved.
They weren’t dragging their feet, they were delving into every angle and had some leads, but they weren’t substantial. Whoever had committed the crime had covered their tracks well. It was frustrating, it was annoying, it was unbearable. He wanted answers and he wanted them now before any more time could pass and the killer or killers got away.
He’d learned the perps had entered through the garage when his father was carrying groceries from the car into the house through the side door. Therefore, no break and entry.
They’d tied him to a chair and obviously interrogated him because he’d had bruises on his face that could only have come from a beating and there were ligature marks around his ankles and wrists. At some point, they’d released him because his battered body had been found just inside the back door as though he’d been making his escape when he was shot with a gun that had a silencer attached.
He wasn’t a wealthy man, but he had means, a lovely home and money in the bank. If it had been money they’d been after, they would have taken something from the house, there were plenty of valuables available, but instead, a diligent search through his personal papers had been instituted. They’d obviously spend hours searching because there wasn’t a room in the house left untouched. What’s more, they had worn gloves for there were no other fingerprints in the house but that of his father and the housekeeper who subsequently found him.
Mrs. Marsh had been inconsolable. Finding her employer and friend had died in such a heinous manner had devastated her. When he’d spoken to her at the funeral, she was still greatly agitated and upset.
He’d accompanied her to a nearby restaurant and taken time to sit with her after the funeral. Although she was still visibly upset, he had to ask the burning questions uppermost in his mind. Had his father confided in her regarding anything unusual happening prior to his demise? Had he mentioned any unfamiliar people coming around or had she noticed anyone herself? Had her father’s behaviour changed, or had he seemed agitated, shown any anxiety or concern recently?
She’d sat thoughtfully, tearfully and said she hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary but that her daughter was getting married and she’d been excited and involved in planning and if there were something untoward happening, it had slipped by her and she felt guilty suggesting that if she’d been more on the ball, not so distracted, perhaps she’d have noticed something that could have prevented the tragedy from happening.
He’d, obviously assured her that nothing would have stopped the murderers if that was their intent and had she been there at that time, she could have been killed too and that would have added insult to injury. She’d hugged him for that and when she’d risen to leave, he’d thanked her for taking time to speak with him painful though it was.
Stopping in his tracks he thought back to that moment and remembered that when Mrs. Marsh had left, two men had followed her. He’d noticed them lurking at the funeral and wondered who they were, why they were there. No one seemed to take much interest in their presence, and he couldn’t shake the feeling they weren’t known by anyone else present. Now, it seemed their interest centered on Mrs. Marsh as while they chatted, feigned disinterest yet kept a watchful eye on her.
Although she was getting on and had given up most of her clients, she’d continued working for his father because there wasn’t much to do. He kept his home clean and tidy and she came in twice a week to dust, sometimes wash floors, whatever needed to be done. It was a mutual arrangement that seemed to benefit both.
Mitchell felt both concerned and excited. He shouldn’t be, for it could mean harm to Mrs. Marsh, and while he didn’t want to see that happen, it was the first indication something untoward was going on and could possibly be considered a lead, however slight.
He’d drop by the police station and mention his concern to the detectives on the case, find out what their take might be and then pop by Mrs. Marsh’s and suggest she and her family be vigilant for the time being for although he had no real proof the men were involved, he couldn’t shake his concern, especially considering although she hadn’t been identified (if they’d been casing his father’s home) would have known her schedule and may believe she had access or the information they were after.