Episode Eight: Continuing investigations
Updated: Jun 13
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Sunday 14th June
“Si bien sûr, Monsieur Laurent. Mal être là dans une heure."
Hazel put the phone down and a smile spread across her face. This was big. Really big. It certainly made a change from her usual fare of cheating spouses and family disagreements. The high-pitched squeak that escaped from her mouth surprised even her, so it was no wonder that Artemis’s ears pricked.
“Come on, Arty, time for a trip to Les Liens! We’ve got a murder to solve!” she exclaimed. Hazel had protested to the caller that the police should really be called, but he had insisted that they were not to be involved at this stage. ‘A bit odd,’ she thought. ‘but why should they always get all the fun?’
The last time she had been there had been rather embarrassing. Her now ex-husband had entered her in a charity golf event, even though she had never played before; looking back on it, it was no surprise that their marriage had ended. Hazel had been partnered with the club’s owner, Pierre Laurent and it had not gone well. She could still remember the glorious shade of red that had bloomed across his face when they came last. He had told her that ‘she owed him one’, and this case was him claiming his debt.
Hazel pulled on some clothes; nothing too pretentious, just comfortable and professional. She decided to complete the ensemble with her favourite scarf, which she found being played with by the little dog.
Hazel parked Henrietta, her trusty old 2CV outside the chateau at Les Liens. She looked up at its imposing of windows, the fancy crest with its fish and scantily clad figures above those shiny wooden doors, the red carpet covered steps.
She breathed in the smell of lavender and the faint whiff of impending rain. It was all too beautiful – how could anything so sinister as murder have taken place here?
Her reverie was broken by the sound of a dog cocking his leg up a nearby bush. He had only ‘been’ a few minutes earlier; where did he keep it all?
The gravel crunched underfoot as she made her way towards the main entrance and who knew how many scandals and secrets.
Hazel was greeted in reception by Sylvia Moulin, the club’s Maître d’hôtel, (what that meant, she had no idea), and Dr Bonnie Clyde, a therapist who apparently helped clients with their swing.
Thankfully, they hadn’t moved the body. Amelia was still lying on the floor in her office, a dark red pool around her head, the source of which seemed to be at the back of her skull.
“Does anyone else know?”
"No, we shut the door and pretended that everything was normal. Just us three and Monsieur Laurent,” replied Sylvia.
“So, you just left her lying on the floor?”
“Pierre thought it best until you got here, just in case there were any clues…”
“What, like a message scrawled in blood? You’ve been watching too many bad movies, Sylvia. It doesn’t happen like that.”
Hazel was already beginning to get annoyed by Sylvia, so when Bonnie started asking stupid questions too, her temper started to fray a little. It was so much easier when they eventually left her to her investigations. She was a little surprised to be told that Pierre was not coming until later – apparently finishing his petit déjeuner was more important to him than the murder of Les Liens’ General Manager.
According to Sylvia, she had last seen Amelia at nine o’clock last night; Amelia had been outside on the terrace when Kyle Rockfort came into reception demanding to speak to the manager. Hazel made a note to speak with Kyle, a television star over whom she may have had the tiniest bit of a crush. Today was supposed to be Amelia’s day off, and Sylvia was the duty manager, although she had been late because of an unfortunate incident with her juicer. Sylvia had found the office keys behind the computer screen on the reception desk rather than their usual place in the drawer. The office door had been locked from the outside, so Hazel deduced that whoever had been in the office with Amelia had killed her, left, and locked the door behind them.
Hazel gazed down at Amelia, lying on the floor.
“Amelia Marshall, I will make sure that I find your killer and justice is served. Hazel Durette always delivers on her promises. Don’t you worry, girl. Sleep well,” she told her her.
Hazel had decided that the best person to start probing about Amelia would be Dr Bonnie Clyde, but the doctor had been called away to deal with a client having a minor breakdown about their par.
In the absence of Pierre Laurent, she then moved on to Sylvia, whom she sensed was not a friend of Amelia.
“And that is what I have in this folder?” asked Hazel, showing Sylvia the wallet containing some gin-soaked and illegible papers. Artemis picked his head up and starting sniffing at the wallet before reaching out his tongue for a good lick in search of another taste of the alcohol. He was pleased that his discovery had been so important.
“Yes, that’s it,” replied Sylvia, “that is the proof. I took a photo of them on my phone. I’ll email you a copy.”
“And you say it shows that Amelia was bribing the mayor?”
“Well, I’m not sure, but it certainly shows that she was involved in trying to cover it up for Pierre. Whether she was originally involved I don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised. She’d do anything to get ahead.”
“I take it you didn’t like Amelia?”
“We had our … differences. Yes. I should have got that job, not her. She had too little experience and too many problems.”
“Problems?” asked Hazel.
For a moment, Sylvia looked like she was having second thoughts about saying anything, but those second thoughts did not last long.
“She drunk. A lot. In the office. Thought people wouldn’t know, but we all know.”
“She’d probably say something about the stress of the job, the death of her parents, something like that. Anything to cover up the truth that she is … was …. just incompetent.”
After a brief and not very productive chat with Pierre, (she had decided it best not to raise the bribery incident just yet in case he changed his mind and gave the case to someone else), she thought a good source of knowledge about the comings and goings at the resort over the last week or so could be the Head Greenkeeper who she had been told was currently acting as security at the main entrance.
The rain that she had sensed when she first arrived was now falling lightly outside and the air smelled fresh. Hazel headed outside, and Artemis scampered over to Henrietta. Hazel laughed at the sight of a convertible sports car being slowly soaked by the shower, ‘serves them right for being a show-off,’ she thought to herself.
Hazel began walking to her car when a golf buggy caught her eye; she had always wanted to drive one of these funny little vehicles, and as the keys were in the ignition she took the opportunity that was now presented to her. Arty jumped up next to her, and, after a few false starts which involved reversing into lavender bushes, they were on their way back down the drive to have a chat with Sid Potter.
They found Sid on his mower down by the main gates. Or rather, he found her.
“Have you got a license for that, miss?” he called, not particularly succeeding in hiding his amusement at her golf buggy driving ability.
To Hazel, Sid Potter seemed quite harmless. Yes, of course he knew Amelia, but Hazel was sure that Sid really kept himself to himself. He didn’t seem to keen on the clients though, calling them a bunch of snobs who got on his nerves.
“They think I just cut grass,” he continued, “I do cut grass, but I listen as well. And I hear things. I hear secrets. I could tell you a thing or two, you know.”
“Like what? What secrets?”
"Eh? Sorry, I can't hear you with these things on."
He got down off his mower and removed his ear protectors.
"What secrets do you hear, Sid?"
“Take the boss’s daughter and that young Oliver Bonheur for example. Something going on there. You’ll probably find them at the spa, hiding in a treatment room and up to no good. You should ask them a few questions.”
“I’m not really interested in romantic goings on, well, not today anyway, but I’ll see if they know anything. So, were you at the club yesterday?” “Well, yes. I finished work around five o’clock.”
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They had been so engrossed in Sid’s photographs and his explanation of the game he had been playing with his wife that neither of them noticed the taxi at the gates. The driver had entered the code into the PIN pad, but the gates had stayed firm;y closed.
“Oi! Sid! Are you going to let me in? Or are you just going to stand there chatting up your new lady friend?”
“I can’t Michael. Boss’s orders.”
Artemis ran over to the gates and under the fence. The little dog let out a growl that could have come from Cerberus himself. Hazel ran after him and hopped over the fence. She had been right not to wear her heels today, but the slightly damp grass was making her feet wet in those sandals.
“Arty! Arrêtez!”, she told the dog, “mauvais garçon!”
“A bit feisty, isn’t he?”
“Désolée, monsieur. I don’t know what’s got into him.”
The driver dropped his cigarette out of the window. Hazel made a point of stamping it out, ending with a foot flourish that would not have been out of place if she were wearing a flamenco dress.
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Hazel’s phone rang. Arty looked at her with an expression of bemusement, his one ear pricked, whilst she searched through her bag. She pulled out the phone and tapped ‘answer’.
“Miss Durette? I’m told you wanted to speak with me. Have you found out who killed her yet?”
“Not yet, Doctor Clyde, but I’m working on it.” “Good. It’s important that this is sorted as soon as possible,” announced Bonnie, or at least that is what Hazel thought she heard over the crackling line.
“Yes. I am well aware of that. Thank you for the advice.”
Hazel was now walking around in a strange zigzag path, trying to find the best signal. Arty followed her, thinking it was a great game.
“Pierre insists that this doesn’t get out until we all know what happens. It could ruin him.”
“Sounds like you are quite fond of Mr Laurent. No one else seems to be.”
The silence on the line told Hazel that she had hit a nerve.
“Is it more than fondness, Doctor Clyde?”
“Pierre is a good man. He cares deeply about Les Liens and everyone here. I must go; I have another client. If you need me again, you have my number.”
Then there was silence. Hazel stood for a moment, looking at the phone screen.
“Come on Arty, I’m feeling a bit peckish. Let’s see if we can find something to eat.”
Now move on to: 'The Interviews: Sylvia and Bonnie'.
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