Read 34 - The Queen's Jewels Online

Authors: Jessica Fletcher,Donald Bain

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Fiction, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery Fiction, #Murder, #Women Novelists, #Media Tie-In, #Fletcher; Jessica (Fictitious Character)

34 - The Queen's Jewels

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Table of Contents
 
OTHER BOOKS IN THE
MURDER, SHE WROTE
SERIES
Manhattans & Murder
Rum & Razors
Brandy & Bullets
Martinis & Mayhem
A Deadly Judgment
A Palette for Murder
The Highland Fling Murders
Murder on the
QE2
Murder in Moscow
A Little Yuletide Murder
Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch
Knock ’Em Dead
Gin & Daggers
Trick or Treachery
Blood on the Vine
Murder in a Minor Key
Provence—To Die For
You Bet Your Life
Majoring in Murder
Destination Murder
Dying to Retire
A Vote for Murder
The Maine Mutiny
Margaritas & Murder
A Question of Murder
Coffee, Tea, or Murder?
Three Strikes and You’re Dead
Panning for Murder
Murder on Parade
A Slaying in Savannah
Madison Avenue Shoot
A Fatal Feast
Nashville Noir
OBSIDIAN
Published by New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, October 2010
 
Copyright © 2010 Universal City Studios Productions LLLP.
Murder, She Wrote
is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios.
All rights reserved.
 
OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Bain, Donald, 1935-
The queen’s jewels: a Murder, she wrote mystery: a novel/by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain.
p. cm.
“Based on the Universal television series created by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson & William
Link.”
eISBN : 978-1-101-46448-9
1. Fletcher, Jessica (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women novelists—Fiction. I. Murder, she
wrote (Television program) II. Title.
PS3552.A376Q44 2010
813’.54—dc22 2010020126
 
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
 
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

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For P. D. James, whose novels set a standard that inspires every writer of crime fiction.
 
 
JESSICA FLETCHER
 
For Phyllis James, my apt pupil at the
QE2
’s craps table and a reluctant idol to all writers. Renée and I treasure her friendship, as we do that of Rosemary Goad, her astute editor and dear friend.
 
 
DONALD BAIN
 
And for Captain Nick Bates, master of the
Queen Mary 2
, whose delightful book,
With a Pinch of Salt
, serves as a reminder of the rich nautical lore that exists. Not only is Captain Bates a superb seaman; he’s a gifted storyteller.
Prologue
London
 
S
lowly, methodically, he dialed in the numbers until the telltale
click
indicated that the proper combination had been inputted. He looked back at his guest, smiled, and pulled open the heavy lead door. He reached into the wall safe until his fingers touched the small box, which he removed.
“Ready?” he asked.
His guest nodded.
Walter Yang sat on the love seat next to his guest. He placed the box on a glass coffee table, pulled off the top, extricated the soft black leather pouch, and placed it alongside the box.
“This is exciting,” said his guest.
“Yes, it is very exciting,” Yang said as he untied the black cord that secured the pouch. He probed inside until he found what he sought, and allowed his fingers to play with it before taking it from the pouch. It came to life as it caught the room’s overhead light and sparkled as though on fire, reflecting and refracting from within, a diaphanous wonder of nature as it rested in the palm of his hand.
There was perspiration on his forehead and upper lip, like water beads on a recently waxed surface. He started to laugh. It began as a snigger but soon turned into a silly, childish giggle. “Want to hold it?” he asked.
“Yes.”
He handed it to his guest.
“It’s beautiful.”
“It’s so perfect,” he said, “in every way, the clarity, the blue color. It’s like the sky just before sunrise, wouldn’t you say?”
“How poetic.”
“More than seven carats of poetry. Look. See its static sparkle, the way it continues to throw off reflected light even when it’s at rest? It’s perfection. I’ve never seen a diamond with greater brilliance.” He looked up and smiled. “They say a curse will fall on whoever owns it. Such nonsense.”
He took the gem back from his guest and peered at it, as though able to penetrate its dazzling core, so engrossed in his appreciation of what he held that he didn’t hear the muffled sound coming from the hallway outside his study. The intruder had entered through a back door leading to the kitchen, dressed all in black, a ski mask obscuring the face. The door to the study drifted open without a sound, but allowed a soft breeze to ruffle the drapes.
Yang’s guest leaped from the love seat and moved behind a table. Startled, Yang turned. The intruder was on him in an instant.
“No,” he pleaded, “no, no.”
The intruder brought a fist to his face, breaking his nose, then spun him around and gripped him from behind in a violent choke hold. The diamond fell to the floor and rolled under the table. The arm around his neck squeezed tighter and tighter; a gurgling sound erupted from his mouth. His legs sagged. Still, the pressure on his neck intensified until it had compressed all life from him. The grip loosened; Walter Yang slid down his assailant’s body, collapsing into a limp heap, lifeless, blood from his nose and mouth dripping onto the white carpet, leaving a stain the color of cardinals.
“Where is it?”
“Under there.”
The diamond was scooped up and the attacker left the house, climbed into a Mercedes S400 hybrid vehicle, and rolled silently away.
Yang’s guest left, too, walking slowly, quietly, through the open back door and out to the dimly lighted mews that ran behind the elegant town house in Belgravia, disappearing into the soft fog of the night.
Chapter One
“D
id you hear about the big diamond robbery in London?”
The question was asked by Maniram Chatterjee as we shared a table in Mara’s dockside luncheonette. Maniram and his wife, Hita, had recently moved to Cabot Cove from Detroit, where they’d owned and operated a successful jewelry store. A cousin who’d settled in Cabot Cove a few years earlier had persuaded them to experience the joys of small-town living. They’d sold their Detroit shop and opened one here, joining a small but growing Indian community.
“I certainly did,” I said. “You couldn’t miss it. It was on all the TV newscasts, and the front pages of the
Boston Globe
and
New York Times
.”
Maniram leaned forward. “That diamond was originally from my country. It is called the Heart of India. Only the most valuable stones are given a special name. This one was from the Kollur mine in the Golconda region. Many famous diamonds came from this mine.”
“So you knew about this one before it was stolen?”
He nodded. “I even saw it once,” he said. “In all the years that my family has been in the jewelry business, we’d never before seen a blue diamond of that color, quality, and size. It’s extremely rare.”
“Seven carats?” I said.
“Slightly more,” he said.
“I read that it’s worth ten million dollars,” I said.
“Yes, that was what it was appraised at before it disappeared.”
According to media reports, the heart-shaped diamond had been stolen from the home of a wealthy London businessman. Unfortunately he lost more than his precious gem. He also lost his life during the theft. The
Globe
article reported that not only was Scotland Yard involved in the investigation, but Interpol had also been brought into the picture, because it was suspected that the robbers, now also murderers, might be part of a network of globe-trotting jewel thieves that had been operating over the past six years with seeming abandon. And the
Times
story ended by pointing out that authorities had long suspected the slain businessman, Walter Soon Yang, of using a portion of his wealth to fund terrorist organizations around the world, although that charge had never been verified.
“Might make a nice ring, Maniram,” Mara said, holding up her coffeepot as Dr. Seth Hazlitt pulled out a chair and joined us.
“Decaf for me, please,” Seth said.
Maniram cocked his head and smiled wryly. “It would be quite a beautiful ring, Mara,” he said. “But this gem carries a curse. It is said its owners will have great happiness or great misery. But you will not learn which until it is in your possession.”

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