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Authors: Jean-Luc Bannalec

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BOOK: Murder on Brittany Shores
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In his voice there was a mixture of awe, a profound thrill and fascination. It sounded very poetic, Dupin thought, even though it made him cast a quick look at the absolutely flat sea of the chamber.

‘We should be concentrating on concrete things right now,' said Kadeg. Finding out as quickly as possible who the third man is. Whether anyone knows what the three of them had planned, where they were headed.'

Kadeg was playing the hardworking, business-like man, a role that he loved. Dupin slid backwards slightly from the table. His spoke tetchily, even though he didn't mean to sound that way.

‘Then let's split up. The issues are clear. Kadeg, you concentrate on Konan. His circle. Wife, friends, colleagues. The harbour where his boat is. The harbourmaster and so on.'

The fact that Kadeg was taking on everything to do with Konan would mean that he'd need to get back to the mainland.

‘Riwal, the two of us will speak to the people here on Saint-Nicolas. Find out who else was in the
Quatre Vents
last night. If Lefort was sitting in the bar with Konan and the third man, they'll have been seen. Maybe somebody knows him. I…' Dupin's brow creased, ‘I will speak to Madame Lefort again in person.'

He hesitated for a moment.

‘And Goulch, you lead all investigations on the water.'

Kadeg's mobile rang loudly. With a pompous expression, he eagerly checked the number.

‘The Prefect!'

It sounded like ‘His Majesty'. Kadeg answered before Dupin could say he shouldn't dare.

‘Monsieur le Prefét? What can I do for you?'

Dupin's blood pressure shot up instantly. He banged his baguette down on the table. All heads were turned to Kadeg. The Prefect was audible, distant and muffled, but incomprehensible.

‘Well naturally, Monsieur le Préfet. – – – I will tell the Commissaire again as a matter of urgency. – – – This is a case and it has the highest priority. – – – You want to be kept in the loop constantly about absolutely everything, by him personally. And also via me, yes. – – – That you are expecting results as soon as possible. – – – What? Monsieur le Commissaire just hung up when you were on the phone to him just now?'

This was simply too much.

‘Kadeg, this is an important meeting. You're being disruptive! We need to get on. The Prefect is expecting progress immediately.'

Dupin spoke so loudly that Locmariaquer must have heard.

‘I … yes, all right, Monsieur le Préfet. We'll be in touch.
Au revoir.
'

After Kadeg's slight gloating at the beginning of the phone call, he now looked just as glum as before and also somewhat confused – he had obviously been expecting a different reaction from the Prefect to Dupin's remarks. Dupin decided not to pay any attention to the phone call.

‘And the missing man. We also have the missing angler from Île-Tudy. Kadeg, he is staying on your list.'

‘You yourself implied earlier that you don't see a connection.'

‘Now, I think you've heard the importance the Prefect is attaching to our investigation. We're going to get to the bottom of all, and I mean all, reports. The coincidental timing is strange, isn't it? It would be negligent to ignore it.'

From Kadeg's round face – so round that the eyes, mouth and nose looked distorted, not made any more attractive by his advanced baldness – it was plain to see that he was struggling hard to find a retort. Dupin beat him to it.

‘No discussion now – there's too much to do, we don't have any time to lose. To work.'

Dupin was the last to stand up and was wrapping up the baguette to take it with him when his gaze fell on a diver leaving the quay and making a beeline for their little group. The others stood still too and were staring at the man, who looked a little like an alien in his full-body neoprene suit. Just a small area of his face – between the lower lip and eyebrows – was exposed. There was something very funny about the scene, Dupin thought.

A few moments later the man was standing in front of them, audibly out of breath.

‘Somebody told me you're from the police?'

He kept breaking off to take deep breaths.

‘Correct. Can we help you?'

Dupin still found the scene funny.

‘I spotted a sunken boat on a dive. A Bénéteau. A large Gran Turismo.'

‘What? You did what?'

‘I was diving. Spider crabs. Between Penfret and Brilimec, not far from Guiautec. The boat must only have sunk recently. It wasn't there yesterday anyway. I'm sure of that. It's badly damaged on the bow. You can't make out the name of the boat.'

The expression on Dupin's face – like on everyone else's –changed abruptly.

‘Could you show us the exact place, Monsieur?' Goulch was straight to the point immediately.

‘I marked it with my buoy. The boat is right at a small rock formation. I was out in my dinghy.'

‘How far down is it?'

‘Four or five metres. You can see it from the boat.'

The diver started to peel the head part of the neoprene suit down, which looked far from easy. There was a small pause. Dupin looked at Kireg Goulch.

‘What do you think?'

‘If it's as he says, the probability is very high that we're dealing with the boat the three men were on. They wouldn't have got far, if they set out from here and sank at Guiautec.'

This whole investigation, the way it was going, the whole day in itself – it was ridiculous. Strangely topsy-turvy. Dupin was absolutely fed up.

‘I want to know what's what. Goulch, take the boat and go with –'

Dupin turned to the diver who understood immediately.

‘Monsieur Tanguy. Kilian Tanguy.'

‘Go out with Monsieur Tanguy and take a careful look at the boat. I want to know straight away and with one hundred per cent certainty whether it's the boat that the three men were out in. Find out who it's registered to. Where it comes from. Then we'll also know who the third dead man is. It's probably his boat.'

‘We'll set out immediately. Come with me, Monsieur Tanguy.'

Goulch was already walking towards the quay.

‘One more thing: Monsieur Tanguy, you said you went diving in the same place yesterday? What time were you out till?'

‘Five maybe, no later than that.'

‘And what time were you there today?'

‘I think around half three. My boat is on one of the beaches on Penfret. I came from there by dinghy.'

‘Do you dive here often?'

‘All season long. I'm a member of the diving club.'

Monsieur Tanguy openly scrutinised Dupin for a moment.

‘You're the Commissaire from Paris.'

He said it in a very friendly and approving way. Dupin normally objected sharply in these kinds of situations, even though it was utterly pointless. And there were all too many of these situations. He was not the Commissaire from Paris – he was the Commissaire from Concarneau. But to Bretons, you were either a lifelong Breton or ‘totally new here'.

‘Yes, that's me.'

All the same, Dupin was impressed by the diver's astuteness. Commissaire Georges Dupin had become a real name in Finistère due to solving the sensational double murder in idyllic Pont-Aven last year. Yet he wouldnever havethought that people knew him out here.

‘The people down at the quay told me that the Commissaire from Paris was on the islands. And since you have such a quizzical look on your face right now – the “season” runs from April until the beginning of November. The Atlantic has to be warm, over fourteen degrees, or else you need completely different equipment.'

‘That – is very helpful to us, Monsieur Tanguy. Please accept our warmest thanks. We are in the process of clearing up an – accident.'

‘The three bodies.'

‘Exactly.'

When Dupin was wrapped up in something, he occasionally forgot the outside world and was surprised when it then reappeared. Of course the whole archipelago already knew, everyone who moved in its circles in some way. More than that, Dupin was certain that the press had long since got wind of it and that the report about the three dead washed up on the beach of Le Loc'h had already made a splash on the homepages of
Ouest France
and
Télégramme.
The report would already be on the radio too – radio that, with its many local broadcasters here at the end of the world, still played a considerable part in spreading news. He was actually surprised nobody from the press had turned up yet. It wouldn't be long now.

‘It's almost impossible to comprehend that Lucas Lefort suffered a shipwreck in these waters. It's a horrible irony, he could navigate his way round here blindfolded.'

Dupin was shocked again. But of course – the fact that one of the dead was Lucas Lefort, even that had already got around, the news was too sensational. The only remarkable thing was how swiftly it happened here on the islands. Monsieur Tanguy must have noticed the stunned look on Dupin's face this time too.

‘The people on the quay. They said that Lucas Lefort is one of the dead.'

This was true.

‘Thanks again. As I said, you've been a great help to us.'

‘The sea is unpredictable.'

The diver hadn't said this sentence to Dupin at all, but to himself. Dupin assumed he was thinking of the Atlantic mantra.

‘Keep me up to speed at all times, Goulch.'

‘Of course, Monsieur le Commissaire.'

Riwal and Kadeg positioned themselves to the right and left of the Commissaire.

‘And now?' Kadeg actually managed to infuse two such banal words with a sweetly sarcastic tone of triumph.

‘And now, what?'

‘What will we do now?'

The stupid thing was – Kadeg's question was valid. The situation, it seemed, had thoroughly changed. The tasks he had given were largely no longer relevant. It now seemed possible to reconstruct much of what had happened. It
had
been a boating accident. And when they knew who the boat was registered to, they would in all likelihood know the identity of the third man. Potentially even before that. From a few conversations in the
Quatre Vents.
First and foremost with Solenn Nuz. Then all that would be left to clarify would be why they were all on
this
boat, the exact sequence of events, things like that. With Savoir's final autopsy findings they would be in possession of all the necessary facts to present a satisfactory report to the Prefect. That left the missing angler from Île-Tudy – probably just a second accident.

There really wasn't much left for them to do on the island now.

‘Kadeg, you go on the
Bir
too, you can try to investigate the owner of the sunken ship straight away from the boat. As a top priority. And Riwal, you come with me. And…'

Dupin's mobile rang and he answered it.

‘Muriel Lefort here. I'd like to apologise for my lack of composure just now. I know that it is important for you to find out certain things quickly. And I'd like to help.'

She had spoken at considerable speed. Without any apparent emotion. Dupin was familiar with these kinds of reactions, they were not uncommon in the initial shock. But emotions ‘on display' or ‘not on display' were, he knew, not an indicator of anything. Dupin had taken a few steps to one side and was now standing next to the first of the two oyster ponds.

‘I feel ready to carry out the identification of my brother. As quickly as possible.'

‘I will arrange for the helicopter to come and collect you immediately.'

There was a long pause from Muriel.

‘My assistant will be coming with me.'

‘Of course. I will also ask one of my inspectors to fly with you.'

‘Thanks very much.'

‘And as soon as you're back, I would like to speak to you again.'

‘I'll call you.'

They hung up. Dupin had briefly contemplated telling her about the boat that had been found, but then he left it. He wanted to be absolutely certain.

He still had the phone to his ear when the horrific ringtone pierced deep into his eardrum again.

‘Yes?'

He had practically roared.

‘Yannig Konan drowned too. That's also clear. Death by drowning.'

‘I…'

‘We're opening the chest cavity of the third man now. I'll be in touch.'

Savoir had hung up before Dupin could react.

He saw that Riwal had walked to the mole with Kadeg. He followed them. Kadeg leapt on board the
Bir
and took up a position in the bow with Goulch's colleagues. The engines were already running.

‘Riwal?'

‘Yes, boss?'

‘Go with Madame Lefort to the identification. Let Savoir know. He's already waiting. Meet Madame Lefort behind the sailing-school building.'

‘All right, boss.'

‘Call me afterwards.'

Dupin turned around and walked along the rusty old tracks that ran from the quay right to the bar.

*   *   *

Everyone at the
Quatre Vents
was sitting inside by now, the terrace was completely deserted. Even though the sun was still quite high, it had become ‘a little nippy' – and for Bretons, Dupin had noted in the last few years, not without amusement, anything under fifteen degrees was ‘a little nippy', which meant that at their latitude and in this Atlantic position, it was often ‘a little nippy'. At this time of year, the switch from being summery outdoors to being cosy indoors happened quite quickly. Someone had closed the windows, the guests were sitting cosily close together at the small wooden tables. The old room had a high ceiling, a good four metres high and the rough stonewalls were whitewashed.

The Nuz women had their hands full. Solenn Nuz had greeted Dupin with a slight nod when he came in. Dupin had signalled that he wanted to speak to her. Putting down the bottle of wine that she had just skilfully opened, she hadpointed left, to the very end of the long wooden counter where nobody was standing. That was fine.

BOOK: Murder on Brittany Shores
5.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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