Authors: Benedict Carey
: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either 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.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Poison most vial: a mystery / by Benedict Carey.
Summary: “When a famous forensic scientist turns up dead and Ruby's father becomes the prime suspect, Ruby must marshal everyone she can to help solve the mystery and prove her father didn't poison his boss”
âProvided by publisher.
ISBN 978-1-4197-0031-6 (hardback)
[1. Mystery and detective stories. 2. MurderâFiction.
3. NeighborsâFiction. 4. Fathers and daughtersâFiction.] I. Title.
Text copyright Â© 2012 Benedict Carey
Book design by Maria T. Middleton
Published in 2012 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.
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STATEMENT TO THE COURT
CASE 156724-1801: V. S. Ramachandran Murder
Let the record reflect that this statement was taken over four hours on 11/4 and 11/5 at the home of Mrs. Clara Whitmore, the Garden Terrace Apartments, 1575 College Ave.
Video deposition: Det. R. A. Cullen, interviewer
INT: All right, ma'am. The tape is running. You may proceed. Please state your name first, for the record.
SUBJ: Clara Orfila Whitmore.
INT: Your age and occupation, please.
SUBJ: (long delay) I am seventy years old, young man. Retired. I was a toxicologist. A forensic scientist, and I . . . I am retired.
INT: You understand that you are under no suspicion in this case?
SUBJ: Oh heavens, of course not.
INT: You have waived your right to an attorney, is that correct?
SUBJ: I have no need of an attorney, detective.
INT: OK. Now, please explain how it is that you knew the two children involved in this case. Start by stating how you met the girl. The court is very interested in the girl. Where were you when you met her?
SUBJ: (barely audible) I was dead when I met Ruby Rose.
INT: I'm sorry?
SUBJ: Oh, I don't mean
dead, detective. I mean numb. Numb, like you feel when a good friend turns away and you don't know why. Cut off. Left behind, just . . . I don't know. Playing out my days. That's where I was when I met Ruby.
INT: No, I meantâ
SUBJ: I laugh at it now, I do. At all the little girl did. How she and her friend Rex solved a murder caseâthe famous Ramachandran case, no less! But you cannot begin to understand how that happened, detective, without knowing why. You see, this girl had no choice. None.
Her father was headed for jail, and he was all she had. She was cornered. Trapped.
I have come to believe, over my many years, that the only time we face a problem directly and ruthlessly is when all other doors are closed. When there is no other way out. When our doubts about ourselves shrink in the shadow of some larger threat.
Squirming her shoulders like a penguin, head down under a spray of yellow hair, Ruby Rose pushed through the tangle of legs, arms, and backpacks at the door and tripped down the steps of DeWitt Lab School, annoyed about something but not sure what it was.
Which only made things worse.
“School's out, Ruby. Why you always want to be staring at the ground like that?”
No need to look up. Rex. She could almost
the lunatic smile on his huge face; he probably grinned in his sleep.
“What do you mean
?” Ruby asked, studying her purple boots and keeping them in rhythm for luck: three regular steps and one long stride, three plus one, three plus one, three and one . . .
“I mean, you're so busy counting your steps that you're about to miss Simon and his briefcase. Pick up your head and check this.”
The briefcaseâthat was it: the annoying thing.
Simon Buscombe, spidery with damp hair and a fake limp, strode along in front of them, carrying a briefcase that he'd recently started bringing to school instead of a backpack. A briefcase, for eighth grade! Simon being Simon, he'd been all pompous and secretive, making sure no one peeked inside the briefcase when he opened it in class and carefully removed a piece of paper.