Authors: Betty Rowlands
Table of Contents
ALPHA, BETA, GAMMA â¦ DEAD
DEATH AT DEARLY MANOR
A FOOL THERE WAS
A HIVE OF BEES
AN INCONSIDERATE DEATH
MISS MINCHIN DIES
PARTY TO MURDER
THE SCENT OF DEATH
TOUCH ME NOT
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2014 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
19 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM2 5DA
eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2014 by Betty Rowlands.
The right of Betty Rowlands to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Rowlands, Betty author.
The scent of death. â (A Sukey Reynolds mystery)
1. Reynolds, Sukey (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. MurderâInvestigationâFiction. 3. PolicewomenâGreat
BritainâFiction. 4. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8391-9 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-538-3 (ePub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
re we all here?' Justin Freeman glanced round the room at the group of music lovers who were settling down after dinner to enjoy a programme of music in the Orchard Room at Dallington Manor, where his annual musical house party was in full swing.
Eric, who made it his business to check numbers, raised a hand. âAll except Lance,' he said in his high-pitched, slightly querulous voice.
Justin frowned. âThat's odd, he's usually here first.' There were nods of agreement all round. Lance Rainbird did not usually stay for social chit-chat over the after-dinner coffee.
âHe said something about going out for a spot of air,' someone in the back row volunteered.
âWell, it is a lovely evening,' his neighbour agreed. âAnd you can see the stars; that's the advantage of this place, it's quite a distance from a town so there isn't much in the way of light pollution.'
âI'm not putting the evening's programme on hold to wait for Lance,' Justin announced with a rare touch of impatience. âLet's hope he has the grace to slide in quietly when he comes in from his stargazing. Right, we're going to listen to Mozart's Fortieth Symphony this evening. This is a particularly good example of a work composed in the sonata form. May I take it you all understand what that means? Not sure?' he went on, noting one or two doubtful expressions. âRight, well it's very simple really. Let's take the first movement. We start with the first or principal subject.' He pressed a key on the CD player beside him and played the opening of the first movement. Hands moved and bodies swayed gently in time with the familiar music until he pressed the pause button and said, âNow listen to the next or bridge section, leading to the introduction of the second â¦' He broke off as the door was flung open and the hotel manager appeared in an obvious state of agitation.
âI do apologize for bursting in like this, Mr Freeman.' He sounded breathless, as if he'd been running. âThere's been an accident. It's Mr Rainbird â¦ one of my staff found him in the lake. We've pulled him out and someone's giving him the kiss of life, but I think â¦ I do hope I'm wrong â¦ but I'm afraid he might be dead.'
âGood heavens,' Justin exclaimed. âHave you sent for an ambulance?'
âOh yes of course. They're on their way â¦ ah, I think I can hear the siren.' He turned and rushed out with Justin at his heels, leaving the assembled guests exchanging horrified glances.
hat's your take on classical music, Sukey?' DS Vicky Armstrong returned to her desk, but did not sit down.
âClassical music?' DC Sukey Reynolds cast a slightly puzzled look at her recently promoted friend. âWhat's this about? Are you doing a crossword puzzle or something?'
âNo, this is serious. We've just been given an assignment by DI Rathbone. It's at a place called Dallington Manor, a country house hotel a few miles the other side of Clevedon. They've got some kind of music festival going on there. A man's body's been fished out of the lake.' Vicky consulted the printout in her hand. âA chap called Rainbird.'
âIs that all we know?'
âIt seems the woman who spotted the man rushed back to the hotel and informed the manager, who told one of his staff to call for an ambulance and then rushed down to the lake with another of his staff who's trained in first aid. They managed to fish the man out of the water and did their best to revive him, but when the paramedics arrived they said he was dead and called us. They're waiting for a doctor. DI Rathbone has been notified and he's told us to get there ASAP.'
Sukey gave a resigned sigh. âWhat's the betting the floater had too much to drink and lost his balance?'
Vicky shrugged. âThat's probably why Sir farmed it off on us so that he could leave on time.' She glanced at the clock. âAnother half an hour and we'd have been off duty.'
âIt could be worse,' said Sukey. âAt least it isn't too far.'
Vicky grimaced. âTypical of you, always ready to look on the bright side. I've just called Chris to say expect me when he sees me and he isn't best pleased. He's trying out a new recipe and he wants my opinion, says it won't take kindly to being kept hot.' Vicky's partner was a chef at an exclusive hotel on the outskirts of Bristol.
âAre uniformed at the scene?'
âOn their way and I've booked us a car, so let's go.'
During the drive Vicky shared with Sukey the information she had obtained about Dallington Manor from their website. âIt sounds quite exclusive â only thirty-five bedrooms, all en suite of course, and the entire building's smoke-free. Secluded setting, beautiful grounds. They have facilities for conferences and wedding receptions â they erect a marquee for the receptions. Conferences are held in the main building â that's the one the victim was attending.'
âYou said something about classical music,' said Sukey.
Vicky grinned. âThat's how Sir described it. Perhaps it's a sort of posh Woodstock; anyway, that's all we know at the moment. I'll have to get more info from the organizer.' She glanced once more at the printout. âJustin Freeman. Does the name mean anything to you?'
âNot a thing,' said Sukey. âI hope there isn't a reception being held at the same time; there could be up to seventy people at the festival â or conference, or whatever it's called â and if there's a reception as well it could mean hundreds of people milling about.' She heaved a sigh. âThink of all the statements to be taken. Ah, here we are.'
The entrance to Dallington Manor was through an impressive pair of wrought-iron gates and along a winding drive that climbed a gentle slope. Two police cars were already there, parked alongside an ambulance. Sukey parked, they got out and Vicky spoke to one of the paramedics.
âThe doctor's just arrived,' she said. âHe's down there with the police.' She pointed to a grassy slope to where glimpses of water could be seen between some trees with overhanging branches. Several people, including uniformed officers with powerful flashlights, could be seen close to a figure lying on the ground a few feet from the edge of the water. A man with a stethoscope was bending over him.
âRight,' said Vicky, âwe'd better go down and have a word.'
âCareful,' the paramedic warned, âthe grass is a bit slippery after all the rain.'
âThank goodness it's cleared up,' Sukey remarked as they made their way down the slope. She glanced at the sky. âIt's a beautiful night. Just look at all the stars.'
As they approached, one of the officers, Sergeant Drury, came forward. He raised a hand in greeting and said, âHi Vicky, good to see you. Congratulations on your promotion.'
âThank you,' said Vicky. âYou know Sukey, don't you?'
âOf course,' said Drury, âwe've worked together before. When are you going for promotion, Sukey?'
âI'm thinking about it,' she said. She glanced beyond him. âWhat's the story?'
âHe's a man aged about forty something, identified as Lance Rainbird. He'd been attending a music event organized by Justin Freeman, musicologist and part-time conductor. He had dinner with the rest of the participants but instead of staying for coffee and a chat he said he was going outside for some air before the evening programme. The receptionist noticed him go past her desk on the way to the front door, and so far as we know she was the last person to see him alive. Ah, the doctor seems to have finished; let's go and have a word.'
âI reckon he's been dead not much longer than an hour,' said the doctor as he put his stethoscope in his bag and stood up. âDrowning appears to be the cause of death, but there's not enough light here to do a proper examination. I'll have a closer look when we get him to the morgue. I'll be in touch.'
âMany thanks, Doc,' said Drury. He turned back to the two detectives. âWe received the call a little after nine. The evening session had just begun; Rainbird's absence had been noted and someone mentioned that he'd gone outside for some air so the organizer began without him. They'd hardly got started when the hotel manager rushed in with the news that Rainbird had been found in the lake; he and a member of his staff had pulled him out, one of them was trying artificial respiration and an ambulance had been called. Freeman went dashing out with him, telling the others to wait till he got back.' Drury consulted his notebook. âWe got here about nine twenty; the paramedics were already here and said they were pretty sure the man was dead. The doctor on duty happened to live locally and arrived a few minutes later. I guess you'll want to have a look round before they take him to the morgue.'