In the last two scenes Investigator Pepper Black, posing as Hazel Brewster, infiltrates the book club run by narcissistic Malcolm Sinclair at his estate on Spirit Lake. She meets two of Malcolm’s many female members (who she doesn’t know by name yet). Pepper starts to doze off bored with Malcolm’s rendition of Nietzsche. She doesn’t realize he’s finished speaking until he walks up to her with a glass of wine, which Pepper hasn’t touched. Would you if you thought the guy killed Margie Webster, another book club member, by decapitation?
“I’ll pass on the wine,” Pepper said. “I have to drive home yet.”
“Not necessarily, Ms. Brewster, or can I call you Hazel? I have plenty of spare rooms,” Malcolm said, as he turned to face the two women who approached from behind him. “Ah, ladies, do join us won’t you?”
Malcolm was a walking, talking cliché. She checked her watch. Only 8:30 PM. Fifteen more minutes of Mr. Malcolm Sinclair was all she felt she could stomach. It was the same two women as before—khaki-pants and non-khaki-pants. She really needed to get their names. Their timing was perfect though, she could avoid Malcolm’s comment. She had to wonder, did he offer the same to Margie on the night of her death after the book clubs outing? Maybe she could get it out of the two women if she could get them to focus on something other than Malcolm.
“Well there you two are,” said khaki pants, “we were wondering where you two had gotten off to.” The woman placed her hand on Malcolm’s arm and directed him to sit on one of the rustic chairs by the patio table.
Pepper had no choice but to sit back down on the seat made of sticks. Adirondack furniture was fitting for the look Malcolm wanted to present with his landscaped gardens but they were damn uncomfortable in her opinion.
Chain-smoker Malcolm lit another cigarette. “I was just telling Hazel to try some of her wine. I have plenty of rooms if she felt she couldn’t drive home.”
Pepper needed to steer the conversation in a different direction, and the two women were focused with intent on her after Malcolm’s last remark. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your names before.”
“How rude of me,” said Malcolm, with a gesture towards the woman in the white Capris, “This is Mrs. Sophia Lyons."
“And I’m Jessie Belmont,” the other woman said, extending her hand to Pepper in front of Sophia.
Finally--a name for the woman in tan. “Pleased to meet you both,” said Pepper. “Did either of you know Margie well? I was so shocked tonight to hear of her death.”
The two women gave each other a secret-girl’s-club look. Malcolm sat in stoic silence, minus the sound of his repetitive smoke inhalation.
“Such a nice girl,” said Jessie. She smiled at Malcolm. “She always had some lagniappe or other when I went into McCormick’s for boating supplies. I got the cutest little flashlight key chain the last time. See?”
Sophia rolled her eyes at Jessie’s show and tell. “Annoying is what I’d say. Don’t you think, Malcolm?”
That got a rise out of him. Malcolm fidgeted in his chair, stubbed out his cigarette and stood. “She was a pleasant enough girl. I don’t think she quite fit into our group though. Now if you’ll excuse me Ms. Black I must attend to my other guests.” He walked away without a glance at any of them.
Jessie gave Pepper a confused look, then turned to Sophia for conformation. “Oh I see. You’re divorced!” said Sophia, placing her hand on Pepper’s. “Poor thing, fairly recent I take it? It is so hard to get a accustomed to one’s maiden name again. Not to worry, you’ll get used to it.”
Pepper was glad she couldn’t see what her own face revealed. So much for the whole undercover thing--she was just outed by her prime suspect.
Today's word – L is for Lagniappe - is brought to you by (FB) Chip Etier.
If you would like to catch up, here is my 2013 A to Z Mystery Recap.
This post is part of April's Blogging From A-Z Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo. The rest of the A-Z bloggers can be found pinned in the links section of my sidebar.
Hope to see you tomorrow!