Gamache Series Open Discussion

Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Gamache Series Open Discussion

  1. Anna says:

    I suspect the problem of the body was an easier fix than the scheduling issues. After all it wasn’t particularly messy so once Evangeline was off the bus all is well! Now rebooking hotels for all those people is much more of an issue. Poor Sherry, no wonder she was hyperventilating.
    More to come….

    • Julie says:

      Well, that’s certainly true – not to mention the stain on her record. It’s one thing to have a COMPLAINT from a customer, but to have one up and die on you, and presumably murdered by another customer…

  2. Anna says:

    Most unsatisfactory I agree!

  3. Anna says:

    Inspector Fox was unsuccessful when it came to uncovering any obvious suspicious characters but he enjoyed a lively discussion with a pair of young men who had their own amusing insights into the drama. Freddie and Julian (not married Inspector, we don’t like to label the relationship) were a charismatic couple that cut trim figures in their jeans and Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts. It was hard to pick their ages just on appearances but Fox had seen their drivers licences. Freddie, once a chef but now an interior designer, had silver hair and an unlined face. He had turned 38 a couple of months previously. Julian, a landscape architect, was older by a year but equally youthful with a crop of brown curls and twinkling blue eyes. If he put on a little weight he could be an adult version of a Raphael putto.
    “We came on the tour to see the gardens, particularly those at Ormsby castle,” he explained while flicking through pictures on his tablet sized phone and showing them to the Inspector. Fox was not a great gardener but he was impressed by the examples Julian proffered. Interestingly each one contained a sinuous metal sculpture as a centerpiece. “As you can see, my designs are somewhat more contemporary but there is much to be learned from studying the traditional. I don’t think we should forget the past.”
    “I’d happily forget the events of today,” Freddie had chimed in. “That woman died as she lived, ghastly!”
    “There was no going gently into the good night with Ms Evangeline. Mind you, I will be the one sliding into the coffin with a canapĂ© in one hand and a colourful cocktail in the other. You will have to drag me screaming from the party,” announced Julian.
    “No thermos of iced water for you old man,” his partner agreed.
    “Did everyone know about the thermos then?” asked the inspector.
    “Everyone,” the boys agreed in unison.
    “Frankly though, I always suspected it was vodka,” Freddie added confidentially.
    “Seriously?”
    Fox wasn’t sure if Freddie was joking. The younger man shrugged.
    “I don’t really know but I always felt in need of a swig of something stronger than water when Evangeline was on the prowl. Thank goodness we’re gay or she might have been all over us as well.”
    “If we had exuded the aroma of rich then being gay would have presented no barrier I am sure,” Julian insisted.
    The boys denied having met Evangeline before the tour but they painted a very unflattering picture of Ms Purdue as an opportunist and possible gold digger. The latter could potentially lead to a motive at a stretch and if it was true. However, as far as Fox could determine the tour, while premium, was hardly the ideal holiday of the rich and famous who might be a target for a gold digger’s attentions.
    “I suspect this was the best old Evangeline could manage,” Julian concluded. “She did have a whiff of the desperate about her.”

  4. Anna says:

    As with many things, the world looked clearer in the bright light of morning. Morgan had finished his autopsy late the previous night with Fox in attendance. In the pathologist’s expert opinion there was little to explain the death of Evangeline Purdue other than a toxin.
    “Her liver was showing signs of long term excessive alcohol consumption and she had the beginnings of atherosclerosis but neither had been sufficiently advanced to kill her. Out of interest, she gave birth at same stage in her life. Have you tracked down any relatives?”
    Fox hadn’t. Collie had spoken to a neighbour of Evangeline’s who denied any knowledge of the woman’s family. Local police were searching her flat and looking for next of kin but they were hitting a few dead ends. There were no public records in her name, no driver’s license, bank accounts, credit cards, passport or birth records. Until she signed the lease on her flat eighteen months before, Ms Purdue did not appear to exist.
    They were making progress in other areas. The bus company records showed that Evangeline had only signed up for the tour two weeks before it started. Interestingly, she hadn’t paid for it herself but had won the holiday as a prize. A charity called Nexus had paid for a number of tours over the preceding year which they raffled. The winners were able to sign up for one at their convenience as long as places were available. It gave them a time frame.
    “Whoever killed our victim had to have signed up for the bus tour after Evangeline did so we should focus on those passengers,” Fox told Collie.
    It wasn’t hard to get those details which Toni shared with her boss over coffee and a muffin in his office, although she did have one reservation.
    “What about this Nexus mob? Someone there could have sent the prize to Evangeline and signed up for the tour in advance knowing the victim would be on it.”
    “The local boys found the letter from Nexus in Ms Purdue’s apartment. It was dated two months ago and there have been multiple tours in that time. The killer had to wait until Evangeline signed up to know exactly which one she would be on, so I think they will be among those who booked after her. But you could well be right that there is an inside connection at the bus company or Nexus. Even the neighbour wasn’t aware that Evangeline was going on holiday.”
    They looked over the booking list. The Australian’s had been signed up weeks ago so they were definitely out. The Mason’s had also locked in their spots early along with three other older couples that Fox had interviewed the evening before. None had struck him as being much involved with the victim at all. That left Amelia, still top of the list, Therese, Freddie and Julian and the Hamills. Collie put a couple of constables to work digging into their backgrounds to determine if there was any connection to victim. Another Sergeant, who was very tech savvy, was doing an Internet search to see if they could track down any clues to Evangeline’s identity along with possible links to Brendan Whitmore, while Collie looked into Nexus and Fox rang his army buddy. They had a few hours until the bus tour moved on to Ormsby castle.

  5. Anna says:

    I do wish Inspector Fox would hurry up. I had no idea this story was going to be so convoluted!

  6. This is soooooo good. As for myself, I have no idea who the murderer is or the motive. Not a clue to how it was done. I can’t cheat by reading the last chapter. Yes, I have been known to skim read over the ending of a book when I didn’t have any ideas. Maybe Carol and I can work on this tonight.

  7. Julie says:

    I have my theory on how, and why – the who is really leaving me banging my head against a wall, however! I am so loving this story, Anna. I think Collie should be the one to solve it – just to be different – let the second stringer be the brains of the duo, whilst Fox takes all the credit!

  8. Anna says:

    The first piece of information that arrived mid morning was the toxicology result. Morgan was correct and the same nerve agent was indeed their murder weapon. Shortly afterwards some other interesting facts emerged which Fox and Collie ran through over more coffee. The Inspector’s contact knew not only Amelia Dinthorpe, but also quite a bit about the nerve agent which they had designated NAX13. However, Amelia had served in the Middle East and Afghanistan but not at Porton Down.
    “She would know how to treat exposure to such things but that’s about it,” Colonel Morrisey explained. “Not that nerve toxins are that difficult to make unfortunately.”
    Morrisey explained that he doubted that Amelia had anything to do with the death of Ms Purdue but he did tell them that NAX13 had been found in the bodies of 30 victims of a mysterious attack on a North African village where many of the deceased were children and two of them British aid workers.
    “When did that happen?” Fox asked.
    “About six months before Brendan Whitmore died. When NAX13 was implicated in his suicide we went over his facilities with a fine tooth comb, the suspicion being that Whitmore was making nerve agents and selling them to terrorists, but we found nothing.”
    “Nothing at all?” Fox was incredulous given the coincidence.
    “His international factories are continuously inspected to prevent exactly that sort of thing happening. The local research facility at Whetton Hills was also clean. We dug so hard we found any minor infraction that occurred on the premises but no links to NAX13.”
    Morrisey promised to send Fox the file, redacted in parts but better than nothing.
    “That’s our number one suspect slipping from poll position,” sighed Collie.
    “Best we chat with the top six again, Ameila Dinthorpe included. This all seems to lead to Whitmore. Maybe that is where we need start,” Fox commented as he grabbed his suit coat.
    They arrived at the Inn before lunch, after which the bus was due to head on to Ormsby, their suspects with it unless they could find a reason to hold them. The dining room was being set for the meal so the proprietors showed the detectives into a small library. They accepted the offer of more coffee, the Inn’s version was far beyond anything they could get at the station, and started their interviews with the boys.
    Freddie and Julian were a little less relaxed. The first interview could be reasonably expected as routine but they obviously hadn’t anticipated a call back. Fox let them sit and simmer while he flicked through the file on the Whitmore death. Something had caught his eye the first time through. He found what he was looking for and placed the photograph in front of Julian. It was a scene shot of the Whitmore mansion, a large modern manor house set in an equally modern landscape, complete with metallic sculpture. The Inspector watched for any reaction and was pleased to see he had evoked one. It was subtle, just a widening of the eyes then a slight frown, which was even more interesting. If Julian had nothing to hide, why was he schooling his emotions.
    “Look familiar Mr Attwater?”

  9. Anna says:

    I don’t mind who solves it really. I think both of the detectives are quite clever and very hardworking. I spent yesterday writing with an aim to finish but as I hit 9000 word! there is a bit to go. Because I am hurrying and because you know how it was done…..that was where this whole thing started….the suspense may be a diminished but it will be a relief. Apologies for any errors or typos as it is on my iPad and harder to see clearly.
    I hope everyone is well and excited for the Feasts of Three Pines. I am licking my lips! Autumn appears to have arrived at last here. It was actually cold last night! I daresay frosts are around the corner but we are off to Perth for Easter where 40 deg days are still not out of the question. Ugh. Heat is not my thing but seeing family is our agenda. I just have to get my daughter through half yearly exams next week. Rest and good food will be needed for both of us.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, we don’t know I have the correct way it’s done in mind… There are actually a few different ways to do it that I’ve come up with. But the toxin itself will be the clue that tells us who, as it’s a fairly rare toxin that somebody needed to have access to or the ability to make – it’s not like ricin, which would be relatively easy, both to administer and to find… Very exciting – I have to admit, it never occurred to me it could be one of the two young men (not least because I didn’t know they existed before the second-to-last installment… but with my theory it could be literally anyone, hahaha.

    • Julie says:

      Is anyone else having trouble with this site? I get a “this page can’t accept your request” type message whenever I post and I have to keep trying and trying… I wonder if the latest Chrome update has interfered with how it works for me? I’d better get in and see what I can find out.

  10. Lucy says:

    Anyone have the dates for the Artist Studio Tour in the fall, that incorporates “places” from Louise’s books?? Thanks.

    • Julie says:

      Lucy – I’ve not heard of this. I hope it is true and that someone here can go, so we can live vicariously…. Paul, do you know anything about it?

  11. Anna says:

    I have had a lot of trouble accessing and posting from my iPad. I have been blaming my iPad. It’s one of the reasons I have been slow to get installments out.
    I just did a quick google Lucy but haven’t found dates yet. Will keep looking.

  12. Anna says:

    There was an Arts festival in Knowlton last July but can’t see one fro this year.

  13. Yesterday I had terrible with this site. I got the same message as Julie. Sometimes I got the message when I tried to get to the site and just kept trying. One time I did manage to post. Then I wrote a very long post and lost it when I tried to post it. Then I could not get to the site again. I tried at Carol’s last evening but was unsuccessful. Hope this works.

  14. Anna says:

    It worked Barbara. I hope you and Carol are well. I thought it was my long posts for the installments that was causing trouble but I guess the website has just had problems.

  15. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Well, now I want to try posting to see if I can. I’m at my son’s with grandchildren while he and his wife have a week in Ireland. Happy parents! My co-grandma has made it possible to do this without my falling down flat. Darling 5 year old granddaughter had an asthma episode last Thurs. night, but with the help of my other son and my daughter-in-law’s fine written instructions, all is well.
    Enjoying Anna’s story and everyone’s posts. My thoughts have been going out for the very best eye procedure outcomes.
    I’ve been passing quite a few “Ice Ahead” signs, but also remembering that “All shall be well.” Thanks for being here and I’m so thankful for Louise too. I’m enjoying The Beautiful Mystery right now, again! I couldn’t believe the wonderful writing and choreography in the scene starting with pounding at the door of the abbey and ending with opening the door to the Hound of Hell. An amazingly well-thought-out scene, I never realized its full artistry and effectiveness.
    Just f. Donna Leon’s new one and liked it very much.
    I gave a copy of 84 Charing Cross Road to a friend recently and she loved, loved it. She and her daughter are fellow L.P. admirers and now she wants to read all the Helene Hanff books.
    Best thoughts to all and thank heavens for the Bistro!

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