LOUISE PENNY’S

The Bistro

The Bistro

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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.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

Timothy Kildare, née Collier, was listed as one of two aid workers who died in the NAX13 attack in Africa. Fox had not made the connection immediately and the Army had not figured it out at all. It was only after they had identified Evangeline as Marissa that the police tracked her marriage to Collier and the birth of their son. Timothy had ultimately been adopted by Marcus’s sister and her husband, Ralph Kildare. They were lucky the records had been computerized. In the old days the connection would have taken days, if not weeks to uncover.
“Brendan and I discussed at length my fears for Timothy given the known terrorist activity in the region where he was working. When Brendan was convincing Adam that they needed to destroy the NAX13 he actually used Timothy as an example. What if such a chemical was used there, he said. Marissa overhead the discussion and, in her inevitable twisted style she must have got the idea to do exactly what we all feared. Brendan was devastated when he learned what had happened to Timothy,” Marcus admitted. “Almost as wretched as I was. We both felt responsible.”
Neither Fox nor Collie had to point out that it was hardly their fault that a normal conversation could lead anyone to sell a nerve agent to terrorists. It took a twisted mind to do what Marissa had done and risk her son in the process.
“She was a psychopath,” Marcus said, as if he had read their minds. “When Brendan worked out what had happened, he set a plan in motion to find Marissa and take revenge, for all of us. He gave the money to an old friend, he didn’t tell me who, to set up Nexus and had private detectives track down Marissa under her new name.”

Thanks Peg. Nice to see you posting. Hope all is well in Wiscosin as we await A Great Reckoning…the novel and not a judgement per se! Anybody been basting a turkey from the first recipe?
Don’t worry Julie, the big reveal is almost upon us. Has to be as I topped 10000 words. Really it was going to be a short story…..

Phew! At least three new suspects! Hahaha – we’re going in the wrong direction, as I don’t think we’ve definitively cleared anyone yet. Yikes! As bugs bunny used to say “The plot sickens!”

“Do you think she knew you worked for Whitmore when she took the job?”
“Probably. She seemed to keep better track of me than I did of her and it would suit her perverse mind to take advantage of my life, to somehow mess it up.”
“You think that is what she was doing? Taking revenge on you?”
Marcus shook his head. “No, she was making money. Any negative effect on me was just happy sideline.”
“What did she do to make money?”
“She groomed Adam Rockwell, Brendan’s right hand man and head of scientific developments. He and Brendan worked closely and quite secretively on new pesticides that were more effective and less toxic, to boost crops in the developing world. One of the compounds they developed was very effective but toxic to humans, a nerve agent. Brendan ordered all of the compound and any records to be destroyed but Adam kept samples. He thought he could improve it, make it less toxic. When Marissa came along and worked her way into Adam’s trust he must have told her what he was doing. He was not a bad guy and I am sure he never intended for Marissa to use the situation to her own advantage. She took some of the samples Adam had hidden and found a buyer.”
The agent had found its way into some very bad hands. Brendan Whitmore worked it out when he heard about the tragedy in Africa, recognizing the pattern of death from what had happened to their trial animals.
“Marissa disappeared before the Army showed up and the factory had been cleansed. The Army were so thorough they established that a couple of the vacuum flasks used to hold certain types of chemicals was missing from the inventory but that was put down to an auditing issue. Brendan became profoundly depressed, worried that whoever had their hands on the NAX13 would manufacture more of it. Even when there was no evidence that they had, he continued to slump. He couldn’t get away from the fact that a compound from his factory had killed children. He loved children.”
“But Whitmore never married or had kids of his own?”
Collier shook his head again.
“But you did, have a child I mean,” Fox clarified. “You and Marissa.”
“My sister raised him. Timothy was a lovely boy, not like his mother at all.”
“And she killed him?”

Happy Easter. I was a bit out of touch as I was in Perth for the weekend. We have Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays so everybody travels. I hope everyone is well?
I will be excited to hear your DNA results Barbara! Although I was reading an article about police agencies trying to access DNA results from Ancestry.com for criminal cases even though it’s not the same testing. Might be a story in that.
Speaking of stories…more to come!

Barbara, wouldn’t yours and your sister’s be the same? There’s probably something I’m not understanding… but how exciting! Do they say how long it takes to analyze? I’d be on tenterhooks now…

I didn’t understand either. But it seems that sibs wouldn’t be the same just as we have different color hair and eyes the geographical areas we will show as being from will differ, maybe. It seems this is different from determining if two people are child and parent. It will take 6-8 weeks. It has given us something to laugh about and make silly jokes. It’s great being two older women together. We probably sound like we did when we were home alone watching TV as preteens and teens.

I like that image of you two getting along like teenagers again… I kept on thinking about that DNA thing and probably came to that same conclusion – that even though you’ll have the same ancestry, some traits are passed down and are dominant in one and not in the other, so it will be with which ancestors contributed how much to each sister. It will be fascinating to compare them! 6 to 8 weeks seems like such a long time, but I know it will go by in the blink of an eye.

The DNA kits have been received by Ancestry. At first they emailed that 2 had been checked in. Didn’t say which ones and I sent 3 at the same time. Finally the 3rd was checked in. I am still excitedly awaiting the results. I wonder how much they will differ. Sam’s (Hubby), Carol’s (my sister) and mine.

Millie, I don’t want you to harm your eyes, but I do miss your postings hope all is well.
As always, good thoughts to you.

Ditto, ditto, ditto! I think of you often, Millie, wondering how you are getting along and how you are feeling about the surgery now that it’s done.

Cathryne, asthma attacks in children are frightening. I’m so glad all worked out well. After reading your post I spent some time recalling my trip to Ireland. The countryside was beautiful and the people were very friendly. I always like to leave the shops and walk into neighborhoods and meet the people. If I see someone in their yard, I’ll stop and talk to them. I find people willing to talk to the strange tourist. It is a wonder that no one has ever thought me lost from my group or in need of help. I am an elderly woman with white, white hair so I would understand. We were not allowed to leave the tour bus in Northern Ireland – a real disappointment. Hope your family enjoys Ireland as much as I did.

Lunch was just being served in the dining room when a constable interrupted the interview in the library. Fox allowed the boys to join the rest of the tour group, for now. Things were finally starting to happen. The constable informed them that a flask had been found in a dumpster behind the Eden Hotel where the tour group had stayed the night before Evangeline died. A very special kind of flask as it turned out and it contained traces of NAX13. There were no fingerprints on the outside of the container, it had been carefully wiped clean, but there was a partial print just inside the rim. It was been processed as a matter of urgency. The second breakthrough was also down to fingerprints. A match from a long ago arrest in a domestic violence dispute.
The constable had a third piece of information to impart. An inquiry into Nexus that Collie had initiated had returned an interesting result. The charity was mysterious but well financed. It had only been established for a couple of years and appeared to be concerned with raising money for children’s services in developing countries. Management of the organization was hidden behind layers of shelf companies but when Nexus had been registered in Switzerland one person’s name had popped up.
“So, what’s the plan boss?” Toni asked.
Before Fox could answer, another constable approached with a man dressed in cord pants and a checked shirt. The Inspector recognized him from the Whitmore file but Marcus Collier appeared older than the photo Fox had seen.there were grey streaks in his short brown hair and lines around his drooping green eyes.
The constable who escorted Collier from Whetton Hills rustled up a pot of tea and sandwiches for Whitmore’s former assistant. He drank the tea but the sandwiches sat untouched at his elbow while he stared at the postmortem photo of the victim.
“She hasn’t aged well but then neither have I,” was Marcus’s first comment.
Fox studied the other man’s tired appearance and the nervous way he twisted the gold ring on his left hand.
“She died with the name Evangeline Purdue but it was not the one she was born with,” commented Fox.
Collier snorted. “Marisa changed her name the way I change my socks. She called herself Maya Hall when she worked at the factory. I didn’t even know it was her until she had been there a year and by then it was too late. We just didn’t know what she had done.”
Marissa Brownlea had been born in London where she was cautioned for shop lifting as a teenager. She escaped with a warning and had become a secretary and an actress. She married Marcus Collier briefly in her twenties.
“It is embarrassing to admit it but she beat me regularly, with her fists, lamps, ornaments, whatever came to hand. I ended it when she attacked me with a knife. I was hospitalized and she was arrested but I still felt sorry for her somehow. She agreed to a divorce and I agreed not to pursue the charges.”
Fox nodded at the wedding band on Collier’s hand. “Did you remarry?”
Marcus shook his head. “No. I never wanted to. The ring helped with that, although you would be astonished as to how it attracts some women rather than putting them off.”
“What happened to Marissa?”
“She changed her name, as I said, maybe to hide her past. She had some minor roles in TV soaps and continued some secretarial work. She contacted me at times, when she needed money. Then I lost track of her until a few years ago when she turned up at the factory as a Personal Assistant to the chief scientist. I didn’t have much to do with the factory but Brendan hosted parties for the workers at various times. Imagine my surprise to encounter Marissa, calling herself the widowed Mrs Maya Hall at a work Christmas do.”

I too have yearned for chestnuts roasting but no joy so far. We do get fresh ones in the supermarket but I would have no idea what to do with them!

Thanks Julie. I won’t be in the States for Thanksgiving this year but I will for Christmas. I am going to start thinking about our Christmas Feast. Chestnuts will definitely be involved. As the time approaches I will be looking for more ideas to have an American Christmas.

Barbara – after years and years of yearning for “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” I found myself somewhere where there was a street vendor selling roast chestnuts… I immediately bought some, popped one in my mouth and…. spit it out! It was horrible! I can’t imagine anyone liking them unless I got hold of a bad bunch somehow… I’m still intrigued, but my next foray will be much slower…. I wonder where they get the dried chestnuts… will have to go exploring online today.

LP has a lovely post on FB re the horror in Brussels. Prayers and good thoughts to the people of Belgium.

Tried to post but had an error in my Email address. The name and Email slots were empty and I must have made an error. The turkey looked and sounded so good I considered changing our menu for Easter. I’ve never eaten chestnuts. We, my family, use pecans in our dressing/stuffing and cook it in another pan not in the turkey. We also make a dressing/stuffing using oysters but no nuts.

Fox was impressed that the landscape gardener only looked back with a now passive gaze. There was no trace of ebullient character from the day before. Freddie showed a trace of anxiety biting his lower lip. No doubt they were pondering which way to play their next move. If they were completely innocent of any crime then there would be no harm in being open with Fox but the boys were not talking…yet.
“I followed a link from your website to that of the sculptor. Angel is quite an artist and very much sought after but that particular style of sculpture is exclusive for your use.” Fox looked between the photograph on the table and Julian, who had developed a light sheen of sweat on his forehead. Freddie had gone pale.
“This image isn’t on your website where you so proudly display your portfolio of work but I am fairly certain this is one of your gardens. When did you complete it?”
“Five years ago,” sighed Julian finally. “It remains my favourite job so far.”
“Because of how it turned out, or because it is where you met Freddie?”
There was a little gasp from Freddie, presumably at the extent of the Inspector’s knowledge. Fox had been busy. He had found the photograph of the garden and sculpture while flicking through Whitmore’s file and went on to find a list of staff employed at the time of the man’s death. While he hadn’t been present on that fateful night, the chef at Whitmore’s mansion had been none other than Freddie Moore.
“He was a nice man and a good boss,” Freddie admitted when presented with the facts. “Not very demanding when it came to food and he let me try a whole range of dishes. I got on well with his assistant Marcus Collier too. It was Marcus that listened to my interior design ideas. Whitmore was happy to go along with them and he encouraged me to think about design as a career. When he died, I did. He left money for all of the staff to support them while they found work.”
“Why do you think a man in Whitmore’s position would take his own life? He was wealthy, barely fifty and in good physical condition. Was he lonely? Depressed? What drove him?”
“A bit of both possibly. Something was definitely bothering him in the months before he died. He wasn’t eating much and goodness knows I tried hard to make things he would like. He spent a lot of time in his study with Marcus at night putting together plans, making calls to countries around the world for business and charity work. I sometimes did a light supper for them. Whitmore was quite a philanthropist.”
It was not the character reference Fox was expecting. It did not tally at all with the vision of a man selling chemical weapons to terrorists that Morrisey had presented. There was still no obvious link to their current case. How did Evangeline Purdue fit into the picture? Her name did not appear in the Whitmore file but there had to be a connection.
Collie finished her coffee and stared at the two gentleman finally fixing her gaze on Freddie Moore.
“How long did you work for Brendan Whitmore?”
Freddie looked sad now rather than anxious.
“Five years.”
“You would have seen a lot of people come and go around the mansion.”
The one time chef shrugged. “Some. I wasn’t confined to the kitchen. But if you want to know about Whitmore’s visitors, you would be better off asking Marcus. He was the keeper of the keys so to speak.”
“We will when he gets here. Turns out he still lives in the village of Whetton Hills, not far as it turns out, from where you and Mr Attwater have a cottage.”
“It was Freddie’s home when he worked for Whitmore. We don’t get up there much anymore,” Julian said. “Marcus keeps an eye on it for us. He really is a nice bloke.”
Fox leaned forward with a stern expression. “Who is Evangeline Purdue?”
Julian glared at him. “A nasty woman who died on the bus.”
“A very nasty woman,” whispered Freddie.

Oh and after I press post comment the screen reloads blank and I can sometimes refresh the page a few times from the browser bar and it will come up and sometimes I just get a blank screen and can’t get back in.

Thanks Julie! Might have to turn it into a book!
Paul, the problem for me is sometimes the Bistro just doesn’t load. I get gamacheseries.com in the browser bar but a white screen. It has taken me multiple attempts to get here. Have we overloaded the page limit!?

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