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”

Thank you, Nancy. I did have to break it down into steps – anything that could be done ahead of time was, and anything that could be frozen was…There were a few things that had to be cooked up “on the spot”, but not that much – even the beignets, I had fried the day before, then popped them in the oven to heat, which also helped to get rid of some of the oil… they were nice and light. I had lists and lists and lists, hahahaha.

Food has been much on my mind lately, what with the Nature of the Feast, among other things. Way back in October, Vern and I had our 25th anniversary. At the time, I had wanted to go to a very fancy restaurant here in town, but when he checked out the web site, Vern balked as it had gotten very snooty and seemed much more interested in themselves than their patrons. One part in particular bothered him when they actually said, in a roundabout way, that they felt the need to “teach their patrons” how to dine appropriately. I looked around for another restaurant that would suit my yearning for elegance (hahaha) and found one based on their own organic farm that only offered a 10 course tasting menu, along with the right wines – for the low, low price of $700! Well! Reading the reviews of that one, there were quite a few who came away hungry and had to stop at Burger King on the way home. I KNEW that one wasn’t going to fly, hahaha. I finally decided that I could do a tasting menu – and I decide to make it 25 dishes for our 25th anniversary. The 25 dishes would be encompassed into 11 courses, and I started to plan, but almost immediately got intimidated, and one thing led to another and instead of for our anniversary, I did this for his birthday last week. I added a single dish for the birthday, so now had 26 dishes! If you are interested in how it went, here’s a link to a description plus pictures….http://www.inthecompanyoffriends.com/Dinner.htm

Julie…..how in the world did you do it all? As one who doesn’t like to cook, I salute you. That meal is truly amazing! I’m glad you enjoyed doing it. You should be very proud of yourself. I never heard of anything like this before. I’m in awe.

Just watching a Criminal Minds episode with people on a bus being killed by the nerve gas Sarin! Different delivery method though but curious coincidence.

I am trying to eat healthily but every time I come to the Bistro all I can smell is steak and frites!!

Yummmmmmm – I love the way Beauvoir orders food. Never mind the veggies, meat and potatoes – fried, preferably! Add a glass of red wine, and a fireside – what more do you want?

Maybe something happened during the recent turmoil…not sure. Just don’t want anyone to think we aren’t listening. It can be horrid to post and get overlooked or feel ignored.
Return to warm weather here…winter seems to have gone on holiday. It certainly isn’t hanging out here.

Hmmmm – as I read the first page, besides the jumble, I think we have lost the discussions of the earlier books – I think this starts up while we were discussing The Long Way Home… I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to find that there just wasn’t room for everything. I kind of “dipped in” here and there – page 5, page 15, etc., and it all seems to be later stuff. So, either it is REALLY mixed up, or we’ve just lost the early stuff…

I know what you mean, Anna – I’m going to go back and take a look too. Maybe post something at the beginning of how we’ve been just adding to the end rather than answer individual posts, and maybe we can get to see some of the new things people post.

I just had cause to look back at the posts on page one of the Bistro. I discovered some people appear to have posted there recently but I am not sure as the dates of our posts seem mixed up…start in April, jump to October. Is anyone else experiencing that. I wasn’t sure whether to respond to people who have posted there because I am not sure whether the posts are jumbled.
To anyone who has written lately please tag on the end of the posts here and we will say hi. Don’t want anyone to think no-one is listening. I will go back and read from the beginning but it is a bit muddled. Something like this post. I am tired I fear.

Thank you all. I am glad you enjoyed it. Hugs back to you Nancy and Cathryne, Barbara and Julie. Feels like I finished a marathon as the story took longer than I thought but characters will have their say regardless of any other plans!
I love that photo Julie. How clever to find it. Exactly right.
Don’t worry Cathryne about the reference. I hope it wasn’t too cheesy.
The good news is that my books have been percolating away while I wrote Evangeline and I got stuck into the edit of two and a smidge of three last night. It is necessary to take a break from a novel as you go back with completely different eyes. I have a much better read on one of the subplots as I have been doing buckets of research involving books with over 600 pages that I have been munching through. I don’t try to write police procedural so with their hyper accurate details but I do like to be as realistic as my imagination will allow…leaves room for a degree of license.
I am so happy that kept us amused and filled a little of the time before AGR is published.

Well Done. I enjoyed every word. Thank you Anna. Not only are you a gifted person, but generous as well.

Hear, hear! The amount of time this took away from your serious writing, not to mention the care of your mum and dad, and all the other things on your plate is really something I ought to feel bad about. But…. the result was certainly worth it! Loved every word! Early on, loved the Fox and Collie image

I knew the way the toxin was administered, but never got really close to figuring out who and why – brilliant! Agatha Christie would be proud, indeed.

Ah ha! The truth at last! Very cleverly done. I think Agatha Christie would be nodding with pleasure at your elegant solution. I’m already looking forward to another Fox and Collie mystery. Don’t laugh, but it took me a while to get the Fox and Hounds reference! All the better when the penny finally dropped.
Your story was just the distraction and fun that I needed, thank you! You really are very talented and, just as important, willing to put in the effort to make it all work. I hope it is giving you as much pleasure as it is giving us!

Thank you, thank you, Anna! I marvel at your amazing imagination and enjoyed every bit of the story. You certainly have a bright future in writing!

Therese, Freddie, Julie, Frank Hamill and Marcus Collier were deposited with the custody sergeant at the local police station. Fox was less certain that Doreen was part of the plot. It was likely that Frank had kept her in the dark. She was busy making hurried calls to Kenmore and Associates. There were a few missing parts but Marcus was able and willing to fill in those details. The one person they hadn’t been able to tie to the Whitmore was Therese Longley.
“She was a childhood friend of Timothy’s. Therese met Brendan at Timothy’s funeral and they stayed in touch. I am not very comfortable with the thought that Brendan recruited her but then he didn’t tell me who his helpers were going to be. He set it up so none of us really knew who else would be involved except where necessary.”
“Who gave the NAX13 to Freddie?” asked Fox.
“I don’t know for sure but I suspect Brendan did that directly and instructed him on what to do. He wouldn’t have left the handling of a dangerous chemical to chance. Freddie played around with liquid nitrogen in his cooking. It is quite trendy with chefs, all that experimental molecular stuff. Maybe that is why Brendan chose him. Or it could be because he knew he could really trust him. Freddie had quite the crush until Julian came along.”

Fox and Collie took Amelia to their favourite pub for dinner as thanks for her part in solving the murder. She laughed when she saw the name of the detectives preferred haunt.
“The Fox and Hounds! How appropriate.”
Collie didn’t blink. “Really? In what way?”

“The toxin that killed Evangeline acts rapidly which means she ingested it on the bus but there was no way anyone had access to her water bottle, the source of the toxin, during the morning she died,” Fox summarised. “That was the ingenious part of Whitmore’s plan, delaying the activity of the NAX13 so he could protect you all from suspicion. I daresay Mr Whitmore was hopeful that Evangline’s death would have been deemed non-suspicious, which it possibly might by a lesser pathologist, one unaware of the existence of the nerve agent and unfamiliar with its presentation. There we were in luck. Dr Ngige is both thorough and well informed having heard about the NAX13 from an equally excellent pathologist, the one who had examined Brendan Whitmore.”
“We have Ms Dinthorpe to thank for working out exactly how Evangeline was murdered,” Fox informed the room. “Whitmore’s death also gave us some clues. He used his own suicide as a trial run, I suspect to ensure that the delivery method would work. What he couldn’t know was that NAX13 would be implicated in his death given it was a toxin that so few people knew about. He didn’t foresee that the pathologist who examined him would be so unhappy that a man with a healthy heart and brain had died without obvious cause that he would keep digging until he found one. Do you want to explain your theory Amelia?”
“Certainly Inspector although I don’t think I am telling this group anything they don’t already know. NAX13 freezes and melts at the same temperature as water but its density is slightly lower and its heat of evaporation is higher. All are important for the method of delivery. When Whitmore died he was drinking scotch and ice, just as you did with Evangeline Therese. The police recovered a thermos perfect for transporting specimens in liquid nitrogen. Frozen NAX13 would certainly be safer to carry around than the liquid form which would be rapidly fatal if spilled on skin or allowed to evaporate. Even better if the toxin is frozen and encased in water as an extra barrier.”
“The poison was in the ice?” exclaimed Doreen Hamill which suggested to Fox that she was more intelligent than she looked and possibly not aware of the plot to kill Evangeline.
“Yes,” said Amelia. “It is my suspicion that Brendan Whitmore created ice cubes with a miniscule amount of NAX13 at the core. The toxin has a lower density than either water or scotch. When the ice melted the toxin would have floated to the top of either drink and thus been consumed. The greater heat of evaporation of the NAX13 means it was less likely to turn into a vapour quickly at cold temperatures, as when mixed with ice water so would be unlikely to present a risk to anyone else in the bus. In fact the amount of NAX13 used was probably so small it was swallowed by Evangeline in one gulp.
Fox nodded. “Dr Ngige concurs. There was only a molecular trace of NAX13 in the water bottle, not even enough to be a threat. Mr Whitmore would not have wanted anyone else to be at risk from the agent. I suspect there was only one ice cube involved and we know how that came to be in Ms Purdue’s ice cube tray, or rather Freddie and Julian’s.”
There were tears in Freddie’s eyes but he didn’t confirm or deny the accusation. He was tougher than Collie would have credited. She thought he would be confessing like a Catholic at Easter.
“The ice tray in Evangeline’s hotel freezer compartment was empty when we recovered it. It had her fingerprints but also a set belonging to Freddie. The ice tray in the boys room was also empty and had an identical set of prints, the victim’s and Freddie’s. There is not much ice in those little trays is there?” Collie said conversationally.
Julian made an attempt at an explanation. “Evangeline ran out of ice when she was making drinks. We offered to swap her tray with our full one.”
“Of course you did. Very chivalrous,” Collie commended him. “It was also a very convenient way to slip the doctored ice cube into Evangeline’s room. Afterwards you dumped the thermos in a rubbish skip behind the hotel. You cleaned the outside but Freddie must have slipped and left a fingerprint just inside the flask which you overlooked. I am surprised you weren’t wearing gloves.”
“I was,” Freddie said in a small voice. He was obviously exhausted from hiding his guilt. “Brendan’s instructions said to use the thick rubber ones as protection from the liquid nitrogen but they made me clumsy. I got scared that I would drop the ice cube’s little holder and that it would smash and leak toxin or something. I took them off.”
Julian nudged him to make him stop. “We would like our lawyer now, Calli Wong.”

“It was a very clever plan in every regard but then Brendan Whitmore was an intelligent man,” Fox said looking around the room. They had tied the boys and Hamill to Whitmore but neither Mrs Hamill or Therese looked surprised by the name. “He had to be in order to enact his meticulous scheme from beyond the grave. Of course he also required a lot of help, but that was not difficult to acquire. Whitmore was a gregarious man, kind to his friends and generous with his considerable wealth. It also wasn’t hard to find people who despised Evangeline Purdue, otherwise known as Marissa Collier, nee Brownlea. Two years ago she was going by the name Mrs Maya Hall and working at Whitmore’s factory. Now she is dead and I think we know how and why.” Fox paused briefly and considered the latter. Money was the simple explanation but he was actually lying when he said he understood the reason behind her actions. “Freddie called Evangeline a very nasty woman. Marcus Collier, who was married to her, described his ex wife as a psychopath. Maybe she was that. It would explain how she could steal samples of a material she knew to be a highly toxic from Whitmore’s company and sell it to a terrorist group to be used against innocent men, women and children. And she did so knowing her own son would be endangered. Whitmore confirmed this through his own private investigations. I think he was horrified that a product he helped create had been used to kill. Even more so because NAX13 had taken the life of his friend Marcus’s only child. Unable to live with that knowledge, he took his own life and in doing so practised the means by which he would take revenge on the perpetrator of that horrific act. Evangeline Purdue died because of what she did but also because she stirred anger and loathing in people prepared to act on those emotions.”
Collie took up the narrative. “Evangeline Purdue received the bus tour as a prize in the mail from the Nexus charity. She probably assumed her details were entered automatically when she purchased something or she was so greedy she didn’t care why she had been chosen or whether it was a mistake. Nexus was established by Whitmore with the help of his lawyers and his old friend Frank Hamill.”
“Helping a friend is not a crime,” interjected Hamill.
Collie ignored him. “When Evangeline claimed the prize the tour company notified Nexus which is how Frank knew she would be part of this group. Frank also notified Whitmore’s law firm as he had been instructed to do when this whole plan was begun. We spoke to the firm, Kenmore and Associates. They were less than helpful but a warrant freed up their records. One of the associates, Calli Wong, emailed the details of which tour Evangeline would be on to three other people, Therese, Freddie and Julian, and they subsequently booked places on the same trip.”
Therese and Freddie were both looking green. Collie hoped they weren’t going to be sick. She really hated mess.

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