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”

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.

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.

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 canapé 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.”

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….

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…

“Hopefully the upset was due to a death on the bus and not an interruption to their schedule “. Did have a laugh. I’ve had days, when I was Tour Director for Historic Augusta, that I wouldn’t have known which was worse. I am loving the story, Anna.

Thanks Julie. Didn’t want to disrupt the flow about LP though. I really did get a shiver when she talked about the new book.

“Hopefully the upset was due to a death on the bus and not an interruption to their scheduling. ” You crack me up, Anna! Love the story so far and the people in it. Can’t wait to find out if my theories are correct…

” Hopefully the upset was due to a death on the bus and not an interruption to their scheduling. ” You crack me up, Anna! I love it! I have it all worked out HOW it was done, just not who.. though I have a couple of theories… Naturally, it’s all conjecture on my part, and my face will be red once I find out what really happened, hahaha. I do love this story and the people in it.

Toni Collie leaned back in her chair and gave her boss a rundown on the tour guests which she had interviewed. Therese Longley had an Arts degree but was working as a nanny for a couple in London. They were away visiting family and hadn’t required her services so she was having a holiday on her own.
“Therese is the young, non confrontational type. She gave up her seat to the demanding Evangeline this morning. Actually, she struck me as a bit wet to be honest. Not unintelligent obviously but not overly keen to engage her brain either and too eager to be please.”
Fox smiled slightly. He knew his partner well and suspected her assessment of the young woman might be a little harsh. Toni was not infrequently described as a ‘hard’ woman by their colleagues and she could be but she had a heart under that rigid shell.
“Not the rampaging murderous sort then?” Fox quipped. “I spoke to Amelia Dinthorpe. She and Therese were together for the rest of the morning, didn’t leave their seats. Amelia’s background is more suited to the the villain we are looking for with her army experience and a medical degree. You need to check if she ever worked with nerve agents. Maybe a call to Porton Down?”
Toni snorted. “Like they would tell us if she had. The Army research mob are tight lipped at best.”
Fox nodded. “I have an old mate in the Army medical branch. I will try the back door approach tomorrow.”
They ran through the other passengers. The bus was a specially designed 30 seater but there were only 18 on the off season tour. There was a group of four young Australian teachers on holiday over their summer, who had only arrived in England the day before the bus trip. Fox had a call in to their school principal for a background check but he thought their involvement was unlikely.
Collie had rung the bus company for information on Sherry McCarthy and the driver, Eddie Blakewell. Eddie had been with the company for thirty years and was nearing retirement. There was not a black mark on his record, if you didn’t count a fondness for the music of One Direction which he had picked up from his grandchildren.
Sherry was in her second year as a tour guide having started out in the booking office. She was in her late twenties and due to marry in six months. The company owner spoke well of her and she had seemed a decent sort to Toni. Admittedly, she had been hyperventilating into a paper bag when the detectives had first arrived on the scene, which Collie thought wasn’t totally unreasonable. Hopefully the upset was due to a death on the bus and not an interruption to their scheduling. Regardless, Sherry had pulled herself together and helped a constable organise for the guests to stay at the Inn rather than the designated hotel 30 miles away. Made their investigation so much easier but they would be moving on tomorrow afternoon for a two night stay at Ormsby Castle before heading straight back to London. They needed to make the most of the time they had with the suspects.
Toni had also interviewed Frank and Doreen Hamill, a couple in their late fifties.
“He is an accountant with his own small firm. Doreen manages a High Street clothing store. They have three married children. Their opinion of Ms Purdue differed slightly. Doreen thought she was a hussy. Frank was a bit more sympathetic, thought she was lonely and attention seeking as a result.”
“Nothing like motive or opportunity as far as you could see?”
“Wishful thinking with this lot I’m afraid Sir,” Toni snorted. In all her interviews she had come across neither. The Mason’s, Lizzie and Dave were in their late thirties but had expressed almost identical opinions to the Hamill’s, similarly split along gender lines. Evangeline Purdue evoked sympathy in the males and bristling disapproval among the females, with the insipid Therese Longley a minor exception to the rule.

So lovely to see so many faces in the Bistro. I can feel the excitement building but August seems so far. Mind you, I don’t want to wish the time away.
Lucky you Amy, the trip sounds lovely. I hope to see Quebec in winter. It is definitely on the wishlist. Love your thoughts on the book. I too wondered if it related to the boys in the stained glass. I don’t like the sound of suspicion falling on Gamace, shades of old evil circling again. Did anyone else think Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when reading about Amelia Choquet?

Hi ladies ! So excited to read about LP’s new book! So many questions from the reveal. Sounds like he may be teaching a the academy; is the old friend Emile? What about the old adversary? John Flemming , Michel Brebuefe? Is the stained glass window the boys in the church ? Lots of things to ponder, but only Louise can make it a great story. Love how she ties all things together. Hope all is well with you all! had a great trip to Winter Carnaval in Old Quebec City in Feb. The Bury Your Dead tour was great! Louise actually rented a house for a month ; in the book it was Emile’s house! Beautiful city!

I think that, too, Kim. (About the upkeep) It would be so much better if she could donate it to the Arts Society or something.

I can’t imagine anyone living in Jane’s house…. Too disconcerting to have (what I picture as) walls jam packed with people and places. But too sacred to paint over. Clara is obviously still living in the home she shared with Peter. The Gamaches are in Emilie’s old house. It strikes me that Clara might find the upkeep difficult – at least in the real world.

Karen – welcome! Louise is wonderful, isn’t she? If you haven’t gotten to “know” her yet, do! I find I enjoy the books even more after getting to see a glimpse into her remarkable life! Join her FB page and sign up for the newsletter. You’ll see that besides arising early every morning to write, she invites us into her life to share her joys and sorrows. And gives us an idea of what it takes to write a book like hers. She is a wonderful writer, uniquely Canadian, and the books show her love of country as well as of her fellow man.

There are several interviews with her available on Youtube, and she is a wonderful, funny, speaker!

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could see those centerpieces. There are all manner of things that were hidden inside, and how big must they have been to be able to truly hide some of those things? In my mind, there are lots of spiky flowers, etc. in them – like this: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/708/23660536112_23ea0b0292_o.jpg

I think nobody lives in Jane’s house. In my mind, I have it being featured a bit in the last book, and it was empty? But it definitely belongs to Clara. I’d hoped that the Artists Society would take it over and make it into a gallery space… or at least a place for them to have the societies parties and events… I’m sure Clara is taking care of the art on the walls, so I don’t think anyone would actually “live” there… but that’s just my speculation – Louise has never told us.

Welcome, Karen! I have also wondered about Jane’s house and artwork.

I listened to The Beautiful Mystery read on the radio (Wisconsin Public’s Radio’s Chapter A Day program) for my intro to Louise Penny. That had proper French also.

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