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”

Thank you for the thoughts and the advice Julie. We did some massage on dad and I had him sit on a tennis ball today to put some pressure on the piriformis muscle. He didn’t have a good day. He was tired, he had a sore jaw and then he got chest pain. We sorted him out and the GP was contacted. He was much better tonight but he is a worry.
Because of all of that the story writing has been a bit challenging. I managed to get some done tonight…I do write best at night but the time is then limited by fatigue. I had to nut out a few technical points. Lots of research in the writing game. Keep suspending belief people and pretend you are watching a Poirot episode or something.
Right bedtime has arrived. I am thinking of you all.

Anna – unless the story-writing is a much-needed distraction, please don’t feel you have to rush to finish it when other things are calling you! I was hoping it was a bit of fun, but that won’t work if you are worrying about the time spent on it. Please take your time – we’ll be here. Hee hee.

Hope your Dad is improved today. I second the idea that you do not need to push yourself to finish the story for us. We all want what is best for you to be first. That said I must comment on the story. I’m loving it! I had wondered if you would bring in anything about Australian First Peoples. Like that you did. I have my idea of who the murder should be but can not nail down a motive without an involved and lengthy story. I am probably overthinking things as I often do. I know you will be able to make it all clear without much too do. Love the “suspend belief” and the Poirot reference. Good thoughts to you.

Now it was Toni’s turn to frown. She had no indication of there being any risk to the rest of the tour group. The pathologist at the scene had said he was worried about poison to the Inspector but he hadn’t expressed any concern that it might affect anyone else. Toni opted for bland reassurance and then dispatched Therese back to the lounge room while she conferred with her boss. Robbie Fox put in a call to the morgue just in case.
“I have my suspicions but I won’t know for sure until the lab runs a few tests. I have asked them to put a rush on it,” Dr Morgan Ngige explained, “but I don’t think any of the others have cause to worry at this stage.”
“Can you elaborate on your suspicions Chief?”
“Is that a reference to the tribal nature of my native origins which could be construed as a racist remark in certain circles?”
“No. It’s a reference to the fact that you are the Chief pathologist and revered as such. Besides, your native origins have been rooted in Wapping for at least the past five generations if I recall.”
Fox and Morgan both knew that as the only pathologist in the county Ngige often felt he had been shunted to a backwater. His wife, Amelia, had put the sign Chief Pathologist on his door to make him feel better.
Morgan hurumphed. “The victim showed a couple of distinct and unusual signs when I examined her at the scene. Firstly, the muscles in her limbs were almost rigid when I saw her less than an hour after death. Then there was the blood stained froth on her mouth and nostrils indicative of massive pulmonary oedema.”
“In English please Doctor for the sake of us plods.”
“Ms Purdue’s lungs filled with fluid which is usually associated with heart failure. I have already spoken to her local doctor and he saw her only recently. She was in rude good health, with an emphasis on the rude apparently. Heart was fine and she was on no regular medications.”
“And this lead you to conclude?”
“Like I said, I need to get a result from the lab.”
“What did you ask them to look for Morgan? You are holding out on me.”

Make a note of the clues Julie as I must admit to bwing really curious to see what you have found. This short story is becoming quite long! Another installment soon. I am down at the nuraing home aa dad has sciatica. Busy night here. Someone passed away and there is family everywhere which is lovely actually.
Hope everyone is ok. Cathryne, thinking of you as we haven’t heard from you for a while.
Lovely to here from you Nancy. Hope all is ok with Petey Barbara.
Thinking of you Millie as date for surgery aproaches.

I will, Anna! I’m so sorry about your dad. Sciatica can be miserable. My hubby had it for almost a year before he finally found something that worked. It was deep tissue massage, which of course, hurts like crazy while it’s going on, but does a lot of good. I get it for my neck, which has some bones in it breaking down or something like that, age -related… anyway, for the first 5 times or so, it was agony, but in between the massages, no pain. Now the massage is not painful – I guess we managed to get me used to it or something, and the pain is never around, but if I stop for a month or so, it comes back, so poor me – I’ll have to keep on having massages… Anyway – if that’s available, try it – it took Vern something like 7 massages, once a week, to get rid of it completely, and then he stopped going and it never came back. The massage therapist told him if he’d come in as soon as the sciatic pain had started, it would only have taken two or three sessions.

I’ve been thinking of you, too, Millie – do let us know how it progresses – as soon as you can see to type, of course, hahaha.

JULIE, are you a Diana Gabaldon fan? I read a post on her FB page where she said she couldn’t write by committee. What Anna said is probably why. 😀

ANNA, see previous page for my comment.

I am, and I couldn’t agree more – that writing by committee would be awful. There are so many things I do and think of intuitively, and if I had to explain them to someone else I’d be lost! This is Anna’s story, and she must follow where it goes, the devil to the rest of us, hahaha. I will refrain from making guesses and will wait (not so patiently) until it comes out and THEN show you all how brilliant I was, hahahahahahaha. I don’t want to influence the story, as I’m sure Anna’s way will be much better. When my husband and I watch mysteries on TV, we guess who did it as soon as we get an idea, but of course, one of the biggest clues is how big an actor is who SEEMS to be in a small role – that’s a dead giveaway… Sticking just to the story is much harder, haha.

I am loving this story, Anna – it’s so fun!

Well its hard to know Julie. I dont yet consciously know who the killer is but I have to trust that my subconscious will work it out. I do worry I might get consciously distracted by the clues you pick up and head down the wrong path!!

Oh, this is fun for us, and hopefully, a bit of a challenge for you. As you say, it would be hard to go back and change anything… Now – is it better if we guess things, or would you prefer that we just see what happens next? As I think I’ve seen something of a clue… but don’t want to ruin it for anyone…

This is challenging….the writing equivalent of working without a net! I write then I put it up for you to read and if I get stuck I can’t go back and change anything!

Who says you can’t go back and change anything? Writing isn’t like carving stone… But so far, I wouldn’t change a thing. It keeps getting more interesting. Well done. 😀

They didn’t ever get to see the castle, or the gallery or the rose gardens. The police organised for the tour guests to be temporarily accommodated at a cosy country inn nearby while investigations were undertaken. The inn proprietors were an efficient husband and wife pair who understood completely the necessity of a good supply of tea and sandwiches in a crisis. Jolly nice sandwiches they were too thought Amelia as she made a quick round of the lounge ensuring everyone was appropriately imbibing. That is where Inspector Robert Fox found them, a motley group slumped in armchairs and settees and pondering in low tones what could have happened and whether the tour would go on.
Amelia liked the Inspector immediately. He resembled his namesake not at all. He had an open face and crinkly eyes and he was dressed most smartly in a grey suit. His offsider, Detective Sergeant Toni Collie more closely fit the image of a vulpine with a narrow face and bushy red hair. Perhaps they should swap surnames. After introducing themselves and their intent to ask a few routine questions, the police officers split up and took turns interviewing the occupants of the bus in separate small rooms. When Amelia’s turn came she was very glad to find herself opposite the Inspector who stood politely when she entered the small dining room before settling himself on a chair next to a table. Amelia gave him points for sitting across the corner from the interviewee and not using the table as a barrier.
“I believe you were the first to offer assistance to the deceased,” the Inspector said after a short round of pleasantries.
“Yes Inspector, although I can’t say there was much to be done.”
“Do you have medical training Ms Dinthorpe? I ask as, by all reports, you acted quickly and decisively when all others were still trying to come to grips with the situation.”
“I was a doctor in the army Inspector. I served in the Middle East so I am little harder to shock than most.”
Fox noted the past tense. “What do you do now Doctor?”
“It’s Ms or Amelia. I no longer work as a doctor. I work for a pharmaceutical company writing up research reports. It’s regular hours and I am a little less likely to be shot at.”
Fox pondered that piece of information. He quite liked Amelia Dinthorpe with her quiet unflappable directness but with her medical knowledge and connection to the pharmaceutical industry she had just managed to bump herself into first place on a suspect list. The preliminary thoughts of the pathologist were that Evangeline Purdue had not died a natural death. Something about the state of the body suggested poison but he would know more after the autopsy and toxicology results.
Therese shifted uncomfortably before Sergeant Collie. Toni consulted her notes and let the witness squirm a little. She liked nervous people, they generally talked freely and were thus more useful.
“So I take it Ms Purdue was not well liked among the other tour guests?”
It was speaking ill of the dead that seemed to be causing Therese the most concern.
“I am not sure I would put it like that..” she began only to have the Detective cut her off.
“Just about everyone else I have interviewed put it exactly like that. Rude, obnoxious, overbearing. She doesn’t sound like someone I would be keen to share a holiday with.”
“It is true that she could be a bit loud and she liked her own way. Many older people can get a bit crotchety especially if they aren’t well.”
“What makes you think Ms Purdue wasn’t well.”
Therese’s eyes widened. “She is dead for a start. I presume it was her heart, or maybe a stroke?”
Toni was beginning to think Therese was a little naive but she took a deep breath and rephrased the question. “Did Ms Purdue show any particular signs of being unwell before she died, apart from being easily irritated?”
Therese pursed her lips and frowned, signs of ponderous thought in Toni’s experience. She gave her some thinking time while mentally reviewing the statements of the other bus passengers. They all agreed that the deceased was unlikely to be on their next Christmas card list but they were stunned by her sudden demise. No-one reported any preceding signs of illness, she was a robust woman in her mid fifties by all accounts. Therese confirmed what the others had said.
“Evangeline was in fine form last night. She stayed at dinner for ages chatting to people. She did like to talk….and eat. You don’t suppose it was something she ate?” Therese looked suddenly worried. “You don’t suppose that the rest of us could be in danger?”

Yes but who. Frankly I have no idea so best I keep writing. Aa to the ice idea…. Why on earth would you think that! Tee hee

Someone who has access to her room because ‘heaven forbid she would get her own ice’? Humm. I’m loving this. 😀

Hi, Millie! How awful is it that Gabri won’t deliver to Florida? I think he could stop by Seattle on his way… hee hee. I agree about the pink tails and poufs (for bunnies) – I think for the poufs, I could do a radish rose that would spread out, but for the mouse tails, I’m probably going to have to stick with green (chive leaves). Unless I can think of something else – I was thinking pimentos are not long enough, but then…. roasted peppers would be….a very slim slice could do very nicely! I don’t want it to be too lifelike, after all, I want people to eat them, hahaha. There are other ladies who will be doing cookies and candies in mouse shapes, and I think I can do cheese balls, as well. I also had a thought about an avocado half (stuffed with crab, perhaps)… I’ll take pictures when the time comes…

Anna, this story is wonderful. I clapped my hands and cheered when Evangeline died! It has to be something in her flask – someone has managed to tamper with her ice… hmmmmmmmmmm.

Hi Nancy, so nice to have you pop in. It’s been a while. Hope all’s well.
Welcome Neva, I was wondering at what point you thought Ruth had died? I could easily see room for a lot of confusion in ‘The Long Way Home” since so much is explained thru phone calls and memories.
Hi Barbara, waving towards the north. Hope Petey is hanging in there. How’s your new pulmonologist working out? I hope you are breathing with ease and comfort and ready for spring!
Hi Julie, love your enthusiasm for your upcoming events. Such fun. And the egg mice are terrific! Was wondering what could be used for a pink nose and tails and poof – mice => bunnies for Spring. 😀 Are pimentos too red?
Oh, Anna, what a delightful treat you are giving us. You are extraordinary. Squeezing in a short story between caring for so many and working on two full novels.
I’ve read very few ‘closed room’ mysteries so I’m enjoying this. It cracks me up that tiny me prefers action / adventure novels. Full of things I’d never have the courage to do myself. Louise is the exception to my usual reading which includes lots of nonfiction. There’s so many books I suppose we need to narrow the net we cast or we’d get nothing done. Sadly we must eat and Gabri won’t bring food to FL! lol…
Well, here are wonderful wishes to all – all extraordinary in your individual ways. Big hug to all.

The tour guide, a dumpy little blond with braces called Sherry McCarthy, cut into the music with a quick run down of the day’s expected events. It was a little unnecessary thought Amelia as it was all detailed in the brochure they were handed on day one but then not everybody bothers to read printed information. If she remembered correctly it was a long cliff side drive for the morning as they headed to their next destination, a rather delightful medieval castle by a lake. There they would be treated to a special morning tea followed by a private guided tour. Lunch would be up to the guests but there a number of options in the nearby village. The afternoon would entail a visit to a local gallery and rose garden before it was back on the bus to be taken to their hotel.
Sherry concluded the dissertation, which was almost verbatim from the brochure as Amelia had remembered it perfectly, by taking pains to point out the excellent washroom facilities provided at the rear of the bus, as she did every day. Perhaps she had suffered a previous unfortunate experience with guests forgetting there was a loo on board. Perhaps if she called it a loo or a lavatory the purpose of the little compartment would be more obvious to assembled throng. Washroom was a complete misnomer. Had the woman ever actually tried to wash her hands in there? The basin was so small It had to be done one finger at a time.
Amelia was all for calling a spade a shovel, although she also understood tact, unlike Ms Purdue. A quick glance across the aisle confirmed the dreadful woman was well settled and sipping happily from her omnipresent ice filled thermos flask. Pity it seemed to do little to soothe her fiery temperament. Amelia had been looking forward to this trip. There was so much to be seen when one wasn’t driving and battling the throngs of enraged horn honkers that filled the roads these days. Evangeline Purdue was starting to cause her to regret her decision. Perhaps next holiday she could take a solitary walking tour.
At ten fifteen Amelia felt her stomach announce it was ready for morning tea. At ten sixteen Evangeline Purdue gasped, choked, twitched and promptly died. It was distinctly unpleasant and extremely inconvenient. Amelia knew straight away that morning tea was now a very remote possibility. Only Therese shed a tear as Amelia slipped past her and took charge, which was just as well as everyone else seemed too stunned to move, including a now very pale Sherry who had to be coaxed into calling for help while Amelia attempted CPR. Dave turned out to be useful when he came to his senses and helped lay Evangeline in the aisle but it was all for nought.

“Well, some people have been well bought up at least,” the offended one said loudly as she plonked herself comfortably in place and proceeded to arrange her goods around her, including the ever present thermos bottle of iced water she carried everyday. Woe betide the hotel room which did not provide a clean and serviceable ice cube tray in the minibar. Don’t even think of suggesting a trip to the ice machine, goodness knows what filth could infest that contraption.
Amelia patted the seat beside her. “Care to join me you well bought up person you.”
Therese nodded gratefully and slid her slender figure into place as Eddie the bus driver swung the vehicle out of the hotel drive.
“She’s an utter witch,” Amelia muttered as the bus picked up speed and Eddie piped some soothing music through the speaker system.
Therese glanced fearfully at Evangeline still arranging her belongings. “Careful, she might hear you!” she whispered back.
“And what if she does? So far this trip she has trod on my foot with her stiletto heels, knocked the tray out of my hands at lunch yesterday and been generally rude and obnoxious. She barges around like a blind bull and delights in humiliating everybody in hearing distance. Talk about badly bought up!”
Three rows back Doreen Hamill was saying almost exactly the same thing to her husband Frank. They had both been on the receiving end of Evangeline pushing past to get to the seafood buffet at the hotel the previous night and the horrid woman had had the gall to make disparaging comments about Doreen’s orthopaedic shoes. Not every foot was made for Jimmy Choos. Doreen hadn’t been happy to see Evangeline batting her false eyelashes at Frank either, nor to see Frank pulling out a chair for the other woman to sit at their table. Ms Purdue cooed at the men and cawed at the women. They then had to hear Evangeline criticize every item of food on her plate; the prawns weren’t fresh enough, the fish was overlooked and the lobster wasn’t sweet.
“It should be sweet, not dry you know,” the voice droned on in between gustily devoured mouthfuls.
When their opinionated table companion tottered back to the buffet table in her pink pointy stilettos, Doreen was moved to ponder that perhaps Evangeline was protecting them all from a poorly cooked meal by devouring it all first.
“Maybe she’s just hungry,” Frank mumbled in her defense but stopped when he caught his wife’s baleful glare.
Doreen was not the only one of the wives on the bus keeping a close eye on their doe eyed husbands. Lizzie Mason had caught Dave, who was currently drooling as he snored with his head on his chest but normally was a handsome sort, in very friendly conversation with the woman on the cliff top walk two days ago. To add insult to actual injury, Lizzie had turned her ankle but when she called out to Dave for help he was too busy guiding Evangeline over the rocky path to notice her. For goodness sake she was old enough to be his mother. Lizzie had rolled her eyes and hobbled back to the bus with the help of Therese Longley. She was a nice young woman but she could do with a makeover. Whoever told her that shade of brown would ever be flattering on a human….on a labrador maybe.

Thanks Nancy. It’s a bit of fun. I just have to write when it flows and not push it or it sounds wrong. Working on it.

The last one on the bus was Ms Evangeline Purdue. Never Eva, never Gina or Lina, always Evangeline. Get it wrong and suffer the pain of a lengthy dissertation on her great grandmother who bore the name with pride and much stoicism in the face of four cheating husbands and numerous selfish children which didn’t of course include her one angelic progeny called, naturally, Evangeline. Find a reason to escape or be regaled with three more generations of misery and malfortune including that of the woman berating you through her dazzling capped teeth and filler enhanced lips. To listen to her, and Heaven knows that nasal voice carried so it was hard not to, no woman was more hardly done by than Ms Evangeline Purdue.
“Do you mind?” Evangeline crowed standing at the empty aisle seat beside Mrs Dinthorpe.
Amelia Dinthorpe looked up from her guidebook and cast her eyes upward. “The seat is not taken if that’s what you mean, ” she confirmed.
“I need to sit by the window,” Evangeline said slowly and loudly as one does when one suspects the listener is deaf, foreign or mentally slow.
Amelia, who was clearly in none of those categories, scowled and tried to make sense of what the woman standing over her was demanding. Did she seriously expect Amelia to give up her window seat on a day that promised all manner of spectacular vistas, simply because she couldn’t be bothered making it to the bus on time to snare one for herself? Evangeline made a shooing motion with her hand, the one not clutching a Burberry handbag, indicating that she did indeed expect Amelia to move out of her way.
“This seat clearly is taken,” Amelia said firmly and made no effort to move.
For a bare second Evangeline looked startled. She was not at all used to not getting her way in any situation but she quickly recovered and reared upward to her full height of five foot three inches and prepared to fully assert her authority.
“You can have mine.”
Whatever tirade that had been about to be unleashed was cut short by the offering made in a timid voice from the other side of the bus. By the time Evangeline swung around the mousy figure of Therese Longley was edging out of her own seat into the aisle. She stood back and nodded to indicate that Evangeline could take her place which she did but not without a glaring look of malice at Amelia who was frankly unperturbed.

Oh, what fun! Amelia has the gumption I’ve often wished for, and Evangeline is someone I am going to love to hate! Hee hee! Great start. When does she get it? I can’t decide if I want it to be fast or if I want to string out the fun and have her annoy me more before someone does her in!

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