the church murder case (part sixteen)

This story started here.

Jan smiled as our attention turned to her. This was the other reason I had asked Ron to tell us her story. As we each told our part of the tale, I knew my employer would want her portion to be last.

"How did you know Joseph wasn't me, Miss Sleet?" the priest asked. "Had you seen a photograph of me?"

She frowned a bit at the suggestion that it could have been anything so mundane.

"No, not that. I have read the articles about you, but the U-town newspaper doesn't have photographs. No, it was because of that poor man who was hanging in that pillar." His expression was perplexed. "I'll explain. What was your reaction when you saw him hanging there?"

"I was horrified, at what had been done to him and at the fact that my brother was apparently responsible."

"Exactly. Your brother wanted me to believe that Father Frank had left that body hanging there for several hours, just waiting for me to come and witness the tableau. That was preposterous. Everything I've read and heard about you has led me to believe that you are both devout and compassionate. For both of those reasons, the sacrilege and the disrespect to the dead, you would have made some effort to take the body down. And, if that wasn't enough, there was the story that the fate of the church was hanging in the balance. Under those circumstances, it was difficult to imagine that you would have left the body in the position where it would have caused the maximum amount of scandal.

"Combine that with the other things I'd seen, like the ashtray, and the apparent pointlessness of the questions that he has asked, and I became fairly sure that he was not really Father Frank. And the best way to find out was to surprise him with it, and see his reaction."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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