the family murder case (part thirty-five)

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Jan nodded. "You're right. And it was rather neatly done, too, if I say so myself."

"I guess so. It seems like cheating, though. Do you mind telling me why you did it? And how?"

"Of course not. Which would you prefer first: 'why' or 'how'?

"How, I guess."

"I took a chance, frankly. But the way Claudia arrived here: hurried, harried, discombobulated. Why so frazzled? Why so desperate to be here? Why so rushed that she even drove herself? Erika told us that she almost never drives, and the evidence certainly supported that assertion.

"Was it that she didn't trust Erika? That didn't seem likely. Did she think Erika was guilty of something? Definitely not, or she would have declined my offer of help in the first place. They have seen me solve a case before, and they would never have agreed to my coming if either of them was guilty, or if either thought that the other was.

"But it did appear that Claudia was nervous about something that Erika might reveal to me, perhaps something she wasn't aware of herself.

"And then, I got lucky. When Claudia arrived, Erika said she'd been telling us 'all about it,' which was an exaggeration. So, Claudia didn't really know how much I knew. And then, when I took a chance and confronted Claudia, it was Erika who put the pressure on her to explain what had happened."

"But what if you'd been wrong?"

"Then I would have looked foolish. Not for the first time and not for the last. It is far from my favorite position to be in, but there are worse.

"Which brings us to 'why.' One of the reasons I was willing to risk looking foolish was that this gave every evidence of being a case with a deranged killer. And that meant it was quite possible he would kill again, at any time, and it was worth risking looking foolish to expose him now, not three days from now or whenever I had completed a thorough investigation.

"As Claudia pointed out, one of the worst feelings in the world is to have someone die and to think that you could have prevented it if you'd done something differently. I've felt that, and I've made a fool of myself, and the two feelings are not comparable."

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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