[Here’s the entire series in case you missed previous chapters]
When they’d gathered, making small talk until their food had been served, it struck each of the two ladies, without any conversation about it, that they weren’t being treated as suspects but rather as partners — or perhaps just assistants — in the investigation. And while they both wondered about this privately, neither gave voice to their impressions. Meanwhile, once they were settled and enjoying their excellent lunch, the serious discussions began.
DCI Fritz first reported on the autopsy and toxicology results, calling attention to the high levels of diazepam found in the victim’s system. He’d heard back from Cummins’ GP, just before he’d met the ladies for lunch, who was shocked that Cummins was taking this controlled drug. It had certainly not been prescribed by him, and NHS records showed no such prescription over the last five years (as far back as he had looked).
Ms. Patel asked if the quantity in Mr. Cummins’ system would have rendered him incapable of fighting off or running away from his attacker, of screaming for help, or of even recognizing the danger until it was too late? She also asked about the time it would take from ingestion until these effects would be at their peak? And how might the massive dosage have been administered or even taken voluntarily?
As they were talking, Zelda suddenly saw, in her minds eye, the elaborate sherry tray in Mr. Cummins’ office, something she’d seen on each visit, but which she’d always ignored as looking more ceremonial than purposeful. Now she realized, for the first time since she’d found the body, that the sherry tray was no where in evidence when she’d stood looking around the room after calling for help. Almost bursting with this realization, she interrupted the other two to tell them about the missing Sherry tray, which thus far no one else had mentioned.
Grasping immediately the significance of the missing Sherry tray, DCI Fritz made a quick call to his SOC team leader to get a search warrant ASAP, search the offices of everyone involved in the investigation from the CEO, Mr. Wrigley, on down, and then as needed to search the rest of the building and grounds.
Stay Tuned For Chapter XVI
(Cross-posted @ In Full Bloom)