The Strange Case Of The Buckled Swash – Episode 10

“Hi, John.” Briony Powers smiled with quiet satisfaction. “I’ve got your cause of death. Major General Tompkins was killed by a substance called Immobilon, a very powerful and fast-acting drug which is fatal in humans, even in relatively small quantities.” “In humans?” “Immobilon is a horse sedative. John, what have I . . .” But DI Barclay was already through the door and heading for his car. When he arrived at the stables he found Peter Thorpe in the farmhouse having coffee with an attractive young woman. “Oh, hello, Detective Inspector. Can I introduce Pippa Barnes? I don’t believe you’ve met.” “Pleased to meet you,” Pippa Barnes said, smiling sweetly. “You’ve obviously come to speak to Peter. I’ll leave you to get on with it.” “No, don’t go on my account, Miss Barnes. In fact, you might be interested in what I have to say. You’re the local vet, are you not?” “For my sins, DI Barclay. Why?” “Major General Tompkins died from Immobilon poisoning.” DI Barclay noted the meaningful glance which shot between Pippa and Peter. “As you must know, it’s a horse sedative and as such only available to veterinary practitioners. Do you have Immobilon among your supplies, Miss Barnes?” “Of course I do, but I keep it locked up, along with my other medicines, in the office. I use it as my dispensary,” she explained. “So you would know if anything was missing?” “Of course I would.” “Would you mind showing me?” “Not at all, but I can assure you I am very careful when it comes to potentially dangerous drugs.” Pippa led the way as the three of them trooped into a small office off the hall. “Do you share this office, Mr Thorpe?” “Yes, I use it for my equestrian business and Pippa uses it, as she said, for her vet’s practice.” “My medicines are kept in this cupboard, which as you can see is kept locked,” Pippa said, indicating a large glass cabinet. “Could you check your supply of Immobilon for me?” DI Barclay asked. “If you wish, but I already know the answer. I received a new batch last month and I haven’t had call to use it since.” “Indulge me,” he said with a thin smile. Pippa unlocked the cabinet and removed a small Perspex case. She opened the lid then stared uncomprehendingly at the contents. “Well, Miss Barnes?” “One of the phials is missing. I don’t understand it,” she said. “Unfortunately it looks as though the missing phial of Immobilon was used to poison and kill the major general,” DI Barclay said grimly. “Which rather points the finger of suspicion at either, or perhaps both, of you.” Pippa Barnes turned angrily to face Peter. “What on earth have you done? I told you, it was nothing!” “Would someone care to explain to me what is going on?” DI Barclay asked sharply. Pippa Barnes slumped against the desk, her hands trembling. “I was waiting in the car outside the hall one night after rehearsals to pick Peter up. Major General Tompkins came out and we had a brief chat.” “A brief chat? He virtually assaulted you,” Peter sneered. “It was a clumsy attempt at a pass by an ageing Lothario, nothing more,” Pippa said haughtily, turning towards the detective. “Peter over-reacted. They had words.” “Indeed? What words precisely, Mr Thorpe?” Peter Thorpe coloured. “I, er I threatened to kill him. But look, it was just something silly said in the heat of the moment. I apologised profusely the next day. In any event, I’d have to be an incredibly stupid murderer to kill my victim in front of two hundred witnesses.” “Or a particularly clever one, Mr Thorpe. So much for you telling me you didn’t bear a grudge against him. I’m afraid, under the circumstances, I am going to have to arrest you on suspicion of murder.”

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Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.