Since the butcher’s shop was so near, Karen decided to make a call, hoping that although it was a Sunday, Arnold Lynch might be on the premises. As she passed the shop door, there were signs of movement from within, so she knocked.
“We’re closed,” a voice shouted. “Don’t you know it’s Sunday?”
“Police, Mr Lynch. Just a quick word, if you don’t mind.”
There was the sound of muttering before the door swung open.
“Detective Sergeant Parker,” Karen said, holding up her identity card. “Just wondered if you could help us with our inquiries. You’ll have heard about your neighbour along the road, Marcia Simpson?”
He walked through to the back shop, letting her follow in his wake.
“I hear she’s dead. Can’t say I’m unhappy about that.”
“You didn’t like her, then?”
“Couldn’t care one way or the other.”
“But she damaged your business, didn’t she? That’s what I’ve heard.”
He was tempted to deny it, but his anger returned and he forgot to whom he was talking. His brows came down and his colour rose.
“You make one mistake, and you’re paying for it for years. I don’t mind admitting I hated that woman.”
“Right. Well, in that case, can you give an account of your movements on Friday evening?”
“No, I can’t. I was at my window watching the fireworks.”
“That wasn’t till late on, though, surely. How about earlier?”
“Actually,” he went on, his face lightening, “I stood there for quite a while. They had a really good band. I don’t like the Wests, but it was a good band.”
“And were you on your own?”
“Yes. My wife was up at Hartfield House, serving the oysters and caviar, or whatever it is posh people have at weddings.”
Karen noted the bitterness in his tone.
“So no-one can corroborate that you were here all evening?”
“No. But you’re welcome to examine any or all of my meat cleavers, Sergeant.” He swung an arm round the back shop, and Karen became aware of the selection of sharp implements that surrounded her, all gleaming.
“That won’t be necessary, Mr Lynch. Tell me, is your wife around? Would she be free to talk about Friday?”
He opened a door in the back wall and called up the stairs, and two minutes later Lily Lynch appeared.
“What is it, Arnold? I’m busy.”
“Police. Want to know about the posh wedding.”
Lily Lynch stopped in surprise on the bottom step.
“Goodness. Is this about Marcia? What has the wedding got to do with her?”
Karen smiled soothingly.
“Routine inquiries. I just wanted to know if you had noticed anything odd on Friday evening. If anyone came and went at all.”
“Well, it was a marquee. Folk came and went all night.”
“Did you notice anything in particular?”
Lily looked momentarily thoughtful, remembering her conversation with Gina, the student on waitress duty.
“There was one person but it probably doesn’t mean anything.”
“Try me,” Karen said.
“I did see one person behave a bit oddly. He was definitely sneaking out through the shrubbery.”
“Who was sneaking out, Mrs Lynch?”
“Harry West. I’ve no idea where he was going. He could have been meeting anyone. But it was definitely him.”
Detective Sergeant Parker kept a tight rein on the temptation to cheer.
“And did you see when he came back?”
“Funnily enough, I did. And I happened to look at my watch. It was ten to ten.”
Karen smiled calmly.
“Thanks, Mrs Lynch. Thanks for your help.”