One of those weeks when I haven’t been able to get on with the second Jasmine Frame novel, Bodies by Design, as much as I’d like although there is the next episode of Blueprint below. I have had some nice moments with Painted Ladies this week however. There have been some more very encouraging reviews including one from a lady who writes for Eurocime, the big crime review website. I do hope these good comments encourage people to go out and buy Painted Ladies either in paperback or e-book form. Jasmine still seems to be unique as a transsexual detective but it is gratifying that people think the story is a page turner. Anyway here is the next bit of Blueprint.
Blueprint, part 6
‘Have you had a look around the garage?’ James asked.
‘Yeah,’ Tom replied more concerned with watching Dr Patel at work in the Rover.
‘I don’t know. A clue as to why he killed himself.’
Tom turned to look at James.
‘Nope, didn’t find anything like that. He keeps a clean garage though. The floor is painted and clean enough to eat your dinner off. All the tools, and he’s got plenty of them, are hanging on their marked hooks or in special places in the drawers.’ Tom pointed at the workbench against the wall with the window onto the back garden. There was a wardrobe in the corner.
‘What’s in the wardrobe?’ James wondered if that was where Peter Thwaite kept Petula’s clothes. ‘Have you looked inside?’
‘Yeah, of course I looked. There’s just some overalls and jackets for working in the garden or on the car. As I said, he seems a pretty careful and organised guy. Everything has its place. Obviously devoted a lot of time to the car.’
‘His wife said he did.’
Dr Patel grunted and backed out of the car. He stood up and revealed his white moustache and hair. He was short enough so that even James was able to look down on his shiny bald head.
‘Well, gentlemen, I’ve done as much as I can here,’ he said in his familiar public school accent which carried just a trace of his Mumbai birthplace.
‘Anything you can tell us, Doc?’ James asked.
‘Nothing but the obvious I’m afraid. He almost certainly died of carbon monoxide poisoning a couple of hours ago.’
‘Any signs that he was forced into the car?’ James asked.
‘There are no marks on his body implying that he was assaulted. There are no injuries to his fingers suggesting that he tried to get out. I gather the wife was able to open the door and switch the ignition off. Were you thinking that Mr Thwaite was murdered, DC Frame?’ Dr Patel placed his instruments in his case.
Tom looked at James incredulous.
‘No, I was just checking all the possibilities.’
‘Well, of course I do not deal in certainties but I would say it was highly probable that Mr Thwaite arranged to be poisoned by the exhaust gases of his car and that it was his intention to die.’
‘Suicide then,’ Tom said firmly.
‘Precisely,’ Dr Patel said closing his case with a snap. ‘Now I shall be off and when the body is delivered to me I will carry out the autopsy which I am quite sure will confirm my initial findings. Goodbye gentlemen.’ He lifted his bag and stalked off towards the garage doors which one of the waiting SOC officers lifted.
‘Why do you keep on going on suggesting that Thwaite was murdered, Jim? All the evidence says suicide.’
James stroked his chin, feeling the stubble which he longed to get home to remove.
‘I know. It looks like suicide and probably is suicide but there is no apparent reason why he should take his own life.’ Except the one that I can think of, he added to himself, that he was so scared of his wife discovering he was a transvestite that he couldn’t bear to go on living.
‘Well, there’s nothing left for us here. The SOCOs will clear up the details and that will be it. We can get off. I’m supposed to be going out with Sophie this evening.’
‘We’ll have to write a report first. You don’t want Sloane coming in tomorrow and not finding it on his desk.’
‘All the more reason for getting away now, Jim. Come on.’ Tom too headed towards the partly raised garage doors. James followed.
‘You don’t want to let Sophie down?’
‘No. In fact I’m hoping we’ll make a decision tonight.’
‘When we’re getting married.’
‘Oh, great. Congratulations.’
‘Well, it’s not certain yet. I’ve got to let her suggest a date. You know she likes to be in charge.’
‘Hmm. I think that’s a common female trait.’
‘You know a lot about feminine characteristics don’t you, Jim.’
James realised that the conversation was moving in a direction he didn’t want to follow.’
‘I am married, Tom.’
Angela was already sitting in front of the TV with a glass of white wine in her hand, when James finally got home. He dropped his briefcase containing the notes and law books for his sergeant’s exams by the stairs and blew her a kiss as he started up the stairs.
‘I’ll be down in a minute. There’s something we need to talk about.’
Angela twisted around in the sofa and frowned at him.
‘Could be. I won’t be long. I need to get out of this clobber.’
Ten minutes later Jasmine joined Angela on the sofa. Jasmine felt more comfortable in a paisley-patterned blouse over a grey pencil skirt and sheer tights. She flicked long blonde hairs from her new shaved cheek.
‘Come on then. What do you have to tell me?’ Angela’s eyes searched Jasmine’s face for signs of her emotional state. She thinks I’ve got something personal to say, Jasmine thought.
‘It’s work,’ Jasmine said noting that Angela visibly relaxed.
‘Oh? You don’t usually bring work home. What’s the problem?’
Angela looked blank for a moment, then gasped.
‘Oh, Petula. The trannie who received the photos.’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Suicide. At least it looks like she, he, meant to kill himself.’
‘Was it the pictures? He was very upset last week Did his wife find out?’
‘No, she hasn’t said anything about him, Peter his name is, being trans. There’s no sign of anything to suggest he was. But he made sure his life ended.’
‘What are you going to do, Jas?’
‘I don’t know.’