About this book
A MacNeice Mystery
The MacNeice Mysteries: Book 1
The heart-pounding first installment of the MacNeice Mysteries, featuring a sophisticated detective solving the horrific murder of a beautiful young violinist — perfect for fans of Peter Robinson’s Alan Banks series.
Detective Superintendent MacNeice is returning from a pilgrimage to his wife’s grave when he’s called to a crime scene of singular and disturbing beauty. A young woman in evening dress lies gracefully posed on the floor of a pristine summer cottage so that the finger of one hand regularly interrupts the needle arm of a phonograph playing Schubert’s Piano Trio. The only visible mark on her is the bruise under her chin, which MacNeice recognizes: it is the mark that distinguishes dedicated violinists, the same mark that once graced his wife. The murder is both ingenious and horrific, and soon entangles MacNeice and his team in Eastern Europe’s ancient grievances…
It was the same as it always was, chamber music driving up and jazz driving back. But this time he’d asked her, “Why do you want to be buried so far from town?” Kate had smiled and closed her eyes — for such a while that he thought she’d fallen asleep — then softly, but with some strength, as if to ensure that the point made it through the haze of morphine and fatigue, she said, “It’s beautiful there. It’s a lovely drive. Not too far. I know you’ll visit. And” — breathing deeply — “if it was in the city, I doubt you would. Anyway, it’ll get you out of your head for a few hours.” She was right. He’d been up once a month for the past thirty-eight months. When he’d looked at her ashes, he couldn’t see the difference between them and the ashes he retrieved from the fireplace to sprinkle on the garden — he couldn’t reassemble her. And yet, below the ground, beneath a headstone that bore only her initials, KGWM, he could imagine her on her side with her legs slightly tucked up — asleep. And it did get him out of his head. A cemetery in the city could never do that — the sound of sirens, the headstones of people they’d known, the buzz of traffic nearby would distract from the solace of being near her.
He stayed this time, as always, past sundown, reading, watching for birds and announcing each out loud for the odd comfort it gave him — cedar waxwing, swallow, cardinal, chickadee, a rare ruby-throated hummingbird — not because he truly believed she would hear, but because he didn’t entirely disbelieve it. The kitchen of Martha’s Truck Stop stayed open till ten, and on the way back he stopped and ordered the same thing he always did: a hot beef sandwich with gravy, no fries, followed by apple pie and coffee.
He was just cresting the Canadian Shield above Lake Charles when the call came over the radio. “All units. All units. We have an anonymous call about a fatality in a beach house on Shore Road, Lake Charles.”
MacNeice pressed the hands-free button. “The caller — male or female?”
“Did he sound agitated, Sylvia?”
“No, Mac. Cool as a cucumber, not hurried or concerned. Over.”
“Describe his voice — north-end, west-end, local, foreign?”
“I’d say foreign, but very educated in English. You can judge for yourself when you hear it. Over.”
“Thanks, Syl. I’m about five minutes away from the cut-off to Lake Charles.”