Inspector Brian Foolhardy was the most senior inspector working with the crime detection branch of Lornoirville Police, about half a decade from retirement. He had been passed over for promotion a number of times and served under younger superiors. He had become a bitter man, unsmiling, sarcastic and sometimes rude. He knew Edward Grimm since the time Mr.Grimm had moved to the city and started his practice as a private detective about ten years back. In the initial years Inspector Foolhardy had detested Edward Grimm and his know-all manner and had secretly competed with him whenever they worked on the same case. But after all these years he had got used to Edward Grimm and started to respect him, though the competition of solving the crime first was still on.
“So I guess the daughter thinks you are any better than us?” Inspector Foolhardy said the moment he saw Mr.Grimm arrive at the crime scene followed by Matilda on Monday morning.
“Maybe she knows how many cases I have solved for you Foolhardy.” Mr.Grimm said in an equally sarcastic tone. He always enjoyed the exchange of words that always took place between him and the Inspector.
“Here. Take this.” Inspector Foolhardy said shoving a file he was carrying towards Mr.Grimm. “All the info you need is in there.”
“If all the info I need would have been in this,” Mr.Grimm said with a smile, “I would have been at a great loss. The case would be solved right here and I would have earned only a day’s pay, measly two hundred bucks. There is certainly some information that you have overlooked or ignored and it is my job to find that out.”
Mr.Grimm put on the wire rimmed spectacles hanging around his neck and became engrossed in the file. Inspector Foolhardy gave a small inaudible snort and muttered something looking angrily at Mr.Grimm. Matilda tried to read the file over Mr.Grimm’s shoulder. The file said that the victim, Ruby Karylenko, was a white female in her fifties. Her body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor of her small apartment near Megalink Studios when her daughter came for the weekly visit and entered using the duplicate key Ruby had given her. There were multiple stab wounds on her torso and neck. The cause of death was blood loss and shock. The forensics had identified the murder weapon to be something thin and blunt, like a screw driver. The neighbors had not noticed anything unusual; Matilda usually stayed to herself and hence was not missed by anyone. All the neighbors had been interviewed by the police.
“It is a clear case of break in and robbery Grimm.” The Inspector said.
“And what exactly was stolen my friend Foolhardy?” Mr.Grimm asked.
“Well apparently Mrs.Karylenko stayed alone.” The Inspector said.
“Miss Karylenko.” Mr.Grimm said correcting him, “she was unmarried.”
She had given up her daughter for adoption long time back,” Inspector said pretending he hadn’t heard what Mr.Grimm said, “and they had been in touch for only about a month before the murder so Miss Vasiliev doesn’t exactly have the idea about her mother’s possessions.”
“I hope you don’t mind if I look around the house.” Mr.Grimm said with mock cordiality.
“We have searched everywhere and collected everything that could be evidence. Yet, if you insist, please, be my guest.” Inspector Foolhardy replied with equally mocking smile.
Matilda followed Mr.Grimm with a notepad and pencil in hand as he perused the house and took down notes as he dictated his observation to her. It was his regular method to dictate notes as things came to his mind while visiting a crime scene and then going over those notes in his office. The house was not very big, just two rooms and a kitchen with sparse furniture. There were very many small cabinets around the house. Some with clothes but most others filled with books and photographs. There was an old letterbox on top of a small fridge. The house was a mess and though it looked like it had been ransacked to the untrained eye, Mr.Grimm could tell with his experience that Olga’s mother was a lived in a much cluttered manner and did not care to tidy her home. He remembered Olga had mentioned that Miss Karylenko was an alcoholic. If the room had been ransacked the cabinets would have been open and emptied. After a cursory look around he headed for the door.
As Mr.Grimm sat in his dingy office reading the copy of the police file and the transcripts of the interviews of neighbors and friends of Miss Karylenko, he thought same the same thing he always thought while reading the police files. The file was completely useless. Everything was recorded in such detail that they often missed the important stuff. Mr.Grimm’s notes on the other hand were always concise and precise. None of the neighbors had seen or heard anything out of ordinary. Miss Karylenko was an invisible neighbor. Nobody would have found out that she was murdered till her body started rotting and smelling if her daughter wouldn’t have decided to visit. Miss Karylenko’s friends had not been much help to the police either. Most of them were her co-actors who had not seen her for months. Apart from the couple of friends whom Olga had contacted while finding her birth mother no one knew that Miss Karylenko ever had a daughter.
During night the whole area near the apartment block where Mr.Grimm’s office was located became very deserted. There were no street lamps and it would be so dark that one could not see more than a couple of metres in front. Most of the city folk from the prosperous sections never ventured into that God forsaken part of the city but even those who did on one or the other business always avoided being there in the night. There had been a couple of muggings, a rape and a murder in that area during night time. Then too, one could see locals going out during the night on errands. As Mr.Grimm sat reclined in his chair sipping single malt whiskey and thinking about the case he could hear the ruffians shouting and making ruckus on the street outside. Suddenly a thought came to his mind. He smiled and finished his whiskey before switching off the lights and going to bed.
When Matilda came the next morning Mr Grimm was waiting with his over coat and hat on.
“You are late,” he growled, “now go and hail a carriage.”
“Where are we going?” Matilda asked.
“To the crime scene and then to meet Miss Karylenko’s acquaintances. It has to be one of them.” Mr.Grimm said.
Mr Grimm stepped outside his office following Olga and then turned to lock the chains on the wooden doors of his office with a brass padlock.
“Would you ever walk around this area in the night?” Mr.Grimm asked.
“No, never.” Matilda answered knowing where this was leading. It was Mr.Grimm’s habit that instead of telling Matilda about his theories he led her to them through a series of questions. He said he was preparing her to take over the sleuthing business after him.
“Yet you would find the locals running errands at night?” Mr.Grimm said.
“I think so.” Matilda answered.
“And the doors on these apartments are flimsy enough to be broken down with a kick…” Mr.Grimm said.
“And yet the locals are unconcerned and unafraid of intruders.” Matilda said completing the sentence. She was getting better at this game. “Because most of the people living here are poor and they know they do not have enough worthy things to be robbed.”
“And?” Mr.Grimm asked.
“Miss Karylenko stayed in a locality inhabited by poor people. Robberies are very rare in such places. If there was something worthy of being stolen then the intruders should have known that Miss Karylenko possessed it and hence would be Miss Karylenko’s acquaintance.” Matilda said with confidence.
“Or?” Mr.Grimm prodded her.
“There is some another reason to this murder.” Matilda said with a smile.
Mr.Grimm smiled too. His protégé was learning well. By the time they had reached the pavement outside the apartment blocks. Matilda hailed a horse drawn carriage and they headed for the crime scene.