“Good morning, Liz.”
Liz looked up from her notebook and smiled at Darrell.
“Good morning. I wasn’t expecting to see you today. After the late night celebrations I thought you’d sleep in!” she said.
Darrell sat down with her coffee and offered Liz her plate of croissants. Liz shook her head.
Darrell tore a piece off her croissants and said “You know, as celebrations go, it was loud and it was too long!”
She popped the piece of croissant into her mouth.
“Ah, but it was a celebration, at least. So now, you can call yourself a celebrity! And right here in where it all happened, it makes it better, doesn’t it?”
“I suppose so, Liz. I’m heading back to London in the afternoon, so it’s a stroke of luck to see you before I head off. It’s been a while since we… ah well.” said Darrell.
“Yes. I know what you were going to say.”
Darrell sipped her coffee and eyed Liz.
“Have you met him since? I never really understood what happened between you two. Everyone was convinced you were just right for each other.”
Liz shrugged, closed her notebook with an air of finality.
“It happens. We sort of grew in different directions. You know, we were just kids and I thought he was awfully clever and he always was quite supportive. University, I suppose…”, her voice trailed off.
“Well, it’s a pity and I’m sorry it didn’t work out. What are you writing?”, asked Darrell.
“Another Miss Botts story, set in the fictional village of Peterswood. I think there’ll be a murder or two.”
“And Miss Botts will prevail over the murderer! I love reading your stories.”
“Thanks! They’re not as critically acclaimed as your novels, Darrell, and I don’t get to have celebrations like you, but they keep me going quite well!”
“Well, here’s wishing they do something more than just keep you going well. Is this story set here in these parts, too?”
Liz thought for a moment.
“Right here in Barnstaple, something happened a few years ago and it has just never been explained satisfactorily. I thought I’d come down here and see the landscape, talk to people, get into the culture and ambience of the place and hopefully, I’ll be able to make a good story out of it.”
“What happened here? I’m intrigued!”
Liz spoke, “An police inspector died here. He was drowned, in the River Taw. We.. I used to know him, when I was a little girl. There was another policeman involved and I knew him, too. I tried reading up the official reports and there’s something odd about the case. I’m wondering now if there was some sort of cover up.”
“Wow! A real life mystery! You know, my novels are tales of school life in boarding schools in this part of Cornwall. I couldn’t write mystery novels!”
“Yes, but you see I got involved in mysteries early on. Philip, my older brother, and I, with friends of ours Daisy and Larry solved a few together.”
“And wasn’t …”, Darrell’s eyebrows were raised in a question.
Liz said, “Yes. He was there as well, became our leader, so to speak. He was quite taken with my observation skills. And that’s where it all started.”
“Ah”, said Darrell.
She looked at her watch, picked up her bag, and rose from her seat.
She said, “I’ve got to go now, Liz. Take care of yourself. I’m sure you’ll work out the truth of what happened! Stick at it and remember to let me know as you as the book is out!”
Liz got up and after a quick hug, Darrell hurried away.
Elizabeth Hilton also packed up her things and walked out into the street. It was cool, early spring day and a fresh breeze off the sea blew her hair around. She jammed on her beret a little tighter and walked down to the riverside. There was a walkway below the street level that gave an uninterrupted view of the Taw. She strolled down and stopped at a breakout where she leaned on the rail and watched the river streaming down.
There were other walkers about and then one of them stopped and leaned on the rails next to her. She knew who it was even before her spoke. She carefully avoided acknowledging his presence.
“Any glues yet, Bets, on why and how Jenks died?” said the man next to her.
She didn’t look around.
“Nothing yet. You?”
“I think I may have found something in the police report.”
There was a pause.
Fatty cocked his head at her.
“How about we pool our resources, Bets? Come have a tea with me. I could definitely eat a cake, too. I can fill you in with what I saw.”
Fatty and Best walked, side by side, away to the Tea by the Taw bistro.
Neither of them noticed the big burly man watching them with a thoughtful expression on his face.