Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6)

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05.03.2019

Gamache said nothing, though he was interested that this refined, cultured, civilized man seemed to get pleasure telling them of such barbarity.

“Hung right out there.” He waved toward the front door. “If you believe in ghosts, this is the place for you.”

“Have you seen any?” Gamache asked, surprising both Langlois and the young officer.

Blake hesitated, then shook his head. “No. But I can feel them sometimes, when no one else is here.”

“Are you often here, when no one else is?” Gamache asked, pleasantly.

“Sometimes. I find it peaceful. I think you do too.”

“C’est la vérité,” agreed the Chief Inspector. “But I don’t have a key to get in after hours. You do. And, I presume, you use it.”

Again, Mr. Blake hesitated. “I do. But not often. Only when I can’t sleep and a question troubles me.”

“Like what?” Gamache asked.

“Like what grasses grow on Rum Island, and when the last coelacanth was caught.”

“And were you troubled by such questions last night?”

The two men looked at each other. Finally Mr. Blake smiled and shook his head.

“I was not. Slept like a child last night. As Shakespeare said, the best way to peace is to have a still and quiet conscience.”

Or none at all, thought Gamache, watching Mr. Blake with interest.

“Can anyone confirm that?” Inspector Langlois asked.

“I’m a widower. Lost my wife eight years ago, so no, I have no witnesses.”

“Désolé,” said Langlois. “Tell me, Mr. Blake, why do you think Augustin Renaud was here last night?”

“Isn’t it obvious? He must have thought Champlain is buried here.”

And there it was. The obvious answer, out in the open.

“And is he?”

Blake smiled. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“Why would he think Champlain was here?” Langlois asked.

“Why did Augustin Renaud think anything? Has anyone ever figured out his logic? Perhaps his digs were more alphabetical than archeological and he’d come to the ‘Ls’. That makes as much sense as any of his reasoning. Poor man,” Blake added. “I imagine you’ll be digging?”

“Right now it’s still a crime scene.”

“Incredible,” said Mr. Blake, almost to himself. “Why would Augustin Renaud be here in the Lit and His?”

“And why would someone murder him?” said Langlois.

“Here,” added Gamache.

Finally Elizabeth MacWhirter entered and sat.

“What is your job, exactly?” Langlois asked.

“Well, ‘job’ is a loose term. We’re all volunteer. Used to be paid, but the government’s cut back on library funding, so now any money we get goes in to upkeep. Heating alone is ruinous and we just had the wiring redone. In fact, if it hadn’t been done we might never have found Mr. Renaud.”

“What do you mean?” Langlois asked.

“When we rewired the place we decided to do the phone lines too. Bury them in the basement. If the line hadn’t been cut we’d never have found the body, and he’d have been concreted over.”

“Pardon?” asked Langlois.

“Next week. The concrete people are supposed to come on Monday to put down the forms.”

The men looked at each other.

“You mean, if either Renaud or his murderer hadn’t cut the telephone line while digging last night, the whole floor would have been concreted? Sealed?” asked the Inspector.

Elizabeth nodded.

“Who knew this was going to happen?” Langlois asked.

“Everyone.” She walked over to a table and returned with three pamphlets which she handed out. There, on the front page, was the announcement.

The wiring, telephones and basement were to be redone.

Refolding the pamphlet and leaving it on the table in front of him Chief Inspector Gamache looked at the slim elderly woman.

“It says the work is to be done, but not the timing. The timing seems to me significant.”

“You may be right, Chief Inspector, but we didn’t keep the timing a secret. Many people knew. The board, the volunteers, the construction workers.”

“Where’d you get the money for all this? It must have cost a fortune.”

“It was expensive,” she admitted. “We got grants and donations and sold some books.”

“So the sale of books was fairly recent,” said Langlois. “But we heard from Monsieur Wilson that it wasn’t very successful.”