An awkward silence filled the room as a few more guests entered the room, wiping their muddy boots on the doormat, hanging their dripping coats on the coat hanger at the base of the staircase. Most people think I am rather odd, which was perhaps partly the reason only seven people had said they would turn up to mine and my wife’s dinner party and only five had actually turned up so far. I did not cease to notice that as people entered the room, they didn’t quite dust off their boots entirely and now fourteen flakes of mud were on our luxurious living room carpet, and our good friend Bob Greenvale was sniffing obnoxiously less than one and a half metres in front of my face.
The doorbell rang again, and I took the opportunity to escape the silence. But then I noticed the look of shock and horror on Mr Freud’s face as he stepped into the house, which I recognised better than anyone else – I am a detective, after all- as the look on the face of a person who has seen a dead body.
I waited in utter anticipation, blood coursing through my veins, as he pointed, with a trembling finger, towards a patch of grass right next to our house, where the body of our final guest lay. There were two bruises on her neck and it was slightly swollen, but the blood and grime on her clothes made her death even more mysterious. Where had she been, and who had killed her?
The grass of our front lawn was now a crime scene. Grass had been trampled on and crimson blood spattered the letterbox like grotesque decorations. The body lay sprawled on its side, as if someone had unsuccessfully tried to remove it. I had not heard a noise but the window was slightly fractured. Ripped up pieces of a concert ticket were folded in her pocket. I slipped on a pair of black gloves and tipped out the contents of her carefully organised bag. Something seemed wrong about the contents of it. They were strangely intact, despite the state of the body and the neatly trimmed grass, and despite the thin material no blood or mud had soaked through onto her belongings. And why had no one heard anything in the silence of the living room when the window had been broken and there were clear signs of a struggle?
I looked out at the grey, misty sky, thinking intently. Who were my suspects? The sister of the victim, a fashion obsessed woman named Lilian, her devoted husband George, and her slightly peculiar daughter who enjoyed music. Nothing suspicious there, and my friend Bob wouldn’t murder anyone. But the last guest we had invited more due to his wealth rather than his kindness, the sort of man who was notorious for his vile temper and sneaking around dark alleyways at night, with an inhuman strength capable of causing the bruises around the victim’s neck. He wore a hat which cast an ominous shadow across his face, and despite the warmth of the room we were in he had never removed his long black coat. Now I had thought about it, he was a rather obvious suspect. It seemed I had my first lead.