Natalia Marble was dreaming, she was in a graveyard and she was walking. She wanted to wake up but she couldn't, her body wasn't moving.
The next morning, the shopkeeper, Mr John Hoffman, reached the Marble mansion. He'd come to exchange the milk bottles. Mr Hoffman walked up to the front door but didn't see the bottles kept outside, he didn't hear any movement in the house, either. He knocked on the door but found that it was clumsily left open, he entered the house and went to Ms Marble's room. A few seconds later, he saw Ms Marble lying on the bed, her body was red. He rushed to the police station.
"It looks like her bed was drenched with chlorine but she didn't realise it." said Inspector Rue.
"Sir, she has family living a few minutes away. Shall I call them?" asked Constable Jeff.
Inspector Phoenix Rue agreed. But, something else on his mind, this was a case which the police couldn't handle, he knew they would wrongly accuse someone and he didn't want that to happen. He knew a special woman who would be able to solve this case in just a few hours. He'd take it up with Ms Marble's family and see if they agreed.
"What?! Owen, Jacky, come down here!" shouted Christina.
"What happened, love?" said Owen soothingly.
"This mad Constable is telling me that Nat was murdered"
"It's the truth, we expect you to come down to the Marble mansion for a while." asked the Constable.
"Yes, yes. Of course" spoke Owen.
After the Kaple family saw Natalia being taken away, they were asked to sit in the study of the Marble home with the Inspector. All of them were astonished, it was so unexpected. Chrissy was very close to her sister, Nat. So, she didn't know how to cope.
"Ms Christina, we won't be able to handle this case. The police are simply not capable of such a complex murder. Someone will be wrongly convicted." said the Inspector.
"Well, who do you have in mind then?" said Chrissy sadly. She felt choked, her eyes were red because she had been crying.
"I know a special woman, her name is Irene Appleberry, but she goes by the name Ms Ivy."
"How do you know her? Tell me about her."
"Ms Ivy is a childhood friend, we went everywhere together. She and I would solve petty thefts in the neighbourhood. We had to part ways when I came here, to London, for training. She went to Australia to start a career. Coincidentally, she will be coming to London today by the 12:40."
"Are you sure she'll be able to solve this?"
"I promise you, by the end of the day, you'll know who killed Ms Marble."
"Thank you. You can join my family for lunch. Here is the address." Chrissy handed him a slip of paper.
It was almost 2:20 in the afternoon, the Kaples were getting ready for lunch with Ms Ivy. Christina Kaple was worried, her 19-year-old son, Jack Kaple-Jacky to everyone- had not said a word since morning. It was rather peculiar, she expected him to react by shouting or crying. But, he hadn't. The doorbell rang.
"Love, can you please get the door, it must be Ms Ivy." requested Christina.
Owen opened the door, it was Ms Ivy and Inspector Rue. He directed them to the formal dining room. Irene Appleberry was a thin and slender woman with short jet black hair. She was tall and rather attractive.
"Hello, you must be Ms Christina Kaple," said Ms Ivy in a sharp Australian accent.
"Yes, this is my son Jack Kaple, but please, call him Jacky." Chrissy pointed to a shy looking Jacky.
"Hello, Ms Ivy." murmured Jacky.
Ms Ivy simply smiled.
"I will be asking a few questions to everybody separately after lunch. Bossy, can you please call the man who came to the police station, a shopkeeper isn't he?" said Ms Ivy casually.
"Ivy, I told you not to call me that in front of people. And yes, I will call him." said the Inspector. Ms Ivy had been calling Inspector Rue by the nickname of 'Bossy' since they were young.
They had a lunch of turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. Something not many people in London had, but it was Owen's choice. He went to San Fransisco a few years before and had a Thanksgiving meal, since then, every time new guests came to their house, this dish had to be cooked.
And so the interrogations started, Chrissy went first. They were taking place in the Kaples' drawing-room.
"Can you please give me a background of Ms Marble? Any family issues or pending debts, every single detail. Please be honest about everything, it is the only way I can help you." said Ms Ivy.
"Well, she was about 43 years old. She had a husband who died of polio 2 years ago. Gave birth to two children, suffered a miscarriage when she was about 39. The eldest son is studying in Los Angeles, his name is Michael, almost 22 years old. The youngest son, Shorty, eloped a few months back, he's about 20 years old. She had a gambling problem when she was young, but paid all debts. That's all I know." informed Chrissy.
"Anything you're not telling me?"
"No Ms Ivy, I loved her and this is all I know.
"Any insurance when she passed?"
Chrissy paused and hesitated and said, "None"
"Why did you hesitate?"
"Well, she didn't want me to tell anyone but, she wanted me to have everything she had when she passed, from clothes to money. Owen doesn't know this."
"Oh yes, many. Had a wonderful relationship with her husband, loved him very much but her sons were not too fond of her. Always leaned towards the father."
"Does Shorty have a real name?"
"He certainly does, hates his real name though! Shirley Ann Marble was his real name."
"What was your original surname?"
"It was Glynn. Natalia Glynn and Christina Glynn."
"Why was Ms Marble's body red? The Inspector told me her bed was drenched in chlorine"
"Of course, she was allergic to chlorine. Her skin would burn and her blood pressure would increase immediately."
"But, didn't she smell it?"
"She had a horrible cold, called me last week and told me about. She always does, it's a habit"
"Thank you, we will end here. If you remember anything else, please inform me. Tell Mr Kaple to come in, will you?"
Owen Kaple silently walked in and sat on the couch opposite Ms Ivy.
"Hello, Mr Kaple. I will be asking a few questions. I need you to answer them honestly." said Ms Ivy.
"Of course," replied Mr Kaple.
"How would you describe your relationship with Ms Marble?"
"Well, both of us got along pretty well. Shared a love for food, we did. Every Sunday, we'd go to a new restaurant and give a rating. It wasn't published or anything, just for our knowledge. Got called by many food critics, but Nat declined all. I have to admit, I wanted a few jobs but she said she didn't want to make it a career, just a hobby and a way for us to spend time together.
"Today is Monday, I presume you went out yesterday"
"We certainly did!"
"Where did you go, may I ask?"
"A few blocks down to a newly opened European restaurant. Food was delicious!"
"Did Ms Marble seem uneasy?"
"No, although, there was a waiter who served us quite a few times. Every time he'd come, she would stare at him. Looks a lot like the gentleman outside"
"No, the other one. Also, the waiter from yesterday looked a lot like Nat, he did. Strikingly similar facial features."
"Noted. Thank you for your co-operation and patience. Could you call Ms Kaple again, please?"
"Ms Kaple..." started Ms Ivy
"Please, call me Chrissy. I hate it when someone calls me by my surname" insisted Chrissy.
"Ok, Chrissy. Did you and Ms Marble have another sibling?"
"No, only the two of us. Why?"
"No reason. Does the gentleman outside, not Inspector Rue, the other one, look like a male version of Ms Marble to you?"
"He does not"
"Please tell me the names of your parents"
"Well, my father was Leo Glynn and my mother was DeDe Glynn.
"Did Ms Marble go outside on Sunday except for the European restaurant?"
"She goes for a walk every day in the evening."
"Thank you. You may go now. Please call your son"
"Where were you yesterday?" asked Ms Ivy.
"At a coffee shop, alone" replied Jacky.
"Have you ever been blackmailed?"
He paused and said, "No"
"You're good at lying boy"
"I'm telling the truth, I promise"
"Does the shopkeeper outside look like Ms Marble to you?"
"Not even the slightest bit"
"Call him in here, please. I want both of you here"
All of them gathered in the study of the Kaple home.
"On Sunday morning, the shopkeeper Mr Hoffman called Jacky to a coffee shop to discuss important matters, as said by him. Both of them were plotting Ms Marble's murder. First, Mr Hoffman bribed Jacky with his shop, of course. Jacky refused and asked for money, Mr Hoffman agreed. In the afternoon, Mr John Hoffman disguised as a waiter, started serving Mr Kaple and Ms Marble. Then, when Ms Marble went for her daily walk in the evening, Jacky went inside the house from the back door with three bottles full of chlorine. He knew his aunt was allergic to chlorine and that she had a bad cold, so Ms Marble wouldn't be able to smell it and would lay down on the bed without any suspicion. The next morning, Mr John Hoffman comes to the house pretending to exchange the milk bottles, but in reality, he'd come to check if Ms Marble was dead. Once he opened the door, which was unlocked, he went up to the bedroom and saw her dead. Their plan succeeded. Motive? Mr John Hoffman, as known by the London people, is really Mr John Glynn. Ms Natalia Marble and Mr John Glynn were twins, birthed by the original mother, DeDe Glynn, but a different father, Don Black. That is why Ms Marble recognized Mr John Hoffman in the restaurant. And that is why Jacky and Chrissy disagreed to the fact that Mr John Glynn looked like Ms Marble, but Mr Kaple agreed, but I'll continue from where I left off. Ms DeDe Glynn then got a divorce and met Leo Glynn. A year later, Ms Christina Kaple was born. The whole family put Mr John Glynn in the shadows and said they were not related, for reasons unknown. As soon as Mr John Glynn turned 18 they shipped him off to Russia. 3 decades later, after both parents died, Mr John Glynn returns to London wanting to kill Ms Marble. Of course, he knew she was allergic to chlorine and used that as his killer. He didn't murder Chrissy because he loved her, they had been very close when they were young. Chrissy had never supported the idea of forgetting Mr John Glynn. I hope I have answered all your questions. Also, Chrissy, please hire a lawyer the case of you lying will be taken up. Jacky and Mr Glynn will be serving time. It was a pleasure to meet you all." explained Ms Ivy.
Everyone was shocked.
Ms Ivy returned to Australia that evening. Mr Kaple went up to bed feeling sad but astonished. Mr John Hoffman, now known as Mr John Glynn went to jail feeling proud. Jacky felt nothing. Inspector Rue felt satisfied.