him. I turned on the television and the air-conditioning, and I ran. The tie wasn’t in my pocket when I chucked everything else into a litter bin, but of course I couldn’t go back because I had to leave his key inside the room.”

“Tell me,” said Carol with real curiosity, “did you arrange him so his hand was draped artistically?”

Lloyd looked down, obviously embarrassed. “I’m afraid I did. It didn’t look right to me, the way he was lying. I thought it would be more convincing the way I arranged it.”

That’s the trouble, thought Carol, you were trying too hard to be certain it looked like suicide.

Later, over subdued case-closed drinks at the nearest pub, Bourke said, “No wonder they caved in, Carol. Your manner even convinced me you knew every detail-and I knew you didn’t.”

Anne added her own admiring nod.

Carol swirled the whiskey in her glass. “I was sure two people were involved because of the phone calls. Obviously, whoever waited for Raeburn to die, then removed the plastic bag from his head, knew the murder was successful… so who was the second person ringing the paper and the hotel manager to make certain?”

Anne said, “Someone who wasn’t sure Raeburn was dead.”

“Yes, Anne, but why would you not know he was dead? The person must have left the hotel room before Raeburn died and then had no way of finding out exactly what had happened. This meant there must be some reason why these two people would make strenuous efforts not to be linked together-so I was looking for a couple who had a strong joint motive, but who appeared to be quite separate from each other.”

“Right,” Anne said, “but why did it have to be Lloyd Clancy and Alanna Brooks?”

“Look at any other possible combination. Raeburn and his daughter?”

“Supportive of each other,” supplied Bourke.

Carol nodded. “Nicole and Welton-they’re friends who even saw me together. And who and why would anyone want to combine with Corinne Jawalski?”

“Well, what about Welton and Livingston?” argued Anne. “Welton attacked Edward Livingston, and they both had a motive over Dingo.”

Again Carol nodded, pleased with the young constable. “It was a possibility, but the motive didn’t seem strong enough. Other combinations, such as Raeburn with Welton, didn’t work either. But Lloyd and Alanna did.” She ticked off her points. “They had the opportunity-the reception they attended was near Raeburn’s hotel and Pat told me it was very crowded, with people coming and going all night. They had the motive. Although Alanna had renewed her relationship with Collis, she denied it after his death because she knew of his HIV status and that she was infected. She also denied, as did Lloyd, that they had had a relationship-why bother to do this unless they had something to hide?”

“And both of them attacked each other to show how alienated they were,” said Anne, raising her wineglass in salute to Carol.

Bourke grinned at Anne. “Mind like a steel trap, Constable. Make a detective out of you yet.” He grew more serious as he said to Carol, “Collis Raeburn’s sex partners are in for an awful shock when this hits the papers-and there’s no way that it won’t.”

“Yes,” Carol said grimly, thinking about Corinne Jawalski, Graeme Welton and Edward Livingston, and hoping that the horrific toll of this virus would not end up taking in the entire Eureka Opera Company.

Mark said softly to Carol, “The word’s filtered down to me not to press charges as far as Kenneth Raeburn’s concerned, which will keep your name out of the media, Carol.”

“For the moment,” she said dryly.

Anne’s indignation was plain. “He shouldn’t get away with it!”

“He hasn’t,” said Bourke, “his whole world’s blown up in his face and his precious son’s reputation with it.” He touched his beer mug to Carol’s glass as he added, “You know, we cops close ranks over some things-no one’s going to be talking to the media about you.”

Carol sipped her whiskey, inspecting this new shift in the center of her universe. She was out now, to her own family and to her police family. She was no fool-there would be problems, serious ones. But it felt right. And good. Very good indeed…

“Oh God!” she said suddenly. “Talking about the media reminds me of Simon Sykes. He demanded I tie up the case by Wednesday and now I’ve bloody well done it to his schedule.


Balmoral Beach looked ravishing in the bright spring day. Little waves danced in from the harbor, seagulls inspected the sand or wheeled overhead with flashing white wings, a few swimmers braved the chill of the water while the less adventurous paced along the yellow sand. Up from the sea wall the white rotunda sat smugly in a sea of lawn.

Carol smiled at Mark Bourke, whose usual nonchalance had abandoned him. “I know something’s going to go wrong, Carol.”

“Relax. It’s pre-wedding nerves.”

Knots of people were gathering, greeting each other with lighthearted comments. The marriage celebrant beckoned. “Mark, we’ll be starting in a moment.”

Carol gave him a gentle shove. “Go on, Pat’s waiting for you.”

As he went up to take his place Carol saw Sybil’s red hair. Carol skirted the crowd and came up beside her. Carol said, “Hello, darling.”

Sybil gave her a tentative smile. As Carol took her hand, linking their fingers, she had a sudden flash of Alanna and Lloyd holding hands. She said, “Are you coming home?”

Sybil tightened her fingers. “Maybe. Can you give me a good reason to?”

“I miss you.”

“Not bad, but have you something better?”

“Jeffrey really misses you.”

“That,” said Sybil, “just might do it.”


Claire McNab is the author of the Detective Inspector Carol Ashton mysteries, Lessons in Murder, Fatal Reunion, Death Down Under and Cop Out. She also authored Under the Southern Cross, a romance. She firmly believes that every person should explore the beauties of Australia for herself and find out if Aussies really do say, “G’day!”

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