A Case of Threat

October 12, 2012

Bonjour from New York! I arrived just this morning and I have settled into my new lodgings in Greenwich Village. What luck that somebody sent me a case with the offer of accommodations! Very convenient.

Although I must admit it was not the place that expected; it’s a fine lodging, nice and clean and middle class but… well, it’s difficult to explain. I suppose I thought of Americans as being very firm, masculine people by the standard of Europeans, but in my lodgings my attendants and my clients, they are all particularly… I guess I will say, foppish. I do not complain; everyone has been awfully kind and the setting is quite enjoyable colorful. And though it is a stretch for my comforts, I must protect the lives of these rather kind gentlemen who have hosted me.

Onto the case; the establishment of these men has been targeted for their connections to their… lifestyle, and a public event which they are looking to organize has multiple times been threatened with a bomb attack, apparently by an extremist of a religious nature. Multiple times they have had to cancel the party at the final minute, but each time the anonymous attacker gives them a most rude and threatening message the moment they are in the middle of planning the event again. They have called the police, they have searched all the premises, but they have found no device. It is difficult to search in a large place, but they have gone through all the cabinets in the kitchen, all the nooks and crannies, cleared out the basement – all to no avail. Therefore they have hired Hercule Poirot – c’est moi – to see if I can figure out if and how they are going to be attacked.

I have my suspicions, but if you have any ideas, I would appreciate to hear them. Please comment if you have any ideas!

Poirot

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Qu’ai-je Fait?

October 10, 2012

Mon dieu! What have I done? What have I done?? Today I met among the greatest detectives ever conceived in mind or matter, and in my arrogance I dismissed him – insinuated that he was either making a joke or that he was insane! Clearly angered he told me to see what was right before my face with my pince-nez glasses and I did not but stiffen my lip and act smug as he walked away! And I continued – continued my attitude of conceit as I finished both our meals when they were sent to the table!

But how, you ask, if I was so dismissive, have I come to this conclusion when it was too late? I tell you that as I returned I wished to read some documents sent to me by Monsieur Trudeau before packing my luggage and – as I hoped – to return to Brussels. Promptly to read them I reached over to my mantelpiece and grabbed my pince-nez. And that was when it struck me. My pince-nez? I never brought it to the restaurant! And Sherlock Holmes, this man I angered, said in passing, as if it was obvious, that not only did I wear spectacles, but that I wore pince-nez, even though I never brought a pair for him to see! It even occurred to me that he knew I neglected to bring them that day! But how? How could he know such a thing? In a frenzy I rushed to a mirror and, though it was subtle and only visible to the trained eyes, to me it was clear as day what the man saw: two small wire pinch marks that donned the bridge of my nose!

I was struck; using only this observation and, perhaps, the observation that I lacked the chain where I usually carried it, he knew that I wore spectacles, that these were pince-nez, and that I had not brought them. Most strikingly, however, he felt little keenness to gloat about this observation, as if he tried with great strain to discover it; to him, it was obvious, worth but a critical comment in passing. Such a thing could only be observed and discovered by one man, a man who I was so convinced could not exist in this world that when he stood before me and told me who he was I refused to believe him. He was who he said he was; the famous detective Sherlock Holmes!

But Holmes is fictional! He is as these fictional characters which rumor indicated were breaking through the fourth wall. And yet he came into this world by a similar method as I? If Sherlock Holmes is fictional, then as he told me, I must see what is right before my face and, indeed as he said, with my pince-nez.

I must be fictional as well!

To those of you who tried with desperation to tell me and let me know what was going on to these fictional characters, and to myself, I commend your persistence. And if any of you had given up, and resolved to flatter my own pride, I do not condemn you; I was terribly stubborn. But it is better now that I see; it is better that I now that I accept the existential consequences of being fictional, understand that I myself cannot understand it, and resolve that I should understand it in the future.

But what of Holmes? I need to let him know and reconcile with him before his face! In haste I contacted my benefactor and asked him if he would allow me to go to New York. He hesitated, as to do so would mean he would cancel some of his arrangements. Ultimately he agreed to arrange the travel, but indicated that I had to organize accommodations. I will see what I can find with some money provided for me by the young Monsieur Paul de Blois (or Monsieur de Cavaignac, if you prefer) and arranged by Monsieur Trudeau.

America allez!

Hercule Poirot

P.S. If you have a new case, perhaps you can send me a message from my new business website at littlegreycells.biz! Graciously set up by this benefactor, I also have a contact email that will allow you to get in touch with me for a case or if I so request your formal assistance.

P.P.S. On a sadder yet inevitable note, I was informed that the body of Mademoiselle de Blois was found washed up down bank in the Seine. Her body indicated signs of great struggle, and prompted a full investigation into Elise de Cavaignac. This investigation proved very quickly that Elise de Cavaignac was in frequent contact with Mademoiselle de Blois at the time of the murder, with a request for a meeting shortly before her death. From what I hear, Elise de Cavaignac will negotiate a plea bargain for murder. I look forward to justice finally being served.

Cavaignac Case Solved!

October 8, 2012

Finally, I have come to the solution of this web of scandal and lies; it is true as I suspected that Valérie du Bois was the only person able to commit the murder that night and cover it up easily. Yet there was something else missing from the investigation; the ease with which Valérie committed the murder undetected given that she was a guest in a house, the missing evidence of what Pierre de Cavaignac was going to announce, the organized desk, the piece of paper on the fax machine, the boy Paul du Bois, etc. How did they fit together?

And then an epiphany occurred to me when I pondered the guest list again: Pierre’s lawyer, his friends from college – some of whom had scorn for him, his mother, a biographer, his company successor, and – most importantly – his mistress. Each one alone would have seemed rather strange; the lawyer Jean Trudeau, for example, is an intelligent but rather asocial person who is more comfortable amidst stacks of paper than a cocktail party. And his biographer, who was only supposed to work for him in private separate from all other business dealings. But together, in accordance with the meeting of his estranged son Paul, a story appears. For it appears to me that that night he was going to reveal the scandal to all parties he thought had a right to know!

Think of it; his college friends, who knew Valérie; his mother; his biographer, who was studying the life of Pierre de Cavaignac as well; his ultimate successor at the company. Further he wanted to codify the revelation in a document; a new testament that would conceivably resolve the scandal. This new testament must have been waiting on the desk for the official signatures, witnessed by his lawyer and all who attended the party, interested or not, so that he could finally find redemption. But what could it be? We only had one piece of the puzzle; the removal of Valérie du Bois’ allocations from the testament. How would he find redemption in this? Then it occurred to me that perhaps he was removing Valérie du Bois from the will because he was going to reallocate his holdings directly to his son which he met just that morning – perhaps, even, make Paul du Bois the new heir of the de Cavaignac fortune.

Now, everything comes into place! Why this will had disappeared, why a sheet was sent to Valérie that indicated her removal, why Valérie was able to commit the murder so easily and why Valérie went missing merely days after the murder without telling anyone or taking belongings away: Valérie was just a pawn in somebody else’s plot. Someone who was able to know what Pierre de Cavaignac was going to announce, who had an interest in making sure he wouldn’t announce it, who wanted to use the most bitter and persuadable guest to commit the act, who made explicit effort to exonerate herself in the murder with her action that night, who was able to remove the barriers that could interfere with the murder… and who had access to the will, and could easily send it to the fax machine. And that could surely only be one person.

Dame Elise de Cavaignac.

Surely it would be her who had the true motive and not Valérie; for years she sat by and watched as her husband paid for the silence of this scandal and stayed obedient, and now what, I presume, was he about to do? Give away his wealth to that boy, that blemish on their name; satisfy himself with redemption without regard for the loyalty of his wife who by no fault of her own was medically unable to produce children. She would not stand by as she had done so many times before! Yet it would be official by the night of the party; she had to move quickly. And if she wanted her due, surely she could not do the deed herself. But who then? Who would be willing and able to do the act for her?

That was when she considered Valérie du Bois. The only woman who had as much to bitter about by Pierre de Cavaignac as she, perhaps. But if she knew the nature of the will, she would surely not be inclined to murder him; would she not be satisfied that her son was finally cared for? So Valérie lied by sending her a message that Pierre planned to remove her from the will, validated with true evidence that was without context in the form of this faxed copy that I found. Surely if he was going to remove her, Valérie would have to move quickly to get her due! Then having recruited Valérie to the task, Elise made sure that she removed the barriers and ease the committing of the act; Elise removed the waiters, and even provided Valérie with gloves to cover her fingerprints… and she made sure that she had solemnly cleared her name from the murder, by mingling intently and making sure people knew where she was at all times. Then when it was long enough, she excused herself to ‘check’ on Pierre, took the will from his desk and in the machine, and removed it – burned it, perhaps. And by that token, she thought, they would never know.

Except that there was one who could know; that day Pierre met with the child Paul and told him that he would make things right for him and his mother, and perhaps hearing this from the son Valérie got suspicious. For Elise there was only one way to remove the risk that Valérie would expose her – remove Valérie herself. That is why she disappeared without telling anybody – Valérie must have been murdered herself!

I do not know where Valérie lies; however I do know that the police discovered correspondence between the two on the eve of the murder and were compelled by the evidence to arrest Elise as an accomplice. Someday I hope that the full horror of her crime is revealed. And as for Paul, with the wife and his mother removed from their ability to keep holding of Pierre’s assets, he will be granted their fortune by the charity of Jean Trudeau, their lawyer.

Monsieur Poirot

Scandal in the Cavaignac Household!

October 7, 2012

I must say to all of you off hand that many of your suspicions of scandal were correct! Your grey cells aren’t so bad after all!

I came upon the Ermitage school, but I was not allowed to go up to the room. Luckily, upon being informed of my arrival the resident came down to greet me – but who should it be? A young lad, 17 years of age named Paul du Bois – the secret son of Valérie! And why was he kept so secret? Because he is the illegitimate child of Comte Pierre de Cavaignac! And here is what is interesting; he knew this because the morning of the day of his murder Pierre visited Paul and told him that he was his long-lost father who was supporting him in secret (much as Paul’s mother was, so that this scandal would not interfere with her desire to rise in the social ranks). But as he left Comte de Cavaignac mentioned something in passing about righting his old wrongs at last to his son Paul, which I take to have something to do with the gathering at the house!

So finally, finally I have the semblance of a motive for Valérie du Bois, something she would have to answer for – that is, if it weren’t for the bad news that just this morning Valérie was reported missing from her penthouse suite. And her disappearance seems strange; for if she truly left in a guilty conscience she did so mysteriously without packing her valuables and without contacting anyone to say where she was going – not even her son Paul. We were able to search her place and found little to report except one piece of evidence that I found intriguing; a single sheet of paper in her study that was sent through this seemingly magical device that was related to me as a ‘fax machine’ – apparently a device that sends sheets of paper backwards and forward from house to house. This paper seems to be a section of a larger legal document – indicating, in summary, changes to be made in the testament of Pierre de Cavaignac including the removal of Valérie du Bois’ allocations. How did Valérie du Bois get a hold of such a piece of paper? Who sent it to her? And what did she do once she received it? There are many questions to answer, but I am sure that I will answer them soon.

Poirot

P.S. If you insist that I meet with this Sherlock Holmes as he calls himself, I would like to do so under certain conditions; we must agree on a single, public location, without weapons and dressed in clothing described prior to our meeting so that there is no chance that one of us may don a disguise and assault the other. I shall agree to these à tout le moins; no negotiation!

The Business Development

October 6, 2012

A development with this murder. I called the man on the business card – a Swiss financier named Pascal Casanova, who had a reputation for being a no-questions asked, minimal information maker of investment transactions. According to him, he worked with Pierre de Cavaignac for the past two years on a rather vaguely described project involving Pierre financing  an investment portfolio for a third party (Pierre merely described as an intricate ‘gift’ for a friend). But a couple months ago Pierre asked a strange request to figure out where withdraws from the portfolio were going, as if he didn’t know. Nevertheless Pascal added a notification feature for major transactions made with the money. Over the two months it was discovered that financial capital was being sent to a particular account; moreover two days ago money from the account was used to pay a tuition for a 12th year student at the Ermitage boarding school outside of Paris. I did not get a name but I asked him what this number was on the back of the card; he said it was a room number at the school. (this information was known through perhaps less than legal means, so I will not provide details – not to mention I barely understand this money myself). I thanked him; I plan to visit this boarding school tomorrow.

Mystère à Paris

October 5, 2012

Bonjour à Paris!

I am speaking to you from the beautiful city of Paris. I am sorry that I have not been able to respond the last few days; I have been laying low in France as I understand this Hefner – or rather Sherlock Holmes as he now calling himself – is most keen on trying to find and disrupt me. I attempted to send a message to him by ransacking his apartment, but it was he who sent a message to me. How could I have been so stupid?

Yet let us not dwell on the past; with the help of a benefactor (who wishes my silence of him) made arrangements for me to come to the continent and solve a most intriguing mystery.

Comte Pierre de Cavaignac, a well-known French Aristocrat, was found murdered in a – as you say, ‘cocktail party’ (a strange name for these gatherings, for they do not usually serve a chicken’s behind at these sorts of function). He was stabbed in the torso six times and killed almost instantly, but he was found perhaps a surprisingly long time after he died. You see, he was going to make a special announcement and was presumed to enter late and with grand presentation, so when he did not show up people thought little of it. Moreover, the butlers and maids were given strict instructions by the wife Elise de Cavaignac to attend to the guests and not to Comte de Cavaignac. He was found in his study; anyone who slipped away for ten minutes would have had ample time to commit the murder and cover up their deed enough to last through the party. He was only found after the wife got anxious around dinner time that her husband did not show up, and went up to the study to find his body stabbed. Thus the announcement he was going to make that night was never made.

Initially everyone was a suspect in this murder, but I have taken the statements and narrowed down the possibilities. For starters, the maids and butlers were all very well accounted for by each other, so it is unlikely any of them could have done it. Which leaves the guest list of ten people, as well as the wife. I recount their alibis below:

  • Elise de Cavaignac mingled at every minute and hour with the guests like a good hostess and was universally accounted for that night. She could not have gotten away.
  • The advocate of the family, Jean Trudeau, was also invited to the party with his wife, Marie Trudeau; and while Elise was proven incapable of the crime for being social, Jean it might be said was disproven for being too noticeably asocial at every hour of the night – not taking to many people, feeling uncomfortable in conversation with anyone but his wife. They both stood in the corner of the lounge for all the reception, and did not have the time to commit the murder.
  • François Chrétien, an old friend from their college among the Université de Paris consortium – Paris-1, Pantheon de Sorbonne to be exact – who is one of those charismatic aristocrats who are satisfied with their own ability to entertain with their personality. Almost as devout as the wife he was entertaining guests as well.

Some people also did not have an alibi for the entire night but they seemed incapable of the murder as well:

  • Renée de Cavaignac, Pierre’s mother was also attending with her boyfriend Henri Beauregard (Pierre’s father died five years ago) and they both were claimed to wander around the residence. Renée is 75 years old and Henri is 80, and they both seem simply too old and senile to have committed the crime.
  • Finally, for almost six months Comte Pierre de Cavaignac has been working with a writer named Joseph Laval, the former hiring the latter to work on his biography. Joseph Laval works as a reporter and he was recalled to leave the guests for a ten minute period to smoke a cigarette outside. He was not seen for a good amount of time and perhaps he had an opportunity but he only knew Pierre de Cavaignac for a few months – insufficient time to have a motive for murder; besides he was scheduled to get paid in segments for his work with a major bonus after the work was completed, and Joseph was barely halfway through Pierre’s college years. As a half clever man he would have waited for full payment before acting. Not to mention he would have had to climb up to the second floor of the house from the outside in a suit, and – by his report – terrible vertigo.

Therefore there are three people who had the capacity and opportunity to commit the crime, though I cannot necessarily discern the motive:

  • Jacqueline de Geoffrey, his assistant at the company and set to be his successor upon his retirement or death. A very keen and ambitious businesswoman who played the part at the party in her white dress. She has the clearest motive of the three that I can discern.
  • Hugo Vernet, like Francois Chrétien, was also an old friend from college but he more specifically had a harsh disagreement about a girl which ultimately poisoned their friendship; they hadn’t spoken for two years and even then it was only a brief engagement at their school reunion. Obviously their relationship was sour, but it does not seem enough for a murder, particularly as it seemed Pierre was extending a laurel with this invitation.
  • And finally, Valérie du Bois, the girl that was subject of this disagreement, who had a strong passionate affair with Pierre, but it ended as soon as it began. She clearly also had strongly negative feelings about Pierre as a result but her description of it was vague; hers of the three is the most mysterious in terms of motive. She is a relatively famous socialite and very concerned with her image; she was perhaps the great head turner of the party with her red dress and short blonde hair.

I have little to go off of for the murder for it is very clean; the wounds are shallow and caused much of the bleeding to be internal rather than gushing. The knife was left in one of the wounds but had no fingerprints; whoever used it had gloves. And incidentally a pair of fancy brown leather gloves that belonged to Madame de Cavaignac went missing.

There is one piece of evidence that is interesting. First, Comte Pierre de Cavaignac’s desk in his office where he was murdered unusually clean for his reputation, with pens on the table aligned as if for some ceremony that a piece is missing of. Perhaps the murderer took the object of de Cavaignac’s announcement. And second, he had in his pocket a business card of a Swiss investor of some kind with some numbers scribbled on the back of it. What it means I do not know; I will contact this man shortly.

Poirot

To My Commentors

October 4, 2012

My dear fans,

I am back! At least, back to my blog. If you are concerned, know that I am safe in a secret location in London. I am not staying in the country of England but I am in fact moving to France very soon. I believe it is long overdue to go to a country where I speak my native language after all!

Some of you have have come up to me, noting the fact that I am Belgian, disadvantaged in my height, advantaged in my girth, balding and moustached, and noted my abilities of observation. In noting it you have called me by a name that I never wished to be called. In my agitation I fought back, and occasionally quite rudely, and for this I feel I must explain.

I am a man who by my nature deduces. I observe, and then I use the little gray cells to find the solution to the problem before me. But in suddenly being swept up into this time and place I suddenly encountered a grave problem and realized that I had no means to solve it. I can find much in a crime scene that is out of place, that is troubling, and with them I understand the solution. But I am not in such a room or house; I am in a place unknown to me where I have no idea what is normal or out of place, and in being flooded with all the new information I retreated to the confines of the Widdecombe residence, where I was sheltered in the polite high society that I could understand. I took on an alias and refused to say who I was because I could not explain why; I could not account for my identity, and in a world where I was without reputation I would have sounded positively mad. And perhaps I got angry at people who seemed to understand who I was, justified with the most maddening nonsense not befitting the name of deduction, because in reality I had nothing that I could replace it with.

However, in this crisis I have come to discover that I have pushed away the people who care about my safety and are most capable of understanding and accepting my predicament, so I will break the silence I committed to and tell you la verité: I am inspector Hercule Poirot!

I do have something else to discuss with you; this morning I discovered that this Monsieur Hefner tried to find me and in doing so raided an apartment; not, I should mention, my true apartment but a decoy which I had provided to a source which I knew this Hefner character – if he really was so keen on finding me – would follow up on. This Belgian is too clever to give out the address of his real location so that I could be stolen from! Still this heinous act has injured whatever trust I held for the man, and it is clear that his interest in me was not temporary to the case. In that apartment I sent him a message as to who he is dealing with. It will not be the only message I send to him before I leave for France…

Yours sincerely,

Hercule Poirot

Terrible, Terrible News of Les Okogwu

October 1, 2012

Leslie Okogwu has been found dead! Quel dommage! And just when it seemed that I was on the verge of finding him and discovering what he was doing. I finally managed to locate his hub where he held his ‘business’. When I caught up with him he was having an argument with a tallish snappily dressed man, with whom he was apparently having apparent disagreement. I couldn’t make out the whole disagreement, but I heard this mysterious man threaten to kill Monsieur Okogwu and told him to “go back to the bush where he came from” before storming off. After the man stormed off I approached Monsieur Okogwu seeking to ask him home, so I introduced myself and I told him the name of my client, but he ran off as if he had heard the devil’s name.

But that morning I got a call from my client on the phone with the terrible news.  His head sustained a blow by some blunt force object and was cracked, and his body was found in a waste receptacle on Middle Temple Lane. But there is more; for Professor Moore seemed to know of this tall man and indicated that this Monsieur Hefner (for that is his name) was very dangerous and possibly violent! I suspect that had something to do with the man’s death, especially since he carried around an instrument of blunt force in the form of a decorative cane. Yet we must assume innocence without all the facts; more evidence must be collected!

Reynald

An Olive Branch Foresaken!

September 29, 2012

Of all the rude things in the world I encountered a most despicable one today! Of all the people in the world for me to trust as well, that I should trust so vile a man! Last night Pieter Verhaeren himself called the Widdecombe residence wishing to speak to me, and he told me that he would like a better chance to consider my ‘reluctance’ to accept his politics. He went so far as to invite me to his residence, the local Hastings Hotel in London, where he claimed to wish to speak to me personally! He said he wished to discuss some of his positions which he has ‘updated’ since we last met each other. I was skeptical, but I went anyway. The instructions told me to meet him up in his room, and that I should wait if he isn’t in there already. So I come to the hotel, come up to his room with the direction of the receptionist, find the door was open, but – mais, qu’est-ce qui est manqué? He wasn’t there. So per instruction I wait. Forty minutes I wait before I decide to leave! He just invited me over to the hotel so he could stand me up and insult me? I swear I could throttle the man!

I do not know what should led me to have trust him; perhaps I was emboldened by the information given to me this very morning by our old friend Arthur Lincoln – though now I should say Jack Mason – who was sitting in prison awaiting trial for a barrage of crimes. By chance I happened to visit him in Brixton Penitentiary, and he indicated to me that he knew of the very some young man Leslie Okogwu. By his description Les was an ‘associate’, an unaffiliated salesman in the trade in which Jack was a provider. He told me the best time to visit him was in the late afternoon. I would have visited Okogwu this very day – except that I was to meet Monsieur Verhaeren. Quelle ironie! That I should find integrity in this Jack Mason, a sworn and tried criminal, and fail to find any in Verhaeren, who calls himself a politician! Tomorrow I should find Okogwu, and I will do what I can to bring him back to King’s College where he belongs, where good men as Professor Moore care about his wellbeing!

Reynald

New Case!

September 28, 2012

I do not believe it is necessarily good policy, but I wish to inform you all about a most interesting case that was brought to my doorstep by a concerned Englishman called Arthur Moore. Strangely enough I met the man at the lecture today at King’s College London. He is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and a most brilliant mind, and he had come to hear this awful man Pieter Verhaeren speak. We sat next to each other and had a wonderful little chat – but when he heard my name he announced to me that he was on the lookout for just the sort of man that provided my services.

He told me that he had taken particular interest in one of his young students named Leslie Okogwu who he described as brilliant but very troubled. You see, this young man ‘Les’, as he was known, was struggling in his finances and especially in his schooling, despite the offers of help provided by the client. A few days ago it was revealed to the assistant professor that the Monsieur Okogwu resorted to illegal activities in order to pay his tuition, and when rebuked he stormed away. Since then he has not been seen or heard of, and has gone missing. Arthur therefore requests that I try to find the location of this young man Monsieur Okogwu.

If anybody has information pertaining to the location of Monsieur Okogwu, I would be grateful to know!

Reynald