Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Case of the Crushed Roses: Chapter 2 (Part 2 of 2)

Continued... Chapter Two, Part Two

     I turned his attention back to the case. Sherlock was leaving the room, Lestrade right behind. I hurried after them and came up behind Lestrade in the small kitchen. Sherlock got to his knees, looked under the fridge again and pulled out a small piece of something shiny.
                Lestrade leaned in closely, “That looks like…”
                “Glass, a fragment.” Sherlock held it up for John and Lestrade to see. “There are small fragments of glass on the floor and under the fridge. The particles on the floor are tiny, small enough that they will leave a tiny sliver. Someone was careless picking them up, a few larger pieces ended up under the fridge. From the apartment we can tell that the owner was clean, the only thing she left about were her books. Even the last night’s dishes are done and the counters are wiped down. Had she shattered the glass in here the floor would have been mopped over. Instead, someone brushed them up hurriedly, missing bits here and there, perhaps not even using a broom but whatever was at hand.”
                “Yes, but what does that mean?” Lestrade was perplexed by this. “Does it matter that someone didn’t pick up the glass in her kitchen? Could have happened earlier yesterday, friends over for dinner and that sort of thing.”
                Sherlock gave Lestrade a look, and walked briskly towards the front door where Anderson and a few others were working. Anderson looked up in annoyance.
                “If you don’t mind, I’m working here,” said Anderson sarcastically.
                “In that case, this will barely register on your radar,” calmly stated Sherlock.
                “I’m busy,” repeated Anderson, “You’ll get in the way of my work…”
                “And since you never work this should be no problem for you now,” said Sherlock and stepped right up to the doorjamb. Anderson and to shuffle backwards from his kneeling position to avoid being slapped in the face by Sherlock’s coattails. I looked up slightly to try and hide a bubble of laughter. Anderson was always upset by Sherlock, and my laughing at him would not make things any easier. I needn’t have bothered though, as Anderson was too busy glaring at Sherlock’s back to notice my amusement.
                Sherlock crouched by the doorjamb and pointed to the floor. “See, here on the floor, a few drops of dried blood.”
                “What about the doorjamb?” said Anderson, “I’m working on…”
                “Not important,” said Sherlock and continued with his monologue. “These are three specifically placed drops. The last one is dragged slightly, probably from a toe in fact. If you look on the floor you’ll observe that there are no loose nails, bits of metal, or even anything to stub a toe on. In fact, even the break-in is relatively clean. If you test this blood you’ll find it belongs to Miss Nouveau. Now why would she injure her foot here, of all places, and once again, not clean it up?”
                Anderson was glowering by now. Seeing a break in Sherlock’s diatribe, he chimed in. “The apartment is free of evidence besides the broken lock. Nothing’s missing that we know of, so it may be that she came home drunk, had to get in and burst through the door by accident…”
                “Not possible,” interrupted Sherlock. Anderson opened his mouth again but Sherlock continued before Anderson could get the words out. “The lock was broken through a solid piece of wood by a good amount of force. That is not something you do on accident when you’re drunk, especially not a female. Considering the height most of these pictures are hung at she was also shorter, between 5’3” and 5’5”. She would never have broken into her own apartment, how would she have locked up after herself.”
                “You couldn’t possibly tell that just from a splintered doorjamb” spluttered Anderson.
                “On the contrary,” replied Sherlock, “It’s quite obvious.” He didn’t expound. Anderson went back to studying the door jamb, obviously trying to figure out what was so obvious to Sherlock.
                I glanced around the apartment. There were a few pictures here and there, most of them set slightly below where I would have put them. T the pictures would have been at a perfect visual height for someone who was tall as Sherlock mentioned. The things he notices, unbelievable. I just barely stopped himself from saying this out loud. Sherlock didn’t mind the compliments, in fact he seemed to take pride in them, becoming even more at the top of his game. It was Anderson who didn’t like being shown up time and again by the world’s only consulting detective.
                Lestrade shifted on his feet, getting tired of waiting. “Alright Sherlock, walk us through this so I can make sense of it all.” Sherlock seemed to switch into hunting dog mode and walked through the crime scene, pointing out the specific spots as he spoke.
                “We know that the disappearance happened at night, most likely she was in bed judging by the rumpled covers when something awakened her at the door. She got up and went to the kitchen first to get a drink of water. We know she didn’t go to the door first because there is no blood in the kitchen so, in the kitchen with a glass in her hand. There is a knock or sound at the door, startling enough that she drops the glass. Miss Nouveau walks to the door, looks out, sees nothing. She pricks her toe on something, this isn’t caused by the door bursting in because she has time to hide. So, she’s at the door, something frightens her enough that she needs to hide. Where? It’s a small apartment, only place she can think of is the chest. She gets in, crushing the flowers. The attacker enters, notices the shattered glass, but continues on to the bedroom. He removes Miss Nouveau from the chest, slams her onto the floor, and then gives her some sort of drug so she passes out. There are no other signs of struggle in the apartment and the attacker had time to sweep up the glass on his way out.”
                Lestrade opened his mouth and Sherlock spoke for him, “Why would they sweep up the glass, well let’s see. They did want us to think it’s a break-in, but the papers knew about it before the police did. My theory, there was a third party in here. One that would have cared about the victim and not wanted any harm to come to her. This party would have been upset at seeing the shattered glass, but definitely was the orchestrator of the kidnapping. So, the attacker is a violent person, judging by the crushed flowers and the knock-out method. However, the third party is someone less violent, probably female, definitely knows the victim.”
                “That could be any number of people,” said Lestrade as he crossed his arms. “We can’t do a blanket check on everyone she knows.”
                “Relatives first, they are statistically more likely.” Sherlock pulled off the latex gloves he had been wearing and prepared to leave. “John and I will look for something a bit closer, narrow the playing field.” Sherlock started out the door, then turned and asked Lestrade: “Oh, and I will need to see the ransom note.”
                “Wasn’t a note,” said Lestrade, “Put that back!” He snapped this to an assistant that was trying to surreptitiously lift some scribbled notes from the desk. “Get out! You’re off the case!” The young man ducked his head and ran out down the hall. “The nerve of these new people.” Said Lestrade, running his hands through his hair. “You can almost never trust them, it’s pathetic.”
                “The note.” Said Sherlock, who was still standing in the doorway.
                “Right,” sighed Lestrade. “There was no note, I said that on the phone to get you to come down and take a look.”
                I looked over to Sherlock who had gone into thinking mode. I knew enough from cases that no note usually meant something more serious than a kidnapping. Usually it was an arranged disappearance like Sherlock had originally thought or…
                “No ransom, this is definitely a revenge kidnapping. Something’s gone wrong in her life.” Sherlock turned and kept walking out the door, “Keep an eye out for a ransom note, until you get one there’ll be nothing to go on.”
                I ran after Sherlock and caught up, flipping through my notes. “There’s not a lot to go on, what are we going to start with?” Sherlock pulled out his phone and flipped it around.
                “You noticed she was researching crime syndicates?”
                “Yes, her notes were on the desk.”
                “Exactly, the same notes that intern was trying to lift before Lestrade shouted at him.” He flipped the phone around and showed me a photograph of the young man, obviously covertly snapped while Sherlock had been looking around. “He was acting nervously, much more nervous than any of the other new interns. Darting glances, hiding his hands, he was more than nervous, he was trying to hide something.”
                Sherlock took his phone back, clicked through a few times, and then showed me another photograph. “Timothy Carlton, one-time boyfriend of Chiara Noveau, it’s all over the papers.”
                “Hang on, that’s the same…”
“Intern from the crime scene yes.” He snapped the phone shut.
                “Like I said John, relatives and ex-boyfriends are most suspicious. The fact that she was researching crime syndicates for her next novel does add a level of suspicion that way, but we start with what we know and work out.”
                “Right…” I jotted down a few more notes and asked Sherlock again. “So, what are we going to start with?”
                “This flower,” he said, holding up the one intact rose.

                “The flower?” How were we going to get any information from a flower?

(Chapter Three coming on December 23rd)

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