The Third Party: Solution
“Argh!” grumbled Ivan, “What is taking that detective so long? I want to go home already!”
“Now, now,” muttered Victor. “As much as I also want to leave this place too, you know we cannot unless that detective permits us.”
Leslie did not say anything as she continued to fidget with the loose strand of her light brunette hair. She could not help but wonder why she had to witness, or even worse, get involved in another murder at Mr. Hange Hurston’s party. Just like Victor and Ivan, she too, was desperate to get out of here as well.
“Sorry to keep you waiting gentlemen, and Miss Beckford,” said Adrian as he swiftly entered the makeshift powder room. “After further investigation, I have now figured out who killed Mr. Maurice Higham!”
“Finally!” sighed Ivan impatiently, “About time!”
“As you are now all aware,” began Adrian. “Mr. Maurice Higham did not commit suicide. He was murdered! And, the murderer wanted everyone to believe that he had committed suicide. However, they made one big mistake.”
“How did the murderer shoot Maurice without anyone noticing?” asked Victor, “Because he was killed on the terrace, shouldn’t the receptionist have seen the murderer and heard the gunshot?”
“The murderer used a silencer,” explained Adrian as he showed everyone the murder weapon that had been bagged. “According to the receptionist she saw a mysterious person wearing a disguise as they made their way to the terrace.”
“But how did the murderer lure the victim onto the terrace?” asked Leslie.
“I found a small note in the victim’s shirt cuff,” replied Adrian. “It instructed Maurice to meet them on the terrace alone at half-past eight. The murderer must’ve somehow slipped the note into his shirt cuffs.”
“That still doesn’t explain who killed Maurice,” said Ivan. “Can’t you just already tell us who it is?”
“I am about to get to that part Mr. Walsted,” snapped Adrian. “Prior to the start of the event, the murderer hid the disguise in the washrooms near the reception. They then excused themselves from the party in the courtyard in order to go to the washrooms.”
“There are so many entrances and exits into the building from the courtyard!” exclaimed Victor, “Why did the murderer choose to go via the reception?”
“In order to solidify their alibi,” Adrian answered promptly. “They wanted to make sure that they were seen going to the washroom. The murderer then donned on the disguise, left the washroom and went to meet with the victim on the terrace. Using the silencer, they were able to shoot Maurice in the head without attracting any attention. I looked around the terrace myself, and there was not a single passerby on the Embankment side of Somerset House.”
“But what was the said ‘mistake’ that the murderer made?” asked Leslie out of curiosity.
“Only you and Mr. Higham would know,” Adrian told Leslie.
Victor and Leslie glanced at each other in confusion. What was the mistake they both knew? Did it have something to with the late Maurice Higham?
“Cut to the chase!” shouted Ivan impatiently, “Who killed Maurice Higham?”
“I thought you might like to explain, Mr. Ivan Walsted!” said Adrian as he glanced towards Ivan.
Victor and Leslie gasped as their heads turned towards Ivan’s direction.
“Are you implying that I killed Maurice?!” exclaimed Ivan, “Where’s your proof?!”
“You were the only one out of the suspects who didn’t know that Mr. Maurice Higham was dominantly left-handed,” replied Adrian. “Mr. Higham would know since he was the victim’s father, and so would Miss Beckford who was previously engaged to him.”
He then presented Ivan with the fake suicide note, holding it up in front of his face.
“When he was working with you on his business, you only assumed that he was right-handed,” explained the detective. “Maurice was forced to use his right hand, because he would have been discriminated if he had freely used his left hand.”
“That doesn’t mean I killed him!” shouted Ivan, “Maybe I forgot that he was left-handed, since I was so used to seeing him writing with his right hand.”
“Prior to the start of the event, you prepared the note telling the victim to meet you on the terrace at half-eight, the fake suicide note, and hid the disguise in the washrooms,” said Adrian. “In order to keep up appearances within public, you must’ve slipped the note into the victim’s shirt cuffs, while under the guise that you were giving him a hand shake.”
“Remarkable story detective,” scoffed Ivan as beads of sweat began rolling down his forehead. “Still does not prove that I killed him.”
“The only way to get to the terrace from inside Somerset House is to go through the reception,” Adrian continued. “Assuming you saw the victim leave the courtyard, you followed after him, under the pretence that you were going to the washrooms. You made sure that you were seen by the receptionist so that you would have an alibi. Once you entered the washrooms, you donned on the disguise and exited the same way you entered. Using the gun and the silencer, you were able to shoot Maurice without attracting any attention. Also because the terrace overlooking Embankment had no passerby’s at this time of the day.”
“If you really think that I’m the murderer, how would I have gotten back into the party?” asked Ivan confidently.
“Once you committed the crime, you discarded your disguise and left the terrace using the exit onto Lancaster Place,” replied the detective. “You re-entered the courtyard using the entrance from the Strand, and used one of the doors leading to the showrooms.”
“Then wouldn’t Mr. Walsted have been noticed by someone?” asked Leslie.
“I am confident no one did,” said Adrian. “Everyone was too focused on the party in the courtyard, and the Fortnum & Mason products being displayed in the showrooms. Hence why, Mr. Walsted was able to fool the receptionist into thinking that he had been in the bathroom for the entire time.”
“But I was in the washroom!” said Ivan stubbornly.
“Well, if we compare your handwriting to the notes and your bank loans, I’m sure that we will have a match,” Adrian told Ivan. “Also, if we find any saliva or hair on the disguise, the forensics team might be able to use the latest and most advanced technology to get a DNA match.”
Ivan clenched his fist before letting out a sigh of defeat.
“I guess the game’s up,” he muttered. “The detective’s right. I killed that scoundrel!”
“Was it solely because of the debt he left you in?” asked Adrian.
“As I had said earlier,” replied Ivan. “It was that scoundrel’s fault that I lost everything! Maurice was about to be disowned by his father for his gallivanting behaviour and overspending habits. We met at one of his father’s soirées and he requested my help in starting up his own business.”
“And he proved to be incapable of handling his business which failed, and deserted you in order to escape from his shambles,” finished the detective. “Also, it left you in a lot of debt since most of your savings was used to help him. Though, what was the breaking point that drove you to kill?”
“I attended another of Mr. Higham’s soirées where I confronted Maurice,” said Ivan. “I demanded for him to compensate for my loss, but he refused. He gloated that I no proof that he was involved with this business plan and claimed that I should take responsibility for my own loss rather than pinning the blame onto him.”
“But that does not give you a valid reason to take his life!” shouted Adrian.
“Mr. Ivan Walsted,” said Constable Havers as he placed a pair of handcuffs onto Ivan’s wrists. “You are under arrest for the murder of Mr. Maurice Higham.”
While the police and Constable Havers escorted Ivan Walsted back to Scotland Yard, Adrian quickly looked for the event organiser to acquire the party plan and the guest lists. Meanwhile, Leslie reunited with Ernest Gravetye whom she had met at the party.
“What happened Miss Beckford?” he asked her out of curiosity. “There were police officers at the party and all the party guests became restless by their appearance. Everyone was asking what was going on, but they wouldn’t tell us.”
“I can’t disclose such details,” whispered Leslie in a tired voice. “I just want to go home.”
“Of course,” said Ernest as he extended his arm for her. “Please allow me to escort you home this evening.”
Leslie nodded as she took the offered arm and walked beside Ernest with Harriet in tow. During the car ride, all she could think about was the murder that had occurred again at Mr. Hange Hurston’s third party.