Joseph is freed once Mattie comes forward, as they were together until 4 am at Doyle's house, when Des was likely murdered before midnight. Blake finds the spot where Des was killed, in the back of Doyle's home, and realizes it was Georgie who killed Des, and wheeled his body to the memorial. Further, his saliva was in the bite on Des, leaving traces of Georgie's asthma medication behind.
Blake describes the scene, when Des puts a wrestling hold on Georgie, Georgie bites him to break it, then punches Des, who falls on a brick, the fatal wound. Georgie confesses. Munro commends Davis for his work, and suggests he go for detective training. Mattie and her father make peace.
Agnes Clasby, a friend of Blake's mother and now patient of Blake, tells him his mother died of diabetic coma, after a party, not appendicitis as he was told. Jean's son Christopher, in the Army, comes to see his mother in a performance of Electra at the Colonist's Club, in town for the first time in eight years. Coming out for her curtain call after the performance, famous actress Jacqueline Maddern falls dead on the stage.
Blake notices red marks on her skin and suspects poison. Superintendent Munro closes the club so that he can interview all present. Mattie is in the audience, too.
Consider the Crows
Miss Maddern was about to leave for America, having done scenes in Australia for an American film, based on a book by Australian writer Nevil Shute. Her friend Pamela Gilchrist aids in the search of Miss Maddern's possessions in her dressing room after she died.
Munro will not allow the actress's body moved to the morgue; samples are carried to Dr Alice Harvey for testing by Mattie O'Brien. Susan Tyneman was in charge of preparing meals, including what Miss Maddern ate before the performance. Patrick Tyneman argues with Justin Reynolds, a reporter from Melbourne, who tries to escape before he is questioned.
The police, Sergeant Hobart and Charlies Davis, stop him. Patrick reveals to Munro that he had a brief affair with the actress a few years earlier when he gave money to support a play; Susan hears this news from Reynolds. Patrick is not pleased with Munro. Cec Drury tells Stuart, his nephew and server for the event, to toss the roses that Miss Maddern held at her final bow. Munro is very harsh, scaring Stu who is wearing gloves while putting the roses in the bin. Stu wears them to hide psoriasis, which Blake calmly discovers.
Blake believes the poison is on the roses; who put the poison on them? Warwick Simpson is a theatre director, once her lover; he tells Munro the actress wanted money for the charity performance, money that he gave her. Munro is very harsh with everyone, including Christopher Beazley, who wants to call his pregnant wife Ruby back at home. Before they leave, Susan tells Reynolds her husband will hire him, and that his story, about her husband's affair, is not a tale for him to tell. Munro is determining who stands with him, pushing Sergeant Hobart to report on the two police doctors.
Munro calls Major Alderton, in the Army, to get a report on a guest from his military days.
Dr Harvey faints, then four men grab Nelson. They find personal items from Miss Maddern's dressing room in Nelson's pockets, and a vial of poison with a label in Korean.
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Christopher reads the Korean, a poem that Nelson finishes. Nelson applied the poison to the roses after they were delivered. Christopher is allowed to call his wife and the guests are released. Blake describes Pamela's actions to her and Munro. Once Nelson was the rejected lover of Miss Maddern; then he connected with Pamela, who killed Maddern by pushing the roses up to her in a hug, holding an old stage program, from A Night to Remember , so the roses would not poison her.
Her plan is to go to Hollywood alone and start anew. Instead, she is arrested. Back at home, Mattie brings out the cake she made to mark Jean's birthday; Christopher, Mattie and Blake sing in her honor. After talking business with Len Webster at the hotel, Henry King staggers up to his hotel room. The next morning, hotel owner Catherine Lewis tries to wake him up.
His door is jammed with a chair; Len pushes to open the door. Henry appears dead. Blake joins Chief Inspector Lawson at the scene. Henry is still just alive, but he dies before Blake can administer adrenaline. Norman Baker appears, he is business partner with Len. Henry had been at an AA meeting at a church before meeting with Len; Blake goes the meeting, where Miss Lewis usually attended as did gun shop owner Errol Stott. Doug Ashby is at the hotel, looking out for his friend's daughter, Miss Lewis. He shares his observations of the hotel with Blake.
Further examination of the hotel room reveals a bullet hole through the wall and a painting, and it came from the room next door, where Len spent the night.
The casing is found on the floor, but there is no bullet in Henry's body. Stott provides a list of people who bought the gun matching that bullet, including Len Webster. Len says the gun went off accidentally, and he was relieved to hear that Henry died of asphyxiation, not the bullet. Mattie finds a young woman wandering on the street, and takes her to the hospital. Her injuries are tended but her short term memory is gone. Henry took to drinking heavily ten years earlier, when he was a builder and someone was killed on the job. He changed to running a hardware store.
Norman Baker mentions that his younger daughter died ten years earlier, and he had a memorial for her that day. Charlie Davis and Blake ask Norman when his daughter Jessie died; she was 8 years old when the roof was being repaired by Henry. Henry took a lunch break without securing the tiles, which fell and killed the girl. Norman blames Henry for the loss of his daughter. Norman's family split apart, as his elder daughter moved away and his wife left him.
Blake considers that Mattie's patient may be that elder daughter, as she came from Bendigo for the memorial of her sister's death. She clicks when they ask her if she recalls the name Norman Baker. Her name is Anna, though her father took to calling her Jessie. He comes to fetch her. Charlie finds her car, and a cushion from the hotel at that scene.
Blake suggests to Anna, with her father present, that she killed Henry by staying in Henry's room after they had lunch in the hotel and suffocating him. She admits to it all, and adds details. She hid under the bed all night, slipping out when the door was open in the morning.
So Many Books, So Little Time
Her father says he was happy to let Henry drink himself to death with the money he would get from the sale of his store, as vengeance. Superintendent Munro is angry that Blake did not submit his written resignation. Lawson shows Munro a photo of Munro and another high-ranking police officer with a well-known and wanted criminal, which puts pressure on Munro. Charlie found the photo in Munro's desk earlier and sent it to Lawson.
At home, Jean tells Blake she has decided to go help her son and his wife.
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Neville Franklin, the magistrate who put Tyneman's son in jail, is found murdered at his own home, with Patrick Tyneman and his son Edward in the house. After Blake says, from visual inspection of the body, that Franklin died of poison, Munro arrests Edward. In the autopsy, Alice Harvey and Blake notice the man had been held down during death, it was a painful death with limbs flailing, and they find half of a Masonic coin inside him.
The poison was strychnine. Franklin was a Mason. Sergeant Davis arrives at the scene with Munro, and is sure that Munro changed something after he pushed Davis out of the room where the body was found. Jean has brought in a new receptionist and housekeeper, Evelyn Toohey, for Blake while she is away in Adelaide with her son and his wife. Patrick is concerned about his son, and asks Blake to check him out medically.
Edward, still on parole, has been expelled from the Masons, by Franklin's instigation. That makes Edward angry, saying he wants to kill people.
Edward's hands are shaking and he will not allow "skin on skin" contact, as Blake calls it; some effect of being in jail. As the killer did touch Franklin's skin, Blake does not believe Edward could be the killer. Dr Harvey tells Blake of the result of tests of the soil above his mother's grave, revealing the presence of strychnine, which killed Franklin, and Blake is upset that his mother died that way.
Blake shows the half-coin to a Mason, Jock Clement, who says it was stolen from the lodge cabinet, and the theft had been reported to Munro. Clare Llewellyn is doing the dishes at the Masonic lodge, to help her husband, but she says she seems not to please Masons. Mrs Toohey mistakenly cleans up Blake's office, losing his important papers. Jean is at the local hotel until the bus comes; Mattie meets her there and learns that Blake was just 10 years old when his mother died.
Blake meets with Clare Llewellyn, who had been a patient of his father for her mood swings. Her husband is now Deputy Warden in the Masonic lodge. Clare did not steal the coin, and does not know who did. At the Masonic lodge, Blake looks at some of the records; then Jock Clement shows to Blake the other half of the coin that Franklin was forced to swallow.
It was the coin he received at his initiation; he got the other half in the mail from a person unknown and it scares him. Jock signed a false death certificate for Blake's mother; he says she took her own life and he tells the story in detail, naming Doug Ashby as being present, among others.
Related A Cold Christmas: A Mystery Featuring Susan Wren (Police Chief Susan Wren Series)
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