The front door to the cottage was opened by the elderly Mrs. Gooseberry, whose right hand was covered by a large oven glove.
“Inspector Corncrake!” she beamed. “How delightful to see you again!” She offered the glove for a warm handshake, which the Inspector dutifully accepted. “Please do come in, I’m just taking a pie out of the oven.”
Corncrake stepped over the threshold as Mrs. Gooseberry sprang back into the kitchen. He removed his hat and coat, and entered the kitchen to be greeted by the smell of freshly baked meat pie.
“Please sit!” said Mrs. Gooseberry. “How goes the murder investigation?”
“Well it’s rather run dry,” he sighed. “That’s why I’ve come. You know everyone in the village, the gossip. I want to know if there’s something I’ve missed.”
“Sounds frustrating, although fun for me,” she said, placing the pie on the table and turning back for cutlery.
He suddenly spied a red splotch on the otherwise pristine white tablecloth. How embarrassing, had he knocked something when he sat down? But there was no red wine around, no cranberry sauce, no beetroot…
“So you’re out of leads, Inspector?” she said, rummaging in a drawer. “No evidence at all?”
On impulse he glanced up at the ceiling. A dark red stain was slowly spreading near the light fixture.
“Oh I wouldn’t say that, Mrs. Gooseberry,” Corncrake replied. “In fact I might have all the evidence I need.”
“Do tell,” she said, returning with a large knife. “But do try some of the pie first!”