Detective Matt Allenby arrives in the small township of Taylors Crossing in the Darling Ranges east of Perth, Western Australia, to investigate a murder, little expecting he will be fall in love with one of his suspects.
When Detective Matt Allenby arrives in the small township of Taylors Crossing in the Darling Ranges east of Perth, Western Australia, to investigate a murder, he thought it would be a straightforward case until he begins to interview the locals.
Trudy Enright and Dave Herridge came from over east and run the small general store. Cecily and her husband, Rufus Loving, an ex-weightlifter who now works at a nightclub in Northbridge in Perth interests the police. Then there is the strange Gretchen Woodwine who is interested in the local birdlife.
Matt asks himself if any of these people could be the murderer or is the murderer someone from out of town. Then he finds he is falling in in love with one of his suspects.
They followed Dave’s directions and stopped outside Eunice Donnelly’s house.
The house had a steep-pitched, gabled roof and tall narrow windows but where a new picket fence ran along the front of Jeremy’s property, this house still possessed its original rock wall stained with lichen. A rambling pink rose tumbled over one section. At the side of the house, an aged quince overshadowed a lilac tree growing in front of it.
“It looks the same style as Hepplewaite’s,” Matt said as he stepped from the car.
“We came at the wrong time.” Phil stood before a weathered sign hanging at the entrance. Grevillea Cottage. And below in smaller letters: Devonshire Teas – 1pm – 5pm - Sunday
“It’s a bit early for jam and cream.” Matt stepped from the car and walked along a path laid with stone and ribbed with moss towards the house.
A slender woman in jeans and a blue shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbow emerged from a garage built against the side of the cottage. She watched them walk towards her.
“Are you Eunice Donnelly?” Matt asked when he reached her.
She nodded. “You must be the police.”
He liked the look of her clear golden skin, blue eyes and fair hair clipped tidily at her neck with a blue clasp. He pulled out his ID card and showed it to her. “I’m Detective Matt Allenby and this is Detective Phil Foreman. We’re investigating the death of Jeremy Hepplewaite. I understand you and Gretchen Woodwine discovered his body?”
“You didn’t see anyone else at Jeremy Hepplewaite’s did you?”
She shook her head.
He continued, “We understand Joel Britnell, your nephew, lives with you. Is he here now?”
“Joel spent the night at his parents. My sister is his mother.”
“Your nephew used to work for Jeremy, didn’t he?” Phil asked.
“He works there three days a week.”
Matt noted she spoke as if her nephew still worked for Hepplewaite. Perhaps she didn’t know he’d left his job. “We were told that Joel gave his notice last week.”
She looked surprised. “Who told you that?” When Matt didn’t answer, she continued, “He hasn’t said anything to me about leaving.”
“So he’d have told you if he’d resigned?”
“I’m sure he would.”
“We’ll need to speak to him.” Matt opened a notebook. “What is your sister’s phone number and address?”
“She lives in Fremantle.” She gave him the address and waited until he wrote it down. “Joel’s on his way home. Here,” she corrected. “I phoned last night and told him about Jeremy. I thought it was him when I heard you arrive.”
Matt closed his notebook and slipped it in his coat pocket. “Would you tell him we want to see him? We’re making Jeremy’s house our base.”
She nodded. “I don’t know whether he’s going to work today. It depends on what Seward does.”
As they left, Matt, conscious of her watching them, glanced back when he reached the car.
She turned and vanished around the side of the house.