A Fatal Truth by Faith Martin (Ryder & Loveday Book 5)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.8 MB
Don’t miss the next gripping mystery from million-copy bestseller Faith Martin! As the Hughes family celebrate bonfire night, a terrible accident leaves the garden shed in flames – and father and grandfather Thomas trapped inside. Tragic though it is, Thomas’s death passes without suspicion – until a local journalist makes accusations of a police cover-up in the press. WPC Trudy Loveday is sent to investigate, and asks coroner Clement Ryder to help. But the more questions the two ask the less clear the case seems. There’s no evidence of foul play, and yet the dead man’s family are obviously hiding something. Then there are Thomas’s dubious business practices – was someone out for revenge? All Trudy and Clement know for sure is that everyone is lying – and that they must find the truth…
Dr Clement Ryder, Coroner for the city of Oxford, looked out over his courtroom feeling distinctly satisfied. The start of any new and potentially interesting case always gave him a sense of anticipation. Not that investigating the circumstances of some poor unfortunate’s death was something to look forward to exactly. However, there was something to be said for overseeing the necessary telling of a sad and significant event.
A handsome man in his mid-to-late fifties, he looked around, noting that the press bench was almost full. He recognised some of the various reporters from the Oxford Times, Mail and Tribune, and wasn’t surprised to see representatives from other county newspapers as well. It wasn’t often one of the city’s more prominent and wealthy members burned to death in the family shed.
It was a wet and cold Monday morning in November, lending the courtroom a grey and melancholy air, and for some of the more superstitious in attendance, the fact that the date was the 13th only added to a general sense of foreboding. The coroner’s usher, however, showed no sense of unease as he called the first witness.
Mrs Alice Wilcox, née Hughes, eldest daughter of the victim, rose from her seat and took the stand, going through the usual formalities with a firm, low, but thankfully quite carrying voice.
Clement regarded her thoughtfully. He knew from his preliminary reports that she was forty-two years old, but she looked rather older. She was about five feet six and slightly plump, but she was dressed in a smart powder-blue skirt and jacket outfit, with a plain white blouse that did its best to hide the fact. Her greying, auburn hair was held up in a firm, no-nonsense chignon, and when she turned to look at him, Clement became aware of how pale she was under her make-up. She also clutched her handbag tightly, showing the whiteness of her knuckles, and her large hazel-coloured eyes were wide with trepidation.
Clement gave her a gentle smile. No doubt she’d been dreading this moment for some days now, and he wanted to put her at her ease as quickly as possible.
‘Thank you for your attendance, Mrs Wilcox, I understand how difficult this must be for you. I’ll try to be as brief as possible. If you need some water, or at any time feel like you’d need to rest, just say so,’ he informed her kindly.
‘Thank you,’ she murmured.
‘Now, I understand your father, Thomas Hughes, lived with you at your family home in Headington? Is that right?’
‘Yes. Father was widowed a while ago, and found it lonely to go on living alone. So he sold his house and bought a larger property in Headington, with the understanding that myself, my husband and my children would also live there. Since we were beginning to feel rather cramped in our own house, which we were renting, it worked out well for everyone. And it meant I could look after Father too, of course.’
‘I see. That sounds very sensible,’ Clement said. ‘Your children are Olivia, aged fifteen, and Lucas, aged twelve?’