Orchids and Lies by Fiona Gartland (A Beatrice Barrington Thriller #3)
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 3.1 MB
“When a high-pitched scream perforated my peace at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin it seemed that it was not only audible but almost visible. It was as though the sound had made the light there vibrate – as though the plants and trees were altered by it.”
Court stenographer Beatrice Barrington is at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, when a woman runs screaming from the Palm House.
A man has plunged from the high walkway inside onto the flagstone floor below. He’s identified as gardener Paddy Hogan. An accident? Or could it be suicide? Examining the scene, Beatrice believes neither is likely. She begins to suspect Paddy has been murdered, though the local gardaí seem to believe otherwise.
Paddy’s sister Ava begs her to find the truth about his death and, though Beatrice has promised herself not to get involved and has been warned off by Detective Inspector Rebecca Maguire, she agrees.
And when her former lover, ex-detective Gabriel Ingram, returns from a long recuperation in Donegal, together they get drawn into the case. Investigating the lives of staff and visitors at the gardens, they uncover lies and deception but a motive for murder remains elusive . .
A small group of people had gathered just inside the entrance to the Palm House. It was as though they had got that far but some instinct had prevented them from coming any closer. One or two, though, had their phones out and seemed to be filming the scene. The gardener noticed. “Stop that, you pricks!” he said and the people around them made them put their phones away. Then he turned to me, his jaw tight. “Bastards.” He twisted the gold band on his left ring finger. “What’s wrong with people? Have they no humanity anymore?” “I don’t know,” I said and then, in an effort to ease him, asked, “Are you here long yourself?” “Fifteen years – long enough.” I could see the outdoors beginning to show in the year-round tan of his face and in the fine lines either side of his hazel eyes. I put him in his late 30s though I knew I might be wrong. “Mind yourself! Excuse me!” There were shouts from behind the group as paramedics pushed through them, carrying a stretcher and other equipment. A young woman, in a uniform of green trousers and luminous lime-green jacket with Ambulance Service written across it, approached us. “If you wouldn’t mind just standing back,” she said. She took the gardener’s jacket off the body. “Yours?” she asked him. “Yeah.” He took it and put it back on though it was stained with his colleague’s blood. We walked outside as all four paramedics crowded round the body. Close to the entrance we’d run through an ambulance was parked. Its back doors were open, showing off its interior – its oxygen tank and blankets and defibrillator and drip stand. We stood together under the nearby Strawberry Tree – myself, the gardener and the woman who had come screaming out of the glasshouse. There was a cool breeze on my skin that made me aware that I’d been sweating. The gardener was hugging himself, then turned and retched onto the grass. Someone gave him a bottle of water. He rinsed his mouth and spat, then swallowed a few gulps. Then he reached into his pocket, took out cigarettes and a lighter and lit up. The woman leaned against the red tree trunk, its glossy bark peeling in places. She looked to be in her sixties and was short and barrel-shaped with a stiff grey bob. Her eyes were closed and she was holding her hand over her mouth as though trying to stifle another scream. A Garda car pulled up and three officers got out and began talking to the people who were standing around.