The Music Box Enigma by R.N. Morris (Silas Quinn #6)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 3.7 MB
Roger N Morris is an English writer and advertising copywriter. His short fiction has been published in a number of mainstream, genre, and literary publications. One of his short stories, “The Devil’s Drum”, appeared in the horror anthology Darkness Rising, and was subsequently made into an opera performed by the Solaris Musical Theatre Company in the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.
Could a mysterious music box hold the key to unlocking the puzzle behind a gruesome murder for Detective Inspector Silas Quinn?
London, 1914. Despite a number of setbacks, rehearsals for The Hampstead Voices’ Christmas concert are continuing apace. The sold-out event is raising funds for war refugees, and both Winston Churchill and Edward Elgar are expected to attend. But the most disturbing setback of all occurs when the choirmaster, Sir Aidan Fonthill, is discovered dead at a piano, a tuning fork protruding from his ear. Detective Chief Inspector Silas Quinn and his team from the Special Crimes Department at New Scotland Yard soon discover that Sir Aidan had a number of enemies, but who hated him enough to carry out such a heinous crime? Could the answer be linked to a mysterious music box delivered to Sir Aidan’s house shortly before the murder, and can Silas solve the puzzle of the music box enigma and catch the killer before the concert takes place?
The coals in the grate cracked and settled, heating the room to a toasty warmth. The fire gave off more than warmth, however; it gave off contentment, which the sleeping tabby curled up on the hearthrug inhaled with every gentle snore.
Two children sat at an undersized nursery table, absorbed in the activity of turning sheets of paper into artefacts of their imaginations. A young woman squatted on a chair that was much too small for her, encouraging them with her benign and smiling presence.
‘Here, Daphne, let me help you with that.’ Hattie Greene reached across the table towards the sheet of pink paper that four-year-old Daphne was at that moment grappling with.
‘I can do it,’ Daphne insisted.
But it was a difficult fold, along the length of the foolscap-sized sheet, which appeared gigantic and unruly in Daphne’s dear little hands.
Hattie carefully suppressed her own instinct for perfection, remembering that it was a different kind of perfection she was aiming for – the perfection of a happy, confident girl, who would one day grow up to be an accomplished woman. No, she must smile and nod and utter approving sounds and even whole words of encouragement, without going so far as to lie, of course. She must let Daphne know how pleased she was with her for making the attempt.
‘That’s very good!’ And actually, it wasn’t too bad, though by no means the perfect alignment of edges that was necessary for the next stage in the construction of a Chinese lantern.
‘No, it’s not,’ said John, with a brief, contemptuous glance down at his sister’s handiwork. He effected all the hauteur of the senior sibling, although it was only two years that separated them. ‘It’s no good. When you cut the slits, they will be all skew-whiff.’
A more fragile personality than Daphne might have been reduced to tears by such forthright criticism. But the fact was she could see nothing wrong with the loosely folded paper in her hand. As far as she was concerned, she had achieved exactly what she had set out to achieve. Which was, quite simply, to sit next to Hattie Greene and play with paper.
‘Don’t be unkind, John. Daphne’s doing very well.’
John sat up and appraised Daphne’s work again, this time with deeper consideration, indicated by a conscious furrowing of his brow. At length, he stuck out his lips and gave a deliberate shrug, followed by a heavy sigh: John was bored and he wanted them to know it. He had long finished making his lantern, which was, of course, a perfect example of such artefacts. It stood on the table in front of him as an advertisement of his superior skill.
Hattie could read the signs, and if she wasn’t careful, John’s boredom would turn into something nastier. He would continue goading his sister until he provoked a quarrel.