It was the Cook in the Kitchen with the Knife

A classic Cluedo game is comprised of: Nine possible rooms. Six potential weapons. One dead guy, one killer, and six prospective guests all maintaining that they weren't the one to kill John Black.
You've all played it. You've all guessed at who killed him - and sometimes you've been wrong. Sometimes you've been the killer. But this story is about this situation actually happening.
So ... Whodunnit?


1. But Police Are Treating it as Suspicious

It is a pleasantly warm evening, and so the window is open in my office. My fellow colleagues and I have received no calls tonight apart from a cat being stuck up a tree, which we referred to the fire brigade immediately. I resort to pulling towards me the local paper and proceeding through the crumpled pages to the crossword. 1 Across: an eight-letter word for "clue". I chuckle to myself as I fill out the checkered boxes with the letters E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E. How apt that the first hint should be something like that, when I am sat here in my police office, in my police uniform, waiting for a call, any call, so I can go out and be a policeman. 

Through the rest of the office, with the slight breeze filtering in through the ajar window, all that can be heard from my colleagues is a grunt here, a sigh there. A few, like myself, are busying themselves with Sudoku or mind-challenges, trying to fight the  boredom that claws at the very backs of our minds on a night like tonight, however soothing the weather might be in June. In a few minutes I have completed the first five of the crossword and I am continuing to the sixth (A five-letter word for "argument"), when the pen slips out of my hand as the phone begins to ring abruptly and shakes me violently from my daydreams. 

Being the oldest in our office of co-workers, my reflexes aren't the best, but the other policemen must have all been in a deeper stupor than I, some leaning on their balled hands, their eyes flickering between subconsciousness and awake, and so I reach the phone first.

"Hampshire Police Station, please state your name and emergency."

"Please come quickly! John Black is dead!" It's a woman's voice, high and warbling. She's obviously distressed.

"Excuse me? Where are you calling from?"

"T-The Black Es-state, on the outskirts of Hampshire!" 

"Thank you, miss. And what is your name?"

"I can give you the post-code if you like!"
"That is not necessary, I am familiar with the estate. What is your name?" 

"Please, just, come quickly!" she moaned, as her voice broke. 

"You are reporting that John Black has been found dead at the Black Estate?" I repeat as steadily as I can.

"Yes!" she whispered, "Please come at once! We don't know what to do!"

"How many of you are there?"
"Th-th-thirteen of us."

"Policemen will be dispatched there immediately, miss."

I can hear her heavy breathing for a moment, before she utters a thank-you and  rings off. The air in the office seems to have dropped about five degrees. My colleagues, who by now had the sense to listen in on the call, are already donning their jackets, hats and boots. 

"Well, that's a turn, eh, Benjamin?" Samuel Peters to my left asks. I can sense from his tone he's just pleased that there's something to do tonight other than sit around here like aimless apes. But I can't help feeling a pang of remorse that the emergency we have to attend to is the supposed death of John Black. 

"It is indeed," I muster, pushing my backside off my chair and reaching for my jacket. 

Albert Johnson begins contacting Robert Smith, the supplier of our transport, and we can hear the familiar revving of the police van from outside in the dull car park. It is 1926 and the current vans around aren't the fastest of flyers, but once we are all boarded and are on the move, the journey to Black Estate barely takes a second.

As we pull up to the ornate Tudor mansion I can tell something is wrong immediately. All of the lights are on, and blurred silhouettes are flickering from behind the curtains, in a state of disarray. However, no-one can deny how stooped in history, beautiful history, this estate is. Even with the pressing matters at hand I still intake my breath sharply as we pull even closer to the house, and its grandeur only truly reveals itself. The sprawling, thatched roof has sheltered the house for hundreds of years, the thick and coarse straw still visible from under the beams and grey slate that John Black installed for better protection from the weather in this area. The front door, a huge, glinting mahogany thing that bears down on you with a sense of deep foreboding, almost as thick as a tree trunk, is set behind a more recent marble porch, the two exquisite pillars flecked with pieces of gold and black which glisten in the moonlight. The grounds stretch as far in the distance as I care to squint to see in every direction, adorned with the occasional hoot or howl that tells us night creatures are awakening. The whole breathtaking facade, however, was slightly marred by the panicked, ashen-faced woman who wrenched the door open to greet us, her features stricken with fear. 

"Do come in," she gestured frantically, and ushered us all in with an air of losing her composure. Being the most unfit of my fellow detectives, I was helped in through the doorway last, and found myself in a huge, open, airy hall decked with cabinets and bookshelves, ancient artifacts and paintings as far as I could look without being deemed rude. Immediately in front of us, spiraling graciously towards the upper floor, was a huge, elegantly sloping staircase, the stairs draped in a plush, bloodred carpet, at the bottom of which was a large mass covered with a blanket. Even though he was hidden, I could still tell that Dr John Black was heaped and spread-eagled, his limbs jutting at odd angles and creating unusual ridges in the snowy-white blanket. 

For a second I glanced from the body on the floor to the distraught face of the woman stood next to me, decked in housekeeping attire - a plain black dress and a white apron. The chef's hat she was clutching in her hand also told me that she was the cook in this house. Shifting my gaze somewhat apologetically to Peters, Johnson, Smith and the other detectives, they proceed to lining the bottom of the stairs in police tape and extracting equipment from their pockets while I reach and pat the woman gently on the shoulder. 

"May I ask your name?" 

"Mrs ... B-Blanche White," she muttered, her eyes still fixed on the body heaped on the floor.

"Mrs White," I confirm. "Would you please confirm your reason for being in this house?"

"I'm the housekeeper, and the cook," she informs me. "I came to stay here with Mr Black when he was just a boy ... I was his nanny. I've been here ever since." Tears threaten to spill over her eyes again. "I was one of the few employees he retained after his uncle's death here! I was attending to the guests staying here!"

"I understand. My name is Inspector Brown, I am the policeman in charge here. Where are the guests now?"

Tear tracks now glittering like a snail trail on her cheeks, she whispers, "They're all in the drawing room."

The rest of the policemen have now finished cordoning off the scene, and several follow me into the drawing room, led slightly unsteadily by Mrs White.

"What have you gathered so far?" I mutter to Peters, who is behind me.

"It's a probable homicide. We can't find any cause of the death yet. But we're going to treat it as suspicious."

I digest this news in silence and watch as Mrs White veers uneasily to the left and comes to a hesitating halt in front of a large door reminiscent of Tudor times in this grand mansion. With a frail, shaking hand, she pushed the drawing room door open with a slight creak and enters a vast, magnificently furnished room. Plush sofas and futons line the walls and the centre of the room, and a huge coffee table, where stand several half-finished cocktails and glasses of whisky, dominates the inner square of the drawing room, surrounded by furniture and cabinets. The fire is flickering absently in the hearth, ignored by all who are sitting in this room now. Some are sitting straight-backed and upright, their faces rigidly pressed into the same grim expression. Others have their heads in their hands, or seem to have collapsed and sunken into the furniture itself, their disbelief clearly etched on their faces. Five of these guests make a more distinct impression than others: A large, beefy, mustachioed man with an expressionless, taut face and squinting eyes, wearing a suit that rings of the military; an elaborately arranged woman whose many shawls and bangles give her the aura of incessantly glittering, her lined face fresh with makeup; a tall, lanky man with a long, slightly ratty face with a leathery look of wrinkles and spectacles, whose blond hair is styled in a quiff on his head; a seductive young woman whose eyes glint dangerously, her open-backed red dress matching the sultry red lipstick she wears, her hair tossed onto one side of her young face; and a heavily-built, older, balding man with a strong jaw, his simple suit immediately proclaiming he is a reverend. The other guests are lavishly dressed yet wilting like flowers, some draped over the corners of the sofas, or couples clutching each other for comfort.

"Good evening," I say calmly. "I am Inspector Brown, and I am the policeman in charge this evening. Would it be okay if I asked you all some questions concerning the death of John Black?"


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