Good Morning, Everyone!
Today we have the next part of the new Croste Mystery, The Library That Whispered Murder. The clues are piling up!
If you’ve missed the first two parts of this tale, you can click the links below to catch up on the story.
Enjoy the read, and have a great day!
Thanks for stopping by!
(As always, you’re comments are welcome and appreciated.)
* * * * *
It was mid-afternoon by the time we pulled onto Sunset. The large white ‘Movie Land’ sign looked over the film studios that covered the majority of the southern end of the city. It was easy to find the cinema giant HGM Studios and the gate guards let us through without incident. At least one thing was in our favor today.
Alan parked the car and we made our way into the main building. The lobby was filled with props and costumes on display from the hundreds of movies the studio made. Movie Posters lined the walls in heavy frames and lanes of foot traffic had worn the carpet from the center to each of the pieces of film history.
The receptionist gave us the once over. “Auditions are at Stage 17, nice touch dressing in costume but you’re a little old for the part.”
“Alan Croste, Occult Detective. I’m working with the Police Department investigating the murder of Harold Huxley. I’m here to see Roger Mayer.” Alan smiled, I didn’t. I can only imagine how half a smiling face looked.
Dammit, Arlo. We’ve got to work together. Quit jerking people around; that includes me! Too much attention could make folks start questioning our sanity and neither of us want that to happen again.
So I didn’t smile. Big deal, Alan; lots of people don’t smile.
Yeah, and lots of people don’t share a body, Arlo.
The receptionist gave us a puzzled look as she waved us through with directions to Mayer’s office on the top floor. The skinny fella in the elevator in his bright red suit was pleased to run us to the top. We stepped into what looked like a second lobby. It was a wide room with doors on two sides and windows along the other walls. Each of the doors was stamped with a polished brass initial and both had their own receptionists. Our worn leather shoes scraped and clicked along the marble tiled floor as we crossed to Mayer’s side of the floor.
The dame smiled. “Mr. Mayer is waiting to see you Mr. Croste. Please, go right in.”
Through the door, we found Mayer had an impressive office. Plush couches in ox blood leather, lots of polished wood and brass, and a glass case with a least a dozen Oscars. His chair behind the large oak desk was empty, but we could hear water running from one of the doors along the wall.
“Make yourself comfortable, I’ll be right with you.” His voice echoed into the room.
I steered us right to the bar.
Arlo, let’s just take a seat.
He said “comfortable,” Alan. I’m fixing us a drink. These Movie Land types always have a glass in their hand. We’re here, so live it up a little.
We uncapped a bottle and took a sniff. Rich and smoky, smelled like a good scotch. I poured us a half glass and we took a seat in front of the desk. A quick sip told me he spared no expense in his booze, it was like licking the back of a fireplace, wonderful scotch.
Don’t panic, Alan, we’re just fitting in. I reached across the broad desk and took a cigar from the box, lighting it with a match and relaxing into the chair.
We need him to answer some questions, Arlo. What we don’t need is you making an ass of us and pissing him off.
Mayer walked out of the side room, buttoning his shirt. His thinning hair and plump face were still wet from the sink. He eyed us as we puffed gingerly on the cigar.
“I see you’ve made yourself ‘familiar.’ I just spoke with Harold last night; this comes as a shock to all of us. What can I do to help you with this tragic situation?” Mayer lowered his bulk into his chair.
After of sip of scotch, “What did you two talk about last night? Was Huxley in some kind of trouble?”
“No trouble, just an inconvenience with the film commission. His next picture was going to be mostly shot in France; Paris to be exact, that’s what we were talking about last night. But Harold was adamant, ‘Midnight in Paris’ had to be filmed in Paris no matter the cost. He did hang up rather quickly, said his daughter had some kind of emergency.”
“Does ‘Midnight, 3-Mil, Jones’ mean anything to you? He scribbled it down and tossed it in the waste bin.” Arlo, can you put that thing out? The smoke is making me a little light headed. Deal with it, Alan.
“Yes, it does. That’s the film. Midnight in Paris. The film commission was giving a bother about the costs, so I recommended a new actor, Stuart Jones. He sings, he dances, the kid can act, and he does it for half what the big names charge. I told Harold to head over to the 3-Million Club, Stuart practically lives there.” Mayer lit himself a cigar and leaned back into his chair.
We stood and gulped the last of the scotch down, leaving the glass on the desk. “He say what his daughter’s emergency was?”
“Not to me. He said his daughter needed him and he had to go.”
“Huxley have any enemies? Anyone want to see him hurt or dead?”
Mayer laughed. “This is Movie Land, when you’re on top every other studio wants you dead!”
“You’ve been helpful, Mayer. We’ll be in touch. Thanks for the hospitality.” We turned to leave.
“There is one more thing, Mr. Croste. A few days ago, Harold had security escort his first wife from the building after some argument in his office.”
We paused at the door and faced him again. “Any idea where we can find her?”
“I’ll have Mary give you the information.” Mayer buzzed the intercom and passed along the order to his receptionist.
“Thanks again, Mayer.”
We got the first wife’s info on our way out. The coroner should have the body by now and we still had to talk to the suspects from Huxley’s manor. We were sure the suspect list the Police had was mostly maids and servants, but maybe they saw something or someone. Carving up a dead body isn’t exactly a clean business, the murderer would have been covered it blood.
Blood, hot damn, Arlo! Where was the blood? Huxley’s library was clean; there should have been a puddle beneath the body. We should have stepped in blood examining the corpse; we should have seen bloody footprints leaving the room. It was spotless!
So what’s the plan, Alan?
We need to go over the scene again; and I need to see that body.
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Tune in on Thursday for part 4 of The Library That Whispered Murder.
Thanks for reading!