Today's Reading

"Excuse me?" Had he misheard?

"My husband"—there was a clear note of disapproval in her voice—"he's dead. I found him a few minutes ago, down in the courtyard. He fell out of his study on the top floor."

She was speaking in a way that was almost robotic, making an effort to give precise details.

Dupin stood rooted to the spot. "Your husband is dead?"


"He fell out a window?"

"He's lying mangled on the ground."

A pause.

"I..." Dupin broke off. And tried again: "Have you notified the police?"

A strange question, he had to admit.

"I had them give me your number at the station. I said it was urgent."

"And you didn't report the incident then?"

"I think this is a matter that the most senior commissaire should deal with personally."

Dupin had already started walking. He came to a small path. "Are you certain your husband is dead?"

"There's a large pool of blood. He's lying there very..." She searched for the right words. "Very oddly."

"Call an ambulance immediately, madame. I'm leaving right now but it will take me forty-five minutes to get to you." At the very least, in fact. If he drove flat-out.

"I'll let my colleagues know so that someone can drive out to you straightaway."

He slowed his pace.

"So do you think it was murder, then?"

Madame Chaboseau hesitated. "Madame? Are you still there?"

"You must try and get here as quickly as you can, Commissaire."

It was a gruesome sight. And a peculiar one too. The remarkably large pool of blood had spread out around the entire torso. Almost circular and a deep red. Fragments of glass flashed in the sunlight like decorations. They were scattered across the little enclosed courtyard: the remains of the large picture window that Docteur Chaboseau had fallen through. He had landed on his front, on his right side. His shoulder stuck out in an unnatural way. And his hips were at a strange angle to his slack legs. Dupin estimated the doctor fell from a height of about fifteen meters. The dead man was wearing dark cord trousers, a beige shirt and a waistcoat in the same color, as well as what looked like good-quality black leather slippers that had, absurdly, stayed on his feet. His reddish hair looked as though it had just been combed. Only the left side of his face was visible, his left eye open a crack.

After Dupin spent some time examining the body, he made his way straight into the Chaboseaus' apartment via one of those elevators that lots of old buildings get retrofitted with. The elevator was like a sardine tin hanging from a wire cable.

The medical examiner—old Docteur Lafond, still the most tolerable of all the people in his profession—had, of course, long been on the scene, along with the crime scene investigators. Dupin was by far the last to arrive at the crime scene. Docteur Lafond had been waiting for him to arrive before having the body brought to the lab in Quimper.

During the hair-raising journey back to Concarneau from the Pointe du Raz, Dupin had tried to get ahold of Nolwenn and Riwal numerous times. But no luck. He had left a message on every second phone call. It was no use—he would have to get by without them for now. Of the four members of the staff who had actually stayed at the station, two had gotten to the scene very quickly. Rosa Le Menn and Iris Nevou. The station had been allowed to hire two more people at the beginning of the year. This was mainly down to Nolwenn's perseverance—they had been notoriously understaffed for some time now. The team had now been reinforced by two policewomen, a development Nolwenn considered "badly needed." Le Menn was straight out of the police academy, in her early twenties, tall, with broad shoulders like a swimmer, and wore her dark blond hair in a braid. She was self-confident and full of energy. Iris Nevou was more petite—she always looked a little forlorn in her uniform—very pale skin, dark pageboy haircut, with a remarkably deep, penetrating voice. She had twice won the award for best police markswoman in Brittany without even doing much training. She had worked in the gendarmerie in Le Conquet for fifteen years. At the end of last year, she had left her husband and her former life behind and moved from the most northwestern part of Brittany to "the south."

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