Miss Marple, psychic detective, looked over the scene in silence. A body was splayed across the red velvet blanket of a four-poster bed.
“The murder victim was found wearing a tutu and tricornered hat,” she said. “Some people might find that strange, but in fact that was what Mr. Bogdanovich wore every day. The murderer would have been counting on that. But what he didn’t know is the dead man possessed the largest collection of decorative soaps shaped like fruit in the world.”
Yes, the man had been fond of his soaps. She could still hear him saying, “Don’t use those, Jane, those are for guests.”
“But I am a guest, Peter,” Miss Marple replied.
“I mean important guests: the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, the Spice Girls.”
Peter Bogdanovich had been a famous film-maker, but he hadn’t released a film in two decades. Now his soaps were all he had left. “The Tao Te Ching speaks of an afterlife that is exactly like one’s own life,” he said, “where the dead don’t know they’re dead, a purgatory of exquisite torment. Have we in fact entered this twilight world?”
Miss Marple’s consciousness returned to the present with a jolt, as she took a sip of the highly caffeinated beverage Jolt. “It was known only to two people in the world that Mr. Bogdanovich didn’t own his tutus—he rented them,” she said. “Recently a third person discovered this fact. That means the murderer must have been. . . Jim!” She pointed to one of the uniformed police officers standing along the wall.
“But that’s crazy,” Jim said. “I was the one who responded to his 911 call.”
“That’s right,” said the old spinster, “and when you arrived you took the opportunity to kill both Mr. Bogdanovich and his amanuensis, a dwarf whose body has not yet been found, probably because he was so small. Officers, I am confident a thorough search of the room will reveal the body of one Israel Zangwill, strangled in the act of singing “Embraceable You” to Mr. Bogdanovich, a ritual the pair had practiced many times.”
“This is insane,” Jim said. “I didn’t do it, I tell you!”
“Take him away, boys.” As the other officers handcuffed and carted off the turncoat policeman, Miss Marple reflected on the complex chain of events that had led to this moment. Her years as madam of a swanky Hong Kong brothel. Her acquisition of psychic powers as a result of touching the hem of Justin Timberlake’s robe during a mass wedding at Lourdes. And the day she joined the constabulary of St. Mary Mead, a space station in L-5 geosynchronous orbit.
“You think you have what it takes?” the department chief asked.
“I won’t let you down, dearie. And I believe this is yours,” Miss Marple said, using sleight of hand to apparently withdraw a revolver from behind the chief’s ear.
“So that’s where that went,” the chief exclaimed. “I’ve been looking for that forever!”