The Body On The Beach: 26

Miss Margaret’s room was a revelation in it’s simplicity. It was plain and austere beyond expectation and so opposite the received narrative of her personality. Simmonds instinctively knew that here there would be a clue to her tragic end.

The bedroom was no more than six feet by fifteen feet. The plain walls were white with a black dado rail running around. As Simmonds entered to his right there was a single bed, at its foot was a leather chair. To his left was a large double door wardrobe. An oriental silk rug (which had seen better days) ran down the centre of the room. At the far end was a medium sized window under which was a dressing table with a mirror, and a stool. It had more the look of a utilitarian room in a Gentleman’s Club than it did that of a party-going daughter of a Lord. There was a faint scent of perfume – no doubt Piccolo could have identified the brand. The wardrobe was full of clothes, mostly of the glittery evening wear type; it also contained a rack of shoes, boxes of hats, a number of handbags, and drawers of undergarments. On the top of the dressing table rested a hairbrush, a hand mirror, a case with tweezers etc, and a box of trinkets. There were two drawers: one held perfume, lipstick and powder. Strangely the other was completely empty. There was no sign of any jewellery. Simmonds felt uncomfortable at having to go through a woman’s personal items but it was necessary. He walked up and down. Where was the individuality? The small bedside table had gone almost unnoticed, but now received his attention. There was nothing on top. Simmonds opened the door below: there was a single shelf and one solitary item – a book. Simmonds examined. It was an edition of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. Inside there was an elaborate bookplate bearing the handwritten inscription: To Dearest M. With Much Affection. M.C..

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