But the experts had told them something else, something more precise.
This ancient menorah that had brought light to so many homes, so many solemn ceremonies, that had been worshiped, hidden, prayed around, treasured, had also been used to kill.
The Hermit’s blood and hair and tissue were found on it as were his fingerprints. As were the fingerprints of only one other.
And inside the sack? A carving the Hermit had done. His finest work. An exquisite study of a young man, sitting, listening. It was simple and powerful, and telling. It told of aching loneliness, of desire, of need. It was clearly a carving of Olivier, listening. And that carving told them something else.
Jakob’s sculptures had been worth hundreds of thousands, finally millions of dollars. He’d given them to Olivier in exchange for food and company and Olivier had sold them. Making millions for himself.
But that hadn’t been enough, Olivier had wanted more. He wanted the one thing the Hermit had refused to give him. The thing in the sack.
Jakob’s last treasure, his most precious possession.
And Olivier wanted it.
In a fit of rage and greed he’d taken the Hermit’s life, then he’d taken the beautiful and priceless murder weapon and the sack, and hidden them.
Behind the fireplace Beauvoir now stared at.
And once found, the sack with its carving started to speak. It had only one thing to say and it said it eloquently, over and over. Olivier had killed its creator.
Between finding the carving and the murder weapon hidden in the bistro, as well as all the other evidence, there was no question what had to happen next. The Chief Inspector had arrested Olivier Brulé for murder. He’d been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to ten years. Painfully, Three Pines had come to accept this terrible truth.
Except Gabri, who every day wrote the Chief Inspector to ask that question. Why would Olivier move the body?
“How’s the Chief Inspector?” Myrna asked, leaning her considerable body forward. She was large and black. A retired psychologist, now the owner of the bookstore.
“He’s all right. We speak every day.”
He wouldn’t tell them the full truth, of course. That Chief Inspector Gamache was far from “all right.” As was he.
“We’ve been in touch a few times,” said Clara.
In her late forties Clara Morrow was on the cusp, everyone knew, of making it huge in the art world. She had a solo show coming up in a few months at the Musée d’art Contemporain, or MAC, in Montreal. Her unruly dark hair was growing lighter with gray and she always looked as though she’d just emerged from a wind tunnel.
Her husband, Peter, was another matter. Where she was short and getting a little dumpy, he was tall and slender. Every gray hair in place, his clothing simple and immaculate.
“We spoke to him a few times,” said Peter. “And I know you’re in touch.” He turned to Gabri.
“If you can call stalking him, ‘in touch.’ ” Gabri laughed and gestured to the half-finished letter on the table then looked at Beauvoir. “Did Gamache send you? Are you reopening Olivier’s case?”
Beauvoir shook his head. “I’m afraid not. I’ve just come for a vacation. To relax.”
He’d looked them square in the face, and lied.
“Do you mind, Jean-Guy?” Chief Inspector Gamache had asked that morning. “I’d do it myself, but I don’t think that would be much use. If a mistake was made it was mine. You might be able to see where it is.”
“We all investigated the case, not just you, sir. We all agreed with the findings. There was no doubt. What makes you think now there was a mistake?” Beauvoir had asked. He’d been in the basement with the dreaded phone. And if he hated the phone, Beauvoir thought, how must the Chief feel about them?
He didn’t think they’d made a mistake. In fact, he knew the case against Olivier to be complete, thorough and without fault.
“Why did he move the body?” Gamache had said.
It was, Beauvoir had to admit, a good question. The only slight chink in a perfect case. “So, what do you want me to do?”
“I want you to go to Three Pines and ask some more questions.”
“Like what? We asked all the questions, got all the answers. Olivier murdered the Hermit. Point final. End of discussion. The jury agreed. Besides, the murder happened five months ago, how’m I supposed to find new evidence now?”
“I don’t think you do,” the Chief had said. “I think if a mistake was made it was in interpretation.”