Henri lapped up the attention, then they went home where the Chief Inspector glanced at the clock. Past five. He made a call.
“Ah, Chief Inspector, I was just about to call you with an update.”
“Not much, I’m afraid. You know what these things are like. If we don’t find someone immediately then it becomes a slog. This is a slog. I’m just over at Augustin Renaud’s home.” He hesitated. “You wouldn’t want to come, would you? It’s not far from where you are.”
“I’d love to see it.”
“Bring your reading glasses and a sandwich. And a couple of beers.”
“Unbelievable. I don’t know how people live like this.”
Gamache got the address, played with Henri for a few minutes, wrote a note for Émile, then left. On the way he stopped at Paillard, the marvelous bakery on rue St-Jean, and at a dépanneur for beer then headed up rue Ste-Ursule, pausing to check the address he’d been given, unconvinced he had it right.
But no. There it was. 9¾ rue Ste-Ursule. He shook his head. 9¾.
It would figure that Augustin Renaud would live there. He lived a marginal life, why not in a fractional home? Gamache walked down the short tunnel and into a small courtyard. Knocking, he waited a moment then entered.
He’d been in homes of every description in his thirty years of investigating crime. Hovels, glass and marble trophy homes, caves even. He’d seen hideous conditions, and uncovered hideous things and yet he was constantly surprised by how people lived.
But Augustin Renaud’s home was exactly as Armand Gamache had imagined it would be. Small, cluttered, papers, journals, books piled everywhere. It was certainly a fire hazard, and yet the Chief had to admit he felt more at home here than in the glass and marble wonders.
“Anybody here?” he called.
“Through here. In the living room. Or maybe it’s the dining room. Hard to say.”
Gamache followed the trail cleared, like snow, through the paper and found Inspector Langlois bent over a desk reading. He looked up and smiled.
“Champlain. Every single scrap of paper’s about Champlain. I didn’t think this much had been written about the man.”
Gamache picked up a magazine from the top of a stack, an old National Geographic detailing the first explorations of what is now New England. There was a reference to Champlain, whose name was on Lake Champlain in Vermont.
“My people are going through it all slowly,” said Langlois. “But I estimate it will take forever.”
“Would you like some help?”
Langlois looked relieved. “Yes, please. Could you?”
Gamache smiled and placing two bags on the desk he brought out an assortment of sandwiches and a couple of beers.
“Perfect. I haven’t even had lunch yet.”
“Busy day,” said Gamache.
Langlois nodded, taking a huge bite from a roast beef, hot mustard and tomato sandwich on a baguette then took a swig of beer.
“We’ve only really had a chance to fingerprint and get DNA samples here. Even that’s taken two days. The forensics people have been through and now the work begins.” He glanced round.
Gamache pulled up a chair, grabbed a baguette filled with thick sliced maple-cured ham, brie and arugula and took a beer. For the next few hours the two men went through Augustin Renaud’s home, organizing it, separating his original papers from photocopies of other people’s works.
Gamache found reproductions of Champlain’s diaries and scanned them. They were as Père Sébastien had said, little more than “to do” lists. It was a fascinating insight into everyday life in Québec in the early 1600s, but it could have been written by anyone. There was certainly no personal information. Gamache came away with no feeling for the man.
“Found anything?” Langlois wiped a weary hand across his face and looked up.
“Copies of Champlain’s diary, but nothing else.”
“Don’t you think Renaud must have kept a journal or a diary himself?”
Gamache looked round the room and into the next, seeing stack after stack of papers. Bookcases stuffed to bursting, closets filled with magazines. “We might find some yet. Have you found any personal papers at all?” Gamache took off his reading glasses and looked across the desk at Langlois.
“Some letters from people replying to Renaud. I’ve made a file, but most seem to just be telling him with varying degrees of civility that he was wrong.”