High sea murder a kit.., p.3
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       High Sea Murder - A Kit and Kat Mystery 2, p.3

           Chuck Antone, Jr
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  The first two he called were Nick and Amy, to accompany him on a search of their rooms. They were gone about twenty minutes, returning with smiles on their faces and a look of relief.

  The next to have their rooms searched were Mark, Sally and Chad. The Inspector and the Captain took all three together. All eyes turned to Chad who still looked a little sheepish as he left our group.

  We waited, and after twenty minutes had passed we began to wonder what might have happened. Then fifteen minutes later they came in hugging each other, with tears in Sally's eyes. We knew that whatever had happened was good news, and we all broke out in applause.

  I understood why they came in with smiles on their faces when Mark told me that Chad had brought a carton of cigarettes with him. He didn't think he and Sally knew he smoked. He was afraid they would be all over him and ruin their last vacation together for a long time. Or they might even cancel his education plans, since they were footing the bill. Mark said he and Sally were very relieved, and told Chad that they already knew he smoked, as they could often smell it on his clothes and body.

  Chad told them he was trying to quit and hadn't had a cigarette for over two weeks. They could see that the carton hadn't been opened. He said that he'd brought them just in case!

  When Inspector Rashan found the carton hidden under his bed, Chad told them that he was sorry. Mark said Chad gave it to him and Sally, saying, "Here, do with it whatever you want. I won't be needing cigarettes anymore."

  Next was Marcy, and ten minutes later she was back.

  Soon all the rooms of the guests at table nine had been searched, apart from mine and Kat's. Inspector Rashan led the way, with the Captain joining us. And when we were out of the reach of the others so they couldn't hear, Inspector Rashan said, "I've left you two for last because I want to talk to you. I understand you're both criminologists. That's correct isn't it?"

  I said "Yes, that's correct. And when we're through with this cruise we'll be opening up our own detective agency. How did you know?"

  "Well, with the Internet nothing's secret anymore. The Captain gave me all of your names at table nine. I checked each one out before I boarded the ship. Please, just keep this between the four of us."

  I said, "Inspector, why are you telling us this?"

  "Well, I checked with your university and you both come highly recommended. I'd like you to work with me on the case. The two of you can mingle with the guests much better than I can. Before breakfast, everyone on board will be gathered into the Showroom. The captain will introduce me as the Chief Inspector from Turkey.

  "I'll then explain to everyone about the missing jewelry, and say that until it's recovered no one will be able to leave the ship to go into Istanbul again. Many, I know, will be unhappy about that decision.

  "Even though I'm the Inspector here at this port, I'll continue on board with you to the other ports where we'll be stopping. And if the jewelry still hasn't been recovered, only the ship's officers, after a complete search, will be able to leave the ship to purchase what's needed to keep the guests as happy as possible."

  The Captain added, "After Inspector Rashan's through, I'll inform them that while the necklace is missing, whether the ship is on dock or at sea, we'll have many activities for them. And that breakfast, lunch and dinner will proceed as planned. I'll encourage them to have a good time. I've been in contact with head office, and in the circumstances they've agreed that all passengers will be given a free three-week cruise aboard one of our cruise lines whenever they're free to come aboard. We're hoping this will keep our guests happy."

  Kat said, "Thanks, Captain. That would certainly keep me very happy." Then turning to me, she continued, "Maybe, Kit, you and I can take another cruise for our one year anniversary!"

  "Yes, whenever you want, there'll be no expiration date," the Captain explained, with a smile on his face, "but you'll need to book well in advance if you want a specific date."

  I took a deep breath. "Let's hope we can find the jewelry quickly, because we're really looking forward to exploring some foreign countries on this cruise. So until then, Inspector, what do you want Kat and me to do?"

  "First I want to tell you what I've found out about each of your eight fellow guests at table nine through the Internet. Then I'll interview them by couples, except of course Chad, who can be with one of his parents. Marcy is old enough not to need her mother. I'd like you and Kat to be there with me. Perhaps one of you might pick up something that I miss. Then I want the two of you to snoop around, mingle with not only the other guests, but with the staff also."

  I said, "Surely the thief is most likely to be a member of the staff."

  The Inspector shook his head. "The lock to the balcony door was forced. A member of staff would almost certainly have got hold of a key to the main cabin door."

  "Unless he wanted it to look like a break-in by a guest," I added.

  "You're right, Kit, and we're not going to limit our suspects just to table nine. I know you're on your six months' honeymoon, so if you don't want to get involved with the case, I'll understand."

  Kat and I looked at each other, smiled and nodded our heads in agreement. This was right up our alley.

  I said, "Inspector, we're on this ship and have nowhere to go. We'd love to help you solve this case."

  Kat asked, "Inspector, your English is very, very good. By chance did you live in the U.S. for a while?"

  Inspector Rashan smiled. "Yes I did, Kat. I was educated there from the age of fifteen. My mother's sister lived in Los Angeles, California. She invited me to stay with her while I went to High School there. It was a struggle at first, as my English was very poor. My aunt always told me if I wanted to go far in this world, I must conquer the English language. So after I graduated from High school I went to Cal State L.A. and majored in English. My minor was law. I loved studying law and decided to become a lawyer. I'm happy to say I graduated with top honors. After my schooling I worked for a law firm for a few years in San Francisco.

  "Then my uncle, my father's brother who was the Inspector in Istanbul, was getting ready to retire. He sent me an application to apply for the job, and to make a long story short . . . here I am. I'm proud of my English. Thanks, Kat, for noticing."

  Chapter 7

  We went back up to the dining room. We had taken longer than the rest, and some wondered, I'm sure, if maybe we were the thieves. When we came in smiling it seemed that they all had a look of relief on their faces. None of us wanted the thief to be from table nine.

  The Captain explained to our group about Kat and me being detectives, and how we were going to help him solve the case. He pleaded with them not to tell anyone else on the ship, so we'd be free to talk with the other guests without them being suspicious of us.

  They all agreed to be silent about our involvement in the robbery, and the Captain told us all to get a good sleep from what was left of the night, as it was much too late to start an investigation. He also encouraged everyone to take advantage of the pool and spa in the morning, and play the many games that would be available. Then after lunch he would interview each of our group again, to see if anyone could add anything that would help solve the case of the missing jewelry.

  He made it clear that he didn't want them to think that they were under investigation. I could see that he was being astute, telling them he needed their help, which put them at ease. He obviously knew that when people were more relaxed, that was when they would slip up – if they had anything to hide.

  We gave each other hugs and we all agreed to meet for the buffet breakfast. No special time was planned. If we didn't see each other for breakfast, then we'd meet for lunch in the dining room. We'd all be there at that time, as the Captain said he'd arranged a special lunch for us, with no one else being allowed in. Inspector Rashan would also be with the ten of us for lunch, and he again told everyone that right after lunch is when the interviews would begin.

  We could hear a groan from those around us when
the Captain announced on the speaker that unfortunately no one would be allowed to leave the ship that morning. Well, we'd all had a good time in Istanbul yesterday, and we were due to set sail for Ephesus at midday, and it would have been a bit of a rush to do much further exploration. However, we did hear a few complaints from passengers who'd not got round to buying souvenirs.

  Around ten that morning, Kat and I had just finished breakfast when one of the ship's officers came over. "The Inspector would like to see you in the suite the Captain has let him use for the investigation."

  We thanked him, knowing our part of the investigation was just beginning. As we went down the hallway, I felt a mixture of excitement and nervousness. It seemed that a lot was expected of us.

  "Thanks for coming. Please come in."

  The Inspector was holding the door open as we approached the room . . . a Penthouse which just happened to be available for use. I could see coffee, tea and juices on the table. The Captain was also there.

  "Please sit down, but first get something to drink. I wanted to see you both earlier than the rest, because I want to tell you the things I've found out about your new friends at table nine."

  Kat and I got our drinks and sat down opposite the Inspector.

  "The information is mostly about what they do and where they live. Just little things. I've also made some satellite phone calls that'll help us to get to know them better.

  "Let's start with Nick and Amy. They're both teachers and well liked by the school staff and students, so I've been told. They've both quit their jobs and taken a leave of absence, as they call it, before returning to the University in Portland, Oregon for their Masters.

  "As you know, that's going to be very expensive for them, and so far we have no idea how they plan to get the money they'll need. Remember, even though we didn't find anything in their cabins, or in any of the other table nine guests, they're still suspects.

  "Next are Mark, Sally and their son Chad. Mark's a cartographer and is paid very well. You know what a cartographer does, don't you?"

  "Yes, Inspector," Kat answered. "He makes maps . . . a map maker." She let out a little giggle!

  "Yes," the Inspector said, with a big smile on his face. He looked at me. "I suppose you know too?"

  "Yes, Inspector, I know what a cartographer does." I also had a big grin on my face.

  He looked at us and gave another of his big smiles. "I'm glad the two of you are on this ship. And not because you know what Mark does for a living, but because I like you and your willingness to help me and the Captain. And I like your sense of humor."

  He then looked over at the Captain. And by the look on Kat's face I could tell that she was thinking the same thing that I was . . . was Inspector Rashan going to ask the Captain if he knew what Mark's occupation was? But he didn't. We also wondered if the Captain knew, and afterwards we agreed that if we got to know him better, we'd ask him.

  Inspector Rashan continued. "Sally's an artist, and from what I've found out, a very good one. She sold her first painting for only fifty dollars. But her last painting went for twenty-five thousand, right before the cruise.

  "Young Chad's an 'A' student and has made the Dean's list each semester. He'll be going to Stanford University, which I understand is the best one for someone wanting to become a doctor. It's extremely expensive, but it appears that his parents can afford it.

  "That leaves Maria, Jason and Marcy. Maria's very wealthy, and it's true, she does own one of the largest cattle ranches in Texas, if not the largest. When she says the three million dollars she would receive from the insurance company doesn't mean anything to her, she really means it. She's worth a lot lot more than three million dollars. To her, that's a drop in the bucket, as you Americans would say.

  "Marcy, of course, will inherit all of her mother Maria's assets. But Marcy may have some dark secrets. She's thirty-eight, likes to gamble, and twice she's broken off an engagement when she found out both men wanted to marry her for her money. She seems to hang out with the wrong people and in the wrong places. Would she steal from her mother to pay off unknown debts? That's for us to find out. Besides, she's also been known to have a drinking problem.

  "Now we have Jason. He's forty-five and his wife Maria is sixty-five, and they're here celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. Jason, and Maria's son Mike, were best friends. I say were, because Mike died fifteen years ago. Maria doesn't talk much about it. Her husband Charlie, along with their son Mike, the first born, died together in a tragic car accident. As you can see by their ages, there's twenty years difference between Jason and Maria."

  Kat and I had initially thought about fifteen years, as Maria looked younger than her actual age.

  "The accident made big headlines in the newspapers. And lots of TV coverage. The driver of the other car was drunk. He also died. Maria could have sued and won the case as he was only sixteen years old and had no driver's license. He only had a driver's permit.

  "His parents had let him use their car and would have been liable for a big suit, but Maria said, 'No, we've each lost a son. I don't want their money. I just want my son back.'

  "I looked up the information on the website of a Texas newspaper that was covering the story at that time. It was news in there for some time afterwards." The Inspector looked at us and gave one of his smiles. "The Internet is amazing, especially as this ship has satellite broadband. A few years ago I'd have had to contact my office by radio phone and get someone there to do the research. But I digress.

  "After his best friend Mike's funeral, Jason came to the house a lot. Maria and he told each other many stories about Mike. They wanted to keep his memories alive. Apparently they fell in love, married and seem to be very happy.

  "There was a nuptial agreement. If Maria should die before Jason, he gets nothing. Everything goes to Maria's daughter Marcy

  "We don't know too much about Jason. The Internet gives very little information. But we do know at one time he was in real estate and apparently did very well. He hasn't been selling anything for about eight years now, and just two years after marrying his best friend's rich mother, he retired."

  "And three million dollars would give him a big boost financially, if he's thinking about getting out of the relationship," I said.

  "My thoughts exactly," said the Inspector. "But I can't help thinking that if three million is the insurance value, a thief would only be able to sell it on the black market for, what, a tenth of that? No, not even that much. No one would be able to wear it in public. It's far too identifiable. So it's hardly worth anyone stealing it to change their lives."

  I could see Kat shaking her head. "I'm not an expert on jewelry," she said, "but Maria believes that the high quality of those diamonds and emeralds would probably be worth much more split up than sold as a complete piece of jewelry. She said five or even ten million dollars. Those exquisite diamonds and emeralds could be sold individually from time to time, without anyone knowing where they came from."

  "Kat, I believe you've got it right," the Inspector said. "The thief could get nearer their full value if he . . ."

  "Or she," Kat added.

  ". . . or she, sold them a few at a time so as not to arouse suspicion. Brilliant." Inspector Rashan looked thoughtful. "I know that some dealers of antiquarian books with fine illustrations break them up to sell the pictures individually, and make far more money than the book is worth as a complete volume." He clapped his hands. "Let's have lunch with the others, and afterwards we'll start our interviews."

  I looked at my watch. "Are you staying on board?" I asked in surprise. "We're about to sail from here and go to Ephesus."

  "The port of Kusadasi, in Aydin Province," Rashan said. "That's the port for Ephesus. Not that anyone on this ship will be able to visit Ephesus if we haven't found the jewelry by then. Kusadasi is still in Turkey, so it's not a problem for me to stay."

  Kat let out a long sigh. "Then let's hope we can clear up this theft," she said. "I've read Sa
int Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus, and would love to see the place where all those early Christians lived."

  The group had already started to eat by the time we arrived at the table, and the ship was well out of the harbor at Istanbul. All of our regular servers were waiting at the table, except for Barsha. She had been replaced by another South African woman named Sara.

  Kat asked, "Where's Barsha today?"

  Sally, Chad's mother, said, "We asked, but no one seems to know."

  Berta said, "I'm worried about her. She's my best friend and roommate. She didn't sleep in her bed last night. Sometimes she stays with other friends in housekeeping. That's where she started out, but she always tells me if she'll be gone for the night."

  One of the ship's officers hurried over to Inspector Rashan and whispered something in his ear. Then the Inspector looked over at Kat and me. "Will you please come with us?"

  We followed him and the officer outside to the top deck. The Captain, with some of his men and another ship officer were standing by a lifeboat with the canvas thrown halfway open.

  We walked over to the lifeboat. Kat gave out a little gasp. Inside the boat was a body lying on its stomach. Even before the Captain turned it over, we knew it was the body of our server, Barsha.

  Chapter 8

  I didn't want to kill her. I liked Barsha. But there she was in my cabin snooping around. I knew someone was in my room, as the door wasn't completely closed.

  When I asked her what she was doing, and how she got in, she said, "I used to work in housekeeping. I know the combination to the security cupboard where the spare keys are kept, so I borrowed the set to your room. As easy as that. No one saw me get them."

  When I asked her why, and that I had nothing of hers, she said, "No, you don't have anything of mine, but you do have something that belongs to the rich lady at table nine."

  I said, "What do you mean? I have nothing that belongs to her."

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