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       Moon Signs, p.19

           Helen Haught Fanick

  “So how was lunch?” I asked when we finally got to our room.

  “Interesting. Most interesting. The sheriff asked for my help.”

  “In what way?”

  “This is strictly confidential, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that. He asked me to call the Russian Embassy in Washington and pretend to be an acquaintance of Maria Borodin. He asked me to say I wanted to get in touch with her.”

  “What if you’d found there was no such person there?”

  “I’d act as if I had a wrong number. Anyway, the point of this was to try to get a description of her, to compare with our Maria Borodin.”

  “Did the sheriff say why he’s suspicious of her?”

  “He didn’t say, and I assume he has more information than he thinks I should know. Or maybe he’s suspicious of everyone who was near the hotel when the murder happened, and she was the one he figured out how to check on.”

  “So what happened when you called?”

  “I spoke to a young woman who didn’t speak very good English. She said Mrs. Borodin wasn’t there. She wasn’t at liberty to say where she was or when she would return. I tried to get chatty and said I’d met Maria a few years ago when my husband was part of an agricultural delegation to Russia. She might not remember me, but I enjoyed meeting her and just wanted to say hello. Then I asked whether Maria was still a beautiful blond, trying to get some kind of description. The woman on the other end said she really couldn’t answer any more questions, and she hung up.”

  “At least we know there is someone named Maria Borodin. If the woman said she wasn’t there, that would indicate she exists.”

  “That’s what Ward and I thought.”

  Ward! How delightful! They’re on a first-name basis. I couldn’t resist any longer. “Did you find out whether he’s married?”

  “I didn’t ask him.”

  Did that mean she didn’t know, or did it mean she didn’t ask him, but he told her anyway that he’s a lonely widower who would like to get to know her better? Getting information out of Andrea can be like pulling teeth. I decided to drop the subject for now. “I’m surprised the sheriff wouldn’t have asked one of the women on his staff to make that call.”

  “He only has one female employee, a dispatcher, and she’s on maternity leave. He thought it would be better for a woman to call and inquire about another woman.”

  “Ivy and I had a chat while you were gone. She said the Nicholsons are leaving Wednesday, and the ‘fashionable lady’ and Mr. Bosch will stay through the weekend. She thinks Mr. Bosch is kind of weird. She said he carries something that looks like a laptop back and forth to and from his room. Do you suppose he has a gun hidden in a laptop case and he brings it to his room at night and takes it back to his car in the morning?”

  “I’ve never seen him carrying anything.”

  “No, I haven’t either. He did come in late the night we were stuck on the lift.

  I told Ivy about that, and she wondered why he hadn’t just rung the buzzer in Stefan’s room. I didn’t tell her we’d knocked on Stefan’s door and got no answer, which would have explained why Mr. Bosch had to knock to get in. Anyway, he wasn’t carrying anything then, unless it was under his coat.”

  “Maybe he didn’t want Stefan to know that he was coming in after ten and hadn’t actually tried the buzzer. Maybe he was hoping someone else would hear him knocking and let him in.”

  I nodded. “Yes, maybe he was hoping for a couple of older ladies who wouldn’t be suspicious of him. Little did he know . . .”

  Andrea laughed. “If he thought that, he must be a bachelor. Little did he know is right—that older women are the most suspicious people in the world.”
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