This is it! It’s a very short final section as we find out who the murderer is revealed. It goes without saying that there is a huge spoiler warning for the following, so, if you don’t want to know who the murderer is, you better close this tab. Once again we have a quote from Virgil, this time from Georgics, “Lucky is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.” Which is again interesting, but odd. Is it lucky to understand why things happen? Sometimes the truth hurts more than not knowing. But of course, Strike seems to be lucky because he understands things very well, including this murder, and we’re about to get his info dump.
First we get a little teaser as Strike is expecting one of three people to visit him at his office: John Bristow, Tony Landry, or Alison Cresswell. After trying to get Wardle to procure a warrant, he orders Robin to leave, then waits. So much anticipation.
To Strike’s relief it is John who shows up, and things get really interesting, really quickly. John wants to terminate the investigation, but it’s too late for that. Strike did find Lula’s will, and she left everything to her half-brother, Jonah Agyeman. What’s more, he was in the footage running away from the crime scene! But, it wasn’t him, it was JOHN BRISTOW himself!!! I didn’t see that coming. What sort of person hires an investigator to get to the bottom of the already solved murder you committed but got away with? Bat-shit crazy indeed. Perhaps as Strike suggests he wanted to tie Agyeman up for the crime and insure that if the will came out, it wouldn’t matter. Or maybe he thought he was so good at hiding his tracks he wanted to challenge that. Or maybe he really wanted to get caught.
We continue with a fairly long explanation by Strike, with a few interjections by Bristow on how outrageous these allegations were. The explanation makes perfect sense. Bristow was in financial trouble and had started taking money from clients, and his boss was suspicious, so, he tried to get money from Lula. She rebuffed him on the morning of her death, and he took advantage of an opportunity to hide in the second floor’s apartment. There he waited, until she was alone that evening (he was there for such a long time – one thing I’m unsure about is the guest log, wouldn’t it show that he never signed out? Or did he fill it in later, or did the alarm man sign out for him accidentally?). He used the white roses to get Lula to open the door, which caused some drops to go onto the floor, and then confronted her for more money, as she was waiting for her brother to arrive. But then, he pushed her over the edge, just as her brother arrived and saw her falling, so he ran. Even Alison, his girlfriend, was all part of it, well, she was to be part of his alibi, unfortunately for Bristow that was proved to be false. And then of course his mother was easily manipulated to think it was a different time he was there. And Bristow used some clothing sent to Deeby Mac which was one of a kind by Guy, and ultimately that linked the apartment to one of the runners.
It was a very clever scheme, but not clever enough for Strike. Perhaps a very shocking revelation was that Bristow actually killed Charlie his brother when he was a child. Pushing him over the edge, or perhaps daring him to go too close to the quarry. Either way, Bristow had murdered three people.
I do wonder is Strike purposely poking the hornets nest trying to rile John up and make him confess? Because this could be dangerous, and indeed it does. Bristow tries to stab Strike, and an altercation ensues. Despite telling her to leave, Robin arrives to call the police and an ambulance just as Strike contains Bristow.
I really didn’t see that coming, Bristow being the murderer that is. The evidence was there, but my powers of observation (and knowledge of murder mystery tropes and ploys) aren’t that refined clearly. Though I would somewhat hope that even if I had had read many a murder mystery, I would still not have seen it coming, that would be the mark of a good book, whether that would be the case I don’t know. I’m not sure about the reveal of Bristow as the murderer, it was a long info dump, but without having read many examples of murder mystery, I don’t know of a good method of having an explanation of all the clues. Because if you didn’t explain things it would be left as too much of a mystery for readers. So I’m not sure.