BRIAN KAVANAGH'S COZY MYSTERIES. Amateur sleuth Belinda Lawrence

CAPABLE OF MURDER BOOK EXTRACT.

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SELECTED EXTRACT FROM THE BELINDA LAWRENCE MYSTERY SERIES.

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Extract from CAPABLE OF MURDER - book one in the series.

Brooding mists camouflaged the Palladian house and the land that fell away before it. Around the bridge over the lake the mists intensified but even through this vaporous shroud Belinda could see the beauty of the landscape. Mark had been delivering a knowledgeable commentary since their arrival at Prior Park and Belinda, recalling his historical diatribe at dinner recently, was not surprised at the extent of his knowledge.

‘1760,’ was his answer to Belinda’s question. ‘He was about forty-five when he created the gardens here at Prior Park. The first thing he would have done was restore the landscape to its natural regional features.’

Belinda nodded. ‘Jacob says that Brown expressed in his gardens the ideal English landscape.’ Mark looked askance at her. ‘Does he indeed? Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? I’m surprised you didn’t ask him to show you around here.’

‘Actually, I did.’

‘I thought as much. What happened? Did he stand you up?’ Belinda shot him a withering look. ‘Jacob is staying in Wells. I don’t know when he will be home.’

‘And he gave you his version of Capability Brown’s expertise, no doubt?’ Belinda was surprised at Mark’s caustic tone. ‘Do you mean he’s lying?’ she asked doubtfully.

Mark shook his head. ‘No, it’s just that he is so academic about his gardening. But he’s essentially right. Capability was a purist. He created landscapes that didn’t need to acknowledge anything other than the landscape itself. Their beauty was self-contained. He created a vista that his clients could never have imagined.'

‘Does that apply to his small gardens?’ Belinda asked in an over-casual voice. Mark glanced at her. ‘So I’ve been told. I’ve never had the privilege of seeing one of his small gardens. He did so few.’

They made their way through the park, and the sun, filtering through the lifting mists, shone weakly over the gently rolling contours of Capability’s vision. Mark opened the car door for Belinda and walked around to open the other. Belinda watched him over the roof of the car. ‘Tell me, Mark, you’re knowledgeable about historical matters. Did Michelangelo ever paint in England?’

Mark leant on the car roof and looked at her, an amused smile on his lips. Belinda gave an irritable shake of her head.

‘Oh come on, Mark. I admit it. I’m ignorant. Just keep your self-satisfied attitude to yourself and answer my question. Did he?’

‘Never in England.’ Mark could not keep his amusement from colouring his voice.

‘Well, did he paint at the same time, in 1760 or whatever.’

‘Same millennium, but two hundred years earlier.’ Mark could not contain his amusement. Silently cursing him, Belinda took her seat in the car.

As they drove towards Milford in a strained silence, Belinda’s thoughts centred on the triangular scrap of paper she had snatched from Rosemary’s lifeless fingers. How did the word written on that fragment of parchment relate to Capability Brown and the mystery surrounding the garden? Silently, Belinda mouthed the name that tantalised her. ‘Michelangelo.’ But what was the connection?

(C) 2013 Brian Kavanagh

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