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Page 64

Sorting through them made me think of what Hibbs had said.

Baneberry Hall remembers.

It also made me wonder why he never bothered to tell me about all the other deaths that happened there. It was impossible to think he simply didn’t know about them. His family had worked those grounds for generations. Which meant there was a reason he omitted those other deaths.

Maybe he didn’t want to scare us away.

Or maybe he never wanted us to know.

I came to the Gazette article about Curtis and Katie Carver, the most recent tragedy to occur there. The writer wasted no time in getting to the grisly details.

A man and his young daughter are dead in what Bartleby police have called a bizarre murder-suicide at Baneberry Hall, one of the town’s oldest and most infamous addresses. Police say Curtis Carver, 31, smothered his six-year-old daughter, Katie, before killing himself—a crime that has sent shock waves through the normally quiet community.

The photo that ran with the article was the same picture Jess had found during our tour of the house. Marta Carver and young Katie in matching dresses and smiles, Curtis keeping his distance, looking simultaneously handsome and sinister.

I put the clipping on a pile of articles about the other Baneberry Hall deaths. I wanted to read more—about all of them. But we were there to learn about William and Indigo Garson. The others would have to wait.

“I’m going to make copies of these,” I told Petra. “I’ll be right back.”

The library’s only photocopier sat large and heavy just outside the door of the octagonal reading room, offering copies for a dime apiece. Digging out change from my pocket, I got to work, making copies of each article.

My final copy—a reproduction of the article about the Carver family, the photo of them splotchy and dark—was sliding out of the machine when a woman passed by and entered the reading room. The mood inside the library shifted at her presence. It was like an electric pulse sparking across the entire place, silent yet keenly felt by all. People glanced up from books. Whispered conversations came to a sudden stop.

Turning around, I saw the same face that was on the photocopy.

Marta Carver.

Trying to ignore the unwanted attention, she browsed a shelf of new releases, her head held high. But then she caught me staring, and I had no choice but to approach her. Nervously, I said, “Excuse me. Mrs. Carver?”

She blinked at me from behind her spectacles. “Yes?”

“I’m Ewan Holt.”

Her posture straightened. It was clear she knew who I was.

“Hello, Mr. Holt.”

We shook hands. Hers was small and contained the slightest tremble.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if there was anything still at Baneberry Hall that you’d like to keep. If so, I’d be happy to deliver it to you.”

“I have everything I need, thank you.”

“But all that furniture—”

“Is yours now,” she said. “You paid for it.”

Although her voice wasn’t unkind, I sensed an unspoken something humming just beneath her words. It was, I realized, fear.

Marta Carver was terrified of Baneberry Hall.

“It’s not just the furniture,” I said. “I’ve found other things that I think belong to you. A camera. A record player. I think there are some photographs still there.”

At the mention of photographs, Marta Carver glanced at the freshly made copies still clutched in my hand. The top one, I realized, was the article about her husband murdering her daughter. I flipped the copy inward against my body, but it was too late. She’d already seen it, and reacted with an involuntary flinch.

“I need to go,” she said. “It was nice meeting you, Mr. Holt.”

Mrs. Carver slipped past me and quickly left the library. All I could do was mumble an apology at her back, feeling not only stupid but rude. I returned, vowing never to bother her again.

“Look at this,” Petra said when I came back to the table.

She was reading a Gazette article about Indigo Garson’s death, written a few months after it happened. I looked over her shoulder at the headline.

GARSON DEEMED INNOCENT IN DAUGHTER’S DEATH

“According to this, a maid told the police that on the night of Indigo’s suicide, she saw Mr. Garson in the kitchen putting what looked like a bunch of baneberries in a bowl. She was coming up from the cellar, so he didn’t see her. She said he took the berries and a spoon upstairs. An hour later, Indigo was dead. I just know he killed her, Mr. Holt.”

“Then why wasn’t he put on trial for her murder?”

“That’s what this whole bullshit article is about. How there wasn’t any evidence and how even if there was, a man like William Garson would never do such a thing. ‘An exemplary member of the community.’ That’s a direct quote from the police.” Petra pointed out the words with a stab of her index finger. “I know things were different back then, but it’s like they didn’t even try. ‘Oh, a teenager is dead. Who cares?’ But you can be damn sure that if it was the other way around—if Indigo had been seen bringing a freaking bowl of baneberries to her father—she would have been hung in the town square.”

She slumped in her chair and took a deep breath, her rant over. I understood her anger. We’d reached a dead end. Even though both of us believed William Garson had killed his daughter, there was likely no way to prove it.

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