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|Hot Chocolate to Die For|
Solve the dinner-party murder.
- Woman's body - Woman, Valérie Duclos, in her 40s. Extremely well dressed in the old fashion of the monarchy. Face contorted into a horrible expression. No indication of physical violence.
- Flower garden - A maintained garden with various flowers: Foxgloves, Belladonna and others that are fatal when ingested.
- Overturned cup - Porcelain cup with Japanese-style design. Appears to have held hot chocolate.
- Ring - Woman's ring discarded in shrubbery. Upon close inspection, one pearl is revealed to be a removable stopper for a tiny hidden vial. The vial is empty save for a drop of sticky, clear, odorless liquid.
- Statement of Amélie Monvoisin - Amélie Monvoisin (sister of victim): Dressed nicely, but not expensively. Identifies victim as Valérie Duclos. Victim insulted everyone at the party. Claims victim threatened Georges with denunciation to Committee of Public Safety.
- Letter to Pierre - A note, apparently to Pierre from his mother, Valérie, left on a table:
- "My son, I write to caution and admonish you as to your conduct. I appreciate that since the death of your father, you have enjoyed considerable financial freedom due to his foolishly generous bequest as regards yourself (whereas I have had to made do with a pittance). Your Aunt Amélie recently discovered a document that makes it quite clear that it is I that should have obtained control of my family's fortune upon the death of your father, despite the ludicrous claims of our doddering "executor" who squanders our money in his foolish business dealings in the Orient.
- You simply must quell your extravagances--especially in regards to the vulture-liked women you consort with--in view of the fact that I will shortly obtain control of the entire inheritance. Whatever debts you have incurred will thereupon be yours and yours only.
- Don't delude yourself that Amélie will come to your rescue, despite the fact that you have been foolishly generous to her. The money comes to me. She will have a small maintenance and can continue to wear Mother's worthless jewelry. She does not understand the value of money, and the less of it the better for her."
- Silver pot - Ornate silver pot on tray with four porcelain cups, each bears a Japanese-style design. One cup full of cold cocoa; others contain dregs.
- Snuffbox - An elegant Japanese snuffbox, inscribed with the name: G. Villiers-Segonzac.
- Statement of Georges Villiers-Segonzac - Georges Villiers-Segonzac (family friend): Elderly, impeccably dressed. Admits having been threatened by victim; claims this was not unusual. Amélie handed him the hot chocolate to take to Valérie. Valérie died shortly after. Took pains to call Lucille a "schemer".
- Statement of Pierre Duclos - Pierre Duclos (victim's son): Young man, carries himself with assurance. Richly dressed. Inherited majority of father's estate. Idea of hot chocolate for his mother was his. Claims he gave Lucille a cup to take to Valérie, but Amélie interrupted and took the cup away, ostensibly because Lucille's presence would only further anger Valérie. Noted that he is now free to marry Lucille.
- Kitchen supplies - A large earthenware jug. Remains of a thick cocoa paste. Also, a jar containing finely-mitted cocoa powder along with empty milk jug and urn of sugar.
- Mortar and pestle - A large stoneware pestle and mortar, used for the crushing of herbs from the garden.
- Statement of the maid - Maid: Elderly. Did not care for victim, but remembers victim's husband fondly. Vouches for Georges' character and underscored that the victim often "lorded it over" Pierre and Amélie. Claimed that Amélie hasn't a penny to her name.
- Book: Paris Society - "Notable events in Paris Society, vol XI"
- A page is marked detailing the La Voisin poisonings of the previous century. It seems one Catherine Deshayes la Voisin and her daughter, Marguerite Monvoisin were involved.
- Commonplace book - An old book bearing the name La Voisin on the inside cover. A marked passage reads:
- "I obtained this recipe from my close friend who in turn obtained it from a relation, whom is reputed to have received it from a certain Italian gentleman, proving its authenticity. It produces a liquid devoid of color, smell or taste that demonstrates the desired result within mere minutes. Many have sought the secret I am about to divulge. Guard it well."
- The passage continues with an involved process in which arsenic, belladonna leaves and lead powder are reduced to form a clear, odorless liquid. There are marginal notes made in several hands in faded ink.
- Crumpled letter - A crumpled letter found on the floor. It appears to be from a legal firm.
- My dear Mme Duclos
- I myself was witness to the signing of your late husband's last will and testament only a few months before his death. He left the sum to be managed by his friend Georges Villiers-Segonzac, with the bulk of the estate to go to your son, Pierre. We discussed the matter over cognac, and he seemed most reasonable.
- Madam, I would thank you to not call into question my thoroughness and professionalism. Neither your husband nor M. Villiers-Segonzac disclosed the document you have brought to light. I prefer to think they were unaware of its existence.
- Regardless, the document appears to be genuine and gives you an undisputable claim to the assets. There is, however, one obstacle to your stated desire to take immediate and direct control of the inheritance: the law dictates that women may not manage their own financial affairs. Therefore, M. Georges Villiers-Segonzac continues to hold complete authority over the entire fortune despite the fact that the assets have always belonged directly to you and never to your husband. As long as M. Villiers-Segonzac is active, your husband's will dictates that he, and not yourself, stands as the one who controls the fortune.
- Please accept my most sincere regrets and esteem,
- -- Maxime Siquotie
- Documents - The safe contains an ancient document that has been thrown loosely on top of many others.
- My mother, through her business, amassed a considerable personal fortune before her death, which she left entirely to me, her eldest daughter. To honor her, I declare a legacy to be passed to the eldest surviving female of my line born of the name Monvoisin.
- My wealth is held in trust, with the income benefitting my heir directly. As one heir dies, it passes to her eldest daughter or, if none, her eldest siser or, if none, her eldest female relation.
- In addition, the heir must take ownership of my mother's commonplace book and her collection of glass rings and necklaces, the judicious use of which is essential to the success of the enterprise. Indeed what these items represent is more powerful than any wealth.
- I declare these to be my wishes upon my death.
- - Marguerite Monvoisin.
- Belle-Ile-en-Mer, 1692
- Statement of Lucille Tuchet - Lucille Tuchet: Age approx. 38. Claims cordial relations with victim despite victim's concern about age difference between herself and Pierre (victim's son). Victim's husband died asphyxiated some months ago. Victim's husband put Georges in charge of family finances. Claims victim very unhappy about arrangement. Noted that victim was especially angry this evening and had never threatened Georges so directly before.
- Amélie Monvoisin (The victim's younger sister): If you must know, I am Amélie Monvoisin. This is ... was ... my elder sister, Valérie Duclos. I refuse to believe that Georges poisoned her! Even after what she said. Valérie and I were quite close, but I must say, she was simply dreadful the entire evening, drinking too much, insulting everyone. The worst was when she announced she planned to denounce Georges to the Committee of Public Safety!
- Georges Villiers-Segonzac (Duclos family friend): Yes, she threatened me, she made baseless threats at every dinner party. But she was getting angrier and angrier, so I repaired to the terrace with my brandy. On my way back down I encountered Amélie. She sent me out to the garden to calm her sister with some hot chocolate.
- Pierre Duclos (the victim's son): My mother is often difficult, and she was particularly nasty this evening. I suspect it had to do with a letter she received earlier in the day. In any case, she became angrier and angrier until she finally stormed out into the garden. I told Lucille to take her a calming cup of hot chocolate, but Aunt Amélie, fearing Lucille would upset mother even further, took the cup away. Mother's always been unhappy that I inherited most of Father's wealth, and she often accused Lucille of wanting only my money. But that's all over now, isn't it? Lucille and I can marry at last!
- Maid (Longtime servant of the household): Never liked her! Never. Even when her husband, rest his soul, was alive. He was a true gentleman, he was. Mister Georges was his friend, used to come by for meals and eat and eat! Pity he'll be getting the chop. But Madame? Spent her day lording it over poor Miss Amélie and yelling at Master Pierre. Who knows what Miss'll do now, not having a penny to her name and not likely to find a husband at her age.
- Lucille Tuchet (Love interest of Pierre Duclos): We got along very well. Oh, she was a bit concerned about her son being younger than me, I suppose. But I've known her since before her husband died. Poor man took ill and asphyxiated. Shame. He did manage to put Georges in charge of the family finances. My, that made Valérie furious! Very amusing! Tonight she seemed especially angry. She's never threatened Georges with execution before! Oh, well. Takes all kinds ...
|The murderer was Amélie Monvoisin, the victim's sister, and next in line to inherit the wealth of the family.