[if this is the first time you have landed here, I strongly recommend, you check this out first]
“What do you make of the murder scene.”
Kabir had been waiting for this question as soon as they had entered the study. Agasthya always asked him this question. It was like he tested his skills, but he knew it was more because Agasthya didn’t want to re-work anything that Kabir had already done.
“There was no sign of struggle. There was a single cut on the vistim’s neck, and some hand prints around his cheek. Someone came from behind, covered his mouth and sheared his throat in 1 swift motion. Even the victim’s eyes didn’t have time to register suprise.”
“How did he come in?”
“We dont know for sure yet. My best guess is from the french window. Makes sense as its towards the back of the chair, hence Mr. Nanda wouldn’t have seen him coming in. Also his footsteps would have been muffed by the carpet and the rain outside.”
“Why cant it be the lab assistant?”
“I spotted some wet spot on the carpet. They are dry now, but there is some mud too. Probably from the killer’s shoes.”
Agasthya nodded again.
“Pre-cursory forensics suggest a sharp blade, not like a christmas tree, but more like a butcher’s knife. Made minimal fuss.”
They were at the chair now. Agasthya looked at the book rack in front of him. The rack was filled with books on Atomic physics, and thermodynamics. Some places were empty however, and Agasthya diligently counted them. He next counted the books on the table.
“Kabir bhai, in what shape did you find the body?”
“It mouth was open, head hanging back. The blood had dripped through most of his clothing. It had even dripped across his 2 arms and made small pools on the crapet.”. Kabir pointed towards the 2 small dried pools of blood on the expensive carpets. He was holding a drining glass in one hand, it still had some juice, when he was killed. In the other hand he was holding a book. We have collected both of them as evidence.
“Kabir bring me that book.”
“Sure Bhaijaan.”, he whipped out his Nokia 1100, and then for a moment felt shy. Agasthya smiled at him for a bit and then went rummaging through the books on the table. Kabir called a constable and asked him to bring the book as soon as possible.
“You see these books Kabir.”, Agasthya said. “There are exactly 10 of them.” Kabir counted the books on the table. “Now look at the spaces, in the rack above, there is more or less place for 10.”. Kabir looked up and counted the space.
“Now right across this study, there is no book out of its place. Not a single one. So Mr. Nanda was very particular and organized.”. Agasthya kept speaking as he picked up a book ruffled through it and then placed it in one of the empty space on the rack. It fit perfectly.
“That means Mr. Nanda was reading something related to Thermodynamics or Physics.”, Kabir concurred.
“Correct, but if there are 10 book on this table, and place for 10 books on the rack.”, Agasthya was going through the 4th book now, where he noticed something. Placed it aside and went on to the next one.
“Then what book was he holding in his hand?”, Kabir completed Agasthya train of thought, excited. Then realized Agasthya was just leading him on. But then another idea came into his head, and he suddenly felt deflated, “But he might have borrowed a book, about the same topic, it didnt necessarily had to come out of his study.”
Agasthya chuckled at that thought. He had finished placing all the other books except for the one he had put aside earlier. He picked that up, opened a particular page and showed it to Kabir.
The pages that Agasthya was showing to him were marred by blood, or more by tiny streams of blood. Kabir was already piecing it together in his head. Mr. Nanda was already holding this book in his hand, when he was killed. Someone replaced the book he was holding. But why?
“Nothing of importance was stolen right Kabir?”, Agasthya asked him that question as soon as Kabir had fallen back on that theorem himself.
“Saabji, here is the book”, the constable who had been tasked to bring the book in broke that chain of thought.
Kabir went to the door and collected it (he had given strict instructions to deny anyone entry). This book had blood over it too. But only over the cover. It was clear that the book was closed when it was placed in Mr. Nanda’s hand. Now that he turned it over, it had a damp spot on its back side too, someone with wet fingers or gloves was definately holding this. Why hadn’t he picked up on it earlier.
Kabir handed the book to Agasthya. Agasthya took one look at the cover and chuckled again. “This book is about Geography.”, Agasthya spoke out.
“Yup Rocks and Starta of Thar and Kutch. An in depth study. This is about rocks.”, Agasthya handed the book back to Kabir, so he could confirm what he was saying.
“This doesnt make any sense.”, said Kabir and started flipping through the pages. Agasthya didn’t reply, and instead started walking towards the window. He didn’t need to, he knew Kabir was putting 2 and 2 together already. This book was a clue, probably by the murderer. This was no theft and murder, but a planned assasination. Of course everything needed to be backed by reports, but this was where this case was heading, he was sure of it.
Agasthya was at window and examining the sill, when Kair noticed something.
“Bhaijaan. The author’s name on the last page of the book.”
Agasthya turned. He was holding some leaf or a twig in his hand. “What about it?”
“Its has been circled with a marker. Black.”
“What’s the author’s name?”
“Dr. Salil Batra.”