Prose Header

The Professor’s Murder

by Viacheslav Yatsko

Chapter 6: The Murder Solved

Alex Larin, an attorney, and his mistress, Olga, learn that Olga's husband, the eminent scientist Nikolas Smirnov, has been murdered in his own laboratory. Alex knows that Olga is a very likely suspect and that the police are unlikely to identify the perpetrator. It is up to him to solve the mystery. Then things really begin to get complicated...

In the morning, using data on Rogov’s disk, I made appointments with Vladimir Timkin and Elza Goldberg, who both worked at the State University.

The spacious lobby of the University was decorated with the large portrait of the deceased professor with a crepe band in the corner. The inscription under the portrait informed that the funeral was to take place the next day at 1 p.m.

I went upstairs to the second floor, where Dr. Goldberg’s office was located. The secretary, a pretty-looking girl, announced my arrival to her boss and I was admitted to the office without delay.

I introduced myself, explained honestly that I defended Olga’s interests and recounted the story about her sufferings from Smirnov’s rudeness and disregard of her.

After listening to me, Dr. Goldberg nodded her head: “Nobody can overestimate Dr. Smirnov’s scientific achievements. He was a good scientist who greatly contributed to the field. But he was also well known for his intolerance and rough manners. I am sure his murder can be accounted for by these features of his disposition.”

“And you also suffered from his bad manners, didn’t you?”

“Yes, he rudely insulted me in public at the meeting of the Scientific Board. I had just suggested reducing support of his projects to finance other scientists’.”

“To tell the truth, Dr. Goldberg, I would have also been offended if somebody had attempted to reduce my financial support.”

“But you don’t have contracts with overseas firms. It was common knowledge Smirnov earned lots of money, dozens of thousands dollars. One hundred thousand rubles was a trifling sum for him and substantial support for any other researcher. And my responsibility is to promote research at this University. I understand he got offended, but that doesn’t justify him. I was preparing to bring an action against him.”

“Thank you, Dr. Goldberg,” said I. “I know Dr. Smirnov had a conflict with Vladimir Timkin. Where can I find him?”

“He works at Computational Engineering Laboratory. My secretary, Lina Frolova, will tell you how to find it.”

I said goodbye and went out. The pretty secretary told me that CEL was on the fourth floor. As I was talking to her I had a sense of déjà vu: it seemed to me I had already seen her somewhere.

Timkin, a strong, handsome fellow, explained: “Smirnov had done good work in Computer Science and began considering himself a genius. He decided to take up the problem of Brownian motion. He stated that particles’ movements were subject to definite laws rather than being chaotic and he could discover the laws. I tried to persuade him to give up the idea, because we must work on the orders from American firms and not lose profitable contracts. He didn’t want to hear anything and even charged at me!”

“Really? And who won?”

Timkin didn’t answer anything but flexed his muscles.

I nodded and asked: “Haven’t we met before?”

“I am sure we have not.”

I took my leave and went downstairs. As I was approaching the entrance doors I cast another glance at Smirnov’s portrait and stopped in my tracks. The solution of the crime dawned upon me. Separate facts — the scenes at Ruchko’s flat, Zilberman’s statement, Smirnov’s portrait — pieced together. I immediately phoned Rogov and asked him to make several inquiries.

“Judging by your questions, you have found the murderer,” said he.

“Yes, I have, if you get positive responses.”

“And if they are positive what shall we do?”

“How much time will you need to get the information?”

“I think I’ll get it by the end of the day.”

“If the result is positive, you should invite all of them to your office tomorrow at 10 a.m., before the funeral.”

“No problem.”

“Hope to see you tomorrow,” I said and disconnected.

Now it was necessary to speak to Olga. I went to my place, where she had decided to stay while her flat was being cleaned up after the robbery. Besides, as she said, she was afraid of staying at her place alone.

When I arrived, Olga was cooking lunch. She was fond of housework and was always in need of taking care of a man.

“How are things, my super-duper sleuth?” she greeted me ironically. She was in a good mood; all the troubles of the previous day had vanished into thin air.

“I’d like you to answer some questions.”

“Fie! Another interrogation. How trivial!” She curled her lip. “And I thought you had already found the murderer.”

“Not yet. Everything depends on your answers.”

“If so, I’ll answer all your questions. But first sit at the table and help yourself to my risotto.”

That was her favorite dish, and it always tasted delicious. I suppressed a desire to taste not only the dish but the cook as well, since Olga looked very attractive in a dressing gown and without a bra.

“The first question,” I said, sitting at table and eating risotto. “What was stolen from your flat?”

“Jewelry and money. Fortunately, the sum was small, because Smirnov used to keep the money on his bank account. And I put on the most expensive jewelry before leaving for our rendezvous.”

“And what about papers, documents?”

“Hard to say. In the flat everything was turned upside down, and numerous papers were scattered on the floor. But passports and diplomas were not taken.”

“Now, concentrate and try to remember all about the motives for Smirnov’s divorce.”

Olga became thoughtful. “The divorce was scandalous, and Nick never said much about it. Once he told that his ex was afraid of him. She was sure he had a paramour, and they planned to get rid of her. She even brought a complaint to police about him stating he wanted to poison her. Smirnov had to go to police to justify himself.”

“Very interesting. And what do you think: could he commit the crime?”

“I think the woman was cranky. Nick was involved in his scientific work and never paid attention to women. He simply didn’t know how to attract a woman. By the way, about two weeks ago he said a girl attempted to seduce him.”

“That’s very important. Who was the girl?”

“He didn’t mention her name, but he seemed rather worried.”

My smartphone played a melody signaling the arrival of an SMS. I opened it to read a message from Rogov informing me that he had at his disposal all the information necessary to unmask the murderer.

Proceed to Chapter 7...

Copyright © 2011 by Viacheslav Yatsko

Home Page