The Deadly Joke (Pierre Chambrun Mystery, Book 7)
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A prank outside the Beaumont Hotel goes haywire, and an assassin kills the wrong man
Political fundraisers can be cynical and coarse when they're among their own kind, and Pierre Chambrun, manager of the elegant Beaumont Hotel, prefers not to let them through his doors. But when his friend Douglas Maxwell, a hard-nosed senatorial candidate, asks to host a thousand-dollar-a-plate dinner in the Beaumont's famous ballroom, Chambrun cannot refuse. The fundraiser has just begun when bad taste rears its ugly head, and Maxwell steps out of his limousine smiling, waving, and wearing no pants. The crowd roars with laughter until the pantsless man falls to his knees, shot dead.
Less than half an hour later, Maxwell appears in Chambrun's office, very much alive. The dead man was his cousin, a lookalike who came to New York to play a prank, and caught a bullet in return. Chambrun must find the gunman to save his friend and spare the Beaumont a second killing—because murder is the ultimate faux pas.
little suite of rooms in the Maxwells’ summer home at East Hampton. He was a sportsman who devoted his free time to boats and to elaborate African safaris. He had his own seat on the Stock Exchange, and by some personal magic everything he touched tripled in value both in good times and bad. He could be counted on to shoulder a big part of Maxwell’s campaign needs. I found him a charming fellow, a little old-world in his gracious manners, but with a wonderful gift of being suddenly very modern,
“Charlie was fun,” Melody said. “He made people laugh. He got invited everywhere—the odd man. And he spent his whole life prying into people’s secrets. He used what he found. It kept him comfortable.” “And you went along with it?” Melody shrugged her ample shoulders. “He didn’t hurt little people who couldn’t afford. The rich figure they don’t have to obey the rules, Pierre. When they get caught out, they call it bad luck and they pay. It’s easier to pay than to fight.” “I think you’d better
Maxwell raised his head. “He must not have known or he would certainly have told me.” “Where was he, do you suppose?” “I don’t know, Pierre! Maybe he was outside looking over the pickets and the black militants.” “So he missed the action.” “He must have.” Chambrun was silent for a moment and then he stood up abruptly. “We’ll come up with that limousine driver before too long, Doug,” he said. “He should put you in the clear. I suggest you go back to your quarters and get as much rest as you
his service revolver drawn. Chambrun and I were right behind him. Hyland was literally crouching in the corner of the couch, his hands raised in a protesting, pleading gesture. Standing over him was Watson Clarke. In his right hand he had a short length of tire chain. He must have been taken completely off balance, but his reflexes were extraordinary. He swung the chain over his head and brought it down. At the sight of us Hyland screamed like a woman and dove for us. It saved his life, I
again. It was another five minutes before he could resume. Jack Mickly was standing next to me. “He could be elected President tonight if he wanted,” he said. “We have been confronted with a dreadful tragedy tonight,” Maxwell said. At last they were willing to hear him. “The man who was murdered in the lobby a little while ago was my cousin, Charles Sewall. Poor Charlie was a confirmed practical joker. He chose to make fun of me tonight. It cost him his life. Because there can be no question,