I have to say that I am totally surprised to find out who was the victim of the murder that the book mentioned at the beginning!!!
Before going into detail with the murder, let us talk about what we have learnt about the characters. I misunderstood the story about Irene. Her boyfriend didn’t marry this woman, Serena. What happened is that she and Fin, who is married to Fin, had an affair and were found out. There was a scandal, but Alistair, who was in love with her, asked her to marry him and she eventually agreed. Alistair knows that his wife is still in love with another man, and Irene still writes to him. Yet, she gets a letter from Fin, telling her to stop. I think Irene likes Alistair because he is a good man, but he isn’t in love with her, and living in the village is an uphill struggle, but she tries.
Clemmie, the mute girl, is in love with Eli Tanner, who belongs to the infamous family in the village. The first time they met, he had a bunny with him, intending to kill it, but when he saw her, he let the animal go. Clemmie thinks that this was so good of him, so she seeks him out and finds him outside the mill. Eli is attracted to her, and soon they become lovers. Clemmie doesn’t tell anybody about him because she knows that her family will disapprove because Eli is a Tanner. Her sisters are not very good to her; they tease her and make her life difficult. Yet, one day when they are swimming, her three sisters talk about boys, and when Clemmie starts smiling, they become suspicious. So when one of the sisters asks Clemmie if she has a sweetheart, Clemmie nods as she can’t bring herself to deny what she feels, but she refuses to let them know who the man is. Then later that day Clemmie is supposed to meet Eli, and when he doesn’t turn up, he comes closer to his cottage. She hears loud voices coming from inside, and she learns that Tanner, the father, has been fired from the mill after he was found drank in the premises, and he swears that he is going to rob Alistair. Then to Clemmie’s shock she hears Eli say that he will help his father.
Then comes the shock. Irene wakes up to find Alistair gone, and after breakfast, she mentions to Nancy, Alistair’s aunt, that the smokestacks are inactive, and Nancy says that this should never happen. So Irene and Nancy walk to the mill and they find a crowd of people near the door. Nancy shoulders her way inside followed by Irene, and the two women are shocked and horrified to find Alistair in a bundle lying on the floor and a puddle of blood coming from his head. His open eyes are directed to the ceiling, and at once Irene learns that he is dead. Nancy falls to her knees sobbing, and Irene remains frozen to the spot. Then Pudding bolts inside and bursts into sobs to see her beloved boss dead. Her shock is even worse when the workers tell her that they found her brother Donny in the premises, his clothes smeared in blood, so they have detained him and the police will take care of him. Pudding says over and over again that her brother could never kill anybody, let alone Alistair, but her pleads and words fall in deaf ears.
It is clear that this is the climax of the novel, and I have to say that I never expected Alistair to be killed. I thought the victim was going to be Clemmie, but I was wrong. I don’t think Donny murdered Alistair, and it seem that the Tanners must have been involved in this crime. The only person who can clarify is Clemmie, who is in love with Eli Tanner and who can’t talk, but she also liked Alistair, and I am inclined to think that she won’t let a poor innocent man pay for what someone else did.