Humphrey Brown concludes his interview with
The Domestic Diva Mysteries
Previously on Who is Viktor Luca? Humphrey interviewed Wong~
Let’s see, your first appearance will be in THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE? They told me to ask you about Viktor Luca.
Shhhh! My granny knew him and to this day she won’t speak his name out loud. She worked at the Widow Nagel’s boardinghouse where he lived. He used to appear behind her sometimes when she was in the kitchen baking her famous sweet potato pie. She claimed he could materialize out of thin air. And get this, he refused to eat off the Widow Nagel’s good silver. Would not touch it. Insisted on stainless steel flatware.
Well, that sounds like --
Please! Don’t say it. Maybe we’d better have Sophie’s former mother-in-law, June Winston, tell you the rest of the story.
And then Humphrey interviewed June ~
They tell me you knew Viktor Luca. Is that true?
Oh my, yes. Viktor was so handsome. He had riveting blue eyes that looked deep inside you. His skin was milky, as though he had never seen the sun. It was the sixties, when people were all agog about the Beatles and hippies. Viktor's dark hair waved down to his shoulders. All the women were totally enamored of him.
But someone didn't trust him?
That's right. My husband took great pride in being a good judge of character, and he was always suspicious of Viktor. Viktor lived at the Widow Nagle's boarding house, but he had lots of money and no job that anyone knew about. A number of the ladies invited him to travel with them as a companion. He claimed to be from Paris and spoke of it quite intimately, but we didn't think his accent was French. There were so many conflicting details about Viktor. But he was the darling of all the hostesses in town. A gathering wasn't a party unless Viktor was there being engaging and oh so charming.
I'm told there was an incident.
It was just terrible. My sister threw a party at her house. The same house where Sophie lives now. The party was such fun that it ran late. Viktor kindly offered to escort Peggy Zane home. My husband and I were staying overnight with my sister. Well, don't you know that we were awakened in the morning by Peggy Zane's husband asking where she was. She never came home the night before!
Naturally we went straight over to the Widow Nagel's boarding house. She took us to Viktor's room and -- it was empty. The bed was stripped. His belongings were gone. There wasn't one thing left behind. It was as if he was never there.
And now, the final installment of Who Is Viktor Luca?
Thank you for joining us again, June.
I'm thrilled to be back, Humphrey. All month long people have been calling me and stopping me on the street because they're concerned about Viktor. Some people think he has returned!
So you went to the boarding house and Viktor was gone . . .
Exactly, there wasn't a single sign that he had ever been there.
Peggy was found down by the river with a very bad hangover and no recollection of what had happened the night before. But -- she had two puncture wounds on the side of her neck.
Like a bite?
I'm afraid so. She died in the hospital three days later.
Good heavens! Did they ever find Viktor?
Things were so different in the 1960's. We didn't have computers for instant information like we do now. My husband did some investigating on his own. He found it most peculiar that Viktor hadn't had a bank account or received mail. He couldn't find any of the normal things a person might have. The only evidence that Viktor existed were a few pictures of him and an address in Paris that he had given the Widow Nagel as a reference.
So he killed Peggy and got away with it by disappearing.
Oh, but that's not the end of the story. My husband was obsessed. When he suggested a trip to Paris, I was more than eager to go. I mean -- Paris!
He packed documents to prove he was a judge and off we went. We started at the police station because my husband thought Viktor was probably a con artist. But the police didn't recognize him from the pictures. That was a dead end.
What about the address? Was it fake?
Hah! That's what I expected, too. Paris is such a beautiful city, but you know, it can be a little bit creepy. A cold wind was blowing that day and dark clouds were roiling in the sky when we located the address. It was a cemetery.
Very clever of Viktor. A real address but one that wouldn't respond to inquiries!
We strolled inside, certain that we had reached the end of the line. And then we saw it. A mausoleum with Viktor's name on it.
He returned to Paris and died?
Not exactly. He had died one hundred years before.
But that's impossible! Why are you making that face and tilting your head like you're not so sure? Someone who has been dead for one hundred years can't turn up and go to parties. Unless --
You can see why people would be worried about him returning to town. Fortunately, Sophie told the whole story to Krista. It's called THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE and it will be in bookstores on September 6th!
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