“Well, thank you for that very kind introduction, Reverend McAllister, and I hope that I can be worthy of the challenge. Good morning, everyone. It’s heartening to see you all here on such a sad occasion. It is always a difficult thing to say farewell to someone who’s passed on before their time, particularly when the circumstances are so... well, the way they are. I hope this morning that despite the solemn occasion that a funeral presents, I might share some thoughts about Daniel that may bring some lightness to the day as well.
When I heard Daniel had died, particularly how he had died, well, like many of you, I was shocked. Daniel was in the prime of life, young and vital and looking forward to the future. And yet he was taken away in an instant, his life snuffed out. Well, perhaps not that quickly; the coroner thinks he died in a whole lot of pain. It doesn’t help to pester Inspector Rollins over there, even though he’s the lead investigator in the murder investigation. Unless he’s willing to come up and speak at length about the case. No? Not even a hint?
Oh, very well then, let’s move on. I was surprised to be asked to do the eulogy for Daniel. I hadn’t seen him since last December at that Christmas party where he made a pass at the Swedish ambassador’s wife. I would have thought others would have been ideal to give a eulogy, but as it turns out, all of them are suspects. So it falls to me. Fortunately I am not a suspect, given that I have an iron clad alibi. Ladies and gentlemen, might I suggest in the future that if someone you don’t particularly like gets murdered, you might want to be giving a keynote address to a conference of international police chiefs in Glasgow.
So let’s get it out in the open, shall we? It is the big elephant in the room, or to be exact, in the sanctuary, and it’s not like we can avoid it. Let’s talk about the way Daniel died.
From what we know, there was a lot of trauma to the body. As I’ve said, the coroner hasn’t released cause of death, but we do know that Daniel was shot fifteen times in various parts of his body, including the most vital part of his anatomy. On the other hand, he was also stabbed repeatedly. Just how many times, Inspector? No? Come on, man, I’ve got a whole eulogy to do here, and really, I’m trying to fill some time here.
Oh well. The coroner also said that there were traces of arsenic in his body, so somebody was poisoning him. Who uses arsenic in this day and age to poison somebody. I mean, when you hear of poisoning these days, it’s more likely to be that polonium stuff, and it’s likely that Vladimir Putin’s behind it settling a score with a renegade Russian. As far as I know though, Putin’s not a suspect in this case. Or am I wrong, Inspector?
Carrying on. We also know that Daniel had marks on his throat. It seems someone was trying to strangle him, and applied some serious force to his throat. They must have not left fingerprints, otherwise we’d have an arrest by now, right, Inspector? Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that.
Of course, there’s also the whole thing about Daniel’s car. As it turns out, a few people are lucky the police used Daniel’s remote starter the day after the murder to start it up... because someone planted a car bomb. What a waste of a nice Mercedes, going up in smoke like that. I mean, couldn’t they have blown up a Volkswagen Beetle?
So that brings us to the possible causes of death. We can’t say for sure, because, hey, the police are being pretty closed lipped about the actual cause of death. Come on, Inspector, one hint. One eye blink for guns, two for knife, three for poison, four blinks for strangulation, five blinks for what you’re not telling us. No? Oh well, we’re not going to get anything out of Silent McGee here. Instead of cause of death, why don’t we talk about the list of suspects instead?
Well, let’s start with the least likely suspect. I say least likely because the odds of this chap getting a team of assassins into the country are very low, given how isolated from the rest of the world his country is. I’m talking about the Little Guy. Little Kim Jong-un. We all know the story from last year when Daniel wrote that column not only raking Kimmy over the coals for the damage he and his megalomaniacal father and grandfather did to North Korea, but Daniel had the audacity to make fun of Little Kimmy’s short stature. Which reminds me, before I go any further, are there any representatives of the North Korean embassy here today? Because if there are, your boss sucks.
Carrying on, let’s just say Little Kimmy wasn’t happy with that Times column. It seems Little Kimmy doesn’t have much of a sense of humour. He demanded that the British government hand Daniel over to be summarily shot by a firing squad in Pyongyang. As I recall, the prime minister laughed and laughed, and then laughed some more.
So what about the Swedish ambassador? I can attest with my own eyes that I saw how angry he was when Daniel was playing tonsil hockey with Mrs. Berglund. We’re talking seething rage, which you don’t see very often out of a Swede. If he was here, I might suggest to Ambassador Berglund that marrying women forty years younger than you can have their drawbacks... oh, hello, there, Ambassador! If you don’t mind my saying, you look quite enraged. And I see you’ve brought your lovely wife. Tilde, it’s a pleasure to see you too. Say, if you can ditch the old guy after the service, we could have some fun, you and I.
Where was I? Oh yes, the list of suspects. There are always his parents. Daniel and Alison Stratford, how are you today? Oh, yes, burying your son, right, but hey, it’s not as if you got on with him, right? Daniel used to say the wisest thing he ever did was get away from home. His dad was disappointed that his eldest son didn’t follow his parents into the stock market, and really resented the fact that Daniel had a pretty low opinion of corporate raiders, and pretty much expressed that in the newspaper business. Of course, you being a corporate raider, you wouldn’t have liked that, would you? So of course you didn’t speak to him for years on end. And then there’s Alison. Or Mommy Dearest as Daniel would say. The most overbearing control freak mother the world has ever seen. Oh, don’t look so shocked, that’s exactly what Daniel used to say about you. You were just as disappointed as the old man was that he went into journalism. Let’s face it, as parents, you left a lot to be desired. And let’s face it, the idea of offing him must have occurred to you once or twice. Particularly when Daniel exposed that whole Ponzi scheme you were both in on. When does that trial start, anyway, and why are you two out on bail anyway?
Well, now we come to Daniel’s dear wife Miranda. The one love of his life. At least when he wasn’t cheating on her. I know, a terrible thing to say at a funeral, but it was a fact, and we all knew it. Miranda, you knew about the other women Daniel had on the side. He couldn’t help himself. It was just in his nature to be a hound dog. He was being led around by his favourite part of the anatomy, the one that did most of the decision making for him, and he was a guy with sloppy impulse control. So of course he tended to sleep around. Fortunately he didn’t get any of them pregnant... at least as far as I know of. Are there any irritated mothers with little babies who have Daniel’s eyes in the congregation this morning? Anyway, Miranda, it must have bothered you tremendously to be married to such a cheating cheat of a cheater. No one would have blamed you if you might have thought of doing him in. By the way, in case you’re not the actual killer, if you’re ever in the mood for some revenge sex against your husband’s memory, I’m always available.
Who else might be to blame? Well, there’s Stefano Malefico, the Italian mafia boss who got indicted after Daniel’s expose five years ago. He’s still in prison, and the last I heard he wanted Daniel ground into hamburger. Which makes you think it’s not a good idea to eat hamburger from the Malefico family’s meat packing plant/ money laundering front.
There’s also that lawyer who got disbarred three years ago, the one who said Daniel ruined his life and had to pay. And don’t forget that bookie who was irritated by Daniel’s series on illegal gambling. What was it he said? Oh, yes, something about driving broken glass into Daniel’s head. Now that’s pretty impolite, don’t you think? By the way, Inspector, was there anything in the final report about broken glass? Because that could be quite a lead. No? Not even a hint? Come on, man.
I would suggest someone else. Daniel was lucky that his newspaper’s publisher loved his work, because between you and I and all the other people in this church today, Daniel’s editor hated him. I mean, hate isn’t an adequate term for the sheer amount of loathing Jacob Prentice felt. Jacob couldn’t fire Daniel... the boss would never stand for it, but something about Daniel just rubbed Jacob the wrong way. Maybe it was his general irreverence. Maybe it was the fact that Daniel occasionally made passes at Jacob’s wife. Maybe Jacob’s just a right royal pain in the ass and doesn’t like anybody... oh, hello, Jacob, you’re looking as pissed off as always. Is it a homicidal pissed off? Do tell, come on, don’t be shy.
Well, we’ll have to leave it in the hands of the police. I’m sure Inspector Rollins would prefer to conduct the remainder of this investigation in peace and quiet. Am I right or what? Oh, come now, Inspector, if you look that cross all the time, how on earth can you lull a suspect into tripping up? They’ll be too worried to feel comfortable, spending all that time wondering if you’re going to tear them in half.
Daniel, you lived an eventful life, my fine friend. Sure, it ended horribly, and I know that probably half the people in this church had one reason or another to want you dead. But you lived life to the fullest, enjoyed the great pleasures the world has to offer, and, well, when the dust settles and the murderer gets convicted, at least everyone else will be able to breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that someone else did you in.
By the way, Tilde, I’m totally free after the service. Assuming Miranda doesn’t want revenge sex on top of the grave."