‘What can you tell us about this?’ asked Moss, placing down the clear evidence bag which contained the letter that Erika had received.

‘What’s this? No, no, no. I don’t know anything!’ Linda said, fresh tears appearing on her red face.

‘I think Linda has been accommodating enough,’ said a voice from the back of the room. The Douglas-Browns’ housekeeper with the hooded eyes, had materialised and was coming toward them. ‘If you want to talk to her further, perhaps we can arrange something more formal, with the family solicitor in attendance?’

‘Linda. This man,’ said Moss, tapping the photo of the handsome man with Andrea, ‘is also a suspect in the rape and murder of three young Eastern European women over the past two years, and the recent murder of an elderly lady.’

Linda’s eyes widened. The housekeeper was now holding out her arm for them to leave.

‘Linda. Please contact us if you think of anything, however small,’ said Erika.

‘She either doesn’t know who that guy is, or she’s a very good liar,’ said Moss, when they were back out on the street.

‘The only thing I believed her about was the cat. She didn’t kill that cat,’ said Erika.

‘But we’re not investigating cat murders.’

‘I think we should go and pay Giles Osborne a visit,’ said Erika. ‘See what he has to say about Linda, and these photos.’

43

‘She’s totally crazy,’ said Giles Osborne. ‘To the point where she frightens me and many of my staff.’

Moss and Erika sat in Giles’s glass office, overlooking the back gardens of a row of terraced houses. A train clacked past behind the houses, and on an industrial estate to one side, four giant gas sumps rose up, slick with rain. It seemed absurd to build such an elegant state-of-the-art building with such a dismal view.

Giles looked as if he hadn’t slept, and the skin on his face was loose and haggard. Erika also noted that he’d lost weight in the two weeks since Andrea’s body was found.

‘The family is all aware of Linda,’ Giles went on. ‘Seems she’s been the black sheep for many years. She was thrown out of every school they put her in. When she was nine, she stabbed her teacher with a compass. The poor woman lost an eye.’

‘So you think Linda has psychological problems?’ asked Erika.

‘You make it sound far more mysterious and exotic than it is. She’s just mad. It's a sort of tedious madness. But throw cash and an influential family into the mix and it's all heightened. The problem is that Linda knows there’s no real consequences for her actions.’

‘Yet,’ said Moss.

Giles shrugged. ‘Sir Simon is always there to throw money at problems, or have a word in an influential ear . . . In the end, he bought the teacher a house, and she lives in the top half and rents out the bottom. Almost worth losing an eye, don’t you think?’

There was silence. Another train clacked past on the track and blared its siren.

‘Sorry. I don’t mean to be cruel. I’m arranging Andrea’s funeral. I thought I’d be arranging our wedding, I never dreamed . . . Linda is doing the flowers; she’s insisted on the church she attends in Chiswick. I’m sitting here staring at a blank screen, trying to write her eulogy.’

‘You have to know someone well to write their eulogy,’ said Moss.

‘Yes, you do,’ said Giles.

‘Was Andrea religious?’ asked Erika, steering the conversation away from choppy waters.

‘No.’

‘Is David?’

‘If all nuns had big tits and low-cut tops, I’m sure he’d be a Catholic,’ laughed Giles dryly.

‘What do mean by that?’

‘Oh Lord, do you have to take everything literally? It was a joke. David likes girls. He’s young. He’s remarkably normal. Takes after his mother more than . . .’

‘Linda,’ said Moss.

‘Yes, it’s just him and Linda,’ said Giles. He wiped a tear away.

‘And Linda attends church regularly?’

‘Yes. I’m sure God isn’t too overjoyed at having to listen to her warped little prayers each night,’ said Giles.

‘Has Linda been to your office on many occasions?’ asked Erika.

‘She came once with Andrea, to see the place. Then she showed up a couple of times alone.’

‘When was this?’ asked Moss.

‘July, August, last year.’

‘And why did she show up alone?’

***

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