Janice Scrutt had trouble sleeping. The idea that her marriage was – what? Illegal? Certainly immoral was horrendous. Thinking of what her own mother would say of it, with her pinched Baptist beliefs and small village certainties, she broke out in a cold sweat. And then there were all those loose ends and the sense that the policeman was only telling her a limited version of all he knew. And behind all these circulating worries sat Roger’s mysterious brother Christopher. Had he really been alive all along?
She tried to piece everything together, not that it made much sense. Roger had lost two brothers. It turned out one was dead and had been buried, or what was left of him, with the pig that had eaten him in the back garden of her in-laws house. She tried to imagine what was now happening to that house and garden. Probably being pulled apart. The other brother was alive and had been involved, maybe innocently five years ago in something. It was about that time that Roger had tried to find his brothers. Did he know of the death? Her father in law’s fixation with that garden might suggest he knew, but that didn’t mean Roger knew too. Did it have anything to do with this gross family secret that made her stomach turn which the recent DNA tests had revealed?
And then there was the typewriter in the same pit, the notes both in the pit and spread around her in-laws and her house. Why had someone attempted to make it look like they were typed on the same machine? And Roger’s death. Was that innocent albeit tragic? Or was it suspicious? She thought about the hair streak. It suggested some link back to his father. A thought occurred to her. There was no dye in the house after he died. She remembered those whispers from the police. She’d been determined to show she wasn’t going mad. She’d searched everywhere. No, someone had to have visited that day and… and… She swallowed and wanted to scream, so painful was her chest. He’d been murdered. That’s what the policeman wanted her to understand. They did tests that showed his heart failed. They probably didn’t go looking for any chemical catalyst.
If it was her half-brother, how had he done it and why?
The next few days were easily the most appalling since Roger’s death, possibly worse after the police decided on a public appeal to try and find Christopher Scrutt. Nothing happened and she felt like she was in limbo.
Then, ten days after the discovery of the pit Inspector Thorne appeared with another policeman. She was taken to the police station and arrested in connection with the mysterious death of Colin Scrutt and warned they were also looking into the death of her husband, for whom they had sought an exhumation order.
She was appointed a solicitor – a rather flamboyant women with rainbow ribbons in her dreadlocks and a mouth full of what, to Janice appeared to be too many teeth to let it close properly.
Naomi Azruha had a soothing dispassionate voice, something of a contrast to her appearance. “They don’t have enough to charge you. Arresting you is police procedure. They won’t oppose bail at this time.”
“How do they think I’m guilty of anything?”
“It runs something like this, so far as they are giving me the full picture. The forensics suggest the victim in the pit wasn’t killed with the pig it was buried with, so it may not have been the same animal that ate the body. The typewriter and the note could have been added in later.”
“How did I manage that?”
“You had opportunity, they say. Your mother in law was almost reclusive. Maybe you had help from your husband. Maybe to him the shame of the marriage was such that he wanted any evidence hidden. You found your husband’s body. You said you were out all day but there isn’t any alibi to that effect so you could have gone home, killed him, dyed his hair and then called the police. You could also have distributed the pages around both the houses and you could have said you were burgled, destroyed the phone, but done it yourself.”
“What about Margate? The man who photographed me?”
“They checked his place of work at the time. They have no recollection of any work event. According to the HR department it shows Roger took a day off at the last minute citing a family event.”
“If… if Roger was killed, they’ll say it was me, won’t they?”
“The original autopsy said heart failure but if there is any trace of poison…” Naomi shrugged and let the implications hang.
“Why would I do this? Bury the typewriter and note?”
“If you knew about the other brother being alive but doing all he could to hide, you could put together something that makes it look like he was framing you, you and your husband.”
“A bit far-fetched.”
“Very. Personally I think Thorne believes you but those higher up want something concrete for the press. They need to find the brother. Why don’t you take it easy for a while, and let them pursue their inquiries.”
Janice nodded at that but already her mind was turning over. The only thing that made sense to her was Roger’s brother being involved. What could possibly motivate him? That same evening she poured herself a scotch and sat in Roger’s favourite chair with a notepad. Where could she look for help?
She began scribbling.
1. Private detective hired by Roger
2. Christopher Scrutt still using own name
3. Margate typewriter
The only thing she could do was go back to Margate, to the hotel where she’d gone with Roger and see if that led anywhere.