grandfather hasn’t just
handed her an estate, he’s cut her quite loose from the earth. I feel she’s up
somewhere floating high above us, not bound by the same rules anymore. Someday
you’ll both understand that this was the true purpose of Leonard’s will. Not
to punish the two of you, but to allow Leanna to be a different sort of woman.”
“Like Aunt Geraldine?” William said.
“If so, he’s cut her loose but I’m not sure it was a kindness.”
“Perhaps she was his last
experiment,” Gwynette said quietly. “The last species he attempted to evolve.
The independent woman. But you’re right, I’m not sure it was a kindness.”
“It’s a bit early in the
investigation for us to be literally running down blind alleys, wouldn’t you
Trevor turned to see Rayley Abrams
standing behind him. “This is where they found Martha Tabram in the early
morning of August 7,” he said.
“I know where we are, Welles. But
Tabram isn’t part of our inquiry.”
“She should be. Throat sliced ear to
ear and then stabbed thirty-nine times, for God’s sake, not three weeks before
the Nichols murder. Are you so sure she shouldn’t be under consideration?”
Abrams shook his head. “Not sure at
all, but you heard Eatwell. We can’t investigate every woman who comes to a
bad end in Whitechapel. And perhaps he’s right. Prostitution is not just the
world’s oldest profession, but also the most dangerous. They’re statistically
more likely to be killed in the line of duty than even we policeman are.”
Trevor shot him a skeptical look.
“It’s true,” Abrams said, “and, even
more to the point, thirty-nine stab wound suggest a different sort of mentality.
Not surgical. Not precise. You said it yourself, a multiplicity of wounds
implies a frenzy of anger, as if the killer knew the victim personally. The
last two are more….as if you are taking something meant to heal, a surgical
scalpel, and very deliberately turning it a different way. Do you see what I
“It’s just as the doctor said. The
how will tell us more than the why.”
“Precisely,” Abrams said, removing
his glasses and blowing on the lenses.
Trevor looked down at the overgrown
grass and bits of broken windowpane where Martha Tabram had drawn her last
breaths and a slow shudder came over him. “Our normal means of deduction are
quite useless here. Our killer didn’t necessarily have any prior relationship
to our victim.”
“Quite right again,” Abrams said.
“Which is why the hour I spent tracing the Sussex postmark turned out to be a
blind alley too. Chapman was taking some sort of pills and the box that held
them broke. So she tore a piece off an envelope she found in the rubbish at
her boarding house and folded the pills into it. Wasn’t even her letter. It
makes you long for the good old days, doesn’t it? When criminals were decent
enough to only murder people they knew?”
The men turned, as if by silent
agreement, and began walking back toward the street. Trevor had spent his own
afternoon combing the East End, moving back and forth between the slaughterhouses
and the bars. He had seen a dozen aprons of the kind Phillips had displayed in
the conference room and had observed several people holding a pencil,
cigarette, or whiskey bottle in their left hands. He had taken note of
everyone in the area, even women, and wouldn’t Eatwell have a laugh at that?
But a midwife or nurse might have enough medical knowledge to effectively wield
a scalpel, and Trevor would not allow himself to leave any stone unturned.
“It is a daunting task, is it not?”
Abrams said, as if reading his mind. “Within the confines of Whitechapel there
are 233 lodging houses with over 8000 occupants, an estimated 1,200 of them
making their living as prostitutes.”
“Over a thousand women?” Trevor said
with surprise. He