“What I don’t understand,” Troy said, swirling her paintbrush in the jar of turpentine, “Is how he ever thought he’d get away with it.”
Alleyn sighed. “If Brer Fox hadn’t noticed the woman in the wedding picture didn’t match his description of his dead wife, no-one would ever have looked any further.”
Troy tapped the brush off on the rim of the jam jar and put it down on a rag.
“It’s all still very...well, vague though isn’t it?” She asked. “I mean, it’s fine to say that he may well have killed eight women over twenty years, but we’re talking in five different countries.”
He put his cup back in the saucer and put it back down on the table. “It may well be more women than that.” He told her, brows furrowed. “Canny old Fox has been in touch with people who were former household staff for Mr Vickers and it seems that several young women, mainly housemaids, disappeared over the years. It was always rumoured that he’d got them in trouble,” Alleyn’s emphasis left nothing to the imagination, “but I’m guessing that they were in much more trouble than people had believed.”
Wiping her hands on her painting rag, Troy came back over to the table. Alleyn poured her a cup of tea and passed it over to her.
“They’ll be digging up the grounds of the old manor for weeks.” He said. “Glad I’m not needed for that.”
“It’ll make a dreadful mess of the gardens.” Troy tipped a teaspoon of sugar into her tea and stirred.
“I doubt it’ll make much of a difference,” Alleyn said absently, “it’s a disgusting old pile, all wrought iron and grey stone, and no-one’s really lived there since old Sir Roger died.”
“It’s dreadful really that nobody thought to look for them.” She mused, adding milk. “It wasn’t until the family of his second to last wife came to you that anyone even considered there might be something wrong.”
Alleyn tapped his fingers on the table. “Well, old Jessop has always been a very persistent man,” he said. “and a good one too. We’d never have considered looking at the missing staff had he not noted the previous departure of his daughter’s personal maid.” He picked up a biscuit. “And to give him further credit he knew the woman by name.”
Troy appeared a little mollified, watching him as he dipped the biscuit in his tea.
“Do you think we’ll ever find the bodies?”
“I doubt it.” Alleyn said grimly. “I very much doubt it.”