Chapter 22: A Powerful Message

A train arrives at Holyhead Station
We arrived at the hotel too early to check in, and the desk clerk became a bit flustered when he couldn't find any evidence of Holmes having made a reservation. But he promised to have rooms ready for us in an hour, and suggested that we pass the time in the dining room, where lunch was being served.

No sooner had we had placed our order than Holmes excused himself. "I have to make a call, Watson," he explained. "I'll return before the food arrives."

He was wrong about that. The service was very prompt, and my friend arrived at the same time as our lunch. "I've just spoken with William Hughes," he said. "Fortunately, he is free this afternoon, and I expect him to join us shortly."

As we ate, I asked him about the series from The First Post which he had mentioned on the train.

"It's hard to know whether or not Nigel Horne was sent in to clean up after Jack Bremer, but that was the effect," he said. "Interestingly, to the best of my recollection, Bremer was the first -- maybe the only -- published writer to hint that the gay-sex 'items' may have been planted, and Horne was one of very few who had the nerve to admit that the 'stories' about them must have been planted. So, in a sense, The First Post is ahead of the curve."

"You mentioned a series. Was there more?" I inquired.

"Oh yes. The next arrow in this quiver was fired by an 'intelligence analyst' by the name of Crispin Black," said Holmes. "He doesn't draw many logical conclusions either, but the points he makes are instructive in themselves."

"How so?"

"For one thing, he's under no delusion about whether or not Gareth Williams was murdered," said my friend. "In fact he concludes by saying
whoever killed Williams has killed before.
"Interesting, no? And undoubtedly correct. But he's got some very twisted analysis along the way, including the contention that
the disposal of the body was interrupted
"-- for which he provides no evidence whatsoever. He tries to make it seem the only reasonable possibility, writing
If you find a neatly packed suitcase by the door it is because someone is about to leave - ­ someone efficient. If you find a body in a padlocked bag in a bath, then what you see is what you get. The body is in a bag because it's going somewhere and it's in the bath because once it has been removed it is easy to destroy any forensic residue.
"This may be true," said Holmes, "but it is very far from proven, and it is not difficult to formulate an alternative explanation of the crime which fits the facts at least as well as the tale told by Mr. Crispin Black."

"Where do you think he's gone wrong?" I asked.

"Where he says 'the disposal of the body was interrupted,'" said Holmes. "How could anyone  in a 'safe house' be interrupted? What happened? Did someone walk in through the door? Who? The occupant? No, it couldn't have been him! But who else could open that door?

"Suppose somebody had come in while the killer was trying to dispose of the body. What could have happened then? How did the killer manage to get away, leaving behind a body that wouldn't be discovered for a week or more? The entire notion is utterly preposterous!"

"What alternative explanations are there?" I asked.

"Nobody to my knowledge has even considered the possibility I think most likely," said Holmes, "namely: that the body was left in the bathtub because it was intended to be found there!"

"Found there?" I gasped.

"Exactly as it has transpired," said my friend.

"But why would they deliberately leave a body behind?" I asked. "Wouldn't it be much safer for the killers if the body had been made to disappear?"

"As I read it, Watson," said Holmes, "the killers were not at all concerned about their own safety. Nobody would even contemplate such an audacious crime unless they were confident they wouldn't be caught. On the contrary, it appears that the body was left behind because it was meant to be discovered!"

"And the story hasn't been suppressed because --"

"It was meant to be read, Watson. Like a severed head on a lamppost, the body in the bag sends a powerful message. But to whom? And what does it mean? These are questions we need to answer," the detective said.

William Hughes arrived just as we were ordering dessert, and he agreed to join us for coffee and a pastry. "We don't have rooms yet," Holmes explained, "but soon we shall have a comfortable, and private, place where we can talk."

"If you please, sir," William Hughes began, "may I suggest another place, equally comfortable but much more private?"

Thus began a conversation which led us to cancel our reservations, much to the dismay of the flustered clerk, and join the Hughes family for a visit.

Next: Damages