Chapter 40: To Shield The Killer

Detective Chief Inspector
Jackie Sebire
"There's no need to be snarky," I said, feeling badly for Bucky.

"It wasn't intended as snark," replied Sherlock Holmes. "It was simply a statement of fact."

"And it is a fact, Dr. Watson," added Slate. "No offense taken, sir. We really didn't know what to think. And unless I am mistaken, we weren't supposed to know."

"Can you explain?" asked Holmes.

Slate took a deep breath before continuing. "When I described the investigation as 'extremely fragmented,' I meant it in more than one sense, sir. Not only have we been denied access to intelligence circles, but we have also been hampered by conflicting leadership.

"Nominally the investigation is being run by DCI Jackie Sebire. She's a smooth one, sir; never seems to put a foot wrong, especially in public. But she is clearly out of her depth in this case, and appears to be poking around in the dark. She tends to say things like 'We remain completely open-minded as to the cause of death.' That's a politically correct way of admitting we don't know anything, sir, and of not compromising the investigation in any way.

"Ms. Sebire is being assisted -- or possibly undercut -- by DCI Hamish Campbell. He's Chief of Homicide at the Yard, sir, and not quite so smooth. In fact, he can be a bit of a bull sometimes. If he has a theory of a crime, he's not bashful about it. He can put his stamp on the investigation, and make it run in the direction he wants it to go.

Detective Chief Inspector
Hamish Campbell
"Mr. Campbell holds a somewhat different view of the case. He says things like 'This is not linked to his work - it's his private life.' Some of us have been wondering how he could know that, sir. We haven't really seen any evidence one way or another as to motive. So how can he be so sure?

"Early on, our leaders were clearly at cross-purposes, and since they were saying such different things, it began to seem as if one of them must be lying.

"But lately Ms. Sebire appears to be leaning more and more in Mr. Campbell's direction. So their public statements agree more than in the past, and there is less appearance of official duplicity. But what has it done to the investigation?"

"I was hoping you might tell me," replied Holmes.

"I can tell you a bit, sir," continued Slate. "I can't say I have a good overview, because my access has been limited. But from what I've seen, it looks as though they've already decided that nobody connected with MI6 could possibly be a suspect, presumably because, in their minds, MI6 couldn't possibly have been involved. How they 'know' this is anyone's guess, sir. But the impact on the investigation is very clear."

"In what way?" inquired my friend.

"They've been finding evidence that other people were in the flat, sir, not that it takes a genius to figure that part out. I mean, what could have happened? Did he lock himself in the holdall and then go out and lock the door to the flat from the outside? Or did he lock himself out, then break in without leaving any sign of it, and then lock himself in the holdall? No, sir, these explanations make no sense at all.

"So there must have been at least one other person in the flat at the critical moment, but who was it? If I were running the investigation, sir, I would want to find out as much as I could about who was there, and when, before I ruled out anything or anyone. I would view any person who had been in the flat recently with a modicum of suspicion, whether it was someone Gareth Williams knew from work or someone he had met elsewhere.

"But this is not the way things are being done by Ms. Sebire and Mr. Campbell. In their view, anyone who may have known Gareth through MI6 is 'accounted for' and not worthy of further consideration, so all the investigative resources that have been allocated to this case are being trained elsewhere.

"If in fact the killer was somehow connected to MI6, the investigation would never find him out, sir. He would never even be considered a suspect."

"Does it seem to you," asked Holmes, "that the investigation has been deliberately structured to shield the killer, rather than to unmask him?"

"I've never thought about it in just that way, Mr. Holmes," replied Slate. "But now that you've put it in such terms, I'd be hard-pressed to contradict you."