When Lord Wrexford discovers the body of a gifted inventor in a dark London alley, he promptly alerts the watchman and lets the authorities handle the matter. But Wrexford soon finds himself drawn into the murder investigation when the inventor's widow begs for his assistance, claiming the crime was not a random robbery. It seems her husband's designs for a revolutionary steam-powered engine went missing the night of his death. The plans could be worth a fortune...and very dangerous in the wrong hands.
Joining Wrexford in his investigation is Charlotte Sloane, who uses the pseudonym A. J. Quill to publish her scathing political cartoons. Her extensive network of informants is critical for her work, but she doesn't mind tapping that same web of spies to track down an elusive killer. Each suspect—from ambitious assistants to rich investors, and even the inventor's widow—is entwined in a maze of secrets and lies that leads Wrexford and Sloane down London's most perilous stews and darkest alleyways.
Release date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Kensington Books
Print pages: 304
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Murder At Half Moon Gate
The Earl of Wrexford raised a brow in bemusement. “Hearing you invoke the word ‘logic’ is what defies reason.”
“No need to be sarcastic,” grumbled Sheffield.
“Fine. If your question was truly meant to be more than rhetorical, the answer is I watch the cards carefully and calculate my chances.” He sidestepped a broken barrel. “Try thinking, Kit. And counting.”
“Higher mathematics confuses my feeble brain,” retorted his friend.
“Then why do you play?”
“I was under the impression that one doesn’t have to be smart to gamble,” protested Sheffield. “Didn’t that fellow Pascal—and his friend Fermat—formulate ideas on risk and probability ? I thought the odds should be roughly fifty-fifty for me winning simply by playing blindly.” He made a rueful grimace. “Bloody hell, by that calculation, I must be due to win a fortune, and soon.”
“So you weren’t actually sleeping through lectures at Oxford?” said Wrexford dryly.
“I was just dozing.” A pause. “Or more likely I was cup-shot. Aberdeen was awfully generous with his supply of fine brandy.”
“Speaking of brandy,” murmured the earl as he watched his friend stumble and nearly fall on his arse. “You’ve been drinking too much lately.”
“Hell’s teeth, since when did you become such a stick in the mud?”
“Since you led me into this putrid-smelling swamp of an alleyway,” he retorted. His own wits were a little fuzzed with alcohol, and he winced as he slipped, nearly losing his balance. “Pray, why are we taking this route past Half Moon Gate? Tyler will raise holy hell at having to clean this disgusting muck from my boots.”
“Heaven forbid we upset your valet.” Sheffield made a face. “You know, you’re in danger of becoming no fun to carouse with.”
Wrexford came to a halt as the alley branched off into three twisting passages. “Which way?”
“The middle one,” said Sheffield without hesitation. “As for why we’re cutting through here, there are two reasons. It’s much shorter than circling around by the main street.” A grunt, as he slipped again. “More importantly, there’s a chance we’ll encounter a footpad, and given my recent losses at the gambling tables, I’m in the mood to thrash someone to a bloody pulp.”
The earl tactfully refrained from comment. Like many younger sons of aristocratic families, his friend was caught in a damnably difficult position. The heir and firstborn usually had a generous stipend—and if not, tradesmen were willing to advance generous credit. But those who trailed behind were dependent on parental pursestrings. Sheffield’s father, however, was a notorious nipcheese, and kept him on a very puny allowance.
In retaliation, Sheffield made a point of acting badly, a vicious cycle that did no one any good.
It was, mused Wrexford, a pity, for Kit had a very sharp mind when challenged to use it. He had been of great help in solving a complicated crime a handful of months ago—
“Has Mrs. Sloane decided to move to a different neighborhood?” asked his friend, abruptly changing the subject.
“The last time I paid her a visit, she made no mention of it,” he replied.
Sheffield shot him an odd look. “You didn’t ask?”
The squish-squish of their steps filled the air. Wrexford deliberately said nothing.
“Never mind,” murmured his friend.
Charlotte Sloane. A sudden stumble forced a sharp huff of air from his lungs. That was a subject he didn’t care to discuss, especially as the throbbing at the back of his skull was growing worse.
He and Charlotte Sloane had been drawn together—quite literally—by the gruesome murder of a leading religious zealot, a crime for which he had been the leading suspect. Secrets twisted around secrets—one of the more surprising ones had been that the notorious A. J. Quill, London’s leading satirical artist, was a woman. Circumstances had led him and Charlotte to join forces in order to unravel a diabolically cunning plot and unmask the real miscreant.
Their initial mistrust had turned into wary collaboration, and then to friendship—though that was, mused Wrexford, a far too simple word to describe the bond between them.
Chemistry. As an expert in science, Wrexford could describe in objective detail how the combination of their special talents seemed to stir a powerful reaction. However, they lived in different worlds and moved in vastly different circles here in Town. Rich and poor. Aristocrat and Nobody. Charlotte had made it clear after solving the crime that said circles were unlikely to overlap again.
Despite her assumption, he did pay an occasional visit to her humble home—simply out of friendship—to ensure that she and the two urchin orphans she had taken under her wing were suffering no consequences for helping prove his innocence. But given his own reputation for being a cold-hearted bastard, Sheffield didn’t need to know—
“We turn again here.”
Sheffield’s murmur drew Wrexford from his brooding.
“Mind your head,” added his friend as he squeezed through a gap between two derelict buildings. “A beam has broken loose from the roof.”
The alleyway widened, allowing them to walk on side by side.
Wrexford grimaced as a particularly noxious odor rose up to assault his nostrils. “The next time you want my company while you try your luck at the gaming tables, let’s choose a more civilized spot than The Wolf’s Lair. I really don’t fancy—” His words cut off sharply as he spotted a flutter of movement in the shadows up ahead.
He heard an oath and the sudden rustling of some unseen person scrambling to his feet and racing away.
“Don’t fancy what?” asked Sheffield, who had stopped to light a cheroot.
“Strike another match and hand it over,” demanded Wrexford. “Quickly!”
Sheffield dipped a phosphorus-tipped stick into a tiny bottle of nitric acid, igniting a flame.
Wrexford took it and approached the corner of a brick warehouse. Crouching down, he watched the sparking point of fire illuminate what lay in the mud and then expelled a harried sigh.
“I really don’t fancy finding yet another dead body.”
Setting aside her pen, Charlotte Sloane took up a fine-pointed sable brush and added several bold strokes of blood-red crimson to her drawing.
Man versus Machine. Her latest series of satirical prints was proving very popular. And thank God for it, considering that there had been no sensational murder or flagrant royal scandal of late to titillate the public’s prurient interest. As A. J. Quill, London’s most celebrated gadfly, she made her living by skewering the high and mighty, as well as highlighting the foibles of society.
Peace and quiet put no pennies in her pocket.
Charlotte expelled a small sigh. Financial need had compelled her to take over her late husband’s identity as the infamous Quill, and she was damnably good at it. However, her income would disappear in a heartbeat if it ever became known that a woman was wielding the pen. She, of all people, knew that no secret—however well hidden—was perfectly safe. But among the many hard-won skills she had acquired over the last few years was the art of survival.
Forcing aside such distractions, she turned her attention back to her drawing. The recent unrest at the textile mills in the north had struck a raw nerve in the country. A heated debate was now raging over whether steam power would soon replace manual labor. Many people lauded the new technology.
And many feared it.
Charlotte leaned back in her chair, studying the violent clash of workers and local militia she had created, the human figures balanced precariously on the iron-dark pistons and condensers of a monstrous, steam-belching engine.
We are all creatures of habit, she mused. However awful, the known was preferable to the unknown.
The thought caused a wry smile to tug at the corners of her mouth. She seemed to be one of those rare souls drawn to exploring beyond the boundaries of convention.
“Not that I had much choice,” she murmured.
Not to begin with, perhaps. But honesty compelled her to admit that the challenges, no matter how daunting, were what added a spice of excitement to the humdrum blandness of everyday existence.
Raising her gaze, Charlotte looked around at the half-packed boxes scattered around the room and was once again reminded of the current theme of her art.
“Change is good,” she told herself. Only unimaginative minds saw it as terrifying.
But at the sight of all her earthly possessions—a rather unimpressive collection of flotsam and jetsam—lying in disorderly piles, she couldn’t help feeling a twinge of trepidation.
For several months she had wrestled with the idea of moving from her cramped but cheap quarters on the fringes of the St. Giles stews to a more respectable neighborhood. The previous week she had finally made up her mind, and, with the help of a trusted friend, had leased a modest house on Buckridge Street, near Bedford Square.
Her art was now bringing in a handsome salary from Fores’s print shop. And along with the unexpected windfall she’d received for partnering with Lord Wrexford . . .
Charlotte expelled a long breath. She had not yet come to grips with how she felt about taking the earl’s money. Yes, she had earned every last farthing of it. And yet . . .
Beggars can’t be choosy. She silenced her misgivings with an old English adage.
All those lovely gold guineas would allow Raven and Hawk, the two homeless urchins she’d taken under her wing, to have a chance at bettering themselves. Basic schooling, decent clothing, entrée to a world outside the sordid alleyways in which they had been abandoned.
Rising, she rolled up her finished drawing within a length of oilcloth and carefully tucked in the flaps, readying it for delivery to the engravers. A glance at the clock on the rough-planked table showed it was past midnight.
The boys had not yet returned from their nightly rambles and Charlotte tried not to worry about why. From the first time she had found them sheltering in the outer entryway of her tiny house, there had been an unspoken understanding that they were free to come and go as they pleased. She tried to make sure they had more than pilfered scraps of food to eat and better than tattered rags to wear. They were very bright and clever, and under her guidance they had learned to read and write . . .
But there were moments when she thought she detected a half-wild gleam in the depths of their eyes. A fierce independence, an elemental wariness that refused to be tamed.
What if they hated the idea of a nicer house, and proper schooling?
What if . . .
Steeling her spine, Charlotte cut off such thoughts with a self-mocking huff. Hell’s bells, if she had a penny for all the times in the past she fretted over the consequences of a decision, she’d be rich as Croesus.
She had done her best to always be forthright with them and be deserving of their trust. Unlike John Dee, Queen Elizabeth’s legendary seer and spymaster, she didn’t possess a magical scrying glass in which to see the future. She could only try to deal with the present.
And at this moment, the present was grumbling for a cup of tea.
At least she could now afford the luxury of a spoonful of sugar to sweeten it.
A sharp hiss slipped through Sheffield’s clenched teeth as he leaned in over Wrexford’s shoulder.
“Is he dead?”
“Yes.” Wrexford had felt for a pulse, though the three bloody stab wounds piercing the left ribs indicated the victim couldn’t have survived. Sitting back on his haunches, he surveyed the violence of the attack—the ripped clothing, the slashed boots, the mutilated flesh of the dead man’s belly.
“Holy hell,” muttered his friend, fumbling to light another match. The flare of light showed all the color had leached from his face.
“The Devil’s own work,” he agreed.
Sheffield swallowed hard. “It’s an awfully brutal attack, even for this part of Town.” The man’s neck had been broken and a knife slash had badly disfigured his face.
Lifting the dead man’s hands, the earl examined the broad knuckles, noting the bruising and scrapes. “Looks like he put up a fight.”
“That explains the victim’s wounds.” Sheffield averted his gaze. “The footpad must have panicked at the resistance.”
“Perhaps.” Wrexford frowned, sensing there was more to it than met the eye. “But that doesn’t explain the cut-up clothing or the slashes made to the body after death—”
“How the devil can you tell that?”
“There was little bleeding from the cuts on his belly. Which means his heart had stopped pumping.”
Sheffield was starting to look a little green around the gills.
“Footpads strike for pragmatic reasons,” mused the earl, as much to himself as to his friend. “They want money and valuables—which they assume are in pockets or on fingers. They don’t waste time searching seams or mutilating their victims. Unless . . .” He took a closer look at the ripped lining of the coat and ran a hand between the wool and satin.
“Unless the fellow’s attacker knew the fellow had something special hidden on his person,” suggested Sheffield.
“There’s that possibility,” conceded Wrexford. “But given the signs of blind rage, it’s more likely personal. Perhaps a betrayal or a business deal gone bad.”
His friend appeared unconvinced. “But by his clothing—or what’s left of it, the fellow appears to be a gentleman.”
Wrexford arched a brow as he continued to examine the coat. “Meaning a gentleman is never involved in anything sordid?”
A fresh match caught Sheffield’s answering grimace. “Point taken.”
He nodded absently, his attention caught by a small tailor’s mark sewn in discreetly at the back of the collar. It appeared that the victim was from Leeds. Which added yet another layer of mystery as to why he was lying murdered in one of London’s most dangerous stews. A stranger to the city did not simply stumble by chance into these fetid alleyways . . .
As the stinking sludge began to seep through his own boots, Wrexford shrugged off the conundrum. Whatever reason had brought the fellow here was none of his concern. After draping the remains of the coat over the death-distorted face, he rose.
“There’s nothing more to do here. Let’s find a watchman in Red Lion Square and alert him of the crime.” A pause. “Assuming you know your way out of this cursed maze.”
“That way,” said his friend indicating the passageway to their left.
As they turned, the earl spotted two wraith-like shapes flitting, dark on dark, within the shadows.
“The Weasels,” he muttered.
“Where?” demanded Sheffield. “I see nothing.”
“You wouldn’t.” Already they had disappeared in the gloom. “They’re more slippery than quicksilver.”
An instant later, two boys darted out from a plume of mist on the other side of the alleyway.
“Oiy,” grunted the older of the two. “Another dead body, m’lord?”
“Don’t be insolent to your elders,” shot back Wrexford.
Sniggers greeted the rebuke. Unlike the beau monde, the Weasels weren’t intimidated by his lofty titles.
The younger boy grinned. “I gotta new toof coming in.” He raised a hand to his lower lip—or perhaps it was a paw. It was too filthy to be sure. “Here, would ye like te take a peep?”
“Good God—do not put that finger in your mouth,” he snapped. “You’ll likely get the plague.”
The older boy—whose name was Raven, though the earl pretended not to know it—made a rude sound. “Our tutor, Mr. Keating, says there ain’t been an attack of the plague in London since 1665.”
“Yes, well, ingesting a mouthful of that disgusting muck could very well change that.”
Hawk—like his brother, he, too, had an avian moniker—obediently dropped his hand.
Raven hesitated, then turned his attention back to the corpse. He crossed the footpath and leaned in for a closer look. “Cor, that’s a nasty bit of blade work.”
“It’s a nasty part of St. Giles,” replied Wrexford. There was no need to mince words. The brothers had grown up amid the brutish realities of life in the stews. Hoping to forestall further questions, he added, “Which begs the question as to what you Weasels are doing here at this time of night.”
Raven ignored the question. “It’s odd for a cove te have his togs shredded like that,” he mused.
Damnation—the boy was too sharp by half.
“Not if a thief thought he was being diddled by his partner,” said the earl. “My guess is it’s a quarrel over money that turned ugly.”
“I s’pose that makes sense,” allowed the boy.
“Are ye gonna find the murderer?” demanded Hawk.
“Absolutely not. I’ve resolved to leave solving crimes to the proper authorities,” replied Wrexford firmly. The boys had played a role—far too great a one—in helping catch the Reverend Holworthy’s killer, and he didn’t wish to encourage the thought that it might happen again. “As is the duty of any law-abiding citizen, I’m going to alert a night watchman. And then I’m going to seek out my bed and sleep the sleep of the innocent.”
Though he knew it was pointless, he moved slightly to block the younger boy’s view of the mutilated torso. “I suggest you two scamper home and do the same.”
The boys continued to stare at the body.
“It’s just a commonplace murder, one of many that likely occurred here in Town tonight,” he murmured. As if the taking of any life, however flawed, could ever be thought of as meaningless. “No need to study the gruesome details. There’s nothing about this crime that will interest Mrs. Sloane.”
Raven nodded and slowly turned away. “Aye. M’lady says her skills ain’t needed te tell the public about nasty truths of their everyday life. She thinks that her pen is more useful fer exposing the evils in society that can be changed.”
The pen is mightier than the sword. It was true that Charlotte’s drawings had a rapier-like sharpness. And the fact that she unerringly cut to the heart of the problems facing the country or the hypocrisy of the ruling class was elemental to their popular appeal.
Feisty courage and lofty principle—a dangerous combination if ever there was one.
Repressing a grim sigh, Wrexford watched the two boys disappear into the fog-swirled darkness. The pounding in his head now felt like a spike was cracking through his skull. “Come, Kit, let’s find—”
“Halloo!” A flash of lantern light and a sharp hail cut him off. “Who goes there?”
“Ah, excellent. Here comes a night watchman. We can hand things over to him and wash our hands of this damnable business.”
Wrexford gingerly took a seat at the breakfast table and darted a pained squint at the mullioned windows overlooking the back gardens. Sleep had done little to temper the ill effects of the previous evening. During the night, the throbbing in his skull had turned into a dull ache, whose bilious tentacles now reached down into the pit of his stomach.
The footman standing by the sideboard tiptoed across the carpet and quietly adjusted the draperies to block the blade of sunlight. Like all of the well-trained townhouse staff, the fellow was very good at reading his employer’s mercurial moods.
“Tea and toast, milord?” he asked in a low, soothing voice.
The earl gave a tiny nod, though the movement made him wince. “And ask Tyler to prepare—”
“To prepare his special Hair of the Dog concoction,” finished his valet, who at that very moment appeared in the doorway bearing a tall crystal glass filled with a ghoulishly green liquid. He circled around to the head of the table, and let out a reproving tsk-tsk. “It’s an elemental axiom that combining brandy, champagne and Scottish malt is the devil’s own recipe for a hellish morning after.”
“Thank you for the basic chemistry lecture,” said Wrexford sourly.
“You, of all people, ought to know what comes from mixing together volatile substances without careful measurement and timing.”
Within London’s scientific circles, the earl was acknowledged as one of the leading experts in chemistry. A fact that was often overshadowed by his erratic personal behavior. His scathing sarcasm and blatant disregard for the rules of Society—coupled with his notorious hair-trigger temper—frequently landed him in the headlines of the city’s scandal sheets.
“Give me the damnable glass,” growled Wrexford. He took a small sip and grimaced. “Did you add an extra measure of horse piss?”
“And two pinches of sheep dung,” replied Tyler, who was well used to the earl’s irascible comments. He arched a brow in bemusement. “You’re out of practice, milord. Which doesn’t bode well for the coming weeks if you’re going to start carousing with Mr. Sheffield.”
“Remind me again why I shouldn’t give you the sack and hire a more obsequious servant?”
“Because no one else knows the secret for removing chemical stains from your expensive evening coats.”
Wrexford chuffed a laugh, and then drained the drink. “Consider yourself fortunate that I’m a vain popinjay about my appearance.”
His valet gave a long look at the earl’s uncombed hair and carelessly tied cravat. “Quite fortunate, milord.” He picked up the now-empty glass. “Is there anything else you require?”
“Other than a pistol to put me out of my misery?” Wrexford sighed. “Has Avogadro’s book on gases arrived yet?”
“The package came in from Hatchards this morning. It’s on your desk in the workroom.”
“Put out the books by Lavoisier and Priestley as well,” said the earl. If anything could chase the devils from his skull it was scientific inquiry. “I wish to review some of their early experiments with oxygen.”
“Very good, sir,” answered Tyler. Seeing the footman approach with the breakfast tray, he turned and left the room without further comment, knowing the earl’s mood was always less testy when his breadbox was full.
A plume of steam rose from the silver pot’s swan-like spout. Inhaling the pungent scent of smoky spice, Wrexford let out an appreciative sigh as he poured a cup of the sin-dark brew. He took a long, scalding swallow, feeling the tea begin to burn away some of his malaise. His toast, cut thick and buttered exactly as he liked it, was—
A sudden knock on the door ruined the moment.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
His butler eased the portal open. “Your pardon, milord, but there is someone asking to see you on a matter of grave importance.”
“I don’t care if it’s the Grim Reaper, tell him I never receive visitors before noon,” he snapped.
“It’s well past one, milord.” A pause. “And it’s not a he, but a she.”
“The lady’s name is Mrs. Isobel Ashton.”
Wrexford frowned. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t place it. “And pray tell, what matter of grave importance does Mrs. Ashton wish to discuss with me?”
“The death of her husband, sir.” The butler cleared his throat. “Apparently it was you who discovered his body last night.”
“Eggs and gammon?” Hawk inhaled deeply and then let out a gusty sigh. “Are we celebrating something?”
“Yes,” replied Charlotte, turning away from the bubbling frying pan to cut off several thick slices of soft white bread. “The last of legalities have been signed. The lease for the new house is now official.”
Hawk gave an uncertain smile, but looked to his older brother for a reaction.
“When do you move?” asked Raven.
Charlotte felt a clench in her chest but pretended not to notice his use of the word you.
“Next week,” she replied. “The carter comes today to count the boxes.” A glance around showed that the fellow wouldn’t need more than the fingers on his two hands. “There is a great deal more space in the new house . . .”
Would that sound appealing?
“We shall have to acquire more furniture,” she went on. “Like proper beds for the two of you and an armoire for your clothing.”
Raven’s face betrayed no emotion. Neither did his wordless grunt.
“Beds,” breathed Hawk. At the moment, both boys slept on the rag rug in front of the stove. “Just like a grand lord?”
“Indeed,” she replied lightly. “You shall be Duke of the Downy Pillows.”
He giggled, but his brother’s expression remained guarded.
“Speaking of lords,” said Raven, breaking the sliver of silence, “we met His Lordship last night in St. Giles.”
“Oh?” Charlotte busied herself with turning the browning meat. There were only two reasons aristocrats ventured into that section of Town—the gaming hells and bordellos offered the sort of dangerous pleasures that couldn’t be found in the staid streets of Mayfair.
Not that the Earl of Wrexford’s exploits were any of her concern . . .
“I trust he was looking well,” she said.
“Actually he wuz a little green around the gills,” piped up Hawk. “It might have been the drink—he smelled like the inside of a brandy barrel. But more likely it was the dead body he’d just found.”
Charlotte jerked her head up, and then swore as hot grease spattered her fingers.
“Language, m’lady,” said Raven primly, which drew another chortle from his brother.
“A dead body.” She carefully wiped her hands on a rag. “As in someone expiring from natural causes?”
“Being butchered ain’t natural,” he replied.
“Don’t say ain’t,” whispered Hawk.
“You mean it was a murder?” asked Charlotte, though the answer seemed clear enough.
“Aye, and a grisly one at that. The man’s clothing was slashed into ribbons and his belly was cut up something awful,” answered Raven.
She felt herself stiffen.
“Lord Wrexford said it were likely a falling out among thieves,” added Hawk.
Ah, thank God—an ordinary murder. One that had no deeper significance than greed and desperation. The footpads who prowled through St. Giles were known as some of the most violent criminals in all of London.
“I daresay he’s right,” said Charlotte, feeling an odd rush of relief. For any number of reasons, she was glad that the circumstances would not draw the earl into being a subject for her pen.
No doubt he was even more pleased than she was.
Thrusting aside thoughts of Wrexford, she focused on a more pressing concern. “And it is a grim reminder that St. Giles is a dangerous neighborhood, especially late at night.” She dared not voice more than an oblique warning. Raven was fiercely independent and the ties that bound them were those of trust, not blood.
He shrugged. “Death is everywhere, m’lady.”
“That doesn’t mean you should cock a snoot at the Reaper.”
Her words elicited a grudging smile. “We’re careful.”
Not nearly careful enough, thought Charlotte with an inward sigh. But she let the subject drop.
“Come help me carry the plates to the table. As an extra treat, I also purchased some strawberry jam.”
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Lord Wrexford.” Smoothing her skirts, Mrs. Isobel Ashton settled herself on the drawing room sofa. “I know I have no right to ask for your help. But . . .”
She drew a measured breath. “But my husband was a great admirer of your intellect and incisive logic, so I thought perhaps. . .”
Her words trailed off, leaving Wrexford still wracking his brain to recall his connection to the murdered man.
“My condolences for your loss,” he murmured, falling back on the sort of platitudes he hated for lack of anything else to say.
“Elihu was particularly grateful for your advice on the chemical composition of iron,” went on the widow. “And how to achieve a metal that withstands heat and pressure.
Ah—the inventor! Wrexford now recalled their correspondence from the previous year. A fellow member of the Royal Institution had suggested that Ashton contact the earl about a problem he was having with the boilers of a new steam engine design.
What a damnable loss for the world of science that the victim was Ashton.
“Your husband possessed a remarkable talent—he had both the imagination and the technical genius to implement his ideas.” Wrexford rarely felt compelled to utter compliments, especially about another man of science. “It’s a terrible twist of fate that he was the unfortunate victim of a random robbery.”
He paused, wanting to choose his next words with care. There was no reason to upset a bereaved woman with any hint that the circumstances of her husband’s death had raised some uns. . .
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