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John left messages overnight on both Sharon and Steve’s mobile asking them to meet him at Giovanni’s first thing in the morning – before they went into the station.

Sharon, whose first action each morning was to check her messages, have a look at Facebook and/or Twitter, and a gander at the local and international news, liked to start the day informed. Steve on the other hand, never did anything other than tumble out of bed cursing, shower and dress as speedily as possible, grab a flask and a piece of toast from his long-suffering wife, Jill, and head for the door. Unless he heard a ‘ping’ alerting him to a message, he was completely oblivious. Given that John’s message had got to him sometime in the early hours, he had no idea that there was a secret tryst before work. Roche and Sharon sat waiting for Steve, who was considering himself somewhat shunned since he appeared to be the only man on the island this morning: no Roche, no Sharon, no Amanda. What the blazes was going on? Then his phone rang.

“Where are you. Are you coming or not?”

“Coming? Coming where? Where am I supposed to be?” “Don’t you ever read messages – we’re waiting at Gio’s – move your arse!”

As once more he grabbed his coat and headed out, better late than never he checked his phone, and found the message timed at 3.45 a.m. No bloody wonder! What did that man want? A 24 hour round the clock service! Did he never sleep – did he never think that they had to sleep! Needless to say, he was the picture of remorse when he got there, apologising that he had not picked up the message sooner.

Roche cut him off. “Well your here now. We have things to do. Since I cannot ‘get involved’ myself, I need to tell you what I think happened, and you will need to check it out, and see if it stacks up. …… So

“I believe that Jim is telling the truth. He did hit her, and she did fall and hit her head. But I think she was hurt, but not badly hurt. She was able to get up. She was able to drive home. I think that she may have told Gerard what had happened – including, if he did not know already, the background to the bad blood – and had seen his opportunity.

“The neighbour said that he has been – using her words ‘gadding about’ with some floozie’ over the past several months. I have discovered that the ‘floozie’ is no other than our own Patsy Downing, and have checked this out with the witness. I have not visited Patsy, since I certainly do not want to tip them the wink that we are on to their game. We – well you, since I am not involved – need to step very carefully. They are clever and dangerous bastards – both of them. I have heard things about Downing that you would not believe – but she has always stayed just the right side of the line, and when she has not she has been clever enough to find some poor eejit to take the fall. She’s had a lot of poor omadhauns under her power, as the leader of the ADD project – she knew all their vices, all their needs, all their secrets. As well, half of them were either in love with her, or in dread of her. Nasty, nasty piece of work. The pairing – her and Gerard O’Dwyer – is a real doosie! Not sure whether Bernadette knew – I suspect she did not, or she would have definitely sacked Patsy. If there was one fault that you could not throw at Bernie it was cowardice. She would have ‘sorted it’ herself, or definitely found somebody who could.

“I believe that they had a row. Bernie and Gerard. He stabbed her, either in the heat of the moment, or to take advantage of the fight with Jim. He would have known that the past relationship would come out, and if it did not, he would see to it, somehow, that it did. He drove the body down in the CV, carefully positioning the body as close to where Bernie had unwittingly described the attack by Jim, but inside the car park so that it was not found too quickly. He knew that Jim would be too addled to be accurate, and that people would take what he said with a pinch of salt. Then he parked the vehicle over the body and …… got picked up by Patsy. He knew he was going off the next day to Ireland anyway – the death of Pa O’Dwyer is real enough – so he just needed to divert attention and buy some time. He just set off for the ferry overnight instead of the next day, rehearsing in his own mind – and presumably tell the rest of the family – that Bernadette had things she had to finish off, and would fly over the next day in time for the funeral.

“What he had counted on was Miss Speller watching him. He made sure that the place was well lit by the security lights outside the property, which he had switched off earlier to load up the body wrapped in tarpaulin or something to make sure there was no mess or sign. He had arranged with Patsy to scrub and bleach the house to make sure not a trace of evidence was visible. This was a precaution he hoped would not be necessary since he did not think anybody would look further than Jim Kelly, who they now knew was digging his own grave by telephoning the police. Hence all that swimming pool smell when we visited. Anyway, he then loaded up the CV ostentatiously with his luggage, having dithered about whether or not to take the Mercedes. He told Patsy what had happened when he rung her and told her to come to the house, pick up the Merc and to pick him up from the Club – which was where she bumped into Jim finding his way to the phone box, having found the body. The man was nothing if not meticulous He must have pretended to put the keys through the letter box for the benefit of the nosy neighbour, but in reality left them on the step. It was a charade for her benefit. He wanted her to notice that both vehicles were there, so she would witness that Bernie was home, inside the house. Nice touch!

“Ger may well have been already in the car when Patsy bumped into Jim. He had obviously not counted on Jim returning to the scene quite so quickly, if at all. They were possibly changing drivers because he would need to drop her off somewhere near his house to clean up. He had to head for the ferry. He had not told anybody else what time he was planning to go anyway, apart from Bernie who would have been going with him, so none of us questioned his departure or his timings. With the elaborate stage-setting to persuade Miss Speller that Bernadette was at home, he obviously thought that the body would not be found until later – after he was on his way, and theoretically Bernadette had driven herself into town – to meet up with tragedy.

“Although Miss Speller thought she had seen him have second thoughts about taking the Merc, and transferring the luggage at the last minute to the CV, in actual fact, I would bet – when the vehicle was examined – that there were cases inside, but they were empty. Nobody would have questioned why. People keep all sorts of things in the back of cars!

“She was only confused about one point, which threw me for a while. She said that she had seen Bernadette and ‘the other woman’ quite friendly with one another, and bringing piles of shopping home on some occasions. That did not make sense, since the last two people in the world who would pal around together – and the last two people Gerard O’Dwyer would want to pal around together – would be Bernadette and Patsy Downing. Then I realised that, at a distance, Patsy and Melinda look extraordinarily similar. Same height, same colouring, same age, similar style. Together it would be obvious, but from the good distance – even with good eyesight – they would look like the same person. I checked whether Miss Speller ever looked at either of them with her binoculars, but she said she had not because she was used to seeing them, and did not need to do so. She knew that it was the same person. She had a nose for these things. My guess is that she did not have quite as good a nose as she thought she had!

“Anyway …. over to you. Go prove it all. I’ll happily await events.”

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