The Insanity of Murder
by Felicity Young
To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike's investigations lead them to a women's rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge - and before Florence becomes the rest home's next victim.
Florence sprang up from her dressing-table chair and rushed to her bed, throwing herself face down upon her pillow. Her emotions spilled as if from a burst floodgate, the bones of her back visible through the thin fabric of her chemise, rising and falling with each gasp.
‘All right, I did it, I did it,’ she sobbed.
It was all very well to have suspicions, but to hear them confirmed thus changed everything. The shock of the admission felt like a blow to Dody’s chest, a physical pain. As she closed her eyes and prayed for strength, angry thoughts buzzed around her head like disturbed bees in a hive.
Steeling herself as best she could, she sat on the edge of the bed. She must not let her anger show. She must remain calm for Florence’s sake, offer her support and then suggest the most honest course of action — that Florence turn herself in and throw herself on the mercy of the courts.
Florence spoke first. ‘Every time I close my eyes I see that night watchman’s face. He caught us just after we’d planted the bomb. He tried to put his hand on me and I threw him to the ground. He hit his head.’
‘You managed to throw a grown man to the ground?’
Florence ignored the incredulity in Dody’s voice. ‘We knew the bomb would blow any minute and dragged him behind the convenience block outside the station. We stayed with him until the authorities arrived, then made our escape before we were seen by anyone.’ She paused to draw a shaking breath. ‘If I could save him by surrendering myself to the authorities, I would.’ She sat up in the bed and took the handkerchief Dody offered. ‘I really would — but it won’t make any difference to him now, will it?’
‘No, I suppose it won’t,’ Dody said, chewing her bottom lip. ‘But it would offer his family some form of justice.’
Florence appeared not to hear Dody’s last remark, as if still fixated on the scene in her head. It must be a relief to talk the whole ghastly incident through with someone, Dody thought.
‘And all those bodies … it was a horrible mistake that should never have happened,’ Florence said.
‘Who was your partner? You seem to have been left to face the consequences.’
She lifted her chin with some of her usual spirit. ‘I will never reveal my accomplice’s name. ’
‘But you will turn yourself in, won’t you?’
Florence swallowed. She shook her head.
‘But you have to.’
‘I received a note from Christabel. On no account am I to admit to this disaster. This incident has apparently been an embarrassment to them.’
‘For goodness sake, Florence, you mean they will take no responsibility for this atrocity at all?’
‘No,’ she said, with an amazing absence of rancour.
Dody wanted to throttle her sister. How could she brush this betrayal off so easily? Her dedication to the cause had made her quite blind to its dark side. Dody jumped up from the bed and began to pace.
‘I suppose you’ll tell Pike now,’ Florence said with a sigh. ‘I’ll deny it, of course.’
Dody said nothing. Her agitated footsteps bounced the floorboards and made the scent bottles on the dressing table tremble.
‘So where does this leave you?’ Florence added, finally.
‘Between Scylla and Charybdis,’ Dody muttered under her breath as she continued to pace. And think.
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I was born in Germany and educated at an English boarding school while my parents travelled the world with the British army. I think the long boring plane trips home played an important part in helping me to develop my creative imagination.
I settled with my parents in Western Australia in 1976, became a nurse, married young and had three children. Not surprisingly, it took ten years to complete an Arts degree (English lit) at UWA.
In 1990 my family and I moved to a small farm 40 kilometers NE of Perth (Western Australia) where I established a Suffolk sheep stud, reared orphan kangaroos and embarked upon a life of crime writing.