Read the previous chapter, Chapter 2, here first.
Chapter 3 of Delirium, London Psychic #1. Click here for buy links to the full book.
Harley Street had long been noted for its private medical practices, and the very name resonated with old money and privilege. Number 37 was on the corner of Queen Anne Street, a Victorian five-story house with ornate windows. Jamie glanced up to the sculptures on the facade, displaying a laurel-crowned figure with volumes of Homer and Milton, and a reclining young man with a telescope and a star. Poetry and astronomy seemed curiously out of place on this street of medical history.
Missinghall unfolded himself from the police car, beginning his second morning pastry and offering Jamie a bite. His large frame meant he was always eating, and he chipped away at trying to get Jamie to eat more, tempting her with little morsels. Her clothes were loose around her hips now, and she often forgot to eat until she was nauseous with hunger by the end of the day. The physical reminder of her body's insistence for life was something she danced on the edge of resisting. Jamie had read that the Jain religion had a ritual death by fasting, and the vow of sallekhana could be taken when an individual felt their life had served enough of a purpose: when there were no ambitions or wishes left and no responsibilities remained. Some days, Jamie wanted to embrace such an end, but Polly had told her to live, to dance, and her responsibility was still to bring justice to the dead. But was that enough of a purpose to keep her going?
It would have to be for today, Jamie thought, and accepted the offer of pastry with a smile. Missinghall broke off a generous piece and Jamie forced it down her throat, the act of swallowing almost against her will.
“There should be a housekeeper here,” Missinghall said, brushing crumbs from his suit. Jamie noticed that he had red socks on today, peeking out from under his slightly too-short trousers, his way of bringing color to their dark work. “She manages the place for the practitioners.”
Jamie pressed the buzzer and after a moment, the door opened. A slim woman in jeans and a Rolling Stones t-shirt stood at the entrance, her cropped ash-blonde hair belying her middle age. Jamie showed her warrant card and introduced herself and Missinghall.
“Of course, I was expecting you,” the woman said. “What a business. Dr Monro dead. Well, I never.” She shook her head. “Come in, come in. I haven't touched anything in his rooms, just like the officer told me on the phone.”
She led them into the hallway.
“How many practices are there here?” Jamie asked.
“Four,” the housekeeper said. “They keep themselves to themselves, and I look after all their rooms. Not that any of them are much trouble, you know.”
“Any tension between the businesses at all?”
The woman turned on the first step of the stairs.
“Not that I would know about, Detective. But then I'm just the housekeeper now, aren't I?”
Despite her words, Jamie could see a cloud in her blue eyes. There was more here, but perhaps the rooms themselves would help set the scene before she pushed any harder.
On the second floor, the housekeeper unlocked a wooden door, inset with two half panes of stained glass featuring red and blue art deco roses.
“You can look around, and please take all the time you need, Detectives. I'll come back in a bit. Would you like tea?”
“Yes, please,” Missinghall jumped at the chance. “We're both black, one sugar.”
Jamie stepped into the room, pulling on a pair of sterile gloves as Missinghall did the same behind her.
She had expected a cozy nook with a couch and blankets, somewhere welcoming for private therapy. Instead, the rooms were fashioned in a Japanese minimalist style, with just two chairs and a small table in one main space and a study beyond. The walls were a light cream, with nothing to decorate the space. It was entirely blank, offering the patient no respite from their own mind.
Walking into the study area beyond, Jamie noted the filing cabinets of patient records and a general neatness and organization. There were thick medical textbooks on a bookshelf as well as a framed degree certificate, and a couple of files and a fountain pen lay on a desk of Brazilian walnut. In the corner was a small fridge, topped with a kettle and coffee plunger. On the wall, a single large canvas showed a blue ocean with white-capped waves. On first glance, the waters seemed calm, but as Jamie looked at it more closely, she noticed the darkening skies towards the edge of the painting as a storm approached. Under the waves there were shadows, darker patches of blue that could have been creatures of the depths. It was a strange painting, perhaps one of Monro's analysis tools, the shadows interpreted according to the viewer's perspective. Jamie imagined sharks there, with razor teeth to shred her flesh, but she still felt an urge to sink under the blue.
Missinghall walked to the back of the study, where another door led onwards. He turned the handle. It was locked.
“That's his private apartment,” the housekeeper said, walking in with the tea and a plate of biscuits. “I was never allowed in there. He was particular about that.”
“Did he live as well as work here, then?” Jamie asked.
“Let's just say he didn't have a routine that meant he left his rooms too much.” She hesitated. “I think that was a problem with some of the other partners in the building. He needed heating, electricity and other amenities at night, and never paid more than his allotted percentage. But of course, the other practices have wonderful people in them. None of them could possibly be involved in his murder.”
Jamie smiled, helping her with the tea things. “Of course.”
“I'll come back in a bit then, see if you need anything else.”
As she left, Missinghall pulled an evidence bag from his pocket, a bunch of keys visible inside.
“I thought we might be needing these,” he said. “They were in Monro's jacket pocket.”
Using the bag as a second glove, he maneuvered the keys, trying them against the lock for size until one fitted. He turned the key and pushed open the door.
“Ladies first,” he smiled at Jamie, and she nodded her head, walking through ahead of him. It was dark inside, the windows shaded, so it was hard to see at first. As Missinghall flicked on the light, Jamie gasped at what they saw.
The room was dominated by a gynecological bed in the center, with green padded cushions and the addition of leather straps at each end, as well as stirrups and supports. Under the table was a wooden box. Missinghall lifted the lid to reveal a number of different crops, whips, eye masks and a ball gag.
“Bloody hell, I wasn't expecting that,” Missinghall said, eyebrows raised. “I thought this guy was a psychiatrist, not some kind of sexual services provider.”
“He was only supposed to be interested in their minds,” Jamie said, walking around the bed. “But clearly, he liked to take things a little further.”
She walked to a desk near the shaded window and turned on the lamp. A large leather notebook lay in pride of place, with a serpent-green fountain pen beside it. Jamie opened the book, examining Monro's handwriting within. The last page was an account of a session with a client he called ‘M,' noting her response to the discipline and how many strokes she had endured. There were some musings about the efficacy of physical restraint on the mad, how they were more comfortable being punished than being left alone to get well, and how perhaps the original Bedlam had been correct in chaining the inmates. There were quotes from a Dr George Henry Savage: I would rather tie a patient down constantly than keep him always under the influence of a powerful drug … The scourging of the lunatic in times past might have occasionally been a help to recovery.
Jamie frowned as she flicked through the pages, seeing multiple entries over the last month, the same initials appearing several times. Were these willing participants in Monro's extra services, or did he use his position of power to coerce his clients? Was one of them responsible for his death?
Above the desk was a bookshelf with four more of the large journals. Jamie pulled another one down, finding the same type of information but with other initials. Monro had clearly been doing this for years, so it was conceivable that patients had come to him specifically for this kind of treatment. Complaints about his professionalism would have shut him down a long time ago otherwise.
“You'll want to see this, Jamie.”
She turned to see Missinghall looking into a large walk-in closet. He moved aside to let her enter. A wall-size cabinet dominated the space, filled with all kinds of pharmaceuticals, some regulated substances, others common antidepressants and antipsychotics. None of them should have been kept on the premises in such large doses.
“He was dealing, as well? What wasn't this guy into?” Missinghall shook his head, moving over to check one of the filing cabinets, his gloved fingers flicking through the tabbed index.
Jamie sighed. “We're going to have to go through his list of clients, past and present. Clearly the murder was related to madness somehow, but it could have also been about sex or drugs.”
“I don't think it was money, though,” Missinghall said, holding up a bank statement. “His balance is unhealthier than mine.”
Jamie frowned. “Which doesn't fit with the implication of selling drugs directly. So where's the money?”
There was a ring on the doorbell, and they heard the steps of the housekeeper and then her voice, faint from downstairs. The tread of two sets of footsteps ascended to the second floor. Jamie went back into the main room, pulling the door of the inner sanctum closed, leaving Missinghall to continue to go through paperwork. The housekeeper knocked and then pushed open the door to the practice rooms.
“Detective, there's a Mr Harkan here. He says it's important.”
Harkan was thin and fair, with the rosy cheeks of a choirboy who had never quite grown up. He put out a graceful hand to introduce himself to Jamie as the housekeeper headed off downstairs again.
“I'm sorry, Detective, but this couldn't wait. I just heard about the murder – the news is already out, I'm afraid, and Harley Street is a tight-knit community. I'm a solicitor. Our firm is just down the street, and we worked with Monro. He was a forensic psychiatrist as well as a clinical practitioner.”
“A man of many talents,” Jamie said, thinking of the room out back.
“Indeed,” said Harkan, and Jamie noticed his eyes flick towards the door. Did the solicitor know what lay beyond?
“What exactly did he work with you on?” she asked.
“Forensic psychiatry is the intersection of law and the psychiatric profession, and Monro helped assess competency to stand trial. He was an expert witness around aspects of mental illness, both for the prosecution and the defense. He also assessed the risk of repeat offending.”
“So why the hurry to talk to us?” Jamie asked. “You could have come down to the station with a statement.”
“It's the timing,” Harkan said, wringing his hands. “Monro was an expert witness for the prosecution in the case of Timothy MacArnold a few years back. A violent, repeat offender who claimed mental illness drove his actions, and Monro supported that in his testimony. MacArnold is in Broadmoor, the maximum-security mental health hospital for violent offenders.”
“And why are you so worried?”
“MacArnold's case is coming up for review and Monro was trying to get him transferred to some exclusive research hospital. I don't know the exact details of that, but I do know that MacArnold has a good position at Broadmoor and if he wanted to stay there … well, he's a violent man used to getting what he wants, even inside.” Harkan's eyes flicked all over the room, beads of sweat forming on his brow. His speech was hurried, tripping over his words in the haste to get them out. Jamie noted his concerns on her pad, but they would have to look at Mr Harkan more closely.
“Then of course there's the families of MacArnold's victims,” Harkan continued. “They're livid at the thought of him getting even better treatment than he does now, all art therapy and counseling when he butchered their loved ones. There's a lot of anger at Monro for his support of the insanity plea.”
“We're certainly going to investigate all these angles, Mr Harkan. This is useful information, so I'd like you to give an official statement. My colleague, DC Missinghall will take you through the process and get some more details. If you'd just wait here a minute.”
Jamie walked to the back room and ducked inside, careful to shield the inside space from view and closing the door briefly behind her. There was already enough gossip on this street.
“Al, can you take a proper statement from this guy? Apparently Monro was involved in the justice system, as well.” She lowered her voice. “And I think we need to investigate his background, too. Seems a little too quick in assigning motive for the murder. Of course, he might just be the neighborhood busybody.”
Missinghall groaned. “There's always one. Righto, but seriously, how many motives can there be for murdering this guy?” He handed a thick box file to Jamie. “You'll want to have a look through this. It's his clients, past and present.”
Missinghall went out to take Harkan's statement as Jamie perched on the bed, thumbing through the cards in the box. Judging by the dates of the first appointments, they covered the last five years. There were a lot of patients, both male and female, and there were symbols on each card, perhaps a visual reference system enabling Monro to easily follow the development of treatment. But what did those symbols mean?
There were red squares, yellow triangles and a blue shape, like a raindrop, interspersed between the cards. Some had just one and others had multiple symbols. Jamie noticed that a black circle in the upper right coincided with the end of the appointments for an individual. There were also larger pieces of paper folded in between some of the cards. Jamie pulled one out to find an extensive family tree drawn in dark pen, each person labeled with a name and their mental health status. This particular patient had black circles dotted all over the page and Monro had commented in spidery handwriting on the need for intervention to stop the continuation of this family stain.
As she continued to flick through the pack of records, Jamie noticed a name she vaguely recognized. Melyssa Osborne. The card had the red square, blue raindrop and the black circle on it. Why did that name ring a bell?
Jamie got out her smartphone, removed a glove, and searched for the name. Melyssa was the younger sister of MP Matthew Osborne; she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had committed suicide three months earlier. The black circle must mean deceased. Jamie flicked through the pack again and noted how many black circles there were, many of which also had the blue raindrop. Her own work was a dark business, but there was a cemetery's worth in these records. They would need to check on all the patients Monro had treated. Jamie opened Monro's diary and compared the initials to the patients in the last week. Another name leapt out at her. Petra Bennett had attended appointments every week – the same woman who had been at the Imperial War Museum for the Psyche Fun Run and who had greeted Matthew Osborne so warmly.