Shakespeare's Dark Lady
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Ah! But those tears are pearls which thy love sheds,
And they are rich, and ransom all ill deeds.

Sonnets, 34
William Shakespeare

"Here's what you wanted, sir." Detective Sergeant Frank Hillaby slapped down the report. "Complete transcript from the FBI's clandestine bugs and phone taps on the psychoanalyst's place. We already sent ten DCs from the Mobile Reserve on door?to?door inquiries to find if any old?timers remembered a prostitute called Black Jenny in Oxford forty years ago. They covered almost four thousand houses."

Superintendent Drake eyed him intently before speaking. "Get anything?"

"You bet. They found an old boy name of John Tardew who was a porter at Worcester College way back when and remembered her name. He was in for a regular pint at a pub called The Bear in those days. So was she, so he said. She stuck in his mind because she always wore black. That and the foreign accent. Called herself Jenny. He knew her the same way all the regulars did . . . name of Black Jenny."

The phlegmatic Superintendent Drake sat up straight.

"So then I fixed to show him the copy of the photo--the high?resolution version. He said it was her all right. A regular pro, if on the up-market side. Stood out in a crowd. Too smart. Hung around Oxford for a while, but he didn't remember any baby. Then she disappeared. He said he couldn't forget her: she was too good?looking, not the prostitute type. All her tricks were pretty up-market too. She was--"

"I've got the genetic profile through from the rape department at the Forensic Science Service," Drake said. "Everyone said I must be a nut case when I froze the semen deposit we found down the loo in 1959. They hadn't seen the TV program about Francis Crick and James Watson: how genes would be better clues than fingerprints one day. Our friend should have checked after he tried to flush his condom away."

"Yes," Hillaby said. "Knotting it wasn't very clever either. It's almost as if, like Jack the Ripper, he wanted to let us know who'd done it."

"God knows what Bosworth would have done with the semen if he'd known about it." Drake paused to put on a pair of spectacles. "Might have gone round trying to genetic?fingerprint every male in the world."

Not sure whether to laugh or not Hillaby laughed anyway. In response he got a shadow of a smile from his boss.

"That semen kept perfectly all these years," Drake said, "waiting for the day when we got hold of the bastard's blood. Pity it was too late to nail him."

"What's your conclusion?"

"You mean what do I think about Bosworth being the old boy's son?"

"That's right."

"Pretty strong stuff, all right. You heard what the doctor and the psychoanalyst said to each other. You saw the transcript after the FBI intercepted her letter. The guy was a double murderer. Could even be behind some other unsolved prostitute killings, over in the States or here."

"The FBI said they were checking into that possibility, sir."

Drake pulled a piece of paper from a folder in front of him and rubbed his chin with one hand as he studied it. "She was certainly a good?looking woman."

"Tell me something, sir. How important is it still to find out what her real name was?"

"Not very, Frank. I just hate loose ends."

"Any ideas, sir?"

" Let's just say I'd like to work on it a little longer before I close the case."

"Let me know when you get there, sir." Hillaby rose and made for the door.

When he had gone,Tom Drake went and turned the lock and returned to his desk. He pulled a sheaf of papers from the folder in front of him: a photocopy of Dr. Bosworth's hand?written findings on his mother's corpse, exhumed in October 1984, followed by pages and pages of DNA blueprints derived from her remains. The genetics people working for him at the Forensic Science Service had spotted something that Bosworth had missed, since he hadn't been looking for it in the first place.


They had constructed what they called a "consanguinity paradigm" on the basis of the DNA fingerprints of Daniel Bosworth, Lawrence Hungerford, and Black Jenny??a test which would show the blood ties, if any, between the three individuals.

He picked up the folder from his desk and marched to the shredder, turned it on and listened to the machine whirr. A raw smile spread over his face as he fed in the contents of the entire dossier--even the old police file, recently reopened--on the death of the whore known to her clients as Black Jenny. Finally he held only the manila folder. His own whimsical name for the case was inscribed in his neat hand across the top: "Death of the Just." He chuckled as it disappeared into the shredder's maw.

As he switched the machine off and went to unlock the door he wondered whether Edgar Hungerford's illegitimate daughter, the late Joanna Naresby Hungerford, had really had to die so brutally.

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