A short time later Anthony handed Louisa up into the hired carriage. She sat down, arranged her skirts, and watched him lower himself onto the seat across from her. In the glow of the interior lamp his face was set in forbidding lines.
“What are you thinking?” she asked quietly.
“Whoever murdered Grantley and Thurlow must have known of their connection to Hastings,” he said.
“Yes. Obviously Hastings has concluded that as well because he fears that he is in danger.” She hesitated. “Perhaps the murderer is someone he cheated in a business deal.”
“In which case the killer might well have known about Grantley, but what are the odds he also knew about Thurlow? Even Corvus wasn’t aware of Thurlow’s link to Hastings, and he says he thoroughly researched the man at the start of their business dealings.”
She sighed. “And why kill them anyway? Wouldn’t the person who had been cheated go directly after Hastings?”
“The murder of a gentleman of Hastings’s rank would create a huge sensation. It would be in the press for weeks. Even if the killer managed to make it look like another suicide there would be a great deal of attention paid. He might not want to risk that.”
“True.” She hesitated. “The murders simply make no sense.”
“I’m not so sure of that.” Anthony folded his arms and stretched out his legs. “It strikes me that by killing Grantley and Thurlow, the killer got rid of the two people who knew the most about Hastings’s illicit business arrangements.”
He smiled faintly. “What are you thinking?”
“That if I were to set out to destroy a man and not want to take the risk of murdering him, I might consider getting rid of the people he relied on to handle his business affairs.”
“But you would not stop there,” Anthony said softly. “Not if you intended to destroy him. If you are right, Hastings is still very much in danger.”
“All right. Let’s take another approach to this problem,” she said crisply. “How many people would know his business affairs quite intimately and also have a reason to want to destroy him?”
“You mean, aside from myself?” he said dryly.
She flushed. “Well, yes. Aside from you, sir. And aside from the elderly blackmail victims.”
He considered that for a moment. “As you said, perhaps someone he once cheated is out for revenge.”
She should stop right now. If she had any sense she would not say another word, but she could not seem to help herself. Anthony was hungry for answers. She wanted them, too. She had to take the risk.
“Our list of suspects,” she said, choosing her words with great care, “would include only those who were both intimately acquainted with Hastings’s illicit business affairs and those who would also have a reason to want to murder the two men who aided him in his secret activities.”
“Likely a very short list, as you say, but if Clement Corvus could not offer any suggestions for suspects, I doubt that we’ll be able to come up with some.”
“I can think of one,” she said quietly.
“His dead wife.”