‘I don’t agree at all,’ said Max stubbornly.
‘No? You said yourself that she was – what was your expression? – a pretty dreadful woman. If she was – and I’m not denying it – who would know that better than her husband? Who would feel it as strongly as her husband? I can imagine that the provocation was considerable. I think it’s as plain as daylight that after living with her for twenty years Lambert just couldn’t stand the sight of her any longer. He had this nurse, Lucy, in the background, and he deliberately got rid of a wife he disliked and freed himself to marry the girl.’
‘Well, I suppose there’s no point in arguing about it any more,’ said Max wearily. ‘The case is strong – I grant you that. But in my view it rests on a psychological impossibility – a total misreading of Lambert’s character. It presupposes that he consciously hated his wife, and I don’t believe he did. He doesn’t act that way.’
‘For a man used to handling men,’ said Haines, ‘you’re remarkably credulous.’
‘It isn’t credulous to trust one’s judgment,’ said Max. ‘You’ve piled up a tremendous weight of circumstantial evidence and you’re trying to pretend that all the pieces fit, but you must know that one of the pieces doesn’t fit, and you’re just hammering it into place. I think you’re making a fearful mistake. You’re going to destroy an innocent man and ruin God knows how many lives – all because you’re so damned complacent about the evidence you’ve got that you won’t take the trouble to look further. All right – I’ll have to get along as well as I can on my own. I’ll find out all there is to know about that woman if it takes me a year!’
‘Well spoken, Mr Easterbrook,’ said Haines coolly. ‘You’re a headstrong young man, but I still wish you luck. You can be quite certain that as soon as there’s anything concrete to investigate, we’ll investigate it. If we get a lead, we’ll follow it. But I mean a lead – not a cloud of dust that rose a quarter of a century ago! Good day, Mr Easterbrook.’
‘Good day,’ growled Max.
Good grief. This is so bad.
This whole story really is based on amateurs playing on the theme of a supposed "psychological impossibility". And of course, this amateur is far more competent than the entire police force.
Now this element does remind of The Z Murders, but I think that book was an atypically bad example of Farjeon's work.