The confession of George Whittle came as a massive surprise to all concerned. No one had even the slightest doubt that Margaret Howard had been other than murdered, and although some of what turned out to be crucial factors – such as the behaviour of Eric and Agnes – were revealed along the way, they were never constructed into a whole. Even at the very end when one of the incidences of blackmail was uncovered (there were, after all, four), its significance to the demise of that poor girl had not been understood. As Simmonds had often thought beforehand, the entire affair and subsequent investigation had been a mess, though at least now he was beginning to understand why. Stepping off with the wrong foot on Day One had been a colossal mistake.
Fortunately George’s story could be corroborated (the letters between Miss Margaret and Mortimer Catchpole; Miss Margaret’s suicide note; and the fact that Whittle was a witness of good standing who had nothing to gain by lying — indeed he had a great deal to lose by telling the truth). Finally there was some resolution. But it was far from being a done tale.