“They’re in the drawing room, Sir,” said the constable who was waiting outside the doors. The house — perhaps mansion was a better word — was a square, four storey building in two acres of grounds. There was a boathouse, a boating lake, a shooting gallery, and a kitchen garden larger than the police station all before you got into the main building. “Two of them: Isadora and Malcolm. Married, but he’s her second husband.” He looked down, consulting his notepad. “There’s tension, Sir.”
The drawing room was large enough to be a ballroom and made the two people waiting impatiently in there seem like dolls. As the Detective entered, Isadora, a tall, middle-aged woman with auburn hair down to her shoulders and green eyes that reminded him of summer forests, stood up from the chair she was sitting in. “Who are you?” she demanded, her voice crisp.
“Detective Doberman,” said the Detective. “And yes, my bark is worse than my bite. I hear you’ve been robbed.”
Malcolm, slightly shorter than his wife, had unkempt black hair and smelled unwashed, and was shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other. He nodded. “My wife’s tiara has been stolen,” he said. “This morning, while I was collecting her from the airport. Only....”
“Only it’s impossible,” said Isadora.
They showed him upstairs to the third floor. The staircase came up in the middle of the floor and there was a door on the left and another opposite it on the right. “My wife has rooms on the left, and I have rooms on the right,” said Malcolm. “The layout is the same on both sides: the bedroom has one more door that leads into a dressing room, and that has one more door that leads into a shared bathroom.”
“Separate rooms?” said Detective Doberman.
“We both travel a lot,” said Isadora. “It’s convenient to separate when one of us is getting up early or arriving late. Like this morning, for example, when Malcolm was late to pick me up from the airport.”
Isadora snorted. “If you’d overslept a bit longer my tiara might still be here.”
“What do you mean?” asked Doberman.
“I’ll show you,” said Isadora. She pulled a bunch of keys from her pocket and selected one, unlocking the left-hand door with it. “My first husband cheated on me,” she said. “I take precautions.”
“I never asked,” murmured Doberman.
“The burglar broke in here,” said Isadora, pointing to one of two windows opposite the door. Glass was visible on the carpet and the lower half of the window frame had been thoroughly broken through. Doberman looked cautiously out of the window: there was a sheer drop with no handholds or convenient drainpipes, but a long ladder was propped conveniently, reaching just below the windowsill.
“He must then have gone through to the dressing room, where I keep my jewellery.” Isadora opened the door at the end of room, and the three walked into a dressing room that could fit the cast of a small play. “The tiara is kept on this stand,” she said, indicating the kind of bust used for holding hats and other headwear. “And it’s obviously not here now. The burglar then went through to the bathroom.” She turned to the other door, but Doberman turned around instead.
“Why not go back to the bedroom?” he said. As he looked at the door he realised there was no handle, just a small glass plate by the doorframe.
“Touch-locks,” said Isadora. “The insurance company insisted on locks to protect the jewellery, so although anyone who gets up here can come into these rooms, they can’t get out unless they have my fingerprints.”
Doberman tried the door: it was securely locked, and the glass panel ignored his fingers. Isadora sighed and pressed her forefinger to the panel: the door buzzed and clicked, and swung open.
“Satisfied?” she asked.
“Thanks,” said Doberman. “I assume a computer logs every time the door is used?”
“No,” said Malcolm. “It only logs if the door was used that day or not.”
They went through the other door into a bathroom that, predicably, could have hosted two rugby teams. Here was another window, also broken, and peering through this Doberman saw another sheer drop, with glass glittering on the ground outside.
“And this is the problem,” said Isadora. She glanced at her husband, who was practically dancing. “What?” she said.
“I need the toilet,” said Malcolm. “I’m bursting.”
“Be a man. This is the problem, Detective. The only way out of this bathroom requires either my fingerprints or my husband’s, or going through that window. But without a ladder, the thief must have been able to fly.”
Detective Doberman stood outside the house with the constable. “There’s an obvious suspect,” he said. “But before I make an arrest I need....”
What did Detective Doberman ask the constable to get, and why should it be enough for him to arrest someone?