What Poppy found most distinctive and unnerving about Edward Kinloch’s house, however, was that instead of adorning the rooms and hallways with traditional artwork, he had filled the place with an astonishingly vast array of game trophies. They were everywhere, dozens of pairs of glass eyes staring down at Poppy, Leo, Jake Valentine, and the constable assigned to accompany them. In the entrance hall alone there were heads from a ram, a rhino, two lions, a tiger, as well as a stag, elk, caribou, leopard, and zebra, and other species that were entirely unfamiliar to her.
Poppy hugged her arms around her middle as she turned a slow circle. “I’m glad Beatrix can’t see this.”
She felt Leo’s hand settle comfortingly on her back.
“Apparently Mr. Kinloch enjoys sport hunting,” Valentine commented, gazing at the ghastly assortment.
“Large game hunting isn’t a sport,” Leo said. “It’s only a sport when both sides are equally armed.”
Poppy felt cold prickles of unease as she stared at the tiger’s frozen snarl. “Harry is here,” she said.
Leo glanced at her. “Why are you so certain?”
“Mr. Kinloch likes to display his power. To dominate. And this house is where he brings all his trophies.” She shot her brother a glance of barely suppressed panic. Her voice was very quiet. “Find him, Leo.”
He gave her a short nod. “I’m going to walk around the outside perimeter of the house.”
Jake Valentine touched Poppy’s elbow and said, “We’ll go through the rooms on this floor and inspect the molding and paneling to see if there are discrepancies that would indicate a concealed door. And we’ll also look behind the larger pieces of furniture, such as bookcases or wardrobes.”
“And fireplaces,” Poppy said, remembering the one at the hotel.
Valentine smiled briefly. “Yes.” After conferring with the constable, he accompanied Poppy to the parlor.
They spent a half hour investigating every minute crack, edge, and surface elevation, running their hands over the walls, getting on their hands and knees, lifting edges of carpet.
“May I ask,” came Valentine’s muffled voice as he looked behind a settee, “did Lord Ramsay really study architecture, or was he more of a . . .”
“Dilettante?” Poppy supplied, moving every object on the fireplace mantel. “No, he’s quite accomplished, actually. He attended the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris for two years, and worked as a draftsman for Rowland Temple. My brother loves to play the part of featherbed aristocrat, but he’s far more clever than he lets on.”
Eventually Leo came back inside. He went from room to room, pacing the distance from one wall to another, pausing to make notes. Poppy and Valentine continued to search diligently, progressing from the parlor to the entrance hall stairwell. With every minute that passed, Poppy’s anxiety sharpened. From time to time a housemaid or footman passed, glancing at them curiously but remaining silent.
Surely one of them had to know something, Poppy thought in frustration. Why weren’t they helping to find Harry? Did their misplaced loyalty to their master preclude any sense of human decency?
As a young housemaid wandered by with an armload of folded linens, Poppy lost her patience. “Where is it?” she exploded, glaring at the girl.
The maid dropped the linens in surprise. Her eyes went as round as saucers. “Wh-where is what, ma’am?” she asked in a squeaky voice.
“A hidden door. A secret room. There is a man being kept against his will somewhere in this house, and I want to know where he is!”
“I don’t know noffing, ma’am,” the housemaid quavered, and burst into tears. Scooping up the fallen linens, she fled up the stairs.
Valentine spoke quietly, his brown eyes filled with understanding. “The servants have already been questioned,” he said. “Either they don’t know, or they don’t dare betray their employer.”
“Why would they keep their silence about something like this?”
“There’s little hope for a servant who is dismissed without references to find a job nowadays. It could mean devastation. Starvation.”
“I’m sorry,” Poppy said, gritting her teeth. “But at the moment I don’t care about anyone or anything save my husband’s welfare. And I know he’s here somewhere, and I’m not leaving until he’s found! I’ll tear the house apart if I must—”
“That won’t be necessary,” came Leo’s voice as he strode into the entrance hall. He jerked his head purposefully in the direction of a hallway that branched off the main entrance. “Come to the library. Both of you.”
Galvanized, they hurried after him, while the constable followed as well.
The library was a rectangular room filled with heavy mahogany furniture. Three of the walls were fitted with shelved alcoves and bookcases, all topped by a cornice that was continuous with the wall joinery. The area of oak flooring uncovered by carpet was scarred and mellow with age.
“This house,” Leo said, going straight to the draped windows, “is a classical Georgian, which means that every design feature in this half of the house is a perfect reflection of the other half. Any deviation is felt as a deep flaw. And according to the form of strict symmetrical arrangement, this room should have three windows on that wall, to match the corresponding room on the other side of the house. But obviously there are only two in here.” Deftly he tied back the drapes to admit as much daylight as possible.