I need not bore you, gentle reader, with the details of the Madeleine McCann story; I am sure it will be have been drilled into your head so often that you cannot remember a time when you did not know it. In any case, should any tiny incident escape your memory for but a moment, you can always rely on Wikipedia to put you right.
If you are a member of the Mystery Cult, however, you would not be in need of any such advice. You will know every incident of the case and every possible hypothesis that has been offered to explain it. Probably you will have a few of your own, as well. The essential qualification for membership of the Mystery Cult is not knowledge, however, but belief. The adherent must hold two beliefs: that Madeleine McCann was not murdered and that her parents had nothing to do with her disappearance.
The Mystery Cult, of course, is the work of Madeleine McCann's parents, whose efforts to persuade everybody in Europe to look for their daughter have left no celebrity unturned. It is a collective effort of extraordinary proportions, which aims to make the case a moral obligation for all right-thinking people:
There is no law enforcement agency actively looking for Madeleine or the person who took her. As such, Madeleine and possibly other children are dependent on good and moral ‘everyday’ people to help them. We kindly ask you to share this responsibility with us.
Besides shaming people into joining its ranks, the Cult's other purpose is to find people to blame. The relevant authorities in both Portugal and Britain have all been the subjects of the Cult's scorn: police, coroners, forensic scientists and so on. But the Cult also seeks individuals to claim as the perpetrator of the foul deed, such as the man who lived with his mother. The Cult also encourages sightings, of which there have been many. The most notorious was the one which suggested that blonde Madeleine had been abducted by people of a more dusky hue. The Cult is an act of collective consciousness, a product of the imaginations of many people and many media outlets: not surprisingly, it does not point its collective finger at those who might be to blame, but at the Other of its subconscious, whether that be a mummy's boy or a black woman.
Hence the Cult coming to our little corner of the Hemisphere. As the Daily Mirror puts it: Maddie yacht owners found and they're worth 250 Million. Ladies and gentlemen, behold the latest suspect: a rich colonial woman. She is the daughter of a socialite; New Money. She looks like Posh Spice, the most detested woman in Britain. She is probably barren. She is probably a Lesbian. Probably she is keeping Madeleine in a turret of her mansion, where the playroom will be filled with every toy a child could want, but no Love.
The evidence against this woman is damning. Her luxury powerboat, all 105 feet of it, was in Barcelona only three days after Madeleine disappeared from a resort in Portugal, which is not far away at all when you think about it: just the other side of the Iberian Peninsula. Only hours later a woman approached a bank executive and asked "are you here to deliver my daughter?" She spoke with an Australian (or possibly New Zealand) accent. The rich woman's family, of course, deny she was involved; but they would, wouldn't they? The evidence is clear: Madeleine McCann was kidnapped by Cruella de Vil.
But, lest we be too quick to judge, consider this: the case against one Judith Aron, who speaks Spanish. But then again, look at that e-fit picture again. Do you hold the key? Do you know this woman? Could it be this woman?