The Body On The Beach: 8

The next day the Howard family announced that Margaret’s funeral would take place exactly one week since she had been found dead. That gave Simmonds just a couple of days to make some headway before the inevitable questions from the principle players at the funeral, which he was obliged to attend. There was much to consider but little to go on. He needed a breakthrough. He had no idea it would come so quickly.

*

A copy of the finalised autopsy report was dispatched to Simmonds at the hotel, the suite having become a de facto incident room. The laboratory confirmed Dr Bartlett’s original supposition that death was caused by a massive cocaine overdose. Autopsy photographs were enclosed. These were disturbing to look at, but as always they needed to be reviewed by a detective focusing on clues to the crime that might have been missed by a Pathologist focusing on the science of the death. And indeed one detail was especially interesting. The back of the victim’s right leg, along the line of the calf muscle, displayed what at first glance appeared to be smudges of dirt, but on closer inspection were imprints of black ink, specifically that lifted from a page of newspaper type. With the aid of a magnifying glass Simmonds could make out individual words, though of course they were in reverse. He listed them down correcting their orientation so as to make sense. As luck would have it these were front page stories and Simmonds recognised them. A quick dash down to the hotel lobby proved him correct. The impressions were from the cover of the last weekly copy of the local ‘Telegram & Herald’.

*

Simmonds was now on a bit of a high. He thought back to how Margaret had been transported to Welby – he presumed by then she was already dead – and remembered Dalling talk of seeing a van. The missing shoe! He ran down to the rear loading area where two hotel delivery vans were parked. The first was unlocked – in it he found nothing; the second was also unlocked and in the back he found a copy of the said edition of the newspaper, its cover smudged. Simmonds shouted at startled staff and cordoned off the area. Uniforms were called. Here was the murderer’s mode of transportation.

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