The Body On The Beach: 9

It didn’t take long for news of Simmonds’ discovery to reach Chief Inspector Dawson and for him to arrive at the scene, which was by now a hive of activity.

‘So your theory is’ the Chief Inspector said to Simmonds as they stood together in the hotel’s loading yard ‘that Miss Margaret left the party, under duress we know not, was presumably assaulted and restrained, given a lethal injection of cocaine, almost certainly dying very shortly thereafter, and was then taken in that van’ he pointed ‘driven down to Welby and left on the beach’.

‘Yes, sir’ said Simmonds. He didn’t know the Chief Inspector well, the senior officer only having recently transferred from the Midlands, and was unsure as to whether or not his summation was sarcastic.

‘Sounds plausible’ said the Chief ‘supported by what evidence we have’. Simmonds was visibly relieved. This was his most high-profile case to date and he didn’t want to appear weak in his deduction. ‘Good work’ continued Dawson. ‘No theory as to the identity of the killer or the motive?’ he added rhetorically.

‘No, sir’

‘Well at least we are making some progress’. They walked around the yard. ‘You happy to stay on here at the hotel? I can arrange other accommodation if you prefer’

‘No. This is fine. Thank you’

‘How’s that wife of yours?’ asked the Chief Inspector, which Simmonds thought strange as to the best of his knowledge the two had never met.

‘Very well, thank you. She’s here with me’

‘Yes I heard. Try to remember this is a police investigation not amateur night’

‘I will’ replied Simmonds seeing now how the enquiry as to her health had been an opening gambit. He wondered if something had been said about Piccolo. Was she making waves?

The Chief Inspector turned and took a few steps to leave before stopping and half turning back.

‘Don’t forget to call Lord Bessingham, he’ll be waiting for your update’

Simmonds nodded, secretly bemoaning the still feudal structure of ‘modern’ Britain.

*

Breakthroughs are not game ending unless they constitute the Final Act. Otherwise they need to lead on to greater conclusions to be of real value. The van did not identify the killer, but it did clearly point to a modus operandi and a timeline. Now it was a matter of narrowing the focus, Simmonds knew that, but he failed to anticipate that life has a way of coming at you from another angle when you least expect or need it to.

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