Chapter 1 The Bodies in the Bog

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The lonely figure at the window was sure that the universe as conspiring against him. He took the moment of serenity to study the reflection staring back at him.

William Novel's head was still currently covered with an impressive mop of black hair. However, the slight lines that ran across his face betrayed the paths he had taken.

There was not that much that he could look forward to in the upcoming weeks. In a few days his Deputy, Cassie, was swanning off to a family wedding in Turkey. He was sure that his department would descend into chaos while she was gone. If Cassie called to extend her stay.... The team were useless without her. Two days was quite long enough for her to be gone.

It was if the raindrops on the window fore-told the horrors ahead. The clock's gentle tick... tock.... tick... tock... seemed to be the only noise in the room.

Assistant Chief Constable Novel moved away from the window of his office. It was usually so easy not to care. However, in this case, he knew that he could not do this on his own. This case was fuelling his dependence on the woman.

The town below him stretched out for as far as the eye could see. All the streets below were a hive of activity with streams of people like ants on the ground. He could not remember the last time a case had affected him so much. Novel had been in the force two decades – usually it was possible to maintain the required emotional distance.

The call had come that morning. He had only been in the office an hour and his normal cup of coffee – black – had once again gone cold.

His desk phone rang, the piercing sound breaking the customary still silence of the morning. He calmly reached out to receive the call. It was probably his mother.

It was a female voice, but definitely not his mother.

"Chief, we got another one."

Novel did not immediately reply, "Sorry, what"

"I'm Sarah Lucas, from the basement – seriously Sir, you need another coffee. They found another poor sod. The Sergeant recon's same MO as the one last week."

"Where did they find this one?"

"Peat bog. The one behind the shopping mall. It's about an hour from here. Pathology recon she's been in there since spring."

"Many thanks. Someone from my team will call you if I need anything else."

Last week they had found a body in a bog on the local heath land. A local peat cutter had called the station in a blind panic.

The body of a young woman, still unidentified, was lying in cold storage in the station's morgue. There were no records marching her prints or DNA on the database. She had been naked, there were signs of strangulation by a rope – although that was long gone – and both her eyes and her nose had been removed. Even for an officer with as much experience as Novel, it was difficult to stomach.

Looking around the office, he spotted Cassie at her desk staring intently at the screen. She had obviously been here a while and was probably the source of his coffee.

"Cassie, you should have been more organised and booked your extra baggage allowance already. I need you for a few hours."

She look up in surprise at the interruption, but nodded in reply.

"Another body in the peat bog. Did you fancy coming with me to take a look? I was hoping a look around the area might give us a better insight and make some individuals be a bit more 'on the ball'. It does not feel like the investigation is moving as quickly as I would like."

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