The Garden Of Death

Kylie McKinnon was dead – there was no getting round it. Lying crumpled in the bottom of a grave, short skirt pulled up around her waist, one leg twisted underneath her. Head flat on one side. Blood everywhere.

DI Keenan turned his back on the eighteen-year-old corpse, and clambered back up the ladder, out of the grave and into the cold, dark graveyard.

“OK,” he told the Identification Bureau team, hanging around expectantly in their white oversuits, “Get her out of here.”

“Seems daft, doesn’t it?” said one of them, “She’s only going to end up back in the same place.”

Keenan pretended not to hear.

Harsh, white spotlights made long, finger shadows between the tombstones, making the frost sparkle. Douglas On The Mound was one of those old-fashioned churches: dark stone walls, grimy stained windows protected by heavy metal mesh, and a huge graveyard surrounded by an eight-foot-high wall. Keeping the dead in. Keenan’s mother-in-law was here somewhere. In his opinion it was the best place for her.

“Sir?” Nature hadn’t been kind to DS Cameron: she was short, round, middle-aged and ginger-haired, with a pronounced Oldcastle accent. “I checked with the Minister, grave’s been reopened for a funeral Wednesday. A Mrs Lesley Duguid. Her husband’s already in there.”

“Hmmm...” Keenan stared back at the rectangular hole carved out of the frosty grass. “Probably not connected, but I want you to find the next of kin and see if there’s any connection with the dead girl.”

“You think it’s a revenge thing?”

Keenan shook his head. “Probably not, but you never know.” Muffled curses seeped up from the grave, followed by the end of a blue plastic body bag as the IB team manhandled Kylie out of someone else’s final resting place. “I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a bastard of a case: no forensic evidence, no witnesses...” He sighed. “Looks like there’s nothing else for it, we’re going to have to call in the big guns.” He dug a dog-eared business card out of his wallet. “Give her a shout, get her down here. I want her to see the body before it gets carted off to the morgue.”

DS Cameron read the name on the card and gave a low whistle.

“You sure about this, sir? I mean, she can be a bit... ‘unpredictable’.”

“I know, but we need help and she’s the best there is.”

Reluctantly, Cameron dug out her phone and began to dial.

“Oh, and get her to bring her scissors,” said Keenan, heading back towards the church, “I could do with a trim.” She was trouble, but she got results: Kimberly Smith – forensic hairdresser.

------to be continued*------

* But probably not.