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‘I was very sad to hear that Jessica’s body had been recovered. On the one hand twenty-six years has gone so fast, on the other it seems like only yesterday.’

‘I don’t think it’s gone quickly for the Collins family,’ said Erika.

‘No, of course not. Do you have any leads?’

Erika tilted her head and looked him square in the eye, ‘I’m not here to tell you if we have any leads Mr Browne. In fact, why am I here?’

‘I’m still in contact with the Collins family, and I witnessed at first hand how the previous investigation unfolded. It was distressing and damaging for the family.’

‘I’m aware of what happened.’

‘I’ve been asked by the family to act as their spokesperson.’

‘But you are a barrister, not a PR?’


‘I’m not sure in what capacity they’ve hired you. Have they hired you?’

‘I don’t like the word hired. I know the law, I also know a lot of people. I think the family feel that over the years, and in particular during the first investigation things span out of control. I’m just here for them, part friend, part advisor.’

‘I thought you were asking to see me to tell you about your involvement in the case.’

‘My involvement?’ he sat back and gave her a disarming smile. ‘I gave the officer at the time a full statement, along with Laura. We were both away camping.’

‘Te Gower Peninsula in Wales?’

‘Yes, it’s a beautiful part of the country.’

‘What made you choose Wales?’

‘We were both at University in Swansea. It’s quite close. We’d been there with friends the previous Easter, and we fancied a proper trip, just the two of us.’

‘Are you still close to Laura?’

‘I wouldn’t say we’re close. Our relationship didn’t last. We split up in early 1991.’


‘In the September of 1990 we were due to go back for our second year. I was studying law, she was studying Mathematics. Obviously she didn’t return. Did you go to University?’

‘No I didn’t,’ said Erika. It came out with more hostility than she intended.

‘Well, let me tell you, life at University is very insular and intense. I met someone else, she was upset and so was I, but we parted amicably and I was still there for her.’

‘So you dumped her?’

‘I wouldn’t say that. Laura will admit that it was a terrible time, she didn’t know how to deal with it, she…’

‘She, what?’

‘She became impossible to be around. I don’t blame her one little bit.’ He emphasised the last three words with the flat of his palm on the polished surface of the desk.

‘You were away camping in the middle of nowhere. How did you find out so fast that Jessica was missing?’

‘You’re questioning me?’

‘No I’m talking to you…’

He smiled broadly,

‘There was a coffee shop and bar at the campsite. The next day we saw it on the evening news when we were having a drink. We came straight back… As I said, I gave all of this in a statement. The emphasis on this meeting is to inform you that I’m here, fighting the family’s corner, and monitoring things. You have to appreciate that in this modern world life has become much more complicated.’

‘You could have saved me a journey with us doing this over the phone.’

‘I like to meet people face to face, I feel that it helps at the beginning of a working relationship.’

Erika sat back, a little surprised.

‘So, how are we going to be working together?’

‘I’d like you to relay all information about the case through my office. I will pass things on to the family. I have a letter here, signed by the family requesting and authorising me to do this. Another reason I asked to meet in person.’ He handed Erika a letter on headed notepaper. She took it and saw it was signed by Martin, Marianne, Laura and Toby. ‘I don’t expect you to give me regular updates, but when you have information pertaining to the case, or any new information, and when you release Jessica’s remains they ask that you contact me. My number is on the letter.’

He pulled out a sleek black fountain pen, leaned over and underlined the phone number for his office. Twice. Erika could barely disguise her irritation at this. ‘When can we expect that Jessica’s remains will be released?’

‘Forensics are still conducting tests.’

‘Are you able to tell us how she died?’

‘I’ll contact you when we’re able to release her remains.’

He held her gaze for a moment and then offered his hand.

‘I look forward to working with you.’ He flashed her the winning smile, but she didn’t return it and left his office.


* * *


Erika called in to the incident room on her way back to Victoria Station. Peterson picked up the phone and she angrily told him what had happened.

‘You do realise that the family are completely within their rights to do this?’ he said.

‘Of course they are. But why does this Barrister stroke PR get to summon me to his office?’

‘You did say yes, you could have refused.’

Erika paused outside the station concourse for a moment. ‘I know. It just gets harder. It feels like everyone has gone mad. We live in a mad world, and this is coming from someone who’s worked in the police for twenty years.’

Peterson laughed.

‘I do have good news. Trevor Marksman has agreed to talk to us. And there won’t be a lawyer in sight. We do have to go to his place though.’

‘When can I talk to him?’

‘Today, this afternoon if possible,’ said Peterson. ‘He’s asked that you do it at his flat.’

‘What’s the address?’

‘You’re not going to believe this. He lives in a penthouse apartment on Borough High Street.’






Erika took the tube across to London Bridge Station, where she met Peterson. Borough High Street was bustling with tourists, traffic and office workers. The buildings either side rose high and seemed to press down on them. They walked a few hundreds yards, passing under the railway bridge, along side the market where stalls were being closed down for the day, and they came to a large set of cast iron gates.