‘No. They think I’m crazy enough. I’ve been asked to attend a psych evaluation. The last thing I need is to stoke things up. Saying I’ve got a stalker . . .’ Erika saw Moss’s face. ‘Over the years, I’ve had plenty of disgusting hate mail.’

‘But was it all hand delivered?’

‘I’m fine, Moss. Let’s focus on what we can do next.’

‘Well, okay . . . I’ve got Crane cross-checking the dates against Marco Frost’s movements, but we don’t know the exact time of death for these girls.’

‘We need to get that phone. Andrea could have been communicating with this guy. There could be his number, voicemails, and his email. Even pictures on the phone itself. That phone is the key,’ said Erika.

‘We need the resources to retrieve it,’ said Moss.

‘I’ll have a crack at Marsh,’ said Erika.

‘You sure? Isn’t that a bit risky?’ asked Moss.

‘I’ve known him a long time.’

‘He was an ex?’

‘God, no. I trained with him, and I introduced him to his wife. That’s got to count for something,’ said Erika. ‘And if it doesn’t, well, what have I got to lose?’

37

Chief Superintendent Marsh was forcing himself to eat his second crème brûlée. He was already full, but they were just so good. He gripped the ramekin and plunged his spoon through the crisp caramel with a satisfying crunch. Marcie had bugged him for one of those cook’s blowtorches for Christmas, promising she’d make him crème brûlée every week. She’d almost kept her promise.

He looked at her, bathed in the candlelight of their dining room. She sat next to him at the long dining table, and was deep in conversation with a round-faced man with dark hair whose name escaped Marsh. He’d been listening out all evening to see if Marcie mentioned this man by name, but so far she hadn’t. Forgetting the name of the head of her art class would guarantee nothing would happen in the bedroom later – and Marsh wanted her badly. Her long dark hair hung loose over her shoulders, and she wore a long floaty white dress which clung to the curve of her breasts. He looked around the table at their other three guests, thinking how unattractive they were in comparison: a middle-aged woman with scarlet lipstick, who was managing to look both grubby and elegant, an old man with a straggly beard and long fingernails, who Marsh was convinced had only come along for the free food, and a thin camp guy with mousy hair tied back in a ponytail. They were deep in conversation about Salvador Dali.

Marsh was wondering if it would be rude to offer them coffee whilst desert was still being eaten, when the front door knocker clattered. Marcie tilted her head to Marsh and frowned.

‘Don’t let me disturb you, I’ll go,’ he said.

Erika reached up impatiently and knocked again. She could see people were home; the curtains were drawn at the large bay window, and laugher seeped out with the soft glow of light. Moments later, the hall light came on and Marsh opened the door.

‘DCI Foster. What can I do for you?’

She noted he looked quite handsome in crisp beige chinos and a blue shirt rolled up at the sleeves.

‘Sir, you’re not picking up my calls and I need to talk to you,’ she said.

‘Can it wait? We’ve got company,’ said Marsh. He noticed Erika was clutching a pile of what looked like case files.

‘Sir, I believe the murders of Andrea Douglas-Brown and Ivy Norris are linked to three other murders. Young girls found in the same circumstances as Andrea. The murders have happened periodically since 2013. All found dumped in water in the Greater London area . . .’

Marsh shook his head, exasperated. ‘I don’t believe this, DCI Foster . . .’

‘Sir. They were all young Eastern European girls,’ said Erika. She flicked open a file and held up the crime scene photo of Karolina Todorova. ‘Look. This girl was just eighteen; strangled, her hands were bound behind her back with a strip of plastic and her hair was pulled out at the temples. She was dumped in the water like rubbish.’

‘I want you to leave,’ said Marsh.

She ignored him and pulled out two more photos, ‘Tatiana Ivanova, nineteen and Mirka Bratova, eighteen. Again, strangled, hands bound in exactly the same way, hair pulled out and dumped in water. All in a ten mile radius around central London. Even the type of girl is the same. Dark, long hair, hourglass figure . . . Sir, DCI Sparks has had this file for two days. The similarities are so obvious, even to a copper straight out of—’

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