White extracted another nail before he looked out again. “Oh dear.”
“What?” Peters was directing the scene of crime officers to the front room and warning them about the hazardous footing.
“A deputation of the neighbours brigade.” He straightened his tie and stepped out to meet them, dodging past the two constables with a roll of crime scene tape.
“Are you the man in charge?” A middle aged woman with a chest that suggested she worked in the entertainments industry addressed him.
“Detective-inspector Cameron White of the Laverstone Serious Crimes division.” He made a policeman's stance to block the front gate. “And you are?”
“Janet Parkes from number thirty.” She pointed to a semi with its own drive, a neat lawn and net curtains at every window. “Has he died?”
“Has who died, madam?”
“Ted Cotman, the old gent who lives here. He lost his wife a few years back, poor soul.”
“So he said, only we didn't see no funeral.” A man about Janet's age in a shirt and tanktop that the sixties probably wanted back.
“What was her name?” White raised an eyebrow. “Just for our records.”
“Ooh. You've got me there.” She stroker the three hairs on her chin. “Something Forties-era. Margaret? Marylin?” She looked at the man.
“Don't look at me. I never knew her.”
“Vera. That's it.” She stabbed her finger at White. “Vera Cotman.”
“Does he have any relatives, do you know Mr...?”
“Pullman, Harold Pullman. I've never seen anyone visit.”
“He's got a daughter. Lives in London, I think” A younger woman who looked to be in her twenties. “Erica Bright, number thirteen. I walk his dog sometimes. I knew something was up when Toby appeared at my back door. Ted doesn't normally let him out of the garden. Did you leave the gate open?”
White sighed. “Perhaps on of my constables. I'm terribly sorry.”
“So is he dead, then? Suspicious circumstances?”
“Mr Cotman was injured by an assailant. That's all I can tell you at the moment.”