Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dead Rite chapter 121.06

He gave an upward nod to the new arrivals. “Morning.”

Chambers ducked under the police tape and walked out of earshot of the neighbours before turning to wait for White. “What have we got, then?”

“No formal identification but best guess is Vera Cotman. Neighbours say they haven't seen her for a couple of years. Looks to me like she's been naturally mummified.”

“Really?” Chambers raised his eyebrows. “I've never seen that before. Mummification is something you generally only see in hot countries where the evaporation of the bodily fluids can occur faster than decomposition.” He paused. “And America, of course. There were several cases in the Journal of Forensic Science where bodies were desiccated by exposure to air conditioning. I've never heard of it happening in England, though.”

“Too damp?”

“Damp, yes. Too many insects, too.” He glanced behind him at Janet Parkes and her friend. “And nosy neighbours. I'm surprised you didn't get a call from them about her going missing.”

“The old man told them she'd died, apparently. We haven't questioned him yet.”

“You mean someone was living here? She wasn't alone?”

“No. The mummification was deliberate, at a guess.”

“There'll be a few charges levelled at him then?”

White shook his head. “Probably not. More likely we'll be recommending psychiatric care.”

“Ah.” Chambers tapped his temple. “'Nuff said.”

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