As a coastal area of outstanding natural beauty, Ilfracombe boasted sharp cliffs and magnificent landscapes, all destined for exploration. Little did Alan Dymond, who loved living on that stretch of coastline, know his North Devon community would soon be famous for something else - the murder capital of the West Country. Natural beauty was forgotten for DI Dymond, as he stood staring at the horrible scene before him. Three people lay dead on the cold floor of the disused nunnery. He looked over at DS Copperwaite, his face a question mark. He’d never, in all his years as a policeman, come across such a murder scene. It looked so peaceful and bloodless. “Who called it in?” he asked his colleague.
Alisha Copperwaite checked her notes. “An anonymous male.”
“What was he doing here?”
She shrugged “Up to no good, Oi’ll be betting.”
“We need to foind him. Make that a priority.”
Puzzled, he asked, “So why were they brought here?”
“Don’t know, Guv,” Alisha shrugged.
Taking a closer look, he said, “Have they got any ID on them?”
“How inconsiderate of them,” he retorted. He often made light of murder victims - his way of dealing with the horror. More sensitive types found some of his remarks to be offensive. But DS Copperwaite, having worked alongside the DI for five years, had become impervious to his cold, dispassionate and sometimes eccentric ways. He would stare intensely at people but say nothing. He could be suddenly irritable, but she put up with it because he was a good detective - instinctive copper - a plodder who usually got results. Besides, she had a bit of a soft spot for the middle-aged officer who put her in mind of the American movie star, Robert Duvall.
The building had been there for as long as Alan could remember, but it was the first time he had stepped foot inside the Sacred Heart Nunnery, in Queens Road. From outside, the grey stone building resembled a mixture of both a church and a country home. Its grounds, confined by an eight-foot stone wall that ran around three sides of the building, cut it off from the wooded landscape at the back of the nunnery. Until the three bodies had turned up there, it had remained empty since it’s closure, 15 years before.
DI Dymond saw Jimbo Barnes crouching over one of the victims. Approaching the police pathologist, he said, “So what have you got for us?”
The Forensic scientist looked up. “You took your sweet time getting here.”
“Well, they’re not exactly going anywhere,” Alan quipped, indicating the bodies. “So what have we got here?”
“Three bodies. Two male, one female.”
“Tell me something Oi doesn’t know.”
Jimbo looked at him. “They were shot.”
“Time of death,”
“Preliminary guess. Somewhere between two to three days.”
“Don’t you mean hours?” Alan, enquired, puzzled.
“I know what I mean, inspector.”
DI Dymond crouched to get a closer look. “Oi am no expert, but they look loike fresh deaths to me,”
Jimbo smiled, “Yes, puzzling isn’t it.”
“Unless they were killed somewhere else and brought out here.”
“Why would the killer do that. And why here?” Alan mused.
Jimbo looked at him and smiled. “It’s your job to work that out, inspector. Mine is to get these three on the slab ASAP.”