Erika grabbed the radio. ‘This is DCI Foster. I need someone today, now, as soon as you can. This is new evidence which we’ve found at the 14 Laurel Road crime scene, SE23.’
There was a pause and a couple of beeps.
‘We’ve just got a technician finishing up on a burglary over at Telegraph Hill, I’ll radio for her to come over as soon as she’s finished. Although can you authorise overtime?’ replied the tinny voice through the radio.
‘Yes. I authorise overtime,’ Erika snapped.
‘Okay,’ came the voice.
Erika replaced the frame on the wall and removed the gloves. ‘Okay, so we’ve got a little wait. Moss, you come with me. Let’s talk to this neighbour who’s back from holiday. Mrs Munro, would it be okay if DI Peterson waited with you?’
‘Yes. Would you like a cup of tea, dear?’ asked Estelle.
The neighbours were a couple in their late thirties: a white woman called Marie and a black man called Claude. Their house, opposite number 14, was smart and stylish, and they had an urban coolness about them. The hall was still filled with several brightly coloured suitcases, and they ushered Erika and Moss through to their kitchen. Marie grabbed some glasses and filled them with water and ice from the dispenser in the door of a large stainless steel fridge. She handed Moss and Erika a glass each. Erika took a long drink, savouring the coolness.
‘We were shocked to hear about Dr Munro,’ said Marie, when they were settled around the kitchen table. ‘I know this area isn’t the nicest, but murder!’ Claude sat next to her and she reached out and grabbed his hand. He squeezed hers reassuringly in return.
‘I can understand how harrowing it must be. Although we do stress that, statistically, murder cases are still extremely rare,’ added Erika.
‘Well, statistically, a bloke being knocked off in his bed a few doors down is one too many!’ said Claude, rolling his eyes.
‘Of course,’ said Erika.
‘We need to ask if you’ve noticed anyone unusual hanging around?’ asked Moss. ‘Anything, however small… In particular, on the 21st of June between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.’
‘It’s not that kind of street, love,’ said Marie. ‘We’re all too busy working and living to peer out of the window at our neighbours.’
‘Would you have been in that day, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.?’ asked Erika.
‘That was around four weeks ago…’ Marie started.
‘Yes, it was a Tuesday,’ replied Moss.
‘I’d have still been at work. I’m an accountant in the City,’ said Marie.
‘I finish work earlier, and I work locally for the council,’ added Claude. ‘If it was a Tuesday, I’d have been at the gym. Fitness First, down the road in Sydenham. They can vouch for me, we have to swipe a card to get in.’
‘It’s okay. You’re not suspects,’ said Erika. ‘Did you know Gregory Munro well?’
They shook their heads.
‘He was always pleasant and polite, though,’ added Claude. ‘He was our GP, but we never had to go. I think we saw him once, a few years back, when we registered.’
Erika and Moss exchanged a despondent glance.
‘There is one thing,’ started Claude. He took a sip of his iced water and rolled it around his mouth thoughtfully. Condensation dripped off the glass onto the wooden table.
‘Anything at all, however small,’ said Moss.
‘Oh, yes,’ agreed Marie. ‘Yes, I’ve seen them too.’
‘Seen who?’ asked Erika.
‘There seemed to be quite a few handsome young men in and out of Dr Munro’s house in the past few weeks,’ said Claude.
Erika looked at Moss. ‘Can you be more specific?’
‘You know, muscly types,’ said Marie. ‘I thought the first one was some sort of hunky workman that Dr Munro had employed, but then the next day a different young man knocked on the door and went in. He was so good-looking. Sort of high-end good-looking, if you know what I mean.’
‘Like a rent boy?’
‘Yeah. And they only seemed to stay for an hour or so,’ added Claude.
‘What time was this?’
‘The first two were on weekdays. I can’t remember which days. I was coming home from work, so around seven-thirty… Dr Munro sort of hustled the first guy inside when he saw me passing, just said a quick hello. And then an hour or so later, we’d just had our supper and I was in the living room and I saw him leave,’ said Marie.
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