The first body found on Hampstead Heath may have been a case of accident or suicide, but the second, buried in a shallow grave underneath, was certainly murdered.
No one knows why Michael Dalkeith chose to lie out in Hampstead Heath in the bitter cold, dressed only in a thin jacket. Whatever his reason, it led to the young Irishman’s death of exposure. But what makes DC Ainsclough call DI Harry Vicary (Improving the Silence, 2010) isn’t Dalkeith’s body; it’s the skeletonized remains of a young woman buried just below. Medical examiner John Shaftoe concludes that this victim was battered to death many years before. To find who she was and why she died, Vicary probes the life of the fresher corpse. Dalkeith had recently left his wife Annie and their home in moderately-plush Palmers Green to live in a room in Kilburn managed by WLM Rents. The room is an accommodation rental—let for free to those willing to do “odd jobs” for WLM, explains J.J. Dunwoodie, the rental agent. None of which explains why Ainsclough and fellow DC Frank Brunnie find the body of a young Welsh runaway lying in Dalkeith’s bed. A savage attack on Dunwoodie persuades Vicary that something is very wrong at WLM. But it takes persistence on his part, and the special talents of DC Penny Yewdall, to discover the extent of the corruption at WLM and its depraved owner Curtis Yates.
Whether it’s the London locale or a closer eye on the gritty details, Turnbull’s Vicary series is edgier than his Hennessey and Yellich entries (Aftermath, 2011, etc.).