The wrought iron gate groaned from a single bent hinge which threatened to give way at any moment and send the twisted barrier to join its twin already on the ground. A thick blanket of snow half covered the tire tracks of the Rolls Royce that had wrenched the gates open on its collision course with the Sycamore tree a few metres inside the grounds of Highbury House. Steam hissed as it escaped from the radiator. In the driver’s seat, a young woman’s head lay against the steering wheel at an unnatural angle, green eyes staring into the next life.
Chief Inspector Steadman turned up the collar of his coat and thrust his gloved hands deep into his pockets as he trudged towards the car. The forensics team were already taking photographic evidence of the scene.
The coroner straightened up and squinted in the glare of the low sunlight as he met the Officer’s eyes. “There’s very little blood, bruising to her wrists suggest her hands had been tied, contusions to her throat. . . and her neck is broken.”
The Chief Inspector turned and scrutinised the interior of the car. The airbag had failed to deploy. “So the crash was staged?”
Steadman nodded and turned away from the scene, scribbling something in his notebook
The crunch of boots alerted him to the approach of his partner. “Witnesses?”
The Inspector shook her head. “No, Sir. The family are away for the holidays. The housekeeper raised the alarm this mornin’.” She frowned. “It’s not an accident, then?”
“No, Beth. It’s murder. This is a crime scene.”