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Crime Scene

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Constable Tegan Jovanka recognised the sound of the approaching car at once. There was only one vehicle she knew with that particular wheezing note in its engine, and that characteristic rattle from the suspension. Sure enough, the familiar blue Morris Minor swiftly became visible through the thinning river mist, and drew up at the end of the road with a groan of brakes.

Inspector Smith emerged from the car and surveyed the overgrown river bank with the same spirit of friendly appreciation that he seemed to extend to every landscape. Looking not so much serene as carsick, Doctor Nyssa deTraken climbed out of the passenger seat and retrieved her medical bag.

"Morning, Tegan," the Inspector said. "What's the situation?"

"The body's down there," Tegan said, pointing. "Well above the waterline. Looks like he rolled down the bank. Can't see any obvious injuries, but that's Doctor deTraken's department."

"I'll get on with my examination straight away," Nyssa said.

"Take care, it's slippery."

"Thanks." Nyssa began to clamber down the bank to where the body lay. Tegan, meanwhile, turned back to the Inspector.

"There's one witness I think you should speak to," she said. "He turned up about half an hour ago. Says he works for the Guardian."

"A journalist? What did you make of him?"

"Shifty character, if you ask me." Tegan shook her head. "I'm sure he's got some connection with this case. Why else would he be hanging around here when sensible people are still in bed?"

"We're here," the Inspector pointed out. "But we'd better not keep him waiting. You said he's here?"

Tegan pointed towards a nearby range of buildings, where a redheaded, sharply-dressed man was, in her opinion, skulking. "There he is. Says he's called Turlough."

"Thank you, Tegan." The Inspector gave the building a thoughtful look. "Who owns that place?"

"Says 'Mawdryn and company' on the front door. You want me to go round there and ask if they've seen anyone? Shouldn't think they're in yet."

"Yes, I'd leave that for a bit." He patted her on the shoulder. "You just stay here and keep an eye on things."

He strolled in Turlough's direction, leaving Tegan once more by herself. She paced briefly, trying to place the fragments of evidence they had so far into a coherent picture. If Turlough had been on the scene this quickly, he almost certainly knew what was going on. They'd have to check if he had a connection to the victim... once they'd identified the victim, of course.

With that thought in mind, she walked back to the riverbank and looked down. Nyssa was kneeling beside the body, bent over its head, but she looked up at the sound of Tegan's footstep.

"Impatient as ever, I see," she said.

"There's nothing else to do. When d'you think he died?"

"Two to six hours ago, perhaps? I'll know more once I've done the full autopsy."

"Right."

"As for how he died, I'll have to wait for the analysis. It could well be poison, but if it is, it's not any of the common ones."

"You mean there are poisons even you don't know about? Come off it. You know the lethal dose for every orchid in South America."

Nyssa smiled faintly. "Everything's poisonous with the right dose. But it might not be poison at all. There are certain rare autoimmune diseases which present similar symptoms."

"So he could have just been walking along the river and dropped dead of his own accord." Tegan shook her head. "I don't believe in coincidences like that."

"You've got a suspicious mind," Nyssa said, returning to her examination of the body.

Tegan turned, surveying the riverbank with a jaundiced look. "In this job, who wouldn't?"