John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)




David Smith

e-mail: David Smith










The story is set in a quiet, small seaside town on the coast of West Wales in December 2013. The backdrop to the story is the magnificent coastline and scenery of Snowdonia

It is a fast paced thriller about a plot to assassinate Prince William by Welsh nation separatists. A core of 50 ex professional soldiers has been secretly embedded across Wales. These men will train and lead an IRA style resistance movement to bring about the separation of Wales from the UK. They need a high profile terrorist incident to start the uprising. There is a planned exercise to test the capabilities of the West Wales emergency services, a simulated terrorist attack on a train on a bridge across an estuary. Prince William will be in the Sea King helicopter taking part. They plan to assassinate him with the world’s media looking on. The mastermind behind the uprising is a powerful Whitehall mandarin who also controls SO 15, Special Branch. He plans to usurp the current anti-terrorist force in Wales and put his own man in charge. He will then enforce a Gestapo-like regime that will radicalise the population, helping to rapidly build a powerful resistance movement that in time would be legitimised and lead to the negotiated separation of Wales from the UK.

It starts with an incident on a remote beach leading to multiple murders, then moves on to their investigation. It is NOT formulaic but does contain lots of high octane action, police procedure and political intrigue.

The book is 130,000 words, with the first 3 chapters (the incident) written in 1st person singular present tense, and the rest (the investigation) in 3rd person plural past tense.

About the Author:

I am a retired businessman, married and live in a small village on the west coast of Wales near Barmouth (the town in the story). I was born in the north east and brought up on one of the toughest council estates in England. I went to college in London and after graduation worked in the food industry for twelve years, then the hospitality industry. In my career I’ve ran the purchasing and food & beverage functions for some of the biggest hotel and catering businesses in the UK. My wife runs her own business from home and this allows me the luxury of spending the winter months indulging my passion, writing. This is my fourth novel. I’ve also written drama and comedy scripts. The area where we live is one of outstanding natural beauty but nothing ever happens here. So, the book is set in and around the small seaside town nearby. I love reading and good drama but so much is now formula, especially the major crime & thrillers written for television. That’s the main reason I started writing, to try to create something that might be popular but not formula.





Sample Chapter

Chapter One

I’m sixty-four years old, retired and in good health, and live a quiet life alone in a small house near a nondescript seaside town on the Welsh coast called Abermôr. I have no real vices, a small circle of close friends and, to my knowledge, no enemies. This is the first person I’ve ever killed.

The man lying on the sand in front of me is definitely dead. I have just crushed the back of his skull with a spade. I hit him from behind with one powerful strike and he crumpled to the ground as soon as the spade connected with the back of his head. He was still breathing after the blow, albeit in shallow shuddering breaths so, to make sure he was dead, I shot him twice through the side of his head.

I’m fit for my age. One of the activities that keep me healthy is walking. My house is only a short walk from one of the longest stretches of unspoilt beaches on the coastline in West Wales. Every day, rain or shine, I walk my dog, a black Labrador bitch called Suki, for at least five miles along the beach. It is winter. The town is virtually deserted, and there’s hardly ever a living soul on my stretch of beach. The days are short and the weather here unpredictable. I can leave the house under a clear sky with hardly a breath of wind and return a couple of hours later with the wind blowing a hoolie and stinging rain hammering in sideways. It was the reverse of this today. I left for my walk with the dog at two this afternoon in a gusty, cold wind that carried chilling spits of rain. The sky is now cloudless, and the air cold but still. It is growing darker and dusk is approaching rapidly.

The wind carries sound here as the beach, apart from in between the rocky groynes, is open and flat. My encounter with the stranger I have just killed had not been quiet. I am confident, though, that nobody has seen or heard a thing. Apart from the sound of the spade on the back of the man’s head, neither I, nor the man made any significant noise at all, but Suki had made a racket. When she’d come upon the man suddenly the surprise of discovering a stranger in the mouth of one of the caves in the cliff face must have startled her.

The cliffs butt up against the flat, golden sands in the long, gentle curve of the headland. Rock groynes jut out into the sea like the spikes jutting from the head of the statue of liberty, with caves of various depths eaten by the sea into the cliff face in between them. The tide is coming in, and the seawater has cut off the point of the groyne to a depth of about a foot. This is okay for Suki to paddle through but I have to climb over the rocks by the cliff. I’m wearing canvas trainers, not waterproof footwear.

When Suki rounds the point she’s well up the beach towards the mouth of the cave before she sees the stranger. He is a tall, stocky man, in his late thirties, dressed in a raincoat, waterproof leggings and boots. His head and face are clean-shaven. He is digging in the mouth of the cave. I see this from above and slightly behind as I’ve just reached the top of the rocks near the cliff and looking down on the scene.

The dog and the man are both startled, neither expecting to see the other. Suki rushes towards the man but stops about two yards from him. She is barking and jumping into the air in a frenzy of excitement but goes no closer than this to the man. I am about to shout to him that she is harmless, then call the dog. But before I have time to react, the man throws down his spade and walks steadily and confidently towards Suki showing no fear. I think everything will be okay. Some people are naturally good with dogs.

As he walks towards Suki he unbuttons his raincoat and reaches inside it. To my horror he pulls out a gun, a stubby little revolver fitted with a silencer. I freeze in shock. Suki continues to jump and bark, but as the man steps towards her she retreats, keeping the same distance between them. He fires twice, hitting the dog in the head and chest. She does not yelp, just flops onto the sand. Instinctively I know she is dead, killed instantly. The secluded bay is quiet again except for the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

The man walks over and stands beside the body of the dead dog for a few seconds, then kneels down to examine Suki’s collar. He sees the name tag attached to it, a metal disc with her name, address and a contact telephone number engraved on it. He is engrossed in this, as if he’s trying to memorise every letter when I slip down from the rocks and pick up the spade the man had dropped onto the sand. I take a couple of quick steps towards the kneeling figure and hit him from behind with as much force as I can muster. He falls forward and lies on the wet sand. His body is in spasms and twitches obscenely. His eyes are open and his face is grotesquely contorted in a mask of pain. I know he is dying. I take the gun from his hand and make sure he is dead. Without thinking I put the gun in my jacket pocket.

I slide down onto my backside on the sand, and, despite the shock of everything that has just happened, notice it is cold and damp on my rear. I also notice that I’m panting heavily but not shaking. This surprises me. I hold up my right hand to my face and it is steady. I can hear my heart pounding and the rush of blood through my ears. I puff and blow to try to reduce my heart rate, in a frenzy of thoughts about what to do next.

The blood from the stranger’s head and from Suki has stained the sand but not formed pools. The sand is drinking it down thirstily. There is no movement other than from the incoming waves. After a couple of minutes I still don’t know what to do for the best. I can’t think straight. In all my life I have never been in anything remotely like the situation I find myself in now.

I stand up, scramble to the top of the groyne and look up and down the beach, straining my eyes in the fading light. There is nobody to be seen. Unless somebody is crouching down behind the groynes the beach is still deserted. I slip carefully back down to the wet sand. I know this spot, this whole section of beach, and know it’s not visible from the top of the cliff. There is a coastal path above us on the cliff top but it’s set back from the cliff by at least five yards, with a fence separating the path from the edge of the cliff. I know that the cliff here juts out over the mouth of the cave. For someone on the cliff top to have seen anything they would have to have climbed over the fence and crawled on their belly to the edge, then hung their heads over the top, looking back towards the cliff face. This is highly improbable.

I feel confident that I’m alone and unobserved, and relatively safe for now but I’m very scared. My fear is not only for what I’ve done and its consequences but that the man might not have been alone. Somebody could be in one of the other caves, or waiting somewhere on the route back to the road. I come to the conclusion that the man must be on his own. If he was with someone they may have seen what happened and ran away but I doubt this. Judging by the cut of the man lying on the beach in front of me, if he’d have had an accomplice, I would be dead by now.

In the last few minutes the tide has crept nearer to where I am standing. I need to do what I have to do next before it overwhelms me, and the two bodies. I walk towards the mouth of the cave where the man had been digging. I glance back towards the two bodies and the oncoming waves. I take out my mobile phone from my Anorak and think about calling the police, but decide against it. Not now anyway, I need to think things through before I speak to anyone. Besides, I can see on my phone that I couldn’t call even if I wanted to. There is no mobile signal this far along the beach.

I look back towards the cave mouth at what the stranger was doing. There is a deep hole with a pile of freshly dug sand beside it. I walk over and look down into it. At the bottom of the hole is what looks like a rubbish bag, a black plastic bin liner. It’s coated in wet sand. The hole is about four feet deep and circular. He must have been just about to bury it. I scramble into the hole and pull out the bag. It isn’t unmanageably heavy but is awkward to lift, as the wet sand keeps collapsing on top of the sack and my feet. I eventually pull it from the hole and lift it onto the sand, then clamber out. I move the black sack from the edge of the hole and lay it against the rocks at the base of the groyne. I then go back down the beach to the bodies and pick up the spade.

I judge by the speed the tide is coming in that I have about half an hour before the water reaches the mouth of the cave. I go back to the hole and dig to widen it. It’s hard labour and I need to rest after every half dozen or so spades full are removed, but in ten minutes the hole is over two yards long and four feet deep. I throw the spade down beside the hole and go to fetch the dead bodies, first Suki, then the man.

I drag her corpse to the edge of the hole. I pull the body by the rear legs. She is surprisingly light and easy to move. When I finish I look down the beach and see a long stain of blood in the sandy trail up the beach from where she was shot to where she is now. I kneel down and undo her collar, slip it from round her neck and put it into my Anorak pocket. I push her body with my foot and she flops into the hole.

Then I go back for the man. I first check his pockets before I move him. There are no car keys. This is good news. There won’t be an abandoned car left in one of the car parks in town for the police to investigate. I find a railway ticket. It’s dated with today’s date, an open dated return from Birmingham New Street to Abermôr. Whoever this man is he didn’t just happen here. He had set out deliberately for this town, this beach, and this cave. Was he someone from the area? I look at his face. He is a complete stranger to me. Did he intend to stay for a while or go straight back to Birmingham? There is a clear, plastic sandwich bag in his pocket. Inside are about twenty cartridges, I assume for the revolver. I put them in my pocket.

I find nothing else significant in his jacket pockets, some cash but no wallet, no mobile phone, no other keys of any kind. There is a handkerchief in his right side trouser pocket, and a pack of cigarettes and a disposable lighter. He has a wristwatch, cheap, digital. I remove and pocket the rail ticket but leave everything else as it was. I pull up his right arm sleeve then his left to check his arms for tattoos. There are none. I think he is, or was at some time, a soldier. Why? The gun? His physique? The cold-hearted way he shot my dog without conscience or compunction?

I pull the man’s body by its feet to the hole and roll him into it with my foot. He falls in exactly the position I want him to. He lies on top of Suki in a straight line running the length of the hole. I pick up the spade and am about to start filling in the hole when I remember the black plastic bag. A large wave breaks on the beach and its fingertips just reach the edge of the hole. I need to hurry.

I open the bag by tearing through the plastic with my fingers. There is not one but four black plastic bags, and I struggle to tear them open. Inside there is a holdall. I pull it from the shreds of the black bags and place it on the sand. It is khaki, has four pockets on the outside, one at either end and one on either side. All four are bulging, packed tight with something. The weight is in the main body of the bag though. I unzip it and pull the sides of the bag apart.

What I see turns my blood cold. For a moment I’m at a loss for what to do. I should put the bag right back where it came from, bury it with the bodies, but again I don’t know why but I don’t. I put the bag on the sand beside the hole, screw up the remnants of the black plastic bags and throw them into the hole with the bodies. Another breaking wave rushes up the beach, this time touching the rim of the hole leaving a smooth patch where the water dribbles over the edge. I need to hurry.

I pick up some of the smaller rocks from the edge of the groyne and throw them on top of the man’s body in the hole. When I think there are sufficient to make sure the corpses will not rise in time to the surface I start filling in the hole with the loose sand. It’s much easier filling in the hole and in minutes all the sand is back where it came from. I smooth over the surface just in time as a rush of water sweeps half way across the sand where the hole was, receding to leave no trace the sand had ever been disturbed there. In an hour the cave will be filled to a depth of about six feet with seawater. Whether the tide is ebb or neap makes no difference here. The cave always fills with water. A large wave crashes on the beach and engulfs the holdall, and I run across and I snatch it out of the water.

I transfer the bag to my left hand and take my mobile out of my pocket. I switch on the camera and take a single picture. I’m standing on the sand looking back towards the cave, and the sun is setting directly behind me. There is just enough light for a photo. I check the shot after I’ve taken it. I can see the marks where the sea hasn’t yet smoothed over the sand in the mouth of the cave, the shaft of the spade aslant against the rocks, and the cave itself. As I stand looking at the picture another large wave crashes on the beach and rolls into the cave mouth, drenching my feet.

The sand never shifts on this beach and particularly in the caves. The bodies will never be found. I put my phone away and run into the cave. There I dig a shallow trench with the spade, throw it in then bury it, pushing sand into the hole with my feet and smoothing it over with my hands. I just manage to get out of the cave before another huge wave breaks and a wall of water rolls into it removing all traces of where I’ve just buried the spade. I have to run through the ice-cold water to get onto the rocks of the groyne at the cave mouth.

The sun sets. The winter night falls very quickly here and in moments it is nearly dark. I scramble over the rocks towards home bumping along with the awkward holdall. There are about seven groynes between where I am now and the flat stretch of beach that I can walk on that is clear of the rising tide. It will take me about half an hour and will be hard work and dangerous especially carrying the holdall. The rocks are not easy to climb over, slippery and treacherous in the dark, but I reach the beach safely. It’s still deserted. My arms are tired and the bag now feels heavy. I need to keep swapping it from hand to hand as I trudge home wet and exhausted.

I feel frightened and stunned at what’s happened and what I have just done. I’m frightened of what the consequences might be. Until less than an hour ago I never believed I was capable of harming another human being, and now I have just killed a man. What’s more I did it in as cold-hearted a way as the man had killed my dog. I am too shocked to feel any grief for the death of my pet, my companion, my loyal and faithful Suki. I feel alone, vulnerable, and at a loss to know as to what I should do next, but most of all I feel exhilarated and alive.


When I arrive back at my bungalow it is nearly six o’clock. I have guests coming round this evening at seven. It is Friday, and every Friday night I play cards with a couple of friends. One, Tom, always brings his dreadful wife. She is a stupid woman that needs to be the centre of attention all the time. Whenever she opens her mouth crap falls out. I like Tom, so me, and my other close friend in the town, Alan, put up with it. Tom loves his wife and to him she can do no wrong. I wonder whether I can cope with her asininity tonight after such a day.

The house is in darkness but it is warm and I feel safer for being home. I have a log burning stove in my living room and an oil fired Aga in my kitchen. The warmth rolls over me like a comfort blanket as soon as I enter the house. I put the holdall down and switch on the lights in the living room and close the curtains. I then go to the kitchen and pour myself a very large whisky. I notice my hands are now shaking but I tell myself this is the cold, not the shock. I down the whisky in one then pour another but don’t drink it. I need to think clearly.

The next thing I do is hide the holdall. Everything must appear to be normal when my friends arrive so I have to be quick. I decide to put the holdall in the loft for now. My house is small. It has only two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. I have a small garden with a greenhouse and single garage attached to the side of the bungalow. I have no immediate neighbours. My plot is a small bite out of a large field. My neighbours are of the four legged variety, most often sheep but occasionally cattle.

Whilst the house is technically single storey, because it is built on sloping land the bedrooms are several feet higher than the lounge and kitchen. The loft is accessed from a small landing at the top of the three steps that separates the living area from the bedrooms. There is a metal pole that I keep against the wall between the bedroom doors that I use to push against the hatch. It then clicks open and the hatch cover drops down on a hinge. I use the hook at the end of the pole to pull down the loft ladder. The entrance to the loft is narrow and the ladder has to be pulled down to its full extent to access the loft. This I do, then climb up the ladder carrying the holdall. After a bit of a struggle I manage to push the awkward bag through the access onto the boards inside the loft. I push it about six inches away from the loft entrance, the opposite side to the where the ladder is hinged. I then climb back down the ladder. I’m just putting the loft ladder back into position when the front door bell rings. I hurry to push the ladder back into place, then press the hatch shut. The bell rings again. I notice there is dust on my shoulders from the loft so I brush it away as I go down the set of stairs and short passage to the front door. I open it just as Alan rings the doorbell again.

‘I was beginning to worry about you,’ he says, ‘I know you’re in ‘cos the lights are on but where’s the welcoming bark?’

He is right. Suki goes, or went frantic when the doorbell was rung. She would rush to the front door jumping and barking.

‘She’s disappeared off again,’ I say, almost as a reflex. I haven’t yet got my mind around what story I need to concoct about my missing dog, so I make it up as I go along. I’ve had Suki from a six-week-old pup. Living on my own and in such a remote location I wanted a dog for companionship and as a guard dog, well, early warning alarm anyway. Suki was no use as a guard dog. She would bark and jump around when a stranger turned up but was too eager to be stroked and fussed over to offer any menace. All anybody had to do was to hold out a hand towards her and she’d roll onto her back, wagging her tail furiously.

In the six years I’d had her she had ‘disappeared’ only once, and that was because she’d managed to get herself accidentally locked in the garage. Rather than bark to let me know where she was, she had curled up into a ball and slept the night away. I had thought she’d wandered off across the field. Her disappearance had annoyed rather than worried me. I’d looked for her but couldn’t find her and had gone to bed that night not exactly distraught, more slightly concerned but mostly irritated. I had found her the next day a little cold and hungry but otherwise none the worse for the experience.

I push back the door and turn to head towards the kitchen. Alan follows me, closing the door behind him.

‘Drink?’ I ask.

‘Cup of coffee, please. It’s a bit early for a beer.’ He is always the first to arrive. He always says this. I put the kettle on and take a clean cup from the cupboard and spoon into it some instant coffee granules.

‘Not like Suki to disappear off, especially in the cold and dark,’ says Alan, pulling out a chair from the small kitchen dining set I have in the corner. He sits down and slips out of his overcoat and hangs it on the back of his chair.

‘It’s not the first time,’ I say, ‘She can be a bloody pain when she wants to be, especially if she thinks she can scavenge something extra to eat.’ I want to expand on my story. I know that more serious questions will be asked by Alan and others when she doesn’t show up later, ’She was scavenging on the beach when I took her out this afternoon. I don’t know what she’d found but I caught her chewing something. I couldn’t get it out of her mouth before she swallowed it. She kept going back to the water’s edge nosing through the seaweed. I reckon she was eating a dead seabird. If she’s gone back down to the beach for a midnight feast she’ll get a walloping off me tomorrow.’

The kettle boils and I make Alan’s coffee and give it to him.

‘She was rolling in fox crap this morning. I had to give her a bath. She stank to high heaven. If she has run off she hasn’t got her collar on so I hope whoever finds her knows her and where she lives.’

I surprise myself that I can lie so easily and hide the grief I feel for the loss of my dog. Suki has been my closest companion for six years. I know she is lying dead and buried under four feet of sand about a mile from here. There is the dead body of a man in the sandy grave with her, a man I killed.

The doorbell rings again. I go and open it to find Tom and Annabel standing there. She is wearing a green, quilted, waterproof top coat that almost scrapes the floor, and a matching So’ ester hat. She looks ridiculous. Without being invited to, she steps inside the house, brushing past me, and turning back to face me.

‘This is my Christmas tree outfit, Jeff. Do you like it?’ She gives me a quick twirl and smiles like a goofy teenager, inviting me to flatter her.

‘Delightful,’ I lie. ‘It suits you,’ I add, this time not lying. She looks as stupid as the coat and hat.

‘Are you ready for another drubbing?’ says Tom, following her in. She slips out of the ridiculous coat and hands it to her husband. He takes the coat off her and hangs it up on one of the coat pegs in my hall.

‘Hardly,’ I say in answer to Tom’s question, ‘If you remember I trounced you last week. I think I took over two quid off you.’ We play for fun, not money. The winning and losing of such small amounts is a constant source of banter for our little group. Again I surprise myself. I have just killed a man, yet I can joke with friends as if nothing has happened.

‘Where’s the dog?’ says Annabel.

‘She’s dining out tonight,’ says Alan, ‘Apparently she’s found a source of food on the beach and Jeff thinks she’s sneaked off back down there for a late night picnic.’

‘Oh, poor wittle Suki,’ says Annabel in a silly babyish voice, ‘you don’t feed your wittle baby properly, Jeffwey, you howwid wittle man.’ I want to punch her in the mouth.

‘She’ll turn up when she wants some proper food,’ I say, and try to move us all along to the reason for the gathering, the card game. I pull out the folding green baize topped card table from behind the settee and busy myself setting it up and assembling the paraphernalia for the game, the cards, cribbage board, and plastic counters we use as chips as a substitute for real money.

‘Maybe we should all go out and look for her,’ says Annabel, not letting it go.

‘We’re not going anywhere,’ says Tom, and pointing an accusing finger at me he says, ‘This man owes me two quid from last week and I’m not only going to win that back but I may just take him for a tenner tonight as well. I feel lucky.’

‘…but poor wittle Suki,’ says Annabel.

‘Can I get you something to drink, Annabel?’ I know she loves to eat and drink, she’s a glutton, and likes her booze. This shuts her up about the dog.

‘Yes please. Can I have a VAT and some of those lovely crisps you always buy?’

‘No probs. Tom?’

‘Just a beer, thanks,’ says Tom.

‘Are you ready for a proper drink yet, Alan?’ Of course he is.


The card game drags on. I’m losing, much to the delight of Tom. I can’t concentrate. I keep thinking about the holdall and what was in it. I just want everyone to go home so I can think things through. At half past nine the cards are put aside while I make my guests some refreshments. Mercifully the dreadful Annabel has been relatively quiet so far. She had brought a magazine with her and was reading it from cover to cover, only occasionally piping up with a golden snippet of crap she had just read about the private life of some tacky ‘B’ list celebrity these rags are full of articles about. But at the break she starts.

‘If you men won’t go and look for that poor dog I’m just going to have to go out there in the cold and dark on my own and find her.’

‘Don’t be silly, darling,’ says Tom.

‘No, I’m going…and if you find me lying naked and dead in a ditch somewhere tomorrow you’ll just have to live with it for the rest of your lives.’

‘Suki can take care of herself,’ adds Alan, ‘She’s a big enough dog. No harm’s going to come to her.’

‘Jeff, I can’t believe you’re not worried about her,’ says Annabel accusingly, ‘Surely it can’t do any harm to just have a quick walk up and down the beach, if that’s where you think she’s gone.’

‘The tide’ll still be high,’ I say without thinking.

‘There you are then! She can’t be on the beach,’ snaps Annabel straight back at me, ‘unless she’s been trapped between the groynes by the tide.’

‘She’s got a point,’ says Tom, supporting his wife.

‘She’ll be on the beach, alright, but not by the cliffs. She’ll be scrounging what she can from the high tide line.’

‘…but Annabel’s right. She could be trapped between the groynes,’ says Tom.

‘Annabel has got a point,’ adds Alan, to my surprise. I glare at him but it goes unnoticed.

‘If she is then she’s stuck overnight. She knows she’s safe up on the rocks, she just has to climb up on them. I’ve seen her do it hundreds of times.’ I say, but I sound more annoyed with my guests than concerned about my pet.

‘We could go down and call for her, at least,’ says Annabel.

Alan nods in agreement, which again surprises me. I wouldn’t have expected him to voluntarily leave the warmth of the house and the card game on a fool’s errand.

‘Look,’ I say, my lack of patience showing through in the tone of my voice, ‘if she is stuck on the rocks by the tide and we call her, then she’ll try to swim round the points to us. She’s more likely to come to harm if she does that. If she doesn’t drown the waves would smash her against the rocks. She’s best left alone. If she’s not back in the morning I’ll search for her, alright?’ I use a tone that carries the message ‘this is the end of this discussion’ but Annabel is relentless.

‘I’m going anyway,’ she says putting her silly coat and hat on, ‘If you don’t care about that animal, I do.’

I lose my temper, ‘For Christ’s sake Annabel, mind your own bloody business for once.’ The words are out before I can stop them. The room is suddenly silent. After a few moments Tom says, ‘Come on ‘Bel, I think it’s time we went.’

I need everything to be as normal as possible. The last thing I want is for anyone to remember this particular night as being out of the ordinary. Already the evening is marked in everyone’s memory as the night the dog went missing. I can’t let it etch deeper marks in the memory of my friends.

‘I’m so sorry, Annabel,’ I say, trying to look contrite, ‘You’re so perceptive, aren’t you? I am worried…very worried about Suki. I just didn’t want it to spoil your evening. I didn’t mean to snap.’

‘That’s okay Jeff,’ she says, putting her pet lip away, ‘It’ll do no harm if we all have a quick walk down to the beach to help you look for her though, don’t you agree?’

She gets her way. The card game is abandoned and we all put our coats on and trundle down to the beach in the cold for a pointless half hour of calling Suki’s name.

It is a starless, moonless night and pitch black on the deserted beach. We stumble over the rocks for a short while until it’s decided between us that it’s too dangerous to carry on. Suki does not come to the repeated calling of her name. Heading home the others are ahead of me wandering back up the beach towards the road, still calling Suki’s name. I’m about ten yards behind thinking about the dog, the dead man and the hole he was digging. It hits me like a thunderbolt. The black bag was caked in wet sand. He wasn’t burying the holdall. He was digging it up.