Chapter 11


Wood Street police station was crowded and noisy. Ludovic arrived there exactly 15 minutes late. He hoped that Belacar was too busy to notice. By the time he had spoken to the officer on duty behind the desk, signed his name in a reassuringly low-tech visitor register and been buzzed through the double security doors it was 2.20pm.

Belacar was waiting for him as he pushed open the heavy door, he had a cardboard shoe box in one hand and a half-eaten sandwich in the other.

“Thanks for coming over,” he said. “I’ve got a room through the back.”

They walked together through a busy office where a mixture of officers in uniform and plain clothes all seemed to be talking loudly on the phone as they sat at their desks. One wall of the office was lined with drab filing cabinets. In a corner there was a vending machine with a notice saying “Broken” taped to the front.

“Sorry, it’s pretty hectic here at the moment,” Belacar apologised. “This is the only room I could get.” He opened a door and ushered Ludovic into a small, gloomy office with one frosted window set high in the wall. “It’s where we usually put the auditors.”

They sat facing each other alongside the desk.

“So what did your textile guru say?” Asked Belacar.

“Well,” began Ludovic, “after she had finished complaining that I was wasting her time, she told me that we have got a small piece of a waterproof jacket. Or trousers. She said that the fabric could have been made at any time in the last ten years. It’s the sort of thing that cyclists might wear, or runners. Lightweight, breathable, that sort of thing. She also said that if I could find out the brand, I shouldn’t buy it because it hadn’t worn very well”

Belacar nodded.

“A cyclist. Wearing a waterproof jacket. That doesn’t narrow it down very much. We’ll see if we can find out a bit more. Have you kept the sample?”

“Yes, it’s here.”

Belacar tapped the shoe box on the desk.

“I’d like you to look at this.”

He opened the box and took out a small plastic bag. Opening the bag he tipped out a small object and handed it to Ludovic.

It was the ring. He cupped it in his hand, heavy for its size and blackened.

“Pewter?” He asked, “or brass? Where was it?”

“It was on the middle finger, left hand of the female. The forensic team uncovered it.”

Ludovic held the ring up to the strip light and peered closely.

“It’s engraved.”

“Yes, a pair of initials, they look like JB. Have you seen anything like it before.”

“Rings like this are not uncommon,” said Ludovic. “There are several in the museum of London. I’d have to check but I think that they usually date from mid-sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries. Poor people’s jewelry usually. Rich people would wear gold or silver, if they weren’t afraid of being robbed. London was a vicious place.”

Belacar smiled. “It still is sometimes, believe me.” He reached into the shoe box again.

“We also found this.”

He placed a flat mud-brown triangular object on the desk.

Ludovic picked it off the flat surface with difficulty.

“It feels like a credit card.” He ran his finger along the edges. “It’s the right size, broken in half.” He scratched the broken edge with his nail to reveal yellowing plastic.

“We think it’s an ID card, look there’s the shape of a hole in the top edge, where it broke. There’s no magnetic strip and no RFID chip embedded, but it’s stamped on one side with some sort of logo or crest.”

Ludovic ran his finger over the surface and could just feel the grooves in the smooth plastic. He turned it backwards and forwards in the light, but could not make out the image.

“Where was it?”

“In the hand wearing the sixteenth century ring.”

2 Responses to “Chapter 11”

  1. 1 Fiona from Perth

    Enjoying the twists and turns of this. Makes me want to keep reading and find out what happens. Keep going – this is good (can you get a page turner in a blog?) 🙂

  2. I started reading with this chapter, which may have been a mistake – I just assumed it was a wacky reference to a song (or possibly a bankruptcy law) I didn’t know. Also I read it on a iPhone which meant I didn’t notice the other chapter headings….

    Having read the twist in the tale first, I then went back and thoroughly enjoyed all the other chapters. How have you found time to do all the research? Move over Hilary Mantel, here is a historical novel where I really want to keep on reading. Bring on chapter 12!

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