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T he outside of the church was old, with ivy-covered stone walls and a moss-spotted slate roof. There were modern touches, though, including wire mesh over the windows, anti-climbing paint on the drainpipes and a CCTV camera covering the main entrance. At some point the interior had been modernised on a budget, with cheap pine pews and a carpet that was already wearing thin in places. There was only one other person sitting in the pews, a middle-aged woman at the front on the right, curly ginger hair tucked behind her ears.

Not much of a turnout, muttered Nightingale. He turned to look at Jenny but she had vanished, then he realised that she was kneeling down, crossing herself. What are you doing? he whispered.

Its a church, Jack. This is what you do. She stood up. Come on, sit down.

They moved to the left and sat down. Directly in front of them were two wooden coffins, plain varnished teak with imitation brass handles. There was a small wreath of white flowers on top of each.

I guess they didnt have many relatives? whispered Jenny.

Lindas side of the family are mainly out in Australia, said Nightingale. And they never had kids.

A young vicar in black vestments walked out of a side door and strode up to the pulpit The service was mercifully short: a sermon and two prayers and it was over.

The vicar came over and introduced himself with a handshake that was as soft as an old womans and then hurried away. As Nightingale and Jenny headed out of the church, the ginger-haired woman who had been sitting at the front walked over. She wearing a fawn belted raincoat and carrying a black leather shoulder bag.

Are you Jack Nightingale? she asked.

In the flesh, said Nightingale. Are you a friend of my aunt and uncles?

The woman shook her head and took a small black wallet from her coat pocket. She flipped it open and flashed her warrant card. Detective Sergeant Janet Bethel, she said. Greater Manchester Police.

So youre not a family friend, then? said Nightingale.

I was the investigating officer, she said, ignoring his attempt at sarcasm and putting the card away. Not that there was much to investigate. I wish all my cases were as clear-cut. She grimaced. Im sorry, I didnt mean to sound so callous. Its been a rough few weeks.

Its not a problem, said Nightingale. I know what its like.

Of course you were in the Job, werent you?

In the Met. In another life.

And you found the bodies?

Thats right. Im surprised we havent met before. I spoke to the uniforms at the scene but no one from CID ever followed up.

My boss didnt see the need, said Bethel. It was a clear case of murder-suicide. Her blood all over the axe, along with his fingerprints and DNA; blood spatter all over him, fibres from the rope on his hands, the rope that hed used to hang himself with. You didnt have to watch much CSI to work out what happened. I said it was my case but really all I did was sign off on the paperwork.

So, forgive me for asking, but why are you here? asked Nightingale.

Its just something I do, said the detective.

Nothing to do with the case?

Like I said, the case is closed, said Bethel. I just feel its difficult to say. The fact that Im the investigating officer means theres a connection, and the funeral is part of that. She forced a smile. It sounds crazy, I know.

No, it doesnt, said Jenny. I think its a lovely thing to do. It shows that you care. And in this day and age thats a rare quality. She held out her hand. Jenny McLean, she said. Im afraid Jack isnt great with the social graces. They shook hands.

I thought thered be more people here, said Nightingale, looking back at the church. I mean, I know Uncle Tommy didnt have any family other than me and Lindas family is mainly in Australia, but even so

I asked the vicar about that, said Bethel. They were well liked in the area and several of the parishioners had asked when the funeral was, but they all backed off when they found out it was a joint funeral. I think they were a bit loath to be saying prayers for your uncle, after what he did. She looked at her wristwatch, a cheap black Casio. I must be going, she said. The boss never likes me to be long at these things.

Well, thank you for coming, anyway, said Nightingale.

No problem, said Bethel. Youre going back to London?

Nightingale nodded. Theres not much to keep me here, he said. Do you know whats happening to the house and everything?

Its messy, she said. They both had wills but she died first so everything passed to him. And I gather his will left everything to her. I dont think he expected to outlive her. The lawyers will work it out, Im sure, after theyve taken their cut. Why dont you give me your card and Ill call you if anything crops up? Nightingale fished a business card out of his wallet and gave it to her. She took it and thanked him. And Im sorry about your loss, she said.

Nightingale and Jenny watched the detective walk away down the path. Shes nice, said Jenny.

I suppose so, for a cop.

You were a cop.

Yeah, thats how I know that most cops arent nice. Theres only one reason I know that a cop would go to a victims funeral.

In case the killer turns up. She laughed at the look of surprise on his face. Come on, Jack, I watch CSI. Everyone knows that.

But in this case they know Uncle Tommy did it. So why is she here?

Maybe she wanted to meet the famous Jack Nightingale.

Notorious rather than famous, he said. But maybe youre right. He ran a hand through his hair. Do you wanna grab a coffee before we head back?

Just so long as you dont expect me to make it for you, she said, smiling sweetly.

| Midnight | c