Jay, a woman with a new identity is now living in the seaside village of Oxhope. It hasn’t yet been revealed why she’s there, or what happened in her past that has meant she had to start a new life, but she’s beginning to settle into it. She’s begun to make friends, including two women similar in age to her, called Emma and Gemma. Jay and Emma unexpectedly and very shockingly find the body of a murdered woman, and are intensively questioned by the police. Jay didn’t know, Kari, the poor victim, but had seen her at a music festival at the local pub where she had seemed very interested in a local band, Off With Her Head. Several weeks later Jay is in the local pub when her neighbour joins her as she’s having lunch. The woman is only being friendly, but Jay is ever-suspicious, ever wary:
“It was terrible about the woman who was murdered, wasn’t it, so close to us as well,” Gilly said.
“Shocking, absolutely shocking – can I get you another drink?” and Jay jumped up and went to the bar.
She stood waiting to be served, and her hand was shaking so much she could hardly get her bank card out. She tried to do her breathing, to silently recite her mantra, to calm herself. The juke box came on, an old ,old song – maybe in a different life a mother had sung it, the refrain look at me standing, here on my own again… no need to run, no need to hide…
“Yes, love?” the man behind was asking, and calmed, she ordered drinks for her and Gilly.
Back home in her safe space, having endured – no, she corrected herself, enjoyed Gilly’s chatter, as they walked back together, declining her invitation in for a coffee – or tea if you prefer – she was upstairs, sorting herself out to do some work.
Instead she found herself chasing the band, listening to them in the various clips on their facebook page, and their scrappy website.
They had been around for years, with changing line-up, Louis had been with them for a couple of years and before that he too had been in various local bands. They were all ordinary, local lads of various ages, ordinary, ordinary, ordinary. And Kari,, when she brought herself to look at her facebook page,, she too was just ordinary, friends, pub, holidays, weddings, babies, hair styles, ordinary, ordinary,, ordinary.
Perhaps it was just ordinary hatred, jealousy, anger which had brought death to her – but such barbarism, such ferocity, what insanity had driven that. And surely whoever did it must have been strong, it wouldn’t have been easy to inflict such injuries.
No doubt the police had psychologists looking at the details of the act.
Jay had tried to avoid thinking about the crime. She’d met up with Em and Gem several times when their work schedules allowed, and they had continued to quiz together along with Ed and various friends of his. Jay had worked hard, losing hers;ef in the dullness of it, the routines of it.
But the person she used to be was stirring beneath her superficial control, and that person was brave and curious and truth-seeking.
Jay and her other self had no idea who had killed Kari, or why, but she puzzled over the how. How had the perpetrator got out of the house, when Jay had been walking along the High Street in one direction, and Em had been walking towards her, hidden round the bend, coming in the opposite direction. The neighbours on either side of the house had seen nothing, nor the people whose garden, across the stream, opposite Kari’s house. The police in waders had gone up and down, as far as the sluice downstream and as far as the gated culvert upstream, and no single sign of anything suspicious was found.
It was as if the killer had vanished into thin air.