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‘Yes, a resident of the Cedars.’

‘Tell me again why we’re going there?’

‘This is the second death at the Cedars in a month, and so it flagged up.’

‘But it’s an old people’s home.’ He didn’t mean to be insensitive, but… ‘Have we any reason to think there’s foul play?’

Yet he knew the drill as well as she, and so prepared himself for the minor tragedy awaiting: the relatives, the friends, the carers accepting the inevitable.

‘Anyway,’ she added as they nearer the building, ‘the Cedars isn’t an old people’s home, it’s a trust run privately on behalf of the residents.’

Who all happen to be elderly, thought the Inspector, who knew the place and had passed it often without ever being inside. Indeed so close was the building to the police station that as they approached he wondered whether he might have better advised his Sergeant to park back at base and accompany him there on foot. But his thoughts were interrupted as they joined the Crescent that shared the building’s name.

Cedars Crescent was a quiet road between two thoroughfares, as silent as a London square and dominated by the clutch of trees that gave it its name and which had resisted the development all around them to remain within the Crescent’s shallow arc. The trees drew the eye from the unassuming block of apartments opposite. The building was a smart one, and one which, even for all the times he must have passed it, Grey had not fully appreciated. Two storeys high excluding the ground floor and dominated by six large windows running along each, the building was perhaps the width overall of four large houses put together. It was of simple design but all the more elegant for that, and finished – for decorated was hardly the word – with jade marble panels linking each window with those above and beneath it and which over time had weathered to match the foliage of the trees across the road.

‘Not much activity outside,’ observed Grey (as he was commonly known) as the car turned off the Crescent and pulled in along the service-road that ran beside the property toward the carpark at the rear. Grey noticed then for the first time that there was no door at the building’s front.

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