Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes surveyed the remains of Manton Rempville monastery with a certain amount of incredulity. He’d heard that 100,000 pounds had been spent on preserving the ruins and he couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. Ruins were ruins for a reason and that reason was because the natural order of things, in Barnes’s mind at least, was gradual decay – preservation was only delaying the inevitable, like applying skin cream to wrinkles or a new coat of paint to a rusting car. The ruins were open to anyone and there was no entry charge, so they were never going to get their money back.

Barnes stiffened slightly as he saw DI Colin Knowles’s Land Rover chug into the car park and lurch to a halt too close to Barnes’s Morgan sports car for his comfort. He glanced down at the body and thought that Knowles would find this crime scene very interesting indeed. Knowles was on a new diet and his latest culinary delight was vegetable kebabs cooked on his nearly new barbecue. Even in the depths of winter.

Barnes walked across the uneven grass as a low, cold wind whipped across the historical site. He hadn’t seen much of Knowles in the past month as they’d both been away on holiday at separate times.

“Good morning, sir, how are you today?”

“Fair to middling, Barnesy old son, the diet’s working well, nearly ten pounds lost.”

“How’s the gym going?”

“Gradually doing more on the treadmill, lifting a few weights, and getting some stretching done on those large blue balls they have. That’s not easy – those balls are bouncy as hell – I almost fell off the first few times I tried to lie on the thing. Anyway, not only can I see my toes now, but I can almost touch them too.”

“That’s good to hear, sir. The trick to keeping the weight off is by committing to a lifestyle change rather thinking you’re on a diet.”

“Good point, Sergeant, lifestyle sounds very magazine like though, very posh Sunday newspaperish, but I know what you mean. Anyway, who or what do we have over there.”

The two men started to walk over to the eastern wall of the monastery’s refectory where the body had been found an hour earlier by Bingo the retriever, out on a long walk with his owner Adelaide Hills from Goat Parva. Both dog and owner were well known to the police from a few weeks previously when Bingo had made a habit of finding bodies in the early morning.

“According to his credit cards, his name is Edward Morgan; we are just running some computer checks to find out where he lives. It’s how he’s been killed that you will find interesting, sir.”