drug user?’
    ‘Of course he’s not,’ stated Olivia, now shocked into indignation.
    ‘And just how do you know that?’ the SHO continued. It was beginning to feel more like an interrogation. ‘Does he spend every evening and night at home? Is he around all the time at the weekends? Kids can get up to all sorts of dangerous stuff that their parents couldn’t even imagine.’
    After a short interval of silence, Olivia was honest enough to admit that since he had started at college, Ben was often away all night and hardly ever spent an evening or weekend at home – and, even when he did, he shut himself into his bedroom, which he had forbidden them to enter.
    ‘Have you ever caught him either in possession of or taking drugs?’
    ‘I caught him once quite recently smoking a spliff in his bedroom and I was absolutely furious, mainly because of how it could affect my position professionally, and I just didn’t think he’d be that stupid after all I’ve told him about the addicts I’ve had to deal with.’
    ‘Maybe that’s why he’s hidden the majority of what he does from you, he’s conscious of your job. He probably feels very hemmed in, and taking drugs might be more a way of rebelling than anything else.’
    ‘When we get home we’re going through his room to see what else he’s got hidden away in there. I can’t go through this again. We shouldn’t need to watch him as if he were a toddler again.’
    ‘We can always arrange psychological help for him if it seems appropriate,’ said the SHO. ‘Anyway, I think we should leave the discussion of what has happened, and how to deal with it, until this afternoon, so that your son can join in.’
    As one, the parents stood up to leave the room, their son gently snoring in the bed, and left the hospital in silence. Once in the car park, Olivia and Hal turned to one another.
    They avoided starting a conversation until they had driven home. This needed some time to sink in. Had they really neglected him so much that he had got into drugs just to be noticed? All sorts of sources of guilty possibility swirled round Olivia’s head as they headed back to Littleton-on-Sea, which was about ten miles away.
    Back in their cottage, Hal made coffee on automatic pilot. Olivia, despite her anxiety about her son, felt it necessary to check in with Lauren to let her know what was happening and to find out what was going on in the murder investigation. She was dismayed to learn of the new murder.
    ‘I’ve got it covered, boss,’ said Lauren, although she felt less than comfortable being the SIO, ‘you do what you need to do before coming back.’
    ‘I feel so guilty leaving you alone,’ said Olivia, ‘but thanks for the breathing space. Do you have all the necessary support you need for now?’
    ‘Yes, and Lenny Franklin thinks he may know the victim, so that will be followed up later. See you when you’re ready.’
    Olivia put the phone down, thinking yet again how difficult it could be to balance work with family. It seemed like she was always walking a fine line between the two.
    She cut some sandwiches in absolute silence. Only when the plates were in the sink and the cups refilled did she and Hal begin to talk about how they could have found themselves in the middle of such an unbelievable situation.
    When they had got to the bottom of it, there would probably have to be alterations to both their schedules, with a bit more active parenting involved. Then again, the boy was eighteen. If he’d gone away to college and lived in halls, would this still have happened, or was it a symptom of feeling trapped, living with his parents?
    When the scenario on the sands had been wrapped up and the body taken away to the rapidly filling mortuary, Lenny Franklin headed back to the station as quick as he could, eager to speak to Monty Fairbanks, the archivist. He was the fount of all local knowledge, even more so than Lenny himself, and

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