When the elderly widow Maureen Pettigrew is found bludgeoned to death on the grave of her late husband, the case seems clear. Maureen is the latest victim of the cemetery mugger who has been terrorising Kensal Green cemetery for several weeks now.
However, the only suspect – a young man in jeans and a battered leather jacket – is a phantom no one except the cemetery caretaker has ever seen.
Can Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team find the young man in the leather jacket? And does he even exist?
This is a novelette of 7700 words or approx. 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone.
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- A Grave Case is a novelette of 7700 words or approximately 26 print pages in the Helen Shepherd Mysteries series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- A Grave Case also marks the fourteenth appearance of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, Detective Constable Kevin Walker, Scene of the Crime Officer Charlotte Wong, Dr. Rajiv and the rest of the team. This story also introduces two new characters, Detective Constable Leila Kermani and Detective Sergeant Barbara Ironside. We will probably see them again, if only because I like them both.
- A Grave Case is also one of the stories to come out of the 2020 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day in July 2020. I have done the July Short Story Challenge since 2016, but this is the only Helen Shepherd Mystery ever to be written during this challenge.
- The inspiration for this story was a news report about thefts and robberies on cemeteries.
- Coincidentally, this is not the first crime story I have written that is set on a cemetery and features someone robbing elderly widows. Loot is another, though it’s much more lighthearted.
- Kensal Green Cemetery in North West London really exists and is one of London’s biggest cemeteries, though less famous than Highgate. I chose it as a setting, because as a student in London in the 1990s, I lived only one tube station away and thus know Kensal Green well. Highgate I don’t know nearly as well.
- All of the various celebrities listed really are buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. Though the grave that touched me most was that of two brothers who’d died in the deadly crush at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield in 1989. Their grave was decorated with football fan paraphernalia, which is why stuck out, even though I didn’t make the connection of how they’d died until later.
- The four goth film students Helen and her team question were inspired by a group of goths I once met at Kensal Green Cemetery. They were also filming, though it seemed to be some kind of fashion shoot.
- Helen mentions the Weeping Angels, evil living statues which first appear in the Doctor Who episode “Blink” as well as in several episodes thereafter.
- The cover is stock art by Jazella.