Liam moved his finger back and forth in front of us. Both? Was there anything in the bedroom? she asks.

Because of the snow he couldn’t tell where the path ended and the water began, so, sticking close to the band of trees that lined the edge of the boating lake, Lee carefully made his way round towards the sound of the ringtone. It was a desperately light tune, and as he drew nearer he could hear that it was coming from the boat shed.

Erika came to a halt at a smart end-of-terrace house. She wished the drive had been longer.‘Would you like us to come in with you?’ asked Erika.

‘No, I wouldn’t. I just need some time and space, thank you. I’ve been through a great deal, as I’m sure you will appreciate… If I were you, I’d go straight over and arrest her brother. It’s Gary, I’m telling you.’ Estelle waggled a crooked finger. She undid her seatbelt with difficulty and removed the court shoes from the plastic bag.‘Mrs Munro, we will need to send some officers over for you to make a formal statement, and we need someone to come and identify your son’s body,’ said Erika, softly.‘I saw him once, like that… I don’t want to do it again. Ask her, ask Penny,’ Estelle said.

‘Of course,’ said Erika.Peterson got out of the car and round to the passenger side. He took Estelle’s shoes and placed them on her feet, then helped her out of the car to her front door.

‘Looks like this is getting interesting,’ said Moss quietly to Erika. ‘Money, property, families at war: never bodes well.’

They watched Peterson help Estelle up the steps. She opened her front door and vanished inside.What are you huffing and puffing about? Sophia asked. You sound like a teakettle about to go off.

We’re being shunned, he said in a low voice, so the child wouldn’t hear. Or at least, our guide is.Sophia’s bewildered expression turned to one of muted surprise when he pointed it out to her, splashing through the puddles of the next narrow street. What confused him, truthfully, was that, despite their firm action, these people bore no signs of disgust, or even scorn. No obvious markers, such as sneers, or hateful, distrusting eyes. In fact, their expressions were as serene as marble statues, and once their party had passed, the men and women would turn back around and continue on their way. It made his skin prickle and tighten around his bones.

The boy glanced over his shoulder and must have caught his expression, for he said, Don’t be troubled, sir. They cannot help it.Which meant…what, precisely? They were somehow being compelled? And in such perfect uniformity?