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‘Just what I thought,’ said Frost.

She flashed him another smile. ‘You are a clever dick.’

‘Kindly leave my dick out of this,’ said Frost.

She chuckled and began prodding about inside the stomach. ‘Want to know what her last meal was?’

‘It’s not on my list of priorities,’ replied Frost, turning his head away.

‘I understand you’re moving to Lexton. I don’t know the place. What is it like?’

‘I’d rather take a look at her stomach contents than go there,’ Frost told her. ‘You doing anything tonight?’

‘Eight o’clock,’ she said, ‘and don’t bloody well let me down this time.’

Frost gave her a happy thumbs up.

She leant forward and lowered her voice. ‘And bring your dick with you, you might need it.’

The autopsy over, he removed the green gown and dropped it in the bin, then went over to the desk to sign himself out.

‘If you’re going back to the station, Inspector,’ said the mortuary attendant, ‘perhaps you could give this to Superintendent Mullett.’ He took a bulging A4 manila envelope from his desk drawer. ‘He’s been asking for it. It’s the items that were in Detective Chief Inspector Skinner’s pockets when they brought him in.’

‘Right,’ said Frost, tucking it under his arm.

He chucked the envelope on the passenger seat of the car and switched on the ignition. Then he stopped. He picked up the envelope and rattled it. Metallic chinking. He ripped it open and tipped the contents on the seat. Some folded papers, receipts, a wallet with Skinner’s warrant card and… a bunch of keys. He snatched them up, not daring to hope. They were Skinner’s office keys – including the key to the filing cabinet in his office. The filing cabinet which contained all the dodgy car-expense claims, plus the form Skinner had made him sign requesting a transfer. All the evidence against him.

He leant back in his seat, lit up a cigarette and smiled happily to himself.

Frost dropped the complete file into the central heating furnace and watched it wither, curl and crumble to grey powder. Then he went upstairs to tell Mullett he had changed his mind about leaving Denton after all.