On a hot summer’s day the Thames towpath between Kew Bridge and Mortlake Crematorium is stippled with sunlight spilling through willow fronds and shading oaks. Birdsong twitters above the rumble of a District line train crossing Kew Railway Bridge. Although, in London, the leafy towpath resembles a pastoral idyll. Cyclists weave around strolling couples and families straggling with scooters and pushchairs.
In deepest, darkest winter, lamplight from the north bank is absorbed in the black waters and only joggers and dog walkers brave the towpath.
Chapter 1 – Monday 4th January 2016
Stella Darnell headed smartly along Shepherd’s Bush Green, trim in a green waxed jacket, wool-lined collar zipped to her chin against the searing wind, flat-soled black-leather ankle boots clipping on the frosty pavement, a styled pixie bob framing a lightly made-up complexion. A leather rucksack on one shoulder. A diminutive apricot poodle, shaggy and unstyled, ‘Crufts-trotted’ at her heel.
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