A place of greater safety

My friend Nicci Gerrard has written a perceptive piece about the Suffolk murders. Excerpt:

Hintlesham is a small, attractive village scattered along a main road (it’s just a couple of miles from where I live, and my husband, Sean, and I named one of our characters Jenny Hintlesham in the Nicci French thriller that we wrote when we arrived here). Now it is the place where Gemma Adams was left, in a swollen ditch off the road to Ipswich.

Copdock lies nondescriptly just beyond the noise of traffic, a village squashed between the A12 and A14 and almost swallowed up by the town; now it’s the site where Tania Nicol’s body was discovered in the same stretch of water as Gemma Adams. The ditch has become a churned-up stream here; on the bridge there are already several bouquets of flowers bearing messages from friends and from strangers. One of them – with a touchingly formal courtesy – addresses her as Ms Nicol…

It’s a typical Nicci piece — soft and intuitive one minute, detached and analytical the next.

The victims were beloved daughters, sisters, mothers, friends. Gemma Adams’ father spoke movingly of his “wonderful, beautiful” dead daughter, who was secure and happy as a child; she was a Brownie, loved horse-riding, played the piano, was “good”. Her addiction sucked her into a world from which the continued efforts of her parents couldn’t rescue her. Which parent, hearing this, wouldn’t feel a shudder of dread? We like to think we deserve our luck and are in control of our lives; actually we are forever walking on thin ice. And sometimes we are made more aware of this precariousness.

Most believe that the murderer has changed something about the way we feel about our community. We are not living through an Agatha Christie whodunnit in which a fiendish criminal, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, will be discovered and ejected, and everything will return to tidy normality; it’s a creepy psychological thriller in which the sheer horror of what has happened unsettles how we think about the world in which we live…

The (tiny) local police force is clearly overwhelmed by what it now has to deal with. The government, for its part, will respond with its usual duplicity. The Home Secretary will solemnly promise in front of TV cameras to provide any extra resources that are needed; while behind the scenes he will be gleefully pointing out to the Suffolk Constabulary that this is exactly why the government was trying to amalgamate local police forces into larger, less accountable, units.