4 January 2010
D.C.I. Langton takes charge when the body of would-be model Louise Pennell is found,sliced in half and with her mouth mutilated into a smile. D.C. Anna Travis discovers that newspaper journalist Richard Reynolds had received anonymous typed letters from somebody likening the murder to that of a girl nick-named the Black Dahlia in America in 1947,which was never solved. The letters call Louise the Red Dahlia. Her flat-mate tells Anna that Louise has answered an advertisement for a personal assistant and was receiving gifts from a mysterious older man. Then Richard gets a phone call,which he tapes,from somebody claiming to be the killer.
5 January 2010
Richard is sent Louise's hand-bag containing cosmetics which are long off the shelf and seem old-fashioned. A letter formed in news print also states that Louise 'deserved it' and another woman will die. Anna interviews a girl who answered the same advertisement as Louise but was turned down as unsuitable. In fact the next victim is Louise's flat-mate Sharon. Langton wants a press veto on the new murder but Richard,having gone through Anna's bag after a one night stand,makes it front page news and Anna angrily breaks with him. The description given by the dead girls' landlady of Louise's visitor fits that of divorcee Charles Wickenham,even down to an unusual ring he wears. He is an arrogant former army doctor,living with his three rather dysfunctional children and a house-keeper but he would seem to have an alibi for Louise's murder.
6 January 2010
Through phone-tapping Langton discovers that Wickenham performed an abortion on nervous younger daughter Emily,possibly his child as he had also abused arrogant elder daughter Justine. The family,including ex-wife Dominique,close ranks but Anna is given photos of Justine and Dominique at sex parties,the latter,an ex-prostitute,having sex with her stepson Edward. Mrs. Hedges,the housekeeper and fiercely protective of the girls,also believes Emily was abused but the biggest breakthrough comes from Edward's bullied girl-friend Gail,who rang the police naming Charles Wickenham,having seen him with the two victims. The murderer is finally cornered and exposed as a man who killed in the style of the Black Dahlia out of vanity,to see if he could get away with it. He escapes and hides in a ventilator shaft,where he is found dead,locked in to suffocate,assuredly by the housekeeper,still protective of her girls,though she is not arrested.
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