Moorland Forensics – Conspiracy of Souls
In 1986 young investigative reporter for the Newton Abbot Star and daughter of wealthy philanthropist Lord Ilbert-Tavistock tragically disappears under mysterious circumstances, never to be seen again.
Over 30 years later the fresh graves of two teenage girls are uncovered on the desolate wastes of Dartmoor, followed by the sadistic murder of a City art expert, sending shockwaves through the South West.
Contracted to assist the Police Task Force; siblings James, Fiona and Katie Sinclair at Moorland Forensic Consultants uncover links to the murders with the medieval Benedictine Priory of St Oswald’s and tumultuous events from the battlefields of WW2.
With the Police close to admitting defeat and pressure mounting from an outraged media, in a last-ditch effort the team travels to Southern Germany to obtain vital evidence.
Moorland Forensics race against the clock to prevent more deaths, whilst James is battling his own demons, taking things one step too far.
Operation Barbarossa – July 1941
The Woods, Outside Riga, Latvia
The combined scream of six Jumo 12 cylinder in-line engines at emergency power overhead, in the early evening half-light, shattered the silence of the ancient conifer forest. The twenty or so anonymous souls working frantically in the long trench flung aside their shovels and fell into the mud almost as one. Simultaneously, their overseers dressed in the distinctive green and black field uniforms, with twin lightning flashes, instinctively swung the MG 34 machine guns skyward.
‘Don’t fire, they’re ours,’ yelled a squad corporal, as they anxiously watched the white-hot exhaust flashes of three Junkers JU 88 bombers skim the treetops and disappear rapidly towards the horizon.
SS Oberleutnant Claus Bobich strolled to the edge of the forest clearing drawing heavily on his last cigarette, instantly relaxing as the nicotine fumes swirled intoxicatingly through his lungs.
The unnerving crump of artillery, twenty kilometres to the East, gently rustled branches in the forest canopy, reminding him of the panzer unit up on the front line, which three weeks ago he commanded; he missed the cramped, acrid confines of the Panzer Four and the comradery of his crew.
You’ve been specially selected; you have the qualities for the job, they told him. It’s only for a short time, perform well and you could be back with your tanks in no time, maybe with a promotion. I joined the Waffen SS to kill the Ivans, not do the dirty work of Himmler, he kept telling himself.
For a few fleeting minutes, his mind drifted back to the farm, to the family dairy business, wondering who was bringing in the herd on the green slopes of the hillside, surrounded by the mountains so close you could reach out and almost touch them with the high, snow-capped Alps, only a herdsman’s cry across the valley.
‘Where do you want the 34s?’ shouted the Hauptman, jolting Bobich back to stark reality. For a minute he was silent, savouring the last of the cigarette, unable to dispel the mesmerising vision of home far away.
Finally, he stubbed out the butt in the carpet of pine needles and turned towards the approaching panzer grenadier officer:
‘At each end, watch the ammunition, short single bursts only please Berndt. We’ll need every round for the Ruskies.’