by Trevor Hopkins

It took me only a little time to discover the true circumstances of Helen Ensfield's death. Oh, the coroner's report and even the official medical certificate had recorded it as "natural causes", but I had my suspicions from the instant I heard the news. She may not have had long to live anyway. Months, perhaps a year or two. Maybe a little longer. But nobody deserves to die that way: alone, crippled, frightened out of her wits. I felt I owed the old lady the respect of finding out what really occurred on that fateful afternoon.

Sat at my usual table in David's Diner, I had read closely her public obituary, itself published in the very organ of the press that Helen herself had edited for all those years. It was a two-page spread, featuring front-page reproductions of some of the more remarkable scoops and world-shattering exposes and epoch-defining exclusives which had decorated the firmament of her life, accompanied by an extensive and, as far as I could tell, largely accurate account of her career and achievements. It was a litany of celebrities exposed, criminals collared, politicians shamed - sometimes it was even possible to tell the cases apart.

But the extensive account in the paper was entirely silent on the circumstances of her death itself. No comment, no report, no nothing. If I hadn't already resolved to look a little deeper, that absence would have driven me to investigate. It's always worth looking at what is not reported in the press, in my very considerable experience: the things that the papers don't say - from lack of knowledge, from fear of litigation or even some discreet direction from one of the more secretive arms of government - can suggest valuable insights and fruitful lines of enquiry.

Or maybe I was just being fed a line. Who knows?

(more to follow)

Part 96 Part 98