Careful not to let my trainers scuff the salt and sand circle I studied the dead girl staring sightlessly up at me from its centre. She was in her late teens, and Mediterranean ‘girl next door’ pretty: dark brown eyes, blue-black hair still wavy even while wet, and a dusting of freckles over her nose. More freckles dotted the dark skin of her shoulders, but where the spaghetti strap of her flowered sundress had slipped, the line of paler flesh it exposed suggested her colour was a result of sun or a sunbed, and not her natural skin tone.
More than fifty people a year lose their lives in the River Thames.
And none of them fae.
The dead girl didn’t look like any sort of fae. The suntan was the obvious giveaway; only human DNA produces melanin. But Hugh – Detective Sergeant Hugh Munro of the Metropolitan Police’s Magic and Murder squad – wouldn’t have called me in to look at the body if this was just an ordinary human death.
And the witches wouldn’t have put her in a consecrated circle.