The Distant Echo


November 2003; St. Andrews, Scotland

He always liked the cemetery at dawn. Not because daybreak offered any promise of a fresh beginning, but because it was too early for there to be anyone else around. Even in the dead of winter, when the pale light was so late in coming, he could guarantee solitude. No prying eyes to wonder who he was and why he was there, head bowed before that one particular grave. No nosy parkers to question his right to be there.

It had been a long and troublesome journey to reach this destination. But he was very good at uncovering information. Obsessive, some might say. He preferred persistent. He'd learned how to trawl official and unofficial sources, and eventually, after months of searching, he'd found the answers he'd been looking for. Unsatisfactory as they'd been, they had at least provided him with this marker. For some people, a grave represented an ending. Not for him. He saw it as a beginning. Of sorts.

He'd always known it wouldn't be sufficient in itself. So he'd waited, hoping for a sign to show him the way forward. And it had finally come. As the sky changed its color from the outside to the inside of a mussel shell, he reached into his pocket and unfolded the clipping he'd taken from the local paper.


Unsolved murders in Fife going back as far as thirty years are to be re-examined in a full-scale cold case review, police announced this week.

Chief Constable Sam Haig said that new forensic breakthroughs meant that cases which had lain dormant for many years could now be reopened with some hope of success. Old evidence which has lain in police property stores for decades will be the subject of such methods as DNA analysis to see whether fresh progress can be made.

Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) James Lawson will head the review. He told the Courier, "Murder files are never closed. We owe it to the victims and their families to keep working the cases.

"In some instances, we had a strong suspect at the time, though we didn't have enough evidence to tie them to the crime. But with modern forensic techniques, a single hair, a bloodstain or a trace of semen could give us all we need to obtain a conviction. There have been several recent instances in England of cases being successfully prosecuted after twenty years or more.

"A team of senior detectives will now make these cases their number one priority."

ACC Lawson was unwilling to reveal which specific cases will be top of the list for his detectives.

But among them must surely be the tragic murder of local teenager Rosie Duff.

The 19-year-old from Strathkinness was raped, stabbed and left for dead on Hallow Hill almost 25 years ago. No one was ever arrested in connection with her brutal murder.

Her brother Brian, 46, who still lives in the family home, Caberfeidh Cottage, and works at the paper mill in Guardbridge, said last night, "We have never given up hope that Rosie's killer would one day face justice. There were suspects at the time, but the police were never able to find enough evidence to nail them.

"Sadly, my parents went to their grave not knowing who did this terrible thing to Rosie. But perhaps now we'll get the answer they deserved."

He could recite the article by heart, but he still liked to look at it. It was a talisman, reminding him that his life was no longer aimless. For so long, he'd wanted someone to blame. He'd hardly dared hope for revenge. But now, at long last, vengeance might possibly be his.
Chapter 1~2
Part One

Chapter 1

1978; St. Andrews, Scotland

Four in the morning, the dead of December. Four bleary outlines wavered in the snow flurries that drifted at the beck and call of the snell northeasterly wind whipping across the North Sea from the Urals. The eight stumbling feet of the self-styled Laddies fi' Kirkcaldy traced the familiar path of their shortcut over Hallow Hill to Fife Park, the most modern of the halls of residence attached to St. Andrews University, where their perpetually unmade beds yawned a welcome, lolling tongues of sheets and blankets trailing to the floors.

The conversation staggered along lines as habitual as their route. "I'm telling you, Bowie is the king," Sigmund Malkiewicz slurred loudly, his normally impassive face loosened with drink. A few steps behind him, Alex Gilbey yanked the hood of his parka closer to his face and giggled inwardly as he silently mouthed