1. Glenfarach House Hotel
7. Clocktower Monument
A largeish village square, bordered by its own mini ring road and rows of bare-branched trees. The shape of park benches softening beneath the snow. A smattering of bins for dog waste. No play area, or swings, or even rocking-horse-mounted-on-an-industrial-spring, but a clock tower/monument thing sat in the middle of the square. It was a good twenty or thirty feet tall, with bronze plaques around the bottom; helmets and rifles and swords and flags carved into the pink granite bulk above them; and then the tower itself, crowned by an illuminated clockface. The hands marked four minutes after two, but two other lines radiated out from the centre – a red one at twenty past four, and a green one at half eight.
6. Glenfarach Police Station
It might have been a village hall in a former life, but looked like it’d been ‘modernized’ sometime in the architecturally murky mid-seventies. Now the imposing granite lump, with its pillars and portico, was topped with an extra storey of concrete and glass. An extension jutted out the side too – brick, concrete, and glass this time. Layers of dark-blue cladding between the rows of windows, giving it the striped appearance of an angry, zombie bee. Someone had tried to blend the whole thing into the surrounding buildings by hanging one of those twee blue lamps over the main doors, but the backlit sign gave the game away: ‘GLENFARACH POLICE STATION’. It was way, way bigger than somewhere this small and sleepy should ever need.
8. Molly’s Tea Shop & 9. Top Brushes Art Supplies
He followed the Land Rover, up one side of the square, then into a small street, past more twee little granite houses. Another tea shop. Somewhere selling art supplies. Then right, onto a narrow road with bungalows down one side and trees down the other.
10. Glenfarach Parish Church
The road opened up on the left as trees gave way to a chest-high wall and great-big elaborate wrought-iron gates. The church that lurked behind them wasn’t huge, but it had a decent spire on it and an extensive graveyard. Not all of them were crumbling lichen-eaten stone either: some were clearly new – the marble still shiny, all topped with a little hat of snow.
Nothing but dark and grey as Edward drove them down one of Glenfarach’s little side streets.
And then one by one the streetlights flickered on. Only they weren’t your standard off-yellow sodium jobs, these were high-intensity LED units. Blazing out their surgical-white glare, catching the snow as it fell, making it shine.
A right turn took the pool car onto Gallows Row – a line of four cottages with nothing but a narrow strip of white between the last house and the gloomy depths of the forest beyond.
11. Sanctuary House
Sanctuary House was a sprawling complex of interconnected bungalows – arranged around what looked like a central courtyard – not far outside Glenfarach, screened from the village by a palisade of lonicera and Douglas fir.
37. Dr. KW Singh, Counselling
Singh House was a nice little two-storey detached in the northeast corner of Glenfarach. The street was full of them, each a little different from its neighbour, in an understated, but stylish fashion. One of those areas that probably belonged to people with money, back before the village became a haven for thugs and sex offenders.
12. Glenfarach General Store
The Glenfarach General Store was the kind of picturesque olde shoppe you’d find on a supermarket Christmas card. A Dickensian two-storey building with a mullioned bay window, perfect for carol-singing urchins to gather outside. The snow dusting the woodwork only added to the effect, lights casting a welcoming golden glow out into the wintry morning.
13. Glenfarach Public Library
No way Glenfarach was big enough to have a library this size. The three-storey building looked like it’d been built around the same time as the police station’s extension – a vast Borg cube of glass and steel, packed with shelves and books and reading nooks.
OK, on the inside, those shelves were a bit rundown; and the carpet tiles faded to a tatty shade of brown, worn at the edges and curling free of the floor in places; but at least it had lots and lots and lots of books. They stood, shoulder to shoulder, in slouching categorized rows, dog-eared and scuffed, the paperbacks’ spines lined with creases. They weren’t here for decoration: they’d been read.
The whole place sat on a small rise, its floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Glenfarach’s twee houses and shops on one side, and down a hill to a burn on the other – the land sloping upwards beyond the stream and into the woods, fading away in the falling snow.
There – off to the right, Bigtoria’s back flashed in the gap between a blacksmith’s and a dilapidated building. Sod. The Big Car was pointing in the opposite direction.
16. Snippy Snips Hairdresser’s & 17. Ivan the Baker
A glance to the side and there was Ms Wilkins, still running through the snow, behind the buildings, parallel to the street. Widening the gap between her and Bigtoria.
At the end of the road, Edward hit the brakes and turned right.
The back of the car kicked out in a wide skid, leaving him scrabbling at the wheel, trying to stop the thing from spinning. Jaw clenched as a lamppost made straight for the Big Car’s bonnet.
Six inches to spare and the Big Car righted itself, shooting forward, closing the gap on Ms Wilkins and Bigtoria as Edward raced down a row of quaint little cottages, past a hairdresser’s and a bakery.
Only trouble was: they’d run out of village. The street ended at a line of bollards, with nothing but the forest beyond. Ms Wilkins wasn’t heading for the woods, though: instead she took a sharp left, careering down a long snowy hill with a burn at the bottom. The land rose on the other side, disappearing into the trees.
14. Wilkin’s Joinery Workshop
The timestamp flickered backwards, and Newman reversed out the shop door, carrying his hideous tote bag as he backed across the road, took a left and retreated out of shot.
Sergeant Farrow prodded the controls and the picture cut to Newman moonwalking past a bunch of other Glenfarach businesses. It looked almost normal: second-hand clothes shop, charity shop, craft shop, café, butcher’s, hairdresser … He vanished offscreen, then everything jumped to a different camera.
The joinery workshop appeared. No holdall going in, backwards, and no holdall when he reversed out of there either.
Mrs Thompson’s House
Filigree woodwork dripped from the eaves of Ms Thomson’s house; a black-cat weathervane poked up from the chimney; and small mullioned windows peered out at the wintery world. That, the brown harling, and a liberal coating of snow gave it the uncomfortable whiff of gingerbread cottage, only it wasn’t buried away in the middle of the woods: it occupied an overgrown garden on the edge of Glenfarach, the end of a row of four equally twee gingerbread cottages. The forest loomed in front and to the side, adding to the whole here-comes-a-wolf vibe.
This was the last house before you disappeared into the wilderness, never to return.
Dunbrae Lane: Harlaw lurched to a stop and turned his back on the wind, waving a hand off towards a narrow alley. ‘SHORTCUT!’ Then wallowed across the road.
Edward followed, into what was little more than a ginnel: two storeys high; rough granite walls; the roofs on both sides overhanging the space by a couple of feet, narrowing the gap above their heads even further. Which had the massive benefit of shutting out ninety-nine percent of the wind, and the same amount of snow. On East Main Street it was nearly up to his groin; in here it barely came halfway up his wellies.
Byre Road wasn’t quite as swanky as the street Dr Singh lived on. Two derelict cottages sagging in crumbling isolation, their gutters drooping, windows boarded up, saplings growing out of the drains. They faced a short row of four houses that looked like they were heading the same way. To be fair, one of them did have an upper floor, but the harling had partially crumbled, exposing the granite beneath.
Brindle Lane was one over from Byre Road – little more than a narrow alleyway wedged between two buildings. Which meant, holy day, dance round the sodding mistletoe, the snow wasn’t anywhere near as deep in here. Or at least not to start with. Soon as they passed the gable ends and moved onto the bit bordered by back gardens, the drifts were up to Edward’s knees again.
A small terrace of three narrow houses was squeezed in, halfway down the lane, opposite the crumbling remains of a stable block – roof gone, glass cracked, wooden partitions rotting. The houses looked cheery enough, though, light oozing around the edges of their closed curtains. Dormer windows poking from their snow-covered roofs: happy, shining eyes with fluffy white eyebrows.
The front doors opened straight onto the street, so for once Edward didn’t have to wade up an uncleared garden path.
Grampian Roads Department
‘Seriously: the snowplough would make things much easier.’
‘How? You’d still have to fight through all this to reach it.’ She pointed at a big shed-like wooden structure down the end of the street, with ‘Grampian Roads Department’ stencilled along the side. ‘And before you ask: Shammy’s the only one who can drive the thing.’
Farmer’s Lane was proper Dickens territory – a narrow street with cast-iron lampposts and mullioned windows. Some of which had embraced the cliché and gone for bullseye glass. A couple of craft shops faced off across the lane, their displays full of wool and crepe paper and pre-formed things for decoupage and painting. Some houses at either end. And right in the middle: Duncan’s Second-Hand Delights.
It had a purple-and-gold frontage, with the shop’s name in a ye olde English font. The lights were off, but those cast-iron lampposts produced enough LED glare to make everything in the window clearly visible: mannequins, dressed up in jumpers and chinos and cardigans and floral blouses; piles of yellowing magazines; displays of general household items – frying pans, kettles, one of those ancient carpet sweeper things . . .
Didn’t exactly look promising, to be honest.