Bunkers on the River
'Beneath her feet, a feeble brook flowed down towards a tributary where it joined a larger river in a series of shallow, but ferocious, weirs.'
'Giles stepped off the bridge on the other end, her feet landing rigidly on the unforgivingly hard mud. The field in front of her was lined with tall, ash trees and squat bushes on one side, and a collection of beech and oak trees that lined the path of the river on the other.'
'Wide, rectangular openings punctured the sides of this hexagonal oddity and the whole structure looked as though it had been half-built into the ground, for the highest point it was no higher the head the heads of the SOCO officers that carefully searched the area.'
'For a moment, the two detectives stood silently, glaring at each other as a smooth, spring breeze began to pick up around them. The leaves began to rustle in the trees and the carpet of bluebells rolled back and forth like a comforting duvet being aired over a bed.'
'Giles gave a curt nod of thanks and made her way through the cordon towards the thin wooden bridge that crossed into the next field. As she moved away, she felt the officer’s eyes watching her – silently judging.'
‘Beautiful isn’t it?’ he asked, gesturing towards the bunker. ‘It’s an old World War Two pillbox. Built by us to stop the Germans crossing the River Eden in an invasion. There’s hundreds of the buggers lining the river.’ ‘Why is it still here?’ ‘It’s our heritage, isn’t it? It’s important for us to know where we come from…’
Dotted around the Kent countryside along the River Eden are a series of curious concrete structures, usually nestled in amongst overgrown bushes or standing proudly, isolated in the middle of a disused field. These structures date back to the early 1940s and are all that remains of a series of 28,000 pillboxes that were built in strategic places to protect Great Britain from the threat of a German invasion.
I frequently walk past these odd, abandoned structures on my way home from work and often marvelled at how they blend seemlessly into the natural landscape. It was on one of these walks that I first came up with the story of The Bluebell Informant and I thought it would be rather interesting to use this building, which was built as a defensive measure, as the site of a cold-blooded murder.
The upshot of it all is that the murder site is very much based on a real place and you can actually go and stand at the spot where Giles' journey first starts...
She stepped back on to the path and followed behind Harris as it swooped around, following the course of the river, to reveal a small grassy area that seemed overgrown and unkempt. At the far side of this clearing, a set of bushes and small trees arched and twisted back and forth as they clambered up and around a small, squat, concrete building that sat, cold and lifeless next to the opening through to the next field. Wide, rectangular openings punctured the sides of this hexagonal oddity and the whole structure looked as though it had been half-built into the ground, for the highest point it was no higher the head the heads of the SOCO officers that carefully searched the area.
Harris came to a stop at the edge of the clearing and waited for Giles to catch up. As she came alongside him, he stared with pride towards the dilapidated concrete box, puffing out whatever remained of his chest and placing his hands arrogantly on his hips.
‘Beautiful isn’t it?’ he asked, gesturing towards the bunker. ‘It’s an old World War Two pillbox. Built by us to stop the Germans crossing the River Eden in an invasion. There’s hundreds of the buggers lining the river.’