Monday Mysteries – Could this have been the first murder?

Mysteries, thrillers, crime novels, who-dun-its,
cosy mysteries
 … real mysteries, historical mysteries…
it’s all a mystery to me!

Neanderthal bones – a murder victim? by Helen Hollick

Some while ago, a story appeared in several media outlets about a 430,000-year-old discovery of a murder case. 
A fossilised skull of a young person (no idea male or female, or specifically what age ‘young’ meant) was found by archaeologists in the Spanish caves of Sima de los Huesos –  Pit of the Bones – situated in the Atapuerca mountains. Bones from about thirty different individuals were at the bottom of a deep shaft. The cave is assumed to be a funerary site for the now extinct Neanderthal race of humanoids.
 The skull had two fractures apparently inflicted by the same weapon. The media firmly announced that us “Homo sapiens, cannot claim a monopoly on murder.”
The conclusion by modern forensics was that the wounds were  two penetrating fractures on the left side of the forehead just above the eye, therefore inflicted at close range from the front, and because of the similarities of the size and shape of these wounds (one inch/2 cm wide), this person was killed by deliberate violence from two successive blows by the same object, possibly something like a wooden spear, or stone spear-tip or a stone axe.
The first wound, penetrating the brain, is likely to have been lethal, if not instantaneous, the second would have sealed the victim’s fate. Two wounds, of course indicate intention, not an accidental fall. 
I did have a smile at a couple of the reports which included statements like: “It is unlikely that a motive or the perpetrator will ever be discovered.”
What after 430,000 years? I defy Poirot, Miss Marple, Morse, Lewis, Foyle, DI Barnaby, Colombo, Sherlock Holmes and every amateur sleuth in every Murder Mystery ever written – even working together as a team – to solve this case! (Although it would make a super novel!)
My immediate thought when reading about all this was the opening scene of 2001 A Space Odyssey
Now, I don’t find this ‘murder’ case to be a mystery, as such. It is a conclusion. And these sort of conclusion really irritate me. Maybe this was a ritual killing. Maybe it was murder, maybe it was punishment, maybe the victim was defending him/herself against attack?
There’s too many maybes to claim this was murder.
So that’s the mystery – why, why, why do scientists, archaeologists – and the media – always jump to a conclusion and report something as ‘fact’?
Maybe they should all turn to fiction writers for explanations as we have far greater ‘what if?’ imaginations!
Helens latest release is a cosy mystery set in 1970s north London 

A Mirror Murde

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered…

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?


“A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London. Told from the viewpoint of a young library assistant, the author draws on her own experience to weave an intriguing tale” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

“Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review

“An enjoyable novella with a twist in who done it. I spent the entire read trying to decide what was a clue and what wasn’t … Kept me thinking the entire time. I call that a success.” Reader Review

The first in a new series of quick-read, cosy mysteries set in the 1970s.

Will romance blossom between library assistant Jan Christopher and DC Laurie Walker – or will a brutal murder intervene?

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