IT was an outcome that appeared increasingly inevitable. No-one wanted to believe missing mystery writer Isobel Lambot could be dead, but worst fears were confirmed with the finding of her body.

Having had neither sight nor sound of the 74-year-old from Kington for more than a fortnight, initial optimism was beginning to fade.

Sadly, there was no surprise twist to this tale. Police dog handlers made the grim discovery in dense undergrowth at The Yeld, Hergest Ridge, early on Tuesday (July 3).

Initial identity confirmation was quick in coming and, amid scenes so familiar to readers of Mrs Lambot's many crime novels, detectives were soon scouring the sealed-off scene for clues.

Dressed in her best, she had walked out of The Garth residential home, Kington, on June 21, pausing to pick up one of her own books (large print edition) and two photographs featuring her late husband and a long-time friend.

But with only a nominal amount of money to hand, and no apparent access to any more, shelter by well meaning friends - in response to some specific circumstance - was seen as the best scenario for Mrs Lambot's survival.

Heading the hunt, Sgt David Llewellin, of Kington police, kept an open mind as to the involvement of others.

Meantime, specialist search-ers, aided by a helicopter, dog handlers and 120 local volunteers, combed rugged Hergest Ridge - 1,000 acres of hillside west of the town where Mrs Lambot was headed when last seen.

Tough country, but the team wasn't tracking a stereotypical septuagenarian. By turns a well-travelled teacher, archaeologist and civil servant, Mrs Lambot had been in print for some 30 years, specialising in 'guessing game' stories of detection - she'd even penned a guide to getting started in the genre.

With a working knowledge of 'priest holes' and other secret spots around the area, it wasn't hard to see how she might have put herself beyond finding for two or three days.

Comparisons were made with that doyen of detective writers Agatha Christie, who 'disappeared' during the 1920s only to be found alive - Mrs Lambot was known to have been an admirer.

For two weeks her many friends in Kington clung to hope; now they are waiting for an inquest to establish what occurred. There is one small comfort - the author who devoted her talents to 'whodunits' does not appear to have died in suspicious circumstances.