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Peter Cammon Mysteries #1

Walking Into the Ocean

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"Introducing veteran Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Peter Cammon, this novel finds Cammon journeying to the Jurassic Coast to solve a seemingly ordinary domestic crime. At first glance, the perpetrator appears to have murdered his wife before drowning in the English Channel, but Cammon soon learns that his case is merely a sideshow. A broader series of murders has been unfolding along the cliffs, baffling the local police."--Provided by publisher.

465 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

David Whellams

3 books18 followers
Dave Whellams worked as Counsel with the Government of Canada in the Department of Justice for several decades, with a focus on reform of the Criminal Code, addressing a wide range of issues, including high-risk offenders and anti-terrorism. His experience in criminal law and policing has contributed to his novel Walking into the Ocean, and informed Stories from the Criminal Code, a short story collection.

Dave has written extensively for newspapers on a wide range of topics, drawing on his expertise in such areas as film history, the Academy Awards, the American Civil War.

Dave was born in Winnipeg, but grew up in Ottawa, where he continues to live. He is married and has a daughter. For the last twenty-five years he has played trivia every Tuesday night with the same bunch of friends. He hopes he is not entirely a creature of habit.

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5 stars
20 (9%)
4 stars
69 (31%)
3 stars
83 (37%)
2 stars
25 (11%)
1 star
22 (10%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 67 reviews
Profile Image for Jill Hutchinson.
1,445 reviews105 followers
June 17, 2017
This book should have been half the length than it was (400+ pages). It was so slowwwwwwww, filled with extraneous information and plot lines that made for difficult reading. I won't go into the plot since it is not easily explained. Suffice to say, we have a serial killer case and the case of a disappearing man whose wife commits suicide. Are they connected or do we really care? The revelation of the serial killer is not to be believed, not only how he is caught but who he is.........and that happens five pages from the end of the book! I only kept going because I wanted to see who it was. I love British police/crime/mystery books but this one was not for me.
Profile Image for Mark Hollingsworth.
Author 2 books3 followers
August 17, 2013
This is David Whellams first book, so I read it with some tolerance in my mind, as I sensed he would still be finding his feet. It was just as well I did!
First, the main character. Chief Inspector Cammon had all the making of an interesting and eccentric individual (one of the main reasons I picked up the book), with his black suit, bowler hat, umbrella. Unfortunately the umbrella disappeared in the first chapter and he threw away his bowler hat towards the end - we are now left with a 68 year old detective who wears a black suit - hardly Hercule Poirot in eccentricities!
I had two other challenges with the book - firstly the errors in language. English people do not use the term 'pantyhose', cars in England are not called 'Sedans', and policemen do not walk around routinely armed with guns (especially young 20 year old police constables - chapter 35). Mr. Whellams is a Canadian (living in Canada) writing about an English policeman, but this is no excuse for such basic factual errors.
My second challenge was the length of the book - 461 pages. Frankly, by page 340 I was ready for the end. Too much time was spent on 'flashbacks' to Detective Cammon's past (some of them lasting entire chapters!), and his trip to Malta added little to the story line.
Overall, the length, the flashbacks and tendency to deviate from the primary story line made this a tedious read. I really enjoyed the first two thirds, but was just worn out by the end to really care who 'did it'.
I will read the second book in the series to see if the writing and pace improves - I hope it does, as Cammon fills a void in aging semi-retired english detectives.
Profile Image for Terri.
1,922 reviews43 followers
January 22, 2014
I enjoy mysteries. I enjoy English mysteries featuring Scotland Yard--which is why I picked up this book. It's a debut novel, by a man who writes criminal law. He should stick to that. The book starts fairly well, if a bit wordy. Then some discrepancies appear, but I thought they could be attributed to an editor who missed something. A woman is murdered (of course) by her husband, who has since disappeared, and the Detective, (who is semi-retired from Scotland Yard, likes to work alone and keeps all the answers to himself--of course) checks out the scene. In the bathroom, he notices how the blood spatter is arterial flow (or very like), and about the amount of blood---a LOT. Later in the chapter, he decides it was not arterial flow. Then he gets involved in a serial killing spree that is going on in the same area...and, of course, the local police don't want him there.

So, by the middle of the book Detective Cammon has taken his wife to the crime scene, she says most of the blood in the bathtub is menstrual...(since when does menstrual blood splatter on the walls? And the amount?--so much it is congealing in the tub? And then he decides that she found out her husband was leaving her, and wanting a child (which he did not) and her period 'starts', decides to commit suicide and blame it on her husband. After hitting her head against the mirror in the bathroom, and spraying menstrual blood all over the bath tub, and walls, and floor, and the downstairs rooms,she drives herself to the cliffs and jumps off. After more than a week, just why had the police not noticed that all the blood in the car was in the driver's seat?

Then it gets really odd. He goes after the husband, who is now wanted for fraud...ends up in Malta, gets a clue after going sightseeing, and just misses the husband, who seems to have unlimited false IDs.

On top of that, there are 2 "unworldly beautiful women" who like him (he is happily married) one drunk old woman who knows almost from the start who the serial killer is, a priest or 3, etc. The husband who is not a killer goes back to England to go after the serial killer (to make him feel better about leaving his wife, and there is a final confrontation on the cliffs. The book could have, and definitely should have, ended about halfway through...but it's like the author did not know when to stop. And there are so many references to the church, and to writers (the Detective also majored in English at the U), and symbolism gets in on the story, too...there's just tooooo much.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susan.
20 reviews
June 9, 2012
Oh good grief. Take an craggy English coastline and a moody Scotland Yard detective who reads Sherlock Holmes and creates shadow boxes of the Annunication. Add his wife who has decided to read Sherlock Holmes too, toss in police politics, a serial killer, the Knights of Malta, not one but two mysterious priests, King Arthur, Stonehenge, a pair of dream-reading witch women, a counterterrorism diver, two unhinged policemen, car smuggling and dramatic stormy seas - all of which goes PHFFFT. Dumb. By the end downright annoying.
9 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2013
Brutally bad book. Makes my top 5 list of worst books I have ever read. How anyone can give this mess of a book more than one star is beyond me. Stay away from this one.
19 reviews1 follower
December 28, 2013
Some interesting characterization, but this book is in serious need of a decent editor. Too long and tedious by half. I quit at page 85.
Profile Image for Therese Thompson.
1,224 reviews7 followers
March 10, 2023


Where to begin? How about this self-assessment of protagonist and Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Cammon? “It would take a professional to catch him and Peter was, above all, a professional” who:

1. Takes his wife into a sealed crime scene where she sniffs out menstrual blood amid the type that comes from veins.

2. Conceals information multiple times from his superiors on the investigation to which he’s assigned, e.g. the female victim was not murdered, but committed suicide.

3. Recovers a ring from the case, but does not enter in into evidence. However, he does wear it and leave it behind in a restaurant?!

4. Shares “internal police information” with a woman who lives in the area of the investigation and has some whacko mysticism thing going. (Although he does seem to appreciate her interpretation of his dreams, which is something every law enforcement professional seeks out on the job.)

5) Inserts himself in another ongoing investigation, by doing a dangerous cliff side and cave search using outside resources. Of course, he and his local partner fall, incur injuries, and need rescue. But hey, a body is found, even if the sense of a 67 semi-retired guy doing this risky physical and highly skilled operation to which he’s not assigned is still completely questionable.

6) Engages or agrees with the assistance of civilians with the investigation several times, in one case getting the young man shot.

7) Goes off without back up to locate his suspect, does not secure him, allows him to walk back into a building where he may have a weapon, then watches him walk away to jump off a cliff. Fascinating police procedure, as though it ultimately would save court time and costs.

Ugh. So much more, but I did enjoy the fascinating tidbits of a taser having a 100’ range and loading a half a box of rounds into a Glock chamber instead of inserting a magazine. Perhaps it isn’t the protagonist being unprofessional, but that the author didn’t bother doing research into police procedures?


Profile Image for Laura.
460 reviews21 followers
January 16, 2020
"Peter often drew out witnesses by revealing a bit about himself--but not on this point. In effect, Chief Inspector Cammon, semi-retired, who lived so much of his life inside the lives of others, 'left home' every time he took on a case. In his way of thinking, this was the perfect template for an adventurous life, and indeed it had been. But he wasn't about to betray this to Symington and he was too experienced, never mind dogged, an investigator to let a witness take over a conversation."

Meet Chief Inspector Peter Cammon, long time member of New Scotland Yard, and now in a sort of semi-retirement. He's often called in as a consultant on interesting cases that require his unconventional investigative technique. There's just such a case afoot in the small town of Whittlesun, a small village along the English Channel--part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site to be exact. Usually not much happens in this sleepy village, but a woman is dead (apparently pushed to her death off the cliffs) after a bloody fight in her house. Her husband has disappeared after walking into the channel. His clothes are left in a neat pile on the shore.

If that isn't enough, a potential serial killer is loose along the cliffs of the channel. He's murdered 3 local teenage girls, and left their bodies on natural pyres at 6 kilometer intervals. A potential 4th victim is missing. Local police are none too happy that Scotland Yard is sticking their fingers into the domestic violence case, and they are determined to prevent Cammon from also meddling in the "6K killer" case while he is in town. The Olympics are looming on the horizon, and if the Jurassic coast is going to host sailing events, they need to maintain a wholesome, charming small town image. Mass public outcry due to a well-publicized serial killer is the last thing the area leaders want or need.

Can Cammon figure out what happened to the poor woman. Can he locate the missing husband (dead or alive)? Better yet, will he join the hunt for the roaming killer, and track him down before he strikes again?

Bottom line: I was excited to read a mystery set in England, with an old-fashioned detective (complete with a bowling hat and umbrella)!! Whellams started off strong. He does a great job describing his characters in such detail that I could actually picture them. The mystery captured my attention. However, the story seriously floundered mid-way, and suspense-building was seriously lacking. I agree with other reviewers who stated that the book dragged on for way too long. Also, Whellams places his Chief Inspector in a mind-boggling number of dangerous situations. I'm amazed that Cammon lived to see semi-retirement!!! The prose earns Whellams some points though, despite the book's flaws. Given 2.5 stars or a rating of "above average". Recommended as a library checkout for those who enjoy English mysteries.

Example quote: "Ellen Ransell answered the door before they could knock. A smell of lime and sour alcohol wafted from her, and from the house itself. She appeared careworn and partly drunk. Her white hair, streaked with sickly yellow, as if stained with nicotine, was uncombed, and the deep lines in her face were vertical and sad, reminding Peter of the eroded fissures in the coastal rocks. On her face, the defensiveness of the recluse fought with the rare stimulus of having visitors who might draw her out of her boredom. She opened the door wide."

Links to a few things I learned: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histor...
Profile Image for Marge.
1,467 reviews
January 18, 2013
First in a series of 3 books whose main character is an inspector for Scotland Yard. Loved the fact that he is 67-years-old. Liked the character more than the story.
Profile Image for J..
455 reviews180 followers
December 26, 2015
Putting this series on probation; three stars probably overstates the case, but the overall subject matter and atmosphere were pretty well done. The mechanics, well ...

Author Whellams constructs a fairly unwieldy mystery here, and then keeps adding clanking bits and pieces as he goes, as if it's not feeling complicated enough yet. He sets up a giant wheel of coincidence and consequence that continues to turn when nobody is looking.. all that's good, if you can bring it to earth again. But the complexities are not always linked back to a root cause or causes.

One definite "don't" is having a couple of killers running amok on the same turf at the same time; it's no spoiler, that exists right from the first chapter of this very much too-longish book. That one is written in stone from the dawn of mysteries. A newer don't --is having a convenient Search Results History turn up on an impounded hard drive when the clues aren't forthcoming in a more natural way (that one and checking the Recently Called List from cell phones are now officially not-for-big-revelations-anymore; they've been hammered too hard and may only be used as incidental backup, (say I, in my new capacity as Master Of Rules...))

Last, along with losing sight of the idea that linkages should seem inevitable when revealed to the reader, when the truth comes out, it should be plausible. And it should never ever strike the reader that the finally-emerged truth was clearly constructed and designed to instill max mysterioso for effect. That happens here, a bit.

In fairness, Whellams has a good Detective character going, gets a lot of things right, and probably has a great mystery in store for us. Next time.
Profile Image for Christina McLain.
489 reviews16 followers
February 3, 2017
This book was clearly written by a well-educated and sophisticated author but it has one major problem..it needs an editor! Indeed, I feel that David Whellams must have written this as part of a lifelong postretirement dream as it seems as though he has tried to cram everything he has ever learned about a detective's job and policing in Great Britain as well as everything he has ever learned in life itself in this, his debut novel. Instead of entertaining his readers with one story or even two interconnected tales, Whellans presents us with at least ten different plots. At various points in the novel he indulges in descriptions of previous unrelated cases the main character Peter Cammon has dealt with, as well as mixing in irrelevant information about the detectives's children and their careers and stymies us with at least two subplots dealing with illegal car sales in Europe and the occult!!!!! ! The main story centers around a compelling domestic violence case but it soon becomes overshadowed bythe author's endless forays into internecine police squabbling, a serial killer, details about the marriages of other policemen and to top it all off ---are you ready?---the mention of Cammon's bizzare hobby-are you still ready?-he makes shadow boxes of the Annunciation!! Crazy!!!And its too bad as there is a story in there and it should be a good one. I honestly don't think publishers have editors any more but who published this guy? He isnt an established writer polishing off some vanity project or hiding behind a dashing alter ego. Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes it pays to be the hedgehog.
Profile Image for Deb .
1,521 reviews17 followers
August 5, 2012
It felt like this book took forever to read. I gave it 3 stars because I wanted to know what happened, and there was something compelling about the protagonist, Peter Cammon. Cammon is a retired chief inspector from New Scotland Yard, but he is often called in as a consultant on difficult cases. A husband is accused of throwing his wife over a cliff, and then disappearing. Is he dead or has he just arranged a successful disappearance? At the same time a series of murders has occurred along the Dorset coast and Cammon is persuaded that that both cases are linked. Cammon is well-known for his independent work ethic, although there are a few fellow officers he trusts implicitly. He's also well-educated having read English literature at Oxford. He is drawn to word games and word puzzles. I had a hard time getting to know Cammon and getting into the book, but as mentioned before there was something compelling about the novel. The writer's style is more inferential than direct, which may be part of the difficulty; the reader can't relax. I also think that some of the time spent on deciphering the Biblical references and word puzzles was distracting. I did like the relationship between Cammon and his wife, although I'm not sure the way he involved in his investigation was realistic. This was a debut novel, so I hope that some of the "kinks" will be worked out for future novels.
Profile Image for Shawn Jaquiss.
262 reviews
September 17, 2012
I struggled with this book. I liked the main character, Inspector Cammon, but felt that there were many instances where the author referenced the Cammon's past history as if it might give insight into the his behavior or thought processes but neglected to explain the history. It was as if I had begun reading a series with the fourth or fifth book instead if the first and was trying to play catch up with past story lines and character development. Since this book is the first in what will be a new series, I spent quite a lot of time puzzling out what the author was trying to convey about Cammon's motivations.

I also was frequently sidetracked by the cavalier manner in which the detective treated crime scenes, witnesses and evidence. How many detectives shun working with other police officers in favor of partnering with locals? How many officers collect evidence, put it in their coat pockets and forget the evidence in a restaurant?

These complaints aside, I did enjoy the story -- mostly -- and liked Cammon very much. I will give the second volume in the series a shot but if the author's technique doesn't improve then I won't be reading the third.
34 reviews
May 2, 2012
Good idea but needed more editing. I became lost in all the characters - especially the cops. Good guys, bad guys, Scotland Yard, local investigators, etc.. I think there is definite potential for this first in a series. The characters of Peter Cammon and his wife Joan are involving and promising. Will read the next one but hope for more.
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
1,657 reviews
November 3, 2012
Unbelievable plot and characterization. The hero -- Inspector Cammon -- frequently "knows" or "is certain" of things, through instinct rather than any evidence. The solution was somewhat random - no basis laid for why that person was the killer. Quite a lot of excess verbiage.
37 reviews
December 5, 2012
The author has drawn an interesting character in Peter Cammon and a good supporting cast as well. I'm sure there will be more in this series and I will look for them.

The only downside for me was that things seemed to go adrift for a bit about 3/4 through, it could be tightened up a bit.
Profile Image for Peter Atkinson.
336 reviews3 followers
February 7, 2013
A good even paced story with well developed characters and a real sense of humor showing through.
I loved the setting and the sense of the area (it led me to wish to visit Dorset again). I recommend it to my friends and those that like crime thrillers with a British twist.
Profile Image for Linda.
7 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2013
I liked the slower pacing of this book, as it allowed for the characters to develop. If you like fast-paced mysteries, you won't like this book, but I enjoyed the nuanced characters, the setting, and the developing story. I will look for more by this author.
Profile Image for Kenny.
50 reviews
June 13, 2013
I had never heard of David Whellams until I picked up his book at my public library. It was so full of twists and turns that made reading it very entertaining and informative about police work in the U.K.
Profile Image for Annyce.
4 reviews
January 14, 2014
Struggled to keep going with this incredibly slow book. The first time I have ever cheated and skipped to the last chapters to finish. What a let-down. If you are reading this book and pulling your hair out, contact me and I'll sum up the ending in one paragraph. Would not recommend.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,291 reviews64 followers
June 10, 2021
Good grief this book FINALLY did end, though admittedly with a great deal of skimming for the last third of it on my end.

For me, the book is around 2+ stars, but I rounded up because it is both a first book of the series and first book for this author and first books often have bugs to work out. So, I am more forgiving of features that bother me than I am for later books.

The plot in this book is incredibly convoluted (an issue often found in first books) and had too many 'well, wasn't that a coincidence' moments. Additionally, the motivations of various characters just seemed off to me too many times.

This book is also incredibly male. OK, the author is male, the policing world is still overwhelmingly male, and so having a book being this male could be expected and is not inherently the problem. People might also argue that there are many active female characters included along the way, but it is with the female characters that I had a problem. The male characters generally, but not always read 'real' (the 'mystic priest' not so much, but at least in a I-could-see-that way). The women, on the other hand were not 'real' to me. Instead, all of the female characters seemed crammed into some archetype or another without ever being truly human.

Generally Whellams seems to not understand women. Another case in point was that whole thing with the menstrual blood, which provoked several 'are you kidding me's?!?' and 'seriously's?!?' along the way. i) Seriously?!? An untrained layperson can look at blood smeared and pooled throughout a house and definitely say 'this bit and that bit is menstrual blood' just by looking at the whole mess?!? ii) Are you kidding me?!? Being surprised by her husband's betrayal just happens to bring on a woman's period, because, yeah, that is how periods happen [eyeroll]. iii) Seriously?!? How much blood does Whellams think is involved in a woman's period, and iiib) Are you kidding me?!? does he think it all just whooshes out of her at once? Seriously. An average woman (or otherwise menstruating person, but I use woman here because that is the character it pertains to) sheds about 30-40 mL (2-3 tbsp) of blood over her entire period. Some women average at about 60 mL (4 tbsp) and the maximum range is usually at 80 mL (6 tbsp). All of this blood over several days of menstruation. Yet, Whellams had his character leaving a pool of menstrual blood in the bathroom, painting with it along the walls of her home, and then leaving another pool of it in the car. Even at its max over the entire period, 80 mL would leave no single 'pool' anywhere, and even if this woman were to have 80 mL periods, it would not happen all at once. It doesn't even make sense. And yet, Whellams seemed to be using it all as part of his 'oooh, women are so mysterious and otherworldly that men cannot make sense of them' ploy that he did not seem to even bother with a quick google search to let him know that biology is a thing. No wonder his protagonist likes Sherlock Holmes so much; Holmes' stories too often also ignored the basic science of things (and YES, snakes are deaf to ambient sounds).

Did Whellams forget that many of his potential readers would be women, real, human, beyond-archetypes, living-breathing, often-period-having women? Or did he just not care?

I am not sure if I would read book #2 in this series if I come across it, but I do know that I will not go looking for it.

Profile Image for Phil Dwyer.
Author 3 books18 followers
September 7, 2020
I really wish North Americans writing about England took a little more time immersing themselves in the language and culture of the country they're writing about. I would guess Mr. Whellams is an Anglophile, and that he's spent a good deal of time in England, but he still used vocabulary that no English person would use. It seems a silly, almost picky point to make, but it kept kicking me out of the story, and in the end I found it overwhelmed it.
Also (another picky point perhaps): I grew up in England. Nobody wears bowler hats anymore unless they're going to a fancy dress party, or they are out of their minds drunk or high. When I look at pictures of the weddings of my parents and my aunts and uncles, taken in the early 1950s, EVERYBODY is wearing a hat. But the sixties put an end to that. You'll see kids in baseball hats, for sure, but men generally go bare-headed. Couldn't finish it.
Profile Image for Sydney .
434 reviews
September 16, 2017
My taste in detectives seems to be running towards older men or women in historical settings. Something having to do with my own aging process. Mr. (and Mrs.) Cammon are delightful, but not in a sentimental or superficial way. They are intelligent and stubborn. The novel's setting contributes to the difficulty of solving the crime, which I like. Good read. I'll probably try the next one in the series.
March 28, 2021
A promising mystery featuring the debut of semi-retired Scotland Yard detective Peter Cammon is spoiled by being about 150 pages too long and some unnecessary plot twists and meanderings into mysticism. By the end of this increasing tedious novel I no longer cared whodunnit, I just wanted it to be over. There is the potential for Mr. Whellans to develop Cammon into an interesting character, but I won't be investing the time to find out.
358 reviews2 followers
January 16, 2020
Intricate twisting & turning plot references to police procedure, church, international crime, Sherlock Holmes type detection.
Profile Image for Toni Osborne.
1,369 reviews45 followers
September 6, 2013
Book 1, in Chief Inspector Peter Cammon trilogy mysteries

In his first novel, Mr. Whellams introduces his protagonist, a semi-retired Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard, a formidable investigator due to his age and experience and places him in unusual situations where his professionalism and personality are explored, we see a bit of the old Sherlock Holmes coming out of him.

The story starts on the cliffs of Dorset on an apparent murder-suicide. Peter is being deployed there to help the local force solve the especially sensitive case while they put all their attention in apprehending a serial killer. At first glance, it seems like an ordinary domestic crime, the perpetrator appears to have murdered his wife before drowning in the English Channel but Peter soon learns that this is merely a sideshow to a series of murders. Peter relentless follows the overlapping trails taking him from London to the island of Malta and this cliff hanger reaches its climatic confrontation back in England overlooking the cliffs of the Channel.

This story was way more complicated than it needed to be and took its merry time shifting gears and get going. I did like it at first but soon had trouble keeping my mind on track and I struggled through the remainder. I needed tolerance to reach the end, one of those books that took me for ever to read. The main plot was really bogged down with numerous explanations and side trips that I found my reading experience to be an arduous one. IMO, Mr. Whellams style of writing is too verbose and makes it difficult to stay engaged. The many characters come and go throughout the book and keeping track is a challenge, especially if your mind wanders. This said, the story isn't bad at all it just didn't capture my interest, it may yours.

This first experience may not have been the best I will nevertheless give the sequel a chance. Will see then……

617 reviews9 followers
July 22, 2013
This book is way too long at 463 pages and tells a complex story with a ultimately satisfying conclusion, that is, the murderer gets caught. It isn't until almost the end that there's any clue as to his identity. Stylistically, the storytelling rambles and goes off track in several places which for me caused it to be long-winded and a too chatty police procedural novel.

There's numerous interesting characters that come and go throughout the book. With the protagonist Chief Inspector Peter Cammon it is in some ways difficult to accept that he has reached the exalted status -- he's a lone wolf that doesn't play well with others. (Cammon has a protector in high places which may help). He acts like Ian Rankin's Rebus but the story telling is not as crisp as Rankin or Peter Robinson. It's more like Alexander McCall Smith. My short description of the writing is discursive and prolix.

This book is a good introduction to Cammon because there's much talk of his past exploits and there's material for at least one prequel.

I'm withholding my final decision until I read the next in the series.
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