Now he trod carefully across the carpet to the bed and stood silently looking down at the body of Berowne. Even as a fifteen-year-old boy, standing at the side of the bed of his dead mother, he hadn’t felt the need to think, far less to utter, the word good-bye. You couldn’t speak to someone who was no longer there. He thought: We can vulgarize everything, but not this. The body in its stiff ungainliness, beginning already, or so it seemed to his over-sensitive nose, to emit the first sour-sweet stink of decay, yet had an inalienable dignity because it once had been a man. But he knew, none better, how quickly this spurious humanity would drain away. Even before the pathologist had finished at the scene and the head was wrapped, the hands mittened in their plastic bags, even before Doc Kynaston got to work with his scalpels, the corpse would be an exhibit, more important, more cumbersome and more difficult to preserve than other exhibits in the case, but still an exhibit, tagged, documented, dehumanized, invoking only interest, curiosity or disgust. But not yet. He thought: I knew this man, not well, but I knew him. I liked him. Surely he deserves better of me than to gaze at him with my policeman’s eyes.
P. D. James, A Taste for Death