“Chris has gone into BG. They’re operating this afternoon. They think it’s a grade-three glioma.”
“That’s good, isn’t it? I mean them operating.”
“It’s to relieve the pressure. He went blind in one eye and the headaches are awful. They’ll try and take some of it out, but it’s in a difficult place.”
“He’ll have radiotherapy. One course, it’s just palliative.”
Cat sounded cold and mechanical, removing herself from her emotions, setting aside the fact that she was talking about Chris.
“I’ll try and come over tonight. It should be OK after the press conference.”
“It’s all right, Dad and Judith are coming over so I can go and see Chris.”
“Oh? You don’t need me then.”
“Christ. Of course I need you. I need everyone. Simon, don’t have tantrums, I can’t cope.”
“Have you talked to the children?”
“Tried. I never realised how hard it was just to explain, just to get them to understand even a little. Sam can. In a way. But he doesn’t want to. He put his fingers in his ears.”
His door opened. Elaine.
“I have to go. Hold on in there. I’ll come later.”
He looked up.
“Sorry, sir, but the Chief’s here. She went into the CID room but I thought you’d want a heads-up.”
Another head round the door. Vicky.
“The Spanish police came through. Foster Munday, Bethan Doyle’s partner … left his bar job five weeks ago. Left his apartment as well.”
“Took a flight to Birmingham.”
“Two days before Melanie Drew was shot.”
“Right, we want photographs, full description, get on to the airport, taxis, railway, car hire. I want him in here yesterday.”
Vicky turned and crashed into the Chief Constable. Simon caught a glimpse of their faces, Vicky scarlet and horrified, Paula Devenish thunderous.
“Ma’am. I’ll get someone to go for tea.”
“I don’t need tea. I need some small scrap of evidence that you have moved forward in this investigation.”
DS Whiteside pounded the front door of the cottage with hammer blows. Inside, dogs barked.
When Craig Drew’s father opened up he looked terrified but said at once, “You’ve got some news? What’s happened?”
“Can we come in?” Whiteside barged through the front door as he was asking. The DC with him, Louise Kelly, hesitated, apologetic.
“What’s happened?” Alan Drew asked her.
She shook her head.
“OK, where is he?”
“Craig? Upstairs, I think. What’s happened?”
“Call him down, will you?”
The DS prowled round the living room, looking at a picture, picking up a photograph, turning the corner of the mat over with his toe. Louise stood in the doorway. He was a sergeant, she was in her first six months as a DC but she knew that the way he was behaving was out of order. She wanted to say something but if she did he would take it out on her later. She knew a bully when she met one, knew what you should do with bullies but felt powerless. Whiteside brushed her aside and went to the bottom of the stairs. “Drew! DS Whiteside here. I want a word.”
“What’s going on? What’s happened?”
“What’s he doing up there?”
A lavatory flushed. Craig Drew came running down the stairs, still doing up his belt. “Have you got him?”
“I was hoping you were going to tell me that.”
Poor bloke, Louise thought, poor bloody bloke, he doesn’t know what time of day it is. His wife of two weeks was shot dead, he’s a mess of emotion and dread and questions he can’t answer and we’re here to ask more.
“You’ve got a bike, Craig?”
“Cycle. Bicycle. Yes.” He looked bewildered. His father stood beside him. Protective, Louise thought. Even at his age. Fat chance my dad would protect me like that.
“Been out and about on it, have you?”
“He cycles most days,” Alan Drew said. “He needs to get out of here.”
“Where do you go, Craig?”
“I don’t know … all over. Anywhere.”
“You don’t know. All over. Anywhere.”
“I just go out.”
“Yes. Or—just around. Villages. Nowhere in particular.”
“I went there.”
“We—I live there. I went to my flat.”
“On your bike?”
“Can’t carry much on a bike, can you?”
“I didn’t have anything to carry.”
“Didn’t go to pick anything up, stuff you needed, clothes and so on?”
“I’d have taken the car.”
“I’d have gone with him as well. What’s this about, Sergeant, what’s with all these bike questions?”
“Know the Seven Aces club, Craig?”
“No. I mean, I heard about it, those other girls. It’s the same thing, isn’t it? Someone just shooting for no reason.”
“How do you know it’s the same?”
“Well, I thought … it’s got to be the same, hasn’t it?”
“Has it? We haven’t said so.”
Craig Drew looked both confused and as if he were about to cry. He glanced desperately at Louise.
“Do you know the Seven Aces, Craig?” she asked gently.
Whiteside shot her a look.
“Have you ever been?”
“No. We—I … clubs are not where I go. We don’t. Mel didn’t like that sort of place. It’s new, isn’t it?”
“You’re telling me you’ve never so much as been past it?”
“I don’t think I have but I can’t swear to it. Of course I can’t, can I?”
“Why not? I’d have thought it was perfectly simple. Have you been past the Seven Aces or haven’t you?”
Craig sat down and dropped his head.
Whiteside went on. “Did you read about Bethan Doyle, Craig?”
“Who’s Bethan … Oh, God, her, the one with the baby. Christ.”
“You know about it, then?”
“You’d have to live on the moon not to know about it, wouldn’t you?” Alan Drew. He had crossed the room to stand beside his son, put a hand on his shoulder for a second.
“Know where she lived, do you? Where it happened?”
“Not far from your place.”
“You went down there, didn’t you, Craig?”
“Really? I heard you did. Biked along the street. Had a good look at the house where it happened. Didn’t you?”
Craig looked up, his eyes seemed to have sunk back into his head, still bewildered.
“I might have. Yes. I did. I was on the bike round there. I was trying to take it in. I can’t take it in, you see. I keep expecting her to walk in the door here and she doesn’t.”
“Why would that make you cycle past Bethan Doyle’s place?”
“It didn’t. I mean, I don’t know why. I wanted to see. I suppose. Maybe it would help me take it in. I just don’t know.”
“So you did cycle past the house where Bethan Doyle was shot in front of her eighteen-month-old baby?”
Craig shrank back into himself as if warding off a blow.
For one second they were all of them frozen in the small room but to Louise the second went on for hours, became timeless, as if the shutter on a camera had stuck, keeping them all there.
Then Whiteside said, “Get your coat. I’m asking you the rest down at the station.”
Craig Drew looked up. The bewilderment in his eyes had become fear.
“You heard. Coat.”
Alan Drew moved. Froze again. Looked from one to the other for an answer. Found none.
“I’m sorry,” Louise said, so quietly they probably didn’t even hear her.
“I don’t have one.”
The DS turned from the doorway.
“A coat. My wax jacket’s at Dulles Avenue. I don’t have a coat. I don’t need a coat.”
Whiteside jerked his head towards the door.
Don’t go, Louise thought, don’t be bullied, you’ve got rights.
But Craig Drew, head down, got up and walked meekly out of the room, Whiteside behind him.
“Hey, petal, how you doin’?”
“Don’t call me petal.” DC Louise Kelly waited for the machine to pour its coffee sludge into the plastic cup.
“Didn’t think you were one of those feminist birds.”
“Right, well, petal is only what my teacher would have called a figure of speech.” Clive Rowley watched while she struggled with the cup which had stuck in the grip of the metal holder. “I’m afraid to offer help, now.”
Louise sighed and stepped back. “Please,” she said.
He snapped open the holder and wriggled the cup of hot liquid out sideways. “There’s a knack, you see.”
“Thanks, Clive. I’m sorry, didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
“No, go on. Better out.”
The corridor was a busy thoroughfare.
“Come in here then.”
They stood in a lobby beside the stairwell.
“Bloody DS Whiteside.”
“Been chatting you up or what?”
“Oh, I can cope with that.”
“I bet. Quite scary, you.”
“Seriously. He’s a bully.”
“So am I. We’re coppers. It’s what we do.”
“Not like this.”
Clive watched her closely as she told him. Pretty. Fair hair. Small features. Small hands and feet. Neat little thing. He looked at her hands. No rings.
Was she his type? Might be. Ask her out? Might do.
She stopped talking and drank the coffee.
“You see my point?” she said, looking round for somewhere to throw the empty cup. “He was bang out of order.”
“What about this Drew guy? He done it?”
“No. Absolutely not.”
“All the same. He’s in the frame, isn’t he?”
“The DS did right to bring him in.”
“Straws. Clutching. At.”
“Fair point. Where is he now?”
“Interview room, I imagine. Look, what should I do?”
“Yes. Nothing. Don’t stir it up. Don’t make a complaint, it’ll backfire. Only if he starts on you, tell me. I can deal with the Whitesides of this world.”
She laughed. “It’s not me I’m worried about. But thanks.”
“Stay schtum. OK?”
He winked at her and walked off towards the Armed Response Unit room.
Louise watched him go. Cocky, she thought. He doesn’t walk, he swaggers. Maybe AR are always like that. Maybe it goes with the territory. She didn’t take Clive Rowley seriously. Not like Whiteside.
She went upstairs to the CID room.
“What’s been going on?” another DC asked as she went past.
“What have you heard?”
“Craig Drew’s been brought in.”
“Then that’s what’s been going on.”
Louise sat down at her desk and clicked to restore her screen. FRIENDS REUNITED. SIR ERIC ANDERSON COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL. LAFFERTON. 1995.
She went on scrolling down the list. Maybe somewhere in here was a friend of Melanie Drew, née Calthorpe, someone who had something against her, and against the three other girls, something bad enough to have rankled all these years until it blew up in his head and he shot them all dead. Maybe. She leaned back. But this was how you found it, patient detail, plodding through, looking for a connection. This was how she was going to be the one who found it. She would take the tiny scrap of a lead to the DCS and he would agree, she would be given a team, they would track him down, Craig Drew would be freed, Whiteside would be reprimanded …
“Briefing in ten,” someone shouted.
Louise came to, embarrassed. But no one knew.
It had been raining and the conference room smelled of steaming clothes.
Serrailler held up a sheet of paper. “This,” he said, “came in, posted in Lafferton yesterday, addressed to me. It’s up on the screen—here.” The letter was blown up so that they could read it, a single sheet of ruled A5, lettered in crude capitals.
WATCH YOUR BACK I’LL BE WATCHING YOURS HAVE FUN AT
THE FAYR YOU WONT SEE ME IM 2 CLEVER 4 THAT SYMON.
“Someone’s been reading too many Agatha Christies.”
“This is a wind-up, sir.”
There was a murmur round the room.
“Probably,” Serrailler said. “I get enough of those. But it serves to focus our minds on next weekend. This will go to forensics of course, who won’t find anything on it.”
“But we can’t afford to take a threat like this—and it is a threat—too lightly. Not with four women already dead. The Jug Fair. There’ll be a heavy uniform presence, ARV on standby, all of that, but I want everyone in here at the fair as well, eyes and ears open. Suspect everyone, watch everything, be everywhere. You’re looking out for a clever, ruthless gunman, you’re not there to have fun, no wives and kiddies in tow.”
“What, no candyfloss?”
“Good cover, a gob full of that pink Brillo pad.”
“There’ll be a ground plan—I’ll brief a couple of hours before the fair opens. I don’t know about this,” he waved the letter, “but it’s a heads-up. I don’t want carnage at the Jug Fair.”