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Authors: Bill Kitson

Buried in the Past

BOOK: Buried in the Past
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in the

Bill Kitson

For Val


Wife, lover, best friend, critic and editor.

My grateful thanks to my readers, Angela Gawthorp, Andy Wormald, Cath Brockhill and Jan Ozkurt for their appraisal of the original draft manuscript. Also to fellow Robert Hale author, Peter N. Walker (Nicholas Rhea) whose book
Murders and Mysteries of the North Yorkshire Moors
provided my inspiration for part of the plot.

Thanks to Gill Jackson and the team at Robert Hale Ltd for their work in producing this, the latest Mike Nash adventure. As always, to Derek Colligan for his superb cover, and finally to my wife, Val, whose hard work and skilful proofreading and copy editing makes life much easier for me.


The car was being driven well within the speed limit. The road was unfamiliar and Hendrik was unused to driving on the left. In addition, there was no lighting, neither town nor village to bring relief, only the car’s headlights to pierce the blackness of the night. Hendrik muttered something extremely unflattering to his companion about the backward state of the British nation.

‘At least this road is so lonely there are no other cars for you to worry about,’ Rutger pointed out.

‘I can see why. Who would drive along this road out of choice? How much further do we have to travel before we meet our man? I want to get rid of this stuff, take our money and return in time to catch the morning ferry.’

They were speaking Dutch, their native tongue. ‘Only a few
more. We have to look for an inn that has been abandoned and boarded up.’

Hendrik gave a scornful laugh. ‘Hardly surprising the inn is abandoned. Probably from lack of customers. My only question would be, why build one out here in the first place? Are you
certain we’re on the right road?’

‘I’m following the instructions I was given to the letter, and when you think of it, the loneliness of the meeting place is ideal, given what we are carrying.’ Nevertheless, Rutger shifted uncomfortably in his seat and eased the handcuff on his wrist. The movement caused the briefcase on his knee to slide forward. He clutched it, aware of the value of its contents and the perilous nature of their journey.

Several minutes later, Hendrik pointed to a large building picked out by the headlights. It was set back from the road with a large open space in front, which had obviously once been a car park. As they got nearer they could see the boarded-up windows. This had to be the place.

There was a vehicle in the car park, possibly the first to have parked there in years. It was tucked away in the furthest corner, almost as if ashamed of its presence in the dreary location. As they swung onto the tarmac the headlights of the stationary vehicle flashed, once, twice, three times. ‘That’s it,’ Rutger said. ‘That’s the signal.’

As Hendrik pulled to a halt alongside a small van, the driver got out. They could see he was carrying a briefcase, slightly larger than the one they had. The Dutchmen relaxed. This was obviously the man they had to meet, and that would be the money.

The man reached their car, opened the rear door and slid into the back seat. They heard the briefcase being opened. ‘Good evening,’ Rutger greeted him, his English heavily accented. As last words, they were hardly memorable. Hendrik saw Rutger slump forward in his seat, felt something warm and sticky splash his cheek. Then the knifeman turned his attention to him and he neither heard, nor saw, nor felt anything more.

The knifeman located the key in Rutger’s pocket and deftly unlocked the handcuff, removing the briefcase. He carried it back to his own vehicle and passed it through the open window. ‘Better check we have the right one,’ he told his companion. ‘It would be a shame if we’ve got the wrong men.’

A few seconds later, aided by the courtesy light, they both gasped in awe at the sight of row upon row of bright, sparkling diamonds, the stones winking with sinful glee at them. ‘Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,’ the passenger breathed.

They ignored the fact that two men had died so they could get these diamonds. Or perhaps they knew that many men had already died because of them. The passenger closed the case, and they both felt a sense almost of loss. ‘Right,’ the driver said, ‘now to get rid of these two. You’re clear what you have to do?’

‘I follow you to the dump site, right?’

The driver donned a boiler suit and returned to the dead men’s car. He hauled the driver from his seat, dumped him in the boot, repeated the process with the passenger and drove away with his own vehicle following close behind. This was the most dangerous part of the operation. They had to reach their destination without attracting any attention, especially that of a passing police car. The journey went smoothly, and an hour later, as the sun was rising, the radiance of its early morning light was augmented by the brilliance of the fire caused by several cans of petrol, which they had poured over the car before torching it.

They turned their backs on the vehicle until the flames died down. When satisfied that the inferno had destroyed any evidence of the crime committed within, they began the long walk down the muddy track to their own vehicle. ‘So far, so good; that’s phase one over with. Now we have to get on with the rest of the plan.’

‘You’re not worried there might be repercussions?’

‘I feel sure there will. In fact I’m counting on it.’

‘That means more people will die.’

‘Inevitable, I’m afraid. What we have to do is make sure we’re not among them.’


‘Where are my diamonds?’

‘Sorry, I don’t understand? You have your diamonds. My men went yesterday to meet you.’

‘No they didn’t. I waited and waited, nobody turned up. I was at the place we agreed until after dawn.’

‘Perhaps they missed the inn, or went to the wrong one. I will have to wait for them to call me.’

‘Hang on. Inn? What inn? We were supposed to meet up in the motorway service area.’

‘Yes, but that was before you changed the meeting place. You told me you were afraid there would be an attack. Something you had heard on, what was the word you used … ah, yes … the
. So we should change the route and change the meeting place for safety.’

‘Have you been drinking? I never said anything of the sort. When was this conversation supposed to have taken place?’ the
aggrieved customer demanded.

It was at that point that both men realized something was badly amiss.

‘You phoned me yesterday afternoon, soon after you returned from a visit to your dentist, you said.’

‘I told you I’d been to the dentist, did I?’

‘Yes, and that was why your voice sounded odd, because of the injection.’

‘You’ve been conned. I didn’t phone you. And I didn’t go to the dentist yesterday – or any day this week, for that matter.’

‘You realize what this means?’

‘It means that you’re short of two men and seven million pounds worth of diamonds.’

‘It also means I cannot report the theft, because of where the diamonds originated. If it became known that I was trading in blood diamonds I would be finished, and probably end up in jail.’

‘Then I suggest you start trying to find out who took them, starting with your own men. How well do you trust them?’

‘Implicitly. They have both worked for me for over twenty years. I pay them sufficient to guarantee their honesty.’

‘That sounds like extremely bad news – for them, I mean.’


Near the heart of London, the surface of the narrow lane gleamed with the constant damp that came from the enclosed atmosphere. The thoroughfare, barely wide enough to take two vehicles, was topped by an enormous vaulted ceiling of brickwork, once red, now stained and darkened with over a century of grime. The arch formed what was, in effect, a tunnel, which would have been more appropriate to the criss-cross pattern of railway tracks that ran in profusion across the top of the imposing structure.

It had been constructed when Queen Victoria was still becoming accustomed to the role of monarch, principally as a support for the emerging network of railway lines that carried cargo, both human and otherwise, into the capital. However, the enterprising owners, ever keen to increase the yield on their investment had seen the commercial potential of the space below and ordered the erection of further walls, partitioning the chain of archways into individual
units. Doors and a wall in the outward-facing side completed the enclosures, which were then offered to let as repair workshops, storage areas or miniature manufacturing plants.

Over the years layer after layer was added to the already
surface of the bricks, courtesy of London pollution and grime. Nevertheless, the arches had provided an economic
for many successful businesses.

Inside one such unit, illuminated in a meagre fashion by a single naked light bulb, three people were clustered at the rear of the single-chamber building. The walls were racked out with shelving, the dark timber contrasting with the ancient, peeling whitewash that had been applied many years previously. Two of the occupants were standing, the third was seated. Of the three, however, it was the man in the chair who was least comfortable. The source of his discomfort might have been the fact that he was naked, and even in the hottest of summer days, the temperature within the arches was never hot enough for naturism. Alternatively, his discomfort could have stemmed from his being tied to the chair with lengths of rope, which secured his wrists and ankles. To complete his
, he was gagged by the simple method of having an old piece of soiled rag stuffed into his mouth.

He was unable to call for help. He was also unable to scream as an outlet for the immense pain he had already suffered, was
to suffer, and would suffer until the end.

From time to time, one of his torturers would remove the gag briefly. This was no act of common humanity. The victim could not be allowed to die until their purpose was completed. The removal of the gag prevented him from choking on the blood inside his mouth. Blood, that came from the gaping holes in his gums from where his teeth had been extracted.

In effecting this removal, the sophisticated instruments used by dentists had not been deemed necessary. A pair of pliers, now bloodstained, were the only tool used to complete the procedure. The removal of the gag also allowed the captive chance to speak, if he so wished, or if he was able. His refusal to do so may have been purely an obstinate refusal to yield, even to the intense suffering he was being subjected to. Or it might have been simply because
he had no answer to the questions which his torturers were asking him.

The principal torturer watched as his colleague replaced the gag, lighting a cigarette as he waited for the captive to be silenced once more. He allowed a lazy spiral of smoke to drift towards the ceiling, listening to the rumble of a heavy goods train trundling slowly across the tracks overhead. Tiny, almost invisible flakes of whitewash fluttered down, unable to sustain their resistance to the vibration that threatened to shake them loose from the ceiling any longer.

The torturer-in-chief inspected the end of his cigarette before addressing the captive. When he spoke, it was to repeat the question he had asked time after time during the course of the interrogation. ‘Let’s talk about diamonds, shall we? That’s the reason we’re all here, after all.’ As he finished speaking, the torturer reached forward and applied the glowing red tip of his cigarette to the captive’s testicles. He waited, holding the cigarette in place, watching the man writhe helplessly, eyes bulging, mouth straining against the gag. Eventually, he relented, allowing the pain to subside. Then he moved the cigarette to a different place and repeated the treatment.

The torturer stood back after a while and looked across at his colleague. ‘I was hoping he’d play ball by now.’ He laughed at his pun, then added, ‘As it is, I may need you to go for another packet of fags before long. We have to do the job properly.’

He turned his gaze back to the victim, whose eyes were dulled now, either with pain or shock; or a combination of both. He admonished the helpless captive. ‘You ought to know that cigarettes can be very bad for your health. Now, we’re going to continue to talk about diamonds for a while, after which, I’m going to introduce you to Percy Sledge.’

He turned and picked up a large sledgehammer from a nearby shelf. ‘This is Percy,’ he murmured. He let the hammer fall, as if by accident onto the victim’s foot. Overhead, the rumble of the train was accompanied now by the squealing hiss of the brakes, but even above the increased level of sound, the noise of bones breaking was clearly audible. Neither of the torturers seemed to notice it, or if they did, it failed to concern them. Why should it, they would probably
have argued, as, although he was still breathing, in their eyes the man in the chair was already dead.


The officer was new to Bethnal Green police station in the East End of London; but not so new that he didn’t recognize the name. ‘Sarge, I’ve just taken a phone call from a woman who wanted to report her husband missing, and I thought maybe CID would want to know about it.’

The sergeant looked across at the young constable. He was a bright lad, so the sergeant didn’t dismiss his suggestion out of hand. ‘What makes you think the suits might be interested?’

‘Thing is, I recognized the name, Sarge.’

‘And the name is?’

‘Max Perry.’

The sergeant stared at his subordinate in silence for a moment. ‘Max Perry? As in Mad Max?’

The constable nodded.

‘Too bloody right CID will be interested, perhaps even their mates at the Yard. Pass that report over and let’s have a dekko.’

He scanned the few facts on the missing person report before reaching for his phone. ‘Here, I’ve got some news for you. News that will maybe get you buying a round of drinks tonight, even with your reputation for tightfistedness. Guess who’s gone AWOL? Only Mad Max. Yes, Max Perry. The lovely Corinna rang the desk a few minutes ago to report that he’s disappeared. Alternatively, if you don’t go to the pub, you might want to nip round to Max’s flat to console her. I know you’ve always fancied your chances there. Let’s face it, if someone’s got rid of one of the most notorious gangsters around, your life’s going to be much easier from now on.’


The storeroom was in the basement of the building. The back and side walls were shelved from floor to ceiling, most containing bottles, drums and tins of chemicals, the others being loaded with sheets, towels, blankets and sundry other linen, all neatly enclosed in plastic covers. Many of the containers were labelled with the skull and crossbones insignia that denoted the contents were poisonous. Others had the additional potent warning sign of a large
cross, accompanied by the word

BOOK: Buried in the Past
5.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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