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Authors: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Crime Fiction

Dead End

BOOK: Dead End
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About the Author
 

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
was born and educated in Shepherd’s Bush, and had a variety of jobs in the commercial world, starting as a junior cashier at Woolworth’s and working her way down to Pensions Officer at the BBC. She won the Young Writers’ Award in 1973, and became a full-time writer in 1978. She is the author of over sixty successful novels to date, including thirty volumes of the
Morland Dynasty
series.

Visit the author’s website at
www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com

Also by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
 

The Bill Slider Mysteries

 

ORCHESTRATED DEATH

DEATH WATCH

NECROCHIP

DEAD END

BLOOD LINES

KILLING TIME

SHALLOW GRAVE

BLOOD SINISTER

GONE TOMORROW

DEAR DEPARTED

GAME OVER

FELL PURPOSE

BODY LINE

The Dynasty Series

 

THE FOUNDING

THE DARK ROSE

THE PRINCELING

THE OAK APPLE

THE BLACK PEARL

THE LONG SHADOW

THE CHEVALIER

THE MAIDEN

THE FLOOD-TIDE

THE TANGLED THREAD

THE EMPEROR

THE VICTORY

THE REGENCY

THE CAMPAIGNERS

THE RECKONING

THE DEVIL’S HORSE

THE POISON TREE

THE ABYSS

THE HIDDEN SHORE

THE WINTER JOURNEY

THE OUTCAST

THE MIRAGE

THE CAUSE

THE HOMECOMING

THE QUESTION

THE DREAM KINGDOM

THE RESTLESS SEA

THE WHITE ROAD

THE BURNING ROSES

THE MEASURE OF DAYS

THE FOREIGN FIELD

THE FALLEN KINGS

THE DANCING YEARS

COPYRIGHT
 

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-751-53721-5

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2005 Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

Contents
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COPYRIGHT

ALSO BY CYNTHIA HARROD-EAGLES

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER ONE
The Days of Woes and Rises
 

When Detective Superintendent ‘Mad Ivan’ Barrington of Shepherd’s Bush nick told you he would make your life a misery unless you accepted a transfer out of his station, you defied him at your peril. As the fount of all paperwork he was in a position to pour out upon you an unending stream of department fertilizer.

Today, for instance, Detective Inspector Bill Slider had been trapped at his desk all morning with a dizzyingly uninteresting report on the connection between stress and absenteeism, which Barrington had given him to précis on a most-urgent basis. As a result, Slider went up so late to lunch that he got the last portion of the ‘home-made’ lasagne, which had set like crusted rubber in the corner of the oven dish. It was cool, but he dared not ask for it to be heated up again for fear of what it might do to his teeth. Still, the alternative was shepherd’s pie, and he’d tried that once.

‘Chips with it, love?’

‘Yes please.’ What other comfort was there in life for a man whose wife and lover had both left him? He sighed, and the canteen helper looked at him tenderly. He had the kind of ruffled, sad-puppy looks that made women want to cosset him.

‘I’ll give you extra chips, ’cause you had the last bit and it’s a bit small.’ She shovelled the chips on cosily. ‘Gravy, dear?’ she asked, already pouring, and then passed his plate over with her thumb planted firmly in the brown bit; but by the time he got to a table the thumbprint had filled in so you could hardly tell. He didn’t like gravy on chips – or on lasagne actually – but she had given him extra of that, too, out of compassion. Why did all the wrong people find him irresistible? And he still hadn’t finished
the report. Mournfully he folded it open beside his plate, speared the driest chip he could see, and continued reading.

Research suggests that disorders with psychosomatic components – headache, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, high blood pressure and ulcers – are more frequent among police officers than among citizens generally.
What an attractive bunch they sounded, to be sure. He skipped down.
What constitutes stress?
the report asked him in a coy subheading. He was pretty sure it was going to tell him so he didn’t answer, and in a minute it did, with an angst league-table two pages long.
Being Taken Hostage by Terrorists
came in at number one, followed by
Confronting a Person with a Gun.
No surprises there. Ah, here was a little light relief, though:
Being Caught Making a Mistake
was apparently more stressful than
Seeing Mutilated Bodies
or
Having to Deal with a Messy Car Accident.
Still, anyone regularly eating in a police canteen got used to dealing with messy accidents.

He pushed the report aside. Was this a fair punishment on a man for refusing to go away and play somewhere else? It wasn’t even his fault that he had got so terminally up Barrington’s nose. While investigating the chip-shop murder back in May, he had uncovered unsavoury facts about Barrington’s former boss who was also, unfortunately for Slider, Barrington’s lifelong hero. A man can forgive many things, but not being robbed of his dreams. There was nothing Barrington could do in the disciplinary way, since Slider had only been doing his job, so he had suggested, with all the menace at his command, that Slider should accept a promotion to Chief Inspector and move to Pinner station. Slider had known that he was asking for it when he refused, but that didn’t mean he had to like it when he got it.

Of course, the promotion and transfer to Pinner would have meant a pay rise, and money was always an object; but he had never wanted to be a DCI anyway, and he didn’t fancy going to an outer station, where life moved at a more leisurely pace. Why, at Pinner they regularly won the Metropolitan Police Beautiful Window-Box competition: they probably had time to read reports like this every day. He liked inner stations like Shepherd’s Bush, where you were kept busy. A man needed a stable home-life to be able to cope with the opportunities for introspection left by a slower pace at work,
and these days his home-life was about as stable as Michael Jackson’s face.

He abandoned the report, sawed a section off the lasagne, and pulled out of his pocket a handbill given to him that morning by his bagman, Detective Sergeant Jim Atherton. It was a flyer for a concert that evening to be given in a local church, St Augustine’s, Addison Gardens. A Mahler symphony with a seriously famous conductor, Sir Stefan Radek. Slider was not, like Atherton, a great classical music buff, though he liked some of the famous pieces – Tchaikovsky and Beethoven and
The Planets,
that sort of thing. The only bit of Mahler he’d ever heard he’d thought sounded like an MGM film-track, which was all right in a cinema but not what you’d want to sit through a whole concert of. But the real point here, the reason Atherton had told him about it at all, was that the Royal London Philharmonic – the orchestra which was doing the concert – was the one in which Joanna was a violinist.

Joanna, his lost love. Two and half years ago he had met her while he was on a case, and had – in the police jargon – gone overboard, with a resounding splash. He had been married then for nearly fourteen years and had never even considered being unfaithful before, believing that promises once made should not be broken and wives once chosen should not be forsaken. But he seemed not to be able to help himself, and for two years he had wrestled with guilt and responsibility, desperate to marry Joanna but unable to find a way to tell Irene, his wife, that he wanted to leave her. The worst of all possible worlds for all of them. At last, after a particularly humiliating evening, Joanna had broken it off with him, and had since steadfastly refused to re-attach it.

The really hideous irony was that it was just after Joanna had chucked him that Barrington had suggested, with more than a hint of broken arms about it, that Slider should move to Pinner, which was just down the road from Ruislip and the marital home – ‘So nice and handy for you,’ Barrington had said menacingly; and Slider for the sake of peace and pension enhancement was on the brink of accepting it as a wise career move, when Irene had announced she was leaving him. He must have had a really horrible conjunction of his ruling planets for these blows all to have fallen together. And it was a sad fact that in his whole life he had only ever been involved with two women, and they
had both dropped him in short succession. He’d been left so comprehensively he felt like the slice of cucumber in the garnish on a pub sandwich.

And now Joanna, the lost and longed-for, was playing in a concert just down the road.

‘It would be a chance to see her,’ Atherton had said beguilingly when he gave Slider the leaflet. ‘A chance to talk to her.’

‘But she doesn’t want to talk to me,’ Slider had replied. ‘She said so.’

‘You don’t have to take her word for it. Anyway, Radek conducting Mahler is not to be missed. You know he’s the world authority on Mahler?’

‘What’s he conducting in a church in Shepherd’s Bush for, then?’ Slider objected.

‘I think it’s for the restoration fund. He lives just down the road, in Holland Park Avenue. It’s a beautiful church,’ Atherton added coaxingly.

‘Is it?’ Slider said unhelpfully.

‘And they’re rehearsing there this afternoon. Two-thirty to five-thirty.’

Sitting over his cooling lasagne, Slider contemplated the scenario Atherton had been urging on him. The shift ended at four, and unless something came up Slider would be free then. He could stroll down to the church, quite casually, take a look in, wait until they finished rehearsing and then bump into Joanna accidentally on her way out. ‘Oh, hello. Fancy a drink? They’re just open.’ But what if she refused? She had told him she didn’t want to see him again, and inviting public humiliation was no way to run a life.

No, he thought, sighing. Better not. He had a lot to do, anyway. There were two more survey reports on his desk for when he’d finished this one, and the car crime statistics to update. He gazed with digestive despair at the lasagne, which had withdrawn reproachfully, like a snubbed woman, under a cloak of hardening gravy. In any case, the jumbo dogknob ’n’ beans he had consumed in the canteen for breakfast still lay sad and indigestible in a pool of grease somewhere under his ribs, and he didn’t think he ought to add to his problems at this stage. He pushed his chair back and headed for the door, and almost ran into Mackay.

‘Oh, there you are, guv.’ Mackay’s face was alight with pleasure: something wonderful must have happened. ‘There’s been a shooting in that big church in Addison Gardens, Saint Whatsisname’s – one dead. It just came in from the emergency services. Some celeb’s got taken out. Right on our ground, too! Luck, eh?’

BOOK: Dead End
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