Read Dead Lucky Online

Authors: Matt Brolly

Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #Police Procedural, #Private Investigators, #Suspense, #General

Dead Lucky (6 page)

BOOK: Dead Lucky
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‘But she introduced you?’ said Lambert, keen to exploit Robinson in his emotional state.

‘Not really. We were both at one of her parties and we met. We introduced ourselves.’ His face was still red, his breathing laboured. He sat back in his chair, the colour draining from his face. ‘I’m not going to discuss what we did. I won’t let you sully her memory.’

Lambert nodded. ‘I will need a note of your whereabouts last night.’

Robinson’s eyes widened as he adopted a sardonic tone. ‘It’s always a pleasure helping you guys out. I was at an Inn’s dinner. I was there till gone midnight. I ordered a taxi. Latchford will give you the number of the firm we use so you can check with the driver.’

Robinson stood, giving Lambert and Kennedy their cue to do the same. ‘Listen, I’m sorry if I lost my temper,’ said Robinson, to Kennedy in particular. ‘I will assist in any way I can.’ Lambert was intrigued by the barrister’s sudden changes in behaviour. The news of Moira’s death had clearly affected him.

It was raining as they left the chambers; a sudden downpour had reached the drains, leaving a faint sulphurous odour in the air. ‘Verify what he told us,’ said Lambert, as he heard a shout from behind him.

The figure of Charles Robinson jogged towards them, his face flushed from the exertion. ‘I remembered something,’ he said, his breath coming in rapid bursts between words. ‘I’m sure it’s nothing but thought you should know. A former client of mine used the same MO, similar at least, to what you’ve just told me.’

Lambert didn’t respond. He took out his notebook, waited for Robinson to reveal himself.

‘Obviously, I can’t tell you anything confidential but it reached the court. May I?’ he said, looking at Lambert’s notepad.

Lambert handed it over and Robinson scribbled some words onto the paper. ‘You’ll find everything there,’ said Robinson, writing
R v. Whitfield CJ (2008)
on the piece of paper.

‘You represented Whitfield?’ asked Lambert.

Robinson nodded.

‘Verdict?’

Robinson pursed his lips. ‘Not guilty.’

Chapter 8

They watched Robinson walking back towards chambers.

‘He looks worried,’ said Kennedy.

‘Perhaps. Go back and read through the case, and everything we have on it. Call me when you have some details and we can decide if it’s worth pursuing.’

‘You don’t think it will be?’

‘It would be convenient, but let’s see. I’m going to visit Eustace again. I want to know if he knew about Robinson, and what he’s been working on lately.’

‘I have an appointment with the head librarian from Moira’s library. I postponed the meeting after McKenzie’s revelations about Charles Robinson.’

‘Good. You should have time to check the case first, or get someone else on it so we at least have a summary.’

Lambert caught the tube back to the hospital. He rarely used cars if he could help it and in central London it was usually quicker getting about by public transport. He thought about Robinson’s changing personalities. The sadness he’d expressed on learning of Moira’s death, followed by the anger at the insinuation he’d read into Kennedy’s questions. He saw the case opening up before him, strand after strand branching out into infinite possibilities. He wanted a working theory but so far it was evading him. He hoped that Moira’s death was personal. That way it would be easier to find the killer. If it was random, which seemed unlikely, they would have to rely on the killer having made a mistake.

For now, they had to find out more about Moira Sackville. He realised they knew very little apart from her friendship with Prue McKenzie, and relationship with the Welsh barrister. Hopefully, Kennedy’s meeting with Moira’s colleagues would shed some more light on the woman.

After eating lunch in a small Italian off Lordship Lane, he called Sarah.

‘DCI May.’

‘Very formal,’ said Lambert.

‘I just like the way it sounds. How are you, stranger?’

‘I’m well. Thought I’d check in, see if you remember me, that sort of thing.’ The lunch had energised him and despite the stress of the case he felt momentarily optimistic, sitting in the sunshine, nursing an espresso, speaking to Sarah.

DCI Sarah May had been the SIO on the Souljacker case and they had ended up working together, albeit unofficially. They had become close after the case, and Lambert had spent some time at her flat in Bristol before returning to London. He hadn’t realised how much he’d missed hearing her voice.

‘You can call me any time, Michael, you know that. You don’t need an excuse.’

‘So what are you working on?’ said Lambert, changing the subject.

‘Same. We keep finding bodies.’ She was referring to the legacy of the Souljacker. Following his death, a book was published electronically releasing the details of a number of murders. May had been tasked with following up and had so far discovered four unmarked graves. ‘What about you, still on the drugs case?’

‘No, I’ve been promoted. I’m heading up a murder investigation.’

‘Look at you, back to your old ways.’

Lambert outlined the case, keeping the detail confidential.

‘Some promising leads,’ said May. ‘You think it’s a one-off?’

‘I suppose it comes down to motive. If he was after her for some reason then it might end here. Don’t know yet.’

‘Well, let me know if you need any help,’ said May, a mischievous lilt to her voice.

They were skirting around the real issue. He’d returned to London to start work, and there had been no resolution about their relationship. They’d promised to keep in touch, to visit, but nothing more definite. He would have loved to see her, but they were both too busy.

There was also something else pressing on him, which he blurted out. ‘Sophie’s had the baby.’

Sarah didn’t respond and he thought for a second the line had been cut. ‘Ah,’ she said, eventually. ‘When?’

‘Three days ago. They’ve had to keep her in for some checks. There were some difficulties but she should be going home today. Sorry, Sarah, I should have told you before.’

‘Don’t be silly. How is she? How are you?’

‘She’s fine. The baby is called Jane.’ He couldn’t bring himself to say the words, Jane Chloe.

‘How are you, Michael?’ said Sarah, insistent.

‘I’m okay. It’s a bit surreal. Look, I can’t talk about it at the moment.’

‘I’ll come down,’ said Sarah.

Lambert snorted, his pulse quickening. ‘You’re coming to rescue me?’

Sarah laughed down the line, the melodic sound sending waves of feeling through him. ‘Yes. You’re all alone, and Sophie has this new baby, and…’

He cut her off. ‘I have the case. I’ll be fine. When we have some more time we can get together. It would be good to see you.’

‘Smooth talker.’ She hesitated. ‘You know I should come. But fine. Call me when you need to.’

‘I know. Look, I’d better go. Duty calls.’

‘Look after yourself.’

‘You too.’

He braced himself for seeing Sophie and the baby as he entered the hospital. It was possible they were still both upstairs in the maternity ward but he couldn’t bring himself to find out, unsure if it was his place any more.

The rush of adrenaline from speaking to Sarah had faded, and he realised how tired he was. He bought another coffee from the hospital outlet, and headed towards the secure area where Sackville was being treated.

Nervous guy had left, and a WPC had joined the young DC Shah. Lambert didn’t bother with introductions. ‘Update?’

‘A few coming and goings,’ said Shah, handing him a report sheet. ‘Nurses, food, Dr Patel, and a psychiatrist, Dr Byatt. They want to discharge him, sir.’

Lambert entered the room. Sackville was sitting up in bed watching daytime television. ‘You’re feeling better I hear?’

Sackville lifted his head. He looked worse than yesterday, his pale skin mottled and blotchy, his eyes sunken and lifeless. Lambert didn’t envy the man. He had no family left, and his career was fading. The rest of his life would be haunted by memories of his wife’s murder. All the counselling in the world wouldn’t change that.

‘You remember our conversation yesterday?’

‘They called it an interrogation in the war,’ said Sackville, a crack of a smile appearing on his face.

‘May I?’ said Lambert, taking a seat. ‘Sorry about that, I needed as much information as possible.’

‘Have you told Prue?’

‘Yes. I’ve also spoken to your editor.’

‘I know.’ Sackville pointed to a bouquet in the corner of the room.

‘Your editor’s young.’

‘Mia? Young in age maybe, but she has an old soul. An old, deathless soul.’

‘Yes, she seemed happy go lucky,’ said Lambert, sharing the joke. ‘She mentioned you‘re working on something at the moment but wouldn’t go into much detail.’

‘Don’t get her started on journalistic sources, though I have to say I agree with her. Why did you want to know?’

‘We have to look at all angles, obviously. Mia mentioned you’ve been investigating the Blake family.’

Sackville’s face dropped. ‘What did you give her for that, an exclusive?’

‘She didn’t reveal anything. Told me to speak to you directly if I wanted any details.’

‘I’ve been investigating Curtis Blake on and off all my life.’

‘Mia mentioned something about people trafficking. Blake updating his empire?’

‘She hasn’t quite grasped it, and I’m afraid there isn’t much of a story.’

‘Who is he working with?’

‘Listen, I don’t like Curtis Blake, and I don’t respect him. In fact, I despise what he does and what he’s done.’

‘But?’

‘Some of these new guys. They have no boundaries. You must know that?’

Lambert had seen many things he wished he hadn’t over the years. As far as he was concerned, there had never been any boundaries for the majority of people he’d dealt with. The notion of the idealistic British criminal was the stuff of fiction. He was sure Eustace knew that as well as he did. ‘Justice is blind, Eustace. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong.’

‘There are degrees of wrongness, as you well know.’

‘You’re going to have to be more specific.’

Sackville adjusted the pillows on his bed. ‘I need to get out of here. You name it – the people smuggling, trafficking, the mindless violence. The more I see, the worse it is.’

‘It’s always been that way, Eustace. Tell me what you know. Who do you have details on, who would want to do this to Moira?’

‘You don’t bloody get it, do you?’

Lambert lifted his palms. ‘Enlighten me.’

‘I’ve stopped working. Blake is just an excuse. I had a few meetings, took some notes and that’s it. Just enough work to convince Mia to keep paying me until I retire. I’m done, no stomach left.’

Lambert stood. ‘Want some water?’

Sackville shook his head, a look of disdain on his face.

‘So you have no idea who would do this?’

‘Listen, Lambert.’

Lambert paced the room, reluctant to say what had to be said. ‘What about Moira?’

Sackville tensed, colour spreading to his cheeks.

‘I need to ask. Did she have any enemies, Eustace?’

‘Don’t be bloody ridiculous.’

‘I need something, Eustace. If there isn’t a reason for this attack, if it was completely random, then we will never find out who did this to Moira. I need a motive.’

‘She was a bloody librarian.’

The man wasn’t listening. ‘Look, I’m sorry to ask this Eustace but do you know Charles Robinson?’

Sackville tensed again, and for one absurd moment Lambert thought he was about to spring at him. ‘That’s long finished,’ said Sackville, through gritted teeth.

‘So you know about him and Moira.’

‘Yes, I fucking know. She couldn’t hide her guilty conscience.’

‘When did it end?’

‘A couple of years ago.’

Lambert hid his surprise, remembering that Robinson had said it had ended a year ago. ‘Did you ever confront him?’

‘No, but then we were never in the same room together after I found out.’ Sackville took a swig of water. ‘Could do with something stronger,’ he said, wiping a drip from his face.

‘Does he know that you know?’

‘I imagine he fucking does, yes.’ Eustace scrunched his face, the memory of his wife’s infidelity somehow animating him more than her death. Something changed in his face, and he began pulling the covers from his bed. ‘Is that bastard a suspect?’ he said, trying to get to his feet, flailing on his back.

Lambert placed his hand on his shoulder. ‘Come on, get back to bed. Robinson has an alibi for the evening of the attack.’

Sackville pulled the covers back over, making an angry swipe of his hand across his tear filled eyes.

‘Let’s leave it for now, Eustace. Get some rest. Is there anyone I can contact for you?’

Sackville shook his head. ‘There’s no one,’ he said.

Chapter 9

Devlin stopped her as she returned to the office. ‘You seen Lambert today?’

‘Just left him, why?’

‘I wanted to go through the CCTV footage with him.’

‘Well, you can go through it with me first,’ said Matilda. She liked the new DC, but on occasions he was a little too keen to show off his worth.

‘Not much to show unfortunately. No cameras face the front of the building. There is a camera in the apartment’s foyer. I edited all the frames which I thought of interest, and went through them with the concierge. Everyone is accounted for during the twenty-four hour period.’

Matilda frowned. They hadn’t expected anything but it was still a disappointment. ‘I don’t think you need to bother DCI Lambert with no news, do you?’

Devlin looked momentarily crestfallen. ‘No, Sarge.’

She took pity on him. ‘I need a name checked. Noel Whitfield.’ She handed him the piece of paper with the case name on it. ‘I need all details on this case. Thirty minutes?’

Devlin nodded as he rushed back to his desk.

She updated the file as she waited for Devlin. She thought about the adulterous barrister, and his panicked response to their investigation. She would have liked it to have been a sign of a guilty conscience, a way of distracting them from their investigation, but feared it was just a sign of the kind of man he was. They’d just informed him that his long-term lover had been brutally murdered, and his main concern was protecting himself.

BOOK: Dead Lucky
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