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Authors: Mark Roberts

Dead Silent

BOOK: Dead Silent
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DEAD SILENT

 

Mark Roberts

www.headofzeus.com

About
Dead Silent

HIS LIFE WAS DEVOTED TO ART
.

HIS DEATH WAS A MASTERPIECE
.

Leonard Lawson was a respected professor of medieval art. He lived a quiet life in a suburb of Liverpool with his grown-up daughter. As far as anyone knew, he had no enemies.

Louise Lawson watched her father die. Before she blacked out, she saw his body mutilated and deformed, twisted into a hellish parody of the artworks he loved.

Investigating a killer bringing medieval horror to Merseyside, DCI Eve Clay must overcome her own demons to unpick the dark symbolism of the crime scene. A fifty-year silence has been broken – with a message written in blood…

For Kath and Ted, John, Deborah and Chris.

Look back over the past with its changing empires that rise and fall, and you can foresee the future too.

—M
ARCUS
A
URELIUS

Contents

Cover

Welcome Page

About
Dead Silent

Dedication

Epigraph

Map

Prologue: Thursday, 24th October 1985

Part One: Darkness

Thursday, 20th December 2018

Chapter 1: 2.38 am

Chapter 2: 2.42 am

Chapter 3: 2.46 am

Chapter 4: 2.50 am

Chapter 5: 2.54 am

Chapter 6: 2.59 am

Chapter 7: 3.00 am

Chapter 8: 3.30 am

Chapter 9: 3.35 am

Chapter 10: 3.45 am

Chapter 11: 4.00 am

Chapter 12: 4.03 am

Chapter 13: 4.15 am

Chapter 14: 4.25 am

Chapter 15: 5.00 am

Chapter 16: 5.20 am

Chapter 17: 5.20 am

Chapter 18: 5.33 am

Chapter 19: 5.33 am

Chapter 20: 5.44 am

Chapter 21: 5.50 am

Chapter 22: 6.01 am

Chapter 23: 6.06 am

Chapter 24: 6.21 am

Chapter 25: 6.31 am

Chapter 26: 7.15 am

Part Two: Sunrise

Chapter 27: 8.23 am

Chapter 28: 8.23 am

Chapter 29: 8.55 am

Chapter 30: 9.08 am

Chapter 31: 9.23 am

Chapter 32: 9.23 am

Chapter 33: 9.28 am

Chapter 34: 9.28 am

Chapter 35: 9.41 am

Chapter 36: 9.41 am

Chapter 37: 9.42 am

Chapter 38: 9.50 am

Chapter 39: 9.51 am

Chapter 40: 9.58 am

Chapter 41: 10.06 am

Chapter 42: 10.12 am

Chapter 43: 10.14 am

Chapter 44: 10.18 am

Chapter 45: 10.25 am

Chapter 46: 10.35 am

Chapter 47: 10.41 am

Chapter 48: 10.42 am

Chapter 49: 10.46 am

Chapter 50: 10.57 am

Chapter 51: 10.53 am

Chapter 52: 11.03 am

Chapter 53: 11.15 am

Chapter 54: 11.15 am

Chapter 55: 11.30 am

Chapter 56: 11.35 am

Chapter 57: 12.20 pm

Chapter 58: 12.23 pm

Chapter 59: 12.27 pm

Chapter 60: 12.30 pm

Chapter 61: 12.35 pm

Chapter 62: 12.45 pm

Chapter 63: 12.59 pm

Chapter 64: 1.01 pm

Chapter 65: 1.15 pm

Chapter 66: 1.21 pm

Chapter 67: 2.25 pm

Chapter 68: 2.47 pm

Chapter 69: 2.47 pm

Chapter 70: 2.49 pm

Chapter 71: 3.05 pm

Chapter 72: 3.07 pm

Chapter 73: 3.07 pm

Chapter 74: 3.09 pm

Chapter 75: 3.10 pm

Chapter 76: 3.25 pm

Chapter 77: 3.25 pm

Chapter 78: 3.37 pm

Part Three: Sunset

Chapter 79: 3.53 pm

Chapter 80: 3.56 pm

Chapter 81: 4.01 pm

Chapter 82: 4.09 pm

Chapter 83: 4.14 pm

Chapter 84: 4.14 pm

Chapter 85: 4.19 pm

Chapter 86: 4.21 pm

Chapter 87: 4.22 pm

Chapter 88: 4.25 pm

Chapter 89: 4.29 pm

Chapter 90: 4.33 pm

Chapter 91: 4.37 pm

Chapter 92: 4.37 pm

Chapter 93: 4.40 pm

Chapter 94: 4.43 pm

Chapter 95: 4.45 pm

Chapter 96: 4.59 pm

Chapter 97: 5.03 pm

Chapter 98: 5.04 pm

Chapter 99: 6.28 pm

Chapter 100: 6.37 pm

Chapter 101: 6.42 pm

Chapter 102: 7.17 pm

Chapter 103: 7.19 pm

Chapter 104: 7.51 pm

Chapter 105: 8.04 pm

Epilogue: Friday, 21st December 2018

Acknowledgements

About Mark Roberts

The Eve Clay Series

An Invitation from the Publisher

Copyright

Map

Prologue
Thursday, 24th October 1985

‘Eve, thank you very much for coming to see me,’ gushed Mrs Tripp. She smiled from behind her desk as Eve stood her ground at the door of the office.

Breathless, having run from the garden where she had been playing football with the big lads, Eve said, ‘You’re welcome, Mrs Tripp.’

The pleasantness of Mrs Tripp’s manner caused Eve to look down and perform a simple trick to check she wasn’t dreaming. She looked at the black trainers on her feet and told herself,
Squeeze your toes
. She squeezed her toes and confirmed. She was wide awake and it was all real.

‘Come and take a seat, child,’ encouraged Mrs Tripp, her newly permed hair crowned with an outsized yellow ribbon.

You’re too old and fat
, thought Eve,
to even try and look like that Madonna one.

As she walked to the chair across from Mrs Tripp’s desk, Eve smiled at the boss of St Michael’s Catholic Care Home for Children, her feet firmly on the ground, her eyes locked on to the fat lady’s gaze, and sat down.

‘I like your Everton kit, Eve.’

She glanced down. Blue socks bunched at the ankles, soil-and grass-stained shins from the sliding tackle she had put in a few minutes earlier, white shorts and blue-and-white top.

‘So do I,’ said Eve. ‘I just wish they weren’t sponsored by Hafnia.’

‘Why’s that, Eve?’

‘Hafnia’s a canned-meat company. In Denmark. Ham. It’s dead sly on the animals.’

‘Oh, Eve, how many times have we had this out?’ Mrs Tripp chuckled, smiling with her face but not with her eyes. ‘You’re a growing girl and you need to eat meat as part of a balanced diet.’

‘As soon as I’m big enough—’

‘Yes, I know! I know...’

Silence descended. Mrs Tripp looked as far into the distance as the four walls of her office would allow. Eve looked out of the window behind Mrs Tripp. In the sky above the River Mersey there were two horizontal red lines, as if a giant had drawn two bloody fingers across the grey autumnal clouds.

‘My, how you’ve grown, Eve. I remember the first time you sat on that very chair across from my desk.’

‘So do I.’ Eve smiled.
It was bloody awful
. ‘You’re a very busy woman, Mrs Tripp. All those kids. All them staff. How can I help you?’

Mrs Tripp clapped her hands and laughed too loudly. ‘It’s not a question of how
you
can help
me
; it’s a question of how
we
can help
you
.’

From the corner of the office came a solitary sigh. Eve looked and a tall, thin man with snow-white hair, dressed all in black except for a white dog collar, stepped out of the shadows into the muddy light of the room.

As he walked towards the desk, he closed the cover of a card file bulging with papers, a file Eve recognised as the one
they
kept on
her
. Behind his left ear she saw a thin hand-rolled cigarette. She looked back at his face, his unsmiling eyes fixed on her. She stared back but stood up as the priest advanced slowly, observing, thinking, nodding.

He placed the file down on Mrs Tripp’s desk and, with the strangest sensation in her head that she had lived through this exact moment at another point in her life, Eve read the letters of her name in black felt-tip pen: ‘EVETTE CLAY’.

‘This is Father Anthony Murphy. Father Murphy, this is Evette Clay.’

Father Murphy placed the hand-rolled cigarette between his lips, flicked his thumbnail against the red tip of a match and lit the loose strands of tobacco. He took in a huge lungful of smoke and blew it out in a thin stream.

‘Hello, Eve.’ His voice rumbled, his speech posher than a TV newsreader.

‘Good afternoon, Father Murphy.’ She sat down again and Father Murphy remained standing.

‘How old are you, Eve?’ asked the priest.

‘As old as the hills.’ She laughed, alone.

‘So I gather.’

‘Seven and a half, if it’s numbers you’re after, Father.’ She guessed the next question. ‘And I’ve lived here for just over
one
year.’

‘Up until when, you lived in St Claire’s with Sister Philomena?’

‘Yes.’ Her exuberance deserted her. ‘Did you know Sister Philomena, Father?’

‘No.’ A strand of hope, a connection, faded. ‘Does that disappoint you, Eve?’

‘Just because you’re a priest, it doesn’t mean you know all the nuns in the world. I was just wondering if—’

‘Father Murphy isn’t just a priest, as if that on its own isn’t enough responsibility,’ Mrs Tripp railroaded over her. ‘He’s a fully qualified doctor.’

‘Oh!’ said Eve, mustering as much enthusiasm as she could.

‘I’ve come to see you, Eve.’ Ash dropped on to Mrs Tripp’s desk.

But I’m not ill
, she thought, yet said nothing.

‘It’s fair to say, isn’t it, Eve, there have been one or two episodes of odd behaviour,’ said Mrs Tripp. Eve knew what was coming next. ‘When you set off the fire alarm.’

‘That was an accident. Jimmy Peace was there. He vouched for me.’

Mrs Tripp turned to Father Murphy. ‘She’s very popular with all the staff and the children. People make exceptions for her.’

‘No they don’t, they tell the truth,’ said Eve.

‘Christmas morning. You refused to get out of bed and open your presents.’

‘I was sad because I couldn’t stop thinking about Philomena. I did get up by lunchtime. And I’d opened my presents by tea. And then I just did what I do most days. I accepted that she’s dead. And just got on with it. What else can I do?’ The ball of tears behind her eyes threatened to break, but the voice inside her shouted, ‘
Don’t you dare don’t you dare don’t you dare!’
And with that, a surge of anger and a beam of light. The memory of the toughest girl she’d ever met in the care system, Natasha Seventeen, and the last piece of advice she’d given her before she left St Michael’s: ‘
Don’t act depressed, kid, or they’ll cart you off to the funny farm!’

BOOK: Dead Silent
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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