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Authors: Lee Weeks

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BOOK: Frozen Grave
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Willis and Carter made their way past the garage block where Willis had encountered Mason and his dog, Sandy. They headed towards the flats to the right of the tower block, where Carter had
thought he’d seen someone run. They walked past the flats at ground level, with their small back yards where kids were playing. The place had the feel of a ghost town. Litter blew past their
feet. In the kiddies’ park was one of the children on a squeaky sea-saw, whilst his mother leant on it with one hand and talked on her phone with the other. She watched the officers
approaching and her eyes went up to the block of flats behind her. Willis looked up and heard a dog barking.

No one wanted to talk to them. They got a call from Team 3, the two officers who had taken the middle section of the estate.

‘Sir? Found someone willing to say something about the gangs. Mahmet Balik stays with his grandfather on the sixteenth floor of the tower block at your end. They didn’t know what
number it was but they said his flat looks over the kiddies’ playground.’

‘Okay, thanks.’

The entrance door to the tower block was propped open. The entry phone had been dismantled.

‘Don’t touch the banisters,’ said Willis. ‘Sometimes they Sellotape used syringes underneath.’ Carter retracted his hand quickly.

‘I forgot you spent time with your mum in one of these estates.’

‘Not such a bad place when you know the rules,’ said Willis. ‘Not a place I can get sentimental about though.’

Carter turned back, walked towards the lift and pressed the button.

‘Miracle, it works,’ he said and recoiled as the door opened and the smell of urine hit them. It had crystallized on the floor. He stepped inside, followed by Willis.

‘Better than walking up to the sixteenth,’ he added. ‘But only just.’

They got out to the sound of a baby crying somewhere along the corridor. There was the smell of breakfast lingering in the hallway.

‘Got to be this way if it overlooks the playground,’ said Carter as he walked along the landing and took a right. They stood and listened. Only two of the five flats had any noise
coming from them. The first one appeared unoccupied.

They knocked on the second and waited. A dog barked on the other side of the door.

‘Hello, Mr Balik?’

There was the sound of a chain being latched across. An old man swore at the dog.

‘Yes, what do you want?’

‘Can we have a word?’

They stood back from the door as it opened and the dog forced its head through the gap to snarl at them. It had the body of a punchbag and the head of a gargoyle.

The old man poked his head round the door too.

‘Mr Balik?’ repeated Carter.

‘Yes?’

‘We are police officers.’ He showed his warrant card. ‘Is Mahmet around?’

‘Who?’ The old man tried to get around the dog as he held on to the collar.

‘Your grandson.’

‘No.’ He started to close the door. Carter put a hand on it to keep it open. The dog went berserk.

‘Is that your dog?’ he asked.

‘No; I’m just looking after it.’

‘He’s not very friendly, is he?’ said Carter. ‘Whose is it? Are you allowed to keep a dog here?’

‘I’m only looking after it for someone – it will be gone soon.’

‘Who are you looking after it for?’

‘What?’ He looked like he didn’t want to say.

‘Is it Mahmet?’

‘He’s coming to get it in a couple of days,’ said the grandfather.

‘If we need to come in, Mr Balik, we need that dog under control and I don’t believe it is.’

‘Yes. It’s a good dog. It just doesn’t like strangers.’

‘Tell Mahmet we need to speak to him, Mr Balik. Tell him we will come back with a dog handler and we will have this dog destroyed if it’s found to be a dangerous type, which
I’m pretty sure is the case. Are you listening, Mr Balik?’

‘Yes. Yes.’ He was struggling to keep the dog back as he closed the door.

Carter talked through the closed door.

‘You need to get help with that dog, Mr Balik.

‘Poor old fella,’ Carter said as they walked away back down the corridor. ‘We’ll start knocking on doors at the other end of the corridor. Mahmet is obviously still
around if he’s left his monster of a dog here with his granddad. He can’t have gone far.’

Chapter 7

Dr Kahn had finished cataloguing Olivia Grantham’s external injuries on the body diagram by the time Carter and Willis got through the traffic and were suited up for the
post-mortem.

Kahn greeted them, apologized for having to start without them, then nodded to his assistant, Mark, that he was ready for him to make the first incision. Kahn was a patient man and a lot slower
than Dr Harding. He did not spend his time irritably tapping his pen or scalpel whilst waiting for Mark to get a move on. Willis and Carter hovered nearby. Willis was looking over Mark’s
shoulder, watching what he was doing, out of interest. Kahn had the kind of demeanour where nothing bothered him. He was semi-retired now and looked forward to being called in to help when needed;
it got him out from under his wife’s feet, so everyone was happy.

Mark picked up a scalpel from the tray and leant across the body as he started at the left-inside shoulder and guided the knife with just the right amount of pressure as he cut through the skin
and fat. He made another incision from the right shoulder, down to meet his first at the sternum, then he applied more pressure to cut in a straight line down to the pubic bone. He ran the knife
over the cut again, in a couple of places where the layer of fat was thicker, and then opened the skin, cutting as he went, as if he were filleting a fish, exposing her breastplate and a mass of
wobbly intestines. He stopped with the rib shears in his hand and pulled out an implant from inside the breast.

‘A 34 Double D, I would say – silicone; bad choice. Saline’s so much more natural.’ He turned it over in his hands like a dead jellyfish.

Dr Kahn came forward to clamp off the lower intestine and remove it in one block. He examined the cavity as he cut out her spleen, removed the membrane and held it in his hand.

‘Damaged beyong repair.’ He passed judgement on it before cutting out her liver and making cuts at one-centimetre intervals along it. ‘Bruising – otherwise a
healthy-looking liver. But there is bleeding in the peritoneal cavity. She has taken quite a beating.’

Mark snapped through each rib with the shears and lifted out the breastplate whole.

‘Any sign of clots?’ asked Kahn as he came forward to look at the heart and lungs. Mark shook his head. ‘Mind if I take a look?’

Mark loved this side of working with Kahn. He was treated with respect – his opinion mattered a lot more than it did with Harding. But Harding was a genius and if Mark died under
suspicious curcumstances, he’d want Harding to find out how and why.

Kahn waited until Mark had finished cutting open Olivia Grantham’s neck and then he watched him pick up the electric saw and carfully cut into the incision around her skull. Kahn opened it
with a twist of a small chisel, used like a key to pop out the skull section, and then he cut through the thick white membrane and paused as he leant over to study the brain at eye level.

‘We have already photographed the injury to her skull from the outside.’ He handed the piece of skull to Mark, who began stripping out the membrane. ‘But now we will get a
better look at it.’ He was still squatting in front of the exposed brain. He wiped it with his hand.

‘I see damage here that corresponds with the position of the fracture-skull injury. This could have been enough to kill her – we will see when we get the brain out.’

Kahn took a pair of curved scissors from the tray and reached inside, to cut through the optic nerves and prise the brain out of its shell, cutting through the brain stem.

Willis was studying the skull portion with Mark.

‘It’s a crack of four centimetres straight and then a right-angled crush injury at the end of that,’ she said as she took a photograph. Mark drew it on the diagram. Whilst he
was doing that, Willis was sketching the dimensions of the wound.

‘It looks like a square-shaped instrument. It’s a tool, a hammer maybe.’

‘Yeah – not sure . . .’ She was looking at her drawing. ‘It’s left a rim shape, a space in the middle where there is no bruising.’

‘Yes –’ He beamed at Willis – ‘you’re right.’

Kahn coughed. They turned to see him holding the brain in both his hands. ‘Mark . . . please take this from me.’

As they cleaned up, Carter got a call from Robbo.

‘A group of homeless men have been spotted by a patrol car; the officers haven’t approached but they say a couple look about right for the two we’re looking for. They want to
know what you want them to do.’

‘Where are they?’

‘In the area in front of Shadwell Station. Another thing – they’ve spotted Mahmet Balik nearby. He was seen talking to the rough sleepers outside the chemist’s shop
earlier on.’

‘Okay. We’re on our way. Tell the patrol to make themselves scarce. I don’t want them to run.’

They finished up fast at the mortuary and drove down to Shadwell. They parked nearby and continued on foot towards the entrance to the station.

‘Guv?’

‘Yeah – I’ve seen them.’ A group of men were sitting against the station wall.

‘Can we have a word?’ Carter said as they approached, and were met with a volley of abuse from the bald man sitting at the end of the group. As he turned away from them, a blue web
tattoo was visible on his neck.

‘Oy – big mouth – watch your language,’ Carter said as he got near and pointed to the carrier bag. ‘What’s in there?’

He already knew what was in it. White Ace cider, sold from under the counter of newsagents’ and grocery stores. The group began making moves to leave.

A new man approached from an adjoining street. He had a light collar on his jacket and was carrying a chemist’s carrier bag. Carter saw him at the same time as Willis did and she edged
left of the group. The man dropped his bag and bolted through the station and then through the open ticket barrier. They chased after him. As Willis sprinted over the railway bridge, she lost eye
contact with the platforms below until she looked down from the top of the stairs to see the man running along the tracks and Carter keeping pace on the platform above.

She flew back down the way she’d come and sprinted along the platform, shouting at people to get back. The oncoming train was so close that she could see the train driver’s
panic-stricken expression.

Carter had jumped onto the track and was trying to drag the man to the side, shouting at him to move. Willis was within a few metres of Carter when the man gave up any movement and sank to his
knees. Her voice was drowned out by the noise of the train passing. She reached out ready to grab Carter as she turned her face from the whoosh of air, the squeal of metal on metal and the scream
of pain.

Chapter 8

‘Guv? You okay?’

Carter stood outside the station with his head bowed as the man was being loaded into the ambulance.

‘Christ . . . I should have been able to lift him off the track,’ he said – angry with himself.

‘He was a dead weight, guv. You did your best. He’s still breathing. He might live.’

‘Yeah – hope so.’ Willis looked at Carter’s face. He was ghostly pale. ‘Pretty sure that’s Toffee. He matches the description and he definitely didn’t
want to talk to us.’ Carter leant over, catching his breath.

‘Think so, guv. Looks like his mates have gone. Shall we get back in the car and search for them or do you need a coffee first, guv?’

‘No.’ He looked up and smiled. ‘I need a Scotch . . . and a bloody big one.’ He straightened up. ‘That’s enough of an adrenalin rush for one day. Ring Robbo
and make sure Toffee’s kept under guard at the hospital. I want to talk to him as soon as he’s able and if he makes it. The patrols will have more luck finding Toffee’s mates than
we will. You’re right – I need a cup of coffee.’ Carter took off his coat and began beating the dust out of it with the back of his hand. ‘I don’t reckon these men
will have gone far.’ Carter looked forlornly at the dirt on his sleeve. ‘Christ Almighty – if there’s one thing I hate!’

They stopped at a café Carter knew well – he ordered aubergine pasta bake whilst Willis had a burger and fries.

He stared at her eating. It was something that both repulsed and fascinated him. ‘You eat like it’s your last meal and you’ve only got seconds to eat it,’ Carter said as
he picked at his food.

Willis didn’t answer; she opened the burger bun and squirted on more ketchup. Carter’s phone rang whilst they were eating. He talked and ate one-handed.

‘Robbo? How did they say he is? Both legs? Shit! Yes, I’m fine. Have the patrols located his mates yet? What about Balik? No, we’ll keep looking when we finish here:
we’ll call in at a few more homeless hostels in the area, and then we’ll head over to the hospital.’

He finished his call and continued to watch Willis eat.

‘I thought you were going to take a holiday after Christmas, but you came straight back to work. What happened – you changed your mind?’

She shrugged as she licked ketchup from her fingers.

‘I thought you and Tina had it all planned. You were off to Cancún or somewhere? To drink buckets of booze and party hard?’

‘I decided to wait a while.’

‘For what?’

She pushed a chip around the salt on her plate.

‘Just wasn’t the right time.’

‘You okay?’

‘Yes, guv.’

‘Don’t “yes, guv” me, Ebony Willis. I want to know what’s up with my partner.’

She stopped eating and pushed her plate away.

‘My mum tried to commit suicide.’ She made fleeting eye contact with him and then she took a sip of her Coke.

‘Shit. When?’

‘Christmas Day.’

‘Jesus . . . I didn’t know she wasn’t coping. Sorry – I’ve been so preoccupied with my dad and his cancer, I had no idea, Eb.’

‘She’s been self-harming.’

‘Shit, Eb. Any idea why?’

‘I missed some appointments to go and see her. I’ve been busy and . . . I found excuses, I guess.’

BOOK: Frozen Grave
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ads

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