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Authors: Sally Spencer

Lambs to the Slaughter

BOOK: Lambs to the Slaughter
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Table of Contents

Recent Titles by Sally Spencer from Severn House

Title Page

Copyright

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 Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Author's Note

Recent Titles by Sally Spencer from Severn House

THE BUTCHER BEYOND

DANGEROUS GAMES

THE DARK LADY

DEAD ON CUE

DEATH OF A CAVE DWELLER

DEATH OF AN INNOCENT

A DEATH LEFT HANGING

DEATH WATCH

DYING IN THE DARK

A DYING FALL

THE ENEMY WITHIN

FATAL QUEST

GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER

A LONG TIME DEAD

MURDER AT SWANN'S LAKE

THE PARADISE JOB

THE RED HERRING

THE SALTON KILLINGS

SINS OF THE FATHERS

STONE KILLER

THE WITCH MAKER

 

The Monika Paniatowski Mysteries

 

THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY

THE RING OF DEATH

ECHOES OF THE DEAD

BACKLASH

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER
A DCI Monika Paniatowski Mystery
Sally Spencer

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 

First world edition published 2012

in Great Britain and in the USA by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

Copyright © 2012 by Alan Rustage.

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Spencer, Sally.

Lambs to the slaughter.

1. Paniatowski, Monika (Fictitious character) – Fiction. 2. Police – England – Fiction. 3. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title

823.9'2-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-300-6 (epub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8192-2 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-442-4 (trade paper)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

ONE

T
he woman was in her middle-to-late twenties. She was wearing a bushy black wig, which was both beautifully constructed and very expensive, and she thought it was most unlikely that there was a single person in Bellingsworth Miners' Institute that night who would even question whether or not it was her real hair. She was heavily made-up, almost theatrically so, but the make-up had been applied with a great deal of skill, so that instead of looking like a slapper – as she so easily could have done – she appeared merely temptingly exotic. She had a slim figure – she had once heard someone call it ‘pixieish', and rather liked that – and carried herself like a model. She had never been to a miners' institute before, and as she glanced around it with undisguised curiosity, she decided that she very much liked what she saw.

It was its simplicity and lack of pretension that she appreciated most – its stark, stripped-down functionality. It was a place to drink and to play dominoes or snooker, and if you wanted anything else from your evening out, you'd be well advised to look elsewhere.

Actually, she
had
been wanting something else from her evening – and was still hoping to get it later – but Harry Price, the young miner sitting next to her, had been most insistent that before they got down to the only thing which would ever have drawn them together, they would at least have to show their faces at the Institute.

‘We won the cup today, you see,' he had explained to her.

‘The cup?' she'd repeated.

Price had looked at her as if she was from another planet, and – in so many ways – that was exactly what she was.

‘The Brough Cup!' the miner had explained.

‘I still don't . . .'

‘We always knew we had the best brass band in the north-west, and now we've got the cup, it's official.'

‘Ah,
that
Brough Cup!' she'd exclaimed. ‘We'd better go celebrate the famous victory, then, hadn't we?'

And so they had.

They'd arrived at around half past seven, and it was a little after eight when the main door opened, an old miner walked in, and Harry Price said, ‘Oh, I don't like that at all.'

‘Don't like what?' she asked.

‘The feller who's just come in is called Len Hopkins, and there's nobody in the village who's more against calling a strike than he is.' Price paused. ‘You know there's going to be a strike ballot, don't you . . . err . . . err . . .?'

As he turned red, the woman smiled.

‘You've forgotten my name, haven't you?' she asked.

‘Yes, well, I mean, it's not really a very common one, and . . .'

‘It's Zelda.'

‘But that's not your real name, is it?'

‘It's real enough,' the woman said, enigmatically. ‘When we're doing what I came here to do, I will
be
Zelda – although tomorrow morning, of course, I might be someone else entirely.'

Harry Price still seemed uncomfortable.

‘Look, even if it isn't your real name, that's still no excuse for me forgetting . . .'

She raised her index finger to his lips, to silence him. The fingernail was long, artificial and the colour of congealed blood.

‘Let's not pretend this is a new experience for either of us, Harry,' she said softly. ‘I was with someone else last week, and I'll be with a different someone else next week, so it's not exactly going to break my heart if you forget my name, now is it?'

‘You . . . you have a different partner every single week?' Harry asked, amazed.

‘Well, not
every
single week,' the woman admitted. ‘Occasionally, when things get a bit too rough, I need a little healing time between dates, but let's just say it's most weeks.' She smiled again. ‘Now what was it you were saying before you got all confused over forgetting who I was?'

‘I was asking you if you'd heard about the strike ballot,' Harry said, glad to be back on more conventional ground. ‘Have you?'

Oh yes, she'd heard about it, she thought. Everybody in her line of work had heard about it – and a not insignificant number of them were shitting themselves at even the idea of it.

‘I think somebody may have mentioned something about a strike to me in passing,' she said aloud.

‘You don't pay much attention to current affairs, do you, Zelda?' Price asked, using the name with both emphasis and confidence this time. ‘I bet you know as little about the strike as you do about brass band music.' Then he grinned and added, with a roughish tone to his voice, ‘Still, as long as we share one interest, that's all that matters, isn't it?'

He really was rather cute, she thought, and hoped that he wouldn't turn out to be
too
cute – that the hard muscle she'd noted when they first met, an hour earlier, would come into its own later.

‘When Hopkins walked in, you said you didn't like it,' she reminded Price. ‘Why was that?'

‘Do you see that other old man, standing at the bar?' Price asked, by way of an answer.

‘Yes?'

‘Well, that's Tommy Sanders, and he's as much
for
the strike as Len is
against
it.'

Len Hopkins wasn't looking for trouble, and when he saw Tommy Sanders leaning against the bar, he almost turned around and walked out again. Then he told himself that this was
his
institute as much as it was Tommy's, and that he had as much right to celebrate the victory of the Bellingsworth brass band as the other man did. Besides, as long as they kept out of each other's way, there was no real reason for unpleasantness, and Tommy, he was sure, was as eager not to do anything to spoil the night as he was himself.

He walked up to the long oak bar, carefully selecting a place at it two men down from where Sanders was standing. Then, once he had got his elbows firmly ensconced, he signalled to Ted, the bar steward, that he wanted a drink.

‘Your usual?' Ted asked.

‘That's right,' Len agreed.

His ‘usual' was lemonade, because although record numbers of pints of bitter were being consumed all around him that night, the particular Christian God he subscribed to was known to be dead set against alcohol.

And wasn't it more than a little ironic, he thought whimsically, that of all the men in the bar that night, the two furthest apart in their views should be the only ones who were stone-cold sober – though in Tommy's case, it was doctor's orders, rather than a firmly held belief, which prevented him from getting hammered.

Behind him, he heard a voice call out, ‘Phil, Walter, you're on.'

The two men he had chosen as his shield between himself and Tommy turned around, and ambled over to the snooker table. Now, there was only a stretch of empty counter dividing him from Tommy Sanders, but that was more than enough, as long as they behaved themselves.

As it happened, it was Len's hand which misbehaved, knocking over the glass which the steward had placed on the bar. A stream of bubbly liquid cascaded through the air, and then descended again – with enviable accuracy – on to the left sleeve of Tommy Sanders' best sports jacket.

Tommy looked down at the stain, and then across at Len.

‘Watch what you're doing, you clumsy old bugger,' he said, though using the kind of light-hearted tone he would have employed if they were still the friends they had once been.

‘I'm sorry, lad,' Len replied. ‘Can I buy you another drink?'

‘It wasn't my drink you spilled,' Tommy pointed out.

‘Well, then, let me pay for that nice jacket of yours to be dry-cleaned,' Len suggested.

‘It's only lemonade – it won't stain,' Tommy said.

He should have left it at that – a slight accident and an amiable resolution. But those who knew Tommy well – and most of the people in the Institute did – were not in the least surprised that he didn't.

‘I'll let you buy me a drink – in fact, I'll buy you one – but only if you're willing to start being more sensible about this strike ballot,' he continued, in a much louder voice.

‘Do you think you can buy my soul for the price of a glass of lemonade?' Len asked, and though there was an edge of anger to his tone, it wasn't yet an anger which could not be reined in should he choose to.

Around them, all talking had ceased, and the attention of everyone in the room was focussed on the two old men.

BOOK: Lambs to the Slaughter
6.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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