Authors: Bill Carson
“Well, it has been a most fascinating insight into the mind of a murder detective, Mr Harland, and from what I have heard here today I will be happy to engage your services. Will you please take the job?”
“Yes I will, providing that you are happy with the fees. These cases can take a while to come to a conclusion. It will be four hundred a day plus expenses. If that is acceptable, then all we need to do is get your autograph on a couple of documents.”
“That will be fine. Money is of absolutely no consequence, I just want the murderer brought to justice. Now, on the subject of your fee, if you find or are instrumental in bringing the murderer to court, I will pay you a large sum as a bonus. A life-changing large sum,” he said, as he signed the last of the documents.
, what kind of sum did you have in mind?” Nick said, a little taken aback with the seriousness of the statement.
“I am willing to sign an affidavit right here and now to say that I will pay you the sum of one million pounds to find the killer of Mrs Dora Macintyre.”
Without another word, Nick immediately yanked opened the desk drawer and passed a piece of A4 headed paper across the desk to Simon Macintyre. At the same time he buzzed Anna at the front desk and asked her to come into the office with Simon McIntyre’s chauffeur to witness the extraordinary moment.
“Well, I didn’t expect that, Mr Macintyre, but by God I’ll accept it on those terms. And now I’ll make
a promise and you can have it in writing if you like: I’ll do everything in my power to find this killer or die trying. How’s that for an affidavit?” he said.
As they shook hands Simon gripped Nick’s hand with both hands and shook it warmly. Nick was sure he detected a tear beginning to form in the corner of the young man’s eye.
“Thank you for your sincerity, Mr Harland, and what’s more, after listening to you I believe that you are a man of great integrity. You have all of my contact numbers so don’t hesitate to call me the minute you have something, but not tomorrow, please, as I’ll be busy making funeral arrangements. You know, if it wasn’t for my mother and father, but especially my mother who paid for my university education with all of her hard work, sacrifices and encouragement, I’d not be in this position today. I owe it all to her,” he said.
Nick and Anna watched as the huge gun-metal silver Bentley nudged itself into the stream of early evening traffic, and in three hours Nick’s life had completely changed direction once again.
“Bloody hell, Nick, you’ve done it, you’ve really cracked it this time. We don’t need to take on any other work, all we have to do is nail this murderer and we’re made for life. Just like that. Let me see that piece of paper again,” Anna said.
“Yeah, just like that,” Nick agreed, in his best Tommy Cooper impression. “Anna, I was thinking, how about a nice little drink tonight to celebrate?”
“Three guesses. First guess, the Royal Oak?” she said.
“Spot on,” he said, as he chased her up the stairs.
The detective in charge of the murder case of the Cornwall estate agent Nigel Potter was totally baffled by the motive for such a macabre and seemingly meaningless murder of an innocent man. It was something that simply didn’t happen in this part of the world, and a victim who had been horrifically brutalized before being executed was unthinkable. However, he did have one clue to work on, which was the twenty-pound notes that John had given Nigel. They were all fresh and straight from the bank, and all of the serial numbers on them ran in sequence. After a quick enquiry with the local bank manager, the police were able to determine who drew them out.
It was only a short time after that the police were interviewing the new owners of Dolphin Cottage. The police had quickly established the former owners identity.
John Kane exited St Paul’s tube station and stood and turned his face to the bright early morning sun for a moment. As the herd of sheep-like commuters bustled past, he took a deep breath and switched into character before setting off on the short walk to the Old Bailey. For almost two weeks now he had managed to keep up the charade rather well. He was an ideal member of staff and had made sure that he was polite and friendly with everybody that he encountered. He’d now settled in nicely, and was waiting for the right moment to strike. The only problem that he’d encountered so far was that he’d unwittingly managed to acquire an admirer.
Since their first meeting the nice middle-aged lady from the agency had called him up twice and had asked if she could ‘pop over’ to see how he was getting on. People can be very unpredictable, and their unpredictability can upset or even sink the best laid plans, and this kind of attention was something that he hadn’t and simply couldn’t have planned for. The worst part was that she had now begun to wait outside the court for him, and therefore he was now starting to attract some unwanted attention, and the security guards had started to pass the odd silly remark. For now, he just decided that he would be a little more indifferent toward her in the hope that she may grasp the subtle hints, and then hopefully she would look elsewhere. She wasn’t an unattractive looking woman, she had a good figure and there was something titillating about her; under different circumstances he may well have coveted such attention.
But not here and not now. It would be totally wrong to show any kind of encouragement, and no matter what way you looked at it, to involve an innocent party in what was about to happen wouldn’t be right. John’s biggest fear, however, was that he may upset her if he displayed too much negativity towards her advances, so he played along as he was wary of what she might do if he was to dump her. A spurned woman can be a most dangerous adversary. Even though she didn’t seem like the type to cause a scene at work, he couldn’t take the risk.
“Hi, Terry,” she chirpily called out as he tried to slip past unnoticed.
“Hi, Debbie,” he replied, in a dull, dopey unenthusiastic voice.
“I just thought I’d catch up with you to see how you’re getting along. Shall we pop up the road for a quick chat and a little drink? There’s a nice quiet pub on the corner,” she said, and gestured in its direction.
“Well, I was going to do the washing tonight, Debbie.”
Doing the bloody washing, what are you on about, you moron?
John thought, as he cringed under the ridiculous nature of the statement.
“Can’t you do that later? It’ll be my treat to celebrate the new job?” she said, as she linked arms and set off before he could answer.
They sat at the small table for two at the back of the delightful old fashioned pub and sipped their ice cold lagers. While John stared at the table she kept the conversation alive with lots of light-hearted trivia. She told him all about her day at work and how she wasn’t appreciated, and then all about her plans for her imminent holiday to France. As she waffled on he listened politely, and rightly assumed that she must be a desperately lonely creature and how sad that was.
For he had once known what it was like to have unconditional love, and then to have it taken from him. He knew exactly what it was like to suffer a lonely existence. To go to bed alone, to wake alone, and to have no one to share those special moments with. He knew how dreadfully dismal it was to wake every morning with the prospect of a solitary future perpetually hanging over you.
After half an hour, John made his excuses. As he got up to leave she took hold of his hand, gripped it tight, and pulled him toward her. Before he knew it she’d planted a big warm smacker right on his lips.
“See you tomorrow,
?” she asked, as her big gooey eyes pleaded for a positive response.
“Bye, Debbie,” he said, and quickly mingled with the rush hour crowds. In that moment he decided to bring the plan forward.
John had observed on two consecutive occasions that the judge had a habit of staying a little later on Thursdays, and would leave at around nine o’clock. John had managed to get home quite quickly despite it being the rush hour and had ridden back to the court just in time to see the old judge getting into his Mercedes with his minder. He twisted back the throttle and zipped across the road and fell in behind the big saloon.
Your time is coming, you vicious old bastard
, thought John, as the Mercedes rounded the corner into a long quiet road. They had now arrived in an exclusive district of north London, which ironically was only a few miles from the infamous Vamps night club.
It was like another world, and each luxurious property had the customary huge, expensive four-by-four sitting on its gravel driveway. It was where the wealthy and influential chose to live, out in the suburbs and away from the limelight, and the ivory towers of these well-heeled hedonists were magnificently imposing properties where the asking price would start at a mere five million a pop.
John pulled over to the kerb and observed the judge from fifty yards away, he stepped slowly out of the vehicle, and John noted his self-assured swagger as he strolled up the path to the huge, double-studded oak front doors. He paused for a moment and fumbled for his keys before entering the property, which was more akin to a castle than a house. John shook his head as he buzzed past, and he made a mental note of the layout, and he also spotted the name of the house. The ‘Heart of Oak’ name plaque hung above the wide porch way, the name was painted in black shiny letters across a thick slab of timber.
It was around eleven o’clock when John arrived back at the house. He’d been suffering from a throbbing headache for the past two hours, partly because of the attentions of doting Debbie, and partly from the fact that he’d been forced to move quicker than he’d wanted to. The two combined had literally made his brain ache. However, after he’d swallowed a couple of powerful painkillers the headache began to ease and he settled down into bed.
He pulled the thick quilt over his head, which still had that new shop-bought smell, and listened to the rumble of heavy traffic. He lay still in the pitch dark and ran a few things over in his mind, and came to the conclusion that he must act sooner rather than later.
To hell with it, I’ll do it tomorrow,
he said to himself as he closed his eyes.
“Look who’s here,” George Smith said, and sported a huge grin as Nick and Anna sauntered over to the bar.
“Can’t keep away from the place, and bad habits die hard, George, you know that,” Nick said as Anna pulled up a bar stool.
“Right then, a pint of Bombardier for you and a vodka and blackcurrant coming up for my favourite gal. You two look very pleased with yourselves, what have you been up too? Or shouldn’t I ask?”
“Go on, you tell him, Nick, put him out of his misery,” Anna smiled, nudging Nick in the ribs with her elbow.
Nick divulged the good news and told him about the new case and the huge amount that was at stake.
“Bloody Nora, that’s unbelievable. I saw it on the news, someone topped an old girl, didn’t they? Shot her in the head at close range, Essex, wasn’t it, Nick?” George said enthusiastically.
“That’s right, mate, and I, sorry,
at the Harland Detective Agency will be in full swing tomorrow morning,” Nick said as he put his arm around Anna’s shoulder.
“Bloody hell, Dempsey and Makepeace ride again,” George said, and then laughed out loud.
“Yeah, something like that, mate, so I think we’ll have an early night tonight and then up with the lark.”
“Well, all I can say is best of luck to both of you and I hope you get the bastard. When you do, give him a slap from me. Killing a defenceless old woman like that, what’s that all about? What’s the world coming to?” George said.
“Just keep all this to yourself for the time being please, mate. It’s all
be kept a bit hush-hush as the plebs, sorry, the police force, would not be best pleased if they knew I was sniffing around one of their cases. They’d close ranks and shut me out, and I want to be able to use them a little for a while, so just keep
“Yeah, all right, you don’t have to tell me that, you know. I’ll keep me ears open and me trap shut, and if I hear anything I’ll give you a tinkle. That reminds me, I need your new mobile number, mate,” George said with a deliberate wink.
“Cheers, George, I think we’re
need all the help we can get on this one.” Nick said as he handed George one of his new impressive business cards.
“Where do you start with a murder like this? I mean, an old woman? Who would want to silence a sweet little old lady? What for? Do you think she knew something about someone, and was about to blab and got given a shut up tablet?”
“Fuck me, George, you’ve really got to stop watching those
Anna chuckled as she drained the remnants of her tall ice-laden drink as George looked on, perplexed.
“Stick to pouring pints, my old son, and leave the detective work to us. One more pint in there and another for Anna if you please, landlord,” Nick said as he pointed to the empty glasses.
“That’s charming, that is, try to help the bloke and he takes the piss out of you,” George mumbled as he prepared the drinks.
“Ah never mind,
,” Anna said sympathetically.
“All right, George, you’re not that far off actually. Remember,
always used to say that all murderers have three things in common and that is the MMO: motive, method and opportunity. Most of the time there is always a good reason behind a murder, especially ones of this nature. So let’s look at the facts: we have the body of an elderly woman with two gunshot wounds in the forehead. The bullets were from a .45 calibre pistol, and only an expert would have such accuracy with a handgun. Also, a pro always goes for a head shot and so that narrows it down a bit. We are probably looking for someone who is ex-military.
“The other obvious facts are that at first glance nothing seems to have been stolen. Cash was still in her purse and all of her jewellery remained untouched, according to the papers, but you can’t always rely on them. However, these are our first leads.
“It’s safe to say that we can rule out a robbery, and we can confidently assume that she was killed by a professional, a hit man. Next, we need to find out what type of pistol was used. And from the large calibre bullets I’d say it’s probably an automatic, as most would favour an automatic pistol over a revolver. The revolver could be said to be a more reliable weapon, but with the automatic you have more ammunition, a minimum of eight rounds instead of six, so it’s a toss-up – reliability over firepower.
“When killing at close range with a pistol, you want to make sure your intended target isn’t going to survive, and so you need to be using something that will deliver a clout like a sledge hammer, and so those large 45 calibre rounds will more often than not get the job done. But the biggest problem to solve of course is, why? So you see, George, I have managed to gather all of that info so far and I haven’t even started yet,” Nick said as George listened intently.
“Brilliant, how does he do it? It looks like this is going to be a piece of piss then, Nick”? George asked.
“We’ll see, mate. I have seen a few like this in my time. And don’t forget, pros are paid and they kill mostly to remove rivals, but sometimes it’s to obtain information and then, once gained, the target is silenced. We have to try and find out what she knew, if anything at all. And bear in mind that she may have been killed for reasons that we’ll perhaps never know. It’s just a steady process of methodical elimination. Of course, every now and then, these investigations can get really dangerous, especially if the villains think you’re on to them. That can lead you to an encounter with some very nasty characters; there’s real
out there, mate, proper psychos wandering around, who wouldn’t think twice about blowing your brains out for less than the price of a dodgy second-hand motor.”
“In that case I’ll leave it to you two then, and I think I’ll stick to pulling pints. You’ve frightened the bloody life out of me now,” George said, as he poured himself a double brandy.
“See you later, George. We’ll keep in touch and I’ll let you know what’s what,” Nick said as he winked.
“Look after him, Anna, and God bless now.”
Nick had been unusually quiet during the taxi ride and was still a little moody as they climbed into bed. He turned over on his side away from Anna, which was extremely unusual.
“Nick, you all right?” Anna asked.
“Yeah, I’m OK, sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind, that’s all, love.”
“Are you sure I can’t tempt you?” she said as she nibbled his ear.
“Do you mind if we don’t tonight, Anna?”
“There’s a first, so now I know something’s wrong. Come on, spit it out.”
“It’s nothing really. It’s stupid and you wouldn’t understand.”
“Try me,” she said.
Nick sighed deeply. “Well, it was what George said.”
“What? What did he say? I never heard him say anything out of order.”
“No, he didn’t say anything wrong, just odd. As we were leaving he said, ‘God bless’.”
“What, and that’s it? That’s what’s upset you? George saying ‘God bless’? Bloody hell, yeah, you’re dead right, I don’t understand that one, Nick.”
“Look, I’ve known George for over twenty-five years and he’s never said anything like that to me before, and it just bothered me, that’s all. Things like that bug me. Superstitions and omens, that kind of thing, it’s left over from my days in the army. Things like that tend to put the mockers on everything.”
“The mockers? What’s that?” Anna asked.
“It means it’s like a curse or something; you know, bad luck. It’s like what they do in the theatre. No actor will ever say
, they have to say
the Scottish play
when referring to it instead, or something bad will happen. It’s the same thing with me when people say ‘God bless’.”
“It’s all mumbo jumbo, and a load of old superstitious rubbish. I’m surprised you thought like that, Nick, and anyway it was what you were telling him about murderers out there, you scared the crap out of him, that’s all. Didn’t you see that? And he thinks the world of you, you know? And that’s why he said ‘God bless’, that’s all it was.”
“You think so?”
“Of course. He’s worried about you. Now get those pyjamas off, big boy,” she said as she smacked his backside.
“Well, seeing as you put it like that…”
The next day Nick and Anna were up early, and after a quick bite to eat they were all business and switched into detective mode. Anna was on the net and began gathering all the info from back issues of newspapers which covered the Macintyre murder. While Nick’s black Audi was eating up the tarmac toward Essex, she began to convert his office into an ops room. After two hours of searching she decided to make a brew, and as she flicked the switch on the kettle the lights tripped out and the place was suddenly plunged into darkness.
She didn’t have a clue where the fuse box was and knew she would have no chance in finding it in the dark. She phoned George and within the hour he was tapping at the front door with tool box in hand.
“Hello, love, it’s Uncle George to the rescue!” he shouted through the letter box.
“Hi, George, thanks for coming,” Anna said as she opened the door.
“I’ll take a look around for the fuse box, Anna. Probably just tripped out I reckon. I’ll take a look in the basement, mate. Blimey, this is alright,
? I like this and look at that office, that is as sweet as a nut; three guesses whose that is. I bet he sits in there like bloody Sherlock Holmes! Anyway, where is he? On the case already, he doesn’t hang about, does he?” George said, as he flashed the blinding torch beam around before disappearing into the basement.
Anna watched him go down.
George soon spotted the problem. “There you go, Anna,” he called up, “it’s the switch on the fuse box. It’s a safety cut off. I reckon you must have a loose wire somewhere. Probably that plug on the kettle; I’ll take a look.”
George soon returned and had the plug reassembled.
“Thanks, George, you’re a star. What’s down there by the way?” Anna said, as she nodded toward the basement door.
“Nothing much, it’s empty apart from some huge spiders’ webs. Pretty small down there as well.”
“Small? Shouldn’t it be the same size as the floor above?”
, not always I suppose. OK, Anna, I’ve
shoot off and get back to the pub, I’ve left a new barmaid on her own and she’ll be having it away with the takings if I don’t get back soon. You’ll be OK now, it won’t happen again.”
“Thanks, George, I really appreciate it.”
“What are friends for?” he said, as he hugged her goodbye.
“George, before you go, can I borrow that big torch of yours, please? I’ll give it back as soon as Nick comes in, and I’ll get him to drop it round to you.”
“Of course, mate, there you go.”
She looks bloody fantastic. Nick’s a very lucky fella
, he thought, as he enveloped Anna in his thick arms and tried his best not to stare at the hint of black lace bra that was peeking out of her low cut purple blouse – but he couldn’t, so he did.
“Right then, Anna, I’ll see you later, love,” George said, as he climbed into his old 1960s Series 3 Land Rover.
Anna’s curiosity had got the better of her, and she decided to investigate the basement. She grabbed the huge torch, and crept silently down the small flight of creaky stairs so as not to disturb the creepy crawlies down there. She stood in the pitch dark of the basement, and George was right: the dimensions of the basement were almost half the size of the floor above, which didn’t make sense. As the beam of the one-million-candlepower torch fell against the back wall, she noticed that the basement had been cleverly divided by a timber-framed partition which you would never have noticed until you were right on top of it.
The timber was at least fifty years old, and the old horse-hair plaster work had crumbled away in some areas. She shone the torch through a small gap in the distorted wooden framework, and the powerful beam revealed a dark, dusty, mysterious little room beyond.
At first she couldn’t believe her eyes, and so she tried to pull some of the partition away to get a better look inside. It was holding fast so she went back upstairs and grabbed a shovel from the yard, went back down and used the blade of the shovel to stab a hole through the old plaster work. After a few minutes she had made an opening big enough for her slender body to squeeze through.