Authors: Jane A. Adams
Recent Titles by Jane A. Adams from Severn House
The Naomi Blake Mysteries
MOURNING THE LITTLE DEAD
TOUCHING THE DARK
KILLING A STRANGER
LEGACY OF LIES
The Rina Martin Mysteries
A REASON TO KILL
THE POWER OF ONE
THE DEAD OF WINTER
A Naomi Blake Novel
First world edition published 2012
in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright Â© 2012 by Jane A. Adams.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Adams, Jane, 1960-
Night vision. â (A Naomi Blake mystery)
1. Blake, Naomi (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. Ex-police officersâFiction. 3. Blind womenâFiction.
4. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-197-2 (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8113-7 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-405-9 (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.
o it now, don't hesitate. If you don't then someone else will and they will not be so kind.'
âKind?' He laughed. âI could never be accused of that.' He sat back in his seat and looked at the old man lying on the bed. âChristopher, we've known one another for a long time.'
âAnd now everything is changing, Gregory.'
Gregory. Christopher was the only person to use that name now. And then only when they were alone. Gregory was, what, three identities and many years ago.
âThe old guard are almost gone.'
âAnd no bad thing. Except for you and I of course.'
Christopher smiled, and Gregory noticed how skeletal he had become. How thin and drawn. âAnd our days are numbered,' he said. âGregory, I've done all I can for you and for them. We kept them both safe for as long as we were able, kept them from judgement.'
âShe isn't a threat.'
âYou may not think so, but there are others who do. Make it clean. Make it simple. Make it soon.'
But he hadn't, had he? Gregory, a man known for decisiveness, had hesitated, and it had ended badly. For all of them.
Neil Robinson should have been a happy man. Release date a week away, family that had stood by him, a home to go to and even the vague promise of a job, working with his brother-in-law â though he had mixed feelings about that. Neil and Paul had never really got along, and the idea of selling second-hand cars really wasn't Neil's idea of a proper job.
As it stood, though, happiness was a long way distant from how he felt. Scared was more like it.
The first postcard had arrived the week before, and he had presumed it had come from Freddie Gains, released the previous month and promising to keep in touch. The powers that be seemed to have reached the same conclusion; Neil had been handed it along with a birthday card from his sister.
Counting down the days
, she had said inside.
Too right, Neil had thought.
Wish you were here
, the postcard told him. A photograph of some seaside pier or other on the picture side. It had been signed only with an F. âF' for Freddie, he had assumed, though the rather neat print hadn't looked like Freddie's scrawl.
Then another card a couple of days after, bearing only the words
see you soon
. Also signed with an F. The picture this time looked familiar, and Neil looked for the little printed legend postcards normally bore which would tell him where this view of a marina was situated. He was puzzled to find that there was none.
He had gone back to look at the photograph of the pier; no clue there either, and it occurred to Neil, rather belatedly, that these might not be commercially produced, shop bought postcards after all, but something someone had printed off themselves. On a rather good printer and on some pretty fancy cardstock.
Definitely not the sort of thing Freddy Gains would have had the nous to do.
It got Neil Robinson to thinking, and that thinking finally coalesced into an answer that woke him in the night in a cold sweat.
know where the little marina was; in fact, he knew the owner of the boat tied up alongside the dock. And he could make a further guess as to the seaside resort that was home to that particular pier.
And then that morning a third postcard had turned up.
Not long now
was all it said, not even a signature of any sort this time. He turned it over and looked at the picture on the front. A woodland scene, with a family picnicking in the shade of summer trees. They had their backs to him, but Neil didn't need to see their faces to recognize his sister and her kids.
And Neil was suddenly sure he understood who the messages were from and what they meant.
atrick had been fifteen when he and Naomi had first met. Son of a childhood friend, he had come into Naomi's life when she and Patrick's father, Harry, had renewed their acquaintance.
Patrick had then seemed young for his age; slow to grow, uncertain, and naturally sensitive and gentle. The past few years had conspired to turn sensitivity first into introspection and then into quiet confidence, and the young man, not quite eighteen, who sat in her kitchen discussing plans for university seemed unbelievably far removed from the shy boy she had first come to know.
He was telling her about the portfolio he had produced for his end of year show at college. His exam portfolio â more restrained and constrained by the brief he had been given â had been sent off, and he could do no more about it. His efforts now focused on this, the first public exposure of his work and the first real opportunity to show something of his personal interests.
âIt's still sort of graphic heavy,' he said. âBut I've been playing around with all these Japanese influences â I mean, not just the manga stuff. I started looking at all these old Japanese prints. You can kind of see how Japanese artists got from those to the mangaâ'
âYeah. Kind of, anyway. It's like both styles pare everything down so you can represent complex ideas with just simple outlines and a few colours and the minimum of shading. Did you know that in the nineteenth century Japanese prints were used as packing in crates? You know, like bubble wrap? That's how a lot of them made it over to Europe. I mean, what a waste.'
Naomi hadn't known that. âSo, you'll be learning to make woodcuts next?' she joked, was met with a beat of silence.
âI'd kind of like to give it a go,' Patrick admitted. âI like the discipline of it. It's like the discipline in graphic novels. Nothing goes to waste. If it's there, it's there for a reason, and you have to notice it because you're going to need it later, if you know what I mean.'
Naomi nodded. âI really wish I could see it,' she said wistfully. There were few occasions now when Naomi allowed herself to feel any kind of self-pity for her loss of sight, but there were definitely times when this regret was unexpectedly overwhelming.
âSo do I,' Patrick told her. âBut I'm really glad you're coming to the exhibition. Dad listens to you, even if he doesn't get what I'm trying to achieve. If you say it's OK, thenâ'
Naomi reached across the table and fumbled for Patrick's hand. âHe's trying really hard to “get it”,' she said.
âYes, I know.' Patrick laughed suddenly. âI think the only way Dad would really appreciate my work is if I copied The Hay Wain or something.'
Naomi smiled. There was no bitterness in this statement, simply acknowledgement that Harry Jones was, well, Harry Jones.
The big black dog, lying beneath the table, beat his tail against Naomi's leg and then sat up and laid his muzzle in her lap. She stroked him absently. Napoleon had been her guide dog for just a few months longer than she had known Patrick, and she always saw them as being part of the same package, somehow. Good friends converging on her life in very close order.
âSue is expecting again,' she said, changing the subject.
âReally? Think she'll have a girl this time?'
âI think she's hoping so, but I don't think they really mind either way. A baby is a baby to Sue. Some people are just born to be parents.'
âYou think you ever will?' The question was slightly tentative. âI mean, you and Alec would make great parents.'
âAlec would,' Naomi agreed. â
not so sure. I think you've really got to
children, and right now I'm happy sharing my sister's.' She paused, thinking of a conversation she and Alec had had some months before, but not reprised, when Alec had been keen to start a family. At the time he'd also been mad keen on moving to rural Somerset and starting a smallholding, or, alternatively, going back to university, none of which options he had pursued since.
âWe have talked about it,' she said.
Naomi smiled, amused at how shocked Patrick sounded, as though he just couldn't imagine the reality of it: Alec and Naomi and babies. âYes, before Christmas, when we stayed in Somerset. Alec was really in the doldrums. It was a difficult time with the job, and for while I really didn't think he'd want to go back to work.'
It had been a difficult time since too. Disciplinary hearings and major inquiries into cases Alec had been involved in the year before. Alec had been largely cleared of blame; he'd been reprimanded and suspended for a couple of weeks, then eased quietly back into work. The biggest changes had been at the top Ââ a new Superintendent and DCI â but there was also the unspoken, general feeling that Alec was still under a cloud. Big investigations had come and gone, and Alec had largely been sidelined. He had said little about it, but Naomi knew it rankled.
The sound of the front door opening and a voice calling from the hallway brought Naomi out of her reverie. When Patrick came round after college, his father often dropped by to collect him on his way from work. Naomi always left the door unlocked so he could come straight in.
âIn here,' Naomi called. The kitchen door opened, and the presence of Harry Jones seemed to fill the small space. The dog nuzzled Naomi's hand, as though asking her permission, then left her to go and greet Harry. Patrick got up to put the kettle on, and Harry bent to kiss Naomi on the cheek.
âThat's just running from the car. June rain. At least it isn't cold, I suppose. How are you? How did the hang go, Patrick?'
âTook ages. No one could decide where they wanted their work to go, so I just picked a wall in the end and put my pictures up. It looks OK, I think.'
âIt will look more than OK,' Harry reassured him. He eased down into one of the wooden chairs with a sigh of relief.