Read Shrine to Murder Online

Authors: Roger Silverwood

Tags: #Fiction, #Traditional British, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #General

Shrine to Murder (17 page)

BOOK: Shrine to Murder
5.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads


What about her?’ he said opening the door another two inches. ‘She’s all right, isn’t she? Has something happened to her?’

A
woman’s voice from inside said, ‘What is it? What do they want? We don’t want to change our gas again.’

The
old man turned his head. ‘It’s the police. About Margaret.’


Margaret
!’ the woman yelled. ‘The police? What’s happened?’

Angel
said, ‘Can we come in?’

The
door was yanked wide open.


Come in,’ the old lady said. ‘Go through. Find a seat. Sit anywhere. I’m her mother. What’s this all about? There’ll be a man behind it. There always is. Didn’t I say so?’ she said, looking at her husband.

Angel
and Carter were quickly ushered through the tiny front room to the tinier kitchen at the back. Angel glanced round the rooms for photographs. There were no photographs anywhere to be seen.

When
everybody was settled, the old lady stared at Angel and said, ‘Well? Speak up young man. What’s happened?’

Angel
said, ‘Have you not been in touch with your daughter lately?’

She
looked away from him. ‘At Christmas she phoned us and sent us a card and a plant in a pot. Why?’


It was a poinsettia. It was very beautiful,’ Mr Ireland said.

She
glared at her husband and said, ‘It died after two weeks.’

He
nodded, then said, ‘Well, nothing lasts forever.’

Angel
jumped in quickly and said, ‘You haven’t been in touch since?’

Mrs
Ireland said, ‘She knows our phone number.’


And we have hers,’ Mr Ireland said. ‘And a telephone works in both directions.’

Mrs
Ireland turned on him. ‘You be quiet. You don’t know what you’re saying.’ Then she looked at Angel and said, ‘Take no notice of him. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. He’s got Alzheimer’s.’


I’ve
not
got Alzheimer’s,’ Ireland said.

She
looked at Angel, shrugged and said, ‘You see. He’s forgotten what the doctor said already. I have to live with this.’


You probably won’t be aware that there’s been a series of murders in Bromersley over the past two weeks and I believe that your daughter is on the murderer’s list.’

Mrs
Ireland’s pale face went whiter than the outside lavatory walls. ‘Oh my lovely daughter. Is she all right?’


She’s absolutely safe,’ Angel said. ‘She’s in Bromersley Police Station.’


Oh thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Will she be safe there?’

Mr
Ireland looked at her, shook his head and said, ‘You can’t get safer in this country than a police station, Thelma.’


What do
you
know?’ she said. ‘All those policemen. They’re all
men
.’

Carter
said, ‘They’re all highly dedicated men
and
women on the Bromersley force, Mrs Ireland. You need have no worries there.’

Ireland
looked at his wife and said, ‘I told you.’


Shut up, you,’ she said. ‘You don’t know anything.’

Angel
explained the murder case and the involvement of their daughter to the Irelands, who were surprised that they had not known about it. They remembered that their daughter had had a part in the
Nero
production twenty years earlier and that they had expressed their disapproval of the subject matter and the role their daughter had been cast to play. They remembered the fire, that the play had been called off, and that a young man had died, but little else. Angel did not explain the true reason for his visit.


And what can we do to help,’ Mr Ireland said.

Before
Angel could reply, Mrs Ireland, the corners of her mouth turned down and her nose wrinkled up, said, ‘I’m her mother, Inspector. Only a mother understands. She’s my only child. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve a daughter like her. I made such sacrifices to send her to a good school and then university. I had such high hopes for her. And she was so very beautiful. She was a highly successful model. In great demand. Then she had relationships with several dreadful men that all turned to nought. I thought she would get married and provide me with a grandchild, or more than one, but she never did. Took up a job teaching. Then moved away. Don’t see her from one year to another now. Virtually abandoned me. Left me to struggle on in my old age. It’s not a bit right.’


If you didn’t go on at her so much when she
did
come, she’d come more often,’ Ireland said.

She
glared at him and said, ‘Shut up you. You don’t know. Only a mother understands.’ She turned to Angel and said, ‘He doesn’t understand. He doesn’t remember what went on. He’s got Alzheimer’s.’

Ireland
leapt up from the stool. ‘Haven’t got Alzheimer’s,’ he yelled. He turned to Angel and said, ‘I haven’t got Alzheimer’s, Inspector. She’s the one with Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t know what she’s saying half the time.’

Mrs
Ireland’s face reddened. ‘Ernest Ireland, you are telling lies. You’re the one with the Alzheimer’s.’ She turned to Angel, ‘Excuse him, Inspector. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. A few years ago, they would have taken him off in a straitjacket, locked him up in Storthes Hall and thrown away the key. Now he’s filled up with pills and stays at home, and I have to put up listening to him spouting gibberish all day.’

Angel
said, ‘Where did you two meet?’


Atkinson’s Mill, two miles down the road,’ Ireland said.


I was a chargehand,’ Mrs Ireland said, ‘he was the lavatory man.’

Ireland
’s eyes popped out of his head. ‘I was
not
the lavatory man. I was on maintenance.’


It was your job to keep them clean and working.’


That was only
one
of my jobs. My job mostly comprised keeping the bobbins spinning - the machines
you
worked on.’

Angel
ran his hand through his hair. ‘You were both born round here then?’


I was born two streets away, on Paradise Street,’ she said. ‘He was born in Halifax.’


I was born in Elland, dammit,’ he said.


You always said in the hospital in Halifax,’ she said. Then she looked at Angel, held up her hands in a hopeless gesture and said, ‘You see. He’s not right in the head. For more than forty-five years he’s always said he was born in Halifax. Now since he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he’s forgotten…suddenly he’s born in Elland.’


I was always born in Elland. It’s you that forgets everything, Thelma. I always said Elland. It’s never been any different. Which reminds me, have you taken your pills?’


No, I haven’t but they’re nothing to do with my brain. They’re for…down below. I’m as quick as ever I was.’

Angel
looked down at her and said, ‘You lived with your parents on Paradise Street.’


My father, mother, grandmother and five sisters.’


Quite a houseful,’ Angel said. ‘What was your mother’s maiden name?’


Armitage,’ she said. Her eyes shone with pleasure at her prompt reply. ‘Ask me any question you like, Inspector. You won’t catch
me
out. My brain’s like quicksilver.’

Angel
nodded. ‘And what was
your
maiden name?’


Wilson. My name before I married
him
was, Thelma Grace Wilson.’


And what about your husband’s family?’ Angel said.

Ireland
said, ‘I can answer for myself. And I can answer just as quickly as she can.’

Angel
looked at him and said, ‘What was your mother’s maiden name?’


Beaumont,’ he said.


That’s right,’ Mrs Ireland said.

Ireland
glared at her. She pulled a face at him and then turned away.

Angel
licked his lips. This wasn’t progressing his inquiries at all. These were all well-known local names.


Don’t you have any exciting, exotic names in your history?’ he said.


Like what?’ she said.


Well…foreign names,’ he said, watching for their reaction.

They
frowned, looked at each other, then in unison said, ‘No.’

Angel
had another idea.


Interesting,’ he said. ‘Do you have any photographs of the old folk?’


What do you mean?’ she said.

‘Y
our parents or your grandparents?’


No,’ she replied.


That’s correct. She got
that
right,’ Mr Ireland said.

Angel
rubbed his chin. If the Irelands had any secrets, they were certainly keeping them to themselves.

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

After Angel had turned the BMW round and was heading back to Bromersley, he turned to Carter and said, ‘I can’t see anything oriental or Chinese or Japanese about Margaret Ireland.’


No, sir,’ she said. ‘And I understand why she doesn’t visit her mum and dad that often.’


That means that she is no longer the prime suspect. We will have to await the lab comparison DNA of her hair sample to be absolutely positive. As she is the only female suspect, I don’t know where to go from here. There aren’t many women in this case and we’ve no evidence against any of them. You interviewed Rosemary Underwood. What are your thoughts about her?’


I know we shouldn’t trust our opinion, but I honestly can’t think a lightweight young woman like Rosemary Underwood could stick a dagger into an old man, her mother and a man in a van. It’s a crime you would expect a man to commit.’


True, but the DNA has never been wrong, in my experience. And there is no possibility that the crime scene could have been contaminated. I would trust both DS Taylor and Dr Mac with my life.’

There
was a pause.


What are we going to do then, sir?’


It means retracing our steps. Looking at everybody, particularly the female of the species.’

There
was another pause.


You interviewed Kathleen Krill, sir. What did you make of her?’


A strong minded woman. I suppose if she had the motivation…yes, I suppose she could have committed the murders.’

They
came up to the thirty-mile-an-hour restriction sign, and the town boundary sign announcing that they were in Bromersley.

Angel
slowed the BMW to thirty mph and said, ‘But there’s something wrong. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something very wrong.’

Carter
wondered whether to ask him to explain. She thought if he wanted to, he would do. She waited. Nothing more was forthcoming.

When
they arrived in his office, on his desk there was SOCO’s report on Ronnie Striker’s jeans, T-shirt and trainers. Angel read it and reread it then passed it to Carter.

Angel
said, ‘It says that his clothes were clean. There were no signs of Ingrid Underwood’s blood.’


Yes, sir,’ she said as she put the report down.

He
rubbed his chin then suddenly said, ‘Tomorrow morning, if the sun is shining brightly and there is little or no cloud, I want you and Ahmed and Ronnie Striker to be at Ingrid Underwood’s shop at 8.40 sharp. Will you lay that on? And go gently with Ronnie Striker. Remember, he only has the emotional capacity and control of a twelve-year-old boy.’

She
frowned. ‘Only if the sun is shining brightly -’


And there is no cloud, yes.’


Right, sir,’ she said. She went out and closed the door.

He
pulled open the desk drawer and took out a silver-plated paper knife. He had never used it for that purpose. In fact, he had never used it for any purpose. He had had the thing that long he couldn’t remember how he came by it. It was in the shape of a miniature sword. He crossed to the window and held it briefly in the sunlight and watched it reflect the sun’s rays. Then he dropped it in his pocket and thoughtfully returned to his desk.

The
phone rang. It was Crisp.


I saw Krill first thing this morning, sir. He messed around again in the beginning but when he saw we meant business he came clean. His marriage is about over, but he didn’t want his wife Kathleen to find out about his relationship with another woman, an actress called Nadine Ellerman.’


Who? Never heard of her.’


She’s registered with Equity. I’ve checked. The address also checks out. He says he met her in London on Saturday afternoon and never left her side. He did take her to the Exhibition, and they stayed together until he left her on Monday afternoon, 25 May to return to Sheffield.’


If she confirms it, he’s off the hook.’


She
has
confirmed it, sir. I’ve just seen her. At her flat in Gloucester Road.’

Angel
blinked. ‘Where are you now?’


In a taxi, sir, on the way to Kings Cross.’

Angel
’s face went the colour of a judge’s robe. ‘
In
a
taxi
?
In
London
? Do you think you’re on your holidays? Have you gone mad?’


I thought this…this inquiry was urgent, sir,’ Crisp said.

It
was
urgent. Extremely urgent. Lines of inquiry in this case were rapidly coming to a close.


It
is
urgent,’ Angel said, ‘but don’t milk the situation. The underground was good enough for me, it should be good enough for you. You’re not Condoleezza Rice on a mission to save the world, you know. And none of those British Rail afternoon teas on your way home, else I’ll be in hock to the Super for years.’


I’m only doing what I thought you wanted,’ Crisp said.

Angel
knew better. He ran his hand through his hair. ‘That’s that then. Come on back and see what you can do with Kathleen Krill. A migraine without a witness is not an alibi. Go and see her. Maybe she had a phone call or something? Or maybe there is a link between her and Ingrid Underwood and Angus Peel.’


Right, sir. I’ll give it a go.’


Take Scrivens with you, just to be on the safe side.’

*

‘Good morning, sir.’


Good morning everybody,’ Angel said as he got out of the BMW. He crossed the pavement, pushed a key into the door of Ingrid Underwood’s shop, unlocked it, but didn’t go in. He stood on the pavement, looked at Carter, Ahmed and Ronnie Striker in turn and said, ‘It is exactly a week today since Ingrid Underwood was murdered. The time of the murder was between 8.40 and nine o’clock. It is exactly 8.40 now. The sun is shining brightly, as it was that day. I want to reenact the scene as it happened then.’

Angel
pushed open the door and went inside. It smelled strongly of foliage and blossom from years of housing and preparing flowers. A strong ray of sunlight cut through the shop from a back window, illuminating the dust.

He
turned to Carter. Will you be Ingrid Underwood? I want you to position yourself on your back behind the workbench, your feet towards the door.’


Right, sir,’ she said and made towards the bench.


Ahmed, I want you to be the…one with the dagger,’ he said, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out the miniature sword paperknife which he thrust into his hand.


Now then, Ronnie,’ Angel said. ‘Firstly, tell me, when you arrived here back from the sandwich shop was this door open or closed?’


It was open,’ Ronnie Striker said.


You said that Mrs Underwood used a brick to prop it open. Is it there?’

He
rummaged round the back of the shop door and found it. It was covered in silver dust. He held it up surprised.

Angel
saw him and said, ‘It’s aluminium powder. It’s what we use to look for fingerprints.’

Striker
nodded and put it in position, so that the door was wide open.


Thank you. Now, Ronnie, can you tell me…is DS Carter in the position Mrs Underwood was?’


Yes.’


And where was … Jesus?’


He was on his knees, leaning over her.’

Angel
tossed his head to Ahmed to tell him to take up that position.

Ahmed
tentatively knelt at the side of DS Carter and looked back at Angel.


Like that?’ Angel said.


He was closer.’

Ahmed
hesitated.

Angel
said, ‘Go on, lad. Hutch up. Sergeant Carter doesn’t mind.’

Ahmed
slowly took up the position.

Carter
looked up at him and smiled.

Angel
said, ‘Is that it as it was, Ronnie?’


Yes.’


Ahmed, hold up the paperknife in your right hand.’

He
did so and the sharp ray of sunshine through the rear window caught the paperknife, creating a brilliant white reflection.

Angel
was expecting it, but Ronnie Striker was not and he gasped with surprise at seeing the sight again.


Twist your wrist about, Ahmed.’

The
movement caused the reflections to shimmer.


There’s your star, Ronnie,’ Angel said.

Ronnie
Striker saw the effect, stuffed his hands in his pockets, turned away and looked down towards the floor.

Angel
turned to him and said, ‘Never mind. It was an understandable mistake. Thanks for coming. I’ll get Sergeant Carter to take you straight home now.’

Ronnie
Striker didn’t reply. He ran outside and stood by the Ford.

Angel
turned to Carter and Ahmed. ‘Thanks very much, you two,’ Angel said. ‘You can get up now.’

BOOK: Shrine to Murder
5.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Highland Champion by Hannah Howell
Redemption by Lindsey Gray
The Tycoon's Tender Triumph by Lennox, Elizabeth
Winter House by Carol O'Connell
Typhoon by Shahraz, Qaisra
Reap the East Wind by Glen Cook
Error in Diagnosis by Mason Lucas M. D.
Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden