Read Shrine to Murder Online

Authors: Roger Silverwood

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

Shrine to Murder (5 page)

BOOK: Shrine to Murder
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He
drove the BMW to Redman’s house. The SOCOs van and DS Taylor’s car were parked outside. The PC was still on the step.

Angel
pursed his lips as he ambled round Redman’s small front garden. There were no laurel bushes. He went round to the rear of the house. There were two lawns and a small orchard at the bottom, but there were no laurel bushes there either. He returned to the front of the house, went out of the front gate and along Creesforth Road, passing two houses. He peered into their front gardens, stopped, turned round and walked back to the house and looked at the gardens of the two houses at the other side. There were no laurel bushes. It was becoming apparent that the laurel leaf could not have dropped on to the victim’s carpet at his bedside without human involvement.

Angel
dashed inside and called up the stairs, ‘Don Taylor there?’


Here, sir,’ Taylor replied. His head appeared over the banisters.


Don, is any part of the house still under crime scene protocol?’


No, sir,’ Taylor said as he descended the stairs.

Angel
wasn’t pleased. ‘And you’ve nothing more for me?’


Sorry, sir.’

Angel
blew out a length of air. He was searching for a forensically aware murderer, and he didn’t like it.

Taylor
knew he was disappointed. He would have liked to have said something supportive to him, but he couldn’t think of anything appropriate at that time.

Angel
stood there, looking round and rubbing his chin.

Taylor
said, ‘Can I help you with anything, sir?’


Yes. Photographs, Don. Home snaps. You know the sort of thing. Sometimes helps you to build the picture of the victim.’


Photographs? There are stacks on the walls of that room up there, sir,’ he said and pointed along the hall to a room at the end. ‘It’s a sort of study.’


Oh, right, Don. Thank you,’ he said as he walked down the hall.

Taylor
returned upstairs.

Angel
found the room had a big desk in it, a filing cabinet, a couple of chairs, a set of golf clubs, and a TV set with a big screen. The walls were covered with a hundred or more framed photographs of the victim, Redman, in every conceivable role: as husband, father, bank manager, president of the Rotary Club, chairman of the golf club, the cricket team, on holiday in Santiago, St Petersburg, Lucerne, Paris, and so on. There were formal photographs of him taking part in local stage productions of
The
Gondoliers
,
Nero
,
The
Importance
of
Being
Ernest
,
Charley

s
Aunt
,
Ladies
In
Retirement
,
Aladdin
and lots more. He was there, singing
The
Messiah
with the local choral society at Christmas, enjoying a boat trip on the
Flamborian
sailing out of Bridlington harbour in the summer, and simply peering at unusual objects being petrified in Mother Shipton’s cave in Knaresborough in the autumn. The photographs seemed endless. Some showed him alone and some with one or two others and in large groups of thirty or more. Each picture was carefully, neatly captioned in meticulous detail giving names, dates, places and occasions.

Angel
was marvelling at the busy life Luke Redman had led when his thoughts were disturbed by the ring of his mobile phone. He dived into his pocket for it. The LCD showed him it was Superintendent Harker. An encounter with his boss was never pleasant, and in anticipation of an unpleasant encounter, Angel’s face assumed the appearance of a man with toothache waiting to see the man from the Inland Revenue.


I’ve just had a triple nine call,’ Harker said. ‘A dead woman found in the back room of her florist’s shop at 221 Bradford Road.’

It
could hardly be more serious. Angel’s heart began to thump.


Name given as Ingrid Underwood,’ Harker said. ‘Appears to have been stabbed in the chest. Same place as in that Redman case.’

Angel
’s innards turned a somersault.


Uniform are in attendance,’ Harker said. ‘I have advised Mac. Can’t raise SOCO.’


Right, sir,’ Angel said. ‘SOCO are with me. I’ll direct them.’

He
pocketed the mobile and made for the hallway. In his head, he heard Harker’s voice again say the words: ‘Appears to have been stabbed in the chest. Same place as in that Redman case.’

He
called up the stairwell to Taylor, gave him the news and the name and address of the shop where the dead body had been reported found, then dashed outside to his car.

He
was at the premises in four minutes.

The
florist’s shop was a very small, commercially well positioned property on the corner of the main Bradford Road and a blocked-off side road called New Street.

Angel
pulled past the shop, round the corner, parked behind Dr Mac’s car and two marked police cars on New Street.

Two
PCs were already rolling out the blue and white DO NOT CROSS tape. Another, PC Brian Donohue, a car patrolman, was speaking to an elderly woman. Angel went up to the two in conversation.

The
PC saw him coming.


Excuse me, Miss Jubb,’ Donohue said and turned to Angel. ‘Dr Mac is inside, sir.’

Angel
nodded. ‘Right, Brian, and who found the body and rang in?’


This lady, Miss Jubb, sir.’ He turned back to her and said, ‘This is Inspector Angel, he’s in charge of the case.’


Thank you,’ Angel said. ‘Now then, Miss Jubb, please tell me what happened?’

SOCO
’s van pulled round the corner on to New Street. Donohue went off to assist with the parking of it. Space was at a premium.

The
woman was shaking. Angel took one of her hands. She held it tightly.


Would you like to sit in my car?’ he said. She didn’t reply but he quickly led her to it. When they were inside and the doors closed, she was much more at ease.


I was coming for some flowers,’ she said. ‘I come here most Wednesdays about this time.’

‘C
an you say what time that was, Miss Jubb?’


About twenty to nine it must have been. Well, I went into the shop. The door was wedged open. Mrs Underwood wasn’t in the front of the shop. Sometimes she’s in the back making up wreaths and displays or whatever. Anyway, I looked at the flowers on display…thinking about what I wanted…while I was waiting. I didn’t mind a minute or two, but after I had waited for about five minutes, I called out to her. There was no reply. I waited another couple of minutes then I went into the back, still calling her name. Then I saw her feet and then her legs on the floor in front of the big table she spreads the flowers out on. I thought she had fallen. I went further inside…then I saw the blood…and I knew.’

She
paused.


It
was
Ingrid Underwood?’ Angel said.


Yes. It took me a minute to recover then I looked round for Ronnie, the lad who makes the deliveries. He’s usually around. He sits on the step with the shop door open in good weather. He’s
always
there. Except that today, he wasn’t. That’s unusual, I thought. Very unusual.’


Perhaps he was out delivering?’


I saw his bicycle’s in the back room,’ she said. ‘He couldn’t have been.’


What’s his name?’


I only know him as Ronnie. Been here years. He’s not right in the head, you know. Religious mania. That’s what he’s got.’

Angel
blinked. ‘Was Ingrid Underwood married?’


I don’t know, Inspector. I didn’t know her well. That lad Ronnie doted on her. It wasn’t healthy. Can’t imagine what went wrong. Something burst in his head or something. They say the change of the moon affects them, don’t they?’

Angel
frowned. Her comments disturbed him, but he contained his thoughts. Time was precious. ‘Then what happened?’


Well, then I picked up the phone at the end of the bench in there, dialled 999 and reported it. The woman asked me to wait here, which I have done. I’ve told you all I know. Now I’d like to go home.’


Yes, of course. And thank you very much.’

Angel
called on PC Donohue to take Miss Jubb home in his patrol car. Meanwhile he rang Ahmed’s number on his mobile. As it was ringing out, he watched Taylor and his squad, dressed in fresh white disposable suits begin cautiously to enter the shop.


Ahmed,’ Angel said into the phone, ‘I am at a murder scene at 221 Bradford Road. I need Trevor Crisp and that new sergeant, DS Carter, here smartly. Find them for me.’


Right, sir.’

A
man in a khaki overall coat came running up to the DO NOT CROSS tape and attempted to lift it up to gain access. A PC saw him and stopped him.

The
man was breathing quickly and his face was red. ‘What’s happening,’ the man said. ‘What are all you police doing here?’


Who are you, sir?’ the PC said.


I own the bicycle shop across the road opposite. My name’s Carl Young. Who is in charge? Has something happened to Ingrid?’

Angel
came up to him, ‘I’m in charge, sir. Do you know Mrs Underwood?’

The
man’s face was red and his eyes were staring. ‘I certainly do. Known her years. What’s happened to her?’


Does she have a husband, and has she any family?’


She said she was married once. He ran off, I think. I don’t know. Got a daughter somewhere. What’s happened to Ingrid?’


There is a report of a body of a woman on the premises.’


Oh, my god. No. Not Ingrid. Oh no.’


It may be Mrs Underwood. She has not been formally identified.’


Oh. This is dreadful.’


I’m so sorry. We are waiting for the doctor’s preliminary report. He’s still in there. What was your relationship to her?’


Just a good friend,’ he said with a shrug. ‘She’s had this shop here for twenty years, the same time as I’ve had the bike shop over there. We wave to each other, that’s all. I keep Ronnie’s bike running. I would come over to talk to her when I was slack. She came over to talk to me. She could see if any customers came in here from my shop doorway. We used to see each other open our shops on a morning and lock them up at night. A sort of kinship developed. Oh my god, I hope it’s not her.’


Please try and hang on, Mr Young. Did you see her arrive this morning?’


Yes. I saw her unlock the shop, and Ronnie began to take the shutters down at about 8.30 as usual. I gave a little wave and she nodded and smiled back.’


Do you know where she lives?’


22 Park Road. Have you seen that lad, Ronnie? He’s always here. Where’s he gone? He’s here before the shop opens and he leaves after Ingrid’s locked it up. He’s always here except when he’s delivering or on an errand for her. He should be here. I don’t understand it. You know, inspector, he’s not quite right in the head. He should be here
now
. He never leaves the shop when she’s here, normally. He could have answered all your questions. Typical. The young uns today. When he’s wanted, he’s not to be found. I reckon he’ll know what’s happened. Nobody could have harmed her while Ronnie was here. No one could have got near her. Unless - ’ He suddenly broke off. His eyes moved from left to right, right to left and then back to the centre. ‘Oh no!’ he said. ‘Oh no!’ Then he looked down at the pavement and shook his head.


Take it steady, Mr Young,’ Angel said. ‘Do you know his full name and where he lives?’


Ronnie Striker,’ he muttered. ‘He lives with his mother on Church Street. Almost opposite the church gates. I’ll have to get back to my shop.’


Thank you, Mr Young. You’ve been most helpful.’

He
turned away.

A
car Angel recognized turned the corner and drove right up to him. It was DS Carter. He bent down to speak to her through the car window. He told her the essentials of the case and set her off to see if she could find Ronnie Striker on Church Street. She turned the car round and dashed off.

BOOK: Shrine to Murder
2.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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