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Authors: Graham Masterton

Taken for Dead (Kate Maguire) (8 page)

BOOK: Taken for Dead (Kate Maguire)
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Shelagh Hagerty nodded and tried to smile. ‘Thank you, Superintendent. What would we have done if he hadn’t?’

‘Oh, there was no question of that. Don’t even think about it. Any road, the chances are very high that we’ll get it all back.’

‘Would you care for a cup of tea?’ asked Shelagh Hagerty, but at that moment, the phone rang, and even Katie felt a tingle of shock. Shelagh Hagerty looked at her wide-eyed and said, ‘What shall I tell him? I don’t know what to tell him!’

‘It’s simple. All you have to do is tell him that you’ve managed to raise two hundred and fifty thousand euros.’

‘Oh God, I’m so scared!’

‘Please, Shelagh, try to keep calm. You have the money, so there’s every chance that you can get Derek back safe and well. But try to keep your man on the line for as long as you possibly can.’

The phone kept on ringing and ringing. Eventually Shelagh Hagerty took a deep breath and picked it up.

‘Hello?’ she said, in a high, strangled voice. She listened for a moment, and then she covered the receiver with her hand and mouthed to Katie, ‘
It’s him!

The young technician held up a pair of earphones and Katie plugged one of them into her left ear. She heard a man’s voice with a slurry accent say, ‘Hello there, Shelagh. What’s the craic?’

She was sure that the caller would be using a stealth phone, or what was called a ‘burner,’ a throwaway phone that would make it impossible to trace his number. But the software would allow the technician to work out roughly where he was by triangulating between the radio towers that were carrying the call, and then use the signal strength to narrow down his location even further.

Detective Horgan was listening on earphones, too. He looked across at Katie and she thought she had never seen him so grim-faced. Usually he was cracking jokes and pulling faces, but she wondered if the job was beginning to get to him. She was always careful to watch her team for the first signs of stress – and herself, too.

Shelagh Hagerty said, ‘I have the money. The two hundred and fifty thousand you asked for.’

‘You have it? That’s grand. It looks like you’ll be seeing your precious Derek again, then, doesn’t it?’

‘It was very hard to raise it,’ said Shelagh. ‘I had to sell almost everything we own. I had to borrow some, too, and that wasn’t easy, because I couldn’t tell anybody what I wanted the money for.’

‘Listen, Shelagh, I don’t give a shite how hard it was to raise it. The only thing that matters is that you have it. All we have to do now is arrange for you to hand it over.’

‘I need to see my Derek first. Or at least to talk to him on the phone. I have to know that he’s still alive before I give you all this money.’

‘Well, I’m sorry, but you’ll just have to trust me, because he isn’t here with me now. But I can tell you for sure that he’s still living and breathing, and that as soon as I get the money he’ll be free to go.’

Shelagh Hagerty didn’t know what to say next, but Katie gave her a thumbs up and mouthed ‘okay’.

‘All right, then,’ said Shelagh. ‘Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’

‘You haven’t been in touch with the shades, have you?’

‘What do you think? My Derek’s life is at stake.’

‘Very sensible of you. Well, then, here’s what to do. The money should all be in two-hundred and one-hundred-euro notes, just about half and half, all used, with non-sequential numbers.’

‘Wait a minute, wait a minute,’ said Shelagh Hagerty. ‘Let me write that down.’

‘Come on, Shelagh, lively now, I don’t have all day. Wrap up the money in five bundles of fifty thousand euros each in cling film. You understand me, the ordinary cling film like you use in the kitchen. Put the bundles into the back of your car and park it on the second level of the Merchants Quay car park at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Leave the car unlocked with the keys and the parking ticket in the glove box and take a taxi back home. We’ll call you when we’ve checked that you’ve given us everything we asked you for.’

‘But what about Derek?’

‘When we call you, we’ll let you know where you can find your car, and we’ll also let you know where you can find your husband.’

‘He is alive, isn’t he? You took out some of his teeth, didn’t you, but you haven’t hurt him any more than that, have you?’

Shelagh Hagerty was breathing hard, and Katie could tell that she was boiling to tell this man how angry she was, and how much she hated him, and what a monster he had been to pull out so many of Derek’s teeth, but she managed to keep her anger under control.

‘Have you traced his location yet?’ Katie asked the technician.

The technician nodded. ‘I’m getting there. He’s calling from somewhere between the phone towers on the North Ring Road and Mayfield Industrial Estate, but he’s much closer to Mayfield. I’m just checking the signal strength to narrow it down a bit.’

‘I shall never forgive you if you’ve hurt him,’ said Shelgah Hagerty.

‘He’s living and breathing, Shelagh, as God is my witness,’ the man replied. ‘If you do exactly as I’ve told you, and no funny business, you’ll be seeing him again before you know it. Two o’clock on the dot tomorrow, second level, Merchants Quay car park. G’luck to you so.’

With that, he switched off his phone. Immediately, though, the technician said, ‘He’s less than a hundred and fifty metres away from Mayfield Shopping Centre. In fact, it’s most likely that he’s calling from the car park or somewhere right outside.’ He swivelled one of his laptops around so that Katie could see the map on his screen, with a small red icon flashing. Mayfield Shopping Centre was less than five kilometres to the north-east of Cork City centre, and only six minutes north of Tivoli Estate, where they were now.

Detective Horgan said, ‘I’ll have Dooley go up there. I don’t think we have much hope of catching this fellow without knowing what he looks like, or what kind of car he’s driving, and he’s more than likely driven off by now. But if we check out the shopping centre’s CCTV we may be able to pick out somebody in the car park making a phone call at a time that tallies.’

‘Well, you can try,’ said Katie. ‘These days it seems like everybody’s walking around with a phone glued to their ear.’

‘So what should I do?’ asked Shelagh Hagerty. ‘Do you really think they’re going to let Derek go?’

‘Do exactly what your man told you to do. We’ll have the money ready for you by tomorrow morning and we’ll bring it round here. Then just drive down to Merchants Quay and follow his instructions.’

‘What will you do? Follow them? Supposing they see you?’

‘I can’t tell you what we’re going to do, Shelagh, but I promise you that we won’t take any action that might jeopardize your husband’s life.’

‘I’m trying very hard to believe that,’ said Shelagh Hagerty. ‘Right now, though, I’m wishing that I’d never told you. I could have raised that money somehow, and at least I’d be sure that Derek wouldn’t be hurt any more.’

‘Shelagh, there are never any guarantees with people like these. But if we let them get away with it once, they’ll do it again and again, and you don’t want another wife to suffer the way that you’ve been suffering, do you?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Shelagh Hagerty. ‘Right now, I don’t care very much about anybody else.’

9

That night, she was woken at two-thirty by the sound of shouting and screaming from the Kanes’ house next door. She turned over and covered her ears with her pillow, but the noise continued, as well as door-slamming and clattering and a sudden burst of loud pop music, as if a radio had been turned on full and then immediately turned off again.

At last, after more than twenty minutes, there was silence, but by now Katie was so wide awake that she climbed out of bed and went to the window. She pulled the curtains aside, but the Kanes’ house was in darkness. She went back to bed, switched on her bedside lamp and picked up the crossword she had been trying to finish before she had grown too sleepy.

One of down clues was ‘Together, the top and bottom of the world are manic’. The answer was ‘bipolar’.

***

Next morning, as she came back with Barney from his early-morning walk, she found David Kane standing in her porch with the collar of his grey raincoat turned up. It was raining hard now and Barney had been stopping every few yards to shake himself.

‘Good morning, Katie,’ said David. ‘That’s the trouble with dogs, isn’it? You have to take them out to do the necessary, whatever the weather.’

Katie lowered her umbrella and shook it. ‘Don’t you have a dog?’ she asked him.

‘No, I couldn’t. If my patients smelled another dog in the house, whether they were dogs themselves or cats or whatever, they’d find it very disturbing.’

He stood close beside her as she unlocked her front door. ‘Talking of disturbing, the reason I’ve come over is to apologize for all the racket we were making last night, Sorcha and me. Sorcha was having one of her episodes.’

Katie stepped into the hallway and Barney followed her. David stayed in the porch as she hung up her raincoat.

‘Has she been back to her doctor?’ she said.

‘Several doctors. None of them seem able to make her any better.’

‘Come in. I have to go to work in half an hour, but I was going to make myself a cup of coffee, if you’d like one.’

David came into the house and closed the front door behind him.

‘Here, take off your coat,’ said Katie.

‘Are you sure? I feel like I’m imposing on you.’

‘That’s what I do for a living, David. It’s my job to be imposed upon.’

‘Yes, but by criminals. Not by your next-door neighbour.’

‘My father used to be a Garda inspector. He always told me that some people are destined to take care of everybody else, whether they like it or not. “We’re born to wipe the tears of the world,” he used to say.’

‘Oh, well, if you put it like that.’

They went through to the kitchen. Katie put on the kettle and spooned some ground espresso into her cafetière. While they waited for the kettle to boil, David sat down on one of the kitchen chairs and dry-washed his face with his hands.

‘Have you thought of taking her to a psychotherapist?’ asked Katie. ‘We have a very good one who helps us when we interview suspects who have some kind of mental disturbance, Dr Gillian Murphy. She has a practice in Wilton.’

‘She saw one psychiatrist in Dublin, but he was worse than useless. He put her on lithium and told her to watch comedy films if ever she felt badly depressed. Can you believe it? Comedy films!’

‘You’re going to have do something, David. You can’t let things go on the way they are.’

‘Well, no, you’re absolutely right,’ he said, watching as Katie poured him a mug of coffee. ‘I’ll try this psychotherapist of yours in Wilton if you can give me her number.’

He paused, and then he said, ‘You have no idea what I would give, though, Katie, for a normal evening out with a normal woman. Just to go to a restaurant and not be constantly on a knife-edge in case she bursts into tears or starts screaming at the waiter or throwing her food all over the place. Just to have a few hours of inconsequential conversation about this and that and the other, if you know what I mean, and a bit of a laugh. I’m not trying to do Sorcha down, but she’s wearing me out.’

Katie sat down opposite him. ‘I don’t know that there’s anything more I can do to help you, David. Maybe I could have a talk with Sorcha myself. I have a lot of experience in dealing with depressive women. In fact, more than half of the women we arrest for violent crimes are suffering from what we used to call manic depression – most of it brought on by the men they’ve been living with, I might add.’

David shook his head. ‘I can’t see that it would make much difference. And if you started to give Sorcha sympathy she’d be ringing at your doorbell to bother you night and day. No – I’m only talking about a night off, to remind me that a relationship with a woman doesn’t have to be non-stop tension and breaking plates.’

Katie knew what was coming next. It couldn’t have been more obvious than the yellow-fronted 10.35 train slowly approaching Cork station from Dublin Heuston. David had been working up to this from the moment he had first appeared on her doorstep, especially with his flirtatious
plámás
. All the same, she said nothing and waited for him to come out with it.

‘I understand, of course, that you must have very little free time, Katie. But I really enjoy talking to you and I was wondering if maybe I could take you out to dinner sometime soon. Even tonight, if you can make it. No strings attached. Just for the normality of it.’

Katie looked down and sideways to avoid his appealing eyes. ‘I had an idea that you were building up to this. But you know what my answer has to be, don’t you? You’re a married man and I can’t afford any scandal at all, no matter how unjustified it might be.’

‘Katie – ’

‘No, David. If you and I went out to dinner together, the next thing I know there would be a front-page picture in the
Echo
with a headline saying something like “Who’s The Mystery Man With Cork’s Top Female ’Tec?” Besides, you’re absolutely right, I do have very little free time. I’m right in the middle of a major homicide case at the moment, as well as a whole rake of other investigations. I scarcely have the time to open a tin of baked beans, let alone go out for dinner.’

David raised his eyebrows. ‘You’re absolutely sure I can’t tempt you? I know it’s selfish, but you’d be doing me a power of good.’

‘Sorry, but I can’t. Apart from me, what about Sorcha?’

‘Sorcha wouldn’t have to know. I wouldn’t tell her, to be honest with you. It would only make her worse and she’d start breaking things. We have few enough dinner plates left as it is.’

‘The answer’s still no, David.’

‘Oh well, I tried,’ he said. ‘But don’t go mad if I ask you again.’

‘I won’t. But you’ll get the same answer.’

David finished his coffee. He was about to say something else when Katie’s iPhone rang.

‘Yes, Kyna?’

‘Bill Phinner’s just called,’ said Detective Sergeant Ni Nuallán. ‘He came in early this morning to finish checking the teeth that Shelagh Hagerty brought in. He reconstructed them using the dental records that Dooley got hold of yesterday. He said there’s no doubt about it, the teeth match Derek Hagerty’s exactly. All from the front. Four incisors, three canines and one premolar crown, which was the gold one.’

BOOK: Taken for Dead (Kate Maguire)
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