Read The Grass Tattoo (#2 - The Craig Modern Thriller Series) Online

Authors: Catriona King

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The Grass Tattoo (#2 - The Craig Modern Thriller Series)

BOOK: The Grass Tattoo (#2 - The Craig Modern Thriller Series)
4.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The Grass Tattoo

by Catriona King



Praise for A Limited Justice:


“a fantastic achievement... There is a new star on the scene... Belfast needs its own detective - and in DCI Marc Craig it now has one”

Andy Angel, Ebookwyrm Reviews


“this is what crime books should be like; realistic, believable and slightly unnerving”

Page Central Book-Shelf Reviews


“totally moving, modern and intriguing.”

Amazon Reader Review


“A great crime thriller which I didn't want to put down....the ultimate test of a good book and passed with flying colours.”

Amazon Reader Review



Copyright © 2012 by Catriona King

Photography: Dr Daniel V. McCaughan OBE,

Michal Zacha, Moon2112, Przemyslaw, Szczepanski.

Artwork: Crooked Cat

All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Crooked Cat Publishing except for brief quotations used for promotion or in reviews. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.


Printed in the United Kingdom


First Black Line Edition, Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd. 2012


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For my wonderful mother. 



About the Author


Catriona King trained as a Doctor, and as a Police Forensic Medical Examiner in London where she worked for many years. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police on many occasions. In recent years, she has returned to live in Belfast.


Catriona has written since childhood; fiction, fact and reporting.


‘The Grass Tattoo’ is the second novel in the Detective Chief Inspector Craig series.


It follows Marc Craig and his team, through the streets of Belfast and Northern Ireland, in the hunt for the killers of two people.


A third novel in the D.C.I. Craig series is nearing completion.




To those who have gone. For my caring parents who gave us everything, and my brother, who lived life to the full in his young life. For my grandmother, a true lady, who lived her beliefs through her kindness and philanthropy. For my friends, Joan Rich and Angela Von Tobel, two kind, witty women who were always there. And for one other.


I would like to thank all of the police officers that I have ever worked with, anywhere, for their unfailing professionalism, wit and compassion.


And I would like to thank Crooked Cat for being so unfailingly supportive and cheerful throughout.


Catriona King

Belfast, December 2012



The D.C.I. Craig Series


A Limited Justice

The Grass Tattoo

The Visitor




The Grass Tattoo

Chapter One


Monday 3
December 2012. Belfast.


Joanne Greer stared venomously at the phone before she spoke.

“Persuade him, Bob. It’s what you do all day.”

The man’s voice was quiet but firm. “We need to cut our losses.”

“I’m not losing anything because of you! You have one week, and then London gets involved.”

She slammed the phone down and stood completely still, her decision already made. London was getting involved today.




The first rays of the sun broke through the wet Ulster sky and the man sighed, already regretting his next action. He had no stomach for it anymore, if he’d ever really had.

He looked up at the cloudy sky, wishing himself elsewhere, and then his shoulders slumped as he resigned himself to the task.

He measured the distance again in his mind, and waited for them to appear, convincing himself that it was a computer game, that none of it was real. At least his distance was a shield: he didn’t know how they coped with their part. Too close.

Gradually the wet sun lifted, and the jewel-coloured grass came into view, each blade’s edge sharp in his sight. Any minute now. Then they appeared. Two blonde heads. So different in life, so differently fated now. He watched their exchange sadly. His sorrow had deepened with every year and it was unbearable now, watching her tears and begging. It tore at his heart and made him hate his orders, and the one who gave them.

He quickly raised the sight to his eye, turning off the voice in his head that said that this was all wrong. He shut out the faint winter breeze and the fresh hum of traffic on the comfortable street below, and he focussed.

The steel mechanism responded smoothly to his touch as he readied himself. And then, with one hard pull the bullet left the barrel, cutting through the air. Twisting, arc-ing, angled perfectly for the light wind, until it reached its destination, just as she turned.

It was strange how they always turned. After the bullet had gone, while its trajectory curved and twisted, but before it had even hit them. It was almost as if they knew what was coming, but they couldn’t know, could they?

The bullet skewered straight through her, shutting out her daylight completely, causing her knees to buckle and then to fall.

The moment of impact was different for all of them. With this one a surprise, with that one a gaze, their eyes turned upwards, locked in time like a DVD on pause. With some, quiet resignation. Or indifference, as if they’d had enough of this world.

She fell now; perfectly vertical, kneeling down urgently, arms arching through the sky, towards the steps. He thought he could hear the soft tap of her knees upon the ground...imagination. Then forward, her kind face buried in the gentle grass, finally coming to rest.

He hated that moment more than he hated the whole thing, and vowed again that this would be his last. His anger this time at their orders, and disgust at the victim’s innocence, was almost too much for him to bear, needing alcohol to bury it every night.

He unscrewed the sights, quickly placing the gun in the car, and left the rooftop at speed, collecting the second blonde by the gate. Then they drove to the one place that he could find peace, in alcohol, at any time of day.


Maggie stared across the white portico-ed square, bored. Wednesdays always bored her; they lacked the prison-break excitement of a Friday, or even the long-suffering martyrdom of a Monday. They were just boring.

It was a cold, wet Belfast morning, and she would happily have stayed in bed, reliving last night’s dream of Christian Bale, mask and all. Why they expected her in for eight she’d never understand! Nothing worthwhile ever happened this early, every journalist knew that.

She pulled the soggy pencil out of her mouth, examining it slowly for an un-chewed portion, and then popped it back in, satisfied, returning to her view. At least that wasn’t boring.

A full wall of windows extended her cubby-hole of an office via a trompe-l’oeil, across the wide piazza of St Anne’s Square. A little known gem set deep in Belfast’s city centre, behind its namesake Cathedral.

What had once been elderly banks and offices had morphed into the city’s buzzing Cathedral quarter, with a myriad of new additions to the arts and entertainment scene. There were hotels and restaurants, theatres and galleries, clubs, and coffee houses in the old style. It was a western Mecca for the tourists who poured in from all over the world. Belfast was booming, and this time for all the right reasons.

She glanced idly across the elegant vista, planning her next coffee break, and noticed a lithely handsome man entering the Metropolitan Arts Centre opposite, its lean, arrowed stone and glass slotting perfectly into the square’s smooth design.

The man looked...well, she wasn’t actually sure what he looked, but he looked something, and he made her feel shy somehow, without knowing why. Then she realised what it was - he looked arty. Arty men had always attracted her, and made her shy. There was something so uncontrolled about them, and she liked to be in control.

He sensed her gaze and smiled up at the window, in a reckless, Christmassy way. She could feel her blush rising, but before she could react by hiding or waving, her desk phone rang noisily, reminding her that she was at work.

She grudgingly removed her pencil and lifted the receiver, just as he disappeared through the centre’s sliding door. Another failed romance.

“Hello. Derry...”

She stopped herself abruptly, remembering that she’d left the Derry Telegraph two months earlier, and then started again.

“Belfast Chronicle news desk, Maggie Clarke speaking.”

The line was quiet, apart from a faint clatter of crockery and murmured voices in the background. She imagined the caller in an up-market cafe.

She tried again. “Hello, news desk. Can I help you?”

Again, quiet. But now there came the sound of breathing and it occurred to her that it might be a prank: her kid sister ‘nuisancing’ her during a free class. She was just about to say “Kim” accusingly, when the caller finally spoke. The voice surprised her. It was a man’s voice, strong and deep, and at another time, she might even have said sexy. But the main surprise came from its accent, formed many miles from Belfast.

“You will find Irene Leighton at your Stormont.”

‘Your’ Stormont, not mine.

She was leaning forward now, the hairs on her journalist’s neck standing on end. Something exciting was coming next. Not nice, but exciting. It was what she lived for.

For a moment, the man didn’t speak, and neither did she. Fighting the urge to question, each listening to the other’s breathing. Then again, the clatter of crockery, this time with the unmistakable sound of ice hitting a glass, and an optic emptying. He was in a bar. At 8am!

He spoke again, and Maggie was sure that she heard sadness in his voice. “She found the grass, I think. Her husband bought it for her.”

It didn’t make sense, but there was no explanation forthcoming, just more silence. She couldn’t fight her need to speak any longer.

“Who are you?” Not the most elegantly framed question she’d ever asked.

“It is not important who I am. You have what you need. Tell your police.”

The background noise rose suddenly, and she heard the voice murmur something indecipherable. Then without another word the line went dead, leaving her staring at the receiver.

She sat for a moment, confused about what she’d heard, and about what to do next. Her journalist’s nose was pulling her towards Stormont, the seat of Northern Ireland’s government, to see for herself. Before the other papers got the call, if they hadn’t already. There was a story here, and she knew it. Not some dopey two columns on the fifth page, but a real front-pager. And it was her story.

BOOK: The Grass Tattoo (#2 - The Craig Modern Thriller Series)
4.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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