Read The Ten Commandments Online

Authors: Anthea Fraser

The Ten Commandments

THE TEN
COMMANDMENTS

Anthea Fraser

CHIVERS

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available

This eBook published by AudioGO Ltd, Bath, 2012.

Published by arrangement with the Author

Epub ISBN 9781445830476

Copyright © 1997 by Anthea Fraser

The Author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

All rights reserved

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental

Jacket illustration © iStockphoto.com

ALSO BY ANTHEA FRASER

One Is One and All Alone

The Seven Stars

The Gospel Makers

Three, Three, the Rivals

The Lily-White Boys

Symbols at Your Door

The April Rainers

Six Proud Walkers

The Nine Bright Shiners

Death Speaks Softly

Pretty Maids All in a Row

A Necessary End

A Shroud for Delilah

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

 

 

I'll sing you one-O!

(Chorus)
Green grow the rushes-O!

          What is your one-O?

One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

 

I'll sing you two-O!

(Chorus)
Green grow the rushes-O!

          What are your two-O?

Two, two, the lily-white Boys, clothed all in green-O,

(Chorus)
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

 

I'll sing you three-O!

(Chorus)
Green grow the rushes-O!

          What are your three-O?

Three, three, the Rivals,

(Chorus)
Two, two, the lily-white Boys, clothed all in green-O,

One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.

 

Four for the Gospel makers.

Five for the Symbols at your door.

Six for the six proud Walkers.

Seven for the seven Stars in the sky.

Eight for the April Rainers.

Nine for the nine bright Shiners.

Ten for the ten Commandments.

Eleven for the Eleven that went up to Heaven.

Twelve for the twelve Apostles.

1

The body lay sprawled face down between a Cortina and an Astra at the far end of the pub car park. In the warm darkness of the July evening, it was visible only if one glanced directly into the space between the vehicles.

'Who found him?' Detective Chief Inspector Webb asked the local police constable, who was preserving the scene.

'Driver of the Cortina, sir. Nearly fell over him, he said. Thought at first he'd just had one too many, till he looked closer.'

Webb grunted. He, too, had looked closer, noting the deep gash on the back of the head, the dark blood already clotting in the thick hair.

'Where is he?'

The constable jerked his head at the lighted pub behind them. 'In there, with the rest of them. The landlord had the sense to lock the doors as soon as the body was discovered.'

'I suppose that's something. We'll need to know if our friend here had been inside earlier, who he was with, etcetera. As soon as we can move him, we'll at least have a description to go on.'

He glanced irritably up at the new moon swinging in the sky. It afforded only the sketchiest illumination, and even that was masked by the bulk of the two cars.

Where the hell are SOCO? Can't see a damn thing until we get some lights.'

Sergeant Jackson came up in time to hear his last comment. 'They've just arrived. Guv.'

Webb turned, to see the SOCO team making its way towards him between the rows of cars. He peered at his watch. It was just after eleven.

'Evening, Dave,' Dick Hodges greeted him. 'What have we got here?'

'You tell me, Dick. I can't see a bloody thing.'

'Stapleron been?'

'Not yet. I'll get out of your way – it's pretty cramped in there, and in any case, it's time I made a start on the statements.'

Hodges stood looking down at the body in its confined space. 'Ever had a sense of
déjà vu
?'

'It struck me, too. Five or six years ago, wasn't it?'

‘That's right – a country pub, like this one. Bloke lying between two cars with his head bashed in. Far as I remember, the case was never cleared.'

'Thanks, Dick,' Webb said drily. 'Most encouraging.'

Hodges grinned and turned his attention to setting up the arc lights while Webb and Jackson walked across the car park to the pub entrance, guarded now by another uniformed constable.

'Nice-looking place,' Jackson said approvingly. 'Don't know it, do you, Guv?'

'I used to,' Webb replied, glancing up at the building as they approached. 'Matter of fact, I did my courting here. Looks as though it's changed a bit, though.'

In fact, he remembered as he went inside and stood blinking in the light, he'd been here more recently, on one ill-advised occasion with his ex-wife. Which, one way or another, had led to all sorts of trouble. He shook off the memories and surveyed the sea of faces turned towards him.

'DCI Webb,' he introduced himself as the landlord came round the bar to meet him, 'and this is Sergeant Jackson. Now, sir, what can you tell me about all this?'

'Absolutely nothing, Inspector.' The man was small and round, with sparse hair draped carefully over the crown of his head. 'First I knew was when Mr Caufield came running back to say someone had been hurt in the car park. We've had trouble before, so I told my barman to keep everyone inside, and hurried out to see what the form was. But – well, it was pretty obvious he was beyond help. I hope I did the right thing, detaining everyone?' This with an apologetic glance at his restive clientele.

'Indeed you did, Mr –?'

'Green – Charlie Green.'

'- Mr Green; you've saved us a lot of chasing around. Now, have you a snug or lounge bar which we can use to take statements?' He turned to the crowd of drinkers, avidly listening.

'A team of officers will be here shortly – we won't keep you any longer than necessary. In the meantime, perhaps I could start with the gentleman who found the body – Mr – Caufield, was it?'

A man reluctantly detached himself from the throng. He was in his forties, of average height and – possibly because of his experience – very pale.

'I'm Bob Caufield.'

Webb nodded and, with Jackson and Caufield in his wake, followed the landlord to more private surroundings. The investigation had begun.

It was another two hours before Webb and Jackson were able to drive back to Shillingham. Things had taken their allotted course: the pathologist had duly arrived, and, to Webb's frustration if not his surprise, declined to commit himself as to whether or not death had occurred
in situ
or if the body'd been dumped later.

Extensive videos and still photographs had been taken, the outside of both cars dusted for prints, and finally the body, securely wrapped in its bag, had been transported to the mortuary.

An unforeseen complication was that they still did not know its identity; the pockets had been stripped clean, leaving not so much as a handkerchief. Furthermore, the owner of the Astra had come forward and denied all knowledge of the victim, seeming to confirm that he'd no connection with either of the cars between which he'd been found. And finally, when the bar customers were at last allowed to leave, no car remained unclaimed. A series of negatives, Webb reflected glumly.

'Someone must have given him a lift,' Jackson opined, staring down the beam of his headlights. 'Stands to reason. There's nothing within five miles of the place.'

'So who was it? His murderer?'

'Must have been. No one else seems even to have
seen
him.'

'He wasn't particularly memorable, though, was he? After an evening's drinking in a crowded bar, would
you
remember a bloke of average height, mid forties, with fair hair and grey eyes? For a start, the description fits several of the men we've just seen.' He sighed. 'Still, once we get a photo circulated it might nudge someone's memory. On the other hand, it might not, if our lad never made it inside.'

'You think he was just driven there and promptly killed?'

'It's possible.'

'But why? If Chummie wanted to clobber him, there are more secluded spots to do it than a pub car park. Anyone could have come along.'

'Suppose they
were
going for a drink, but had a row on the way there? Hang on, let's work out the timing; the Astra driver says he arrived about eight-thirty, and the driver of the Cortina, Caufield, just before nine, taking the last space in the car park. He couldn't have helped seeing the body if it had been there – in fact, he'd have stepped on it as he got out of the car.'

'So if he took the last place, where did the killer park?'

'Someone must have left in the meantime.'

'Mind you,' Jackson went on, 'it mightn't have been the bloke he came with who did for him. Suppose someone came weaving out of the pub, and our lad, who'd just arrived, told him he wasn't fit to drive? Chummie, aggressively drunk, biffs him over the head and drives off and the victim's pal, not wanting to be involved, also scarpers?'

'Not a very friendly act, but surely he'd have made at least an anonymous call before now? And who went through the pockets? Still, I agree the thing's wide open. We've got the names of several people who left during the crucial period – perhaps they'll throw some light on it. Lord knows we could do with it; all we've got at the moment is victim – unknown, killer – unknown, motive – possibly robbery, but that could be a red herring. Time of death between nine and ten-thirty, and that's about it.'

'Never mind, Guv, most likely his wife will have reported him missing by the morning.' Jackson glanced at Webb's impassive face. 'Think there could be a connection with the Feathers case? I heard DI Hodges mention it.'

There are similarities, certainly. I'll get out the file on it tomorrow.'

Jackson drew up outside Webb's gate and leaned across him to open the door.

'Thanks, Ken. See you in the morning – or rather, later today.' Wearily, Webb climbed out of the car and set off up the gravelled drive of what had once been a gracious old house, to the four-square block of flats which now stood there and which he regarded as home.

Hannah James opened her eyes and stretched luxuriously. School had broken up last Friday for the long summer holidays, and there was no hurry to get out of bed. Furthermore, it wasn't only the term that had ended, but her year in charge while Gwen Rutherford, the headmistress, had been on sabbatical in Canada. For today, Gwen was coming home.

Hannah watched the curtains rise and fall in the breeze from the window. She'd be glad to see her again – of course she would. They were not only colleagues but friends of long-standing – since, in fact, they'd been schoolgirls themselves at Ashbourne – and their joint authority as head and deputy had worked very well. Nevertheless, and to her shame, Hannah was aware of a niggle of resentment that she would no longer be in charge, would have to abdicate her authority and revert to second-in-command.

Though obviously she'd said nothing, David, bless him, had seemed to understand. He'd asked her, last night, if she'd any reservations about Gwen's return, but before she could answer he'd been called out to a suspicious death. Par for the course, she thought with a smile.

She tucked the pillow under her chin, and let her mind drift back over their relationship. They'd met seven years ago, when Gwen had called in the police over a spate of anonymous letters at school. At that time, David had been divorced for two years and was living in cramped lodgings the other side of Shillingham. During the course of the investigation, he'd mentioned that he was looking for somewhere of his own, and, after considerable thought, Hannah mentioned the vacant flat at the top of her own building.

It had been a calculated risk, since his proximity would necessarily mean they'd see more of each other. There was already an attraction between them, but her career was of paramount importance, and she could not afford gossip. Nor had she had any wish to become entangled in a situation that would make demands on her, and marriage had no place in her plans. It had been an enormous relief to discover that David felt the same. Once bitten, twice shy, she supposed, recalling her brief meeting with his ex-wife.

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