Authors: Denzil Meyrick
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Crime
‘Ah, at last we have it, sir.’ Daley threw his head back in disgust. ‘I fully realise that we’re pushed on all fronts, but I’m
not about to up sticks and leave Liz on her own at home, while I become the friendly neighbourhood sheriff in perpetual residence at the County Hotel.’
‘As usual, Jim, you are jumping to conclusions – strange for such a gifted detective.’ Donald stood, giving the impression of an edict from on high. ‘And as far as your accommodation is concerned, I am quite prepared to let you rent a home of your choice, within reason of course, with the expectation that your wife will accompany you on your, let’s say, mission, here.’ More smiles and raised eyebrows. The deed was done.
Abba’s ‘The Eagle’ blasted from the car’s speakers as they drove alongside a truly stunning shoreline. Islands glowed blue above a darkening sea as the light faded and changed colour into dusk.
Liz had said very little since they had left Kinloch, and Daley was anxious to find the best time to articulate Donald’s idea. He really had no clue as to how she would react, a feeling that he had made clear to his superior. She had suffered the worst moments of her life near Kinloch. He didn’t know if he should ask her at all.
‘Are you OK, darling?’
She was playing absently with a strand of hair. She turned to him and smiled.
‘I need to run something past you, Liz.’
Shades of purple adorned the sunset that was now framing the distant isles.
Donald was behind the wheel of his new Audi, top of the range and paid for, largely, by his generous car allowance. He was wearing his number one uniform, complete with white gloves and service medals.
The church where Archie Fraser’s memorial service had been held was only thirty minutes from his home in the leafy suburbs to the north of Glasgow. He was enjoying the familiarity of the route, as well as a childlike pleasure in driving this car – his new toy. The humid clamour of a cloudy July day was expelled from the vehicle by the climate-control system, and he relished the drama of Beethoven’s
issuing from the car’s Bose speakers. He had spent a long time listening to classical music, trying to develop a taste for something he now regarded as a social necessity. After many months of struggle, he had come to prefer this sea of sound and emotion to the prog-rock bands he had so admired in his youth. Like everything else in his life, he had worked hard at it, and now he could impress those who travelled with him by being able to name the music being played on Radio 3 or Classic FM, long before the presenter had seen fit to enlighten the audience. He was particularly fond of Beethoven, though he was developing a taste for Wagner as well.
His attempts at learning a foreign language were coming along well too, as were his piano lessons. He had made it plain to the tutors of both subjects that he wished to gain only a fundamental knowledge of their subjects, enough to be understood in this new tongue, and to be able to play a simple piece that would be easy to learn, while sounding impressively difficult to the untrained ear. His progress on both fronts made him smile.
The smile quickly disappeared from his face as his mind scrolled back to the cool reception he had received at Fraser’s service. The late DC’s father had refused to shake his hand; he reflected how like his son he was, with faded red hair and awkward manner.
One man who had needed no introduction was the lad’s uncle, though even he had been shocked by the pitiful figure Davie Fraser had become. The ex-cop had sat motionless in his wheelchair during the whole service, his emaciated body leaning to one side and his white shirt highlighting the yellow tinge of his skin. He had brought to mind Donald’s own father, who had killed himself with drink: that same jaundiced complexion brought on by a rapidly failing liver. They could do more these days, though why bother in Davie Fraser’s case, he knew not. He thought that his ex-colleague would have been better employed asking the minister to reserve him a funeral slot, rather than his slurred attempts at insults. It wasn’t his fault that the nephew had as few brains as the uncle, walking into a highly dangerous situation wide-eyed and unprepared. Why should he reproach himself for the failings of others? After all, he couldn’t hold the hand of every cop under his command. The job required common
sense, and in his opinion, Archie Fraser had displayed none whatsoever.
He had been momentarily diverted by the fetching figure of Liz Daley. How it was possible for her to look so alluring in her plain black dress and hat, he did not know. She bore little signs of the traumatic experience she had so recently been through, apart from perhaps being a little paler than normal. He had read the report on her ordeal with great interest. Though he found it hard to admit to himself, he had been aroused by her plight, trying to picture how she would have looked, half naked and chained to the filthy bed in that shack on Abb’s Skerry.
The sight of her lumbering husband had brought him back to reality. He was wearing a suit that looked at least two sizes too small, as usual, and his paunch hung over his waistband. He still bore marks of assault on his chin and carried himself stiffly, the result of the muscles he had torn trying to fight off the effects of the taser. Donald admired his skills as a detective – even his humanity – but he still saw the DCI as being weak-willed, unable to, or unwilling to, achieve the potential he undoubtedly possessed. One look at his thickening waistline was confirmation enough.
Donald turned the car into his street, then drove the few yards to his large Georgian home. The pebbles on the driveway crunched under the eighteen-inch alloy wheels as he parked at the side door of the house. The exultant soar of the orchestra was suddenly extinguished as he turned off the ignition.
He was about to open his door and leave the vehicle when he heard his mobile ring. Noting the name on the screen with a raised eyebrow, he spoke: ‘Good afternoon, Sergei. I
can only imagine that you have an urgent reason to contact me this way.’ A frown spread across his face as he heard the familiar bells of the small Latvian town tolling plaintively in the background.
Thanks to my lovely family for putting up with me. And to Hugh Andrew and Neville Moir at Birlinn; to my editors Alison Rae and Julie Fergusson who have helped make this book what it should have been all along; to the late Angus MacVicar who never forgot he told me to be a writer; and my late mother and father, Alan and Elspeth Meyrick.
And to the people of Kintyre – your support has been wonderful.
The D.C.I. Daley thriller series
Whisky from Small Glasses
When the body of a young woman is washed up on an idyllic beach on the west coast of Scotland, D.C.I. Jim Daley is despatched from Glasgow to lead the investigation. Far from home, and his troubled marriage, it seems that Daley’s biggest obstacle will be managing the difficult local police chief; but when the prime suspect is gruesomely murdered, the inquiry begins to stall. As the body count rises, Daley uncovers a network of secrets and corruption in the close-knit community of Kinloch, thrusting him and his loved ones into the centre of a case more deadly than he had ever imagined.
The Last Witness
James Machie was a man with a genius for violence, his criminal empire spreading beyond Glasgow into the UK and mainland Europe. Fortunately, James Machie is dead, assassinated in the back of a prison ambulance following his trial and conviction. But now, five years later, he is apparently back from the grave, set on avenging himself on those who brought him down. Top of his list is his previous associate, Frank MacDougall, who unbeknownst to D.C.I. Jim Daley,
is living under protection on his lochside patch, the small Scottish town of Kinloch. Daley knows that, having been the key to Machie’s conviction, his old friend and colleague D.S. Scott is almost as big a target. And nothing, not even death, has ever stood in James Machie’s way . . .
Dark Suits and Sad Songs
(coming out in May 2015)
When a senior Edinburgh civil servant spectacularly takes his own life in Kinloch harbour, D.C.I. Jim Daley comes face to face with the murky world of politics. To add to his woes, two local drug dealers lie dead, ritually assassinated. It’s clear that dark forces are at work in the town, and with his marriage hanging on by a thread, and his sidekick D.S. Scott wrestling with his own demons, Daley’s world seems to be in meltdown.