Authors: Denzil Meyrick
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Crime
Daley had only hazy memories of coming to Kinloch on one of the old steamers with his granny, what seemed like a lifetime ago. ‘Aye, once when I was a wee boy, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t remember too much about it.’ He put the phone back into his pocket, resolving to call Liz as soon as he got a bit of space. ‘How are we doing with this inquiry? Anything turned up?’
Fraser gave a resigned sigh. ‘We’ve done the rounds, sir. Y’know, local fishermen, missing persons, the usual. Nobody seems to know anything. She was a bit hard to recognise with the bloating an’ all. What did the PM show?’
Daley smiled. ‘If you’re worried about your little mishap, don’t be. The corpse was nearly severed already, so anyone trying to move it would’ve had the same problem. Oh, by
the way, she had “IS” tattooed on her thigh. Ring any bells?’
Fraser shook his head. Daley could tell he was thinking about saying something but wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would get. ‘Spit it out, lad. I believe that everyone on an investigation should be allowed an opinion, so don’t ever be afraid to speak your mind if you think it’s relevant. In this job, the smallest push can topple the most robust wall of silence. Oh, and I get this fireside philosophy from my – our – boss, so take heed.’ He winked at the younger man.
‘Well, sir, it’s just that . . . well, when you get used to Kinloch, you realise that nothing really happens that the whole community doesn’t know about . . . within minutes usually. I can’t understand why we haven’t got a lead yet. If somebody was missing, well, it would stand out a mile to friends, family. Know what I mean, sir?’
Daley had of course considered this, however, there were a number of problems: the post mortem had revealed that the body had not been exposed to water for very long, even though the corpse had likely spent time out at sea. Also, by all accounts, the prevailing weather conditions seemed to negate the likelihood of the body being washed up back where it had been. Then there was the strange mark on the ankle, possibly left by a restraint. Maybe he
send for Sherlock Holmes.
They were now pulling into the outskirts of Kinloch. He was surprised to note that it did bear a resemblance to Paisley on the ground as well as from the air – but a Paisley from twenty years ago. Four-storey red sandstone tenements bordered both sides of the road; under each one sat a small shop of the type that had all but disappeared back home. In
those days butchers, bakers, cobblers, pubs, tailors, grocers, hairdressers, funeral parlours and newsagents could be located on the high streets of every town in Scotland. Now, huge supermarket chains and massive out-of-town shopping malls had all but put paid to the local emporia. Not, it seemed, in Kinloch.
The town was flanked on three sides by hills that stood out starkly against a flawless blue sky. Now they were getting nearer to the centre, Daley noticed that his colleague was being waved at repeatedly, a number of cars were even flashing their lights and sounding their horns – most unusual. Fraser was acknowledging all this in an understated manner, most likely not wanting to make the wrong move in front of the inspector.
‘Straight to the office, sir?’ They were now at a T-junction, where the good people of Kinloch took the opportunity to stare into the vehicle with undisguised interest. ‘Aye, fine. I’ll get settled in and have a word with your Inspector MacLeod, then I want to meet the team here. Have you set up an incident room yet?’
Fraser looked anxiously at the Inspector, ‘Well, sir, it’s been a bit difficult. My gaffer is on the panel . . . with his back, y’know?’ Daley nodded, indicating he wanted him to get on with it. ‘Well, Inspector MacLeod said that was your job, sir.’ Fraser’s embarrassment was plain, his face flushed a beacon-like red.
‘Right, how many do we have in CID here?’
‘Four, sir, me included.’
‘Oh,’ was all Daley had to say in reply.
They turned right into what Daley assumed to be the main street of the town, up a hill and towards a structure that
looked like a cross between a medieval castle and a Victorian prison. Fraser turned the car through an open gateway and into a car park at the rear of the building.
‘Here we are, sir.’ Fraser was already getting out of the car. Daley was in the middle of insisting that he was perfectly capable of carrying his own bags when a dapper figure, dressed in the immaculate uniform of an inspector, emerged from a steel security door which led out onto the car park. A full head shorter than Daley, the well-polished peak of his hat was adorned with silver braid. He stopped short, obviously not expecting to see the other two officers.
Daley was the first to speak. ‘Good morning, Inspector, Jim Daley. You have an unusual office here.’
MacLeod eyed him suspiciously. ‘Daley, yes, of course, we’ve been expecting you, though why we need assistance from the city, I’ll never know.’ He had a similar accent to that of Lachie Bain at the airport, though higher pitched and faster paced. The sneering aspect to his face riled Daley immediately, though he tried hard not to let it show. He was irritated that while he had addressed MacLeod with his designation, his opposite number had seen fit only to grace him with his surname.
MacLeod turned on his heel, and held the steel door open with eyes downcast, a reluctant invitation to enter the hallowed portals of his domain. ‘Fraser, take those bags to the CID room. Daley, you can follow me.’ Fraser took the luggage from Daley with a nervous look. MacLeod was doing his best to stamp his authority over the interloper. Daley refused to descend to his level, so much more meekly than he felt he followed MacLeod to his office, the door of which reminded him of Superintendent Donald’s:
MACLEOD. SUB. DIV. COMMANDER
was picked out in bold, larger than normal letters.
‘Sit.’ MacLeod’s instruction was terse, though Daley did as he was bid, while desperately trying to remember the mantra he had learned in anger management about the man who could keep his temper always winning the argument. MacLeod had removed his hat, exposing a bald head fringed by neatly cropped, silver-grey hair. ‘Now, let me make myself clear, I . . .’
Daley held up his hand to indicate that he was not listening. ‘No, Inspector MacLeod, please let
make myself clear.’ Maybe some of those classes in temper control had worked, after all. ‘In the future when you address me, you will be good enough to use my designation, which is incidentally the same as yours.’ MacLeod opened his mouth to speak, but Daley raised his voice, making it clear that he was not finished. ‘You may be the Sub-Divisional Commander here, however, I am running a murder investigation, with which I require your every assistance. I’ll keep you informed of my requirements as and when they arise, and in turn I’ll keep you abreast of the progress of the investigation as I see fit. Now, is that understood?’
MacLeod’s face was red, verging on purple. ‘Inspector Daley, I really must protest. Here in Argyll we have a different way of going about things. I am . . .’ Again his words were cut short.
‘You are subject to the Force Standing Orders of Strathclyde Police, the force of which you are part. I don’t give a shit what passed for organisation here in the old county days. If you have any problems with that I suggest you contact Superintendent Donald, who is ultimately in charge of this
operation, and to whom I’ll be reporting regularly. I’ve got him on speed dial . . . here.’ He handed his mobile to MacLeod, who looked as though he was close to tears as he straightened himself up in his chair before eschewing the offer of the mobile phone.
Daley. I will accede to your requests. I have of course my own hotline to a superior.’ He smiled wanly, looked down at his desk, and opened a file.
Daley stood up, then leaned forward, resting his large frame on rigid arms. His hands were now fists, knuckles white against the dark wood of MacLeod’s desk. ‘Fuck me about at your peril, you little prick.’ He turned and walked to the door which he opened as if to leave; there he stopped and turned to face his slack-jawed colleague. ‘Oh, and I’ll be wanting to meet with the local CID officers and two of your best uniformed constables – I’ll leave the choice to you – in half an hour. Please see to it. Now, where the fuck’s my office?’
Daley sat in the glass box that served as the inner sanctum for the senior officers within the larger CID room. He detested open-plan offices. The lack of privacy, the faux camaraderie, that feeling of enforced togetherness: all of which, in his opinion, only served to heighten resentment and ill feeling amongst ambitious officers, and promote a steep upward curve in the sedentary behaviour of more ‘easygoing’ colleagues. There was an absolute requirement for a good set of blinds, too. He noted that such had been thoughtfully provided in his box and he pulled and twisted the various cords in turn, ensuring he had at least a modicum of privacy.
He was unhappy that MacLeod had aggravated him so readily, but he felt that their heated first meeting had
clarified how he wished to proceed. To that end, he had been shocked to see just how little effort had gone into the operation from the Kinloch CID’s point of view. The large clear-boards, on which SOCO images of the victim, locus and eventually suspects were put, were in place but untouched. A computer database had been set up, but had pitifully little input for a case that was already twenty-four hours old. The four young DCs – three men and one woman – had conducted some door-to-door work, spoken to fishermen and other seafarers, and stopped cars at or near the spot where the body had been recovered: in short, they’d done the basics. The local investigation lacked any organisation or impetus: that was what he was here to provide.
Through the narrow blinds he could see them now: four DCs and two uniformed officers. They looked so young. This was, he supposed, the curse of the older officer. He recalled vividly that his initial experience of CID work was one of drudgery: ploughing through endless files, records, bank statements, phone bills, CCTV footage – anything that could provide that crucial piece of evidence to crack an investigation. His opinions or theories had most definitely not been required.
He opened his glass door, and the conversation between the local officers stopped. ‘As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m Inspector Jim Daley, and before anyone says it, yes, I do go to the gym daily.’ That got a laugh. ‘I’ll get to know you as we go along. Unfortunately, for reasons of logistics and manpower, we’re chasing our tail slightly with this one, however, we seem to be some way along the road.’ He walked over to a desk from which he picked up a large manila folder. ‘Constable Fraser, if you would be good enough to append
these PM images to the second of our boards there in number order. Could you . . . sorry, what’s your name?’ He was looking at the DC, who was standing shyly to one side.
‘Dunn, sir, Mary Dunn.’
Daley handed her the pictures of the victim that had been taken by SOCO on the beach. She affixed them to the first clear-board, and then stood waiting for further instructions.
‘OK, DC Dunn.’ He threw a white marker pen at the young detective, which she caught deftly. ‘Please write up all relevant information that we know for sure, such as time, date, method of discovery and so on. Which of you is the computer buff?’
A slight, pale-faced DC, whose pock-marked face gave him the look of a teenager he couldn’t be, stuck his hand in the air. ‘Me, sir, Neil Cluckie.’
‘OK, Neil, you’re responsible for updating the database, at least until we can see where we’re going with this. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what’s required, but I know different investigators have different standards, so in this case I want everything put in there: who we interview, when and why, the statement itself, the opinions of the interviewing officers, feelings. I hope you all know how important feelings and instinct are in this job.’ Heads nodded vigorously. He walked over to the window, which looked from their elevated position straight down the sunny main street of the town. The road was busy with cars, the pavements an unexpected throng of people, which surprised him. ‘Is it always this busy here? Fuck me, there’s over two hundred shopping days till Christmas.’
‘It’s Thursday, sir,’ came the familiar voice of DC Fraser. ‘The local paper comes out about ten every Thursday
morning. Everyone rushes out to buy it. It’s like a local community event.’
‘From my brief experience of your lovely town, I would have thought a newspaper was the last thing they needed. Everyone seems so well informed.’ Daley was only half joking. Tightknit they may be, but in small communities like this, information changed hands so much that some of it must eventually come the way of the police. He turned back to face his new team. ‘Right, let’s get this show on the road.’
It took him a couple of hours to get them on track. Cluckie remained in the office updating the database, while DCs Dunn and Keith, another large, agricultural type, were sent to every shop, pub, office and café, in fact anywhere that someone may have heard, seen or been told something of relevance. Daley called the Public Relations Unit and arranged for a press conference to be held in Kinloch the following day.
It turned out that the two uniformed cops had to spell another who was guarding the locus; and in the likely event of the investigation continuing over the weekend, all three would be required to bolster what seemed like a considerable show of strength in the face of the unruly revellers of the town. In short, he was woefully undermanned. He sent an email detailing this fact, along with a short summary of his run-in with MacLeod to Superintendent Donald. Pass the buck – he had enough to do without coping with bruised egos or preening selfishness. He was pretty sure that Donald would appreciate all this.
His next visit was to the harbour master. Now they knew that the body had spent at least twelve hours in the sea, he wanted some idea as to where their victim may have entered the
water. ‘The harbour master’s office is on the pier, right?’ This question was addressed to Fraser, whom he had chosen as his local guide and adviser.