And then the jackpot; a name and address supplied through an Old Boys network while Jim Bean was otherwise occupied with an awkward patient.
Molly Butler, Flat 14, Block G, Harmony estate.
Orson perked up, it was a result. DS Steel would be impressed with his skills. Not that he was egoistical of course, but it showed why he was a DCI.
But the phone call from Abbey Curtis changed things.
Abbey had been walking her Terrier on Bridleton common. The dog had relieved itself against the landmark oak; the tree that had been a sapling in King Charles II reign, so the rustyplaque intimated. Then the dog began growling at a nearby bush. Abbey had called it a few times but the dog was whining, and pawing at something.
She went over to look...
The Honey Trap was abandoned. All hands to the pump. DCI Angers, DI Hemming and Jackie accompanied DCS Adam Forsyth to the crime scene. The investigating team had set up what looked like a marquee around the old oak tree; floodlights lit up the scene, and a line of patrol cars prevented members of the public and the press from getting close. It looked like a Halloween party with a team of white suited ghouls as the main actors.
It was raining; dampness, in addition to the cold. Jackie shivered, even though she had her fleecy weather-proofed rain jacket wrapped tightly underneath her full-suited gear. Her job was to observe her senior officers at work, and learn.
God, she’d attended more CSI’s over the last few months than all of them put together.
She glanced towards the main attraction; a black shape underneath some bushes. A photographer taking numerous pictures. DC Iftigar was standing by the taped off area. He looked miserable; drips of rain spattered down his waterproof. Inside, Archie was scrabbling away with a trowel and packing lumps of earth into plastic bags.
Mifty mumbled something as Jackie approached; Archie glanced up and grimaced.
‘Nice night for shovelling dog-shit into poop bags.’
‘You get all the luck, she replied. ‘Where’s Helga?’
Archie waved a hand in irritation. ‘Still playing around with that prostitute’s blood samples; it holds a morbid fascination for her.’
Morbid fascination? Jackie looked at him more closely. Was that a grin on his face?
‘So you got the short straw?’
Jackie bent down close to the black shape. She choked back her lunchtime tuna sandwich. The body laid there like a discarded rag-doll; scanty clothes ripped and stained red, and extensive damage to the face and neck. She could have been a pretty girl; before tonight. Now she wasn’t.
Who are you? Why did it happen? Who will be devastated by your death?
Just then Marty Hemming arrived. He took one look at the body, gagged and then threw up. All over Archie’s crime scene.
‘Oh shit,’ he mumbled, as he wiped a lump of carrot of his chin. ‘It’s Candice.’
‘Candice? The Tom?’ Jackie had to ask.
Marty seemed to notice her for the first time. He nodded, without really making eye contact. He shifted uncomfortably.
What else do you know?
‘Perhaps you’d better go and tell the DCS?’ she suggested.
He nodded again; mumbled an apology to a disgusted Archie who was waving him away, and shuffled off.
Jackie tried catch-up before Archie banned her as well.
‘Time of death? Cause of death?’
Archie had a look of dismay on his face.
‘Jackie you know me better than that. But what the hell; my crime scene is totally contaminated. If I was a guessing man, I’d say she was bludgeoned to death. Last night, according to Doctor Jones.’
‘Don’t know yet. Hammer, heavy spanner, maybe. Whoever it was, used a lot of force.’
‘Anyone found the weapon?’
Archie shook his head. ‘They searched around. Nothing, so far.’
Archie looked perturbed, which was strange. He was usually so dispassionate. Marty had really upset his equilibrium. ‘She was sexually abused. Violently. There’s blood and semen on her body. Picture her assailant out of control; ripping off her clothes like a demented animal, and then beating her to death.’
Jackie didn’t want to picture it. The image would be too painful. Instead she trudged back through the muddy puddles to the ‘mini-incident room’ where Angers was taking a statement from Marty. Neither looked happy.
She asked, ‘who found the body?’
DCI Angers pointed at the DCS, who was with a woman.
‘He’s talking to her now. Go and listen.’
DCS Forsyth made room for her. Mrs. Abbey Crufts was wrapped up in a trendy duffle coat, corduroy slacks and hiking boots. She appeared calm and composed, her voice sounded upper-crust; all this fuss was beneath her. Just a minor inconvenience. A terrier was sniffing around her feet. The dog regarded Jackie suspiciously, and then barked. The woman pulled on its lead, and told Groucho to be a good boy and keep quiet.
Jackie ignored the dog. Smelly creature. She concentrated on making notes as the DCS steered Mrs. Crufts through the process, from beginning to end. Yes, she had parked her Range Rover in her usual spot. No other cars. Yes, it was her usual twilight walk before supper. No, she hadn’t noticed anything unusual, just the regulars. Jackie took down their names, while trying to avoid being peed upon by Groucho. More legwork, and all very depressing.
And so it went on. Until Archie was satisfied, and the body was removed to the morgue. Postmortem, Bridleton hospital, ten a.m.
Back in her apartment, Jackie lay awake a long time.
Marty Hemming had seen dead bodies before. Why did he throw up? What was he hiding?