CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (23 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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“Can you remember the name of the couple who were
killed?”

“Rose and Philip Mathewson. They were sailing on
Lake Baikal when their boat blew up. Ironically it was a gas explosion.”

“And presumably you assisted Crean with the land,
property and plant acquisitions, and that’s how you came into contact with the
Russian intelligence agencies.”

Bedford laughed. “Sort of, but to be honest the
Russians dealt with all the problematic people. They don’t tend to argue there,
not if they want to stay alive. All I did was work with their mediator, a chap
called Freddy Williams. He was. . .”

“Freddy Williams!” Barnes said, sitting up.

“Yes, he was a really nice guy and Gerrard and I got
to know him quite well. He was British, but worked as an interpreter.”

“You don’t have a photograph do you?”

“Yes. I think I do have one.” Bedford stood up, went
over to one of the filing cabinets and sorted through some files. “Ah, here it is.
This was taken at some big function in Moscow. There’s Gerrard, Freddy and me
along with a couple of Russian businessmen.” He handed the photograph over.
“Keep it,” he said.

“Is this one Williams?” Barnes asked, picking up a
pencil from Bedford’s desk.

He nodded and she drew an asterisk in the
photograph’s margin under Williams.

“When was the last time you saw him?” she asked,
chewing the end of the pencil.

“Let me think,” Bedford placed his elbows on the
table, clasped his gigantic hands together and rested his chin on his
outstretched thumbs. “I think it was around the time of the boating accident.”

“Can we go back to that accident? Were there any
suspicious circumstances, or an investigation?”

“There were rumours going around saying either the
British or Americans were behind it, but nothing was proven. In fact it was
Freddy Williams who was convinced the British Secret Service had killed the
family. He took it really badly, and then he disappeared. I’ve never come
across him since.”

Barnes pondered. “If the British finally realised
the importance of the project to the Russians, and the knock-on effect to the
energy market, then there’s every chance the SIS were involved. What happened
when the project failed - did Gerrard keep working in Russia?”

“He scaled down operations, but kept his team of
scientists there. He said it was more secure, and — you’ll find this funny —
less likely to suffer espionage; he trusted the Russians far more than the
British.”

Barnes smiled coyly. “I suppose he lost a fortune when
things went pear-shaped?”

“From what I remember he didn’t do too badly. I
think the Russians were the big losers.”

“Do you know if Gerrard had any further dealings
with Williams?”

“I’m not absolutely sure, but they’d become close
friends, so he may have stayed in touch. Why?”

“Curiosity.”

Bedford nodded and she smiled sweetly at him. “Well,
thank you once again for being so open,” she said, getting up and going over to
the window.

“Are they still there?”

She nodded. “Metallic grey Audi A4.”

“Let me get a couple of my chaps to block them in
and create a diversion, while you disappear out through the back. I’m assuming
you’ve parked away from here and they’ve traced you through your phone signal.
It wasn’t one I gave you was it?”

“Of course not, they wouldn’t know that, and my work
phone has been switched off since early this morning. They must have followed
me, but I kept watching I didn’t spot them.” She was troubled; it wasn’t like
her to miss anything, but she was sure no vehicles had followed her.
They
must be using a multitude of vehicles. They’ll know where the car is!
“How
far from here is the train station on foot?”

“Ten minutes,” Bedford said, rummaging through his
desk drawer. He took out a phone and placed a sim card in it. “I’ll ring my
chaps and sort out a distraction. You’ll have to give me twenty minutes or so
to set things up and when they’re ready, you can go.”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you for keeping me out of the investigation.”

“They won’t take kindly to being held up; they’ll
probably come asking questions.”

Bedford grinned. “You haven’t seen the size of the
chaps I’ll use to slow them down, I don’t think they’ll bother coming here.”

 

 

As a result of Bedford’s delaying
tactics Barnes travelled back to Yorkshire on the train, secure in the knowledge
she was not being followed. As she emerged from the tunnel through the Pennines
she switched on the unregistered phone. Two texts from Woods arrived almost
instantaneously:

Homer’s
pathologist on thin ice.

Going
to see undertaker!

 

Can
you ring me? Phone on until 3 p.m.

 

Barnes keyed in Woods’ number.

“I’ve got a photo of our suspect and a link to
Homer,” she said. “Can we meet at the usual location?”

“Fantastic,” Woods said. “I’m on my way back. I
could see you around two o’clock.”

Barnes agreed. “I’ve got some very interesting
news,” she said. Then, terminating the call, she immediately switched off the
phone. She looked at her watch; it was 12.10 p.m. The train would arrive in
Huddersfield shortly and then she would need to swap platforms and catch the
Wakefield Westgate train which would get her into Wakefield just in time for
the bus out to near the footbridge. A sudden hunger pang reminded her she
hadn’t eaten since early morning; she would be a few minutes after Woods, but
could grab a sandwich at Huddersfield and eat it on the way.

Consequently it was 2.15 p.m. when she walked up to
the footbridge and spotted Woods waiting.
Where’s his car?
Surely he
hasn’t walked.
“How did you get here?”

“Bus.”

“You, on a bus! What have I missed?” she said
shaking her head.

“Needs must,” Woods replied. “So tell me what you
found out this morning.”

He listened as she relayed what Bedford had
divulged. “You’ll have to let Foster know all this, but don’t pass on the photo.
You’re not supposed to know about Freddy Williams; if Dudley finds out you do,
he’ll know you’re working with me.”

“Right,” she acknowledged. “This afternoon I’m going
to look in detail at Rose and Philip Mathewson; if Crean believed, as Williams
did, that the SIS murdered them, then perhaps that’s why Plant’s the target. Maybe
he was the one who killed them and Gerrard wanted revenge.”

“It’s so bloody complicated,” Woods grumbled,
scratching his head. “I’m convinced Crean faked his own death and is
coordinating the murders. We just need to find where from.” He then spent a few
minutes updating her on his conversation with Nugunda and how he assumed
Pauline was duped in the mortuary. “I was hoping the undertaker would recognise
Jarvis’ photograph as being Crean, but unfortunately he couldn’t remember
either of them; he said he sees so many bodies.”

“I’m expecting things to become increasingly more
difficult,” Barnes said wearily. “I had to lose a couple of Dudley’s chums this
morning; they’re using a multitude of vehicles to follow me now, making it
harder to spot them.”

“A multitude of vehicles!”

She nodded. “Don’t worry; I can deal with it. I had
some help from Bedford this morning though; I quite like him, I can see why
Gerrard worked with him.” She gave a resigned smile. “But they’re trying to
keep an eye on me; I have to keep switching my works phone on and off as well
as being ultra careful with the unregistered one.”

“Let me know if you want to stop this.”

She smiled. “Don’t worry; I’m enjoying the challenge.
Now, what would you like me to do?” she asked.

“We have to find Crean, and we need to uncover
Williams’ true identity. In the meantime, if Plant is one of the final two
under threat we need to discover who CXVI is. We both agree that neither
Pauline nor Victor Zielinski is in danger and you must therefore try to get
Foster to recognise that.”

“He already has that suspicion, but I need evidence
to convince him.”

“Try to keep Dudley out of the loop.”

“I’ve got an idea,” she said, “but it will mean
working into the night. I’ll ring tomorrow and we’ll arrange to meet. I need to
get back.”

“No problem,” Woods said. “We’ll need to catch
separate buses.”

She nodded. “Give me twenty minutes and then go to
the bus stop.” She walked off down the lane making her way back to the A642,
scanning the surrounding fields for any suspicious activity.

When her bus neared the city centre she switched on
her work mobile and rang through to the Incident Room saying she was ten
minutes away. She also reported that the car had broken down in Manchester and
that she’d had to catch the train back to Wakefield. She asked for recovery to
go and collect it.

 

 

Pauline was out in the yard
grooming Huntford when she heard a vehicle pulling up at the entrance gates.
She turned to see the guard speaking to Plant who had arrived in his Mercedes.
What’s
he doing back so soon?

The guard shouted over to her, “Mrs Crean, Jonathan
Plant to see you. Is it okay to let him through?”

“Of course,” she called back, smiling.

Plant drove in, parked up and removed a large black
Antler suitcase from the back of the four-by-four. Pauline went across to meet
him.

“That must have been one of the shortest trips to
South Africa on record. What did you do when you arrived - jump on the next
flight home?”

“Just about. I’ve been stood-down until you are out
of danger. I’m here full time. I won’t leave your side until the killer has
been caught; you can stop worrying now and let me look after you. If you’re
happy, we can reduce the number of guards and save you some money.”

Pauline hugged him. “This is a surprise. How come
they’ve agreed to you protecting me? Is that something the Diplomatic Service
normally do?”

“Pauline, that’s enough. I’m here to protect you; it
doesn’t matter where or who I work for, what’s important is your safety.”

“I’m sorry, you’re right. You decide how many guards
we need.” she kissed him on the cheek. “Come inside and I’ll make you a drink.”

 

Tuesday 5
th
June.

 

Barnes’ head was resting on her
folded arms and she was sleeping at her desk. She stirred and looked up when
she felt someone touching her lightly on the shoulder. “Sorry, I must have
dropped off. What time is it?” she asked.

“Seven o’clock. Have you been here all night?”
McLean replied.

She nodded. “I’ve been looking into the Mathewsons’.
I think I’ve finally worked it all out. . .” Her mouth clamped shut as Dudley
walked in. “I’ll tell you later,” she whispered.

Dudley headed over to his desk. “Morning,” he said.

“Hilton, please could you help me?” Barnes asked,
smiling sweetly. “I need someone to look into the boat accident that killed the
Mathewson family. Could you do that for me? See if you can find anything
suspicious.”

“Of course, I’m happy to assist in any way I can,”
Dudley said.

That should keep you out of my
way for a while.
She
spotted Foster arriving and intended going to knock on his office door, but
McLean beat her to it and disappeared inside. Two minutes later Foster
reappeared. “Maria, have you got a moment?” he asked, beckoning her in.

She obliged and joined McLean, who was perched on
one of the stools.

“Maria, I’m concerned about how hard you’re
working,” Foster said. “You need a break. Pete tells me you’ve been here all
night again.”

“I have, and you’re right, I could do with a few
hours’ sleep. Is it okay if I disappear off? I’ll update you both when I’ve
cleared my head.”

Foster nodded. “Go home, grab some sleep and we’ll
see you after lunch.”

She walked back to her desk, gathered up her things,
went outside and then headed down town to the Ridings Shopping Centre, carefully
watching out for anyone following her.

 

 

Woods received the text at 8.10
a.m. He was early morning shopping at Tesco. He looked at his watch and then
composed a response:

See
you at 9.00 a.m.

When he arrived at the footbridge Barnes was stood waiting.

“I came on the bus,” she said. “I lost the guys
trailing me; they need to undertake a proper reconnaissance of that shopping
centre, it’s so easy to lose them in there.”

“You look shattered; are you alright?”

“Very tired, but I think I’ve worked it out!”

“I’m listening.”

There was a sudden rustling in the hedgerow and she
backed away as Woods froze, focusing on the undergrowth. The rummaging
continued until a large fox appeared with a rabbit in its mouth. It sped off
down the motorway embankment.

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
2.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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