CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1) (8 page)

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
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“Well done,” Woods said looking relieved. “How’ve you
managed to do all this in such a short time? Have you been working all night?”

“Yes,” she replied regarding him with puzzlement.

Woods looked astounded. “Really?”

“Yes, really. Have I done something wrong?”

“No, on the contrary. I thought I was the only one
who did stupid things like that.”

“Stupidity is someone demonstrating a lack of
intelligence, perception, or common sense; how can you say trying to help you
solve two murders is stupid?”

Woods paused and thought long and hard; he carefully
framed his words, “Maria, I’m sorry, I wasn’t meaning to ridicule you, far from
it, you’re anything but stupid, and I really appreciate the effort you’re
putting into this.”

McLean looked at Jacobs and raised his eyebrows.

“Okay,” Barnes said moving on. “I’ve got a mug-shot
of the driver; he followed Noble into the hospital building on foot and was
picked up on the camera in the entrance.” She handed the image to Woods. “As
you can see he’s around six foot, approximately 90kg, muscular, thick black
curly hair, beard and moustache.”

“Fantastic, it’s a pity he’s wearing sunglasses,”
Woods said.

“Now the bad news; you’ll be sorry to learn the
Shogun’s also a clone. The registered keeper confirms that he’s never been
anywhere near Scammonden Dam or the hospital; in fact his Shogun was at
Manchester Airport in the car park for the two weeks it was supposedly
following Hussain. You might guess where this is leading. A silver Shogun was
found burnt out in North Yorkshire on the night Hussain was killed; it’d been stolen
three weeks previously.

Woods shook his head. “Give me the reg of the cloned
and stolen Shogun,” he said, writing on the board as Barnes obliged. “What are
the odds of there being another cloned Shogun just to make things even more
difficult for us?”

“Pretty short,” Barnes replied. “There’s not much
evidence on the ANPR of either number, apart from when it’s following Hussain.”

I don’t believe it
, was on the tip of Woods’
tongue, but he decided against provoking a response about believability. “So to
recap,” he said, “we’ve no link between Hussain and Mateland yet, no idea about
the significance of the numerals yet, we’ve a reasonable e-fit, a fairly
reasonable image and at least two clone vehicles that have been driving around
the area. We need help.” He looked at Barnes. “How do you fancy going on
Crimewatch?”

“Really?”

“Really,” Woods replied smiling.

 

Chapter 6

Friday 18
th
May – Friday
25
th
May.

 

As the grandfather clock in the
main entrance foyer struck three Pauline checked out of the private Country
Club Rehab Clinic. She made her way towards the main entrance doors.

“Pauline.”

She spun round and smiled as Dr Rosco approached.

“I’m pleased I caught you,” he said.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me this
week,” she responded. “Coming here was the right decision; more than anything
it’s helped improve my state of mind, and I’m now feeling positive about the
future.”

“No problem, it’s been a pleasure having you here. I
wanted to say goodbye and wish you a safe journey.”

She kissed him on the cheek. “I’ll see you next week
in clinic.”

“You’ve got my mobile number; contact me at any time
if you need help or advice.”

“I will.” She headed out of the door and squinted in
the bright sunlight as she walked over to the Range Rover. With the warm air soothing
her mood she was keen to return home; but on the way she needed to collect the
dogs.

It was therefore just after 4.30 p.m. when she drove
up the lane leading to the farmhouse. As she approached the entrance she
spotted a silver Mercedes four-by-four parked on the grass verge opposite the
gates. “Look who’s here boys,” she said. The dogs barked and wagged wildly as
they spotted Plant step out of the vehicle and wave.

“Hello, Handsome,” she said as the window descended.
“I wasn’t expecting you until next weekend. This is the perfect end to a good
day.”

“Hello, Sexy,” he leaned in through the window and
gently kissed her lips. “I finished earlier than anticipated; I tried to ring,
but your phone’s not on.”

“Sorry, the battery died; I forgot to charge it.”

“Lisa said you’d be back around four.”

“How long can you stay?”

“A week, if that’s okay with you.”

“Excellent,” she beamed.

“You’re looking well; is everything good?”

“Yes, all good. Let’s go inside and freshen up; we
can go out for dinner this evening.”

 

Monday 21
st
May.

 

Woods’ mind wandered as Foster
rambled on about the investigation; he had been summoned to the Chief
Inspector’s office and expected yet another subtle reminder of the importance
of a speedy conclusion. He was tired of this endless sermon and considered his
time would be better spent catching the killer.

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Greg? GREG!”

“Sorry… Is what a good idea?”

“Barnes on Crimewatch.”

“Why shouldn’t it be? She’ll have a greater impact
on the viewing public than I ever could. They’d take one look at me and think
supercilious, arrogant, know-it-all.”

Foster smiled. “No problem with your self-awareness
though.”

Woods ignored the quip. “Maria’s impressed me with
her determination and drive, and I’m starting to wonder what all the fuss is
about.”

“Well, on your head be it.”

Nice to know I’ve got your
backing
. “I like
working with her and she appears to reciprocate.”

“Be careful, Greg.”

“She’s quirky, I’ll admit that. But I’ve noticed she
has an aversion to how some men behave, and she doesn’t like smarmy comments or
remarks about her sexuality. If you steer clear of those she’s fine. She’s got
the makings of a good detective, just give her a break.”

“Alright, point made. Now, moving on, I understand
you’ve got a slot on this week’s show.”

“Yes, Thursday evening. They’re intending filming
tomorrow; we’ve discussed the salient points and we’ll be concentrating on
Mateland’s murder, with a link to Hussain’s. We’ll only mention the Roman
numerals which were painted on the bridge, we’ll withhold the ones in the
e-mail; we don’t want to invite copycat imitations.”

“You’ll brief Barnes.”

No, I’ll leave her to her own
devices
. “Of
course I will.”

“Good luck.”

Woods stood up, “I’ll keep you informed.”

“Thanks, I’ll need to update the Chief.”

“Don’t worry I know how important a speedy
conclusion is,” Woods muttered striding towards the door.

When he stepped back into the Incident Room he
headed straight for the coffee machine.

Barnes approached. “Can I have a word?” she asked
quietly.

“Sure.” He grabbed a drink and went with her into
his office.

“I did what you said and checked all the
metallic-blue 206s recorded in and around Headingley on the night the clone car
was stolen. There were a total of five. I’ve spoken to the owners and, as you
suspected, all but one confirmed they were in the area that night. The one who
wasn’t is an elderly guy who hardly ever goes out after dark. I’ve traced the
movements of the vehicle and it heads out of Leeds towards Wakefield. I’ve got
imaging specialists working on enhancing the shots of the car to see if we can
get a better look at the driver.”

“Good work again, Maria, I’m impressed. If they come
up with anything, we can show it on Crimewatch.”

“Err…” she looked hesitant. “I, err, wanted to check
that you’re absolutely sure you still want me to present the evidence.”

“I’ve never been surer.”

“What about Foster?”

“Actually we’ve just been discussing it; he’s
absolutely no problem with you being on the show. In fact he thinks it’s a great
idea. He said the viewing public will respond better to you than they would to
me.” He smiled inwardly.

She looked perplexed. “Oh, I thought he didn’t like
me.”

“Well I’ve never got that impression,” he lied
again, but in his view it was only a white lie and it was intended to boost her
confidence.

She frowned; it was clear she was unconvinced.
“Right then, I’ll look forward to it,” she said. “I won’t let you down.”

 

Thursday 24
th
May.

 

Woods was anxious. He’d drafted
in extra staff and provided additional phone lines in the Incident Room, all in
preparation for the BBC’s Crimewatch programme scheduled to be broadcast at
9.00 p.m. The West Yorkshire murders were last in the running order and Woods
was therefore expecting an influx of calls around 9.50 p.m. onwards. Someone
had taken orders for food and a Chinese take-away had delivered the necessary
sustenance.

Woods, McLean, Jacobs and West had been joined by
one other detective inspector, four detective sergeants and three detective
constables, all having been thoroughly briefed on the investigations. The
twelve officers were ready and a TV monitor had been installed so that the show
could be watched up until the calls started coming in. The BBC was to give out
three contact telephone numbers: Crimewatch, Crimestoppers and the Incident
Room in Wakefield. In addition Facebook, Twitter and web page information
details would be broadcast.

McLean appeared at Woods’ door; it was 8.55 p.m.
“Aye, how many do you think? Jacobs is running a book.”

“We haven’t got time for this. Jacobs should be
tracing that suicide victim.”

“It’s just a bit of fun to release some tension; a
couple of quid and a number, that’s all I need. You could win twenty four
pounds.”

Woods sighed. He put his hand in his pocket and
grudgingly handed over a two pound coin. “Two hundred and twenty, in total,” he
said. “Including Crimewatch and Crimestoppers.”

McLean smiled. “Cut off time midnight.” He walked
back out and Woods heard him shout, “Aye, two-twenty.”

He valued McLean, both as a colleague and a friend;
they had worked together for over fifteen years, got on well, and there was
mutual respect. McLean had a passion for the horses and was an avid gambler,
some said a professional gambler, but he never let his passion interfere with
his work and Woods appreciated that. Occasionally the pair socialised,
sometimes going to nearby racecourses, sometimes visiting the local where they
could enjoy the various malt whiskeys on offer. In contrast to Woods, McLean
was small in stature with a warm friendly personality; he was always
immaculately dressed and spoke with a very slight Scottish accent. Woods’ only
criticism of him was his annoying habit; saying ‘Aye’ at the start of most
sentences.

Right on cue, at exactly nine o’clock, McLean called
out, “Aye, we’re off and running.”

Woods stepped out of his office and across to the TV
monitor.

“Where’s Psycho?” West said, looking up at the
screen.

“Sharron,” Woods barked, “her name’s Maria.”

“Sorry.”

The programme’s opening sequence played out and then
one of the presenters gave an outline of what was coming up.

“Let me know when we’re on,” Woods requested, going
back into his room. A number of detectives stayed around the TV monitor, but
McLean, Jacobs, West and a couple of others went back to their desks and
continued working.

For the next forty-five minutes the programme
continued, following the usual format. Woods then heard McLean shout, “Aye,
we’re up next, Greg.”

The preceding crime feature concluded and the
presenter commenced the introduction to Mateland’s murder; she gave the
background to his role in the police force, together with the date, time and
the location where he was murdered. As she stopped speaking her voice faded out
and footage started of an actor — playing Mateland — leaving home and getting
into a BMW car.

“Couldn’t they find anyone ugly enough to play
Mateland? He’s nothing like him,” Jacobs said loudly. Muffled laughter rippled
around the room.

Woods however, was having none of it. “Chris, two
men have died, and this is a serious murder investigation, it’s not a game of
Cluedo.”

“Sorry, Boss.”

“The next one who makes a wisecrack is out.
Understood?”

The team acknowledged the threat as the narrative
and footage shot from inside the car — depicting Mateland travelling on the
motorway — continued. When the vehicle reached the footbridge the screen went black
and the commentary described the outcome of events. The picture returned to the
presenter who was introducing Barnes as one of the detectives involved in the
investigation.

“She’s had her hair done,” West said.

Woods glared at her.

“It’s just an observation. She looks really smart
and professional,” she added, cringing.

The presenter asked about the object dropped from
the bridge.

“It was a drain cover similar to
this one,”
Barnes replied, tilting the object up off the desk,
“As you can see it’s
quite heavy.”

“You’d like to know where it came
from.”

“Yes it was probably removed from
a road in the days leading up to the murder, and we’d like to hear from anyone
who noticed one going missing in the area, or any suspicious activity around
one.”

“Aye, she’s confident and calm,” McLean said, “and
she’s doing a fantastic job.”

“I agree,” added Jacobs nodding.

The faintest of smiles appeared on Woods’ face. “I’d
be a nervous wreck,” he lied, as his respect for her instantly magnified.
Unlike some detectives appearing on the show she wasn’t contrived, staged or
false; she interacted seamlessly with the presenter and was completely natural
and alluring. For the first time he noticed how attractive she was; her high
cheekbones, freckled complexion, deep dark brown eyes, and her curly flowing
locks. Why hadn’t he noticed that before? Probably because he wasn’t interested;
he came to work to work, not to become embroiled in extramarital affairs. That
was professional suicide, and he’d seen it happen to so many of his colleagues.
It wasn’t going to happen to him, no matter how attractive Barnes was.

He refocused on the presenter as she stated she
understood that the bridge cage — at which point a picture of the structure
appeared on screen — had been dismantled and the object dropped from the rail.
Barnes confirmed this, and gave a brief explanation of how this was done.

“So whoever did this must have
had a detailed knowledge of how the cage had been constructed?”
the presenter said.

“Yes, this person most likely spent
time studying the metalwork, because not only was it dismantled it was
reconstructed after the crime had been committed.”

“You have an e-fit of a man seen taking
a particular interest in the footbridge?”
the presenter said, as the image was shown.

“Yes,”
Barnes replied, giving a fuller
description of the man and asking for anyone who had seen him to contact the
police. The presenter then made the point that the man could be completely
innocent and, if so, they should come forward to be eliminated from the
investigation.

BOOK: CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)
10.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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