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Authors: Sally Spencer

The Butcher Beyond

BOOK: The Butcher Beyond
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Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

By Sally Spencer

Copyright

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Epilogue

THE BUTCHER BEYOND
Sally Spencer

 

For his generosity of spirit
in loaning me Inspector Paco Ruiz,

I dedicate this book to my alter ego,
James García Woods

By Sally Spencer

The Charlie Woodend Mysteries

THE SALTON KILLINGS

MURDER AT SWANN'S LAKE

DEATH OF A CAVE DWELLER

THE DARK LADY

THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER

DEAD ON CUE

THE RED HERRING

DEATH OF AN INNOCENT

THE ENEMY WITHIN

A DEATH LEFT HANGING

THE WITCH MAKER

THE BUTCHER BEYOND

DYING IN THE DARK

STONE KILLER

A LONG TIME DEAD

SINS OF THE FATHERS

DANGEROUS GAMES

DEATH WATCH

A DYING FALL

FATAL QUEST

 

The Monika Paniatowski Mysteries

 

THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY

THE RING OF DEATH

ECHOES OF THE DEAD

BACKLASH

LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER

A WALK WITH THE DEAD

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 
 

First published in Great Britain 2004 by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF.

eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2004 by Sally Spencer.

The right of Sally Spencer to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Spencer, Sally, 1949-

The butcher beyond. - (A Chief Inspector Woodend mystery)

1. Woodend, Charlie (Fictitious character) - Fiction

2. Police - England - Fiction

3. Murder - Investigation - Spain - Fiction

4. Detective and mystery stories

I. Title

823.9'14 [F]

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-6140-5 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-4483-0105-8 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Prologue

T
here were four of them gathered together that night in the large and opulent drawing room which looked down on Cadogan Square. Three were sitting – though for one of them it was not a matter of choice. The fourth was standing with his back to the Adam fireplace, holding a month-old Spanish newspaper in his slightly trembling hands.

The man who had no choice but to sit was in a wheelchair. His clothes proclaimed that he was wealthy – and his clothes did not lie. Despite his left-wing leanings, the crippled man had a bank balance that several small countries might justifiably envy, and this house – for all its grandeur – was only one of the properties he called home.

The other two seated men looked far less affluent. True, the sharp faced one on the sofa was wearing a good jacket and a hand-made pair of shoes, but these were now so far from being new that they had almost given up the battle of trying to appear even respectable. His companion – facing him across the coffee table from an easy chair in which he did not look in the
least
at ease – was even more of a contrast. He was tall and thin, with a shock of grey hair, and wore his ragged grey suit as if it were
literally
no more than rags.

The stocky bald man by the fireplace screwed up the newspaper in a sudden bout of rage, and threw it on to the floor.

‘You've all read the report, haven't you?' he demanded.

‘Of course we've read it,' said the sharp-faced man. ‘We wouldn't be here if we hadn't.'

‘They're going to promote him to Provincial Governor!' the bald man said bitterly. ‘That butcher – who should long ago have paid for his crimes by his own death – is to be made the governor of a whole province! It's an insult to us all.' He paused, as if to give more weight to his next words. ‘But more especially,' he continued, ‘it is an insult to the dead – to those who were willing to spill their own blood for something greater than themselves!'

A heavy solemnity fell across the room, as all the men in it put names and faces to those – many of them little more than boys – who had sacrificed their lives in that time, so long ago.

The silence was broken by a clattering sound – the noise made by five small cubes as they bounced across the antique coffee table which stood between the sofa and the easy chair.

‘Do you have to do that, Roberts?' the bald man asked angrily.

The dice thrower – the sharp-faced man whose clothes had seen better days – calmly examined the exposed faces of the poker dice on the table, then swept them up into his hand. ‘It helps me to think,' he said.

Of course it did, the bald man thought. He should have remembered that. Most men had minds that worked on a single thread, like the winding tackle back in the pit. Their minds either went down – as did the lift when taking the miners to the coal face – or went up – like the lift bringing the scarred and blackened men back to the surface. Roberts had never been like that. His mind could go up and down simultaneously – and sometimes even to the side – without one operation ever getting in the way of the others.

‘So you're thinking, are you?' the bald man asked.

‘Yes.'

‘And could we know
what
you're thinking?'

‘I'm thinking that I share your outrage – but not your surprise. The world isn't fair, Pete. I've always known it, I suppose, but that bullet in the leg really brought it home to me. I'd never quite realized, before that point, just how educational a hot piece of metal can be.'

‘You survived,' the bald man said, sounding more callous than he'd intended to.

‘I survived,' Roberts agreed. ‘But I still bear the scars. Here –' he pointed to his leg – ‘and here –' pointing to his brain.

The meeting was somehow slipping off the rails, the bald man thought. They were there to map out the future, not relive the past.

He cleared his throat. ‘We must decide whether or not we go back – whether or not we are prepared to face our demons,' he said.

The man in the wheelchair narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. ‘If you did go back, how many of the others could you rely on to support you?'

The bald man looked suddenly uncomfortable. ‘How many? Do you mean, from this side of the Channel?'

‘Yes.'

‘Then the answer is none.'

‘None?'

‘Like you, Henderson, my old friend, their hearts are in it, but their bodies are no longer up to the task. They couldn't even make it to this meeting, though they sorely wanted to come. What chance is there, then, that they could make the journey back to old battlegrounds?'

‘And what about the foreigners?'

‘I haven't asked them. There seemed no point until we had reached a decision ourselves.'

Henderson nodded sagely. ‘You say our absent British comrades' hearts are in it, Pete, but is
yours
?' he asked. ‘Because without you, you know, there can be no operation.'

The bald man's discomfort increased. ‘I am just one member of the group,' he protested. ‘My personal decision should carry no more weight than anyone else's does.'

‘You were
never
just one of the group,' Henderson contradicted him. ‘You were our leader.'

‘We
had
no leaders,' the bald man said defensively.

‘We had no
acknowledged
leaders,' Henderson agreed, ‘yet you were the man we'd have followed all the way to hell and back, if you'd asked us to. And since hell is precisely the destination we're discussing, I'll ask you again – is your heart in it?'

‘I'd be lying if I said I
wanted
to go,' the bald man admitted. ‘I have a wife who I love dearly. I have a responsible job in which I feel I'm doing some good, in which I feel I'm fighting for some of the things we fought for back then.'

‘But …?' Henderson asked.

The bald man waved his podgy hands helplessly in the air. ‘No sane man would happily risk all that to go back to a country in which he is still regarded as a criminal, in order to carry out an act which will certainly be classified by those in power as a crime.'

‘But …?' Henderson asked for a second time.

‘But there's no choice, is there?' the bald man said, almost angrily.

‘You're wrong about that,' Henderson told him. ‘You don't have to do the job yourselves. I could hire a man to do it for you.'

‘Are you talking about a professional assassin?'

Henderson smiled. ‘Perhaps it would be more constructive to look on him as a professional vermin controller,' he suggested.

‘And do you know where we would find such a man?'

‘Of course not. But I could certainly find out – and by tomorrow night, at the latest.' Henderson smiled again, self-deprecatingly this time. ‘When you're as rich as I am, Pete, everything and anything is possible. So now you
do
have another option. The question is, are you willing to take it?'

The bald man hesitated. ‘It's not up to me alone,' he said. ‘We should put it to the vote, as we always used to.'

Henderson nodded. ‘Very well,' he agreed. ‘But since I am unable to assist you, should you decide to go yourselves, I do not feel that I have any right to a voice in taking the decision, either.'

‘I understand,' the bald man said. He turned to Roberts. ‘Which way do you vote?'

The gambler rolled his poker dice again. Two jacks, a queen, a king and an ace.

‘Let's first be clear on exactly what we're voting for,' he said. ‘When we first walked into this room – and a very tasteful room it is, by the way, Henderson – the question we had to answer was whether we should put our pasts behind us or whether we should deal with unfinished business. But that's no longer the question at all, is it? Now the only issue is if we do the job ourselves or hire a professional killer. Am I right, Pete?'

BOOK: The Butcher Beyond
9.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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