Authors: James Craig
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
has worked as a journalist and consultant for more than thirty years. He lives in Central London with his family. His previous Inspector Carlyle novels,
London Calling; Never Apologise, Never Explain; Buckingham Palace Blues; The Circus
Then We Die
are also available from Constable & Robinson.
For more information visit
, or follow him on Twitter: @byjamescraig.
‘A cracking read.’ BBC Radio 4
‘Fast paced and very easy to get quickly lost in.’ Lovereading.com
Never Apologise, Never Explain
‘Pacy and entertaining.’
‘Engaging, fast paced . . . a satisfying modern British crime novel.’
Never Apologise, Never Explain
is as close as you can get to the heartbeat of London. It may even cause palpitations when reading.’
It’s A Crime! Reviews
Also by James Craig
Never Apologise, Never Explain
Buckingham Palace Blues
Then We Die
The Enemy Within
What Dies Inside
The Hand of God
A MAN OF
Constable & Robinson Ltd
55–56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP
First published in the UK by C&R Crime,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2014
Copyright © James Craig 2014
The right of James Craig to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-147210-041-2 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-47210-042-9 (ebook)
Typeset by TW Typesetting, Plymouth, Devon
Printed and bound in the UK
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Cover design by Joe Roberts
This is the sixth John Carlyle novel. Thanks for help in getting it over the line go to: Polly James, Michael Doggart and Peter Lavery, as well as to Chris McVeigh and Beth McFarland at 451 for all their help in promoting the inspector online.
I also doff my cap to Krystyna Green, Rob Nichols, Martin Palmer, Colette Whitehouse, Saskia Angenent, Clive Hebard, Joan Deitch and all of the team at Constable.
As always, the greatest thanks are reserved for Catherine and Cate. This book, like all the others, is for them.
‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows.’
‘The road to hell is paved with priests’ skulls.’
St John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople
‘Are you happy?’
‘Are you happy?’ Helen Kennedy repeated. She lowered her copy of the
and shot an enquiring look at her husband. They were sitting in a branch of EAT, one of the dozens of café chains in London, this one situated at the top end of Kingsway, across the road from Holborn tube station. Taking a white cup from the table, she took a sip of green tea and allowed herself the smallest sigh of pleasure.
The two of them were enjoying a rare breakfast together before the working day got started in earnest. Gazing out of the window at a woman walking down the street with a miniature Schnauzer dog under her arm, Inspector John Carlyle – aka
, insofar as Helen had never taken his surname – wondered how best to answer what was obviously some kind of trick question.
‘Of course,’ he said finally. Taking a cautious sip of his own green tea – citing unspecified health reasons, Helen was trying to wean him off coffee – he smiled at his wife, looking for a sign that he had come up with the right answer.
Not really interested in his reply, Helen stuck her head back in the paper. ‘The Prime Minister,’ she explained, adopting the scornful tone reserved for politicians and other dullards, ‘yesterday launched his “happiness index”.’
Outside, a couple of police cars roared past, heading south, sirens blaring.
‘Nothing to do with me,’ Carlyle shrugged, when she automatically looked at him. ‘That’s why I’m so bloody happy.’ He took another sip of his tea; to his surprise he was getting quite into it. It was unlikely that it would lead to him cutting his relentless coffee intake by much, but it was a start. ‘Ecstatic, in fact.’
‘I’m sure the PM would be delighted to hear that.’
‘Edgar Carlton.’ Carlyle shook his head as he finished his tea. As an inspector in the Metropolitan Police, he had once dealt with the super-slippery Carlton and his ‘chumocracy’ cohorts in a professional capacity. ‘What an over-privileged, under-achieving idiot!’
An elderly woman at the next table glowered at him from behind her copy of the
. Returning the scowl with interest, Carlyle caught sight of the rag’s front page. Princess Diana was back from the dead.
Why don’t all these stupid people just fuck off back to the Home Counties?
And leave London to people who can appreciate it.
Not for the first time, he wondered why no one had ever set up a London Independence Party. He would vote for it in a shot. London for Londoners – which included all the Scots, all the Poles, all the French . . . all the people who came here to get away from the fucking idiots in their own countries. Maybe even the odd Englishman, here and there.
Helen interrupted the political ranting in his head. ‘ “
From next month
”,’ she continued, carefully enunciating each word in her best mock BBC English as if she was having a trial for Radio 4, ‘ “
the Office for National Statistics will try to measure a range of key areas that are thought to matter most to people’s wellbeing
‘Shoot some fucking politicians, for a start,’ Carlyle snorted louder than was absolutely necessary, largely for the benefit of Daily Mail Woman. ‘That would make everyone happy.’
Regarding him as the troublesome child that he was, Helen continued serenely, ‘ “Such as health, education, inequalities in income and the environment”.’
‘What a load of old bollocks,’ Carlyle harrumphed. He was now resigned to working himself up into an indignant frenzy; any wellbeing that he
been enjoying now not even a distant memory. ‘How can you measure bloody happiness?’
Helen sipped her tea demurely. ‘Mr Carlton said, and I quote: “I think this debate will help us think more carefully about how we are affecting the quality of people’s lives”.’
‘And I think that this kind of moronic pseudo-debate,’ Carlyle hissed, ‘is the sort of crap that bloody politicians spout instead of doing any work.’
The world was spared any more of the inspector’s refined views by his mobile going off in the breast pocket of his jacket. Grabbing the phone, he peered at the screen. It took a moment for the numbers to come into focus so that he could see that the call was from his sergeant.
I really should go and get my eyes tested
, he thought as he answered it.
‘Where are you?’ Alison Roche rarely bothered with pleasantries. It was something they had in common and one of the many reasons he liked her.
‘Near Holborn tube,’ Carlyle explained. ‘Why? Where am I supposed to be?’
‘I’m at the north end of the Strand underpass,’ said Roche, ignoring the question. ‘You’d better get down here.’
‘Sure.’ Given that he was barely a minute away from her location, Carlyle didn’t bother to ask why. Ending the call, he dropped the phone back into his pocket. Standing up, he stepped round the table and kissed Helen on the top of the head.
‘Sorry. Looks like something’s going on. Need to run.’
Roche met him at the entrance to the underpass, part of the former Kingsway tram subway. In her mid-thirties, she was a striking redhead with a sharp temper to match. Today, however, there was a lack of sparkle in her green eyes as she waited patiently for him.
Reaching the mouth of the tunnel, he could see traffic at a standstill and a bunch of uniforms running around with their Heckler & Koch G36s very much in evidence.
The days of unarmed coppers are long gone
, he thought sadly. ‘What’s going on?’
‘Security alert. SO15 have been tracking a sleeper cell.’
‘Okay, but if Counter Terrorism Command are, indeed, on the case, then why are we here?’
Roche was already striding underground. ‘Come and see.’
Thirty yards inside the tunnel a white Ford Transit Minibus had come to a halt in front of a pair of police Astras which were blocking off the exit.
‘Police!’ With his ID held high above his head, Carlyle shouted over the noise of the angry horns back down the tunnel as he walked towards the nearest uniform. Stepping past the police cars, he counted eight figures dressed in camouflage lying face down on the tarmac under the unyielding gaze of six armed officers who seemed completely unperturbed by his arrival. Twenty yards further back, another group of officers were trying to hold back gawkers who had got out of their cars to watch the show and film the action on their mobile phones.
Tapping him on the shoulder, Roche handed him a flyer. ‘This was in their van.’
Carlyle frowned. ‘The Eternity Dance Troupe?’ Squinting, he looked at the prostrate figures, who, in fairness, were doing a very good impression of a bunch of frightened teenage kids. ‘I know it’s a scary old world and all that, but I’m assuming that they’re not al-Qaeda’s finest.’
‘They were doing breakfast television at the studios on the South Bank this morning,’ Roche explained. ‘I saw the piece.’
‘Were they any good?’
‘Maybe that’s why they’ve been arrested,’ Carlyle quipped. ‘Seems fair enough to me.’
‘SO15 are making dicks of themselves.’ She nodded in the direction of the rubberneckers. ‘And the media will be here soon to hoover up all this citizen journalism.’
Carlyle handed her back the flyer. ‘That’s hardly our problem.’
‘It will be if they all get dragged back to Agar Street.’
Carlyle grunted. As usual, Roche had a point. The last thing he needed today was a full-blown circus descending on Charing Cross police station. Not when he had other fish to fry. ‘What were you doing here anyway?’
Roche gestured down the tunnel. ‘My car’s back there. I was on my way in.’
‘Fair enough.’ Carlyle began marching towards the nearest G36-toting uniform. ‘Let’s go and find out who’s in charge of today’s fiasco.’
The tunnel was closed for more than an hour before anti-terrorist officers realized their blunder, which was blamed on a tip-off from an over-zealous member of the public. The troupe’s manager, Cyril Bowles, says he will be suing the Metropolitan Police for wrongful arrest and emotional trauma
. . .’
‘Ungrateful sod,’ Carlyle grumbled as he switched off the TV and dropped the remote on his desk. ‘He should think of all the free publicity.’
Roche handed him a Diet Coke she’d brought up from the canteen. ‘We need to get downstairs.’
‘Huh?’ Carlyle cracked open the can and took a healthy slug.
The fucking priest!
Carlyle had forgotten all about Father Francis McGowan. He jumped to his feet. ‘How long has he been downstairs?’
‘Since just after one this morning.’
‘God! You didn’t get much sleep then.’
Roche made a face. ‘He started squealing for his lawyer straight away.’
A grin broke through her tiredness and he was suddenly struck by how good she looked.
Lose that thought right now
, he ordered himself.
‘Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to track her down yet.’
‘Better get on with it then.’