Authors: James Craig
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General
‘I was wondering,’ Smallbone persisted gamely, ‘where I stand at the moment with the reward?’
‘Reward?’ She scrolled further down the Federation email. ‘
There are many areas of very real concern which we strongly oppose and will seek to address on behalf of our members. It is intrinsic that at a time of great uncertainty and constraint, all policing bodies work together openly and transparently to ensure that the future of policing in England and Wales is shaped by police officers, not individuals, for the benefit and safety of the public.
Well, fucking well do something about it then
, she thought angrily.
And while you
re at it
it would be good to know just how safe my bloody job is.
Stabbing the delete key, she sent the missive heading for the cyber-trash.
‘For helping catch the guys who did that diamond store.’
Roche gritted her teeth. ‘I told you; you need to speak to the insurance company.’
‘But you said you’d help me with that.’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘Anyway,’ said Smallbone, lowering his voice so that Roche had to strain to hear him against the background hubbub. ‘There’s more I can tell you . . . about the stuff that’s still missing.’
Roche sat forward in her chair and simulated banging her head on the desk.
‘Yeah, yeah,’ she said, ‘I’m still here. Where are you?’
Carlyle appeared by the desk as she ended the call. ‘Are you okay?’
She gave him a blank look. ‘How did you get on downstairs?’
‘Some morons cannot be helped.’ Carlyle shook his head. ‘We should leave Colin to the lawyers.’
‘What about the missing gear?’
He looked at her carefully. ‘How much is still unaccounted for?’
Roche consulted a print-out on her desk. ‘Almost ten million.’
‘I think we’ve probably taken this as far as we can.’
‘Probably,’ Roche nodded.
‘I’m going to call it a night.’
‘We can formally charge Dyer in the morning.’
‘Fine.’ Carlyle turned and headed for the stairs. ‘Have a good one.’
‘You too.’ She watched him disappear and slowly began counting in her head. Reaching thirty, she grabbed her bag and followed him out.
‘Are you here for another peek at my bum?’ Katrin Lagerbäck grinned at Carlyle and gestured for him to sit down.
Carlyle’s eyes fell on the photo on the wall behind her head. The image was just as memorable as he recalled. ‘Not just that,’ he said, slipping into the empty chair in front of her desk.
‘Oh.’ She returned her attention to a stack of papers under her nose. ‘It must be important for you to come and see me at this time of night.’
You’re not the only one who works long hours
, Carlyle thought resentfully.
And at least you get paid for it
. ‘I thought I’d come by on the off-chance that you’d still be here.’
‘I’m always here,’ she sighed, picking up a couple of sheets of A4 and tearing them in half before dropping them on the floor by her chair. She gave him a thin smile. ‘I’m not a hard person to track down.’
‘So,’ Carlyle remarked blandly, ‘if you’re busy, business must be finally improving.’
She shook her head. ‘Hardly. If it was any good, it would be parties, networking events and “business trips” to Milan, Barcelona and New York. Now it’s a question of poring over spreadsheets trying to recover every last penny.’
She sat back in her chair and went on: ‘Mayfair is awash with that
fin de siècle
feeling. Fund managers are burned-out, world-weary. We are handing back investors’ cash with a polite “thanks, but no thanks”. Everyone thinks our best days have been and gone. Markets are flat and directionless. Making money is either easy or it’s a terminal bore. No one can summon up any enthusiasm. More to the point, investors won’t pay big fees for mediocre performance. We might as well leave it all to the computers. The party has come to an end.’
‘So, are you closing Hubaishi Dorning Klee?’
‘That’s not my call, but I suspect that it’s only going to be a matter of time.’
‘What will you do?’
She drummed her immaculately groomed fingernails on the desk. ‘I’ve been thinking about that for some time, without reaching any firm conclusion. Maybe go back to Berlin.’
‘And what would happen to St James’s Diamonds?’
She shrugged. ‘It’ll get sold.’
‘Is it worth much?’
‘Not as much as if we were to finish executing the current strategy,’ she said. ‘Maybe someone would take it on as a business; maybe they would just want the stock.’
‘In terms of the robbery . . .’
‘Yes?’ She gave him a
nice to see you
re finally getting to the point
‘Have you had any insurance payment yet?’
‘No. That will take a while. The insurance company will want to be sure that you are unable to recover all of the items before making a payout. Why do you ask?’
‘I was wondering,’ said Carlyle, ‘if you might be able to help me with something.’
‘Here you go.’ Roche placed a pint of Strongbow cider on the table in front of Samuel Smallbone and pulled up a chair.
‘Thanks.’ Smallbone quickly finished the last of his old pint and took a sip of the new one.
Roche scanned the dingy pub, full of grubby people, and wished she was at home in a nice warm bath. She took a large mouthful of Stolichnaya vodka and felt it hit her empty stomach.
Just the one
, she told herself.
You are leaving after just the one drink
. She caught Smallbone eyeing her up and shuddered. He looked as sallow, nondescript and feckless as ever. ‘What have you got?’ she asked.
‘About the reward . . .’
Roche finished her drink and smacked the empty glass down on the table. ‘Look, I will make sure that you get anything you’re due, all right?’
Looking a little hurt, Smallbone gestured at her empty glass. ‘Want another?’
‘No,’ said Roche with self-control. ‘Just tell me what you’ve got and I can crack on with trying to track down your money.’
Smallbone took a wary sip of his pint. ‘Colin Dyer . . .’
Why can’t you just speak in sentences
, Roche wondered,
like a normal person?
‘He didn’t do the job on his own.’
‘We know that,’ said Roche wearily. ‘Damien Samuels is also in custody.’
‘Yeah. But apart from him . . .’
The sergeant yawned. ‘Name,’ she said. ‘Give me a name.’
Extricating herself from the wretched Smallbone, Roche hovered on the kerb, scanning the road for an available taxi. She ached to be home. She wanted that bloody bath. As usual in these situations, a procession of black cabs rolled past, already occupied with their lights off. It was one of the immutable facts of London life – you could never get a taxi when you needed one.
‘Wanna cab?’ Roche turned to face a small Indian guy, waving a set of keys in his left hand. He gestured towards a beaten-up Vauxhall Corsa parked across the street.
‘Are you licensed?’
The guy gave her a funny look and laughed. ‘Where you wanna go?’
‘Show me your ID,’ Roche demanded. Without a licence from the Public Carriage Office or local authority, the guy in front of her was breaking the law. Not only was it illegal for minicabs to pick up or tout for passengers off the street, but the risks associated with getting in a vehicle with one of these cowboys was considerable. Random and excessive fares were bad enough. Much worse, on average, eleven women were attacked in London each month after taking an unlicensed minicab. A staggering 80 per cent of stranger rapes were committed by unlicensed cab drivers.
The guy waved again at his piece of shit motor. ‘Come . . .’
The guy looked as decrepit as his car. If he tried anything funny, the sergeant could doubtless take him out with both hands behind her back. Even so, she wasn’t going to get in the Corsa. ‘I’m fine,’ she said, walking away in the direction of the bus stop twenty yards down the road. She was halfway there when a bus glided past her and headed on without stopping. ‘Shit!’ Her mobile started ringing and she pulled it out of her bag.
‘Sergeant, this is Commander Dugdale.’
‘Can you talk?’
‘Yes.’ Roche reached the bus shelter and looked up at the indicator board, which told her that the next bus wasn’t due for another twelve minutes.
It’s just not my day
, Roche thought as she squeezed onto the bench inside, next to a massive black woman laden with groceries.
‘Good job recovering Colin Dyer.’ Not for the first time, Dugdale sounded like he had partaken of some strong drink. There was music playing in the background. Roche thought she could make out the voice of Marvin Gaye, but she may have been mistaken. The thought of the Commander getting down to ‘What’s Going On’ was just too horrible to contemplate.
‘It was Carlyle who tracked him down,’ she replied casually.
Dugdale grunted. ‘Just don’t lose him again.’
‘No. We won’t.’
‘Has he been charged yet?’
‘In the morning.’
‘Good. Once that’s done, come up to Paddington.’ Dugdale stopped to take a slurp of whatever he was drinking. ‘Let’s say eleven.’
Roche sighed. The schlep would waste half her day. She took a deep breath. ‘Of course. What is it about?’
‘I want you to meet my number two at SO15.’
, she thought snidely,
before you were kicked out
‘I’ve given you a big write-up,’ Dugdale smarmed. ‘I think we’re making some progress on your transfer.’
Roche squirmed. ‘Great. Thanks.’
‘It’s my pleasure,’ Dugdale replied, his voice becoming oilier by the second. ‘It is hugely important that talented young officers like yourself are carefully . . .
through the ranks.’
Roche glanced up at the indicator board. There were still nine bloody minutes before her bus was due. Peering optimistically into the middle distance, she saw the Indian cabbie lead a passenger towards the Corsa. She was relieved to note that the customer was a bloke; the worst that could happen would be a row over the fare.
‘There is one other thing . . .’
‘Huh?’ Roche belatedly tuned back into the conversation.
‘Another issue,’ Dugdale repeated.
‘The Carlyle hearing.’
‘Oh,’ said Roche warily.
‘The date is next week.’
I am perfectly well aware of that
, she thought angrily. ‘Yes.’
‘I will be conducting the hearing, alongside Superintendent Buck.’
Roche frowned. ‘Is it normal for an officer to be directly investigated by his commanding officer?’
Dugdale coughed. ‘It is . . . allowable. A considerable amount of discretion is permitted in the way these things are set up.’
‘But is there not a conflict of interest? Surely the Federation will protest?’
‘The Federation,’ Dugdale said breezily, ‘can go fuck themselves. I have agreed the format with the IIC and also the PCC. What we want is for the matter to be dealt with swiftly, discreetly and with a minimum of fuss.’
It sounded like a kangaroo court to Roche.
More slurping noises came down the line and Dugdale turned his attention to someone at his end. ‘Get me another, will you . . .’
The Corsa drove slowly past the bus stop. Still seven minutes to wait.
Dugdale came back on the line. ‘So, I wanted to check on what you were planning to say at the hearing.’
As of right now
, Roche thought,
it’s none of your fucking business
. This thing was getting out of hand and she made a mental note to contact her own Federation rep in the morning. ‘I think, sir,’ she said, trying and failing to keep the anger from her voice, ‘that it is reasonable to assume that I will be repeating what I said in my original statement.’
‘I see,’ said Dugdale. ‘Maybe we could look at ways in which your submission could be more constructive.’
You have got to be fucking kidding
, Roche fumed. Gritting her teeth, she said nothing.
‘Anyway,’ Dugdale continued, ‘I won’t detain you any longer this evening. Have a think about it. We can have another chat tomorrow.’
Roche waited for him to end the call and let out a deep breath. Her fucking bus was still five minutes away, but all thoughts of home and a luxurious bath had evaporated. Instead, she was resigned to heading back to the office. There was work to be done.
It was not shaping up as a green tea kind of day. The fact that Carlyle had eight missed calls on his mobile told him that
had indeed run their story. Picking up a copy of the newspaper from his newsagent on Drury Lane, he repaired to the relative sanctuary of the Box café for breakfast. He had barely taken a seat when Myron Sabo appeared at his shoulder and placed a double macchiato on the table. Carlyle smiled appreciatively. ‘Thanks.’
With the merest of grunts, the café-owner wandered back behind the counter. The coffee was sharp and hot, just the way Carlyle liked it, and he paused to savour the moment, watching a refuse truck slowly move along Henrietta Street, a trio of bin men following behind it, dumping yesterday’s waste into the compactor at the back. To his mind, these guys did the most under-appreciated job in the whole of London.
, he thought,
we would drown in our own shit in less than a week
. Picking up his paper, he resisted the temptation to start at the back with the sports pages, as he usually did, and flicked through the home news, looking for Brian Sutherland’s piece about the Catholic Legal Network’s lawsuit. He had to go through the paper twice before he found it, halfway down page twenty-three:
CHURCH SUES MET AHEAD OF POPE’S VISIT.
He read it and then read it again. There was a brief explanation of the situation and the comment that:
The dispute has the potential to embarrass the government as the Pope
s visit looms
. Abigail Slater was quoted as saying: ‘
This is just another example of how the basic rights of members of the Catholic Church are being eroded. It is essential that this matter is dealt with properly.