Authors: Sally Spencer
Table of Contents
THE BUTCHER BEYOND
THE DARK LADY
DEAD ON CUE
DEATH OF A CAVE DWELLER
DEATH OF AN INNOCENT
A DEATH LEFT HANGING
DYING IN THE DARK
A DYING FALL
THE ENEMY WITHIN
THE GOLDEN MILE TO MURDER
A LONG TIME DEAD
MURDER AT SWANN'S LAKE
THE PARADISE JOB
THE RED HERRING
THE SALTON KILLINGS
SINS OF THE FATHERS
THE WITCH MAKER
THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY
THE RING OF DEATH
ECHOES OF THE DEAD
LAMBS TO THE SLAUGHTER
A WALK WITH THE DEAD
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First published in Great Britain 2012 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
First published in the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of
110 East 59th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2012 by Alan Rustage.
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
A walk with the dead.
1. Paniatowski, Monika (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. PoliceâEnglandâFiction. 3. MurderâInvestigationâ
Fiction. 4. Detective and mystery stories.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-372-3 (epub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8242-4 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-465-3 (trade paper)
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.
âThe past is gone forever, and on the journey through the rest of your life, you can't allow the dead to walk beside you and keep spewing their poison into your ears.'
â DCI Monika Paniatowski
e was a practical man â good with his hands. And though, as he reminded himself now, he had made enough mistakes in his life to fill a book, he was determined that this one final act â the leaving of that life behind him â should go without a hitch.
He grinned, with bitter humour, at the words he had inadvertently chosen.
Without a hitch!
Because, ironically, there
be a hitch â a hitch was a vital part of the whole process.
At eight thirty on the dot, he heard the shutter on the peephole in the steel door slide open, and knew that the guard would be peering in at him â as if he were a wild animal or a freak. He
this, but he did not see it, because by then he was lying in his bed, feigning sleep.
The shutter clicked again, and he heard the guard's heavy footfalls receding down the corridor.
He was tempted to get out of bed immediately, but he forced himself to wait, since it was always possible that the guard might return and intervene in what he was about to do. And he didn't want any intervention. This wasn't a cry for help â this was a journey into oblivion.
The footfalls stopped for perhaps twenty seconds, then continued again, as the guard checked on another inmate. Stop, continue, stop, continue, as he made his way to the end of the block, and each time, after a pause, the heavy institutional footsteps were growing fainter.
The prisoner waited until he could hear nothing at all, then sprang from his bed. He had already ripped up his shirt and twisted it into a rope, and now it was just a matter of putting it in place. He moved his bed â taking care to make sure it made no noise â until it was under the pipe which ran along the ceiling.
There should have been no gap between the pipe and the ceiling. Nor had there been, until he had begun â carefully and meticulously â to chip away at the plaster. It had taken him days, and every time that he made a little progress, he had worried that it would be discovered. But it hadn't been, and now, standing on the bed and stripping away the bits of plaster he had used to disguise his work, he was confronted by a groove that was just wide enough to slide the braided shirt through.
That done, he secured it to the pipe with a hitch knot and made a noose at the other end.
It was unfair that he should
to do this, he told himself as he worked. He wasn't to blame for his being here â he wasn't to blame
He slid the noose over his head, and stepped off the bed. He began to kick â instinctively â and the thought flashed through his mind that this was, after all, a very foolish thing to do, and he should try to get his feet back on the bed again.
Then his brain, already starved of air, shut down â and he stopped thinking at all.
ad the early-March wedding taken place the year before, the chances were that Monika Paniatowski would probably not have been invited, for though it was true that she knew the parents of both the bride and groom, they were â at best â cordial acquaintances. But a great deal can change in a year, and the previous June, when her old boss had retired to Spain, Monika had been promoted to the rank of detective chief inspector, which, in a provincial, inward-looking town like Whitebridge, made her a person of some consequence â whether she wished it or not.
And this was a wedding which people of some consequence were expected to attend. The groom, Robert Freeman, was the son of Alderman Freeman, and had already made his own mark as a promising young doctor. The bride, Vanessa Freeman (nÃ©e Clough), managed the soft-furnishings floor of the town's biggest department store, and
father was the managing director of one of the local breweries. Add to all that the fact that the reception was being held in the banqueting hall of the Royal Victoria â Whitebridge's poshest hotel â and it was as plain as could be that accepting the invitation was pretty much
Even so, Paniatowski had tried to talk her way out of it, and might have succeeded if the
boss had not made it perfectly plain that he fully expected her to attend.
Her fate â as far as this wedding was concerned â had been sealed two weeks earlier, in the chief constable's office.
âI've just received an invitation to Robert Freeman's wedding,' George Baxter had said, as he puffed away at his pipe, and filled the area around his large head with light blue smoke. âIt's on the ninth of March.'
âI know. I've been invited too, sir,' Paniatowski had told him. âIt all seems rather rushed, doesn't it?'
âYes, but I suspect there are good reasons for that,' the chief constable said. He grinned. âDoctors are very good at handing out advice on how to use contraception responsibly, but they don't necessarily always follow that advice themselves.'
âAh!' Paniatowski had said. She paused for a moment. âI think I'll find some excuse for crying off. I don't really know the happy young couple, and weddings can be such a bore.'
âAlderman Freeman has always been very helpful to â and supportive of â the work of the Mid Lancs police,' said the chief constable, as if he hadn't heard her. âOne of us should certainly be there to show our support for him.'
âWell, if you're going . . .'
âI'd be more than willing to go to the wedding if I could, but I can't â which means, of course, that you positively
Paniatowski had looked at her former lover through suspicious eyes. She both admired and respected Baxter as a policeman, but there were times when (perhaps because of their joint past history) she couldn't help seeing the big ginger-haired man with a yard-brush moustache as no more than a gigantic teddy bear â and it was the teddy bear she was seeing now.
go, or don't
to go, sir?' she asked innocently.
âCan't go, Chief Inspector â as you'd know yourself if you ever bothered to read my memos,' the teddy bear said firmly. âThe Home Office wants me to conduct an inquiry over in Yorkshire, starting on the eleventh of March.'
âHow convenient for you, sir,' Paniatowski said, not quite under her breath. âWhat kind of inquiry will you be conducting?'
read the memos, you know. I'll be investigating the death of one Jeremy Templar, who hanged himself in his cell at HM Dunston Prison last month.'
âAnd it will be a
inquiry, will it?' Paniatowski asked, still not sure whether or not her boss was attempting to pull a fast one over his attending the wedding.
âIt depends what you mean by full-scale,' Baxter replied. âOn the one hand, I'll be the only one involved, but on the other, I'll be expected to stay there until I'm satisfied I can write a fair and balanced report.'
âBut why do they even need to bring in someone from outside?' Paniatowski persisted.
âI suppose it's because there are special circumstances attached to the suicide. Templar was attacked by the other prisoners several times before he took his own life. I haven't got all the details at my fingertips, but I believe he was scalded in the dining room, beaten up in the showers, and stabbed in the leg while he was exercising in the yard.'
âI assume he was a sex offender, then,' Paniatowski said.
âThat's right,' Baxter agreed. âIn most prisons, as you probably know, there's some status attached to being an armed robber â and even more to being a murderer â but if you're inside for a sex offence, then God help you, because a lot of the cons have got kids of their own.'
âHang about,' said Paniatowski, who'd been doing some rapid calculations, âyou said your inquiry starts on the eleventh, didn't you?'
âWell, the wedding's on the ninth, so there's really no reason that you can't attend it.'