Read A Walk With the Dead Online

Authors: Sally Spencer

Tags: #Suspense

A Walk With the Dead

BOOK: A Walk With the Dead
4.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Table of Contents

Recent Titles by Sally Spencer from Severn House

Title Page

Copyright

Epigraph

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

Epilogue

Recent Titles by Sally Spencer from Severn House

THE BUTCHER BEYOND

DANGEROUS GAMES

THE DARK LADY

DEAD ON CUE

DEATH OF A CAVE DWELLER

DEATH OF AN INNOCENT

A DEATH LEFT HANGING

DEATH WATCH

DYING IN THE DARK

A DYING FALL

THE ENEMY WITHIN

FATAL QUEST

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

STONE KILLER

THE WITCH MAKER

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

A WALK WITH THE DEAD
A Monica Paniatowski Mystery
Sally Spencer

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 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 © 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

Spencer, Sally.

A walk with the dead.

1. Paniatowski, Monika (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Police–England–Fiction. 3. Murder–Investigation–

Fiction. 4. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title

823.9'2-dc23

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.

‘The 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.'

– DCI Monika Paniatowski

PROLOGUE
14th February 1974

H
e was a practical man – 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 – the leaving of that life behind him – should go without a hitch.

He grinned, with bitter humour, at the words he had inadvertently chosen.

Without a hitch!

Because, ironically, there
would
be a hitch – 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 – as if he were a wild animal or a freak. He
knew
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 – 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 – taking care to make sure it made no noise – 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 – carefully and meticulously – 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
have
to do this, he told himself as he worked. He wasn't to blame for his being here – he wasn't to blame
at all
!

He slid the noose over his head, and stepped off the bed. He began to kick – instinctively – 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 – and he stopped thinking at all.

ONE

H
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 – at best – 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 – 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 (née Clough), managed the soft-furnishings floor of the town's biggest department store, and
her
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 – Whitebridge's poshest hotel – and it was as plain as could be that accepting the invitation was pretty much
de rigueur
.

Even so, Paniatowski had tried to talk her way out of it, and might have succeeded if the
big
boss had not made it perfectly plain that he fully expected her to attend.

Her fate – as far as this wedding was concerned – had been sealed two weeks earlier, in the chief constable's office.

‘I'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. ‘It's on the ninth of March.'

‘I know. I've been invited too, sir,' Paniatowski had told him. ‘It all seems rather rushed, doesn't it?'

‘Yes, but I suspect there are good reasons for that,' the chief constable said. He grinned. ‘Doctors are very good at handing out advice on how to use contraception responsibly, but they don't necessarily always follow that advice themselves.'

‘Ah!' Paniatowski had said. She paused for a moment. ‘I 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.'

‘Alderman Freeman has always been very helpful to – and supportive of – the work of the Mid Lancs police,' said the chief constable, as if he hadn't heard her. ‘One of us should certainly be there to show our support for him.'

‘Well, if you're going . . .'

‘I'd be more than willing to go to the wedding if I could, but I can't – which means, of course, that you positively
must
attend.'

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 – and it was the teddy bear she was seeing now.

‘
Can't
go, or don't
want
to go, sir?' she asked innocently.

‘Can't go, Chief Inspector – as you'd know yourself if you ever bothered to read my memos,' the teddy bear said firmly. ‘The Home Office wants me to conduct an inquiry over in Yorkshire, starting on the eleventh of March.'

‘How convenient for you, sir,' Paniatowski said, not quite under her breath. ‘What kind of inquiry will you be conducting?'

‘You really
should
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.'

‘And it will be a
full-scale
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.

‘It depends what you mean by full-scale,' Baxter replied. ‘On 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.'

‘But why do they even need to bring in someone from outside?' Paniatowski persisted.

‘I 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.'

‘I assume he was a sex offender, then,' Paniatowski said.

‘That's right,' Baxter agreed. ‘In most prisons, as you probably know, there's some status attached to being an armed robber – and even more to being a murderer – 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.'

‘Hang about,' said Paniatowski, who'd been doing some rapid calculations, ‘you said your inquiry starts on the eleventh, didn't you?'

‘Yes.'

‘Well, the wedding's on the ninth, so there's really no reason that you can't attend it.'

BOOK: A Walk With the Dead
4.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault
The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah
Split Second by Cath Staincliffe
Shooting the Rift - eARC by Alex Stewart
Highlander Unchained by McCarty, Monica