Authors: Peter Robinson
BY THE END OF AUGUST, THE WATERLOGGED YORKSHIRE countryside was…
RIGHT,” SAID ACC RON MCLAUGHLIN WHEN EVERYONE was seated in…
JAFF HAD A ONE-BEDROOM FLAT WITH A BALCONY ON Granary…
THE WOMAN AT THE WINE TASTING WAS DEFINITELY smiling at…
DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT GERVAISE OCCUPIED her predecessor Gristhorpe’s old office, as…
BANKS SAT IN VESUVIO’S TAVERN, AT THE TABLE BESIDE the…
THIS IS NAOMI WORTHING,” SAID DETECTIVE SUPERINTENDENT Gervaise to the…
BANKS HAD BEEN ON THE PLANE SINCE FIVE TO FIVE…
BANKS FELT QUEASY AFTER THE HELICOPTER RIDE AS HE FOLLOWED…
BANKS MADE THE PHONE CALL TO ARRANGE FOR HIS accommodation…
BEFORE HEADING DOWN TO LEEDS TO TALK TO VICTOR Mallory,…
BANKS LEANED BACK IN HIS SEAT AND CLOSED HIS EYES…
THIS IS AN UNEXPECTED PLEASURE. DO COME AND JOIN me…
ANNIE CABBOT FELT AS IF SHE WERE DRAGGING HERSELF up…
OVER TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILES AWAY, AND NOT much…
THERE WASN’T ONE SMILING FACE AMONG THE SIX people sitting…
BANKS COULD HEAR THE STRAINS OF THE ADAGIO from Beethoven’s…
Y THE END OF AUGUST, THE WATERLOGGED YORKSHIRE
countryside was a symphony of green and gold under a blue sky scribbled with white clouds. Heaven only knew how the farmers had managed to mow and bale the hay, as the rain seemed to have been falling for days without end, but somehow they had succeeded, and their neat straw cylinders dotted the fields. Bright tractors plowed in the stubble and turned the earth a dark fecund brown. Smells of the recent harvest and of the coming autumn chill mingled in the mild air. On the moors, the purple heather was in bloom. By the roadside, swallows gathered on the telephone wires preparing for their long flight to South Africa.
Annie Cabbot wished she could go with them as she drove the last few miles to work that Monday morning. A few days on a game reserve would do her the world of good, photographing and sketching giraffes, zebras, leopards, lions and elephants. Then perhaps a tour of the Winelands, a taste of fine Cape Town cuisine and night life.
But it was not to be. She had exhausted her entire holiday allowance for the year, apart from a few days which she planned to use to create occasional long weekends between now and Christmas. Besides, she couldn’t afford to go to South Africa; she would be hard-pushed to pay for a minibreak in Blackpool. Lucky swallows.
The traffic came to a halt about half a mile from the big roundabout on the southern edge of Eastvale, and when Annie finally got close
enough to see the fender bender that was causing the delay, she was already late for work. A patrol car had arrived at the accident scene, so she felt she could safely leave the uniformed officers to deal with the obvious case of road rage between the two drivers, who were standing by their cars shouting at each other, fists raised. Traffic wasn’t her department.
Annie made her way through the increasingly built-up and busy streets around the college, where a few late summer students strolled across the green to morning lectures, rucksacks slung over their shoulders. From there, she cut down a long narrow street of three-story redbrick Victorian houses, mostly converted into student flats, over to Market Street. When she reached the market square, she took the narrow lane between the buildings and parked at the back of the Tudor-fronted police station. She said hello to a couple of officers she recognized standing outside sneaking a quick smoke break, then swiped her card in the slot on the back door and entered Western Area Headquarters.
A couple of people greeted her when she walked into the Major Crimes squad room. Geraldine Masterson, their new probationary detective constable, told her that Winsome Jackman and Doug Wilson—known to most of his colleagues as “Harry Potter” due to his uncanny resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe—were already out interviewing witnesses to last night’s hit-and-run on the Lyndgarth Road. The incident had left two teenagers in hospital and one no doubt very shaken driver holed up at home, just waiting for the knock on the door, wishing he hadn’t had that one last drink for the road.
Annie had hardly made a dent in the accumulated paperwork when her phone rang. She put down her pen and picked up the handset. “DI Cabbot.”
It was the desk sergeant. “Someone to see DCI Banks,” he said. “A Mrs. Doyle.” There was a moment’s pause while the sergeant appeared to be conferring with the visitor, their voices muffled. “Mrs. Juliet Doyle,” he went on. “She says she knows the DCI. Says it’s urgent.”
Annie sighed. “All right,” she said. “Send her up. Might as well have someone show her to DCI Banks’s office. It’s a bit more private there.”
“Will do, ma’am.”
Annie closed the thick folder of crime statistics on her desk and walked down the corridor to Banks’s office. The few occasions she had been in there recently had unnerved her even more than her brief visits to his cottage to water the plants, take in any parcels and flyers and make sure all was well. Banks’s absence seemed even more palpable in the cool silence and the slight musty smell of his office. His desk was empty except for the computer, which hadn’t been switched on in ages. A CD player/radio combination stood silent on one of his bookshelves next to a couple of tattered Kingsley Amis paperbacks he’d picked up from the secondhand bookshop in the market square a few days before he had left. Annie moved the computer monitor aside so that she would have an unobstructed view of the person sitting opposite her. A young PC knocked at the door and showed the woman in.
“I thought this was Alan’s office,” Juliet Doyle said. “It has his name on the door. Who are you? I don’t mean to seem rude, but I specifically asked to see Alan.”
She seemed nervous, Annie thought, her movements jerky and bird-like as she took in the sparse room. “DCI Banks is on holiday,” Annie explained, standing up and extending her hand. “I’m DI Annie Cabbot. Can I help you?”
“I…I don’t know. I was expecting Alan. This is all so…” Juliet fingered the chain around her neck. A heavy gold-and-jade pendant hung from it in the lightly freckled cleft between her breasts. She was probably in her mid-forties, Annie guessed, smartly dressed, her clothes definitely not from any of the shops you would find in the Swainsdale Centre, more likely Harrogate or York. Wavy blond hair with dark brown roots, tasteful makeup; still attractive, and not concerned about showing a little cleavage. Her skirt was a modest knee-length, legs nicely tapered beneath it, and she wore a tan suede jacket in an elegant hourglass cut. Annie wondered if she fancied Banks, if there had been something between them.
“Please sit down,” Annie said. After a slight hesitation, Juliet perched at the edge of the chair opposite her. “Is it anything I can help you with, or was it something personal?”
“That’s why I was hoping to see Alan,” Juliet went on. “You see, it’s both, really. Oh, this is
difficult. When will he be back?”
“Not until next week, I’m afraid.”
Juliet Doyle seemed to consider this for a few moments, still fidgeting with her chain, as if debating whether the matter could wait that long.
“Would you like some tea? Coffee?” Annie asked. “No, thank you.”
“I can’t help you if I don’t know what it’s about,” Annie went on. “You say it’s both police business and personal, is that right?”
Juliet nodded. “That’s why it’s so hard. I mean, Alan would
.” She had shifted her attentions from the necklace to the chunky diamond ring on the third finger of her left hand, twisting it around and around. Her fingernails were bitten low and painted pink.
“Why don’t you try me?” Annie said. “Just tell me what the problem is.”
“Alan would know
what to do
Annie leaned back in the chair and linked her hands behind her head. She felt as if she was in for a long haul. “Perhaps you could start by telling me exactly what your relationship is with DCI Banks?”
Juliet appeared startled. “Relationship? We don’t have a relationship.”
“I simply meant how you came to know one another.”
“Oh, that. I see. Yes. I’m sorry. We’re neighbors. Were.”
Annie happened to know that Banks had no neighbors anywhere close to his Gratly cottage, so she assumed that Juliet Doyle was referring to the past, perhaps when he had lived on Laburnum Way, about a mile down Market Street from the police station. But Banks hadn’t lived there for ten years. Had they kept in touch all that time? Was there something she was missing? “When was this?” she asked.
“When he and Sandra were still together. I still think it’s so tragic that they parted like that, don’t you? Such a lovely couple.”
“Yes,” said Annie, whose only experiences of Sandra had been humiliating and more than a little frightening.
“Anyway,” Juliet went on, “we were friends and neighbors. That’s why I thought he might be able to help me.”
“Mrs. Doyle,” said Annie. “If this is a police matter, you really should tell me. Are you in some sort of trouble?”
Juliet flinched as if she’d been tapped on the shoulder by surprise. “Trouble? Me? No. Of course not.”
“Then what is it?”
Juliet scanned the office as if she suspected Banks were hiding behind a filing cabinet or in a cupboard. “Are you
Alan’s not here?”
“Positive. I told you. He’s on his holidays.”
Juliet twisted her diamond ring again and let the silence stretch. Just when Annie was about to get up and show her the door, she blurted out, “It’s about Erin.”
“Yes. Our daughter. Me and my husband, that is. Patrick. He sent me. He’s stopping home with Erin.”
“Is Erin in trouble?”
“I suppose she is. Yes. You don’t know what they get up to, do you? Do you have any children?”
“Well, you wouldn’t know, then. It’s too easy to blame the parents, the way they do in the papers and on television. But when you just don’t know…” She let the sentence trail.
“I’m going to ring for some tea,” said Annie. The good old English panacea, she thought as she picked up the phone and asked for a pot to be sent up. A nice cup of tea…This was clearly going to take some time, and if Juliet Doyle didn’t need a cuppa, Annie certainly did. Maybe they’d bring chocolate digestives, too, if she was lucky.
“Erin lives in Leeds,” Juliet said. “In Headingley. Hardly a den of iniquity, you might say, but you’d be surprised.”
“Like most big cities, it can be a dangerous place if you’re not careful,” said Annie. “But I must tell you, we’re North Yorkshire. If the problem is in Leeds, then you need to—”
“No, no. That’s not it. You don’t understand.”
Of course I don’t understand, Annie thought, gritting her teeth. I’d have to be a bloody mind reader to understand. “Tell me, then,” she said.
The tea arrived. A welcome interruption. No chocolate digestives, though. Normally, Annie would have asked or made some sort of comment to the young PC who brought in the tray, but it wouldn’t do to take up a petty issue like the lack of chocolate biscuits with Juliet Doyle sitting opposite her.
“Erin’s a good girl. I think she must have fallen in with a bad crowd,” said Juliet, accepting the cup Annie handed her, adding milk and sugar with slightly shaking hands.
“How old is she?”
“Yes. As a waitress. It’s a nice restaurant. Very upmarket. Down in The Calls, with all those fancy new boutique hotels and waterfront flats. And she makes decent enough money. But even so…” She shrugged.
“It’s not what you expected for her?”
“Not with a good upper second in psychology.”
“Times are hard. Perhaps she’s just waiting for the right job to come along.”
“I’d like to think so, but…”
“Well, I think she’s more likely been wasting her time. It’s been two years now since she got her degree. She took a gap year before she went.”
“Does she have a boyfriend?”
“As far as I know she still does,” said Juliet. “Not that we’ve met him, or even that she’s told us much about him. Mostly we keep in touch through phone calls, texts. You know what the young are like. The last thing they think of sometimes is visiting their parents unless they need something, or it’s a special occasion.”
“Young people can be very secretive,” Annie agreed. “She’s a grown woman. I was married when I was her age.”
“But times change,” said Annie. “Kids aren’t so quick to leave the nest these days.”
“Erin’s not a parasite, if that’s what you mean. She was happy enough to get away from home in the first place. Couldn’t get out fast enough. That wasn’t the problem.”
“Then what is?” Annie said, close to the end of her patience. She was beginning to think that this was some sort of domestic matter, and she was starting to feel resentful that she wasn’t only left to do Banks’s job while he was away, but handle his personal problems, too. “Why are you here? What did you think Alan could do for you?”
Juliet’s back stiffened. “He’d
what to do, wouldn’t he?”
“About what?” Annie knew she was almost shouting, but she couldn’t help herself.
“About the gun,” said Juliet Doyle, head bowed, speaking so softly that Annie could barely hear her. “She has a gun.”
how it happened.”
Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise was sitting on the edge of her desk with her arms folded, and the way she towered over Annie and Juliet Doyle made Annie feel as if they were two truant schoolgirls brought up before the headmistress. Gervaise could have that effect when she wanted. Annie had her notebook open and her pen in her hand, waiting. No matter what action the situation warranted, there was likely to be a lot of red tape ahead, and she had to get it down right.
“I was dusting and cleaning her room,” Juliet began. “Honestly, I wasn’t prying. Erin was downstairs watching breakfast television. I like to keep a neat and clean house, and it was my morning to do the upstairs, so I didn’t see any harm in it.”
“So Erin still lives at home?” Gervaise asked.
“No. As I told Ms. Cabbot here, she lives in Leeds.”
“Would you give us the address, please?”
“Of course.” Juliet gave an address in Headingley and Annie wrote it down. She knew the area and recognized the street name.
“What is she doing in Eastvale?”
“She…she didn’t really say.”
“What did she say?”
“Just that she needed to come home for a while. I thought she might have split up with her boyfriend or something.”
“Did you ask her if she had?”
“Yes, but she just told me to mind my own business. She isn’t usu
ally so rude. We brought her up to be polite and respectful to her elders. But she’s upset. I thought if I left her alone, she would tell me what was bothering her eventually. She usually does.”
“Are you very close?”
“I wouldn’t say
close, but I like to think that we are close, yes, that she feels she can talk to me, tell me anything. That’s why it was such a shock, finding the gun.”
“What do you know about her boyfriend?”
“Just what she told me on the phone, really.”
“What’s his name?”