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Authors: Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

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Blood Sinister

BOOK: Blood Sinister
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About the Author
 

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
was born and educated in Shepherd’s Bush, and had a variety of jobs in the commercial world, starting as a junior cashier at Woolworth’s and working her way down to Pensions Officer at the BBC. She won the Young Writers’ Award in 1973, and became a full-time writer in 1978. She is the author of over sixty successful novels to date, including twenty-nine volumes of the
Morland Dynasty
series.

Visit the author’s website at
www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com

Also by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
 

The Bill Slider Mysteries

 

ORCHESTRATED DEATH

DEATH WATCH

NECROCHIP

DEAD END

BLOOD LINES

KILLING TIME

SHALLOW GRAVE

BLOOD SINISTER

GONE TOMORROW

DEAR DEPARTED

GAME OVER

FELL PURPOSE

BODY LINE

The Dynasty Series

 

THE FOUNDING

THE DARK ROSE

THE PRINCELING

THE OAK APPLE

THE BLACK PEARL

THE LONG SHADOW

THE CHEVALIER

THE MAIDEN

THE FLOOD-TIDE

THE TANGLED THREAD

THE EMPEROR

THE VICTORY

THE REGENCY

THE CAMPAIGNERS

THE RECKONING

THE DEVIL’S HORSE

THE POISON TREE

THE ABYSS

THE HIDDEN SHORE

THE WINTER JOURNEY

THE OUTCAST

THE MIRAGE

THE CAUSE

THE HOMECOMING

THE QUESTION

THE DREAM KINGDOM

THE RESTLESS SEA

THE WHITE ROAD

THE BURNING ROSES

THE MEASURE OF DAYS

THE FOREIGN FIELD

THE FALLEN KINGS

THE DANCING YEARS

Copyright
 

Published by Hachette Digital

 

ISBN: 978 0 7481 3325 3

 

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

The Third Bill Slider Omnibus

Copyright © 1999 Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

 

Blood Sinister Copyright © 1999 Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

 

Hachette Digital

Little, Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

Contents
 

About the author

Also by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Copyright

Dedication

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

 
 

For Bill’s good friends, Marcia and Geoff,

and Sharon and Chris;

and of course, as always,

for my indispensible Tony, with love.

 
 
 

If the red slayer think he slays,

Or if the slain think he is slain,

They know not well the subtle ways

I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Brahma

 
CHAPTER ONE
Big horse, God made you mine
 

‘Have you noticed,’ Joanna said as they sped along the M4 towards London, ‘how the self-drive hire business has been completely taken over by that Dutch firm?’

‘What Dutch firm?’ Slider asked unwarily.

‘Van Rentals.’

‘How long have you been thinking that one out?’

‘I resent the implication that my wit isn’t spontaneous.’

‘I resent your having been away,’ he countered. ‘It was daft going to Switzerland when it’s cold enough here to freeze the balls off a brass tennis court.’

‘Do you think I wanted to go?’ Joanna said. ‘Beethoven Eight six times in one week – and in a country where they still think fondue is cuisine.’

Despite the best efforts of that husband-and-wife circus act May Gurney and Cones Hotline, he had got to the airport in time to meet her. Though it was the umpteenth time he’d done it, there was still that thrill when she came out of the customs hall doors with her fiddle case in one hand and her battered old fits-under-the-seat-in-front travel bag over her shoulder. It had bothered him when she came through with the trumpet section, Peter White and Simon Angel. Put those two horny young bloods – only one of them married (and it was a well-known fact that blowing the trumpet had a direct effect on the production of testosterone) – together with a curvaceous love goddess like Joanna Marshall, and it spelled trouble with a capital Trub. But she had kissed him and pressed herself against him with an avidity that had had the lads whooping, so his pride was assuaged, and he led her off like a prize of war to find the car.

The Orchestra of the Age of the Renaissance, despite the handicap of a name that wouldn’t fit across a poster unless it was in characters too small to read, had come in as a life-saver. Its fixer had called Joanna as a last-minute replacement for the pregnant deputy principal, whose blood pressure had gone over into the red zone. Post-Christmas was always a drought period for musicians, but this year was particularly bad. Her own orchestra had nothing for two months and freelance work was as rare as elephants’ eggs.

Joanna’s thoughts were evidently on the same track as she watched the chill, bare fields of Middlesex reel past the windows. ‘Do you know what’s in my diary between now and March?’

‘Yes,’ he said, but she told him again anyway.

‘Two Milton Keynes dates and one Pro Arte of Oxford – and I’m lucky to get those.’

‘Why are things so bad?’ he ventured.

‘They’re just getting worse every year,’ she said. ‘Fewer people going to concerts or buying records, and more and more musicians pouring out of the colleges. And then,’ she made a face, ‘we all have to do this blasted “outreach” crapola, going into schools and encouraging more of the little beasts to take up music. If we had any sense we’d be breaking their arms, not telling them what a fulfilling life it is, ha ha.’

‘Have you just come home to complain at me?’ he asked, trying for a lighter note.

She didn’t bite. ‘Seriously, Bill, it’s getting to be a hell of a problem. The Phil’s in financial trouble and there’s more amalgamation talk. That old chestnut, “Can London sustain four orchestras?” The Government’s threatening to withdraw the grant from one of us, and everybody knows we’re the likeliest.’

‘But all this has been said before, and it never happens,’ Slider comforted her.

‘Even if it doesn’t,’ she said, sounding very low, ‘we aren’t getting enough dates to live on.’

‘We’ll manage somehow,’ he said. ‘Tighten our belts. We’ll get through.’

‘Hah!’ she said. She didn’t elaborate, for which he was grateful, but she meant, of course, how much belt-tightening can you do when your salary already has to go round an almost ex-wife and two school-age children?

But she wasn’t a whiner, and a moment later she said, ‘Peter and Simon were telling me on the plane about this wonderful scam for parking in the short-term car park while you’re on tour. All you have to do is borrow a tuba.’

‘A tuba?’

‘Well, of course it only works if you’re touring with a big orchestra. Anyway, apparently a tuba is a big enough mass of metal for the automatic barrier to mistake it for a car. So, when you get back from tour, you walk up to the entrance barrier holding the tuba in front of you, and it issues a ticket, which you then use to get out, throwing away the original one. You pay for ten minutes instead of two weeks.
Voilà
. ’

‘Should you be telling me this? I am a policeman.’

‘That’s what makes you so sexy.’ Her warm hand crept gratefully over his upper thigh. ‘I’m glad to be back,’ she said. ‘Have you missed me?’

‘Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?’

‘Nice hot bath and an early night tonight,’ she said.

He’d just got to the bit where the motorway narrows to two lanes and his attention was distracted. ‘I suppose you must be tired,’ he said absently, keeping his eye on a BMW that didn’t want to move in.

Her hand slid further up. ‘Who said anything about sleeping?’

The office was its usual hive of activity when he got in. DS Jim Atherton, his bagman and friend, was sitting on a desk reading – of all things –
The Racing Post
.

‘What do you reckon for the first race at Plumpton, Maurice?’ he said.

‘Shy Smile,’ DC McLaren answered, without looking up from the sausage sandwich and
Daily Mail
that were occupying him. Atherton opined that McLaren read the tabloids only because the broadsheets needed two hands, which meant he couldn’t eat and read at the same time.

‘Are you sure?’ Atherton probed. ‘Everyone else gives Bally-doyle.’

‘Not after that frost last night. Ballydoyle likes a bit of give in the ground.’

‘Shy Smile?’ Atherton pressed.

‘She’ll walk it,’ said McLaren.

‘How d’you know about horses anyway?’ Anderson asked, clipping his nails into the waste-paper basket. ‘I thought you grew up in Kennington.’

‘Y’don’t have to have a baby to be a gynaecologist,’ McLaren answered mysteriously, sucking grease and newsprint off his fingers.

Slider, at the door, said, ‘It would be nice if you could at least
pretend
to be usefully occupied when I come in. Give me an illusion of authority.’

‘Didn’t know you were there, guv,’ McLaren said imperturbably, rolling a black tongue over his lips.

‘That much is obvious.’ Slider turned to Atherton. ‘And why are you reading the racing pages? Since when did you have the slightest interest in the Sport of Kings?’

BOOK: Blood Sinister
11.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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