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Authors: M A Comley

Tags: #Mystery

Dubious Justice

BOOK: Dubious Justice
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Dubious Justice

New York Times bestselling author M A Comley

Published by M A Comley
Copyright © 2014 M A Comley
Digital Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the site and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

OTHER BOOKS BY M A COMLEY

Blind Justice

Cruel Justice

Impeding Justice

Final Justice

Foul Justice

Guaranteed Justice

Ultimate Justice

Virtual Justice

Hostile Justice

Tortured Justice

Rough Justice

Forever Watching You

Evil In Disguise – Based on True events novel.

Deadly Act (Hero series novella) coming Feb 2015

Torn Apart (Hero Series #1)

End Result (Hero Series #2)

Sole Intention (Intention Series #1)

Grave Intention (Intention Series #2)

Merry Widow (A Lorne Simpkins short story)

It’s A Dog’s Life (A Lorne Simpkins short story)

A Time To Heal (A Sweet Romance)

A Time For Change (A Sweet Romance)

High Spirits

A Twist in The Tale

The Temptation Series (Romantic Suspense/New Adult Novellas)

Past Temptation (available now)

Lost Temptation (available now)

True Temptation (Coming 2015)

Just Temptation (Coming 2015)

Keep in touch with the author at

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mel-Comley/264745836884860

http://melcomley.blogspot.com

http://melcomleyromances.blogspot.com

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This book is dedicated to my rock, Jean, whose love and devotion is my guiding light.

Special thanks to my wonderful editor Stefanie. Thanks also to my good friend Noelle Holten for her expert input, and of course, to Joseph my superb proof reader.

Finally I’d like to thank Karri Klawiter for the superb artwork as always, you’re a very talented lady.

DUBIOUS JUSTICE

M A Comley

Prologue

Curiosity played a major part in his next movement. As he opened the door, it creaked its objection. Peering into the darkness, he ran his hand along the damp surface of the walls in search of a light switch. There wasn’t one. Paul Lee turned, looking for his toolbox, and searched inside for a flashlight. He located it, but to his annoyance, it faltered on and off a few times before the batteries finally died. “Damn thing. I wonder what’s in here.”

He returned to investigate the opening. The door creaked again. A shudder rippled the length of his curved spine. Venturing farther into the small entrance, where his eyes were slow to adjust, he let his hands guide his way along the moist walls. Before long, he came to an abrupt halt. Once his eyes adjusted to the dark, he wondered if they were playing tricks on him.
A skeleton?

A noise from behind disturbed him.
Shit! It’s the owners of the house. If they find me in here…

The woman called out, then he could hear her feet clomping down the wooden stairs. “I’ve brought you a cuppa…” Her voice trailed off. His heart skipped several beats when he heard her running back up the stairs.

Shit! She must have seen the door open. I’ve got to get out of here.
In his haste to retrace his steps, he slipped on the wet floor. He grunted from the impact of his torso hitting the protruding rock-faced wall. Because he was distracted, the blow from behind came as a shock. Paul crumpled to the floor and covered his head with his hands, protecting himself from further blows. “Please, don’t hit me again.”

“Get out!” The man’s harsh tone reverberated round Paul’s confused and wounded head.

Paul struggled to his feet. Glancing at the entrance, he saw only the huge brute of a man blocking his path.
Stay cool. Don’t anger him any more than he already is.
Paul eased out of the confined space, his hand still holding the back of his head. He could feel the stickiness of the blood oozing through his fingers.

The man’s steely, angry gaze locked on to his. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing in there?”

“I’m sorry. I was tracing a cable back through the wall. I thought it went into this cupboard. I was wrong. Please, I didn’t see anything in there.”

The man’s stare intensified. His jaw moved as he ground his teeth. “Are you sure? I think you’re lying to me.”

“No, I swear. I saw nothing. It’s too dark to see anything in there anyway.”

The man stepped forward. The dreadful smell of the man’s stale breath filled Paul’s nostrils and warmed his cheeks when the brute said, “I don’t like liars. Nothing good comes from telling lies. I’ve been surrounded by liars all my life, and not one of them has got away with it. Now…
tell me
what you saw.” His lip twitched, curling up at one side to reveal the left half of his mouth and the rotten teeth hanging on by a thread.

“Nothing, I swear. Please, let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”

“Uh-oh, mistake number one. You said you saw nothing, yet you’re not going to tell anyone. Tell them what? Answer me,
prick
. What did you see in there?”

His tone turned more menacing, along with the glare. Paul could feel his bowels loosening, and his body began to tremble. “Nothing. I need to go now. The job’s finished anyway. My boss will be expecting me. He hates it when I return the van back to the yard late.” Paul tried his hardest to come up with a plausible excuse to exit the situation, and the house. Truthfully, his boss didn’t care how long his employees took to do a job, and they often took the vehicles home with them. That’s how he was able to do his little jobs on the side, like this one.
Why the fuck was I so nosey? Why?

The man’s eyes narrowed. “You’re a bull-shitting piece of dirt. Tell me the truth, or I’ll shove you back in there and let you rot just like the other one.”

Tears sprang to his eyes. He swallowed the lump of bile that had mysteriously formed in his throat. A picture of his happy family swept into his mind. “Please, sir. Let me go. I have a young family, a wife and children. They’ll be expecting me home soon for my daughter’s birthday party.”
I hope he doesn’t figure out I’m lying.

“Yeah, I’ve heard all about them. You’ve been boring my wife senseless for days talking about how much you idolise them. You should have thought about your damn family before you started snooping in places that don’t concern you. Now, fucking answer the question… what… did… you… see?”

Paul heaved a large sigh, as a sign of defeat. “A skeleton. Please, let me go. I swear again, I won’t tell anyone about what’s in there—I promise. Just let me go. My family needs me. My head hurts. I’m losing blood. I need to get to the hospital. Your secret will be safe with me. Just let me go, please?”

“Stop your whining. You’re getting on my tits. Get your things together and get out of my fucking house.”

Quickly, Paul gathered all his tools together under the man’s watchful gaze, not caring if he left behind any of his prized equipment. All he wanted to do was get out of there, alive.

“There, I’m done. I’ll call back in a couple of days for my money. There’s no need to go to any bother paying me now.” Paul’s head was throbbing violently after bending down to collect his tools, but he kept his smile fixed firmly in place all the same. He extended his hand to the man, who slapped it away.

“Just get out of my house and don’t come back. You hear me?”

Paul didn’t need telling twice. He turned and marched towards the wooden stairs, wondering if the man’s wife would be at the top to greet him. He didn’t get very far before he felt the first whack on the back of his head. The excruciating pain rippled through his body and weakened his legs, knocking him off balance. He swung around, hoping his toolbox would connect with his assailant’s face, and he cursed when he found he didn’t have the strength to put any significant power behind his swing. He slumped against the wall and stumbled back down the two steps he’d taken. “Please. No more.”

In spite of his begging, the blows continued, intensifying in strength and frequency until neither his head nor his body could take any more. Even curling into a foetal position couldn’t offer the protection from the man’s strikes. It didn’t take him long to work out the man wouldn’t stop until he’d taken his last breath. The menacing glimpse he’d caught in the man’s eye made him aware of that fact.

The final image that filled his mind was the day he’d stood in church, marrying his childhood sweetheart.
I love you, Jess, and our kids. Go on to find another man who will take care of you the way I have. Never forget me, my love. Never forget how much I love you all…

Chapter One

Lorne and Charlie each wrapped an arm around the other’s waist and sniffled. Apart from the box of toys they’d placed in the cupboard under the stairs, the newly dug grave was to be all that would remind them of their dearly departed pet dog, Henry. “He was loved every day of his life, Charlie. Never ill-treated, that’s all a dog ever wants in his life, to be treated with kindness, love, and respect. He’ll always be remembered, and once this tree grows, I’ll get Tony to build a seat around it and we’ll both be able to come and sit out here with him to contemplate the world and all its failings.”

“How long will that be, Mum?”

Lorne pulled her close and kissed her daughter’s forehead. “The man at the garden centre said that sambucas grow rapidly after a couple of years. I need to prune it in half for the first year or two to ensure the bark thickens before it really takes off. I’ll get a plaque made with Henry’s picture on it. We can attach it to the bark of the tree once it grows. How’s that?”

“That would be great. I really miss him. How long does it take to get over losing an animal like this, Mum?”

“Everyone’s grieving time will vary, sweetheart. Henry was different. You grew up with him. He wasn’t just an ordinary pet to us, was he?”

“I thought if I said the same thing, you’d ridicule me.”

“I’d never ridicule you for thinking like that. Come on. Let’s go and see how Sheba is getting on.” They walked into the kennels and approached the German shepherd’s kennel. Sheba perked up immediately the second she laid eyes on them.

Charlie crouched, and the dog hurried to where she’d slipped her fingers through the cage. Sheba rubbed her head against Charlie’s hand. “Have you thought any more about inviting her to share our home with us? It’s not too soon, is it?”

“I don’t see why not. Look at her—she’s crying out for a new home. She’s so attached to you now, and providing it’s all right with Tony, I say we should integrate her into her new surroundings from today. Of course, we need to be mindful that she’ll never replace Henry—no dog will ever do that—but having her trampling through the house will sure help ease the grief suffocating all of us at the moment.”

Charlie rose to her feet and threw her arms around Lorne. Burying her head in Lorne’s shoulder, she whispered, “Thanks, Mum. That’s the best news I’ve had in days.”

Lorne patted her daughter on the behind then brushed the tears from both their cheeks. “Right, I better get off to work now, love. Are you going to be all right? Tony will be sticking around here this morning. He and Joe have arranged to meet a prospective new client this afternoon.”

“Go, I’ll be fine. Do I have permission to introduce Sheba into the house while you’re at work? I promise not to neglect my chores around the kennels.”

They made their way back through the kennel and out to Lorne’s car. “I trust you. Of course you can. I think she’ll need a bit of house-training, too. The sooner she learns that, the better. I’m sure she’ll cotton on soon enough. She’s a clever girl.”

“Thanks, Mum. Love you.” Charlie waved her off.

As Lorne drove into London to the police station, where she was a detective sergeant in the Metropolitan police force, her heart felt less constricted than it had in days since her beloved pet’s death.

“Morning, all. How is everyone?” She called out as soon as she pushed through the swing doors of the incident room.

“Do you have to be so bright and breezy?” Katy queried with a frown. “Morning, by the way.” The detective inspector was sitting in a chair next to her boyfriend, Alan Jackson, nicknamed AJ by the rest of the team. They both had their heads close to the computer screen on his desk. By the serious expression on Katy’s face, Lorne had an inkling that her day was about to start off with a bang.

She pulled a nearby chair close to Katy then sat down heavily. “Okay, dare I ask what I’m supposed to be looking at?”

“Our next case. Which reminds me, we need to get over there ASAP. I was waiting for you to arrive. Don’t get comfortable. I’ll fill you in on the way.”

“What are we waiting for?” Lorne stood up quickly, almost tipping over her chair.

Katy rushed into the office to fetch her jacket and handbag, and swept past Lorne on her return. “AJ, keep searching that CCTV footage until we get back.”

AJ nodded. “Will do.”

“Come on, Lorne. What’s keeping you?” Katy shouted over her shoulder as she trotted out of the room.

Lorne shook her head behind her partner’s back and raced to keep up with Katy as she made her way through the station like a mini-tornado. Once they were settled in the car and Katy had input the directions into the sat nav, she set the car in motion then told Lorne all about the scene they were on their way to.

“We got a call about a suspicious van parked up in a supermarket car park.”

“Okay. What’s suspicious about it?” Lorne queried.

“Apart from the engine running and a dead body, presumably the driver, being found inside the van, you mean?”

“Damn. Why was the engine running?”

“You’ll see when we get there,” Katy replied with a shrug.

Lorne spent the rest of the trip sporting an intensively creased brow while Katy kept glancing her way, wearing an amused grin.

The car park had been cordoned off with crime scene tape. An excessive amount of forensic and police cars were in attendance, too.

“This seems a little overkill. Why all the interest?”

“Not sure it warrants this amount of interest, by what I’ve heard. I’ll send them on their way once we’ve looked over the scene ourselves.”

They got out of the vehicle and walked towards the van. They flashed their IDs at the uniformed officer guarding the area, and he lifted the tape for them to duck under. As they approached the van, Patti, the pathologist, saw them arrive and smiled.

“Strange one this, girls.”

“In what way, Patti?” Lorne asked.

“Generally, if someone tries to commit suicide in this way, they don’t tend to do it in such a public area.”

“Suicide? Is that how you’re reading this, Patti?” Katy asked.

“Considering I’ve only been on the scene for the last half hour, yes, that’s my take on the victim’s death at this moment in time. Of course, that can change at the flick of a switch.”

Lorne got closer to the vehicle to assess the scene for herself. She withdrew her plastic gloves from her pocket and snapped them on. “A hosepipe leading to the exhaust. Is that really the cause of death?”

“Like I’ve stated already, it appears to be the cause of death for now.”

“I sense some doubt in your tone, Patti. Come on, give us the full picture. Where are your thoughts heading with this one?” Katy prompted the pathologist.

“The man was found in the rear of his vehicle. Usually, when someone decides to take their own life in this manner, they remain seated at the front of the vehicle, close to the end of the pipe, for greater impact to aid their demise.”

“I see. I know you’ve recently arrived, but have you had a chance to get a close look at the victim yet, Patti? Is that what lies behind your doubtfulness?”

“Astute as ever, Lorne. I quickly surveyed the corpse and found a severe wound to the back of his head, actually quite a few wounds to his head. However, I think this particular one would have caused a major trauma.”

“Mind if we take a look?” Lorne strained her neck to see the corpse for herself from the passenger door.

Katy pulled her back. “We need to be suited and booted before we get near the victim, Lorne. You know that.”

“Yeah, I know, boss. I was just trying to take a sneaky peek.”

“You can do that after we get togged up.” Katy turned her back, and Lorne took the opportunity to pull a face at her partner.

She looked over at Patti, who’d spotted the insubordinate display and was suppressing a chuckle. Lorne’s cheeks warmed, and she shrugged at her good friend.

Once they were dressed in white paper suits and blue shoe covers, Lorne and Katy squeezed into the back of the van to assess the body, under Patti’s close supervision.

She lifted the corpse’s head and pointed out the wound she had referred to earlier. “Here, you see?”

“Okay. Could it have happened on something already in the van, on one of his tools, perhaps?” Lorne asked.

“I can’t really see anything lying around that would make a dent this size in his skull. Be my guest to look for yourselves,” Patti replied, her hand sweeping the area, inviting the search.

Lorne examined the immediate floor area of the van, only to be disappointed by the result. “Hmm… I see what you mean. I take it you’re suspecting some kind of foul play has gone on then, Patti?”

“At the present time,
I’m
not saying anything—
you
are. I’m not one for jumping to conclusions. You know that. Let’s see what we find once we get the corpse back to the examination room.”

Katy nodded. “I know where my line of thinking is heading on this one.”

“What’s that?” Lorne had a fair idea what Katy was going to say next.

“I think we’re looking at a murder crime scene and not a suicide. Don’t hold me to that, though.”

“Interesting. So you reckon all of this has been staged. For what reason, I wonder?” Lorne nodded thoughtfully.

“That, dear ladies, is for you to find out,” Patti stated unnecessarily.

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