Recent Titles by Pauline Rowson
TIDE OF DEATH
IN COLD DAYLIGHT
FOR THE KILL
THE SUFFOCATING SEA
DEAD MAN’S WHARF
BLOOD ON THE SAND
FOOTSTEPS ON THE SHORE
*FOOTSTEPS ON THE SHORE
available from Severn House
An Inspector Andy Horton Mystery
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First world edition published 2011
in Great Britain and the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2011 by Pauline Rowson.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Footsteps on the shore. – (A Detective Inspector Horton
1. Horton, Andy (Fictitious character)–Fiction.
2. Police–England–Portsmouth–Fiction. 3. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-122-4 (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8007-9 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-326-7 (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.
This book is dedicated to Jim Gross, Hilary Johnson and Amy Myers for their unstinting support, encouragement and belief in me; to my publisher for making it possible; and to my readers, with many grateful thanks.
Friday, 13 March
here is everyone?’ Inspector Andy Horton swept into the CID room at Portsmouth station and addressed the wiry, dark-haired figure leaning back in his chair, chewing gum and tapping a pencil thoughtfully on his chin.
‘You’re looking at him,’ Sergeant Cantelli answered, throwing the pencil down and sitting up.
Horton frowned. ‘And DC Walters?’
‘Probably in the canteen. Must be all of an hour since he last ate, and you know how faint he gets if he has to go too long without food.’ Cantelli smiled, obviously expecting one in return, but Horton wasn’t in the mood. Cantelli’s expression darkened. ‘What’s wrong, Andy? You look as though you’d like to commit murder.’
‘I would, and of the mindless moron who did this.’ He thrust a piece of paper into Cantelli’s hand. On it was a drawing of a diagonal cross with a broken circle etched above it.
‘What’s it mean?’ asked Cantelli, puzzled, turning it this way and that to study it.
‘No idea, but some idiot thought it a huge joke to scratch it on my Harley.’
Cantelli’s head shot up and his dark eyes widened. ‘Blimey, no wonder you’re in a foul mood. Who would do that?’
‘I intend to find out.’ Horton waltzed through to his office, wrenching off his leather biker’s jacket and slinging it on the coat stand. ‘And when I do I’ll string him up by the balls.’
‘It’s not a Hell’s Angel emblem, is it? Harleys and all that,’ asked Cantelli, following him.
‘A Hell’s Angel wouldn’t deface a Harley, not even if he hated my guts. He’d scratch that symbol on my face or tattoo it on my private parts.’
‘Perhaps it doesn’t mean anything and it’s just some sicko’s idea of fun.’
‘Well, I’m not laughing.’ Horton’s fury was undiminished since first sight of the abomination this morning. On discovering it he’d raced back to the marina office and demanded to view the security CCTV tapes of the car park above the pontoon where he lived on a borrowed yacht, but there were no sightings of the graffiti artist and no car unaccounted for by Eddie in the office. In fact there were only three cars in the car park after ten o’clock last night, when Horton had returned to his boat following a long and tedious day dealing with pointless paperwork and Portsmouth’s criminal classes, whose sole pleasure in life was making other people’s lives as miserable as their own wretched existence. The only bright spot had been yesterday afternoon, when he had viewed a yacht he hoped would soon become his permanent home.
He simply couldn’t believe a boat owner, either a visiting one or an existing berth holder, could have been responsible for the act of vandalism on his Harley, but he got a list of visitors to the marina from Eddie. There was only one, a Peter Medlow on
Horton located the yacht, a classic 1950 Hillyard, which made him even more doubtful that its owner could have defaced a Harley Davidson. A man who chose to sail such a revered yacht couldn’t spoil an iconic machine. But being a police officer he knew that no one was above suspicion, not even the Pope, though he doubted
be visiting Southsea Marina by boat on a chilly, still March night. Medlow had turned out to be a friendly widower in his early sixties, a retired bank manager with a self-effacing manner. Hardly Horton’s graffiti artist.
Cantelli said, ‘Maybe someone’s jealous of you.’
Horton sat at a desk so overflowing with paperwork that it looked in danger of collapse, and eyed Cantelli incredulously. ‘Barney, I live on a borrowed boat, I’m about to get divorced. My estranged wife won’t let me see, let alone speak to my daughter, who she’s intent on sending away to a boarding school against her wishes, and the only woman I thought I could get close to has put herself beyond my reach by returning to Sweden. How could anyone possibly be jealous of me?’
‘Thea Carlsson’s still in touch with you though, isn’t she?’ Cantelli asked, throwing himself into the seat opposite Horton.
Horton shook his head. ‘No.’ He felt a mixture of sadness and anger that the slender, fair woman he’d rescued from a burning building less than two months ago had turned her back on him. He had hoped something might come of their feelings for one another, but he should have known better. They both carried too much baggage. In a moment of bitter disappointment he had accused her of running away from her pain – her brother’s death – but she had calmly replied, ‘Isn’t that what you’ve been doing for over thirty years?’ She’d been referring to his mother’s disappearance when he was ten. She was right; and even though two recent cases had opened up the past for him and given him leads, he’d not pursued them. He hadn’t even looked at the missing persons file since returning to duty four weeks ago. He felt a stab of guilt, and then anger that he should be made to feel guilty when his mother had deserted him, not the other way around.
‘It could be a threat then,’ Cantelli posed, frowning with concern as he once again studied the symbol. ‘Some kind of coded warning perhaps?’
Horton had already considered this, along with who would threaten him and why. He had enemies – who didn’t in this job? – and although he sincerely hoped that the more dangerous of them were banged up he wasn’t going to bet on it, not with the way the justice system seemed to be operating. But one particular villain had sprung to mind, and one he had never seen. Neither did he know his real identity, only that the head of the Intelligence Directorate, Detective Chief Superintendent Sawyer, called him Zeus because he wielded his thunderbolts to control his family of crooks and kill anyone who stepped a millimetre out of line. And that brought Horton right back to thoughts of his mother, because Sawyer had told him she might once have been associated with Zeus. Sawyer had hoped to enlist Horton’s help in running Zeus to ground but Horton had refused, not out of fear for himself but because he knew the Zeuses of this world wouldn’t hesitate to get at him by hurting his daughter, and that was a no-brainer as far as he was concerned. But, he reasoned, an international villain like Zeus wouldn’t be arsing around scratching symbols on his Harley; the threat would have been much more physical and painful.
Cantelli said, ‘Someone at the university might know what that symbol means.’
‘It means some brainless lowlife gets his kicks from vandalizing other people’s property. And I’m going to find out who it is.’ Reaching for his phone, Horton added, ‘I shall view every CCTV tape from all the cameras in the area, including those along the seafront and—’
Cantelli started and jumped up while Horton quickly stifled the groan that had automatically sprung to his lips as he stared at the taut, thin figure of the head of CID, Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Bliss, standing in his doorway and looking about as friendly as the Grimpen Mire. She wasn’t due back from her secondment at HQ for another fortnight, so what the devil was she doing here now?
He replaced the phone and flashed Cantelli a look. By the sergeant’s expression it was clear, though, he was equally surprised by Bliss’s sudden reappearance. Maybe this was a short visit, Horton thought hopefully, and she’d quickly return to HQ where she had been examining pay and performance.
Pointedly consulting her watch, she said curtly, ‘You’re late.’
Horton stared at her hollowed face and sharp green eyes, resenting both her manner and her comment. With an effort he bit his tongue to stem the automatic retort, the desire to remind her of the countless times he’d worked late, come in early or during his off-duty days.
‘My office. Now.’ She turned on her heel and marched away, leaving him to stare at the light brown ponytail, the narrow backside in the tight black skirt, and the head held so high that he wondered if there was something stuck on the ceiling of the CID operations room.
‘What’s wrong with her office?’ Cantelli said.
‘Hopefully it’s infected with a plague of locusts,’ Horton said with bitterness, rising. ‘I take back everything I ever said about Friday the thirteenth being a load of superstitious old bollocks. Get hold of those CCTV tapes for me, Barney. And find DC Walters before the Wicked Witch of the North notices he’s missing.’
Horton dived into the corridor, wondering if Bliss’s colleagues at HQ had got as sick of her as he was. He’d only worked under her for a brief spell before she’d been spirited away but it had been long enough for them both to recognize that friendship, or even a civil working partnership, was about as likely as world peace. He considered her to be petty, vindictive, bureaucratic, and ambitious to the point that she didn’t care which of her subordinates or colleagues she dropped in the shit, while she clearly considered him embittered at being overlooked for promotion, insubordinate for daring to disagree with her, and a maverick for not always conforming to a rule book which was already a joke among most police officers, and fast becoming a rather sick and sad one with the majority of the public.
He pushed open her office door prepared for a bollocking and was surprised to find that Bliss wasn’t alone. Two pairs of eyes – other than Bliss’s critical green ones – swivelled to study him and neither pair was very friendly. He recognized the square-set woman in heavily rimmed glasses as Beverley Attworth, the head of the probation service. The man beside her he didn’t know. Dressed in faded, patched jeans and a shapeless brown jumper, he was in his late twenties with shoulder-length black hair framing a pinched unshaven face.
‘Sit,’ Bliss commanded.
Maybe he should bark, Horton thought, taking the vacant chair the other side of Bliss’s immaculately tidy desk beside Beverley Attworth. He gave her a brief smile but didn’t get one in return, which was hardly surprising because he didn’t think he’d ever seen her smile. Still, he didn’t have much to smile about at the moment either, he thought, recalling with suppressed fury that emblem on his Harley.
Bliss said, ‘You know Ms Attworth. This is her colleague, Matt Boynton.’
Boynton’s fleshy lips gave a nervous twitch which Horton interpreted as a smile, though it could have been wind. Judging by the tension in the room, Horton thought that whatever this was about, it wasn’t good.
Abruptly, Bliss announced, ‘Luke Felton is missing.’
Felton? Horton quickly searched his brain for some recollection of the name. Fortunately it came to him instantly. ‘The Natalie Raymonds murder in September 1997,’ he answered promptly, drawing a surprised look from Bliss. He’d been a sergeant seconded to the vice squad at the time, and Luke Felton had been found in the doorway of a house they’d gone to raid, which had been suspected of being a brothel. Luke had been suffering withdrawal symptoms from heroin and wanted in connection with the murder of Natalie Raymonds on the coastal path on Hayling Island. Felton had had nothing to do with the brothel, but because he’d been found at the house it had scuppered the raid. DCI Sean Lovell, had been on the Raymonds case, a man Horton had both worked with and respected, and who, he recalled, had died suddenly of a heart attack before Felton had been convicted and sentenced to prison. Horton couldn’t remember how many years Felton had got, but surely it was too soon for his release. But Bliss had said ‘missing’.