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Authors: T F Muir

Life For a Life

BOOK: Life For a Life
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T. F. Muir
is the author of
Eye for an Eye
Hand for a Hand
Tooth for a Tooth
, a contemporary bestselling crime series set in St Andrews, Scotland. Having spent almost all of his professional life overseas as a civil engineer, Frank returned to Scotland to write full-time. Now a dual US/UK citizen, Frank lives on the outskirts of Glasgow with his wife, Anne, from where he visits St Andrews regularly to carry out some serious research in the auld grey town’s many bars and restaurants.






Also by T. F. Muir

Tooth for a Tooth

Eye for an Eye*

Hand for a Hand*

*written as Frank Muir


T. F. Muir






Constable & Robinson Ltd

55–56 Russell Square

London WC1B 4HP

First published in the UK by C&R Crime,

an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2013

Copyright © T. F. Muir 2013

The right of T. F. Muir to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988

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

All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in

Publication Data is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-1-78033-779-1 (paperback)

ISBN 978-1-78033-780-7 (ebook)

Printed and bound in the UK

3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 1

Cover design ©; Cover photograph: St Andrews, Fife, Scotland © Derek Allan / Alamy






This book is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Wishart


In almost every work of fiction an author will seek assistance in an effort to improve the authenticity of the story. In that respect, this book is all the better for input from the following: Gayle and Kenny Cameron of Fife Constabulary, Dougie Potter, ex-Fife Constabulary and Jon Miller, ex-Superintendent, for police procedure; Jane Heller for exacting editorial assistance; Krystyna Green for having the courage of her convictions, and for believing that I could pull it off in the end; Jo Stansall, Grace Vincent, Charlotte Hoare, Rob Nichols and many others at Constable & Robinson who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to give this novel the best possible start; Heather Holden-Brown for sound advice whne the going got tough; Celia Hayley of hhb agency for encouragement; and finally Anne, for putting up with me, believing in me and loving me all the way.

This book is a work of fiction. Those readers familiar with St Andrews and the East Neuk may notice that I have takent creative license with respect to some local geography. Any and all mistakes are mine.

Small hours of Saturday, early December
Fife coast, Scotland

She stumbles across the lawn, pushes through the gap in the hedge.

She has no time, ten minutes at most, probably much less.

Beyond the hedge, overgrown grass, dead and flattened for the winter, clings to her shoes. She kicks her way towards the low garden wall, grips the snow-freezing stones, and pulls herself up and over.

In the blackness, she lands awkwardly, sprawls on to her stomach with a force that brings a hard grunt to her throat. She picks herself up, risks a quick look behind her.

The gable wall of the cottage is already fading into the freezing darkness.

He is not following. Not yet.

But he soon will be.

She thinks of knocking on someone’s door but knows this part of Scotland beds early. And he could return anytime, catch her in another house, then where would she be?

Better to run into the darkness.

Her high heels sink into the ground, slowing her down, and she slides a hand the length of her bare legs and removes one shoe, then the other. She grips them in her hands, shivering from the cold, and runs into the night. She does not know where she is, or where she is running to, but the faintest smell of the sea, and the whisper of distant surf, pull her on.

He will not expect her to flee this way. He will waste valuable time searching the housing estate, driving the streets, hunting her.

And if he finds her . . . ?

Just that thought has her throat constricting with fear, her lungs pulling for air. She chokes back a sob, risks another glance. Behind her, lights fade into a ghostly glow, and she realises that mist is falling.

Thank God. At least He is looking out for her.

That thought gives her hope.

The wall appears out of the empty darkness, like a barrier to block her escape. But again she hauls herself over, lands on a gravel pathway, the stones small and sharp enough to cut into her bare feet. She cleans mud from her soles, slips on her high heels, and jogs as best she can into the ice-cold breeze. The mist changes to the finest of snowflakes that thicken as she runs on. From behind, she hears a thump, imagines it is him slamming the cottage door shut. Another hard sound echoes in the darkness.

His car? Its engine firing up?

She reaches down for her shoes, snaps off one high heel, then the other, and throws them into the darkness. Without heels, she runs faster, her feet thudding the gravel path in a steady beat, reminding her of days at her school in Rzeszow, pounding the track. She wishes she was there now, wishes she had never met Anna, never listened to her dreams of starting a new life in a new country.

The snow is thickening now, flakes landing in her eyes, flying towards her like some spinning vortex. Despite the sweat on her brow, her arms and legs feel frozen dead, like limbs of ice. Her lungs breathe fire, and her chest pulses with an ache that makes her want to stop.

But she can’t stop. She must keep running.

She will need to find somewhere to hide, some place warm, or she will freeze in the bitter winter cold. She presses on, not knowing where she is going, knowing only that if she does not turn back, she will find her haven. She will at last be free.

Free from the pain, the insults, the inhumanity.

Free from the constant fear of death.

Free from him.

Tuesday morning, four days later
St Andrews Memorial Hospital

DCI Andy Gilchrist flashed his warrant card at the nurse. ‘Won’t be more than five minutes,’ he said.

He found DI Stan Davidson asleep, one of two patients in a small ward fitted out for six. He pulled a chair bedside, gave the mattress a gentle shake.

Stan stirred, opened his eyes, took a few seconds to come to and say, ‘Boss?’

‘Got it in one.’

Stan tried to shift himself, but stopped short with a grimace.

‘Bit sore?’ Gilchrist said.

‘And then some.’ Stan gritted his teeth.

‘Would be worse if they didn’t have you doped up.’

‘Help me up, boss, will you?’

‘Stay where you are, Stan. You’ve got twenty-six stitches. Best if you don’t move.’

Stan gave a welcoming nod, and seemed to deflate under the sheets.

‘You’ll be out of action for a week or two,’ Gilchrist said. ‘Give you plenty of time to do your Christmas shopping. Not that I’m looking for much.’ He waited until Stan offered a half-smile. ‘Just the usual. A pint behind the bar. But make it a Deuchars IPA this year.’

Stan frowned. ‘What brought that on, boss?’

‘Thought I’d give the Eighty Shilling a miss, and try something different. Talking of which . . .’

‘I’ll be good as new after the New Year, boss.’

‘I’m counting on it, Stan.’

‘I’ve never missed a day, boss.’

‘I never said you had. But while you’re lying in bed pretending to be ill, life goes on. It’s the festive season, Stan. Nothing but drunk and disorderlies and a thousand breathalysers. You won’t be missing much.’

‘What about the new DS?’

‘Starts tomorrow.’

‘So she’ll stand in for me?’

‘As a temp, Stan. Don’t worry.’

Stan nodded, as if in thought. ‘From her file, she looks a bit of a cracker.’

‘You worried that I’m going to prefer her to you?’

‘Well, she is better looking than me.’

‘Maybe she’ll fall for you, Stan. With your charm and your blond looks.’

‘I’m too busy for birds, boss.’

Gilchrist pushed his chair back, and stood. ‘I’ve spoken with Dainty,’ he said. ‘He assures me it’s an old photograph, and a cracker she’s not. Well, not to look at anyway.’

‘Don’t tell me she’s trouble.’

‘Dainty didn’t say that.’

‘Is that why she’s transferring from Strathclyde?’

‘Apparently not,’ said Gilchrist. ‘But time will tell.’

Stan held Gilchrist’s gaze, then said, ‘What are you looking at, boss?’

Gilchrist peered closer. ‘Are you losing your hair, Stan?’

‘Piss off. I’ve nearly been stabbed to death, and you’re asking if I’m losing my hair? Yes, I’m losing my hair. I’ll be pure bald by the time I’m as ancient as you.’

‘Touché,’ said Gilchrist. ‘But then you won’t have to worry about going grey.’ He waited a couple of beats, then said, ‘The name’s Stewart Donnelly. A right nasty piece of work. We have four eyewitnesses who’ve given written statements, all confirming the attack was unprovoked.’

‘Well, that’s a start,’ Stan said. ‘And has Donnelly explained why he jumped me?’

‘Said you provoked him. I know, I know, settle down, Stan, it’s only his story. He’d say black was white if it got him off. He’s got form. Lots of it. Apparently he was over from Dundee to celebrate being released on bail.’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘I kid you not, Stan old son. You were attacked by a career criminal.’

Stan frowned. ‘What about the other guy? His mate? What’s he saying?’

‘Name’s Craig Farmer. Says he pulled Donnelly off you. Which was lucky for you. But he’s not Donnelly’s mate. Says he doesn’t know him. Met him in the pub for the first time that day, although Donnelly says otherwise.’ Gilchrist checked his watch.

‘Got to go, boss?’

‘Could give you a kiss goodbye, if you’d like.’

‘I don’t think my stitches could stand it.’

‘We don’t want you popping any sutures.’

Outside, a grey sky threatened snow.

Gilchrist pulled his collar up and strode to his Merc, remote in hand. It irked him that he had not been altogether honest with Stan. Not that he was being deceitful, rather that he felt there was no need to trouble him over personal thoughts and concerns.

Donnelly’s mate, the man who had pulled Donnelly off Stan, arguably saving Stan’s life, had traipsed along to the office as requested, given his name – Craig Farmer – signed his written statement, then returned to his B&B, Arran House, in Murray Park. Except that when Gilchrist checked in on him earlier that morning, Arran House had no record of a Craig Farmer staying over, or of anyone else who fitted his description. Nor did his name tie up with his driving licence registered with the DVLA.

Which only raised more questions in Gilchrist’s mind.

Questions he knew from experience he would need answered.

DS Nancy Wilson eyed the recorder on the table, and said, ‘DCI Andy Gilchrist has joined the interview.’ She glanced at the clock on the wall, recited the time, then said, ‘Once more for the record, Mr Donnelly has turned down his right for legal representation during this interview. Is that correct, Mr Donnelly?’

BOOK: Life For a Life
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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