Authors: Alex Gray
|Sleep Like the Dead. By Alex Gray|
|Lorimer and Brightman |
Everyone is searching for Billy Brogan and his sister, Marianne. Marianne's ex-husband Kenneth Scott is gunned down in his home and two men are found dead in Billy's West End flat. But Billy is on the run to Spain, with the money that was meant to pay the hit man who killed Kenneth. Now the hit man remains in Glasgow, seeking not just his fee for his job but the elusive Marianne. The woman has been a mature student of Dr Solomon Brightman, psychology lecturer at Glasgow University and criminal profiler. Why, when she meets him unexpectedly in a Glasgow bookshop, does she tell him she owes him such a lot? And what is her relationship to Amit, the educated Pakistani refugee from Lahore? DCI Lorimer is given the news that psychological profiling is no longer allowed following a case of wrongful arrest down South, but can his friendship with Solly produce the necessary clues in this case? And will Solly be able to find his missing student before time runs out for her?
SLEEP LIKE THE DEAD BY ALEX GRAY
Everyone is searching for Billy Brogan and his sister, Marianne. Marianne’s ex-husband Kenneth Scott is gunned down in his home and two men are found dead in Billy’s West End flat. But Billy is on the run to Spain, with the money that was meant to pay the hit man who killed Kenneth. Now the hit man remains in Glasgow, seeking not just his fee for his job but the elusive Marianne. The woman has been a mature student of Dr Solomon Brightman, psychology lecturer at Glasgow University and criminal profiler. Why, when she meets him unexpectedly in a Glasgow bookshop, does she tell him she owes him such a lot? And what is her relationship to Amit, the educated Pakistani refugee from Lahore? DCI Lorimer is given the news that psychological profiling is no longer allowed following a case of wrongful arrest down South, but can his friendship with Solly produce the necessary clues in this case? And will Solly be able to find his missing student before time runs out for her? First published in Great Britain in 2011 by Sphere
Copyright Alex Gray 2011
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
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.
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, nor be 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 CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library.
Typeset in Caslon by M Rules
Printed and bound in Great Britain by
Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
Papers used by Sphere are natural, renewable and
recyclable products sourced from well-managed forests and certified
in accordance with the rules of the Forest Stewardship Council. Sphere
An imprint of
Little, Brown Book Group
This book is dedicated to Blake and Eloise with love.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. William Shakespeare,The Tempest
It always began in the dark. Not the crepuscular velvet blue of romantic nights but the sort of total blackness one would find deep underground — a coal-black cleft where one wrong move might mean stepping out into a bottomless void. Darkness heightened every other sense, even the rank smell of fear prickling skin that was already damp and chill. And there was something else; something foul and rank as though some dead creature was buried underfoot. The sound of a heartbeat hammering within a tightening chest was the only sign of life until … until that voice called out, soft and heavy within the thick blackness.
Then a sigh, relief that he had come again. That it would soon be over. Knowing he was here was better than the anticipation that had made this feverish sweat trickle down between thin shoulder blades.
Knowing he was here made what was to happen next inevitable.
The fingertips touched an unresisting throat, moving slowly in a mock caress. Then a pause, as though to consider the next move. But it was only the hesitation of a cat toying with its prey. That was understood.
With a suddenness that never failed to shock, the hands encircled the small white throat and squeezed hard. ‘1’hen harder. As ever, dark turned to red, raging behind each eyeball, protesting soundlessly as he pressed the carotid artery, cutting off breath and life. Afterwards, blessed silence and a flicker of light from the street lamp outside as eyelids opened on the familiar room. The bedside clock registered two a.m. Four long hours until daylight returned and life could resume its pattern; hours that would be witness to a creature fearful of sleep, desperate for rest. It was always two a.m. when that nightmare act of murder was disturbed by wakefulness. And with it, the belief that one day it would finally happen.
The sound of the doorbell ringing was just part of an unremembered dream, wasn’t it? Eyes still gritty with sleep, the man turned over but the noise continued to drill into his brain, commanding the wakefulness that he resisted.
Thrusting the covers from his body, he felt the cold floor on the bare soles of his feet. The red figures on the bedside clock told him it was still the middle of the night. Bad news. It was always bad news when someone came ringing your doorbell.
He thudded downstairs, one hand on the wall to steady himself, wondering what was wrong. Whoever stood there, one finger pressed on the doorbell, wanted his attention. Now.
Bad news. Wasn’t that what his parents had always told him? The call in the night. The scream of an ambulance through the darkness.
He fumbled for the light switch but somehow his hand didn’t find it and he opened the front door instead. Wanting to stop that incessant ringing. Curious to know what was wrong. Out of the dark came a figure then a flash of white as his head exploded in a moment of agonising pain, kicking him through time and space.
Then darkness descended for ever.
The man with the gun shook his head at the body on the
Bad news, indeed.
Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer felt the swish of the plastic tape behind him as he entered the crime scene.
He glanced at the house, one eyebrow raised in slight surprise. It was such an ordinary two-up, two-down mid-terrace, a modest suburban home, like thousands of others in and around this city in a district not particularly known for a high rate of crime. And certainly not for ones like this. But impressions could be deceptive, that was something he’d learned long ago, and as the Chief Inspector took another look around him his mouth became a hard thin line: scratch the surface of any neighbourhood and the veneer of respectability could expose all manner of human depravity. The entire garden was cordoned off and a uniformed officer stood guard at the front gate, his eyes shifting only momentarily to the DCI. Lorimer turned to look behind him. Across the street a huddle of people stood, clearly undeterred by the driving rain, their curiosity or compassion binding them in a pool of silent anticipation. Three police vehicles lined the pavement, a clear sign of the gravity of the situation.
The incident had occurred sometime during the night yet the bright glare from a sun struggling to emerge from layers of cloud made a mockery of the situation. This was an ordinary Monday
morning where nothing like this should be happening. I le could hear the hum of motorway traffic several streets away as people headed to work, oblivious to the little drama that was about to unfold. A bit in tomorrow’s newspaper would command their attention for a few moments, perhaps, then they would dismiss it as someone else’s tragedy and continue about their business, glad that it didn’t impinge upon their own lives. His business lay ahead, behind that white tent erected outside the doorway, keeping the scene free from prying eyes. Lorimer nodded, satisfied to see it in place. At least one journalist might be among that knot of watchers over the road, he thought wryly. Closing the gate behind him he ventured up the path then stopped. Someone had been violently sick out here, the traces of vomit splashed over a clump of foliage not yet washed away by earlier torrential rain. Whatever lay inside had been shocking enough to make one person’s stomach heave.
With a word to the duty officer the DCI let himself into the house, his gloved hands closing the door carefully behind him.
The body lay spreadeagled on the hall carpet, the gunshot wound clearly visible in the artificial light. He was clad in thin summer pyjamas, the shirt open revealing his bare chest. Any traces in the immediate area would assist the scene of crime officers in learning a little more about the victim’s end, as would the bullet lodged within his head. For Lorimer, the story was one that seemed sadly familiar; a gangland shooting, maybe drug related. The single shot to the temple indicated a professional hit man at any rate, he thought, hunkering down beside the body.
‘What can you tell me?’ he asked, looking up at Detective Sergeant Ramsay, the crime scene manager, who had arrived before him.
‘Well, so far as we can make out there was no call from neighbours about hearing a weapon being discharged.’ The officer shrugged as if to say that didn’t mean much at this stage. To many people, having a quiet life was preferable to giving evidence in a criminal trial.
‘The killer’s weapon may have been fitted with a silencer, of course,’ Ramsay continued, ‘or the neighbours on either side could just be heavy sleepers. We haven’t found a cartridge case, by the way,’ he added.
‘So who called it in?’ Lorimer wanted to know.
‘Colleague of the victim, sir. Was coming to give him a lift to work. Didn’t get an answer to the doorbell so he looked through the letterbox, saw the body. .
`… And dialled 999,’ Lorimer finished for him. ‘Suppose that was the same person who was sick outside?’
Ramsay nodded. ‘Poor guy’s still shivering out there in the patrol car. Had to wrap a blanket around his shoulders. He’s been trying to give us what information he can.’
‘Okay. What do we know so far?’ Lorimer asked, looking at the dead man, wondering what his story had been, how he had been brought to this untimely end. The victim was a man about his own age, perhaps younger, he thought, noting the mid-brown hair devoid of any flecks of grey. For a moment Lorimer wanted to place his fingers upon the man’s head, stroke it gently as if to express the pity that he felt. No matter what his history, nobody deserved to die like this.
‘Kenneth Scott,’ the DS told him. ‘Thirty-seven. Lived alone. Divorced. No children. Parents both dead. We haven’t managed to get a lot else out of the colleague yet,’ he added, jerking his head in the direction of the street. ‘Too shocked to say much when we arrived. After he’d seen his pal.’
Lorimer continued to focus upon the dead man on the floor, The victim’s eyes were still wide with surprise, the mouth open as if to register a sudden protest, but it was not an expression of terror.
‘It must have happened too quickly for him to have realised what was happening,’ Lorimer murmured almost to himself. ‘Or had he known his assailant?’
‘There was no forced entry, sir, but that might not mean all that much.’
The DCI nodded a brief agreement. Men were less likely to worry about opening their doors to strangers, if indeed this had been a stranger. And a strong-armed assassin would have been in and out of there in seconds, one quick shot and away. Lorimer sat back on his heels, thinking hard. They would have to find out about the man’s background as a priority as well as notifying his next of kin. The pal outside had given some information. They’d be checking all that out, of course. ‘What about his work background?’ Lorimer asked. ‘They were in IT, the guy out there told us, shared lifts to a call centre on a regular basis.’
Lorimer stood up as the door opened again to admit a small figure dressed, like himself, in the regulation white boiler suit. His face creased into a grin as he recognised the consultant forensic pathologist. Despite her advanced state of pregnancy, Doctor Rosie Fergusson was still attending crime scenes on a regular basis.
‘Still managing not to throw up?’ he asked mischievously, ‘Give over, Lorimer,’ the woman replied, elbowing her way past him, ‘I’m way past that stage now, you know,’ she protested, patting her burgeoning belly. ‘Into my third trimester,’ ‘Right, what have we here?’ she asked, bending down slowly
and opening her kitbag. Her tone, Lorimer noticed, was immediately softer as she regarded the victim. It was something they had in common, that unspoken compassion that made them accord a certain dignity towards a dead person. Lorimer heard Rosie sigh as her glance fell on the victim’s bare feet; clad only in his nightwear that somehow made him seem all the more vulnerable.