Read Scalpel Online

Authors: Paul Carson

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Crime

Scalpel (25 page)

'Anne Cantwell? Dr Morgan's ready for you now.' One of the women stood up, smoothed her creased skirt, flicked her hair back and entered the consulting room. She stalked rather than walked inside, like a cat after prey.

Kate Hamilton felt almost drawn into this menagerie, fascinated and yet repelled at the same time.

'Can I help you?'

The eyes swivelled.

'Yes. I'd like a word with Dr Morgan.'

'Do you have an appointment?'

'No.' She slipped her card onto the reception desk and crimped blonde studied it briefly before looking up.

'If you'd like to wait I'll speak to him after he finishes with the patient just gone in.'

The waiting women turned towards Hamilton. Who's she with her pretty face and slim body inside that plain, stuffy navy uniform? A silence fell in the waiting room which was broken only by the strumming fingers of crimped blonde.



Tom Morgan's consulting room reflected the generosity of the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. A calendar on the wall behind his chair not only gave the date but also the role of hormone replacement therapy in peri-menopausal women. Two mugs stuffed with biros confirmed that Disodene was the contraceptive of choice in today's young woman. A writing pad on his desk was surrounded on its outer margins with the logos and trademarks of a number
of companies specialising in gynaecological problems. The pens that he wrote with extolled the virtues of the latest NSAID in dysmenorrhoea and even the soap that washed his hands and the towel that dried them were covered in trade names. Only ethical constraints forbidding the pharmaceutical industry putting their logos on Armani suits, shirts and ties prevented Tom Morgan looking like a Formula One racing driver at a pit stop.

'Good morning, Detective Hamilton, I believe you were looking for me the other night. My secretary tells me one of your officers has also been trying to contact me. Something about a blood test?' Morgan sounded concerned and anxious to cooperate. He looked perplexed by the whole business. His pretty face wrinkled, so concerned and perplexed was he. 'It's just that I've been out of town for the past few days and didn't get a chance to get back to you.'

Kate Hamilton had to admit he was quite gorgeous. He had the body and face of Adonis and probably the other bits to go with it. His every movement exuded sexuality as he rested his chin on long, delicate, intertwined fingers and gazed provocatively into her eyes.

'However, now you've found me,' he continued slowly, tauntingly. 'What can I do for you?'

Hamilton was about to go into her prepared speech when the door was burst open by Tony Dowling. He was ashen faced.

'Kate, I need to talk to ye immediately. Ye better come this minute. Something's happened.'



It was the young lust birds who discovered something amiss in Staff Nurse Higgins' life. The continual ringing of the phone in the flat above finally woke them up after a night of passion. The phone would ring off, then start up again, the noise slowly penetrating their sleep, then their wakefulness. It began to irritate.

'She's usually gone by now,' he muttered as he felt a hand slowly advance up between his thighs. 'Again?'


'You're an animal.'


But the phone rang again, ruining the moment. He slipped out of bed and padded over to the window to check if her car had gone. It hadn't. He rubbed at the steamed-up glass with a corner of the curtain.

'Nah, she's still here.'

Then he noticed something out of the corner of his eye as he turned to go back to bed. He wiped more of the glass with more of the curtain and squinted, this time seeing clearly the patch of red beside the parked car. It was a large patch of red with something lying slightly to the front of this patch of red. Something that looked very like a hammer. He strained to see the car and noticed the windows totally misted. For a moment his eyes dropped as his brain tried to analyse what he had seen. He was puzzled. Then, slightly alarmed he looked back again and this time became even more alarmed.

'Look, I'm just gonna check that car outside. I'll be back in a minute.'

She was lying with the bedclothes pulled full back revealing the morning's anticipated activity areas. 'Hurry. I'll be waiting.' He pulled on a dressing gown, stepped into his slippers, then dragged a thick sweater over his head.

She went to the window to watch.

He came into her view from around the side of the building, his breath misting in the morning frost, both hands inside the opposite sleeve of the dressing gown. She tapped at the window but he didn't look up. She noticed he was edging slowly towards the car, very slowly, really, considering how cold it looked outside. Then he was down peering at something on the ground and, still on his hunkers, crab-stepped his way to something else.

He stood up slowly, still staring at the ground. She tapped at the window again, this time more forcefully, but he still didn't turn round. She watched as he moved backwards, still looking downwards. Slowly, very slowly, he went round to the passenger side of the car and started squinting inside,
rubbing a sleeve against the glass. There was frost on all smooth surfaces and on the grass and branches of trees. Suddenly he darted to the back passenger-side window, his sleeve rubbing agitatedly at the window. His head jerked up, breath steaming in the air in short, quick gasps. He looked back in again.

Then he ran like a man possessed, even dropping one slipper.

What the hell is he doing? What is going on? What has he seen?



Hamilton and Dowling arrived just before eleven. Three squad cars, white with distinctive yellow stripe and blue flashing lights, were pulled up and parked randomly in the flats complex car park. Six uniformed Gardai moved briskly about to keep warm, one of them talking into a two-way radio. The driver's side door of one of the squad cars was open and a crackling voice spilled out confirming details and movements of the investigation team. Spindly shadows of the tree branches suddenly cast themselves across the car park as the sun came out from behind a cloud. The momentary brightness dazzled passing motorists and they had to shield their eyes to see what was going on.

Kate Hamilton knew already it was Staff Nurse Higgins' car. Over her mobile phone she learned there was a body in the boot that could be seen through the back window, as one of the back seats was pulled forward flat with a leg resting awkwardly on it. A very still leg. A deadly still, white stockinged leg with red staining, could be clearly seen. It didn't look very good for whoever was inside that boot. And Hamilton knew in her heart it was Staff Nurse Higgins.

In the distance, but coming closer, a police car siren announced the imminent arrival of the forensic back-up squad.

Dowling had separated and was talking rapidly to one of the uniformed Gardai who motioned towards a window in the flats complex. Up there, and looking out, was a Ban Garda, the curtains pulled back, a window slightly open
for ventilation. The young lust birds had had their ardour dampened. His teeth were still chattering, despite three heavy sweaters and the radiators on full blast. She was sitting mute on a chair in the kitchen, chain-smoking.

'Kate? Kate? I'm goin' up to have a word with the young fella who spotted the blood.'

Hamilton nodded and pulled her heavy-duty navy overcoat tighter against the cold. She watched as a Garda mini van screeched to a halt only feet from where she stood, its siren suddenly killed. The back door opened and out came the forensic team, two in white boiler suits over heavy sweaters and leggings, followed by forensic photographer Dan Harrison, Nikon already in hand, fiddling to take the lens shutter off. He was followed slowly by Dr Noel Dunne, forensic pathologist.

Dunne put one foot down gingerly on the tarmac, then the other and turned back to the inside, dragging two black doctor-type bags to the edge. Wearily he pulled one open, fiddling about, cursing and grunting until he finally found what he was looking for. He reached back inside the van again and pulled a heavy-duty oil-skin coat on against the cold. Standing up, he arched his back, then turned to get on with the job. He was holding a dictaphone and an A4-size clipboard.

'Get some screens around the car,' he barked and two uniformed Gardai jumped into the mini van and were back out again with remarkable speed. They started erecting a fold-away yellow plastic screen. One of the forensics was already unrolling a yellow Garda incident tape, attaching it to the chestnut tree trunk and a number of self-supporting poles from the van. Within minutes Nurse Higgins' Mazda 626 was hidden from view.

'Dr Dunne, my name is Detective Sergeant Kate Hamilton. We met briefly the night you were called in to the Central Maternity Hospital.' Dunne looked her up and down with obvious distaste. Hamilton ignored this. 'I've taken over the maternity hospital murder inquiry.' She paused to make sure he had heard this clearly and understood. She made
sure she accentuated the words 'taken over'. 'I have reason to believe the body in the back of the car may be related to that inquiry.'

Dunne eyeballed her. His breath frosting in the air making him look like a dragon breathing steam. 'You took over from Detective Inspector McGrath?'

'Yes. He was transferred to the kidnap investigation. He's the kidnap expert in the Jaguar Unit.'

'Is he,' grunted Dunne as he started towards the yellow screen. 'Is he indeed.' He stopped and turned suddenly to Hamilton. 'And what are you the expert in?' There was no disguising the tone of his voice. Intimidating.

Hamilton knew his legendary reputation. He hated newcomers on investigations, hated rookie detectives, feeling they wasted his time asking stupid questions. He particularly didn't like women trying to do a man's job. She sensed he would much prefer to be dealing with someone else.

'Cooking. I do very good scrambled eggs.' Suck on that, you old bollox.

Dunne grinned. 'Okay, Detective Sergeant Hamilton, let's get going.' He pulled aside one of the yellow screens, holding it until she was inside the inner sanctum. Then he dragged it closed.

Already a TV crew had pulled up, fiddling with equipment. One of the uniformed Gardai had his arms outstretched, forbidding them any further, as the reporter tried to negotiate a closer spot.

'The doors are locked.' One of the white-suited forensics, wearing surgical gloves, had checked and printed the door handles. Then he had tried the locks but they were all secure. 'Back in a second.'

He ran over to the mini van, returning with a car robber's delight, the complete set of master keys for the most popular cars driven in Ireland. He inserted one after another until suddenly the door locks clicked. Inside the windows small buttons jumped up.

Dunne started dictating. Walking around he noted type of car, registration, colour, inside misting, even scratches on
the bodywork. Then he went down on his hunkers, peering closely at a large blood pool, measuring and describing it. Only two feet away lay a blood-stained hammer. Dunne crouched down and inspected it closely, dictating as he went. Dan Harrison followed close behind, snapping at anything Dunne ordered. Dunne spent some time examining and recording tracks and smears of blood along the back and boot of the car. Palm and finger outlines on the edge of the boot were noted, measured and photographed. The forensics dusted and peered as Kate Hamilton watched.

Dunne finished the external examination of the car and its immediate surrounds. He was ready to record the rest.

'Dan, have you got everything?'

Harrison, ace forensic photographer, nodded. Dan Harrison was not a man of many words. His work was not the sort most people liked to hear about, nor the sort he liked to talk about.

Dunne had his own special 'scene of crime' form on which he started to scribble.

name of deceased
- he left blank, for the moment.

address of scene.
'Where are we anyway?' He looked around and one of the uniformed Gardai shouted out the exact address. Dunne wrote it down.

date and time contacted.
He glanced at his watch and wrote 17\2\97 at 9.57 am.

date and time arrived.
17\2\97 at 10.32 am. He had been in the city morgue looking at a body fished out from the Liffey when re-routed. The journey out to Blackrock hadn't taken long with his motorcycle escort, their sirens full on.

officer in charge.
He looked at Kate Hamilton. 'What's your name again?' As Kate Hamilton called out her name, loudly and clearly for all to hear, Dunne made grumbling noises into his beard, registering again his disapproval. He sighed deeply and everyone turned to look. He seemed unusually tired this morning, not his usual ebullient self.

deceased last seen alive
- Dunne left this blank.

rectal temperature
- also blank, for the moment.

atmospheric temperature.
He took out his own 'air thermometer' instrument, placing it on the car roof, first laying a square white linen cloth down. 'Nobody knock that over.' The group shuffled back.

rigor mortis.

lipostatic lividity.

summary of lesions.
He paused, put the clipboard under his left arm and sighed deeply again.

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