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Authors: Judith Cutler

Staying Power

BOOK: Staying Power
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Table of Contents

Cover

By Judith Cutler

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

By Judith Cutler

The Kate Power Mysteries

 

POWER ON HER OWN

STAYING POWER

POWER GAMES

WILL POWER

HIDDEN POWER

POWER SHIFT

STAYING POWER
A Kate Power Mystery
Judith Cutler

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

    

First published in Great Britain in 1999

by Hodder and Stoughton

A division of Hodder Headline PLC

338 Euston Road

London NW1 3BH

This eBook first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital

an imprint of Severn House Publishers Ltd.

Copyright © 1999 by Judith Cutler

The right of Judith Cutler to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

ISBN-13 978-1-4483-0109-6 (ePub)

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.

For Robert,

remembering Florence:

the Duomo, the piazzas, the food

– and the snow and the flu and the en suite bathroom down

the hotel corridor

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This book could not have been written without the help and co-operation of West Midlands Police, especially Dave Churchill, Rona Gorton, Terry Street and Yvonne Williams. Angie King and Jayne Coyne shared with me their invaluable experience. Edwina Van Boolen and Frances Lally have been constant sources of support and criticism. Thank you all.

PROLOGUE

‘Go on, take one. You have to keep swallowing or those tubes in your ears'll get bunged up.'

Kate dragged her eyes from the Italian coastline, still just visible beyond the edge of the wing, and put down her sodden tissue. ‘Sorry?'

‘You have got a snorter, haven't you?' It was the youngish man in the next seat. ‘Here, I said have one of these: you must keep swallowing or your ears'll give you hell when you land.' He was offering her a paper bag.

She took one of the sweets – old-fashioned barley sugars – and smiled her thanks. She was afraid that more would encourage him to chat, and there was nothing she could do to escape if she wanted to.

‘I'm sure I saw you somewhere back there.' His head jerked at the receding shore.

‘Heard me sneeze, more like. Most people get designer leather in Florence. I get a designer cold!'

‘You still got something nice in leather, though.' He laughed. ‘I can smell it from here. The name's Alan, by the way. Alan Grafton.'

‘Kate Power. Oh, I bought a bag,' she admitted, burrowing for it. She needed another tissue anyway.

‘Mind if I look at it?'

Her eyebrows shot up.

‘Oh, only the outside. I wouldn't dream of asking to see the inside of a lady's bag.'

She prepared to grind her teeth.

He continued, ‘No, it'd be too like looking at the bottom of my case. All that stuff you always mean to deal with one day. But your bag wouldn't have had time to silt up yet, would it?'

In spite of herself, she laughed. Her chest rattled alarmingly as the laugh became a cough.

‘You're going to have to see a doctor about that,' he said.

She shook her head. She was only just off sick leave, for goodness' sake. The holiday in Florence had been to celebrate the return of her knee to normality. She'd injured it while she and her colleagues were raiding a house. It had also been something of an order from her boss: ‘Make sure you come back fit,' Detective Inspector Cope had said. ‘Don't want any passengers in my squad.'

His boss, Graham Harvey, had said much the same thing, though in kinder terms. ‘You've had a dreadful time this year, Kate. Go and get some sun and put some good food and good wine inside you. Make sure that cousin of yours looks after you.'

She'd not bothered to pass the last instruction on to the cousin, who'd feel – as a war correspondent – that it was she who needed any cosseting going. But Kate had enjoyed her week. They'd done all the touristy things in Florence, walking everywhere, even when her cold had struck.

‘The weather can't have done you any good,' the man continued. ‘Fancy, snow in Florence in November!'

‘Pretty well December.'

‘Even so … I don't know about you, but I only brought autumn-weight clothes. But that wind provided a wonderful excuse to buy cashmere sweaters,' he added.

He plainly wasn't going to shut up. She glanced sideways again. He'd be in his mid-thirties, lightly built. He was indeed wearing a beautiful sweater.

‘Why the interest in my bag?' Perhaps she was leading with her chin.

‘Because I've just ordered five thousand pounds' worth of them. And three thousand pounds' worth of sweaters, like this. I'd already bought the most beautiful shoes and briefcases on my last trip'

‘Do you have a shop?'

‘No, no, I'm a middle man. I have these wonderful trips abroad and buy all these lovely things, and I sell them on to distributors. Who no doubt shove a huge mark-up on to them. Not that they're cheap, anyway. Even with the pound at its present level. Now,' he said, grasping the bag, ‘this is a nice bit of leather. But what's it lined with?'

She'd hardly registered. ‘Fabric, I think.'

He passed it back. ‘And you'd have bought it from one of the outdoor markets, not the Leather School or one of the boutiques.'

She nodded. Even a sergeant's salary didn't run to that sort of price.

‘Well, mine are leather lined. As are the shoes I'm after. Did you buy any shoes?'

‘Two pairs. Comfortable as gloves.'

‘Lined?'

‘One pair, I think.'

‘Well, the others'll stretch, you mark my words. They'll be useless in three months. Gloves? Now those
are
nice. Silk-lined. Tell you what, you must have shopped for England!'

Their conversation continued intermittently all the way across the Alps. From time to time he'd press another barley sugar on her, making an opportunity to talk about his plans.

‘If this deal delivers what I hope it'll deliver, I shall move into silk scarves. Then designer clothes. It's all a question of the right outlets. And quality control. I'm going to have to be meticulous about quality control …'

She let him run on. It was nice to meet people with passions about things, even if you couldn't imagine sharing the passion. And it meant she didn't have to talk much. She wondered how he'd react when she told him about her job. Experience had taught her it was often better to wait till people asked her what she did, rather than volunteer the information officiously. At last, when they were free from plastic food trays, he got round to it.

‘I'm a police officer. I work for the CID in central Birmingham.' This was usually the cue for silly quips; she was sorry she couldn't look at him full-face to watch his reaction.

Whatever his eyes might have revealed, his spoken comment was predictable enough: ‘Goodness me, I must watch what I say, mustn't I?'

‘Not if what you're talking about is legal,' she laughed.

‘Well, it certainly is my end,' he said. ‘And I've run these credit check things on my clients – I know their money is good. So I should be all right.'

Was there a tiny note of doubt in his voice? If only she could hear properly: the cold had left her deaf in one ear – the one nearer to him.

‘Have you had any exciting cases lately?'

She couldn't tell him about the most recent one. Apart from anything else, investigations had still been going on when she went on leave. ‘A lot of car theft,' she laughed. ‘And while I was away I think they were going to do a major job rounding up stolen mobile phones.'

‘No juicy murders?'

‘Not a lot, thank goodness.'

‘But aren't they exciting?'

She reflected on the sights and smells of a murder scene, and shook her head. ‘Not for the victim, that's for sure. And for those of us trying to solve the crime there's just a hell of a lot of dogged work.'

‘You've got all this scientific stuff to help you, haven't you?'

She nodded. ‘In the end, it comes down to asking the right questions and making sure you listen to the answers.'

Despite his sweets, landing at Birmingham Airport closed down her hearing almost entirely.

‘No, keep your fingers away! You can damage your ears that way. Keep swallowing. They'll click eventually.'

She shook her head. My God, if they stayed like this! Even after the carousel had finally trundled out her case, she was still at the bottom of an auditory ocean.

‘Have you got transport?' he asked. ‘
Transport?
Or are you on the train?
On the train?
'

They set off for the station together.

‘No point me asking you out for an intimate dinner, I can see.'

‘Not this week!' Her voice was distant, echoing.

‘OK. Next week. What's your phone number?'

She fumbled for her police business card. He struck her as the least dangerous of men, but she wasn't about to hand out her home number.

He flipped out one of his.

The train for the city was bulging with football-scarved passengers. It was clear they were going to be separated.

‘Take care of yourself!' she shouted.

‘Don't worry – I always do.'

Chapter One

‘Look what the cat brought in!
Buenos noches
, DS Power. God Almighty – keep your distance, woman. I don't want the whole bleeding squad infected. It's bad enough with young Fatima, here, giving us all the willies not eating. DC Khalid doesn't let anything past her lips on account of it's Lent or whatever these people have. And then you come in here looking like a death's head on speed.'

‘Morning, Gaffer,' Kate said equably. ‘Always nice to have a warm welcome home.' There was nothing new about DI Cope's wet-Monday, bad-traffic mode. She dumped her bag and case and leaned over to the new woman's desk. What had the Gaffer said her name was. Ah, that was it. ‘Hi, Fatima! I'm Kate Power.'

BOOK: Staying Power
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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