Authors: Elizabeth Flynn
“How many of you are there?”
“OK, let me see…” Terry started counting on his fingers. “Five in the band; a drummer, a keyboard player and three guitarists. I play lead guitar but I can step in on keyboards if necessary. We’ve got three women on backing vocals. Then there’s the crew. Three on lighting – well, obviously we’re a man down after tonight’s event – and a couple more on sound. We’ve got Jack overseeing everything, Doug managing us all and Carla running errands. I make that sixteen.”
Angela nodded. “Your maths match mine. So, Oliver worked on the lighting?”
“Yes. And this show was the last in a national tour. It’s been pretty hectic but very successful, I’m happy to say. There’s been a great atmosphere and the audiences have loved us.”
“That’s good. And several of you are interested in firearms, I gather.”
A flash of mild pique flitted across his face and Terry looked at Angela from under his eyebrows. She felt a little puzzled by the reaction but immediately realized that she interrupted his exposition on ‘My Life on the Road with Brendan Phelan’; a subject she presumed was normally of great interest to his listeners. He didn’t like to be deflected from it.
He recovered his poise quickly enough. “Brendan and I joined a gun club when we were still at school. In fact, we knew Jack from those days; he worked there. And right from the early days we experimented in tying up the sounds of guns and whips with the music. Jack used to laugh at us, he didn’t think such a thing could work, so we invited him to one or two rehearsals. The timing was fortuitous because the owner of the club retired and wanted to close it down just as we were looking to gather a team around us, so we offered him the job of production manager.”
“Quite a career change for him.”
“Actually no; he’d started off as a runner himself, back in the day. Not in the music industry, more Variety. Seaside entertainment, I think, jugglers, high-wire acts, all that kind of thing. We knew he’d run a very efficient club so we felt comfortable about inviting him onto the team.”
When did you and Brendan become a double act?
Terry went on: “It’s also handy having someone on board who’s up on firearms regulations and careful about making sure the guns are locked up properly, even though they’re only stage props.”
“I’m sure. Er – about guns. Do you and Brendan have your own? Real ones, I mean.”
“Oh yes!” Terry nodded in affirmation. “We’re both very proficient marksmen – as is Jack.”
“So there are several people on the crew who wouldn’t have any difficulty in shooting Brendan?”
“Yes. It’s been suggested that the killer might actually have aimed for Brendan.”
A stillness came over Terry. He blinked slowly once or twice. “Inspector, that thought is seriously scary.”
“So, what’s he like, then?” asked Madeleine at breakfast the following morning.
Angela smiled at her over the steam rising from her coffee. “I didn’t get a chance to find out,” she replied. “The doctor hustled him away to give him a sedative and put him to bed. I’m going to interview him later today.”
“Couldn’t you borrow a uniform for me and take me along as your notebook holder?” suggested Madeleine. Angela laughed. Madeleine turned her attention back to the newspaper spread out by her plate on the table and read the caption under a picture:
Police officers leaving the theatre in early hours of this morning.
“I can tell that’s you holding your arm up in front of your face, but only because I know you.”
“I wasn’t being camera-shy. I was just defending myself against all the flashes. A small army of media people had gathered by the time we left, and facing them was the last thing I felt like doing at two o’clock this morning. Uniform had set up a barrier and had the fans contained behind it, but they were making a huge noise. The press were corralled just in front of them. So what with the fans calling out to know if Brendan was all right, the journalists shooting off their questions and all those lights, it felt like minor chaos. I said that so far as I was aware, Mr Phelan was perfectly fine under the circumstances. Then, just as I got into the car, a microphone was thrust under my nose and a voice asked what those circumstances were, exactly.”
“Yes, I can see that here. It says, ‘When questioned, the officer replied that she had nothing more to say at this
juncture.’” Madeleine looked up at Angela with a quizzical expression. “Juncture?”
“I know; I’ve got this tendency to be really formal at times.”
Madeleine smiled. “The headlines are huge but there’s not a lot of information. Just that there was a fatal shooting after the concert. I was worried something had happened to Brendan at first, but when Gary pushed by the bouncers I managed to get a quick look before they shut the gates again and I could see him standing in the alley. In spite of everything, I was thrilled. I’ve never been that close to him before.”
“Yes, apart from the fact that Gary had arranged a chair for him and something to keep him warm, I don’t think he’d moved from that spot by the time I arrived. The doctor treated him for shock.”
“As I drove away I saw people beginning to realize something serious had happened. They were talking in groups and then asking others. I was tempted to park up somewhere and hang around. But it would only have been worth it if I could have got another look at Brendan and I didn’t think it likely.”
“You made a wise choice. I think his manager hurried him away in a car with tinted windows – well, as far as you can hurry someone who’s been sedated and is more or less out of it.”
“It doesn’t say who got shot.”
“That’s because we haven’t released the name.”
Madeleine looked up at Angela and studied her for a moment.
“What?” asked Angela.
“You’ve got that same look on your face that Dad used to have when he was in the police and I asked him about a case.”
“Oh, really? And what look is that?”
“We do special training to achieve that look.”
Madeleine laughed. “Seriously, you’ve no idea how frustrating it is that you’re going to be rubbing shoulders with my absolutely most favourite singer and I can’t even ask you about him.”
“You can ask.”
Madeleine grimaced. “Yeah, and a fat lot of good that will do me!”
“Actually…” began Angela, and stopped.
“We could have a very unfair exchange of information.”
“Er, like, I tell you everything I know about Brendan Phelan and you tell me absolutely nothing about your meeting with him.”
“That’s the sort of thing I mean.”
“That’s just the sort of line Dad would take! OK, then.”
“You’re a star, Mads,” said Angela, taking her notebook out of her bag. “So what do you know about his private life?”
“He’s got a girlfriend but I read somewhere that they don’t live together.”
“How long have they been dating?”
“A year or so, maybe.”
“Do you know her name?”
“Tilly Townsend. She’s an interior designer. Very successful she is, too. He commissioned her to do his decor; that’s how they met.”
“Ah! Yes, I do know of her and now that you’ve mentioned her I realize I’ve heard them spoken of as a couple. Do you have to go?” asked Angela as she saw Madeleine looking at her watch.
“Sorry, Step-ma. I can answer more questions tonight, if you have any.”
“Thanks, this is great to be going on with.”
Madeleine closed the newspaper and got up. “
Pas du tout.
“You seem to be settling in well to this job.”
“Mm, nice crowd, the work’s not too arduous and I get to use my French.”
“That’s good. You’ve taken after Patrick there. I didn’t even know he spoke the language until we were on honeymoon.”
Madeleine moved around the kitchen, gathering her bag and keys together. Angela, watching her, suddenly said: “I’m sorry, I forgot to ask how the concert went! Gary and I only had the briefest of words about it last night, and then we were launched into this investigation.”
Madeleine smiled. “Oh, it was great. Fab. Mind you, I’ve never been to a bad Brendan Phelan gig. Gary wasn’t at all sure about him at first, but I think he felt a bit differently by the end of the evening.” She went into the hall and took her jacket from its hook.
“That’s good. And how are things going there? You and Gary, I mean.”
Madeleine smiled as she opened the front door. “I’m sorry, I have nothing more to say at this juncture. See you tonight.”
“Now who’s being inscrutable?” laughed Angela as the door closed behind her. The telephone rang – her husband, Patrick. A coroner’s officer, he’d been at work an hour by now, and was calling from there. She picked up the phone. “Morning, darling.”
“Morning, sweetheart. What time did you finally get home?”
“Two-thirty to three, I think; I’m glad I didn’t wake you. I was totally zonked.”
“Yes! You didn’t even stir when I left this morning. I wanted to make sure you were up. A forensic post-mortem will begin in about five minutes and D.C.I. Stanway is already here.”
“And I suppose after that he’s going straight to the incident room and expects to see me there?”
“Hey! You took the words right out of my mouth.”
Angela laughed. “Thanks for the heads-up, Pads. I’ll be on my way in about five minutes.”
“Good-oh. Stanway’d already run the gauntlet of the press when he arrived at the public mortuary. He’s a bit twitched by it all from what I could see.”
“He would be; he’s not comfortable dealing with the media. You just watch. He’s the senior investigating officer, but he’ll put me in the firing line.”
Patrick laughed. “A wise child knows its own parent; ditto worker and boss.”
“You can count on it. How exactly was Stanway in front of the press this morning?”
“Awkward, but then, how many different ways are there to say that you’ve got nothing to say? And, of course, they were all asking about Brendan Phelan and whether or not he’s involved. It’s like the dead man is an afterthought.”
“Are you surprised?”
“Not really. Turns out Stanway’s daughter is a keen fan.”
“As is yours.”
“You speak truth, O queen. Well, I quite like a lot of his stuff myself. When are you going to interview him?”
“As soon as it can be set up after this morning’s briefing in the incident room.”
“OK, well see you this evening.”
“Cheers, Paddy – love you.” Angela drained her coffee and left the house.
Angela slipped into the incident room three minutes ahead of D.C.I. Stanway. Her eye went straight to the big whiteboard on the far wall. The totally pristine surface she might have
expected at this stage would have been understandable, but she took in with relief the pictures of Brendan, his band and the three women backing singers already stuck to it – evidence for Stanway of a team already hard at work. She beamed and turned to the only other two people in the room, Detective Sergeants Rick Driver and Jim Wainwright, lounging on chairs, waiting for the briefing to start. She noted Jim’s redrimmed eyes and Rick’s stifled yawn. “Mm,” she said. “I feel a bit like that too. It was one of those nights. Who did this?” she asked, cocking her head towards the photographs.
“Who do you think?” said Jim. “Our keen young Girl Guide and Boy Scout.” Jim, never at his best in the mornings, didn’t take well to only getting a few hours’ sleep.
With the reflex of long habit, his partner moved to smooth whatever feathers Jim might ruffle. “Leanne and Derek got here first, Angie,” he said. “They’ve been printing off photographs from the Internet.”
“Very enterprising of them,” remarked Angela, ignoring Jim. The door opened and Detective Constable Derek Palmer came in carefully carrying a tray of coffees. He was closely followed by D.C. Leanne Dabrowska and Gary.
“Brilliant! Coffee,” said Angela swooping on one of the cups. She noted that even if he was too tired to be polite, Jim could wake up enough to grab a cup of coffee.
A moment or so later, D.C.I. Stanway breezed in. “Morning all,” he called, with all the cheerfulness and energy of a man who’d had a full night’s sleep. A chorus of greetings in varying degrees of enthusiasm met his. “Ah, good, the gang’s all here,” he said, looking around the room. He cast a brief glance up at the photographs. “Well done, whoever got started on these.”
“Thanks, Leanne and Derek,” said Angela. She believed in credit going where it was due.
“Right, I don’t need to tell any of you this is going to be a very high-profile case,” continued Stanway. “Brendan Phelan is so famous even
heard of him.” The polite laughter in response to this weak quip was a testament to the restorative effects of caffeine. “So, there’s going to be a lot of media interest. Angie, you come out here.”
Angie rose and joined him in front of the board.
Here it comes
, she thought,
no wonder he looks so cheerful, he’s about to offload his most hated job.
Stanway looked around at them, his face serious. “
press contact will be dealt with through Angela,” he said. “And I’ll liaise with her about what gets said and what doesn’t.” He looked slowly around at them all. “I don’t want anybody talking about this case in public; understood?”
They all nodded and murmured their acquiescence.
“Right.” He smiled around at them. “I’ve been to the scene this morning and I attended the PM, so let’s get started.”
“Cause of death, sir?” asked Angela.
“What? Oh, yes! No surprises, gunshot wound to the back of the head. Death was instantaneous. Even though the production manager told us yesterday, the dead man’s sister formally identified him this morning. I’ll give you her details, Angie.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll make contact.”
Stanway nodded. “How did the preliminary interviews go?”
“Much as you’d expect. We managed to get a few done, but they were all shocked and very tired, so I called it quits at about two this morning. We’ll get going on them again now.”
“Good, good. Right, I’ll leave you to get on. I’ll be keeping a close eye,” said Stanway, making for the door.
“Yes, sir,” replied Angela. The door closed behind him. She looked around at her team. “OK, Leanne and Derek,
get hold of those uniformed officers who were helping out at the theatre, and go back to where we left off in the wee small hours.” They got up and began moving towards the door.
“Don’t you want us to go with them, Angie?” asked Rick.
“Yes, I do, but I also want you to find out about the security situation at the theatre. I saw a camera over the stage door and we’ll need to know what’s on the tape.”
“It’ll be too much to hope the whole thing was filmed,” said Jim, getting up and moving across the room. “Unless the murderer’s a complete idiot.”
“I should think so, but we’ve got to check,” replied Angie. “Another thing for you and Rick to deal with is a search of Oliver Joplin’s home.”
“No problem, Angie,” said Rick. “We’ll get uniform to seal the place and get there as soon as we can.”
“Good-oh,” replied Angela. “Yes, we’ve got quite a long list with this one.”
“Guv?” Leanne hesitated and looked back, her hand already on the door handle. She seemed slightly embarrassed.
“If you’re going up to Brendan Phelan’s place later, will you need someone to carry your notebook?”
Angela smiled and looked at her. “You too?”
Angela laughed. “Sorry, I think you’d better stick to the jobs you’ve already got. If I let you hobnob with the star, it’ll only upset Derek.”
Brendan Phelan lived in a gated property close to the street known as “Millionaires’ Row” in Hampstead. Two distinct groups, fans and media, had established themselves in the vicinity to get a good view of the gates. The media team had gone a step further, actually blocking the entrance with one
of their vans. Gary slowed down as they approached. “Shall I go and find who’s in charge, to get this moved?” he asked.
Before Angela could reply, they both heard a loud humming noise from overhead. They looked up and saw a helicopter appear. “They’re going all the way on coverage, aren’t they?” said Angela. “The roof of our car will be on the news later. I don’t think you need to go anywhere to find the boss,” she added, looking through the side window. Gary looked in the same direction. A pack of avid journalists and photographers now surrounded the car. Some of the fans also peeled away from their party and reinvented themselves as press rearguard. She lowered the window and stared into a variety of camera lenses, trying to distinguish between a babble of shouted comments and questions.
“Move that van, please.”