Main Trial and Error

Trial and Error

Years ago, DI Frank Miller caught a notorious serial killer and put him away for life. This man taunts Miller from the psychiatric hospital where he's incarcerated. He tells Miller he'll see him soon.

Now he's escaped and he wants Miller to play a game to find a victim they didn't know about. Senior officers know the killer had help in escaping, and as an investigation is launched, suspicion falls on Miller. He's then suspended from duty.

Disobeying orders to stay off the case, he follows a clue he's been given, but he's attacked and left for dead. Then things escalate out of control. A warrant is issued for Miller's arrest and now he's on the run, being hunted by colleagues.

Miller knows he is on his own now, and time is running out, but help comes from an unexpected source.

Together, they work to uncover the truth, but one man will do anything to make sure they die before that happens...

Language: english
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Title Page




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

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Forty-Nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter Fifty-Four

Chapter Fifty-Five

Chapter Fifty-Six

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Chapter Sixty

Chapter Sixty-One

Chapter Sixty-Two

Chapter Sixty-Three

Chapter Sixty-Four

Chapter Sixty-Five




John Carson

Copyright © 2017 John Carson

John Carson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved.

This one is for the real Jeni Bridge


The twin barrels of the shotgun slammed against Hazel Carter's forehead.

'Welcome to the party, bitch,' the man said. He was dressed smartly, not somebody you would look twice at in the street. Unless you looked into the hard eyes.

'They'll storm this place if you shoot me. If I die, you're next.' Brave words, but Hazel didn't feel brave. The armoured vest she was wearing wouldn't do much good when the shotgun was going to blow her head off.

'Shut up and get in here,' the man said, lowering the gun and grabbing her.

'Please just tell me where the children are,' Hazel said, wincing as she was manhandled into the hallway. She flinched as he kicked the door shut.

'Shut your mouth and get through the back.'

Stay calm, they had told her. No matter what he says or does, keep calm.

The house was dim, like night had come early and Hazel noticed all the curtains had been drawn. She was roughly shoved towards the back of the house.

Her body was drenched in sweat and her legs were shaking as she entered the large living room.

The female uniform was sitting in a corner, a gag tied round her face. Her handcuffs had been used to keep her hands behind her back. She was making sounds behind the gag and wriggling.

The man smiled. Hazel knew he was mad; there was nothing in his eyes but pure hatred.

'Where are the children?' she asked, keeping her voice steady. God, she felt sick, like she was going to heave.

'What children?' he smiled at her, then pointed the gun at her face. 'Take off the wire you're wearing. Earpiece, microphone, everything.'

Hazel stood and looked at him.

'Now!' he screamed at her and she closed her eyes for a moment, trying to stay calm.

'Okay, okay,' she said, pulling the wire from under her shirt and throwing it on the floor. Same with her earpiece. The man stomped on them, destroying them. Then he stepped forward and roughly patted her down.

'Where's the children?' Hazel asked again.

He ignored her and grabbed a hold of the uniformed girl and hauled her to her feet, causing her to whimper. Her eyes went wide at Hazel and she was violently shaking her head, as if trying to spit the gag out.

He stepped back from Hazel, keeping the gun trained on her.

She watched in horror as he roughly grabbed a hold of the uniform by the hair. 'Say goodnight, sweetheart,' he said.

He let her hair go and stepped back, putting the shotgun against the side of the girl's head and pulled the trigger.

For a moment, Hazel couldn't breathe as the noise in the room deafened her. The girl's body was thrown across the room with the force of the blast.

'Jesus Christ, he killed her,' she managed to say, as if the microphone was still attached to her.

She started sobbing when he grabbed a hold of her hair and put the shotgun under her chin.

'Why?' She looked him in the eyes, although his face was in shadow. 'Why are you doing this?'

'I think you know the answer, Hazel.'

She shook her head. This couldn't be happening. 'What do you want?'

'It's not about me anymore. It's all about Frank Miller now. Him and I have a score to settle.'


A week earlier

Anybody noticing them in the muted ambience of the private club might mistake them for bankers, not ruthless killers.

Mr Black and Mr Blue. Dressed smartly in lightweight suits. Expensive, befitting of their surroundings. Mr Black was drinking Glenmorangie Signet and encouraged his friend to accompany him.

A roaring fire staved off the chill Edinburgh night. Summer in Scotland was a cruel mistress, taunting and teasing by day, punishing and mocking by night.

'Is everything in place?' Mr Black asked. His hair was cut short, in a fashionable style, spikes sweeping back from his forehead. The money he paid ensured that his look was contemporary. There was nothing anybody could do to reduce the ferocity in his eyes as he stared at somebody.

'It is indeed. Just like we talked about. Everything's going like clockwork.' Mr Blue was equally contemporarily dressed. He hadn't always dressed like this, but Mr Black had been quite specific about dress code for the club. It wasn't debatable. And since Mr Blue was earning a lot of money now, it wasn't as if he couldn't afford it.

Mr Black smiled and raised his glass. His friend clinked his own glass, the expensive crystal giving out a light chime.

The air in the club was kept at a steady sixty-eight degrees. Patrons were either comfortable with that, or sat near one of the open fires. The club was in a townhouse in the New Town and was on several floors. On the second floor where they were, there were several private rooms, each serviced by its own butler. Each room was booked in advance, with an additional fee. This not only assured anonymity but room service.

'Have you had dinner yet?' Mr Black asked, picking up a menu from the table between them.

'I haven't had time to eat. I've been too busy.'

'Good. You can order anything from the menu, as much as you like. It comes with the room. They do a good sirloin.'

'I'm partial to sea fish.'

Mr Black laughed. 'That figures, considering what your line of work was.'

Mr Blue smiled back. 'You make me sound like a pirate.'

'Oh, you were much more dangerous than a pirate, my friend.'

'We both were. That's why we're here today, celebrating.'

'Not celebrating; planning. It's not celebrating until it's over. Until all our plans have come together.'

'I'll drink to that.' He raised his glass once more and looked through the menu. When they were both ready, Mr Black called for their butler. He appeared through the door like a ghost, moving silently.

'Ready to order, sir?' The man was former Scots Guards and was paid handsomely not only for his work but his ability to be deaf when the need arose.

'Yes, indeed. I'll start with the hand-dived Dingwall scallop, followed by roast lamb.'

'Very good, sir. And you, sir?'

'I'll have smoked salmon followed by wild halibut. And can we have some beer to wash it down?'

'Certainly, sir.'

The butler left the room to put their order in.

'He didn't ask if we wanted any wine,' Mr Blue said. 'I might have to knock this place down to four stars.'

'Tsk, tsk, Mr Blue. He knows you don't mix the grapes with the hops. You're obviously more a philistine than he is.'

'Good point, Mr Black. If there were such a place where one would leave a review for such an establishment, I would bring the review back up to five stars.'

'This place doesn't exist except to people who know it exists. Word of mouth only, old chap.' He took a sip of the whisky, savouring the liquid, before looking over at his friend. 'Do you foresee any problems with our friend?'

Mr Blue smiled, a shark swimming in ever decreasing circles. 'Absolutely not.'

'I don't want to come across anything that we didn't plan for,' Mr Black said.

'Of course. I agree. This was just like planning one of our previous operations.'

Mr Black nodded and leaned back in the chair, holding his glass in his lap for a moment before speaking.

'Are you prepared to go to whatever level it takes?'

'Without a doubt. I know the risks as well as the rewards.'

'Which leaves me one more question before we eat; are you prepared to kill a police officer?'

Mr Blue smiled again, but there was a hardness in his face that Mr Black liked. It was a look that showed ruthlessness. 'I assure you that if the detective gets in the way, he will be despatched just like the rest of them.'

'His own life depends entirely on how he himself reacts.'

'Precisely. His life is in his own hands.'

'Then let's hope he makes the right decision for his own sake.'

Mr Blue lifted his glass in salute. 'To Frank Miller.'


'Do you want to know who my first victim was?'

Silence on the other end of the phone as the man waited for an answer.

Detective Inspector Frank Miller stood at his living room window, looking at the festival performers below in the high street. The light was dying outside, heading for full dark. Despite the summer warmth, Miller felt a shiver run through him as he listened to the serial killer on the other end of the phone.

'We arrested you. I know who your first victim was.'

'You think know, Frank. That's the difference.'

Miller turned around as he heard somebody enter the room, thinking it was the killer in the room with him. It was only his father. Jack Miller tapped his watch: pub time.

The Surgeon, Miller mouthed back. He turned back to the window.

'You remember what I told you last you called me at home?'

'Something about doing me bodily harm. I do remember your words, I just choose to ignore them.'

'I wouldn't allow you to use a packet of crayons in there, never mind a phone.'

'This is a hospital for the criminally insane, Inspector, not a concentration camp. Even prisoners like me have rights.'

'I'm going away now, so you enjoy the rest of your evening.'

'Don't you want to know about the other female I killed?'

Miller drew in a breath and let it out slowly. 'Not really.'

A faint laugh at the other end. 'Come on now. How long have we been playing this game?'

Jack stood still, listening as Emma capered in her room with her pregnant mother, Kim, who was trying to get her to settle to read her a bedtime story.

'What girl are we talking about?'

More laughter. 'Who do you think we're talking about, Frank?'

Miller gripped the cordless phone and imagined smashing it into the man's face. Over and over again.

'Marilyn Monroe,' he said, sighing.

'You don't sound as enthusiastic as the last time.'

'Because I listened to your pish the last time too, and that's twenty minutes of my life I won't get back again.'

'Is your father still enjoying retirement? No longer a Detective Chief Inspector. How are the fine lads faring without him?'

'We're managing.'

'What about you, Frank? Will you get the promotion you deserve?'

'Maybe one day.'

'Big shoes to fill.' Silence for a moment. 'I've decided to give Jack a long-overdue retirement present. Put him on the phone.'

Miller handed over the phone. 'The prick wants to talk to you.'

'I'm here,' Jack said, taking the receiver from his son.

'Tell Frank I heard that.'

Jack looked at his son. 'He heard that.'

'Tell him to go fuck himself. See if he heard that, too.'

'Let's talk about Marilyn Monroe, Jack,' the killer said, showing no signs he had heard Miller.

'Tell me where she is. This so-called first victim of yours.'

'Am I still detecting scepticism in your voice?'

'Look, I'm busy, being out here in the real world, so either tell me what you have to say, or sod off back to your cage.'

'Do you have the recorder running?'

The recorder Miller had bought to record the conversations. Maybe he'd write a book about this bastard one day. The tapes would come in handy.

'Yes, it's taping now.'

'Good. Marilyn was a pretty girl. Very friendly and outgoing. It was a shame she had to die.'

'I'm sure you thought otherwise when you were about to kill her.'

'No need to be pedantic.'

Jack remembered The Surgeon's victims, opened up and organs removed. Then stitched back up again.

The two men turned around as another figure entered the room. Emma, Kim's daughter, having escaped the clutches of her mother.

'Grandpa! Grandpa!'

Jack bent over while the little girl gave him a hug. He kissed her on the cheek before his son took her back out of the room.

'Ah, little Emma!' the killer said. 'How's her schoolwork these days? Is she enjoying Primary 3?'

Jack gripped the phone harder, wanting to smash it against the wall. He wanted to go to the hospital and rip this bastard's throat out.

'Fuck off.' It was important not to let him have too much power.

'Now, now, that's not being very sociable.' There was an edge to his voice, annoyed at the change of conversation, but not ready to let it go yet.

There was silence for a moment. Stalemate. Broken by the Surgeon.

'As I was saying, Marilyn was a very nice person. Young, sweet, innocent.'

'Where is she?' Jack asked. If she actually exists. Miller came back into the room.

'She looked like she was sleeping. Her skin was soft and warm, to begin with. Her face was pink and rosy, at least until the life was sucked out of her. She was left like that.'

'I'm still listening but hearing nothing. If she exists, tell me where she is.'

'I think that's enough for one night, Jack. I'm tired. Put Frank back on.'

Jack shook his head and handed the phone back to his son.

'Do you have anything worth talking about?' Miller said.

'How's Kim pregnancy coming along? Being pregnant plays havoc with their hormones. You'll be pleased about that, won't you? Considering that Carol died before giving birth.'

'How about I come down to that hospital and rip your tongue out, you little fuck?' Miller said, then felt the phone being taken out of his hand and the call disconnected.

'Don't let him get to you,' Jack said, putting the unit back onto the base.

'He mentioned Carol being pregnant,' Miller said, his eyes on fire and his heart beating fast enough to explode.

Jack put a hand on Miller's shoulder. 'He's trying to get under your skin. And he's succeeding. You put him away and that's pissing him off. He's in a cell and you're out here. You won.'

'I know you're right.'

Kim came into the room and Jack took his hand off Miller's shoulder.

'I'm so sorry. I don't have the energy to deal with Emma just now.'

'Don't worry about it,' Miller said.

'Was that him again?' The Surgeon was before Kim worked in Edinburgh, but Miller had told her all about the man.

'It was. It's a pity we can't do anything about him.'

'I wish we could. I'll run it past the PF again, but he's already in the asylum, and what he tells you is just the ramblings of a lunatic. Even if he told us where to find another body, he's been judged mentally unfit to stand trial and he's going to spend the rest of his life there. He's got nothing to lose. But he just likes playing games with you, and he has the right to a phone call. His lawyer said so. How long is it since he started calling you?'

'About a month or so.'

'I wonder why he started now?'

'I have no idea,' Miller said, 'but it's going to wear thin, very quickly.'

'We can have a beer here,' Jack said to Kim, slipping his jacket off. 'We don't have to go to the pub. In fact, Samantha's in. Go along and have a cup of tea with her, if you like. She'll be pleased to see you,'

'She wouldn't mind?'

'Not at all. We'll watch the bairn.'

'Thank you, Jack.'

She left the apartment to go along to Samantha's, just along the corridor. Jack had moved in with her to give Miller and Kim the space they needed.

'I don't want to ruin your Sunday night,' Miller said.

Jack smiled. 'When you're retired, every night is like Sunday night. Come on, I know you have beer in the fridge.'

'I'll just let Emma know her mum is out.' He left the living room.

The phone rang again.

It was the Surgeon. 'I think we got disconnected,' he said when Jack answered it.

'I'll fucking disconnect you if you bring up my dead grandson again, you little fuck.'

The Surgeon laughed. 'Easy there, Jack. You want to live long enough to see this new one, don't you? Put Frank on again.'

'What is this, pass the fucking parcel?'

'Please, Jack.'

Miller took the phone. 'Now what?'

'Marilyn wasn't who you would expect her to be. When you discover who she was, it will be obvious to you. Things will be different from then on. See you soon, Frank.'


The line was dead.


The infirmary in the hospital wasn't big. Just big enough for two sick patients at a time, and even then, if they were so sick they needed round the clock care, they would be taken to the Royal.

That's why Peter Mackay was quite happy to play babysitter to the patient who was lying on the bed, a drip feeding into one arm and a pair of restraints on each wrist. He wasn't going anywhere. It was a stomach virus the doc had said, and she should know. This one was no problem anyway. He never caused any trouble and always did what he was asked. Only now and again did he sit and stare at the wall.

He'd gotten worse over the last month. Regression the doc had said. The psychiatrist who oversaw the man's case told her that's what it was. A lot of them were like that, poor bastards. His old grandad had gone doolally at the end. Didn't even know who he, Peter, was.

He stood up from his chair in the observation room and stretched his muscles. His wife didn't like it when he was on night shift, but she was a nagging cow anyway, so it didn't bother him. He worked at night and slept during the day. The only interaction they had was a couple of hours in the evening and even then, she had her eyes glued to the TV.

Life's big dream.

This new doc was a bit of alright though. His wife would have a fit if she knew he thought that way. Degrading to women she would say. Objectifying she would call it if she had her teeth in straight.

There was no harm in having a bit of eye candy around. It wasn't as if he was ogling her, or any of the other female psychiatric nurses for that matter. But he was a red-blooded male. It didn't matter if you batted for the other team, but he himself appreciated a good-looking woman. Not that he was going to get any action in here, but it was nice to dream.

Some of them even had a decent bit of conversation in them. Like Lin, for example. His other half for the shift. They were on overnights, and had the same days off. So they wouldn't need to keep each other up to speed at work.

'Cup of tea?' he asked. Lin had her face in a magazine.

'Thanks, love.' She smiled up at him. He didn't want to ask her age in case she thought he was an old perv, even though at forty-five, he didn't consider himself old. Still, she looked like she was in her thirties, so he was quite happy to give her his spiel and see if she ever came on to him. If she did, then he wouldn't fight her off, but you had to watch what you said to a co-worker nowadays. One little bit of innuendo and it was all over.

Lin was okay though. They told each other dirty jokes and they were good friends. Over the past couple of months, he had gotten to know that she was married, had two cats, no kids, liked her job but would leave if she won the lottery.

He walked along to the break room, switched the kettle on and looked out the door, through the windows of the nurse's station. It was like a little guard tower, with reinforced windows and door. Not like a regular station, which was open.

He wished they had a TV in there, instead of just a radio. Still, knowing there was life outside these walls eased the night away. At least they would get a heads up if the Zombie Apocalypse kicked off.

The kettle clicked off and he added the bags to the cups and finished them off with milk and sugar. 'There we are–' he started to say when he came out of the room into the corridor.

Lin wasn't in the station.

Oh fuck. One of them was supposed to be there at all times, unless it was an emergency.

Which he guessed this was when he saw Lin further down the corridor with the doctor, Tamara something. The woman had gone upstairs to the main level. He thought she'd gone away for a gas with some of her pals since everything was okay down here. Just as well he hadn't had his trousers round his ankles giving Lin a good seeing to when she came back.

He put the cups back down and quickly walked over to the entrance to the infirmary as the doctor wheeled a gurney in, helped by two orderlies from upstairs. Men who ignored him. Pair of steroid gorillas, men who couldn't start a crossword puzzle designed for children, but who could pull your testicles out through your ears.

'I've been treating this man for a few days now,' Tamara said as the orderlies departed.

Jesus, she looked fucking beautiful. He blinked his eyes. Concentrate you twat.

'What's wrong with him?' The man was in the foetal position, clutching his stomach and writhing around in pain.

'I think he has a burst ulcer. Call for an ambulance. He needs to go to the Royal.'

'Christ, we won't have more staff until the changeover at seven.' He looked at the wall clock: 5.26.

'This man needs to go to the hospital now. If he dies, it's all on you.'

His expression went from I've just won the lottery! to What fucking iceberg? in a second. 'I'll make the call,' he said, rushing to the nurse's station. They were supposed to call in back-up in situations like this, but there were few bodies on the floors as it was, what with all the cut-backs. And now that snitch and snatch had fucked off back upstairs, they had no choice but to deal with this themselves. Mackay looked at him. The state he was in, he couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

After the call was put through, he came back into the infirmary.

Fifteen minutes later, the ambulance was reversing through the main door, into the secure area. Once the outside door was down, the inner door was unlocked. The paramedics, a man and a woman, brought their wheeled stretcher out of the back of the ambulance. They came into an ante-room. The door from the loading area was locked and then the doors into the hospital were unlocked.

They came through.

'Morning,' the man said. 'Where's the patient?'

'Through here,' Tamara said. She led the way through to the infirmary.

The patient was lying prone on his back.

'What's the symptoms?' he asked, bending over to have a closer look. He didn't see his partner already slumping to the floor as he felt the needle going into his neck and tried to spin round, but his eyes rolled in his head and then nothing.

Before the ambulance crew got there, Tamara and Miles had taken care of the two nurses, Miles had quickly stripped Mackay and shoved his unconscious form into the nurse's station, stripping off his uniform. When the crew got there, all they saw was the male nurse with the doctor, nothing to arouse their suspicions.

'I think I rather suit these nurse's duds,' Miles Laing said, smiling at Tamara.

'Well, now you're going to have to do another quick turnaround and get into these paramedic uniforms. We fooled the paramedics but now we still have to get out of here.'

'You're right. They're a bit tight round the waist.' He looked over to the nurse's station. 'I think young Peter over there was a little bit too fond of the custard creams.'

'Hurry, Miles,' Tamara said, 'we're against the clock here.'

Miles quickly took Mackay's uniform back off and slipped into a paramedic uniform. It was snug, but he would only need it for the next few minutes. He took the nurse's jacket and went into the station, putting it back on Mackay. He didn't bother with the trousers as he hauled Mackay off the floor and onto one of the chairs. Lin was still in her uniform, as they hadn't needed hers. She was hauled from the floor onto the other chair.

Miles placed them so that if anybody had a quick glance, it would look like they were sitting. Not that anybody would be coming in here for another hour or so.

'Help me get the paramedics onto the beds,' Tamara said.

'I'll deal with him.' He pointed to the form still lying unconscious on the bed. The drugs would keep him out of it for a little while longer.

'Get him onto the stretcher then we'll get him hooked up after we get those two onto the beds.'

Miles and Tamara worked like a well-oiled machine. The two paramedics were put under the sheets, an oxygen mask put on them both. They were hooked up to heart monitors, and a saline drip was put into the man's left arm. All designed to make it look like they were patients who weren't going anywhere.

The restraints were put on their wrists.

The patient who had been in the bed was on the stretcher.

'Will I pass as a paramedic?' Miles asked.

'He's a young guy. Besides, we just have to wait for another five minutes. Unlike the nurses, the guards at the gate change shifts at six, not seven.'

'I remember.'

There weren't any cameras in this part, all to do with patient rights, but there were cameras in the loading bay, but that was okay. All they would see was the paramedics taking the patient out.

He looked at the wall clock. 6.05 am. 'Let's go. If it's still the same guy, I'll resort to Plan B.'

Tamara knew that meant Miles would have to kill the guard.

For security, all the door locks had to be manually locked and unlocked from a panel. Tamara unlocked all the doors leading into the loading bay. Miles pulled the stretcher out. The patient had an oxygen mask on with a heart monitor by his side.

He pulled the stretcher up to the open back doors, keeping his face low. Not that it would matter. Tamara walked out a few minutes later, as if the duty nurse had been unlocking the doors and locking them behind her. That's what they would see when they checked the CCTV.

She helped Miles put the patient into the ambulance and she stepped inside. Miles opened the driver's door after hitting the button to open the roller door. When it was all the way up, he switched on the blues and drove the ambulance out and along the service road until he joined the main road leading out.

'This is it,' Miles said, feeling a bit shaky. It had been eight years since he had seen the outside.

He pulled up to the gatehouse, having no idea if this was the same man who had let the ambulance in a half hour previously, but if the shift change had gone ahead, it should be somebody different.

The man was dressed in a fluorescent jacket and a peaked cap. Probably an ex-cop.

'My colleague told me you were down there. Everything okay?' he said.

'Looks like a burst ulcer. We're taking him to the Royal. My partner's in the back checking his vitals.'

'Is he restrained?'

Fuck. 'Of course he is. I mean, we see a lot of shit, but we're not taking any chances.' No going back now. That was a blatant lie.

'Can you open the back door? I just need to check.'

'Sure. No problem.' Miles opened the driver's door and slipped out behind the guard, the syringe already in his hand as the guard opened the door. The meds would put him to sleep and leave him with a wicked headache, but he'd still be alive.

He had it partway open when Tamara shouted, 'What's the holdup, Charlie? We have a bleeder here!' She held up her gloved hands with blood on them.

'Christ, okay,' the guard said and closed the door. 'I'll get the gate. Do you need an escort called for?'

'We have outriders waiting by the bypass. Everything's arranged.' Nearly your funeral too, lucky bastard.

'Right, buddy. On you go.'

The guard practically ran back into the guardhouse and opened the first gate to let the ambulance into the holding pen while the gate shut. Miles sat and stared at the gate in front of him, not believing this was happening.

Then the gate slid sideways in front of him. The big, mesh gate on wheels just glided out of his way. He drove through slowly, making the ambulance jump a bit. It had been a while since he had driven anything, and the clutch on this machine was a bit stiff.

They had gone over the controls in the ambulance with Tamara a few times, until he could picture them in his head. He smiled as he looked over. They were exactly where he thought they would be.

He wasn't going to switch the siren on this early in the morning, but it would be fun to give it a blast. He resisted as he stopped before the main road. It would be getting busier by the minute as traffic started to come into Edinburgh.

It was getting light now and he turned onto the road and drove away at a steady pace.

He wasn't familiar with this place, but the hand-drawn map that Tamara had left in the library book was pretty accurate.

He drove along the country road until he saw the turn-off straight ahead. He killed the blue lights. If anybody saw that, they would think that an emergency call had just been cancelled.

Miles turned onto the track that led to an abandoned farm. He drove into the old barn and parked next to the car that had been left here for them. It was a nondescript Vauxhall.

Tamara climbed out of the ambulance and opened the boot of the car. Miles went into the back. He wanted to make sure that Bruce Hagan was at least still alive.

He was more than alive; he was sitting up and smiling.

Hagan put a finger to his lips. 'You still got the keys for this thing?' he asked.


'Simple question. Hurry up. We haven't got long.'

'They're in the ignition.'

Just then, Tamara reached in and took the keys, quickly closing the driver's door again. They both heard her lock the door.

'Too late,' Hagan said, getting up. 'Get back in the front. She won't expect that.'

He moved through just as the back door opened. He turned to see Tamara come in, holding a gun. The doctor was surprised to see that Hagan wasn't on the gurney, but standing up. It saved his life. The oxygen tank he'd grabbed connected with her wrist, knocking the gun sideways, and the backwards swing caught her on the chin, knocking her out before she could fire the gun.

'Nice swing,' Miles said, coming back into the rear of the ambulance.

'I want to get out of here.'

'She said we were going to get out and then she would call about them coming to pick her up.'

'Somebody's expecting a call then, and when she doesn't call, I'm guessing that whoever was waiting will come looking. Or call the authorities.'

'Let's not waste any time.'

Miles felt his eyes going to where one of Hagan's ears used to be.

'Yeah, it hurt,' Hagan said. 'So did taking my fingers off.'

'Sorry, I didn't mean to stare. I know it hurts. I used to be a surgeon.'

'Don't you mean you were The Surgeon?'

'Yes. But that is a whole different story my friend. Let's get out of here. I owe you one.'

Hagan picked up the gun and Laing looked at it. 'Don't worry, it's just so that they can't get it. Take the ambulance keys back off her, too.'

They picked up Tamara and strapped her to the gurney after making sure she was still alive.

Then they got in the car and drove off into the morning light.


'My hair's dry. My skin's dry. I have a blinding headache and my back feels like it's been jumped on. Thanks for asking.' Kim Smith took the glass of orange juice that Frank Miller was holding out to her.

'Apart from that, everything's okay?' he said with a grin. He felt it would be easier trying to take apart a hand grenade with the pin pulled.

'You know you're never getting to touch me again, don't you?' She washed down two painkillers.

'I had a rough idea that was on the cards.' He popped the toast he'd been making and poured a bowl of cereal for Emma, who was sitting in the living room watching cartoons.

Kim sat down at the table.

'You want some toast?' Miller asked.

'Dry please. Like our love life.'

'Just think, if it's a boy, you'll have two males in the flat. Both wanting your undivided attention.'

'God, I don't think I could handle two of you.'

Miller laughed. 'Twice the fun.' He cut a slice of toast in half and gave her it on a plate. 'Emma. Cereal's ready!' he shouted, and Kim winced.

'Good God, I swear if you shout like that again, I am going to do something dangerous to a certain body part.'

He laughed and ruffled her hair on the way out of the kitchen to spur on his soon to be step-daughter.

'Sod off, Miller.'

'Love you too, honey.'

Emma was eight years old and Kim's only child, until the new arrival came. She was sitting on the couch, a soft toy tucked under one arm, with Charlie, their cat, sleeping next to her.

'Frank?' she said, a serious expression on her face.

'Yes?' He knew it was going to be a deep and meaningful question by the look on her face.

'Do cats like babies?'

'Yes, they do. Charlie will be curious about the baby when he or she comes home. And then when he realises the baby is here to stay, he won't be curious so much anymore.'

'Good.' She looked at Miller. 'I want to help with the baby, Frank, and I was worried Charlie might get jealous.'

He smiled. 'Charlie will be just fine.'

They went through to the kitchen where Kim was resting her head on the table.

'Are you tired, mum?' Emma asked.

Kim lifted her head. 'I am, sweetheart.'

'Is the baby making you tired?'

She nodded her head and got up from the table. 'Yes. It's what babies do. It's their job. I wish I still had a job to go to.'

Kim was an investigator and police liaison officer with the Procurator Fiscal's office, but more desk bound in their offices in the Sheriff Court building than being in the field.

'Doctor's orders. You're to rest now. Your job will still be there when you go back.'

'Ah, yes, the inimitable Sharon. I bet she's not as fat and ugly as me.'

'Well, she's not pregnant, if that's what you mean.'

'You would think already having one child would have prepared me more,' she said.

'Emma's not that old that you can't remember,' Miller said.

'I was talking about you. I'm off for a shower.'

'It all makes sense now, Frank,' Emma said.

'What does?'

'When you always say, see what I have to put up with?' The little girl sat at the table with her soft toy and started eating her cereal.

Miller's phone rang and he answered it. 'I'll be there in ten,' he said hanging up.

'What's wrong?' Kim asked him in the living room.

'All hell's broke lose. Or should I say, Miles Laing broke lose.'

'What? The killer you and Carol captured?'

'The very same.'

'How in God's name did that happen?'

'There's an emergency team meeting in ten minutes. We're getting briefed. Meantime, just be careful.'

'Why would you say that?' Kim looked worried.

'He's a lunatic and he's escaped from a psychiatric hospital, so he's dangerous. I caught him, remember. I saw first-hand what he's capable of. And he's been calling here, remember?'

'Okay. I'll be careful. But you be careful too.'

'I will.'

'I'm knackered,' Lou Purcell said, coming into the kitchen. His son was there, Detective Superintendent Percy Purcell. And Percy's new wife, Suzy Campbell. She was using her maiden name for professional purposes.

Bear, their German Shepherd, came across and nuzzled Lou.

'How are you knackered?' Percy said, pouring himself another cup of coffee. 'You just got back from holiday yesterday.'

'You know what they say – you come back home for a rest. I was out partying every night.' Lou rubbed the dog's ear.

'What are you like?'

Lou smiled. 'The old dog still has some life left in him yet.'

'I hope you were using protection.'

Lou walked across to the coffee machine and popped in a coffee pod. 'You have to take the conversation down to a lower level. It's an illness with you, you know that?'

'I meant sun screen protection, you wrinkly old sod.'

'Percy! Don't talk to him like that,' Suzy said, buttering some toast. 'He's just jealous, dad,'

'I know he is. He wishes he had the stamina that I still have.'

'The blue pills make you keep on dancing, do they?'

'I don't need any chemicals to keep this well-oiled machine ticking along smoothly,' said Lou.

'Listen to yourself. At your age, you should be looking forward to watching Countdown in your slippers and remembering to put your teeth back in after drinking your tea.'

'What? Pish. I feel like a twenty-year-old.'

'Me too,' Percy said, grabbing Suzy.

'I left twenty behind a long time ago, Percy,' she said, slapping him off.

'God. You would think you're a teenager,' Lou said.

'We're newlyweds.'

'Well, you'll be needing to keep an eye on your ticker at your age.' Lou said, adding milk to his coffee.

'Your solicitor called yesterday. He sounded happy. I think I'll change careers,' said Percy.

'You wouldn't be able to sell houses for a living. You wouldn't get to shout at the clients and give them a good belting like you do now.'

'We're not the Gestapo. But anyway, give him a call. I think the people who recorded a note of interest made an offer. Two grand over the asking price.'

'You weren't discussing my private business I hope.'

'Of course I was. I told him you're senile and I have your power-of-attorney,'

'Christ, giving you power-of-attorney has gone to your head.'

'It's only so I can switch the machine off.'

'Try not to smile when you're doing it. And don't have a pillow in your hands beforehand.'

'Dad, don't be talking like that,' Suzy said, pouring herself more coffee.

'Don't worry, Suzy, if I get to the stage where I need my arse wiped, I'm sure son of the year will have found a way to starve me of oxygen.'

'Seeing all those half-naked women on the Spanish beach has obviously gone to your head. Made you delirious. I wouldn't even think about using a pillow on you.'

'Don't get all sentimental on me, now.' Lou popped two slices of bread into the toaster.

'I'm not. I know people who would do it for me.'

'I knew it was too good to be true. I should have given you a belting when you were a teenager. Too much letting you go out with your pals and staying out late.'

'Too late now, feeble old man.'

'Shut up. Tell me more about my house.'

'He wants you to sign some papers. He'll have them couriered to you.'

'Never mind that bollocks, I'll go up there. I still have stuff in storage. Me and Elizabeth are talking about moving in.'

'I don't know how you do it. First you come here to see an old friend from work, but she's not interested in dropping her drawers for you.'

'For God's sake–'

Percy held up a hand. 'Then Elizabeth kicks you into touch because she thinks that said friend is dropping her drawers for you, then you convince her that it was just a wee hooly down to Edinburgh to visit your favourite son–'

'My only son, thank God.'

'And you somehow convince her to bounce over to Spain with you for a week so you could no doubt take advantage of the poor woman. And now she's going to move in with you. I hope she's not up the duff.'

'Listen to yourself. Are you sure you're a copper? I sometimes think you're the janny, but you just wear a suit to work to impress people.'

'Just watch what you're doing, old man. And don't let her put her name on the title deed.'

'You think my head's buttoned up the back?'

'Women have a way of manipulating men, that's all I'm saying.'

Suzie looked at Percy.

'Some women. Suzie and I both contribute to the mortgage. Just make sure Elizabeth isn't a Black Widow.'

'Hello. I'm not twelve. I know what I'm doing.'

'Some men think with their small brain, and I hope that trip to Benidorm didn't shrivel yours. Any more. You need to think with your big brain when it comes to money.'

'I know. I have bought houses before. That's why I ended up in Aberdeen, remember? Come to Aberdeen, dad they said. You'll love it there they said. And I did until you got divorced. But now that I decided to move again, I've been house hunting. And I think I found a nice wee place.'

'Where abouts? Shetland?'

'Sod off. Henderson Row. Opposite Edinburgh Academy. One of those retirement flats there. It's the top floor and the living room window looks right onto the flats here. So I can wave to you.'

'Two-fingered wave, knowing you. And don't be walking around starkers. The last thing I need when I'm having my sausages is to look over and see Wee Willie Winkie bobbing about. Put me right off my breakfast, that would.'

'Walking about in your vest and skids gives you a sense of freedom.'

'Try telling that to the judge. See how much sense of freedom you have after that.'

'I'm not talking about in the communal area. I mean in the privacy of my own home.'

'As long as half of the New Town can't see you parading the catwalk with your curtains open.'

'None of your neighbours complain when I do it here.'

'You better be kidding, old man.'

'Of course I am. But be nice to me or I'll tell them you beat me.'

'Don't think I'm not tempted.' Percy drank some coffee. 'When is this happening? You moving?'

'I'll call the guy this afternoon and tell him I'll be up there tomorrow. Then I'll sign the papers. I've already had the offer accepted on the flat I'm buying, so maybe in the next couple of weeks.'

Purcell looked at his father for a moment. 'Please don't go, dad. I'll miss you. I don't know what it will be like around here without you.'

'Piss off.'

'No, seriously, I've forgotten what it's like to be in here without your manky old skids about the place. I wish you'd just put them in the machine with everything else instead of washing them in the bathroom sink.'

'Hey, that lassie has enough to do around here without washing my underwear.'

'I suppose she's thankful she doesn't have to touch them.'

'You could always do my laundry. It's not an exclusive thing for women.'

'I'd launder your Y's with a blowtorch.'

'Anyway, it's not too far away so I can come round and take Bear out. And close enough so I can still keep my eye on you.'

'Good idea for taking out Bear. I appreciate you doing that, dad,' Suzy said.

'It's not a problem. I'm going to catch up with some old friends now I'm living here, but I'll still be around.'

'Don't get into any mischief.'

'Just make sure those patrol uniforms know who I am. That will save me money on using taxis.'

'You wish. Don't be telling them you're related to me.'

Lou laughed and left the room.

Then Percy's phone rang. After he took the call, he looked at Suzy.

'It's going to be a long day.'


No phone call meant trouble. Mr Blue drove past the opening to the farm twice before slowing down. Third time, he entered, driving slowly along the track, ready with his excuse of getting caught short and looking for somewhere to relieve himself. They wouldn't believe him of course, but he would deal with them on the spot.

Nobody was there. No other vehicles, especially not ones with flashing blue lights. Not yet, anyway.

The ambulance would have GPS on it, and as soon as they knew it was gone, they'd be all over it. He didn't know if they tracked them when they were transporting a patient, but he knew they would be looking for it and short of burning it to the ground to destroy the GPS, they would find it.

It was already light and apart from the noise of distant traffic, it was near silent. Birds were awake but there was no sound of any human activity. The farmhouse was boarded up, long ago abandoned by its owner. Mr Blue drove past the house and round the back to where the barn was. He'd been here before, scoping the place out.

The barn was old but not quite dilapidated. The door was open but he couldn't see inside. Driving slowly, he thought about the shotgun in the boot of the car. He drove in slowly. Switched the headlights on and the light picked out the ambulance sitting further in.

There was no sign of the other car that they'd left here. Something wasn't right. His senses were heightened now, honed by years of working in the military. Back then, he'd had to do things the man in the street couldn't even begin to imagine.

He didn't take the shotgun out. He could easily take anybody who was there to do him harm. His military training had made him supremely confident. He approached the back of the ambulance, pulled on a pair of latex gloves he had in his pocket and grabbed the handle, opening the door in one swift movement.

Nobody inside waiting to try and attack him. There was somebody on the gurney though.

'Jesus, Tamara,' he said, stepping up into the back of the vehicle. The doctor wasn't dead. She was unconscious, but she had been hit with something across her head. She'd have a hell of a headache, that was for sure. He looked around at the medical kits. Raked about until he found what he was looking for. Ammonia inhalants. More commonly known as smelling salts. He took the bottle and opened it, holding it under Tamara's nose.

She stirred and groaned, confusion in her eyes at first. Then she winced as the pain in her head kicked in. Her arms were restrained on the gurney.

'Are you able to tell me what happened?' he said.

Tamara groaned. 'I came round into the back to shoot them, but one of them hit me with something hard. I don't know which one.'

'It doesn't matter,' Mr Blue said. 'They'll both die. I'll see to that. But did they ask you anything?'


'They didn't wonder why you tried to kill them?'

'If they did, they didn't say anything to me. Just hit me.'

Mr Blue stood up and took out the silenced gun and touched the tip of it to her forehead. Her eyes went wide as she realised what he was doing. Then he pulled the trigger.

He left the ambulance and got back into his car.

Then drove away.

The station was buzzing when Miller got upstairs. Everybody on the MIT A-team was present. He had promised to keep Kim informed, but her mother, the Procurator Fiscal, Norma Banks, was already there.

Percy Purcell was at the front with Detective Chief Inspector Paddy Gibb, who had a pen in his mouth and was no doubt pretending it was a cigarette.

'Ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention, please?' Purcell said, and stood waiting for the noise of chatter to subside.

'As you all know, the killer known to us as The Surgeon, escaped from the psychiatric hospital early this morning. On my right is Detective Superintendent Leach, my counterpart from the Glasgow Division. The hospital is in their area. He and his team will be working with us to establish how and why Miles Laing escaped.

'I also have Detective Inspector McNeil from Professional Standards.'

'Aw, here we fucking go,' Detective Sergeant Andy Watt whispered to Miller. All the team members looked at McNeil like he was the Antichrist.

'Detective Leach?' Purcell stood aside.

'I will be leading this investigation, along with members from my team. We will be working here for as long as it takes. We will be going through all of the files from eight years ago. For those of you not familiar with the case of The Surgeon, he was captured by DI Miller and his team, exactly eight years ago today. We'll be looking to see if this has any significance or not. Any questions?'

Watt looked at the Glaswegian detective. 'Can I ask why you're through here investigating instead of back in Glasgow? I mean, I know we have the old files here, but isn't it usual to have the files transferred and work at your home base?'

'Normally that would be the protocol, but we have intel that Laing will be coming back to Edinburgh. We want our team on the ground here, just in case. That way we kill two birds, going through the files and being on the ground here.'

Watt nodded his total shite nod.

'I have members of CID coming in to help go through the files. MIT A-team will go through and assist us, unless you get called out on a shout. Any other questions?'

There were none.

'Right. I don't want any rumours spread, so here's what we know so far; Laing had been complaining of stomach pains for days. In the wee hours of this morning, the duty doctor who is on nights, took him down to the infirmary. An ambulance was called. It left half an hour or so later, with Miles Laing at the wheel. The two paramedics had been given a drug through hypodermic needle, same with the male nurse on duty. All three were found safe and well but unconscious.

'We are working on the basis that the female doctor helped Laing escape. They also took another prisoner with them. One who was already in the infirmary. Former detective Bruce Hagan. The ambulance was traced by GPS to a place three miles from the hospital. We're assuming that they had another vehicle waiting for them. They haven't been seen since.'

'Why would they take Hagan?' Watt asked.

'We don't know that yet. Hagan was in a worse condition mentally than Laing, and we're going to be looking at his psychiatric reports later today, but we hope to find out more. We're not ruling out the possibility of him working with Laing and his partner.

'Anything else?'

Nobody said anything.

Miller noticed McNeil hadn't said a word but had kept his eyes on him the whole time.

'Right, let's get to it.'

As the team broke up, McNeil and Leach stood talking with Purcell, then the three men came over to him.

'Inspector Miller?' McNeil said. 'We'd like to have a word with you in one of the interview rooms. Do you want a rep to be present?'

'Am I going to need one?' Miller said.

'This is just an informal talk,' Purcell said, looking at McNeil.

'It will be recorded,' McNeil said back, unfazed by Purcell's look.

'I don't think I need a rep.'

'Then let's go,' Leach said. He was a heavily-built man with a thick Glaswegian accent. And a nose that had been on the receiving end of a smack or two.

They walked along the corridor and went downstairs to one of the interview rooms. Miller knew what this was going to be about; Miles Laing calling him at home.

After they set up the recorder, Miller sat on one side of the table with Purcell, while Leach and McNeil sat on the interviewing side.

'I just want to set the story straight here,' Leach said. He had brought a notebook along which he was now looking at. 'Eight years ago, you were a detective constable, and you hadn't been with CID long. Is that correct?'

'It is.'

'You excelled on that case, along with your now-deceased wife, Carol Davidson. You caught not only Miles Laing, but his partner-in-crime, Sherri Hilton.' He looked at Miller. 'Although it was later established that this was a fake name, and her real identity was never discovered, as it was presumed she died in the Firth of Forth.'

'I saw her one night a couple of weeks later when I was in my girlfriend's hospital room.'

McNeil looked at some papers. 'Ah yes. You reported that you saw a nurse waving at you as she got into her car. It was raining that night and it was dark. You saw a nurse waving. Could it be that it was a nurse waving to one of her friends?'

'It could have been, but it was a nurse that shouldn't have been on the ward.'

'That exact nurse? You could tell through a window that was getting battered by rain?' Leach said.

'What is this? I made a report at the time, indicating what I saw. I clearly stated that it could have been.'

'It could have been your imagination hard at work, Miller.'

'Maybe. But I erred on the side of caution.' He could feel his face starting to go red, like he was a schoolboy in front of the headmaster.

'Let's move on to Miles Laing,' McNeil said. 'Why do you think he called you at home?'

'Well, it's not like I invited him to, and it seems that Scottish law has to be tweaked a little to prevent that sort of thing happening in the future. If there wasn't so much of this Human Rights nonsense, then he wouldn't have been able to.'

'Why do you think he chose to contact you?' Leach said.

'I don't know. I caught him. He wanted to play games.'

'We've got the tapes we want to listen to. All his calls were recorded. We'll have somebody listen to them and take notes, but we wanted to give you the chance to tell us what he spoke to you about.'

Miller shrugged. 'Mundane stuff. Then he started talking about the killings.'

'How many times has he called you?' McNeil said.

'It's all there in the file,' Purcell said, feeling his own hackles rise.

'I just want Detective Miller's perspective on it.'

'About a dozen times over the last month.'

'Including the call you received three days ago. Sunday night.'

'That's correct.'

'Can you tell us what that one was about?'

Why? Did the fucking tape recorder break down or something? 'He told me there was another victim before the ones that we found.'

'A victim we don't know about?'


'What's your opinion on that?' said Leach.

'He's a lunatic. He's rambling, making stuff up.'

'Did you check up on his claims?'

Miller looked at Purcell before answering. 'Yes.'

'And did you find anything in the system?'

'No. There were no victims of a murder, with the same MO that he had used.'

McNeil was scribbling some notes down.

'Why do you think he started calling you after being in the psychiatric hospital for almost eight years?'

'I can't answer for his actions.'

'Now, I want you to explain something to me,' Leach said.


'Why would Laing end the call last Sunday with See you soon, Frank?'

'I have no idea. Again, he's not got any lights on upstairs. Maybe he thinks we're going for afternoon tea.'

Leach smiled but there was no humour. 'And now he's out running about, that might not seem as far-fetched as we thought. Where were you in the early hours of this morning, Miller?'

'You're not serious,' Purcell said.

'We're deadly serious, Superintendent.' McNeil said it like he was trying to spit out a midgie at the same time.

'I was in bed with my girlfriend.'

'You don't think Frank had anything to do with this, do you?' Purcell said.

'We're not ruling–' McNeil started saying before Purcell glared at him.

'You might think you're the big cock in here, McNeil, but I was talking to Detective Leach. I know your powers stretch far and wide and you can overrule decisions and go anywhere to investigate, but Miller is one of my officers, and if you're going to accuse him of anything, you fucking well better have solid evidence.'

'Take it easy, Percy,' Leach said. 'You know we have to establish what went on, considering he called Miller at home.'

'As Frank said, Laing was the one who called him. And you, McNeil, were the one who had a word with him for threatening Laing. I notice nobody had a word with Looney Tunes in the hospital. Well, maybe it's a good thing he's on the outside now, as that means we might have a chance of getting to talk to him face-to-face.'

'We all have rules to follow, Superintendent.'

'Agreed. And Frank didn't break any.'

Leach held up a hand. 'We just wanted to hear Miller's side of things. We don't think he had anything to do with this, but we just needed a chat, that's all. You can go now, Inspector.'

'But–' McNeil protested.

'There's no buts. The interview has been terminated.' He looked at Miller. 'If there's anything else we need to talk to you about, then we'll talk again. But let's concentrate on getting him back into that hospital.'

'Hazel Carter wasn't at the meeting,' Miller said. 'She's on leave. She's coming back tomorrow. Has anybody told her about Hagan?'

'No, not yet. I was told about her leave. We have a patrol car parked near her house in Baberton Mains, keeping an eye on her. And one near Tanner's Bar in Juniper Green where his wife still lives. No sighting.'

'I'd like to be the one who tells Hazel.'


All four men got up and left the room, McNeil and Miller walking towards the end of the corridor and through a set of doors.

'I hope Miller doesn't put McNeil's lights out.'

'Frank's not stupid.'

'My instinct says he didn't have anything to do with it, but McNeil thinks everybody is guilty until proven otherwise.'

'Obviously the doctor helped him escape, Willie,' Purcell said, 'but what we have to establish is whether it was his accomplice from eight years ago. Nobody believed Frank back then, but he was convinced that she had survived that plunge into the sea.'

'I know that. I wonder why they would take Hagan? But we're going through everything we know about that doctor. Every interaction she had with Laing.'

'She was very clever, whoever she is. No alarms bells went off in anybody's head. Then they waltz out of there in an ambulance.'

'Aye, son, it was a cunning plan they had, and they pulled it off. They knew about the shift changes for the guards at the gate, and the nurses.'

'Why was Hagan in the infirmary to begin with?' Miller said.

'That's why we're having somebody go down to the hospital. I have some of my men there.'

'I'd like to go,' Purcell said.

'That's fine, Percy. I think Miller better take a couple of team members with him when he goes to see Carter.'

'He will.'

In the stairwell, McNeil turned to Miller. 'Christ, I hate this department, Frank. It alienates everybody. For what's it's worth, I have to seem to be tough with you, but I don't think for one minute you had anything to do with Laing escaping. What reason would you have?'

'I appreciate it, Harry.'

Harry McNeil had been friends with Miller for many years. He had been friends with Carol, too, and after they bought the flat on the North Bridge, McNeil had rented Carol's flat. He still lived in it.

'When are you coming back to CID?' Miller asked.

'They won't welcome me back with open arms. No, Frank, I think it will be somewhere else for me.'

'Not leaving the force, I hope? You're too good a detective for that.'

'No, not leaving, but maybe moving sideways. You know, I messed up one case, and then they stuck me in here. I know other people volunteer for it, but not me. And now they're going to spit me out the other end. But if they think I'm going to go digging up dirt on a friend when there's no dirt to be dug up, they can sod off.'

'I appreciate it, my friend.' Miller slapped him on the arm and they went their separate ways.

Upstairs, Miller grabbed a hold of Andy Watt and Detective Constable Steffi Walker.

'I need you both to come with me.'

'Yes, sir,' Steffi said.

'I could do with a coffee break,' Watt said.

'We're going to tell Hazel that the man she had two children with was taken along for the ride when Miles Laing and his female friend took leave of absence from the hospital.'

'Christ, she's going to be gutted,' Steffi said.

'Not to mention the wife that nobody knew about,' Watt said, grabbing his jacket. 'What's her name again?' he snapped his fingers. 'Amanda Cameron, the one who lives above the pub.'

Paddy Gibb came up to them. 'Before you go anywhere, Jeni Bridge wants to see you,' he said to Miller.

'In her office?'

'In her outside office.' The car park at the side of the station, the designated smoking area.

'You two get the car keys and I'll go and see the chief super,' Miller said, leaving the incident room.

Outside, the car park was still in shadow, stuck in the stone canyon created by the buildings on either side of it.

'You should try these,' Jeni Bridge said, taking a puff of her cigarette and blowing the smoke out like a dragon that had lost its fire.

'Is that an offer or an observation, ma'am?'

'I'm not crashing my packet of fags, Frank, let's be serious. I get enough of that with Paddy Gibb when he comes out foaming at the mouth when he's run out of fags. A smoker who smokes the last fag in the packet and who doesn't have another packet waiting. I ask you.'

'You wanted to talk to me?'

'I do, Frank. Officially, I want to ask you one question: did you have anything to do with Miles Laing's escape?'

'No, I didn't!' Miller answered with conviction.

'Okay, don't get your string vest in a knot. I just wanted to hear it with my own ears. Mind you, if I thought you had, I'd have had you strung up by the balls with piano wire by now.' More sucking on the paper stick, tilting the head back and blowing smoke up to the sky.

'I think Superintendent Leach was disappointed. I think he'll take a lot more convincing than you.'

'Leachy the weedgie? He doesn't know you like I do, Frank. And McNeil? He's just been told to creep about with a raincoat on and spy on people. He's just doing his job, but what a job.' She held the cigarette between two fingers and used them to point at Miller. 'When he's done his time with the window-licking brigade, he can whistle if he thinks he's coming to work anywhere near me. I'll have him polishing the inside of a toilet if that happens, but it won't. Not while I'm the commander of Edinburgh Division. He can bugger off back to CID. He's not coming to MIT.'

Not for the first time, Miller thought he never wanted to get on the wrong side of Jeni Bridge. 'I've known him a long time. He's not too bad, to be honest. There's worse than him.'

Jeni looked sceptical. 'Sharks always look better when they're behind three feet of glass in an aquarium.'

'We're off to tell Hazel Carter about Bruce Hagan being on the lam,' he said when he saw Watt and Steffi come out the back door.

'Jesus Christ. She has two kids by him too. And he didn't even have the decency to marry her.'

'He wasn't right after being buried alive in a coffin.' Bruce Hagan had been a colleague of Miller's and had suffered what no man should ever suffer. Now, for some reason, Miles Laing had taken him out of the hospital. He hoped to God Laing hadn't done anything to him. He nodded for the other two detectives to wait for him in the car.

Jeni paced, taking a drag and then tapping the ash onto the ground. 'Let me ask you, Frank; do you think Laing did kill another other woman before you found your first victim?'

'I think he was capable of doing it. But there are no similar killings, unless he killed her in a different way.'

'Usually coincidence means that it's true, but I'm not sure about this one. He could have been trying to get under your skin.'

'And my father's too. He also worked the case. He and Harry Davidson were the lead detectives back then.'

'Harry was your wife's father? DCI Davidson?'

'Yes. They're both gone now.'

Jeni stopped pacing. 'I heard she was a good detective, your wife.'

'Better than me.'

'It was a tragedy, the way she died. I'll bet you miss her.'

'I do. It was eight years ago today we caught the bastard. The day my wife nearly died.'

'Sherri Hilton, driving the car. I read the file.' One more draw from a cigarette that was at the end of its life. Miller was sure it would be joined by its brothers and sisters on the ground very shortly. 'Tell me though, Frank; do you think Hilton's still alive?'

'I've always thought so. When I looked out through that window in the hospital, even through the pouring rain, I knew it was her. She looked right up at me, not across to a friend or a colleague, but right at me.' Miller poked himself in the chest.

'Why do you think she was on the ward that night? Do you think she went into the room where your wife was?'

'I don't know if she intended to harm Carol, but she was certainly sending me a message; I can get to you anytime I want.'

'But you never heard from her again?'

'No. I never saw her again after that night.'

'And now, on the eighth anniversary of getting caught, her boyfriend escapes. I think she's sending you a message again; look what I did. I got my boyfriend out of the hospital. I'll bet when we rip that doctor's life apart, we'll find it full of red herrings.'

'I think you're right, ma'am. I haven't seen her in all that time, but I have a feeling it won't be long before we hear from Miles Laing again.'


Mr Black and Mr Blue were in the drawing room, drinking coffee. Blue was watching the news on the TV while Black was reading that morning's edition of The Caledonian, already out for circulation before the story broke about the escape.

Another man in a suit was sitting drinking coffee, looking at the muted TV. News channels were reporting the escape.

The TV had no such deadlines.

'The good people of Edinburgh think they have to be worried,' the suit said.

Mr Black smiled and folded his newspaper, putting it on the side table next to him. 'And they might well be worried. Miles Laing being on the loose wasn't in the plan. Tell me in great detail what happened.' He looked at Mr Blue.

Mr Blue felt the adrenaline kicking in. Battle juice one of his fellow soldiers had called it, a man whose lift didn't go all the way to the penthouse. Maybe being off his nut got him through the war as he wasn't one of the casualties. He'd have given anything to have the man here with him now.

He explained to Mr Black what had gone wrong. He gave him the edited version, that Laing must have overpowered Tamara and executed her. He didn't explain that he, Mr Blue, had executed her. He would have done it with Tamara's gun, but he'd been unable to find it, assuming the two prisoners had taken it with them.

'A casualty of war.'


'Now we need to figure out where Miles Laing will run to.' Mr Black sat and steepled his fingers. 'You'll have to ask the woman who knows him, before they make any connection. I know it's unlikely, but now Laing is a wild card.'

'Do you think he'll go there?' the suit said.

'Probably not, but she might be able to help us with our enquiries.'

'I'll get onto it. And we're going to need a solution, a Plan B, which I already had; Mr Red.'

'Who's that?'

'It's a name we've given him and which you shall refer to him by. You don't need to know his real name. However, he can get the job done, but before we invite him, you have to understand one thing; the man is unhinged. He works with a partner, and they're both very good at what they do, but they're ruthless.'

'Ruthless is good.'

'Ruthless is expensive.'

'Money is no object. Considering what a cock-up the last plan was.' The suit stood up and walked over to the drinks cabinet and poured himself a drink. A small measure, not big enough to make him fail a breathalyser but big enough to take the edge off.

'From what you told us, Laing should have been taken out a long time ago.'

Suit drank some of the whisky. Looked out the window at the building opposite. All of them expensive flats, in the New Town. He wondered what they would think if they knew what was being planned in this flat. He turned back to the two men in the room.

'That was a mistake, but it had to be made to look like he was ill. They would have been found out of course, but sticking a knife in him would have brought the gates down. It was attack and retreat, but they got wind of it and somebody had him removed. The next time, we won't be so subtle.'

'When you say we, I'm assuming you won't be getting your hands dirty?'

The suit smiled. 'That's your game, your expertise. I don't mind you overseeing the operation, so long as it gets done.'

'I have my suspicions where Laing might have run to, and if they prove correct, then it won't be easy getting to him,' Mr Black said. 'That's why I've drawn up Plan B. If we can't get to him, then he will have to come to us.'

'How do you propose we achieve that?' Mr Blue said.

'By utilising the amenities we have at hand, shall we say? Retreat and regroup, isn't that the mantra we lived by? The leadership courses? Not going into battle when your troops are down, but regrouping and going on the offensive using stealth and cunning? David and Goliath, my friend. Just when Miles Laing thinks it's safe, we'll haul him back into reality.'

'What about the others?'

'Listen, we're going to use them all. Especially Frank Miller. Whether he likes it or not, he's been dragged into this. He thinks he's investigating the escape.' Suit drank more of the whisky and stared off into space.

'Little does he know just how far he's going to be involved in all of this. And it's not something he's going to come back from.' Mr Blue stood thinking for a moment.

'Does Mr Red know about your attempt to get rid of Laing in the hospital?' Mr Black said.

'Need to know. And right now, he doesn't need to know about Miles Laing. All he needs to know is the name of his target. Mr Red will be with us not long from now.'

'I hope he's discreet.'

Mr Black looked at Mr Blue before answering. 'I don't think he knows how to spell discretion but he gets the job done. He's ruthless. Nobody will stand in his way. You want the job done, he'll get it done. But we'll be there controlling him. From a distance. But we'll liaise with him at all times.'

'Christ, I don't want this backfiring.'

Mr Black smiled. 'Mr Red is a professional. This next part has to go like clockwork. Or else we'll all die.' He stood looking at the two other men. 'I have to go now. I have a busy day ahead of me.'

'What about the police? Do they even know the woman exists?'

'Not yet. And they won't make a connection.' He left the room.

"I don't like this one little bit,' the suit said. 'It's already gone pear-shaped.'

'A minor glitch.'

'Have you looked closely at your friend there? He's mental. How can we even trust him?'

'We have no choice. Unless you have an assassin on speed dial, we have to work with him. He's a mercenary. As long as he gets paid, he'll get the job done.'

'And now he has another nutter on board. God help us all.'

Mr Black smiled. 'That's why we have to make sure Miles Laing dies as soon as possible.'


Mr Blue didn't like the suit at all. He wasn't expecting to meet the man, but he had shown up at the house uninvited. He understood he and Mr Black went back a long way, but there was something creepy about him. The man had never seen military duty, that was obvious.

He drove the Transit van through Fairmilehead and onto the Biggar Road, heading south out of the city. The country road wasn't too busy and he arrived at his destination a few minutes after passing the Hillend Snowsports Centre, with the ski slope on his right.

Easter Howgate, more of an area rather than a village, where Mr Blue thought he could quite happily live, away from the hustle and bustle. He had plans to live somewhere quiet, probably in the Highlands, after he was done working. Which was away in the future, but it didn't do any harm to plan ahead.

Like he was doing now.

Planning ahead.

This job was going to net him a lot of money. Sure, he and Mr Black went way back, but this wasn't the sort of job you did for a hobby. How would he be able to afford a little house in the middle of nowhere if he didn't make money?

He turned off the main road, past a small house that was set back a little bit and drove up the single lane road.

The house he wanted was tucked away on the other side of a hill, and if you didn't know it was there, you would think it was just the Pentlands in front of you. He could understand why the woman wanted to live in isolation.

He pulled the van in front of her house and went to the back, and took out the cardboard box he had for her. There was an address label stuck on the front with her name on it. Everything looked official. He carried a clipboard with a list of fake names on it, hers being in the middle.

He closed the van door then walked up to the front door of the house, holding the bottom of the box with one hand and the clipboard with the other. He rang the doorbell, looking around to see if there was anybody watching, but there were no houses that overlooked this property.

That made his job easier. If she'd lived in a tenement in the middle of Marchmont, it would have been more difficult. Not impossible, but he would have used a different tactic.

He heard the clack of a chain sliding across and then the door opened a crack. 'Yes? Can I help you?' the woman said.

'Delivery for Rena Joseph.' He held up the box, the size chosen so that it couldn't be slipped through a small gap like this. It was chosen so the recipient would have to open the door.

'I didn't order anything,' she said. 'Who is it from?'

Shit. 'It doesn't have a return address on here. Maybe there's a packing slip inside.' Now he was getting antsy but he made sure this wasn't transferred to his face.

'Take it back,' she said and slammed the door shut. There was glass in the front door and he could see the woman running down the hallway. Not just walking away in a pissed off type of way, the way a person who has been disturbed might do, but she took off running.

She knows!

Mr Blue was used to kicking down doors. He'd done it many times in Kandahar. There had to be no hesitation, or else the next thing you knew, there was a bullet through your eyeball. This was no different. This woman could be away to call the police. Or worse. She might have a shotgun.

He dropped the box and kicked the door hard and it flew inwards. There was no scream like he thought there might be. He didn't run through the doorway the woman had run through. He'd seen too many men die that way.

He approached slowly and low. Moved quickly through when he didn't detect a threat. The living room was empty, but the threat was in the kitchen, holding a large knife.

'Did that fucker Miles send you? Afraid to stand up to me?'

'Put the knife down, Rena,' Mr Blue said.

'Nobody's called me that in years.' Her voice shook but she wasn't holding the knife where she would bring it down in an arc. No, she was holding it away from herself, but close to her body, like she would jab at him, but keeping it out of his reach. She'd obviously been watching YouTube videos on how to defend yourself with a potato peeler, but she'd opted for the carving knife instead.

But what was that all about, not going by Rena for years? Bad intel again. Mr Black had some explaining to do.

'Put the knife down, Rena.'

'Is that what he told you to call me?'

'Nobody told me anything. I just need to talk to you. Come on, put the knife down.' The last thing he wanted to do was take his gun out. Her death would hardly look like she had kicked over a paraffin lamp if she had a bullet in her skull.

She snorted, her eyes wide, her unkempt hair falling over her face. She swept it out of the way, jabbing with the knife. 'You just want to talk? Is that why you tried to con your way in here?'

She's got a good point, old son. He had to draw her towards him. He took a quick step forward, and she reacted just like he'd hoped she would – she thrust the knife towards him. He grabbed her wrist with his right hand, swiftly moving his left hand up to her face and then he twisted her, sticking one of his legs behind her and taking her down.

She screamed and he took the knife from her. It would have been easy to ram it into her throat, but he didn't want that. Too easy for them to figure out. Better to knock her out before he started the fire.

But Rena Joseph wasn't having that. She screamed loudly, getting on her hands and knees. Mr Blue reached round the back of her head, grabbed her hair and with his hand on her chin, snapped her neck. The end result was the same, just a different manner. He placed one of the dining chairs away from her, on its side. It might be reduced to a pile of ashes, but if not, it might divert their attention long enough.

And they might not connect Miles Laing with her right away, but they would eventually.

Mr Blue went back out to get the box he'd brought and took it inside. He opened it and took out the paraffin lamp with the can of paraffin. He put the can on its side with the cap off, on the carpet. The contents ran out in a puddle. He placed the lamp on the counter, lit it, then brushed it off with his arm, stepping quickly away. The lamp fell and ignited the paraffin in a bright explosion as he grabbed the box and ran out of the room.

Woman falls, breaks her neck and knocks over lamp on the way down, setting the house on fire. He smiled at the thought as he ran along the hall. Of course, the fire investigators weren't stupid. Nor the pathologists. This was merely a message to Miles Laing.

As he drove away, he could see smoke starting to rise, in his mirrors.


Miller told the other two detectives he wanted to swing by somewhere first. He rang the doorbell and stood back. It was a nice, old property. Five bedrooms, built solidly, back in the day when they knew how to build houses.

The door opened, and a big man stood looking out at him. 'Frank! Good to see you. Dawn called and told me she'd bumped into you.'

Vince Rutherford smiled and stood back to let him in.

'I had to go to the cemetery to see Carol's grave. What with it being eight years to the day since we caught him, and the fact he's now on the loose.'

They went through to the kitchen where Vince put the kettle on.

'Did Dawn give you the book?'

'Yes, thanks. That was very good of you, Vince.'

'It's a small gesture. Carol was my biggest fan. Everybody I knew said I would make it one day, and I'm glad I kept at it.'

'I read Dawn's stuff, too. She's an excellent thriller writer.'

Vince poured two coffees. 'I don't know why she hasn't been picked up, but self-publishing is such a big hit nowadays, she doesn't really need to.'

They sat at the kitchen table. 'Is she here now?'

'No. She's out shopping. She likes to do it by herself. I just hold her back, she says. I can never understand a woman who reads the label on every bottle and jar before throwing it into the trolley.'

'I'm the same. In, bung all the junk into the trolley, back out again. But Kim is particular about what we eat.'

'How's the pregnancy coming along?'

'She's over five months now, and starting to change, physically. Pain and all that. I don't know what pain she means. A woman doesn't know pain like a man knows pain after he's been kicked in the balls.'

'Jesus, don't go telling her that.'

Miller laughed. 'I'm kidding. We've had this discussion many times, but just as a joke.'

'I'm not as brave as you, mate. I wouldn't joke like that with Dawn.'

'How's Beckett doing? Dawn said he and Michelle are engaged?'

'Yes. He wanted to ask her out for the longest time, and then he plucked up the courage. Now they've got engaged.'

Miller drank more of the coffee. 'I was sorry to hear about your mother.'

'Thanks. She wasted away at the end. It was very quick. She was taken into the hospital, then the hospice and died two days later. Start to finish, less than two weeks.'

'Dawn said you were worried about Laing coming back for her.'

Vince looked at him. 'I'm not worried about what he would try and do to me. I'd knock the bastard out. But it's what he and that psycho bitch might do to her that worries me.'

'All I can recommend you do if you see him is give us a call.'

'I'll set Beckett about him. It's when Dawn is out on her own that I worry, but she says she's not going to live her life avoiding Laing.'

'For all we know, he might be on his way to London by now, or trying to leave the country.'

'You don't believe that for one moment. Do you? Be honest with me.'

Miller shook his head. 'You know I once told you he'dcall me and talk to me on the phone?'


'He's been calling me for the past month. He called the other day. His last words to me were See you soon, Frank.'

'Do you think he's coming after you?'

'I'm not sure. He tried to tell me there was another victim before the first one we found.'

'Do you believe him?'

'No. I think he just wanted to rattle me before he escaped. I don't think he'll waste his time coming after us.'

'I'm not going to promise that I wouldn't take the law into my own hands if he came near us, but that would be the last line of defence.

They were silent for a moment, the only sound a fan whirring in the next room.

'You still miss her, Frank? Carol.'

Miller nodded. Took a quick breath before answering. 'I do, Vince. Every day. I'm with Kim now, of course, but Carol and I had something special. I think working together helped us bond.'

'Kim is an investigator too, just with the fiscal's office, but you still work with her. Do you feel that helps you bond with her?'

'I do. Every relationship is different. Carol was the first woman I ever fell in love with. If she hadn't been taken away from me, we would still be together. Some guys go out messing about with other women, but I never had a hankering for that.'

'I know I had been out with other women, but not one of them compared to Dawn. I couldn't believe it when she came back into my life. I thank God every day for that. And now we have two little boys. One I didn't know about at first, but they are all my life. If anybody comes close to touching them, it will be all over for them.'

'I know, pal. I have little Emma, who I look on as my own daughter, and now we're going to have another child. Being a dad changes everything, doesn't it?'

'It does. Miles Laing better stay away if he knows what's good for him.'

'I feel the same way.' He finished his coffee and stood up. 'I'd better get going. If Laing isn't planning on coming near me, it doesn't mean I don't have to go after him.

'Let me know if you catch him, Frank.'

'You'll be my first call.'


Miller headed out to Tanner's Bar in Juniper Green, on the west of the city.

'How's things with Jean?' he asked Watt.

'Pretty good, to be honest. Her house is down the road from Tanner's, and I feel at home there.'

'You ever come up to the pub?'

'Nah. I drink in Colinton Village now. It's an old man's pub, which is good as there are no young tossers in there looking for a fight.'

'I thought your attitude was, you hadn't had a good night out unless you had skelped somebody?'

'That's slander. Me being an officer of the law, I would never say such stuff.' Watt looked out the passenger window as they drove up Clovenstone Road. 'Mind you, I've had my fair share down there.' He nodded to the flats down below. 'I lived there when you first joined CID. When they found out I was a copper, they tried their pish on, but they soon learned a lesson.'

'What about your own place in Oxgangs?'

'I rent it out now. I use the money to pay my way at Jean's.'

'It sounds serious with her.'

'We're good for each other just now. I never look past tomorrow. You don't know what's round the corner.'

Don't I know it? Miller thought about Carol going out to do the ransom drop and then watching her die before his eyes in Accident and Emergency.

He shuddered for a moment and then stopped at the traffic lights, waiting to turn right.

'It must affect you, knowing it was eight years ago that we caught that bastard. If you ever need to talk, Frank, I'm only a phone call away. If I'm not washing my skids or giving Jean one, then we can get a pint.'

'There's a lady in the car,' Steffi Walker said from the back seat.

'Where?' Watt said, grinning.

'Very funny, sarge.'

'I try to be.'

Tanner's Bar was on the left. A smart-looking pub, set back from the main road. A vennel led to a car park and the entrance to the restaurant.

There were a few customers in, and they saw through the front window that Amanda Cameron was behind the bar.

Bruce Hagan's wife.

'He must have literally been mental to give up Hazel for this woman,' Watt said, getting out of the car. They were parked next to the owner's Jaguar.

'Sometimes we make decisions in the heat of the moment, Andy.'

'I wonder if that's what it was when Hagan decided he was leaving the hospital?' Steffi said.

Inside, there was the low hum of chatter competing with the news of the escape on TV. They were only mentioning Miles Laing's name, and another suspect whose name hadn't been released yet. Amanda Cameron looked up as the three detectives walked in. She whispered something to the bar manager, who glared across at the two suits. Watt was pretty sure he'd lifted the man before, or maybe he was a resident of Clovenstone.

'What's wrong now?' Amanda Cameron said to them as she came round the bar.

'Can we talk in private?' Miller said.

Amanda had a worried look on her face and both detectives were watching her closely.

'Sure. We can talk up in the flat.' She took her keys out as she walked along the short corridor where the entrance door to her flat was.

Upstairs, the smell of stale cigarette hadn't quite managed to dissipate. A few dishes were in the sink in the open-plan kitchen area. 'Sorry, I wasn't expecting guests,' she said.

'This is not a social visit. We're here to talk about Bruce,' Miller said.

'You want a coffee? Something stronger?' she said, as if she hadn't heard them.

'No thanks. You want to sit down?'

'I'm on my feet until five o'clock. If I sit down now, I'll just crash out. Late night last night.' She looked at the them for a moment. 'Is he dead?'

'No, far from it. At least, that's what we think.'

'What do you mean?'

'You heard about Miles Laing escaping from the hospital this morning?'

'I did. Creepy bastard. What's this got to do with Bruce?'

Miller hesitated before answering. 'They took Bruce with them.'

'What do you mean?' The puzzlement showed on her face.

'Laing had an accomplice. When they left, and I can't reveal any details, they took Bruce with them. Three of them left the hospital this morning.'

'Jesus Christ.'

'Has he been in touch?' Watt asked, looking around the flat to see if there was any sign of a man having been there.

'No, of course not.'

'Don't sound so surprised, Amanda. Most escapees come looking for a loved one. You mind if Sergeant Watt has a look around?'

'No, not at all. Check out everywhere. He's not here.'

Watt left the room and headed down a short corridor, disappearing from view. Steffi stood by the window, looking out. 'Has he contacted you recently?' she asked.

'No, he hasn't.' Amanda walked over to a cupboard and took a packet of cigarettes out. Opened it and lit one, offering the packet to Miller. He waved a hand at her.

'I'm asking you to keep this under wraps. If word gets out, you won't be able to leave here for reporters. They'll be camped out here.'

'Fuck them. I won't say a word to those scum-sucking savages.' She puffed furiously.

'There's a fifty-fifty chance that Bruce will come here, but if he does, you have to be careful. We know his mental state is in-and-out. Sometimes he will seem lucid, other times he will stare right through you. We had reports faxed over to the station. Bruce is far from being well.'

'That's all I need, him coming knocking on my door.'

'If it's any consolation, we think he was taken. He was ill in the infirmary in the psychiatric hospital. We think they took him because it needed to look like they were taking a patient to the Royal.'

'I wanted him to do it the right way.'

Watt came back into the room, shaking his head at Miller.

'What do you mean?' Miller asked Amanda.

'I got a lawyer and we were putting in an appeal on his sentence. Bruce was fucked up because of all those drugs they pumped into him at that clinic. He didn't know what he was doing. I want him out so he can get proper attention, not shoved in a room to sit and twiddle his thumbs all day.'

'It's hardly a Victorian establishment,' Steffi said.

'You ever been in there as a patient?'

Steffi shook her head.

'He shouldn't be there. He needs real help. What he did wasn't his fault. He's being punished for something somebody did to him, a person who's rich and wasn't made to pay for his crime.'

Miller couldn't argue with that. He took out a business card. 'Call us if he comes here. We don't know what mental state he's in.'

'I'll call my lawyer.'

'You might want to reconsider if it's Miles Laing who turns up at your door.'

'Well, I'll tell you what, that bastard better come for me in my sleep, because if he comes for me when I'm awake, I'll fucking knife him. I have family who live just down the road. A van load of them will be up here in five minutes and they'll throw that bastard off the bridge just outside, right down onto the bypass.'

'Don't be saying this to us,' Miller said, but without much conviction. 'Call us if he comes near you. We have some hard men down in Wester Hailes who can also be up here in a van in a few minutes.'

'Aye, don't be doing anything daft,' Watt said.

'You're not from around here, are you?'

'I am actually.'

More sucking the life out of the cigarette. 'Well, you'll know what I'm talking about. We look after our own. In fact, I think I might move back in with my mother. Fuck this place. If Laing the bampot wants to come look me up, he can come knocking on my mother's door. My brother will show him what mental is really all about.'

Miller handed her a card. 'Miles Laing is extremely dangerous. Please call us if he comes round. We're better equipped to deal with him.'

Amanda smiled at him, but there was no humour. 'You think so? I know you're definitely not from around here.'


'Personally, I don't think he'll show his face round here,' Watt said as they got back in the car.

Miller shook his head. 'I wish I wasn't on duty. I could murder a pint right now.'

'You and me both, squire.'

'I'll just have an orange juice, if you're buying,' Steffi said.

'I'm not,' Watt said.


'You know him too well,' Miller said.

'Don't encourage her.'

Miller joined the traffic on Lanark Road, turning left onto Wester Hailes Road. Left at the Clovenstone roundabout, into Baberton Mains. Then round The Drive and off into Hazel Carter's cul-de-sac.

There was a patrol car parked outside her house. Miller approached the driver's window. 'I'm assuming since you're still sitting here that there's been no sign of him?'

'Correct, sir. DS Carter didn't want anybody to sit in with her.'

'Thanks.' They were greeted at the door by a dishevelled Hazel Carter. Her eyes were red.

'I can't fucking believe this,' she said, stepping aside. The detectives followed her into the living room, Watt closing the front door behind him.

'No contact at all, then?' Miller said, but he knew Hazel would have called it in if there had been.

'Yes. He popped round and he's sitting in the dining room eating lunch. Of course he's not fucking turned up.' She stopped on the threshold between the dining area and the kitchen and turned round. 'I'm sorry, sir. I just feel like there's electricity running through my veins.'

Miller put a hand on her shoulder. 'It's fine, Hazel. I can't even begin to imagine the stress you're going through.'

Miller and Watt sat at the dining table. Steffi stood at the window. 'I wish you would let one of the uniforms sit in here with you,' Miller said. The small room was a continuation of the kitchen, which itself wasn't overly large. The window to the rear overlooked the small garden. Surrounded by a fence on three sides and the side wall of the detached garage. He couldn't help thinking that if Bruce Hagan decided to jump the fence, there wasn't much Hazel could do about it.

'If he comes in here, this time he'll get it, Frank.' Hazel turned round from the kitchen counter with a knife in her hand. A knife used for stripping meat off the bone, which would no doubt strip Hagan's flesh.

Miller stood up. 'Listen, you need to go somewhere else, somewhere Bruce doesn't know about.'

'Oh, really?' She slammed the knife down. 'Where do you suggest, sir? Holyrood Palace? The Balmoral Hotel has probably got a vacant suite available. Maybe I should book myself in! Or I've got an even better idea; why don't me and that fucker's wife club in together and we can find a place!' She was starting to shout at the top of her voice until Steffi went over and put her arms round her and held her tight.

Hazel cried hysterically, holding onto her until the anger subsided. She pulled away from her and looked Miller in the eyes, tears streaming down her face. 'Why? Why did he go behind my back and marry her? Especially when I'd just had his second child.'

'He was suffering from PTSD, Hazel,' Watt said, standing up. 'I don't even think he knew what he was doing.'

'Then maybe their marriage should be void,' Hazel said, finally letting go of Steffi. She turned and switched the kettle on. Leaned on her hands on the counter, head bent over.

'Let me do that,' Watt said. Hazel turned without looking at him and sat down at the dining table. Miller followed her.

'I know it's hard, but we're all here to help you.'

'You won't be here, twenty-four seven though, will you? And I wouldn't expect you to be.' She wiped her eyes and looked at him as Watt busied himself with the mugs. 'You know the thing that's most fucked-up about this? If that bastard came in here and I stuck that knife right through his heart, I'd be the bad one. You know the Crown Office would have me up on charges for unlawfully killing him. But I don't care. If he comes near the kids, I'll kill the bastard.'

'Where are they now?'

'Upstairs. Jane is playing and Daniel's sleeping.' Watt came over with the mugs. Collected his own and sat down.

'You know, I still have nightmares,' Hazel said, wrapping her hands round her mug. 'Bruce used to have dreams about being in the coffin, but I have dreams about him throwing Daniel off the bridge. What if you missed? What if you reached out and you hadn't grabbed him? What if this, what if that? They should have hanged the bastard, instead of putting him in a nice wee cell in a psychiatric hospital. Or at least given him a lobotomy and regular electric-shock treatment. He's the one who got away from it all, and I live the nightmare every day. Who got the life sentence, Frank? Me or him? I'll give him a fucking lobotomy with a hammer if he comes near me.'

Miller looked across at the older sergeant. 'Listen, Hazel, I think we should get you somewhere secure. You and the kids. I can talk to Neil McGovern and see if we can get you into the safe house up in Juniper Green. He won't know you're there. You'll be safe. They have twenty-four-hour guards.'

She shook her head. 'He's not going to let us do that.'

'Would you go there if he gives it the green light?'

'I don't know.'

'You have to think about the kids, Haze,' Watt said. He reached over and took her hand. 'Plus, I'm at Jean's house just down the road in Colinton Village. We can go to the village pub and shake our stuff on their wee dance floor.' He let go of her hand and moved his hands about.

Hazel laughed and sniffed back some more tears. 'You're a mad sod. But you're the best friends I have, and if my best friends say I should move, then I'll do it. But I know it's not a guarantee.'

'Listen, if any man can persuade Neil McGovern to have you as a house guest, it's this man.'

'He means me,' Miller said.

'Duh.' Hazel smiled.

'But I'll not make the call personally,' Miller said. 'I'll have Kim talk to her dad. She has more clout than I do.'

Miller called Kim. Ten minutes later, Miller got the call from Neil McGovern.

'I was going to give you a call later,' McGovern said. 'I'll call round tonight, if that's okay?'

'No problem.'

'Good. The Range Rover will be there in five minutes. Tell Hazel to make herself at home. There's people waiting for her in the house.'

Miller looked at Watt. 'It's a go.'

'I'm telling you, that place gives me the heebie jeebies,' Paddy Gibb said as they pulled up behind the line of police vehicles leading up to the barn. He held his packet of cigarettes in one hand, the lighter in the other. He flicked the lighter constantly, like he wanted to ignite a can of petrol.

'Relax, man,' Percy Purcell said. 'They're all locked up.'

'So was Miles Laing,' DS Julie Stott said from the back seat.

'True. I tell you what though, if there's a mass breakout, I'm running like fuck.' He looked at Gibb and then Julie in the mirror. 'No offence, people, but it's every man for himself.'

Gibb nodded his head. 'Agreed. If you think I'm one of those blokes who say, Go! Save yourself! then you don't know me at all.'

'You'd take the whole platoon down with you?'

'Of course I would.'

'That's bad patter, Paddy. I would expect you to form an indomitable wall with Julie while I make good my escape.'

'Well, sir, as much as it pains me to admit it, it's a matter of who can run the fastest when the zombie apocalypse hits.'

'And I can run faster than you both,' Julie said, grinning.

'You can't leave senior officers behind. It's against the law,' Purcell said. 'You'd have to stay behind and fight.'

'The name's crafty, not dafty.'

They got out of the car and showed ID to a uniform.

Inside the barn, it was lit up with arc lights. The ambulance sat near some old, rusting farm equipment. Jake Dagger, one of the city pathologists, appeared at the back of the ambulance.

'Who's the life extinct?' Purcell said.

'Doctor Tamara Child.'

'The one who helped them escape,' Julie said.

'I don't know why they didn't take her with them, but she was restrained on the gurney and then shot in the head. One bullet it looks like, right through her frontal lobe.'

'Where would they get a gun?' Julie said.


Purcell climbed up into the ambulance after pulling on gloves. 'I don't think they walked away from here, so they must have either car-jacked somebody, or else they had one waiting for them.' He looked at the corpse of Tamara Child before turning to look back out of the ambulance. 'My guess is, she had left a car here, ready to transfer into, but that raises another question; how would she leave here if she was dumping a car?'

'She had help,' Gibb said.

'I would say so. That would be the obvious answer. But why kill her? And where was the help?'

'She wouldn't need the help if she was just planning on them bringing the ambulance here. The car would be waiting so there would be no need.'

'Correct,' Purcell said. 'But again, why kill her?'

'She was just an added ingredient that they didn't need,' Julie said.

'If they do indeed have another partner, won't that person be suspicious? And why did they restrain her before shooting her? Why not just shoot her?'

Purcell climbed back out. 'Unless they tied her up and she was executed by her friend, if she does indeed have one.'

'We'll run through all the possibilities back at the station. Meantime, we have to go to the hospital.' They said goodbye to Dagger and got back in the car.

Ten minutes later, Purcell stopped the car at the gatehouse. There were armed officers standing next to it, their car parked inside the gate.

'The boys from Glasgow,' he said, winding the window down.

'Can I help you?' the guard said, looking at the three detectives with suspicion.

'Superintendent Purcell,' he said, showing his warrant card. 'DCI Gibb. DS Stott.' He looked at Gibb as the other detectives held up their own warrant cards.

'The Edinburgh contingent,' the guard said, making it sound like they were a bunch of beasts hanging about outside a primary school.

'Just open the gate, pal.'

'What's your business here?'

Purcell gave Gibb a You're fucking kidding me look, before answering the guard. 'Some numpty let three nut jobs waltz out of here in an ambulance, so take a guess why we're here.'

The guard made a face and popped back inside the guardhouse. The gate slid open to let them into the pen.

'And it was only two nut jobs,' Purcell heard the man say as he started driving forward. 'One was a doctor, smart-arse.'

The gate slid closed behind them and then the other one opened to let them into the grounds. It was like entering another world.

'I'm getting a shiver running up and down my spine,' Gibb said, looking out the window as if he was expecting to be rushed at from the woods. 'Why do you suppose they have so many trees? To keep the nosy bastards from gawping in, or to prevent the inmates from seeing out?'

'God knows, Paddy. But you could drive yourself mental thinking about it. If you'll pardon the pun.'

Julie laughed from the back seat.

Gibb looked over his shoulder at her. 'I'm not chivalrous, either. I'll be fucked if I'm staying behind to fight for you when it all goes down.'

'You're letting your imagination run away with you again, Paddy. Relax.'

'It's hard to relax knowing that the dafties weren't that daft they couldn't form a plan to get out of here.'

Purcell took the road that went down on the right, the same road the ambulance came up. More armed officers were down here. Purcell held up his warrant card for it to be inspected.

They parked the car and approached the loading bay door. Inside, it was cooler, a relief from the August sun beating down on them.

'Superintendent Percy Purcell,' he said to the suit who was hovering about inside the infirmary. 'Edinburgh Division.'

'Super Harry Cole. Glasgow. Why are you boys through here? Standards? Oh, it's yourself, Perce.'

'No, we're not from that department. We're here because one of our officers escaped along with Miles Laing,' Gibb said. 'And we think Laing might be hiding out in Edinburgh.'

'It's been a long time, Harry,' Purcell said.

'It certainly has,' Cole said. 'The wife wants to come through to do some shopping in your fair city, so maybe we could have a pint?'

'Count on it.' Purcell took out a business card and scribbled his mobile number on the back. 'Give me a bell.'

Cole smiled and put the card away in his jacket. 'Aberdeen too hot for you?'

'There was a certain ex-wife who wanted to make it too hot for me, Harry, but that got sorted.'

'Good man. I hear that your love life took a turn for the better though.'

'I lost your address or I would have sent you an invite to the wedding.'

'Who needs to go to a wedding to get pished?' Cole laughed.

'The numpties from Edinburgh are here,' a young suit said as he walked round the corner.

Cole's smile dropped. 'This is Detective Superintendent Purcell from Edinburgh, if that's what you meant.'

'Oh, yes. Sorry. No offence, sir.'

'Offence taken. Just give us a rundown on what happened here, son. We're trying to get a location on our guy and the killer,' Purcell said, his eyes boring into the younger man.

Cole shook his head. 'Sorry, Perce