Main Under the Knife

Under the Knife

For Frank Miller, his first month in CID is a baptism of fire.


In this prequel, Miller is attending a crime scene where a woman has been found murdered at a local tourist spot. She's been operated on and vital organs removed before being crudely sewn back up again. At her postmortem, they find her ID inside her.


As Miller's girlfriend, Carol, is promoted to CID, they are both thrown in at the deep end. While they're being mentored by an experienced detective, they look for a killer who the press has dubbed The Surgeon, and they're also looking for a peeping Tom. So far, he's only been reported looking through windows, but he goes one step further and kills a young woman in her own home.


As The Surgeon's second victim is found, Miller and his colleagues know he's getting more confident with his killing.


World famous thriller writer, Len Chatter, is coming to Edinburgh to launch his new book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He's looking for writers to co-author a new line of books. But this time, he's attracting the attention of somebody who wants to make him more famous for all the wrong reasons...


Frank Miller will have to use everything he's being taught about being a detective to catch this killer, but as they close in on their suspect, they discover that not only is this case far more complex than they first thought, but the killer has outclassed them all.


In a shocking twist, Carol's life is put in danger, and Miller knows he's up against one of the most formidable opponents he's ever likely to meet...



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Contents





Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

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

AUTHOR’S NOTE

OTHER TITLES BY THE AUTHOR





Under the Knife





John Carson





Copyright © 2017 John Carson Cover design by Jimmy Gibbs



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.





Contains editorial revisions





All rights reserved.





To the memory of my mother, Margaret Dodds.





CHAPTER ONE





Detective Inspector Paddy Gibb pulled up in his car, parking behind the patrol cars, their blue lights spinning in the early morning light. It was warm already, the August sun well on its way to give a red tan to the unwary Scots.

'Please, God, tell me this is all a mistake,' he said to Detective Constable Frank Miller.

'I wish it was, sir, but it's real.'

'Walk slow, I need a fag.'

They were in Saunders Street in Stockbridge. The flats looked like they had been built in the 70s. It was a nice neighbourhood. Or had been, before they found the body, Miller thought.

'What's your initial take on this, son?' said Gibb, lighting up. He sucked hard, before blowing out a plume of smoke.

'I think she was taken down one of those sets of steps.' He pointed to the steps closest to them. A tunnel ran under the bridge above. 'There's another set of steps on the other side. The road on the bridge is one-way with a cycle lane. As you see here, it's residents parking only, so even if he was here late, there's a possibility of somebody looking out of their window, getting pissed off and calling us to report suspicious activity. It's easier to park up on India Place and drag a body over to the top of the steps.'

'It's still a bit risky. What about from the other end of the path?' They started walking past the mortuary van, a huddle of uniforms, and an ambulance crew.

'The only other place to join the Water of Leith Walkway is to come in from Dean Village. Unless she was killed in one of the posh houses in Moray Place and they humped her over the back wall of their garden and dragged her here.' Miller shrugged, dismissing the idea.

'Don't discount it. I've seen stranger things.'

'I'm not. Some uniforms are already up there knocking on doors.'

'Good.' They walked towards the short tunnel. A female uniform was standing with one of her colleagues.

'Good morning, sir,' PC Carol Davidson said.

'Morning.' They carried on through. 'That's your girlfriend, isn't it?' said Gibb.

'It is sir, yes.'

'Harry Davidson's daughter?'

'Yes, sir.'

Detective Superintendent Harry Davidson was the head of CID.

'He'll rip your nuts off if you mess his daughter about.'

'I don't intend to.'

'And then his other daughter, the pathologist, will have the pleasure of opening you up on her stainless-steel table.'

'Julie Davidson might be one of the city's pathologists but she likes me,' said Miller with a smile.

'I'll have that engraved on your tombstone.'

A black plaque, attached to the stone wall on the other side of the tunnel, said The Dene. Meaning Valley. They then went through the arch under the other set of steps, and continued round the path. Officers were on the road above, stopping people from coming down onto the path.

'You think somebody dragged her along here? Not killed her where she was found?'

'Not killed where she was found; there's no blood, so it seems obvious that she was killed somewhere else and transported here.'

'How long have you been in CID, Miller?'

'A few weeks.'

'You liking it? Think you'll stick it for the long haul?'

'Yes to both counts.'

'Good. Some come here thinking it's all fun and games, then one of them gets an eye out and goes running back to uniform.'

'I'll remember to duck.'

They walked along the Water of Leith footpath that ran alongside the river, which flowed all the way from Balerno on the outskirts of the city, to empty into Leith harbour and into the Firth of Forth. A canopy of trees shaded them from the expensive town houses up above, arguably the finest houses in the New Town. Firemen were in attendance, standing next to two sets of ladders that had been tied together and placed over the railings, connecting the pathway to the base of the statue.

'I wonder why he chose St. Bernard's Well to dump her body?' Gibb said, puffing furiously on his cigarette. 'I'd better get this out before the Wicked Witch pisses her pants.'

Gibb's pet name for DI Maggie Parks, head of forensics. He nipped the cigarette and slipped it back into the packet with a sleight of hand any magician would be proud of.

'A random place he thought he wouldn't get caught?' Miller said.

'Or he knows the place.'

The open dome was held up by nine stone pillars. The mineral spring was discovered in 1760 and it became a visitor' attraction. The well itself was designed by local artist Alexander Nasmyth, and inside was a statue of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health.

The woman had been found at the base of the statue. Paddy Gibb reflected that the well hadn't been particularly good for this woman's health.

Detective Sergeant Andy Watt was talking to a uniformed sergeant when they walked up. One of the pathologists, Jake Dagger, was attending to the deceased at the base of the statue. He waved over to Gibb before getting back to work.

'What's happening?' Gibb said to Watt.

'Uniforms forced open the museum underneath the statue and there's no sign of blood in there.'

Gibb looked at Miller, thinking that Watt was taking the piss. 'Museum?'

'It's a little place where the actual well is. It's technically a pump room. It was capped a long time ago and it's only open certain times of the year. Like this month, it's only open on a Sunday.'

'Somebody has regular access?'

'Yes. We're trying to trace the keyholder now.'

'He's going to be upset you booted his door down before waiting for him to bring the key,' Gibb said, looking at Watt. 'Museum.' He shook his head. 'What's round the back?'

'There's a wooden boardwalk that runs the length of the building, out over the river, before cutting back in.'

Gibb walked down the steps to the entrance of the pump room.

'Sorry, Andy,' Miller said.

'Don't worry about it, pal. Fuck old grumpy drawers. His wife buggered off and he needs a good night out. Until then, he's shagging all of us.'

They followed Gibb down to the pump room. The stone lintel above the door bore the inscription, St. Bernard's Mineral Well.

'A bit like Michelangelo's but only better,' he said, looking up at the ornate décor on the domed ceiling. A gold, smiling face of the sun looked back down at him.

The pump was like a small, marble obelisk standing in the middle of the room with a stone urn on top. On one side was a small, gold Lion's face above what looked like a sculpted half sink. The spout. And to one side was the pump handle.

'Same name as the pub across the road but I bet this stuff doesn't taste half as good.' Outside, a pathway led off to the right while an opening led onto the boardwalk. Gibb looked across the river to the trees beyond and saw somebody looking back at them.

'What's over there?'

Miller consulted his notebook. 'Dean Gardens. Open only to members. There's an entrance at Eton Terrace just over the Dean Bridge, and there are pathways that come along here, and there's another gate at Ann Street.'

'We have uniformed patrols stopping anybody going in,' Watt said.

Gibb turned to him. 'Well, they're not doing a very good job, are they? I want that woman spoken to, the one who's taking an unnatural interest in us.'

'Sir.' Watt walked away.

'She won't be able to see much with the forensic screen up.'

'Let's go and see what Doctor Death has to say for himself.'

Back up the steps to the path. 'It wouldn't have been easy for him to get the corpse to the base of the statue,' Miller said, pointing to the ladders. 'Unless he had put his own set there, but it's doubtful.'

Gibb looked. 'He could have gone in the way we went and heaved her over the railings there.'

'He's fit, we know that.'

'Hey, doc, how's things this very fine Tuesday morning?'

Jake Dagger came across and stood looking down at them. 'Pray tell why you wanted to join this rabble?' he said to Miller. He was in his early thirties with an unruly mop of hair and a boyish charm that made him look like a teenager.

'Don't you bloody well start. We can hardly keep them in CID as it is,' Gibb said.

'That's not what you said at the interview, sir,' Miller said. 'You told me they were beating a path to get in.'

'I lied. We had to make it look like we were doing you a favour, not the other way around.'

'They need to up the pay scale,' Dagger said.

'Just remember one thing, Dagger; you have a boss too and I'm good friends with him,' Gibb said. 'Give us what you've got instead of standing there making chit-chat.'

'I can tell the Russian Bride site didn't pan out.' He grinned again. Gibb made a face.

'Well, she was killed somewhere else,' Dagger said, but stopped when Gibb put up a hand.

'Miller already told me she wasn't killed here, and he didn't go to medical school.'

Dagger kept on grinning. 'It was me who told him. Anyway, she's been cut open and sewn back up again.'

'What? Sewn back up? Like a doctor would sew somebody up?'

'It's a bit rough but basically, yes, like a doctor.'

'What about time of death?'

'No more than twenty-four hours.'

'Sometime on Monday then.'

'Gee, thanks for working that out for me,' Dagger said.

'I get enough from this lot without you adding to it. And where were you on Monday?'

'Funny,' he replied. 'But she's clean. As in, been cleaned up after whatever he did to her. No blood, nothing. He would need time to clean her up and then dress her.'

'Is she big built? As in body shape.'

'No, she's medium build. It would have been difficult for somebody like you to carry her, but not so hard for somebody who worked out.'

'What makes you think I don't work out? Cheeky bastard.'

'Please. You almost have a hernia taking your cigarettes out. You only lift pint glasses and fish suppers.'

'If I didn't know you better, I'd swear you've been talking to my ex-wife.'

'I have a keen eye for the human anatomy, Paddy, that's all. Plus, I've seen you in the pub. Never with your hand in your pocket, mind.'

'Again; cheeky bastard.' He looked at Miller. 'Is it my fault if my subordinates clamour to buy me drink?'

'I wouldn't say no to somebody wanting to buy me drink,' said the DC.

'Don't encourage him, Frank,' Dagger said. 'Norrie nae mates there still has a ten bob note in his wallet.' He laughed as Gibb stuck two fingers up at him.

'When will you be able to look at her on the table?'

'I called the prof when I got here to update him, and we have a sudden death to deal with later this morning, so probably this afternoon,' Dagger replied.

'Not gracing us with his presence, then?'

'Like you, he wouldn't normally climb a ladder, never mind one that was hanging precariously over railings.' He looked at the leading firefighter. 'No offence.'

'None taken.'

'Right, tell him to give us a call when she's ready to be opened up for the second time.'

'Will do.'

Watt came walking back along the pathway. 'I told the uniforms at both entrances to those gardens over there to make sure they corral any onlookers who were nebbing over the wall.'

'Well, don't go upsetting any of them for God's sake. It's only those with dosh who apply for entrance to them, so we don't want to tread on any toes.'

'Maybe one of them is the murderer, back to look at us working the scene. It happens.'

'You've a lot to learn about the gentry,' Gibb said.

'Don't worry, we won't use any bad language in front of them. And if we have to invite any of them along to the station, we'll have cucumber sandwiches and tea, with scones and jam for afters.'

'You've never had an upper-class girlfriend before, have you? I've known some who would give you a knee trembler just for starters. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, son.'

Dagger laughed. 'That's you told.'

'Shut up, Dagger. Like you would know,' Watt said.

'I've had my fair share.'

'Yes, but they're usually in a fridge by the time they would take a fancy to you.'

'Enough, kiddies. Let's start getting everything together. Witnesses. Statements. Then I'll give your father the good news,' he said to Miller. 'Jack's in charge while our esteemed boss is burning his white bits in Spain. He's going to love this; a big one goes down while he's off on a hooly with the missus. Let's make him proud.'

They watched as the corpse of the unknown female was put in a body bag and loaded onto a stretcher to make it easier to handle her while they lowered her down the ladders to the pathway and onto a gurney.

Nobody said anything, showing respect for the dead.

Gus Weaver, one of the mortuary assistants, was waiting for the firemen. 'The van's in Saunders Street, lads,' he said, leading the way.

The detectives followed.

'I hate it when somebody thinks they can fuck with us like this,' Gibb said.

'We'll do everything we can to nail the bastard,' Miller said.

'That we will, son, that we will.'





CHAPTER TWO





'Paddy Gibb wants me down at the mortuary after lunch,' Miller said, pushing the plate of fish and chips away from him.

'Lost your appetite?' Carol Davidson said, tucking into her own fish and chips.

'You know something, we're used to getting called out to road accidents, sudden deaths where an old person has gone to sleep and doesn't wake up. People commit suicide or fall out of a window, but murder is always different.'

'I know it is.'

'It's the intent behind it. Somebody sets out to intentionally take another person's life. Not like a road-rage fight, but they've taken a life on purpose and they're being sneaky about it. Does that make sense?'

'Perfectly.'

'That woman who was murdered; she's somebody's daughter. Maybe somebody's mother, wife. And this bastard came along and took it away from her. I never used to let myself feel personally involved, but seeing this woman taken away in a body bag just got under my skin.'

'It's something we're going to have to get used to. I don't have long before I'm joining CID, and I understand there's a transition. Some uniforms think it's an easy number, then you do it for yourself and suddenly, things start to eat away at you.'

'I've been to murder scenes before, but when you're on the front line, it's different.'

'Have they identified the woman yet?' she asked.

'Not yet.'

Carol reached over and put a hand on his. 'Never mind, in a couple of weeks, I'll be in the department, holding your hand.'

He laughed. 'I never thought I'd be working with my girlfriend.'

'A lot of romances start in the office.'

'Some people don't think it's a good idea to start a work romance. What if it goes bad?'

Carol took her hand away. 'Too bad, Miller, you're stuck with me now.'

He smiled. 'Just as well I'm madly in love with you.'

'Oh, would you two love birds give it a rest?' Andy Watt said, putting his tray down on the table. 'You don't mind, do you?' He sat down without waiting for an answer.

'It's fine, boss,' Miller said.

'Jesus, Frank, keep that sort of talk for that radge, Gibb. Just call me Sarge in front of the others, otherwise, it's Andy.' He looked at Carol. 'You, young lady, can still call me Almighty One.'

'Yeah, watch me.'

Watt forked some fish and chips into his mouth and pointed his fork at her. 'Our life is going to be hell, Frank, mark my words. You'd be better off running away with old Betty behind the counter there. I heard her old man's looking to trade her in for a newer model.'

'Frank's just fine where he is, thank you very much,' Carol said.

Watt looked at Miller. 'You said that without moving your lips.'

'Despite your wisdom, I think I have to agree with Carol.'

'You're going down a slippery slope there, my son.'

'I think Betty has her eyes on you anyway, Andy.'

Watt screwed his face up. 'I wouldn't touch her with yours.' Looked at Carol. 'Sorry. It's how we talk in CID.'

'It's how we talk in the patrol car too, Andy,' Carol said. 'I'm thick-skinned just like the rest of them.'

'Good to know.'

'Do you have an ID for the victim?' Carol asked. She knew it was protocol for forensics to take prints from the deceased when there was nothing to identify them with at the scene.

'Maggie Parks normally couldn't find a gas leak with a box of matches, but she did get the prints sent through pretty sharpish and we're running them now.'

Carol looked over at Miller with raised eyebrows.

'What?' Watt said, eating more food.

'Gas leak with a box of matches? I heard she was pretty good.'

'She's okay. Bit snippy but she does loosen up when we have a do at the police club. Just don't piss her off or drop anything at a crime scene.'

'I wish I was going to the mortuary with you lot,' Carol said.

'You're joining us in a couple of weeks or so, aren't you?'

'Yes. It can't come quick enough.'

'Wait 'til you get to my age, then you start thinking like that about retirement.' More fish and chips. 'You on 'til three?'

'Yes.'

'Part timer.'

'Cheeky sod.'

'Hey, I'm a sergeant, remember. It's cheeky sod, sir.' He smiled and ate more lunch. 'There are very few times when a murder scene will put me off my food, and today wasn't one of them, thank God. And they do this fish twice a week, Friday being the obvious other day, for all the bible thumpers.'

'Have you seen anything like this murder before, Sarge?' Miller said.

'One or two, but to be honest, not one where she was cleaned before being dumped.'

'Obviously getting rid of any forensics,' Carol said.

'Unless he's some religious nut and thought he was cleansing her in the Styx or something.'

'Did anything pan out from the women in the Dean Gardens?' Carol asked. 'One of my colleagues was part of the team who were tasked with talking to them.'

Miller shook his head. 'One of them was just looking over the wall at all the activity. She didn't see anything.'

'Didn't see anything until she had a good gander at the woman lying next to Hygeia. That's our fault though. We didn't realise people were in there already, but that's no excuse.'

'I didn't think there would be any witnesses, but we know that she was dumped there through the night, unless somebody came along late last night and saw her but didn't say anything.'

'I'm not sure there are any normal folks who walk there at night after dark. Probably junkies but not Mr and Mrs Snooty from Moray Place up the hill.'

'My guess is he would have dumped her in the middle of the night when it's quiet. Less chance of anybody seeing him.'

'You're right, Frank, and if he parked up at India Place, then he could have quickly carried her down the steps and along before anybody spotted him.'

'What about the door-to-door in Saunders Street?' Carol asked.

'Yielded nothing. Nobody was up having a pish at three o'clock in the morning. Except me of course, but I don't live down that way.'

'Where do you live?' Carol asked.

'Hear that, Frank? Where do I live? Next thing, she'll be kicking you into touch.'

'Piss off, Andy, I was only asking.'

'Clovenstone, for now,' Watt answered, washing down his lunch with coffee. 'This fish likes to swim.'

'Clovenstone, eh? Nothing wrong with that.'

'I never said there was.'

'Oh, I meant... just that...'

'You expected a high-flying detective like me to be living in Barnton.'

'Something like that.' Carol could feel her cheeks starting to burn.

'It's a mate's flat. He's away on business for a while – and he said I could crash there while he's away. My missus kicked me out. God knows why. Regular wages, nine-to-five hours, always coming in sober. Well, two out of three ain't bad.'

Which two, he didn't elaborate on.

'I'm sorry to hear that, Andy,' Carol said.

'Don't be. It was my own fault. It's not as if she hadn't been telling me for years. I tried, I really did, but the job gets like that sometimes, if you let it.' He looked at Miller. 'If I ever hear you've been messing this lassie about, I'll boot your baby-making bits right over the back of your head.'

'She doesn't have to worry about that.'

'Glad to hear it. But Clovenstone is a stepping stone for me. God bless those who live there and all that, but it's not for me.'

'Where did you live before that?' Carol said.

'Baberton Crescent. Bungalow. Her mother's minted and practically bought the house for us when we got married. I'm the one who decided to go. She can keep the house. I liked living there and God knows I'd love to go home, but her mother's still kicking about and I swear to God I think the old boot dabbles in Black Magic. She has a black cat, just to keep up appearances.'

'Any chance you two can resolve your differences?'

'Fat chance, Carol. What's done is done. I'm moving on now. Onwards and upwards.' He felt around in his pocket and brought his phone out. Looked at the screen. Put it back in his pocket. 'We're wanted down at the mortuary. They're going to start in half an hour.'

They scraped their seats back.

'I'll see you back at the flat,' Carol said.

'I've told you, not in front of Frank,' Watt said, picking his tray up.

'You should be so lucky.'

'Amen to that, sister.'





CHAPTER THREE





Detective Chief Inspector Jack Miller was an imposing figure at six foot five. In contrast, head pathologist, Professor Leo Chester, looked like he belonged in a circus.

Jack, Watt, Gibb, and Miller were dressed in plastic throwaway aprons.

Jake Dagger and Julie Davidson were on the other side of the stainless-steel table with Chester. They stood facing each other, like they were about to go into battle.

'Well, this is a Kodak moment,' Watt said.

'Plenty of photos have been taken, Andy, but I don't think her family will be putting them in an album any time soon,' Jack said.

'Without further ado, I'd like to get started,' Chester said. He was unflappable, a smaller man who carried a big, invisible stick.

The detectives stood back and watched while Julie stepped forward and cut a Y incision in the woman's chest, then downward, paralleling the stitches that were holding the front of the corpse together. When Julie reached the groin area, the corpse was opened up.

Chester nodded for Gus Weaver to step forward with the autopsy saw, as if he'd been waiting in the wings for his act to be announced.

The detectives all stood back while the older man took the woman's skull cap off.

Then the pathologists got to work, detailing what they were doing, recording every word, while the policemen looked on.

'How are you finding CID, son?' Jack said.

'Fine, sir. It's seeing things from the other side, as it were. Not just attending a call, but being a part of it all, that I like.' He didn't mention his earlier conversation with Carol.

'You'll get to see every inch of the depraved side of Edinburgh. God knows why they took hanging away.' He nodded over to the cadaver. 'And you can see the results.'

'The people who do this are either mentally unstable or else they don't think they'll get caught. In my opinion. Hanging wouldn't be a deterrent for them.'

'No, but it would stop the bastard from ever doing it again, once we caught him.'

Jack put a hand on Miller's arm, leading him away to a corner. 'Your mum's pleased that you're moving in with Carol, but all I'm asking is that you cut her a little bit of slack. It's going to be a new way of life for her from now on. Maybe come around for your dinner sometime. You and Carol both. She looks on her as a daughter.'

'I will, Dad. It's not as if I'm moving to the other side of the country.'

'As soon as you're out the door, it will seem like you've moved to the moon, for your mother.'

'That's fine. Luckily, Carol loves coming round.'

'You want my advice?'

'What?'

'Put a ring on her finger as soon as you can.'

'I don't think she's going anywhere.'

'Still. A woman wants to feel secure.'

'I intend to, but I haven't moved in yet. I'm doing that this weekend, but I need to move some stuff. Oh, I forgot. I need to borrow your car.'

'What? Sod off.'

'Carol has her Beetle, but it's not the same. I have a lot of stuff.'

'Oh, laddie, you have a lot to learn. You want to keep two women happy? Take some of your stuff for now. Get it bit by bit. You don't need your Airfix kits just now.'

'You're funny.'

'This way, Carol isn't overwhelmed by all your junk and your mother doesn't see you move out all your stuff at once.'

'My teddy bear will be lonely if I leave him in my old room.'

'Don't be a smartarse.'

'Okay, okay, have it your way. Little bit at a time.'

'Good man. And remember that Carol is the boss's daughter and you'll do just fine.'

'Does he know about this?'

'What, you moving in with one of his daughters or the dead woman?'

'Take a guess.'

'He's up to speed. No doubt he would read it in The Sun while he's sunning himself, so better it coming from us. Besides, you're not the only one he'd rip apart when he came back if we kept it from him.'

'Carol's mum won't be happy that he's running the case from the beach.'

'He's not running anything. Besides, it's the bar, not the beach. He said he'd use their phone at night to call me. Just don't mention it to Carol or it might get back to her mother.'

'Gentlemen, if you would,' Leo Chester said. Jack and Miller turned back to the table.

'Is that what it looks like?' Jack said.

'It would appear so,' Jake Dagger said. 'This woman has had most of her internal organs removed.'

'God,' Paddy Gibb said, taking a step forward.

'No need for formalities, Paddy,' Chester said. 'Just call me professor like everybody else.'

'That's a first,' Miller said. 'I don't recall reading about any killer who's done that.'

'I'm sure somebody in America thought of it first,' Chester said. 'They have so many, how shall I put it, creative minds over there.'

He put his hands into the woman's open cavity where once a beating heart was dominant but which now was an empty shell. He pulled out a small, rectangular object, thin with dried blood on it.

'Now we know who she might be,' he said, holding up a driving license by the edge. 'Iris Napier, 96 Hillpark Crescent, Edinburgh.'

Jack turned to Watt. 'Get onto it and see who's at that address. Take Frank with you.'

'Sir.' Watt motioned for Miller to leave the PM suite with him. 'Thank God,' he said when they were out in the fresh air.

'You'd think we were bloody Barbarians,' Miller said, 'the way some of us treat other humans.'

They got in the car and Watt drove out into the afternoon traffic in the Cowgate, heading in the direction of the Grassmarket and Lothian Road.

Connecting with Queensferry Road, Watt headed for Ravelston and down to Craigcrook Road.

'You said you're moving in with Carol this weekend?' Watt said.

'I am. I need to start shifting my stuff.'

'You know, in this job, you quickly learn how to read people, and I don't mean in uniform, I mean when you're in CID and start to interact with the dregs. And I can see that lassie is head over heels with you, Miller.'

'I love her too, Sarge.'

'Cut that Sarge shite out when we're in the car. You know after a few years I'm going to be calling you boss.'

'What? Pish.'

'It's true, Frank. I'm already at the top floor. I've been too outspoken for the longest time, and the top brass don't like it, and although I haven't fucked up royally, I've made my opinion known one too many times. If there really was a ton of uniforms beating a path to the CID door, I'd have been out on my arse a long time ago. But as I was saying, Carol thinks you walk on water. Don't fuck it up like I did with my missus.'

'In here,' Miller said, and Watt turned into a side street. He looked at the older sergeant. 'I won't mess things up with her. I've had a few girlfriends and nobody even came close.'

'Watch the trap,' Watt said, pulling up to the end of the road. They were looking at house numbers.

'Left,' Miller said. 'What trap?'

'Working together. I've seen it few times. A mate of mine was a bus driver with Lothian Buses, and so was his wife. Admittedly, he met her there, left wife number one for wife number two. They weren't with each other all the time, but they were on the same shift, and when he saw her flirting with other men, he went mental.' He looked at Miller as he pulled into the side of the street outside number 26. 'He forgot that's how he met her. Wanker. She was a nice girl, real fun. I don't know what she saw in the baldy bastard myself, but it went sideways. They worked together in Central depot at Annandale Street, and he ended up transferring to Longstone. He hated it there and he ended up leaving. My point is, remember to take a step back at times.'

'She's out on patrol with her partner all the time and it doesn't bother me.'

'Just keep that thought when she's working with us. She won't be out with you all the time. Sure, we'll gather at crime scenes together, but like now, we split up. Don't go all baldy bastard on her.'

'I won't.'

'Right, let's get knocking on that door and see if...'

'Uh oh,' Miller said, opening the car door and stepping out, followed by Watt.

A man had opened the front door of the bungalow. And he was standing holding a baseball bat. 'If she sent you two fuckers round to sort me out, then one of you bastards will go home with a broken kneecap.'

Both detectives pulled out their batons. 'Police. Put the fucking bat down and we can talk,' Watt said, taking his warrant card out.

'Police?' the man said.

'Yes. Drop it.'

The man threw the bat into the front garden and walked back inside, leaving the door open.

'For fuck's sake, keep your eyes peeled. He might be in there getting a shooter,' Watt said.

Miller was about to step over the threshold when Watt put a hand on his arm. 'Me first. Cannon fodder we used to be called in the army.'

They stepped into the hallway, leaving the front door open.

'Through the back,' the voice said. Miller's pulse was racing and he was starting to sweat and it was nothing to do with the afternoon heat.

Through the back was a kitchen. The man had his back to them and Miller gripped his baton like he was trying to squeeze the life out of it. In case the man was holding a gun. Watt was in front of him.

'You can put those away. I've nothing more dangerous in my hand than a kettle. It just went off. You want coffee?' He turned to face them.

They both declined. Put their batons away. This was the first death message Miller had ever delivered whilst being prepared to fight the recipient.

'You are...?' Watt asked.

'Sit down. You're making the place look untidy.' He poured hot water into a mug and added milk from the carton in the fridge.

They all sat at a dining table. Miller looked at the man; short, unkempt hair, stubble, dressed in an old golf shirt with torn jeans.

'I'm not usually dressed like a scruff, but I'm doing a bit of DIY.'

'What, hitting in nails with a baseball bat?' Watt said.

'Yeah, well, sorry about that. But that cow said she would send a couple of blokes round to smack the shit out of me for shouting at her. We're selling up because of the divorce and things have been a bit heated recently.'

'What's your name?' Miller asked.

'Sandy Napier.'

'And this cow you're talking about?' Watt asked.

'Iris, my wife. Why? What's this all about? Has she been telling you I was shoving her about? Because if she has, it's a load of nonsense. My lawyer will ream her if she's been making stuff up.'

'It's not about that,' Watt said, looking briefly at Miller before carrying on. 'I'm sorry to tell you that we found the body of a woman this morning who we believe to be that of your wife, Iris.'

Napier looked at him in dumb silence for a moment. 'Iris? Dead?'

'We believe it's her, but we'll need a formal identification.'

'What happened to her?'

'She was murdered.'

'Murdered? Where? How?'

'Mr Napier, get your stuff together. We need to have a talk at the station.'

Napier nodded.





CHAPTER FOUR





The afternoon wore on. Carol had sent Miller a text, asking what he wanted for dinner. He had forgotten she had finished almost an hour ago. He had been put on the spot and couldn't think. Usually his mother would have his dinner ready if he was on earlies. If he had been on late or night shift, he would have just fired something into the microwave.

Surprise me! he had told her.

If she cooks you fuck all, that'll be a surprise, Andy Watt had said when Miller told him. He had a point.

'Right, let's go and have a chat with him,' Jack Miller said to Paddy Gibb. 'Frank, come in and stand in a corner and observe.'

'Sir.'

'A baseball bat, eh? Little bastard.'

Sandy Napier was sitting with a plastic cup that had held water, but now he had torn it and was unfurling it.

'About time,' he said.

'We had some things to check, Mr Napier,' Jack said.

'Yeah? Like what?'

'We'll do the questions. Now, can you acknowledge you don't want a lawyer present?' The tapes were running.

'I've nothing to hide.'

Jack was sitting next to Gibb, opposite Napier, with Frank near the door.

'Why don't you start off by telling us about your relationship with your wife, Mr Napier?'

'As you already know, we were getting a divorce.'

'Can you tell us why?'

Napier took a deep breath and let it out slowly, making eye contact with Jack. 'It wasn't always like this, but she turned into a whore.'

'Can you elaborate?'

'I'm sure you know what a whore is, Inspector. Iris and I have been married for a long time. Coming on 20 years this year. She started going out with her friends, more and more, especially at weekend nights. Then she started staying out overnight, staying with a friend, she said. But one weekend, she didn't come back until the Saturday afternoon. I had been out shopping, getting something in for Saturday's dinner as I wanted to cook her something nice. I bumped into the friend she was supposedly staying with. I acted all coy, like, when she came in. Asked her how her night was, and she said she stayed over with the friend, and I confronted her about it. She went off her head.'

'Then you had a big fight?' Gibb said.

'Not a physical fight. It was never physical. But a big argument. I told her we were finished. That I wouldn't stay married to a woman who was going to stay out all night. Then she told me her boyfriend was a better fuck than I was.' He looked between the two detectives. 'Her words, not mine.'

'What happened next?' Jack said.

'I moved out into a little rented flat. Then I met somebody and moved in with her.'

'When did this happen?'

'A long time ago. Maybe close to a year and a half.'

'You haven't lived with her in all that time?'

'No. That's why I'm doing up the house to sell. She lived in it but it's getting sold so we can split the proceeds. But it needed a little TLC first.'

'Was it acrimonious?'

'Most divorces are, aren't they? But the shouting had stopped a long time ago. We accepted the fact that we weren't going to get together, and we had both moved on.'

'Where were you yesterday, Mr Napier?'

'With my girlfriend.'

'All day?'

'Yes. She had to go into work today, but we spent all weekend together.'

'We'll need her details.'

Napier nodded.

'What was Iris's profession?' Gibb asked.

'She was a staff nurse at the Western.'

'Where do you work?'

'At the Southern Scottish Insurance company on Lothian Road.'

'Do you know if your wife was in a relationship at the moment?'

Napier shook his head. 'I don't know. We were civil to each other but we didn't tell each other everything.'

'What's your address?'

Napier told him.

'Did Iris have anybody special in her life?'

'Not that I know of, but she might have. She didn't tell me.'

'Do you have kids?'

Napier shook his head. 'Neither of us wanted them. What's the point? I mean, what would they have grown up into? Bloody hooligans. No, we were quite happy having a good social life and a nice house. Until it went tits up, of course.'

Jack looked over at Miller for a moment. He couldn't think of a better decision in his life, having his boy.

'Did Iris have any family that we can inform?'

'Just an uncle over in Dunfermline and his brood. Bunch of knuckle-draggers. Her folks are gone though.'

'We're going to get you to write your girlfriend's details down, Mr Napier. And if you have details for your ex-wife's family, we'd appreciate that. We'll have Fife Constabulary tell them. We'll ask you to wait here while one of my officers does that.'

'Am I a suspect?'

'Everybody is until we rule them out, so the quicker we can rule you out, the better.'

'Fair enough.' He started writing on the pad in front of him.

'Can we get you a coffee or something while you're waiting?' Gibb asked.

'Yes, thanks. Milk and one.'

'We're also waiting for the mortuary staff to let us know when she can be viewed. I can have somebody take you down there. I'd also like permission to look around your house.'

'Go ahead.'

Jack stopped the interview and the detectives left the room. Out in the corridor, he looked at Gibb. 'Get Maggie Parks and her team down to the house and crawl over it to see if she was killed there.' He looked at Miller. 'He gave us permission, which made it easier, but if he hadn't we would have found something to hold him back while we got a warrant.'

'Okay.'

'Right, let's get moving. Paddy, deal with that, and get Parks to give me a call when she's there. Then I'll have somebody take him down to the mortuary.'

'Aren't we still waiting for them to call us?' Miller said.

'They already did. I don't want him to know that just now. Meantime, go with Andy Watt down to the Western and talk to her colleagues.'

'Will do.'

In the incident room, a whiteboard was being set up with a photo of Iris Napier at one side.

'Andy, you and I have to go to the hospital where the victim worked,' Miller said as he went into the incident room.

'Right. I don't mind going to the hospital as long as it's not in the back of an ambulance. Isn't that right, Tam?'

DS Tam Scott looked at them. 'I have to agree. Better to put somebody into an ambulance than be put into one.'

'Maybe Lothian and Borders should use that in the recruitment drive,' Miller said.

Tam Scott smiled. 'As long as you hear the sound of your front door clicking shut every night, that's what counts.'

'Talking of which, it's almost knocking off time, so get the fucking boot down,' Watt said to Miller.





CHAPTER FIVE





The sun was high above the Western General Hospital as Miller drove the car up Porterfield Road, the access road that led onto the hospital's grounds.

'Should we see if we can find a parking spot in there?' Miller said, pointing down to where the car park was.

'Will we fuck,' Watt said. 'Pull up to the front doors.'

Miller did and saw the No Parking sign at the double yellow lines.

'Here's fine,' Watt said. He saw the look Miller gave him. 'Listen son, we're Serious Crimes Unit, which means bugger all to most people, so when they ask, give them our old moniker; tell them we're murder squad detectives. They sit up and take notice then. Park the car here on the double yellows and put the police sign in the windscreen.'

'And if we get a ticket?'

'Sir Leslie Lyons will wipe his arse with it. He was murder squad at one time, and if there's one thing the Chief Constable hates more than murderers, it's traffic wardens.'

'Can't say fairer than that,' Miller said as they got out of the car. The air was warm and he loosened his tie a little bit, just enough so he could feel the fresh air but not enough that people would think they'd been out on the lash.

Inside, they were directed upstairs to the human resources office. After Watt explained what had happened, he was directed to the ward floor where another staff nurse took them into an empty office.

'My God, that's terrible,' she said. 'What happened to her?' Tears sprang into her eyes.

'We can't go into details,' Watt said. 'We just need some background information on her.'

'Have you spoken to her ex-husband?'

'We have. He told us that Mrs Napier liked to go out socialising quite a bit.'

'We all do.'

'He said that she liked going out with a lot of men.'

The nurse turned around so fast that Miller thought she was going to smack Watt. 'Oh, I get it; this urban myth that every nurse wants to get you in bed. That we're all sluts. If we go to a pub, we want to get shagged. If we go to a singles club, our knickers are in our handbags before we leave. Well, let me tell you something, you coppers put it about as well, including the married ones! But does anybody call you names? No. Call you wankers? No. Look at him, he could be a real wanker.'

She looked at Miller and he felt the red creep into his face.

'Finished?' Watt said. He stayed calm.

'Yes.' Her breath was coming in gasps she had been speaking so fast.

'Neither of us were making judgement on Iris, we're just going by what Sandy Napier told us.'

'You want to hear about him, do you?' the nurse said. 'Couch potato. That's what he was. Sat on his arse at the weekend, and only got up to go out with his pals to the pub. Iris was always on at him to go out with her, but oh no, he couldn't be bothered. So she started going out more and more. And then she met somebody in a bar one night and got talking to him. And I don't fucking blame her one little bit. Prick.'

'Do you know who this man was?'

'I can't remember his name now, but that was a long time ago. The point is, she started going out and enjoying herself. Started to see that there was life out there. And that was the end of their marriage.'

'Sandy wasn't happy about that. He told us all about her playing away from home,' Miller said.

'And who could blame her? All she wanted was to have fun with her husband, but he couldn't be bothered.'

'Did she have a regular boyfriend or...?'

'Or did she put it around?'

'Or did she have... you know... more than one... or did she...?' Miller said.

'Yes, we mean did she put it around?' Watt said, coming to the rescue.

'Yes. She liked the company of men, but it didn't make her a whore.'

'Nobody's saying she was a whore, but we need to know if she pissed off anybody so much that he would kill her. Now are you getting the point?'

The staff nurse looked at him as if she was preparing for a fight, then suddenly there was no wind under her wings anymore. 'Look, we have a stressful job, and it's nice to just go out and have a drink with your friends. Maybe flirt with some guy.'

'Did you go out with her at all?' Miller asked.

She held up her left hand, showing the ring. 'I like to have a drink, but I don't play around. I love my husband. But not all of us are married. I did go out with the group sometimes but not as much as the single ones.'

'You mentioned singles clubs,' Miller said, 'do you know if she ever went to the clubs in town?'

'No, but she did go to the singles night in the little hotel in Stockbridge. The Dean hotel. I've been a few times, but just for a laugh. Nobody takes it seriously. We would wind some men up and one or two of them actually gave some blokes their phone numbers.' She put a hand up to her mouth as if she was going to stifle a scream. 'You don't think one of them is a nutter?'

'It could be anybody. We just wanted to know if she'd ever had a problem with any man. Like if she had gone out with one and it turned sour.'

'I don't think so. Not that I know of anyway.'

'Do you know when she was there last?'

'Last Friday. I was there too.'

'No problems with anybody?'

'I would have said if there was. No, we only stayed for a little while then we got a taxi up town. And no, there wasn't any wanker following us.'

'Did she have any male friend that she regularly met for a drink?'

'Not that I know of.'

'What about here at work?' Miller asked.

'There's a group of us who go out, but it's just for fun.'

'Can you give us their names?'

'Yes.' She took a notepad out and scribbled some names down.

'If you remember anything else, can you give us a call?' Watt said, handing her a business card.

'Sure. And no doubt you'll be getting your end away next time there's a Treble Nine ball at the police club.'

'I don't think my wife would be too chuffed about that.'

They walked back the way they had come. 'I wasn't going to tell that torn face I'm not married,' Watt said when he was sure they were out of earshot.

'I bet guys are lining up to buy her a drink at the club.'

'She had you pegged right away though; wanker.' Watt laughed as the lift came.

'She meant it in a general way, Andy.'

'Yeah, keep telling yourself that, son,' he replied, grinning.

'Oh, fuck off,' Miller said as the lift doors closed.





CHAPTER SIX





'Now, don't be a stranger,' Beth Miller said, pouring two mugs of coffee and bringing them through to the dining room.

'I won't, I promise,' Carol said, taking one of the mugs. 'In fact, you won't be able to keep me away. I have a great recipe for mac and cheese with bacon.'

'Feel free to come around and cook it here any time you want. I can lend a hand.'

'Sounds great, mum.'

Miller smiled as he took one of the mugs. 'Mac and cheese is my favourite. I'm quite a dab hand in the kitchen.'

'Don't listen to him, Carol; he burns water,' Jack said.

'That's a slur on my character,' Miller said. Although not as bad as being called a wanker by a staff nurse.

'It's true. Maybe Carol will teach you a thing or two. Start with the basics, like putting bread into the toaster.'

'And you're Gordon Ramsey.'

'I can find my way around a kitchen. But never mind that. Carol doesn't want to hear how you don't know one end of a ladle from the other.'

'I'm sure Frank will do just fine with Carol's guidance,' Beth said.

'I'll teach him everything I know. In fact, I'd like to swap recipes with you, mum.'

'Come through to the living room and we can discuss them,' Beth said, and the two women left the dining room.

'She's a cracker, son,' Jack said, whispering. 'Put a ring on her finger.'

'One day, dad.'

'How long have you been going out with her?'

'A year.'

'What are you waiting for? You love her, don't you?'

'Of course I do.'

'Don't let her get away.'

'I'm moving in with her.'

'I'm just saying. Women like that don't come along all the time.'

'Duly noted, Chief Inspector.'

'Get a couple of beers out of the fridge and tell me what you found out about Iris Napier at the hospital. I want to hear it before morning briefing.'

Miller took a chilled bottle of Stella Artois out of the fridge, with a Coke for himself, and sat across from his father at the dining table. 'I'm driving.'

'Cheers anyway.'

'She liked going out with her friends from work. They all liked going out for a drink and a laugh at the singles night, along at the Dean hotel in Stockbridge.'

'That's why I want you and Carol to go there on your way home.'

'You don't think Paddy Gibb or Andy Watt will be put out by us doing this?'

'Who's in charge? I couldn't care less if they're put out. If they want to talk to me about it, they can feel free. Somehow, I don't think they'll give me any hassle.' He took some of the cold beer. Put the bottle on the table, making sure it sat on a coaster. 'It's a steep learning curve, but you're doing fine. I'm not saying this job gets easier, but you learn how to do it better as time goes on.'

'I like Paddy and Andy.'

'Watt shot himself in the foot a long time ago, him and Tam Scott. Both of them had a mouth. Tam not so much as Andy, but he clocked an inspector one night after a fight broke out. Tam was drunk and let fly about what he thought of the brass. That was his career halted right there. He was lucky he kept his job.'

Miller drank some of the cold Coke and felt it course its way down to his stomach. 'What about Andy?'

'It's more of an insubordinate thing with him. He didn't get on with some lad we had in a while back. A university grad who was on the fast track. He and Watt got into an altercation. It wasn't long before the grad outranked Watt and he started making life difficult. Andy was in the same boat as Tam Scott was. Dinosaurs from the old Lothian and Borders, who weren't going to get further up the ladder, despite having a wealth of experience.'

'Where's the grad now?'

'Down in London. After he messed up Watt's promotion chances, he buggered off.'

'Typical.'

They drank in silence for a minute. 'Give me your take on this killer,' Jack said. 'Just between you and me.'

'I think he hates women. He saw his chance with Iris and he made plans to kill her and carried them out.'

'Why do you think it wasn't just random?'

'Everything was calculated and executed to his plans, if you'll pardon the pun. No blood, cleaned up before he moved her. He dressed her again. Laid her out in a place that was secluded so he could get there and away again with little chance of being seen, yet in a place that she would be found.'

'Good. What else?'

'It's sort of like, Game on. Whether he's thinking this subconsciously or not, he's challenging us. Showing the world what he can do and how he can get away with it. He clearly thinks he's superior to us.'

'What about stitching her back up again? Do you think he's a surgeon?'

'There's no doubt. Each of the organs that was missing was taken out by a skilled hand.'

'Or maybe he wants you to think he's skilled.'

'Could be, although the job wasn't rushed. The cuts were precise.'

'He's clever though,' Jack said. 'Let's not underestimate him. Very planned, very efficient. And if we get to arrest him, don't turn your back on him. I've been in fights with sneaky bastards before and this guy is more than sneaky.'

'I'll bear that in mind.'

'And don't think she's the first. If this was just a killing, then he wouldn't have played this game. And he's going to get better at it. They always do. It's like taking up golf; your handicap gets better the more you play.'

'Are you boys talking shop?' Carol said, coming into the dining room.

'Talking about golf,' Miller said, smiling.

'Liar.'

Jack laughed. 'She knows you already, son. But to be fair, we were comparing our killer to taking up golf.'

'Fair dos.' She went over to a cabinet and took out a packet of biscuits. 'Carry on, gentlemen. We just needed a little something to go with the coffee.'

'What about the location?' Jack asked when Carol was out of the room.

'He knows the area. Whether he worked there or lived there, he knows it well. It would have to be somewhere he felt comfortable. He knows Stockbridge, either from the past, or now. He'll start getting more confident and move further away, but right now, I think if he strikes again, it's going to be within the vicinity.'

'You're right. Killers have proved this time and again. They don't want to be far from home. It's the comfort factor, until he gets more confident.'

'Which means we're going to have to pull out all the stops on this one, before he strikes again.'

'I have a feeling unless he makes a big mistake, that we're not going to get him until we have more victims. Sometimes, somebody kills in anger, and it's very unorganised, and we get him. Sometimes we don't get them and cases drag on for years. This game is a roll of the dice.'

'And right now, we have the odds stacked against us.'

They drank some more, Jack enjoying his beer more than Miller was enjoying his Coke. 'Your mother feels better about you just taking a few bits of your stuff. I told you she would.'

'My wise and wonderful father. How ever will I follow in your footsteps?'

'You won't. You'll come close though.'

'If your head gets any bigger, you won't be able to fit through the door.'

'Just telling it like it is, son.'

'And still you keep on about it.'

They went through to the living room where the women were debating the issue of whether basil should or shouldn't be added to a certain dish.

After another half hour, Miller and Carol left, heading for the Dean hotel.

'I'm excited about joining CID, Frank.'

'It's a bunch of suits going round pissing people off, mostly.'

'Oh, don't bloody ruin it for me.'

Miller laughed. 'You know what's going to happen, don't you?'

'What's that?' Carol said, driving down Drum Brae to connect with Queensferry Road.

'We'll be working with each other during the day, so we'll look forward to spending time apart.'

'It's called having our own space, Frank. Not a lot of people work together so they don't know what it's like, but we can make it work. We have two bedrooms, and there's a desk in there with the computer, so you can go there or into the bedroom for some privacy.'

'I know. We both can.'

'And we have our friends. You can still go out with your pals for a beer, and I'll be going out.'

'Great.'

'And don't worry, I won't nag you when you come in drunk.'

She drove down through Comely Bank and parked the car in their street. The hotel was five minutes from where they lived.

It was a detached two-storey building on the corner of Comely Bank Road and Portgower Place. There was a small wing on either side of the main façade. It took up a corner of the Edinburgh Academicals Sports ground. There was a beer garden out front with wooden tables. It was busy, the warm evening air encouraging drinkers outside.

Inside, Carol and Miller walked to the reception desk and took out their warrant cards.

'Is the manager in?' Miller asked.

'I'll call him,' the young woman said, picking up the telephone and talking to somebody. A few minutes later, a bald man who looked no older than Miller came into the reception.

'How can I help you, officers?' he asked. His accent was East London.

'Can we talk somewhere more private?'

'Sure. Come through to my office.'

He led them off to one side of the reception and into his office.

'Tony Hawkins. Drink?'

They both shook their head. 'Are these your normal hours?' Carol said as Miller closed the door behind them.

'There are two of us. I'm the duty manager for the back shift. The general manager is here from seven in the morning. Please, sit down.'

They sat in chairs opposite him. 'We just wanted a word about your singles night on Fridays.'

'Oh, yes? Fancy coming along?' He grinned at them.

'Not for the reasons you think,' Miller said. 'We want to know if you've had any problems with any of the men who come here.'

'Problems? Like drunk and disorderly?'

'No, I mean with any men giving women problems.'

'We have doormen to see that none of them get out of hand, but of course, there are the usual troublemakers. Some of them get drunk and start annoying the women but they're dealt with swiftly.'

'What about CCTV cameras?' Carol asked.

He gave a wry smile. 'People come here for a good time. Some come for a bit of fun on the side, just harmless fun where they can hook up with a member of the opposite sex. We don't tell them how to live their lives. We don't have much bother here, not like the clubs up town, so instead of having cameras, we have doormen. We're discreet here.'

'Is the singles night every Friday?' Miller asked.

'It is indeed. Good music, reasonably priced drinks. Not like those highway robbers up town.'

'What about last Friday? Anything out of the ordinary happen?'

'Like what?'

'I don't know. Something happening that normally doesn't happen. Like maybe somebody getting booted out who wasn't too happy about it.'

'It happens from time to time, but I would have heard about it if that was the case. I'm not here until closing. The bar staff close the function hall, but there's somebody at the desk all night at the weekends, so there's plenty of staff. None of them said anything unusual happened.'

'Are there regulars here, do you know?' Carol asked.

'I see a few faces, yes. Decent, working class people who like to let off steam.'

'Like nurses?' Miller said.

'I see a few from the Western in here, plus I've spoken to a few of them from the other hospitals.'

'You're here for a little while on a Friday?'

'I finish around ten o'clock, so I see some of them coming in. It starts at nine until four. Some of the lonelier ones get here at nine. Some women who think of this place as the last chance saloon. Some people think of these places as the next step from taking out an ad in the paper. Or going on one of those safe dating sites. Date a rapist dot com more like.'

'There are some desperate people out there looking for love,' Carol said. 'Some people prefer to go online and find romance.'

'Talking from experience?' he said with a smile. 'I don't think a good-looking girl like you would have any problem finding a man.'

'I didn't. In fact, he's sitting next to me.'

The manager looked at Miller. 'Oh, no offence squire.'

'None taken,' Miller said.

Carol looked at the man. 'Not everybody who comes to these places is desperate though?'

'Of course not. You see, we cater to different groups of people; those who come for a laugh, just to have a good time, a drink and a dance. Then we have those who are looking to get it away with a married person. Quick shag, back to the spouse.' He looked at Carol. 'Excuse the French. Then there's the men and women who come here hoping they really will find the love of their life. But I've yet to be invited to any weddings.'

'Who would you say is mostly here?'

'Mostly those who want to have a good time. Sometimes they might get lucky without having looked for it. But we have a good clientele in here. Some are regulars who know me by name. We cater for a good time.'

'What about the guests? Aren't they bothered by the club?'

Hawkins sat back in his chair, smiling. 'We have the music loud but it's well insulated. We've had a few complaints over the years, but we've comped them a dinner or two. Nothing drastic. None recently.'

Miller had looked for any reports for the police being called to the hotel but there was only a couple of instances a few years back.

'Does the name Iris Napier mean anything to you?' Miller said.

'No. Should it? Oh, wait, wasn't that the woman who was found dead along at the well this morning? I heard it on the news earlier.'

'That's her.'

He leaned forward again. 'You're not telling me she was here?'

'We don't know.'

'But you think she might have been.'

Miller took a photo out of his inside pocket. It was a photo that Sandy Napier had provided. He showed it to Hawkins.

'This her? Bloody hell, I do know her.' He looked up from the photo, looking at each of them in turn. 'She's a regular.'

Miller took the photo back and put it away. 'Would you know if she was here last Friday?'

'Yes, she was. I was talking to her. I didn't get away until about ten-thirty. Some problem with a guest – nothing to do with the club – and I was late getting away. I was chatting with her outside. They come out for a fag 'cause there's no smoking in here. She was nice, always let on to me. One day she was with another bird, also a staff nurse, but this other one, she had a face like you make when you've stood in something. I think she batted for the other team. Never saw her go home with a man. She always left with the group she came with, the ones who were leaving without having hooked somebody. Sometimes I've had to stay overnight if the night auditor's called in sick.'

'Do you know if Iris left with anybody on Friday?'

'Sorry. I was away. But there is one thing.'

'What's that?' Miller said.

'When she was here, she used a completely different name.'

'Can you remember what is was?'

'Not off hand. But I remember the name of a bloke she left with a while back; Calvin.'

'No. They were walking out of the gateway onto the pavement and I heard her call him by his name. I don't know if he had thrown her some line but that was the name she called him.'





CHAPTER SEVEN





It had been three days since they had discovered the body of Iris Napier, and leads were drying up already.

'The drinks are on you, Miller,' DS Andy Watt said. 'Friday night, out with the lads, blowing your pay cheque.'

'As much as I'd like to, I've moved in with Carol, as you fine well know. We have a lot to do, emptying my boxes and the like.'

'Jesus, you're not under the thumb already?' He weighed up each hand, moving them up and down like scales. 'Night out with the boys, versus a boring night in with the girlfriend. I would have thought that was no contest.'

'Aren't you spending a night in with your missus, Andy?' DCI Paddy Gibb said.

'We're doing our own thing now, as you well know. She's probably spending her Friday night giving some young jockey a good...'

'Oh, hi Andy,' Carol said, coming up behind him. She had finished her shift and had changed into civvies.

'Game of darts. I was going to say, game of darts.'

'Sure you were. I heard you trying to persuade my boyfriend to join you in an evening of debauchery.'

'I don't know how to even spell that, never mind take the bait.'

Carol laughed. 'As much as we would love to join you, Frank really is going to be very busy this weekend.'

'I hate people who invite themselves out for a drink. You've just ruined my night out. I hope you're happy.'

'I am actually.'

'Well, just remember lover boy there is on-call. Any crap that comes in, he gets the phone call. Him and those other dafties that are further down the food chain.'

'Of which I will be one, remember? Next week is my last full week in uniform.'

'When I used the word dafties, I wasn't including you of course.'

'I saw your name's on the list, Andy,' Miller said.

'Don't bother calling me, son. I'm a senior officer in Serious Crimes. All the other twaddle is down to you guys. The peeping Tom is still on the loose. Not been any sightings for a few weeks, but you never know. He always appears on a Friday night. Right, unless the Surgeon is roaming the streets of Edinburgh tonight, I'm going to get pished.'

'What was that, Watt?' Paddy Gibb said.

'I said, I'll be at home, sitting by the phone in case it rings.'

'You bloody well better be sober this weekend.'

'Aye aye, Captain.'

They left the High Street station, home of Serious Crimes – soon to be the Major Inquiry Team – and Central Division CID.

'What do you say we stop for a quick drink at the local then we can get food delivered and crack a bottle of wine to celebrate?' Carol said.

'I think I should be like Andy Watt, sitting by the phone, waiting for it to ring.'

'Andy will be half-jaked by ten o'clock.'

'Go on then, you've twisted my arm, but just so we're clear, I won't have you taking advantage of me.'

'Yes, you will.'

'Yes, I will.'

Outside the station in the High Street, performers were giving free shows and handing out leaflets for their gigs. The place was bustling with tourists.

'I love August,' Carol said, 'it's my favourite time of the year. The Edinburgh Festival in full swing. The nice warm evenings. The whole atmosphere is brilliant.'

'I know what you mean. My career could have gone either way; police officer or clown.'

'Some people don't think there's much difference, unfortunately.'

'Except they don't call the circus when their house gets broken into.'

They walked up to George IV Bridge to catch a bus down to Stockbridge, Miller carrying Carol's holdall with her uniform jacket in it. He had his suit on, carrying the jacket over his arm. It might be August, but the weather could turn in a heartbeat.

'Nothing has panned out at all, has it?' she asked. They both knew she meant the Surgeon. Even the Edinburgh Evening Post was calling him that.

'Nothing. We were checking CCTV all week, but we didn't see Iris on anything.'

'I think the hotel should bloody well have cameras. This is just crap, trying to protect the identities of cheaters. All they've done is protect the possible identity of Iris's killer.'

'Everybody's alibi checks out, including her ex-husband's. Forensics went over every inch of her house and it's clear she wasn't murdered there.'

'We have to accept that sometimes killers get away with it, Frank.'

'Not this time. He's not going to stop at one.'

They caught a number 29 and chatted as the Lothian Buses double decker trundled down Frederick Street over the setts in the road. It was busy with commuters going home. It was a warm summer evening and despite the hopper windows being open, the bus was roasting.

'To be honest, I'm excited that you've moved in permanently,' Carol said after they got off the bus in North West Circus Place. The evening air was warm with only a hint of a breeze.

'Me too. It's like going on a Boy Scout trip without the midges.'

Carol laughed. 'You've got most of your stuff moved in, your mother's cried her eyes out at her wee boy moving out and it's all done bar the shouting.'

'In all honesty, I think my mother had just been cutting onions.'

'Aw, her wee lamb is being taken away by that harlot. Living in sin. It would bring the tears to my eyes too.'

'There's no tighter bond than between a mother and her son.'

'Hopefully I'll get the chance to find out.' She took his hand. 'I told you what my favourite time of the year is,' Carol said. 'What's yours?' She realised that even though they were going to be living together, there were still some things that they were going to find out about each other.

'Christmas.'

'Why Christmas?'

'It was always special when I was a wee boy. I loved it when my mum and dad put up the tree and the anticipation of Santa coming. Typical kid stuff, but the feeling always stayed with me.'

She smiled as they crossed over the old bridge that spanned the Water of Leith. They turned into Dean Terrace and he saw the sign outside one of the terraced houses, the Savoy hotel. The hotel had been a Georgian house originally.

Up ahead, they saw a woman shouting at a man. He was dressed smartly, with his back to them. The woman looked to be in her late twenties and Miller couldn't hear exactly what was happening, but he saw she started hitting the man with her handbag. He put up an arm in defence and as the bag came at him again, he ducked and the woman was off-balance and fell over. The man ran without looking back and jumped into a Range Rover.

Miller and Carol walked up to the woman, thinking that she was a drunk. She was sitting crying, the contents of her bag spilled across the pavement. They weren't given any assistance from the patrons who were standing on the steps leading into the hotel.

'What's the problem here?' Miller asked, showing the woman his warrant card.

'You're a policeman?' she said, and Miller noticed her American accent.

'Yes. Detective Constable Frank Miller. This is Officer Carol Davidson.' He could tell that she wasn't drunk and this didn't appear to be a domestic. 'Was that man trying to mug you?'

She sighed and stopped crying, taking Carol's offered hand. 'No, I was bothering him.'

'Why were you arguing with him?'

'Long story.'

'Do you live round here?'

She nodded to the hotel. 'I'm staying there.'

Carol saw the woman had cut her knee and it was bleeding. 'Come on, let's get you in and we'll get you tidied up and you can tell us what was going on.'

She nodded as Miller started picking up the contents of her bag. Carol led her into the hotel, followed by Miller a few minutes later.

The bar was heaving. Locals, tourists, and maybe some guests thrown in for good measure. Edinburgh at festival time was a melting pot.

Carol got the attention of one of the barmen, Miles Laing.

'Hi, Carol. Frank. Good to see you again. What you for?'

'One of your guests was involved in an altercation outside. She's cut her knee. Do you have a first aid box?' Carol said.

'In reception. I'll take you through.' He asked the other barman to hold the fort. 'I'll catch you later, Robert,' he said to a patron at the bar. The man raised his glass, finished his drink, and walked in front of Miles, leaning heavily on a walking stick.

'Sherri, love, what happened?' he said as he came around the bar.

'I fell.'

They led her through to the reception area of the hotel. The man called Robert was slowly walking up the stairs to his room.

'Goodnight, Robert!' Miles said.

'Good night, my friend,' the man said.

'Come on, let's get this knee cleaned up before we get a plaster on it,' Carol said, leading her into the toilet.

Miles walked behind the reception desk and took a first aid box from a cupboard and gave it to Carol..

'What's Sherri's full name?'

'Judd.'

'Has she been here long?'

'A few days. She's very nice. She'll sit in the bar and chat away. She mentioned she was here to meet her boyfriend, but I didn't realise it was like that.'

'Like what?'

'Like he was an older guy. He seems a bit of a tosser. They started arguing and then he stormed out and she followed him.'

'And we know the rest.'

The women came out of the toilet.

'Now, why don't you all go through and sit in the dining room and I'll bring some drinks through,' Miles said to Carol.

'Cheers, Miles. Just an orange juice, please. Frank?'

'Bottle of Becks, thanks.'

'I'm fine,' Sherri said.

'It's on me. How about a Coke?'

'Okay then, thanks.' As if the fact that it was free had twisted her arm.

'You feel okay now?' Carol asked as they sat at one of the tables.

'I'm fine now, thanks to you two.'

'You can talk to us, Sherri.'

'I'm sorry I caused a disturbance in the street. Am I in trouble?'

'No.'

'Believe it or not, I don't always act like that, but I've travelled a long way.'

'Who was that man?' Miller asked as he sat opposite her. He emptied his pockets of the stuff he'd picked up off the street that had fallen out of her bag, including a paperback. A little glass vase sat empty in the middle of the table, waiting for the evening dinner sitting. The white tablecloths were fresh and he could imagine how busy this room would get at dinner time.

'I don't know.' They looked up as Miles came in with a tray, balancing their drinks on it.

'Oh, thanks Miles. You're a doll,' Carol said.

'We'll need to have a proper celebration for Frank moving in, but for right now, this is just your starter for ten.' He gave them their drinks. 'I'll be through in the bar if you need me. Sherri, give any of the staff a shout if you need any help. I mean it. I'll let my dad know what happened.'

'Thank you, Miles, you've been very kind.'

'We aim to please.' He walked away with the tray.

'We're here to help, Sherri,' Carol said.

Sherri looked down at her lap for a moment, one hand holding the glass of coke. 'I met a man online. We fell in love.'

'And he wanted you to come over here for a visit?' Miller said.

'No, this was my idea to come over.' She looked at Miller and took a sip of the soft drink.

'Did he know you were coming?'

'Not until a few days ago. I wrote to him and told him I was coming over. He got angry and said not to. He was busy and was sorting himself out.'

'But you decided to come anyway?' Carol said.

Sherri nodded. 'I had given him everything I had. All my savings, every penny I had. I even sold one of my cars, keeping the old runabout.'

Carol looked at Miller: catfish.

'I know what you're thinking,' Sherri continued, 'that I must be off my head to send a man money, but he was in trouble financially. One of his financial backers had pulled out. He said the money was a loan, but I knew it wouldn't make a difference when we were married.'

'Did he ask you to marry him?' Miller asked.

Sherri shook her head. 'I suggested it. He could come over to America and live if he wanted, but he said he couldn't leave his sick mother. I suggested I come over so we could be together, but he kept putting me off. There was always something going on, some reason he couldn't talk to me, or wouldn't be available when I wanted to talk on screen.'

'How did you recognise him?'

'He sent me photos of himself.'

Carol drank some of her orange juice and put a hand on Sherri's. 'Then you decided to come over and meet him in person.'

'Yes. He was angry. He wouldn't message me so I emailed him. He told me not to come yet as his mother had been taken into hospital. She was elderly and not well at all. But I suspected something was not right with him. I booked a flight and came over here.'

'How did you get him to meet you?'

'I wrote to him and told him I wanted to speak face to face or else I would come to his house. I Googled him.'

'What's his name?'

'Perry MacKinnon. He's a doctor.'

Jesus Miller thought but kept quiet.

Carol looked at her. 'Is he married?'

'He's in a loveless marriage. He and his wife are living under the same roof, but he's basically split up from her.'

'How old are you, Sherri?' Miller said.

'Twenty-seven.'

'How old is he?'

'Forty-two.'

'If he's a doctor, how come he needed you to send him money?'

Sherri took a deep breath before looking between the two police officers, like she was trying to find the answer without feeling foolish, and knowing that her answer would sound that way anyway.

'He asked me to invest in his new premises. He just needed a few thousand to finalise things, and it was only a loan. I wired him money.'

'And now he doesn't want to have anything to do with you?'

Sherri nodded.

'Do you know if these new premises actually exist?'

'No.'

'I wonder why he sent you his home address if he had no intention of meeting up with you?' Miller said.

'He didn't. I Googled his name and paid for a search. That's when I wrote to him telling him where I'd be staying and when I wanted to meet him.'

'Why did you choose this hotel?'

'He had mentioned it a few times. He said he sometimes came for a drink here. I thought he wouldn't feel so bad coming here to meet me. You know, him being in familiar surroundings. But he was very defensive when he came in. He asked me what I wanted and denied even knowing me. I asked him flat out if he was still married and he'd been stringing me along, but he kept talking to me like I was insane and to leave him alone.'

'You know what a catfish is, don't you?' Carol said.

'I think so.'

'Men and women go on the net, pretending to be somebody they're not, and often they'll lie to get money out of somebody. Like this guy did to you.'

'He seemed like such a nice man. I fell in love with him.'

'What are you going to do now?'

Sherri looked at them both in turn. 'I really have no idea. There's nothing to go back to. I didn't have a boyfriend, I jacked my job in. Sold my other car. Gave up the lease on my apartment. I know it sounds foolish, but I thought if he saw me in the flesh, he would see that everything would be fine.'

'How long are you booked in here?'

'Two weeks.'

'Do you have a return ticket?'

'Yes, but the date is for a month from now. I just put in any date to return, not intending to use it, because it was cheaper than a one-way ticket.'

'What will you do now?'

She gave a brief smile. 'I really have no idea. I paid for the room but after that, I'll have to go somewhere. I have a couple of weeks to think about it.' She tapped the book that sat on the table. Triple Code by Len Chatter. 'At least I'll be able to see this man. When I saw he was going to be at the book festival tomorrow night, I thought I'd go and see him. I'm a big fan of the Ben Goode thrillers.'

'Really?' Miller said. 'Us too. In fact, I have two tickets for tomorrow night as well.'

'You do?' Carol said.

'It was supposed to be a surprise. Dinner then the talk.'

'Great.' She looked at Sherri. 'Why don't you come along with us?'

'Oh, I don't know about that. I appreciate the offer, but this is a night out with your boyfriend.'

'How did you know he was my boyfriend?'

She smiled a brighter smile. 'I see the way you look at him.'

'He just moved in with me.'

'That's even more reason for me to go on my own.'

Carol looked at Miller.

'It's fine,' he said, 'you're welcome to join us.'

Sherri looked at them both in turn. 'I've only known you for a few minutes and yet here you are, inviting me along to your night out. Well, the book part. I don't want to spoil your dinner.'

'Anybody ready for another?' Miles said. 'Oh, Len Chatter. I'm a big fan of his.'

'We're all going to see him tomorrow. Sherri had a ticket and Frank got ours.'

Sherri fished into her bag. 'Two tickets.' She held them up and looked at Miles, her eyebrows raised.

'Miles, I do believe you've been invited along?' Miller said.

'And I graciously accept. It's my night off and I was going to be drowning my sorrows in some dive bar somewhere. Well, I'd be propping up my father's bar and the old sod would have roped me into working. So, if you're sure, that would be great.'

'I'm sure.'

'Then that's settled,' Carol said. She and Miller stood up. 'How about we see you both inside the Spiegeltent around seven? The show starts at eight.'

'Sounds good to me,' Sherri said. 'I looked at the beer tent online and it looks wonderful.'

'Good seeing you again my friend,' Miles said to Miller. The men shook hands.

'Likewise.'

He shrugged. 'Let's go home and have a nap. I feel knackered.'

'As chat up lines go, it's not one of your better ones.' She laughed and took his hand, her other one holding her holdall. 'But it'll do.'





CHAPTER EIGHT





'Vincent!'

Aw, what is it now? Vince thought, just as his fingers were hovering over the keyboard.

His mother was shouting at him from upstairs. He looked at the clock sitting on the mantelpiece. Just after seven-thirty. Half a fucking hour after he'd sat down at his desk, and she was shouting down to him.

'Vincent!'

Vince slammed the keyboard drawer into his desk and shoved the office chair back.

'Vincent!'

For fuck's sake. There was no way he could ignore the screeching from above. He'd get more peace if he moved his desk into the middle of the M8. He stormed out of the living room and walked towards the stairs. 'I'm fucking coming,' he said, stopping short of shouting it.

'What did you say?'

'I said I'm coming.' Radar ears. This had better be good.

He stomped harder on the stairs.

'What is it?' he said, pushing the door open wide. Mother was sitting up in bed, a knitted shawl wrapped round her shoulders.

'I need the remote for my TV.'

'Where is it?'

'Over there. By the TV.'

'Couldn't you get up and get it yourself?'

'I don't feel well today. My back's hurting me.'

Vince let out an exaggerated sigh and walked over to the TV, picked up the remote and handed it to her. 'Anything else?'

'Why are you in such a bad mood? You took the day off, didn't you?'

'Yes, I did.'

'You've been moping about down there all day.'

'Not moping; writing.'

'Oh, yes, I forgot, playing around downstairs, pretending you're Ernest Hemingway.'

'Oh, we're back to this then. I don't know why you're so against it.'

'Why you have these fancy ideas in your head, I don't know. I mean, it's not as if you picked up reading from your dad.'

'Look, I told you I wanted to write a book in the evenings so I could self-publish my books. Make some money.'

'Another flight of fancy.'

'No it's not.'

'Of course it is. You'll never make any money. Everybody's at it nowadays.'

'Not everybody.'

'Your head's in the clouds, laddie.' Mother pouted her lip for a moment and reached into the box of chocolates that was by her side.

'I've already told you this a million times, yet here I am having to explain things again. I work Monday to Friday in the office and then in the evenings, I'm a writer. I sit from seven until ten, every night. I only stop for a coffee or a pee.'

'Oh God.' She clasped a hand to her chest. 'Where did you pick up such language? It certainly wasn't from me.'

'It's only pee.'

'You didn't get that from your father, either. He was a real gentleman.'

Oh here we fucking go. 'Yes, I know, but that was a different generation.'

'When your father first brought me to this house, his mother and father lived here. Your father didn't bring me up to this bedroom until the day we were married.'

'I know, I know, you've told me all this before. Only on your wedding day did he bring you up here to show you his,' finger quotes, 'true love.'

'You don't have to make it sound mucky.'

'As much as I'd love to hear all this again, I have to...'

'Everything was fine in this house until you brought that woman home.'

'She was a nice girl, Mother, and she loved coming around here, until you scared her off.'

'She's not here, is she?'

Vince screwed his face up. 'What? Of course she's not f... here. She broke up with me five years ago.'

'She wanted to get her hooks into you, my lad. Take all your money and bleed you dry.'

'Is that why you called me up here, to talk about Dawn?'

'No. I want you to stop this writing nonsense.'

'Not going to happen. Today, I want to finish a project I'm working on. I'm seeing Len Chatter tomorrow and I want to give him my manuscript. He's going to co-write some of his new books with other authors. It's not nonsense.'

'And this Len Crapper's going to pick you?'

'Chatter. His name's Len Chatter.'

'I've never heard of him.'

'Who cares? He's not going to know I exist unless I try.'

'There's a difference; those other writers are good.'

'Well, thanks a lot. How do you know my stuff isn't any good?'

'When you're at work, I go down and read the stuff you've printed off the night before. Utter drivel.'

'You wouldn't know good writing if it smacked you in the face. The only thing you read is the back of a cereal box.'

'Why don't you stick in at work and get up the ladder? You're good with computers, aren't you?'

'That place is a dump. A dead end. As for computers, I know how to switch one on and use a keyboard, I don't know how to research quantum theory.'

'It pays money every month. It pays the bills. This writing lark won't do that.'

'Not yet anyway.'

'They love you there, Vincent.'

He'd told her that, but the truth was, they couldn't wait to see the back of him, and he couldn't wait to tell them all to fuck off. Except Jimmy, his pal.

'Do you think I like seeing you like this?' She was talking to him but not looking at him.

'Like what?'

'Like this; skulking about the house like you're just out of prison.'

'I'm a writer! We skulk. We talk to ourselves. It's what we do.'

'If your father was here, he'd give you a stern talking to, young man.'

'Good God, I'm not twelve.'

'I bet your friends at work think you're silly wanting to give up your day job to do this hobby of yours.'

'They're all very supportive.' Except Duncan Wood, his boss, who thought he was an obnoxious wanker who should have left years ago. Vince looked over at the clock: 7.40 pm. Christ. She'd done it again; distracted him with her nonsense.

'Right, as much as I'm riveted with this conversation, I want to go and do some writing.'

'Why don't you tell Jimmy that you can't make it tonight and stay in with me and Beckett? We could watch some TV and you could make us popcorn.'

'As much as that sounds outstanding, I just said I want to do some writing before I go out.'

He tried tuning her out as he went back downstairs. He knew he wouldn't get any more writing done before he went out, but he had polished the first three chapters so that Len wouldn't be anything other than impressed.

Beckett rolled in on his wheelchair. 'You off out tonight?'

'Yeah, buddy. Sorry you're stuck in with old fanny upstairs.'

Beckett was five years younger than Vince, my little accident as his mother put it. The age gap didn't bother Vince. Beckett was his brother and he loved him like one. After Beckett had left the army, he'd been working in London, and God knows why, but he had decided to come back to Edinburgh to live.

Beckett laughed. 'Don't worry about it. I heard her lecturing you again. Just ignore her.

I've read your stuff after she left it lying about. I think it's great.'

'Yeah, well, if she would let me be, I might find some inspiration sometimes.'

'You'll get there. Are you still going to see that writer tomorrow?'

'Yes, I am.'

'How about I come along with you?'

Then Vince smiled. 'That would be magic. It would get you out of the house for a while.' He looked down at Beckett's leg, still in its brace. 'If you feel up to it, of course.'

'Of course I do. I'll use my crutches, even though I sweat like a builder's arse using them.'

'Great. I'd love you to meet Len Chatter. Especially since he's taking us for a meal afterwards. He's a great guy. He's moving up here permanently.'

'Sounds like a great guy.'

'He is. I consider him a mate now.'

Beckett smiled and started to wheel away. 'I'll put the popcorn on as soon as you're gone, then she'll be down in a heartbeat.'

'Good man.'

At nine o'clock, he left to go and meet Jimmy. The one bit of sanity in his life.





CHAPTER NINE





'Cheers!' the crowd shouted in the large room.

Calvin Baxter smiled as they all clinked their champagne glasses in toast to Carter's success.

'Senior manager!' Ben Mathers said. 'You should be proud, my old son.'

'Oh, I am, Ben. I've worked hard, but now the board have seen fit to promote me to head of department, there will have to be changes around here.'

Mathers laughed. 'I hope my job's safe. You never want to forget who was with you on the lower rung and who was by your side when you were climbing.'

'You got that right. I won't forget you, Ben, don't worry.' Calvin held the smile and slapped the man on the side of the arm. You'll be the first one out of here, that I can promise you. Fucking tosser.

'I knew I could rely on you. Where's Bree?'

Calvin was looking across the room at a woman who was standing chatting with one of the older partners. 'What? Oh, away on a business trip.'

'You should bring her round for din–' he started to say, but Calvin wasn't listening. He was making his way over to the other side of the room.

'Congratulations again,' the woman said as he approached.

'Thank you.' He smiled and the older bloke moved away. 'How are things with you, Marcie Lincoln?'

Marcie Lincoln. Christ, just saying her name was getting him aroused.

'Looking up, Mister Baxter, sir.'

Calvin laughed. 'You don't have to call me sir, you know that.' She looked fantastic in the little black number she was wearing. Was it still called a little black number nowadays? Things changed so much, so fast.

'What should I call you?' She smiled, her cherry red lipstick glistening from the champagne.

'Call me sometime,' he said, with rehearsed practice. It sounded corny now he'd said it out loud, but it usually got a laugh, generally when they'd had too much to drink, but Marcie hadn't had too much to drink. She'd said she wanted to enjoy the performance. She'd also said that to him the first time he'd fucked her.

The first time he'd seen her, he'd known he had to have her. Gorgeous, intelligent, smart, she was the whole package. His wife was too, but having sex with her was now routine, like going to watch your football team being thrashed every Saturday, he imagined. He wasn't a football fan. Standing about in the pouring rain, watching twenty-two, over-paid has-beens running around a park, kicking a cow's bladder. Not for him.

'This has been a great party,' Marcie said. 'What a day for you.'

Perfect teeth. They must have cost a fortune, but it was the icing on the cake. 'It's been a long one,' he said.

'Where's Bree?'

The question took him by surprise for a moment, and he felt his smile slipping. Then he was in the driving seat again. Normally when a woman asked if he was married, he said yes. He was upfront about only looking for exciting sex, not his next trophy wife.

'In Hong Kong. Or Australia. Who cares? Where's Norman?' He grinned.

'In London. As you well know, mister Calvin Baxter.' She stuck her tongue between her teeth in what she thought was a provocative gesture, but he found it extremely annoying. Still, when she was naked, she could do whatever she wanted with her tongue.

He had known Marcie for three years, and he'd been sleeping with her for more than two of those.

He'd met her in a bar one night. He hadn't been looking to sleep around but his wife was a flight attendant with British Airways and was away for days on end sometimes. It had been winter, and Bree, his wife, had been stuck at JFK airport in New York, and while the snowploughs were beavering away clearing the runway, he was stuck on his own in a cold, wet miserable Edinburgh.

And into the bar walked Marcie.

He'd known her to say hello to, but had never had a conversation with her before that night. He'd hoped he didn't look like some sad lush who was propping up a bar before heading home to his mother.

He'd kept looking over at her and more than once, she'd caught him looking at her and had smiled back. After an hour or so, her friends had left and she'd come over to the bar where he was sitting.

'Fancy buying a girl a drink, Cal?' she'd said.

He was surprised that she knew his name. 'You have the advantage,' he'd said.

'I do, don't I?' She'd grinned at him and sat down on the stool next to him, assuming his answer was going to be sure.

'Scotch and whatever the lady is having.'

'I'll have a slow comfortable screw on the beach,' she'd said to Calvin, looking at the barman. Then she'd turned. 'No, just make it a G and T.'

Calvin had smiled at her innuendo and had thought she was a tease, at first.

He'd paid for the drinks. 'So, you have the advantage,' he'd repeated.

'Marcie. I'm in legal on the fourth floor.'

'As you know my name, I'm sure you know which department I work in.'

'Accounting on six.'

'Does it bother you I'm on top of you?' he'd asked as the barman slid the glasses and the little bottle of tonic water across. He poured some of the T into the G.

'Not at all. I like being on top, but if you're above me, that's fine.'

Jesus Christ. Was this the drink talking? She didn't seem drunk, but he'd seen some women who could put it away like a sailor. If so, that was okay. Just a couple of colleagues having a bit of banter after work. No harm, no foul.

'I've never seen you in here before,' he'd said. The Caley bar was in the Caledonian hotel, on Lothian Road. Formerly a station hotel when there was a railway station underneath many years before, it was a jewel in Edinburgh's crown, sitting in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

It was only a stone's throw from their office building that sat on the corner of Lothian Road and the West Approach Road. A big piece of modern architecture that the Georgian architects would have boaked over.

'Some of my department were coming for a drink here and they didn't fancy mixing with the riff-raff in Shakespeare's. Their words, not mine. I happen to love it in there. It's got great atmosphere. But some of my co-workers are snobs. So the Caley it was.' She'd taken a sip of the G and T. Held up her glass in a cheers salute. 'Is this your regular haunt?'

'Sometimes I come here when I want a quiet pint before heading home. The bus stop is just around the corner.'

'Bus? You don't have a chauffeur?' She'd giggled.

'I'm working on it.' He had smiled at her, completely captivated.

'You now wanting to go home to the wife?' she'd asked.

'My wife is out of town.'

'My husband is, too. He's a travelling salesman. He knows the M6 better than he knows me.'

And so the dance had begun; she'd wanted to know if he was married, and she'd wanted him to know that she was married. Whatever they got themselves into after that, they weren't going in blind.

And what they had got into was a black cab.

Along to her townhouse in Pinegrove Gardens, off Maybury Road at Barnton.

Had he been on the market for a townhouse – and had one been for sale – he would have been impressed enough to put down a deposit and make an offer, but the only thing he had been interested in was her bedroom.

The house was on three levels, and if he'd had more to drink, he would have run out of steam before he even made it up to the top floor. But as it was, he'd done more talking to her than drinking, and that helped enormously. He could only imagine how fit her husband had to be, going up and down all these stairs.

Calvin was nearing forty and yearned for his twenties again. A time when running up the stairs wouldn't have winded him. Now his dodgy knee, which he'd twisted when he was drunk one night, was reminding him to not fuck with it, or else it might just give the kneecap a little dislocation.

Luckily, neither of them had to worry about a spouse coming in, so Marcia had suggested they have a little night cap. The living room was on the first level – base camp, as Calvin would come to think of it – and a nice antique drinks cabinet sat against a wall. The living room was divided by a wall with a fire in it, and although the central heating was on, she'd put the fire on too.

It had turned out that on that first night, he didn't even get to see her bedroom.

The big, leather couch was the first place they'd ever made love. And what an accomplished lover she was. Her husband wasn't satisfying her, she'd said. And a battery-operated device couldn't buy her a drink in the Caley bar and bring her home in a taxi.

Christmas was knocking on the door and it was soon time for the office party. Each department was doing their own thing, but he had found out where Marcia's crew were having theirs, and he had "bumped into her" in a nightclub in Lothian Road, at that time of the night where the little groups were splitting off, like platoons going into battle, only this battle was being fought by drunken lawyers looking for a Christmas quickie.

That had been two and a half years ago.

Now they alternated between houses, and tonight it was his turn to get the sheets dirty.

'So, what are you doing after the party?' Marcie said, taking a sip of her drink and grinning at the same time, a feat only mastered by drunks and serial flirters.

'I thought I'd head off home. Have an early night. What about you?'

'Same.' He didn't know if the drink had wet her red lips or if she wore lip gloss, but either way, her lips glistened and he thought he wanted to ravish her there and then.

As the promotion party broke up, Calvin slipped out of the building into the warm night air. Marcie came out with some of their co-workers.

'Fancy sharing a cab?' she asked Calvin.

'Sure. Why not?' They walked to the rank on Lothian Road outside the Sheraton and jumped into a fast black.

'Balerno. I'll give you directions when we're there.'

They sat back and giggled like a pair of teenagers as Calvin nuzzled her neck.

Marcie playfully slapped him. 'Stop. Somebody will see.'

He laughed and sat up.

His house was a large pile past the turn off for the village. The driver got a large tip.

Inside the house, it was stuffy. Calvin opened one of the bedroom windows when they went upstairs with the glasses and champagne bottle.

'I've been waiting on this all day,' he said, popping the cork.

'Don't wait any longer,' Marcie replied as he grabbed her and reached round to pull down the zipper on her dress.





CHAPTER TEN





Ten minutes later they were in Carol's flat in Comely Bank Terrace. He would have to get used to thinking of this as their street now, not just Carol's.

'I hope every weekend isn't going to be like this,' Miller said.

'At least we'll be on the same shift again.'

'You really can't wait to be called detective now, can you?'

'You were like a wee boy on Christmas morning when you put your suit on that first day. You stayed over, remember and your mother gave you a hard time.'

'How could I forget. Just as well she loves you as much as I do.'

'I love your parents. Although it's going to be hard, both of our fathers working in the same department. It will be like they're watching over us.'

'Your dad is mostly office-based now, and he'd only come out when he felt like he had to look at something up close. Same with Jack; the grunt work is down to us now. He said they were out in the field more at the moment because they're short staffed.'

'How can they be short-staffed?'

'Believe it or not, a lot of uniforms join CID then find they can make their way up the ladder quicker back in uniform. It's not for everybody.'

'I'm glad you're not on-call all weekend,' Carol said.

'Me too. We can have wine over dinner when I take you out tomorrow night.'

'That was a nice surprise, getting tickets to see Len Chatter. And I'm glad you didn't mind me inviting Sherri along.' She put her arm round his waist and they stood looking down at the bowling green of the Dean Bowling Club. Members were starting to appear, dressed in their blazers, ready for a game and a drink afterwards.

'I feel sorry for her, being duped like that. And by a bloody doctor, no less.'

'Except it wasn't the doctor who duped her, was it?'

Miller shook his head. 'No. I suspect it was somebody pretending to be him. Those trolls on the net know what they're doing. But I want to find out more about this Perry MacKinnon anyway.'

'Just Google him.'

'I will. Then I'll run him through the system.'

'Just to be on the safe side, run Sherri too.'

'You tell me that after inviting her along to the book signing?'

'I didn't see the harm; she was going anyway and it's a public event. Hopefully she won't be weird.'

'Miles said she's been sitting in the bar all week, and he says she's okay. Unless she has a cauldron in her room, we should be alright.' He looked at his watch. 'Almost time for dinner. What do you fancy?'

'I fancy a quiet night in with my boyfriend. You choose the food.'

'Sounds good to me. You do like seafood, don't you?'

'You know I love it.'

'Good, 'cause there's a decent chippie along the road.'

'I wouldn't want you to go to that expense.'

'Money's no object when it comes to you, my darling.' He laughed and they kissed in front of the window, then thoughts of Sherri flashed into his mind and he felt guilty for a moment.

'Let's sit down. I don't want any of the old codgers keeling over after seeing us snogging at the window.'

'It'll give them something to talk about.'

Miller had started moving his stuff in less than a week earlier, but he felt as if he'd lived here for years. He knew some guys who'd moved into their own place, and he had given it thought, but if he had to be honest with himself, he'd been lazy. It was convenient to be living at home with his folks. Carol had been right; his mother had cried when he had told her he was moving out. Jack, his father and a murder squad detective, had told him it was about time. Not in a bad way, but he knew his son should be out on his own.

Miller loved Carol, he knew that, and barring some catastrophic event, he could see himself settling down with her. He was in it for the long term, and although he'd had other women in his life, nobody had had the pull that Carol had.

After dinner and some TV watching, they decided on an early night. To christen their bed as Carol put it. Miller didn't argue. But he wanted to shower first.

He was in the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet with the mirror on the front. His razor and can of foam was sitting on the sink. Carol had promised to clean out some of her stuff so he could fit it in.

He opened it up and saw there was a space on a shelf for his stuff. Then he saw it. Tucked away behind Carol's deodorant.

A man's razor. Not his.

He picked it up, thinking that it was a lady one, even though it wasn't pink like the other ones, and he saw it was a man's.

The hot water ran into the sink, causing steam to rise. He stood looking at the razor like he had discovered a blood-covered knife. Carol had said that she had boyfriends before, and he hadn't expected her to be like a nun, but thinking that another man had stayed over took him aback.

Listen to you, Miller, all self-righteous. Remember the girl from Gayfield Square who you took home one night after a party and you stayed over? his reasoning side said. Yes, but I didn't leave my razor in the cabinet.

So now what? End your relationship right now and go running back to mummy? Tell her you thought you were ready for the real world and now you know you aren't?

He held the razor. It wasn't new, the black plastic handle now tarnished, the colour faded. How long had it been there? How come he hadn't seen it the last time he stopped over?

It was in there behind her stuff. She wasn't hiding it.

He put it back in the cabinet. Used his own razor to shave.

After his shower, she was waiting for him, wearing some sexy nightwear.

He climbed into bed and lay staring up at the ceiling.

'What's wrong?' Carol said.

'Nothing. I just can't help thinking about that dead woman.'

'Sometimes you just have to leave work behind, my love.'

Oh, so I'm your love now? Not Mr fucking razor man, whoever he is.

'I'm sorry, I feel completely bushed,' he said.

'Never mind. We can spoon. Besides, I'm on early tomorrow.'

He fell into a fitful sleep.





CHAPTER ELEVEN





'I'm raring to go tonight, Vince boy,' Jimmy said, one leg bouncing up and down as they sat at a table in the function hall of the Dean hotel in Stockbridge. It was heating up nicely, with plenty of women dressed up for the evening.

'I can tell.' Vince sipped at his pint, watching everybody go about their business of slowly drinking themselves into a stupor.

'I don't mind telling you, I could have a go right now.'

'For fuck's sake, get a grip of yourself. Oh wait, I can see you're already there.'

Jimmy took his hand out of his pocket. 'What did you do with your day off?'

'First of al