Silvermeadow (Brock and Kolla Series #5)

( 4 )

Overview

Two Cases. One location. The first case, a girl gone missing, seems a decidedly local affair. The second, the return of a violent criminal who had fled the country, instantly attracts the interest of Scotland Yard and Detective Inspector David Brock.

When he learns that his longtime nemesis, the amphetamine-juiced killer and thief known as “Upper” North, may have surfaced, Brock assembles his team and summons Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla. Their manhunt centers on Silvermeadow,...

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Silvermeadow (Brock and Kolla Series #5)

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Overview

Two Cases. One location. The first case, a girl gone missing, seems a decidedly local affair. The second, the return of a violent criminal who had fled the country, instantly attracts the interest of Scotland Yard and Detective Inspector David Brock.

When he learns that his longtime nemesis, the amphetamine-juiced killer and thief known as “Upper” North, may have surfaced, Brock assembles his team and summons Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla. Their manhunt centers on Silvermeadow, the supermall on the outskirts of London where North was spotted. Brock and Kolla camouflage their search for North by taking on the case of the missing girl—a mall employee. They lie in wait, hoping to catch North before he can strike with a new crime. Yet what should they make of rumors of other young girls disappearing from Silvermeadow? Is there a predator on the loose within the apparent safety of a carefully orchestrated aura of order and control? Very quickly, the mall itself—and its colorful cast of characters—becomes key to the dual investigations. This is Maitland at his cunning best.

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Editorial Reviews

Dallas Morning News

"Silvermeadow is first-rate . . . compelling . . . fascinating."

Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Barry Maitland is a master of mysteries."

Providence Journal

"Superb . . . Maitland just keeps getting better and better."

Dallas Morning News
“"Silvermeadow is first-rate . . . compelling . . . fascinating."”
Los Angeles Times Book Review
“"Barry Maitland is a master of mysteries."”
Providence Journal
“"Superb . . . Maitland just keeps getting better and better."”
Publishers Weekly
Better than The Chalon Heads (2001) and almost as good as The Malcontenta (2000), Maitland's latest mystery to feature DCI David Brock and Det. Sgt. Kathy Kolla presents a complex and absorbing case focused on Silvermeadow, an enormous shopping mall near London where a volcano erupts hourly, complete with moving lights for flowing lava. Ordered to stake out the mall because a fugitive killer has been sighted there, Kathy and Brock soon find themselves investigating the murder of a teenage girl whose body has turned up in a trash compactor. Later they get involved in a gigantic robbery. Through the thorough, workmanlike interviews the pair conduct with a range of characters, the author highlights the tragedies in the lives of various police officers and civilians, revealing how complicated the seemingly ordinary can be. In particular, he carefully and lucidly explains (with a prophetic quotation from mile Zola) how architects and engineers plan and execute the transformation of shopping and acquiring into entertainment and recreation. He concentrates on the effects of this transformation on the employees, merchants and customers, with insider details of building engineering and archeology. As usual, Kathy is the center of the resolution of all the crimes, while Brock acts as her supporting rescuer. Maitland fans surely will welcome this addition, with its fusion of commerce, detection and architecture, to his lively series. (Aug. 9) FYI: Born in Scotland and raised in London, John Creasy Award nominee and Ned Kelly Prize winner Maitland now lives in Australia. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611458268
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/7/2013
  • Series: Brock and Kolla Series , #5
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 428,200
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Maitland was born in Scotland and raised in London. He was a professor of architecture and dean at the University of Newcastle in Australia, but relinquished the position to become a full-time writer. He has written twelve Brock and Kolla novels.
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Read an Excerpt

SILVERMEADOW

A Kathy and Brock Mystery
By Barry Maitland

Arcade Publishing

Copyright © 2000 Barry Maitland
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1559706147


Chapter One

`I thought I might bring the children up to town sometime before Christmas. Just for a couple of days.'

Brock nodded his head against the handset. `Good idea.'

He took a gulp from his mug of tea. The table in front of him was a jumble of newspapers and the remains of breakfast. He was still in his old dressing gown, although it was already mid-morning. A weak December sun glinting in through the bay window. He'd slept long and deep, the first chance in weeks, and felt expansive, reborn, completely relaxed.

`The Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, Hamley's toyshop, Billy Smart's Circus, the Science Museum, pantomime at the Palladium ... wonderful. They'll love it.' He beamed nostalgically and reached for the last piece of toast.

The voice on the other end chuckled. `Half those things probably don't exist any more.'

`You may be right. You'll stay here of course.'

`Are you eating something? I missed that.'

`I said, you'll stay here.'

There was a pause. `No. That's sweet of you, David, but I think not. I've got the address of a little hotel near Madame Tussaud's.'

`Do you know how much hotels in the West End cost, Suzanne? That's absurd. I'm only twenty minutes away in the train. Of course you must stay here.'

A longerpause. `They're very active, David. You've no idea. You've forgotten what young children are like. Miranda is five and Stewart eight. It wouldn't work.'

`You make me sound antediluvian. I get on very well with them. You know that. And there's enough space here. They could have the attic room, be independent.'

`Thanks. I'll think about it. And you think about it too. Realistically.'

`You sound tired, Suzanne.'

`I've been run off my feet. The Christmas rush.'

`In Battle?' he asked dubiously, picturing the high street in the little Sussex town. `Anyway, it's a long time to Christmas yet.'

She laughed. `For you, maybe. I must go, there's a customer. Speak to you soon.' And she hung up.

He refilled his mug from the teapot and walked over to the big window at the end of the room. Outside, weak sunlight was struggling to penetrate the stubborn morning fog which still blanked out most of the features of the surrounding city: the houses perched up on the far side of the railway cutting, the signal gantry beyond the wall of the lane. He might be anywhere, at sea even, or in the air. His mind returned to the high street of Battle, and he pictured the front of Suzanne's little shop. He imagined the customer closing the door against the cold wind blowing in from the nearby coast, and taking in the treasures that filled the shelves. Suzanne would smile a welcome and begin a gentle interrogation, perhaps, trying to figure out how much was to be spent, and what would really appeal-a Georgian spoon, an Art Deco coffee service, some Victorian lace? He pictured her intelligent face, the grey in the hair untinted but carefully cut, and he experienced a sudden pang.

He turned abruptly away from the window and began clearing up his breakfast things. It had been a rough couple of weeks. He should get out of the city, breathe fresh air, sell antiques. As usual, Suzanne had pretty well got it right.

Brock strode out of the archway into the intermittent stream of shoppers in the high street. He walked briskly with a long, rolling lope, hands in pockets, enjoying the wintry sun dappling through the skeletal plane trees in the street. It seemed very quiet for a Saturday morning, and he looked around him with the eye of a host, trying to imagine how the familiar would look to strangers, seeing it for the first time. And it struck him that the place was looking remarkably threadbare, as if the foliage on the trees, now gone, had been masking the underlying scruffiness. Nothing much to appeal to a five-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, either. There had been a cinema once, but it had closed down ages ago.

The billboards at the newsagent's door were recycling old headlines, ROYALS BLOW IT AGAIN and OOPS, SAYS TORY MP. He went inside and studied the front page of the Independent. M15's new role caught his eye.

`Not again,' he muttered.

He bought the paper and stepped back out into the sunshine. His eye passed over the electrical goods in the shopfront next door, then scanned the estate agent's, a gloomy little window filled with curling pictures of fading hopes, desperately straining to attract someone to pull them out of the pit of negative equity or divorce settlement. He paused as two elderly people blocked his path, struggling to drag a defective stepladder out of their car, and while he waited for them he watched the owner of the bicycle shop on the other side of the street setting up a rack of kiddies' bikes on the footpath. Apologising profusely, the couple manoeuvred their burden through the door of a DIY shop, stumbling on the uneven pavement. The tree roots had done it, he noticed, and in odd places the council had pulled up the concrete paving slabs around the trunks and patched the footpath with tar. Scruffy.

His next destination lay beyond the unisex hair salon, with its improbably glamorous photographs of stunning heads of hair. Not quite a deli, Butler's was a half-decent grocer's shop with an interesting if unreliable range of goods.

`Morning, Mr Butler.' He nodded, pleased to have the shop to himself. `Fresh delivery of your steak and kidney pies this morning?'

`I'm afraid they've let me down again, Mr Brock.'

`That's no good. You know I rely on your steak and kidney pies.'

The grocer shook his head sadly. `Not for much longer, Mr Brock.'

`What?'

`I'm packing it in. Had enough.'

`You can't do that. Are you ill?'

`Not me, but the business is. Got a bad dose of the Sainsbury's. You'll have to get in your car and go down the Savacentre for your pies in future, same as everyone else.'

Brock scratched the crop of his short grey beard. He'd been coming here for years, since the days when it had been a butcher's shop, with a frieze of brightly coloured tiles around the walls portraying the heads of animals-bulls, lambs, pigs, chickens-smiling cheerfully down on the customers engrossed in selecting prime cuts. He'd never tried the Sainsbury's pies, but he was certain they wouldn't be the same.

`Well, I'm very sorry to hear that, Mr Butler, I really am. What's going to take your place?'

`A charity clothes place, so they tell me. Oxfam or some such.'

The shops petered out beyond Butler's, their place taken by insurance offices and car showrooms crammed together. The Bishop's Mitre sat brooding among them, a dour 1950s pub that no amount of half-timbering and geranium window boxes could cheer up. Brock looked at his watch. Good timing. He hadn't had the chance of a relaxed weekend pub lunch in ages. Inside, in the gloom, an off-duty crew from the fire station further up the high street were having a quiet pint.

Brock stood at the bar and opened his paper to see what M15 were up to now. Before he'd even ordered his ham sandwich and pint, the phone in his pocket started chirping. He recognised DS Bren Gurney's voice.

`I don't think I need this, Bren.'

`A sighting of North, chief. Sounds promising.'

`Really?' There had been a rumour, barely that, that Upper North was back in the country. The possibility killed his appetite.

`You remember Pauline Lewins? The bank job in Ilford. One of the last ones he pulled before the big one in the City. Manager shot dead.'

`Yes of course. I remember Pauline.'

`Well, she works at Silvermeadow now.'

`What's that? A retirement village?'

`Blimey, chief. Where've you been? It's a bloody great shopping centre out in Essex, on the M25. Pauline reckons she saw North there this morning. I've been talking to her, and I reckon it's a possible. If it is him, he seems to have changed his appearance a bit. She's working on a portrait at the moment, and we're going through the security tapes from the shop where she works.'

`Where are you?'

`K Division, the divisional station at Dagenham, Hornchurch Street. Know it?'

`I'll find it.'

`It's on the edge of a bloody great housing estate. Don't go in there whatever you do. There's a security access to the station off the high street. I'll be at the gate.'

`I'll come right over. And Bren, let's keep this as restricted as possible, eh? That includes the locals. The name North doesn't get mentioned.'

`Yeah, that's what I thought. They're up to their ears in their own problems anyway, from what I can gather. There's a WPC who brought Pauline in. She knows what's going on. I'll have a quiet word with her.'

Brock followed Bren's instructions to the AUTHORISED PERSONS ONLY rear entrance to the Hornchurch Street station, where he stopped and spoke into a speaker on the wall. The metal gate rolled up after a moment, and he drove through and down into a basement carpark where Bren was waiting for him. They went up to a room on the third floor where he recognised Pauline Lewins sitting with a uniformed woman whom Bren introduced as PC Sangster. Pauline smiled weakly in recognition at Brock, as one might at a surgeon whom one had fervently hoped never to see again. He sat and they talked quietly for a while.

She explained to him that she loved Cuddles, and he, noticing that she had put on some weight over the years, thought that she, plump, soft and friendly, was perfectly suited to a job in a soft-toy store. Despite her recent shock, she still had the warm, rather shy smile he remembered, made all the brighter, he noted, by new front teeth. In answer to his enquiry she explained that, although she still sometimes became weepy without any apparent reason, and remained a little self-conscious about the scar on her upper lip, her confidence and happy disposition had largely returned. And this was at least partly thanks to Cuddles, where she had learned to get behind a counter again and deal with strangers without dissolving into hysterics. Cuddles was a reassuring place, she told him, selling delightfully reassuring soft toys, and located in the safest and most reassuring heart of the largest shopping centre in the Home Counties. So when she heard that voice again, halfway through ringing up a pair of fluffy tiger cubs, she had just sort of seized up.

`You remember the voice, Mr Brock?'

`Oh yes, Pauline. I remember.'

And who wouldn't seize up, he thought, hearing it again after all that time?

The first time she had heard it, four years ago, she had been working in a bank in Ilford. One morning she had opened up the front door for business as usual, and was immediately confronted by three men who pushed their way in, locking the door behind them and pulling masks over their faces. One of them took hold of her and rammed the muzzle of a gun into her mouth, so violently that it knocked out her front teeth and split her lip. Using her as a hostage, they had forced the other staff to hand over money and then lie flat on the floor. No one offered any resistance, but the robbers maintained a violent and aggressive manner, especially the one holding Pauline, who seemed to be the leader of the gang. He was very agitated and excited, screaming at the bank staff to try making trouble so that he could show them what he would do to them. His ranting terrified the staff and several of the women began to cry. Finally the branch manager-Fairbairn, Brock remembered-had felt obliged to try to calm the man down. He had looked up from his position on the floor and told the man to kindly stop shouting and be reasonable.

There was immediately a terrible silence. All the witnesses subsequently commented on it, as if this was a signal of some kind that the robbers recognised. The man holding Pauline went very still, then smiled down at the manager, withdrew the muzzle of his pistol from Pauline's bleeding mouth, bent down, held it six inches from Fairbairn's upturned face and pulled the trigger.

The three men then calmly walked away, locking the front door behind them. Because of the masks, the other staff weren't able to identify the gunmen, but Pauline had had a clear view of their faces at the moment they had pushed in through the front door. She gave a particularly vivid description of the man who had held her, his wild unblinking grey eyes, the smooth pink skin on his left temple and cheek where it looked as if he had been burned, the belligerent thrust of his mouth. And she described his voice, a hoarse voice, naturally soft but made to sound big by straining his throat, like vegetables forced through a grater.

The task force from Serious Crime, led by Detective Chief Inspector David Brock, had known exactly who she was talking about, and she had immediately identified the photographs of Gregory Thomas North, a professional criminal with a record of violent armed robberies, known as Upper North because of his dangerous habit of psyching himself up with amphetamines before a job.

`You heard the voice, Pauline,' Brock said gently. `And you saw him?'

`I ... think so. I looked up as soon as I heard it, and I saw a man walking past behind my customer, talking to a little girl he was holding by the hand. He didn't look at me. He just walked on out of the shop, and I ... everything went blank.'

`She fainted, sir.' PC Sangster spoke. `Two of the other sales assistants went to help her, and when someone saw me passing by in the mall they called me in to help.'

Brock turned to her. `I don't suppose you happened to notice this man and the little girl?'

`No, sorry. The place was packed out this morning.'

Brock picked up from the table a copy of an image of a man's face, based on photographs of North, modified on the computer to Pauline's instructions.

`A bit older-like all of us, eh, Pauline?' Brock said. `And wearing glasses now. Suntanned?'

`Yes, I think so. But I couldn't see the scar. At least, I don't remember it.'

`It was the left side of his face you saw?'

`Yes.'

`But apart from that, you're pretty certain?'

`I heard the voice, Mr Brock.'

`Yes. What about the child?'

`I hardly saw her. I just had an impression of a little girl. I can't remember how she looked.'

PC Sangster said, `I took statements from three of the other shop assistants, sir. One of them had served the man. He wanted to know if they had a particular kind of stuffed animal toy, a badger.'

Brock looked sharply at her, wondering if this was some kind of joke. Brock the badger. She blushed and consulted her notebook.

`Yes. He wanted a big badger for the little girl. She was about three or four, blonde curls, wearing a red coat. He was wearing a black bomber jacket and jeans, white trainers.'

`Did they have a badger?' Brock asked.

`No. He'd apparently been there before, because he said he'd seen one there, and the assistant said it'd been sold, but they were getting more in next week.'

`I don't suppose he left a name?'

`No, nothing. He just asked about the badger and then they walked out of the shop, the little girl holding his hand.'

Later, after Pauline had been taken home with advice to get a doctor's note to stay off work for at least two weeks, they played part of the video tape taken by the security camera in Cuddles, from which they had identified the man and child Pauline had seen. Brock sat forward, peering at the screen as they replayed the sequence, then he got to his feet and began pacing up and down the cramped room.

`What do you reckon, Brock?' Bren asked.

`Looks very like him, doesn't it? Same build, way of holding himself. And she was very sure about the voice.'

He stopped and turned to PC Sangster. `We appreciate your help, Miriam. Did Bren speak to you about keeping this to yourself?'

`Yes, sir. I did report to my inspector, Inspector Rickets, and he was the one who notified the Yard. Other than that I haven't spoken to anyone.'

`Good. If it was him, we don't want a hint to get out that he's been spotted. Don't want to frighten him off.'

`I understand, sir.'

Brock picked up the computer simulation again. It was him, no question. North had returned. They were being given one more chance to put him away. Why had he come back? And for how long?

As Miriam Sangster turned to leave, Brock asked suddenly, `Is this Silvermeadow on your regular beat?'

`Oh no, sir. We don't patrol there. It's private property, and they have their own security. I was following up another inquiry, a missing girl.' She hesitated, but he seemed to want to know more, so she went on. `She lives close by here, and hasn't been seen since Monday at school. Her mother reported her missing on Wednesday. The girl had a part-time job at Silvermeadow, and I was just checking with her employer there. It was an accident, really, that I was there at that time.'

(Continues...)



Excerpted from SILVERMEADOW by Barry Maitland Copyright © 2000 by Barry Maitland
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    The story is interesting but my nook copy was so messed up that

    The story is interesting but my nook copy was so messed up that it became unreadable. To begin with the typos were many and it was especially disconcerting to have to victim's name bounced back as Kerri and then Kern.
    On page 204 in Nook it became impossible to continue reading because the wording didn't make any sense. Then suddenly, they had a killer who had, by no warning, been caught! I bought this book because I had enjoyed the author's writing before and wanted to read more. Perhaps you could get your act together and fix my Nook copy so I can finish it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    This ebook was corrected and re-posted in Fall 2012 so those err

    This ebook was corrected and re-posted in Fall 2012 so those errors were fixed.  Don't let an out-of-date review scare you away from a good and VERY BRITISH mystery series/1

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2013

    I enjoy Maitland's books, but this Nook book averages four typos

    I enjoy Maitland's books, but this Nook book averages four typos per page until it gets to page 204. Then everything comes apart. It's like the paragraphs have been put in a mixer and then poured out. Sections seem to be out of order and some may even be missing. I was following the story pretty well, but now I have no idea what's going on. If you want to read the story, buy the paperback. That's what I'm going to so so I can find out how it ends. This is the first Nook book I've had any serious problem with, but it has more than all of the 50 or more I've read all put together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    This book was very hard to read due to the many spelling errors.

    This book was very hard to read due to the many spelling errors. For instance, one of the characters name is Kerri, this is frequently displayed as Kern. This was bad enough, but about halfway through the book, it's as if someone dropped the pages and and put them back and any order. Sentences end midway through a statement. One place the chapter just ends halfway through a sentence. There are also places where you're reading paragraphs entirely out of context, then you flip back to the original subject. The story is decent, but the horrible editing make it hard to follow. This is the worst I've seen. Most disappointing. The low rating is for the distraction of the poor editing, not the story.

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