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The incident room was a second home, or perhaps a first home, to Ryan. He wasn't quite sure he remembered life before whiteboards and PC screens, before complex cases and obscure objectives. Ah, that was right: uniform and foot patrols, drunks and kids.
No, the villains were of a better quality here and at least the organised crime groups got their own rooms.
Detective Sergeant Longbottom, fondly known as Stretchyarse when he wasn't listening, was stabbing the surveillance camera photo of Harvey Cooper as he ranted.
"...highest priority is to get an inside line," he said. "Inspector Cassidy has approved another go at an undercover approach. What this team has to do is work out how to get someone close. Cooper is far too wily to approach directly and his missus would cut his knackers off if he strayed. So: any suggestions?"
They'd been trying to get a line on Harvey Cooper for months. He was a sneaky bastard with contacts the police could only dream of. Even attempting to impound his car hadn't worked; Teflon Harvey, he was called.
"Neighbours?" Tracey asked. She was sitting beside Ryan on the worktable, swinging her legs, and the sound of her hosiery brushing together was irritating.
Tracey was a Detective Constable, like Ryan. The slaves, everyone called them. If there was running to be done, they got to do it. People who had promotions and commendations didn't chase villains, apparently.
"Keeps himself to himself," Stretchyarse said. "Fancy being a cleaning lady, Trace?"
"He's got a cleaning lady," Gavin pointed out. "His brother cleans his pool."
"What about his brother?" Tracey asked, hopping down off the table and pointing atthe Contacts board. "Is he vulnerable?"
They all studied that board. "Fuck knows," Stretchyarse said. He flicked through the printouts that were on his clipboard. "He's a bit of a no-hoper, though Cooper certainly seems to love him. Does odd jobs for Cooper, no visible means of support. Lives in one of Cooper's investment properties in Hayside, place looks like a complete dump from the outside. He's probably got plasma screen TVs and a hydroponics kit inside."
"So?" asked Roscoe, who was a Detective Sergeant, recently transferred in from Queensland and rising fast. "Can we raid him?"
There was a generalised laughter at the suggestion. "You've not been here long, Roscoe," Stretchyarse said. "There's not a magistrate in the state that'll issue a search warrant for Cooper's brother, not without some damn good reason. Cooper's lawyers are bastards and they're getting rich suing for false arrest and harassment."
"Someone needs to get into his house then," Roscoe said. "Have a look around, see if they can get this brother to talk."
"Jason," Stretchyarse said. "Jason Cooper." He looked at his clipboard again. "We're sure Harvey uses him as a mule."
There was a data projector hooked up to Stretchyarse's PC, so he opened the Cooper file and flicked through the images for the team to look over. "Suggestions?" he said.