Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms is in the United States on sabbatical with St Louis PD. She is working with a 'method swap' team, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. Simms came to the US to escape fallout from her previous investigation working with forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore. However Fennimore also happens to be in the States on a book tour and is engineering his trip to get down to St Louis - the last thing Simms wants . . .
But a call for help from a sheriff's deputy in Oklahoma distracts the professor: a mother dead, her child gone. Fennimore's quick mind rapidly gets to work, and gradually draws the conclusion this might not an isolated case. How many other young mothers have been killed, their murders unsolved, their children unaccounted for - and what of Simms' cold case in St Louis for instance?
In Believe No One, A. D. Garrett delivers a gripping sequel to match Everyone Lies, where the chills race in the heat in America's mid-West. And once again the tension rises to match the climbing temperature between the dynamic pairing of Simms and Fennimore.
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About the Author
A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay. Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She lectures on writing and is a former Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. Professor Barclay is a world renowned forensics expert and senior lecturer in forensic science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Everyone Lies is their first collaboration.
Read an Excerpt
Believe No One
By A. D. Garrett
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 A. D. Garrett
All rights reserved.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Nick Fennimore stared at the new mail in his inbox and his mouth dried. The subject line: 'Is this your daughter?'
His hand jerked involuntarily. He slowed his breathing, forcing himself to look closely at the email, to think like a scientist and not a father. There was an attachment. He'd had messages like this before – usually from sick, sadistic men for whom causing others pain was a release. Those messages had been posted on the Facebook page he'd created in his daughter's name, but this was the first he'd had direct to his academic account. The sender was 'anon67912' – a Hotmail account.
Fennimore ran the email and its attachment through his virus checker: no Trojans, spyware or viruses. He clicked to open the message envelope. There was no message – just the subject header and the attachment. He wiped cold sweat from his upper lip and double-clicked to view the attachment.
It was a girl. Just a girl. She was slim, serious-looking; she walked alongside a man. He seemed older – mid-thirties, at a guess. Suited, stocky. Dark hair, full lips, otherwise unexceptional. His eye was drawn again to the girl. Could this be Suzie?
He loaded an image file he had created: his daughter, aged up from ten to fifteen. It was already out of date – soon, Suzie would be sixteen years old. If she lived. The statistics said not: the statistics said that Suzie died five years ago, shortly before or after her mother was murdered, but on this matter, Fennimore had never been able to think like a scientist, only as a father.
He looked again at the email, his fingers hovering over the keys. This is madness, he thought. It's probably just another crazy. But he clicked the 'reply' icon anyway and typed in a few words. 'Please, call me.' He added his office and mobile-phone numbers and hit 'send'.
He resized his photoshopped image of his daughter and slid it next to the email attachment on the screen. His impression of Suzie at fifteen showed a face that brimmed with good health, a mouth that was always ready to smile. The girl in the attachment was sombre; she gazed ahead as though thinking of something else. Fennimore wondered what the man was saying to her. She looked about the same age as Suzie; she had dark hair and brown eyes – like Suzie's. But she wore a knee-length dress in burnt orange and brown, cinched at the waist, a tiny clutch bag emphasizing her slim form, and she strode out in high heels. Fennimore shook his head absently – hard to imagine his tomboy daughter in this graceful young woman.
A two-tone audio notification interrupted his scrutiny of the photograph. A new message in his inbox. Eagerly, Fennimore maximized the Outlook screen. But it was a bounce-back: anon67912 no longer existed.
He called up the original email and a few mouse clicks later he was scrolling through the email's 'properties'; it would surely have been routed through an anonymous server – only an amateur would send an email like that from a naked IP – but he had to try. Astonishingly, the IP address was there, in amongst the jumble of letters and numbers. The IP could give him a physical location. Excitement building, he traced the IP number using WHOIS, and found the service provider.
He cursed, softly: it was blocked as private. The service provider could give him the sender's location, but wouldn't – not without a warrant. He thought of Kate Simms, stationed for the next few months half a world away in the United States. But even she wouldn't be able to obtain a warrant on such slim grounds.
He looked at the picture again. Just a teenage girl walking along a sunny street with an older man. They walked about a foot apart, the girl to the right, next to a sheer wall. No windows that he could see. The man's left hand was raised to waist height as if he was gesturing to emphasize a point; the girl seemed distracted. Nothing wrong in that; nothing sinister. So why did he find himself searching her young face for signs of distress? And even if it was there, couldn't there be an innocent explanation – an exam to take, a dreaded dental appointment?
That being the case, why did somebody watch those two and photograph them and send you the image? And whoever sent the image had taken the trouble to find out Fennimore's academic address; this was personal.
He stared at the image for so long that when he glanced away he could see the silhouette of the girl and the man ghosted on the grey sky outside his office window. He blinked to clear the after-image and took a fresh look at the photograph. A hard line of shadow ran between the man and the girl so that they might almost be walking on different pavements at different times of day.
Later he would compare ratios for the girl's face: distance between the eyes; position of the ears relative to the eyeline; size and shape and position of the nose and mouth. It would only ever be an approximation – he wouldn't be able to use facial-recognition software, not with the already approximated aged-up image of Suzie he had constructed. For an accurate comparison he would need to know the distance from which the photograph had been taken, and the angle. It seemed to be from slightly above – a bridge, maybe? He looked for a clue, and found a small circular segment of something, tight to the wall. He opened the image in Photoshop and zoomed in on that section of the photograph. It looked like a metal dome attached to a bracket – a street lamp, maybe – in racing green. A bridge, then – or maybe the street sloped uphill while the pathway continued on the flat. In the distance, behind the two figures, the number plate obscured by a section of wall, the back of a white box van with a squiggle of black spray paint at the top of the roller door.
His eyes were drawn again to the girl's face. Suzie, or a perfect stranger? Impossible to say. The dress, the well-styled hair were hard to reconcile with Suzie zipping around on a skateboard. He felt a sharp spike of excitement – the accident: Suzie had fallen trying a new stunt on her board and cut her head badly. The scar – a small diamond-shaped patch of red on her left temple – had just begun to heal when she disappeared. Would it remain, after all these years? He snatched up the mouse and zoomed in on the girl's face. At high magnification he could see that portion of the image was slightly blurred – camera shake, or perhaps a breeze had ruffled her hair at the moment the photographer pressed the shutter. The girl's hair was feathered over her forehead and combed right to left. Was that deliberate – to hide the scar? The shadow cast by the strands of hair, together with the blurring, made it difficult to tell if they were hiding anything. Fennimore brightened the image and played with the contrast. It took an hour, but at last he thought he saw it – a small diamond-shaped imperfection. He needed to trace the email back to source. He checked his watch; it was 7 p.m. The IT team would be long gone; his inquiry would have to wait until morning. The heating had clicked off a couple of hours since and the temperature in the life sciences building plummeted – early May in Aberdeen could feel like February. He should go back to his flat and relax for the evening, but rest was impossible.
Coffee, he thought. Then he would get to work on those ratios.CHAPTER 2
East St Louis, Illinois
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms stared out of an SUV onto mile after mile of burned-out houses, boarded-up apartment buildings, empty factory units and vacant lots, crowded with saplings and trees, competing for space. Rubble was strewn across the vacant lots. Rubbish littered the streets and piled up in ragged heaps against chain-link fences and corrugated-iron hoardings. This was East St Louis, Illinois – a city in its own right – though it was only a two-minute drive across the Mississippi River from St Louis, Missouri.
Simms was on a three-month method exchange with St Louis PD; her assignment, to undertake case reviews and share UK investigation protocols, processes and skills. The UK's Association of Chief Police Officers was funding her and a CSI, as well as paying consultant fees to Professor Varley, a forensic psychologist she had worked with the previous year. The American contingent of the Method Exchange Team included, from St Louis PD: Detective Ellis, a granite-faced man with a buzz cut and a blunt manner; a soft-featured young detective named Valance; and Roper, a tall, hyperactive CSI. FBI Special Agent Dr Detmeyer, on loan from the Bureau's Behavioral Analysis Unit, would give the American psychological perspective. The last member of the team was Detective Dunlap, a grey-haired African American in his early fifties, on assignment from East St Louis Homicide. As he put it, 'The Two State area shares crime freely, so we figured why can't the good guys share resources, too?'
Simms gazed through the windscreen at the scene of apparent devastation. They were looking into a cold case and were en route to the scene of the murder in East St Louis. Everyone wore body armour, including Simms and the CSIs. Detective Greg Dunlap, the East St Louis detective, drove one of the SUVs. Dunlap was soft-spoken and sad-faced, but when he walked into a room, people paid attention.
'I checked the address on Google Maps before we left the station,' she said. 'I did wonder why I couldn't find street-view data.'
Detective Dunlap nodded. 'I know I wouldn't chance expensive camera equipment on these mean streets,' he said. 'Most folks blast through here at seventy miles per hour – you can get a bit of camera shake at those speeds. There were twenty-eight murders here in East St Louis in the last year alone, in a population of just twenty-seven thousand.'
'That's a hell of a statistic,' Simms said.
He nodded. 'What East St Louis lacks in size it makes up for in grim determination. It's right up there with Baltimore in the murder stats.'
They drove on in silence for a while and Simms gazed about her, finding it hard to square this ravaged landscape with the thriving community on the west side of the river. 'What happened, Greg?' she asked, thinking, Riots, tornadoes. War zone.
'Manufacturers went bust, or moved on to states with better tax breaks or easier access to the raw materials they needed. There used to be a saying, "If you can't find a job in East St Louis, you can't find a job anywhere." That was a long time ago. Now, the kids who need to pay for themselves to go through college have to travel out to the strip malls in Fairview Heights to find a job. The public schools are failing, and most kids leave school illiterate, unemployable and mad as hell.' He shook his head. 'The only way boys in that situation can prove themselves is with violence and criminality.'
He paused, nodded thoughtfully, his expression almost wistful. 'Wasn't always this way. Steamboat Willie was born here, and Miles Davis was raised here; Barbara Ann Teer grew up a few blocks from where we are now – she founded the National Black Theatre in Harlem. There's a long and honourable roll-call of eminent African Americans with East St Louis connections.'
'You were brought up here?' Simms asked.
He dipped his head to get a better view of a Youth Correctional Facility as they drove by, a large Victorian complex surrounded by chain-link and razor wire. 'That used to be the high school.' He nodded towards the car park. 'Under that parking lot is the football field where I got scouted for a scholarship to St Louis University.'
They passed a boarded-up house, a message painted on the board: 'I am black, like you. I am poor, like you. But you broke in here and took everything I had.'
Half a mile on, they turned off into one of the public housing projects. Block after block of two- and three-storey tenements stood derelict or in such a sorry state that they might as well be pulled down.
A group of men and boys sat on sagging chairs and rat-eaten sofas in the centre of a demolition site. The men watched them drive by, an East St Louis police vehicle and two unmarked SUVs. The men's heads turned slowly, eyeless behind wraparound sunglasses.
As if at a predetermined signal, the boys leapt up and ran, disappearing around corners, into buildings, sending up a chorus of shouts and whistles.
The convoy drew to a halt outside a three-storey tenement. Simms knew from her background reading that it had been tagged for demolition in 2010, but the city had run out of money even to pull down the obsolete housing that attracted squatters, drug manufacturers and their customers.
'You stay close to me, okay, Chief?' Dunlap said.
It felt odd being called 'Chief', but Simms had quickly learned that the Americans were punctilious about the use of professional titles, so Simms said, 'Okay, Detective.'
He waited until the East St Louis PD officers got out of their patrol car before climbing down from the SUV. There were five patrolmen, headed up by a sergeant in uniform. He and Dunlap shook hands.
'You go on ahead,' the sergeant told them. 'We'll take care of the vehicles.'
'Surely they wouldn't mess with police cars?' Simms said.
'A couple years back, some guys stole the radio out of the Chief of Police's car right in front of City Hall,' Dunlap said, with a small smile. 'Which was embarrassing. Now, we take no chances.'
The sergeant lifted his chin to Dunlap. 'You be all right in there?'
'We'll be fine,' Dunlap said, looking past him. 'You should watch your own backs.'
A small crowd had already begun to congregate on the derelict land.
Elleesha Tate was seventeen when she died. For a time, her pimp was in the frame for the murder, but he had an alibi, and his DNA was not found on her. To date, nobody had been held to account for her murder.
On the face of it, Elleesha Tate's murder didn't look a good bet. The protocols for selecting which cold cases to review were very similar both sides of the Pond. Both worked from checklists, and although the questions on the checklists were slightly different, investigators in the US and the UK preferred cases where there was a good chance that the offender was still alive. In Detective Ellis's words: 'We like to put the bad guys away, and you can't try a dead man.'
But the final decision to select or reject a case rested on its solvability, and as they'd sat around the conference table a couple of days earlier, presenting the arguments for and against, Detective Ellis had laid out the reasons why Elleesha Tate's murder would probably remain unsolved.
'She was a crystal-meth addict; she fed her habit through prostitution. She had a lot of male callers the day she died – and not the kind of men who would stand in line to give evidence, either.' He paused to tuck a starched white expanse of shirt fabric into the waistband of his trousers. 'She was stabbed thirty times, but East St Louis PD got no trace evidence, no blood – except hers, there was plenty of that. The semen in her was mixed, and unusable.'
Simms ran down the checklist in front of her. He was right: Elleesha's was not a good review case.
'Anyway, your guys had the perp,' Ellis said, nodding towards Dunlap, the East St Louis detective. 'You just couldn't break his alibi.'
'I remember that case,' Detective Dunlap said. 'I never thought the pimp was a good suspect.'
The FBI behaviourist stirred, spoke like a man coming out of a dream. 'I would agree. Pimps are more inclined to use cruelty and fear as a means of control; it's far more likely that Elleesha was murdered by a client.' Dr Detmeyer was on assignment from the BAU's Unit 4 – the unit responsible for the Violent Criminal Apprehension Programme, ViCAP, so he would know.
'Chief Simms, what's your take?' Dunlap asked.
'I'll go with the consensus,' Simms said. But —' The word was out of her mouth before she could stop it.
'Go ahead,' Dunlap said. The American team seemed curiously non-hierarchical to her British sensibilities, but Dunlap often assumed the role of the designated spokesperson.
Excerpted from Believe No One by A. D. Garrett. Copyright © 2014 A. D. Garrett. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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