A Gillard and Langley Mystery - Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley, late of MI5 and now working as consultants for SOCA, are called in to investigate when a policemans horribly mutilated body is found with the initials R.K. carved on his torso. At the same time, DCI James Carrick asks them to make enquiries on a private matter: he has discovered that his father, Robert Kennedy, whom he thought long dead, is not only alive but a criminal. Can there be a connection between the two cases?
About the Author
Margaret Duffy has worked for both the Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Defense. When not writing, Margaret works as a garden designer.
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A Patrick Gillard and Ingrid Langley Mystery
By Margaret Duffy
Severn House Publishers LimitedCopyright © 2008 Margaret Duffy
All rights reserved.
Detective Chief Inspector James Carrick stood in the driving rain, hands on his knees, blood dripping from his mouth on to the wet grass. The cut to his lip, not the reason for his stillness, would require several stitches, an assessment I had just made after looking at him through my binoculars. Having scored a try a few minutes previously – his police team, the Ferrets, were winning by some margin and the game was well into the second half – he had nothing to be ashamed of by coming off to have the injury attended to. But he appeared reluctant to give up nevertheless, even though also slightly stunned from the crashing, illegal tackle he had just endured, resulting in his head colliding with someone's boot. But the substitute was already running on to the field and the spectators cheered as the casualty, a little unsteady on his feet, was escorted off. A penalty was awarded to his team.
'I never thought he'd get back to the standard of fitness required to play again,' said the person on my right: Patrick, my husband. 'Or fully recover from being shot, for that matter.'
I thought that Carrick, a friend of ours, could well have been inspired by Patrick himself, who was badly injured when he was an army officer with Special Services. Having subsequently worked for D12, a department of MI5 where we both worked, he then resigned his commission and is now, as he puts it, 'helping SOCA with their enquiries', with his wife acting as 'consultant'. It appeared, when I first agreed to assist, that this novelist acquiring valuable material and ideas for her books, as a by-product, so to speak, would merely be on the end of a phone to offer advice and support. In reality my role is usually more along the lines of passing the ordnance.
SOCA, the Serious and Organized Crime Agency, is an amalgamation of the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the investigations divisions of H.M. Customs and the Immigration Service. The organization appears to value Patrick's experience and expertise garnered during his army and MI5 days, although someone did once remark that his main value lay in an ability 'to get the opposition shit-scared'.
Right now though we were in Somerset on holiday – or at least visiting Patrick's parents over an extended weekend.
The wind increased, the rain battered down harder and began to seep through the hood and shoulders of my anorak, but we stuck it out. Carrick, his lip neatly hemmed, returned to the field for the final ten minutes of the game and then it was all over, his team winning by twenty-three points to ten.
'A pub; beer,' Patrick said succinctly as we made our way out of the Bath ground.
I had been rather hoping for a hot cup of tea and something home-made, squidgy and loaded with calories in Sally Lunn's.
'We are going out to eat tonight,' I was reminded when I had voiced this wish.
'I shall be dead of cold and starvation long before then,' I promised mulishly.
In the end we compromised and went to a city-centre hotel where it was possible to accommodate both preferences. Patrick gave James time to have his bath, sing rude songs with his team-mates – or whatever rugby players do these days – before he rang him with our congratulations on his performance and commiserations for the cut lip, this being the first time the DCI had taken the field since stopping a bullet in the chest during an investigation the previous year. James had almost died.
'He would like to have a chat with us about something when we're not on holiday,' Patrick reported when he had rung off.
'But if he wants to talk face to face then it's easier while we're here than for anyone to have to make special trips,' I pointed out. We live on Dartmoor; Patrick works mostly in London.
'Yes, I know. It's just that he's aware that we're here this weekend because it's our wedding anniversary today and we're going out to dinner with Mum and Dad.'
'Why don't you ask him and Joanna to have a meal with us somewhere on Monday?'
'I rather got the impression this problem of his doesn't involve Joanna.'
'So it's work?'
'And private – I think. He didn't go into details, probably because he wasn't alone.'
Patrick and I have been married twice – to each other, that is – the first time when we were in our early twenties after falling in love when we were in our teens. Although I did not disgrace myself at school I am sure that if I am remembered at all it is not for anything of a scholarly or sporting nature but that I nabbed the Head Boy. Patrick was pretty heady stuff even then and the main reason the marriage failed was that neither of us had had time to find out what the other was really like, being too busy – with our careers, having a good time and, frankly, in bed. When I recollect the household climate at the time it seems a miracle that we remained together for so long. But perhaps 'together' is the wrong word, for Patrick was away a lot with his regiment; too much to do, too many places to see, the whole world waiting to be explored. Eventual difficulties between us meant he cultivated an insufferably superior manner when we were in one another's company while the up-and-coming writer secretly went on the pill because she did not yet want children. He did, he found out and there was one terrible last row during which I threw his classical guitar down the stairs, smashing it. Then I threw him out too: it was our first home but paid for entirely with money my father had left me in his will and royalties from my books. Eventually we were divorced.
Patrick, then the second-youngest major in the British Army, was in the Falklands when the divorce papers came through and, leading a small undercover unit, was involved in an accident with a grenade that seriously injured his legs. Now, the lower part of his right leg is of man-made construction, just about the best in the world, thereby costing a small fortune and I was glad to atone for my previous bad temper by helping him pay for it. Before then, however, he had arrived on my doorstep, limping heavily, with an offer of a job working with him for MI5 – a strictly platonic arrangement, he had stressed – this his own idea because there had been other serious injuries that meant he had completely lost confidence where women were concerned. He thought I was the last female on the planet who would want to sleep with him. What I had known, even as he spoke, was that here was a man making a silent plea to me to take him back. Perhaps I had day-dreamed of him eventually turning up on my doorstep like a whipped cur and of sending him away again, but as with lost kittens, dogs with thorns in their paws – even worms drowning in puddles – I could not just walk away. Feminist friends' lips curled when I lamely explained the situation by saying that he needed me. Very lonely, feeling dreadfully guilty about the way I had treated him and not very good at wrestling with things like cars going wrong and coping with Dartmoor in winter, in truth I probably needed him far more.
Human nature being what it is we soon tossed the platonic stipulation out of the window. But I had found myself back with a man vastly changed. Gone was the supercilious manner, and here again was the boy I had met at school, but now someone who had discovered that he was not immortal. Probably a lot more mature myself by this time – and having to be after accepting the job offer and thus putting my name down for nightmarish MI5 training sessions – I did not hesitate when he proposed to me a second time. I suppose I had fallen in love all over again. The date of that ceremony in an insufferably hot registrar's office somewhere in a back street of Kensington was not the one we would be celebrating this evening but rather the first, a church wedding at Hinton Littlemoor in Somerset where Patrick's father John is still rector. For, as John himself once said, 'Divorce is only a piece of paper.'
Despite Patrick's injuries, which had led him to be told that he probably could not father children, we went on to have Justin, who is now six, and then Victoria, a toddler. Then, when Patrick's brother Larry was killed we adopted his two; Matthew, now thirteen, and Katie, who is ten. That meant converting the barn on the other side of the courtyard at our Lydtor home into living accommodation for Patrick and me and building a large conservatory on the rear of the cottage which is for everyone, but, as far as the older children are concerned, is limited strictly to peace and quiet, reading and homework.
'When do you want your present?' Patrick asked suddenly, breaking into my reverie.
I had already given him his present: some new tack for his horse, George.
'Silly question,' I said, with a big smile. He smiled back, sparks of laughter in those wonderful grey eyes, and took a tiny package from his jacket pocket.
Moments later I gazed, dumbstruck, at the solitaire diamond ring it contained.
'I never got round to buying you another engagement ring.'
He knew that I had genuinely lost the first. But I had kept my wedding ring, not thrown it at him as some women might have done. Why? Why? A subconscious wish that the break between us was not final, or merely the action of a practical person who would never discard anything she could sell if she was ever stony-broke?
'It's fantastic,' I whispered, leaning over to kiss him. 'Thank you.' I slipped it on.
'What do you think we ought to do about James?' Patrick asked.
I had forgotten all about it. 'Why not call him back and ask when it would be convenient for us to call at the nick? You're not going back to work and I'm not going home until Wednesday.'
Patrick looked at his watch. 'We've an hour and a bit before we have to set off back to the rectory to get changed. He could join us for an ale now and we can arrange it.'
I rather thought this was more to do with extra beer than anything else but felt all warm and soppy towards him after the wonderful present so agreed readily. James, it transpired, was on his way home but nearby (are policeman allowed to use mobile phones while driving?) and said he would be with us shortly.
When he arrived I saw that the bruising was beginning to emerge on his face and his mouth was a little swollen but he appeared content enough and I knew he must be very pleased with the match result.
'Och, I heal well,' he said in response to my query. 'Your good health,' he went on after thanking Patrick for the pint. 'And where are you off to tonight?'
'Toby's in Royal Crescent,' Patrick replied.
'Man, you'll need to take out a mortgage on your house. Folk tend to get all dressed up when they go there, don't they?'
'Black tie suggested but not mandatory. Ingrid reckoned it was about time I frightened the moths out of mine.'
'Joanna's always on at me about the place when it comes round to birthdays and anniversaries,' the DCI mused gloomily.
'I'll report back to her,' I promised gleefully.
'When d'you want this chat then?' Patrick asked.
Carrick's good-looking features darkened. 'Not now, that's for sure. Not on your special day.'
'I can't believe whatever you might say would prove to be that much of a dampener.'
'Nevertheless, I've absolutely no intention of burdening you with my private worries now. Shall we make it Monday morning?'
Patrick leaned forward and spoke quietly. 'James, old son, by not sharing a wee piece of it with us now we'll be thinking of you all solitary with your worries when we're drinking our bubbly tonight. I had an idea something was really bothering you when we spoke earlier.'
'Please,' I added. 'And then you and Joanna come out to eat with us on Monday evening.'
'I've said nothing to her about this,' Carrick admitted. 'But if what I've been told is true then she'll have to know eventually.' He was silent for a few moments and then said, 'You remember when I was on a trip to Scotland a couple of years ago and met Lord Muirshire?'
Patrick said, 'Of course. You just happened upon the Case of the Buried Opera Singer. Only she wasn't dead. And that led into the Case of the Secretly Imported Crooks for Cash. An Italian by the name of Capelli – I seem to remember shooting his murderous minder – was behind most of it and he was using weekend bashes at a castle belonging to Lord Muirshire as a front for his little business but without his lordship knowing what was really going on.'
I'd only had a brief walk-on part right at the end of that one but had been told by the pair of them about most of it afterwards. Other details had emerged at a later date – for instance how Carrick had at one stage thought Patrick had been too heavy-handed in questioning the aforementioned opera singer, had lost his temper and taken a broadsword to the inquisitor in the castle hall. Patrick had grabbed another similar weapon and the brief but electrifying duel is, I understand, still being talked about. The lady had actually been a little sloshed and shut her own hand in a drawer. Oh, and Patrick had won.
'That's right,' Carrick said. 'I don't think I mentioned to you at the time that Ross, Lord Muirshire, had been a good friend of my father.'
'Who was drowned at sea, I understand,' Patrick said.
'Ross was there, on the yacht, when it happened.'
This came as a surprise to me, for none of the circumstances had been discussed with us before and I had assumed that the accident had been on board some kind of fishing boat. I knew that Carrick wore a Kennedy tartan kilt but had not questioned before how a Lowland fisherman – both names are connected with Ayrshire – would have clan connections.
Patrick, also apparently a little puzzled, said, 'It was a private yacht then?'
'Yes, a racing yacht belonging to the then Earl of Carrick. My father was a distant cousin but nevertheless close to the family.'
'So you're blue-blooded,' I said.
He gave me a twisted grin. 'I'm told he fully intended to divorce his wife and marry my mother – who was four months' pregnant with me and only seventeen years old at the time – but he was knocked overboard by the boom, the sea was freezing cold as it is off Scotland for most of the year, and that was that. The rest of the tale, in a nutshell, is that my mother had me, my pillar-of-the-Kirk grandad endeavoured to thrash the sin out of me as soon as I was old enough to tell him I hated him, and Mother and I upped from her parents' house to an aunt in Crieff where she changed her name to Carrick. That was the story as I understood it – until last week.'
'He's not dead,' Carrick whispered. 'Robert Kennedy is still alive, although not very well, and has just been released from prison where he served six months for his part in a bank robbery where two security guards were shot and injured. He was driving the getaway car.'
Patrick broke the ensuing silence by asking, 'Where did this happen?'
'London. He's been banged up in the Scrubs.'
'Are you quite sure?' I asked. 'Couldn't it be a man with the same name – I mean, it's not an uncommon one.'
'I've requested the CRO to double-check in case there's been an IT error, but otherwise I'm pretty sure,' Carrick answered. 'I was doing my weekly trawl through convicts released throughout the UK – it helps to know which villains are back in circulation – when the name jumped out at me. I went into his records; right date of birth, next of kin listed as someone I'd once heard Ross mention. I rang him – Ross that is – and told him what I'd found out. We couldn't really discuss it over the phone as he had dinner guests that evening and would only say that he'd heard nothing that would confirm what I'd told him but would contact people. He himself was on the boat and they'd looked for the man overboard for over an hour. He wasn't wearing a life-jacket – I'm not sure people did back then – and the sea was like liquid ice. He's insisting it must be someone else or, more likely, a man who's stolen his identity.'
'That sounds much more likely to me too,' Patrick murmured.
'I can hardly devote police resources to investigate this,' James went on as though Patrick had not spoken. 'But, obviously, I must get to the truth.'
'Aren't there photos of this man?' I enquired.
Excerpted from Blood Substitute by Margaret Duffy. Copyright © 2008 Margaret Duffy. Excerpted by permission of Severn House Publishers Limited.
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