EXCERPT - THE PUNISHMENT SHE
First had come the requisite clothing, and her choice
was simplicity itself. She already had dozens of slogan- bearing
T-shirts she could wear— only some of them being truly
objectionable—so the single purchase she made was two pairs of
leggings, black in colour since black was supposed to be slimming
and God knew she wanted to look slimmer than she actually was. Next,
naturally, had come the footwear, with an astonishing array of
choices she had absolutely not known could exist online or
anywhere else. Black, of course, there was lots of black, but
there was also the choice of beige, pink, red, silver, and white.
One could have glitter as well. One could choose from soles of
leather, resin, rubber, or a synthetic material of unnamed and, one
hoped, eco- friendly origin. Then came the ribbons or the laces. Or
the ankle straps with buckles. And finally presented were the taps
themselves. Toe, toe and heel, none at all . . . although why one
would purchase tap shoes without taps didn’t make much sense to her.
She ended up choosing red— it was, after all, her signature
colour when it came to footwear— and she went with straps and
buckles as she could not see herself being responsible for keeping
either laces or ribbons tied for the length of time that they would
need to be tied: ninety minutes each lesson.
The last thing Barbara Havers had ever expected when
she’d agreed to tap- dancing lessons in the company of Dorothea
Harriman, the department secretary of her division in the
Metropolitan Police, was that she would actually enjoy the activity.
She’d gone along with the plan merely because she was worn down
after listening to relentlessly given arguments on the subject of
the benefits of tap dancing as exercise. Although most forms of
exercise that didn’t involve pushing a
shopping trolley up and down the aisles of the nearest Tesco had
been anathema to Barbara, she’d fairly quickly run out of excuses on
the subject of being too busy.
At least she’d managed to remove Dorothea’s hands from
her love life or, more specifically, from her lack thereof. To do
this, she’d invoked the name of an Italian policeman— Salvatore Lo
Bianco— with whom she’d become acquainted during the previous year.
That had stirred Dorothea’s interest, which was further stirred when
Barbara informed her that she was expecting a visit from Inspector
Lo Bianco and his two children round Christmastime. Alas and alack,
that hadn’t happened, a sudden appendectomy performed on twelve-
year- old Marco having prevented this. But wisely, Barbara hadn’t
shared her disappointment with Dorothea. As far as the departmental
secretary knew, the visit had occurred and bliss of some acceptable
sort was just round the corner.
Dorothea was not to be so moved regarding the tap-
dancing lessons, however. Thus, for the last seven months, Barbara
had found herself once each week in a dance studio in Southall,
where she and Dorothea learned that a shuffle was a brush followed
by a spark, a slap was a flap without the weight transfer, and a
Maxie Ford involved four different movements that the faint at heart
and clumsy of foot were never going to master. Nor were those
individuals who did not practise daily between lessons.
At first Barbara had simply refused to practise. As a
detective sergeant at New Scotland Yard, she did not have a plethora
of open hours in which she could shuffle off to Buffalo or, frankly,
to anywhere else. And while the instructor had been good enough to
start his neophyte tappers gently and with mounds of encouragement,
he wasn’t entirely pleased with Barbara’s progress, and after the
tenth lesson he let her
“One must work at this,” he told her as she and
Dorothea were restoring their tap shoes to the cloth bags in which
they were religiously carried every week to Southall. “If you
consider the progress that the other ladies have made and with far
more impediments . . .”
Well, yes. Of course. Righto and all that. Barbara knew
he was speaking of the group of young Muslim women who were part of
the class in which she and Dorothea had enrolled. They were learning
to tap while still maintaining their modest garb, and the fact that
more than half of them were actually able to execute a Cincinnati
while Barbara could still only manage a simple slap was due to the
fact that they did what they were told to do, which was practise,
“I’ll bring her up to speed,” Dorothea promised their instructor.
He was called Kazatimiru—“You are, of course, to call me Kaz”— and
for a recent Belarusian immigrant, he spoke astonishingly good
English, with only a slight Slavic accent. “You’re not to give up on
her,” Dorothea informed him.
Kaz, Barbara knew, was smitten with Dorothea. Men
for her many charms. So when Dorothea prayed, charmingly, that his
patience would hold, Kaz was warm putty in her manicured hands.
Barbara reckoned she was completely off the hook at that. She could
show up, mess about on the tap floor, pretend she knew what she was
doing as long as she made appropriate noise with her shoes, and all
would be forgiven. But she hadn’t taken Dorothea into account.
They were going to hold post- work practice sessions, Dorothea
informed her in very short order. No messing about with excuses,
Detective Sergeant. There was a list of women eager to enroll in
class, and if Barbara Havers did not soon cut the metaphorical
with her tap shoes, she was as good as sacked.
It was only by swearing on the life of her mother that
able to convince Dorothea to relent. The secretary’s plan had been
hold their practice sessions in the stairwell at work, close to the
vending machines where there was room enough to shim sham, scuffle,
riffle, and riff. That, Barbara had decided, was all she needed to
complete the picture of who she was in the eyes of her colleagues.
promised she would practise nightly, and she did so. For at least
She improved enough to earn Kaz’s nod and Dorothea’s
smile. All the time she kept her dancing a secret from everyone else
who touched upon her life.
She’d lost an entire stone, she found, quite
effortlessly. She had to
move to a smaller skirt size and the bows she tied on her drawstring
trousers were getting larger by the week. Soon she would have to
move to a smaller size there as well. Perhaps eventually she’d also
become the picture of lithesome beauty, she decided. Stranger things
On the other hand, that lost stone was the open door to
into curry two nights a week. Plus, it allowed for absolute piles of
naan. Not the plain sort, mind you, but naan dripping with garlic
butter, naan with butter and spices and honey and almonds, naan any
way that she could find it.
She’d been on her way to a massive weight regain when
brought up the Tap Jam. This was seven months into her lessons,
and she was thinking about dahl heaped upon naan alongside a
lovely plate of salmon tagliatelle (she was not averse to mixing
when it came to dinner) when Dorothea said to her, “We
must go, Detective Sergeant Havers. You’re free on Thursday night,
Barbara was roused from her vision of carbohydrates
wild. Thursday night? Free? Could there ever be a different
applied to any night in her life? Dumbly, she nodded. When Dorothea
cried, “Excellent!” and called out to Kaz, “You can count on us!”
she should have known something was up. It was only after the lesson
as they were walking to the Tube that she discovered what it was
committed herself to.
“It will be such fun!” Dorothea exclaimed. “And Kaz is
be there. He’ll stay with us on the renegade stage.”
Stage was what informed Barbara that come Thursday night, she
would have to invent a sudden debilitating illness directly related
her feet. She had, apparently, just committed herself to some kind
tap- dancing extravaganza, which was among the very last things she
wanted to give a place on her bucket list.
So she made a decent attempt at excuses, touching upon
arches and bunions gone quite mad. Dorothea’s response was a pretty,
“Don’t even attempt to get out of this, Detective Sergeant Havers,”
and to make things worse, she let Barbara know that she was to bring
her tap shoes to work on the day in question, and if she did not,
Dorothea was utterly certain that Detective Sergeant Winston Nkata
would be pleased to fetch Barbara home to get them. Or Detective
Inspector Lynley. He loved going out and about in his fancy car,
he? A drive up to Chalk Farm would be the very thing.
“All right, all right,” had been Barbara’s surrender.
“But if you even
think I’m planning to dance, you’re dead wrong on a dish.”
Thus she found herself in Soho on a Thursday night.
The streets were packed, not only because tourist season had
begun, but also because the weather was pleasant and because
Soho had long attracted clubbers, theatre- goers, diners, gawkers,
dancers, and drinkers. So it was a case of muscling through the
to get to Old Compton Street. There, a club called Ella D’s was
On an upper floor of the nightclub, twice each month, a
occurred. This, Barbara quickly discovered, comprised a Jam Mash,
a Renegade Jam, and a Solo Tap, all of which she vowed to eschew
the moment she learned what each one demanded.
The Jam Mash was already in progress when they arrived.
waited outside for a quarter hour to see if Kaz was going to show up
and introduce them to the promised delights of Ella D’s. After that,
however, Dorothea announced impatiently that “he’s had his chance,”
and she led the way into the club where, from above their heads,
could hear music coming, along with what sounded like a herd of
newly shoed ponies on the run.
The noise intensified as they climbed. Along with the
“Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,” they could hear a woman shouting over a
microphone: “Scuffle, scuffle! Now try a flap! Good! Now watch
They hadn’t, after all, been abandoned by Kaz. They discovered
this as they entered a large room with a raised platform at one end,
some two dozen chairs pushed to the walls, and a smaller crowd than
Barbara would have hoped. It was clear she wasn’t going to be able
escape notice if she mingled among them.
Kaz was on the platform with a stout- looking woman in
1950s gear. No high heels, naturally, but gleaming tap shoes that
was employing to serious effect. She was calling out the steps and
doing them with Kaz. Before the platform three lines of tappers were
attempting to duplicate the movements.
“Oh, isn’t this brilliant!” Dorothea exclaimed.
For reasons obscure, she had costumed herself for this
she had so far always gone to their lessons garbed in a leotard and
tights— the leotard covered over by trousers till she reached the
floor— tonight she’d decided on a period kit. It featured a poodle
a blouse tied up beneath her breasts, and a perky ribbon round her
à la Betty Boop. Barbara had decided it was an effort at incognito,
she wished she’d thought along those lines herself.
Dorothea wasn’t, however, incognito to Kaz. He clocked
within about thirty seconds, and he leapt off the platform and
in their direction. With the sixth sense of a seasoned dancer,
he spun round just as he reached their immediate vicinity. Another
two steps and he would have knocked both of them to the floor.
“What a vision!” he exclaimed. He was, of course,
Dorothea. Barbara had gone for simplicity: trainers, leggings, and a
T-shirt printed with I’m not laughing at you.
i just forgot to
take my meds.
Dorothea dimpled and brought forth a quick curtsy. She
looked brilliant!” in clear reference to his dancing. “Who’s she?”
“That,” he said with some pride, “is KJ Fowler, the
tapper in the UK.”
KJ Fowler was still calling out the steps. When the
another piece began. “Johnny Got a Boom Boom,” came over the
speakers. Kaz said to them, “Put your shoes on, ladies. It’s time to
He bucked his way back to the platform, where KJ Fowler was
executing a series of steps that made the efforts of those
follow her look like the Underground in rush hour. Dorothea’s eyes
were alight. “Shoes,” she told Barbara.
At the side of the room, they put on their tap shoes.
desperately sought a believable reason for sudden paralysis,
pulled her onto the floor. A cramp roll was being executed on stage
by KJ Fowler, and Kaz followed this— upon her instruction— with a
dizzying combination of steps that only a fool would have attempted
to emulate. Nonetheless there were takers, Dorothea among them.
Barbara stepped to one side to observe. She had to admit it:
was good. She was, in fact, on her way to a solo. And with Barbara
and the Muslim women as her main competitors, she was going to be
there before she knew it.
They managed close to twenty minutes in the Jam Mash.
was dripping sweat and thinking about the possibility of making an
escape without Dorothea noticing when the music stopped— for
which she fervently thanked God— and KJ Fowler informed them
that time was up. At first Barbara thought this meant a blessed
But then KJ announced a real treat for them all. It seemed that Tap
Jazz Fury were paying a visit to Ella D’s.
Shouts and applause greeted this news as a small jazz
out of nowhere. The assembled crowd got to it when the band did its
stuff. Some of the dancers, Barbara had to admit, were so fleet of
that she gave half a thought to continuing with tap, just to see if
could become one tenth as skilled.
It was, however, only half a thought, and it was
interrupted by a
vibration emanating from the area of her waistband. There she’d
tucked her mobile phone, for although she’d committed to this
evening extravaganza of tap dancing, she was still on rota. A
vibrating phone meant only one thing. The job was ringing her.
She excavated for the phone and glanced at it. Detective Chief
Isabelle Ardery. She generally rang Barbara only when Barbara had
committed some malefaction or another, so before answering,
Barbara did a quick look- see at her conscience. It seemed clear.
Considering the level of noise, she knew she’d have to take the call
elsewhere, so she tapped Dorothea on the shoulder, held up the
and mouthed Ardery. Dorothea wailed, “Oh no,” but of course
she knew there was nothing for it. Barbara had to answer.
Still, she wasn’t able to get to it before the call went to message.
She shouldered her way out of the room and made for the ladies’,
down the corridor. Once inside, she listened, and the DCS’s message
was brief. “You’re being called off rota, ring me at once, and why
devil aren’t you answering in the first place, Sergeant?”
Barbara returned the call, and before Ardery could cook
accusation about why she hadn’t answered, Barbara said, “Sorry, guv.
Noisy where I am. Couldn’t get to you fast enough. What’s up?”
“You’re going up to West Mercia Headquarters,” Ardery
“I’m . . . But what’ve I done? I’ve not once been out
“Ratchet down the paranoia,” Ardery cut in. “I said
not being reassigned. Bring a packed bag tomorrow and get to work
Isabelle Ardery had quickly concluded that the
been told to conduct was going to be awkward. An enquiry by
the police into the police was always touchy. An investigation by
one police body into another owing to a death of a suspect in
custody was much worse. Worst of all, however, was the intrusion
of anyone from the government into the mechanics of a police
enquiry. Yet within minutes of reaching the office of Assistant
Commissioner Sir David Hillier, Isabelle understood she’d be dealing
with all of this.
Behind her secretarial desk, Judi- with-an-i MacIntosh
gave a modest
indication of what was afoot, telling Isabelle to go in directly as
Sir David was awaiting her arrival, with a member of Parliament. “No
one I’ve heard of,” she admitted, which told Isabelle that the MP in
question was an obscure back- bencher.
“Do you know the name?” she asked Judi before she turned the
knob on the door.
“Quentin Walker,” the secretary replied. She added,
“Not the least
idea why he’s here, but they’ve been talking for sixty- five
Quentin Walker turned out to be an MP representing Birmingham.
As Isabelle opened the door, he and Hillier rose from chairs
drawn round a small conference table on which a carafe of coffee
stood, two cups of which were already in use. A third awaited. Once
introductions had been made, Hillier indicated that she was to help
herself, and she did so.
The AC made short work of telling her that on the
of March in the jurisdiction of the West Mercia police, someone had
died while in police custody. The incident had been investigated by
the Independent Police Complaints Commission as per usual, and
although the IPCC had concluded that things had gone badly amiss,
the investigators had also concluded that there was no reason to
their report along to the Crown Prosecution Service, as there was no
criminal charge that could be laid at anyone’s feet. It was a
Isabelle glanced at Quentin Walker. There seemed to be
for him to be there unless this death took place while someone was
in custody in Birmingham, the MP’s bailiwick. But the location of
the death— in the jurisdiction of the West Mercia police force—
indicated that this could not be the case.
She said, “Who was the victim?”
“Bloke called Ian Druitt.”
“And where was he in custody?”
Curious. Ludlow was not even near Birmingham. Isabelle
at Quentin Walker another time.
The MP’s face was impassive, but she took in that he
was a nicelooking
man with a head of well- groomed chestnut hair and hands
that appeared as if he’d never ventured anywhere in the vicinity of
manual labour. He also had extraordinarily gorgeous skin. Isabelle
wondered if someone appeared in his parliamentary office daily to
shave him and administer the hot towels afterwards.
“Why was Druitt in custody? Do we know?” Isabelle asked.
Again, Hillier was the one to answer. “Child molestation.” His
voice was dry.
“Ah.” Isabelle set her coffee cup on its saucer.
“What’s the brief,
exactly?” She was still waiting to hear from Quentin Walker. He
have come to the Met on a social call. He was also at least a decade
younger than Hillier, so that eliminated the old school tie.
“Hanged himself while waiting to be fetched from Ludlow to the
Shrewsbury custody suite,” Hillier told her. “He’d been taken to the
Ludlow station pending the arrival of patrol officers.” He lifted
shoulders, but his look was regretful. “It was quite a cock-up.”
“But why was he taken to the Ludlow nick in the first
not directly to Shrewsbury?”
“Someone seems to have felt that the allegations called
action. As there’s a police station in Ludlow—”
“Was no one watching him?”
“The station’s unmanned.”
Isabelle looked from Hillier to the MP and back to
Hillier. A suicide
in an unmanned police station wasn’t a cock-up. It was a disaster
that heralded a serious lawsuit.
It was very odd, then, that the complaints commission
had taken a
decision not to hand their report over to the Crown Prosecutors. The
affair was irregular and Isabelle had a feeling that the answer
gave to her next question was going to make it more irregular still.
“Who made the arrest?”
“Ludlow’s PCSO. He did exactly what he was told to do:
bloke up, take him into the Ludlow station, and wait for patrol
to come from Shrewsbury to fetch him.”
“I know I don’t need to mention how strange this is,
community support officer making the arrest? The newspaper must
have had a field day with that once this bloke . . . what was his
again . . . Druitt, was it? Once he killed himself. Why on earth
the complaints commission kick this along to the Crown Prosecutors?”
“As I’ve said, they investigated— the IPCC— but there was simply
nothing to prosecute. It was a disciplinary matter, not a criminal
Still, the fact that Druitt had been taken to wait at an unmanned
the fact that a police community support officer had made the
arrest, the fact that the suicide was about to be questioned on the
of child molestation . . . You see the problem.”
Isabelle did. Cops hated paedophiles. That did not bode
well if a
paedophile died in custody. But for there to be anything additional
required— once the IPCC had concluded its investigation with the
decision of no criminality— indicated that something more was going
She said to the MP, “I don’t understand why you’re
Walker. Are you somehow involved?”
“The death appears suspicious.” Quentin Walker took a
handkerchief from the breast pocket of his jacket and pressed it
to his lips.
Isabelle said, “But it obviously wasn’t suspicious to
the IPCC if
they concluded suicide. It’s \ unfortunate. It sounds like
of duty on the part of the PCSO. But why is it suspicious?”
Walker told her that Ian Druitt had established an after- school
for boys and girls, associated with the parish church of St.
in Ludlow. It was a successful organisation and much admired. Not
the slightest breath of scandal had ever touched it, and none of the
children involved with the club had ever come forward with a single
concern about Druitt. These facts alone had raised questions in
quarters. Those quarters had turned to their member of Parliament
in order to produce some answers.
“But Ludlow isn’t part of the area you represent,”
“Which seems to suggest that the ‘certain quarters’ you
refer to have
a personal connection to you or to the dead man. Is that right?”
Walker glanced at Hillier. The look suggested to Isabelle that her
questions had somehow reassured the man. She prickled at this
sign of the doubts he apparently had about her. It was infuriating
that women were still considered so bloody secondary in the
world, even here.
“Is there a personal connection, Mr. Walker?”
“One of my constituents is Clive Druitt,” he told her.
familiar with the name?”
It sounded only vaguely familiar. She couldn’t place
it, so she shook
“Druitt Craft Breweries,” the MP said. “Combination
and gastropub. He started his first one in Birmingham. Now there
Which meant he probably had money, Isabelle thought. Which
meant he had the MP’s attention when he wanted it. She said, “His
relationship to the dead man?”
“Ian Druitt was his son. Understandably Clive doesn’t
son might have been a paedophile. Nor does he believe he was a
What parent ever wanted to believe his child was
engaged in criminal
behavior? Isabelle thought. But surely a thorough investigation
into the suicide in custody had told the dead man’s father that, as
regrettable and terrible as it was, Ian Druitt had died at his own
The MP must have explained this to Mr. Druitt. As far as Isabelle
could see, there was no reason to involve the Met.
She said, with a glance at Hillier, “I still don’t
Hillier cut in, “There’ve been enormous cutbacks in the force up
there. Mr. Walker is asking us to make certain those cutbacks have
no bearing on anything related to this suicide.” He’d emphasised one
word: certain. It would be her job to assign someone to smooth the
waters of Mr. Druitt’s concern in order to avoid a lawsuit. This
please her, but she knew better than to argue with the assistant
She said, “I can spare Philip Hale, sir. He’s just finished—”
“I’d like you to handle this personally, Isabelle. It’s
going to require
quite a delicate hand.”
She kept her expression steady. This was an assignment
for a detective
inspector at most. Even if that were not the case, the last thing
she needed at the moment was to be asked to travel up to Shropshire.
She said, “If we’re speaking of delicate hands, this sounds like
more suited to DI Lynley.”
“Perhaps. But I’d like you to take it on. With
Havers, by the way. I daresay she’ll be an excellent second. As she
acquitted herself so well in Dorset, doubtless she’ll do the same in
Isabelle did not miss the implicit message here. Having
she finally recognised the matter in hand. She said, “Ah. Yes. I
thought of the sergeant. I do agree, sir.”
Hillier twitched a smile in her direction and said, “I
did think you
would.” He then turned to the MP and went on. “I’ll be frank, Mr.
Walker. We’re stretched thin everywhere and that’s owing to
that have been taken by the government. We can give you five days
only. After that, DCS Ardery and DS Havers must return to London.”
Walker seemed wise enough not to argue the point. He said,
“Thank you, Commissioner. Understood. Let me be frank as well. I
was opposed to what’s been done to reduce the police force
You have a friend in me. You’ll have more of a friend when this is
He took his leave soon after that. Hillier had already
to remain where she was. When the door had closed upon the
member of Parliament, Hillier returned to his seat. He examined
Isabelle, and his look was speculative.
“I trust,” he said, “that this adventure in Shropshire
will suffice to
meet our ends at long last?”
Isabelle fully understood the AC’s plan. “That would be
she told him.
At home later, Isabelle turned her attention to packing
for her trip to
the Midlands. First, however, she sought the vodka. She’d already
one martini, but she told herself that she was owed another as the
had been long and the developments had been unexpected.
As she sorted out underwear, trousers, jerseys, and
the Midlands jaunt, she enjoyed the cocktail. She’d taken to
instead of shaking the vodka and the ice, which provided the drink
with so much more power to alter the way she looked at life. And she
needed to start seeing life differently now, thanks to her shit
husband and his Necessary Career Step, Isabelle. You might consider
coming out at holidays, he’d told her with unctuous pleasantry.
have a big enough house, and if that doesn’t appeal, no doubt
be suitable hotels nearby. Or B & B’s? That wouldn’t be bad, would
it? And, no, before you ask. The boys may not come to spend holidays
with you. It’s out of the question.
Isabelle would not give her former husband the pleasure
her upset. Were she even to say, Please, Bob, she knew where that
take them: into the realm of You Know Why This Is Necessary. That
would lead them directly into their shared history, yet another
discussion that would deteriorate quickly into accusations and
There was no point.
She finished her martini before she finished her
was little enough left to do, so she knew she couldn’t bugger
up at this point. She was quite pleased with her level of sobriety,
she topped up her martini and then slipped the bottle of vodka
into her suitcase. She’d not been sleeping well lately, and she’d
sleep worse in a bed that was not her own. The vodka would act as a
soporific. No harm in that.
Having completed her preparations for the trip and
placed her suitcase by the door, she finally went to the phone. She
knew both of his numbers by heart, and she punched in one of them,
ringing his home and not his mobile. If he wasn’t there, she’d leave
message. She didn’t want to disturb him if he was spending the night
Lynley recognised her voice, as he would do. He sounded
and, so completely like him, rather suspicious. After, “Guv. Hullo,”
he went on with, “Everything all right?” far too casually.
She schooled herself. Proper diction and cool assurance
for. She said, “Quite fine, Tommy. Am I interrupting something?”
which was a veiled way of saying, “Is Daidre with you?” and “Are
you and she in the midst of what lovers are often in the midst of
ten o’clock at night?”
“You’re interrupting something, but it can wait,”
Lynley said pleasantly.
“Charlie has persuaded me to go over his lines with
I mentioned that he’s captured quite a good role in a Mamet play?
Admittedly, it’s not the West End. It’s not actually in London at
But apparently as long as it’s somewhere in the Home Counties, one
is meant to be impressed.”
A voice spoke in the background. Isabelle recognised it
to Charlie Denton. Denton had long kept lodgings in Thomas
Lynley’s Belgravia townhouse. In exchange for room and board, he
acted as manservant, valet, cook, housekeeper, and general dogsbody,
with the understanding that he would require time off to audition
anything of a thespian nature that came along. So far he’d managed
a few small roles here and there, but mostly there.
“Yes, of course, you’re absolutely right,” Lynley was
Charlie. “It’s Mamet that counts.” And then to Isabelle, “He’s also
waiting for a callback from the BBC.”
“His experience here in Eaton Terrace has given him—
they call it?— serious street cred when it comes to roles in costume
dramas. If his luck holds, he’s to be an irascible footman in a
series taking place in the 1890s. He’s asking one and all to keep
“Tell him mine are.”
“He’ll be delighted.”
“D’you have a few moments?”
“Of course. We’re finished up here. Or at least I am.
go on till dawn. Has something come up?”
Isabelle gave him an abbreviated version: suicide, the
police, the IPCC, a member of Parliament, and his wealthy
At the conclusion, Lynley said what was logical: “If the IPCC
have indicated that there’s no further case to pursue, what does
expect someone to find?”
“It’s all pro forma, a pouring of oil on the water with the Met
the pouring for an MP who’ll doubtless be called upon later to
repay the favour.”
“That sounds like Hillier.”
“Doesn’t it just.”
“When would you like me to leave? I’ve a jaunt down to
I intended to make, but that could easily be put off.”
“I do need you to put it off, Tommy, but not in order
to head to
“Ah. Then who . . . ?”
“Hillier’s asked me to take this on.”
Lynley’s silence greeted this. He, too, knew how
irregular it was that
she would be doing a job that generally would have been taken up by
a member of their department whom she outranked. Additionally, there
was the not small matter of who was going to replace her while she
In answer to this, she said, “I’m leaving you in my
Midlands situation isn’t going to require a great deal of time, so
won’t have to put off Cornwall for long. I do hope all’s well, by
She was speaking of his family, living in Cornwall on
purported to be a walloping great estate somewhere near the coast,
which they’d so far managed to hold together without having had to
wave the white flag and hand the heap over to the National Trust or
English Heritage. He reassured her. This was merely something of an
annual trip, he told her, made slightly complicated this season by
sister and her adolescent daughter having sold up in Yorkshire to
his mother and brother in Cornwall. “But, as I said, the trip’s
put off,” he finished.
“That’s helpful, Tommy. I know you’re owed the time, by
They had now reached the more delicate part of the conversation.
Thomas Lynley was many things— urbane, educated, blue- blooded, and
in possession of a dusty old title that he probably used to book
more easily at London’s most renowned restaurants— but the one thing
he wasn’t was a fool. He’d know something was up and he’d work it
soon enough. Still, since she was leaving him in charge, she had to
him, so she said, “I’ll be taking Sergeant Havers with me. She’s
to work with her rucksack packed, in case you arrive after she and
I have left and you begin wondering where she’s got herself off to.”
This, too, was met by silence. Isabelle could picture the wheels
spinning in Lynley’s brain. He arrived quickly at, “Isabelle,
it be wiser—”
“Guv,” she corrected him.
“Guv,” he agreed. “Sorry. As to having Barbara
accompany you . . .
Wouldn’t DS Nkata be the better choice? Considering
isn’t this going to require . . . well, a softer touch?”
Of course Nkata would be the better choice. Winston
a man who knew an order when he heard one, a skilled detective who
had so far managed without a hint of difficulty to work in concert
with the entire cast of detectives under her command. DS Nkata was
the better choice for virtually anything. But he did not suit her
larger purpose, and Lynley was certain to winkle that out.
“I’d like to witness Barbara back in form,” she told
him. “She’s had some success since that Italian business and this
is— at least for me— her final hurdle.”
“Are you saying that if Barbara manages to carry off
without”— Lynley seemed to search for a term, choosing—“without
colouring outside the lines, you’ll tear up the transfer paperwork?”
“Destroying her girlish dreams of a future in Berwick-
I shall put the paperwork through the shredder,” she assured him.
While he seemed satisfied, she knew he would harbour enough
suspicions about her intentions towards Barbara Havers that the
thing he’d do upon ringing off would be to contact the detective
sergeant and give her a talking to that he hoped would get through
to the exasperating woman. She could almost hear it: “Barbara,” in
that smooth voice of his, a mixture of Eton and received
“this is an opportunity to determine your future. May I encourage
you to see it that way?”
“I’m on board,” Havers would tell him. “On it, over it,
and whatever you want. I’ll even do without fags on the drive up
there. That should impress, eh?”
“What will impress,” he would counter, “is the offering
instead of arguments, a dress sense that speaks of professionalism,
an adherence to procedure at all times. Are we clear?”
“As water in the Caribbean,” she would say breezily.
nspector, I won’t cock things up.”
“See that you don’t,” would be his final remark. He
ring off, but he would have his doubts. No one knew Barbara Havers
better than her long- time partner. Cocking things up was her
Isabelle had very little doubt that she was providing
with sufficient rope. She herself merely had to stand back from the
gallows in order to have a better view as the body plunged through
THIS ENDS THE EXCERPT
PUNISHMENT SHE DESERVES.
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