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DC Scutter slammed the phone down hard on the desk, leapt to his feet and marched across the room towards Giles’ desk.
‘I’ve got it,’ he announced, thumping a single sheet of report paper down on her desk.
Giles could hardly contain her excitement. Eagerly, she reached at the paper, her eyes scanning the brief. ‘You have?’
‘Henry Jones got into a little bit of trouble a few months back,’ Scutter continued, a grim smile reaching across his face. ‘He lost a large amount of the bank’s money betting the wrong way. By all accounts he fell into a state of depression – he started drinking, taking drugs, the works. A few days later, the money magically reappeared in the bank’s records so he was never investigated.’
Giles set the paper back down on her desk. A glimmer of doubt began to creep into her mind.
‘Twenty thousand pounds doesn’t sound like a large amount of money for a bank to lose.’
‘It isn’t,’ agreed Scutter. ‘It was closer to a million. But Jones used the twenty thousand to invest in a couple of high-risk ventures. Over the course of a few days, he had accumulated enough that the bank barely noticed the discrepancy – if at all.’
‘Sounds like a good run of luck.’
‘A very good run.’
‘This is good,’ Giles agreed, getting to her feet. She reached for her mobile phone and slid it into her pocket as she started to make her way towards Bolton’s office.
‘That’s not all.’
Scutter’s words brought her to a halt. As she turned to face him, she saw him produce another piece of paper – a phone bill by the look of it – that he thrust into her hands.
‘I just got Jones’ telephone records,’ he continued. ‘At the time of his mini breakdown, he made a dozen or so calls to the same number. I just confirmed it with the phone company.’
‘Let me guess…’
‘Alex Donnovan.’ Scutter tapped the phone bill. ‘Here’s our link.’
Giles couldn’t contain her delight.
‘That’s Henry Jones, Mary Crosskey, Derek Batterly and Simon Grole. That’s four victims that we can link together.’
She took one more glance down at the bill. Scutter had taken the liberty of highlighting the number on the bill; the number that Henry Jones had called a dozen times a few months before his death – the number belonging to the man she suspected of being the Bluebell Killer.
‘Let’s bring him in.’
Alex Donnovan was a weedy-looking guy – quiet and insular – his dirty, blonde hair dreadlocked down to his shoulders, his fingers yellowed with the stain of roll-up cigarettes. On first glance he didn’t look like much. He certainly didn’t look like the kind of man capable of murdering eighteen people, particularly those who looked like they could’ve handled themselves.
But Giles knew different.
They had been watching Donnovan for some time now. Beneath that weak exterior, he was actually quite a well-built, muscular kind of guy. Every morning, without fail, he would take a jog down to the local gym, give his arm, leg and torso muscles a punishing workout for an hour and then jog back home again just in time to start the business of the day.
Giles was grateful for Max. Had it not been for him, she might never have focussed so much on the money aspect of the case. True, Max had wanted her to follow the mysterious account, but that had been easier said than done. The account had been a dead end and only a few of the victim’s had received the same payment as Henry Jones.
But it had opened Giles’ eyes.
Maybe it was all about money…
Four of the victims had financial dealings with Donnovan of one kind or another – never anything large enough that it would be spotted by a cursory look at their finances – but it was there nonetheless. Giles had no doubt there would be more links with the other victims if she looked hard enough.
There wasn’t a doubt in her mind.
Donnovan was the Bluebell Killer.
DI Bolton took the seat beside Giles and switched on the tape recorder. He and Giles and announced themselves before allowing Donnovan and his lawyer to do the same.
Giles still hadn’t told Bolton about Max. She’d felt a little bad for it for a while. Every inch of progress she had made had been down to him and yet Bolton didn’t even know he existed. He ploughed the praise on to Giles without ever knowing where her spark of inspiration had come from.
It wasn’t fair. But it was what Max wanted.
Bolton allowed the room to sit in silence for a little while before he finally said:
‘You slipped up, Alex,’ he said. ‘We know you sold drugs to Henry Jones. We know you leant money to Derek Batterly and Simon Grole. You were close friends with Mary Crosskey in the lead up to her death; hell, you even seen with her a few hours before she died. We’re running thorough background checks on all the other victims – I’m sure we’ll come across something that links you to all of them. Why don’t you just save us the hassle?’
Beside Donnovan, his lawyer uncurled her hands and seemed to creep out of the shadows. Her glasses bounced the light from the overhead lamp around the room, momentarily blinding Giles as she surveyed the two detectives on the other side of the interview room. Then, with a softly hissing voice, she said:
‘Detective Inspector, I do believe you are clutching at straws.’ She shot off another glimmer of light as she glanced over to Giles. ‘You have tenuous links made even more so by this ridiculous accusation that my client is some sort of drug-dealing moneylender. It simply won’t do…’
‘Your client murdered eighteen people…’
‘Allegedly,’ the lawyer shot back, her thin lips curling into a smile. ‘Which begs another question: do you even have any proof that all these murders are even connected?’
‘We have reason to believe…’
‘Reason to believe?’ the lawyer snorted, settling back into the shadows. ‘My understanding is that none of the murders were committed in the same fashion – in fact, I believe that there is barely anything linking the murders at all…’
Giles butted in:
‘Except the bluebells.’
The lawyer raised her eyebrow as she looked over at Giles.
‘Quite,’ she muttered. ‘But bluebells are commonplace. The killings have been plastered over every tabloid from here to Edinburgh and the name of ‘The Bluebell Killer’ is as well known now as Jack the Ripper. Who’s to say that it’s only one man?’
She chuckled and flashed a triumphant grin at Giles before turning back to Bolton.
‘It would appear that, you can’t even link these murders to each other let alone to my client. It’s not very good, is it?’
As the lawyer prattled along, Donnovan sat in complete silence, staring icily at Giles. He hadn’t said a word – not one word – since he’d been brought in. He hadn’t even spoken to deny anything – he had let the lawyer do that for him. He was stonewalling. And it was working.
Giles’ patience had worn thin. She leant forward and glared hard at Donnovan, ignoring the wittering lawyer, and said:
‘Where were you the night Henry Jones died?’
‘My client doesn’t need to answer that question…’
Bolton piped up: ‘If he’s innocent, he won’t have a problem with it.’
‘Look,’ the lawyer replied, getting slowly to her feet and placing a reptilian hand on Donnovan’s shoulder. ‘Either charge my client or let him go. But he is under no obligation to answer any of your questions. My client will not say a word.’
Giles paid her no attention. She was too busy staring into Donnovan’s cold eyes. She had no doubt that she was looking at the Bluebell Killer, but she knew the lawyer was right – he wasn’t going to say a word.
‘What are you doing?’
The tone on the end of the phone was blunt and harsh. Even as she heard Max’s voice, Giles could feel the energy drain from her body.
She knew what this was about.
They had released Donnovan a few hours earlier to the delight and clamour of the public press. She watched the footage of him skulking out of the station and found herself cursing under her breath as the lawyer rabbited on about freedom and justice. Max was almost certainly calling to add his two cents to the mix, not that Giles needed any pressure right now – there had been two more murders since Henry Jones and the world was watching her closely.
‘We are following every line of enquiry…’
‘I mean this man, Donnovan, what has he got to do with this?’
The television began to show highlights from a debate in the House of Commons. The banner across the bottom of the screen read ‘Immigration Crisis Debate’, prompting Giles to turn her back and stare out of the window as she continued talking.
‘Max, I appreciate what you have done so far, really I do,’ she said. ‘But I am not at liberty to divulge the details of our investigation, even to you. You have been a big help to us so far. Your lead put us on to Donnovan, but I think it’s about time you take a step back and let the professionals…’
Max spluttered down the line.
‘Donnovan? Alex Donnovan? He isn’t the Bluebell Killer, not by a long shot. What the hell led you to him? I told you to follow the money…’
‘And then you disappeared,’ cut off Giles, her voice tainted with an air of spitefulness. ‘Look, Max, you gave us a good start, but if you were hoping we would just wait around for you to come up with your own theory, you have another thing coming. People are dying out there and we can’t be expected to wait for your call…’
‘I was gathering evidence,’ he hissed. ‘You wanted proof of who the Bluebell Killer is so I am getting it for you…’
‘And do you have it?’
The line went quiet.
In the silence, Giles swung back towards the television.
Stood in front of the House of Commons, the leader of the Britain’s Own Party, Daniel Barker, was delivering a passionate speech. She couldn’t hear what he was saying, but she could tell by the look on his face and the tension in his arms that he was on one of his rants again. He was probably spouting the same rubbish he’d been giving for the last year: immigrants are destroying our country, we’d be better without them, the economy wouldn’t have collapsed if we kept a closer guard of our borders…
She couldn’t see his appeal.
He looked smart enough – fresh faced and full of energy – but he gave off an aura that seemed distinctly terrifying. You could see the hatred flowing through his body with each word he spoke – it wasn’t passion, it was anger. It was spite. It was dangerous.
What made it worse was that a couple of her colleagues were stood glued to the screen. Smart people – sensible people – nodding their heads as though the man was making sense. They were buying into it. They truly believed that British people were somehow better than everyone else, that all the worlds problems could be eradicated if they were in control of it all…
These people were her friends…
And Barker was there leading the charge – swaying these bright people to his cause.
He’s a Hitler in the making…
Giles paused for a few seconds, feeling the irritation building through her body. She heard a slight catch of breath down the receiver – Max was still on the line. She swung her chair away from the television once more and took a deep breath.
I have bigger problems to deal with…
‘Then stop wasting my time…’
And she hung up the phone.
Nick R B Tingley is a crime writer from the UK. After several years working as a ghostwriter, Nick released his debut novel The Bluebell Informant– the first in his DS Evelyn Giles series. He is currently working on the second in the series – The Court of Obsessions – as well as a Victorian-era mystery novella called The Butcher of Barclay’s Hollow.
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