3

Best laid plans

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I

The two executors went back to Young’s house as arranged and Jane had news. Leyton asked her to sit with Laura and show her.

She did. ‘As we thought, there have indeed been payouts from the continent by names which might not mean much to you – here they are,’ he handed over the sheet, ‘but more interesting is the means of transfer. They were not to accounts from the continent but by cash, which immediately brings in HMRC, which we’ve done. And the ones handing over the cash we’ve not nailed. But we know many in the conduit.’

‘Jan de Vries and by extension – Jenny A,’ said Laura. ‘I do know some of these names, you’re right about the sources. Why though was it necessary to kill Miles?’

‘Working on it. Maybe something we haven’t seen, something we’re missing here.’

II

Time does go by. Two months had gone just like that, the estate had been distributed, all except for Jan’s and Jenny A’s, both were due at the solicitors today, with the two executors also in attendance.

Mr. Pendlebury had apparently received a solicitor’s letter – their solicitor.

‘Please, sit down.’ They each took a seat. ‘Best you come straight to the point, Mr. de Vries.’

De Vries took some papers from his briefcase and handed them over. ‘You’ll see from those that there might be some irregularities with Mrs Forrester. Enough for an objection to be made to the estate going to her.’

Laura was stonefaced, Young’s eyes had narrowed.

Mr. Pendlebury commented, ‘But it’s already been distributed, there was time during the two months to do this. Besides, it can only alter now if there was something irregular in the legal proceedings, not on the basis of anything prior in Mrs. Forrester’s life, that was made quite clear at the reading.’

‘As beneficiaries, we wish to take what was bequested to us. We’re entitled to that?’

‘Of course, it can be done today.’

‘The provisions of the will,’ continued de Vries, ‘give Mr. Pendlebury discretion. If he thinks something untoward has happened regarding the will, then he can suspend her portion, as he says, for one year. If, for example, she had deliberately prevented someone from receiving his or her portion or if Mr. Pendlebury himself had made statements which knowingly contradicted the law of this land, then a challenge could overturn the distribution and a court would decide on any new provision, with or without Mrs. Forrester. That was the main point of the letter Mr. Pendlebury received.’

Young was furious. ‘You lying scoundrels, that reading was -’

‘Please, Detective Inspector, allow me to do the talking,’ said Mr. Pendlebury. He turned to the two smirking visitors. ‘You have made your case, I am in receipt of that letter, that letter will receive a reply in due course.’

‘We take our bequests today.’

‘Ah well that can’t be done now, Mr. de Vries, Ms Daniels, in the light of your statement just now. Quite the opposite in fact. Read the provisions again – if there is a challenge, then the whole process stops, anything left to distribute goes to trust for one year or until the matter is resolved. The next step is our letter of reply to this effect and then your solicitors are free to do as they decide, instructed by you. Good day to you both.’

He stood, Laura and Young stood. Those two did not budge from their seats. ‘You’re diddling us out of our due bequests.’

‘Not at all, those bequests are yours but go into trust as a result of your actions today, until the matter is resolved or for one calendar year, whichever is sooner. Good day to you both.’

Neither moved.

‘Detective Inspector,’ coughed Mr. Pendlebury, ‘I have two people in this room who have refused to vacate the office. Am I legally entitled to have them removed?’

‘You are but to save complications, two of my men will do the removing.’ He took out his mobile but the two got up and stalked out, slamming the door behind.

‘Tea for the three of us,’ breathed Mr. Pendlebury. ‘Can you spare some minutes? Good, let’s not discuss it until after we compose ourselves. We require tea for this. Needless to say, this is on the house, as will be the discussion.’

‘What we have here,’ the wizened old man explained, ‘is no legal grounds whatever in law. My colleagues are quite clear on this point, and will also be clear on my action of moving their bequests to trust. Now the complications, which I very much fear was their intention all along.’

He removed, then put his glasses back on. They waited.

‘We are in a fluid period in law during this transition from EU law to … well, to whatever it becomes or goes back to. In short, any challenge can have a hearing, any at all and the issue is – who hears it. We saw that with the challenge by Ms Miller and the UK government. We saw it in the United States, though that is not our law of course, but you saw how something actually legal could be tied up and declared illegal. Now, if that can happen over there, imagine what can happen in this fluid situation.’

‘You mean,’ said Laura, ‘that the judiciary can make it whatever they damn well like.’

‘I’d not have put it quite like that but yes … this could tie the estate up, including all moneys already disbursed and most courts would run a mile from such complications. Most courts. But not courts where the plaintiff might be, oh, the European Commission or the European Court or whoever. And there’s another aspect to this – the cost. There is no limit to the funds of the plaintiffs.’

‘Point’s taken,’ said Young.

‘You see, under either set of laws, this distribution and all processes as part of it were done legally and would stand. Eventually. The issue is that – eventually. Maybe ten years. With legal fees coming from the estate.’

So, whoever is doing this for political or personal reasons, if they can’t get the money they want, they can ruin the estate, deplete it to nothing and even plunge you into debt. That’s the sum of it. Those are the times we are in.’

‘But that’s outrageous,’ Laura almost shouted.

‘It is, these people are well aware of the legal quagmire. Also, spending the estate now does not end attempts at recovery, and should the decision eventually go against you, they can come after you to recover.’

‘It’s a nightmare.’

‘I’m afraid so Mrs. Forrester. What I suggest is that you proceed as if the estate were yours, within the constraints you agreed to at the reading, and if this fight ensues, understand that we also have a stake in it, both our law firm and all law firms in the UK – this would be a test case you see. It would not then be just us, it would be our entire justice system on trial and moneys would come from elsewhere for that.

It would not really be your fight thereafter. It’s speculation anyway. My advice for now is to continue with your business until such time in the future that we need to reconsider. Now you must be busy. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us.’

III

Seven days after that unpleasant meeting, Laura returned to the launch – that launch – and the strangest thing to many, but not all, was that Jenny B had become her trusted companion.

They were sharing a bed this evening but at a distance from each other. ‘We’re all opportunists, Laura, we all look after N1, we see a haven and want to be there. It’s not a crime to be taken care of, to do things to take care of your future. But I know I can’t be beside you forever, I do understand that.’

‘You’re starting to sound like Miles when you talk. What will you do?’

‘Depends on you for now – I’d still like my job for as long as you need me.’

‘Don’t worry on that score. You’ll … you’ll visit?’

‘Well of course I will, silly. It’s just that this is way too close. It could develop into something deeper for me and that’s a complication neither of us need.’

‘Are you … you know … that way after all?’

‘I seriously don’t know … I don’t think so but I do feel something for you. It’s just that no man has appeared just for me, no man has asked. I do resent it but not to the point of going mental over it. It’s just sad to me, that’s all.’

‘Come here.’

‘See – that’s what I mean. Your arms are warm and snugly and I have to break away from them. You have to break away from this too. What will you do now?’

‘Me? For now, I’ll run the enterprises. Maybe I’ll change direction down the track, I do know I’m not going to think about that now, that’s the route to despair. Would you be my bodyguard for some time?

‘Not for money.’

‘Ah … yes … the provisions of the will. We’ll pay out of current income.’

Laura shuffled over and embraced her. The glass of the new, shatterproof porthole shattered, a round thudded into the bed, and another, Jenny already had her down on the floor the other side and was calling to DI Young, he was on the water, they’d seen the boat and were giving chase, stay down. Call was ended.

‘There’s someone just climbed on board, Laura. Get under the bunk, it won’t stop a bullet but we’ll fix that tomorrow.’

‘Actually, it will, we had that put in,’ she said as she got under.

There was no light on, the dock lights had shut off, Jenny crawled round to the porthole side of the bed, under the porthole, expecting something through that or the door, maybe shots through the wall although they had kevlar lining, she knew about that bit, probably on the roof too.

She waited and waited, Laura made to speak and Jenny shushed her. She was prepared to wait the night, she’d done this before, hoping Laura had the stamina too. That kevlar problem worked both ways. She was sure there was someone above and in the next cabin. Putting a couple of rounds through both would have felt more secure.

Someone tried to hack through the roof now with a blow, maybe an axe but had hit the kevlar or was it the iron?

Now a welcome sound – an approaching boat. ‘Throw the weapons ten feet from you, lie face down on the roof and put your hands on your head. We’re coming alongside and will board.’

She could feel the launch, as no doubt Laura could, something was thrown over, there was commotion and suddenly they heard whoever it was in the next cabin running, the one on the roof had jumped, so had the other, something was slipped off and the launch took off.

She phoned immediately. ‘Was that your launch came alongside now?’

‘No, we’re not far from you, we see them, we’re giving chase. It actually looks like one of ours but we weren’t told.’

Suddenly Jenny saw a movement on their own boat’s bow through the forward porthole, he was armed and aiming their way, she opened the lock, reached through and shot whoever it was. Whoever it was nearly fell into the water but became jammed in the railing.

She phoned again and explained. Young replied: ‘Can’t be everywhere, Jenny, we’re chasing this boat, I’ll call for another to come and get this character. Call you back.’

IV

They were in DI Collin’s living room, sipping on coffee.

‘It was a police launch, one of ours, the boat which came alongside you. I’d normally just look at it and it would be so obvious but there wasn’t meant to be anything like that around at that time and it was quite dark. They were only using nav lights – the ones inside and on the staff were off. That was even more suspicious.

The dead man – yes, he died – he was a constable. They’d received a message that bad elements had boarded your boat, these elements had supposedly climbed on from the dock silently, so the launch raced over there.

We chased it but when we started through the tannoy with the ‘shut down your engines, do this or that’, they used their tannoy to say roughly the same and we realized. Don’t say anything, you two, as we don’t want to seem Keystone Cops.’

‘Yes, but why was a police launch running from us? Why did they not complete the rescue?’

‘Second message that there was a bomb about to go off onboard and there was no one else to rescue.’

‘Who was sending these messages?’ asked Laura.

‘One of the girls at the switch but it was whoever was telling her which interests me. I know who it was, he caused this mix up, sending two crews, also the original officers.’

‘But that’s insane – he’ll go down now.’

‘No, he’ll claim it was mixed messages coming in. It will all be put down to a common garden SNAFU.’

The girls had gone to their room.

‘Pillow talk, Jane.’

‘Thought you’d want this.’

‘Your thoughts on what you’ve seen and heard about this matter.’

‘All right, my White Knight, my very first thought was this – do you remember those cases you ran by me where a second crime followed the first? I remember three altogether over the years.’

‘Yes, yes, and the thing was that people’s loyalties changed over time. We latched onto the motive in the first crime but the second was bamboozling because it couldn’t have happened that way between those two people -’

‘Unless … and one more thing … Miles was a law-abiding man, you’d agree?’

‘To a point.’

‘But you felt you knew his limits beyond which he wouldn’t go.’

‘Yes.’

‘Then why did he so readily go with Laura, with that history … but go back even further … why these twelve ‘patrons’ as he called them? And he was quite willing to kill when it was needed – but that’s getting away from the point. I can see why he needed them – but why did they still need him after the island passed from his control?’

He thought a moment. ‘Yes.’ He thought for another moment. ‘Contraband?’

‘Could be, could be something worse.’

‘What?’

‘I don’t know … but even if I did, I’d not say because you need to come to this by yourself. The reason I can’t say is I’m your wife and you’re soft on all four of them – Miles, Laura, Jenny A and Jenny B. Clear your mind of loyalties, darling, be like a policeman. Now, knowing you, you’ll stew over this for an hour but I’m going to sleep. Nigh nigh, White Knight.’

She planted the requisite kiss on the cheek.

V

For some reason, a solicitor’s letter arrived on Mr. Pendlebury’s desk which made him smile. Whichever forces were behind this ‘challenge’, de Vries’s solicitors felt there was no point pursuing it any further and would the bequests be forthcoming, minus any administrative dues?

‘Excellent.’ He asked his clerk to communicate that to Mrs Forrester and DI Young.

At that moment, DI Young and Laura were having lunch, Jenny had stayed home – the women had not returned to the boat – a call came through and he put it to speaker. Looking at Laura while he spoke, he asked the firm to start the process.

That added zest to the lunch. Sea bass starter, soup, chicken goujons, that little cafe was a gem. The trolley tray was the piece-de-resistance and nothing was said about Miles having been with them the last time.

Laura and Young wandered out to the small cobbled lane, there was a ‘phut phut’, she collapsed in a heap, half a dozen bystanders reacted in half a dozen ways, Young showed his badge and asked if anyone was a doctor, no one, he called base, they’d send help.

He didn’t want to move her, she was clearly alive, he now whispered to her to act as if she’d died, a bizarre request but she understood it implicitly. He seemed distraught.

The ambulance eventually got to them, the crew looked and summed it up, the stretcher was already out. There was blood on the cobblestones but not a lot, it took some time to get her on the stretcher, Young went in the back with her.

Young had sealed off her room and scrutinized the staff list. He had an officer doing a two hour shift, others round the clock. No one but no one was to go into that room unless it was the attending doctor, not even nurses – they had their own nurses – and especially not anyone familiar or who claimed familiarity with her, certainly no press. And especially not Jenny.

Meals would be taken in by the officer on duty. The officer was not to leave the post for any reason, not even in an emergency, for no reason – did he understand?

The room itself was in an outer ward far from the street and it could only be reached across about an acre of grass, with a high wire fence at the end.

Arrangements made, he went in and sent the officer to guard the door.

‘Tell me,’ said Leyton.

She was quite awake and able to respond. ‘Vest took one, the other did hit my side, some damage they say, it’s sore. They never tried the headshot.’

‘We can talk tomorrow about all that. You have that buzzer, any hour, I’ll be twelve minutes. Anyone comes in not the officer or doctor, push the buzzer.’

‘Thanks.’

VI

Leyton Young was with Laura the next day and he’d had quite a time with Jenny, having to explain the criticality of Laura not having anyone at all visiting, bar the doctor, the officer on duty and himself.

‘He can’t even go to the loo, he has to use a bedpan inside the room.’

‘But why?’

‘So no information about her condition gets out – she’s alive, that’s all. The moment I can open up, Jenny, the instant, you will be the first to be told, by me, privately.’

‘Are you going back to see her?’

‘Every few hours, I’m on call 24/7.’

‘Pity you’re married.’

‘I consider myself lucky.’

She didn’t respond to that.

VII

‘Hello Laura,’ said DI Young next day.

She nodded, then whispered, ‘Safe to speak?’

‘Yes.’ He put the chocolates on the side table. ‘I’ve had the medical report on you, you’ll be two more days. There’ll be recovery at home but where ‘home’ will be we’ll decide. How’s the body feel and how’s the mood?’

‘So-so for both.’

‘Well, the mood might just improve.’

‘Oh?’

‘We found the nest from the trajectory. No prints but there was DNA, maybe from the arm, and one of the two shells was in a planter on the path below the roof parapet where he was. They’re being analysed today. But we have better – on the hill, a tourist had been filming in a panning action, saw someone on the roof, blurred as usual but it will give us an idea. I came straight here to you, so we don’t know yet, I’ll report back. Any incidents?’

‘None. Two days you say.’

‘Should be. Keep up the vigilance and don’t let that officer go away for even a second.’

She smiled a weak smile. ‘Jenny?’

‘Chafing at the bit, wants to see you.’

She sighed and closed her eyes, he took his leave.

X

There was a young officer, well youngish … well 29 actually … and Leyton Young had co-opted him to this investigation the moment he’d been assigned to Lytton.

Young saw two possibilities here. One was obviously help with investigations, this one being the biggest investigation in the area of late and the other was that Tim Madders was unattached … and so was Laura now and so was Jenny. And Laura was getting a bit too close to him, to Young himself, not in any untoward way but in an almost easy familiarity … as if they’d been married a long time.

It was a bit of a stretch imagining Tim for Laura, she was a bit older than him and yet the new riches made her the Grand-Dame of the piece. Well, that would pan out. What about Tim and Jenny though? He’d like to see how that one panned out too.

So, here they both were, Tim and him, they went over to the light wall. Young would start. ‘No handprints but there was some DNA – could have been anyone’s but still, we ran various naughty people through the right column and that threw up about 130 of ’em. All right, the shell. Not widely available but rogues could get them on the continent. That modus operandi brings us down to 16.

Availability on each day in question, details – that’s for you to follow up, Tim. Shells were the same type for all three shots – one on Miles and two on Laura.’

On the way out to the car, Young said to his sidekick, ‘Those shells came from Germany but I can’t see how that gets us any further forward. However, a thought just crossed my mind – something from before your time. There were two jails – one in London and one in Edinburgh – where this make of ammunition was known to be available and bad boys usually bought the weapon to fit the ammunition.

Edinburgh of course is disquietening as it does bring Mr. Stammers back into frame. And Tim – drop me in the hospital carpark, be ready in the vicinity when I phone. You’ll meet Laura soon enough but not today.’

Madders glanced across at Young and smiled.

‘Laura, you’re a bit perkier today. Feeling up to it?’

‘Yes.’

‘No incidents? Food all right?’

‘No and 50-50.’

‘Same shells, same markings for you and for Miles, all three from Germany’ He observed discreetly as her head went back on the pillow and her eyes to the ceiling. ‘Not significant?’

‘It might be. I don’t know.’

‘One of the girls?’

‘I’ve no way of telling.’

‘We’re looking at outside persons now, someone with a connection to either you, Miles or both in the past, someone who uses such shells, shells he can get either in London or Edinburgh within the prison system.’

She remained silent.

He showed her the garage roof photo and she imperceptibly froze, then overcame it. She knew he’d seen though. Young went on. ‘We know Ralph was in prison on both days.’

She looked at him curiously but said nothing.

‘I’m now in a very delicate position. You’re coming home to our house – you’re welcome to stay for a long time, however, you might not want to, after this. I have a warrant to search the boat – we’re looking for letters – but I think they’re with you at our home. Neither Jane nor I nor Jenny has looked as yet, that I can guarantee you. I don’t wish to do this, you can see that.’

She was quite distressed and he thought it prudent to finish now. He got up to go.

‘I’ll never forgive you.’

‘It’s the curse of the policeman. We do our job and are hated for it.’

‘Will I be charged?’

‘What with? You had no hand in it. I’d take a guess at those letters – they were just indiscreet. I’ve been aware for a long time that it never ended with Ralph and the reason I’ve been so interested is that I’ve a soft spot for you myself … I think you know that.’

‘I know.’

‘And vice-versa.’

‘Perhaps. But you also have a soft spot for Jenny and vice-versa.’

‘It’s that obvious?’

‘Inspect – Leyton, come on. I thought it might be useful. Now I think it might get in the way. I – er – did meet Ralph again. He came to the boat shop I was running and we exchanged words. He wanted to visit but I didn’t let him – he can get out of prison any time he wants, good behaviour. Will you stop that now?’

‘No … and you were banking on that, otherwise you’d not have said. I want to see his moves.’

‘After the second letter, I did let him visit and you’ll make what motive you want out of that. I was a fool to see him but not such a fool to let him wreck what I had with Miles. I sent him away, he wrote yet again, I wrote back. I’ll give you those because I want you to see that that’s true.’

IX

‘So?’ asked Laura back in Young’s living room, both Jane and Jenny out shopping for the evening.

He folded both letters and handed them back, to her surprise.

‘They’ll not help the case as there could be a third or fourth, we don’t know, and they could change everything. You could have denied them to me and made sure Jenny disposed of them or put them somewhere.’

‘No, she would have had a hold -’

‘She’d never use that on you herself as she had a cushy job in your employ. You feared they’d find their way to Sarah or else Jenny would mention them to Sarah and then someone you don’t wish to have a hold over you would now have one.’

‘You like doing that, don’t you? Flying kites. You were right about me leaving – I’m going back to the boat.’

‘Who’ll guard you?’

‘That’s low.’

‘I never said we wouldn’t but yes, I do fly kites and you know I must do my job.’

‘Which is why I must go back. We’ve returned to opposite sides again.’

‘Explain Mandy to me.’

‘Pardon?’ she feinted.

‘The one who shot you, the one the tourist photographed on that garage roof and who put two rounds into you, the one you worked with years ago under Miles and who is being met by my colleague today to talk about you.’ That made her jump. ‘You met Ralph twice [that we know of] and it did not need your admission. The first time, it was a shopgirl from the wharf who described him and the second was a witness I’ll not identify. The interest to us is not that you met him – but that he was even able to get there from Edinburgh.

You see, Laura, he couldn’t get down from there on day release unless he had some fast transport. He used to have that with Johanssen. That makes it not easy but possible for him to do that round trip. We don’t think he shot Miles. He certainly didn’t shoot you but we know he has a girlfriend who visits him in prison.’ Her lips were a hard line. ‘And you don’t like that, Laura. You used her at first but then she began muscling in on Ralph.’

‘You’re outrageous, you fly kites and I fell for a couple of them but this is fantasyland. I wish to leave.’

‘I’ll call a cab now.’

‘Thank you. And by the way, Mandy will say anything.’

X

Ms Sobel was tucking into her meal already at the McDonald’s in Kingstown, Cumbria, when Madders arrived. He bought his and came over, sliding onto the bench opposite.

‘Not tall, not dark but with definite possibilities, no uniform, Sergeant?’

‘Different branch.’ He scrutinized her. ‘Ms Sobel, I’m faster than you but I’m not going to arrest you – let those two things sink in. So there’s no need to get away quickly. Also, we’re both armed.’

She was alarmed but decided to ride it out. ‘Your word, is it?’

‘Yes, my word. I’d not have promised otherwise.’

‘Man of integrity eh? Haven’t met one of those in a long while.’

‘I need your help but can’t ask that unless we’re clear what we know and what we don’t. These will show you what we know.’ He handed over an envelope with screenshots of the garage roof and Mandy at work, plus data on her past.

She was quite uneasy. ‘If you know all this, why don’t you arrest me?’

‘Don’t be insulted but we’re after bigger fish. We want to know the real game. I’m going to play fair – we think Ralph Stammers commissioned you and supplied you but I’m not asking you to confirm that. What I am asking is – if that’s wrong, then tell me what else is wrong, you don’t need to tell me what is right, as that will have you in trouble with whoever organized this.’

‘What’s your thinking?’

‘We know almost all about the last one on the garage roof but there were three attacks. One was from a boat on the river – that one killed Laura Forrester’s husband, then there was one at Mrs. Forrester also from a distance on the water. You’ve also seen the testimony of some of the boatmen – you were onboard a few of those craft. Not saying they were the ones which sank but you were definitely on some boats.’

He took a bite, ate it and continued. ‘We think Laura was getting wise to some things going on with the boats or else she was part of them or else Miles was or else Holland was and these puzzled us for some time – down the Leeds-Liverpool and over to Holland. We’re still not sure whether it was guns, drugs or both. We’re not yet sure whether it goes through Goole or not. That can be sorted later.’

‘Where do I come in?’

‘We can’t offer a plea deal but there’s another way – we don’t charge you at all, feeling we couldn’t make it stick. I think you see what we need in return.’ He could see the cogs working overtime in there and this was the critical point – would she shop others to save herself or would she mislead to protect?

‘I’m not naming names.’

‘Not asking you to.’

‘But later, you’ll pull me in and make me tell, keep me there all night, all of that.’

‘Not during this case.’

‘I’m not talking about you personally. Someone, years later, goes through the files and decides to chase me.’

‘Depends what was written in the files – how it was written up. Who wrote it up.’

‘I don’t trust you. You got a sweet face but I don’t trust you. And I don’t grass.’

‘Ms Sobel, Mandy – we need pointers, ideas. You play it the way I’m putting to you, no one comes after you ever, no one wants anything more from you – I write it up that way. We’re after the principals. You say what you can but protect yourself too – not an issue to me. Only thing I ask is not to put us on the wrong track entirely – because then we really would come after you, even overseas.’

She stewed over it and stewed over it, knowing exactly how it would pan out. She made a decision. ‘It doesn’t go Scotland to Holland, it goes the other way. It’s not drugs, it’s people.’

‘Migrants you mean?’

‘No, something paying far more.’

‘Children.’

‘I’m saying nuffin.’

‘Miles’s boats were used for that? Did he know?’

‘I never knew this Miles, so I don’t know what he knew. Yes, there were a few boats, not the majority and he was pretty slack about them, where they went. He judged by the fish which came in.’

‘It’s a long, slowwinded way of doing it, bringing them that way, with checks along the way. Why not just a light aircraft?’

‘Too open, too known. Much easier to get them off the boat short of a control point, put them in a van, put them back on the boat later. They work it out to the last detail.’

‘Starts in Amsterdam?’

‘Correct. There’s a Dutchman there whose girl is connected with someone involved with the boats this side.’

‘That’s much more specific information. I get the feeling you want to sink Jan and Sarah.’

‘Who?’

‘All right. Why has none of this ever been found out? There are pilots, inspectors, all sorts.’

‘You think it through, clever boy, why not.’

‘What amazes me is how Miles never saw anything of the kind. Do you think he was in it?’

‘No, he just collected money by what I heard – he phoned his skippers when he’d be there, it was regular. It was the chick who started getting suspicious.’

‘Laura, in whose Will you have a bequest.’

She just gazed at him. Then: ‘She has the business now and that’s making people nervous.’

‘If he was as naive as he seems, why would anyone kill him?’

‘I’m not interested in that, all I know is, it wasn’t me. Sounds good coming from me – but that one I know nothing about. How long you gonna keep me here?’

‘You can go whenever you wish. The more you help, the more we help you, the more complete my report on you becomes, no loose ends left open.’

‘That’s blackmail and you’re a smiling assassin.’

‘We’re trying to solve a case, Mandy, we make deals. This is a deal today. Here’s my mobile number.’ He handed across the napkin. ‘We know you’re Ralph’s bird in Edinburgh.’

She said nothing, her eyes narrowed, she waited. He went on. ‘Laura says you’re not much of a shot.’

‘Does she now?’ She was amused, then realized perhaps she should not have been. At this point she thought too much was being given away, she upped and left within seconds.

XI

Laura had gone back to the boat, Young had posted rotating guards, Jenny saw that her place was at Laura’s side but she was torn all the same.

Now Laura called Young and asked him to get down there, she had things to tell. No, it wasn’t a trap, take what measures he wanted.

Oh and she’d provide lunch.

‘Her name’s Mandy, Mandy Sobel … but you know that now, don’t you?’

‘She’s still gunning for you, isn’t she, this Mandy?  Ralph’s bird.’

‘Don’t speak like that.  It’s so stupid and I can’t change my will.’

‘You think Miles knew about her?’

She did consider it. ‘Nah, can’t see how, she was never connected to him.’

‘Tell me about Mandy.’

‘Mandy. Where do I start?’

Chapter 2-2 hereChapter 2-4 here

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