فصل 08

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فصل 08

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER EIGHT

A head full of bees

Perhaps it was a crime of passion? Jane thought to herself. Perhaps Mervin was jealous of his brother, Jack? Jane stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel round her and went into the kitchen to make some coffee. It was a beautiful morning, the spring sunshine filled the flat.

‘Breakfast, Julian?’ she asked her cat, pouring him some milk while he miaowed with pleasure. ‘What do you think, Julian?’ she said out loud. Julian drank his milk. ‘Of course, there’s Susan, his wife, as well. If she knows about the affair she would have a motive. Does she have an alibi?’ she asked the cat.

Jane had spent part of the previous evening looking through Rose Carters diary. In among the shopping lists, appointments, reminders to go to the dentist, doctor and so on were some entries which needed further investigation. Jane had noticed, for example, that once a month since last November, the name of a farm appeared in the diary, such as Ladywell Farm, Upcott Farm, Beare Farm. Chittleham Farm had been the farm for February - the previous month. Did this mean that Rose had visited all these farms? On the day Rose had died the diary entry was again ‘Chittleham Farm’. Why was Chittleham Farm written down twice? Was Rose, in fact, a regular visitor there?

Some of the other entries were also interesting, but probably explained by Rose’s ‘working’ relationship with Jack Peck. At least once a week, the initials JP and a time, such as ‘2.30’ or ‘4.00’, had been written. On the Thursday before Rose died, the entry read: JP - 3.00 !!!

There was also the question of the relationship between Rose Carter and Jack Peck. It was school gossip that Rose had been having an affair, presumably with Jack Peck.

Sitting in the daily traffic jam, she planned the day. She would go to Jack’s workplace herself to check out his alibi, and send Pete or one of the others out to South Heasley again. Although Rose’s neighbours had seen his car regularly, or a car like his, had Jack actually been there on Monday afternoon?

After giving instructions in the CID office, Jane set off for Hunter Products. It was situated on an industrial estate on the other side of the river. As usual, the queue of traffic proceeded slowly over the bridge and Jane looked with annoyance again at the black hole by the steering wheel of her car.

Must get that fixed sometime, she thought. Since her arrival in Pilton, there didn’t seem to have been a spare minute to attend to the little things that were necessary to run her life outside work. She promised herself that when this case was over, she would celebrate by going out and buying the best car stereo system she could find.

At the automatic barrier at the entrance to Hunter Products’ car park, Jane spoke into a microphone, ‘Detective Chief Inspector Jane Honeywell, Pilton CID.’

The word ‘chief’ still felt a little strange to her, but obviously not to anyone else as a faint voice replied, ‘All right, madam,’ and the barrier lifted. Driving in, she noticed that several closed-circuit TV cameras were positioned around the car park and high up on the factory building.

Inside the factory, the reception area was spotlessly clean and there was a hint of chemical in the air. A foxy-faced female, half hidden behind a high reception counter, asked Jane, ‘Can I help you?’

Jane showed her ID and asked to speak to the person in charge. ‘This is a murder enquiry,’ she added quickly in case the woman had any idea of putting her off.

‘I’ll see what I can do,’ the receptionist said, and picked up a phone. She talked quietly into it for a minute or two and then told Jane, ‘Mrs Keane will be down in a minute. Please have a seat.’ She gestured in the direction of a large red leather sofa.

After about five minutes, a tall woman dressed in a white silk suit came through the only door leading from the reception area.

‘Jo Keane, Managing Director. What can I do for you?’ She smiled. Her clear blue eyes were set a little close together in an otherwise attractive face framed by soft dark curls. Jane thought they must be around the same age.

She shook the extended hand. ‘DCI Jane Honeywell,’ she said. ‘I’m looking into the murder incident out at Chittleham Farm, which you may have heard about. I believe Chittleham Farm belongs to the brother of one of your employees. I wonder if you could spare me a minute or two?’

Jo Keane looked briefly at her Rolex watch. ‘I’ve got a couple of minutes, but that’s all, I’m afraid. How can I help?’

‘Thank you,’ said Jane. ‘Can you confirm that Mr Jack Peck works here?’

‘He does,’ replied Jo Keane. ‘He’s one of our key people. He’s a research scientist in the animal vaccine department.’

‘Has he worked here long?’

‘Oh, I’m not sure exactly without checking. A few years. Before he came to us he was with a chemical company based in Africa. I believe they were working on a vaccine for malaria.’

‘Was Mr Peck at work last Monday?’ Jane asked.

‘As far as I know. If he went out, it’ll be in the record. I’ll have it brought down for you.’ Jo Keane turned to the receptionist and asked her to fetch a copy of Monday’s records.

‘Would it be possible for someone to leave the building without anyone knowing, say, for an hour or two?’ Jane asked while they waited for the receptionist to return.

‘No, I don’t think so. We’re a small company here. We all more or less know what each other is doing.’

The receptionist reappeared and handed Jane several sheets of computer paper. ‘You keep very careful records,’ remarked Jane, looking through the papers. There was no indication that she could see of Jack’s having left the factory after his arrival at work at 8.45 a.m. on Monday.

‘Well, we like to know who comes in and out,’ explained Mrs Keane.

‘Would you mind if I borrowed the videos from the closed circuit system?’ Jane asked.

‘Well…‘Jo Keane hesitated.

‘I’m just interested in the car park and the entrances and exits to the building,’ Jane said. ‘I’ll only need them for 24 hours or so.’

‘Well, OK. I’ll have them sent round to the police station,’ Jo Keane said finally, with a stiff smile.

Later, as Jane sat at her desk staring at the computer print-outs from Hunter Products on one side of her desk and a half-written operational order for Operation Wasp on the other, there was a knock at the door and Pete came in.

‘You knocked, which is an improvement, but you’re also supposed to wait until I say come in, you know,’ Jane remarked.

‘Sorry,’ said Pete, not really listening. ‘I’ve just got back Irom South Heasley. That family photo, I showed it to another of Rose’s neighbours, Mary Brady, who wasn’t at home the first time we went. Not only did she recognise Jack but she also saw a white Escort estate outside Rose’s house early Monday afternoon. She didn’t see the driver but she was positive it was Jack’s car. So, he’s been lying to us. That means he has something to hide. I think we’ve got a prime suspect here.’

‘Erm… unfortunately for us, he has a perfect alibi,’ Jane said. ‘He was at work all afternoon. It’s all in there.’ She indicated the papers on her desk. Pete’s grin changed to a look of some disappointment. ‘Anyway, why would he want to kill Rose?’

‘Easy,’ said Pete. ‘They had an argument, maybe she said he should leave his wife, he lost his temper, he hit her on the head with… I don’t know, a hammer, then he got rid of her body on his brother’s farm.’

‘Why there?’

‘I don’t know, people do odd things. Perhaps he had to go there anyway to check his bees?’ Pete sounded unconvinced himself.

‘But I told you, he didn’t leave the factory all afternoon,’ Jane said.

‘Are we sure?’ Pete asked.

‘More or less but I’m going to check the closed circuit TV videos at home tonight. Just to be absolutely certain.’

‘Want any help?’ Pete offered. Jane looked at him, noticing that his resistance towards her had softened. She wondered why.

‘I don’t think so, thanks.’ She valued her privacy. In any case there was a large pile of washing-up in the sink, and the bathroom needed cleaning, and last night’s dinner things were still on the sitting room table. ‘But if you need something to do, you could see if you can get some names of animal rights groups operating in the area.’

‘Yes, ma’am,’ Pete said with an ironic smile.

Back at her flat, Jane went straight to the fridge. As she had thought, there was nothing to eat for dinner. She tried the freezer. A frozen lasagne. That would do. She put it in the microwave, poured herself a large glass of red Rioja wine and settled down in front of the TV to watch several hours of video film of the car parks and exits and entrances at Hunter Products Ltd.

The film ran silently on and on for what felt like a lifetime. Jane found herself thinking that Hunter Products seemed to be very security conscious. What were they worried about? Industrial spies? She was beginning to feel sleepy when suddenly she thought she could see a figure who looked like Jack Peck walking across the car park. The person was getting into a P registration MG sports car. She played the film again, to be sure. There was no doubt about it. It was definitely him. The time on the video said 17.10. Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of that before? The Pecks had two cars. So, if Jack Peck had used his wife’s car last Monday to go to work, his wife could have taken his car, the Escort estate. And the car had been seen outside Kose’s cottage on Monday afternoon…

That night Jane slept badly. Once she woke, sweating, and realised she had been dreaming. She had been running and running, through fields and streams, climbing over gates and hedges. On a road a motorist stopped and she got into the car. It was Pete.

‘Are you all right?’ he asked.

‘No,’ she answered, ‘I have to get away from the swans.’ She looked out of the back window and saw, following the car, a small black cloud which seemed to be getting larger and larger as it caught up with them. The cloud turned out tо be a swarm of bees. She woke up when bees started appearing inside the car.

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