فصل 06

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فصل 06

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Chapter six

Closing in

Life just gets better and better. Or is it death that’s getting better? Anyway, it was another perfect killing. I’m so good at it. Why they didn’t want me, I just don’t understand.

I walked down to the old station to find myself a car. The old railway station is now a cinema and there’s a car park in front of it. If the owner of the car was watching a film, I might even get the car back before the film finished. He or she wouldn’t even know it had been stolen. It would all depend how the evening went.

It was early evening, not dark yet. You might think I was taking chances, stealing cars in broad daylight. But I’m quick. I broke into the car quite easily, put my gun on the floor in front of the passenger seat and got the car started. Then I drove out towards Reeth and Swaledale. I knew what I was looking for - there are small parking areas beside the road in a number of places in the dale. I would drive round until I found one with a car parked in it: maybe an old couple who’d stopped to look at the view or some young lovers having a kiss and a cuddle. It’s all the same to me. I just want to show what I can do.

I got to Reeth first. The lights were on in Reeth Memorial Hall. I’d read in the papers that the police were using it as an operations room. It seemed funny to be driving past the place they were trying to catch me from. ‘Catch me if you can,’ I thought. ‘But you can’t. You won’t.’

There was no-one parked between Reeth and Langthwaite, so I turned left along the road to Surrender Bridge and headed towards Swaledale.

There’s a ford along here, where a stream goes over the road and you have to drive through the water. The ford is famous because it was always shown at the beginning of a popular TV series about a vet. I’d watched those programmes as a kid, but these days I only watch crime shows.

From there I drove on to Surrender Bridge. As I came over the top of the hill and looked down towards the bridge, I could see that, just over the other side, a blue car was parked and there were people in it. Two people. Just what I was looking for.

I drove over the bridge and then stopped - but not too close to the other car. I didn’t want to alarm them. When I’d stolen the car I’d noticed that there was a map on the back seat. I thought I’d try the map business again.

I put the gun in my pocket and opened the map. Then I got out and walked across.

There was a young couple in the car. He was about twenty, dark-haired, good-looking; she was the same age, blonde and pretty. They had been kissing, but had broken off when I stopped my car.

Seeing me coming towards them, map in hand, the young woman opened the driver’s window.

‘Can I help you?’ She smiled at me.

I was only a couple of metres away by then. I smiled back, took out my gun and shot her in the head. She fell forward onto the wheel.

Her boyfriend shouted something, but he didn’t have time to do anything. I pointed the gun a few centimetres to the left and shot him through the head as well.

I checked they were both dead and then sat both the bodies up in their seats so they looked alive. Finally I reached into the car and threw the four and five of spades onto the back seat.

When you fire a gun like this, the bullet shoots out of the front of the gun and the casing, which holds the bullet, is thrown out of the side, sometimes a few metres away. One casing was easy to find. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. The other was nowhere to be seen. I searched for it among the grass and small bushes, but I just couldn’t find it.

After a few minutes I heard the sound of a car in the distance. It was time to go. Even if the police found the casing, it was unlikely to matter. Taking the casings was just me being careful, leaving nothing to chance. What the police really needed was the gun. With the gun and the bullets they could get a match. But they would never find the gun.

I got back in my car and drove away.

It would be some time before the bodies were found. Nobody would think twice about gunshots out here. Farmers are always shooting rabbits, and the rich pay large amounts of money to come and shoot birds. The sound of gunshots isn’t unusual in the Dales.

I drove back to Richmond enjoying the moment, feeling the excitement run through my body and already looking forward to the next killing. I’m getting closer to my goal.


It took Neville, Scott and Russell fifteen minutes to reach Surrender Bridge from the operations room in Reeth. Neville and Russell went in a police Land Rover; Scott took her own car. Black and yellow scene-of-crime tape was already closing off a wide area around a small blue car. Two police Land Rovers were parked on the opposite side of the road behind a red Toyota 4x4. A man and a woman police officer were talking to someone in the Toyota. A third police officer was setting up some large lights so that everyone could see what was going on. A fourth was standing just near the scene-of-crime tape.

‘The police doctor’s on her way,’ he said as Neville came up to him.

Neville nodded towards the Toyota.

‘What’s happening there?’ he asked.

‘The young woman’s mother,’ replied the officer. ‘Her daughter was out with her boyfriend and said she’d be home for dinner by eight. When she wasn’t back by ten thirty, her mum came out looking for her. She said she knows the places they usually go. We’ve been trying to calm her down, but understandably she’s really upset.’

‘Husband?’ asked Neville.

‘A couple of the guys have gone to get him, and to tell the boy’s parents,’ replied the officer.

‘The cards?’ asked Neville.

‘On the back seat,’ replied the officer. ‘I haven’t touched anything. As soon as I saw the bodies and the cards, I closed the area off.’

‘Good. Thank you.’ Neville turned to Scott. ‘Let’s have a look.’

They took some white plastic overshoes out of the back of the Land Rover and put them over their own shoes. Then they bent under the police tape and slowly and carefully walked over to the blue car.

‘What do you think?’ asked Neville and they walked round the car looking in through the windows.

‘I’d say they were shot from fairly close,’ said Scott. ‘But I guess we should wait and see what Kay has to say.’

Just then a green Land Rover arrived and Kay Harding got out. She immediately put on overshoes and joined Scott and Neville. She reached in through the car window and felt the necks of both the young people for signs of life.

‘No surprises there,’ she said. ‘But I have to check.’

Then she bent down and looked at the bullet holes in their heads.

‘They were shot from less than a metre away,’ she said. ‘Let me get on with things and I’ll tell you more when I’ve finished here. I realise how important this is.’

‘Thanks, Kay,’ said Neville.

Neville and Scott made their way back outside the police tape, where Russell joined them.

‘Charles?’ she began.

Neville looked at her in reply.

‘If he came from Richmond again …’ She left the sentence unfinished.

‘Good thinking,’ said Neville, looking at his watch. ‘Let’s say he took some time to find what he was looking for. So first see if there are any reports of stolen cars. Then check CCTV film from about six o’clock to eleven o’clock. You know what to look for.’


Russell had a busy night. To start with, no cars had yet been reported stolen. The next problem was that CCTV cameras in North Yorkshire weren’t managed by the police, but by a local government officer. He wasn’t happy to get a midnight phone call from Fiona Russell wanting CCTV film from that evening and from two weeks earlier.

‘Can’t it wait until morning?’ he complained sleepily.

‘Sure,’ replied Russell. ‘I’ll suggest that to my boss. I’m sure he’d be happy for you to come into the police station until then. Helping us with our inquiries. Through the night.’

‘God!’ thought Russell, smiling to herself. ‘I’ve spent so long with police officers I’m starting to sound like one.’

Russell received the film by email within the hour and started work. First she played through the film from the evening before, noting the number of each car or van that went from Richmond towards Reeth and Swaledale. Then she went through again noting cars going back into Richmond. Then she matched the two lists. Ten cars were on both lists. She yawned, pushed her fingers through her hair and looked across the operations room. Neville and Scott had returned at two in the morning. They were in the interview room working their way through a pile of papers.

Russell poured herself a coffee from the machine by the window and went back to her computer. There was no point telling Neville anything until she had names and addresses for the owners of those ten cars. In any case, she felt sure the killer had used a stolen car.

After half an hour on the Driver and Vehicle Database, Russell had the information she needed. She went over to join Neville and Scott in the interview room. They looked up as she came in.

‘Ten names and addresses,’ she said, putting a piece of paper on the table. ‘Owners of cars that left Richmond early yesterday evening in the direction of Reeth and returned some time later. They’re all possibles. But my guess is the car was stolen, even though it hasn’t yet been reported. Anyway, I’ll start on the film from the first two murders now.’

Just then the phone rang. Neville picked up.

‘DI Neville.’ He listened for a moment then said, ‘Just a moment, Kay. Helen and Fiona are here. I’ll put you on speakerphone.’

He pressed a button and Kay Harding’s voice came into the room loud and clear.

‘You owe me, Charles,’ she said. ‘I’ve been working through the night on this one for you.’

‘Noted,’ replied Neville. ‘What have you got?’

‘I can narrow the time of death to between eight and nine thirty, if that helps,’ she answered.

‘It might,’ replied Neville.

‘They were both young and healthy. Both, as you know, died from a bullet wound to the head,’ continued Harding.

‘OK,’ said Neville. ‘And the bullets?’

‘Yes, the bullets,’ said Harding. ‘Both from the same gun. Both nine-millimetre. Both made in Iraq.’

‘What?’ Neville half-shouted the question. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Your guys found a casing from one of the bullets at the scene of the crime,’ explained Harding. ‘There was some writing on it. I copied it and emailed it to a friend of mine at Newcastle University. He’s a lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies. He told me that the writing was Arabic and that it says “Al-Qadisiyyah”. I looked it up on the internet.’

‘And?’ asked Neville.

‘Al-Qadisiyyah is a province in southern Iraq,’ said Harding, ‘but it’s also the name of a factory that makes a nine-millimetre gun called a Tariq - basically a Beretta Ml951, but made in Iraq. They’ve been making them since before 1990 and they’re still used today by the Iraqi police.’

‘The Iraqi police!’ There was disbelief in Neville’s voice.

Russell put a hand on his arm.

‘No,’ she said. ‘It adds up. It’s all to do with the army. Soldiers out in Iraq or Afghanistan, or wherever, they get lots of opportunities to get their hands on guns, bullets, knives, all sorts of things - especially from the people they are fighting.’

‘Thanks very much, Kay,’ said Neville, switching the phone off, deep in thought. He turned to Russell.

‘So you’re saying,’ he said, that it’s easy for a soldier to get hold of a Tariq nine-millimetre and bring it back to Britain, as a kind of war prize.’

‘Absolutely,’ said Russell. ‘I worked on a case in London a few years ago where an ex-soldier was selling guns to criminals - guns that he’d brought back from places all around the world.’

Nobody spoke for a moment.

‘We come back to soldiers and the army again,’ said Neville. He looked at Scott. ‘How are you getting on with Greene’s list?’ he asked.

‘I called Catterick earlier,’ she said. ‘There were six names on Greene’s list. Of those, three were at the garrison at the time of the first two murders. And the other three have recently gone out to Afghanistan. They left before the murders started. However, I did manage to speak to one of the first three soldiers. He’s given me the names of nine others who spoke to Greene, but didn’t tell him who they were.’

Scott looked at Neville and Russell.

‘But don’t get too excited,’ she warned them. ‘I get the feeling Greene spoke to a lot more people.’

‘Never mind that,’ said Neville. ‘It’s a start. As Fiona said at the beginning, we only need to get lucky once.’

‘I don’t suppose you found out which of those nine live in Richmond, did you?’ asked Russell. ‘That’s where the cars have been stolen from.’

Scott started to look through the papers on the table in front of her and pulled out the one she was looking for.

‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I did.’ She looked at the list. ‘Two of them.’

She turned the paper round so that the others could read it.

‘I’ll look on the Driver and Vehicle Database to see if either of them has a car,’ said Russell. ‘Then if we look at the CCTV from the days of the first two murders, we might find a match.’

‘Do it,’ said Neville and he looked at Scott. ‘And, Helen, give Fiona a hand. I’ve got a feeling we might be getting close.’


Ten minutes later Russell gave Scott a piece of paper with letters and numbers written on it.

‘Two car numbers,’ she said. ‘One for each of the soldiers who live in Richmond. I’ve emailed the CCTV film from the day of the second murder to your computer. You look through that. I’ll look at the first one.’

‘You were right about a car being stolen last night,’ said Scott as she sat down. ‘It was reported at ten twenty last night in Richmond. The report’s only just made it onto the computer.’

Russell thought for a moment.

‘Has the car been found yet?’ she asked.

‘I don’t think so,’ replied Scott.

‘Tell them to try the Gallowfields Business Park,’ said Russell.

When Scott looked questioningly at her, Russell said, ‘Just a guess.’

Then she pushed her fingers through her hair and took a deep breath. She looked at the two names and addresses on the paper in front of Scott.

‘I don’t know Richmond that well,’ she said. ‘Is either of these addresses near the Business Park?’

‘Neither of them is very far away,’ answered Scott.

Russell sat down in front of her computer. She put her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her hands. She thought for a few moments.

‘I think,’ she began, speaking slowly. ‘I think that the third murder - the one where he first stole a car - I think that maybe it wasn’t planned as well as the others. I think he was surprised in some way.’

Scott looked at Russell.

‘I also think,’ continued Russell, ‘that he felt he had to move the body in a hurry. And that first stolen car was taken from the Business Park because it’s close to where he lives. Leaving the car there when he’d finished with it was just an attempt to confuse us.’

‘That sounds a reasonable guess to me,’ replied Scott.

‘OK,’ said Russell, having another look at the car numbers in front of her. ‘Let’s see if we can find one of these two.’

Russell and Scott started watching the different films on their computers.

Forty-five minutes later Russell watched the same thirty seconds of film for the third time. Then she sat back in her chair.

‘Got you,’ she said quietly.

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