Believe No One by A. D. Garrett is the second thriller to feature DCI Kate Simms who finds herself on sabbatical in St. Louis where trouble seems to follow her (available July 21, 2015).
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms is in the United States on sabbatical with St. Louis PD. She is working with a 'method swap' team, reviewing cold cases, sharing expertise. Simms came to the US to escape fallout from her previous investigation working with forensic expert Professor Nick Fennimore. However Fennimore also happens to be in the States on a book tour and is engineering his trip to get down to St Louis – the last thing Simms wants . . .
But a call for help from a sheriff's deputy in Oklahoma distracts the professor: a mother dead, her child gone. Fennimore's quick mind rapidly gets to work, and gradually draws the conclusion this might not an isolated case. How many other young mothers have been killed, their murders unsolved, their children unaccounted for – and what of Simms' cold case in St Louis for instance?
If there’s one thing an Oklahoma farmer values, it’s water.
Lance Guffey’s grandfather had lived through Black Sunday, 14 April 1935. It was the day Lance’s father was born; it was also the day America came face to face with the great Dust Bowl. A hundred million acres of good topsoil stripped from farms in the West fell like volcano dust in towns and cities east of the Great Plains, clear to the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 15,000 miles, blackening the skies over the nation’s capital.
Oklahoma learned its lesson the hard way, but learned it well, creating more lakes, post-Dust Bowl, than any other state. In that one year alone, Lance’s grandfather dug two ponds for irrigation and by the time Lance himself was ten years old, they had five, each one up to an acre across. His father told Lance that for weeks, digging those ponds, his skin was the same rust red as the clay, from his fingertips all the way up to his elbows, and the iron in the clay smelled of blood, so you carried the stink of death with you.
Just now the land smelled of sweet grass and sunshine; soon they would be taking the first cut of hay. They’d had some good spring rain, but nothing for two weeks past and with temperatures already in the eighties at the beginning of May, they would need every drop of water in those ponds. It was one of the smaller ponds he was headed to right now; a windstorm the night before had brought down an old cottonwood. It lay half across the shallow incline; his cattle used to get in there and wallow when it got real hot, and a cow could break a leg stumbling over branches hidden in the mud.
Lance Guffey looked at the big old tree. The storm had ripped it out of the soil; it lay crushed and splintered over a hundred feet of grazing, its shimmering leaves already losing their shine. The roots were upturned, ten feet off the ground, a wide, flat disk – blood red, like an afterbirth – leaving a hole in the ground twenty feet in diameter. He scratched his head and walked left and then right in a semicircle, decided which limbs he needed to trim first and how many sections he would have to cut the trunk into to make it manageable. Finally, he reached in the cab of his tractor for his chainsaw. Three hours later, his small herd of black Angus cattle looking on, he had the accessible sections sawn into logs and was ready to drag what remained onto dry land.
The woman had settled in the soft mud of the pond over winter. Wind-rock shifted the cottonwood in the October storm, sending drifts of fine silt and mud from the bank of the pond, protecting her from the attentions of predators, cocooning her in mud. Five months she had waited, which was not long in the great scheme of things, in the long years of for ever. Not long enough to ripen the first crop of wheat, nor even to carry a child to full term. The woman was a child herself when she bore a son; the boy with her at the end would have celebrated his tenth birthday in June, but he had seen too much and could not be allowed to live. He was gone, as she was gone, the woman hoping in her final moments of pain and fear and confusion that she was going to a gentler place than this earth had been for her.
The jangle of chains and grappling hooks disturbed the mud, stirring up thin threads of red clay that rose like dark plumes of fresh blood. The red wisps reached the barrier between water and air, and spread and billowed like smoke under glass. A grappling hook snagged in the elbow of a branch and the massive trunk of the cottonwood, and the submerged brush of twigs and arrow-shaped leaves raked deep in the mud, ploughing up what had been planted where it could not grow.
Lance Guffey smelled the sulphurous reek of rotting leaves and the blood-iron tang of the clay, and at last the smell of death rolled up and penetrated his farmer’s sensibilities. He looked around him in alarm, counted his cows as he killed the engine and climbed down from the cab, anxious to know if one of his heifers had already run foul of the reaching, grabbing branches of the downed tree. But the herd was accounted for, every one; they watched him still, thoughtfully regurgitating and chewing the tough prairie grass, waiting till he was done so they could cool off in the pond.
He took a step closer, covering his mouth and nose with his shirt tail, and saw a glimpse of flesh, camouflaged in the tangle of branches. The body seemed clothed in leaves and waterweed, like a nymph in the old-time fairy tales he read to his daughters. Sunshine dazzled off the water that clung to the cottonwood’s waxy leaves, half blinding him, but he saw enough to be certain this was no water nymph.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Nick Fennimore stared at the new mail in his inbox and his mouth dried. The subject line: ‘Is this your daughter?’
His hand jerked involuntarily. He slowed his breathing, forcing himself to look closely at the email, to think like a scientist and not a father. There was an attachment. He’d had messages like this before – usually from sick, sadistic men for whom causing others pain was a release. Those messages had been posted on the Facebook page he’d created in his daughter’s name, but this was the first he’d had direct to his academic account. The sender was ‘anon67912’ – a Hotmail account.
Fennimore ran the email and its attachment through his virus checker: no Trojans, spyware or viruses. He clicked to open the message envelope. There was no message – just the subject header and the attachment. He wiped cold sweat from his upper lip and double-clicked to view the attachment.
It was a girl. Just a girl. She was slim, serious-looking; she walked alongside a man. He seemed older – mid-thirties, at a guess. Suited, stocky. Dark hair, full lips, otherwise unexceptional. His eye was drawn again to the girl. Could this be Suzie?
He loaded an image file he had created: his daughter, aged up from ten to fifteen. It was already out of date – soon, Suzie would be sixteen years old. If she lived. The statistics said not: the statistics said that Suzie died five years ago, shortly before or after her mother was murdered, but on this matter, Fennimore had never been able to think like a scientist, only as a father.
He looked again at the email, his fingers hovering over the keys. This is madness, he thought. It’s probably just another crazy. But he clicked the ‘reply’ icon anyway and typed in a few words. ‘Please, call me.’ He added his office and mobile-phone numbers and hit ‘send’.
He resized his photoshopped image of his daughter and slid it next to the email attachment on the screen. His impression of Suzie at fifteen showed a face that brimmed with good health, a mouth that was always ready to smile. The girl in the attachment was sombre; she gazed ahead as though thinking of something else. Fennimore wondered what the man was saying to her. She looked about the same age as Suzie; she had dark hair and brown eyes – like Suzie’s. But she wore a knee-length dress in burnt orange and brown, cinched at the waist, a tiny clutch bag emphasizing her slim form, and she strode out in high heels. Fennimore shook his head absently – hard to imagine his tomboy daughter in this graceful young woman.
A two-tone audio notification interrupted his scrutiny of the photograph. A new message in his inbox. Eagerly, Fennimore maximized the Outlook screen. But it was a bounce-back: anon67912 no longer existed.
He called up the original email and a few mouse clicks later he was scrolling through the email’s ‘properties’; it would surely have been routed through an anonymous server – only an amateur would send an email like that from a naked IP – but he had to try. Astonishingly, the IP address was there, in amongst the jumble of letters and numbers. The IP could give him a physical location. Excitement building, he traced the IP number using WHOIS, and found the service provider.
He cursed, softly: it was blocked as private. The service provider could give him the sender’s location, but wouldn’t – not without a warrant. He thought of Kate Simms, stationed for the next few months half a world away in the United States. But even she wouldn’t be able to obtain a warrant on such slim grounds.
He looked at the picture again. Just a teenage girl walking along a sunny street with an older man. They walked about a foot apart, the girl to the right, next to a sheer wall. No windows that he could see. The man’s left hand was raised to waist height as if he was gesturing to emphasize a point; the girl seemed distracted. Nothing wrong in that; nothing sinister. So why did he find himself searching her young face for signs of distress? And even if it was there, couldn’t there be an innocent explanation – an exam to take, a dreaded dental appointment?
That being the case, why did somebody watch those two and photograph them and send you the image? And whoever sent the image had taken the trouble to find out Fennimore’s academic address; this was personal.
He stared at the image for so long that when he glanced away he could see the silhouette of the girl and the man ghosted on the grey sky outside his office window. He blinked to clear the after-image and took a fresh look at the photograph. A hard line of shadow ran between the man and the girl so that they might almost be walking on different pavements at different times of day.
Later he would compare ratios for the girl’s face: distance between the eyes; position of the ears relative to the eyeline; size and shape and position of the nose and mouth. It would only ever be an approximation – he wouldn’t be able to use facial-recognition software, not with the already approximated aged-up image of Suzie he had constructed. For an accurate comparison he would need to know the distance from which the photograph had been taken, and the angle. It seemed to be from slightly above – a bridge, maybe? He looked for a clue, and found a small circular segment of something, tight to the wall. He opened the image in Photoshop and zoomed in on that section of the photograph. It looked like a metal dome attached to a bracket – a street lamp, maybe – in racing green. A bridge, then – or maybe the street sloped uphill while the pathway continued on the flat. In the distance, behind the two figures, the number plate obscured by a section of wall, the back of a white box van with a squiggle of black spray paint at the top of the roller door.
His eyes were drawn again to the girl’s face. Suzie, or a perfect stranger? Impossible to say. The dress, the well-styled hair were hard to reconcile with Suzie zipping around on a skateboard. He felt a sharp spike of excitement – the accident: Suzie had fallen trying a new stunt on her board and cut her head badly. The scar – a small diamond-shaped patch of red on her left temple – had just begun to heal when she disappeared. Would it remain, after all these years? He snatched up the mouse and zoomed in on the girl’s face. At high magnification he could see that portion of the image was slightly blurred – camera shake, or perhaps a breeze had ruffled her hair at the moment the photographer pressed the shutter. The girl’s hair was feathered over her forehead and combed right to left. Was that deliberate – to hide the scar? The shadow cast by the strands of hair, together with the blurring, made it difficult to tell if they were hiding anything. Fennimore brightened the image and played with the contrast. It took an hour, but at last he thought he saw it – a small diamond-shaped imperfection. He needed to trace the email back to source. He checked his watch; it was 7 p.m. The IT team would be long gone; his inquiry would have to wait until morning. The heating had clicked off a couple of hours since and the temperature in the life sciences building plummeted – early May in Aberdeen could feel like February. He should go back to his flat and relax for the evening, but rest was impossible.
Coffee, he thought. Then he would get to work on those ratios.
East St Louis, Illinois
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Simms stared out of an SUV onto mile after mile of burned-out houses, boarded-up apartment buildings, empty factory units and vacant lots, crowded with saplings and trees, competing for space. Rubble was strewn across the vacant lots. Rubbish littered the streets and piled up in ragged heaps against chain-link fences and corrugated-iron hoardings. This was East St Louis, Illinois – a city in its own right – though it was only a two-minute drive across the Mississippi River from St Louis, Missouri.
Simms was on a three-month method exchange with St Louis PD; her assignment, to undertake case reviews and share UK investigation protocols, processes and skills. The UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers was funding her and a CSI, as well as paying consultant fees to Professor Varley, a forensic psychologist she had worked with the previous year. The American contingent of the Method Exchange Team included, from St Louis PD: Detective Ellis, a granite-faced man with a buzz cut and a blunt manner; a soft-featured young detective named Valance; and Roper, a tall, hyperactive CSI. FBI Special Agent Dr Detmeyer, on loan from the Bureau’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, would give the American psychological perspective. The last member of the team was Detective Dunlap, a grey-haired African American in his early fifties, on assignment from East St Louis Homicide. As he put it, ‘The Two State area shares crime freely, so we figured why can’t the good guys share resources, too?’
Simms gazed through the windscreen at the scene of apparent devastation. They were looking into a cold case and were en route to the scene of the murder in East St Louis. Everyone wore body armour, including Simms and the CSIs. Detective Greg Dunlap, the East St Louis detective, drove one of the SUVs. Dunlap was soft-spoken and sad-faced, but when he walked into a room, people paid attention.
‘I checked the address on Google Maps before we left the station,’ she said. ‘I did wonder why I couldn’t find street-view data.’
Detective Dunlap nodded. ‘I know I wouldn’t chance expensive camera equipment on these mean streets,’ he said. ‘Most folks blast through here at seventy miles per hour – you can get a bit of camera shake at those speeds. There were twenty-eight murders here in East St Louis in the last year alone, in a population of just twenty-seven thousand.’
‘That’s a hell of a statistic,’ Simms said.
He nodded. ‘What East St Louis lacks in size it makes up for in grim determination. It’s right up there with Baltimore in the murder stats.’
They drove on in silence for a while and Simms gazed about her, finding it hard to square this ravaged landscape with the thriving community on the west side of the river. ‘What happened, Greg?’ she asked, thinking, Riots, tornadoes. War zone.
‘Manufacturers went bust, or moved on to states with better tax breaks or easier access to the raw materials they needed. There used to be a saying, “If you can’t find a job in East St Louis, you can’t find a job anywhere.” That was a long time ago. Now, the kids who need to pay for themselves to go through college have to travel out to the strip malls in Fairview Heights to find a job. The public schools are failing, and most kids leave school illiterate, unemployable and mad as hell.’ He shook his head. ‘The only way boys in that situation can prove themselves is with violence and criminality.’
He paused, nodded thoughtfully, his expression almost wistful. ‘Wasn’t always this way. Steamboat Willie was born here, and Miles Davis was raised here; Barbara Ann Teer grew up a few blocks from where we are now – she founded the National Black Theatre in Harlem. There’s a long and honourable roll-call of eminent African Americans with East St Louis connections.’
‘You were brought up here?’ Simms asked.
He dipped his head to get a better view of a Youth Correctional Facility as they drove by, a large Victorian complex surrounded by chain-link and razor wire. ‘That used to be the high school.’ He nodded towards the car park. ‘Under that parking lot is the football field where I got scouted for a scholarship to St Louis University.’
They passed a boarded-up house, a message painted on the board: ‘I am black, like you. I am poor, like you. But you broke in here and took everything I had.’
Half a mile on, they turned off into one of the public housing projects. Block after block of two- and three-storey tenements stood derelict or in such a sorry state that they might as well be pulled down.
A group of men and boys sat on sagging chairs and rat-eaten sofas in the centre of a demolition site. The men watched them drive by, an East St Louis police vehicle and two unmarked SUVs. The men’s heads turned slowly, eyeless behind wrap-around sunglasses.
As if at a predetermined signal, the boys leapt up and ran, disappearing around corners, into buildings, sending up a chorus of shouts and whistles.
The convoy drew to a halt outside a three-storey tenement. Simms knew from her background reading that it had been tagged for demolition in 2010, but the city had run out of money even to pull down the obsolete housing that attracted squatters, drug manufacturers and their customers.
‘You stay close to me, okay, Chief?’ Dunlap said.
It felt odd being called ‘Chief’, but Simms had quickly learned that the Americans were punctilious about the use of professional titles, so Simms said, ‘Okay, Detective.’
He waited until the East St Louis PD officers got out of their patrol car before climbing down from the SUV. There were five patrolmen, headed up by a sergeant in uniform. He and Dunlap shook hands.
‘You go on ahead,’ the sergeant told them. ‘We’ll take care of the vehicles.’
‘Surely they wouldn’t mess with police cars?’ Simms said.
‘A couple years back, some guys stole the radio out of the Chief of Police’s car right in front of City Hall,’ Dunlap said, with a small smile. ‘Which was embarrassing. Now, we take no chances.’
The sergeant lifted his chin to Dunlap. ‘You be all right in there?’
‘We’ll be fine,’ Dunlap said, looking past him. ‘You should watch your own backs.’
A small crowd had already begun to congregate on the derelict land.
Elleesha Tate was seventeen when she died. For a time, her pimp was in the frame for the murder, but he had an alibi, and his DNA was not found on her. To date, nobody had been held to account for her murder.
On the face of it, Elleesha Tate’s murder didn’t look a good bet. The protocols for selecting which cold cases to review were very similar both sides of the Pond. Both worked from checklists, and although the questions on the checklists were slightly different, investigators in the US and the UK preferred cases where there was a good chance that the offender was still alive. In Detective Ellis’s words: ‘We like to put the bad guys away, and you can’t try a dead man.’
But the final decision to select or reject a case rested on its solvability, and as they’d sat around the conference table a couple of days earlier, presenting the arguments for and against, Detective Ellis had laid out the reasons why Elleesha Tate’s murder would probably remain unsolved.
‘She was a crystal-meth addict; she fed her habit through prostitution. She had a lot of male callers the day she died – and not the kind of men who would stand in line to give evidence, either.’ He paused to tuck a starched white expanse of shirt fabric into the waistband of his trousers. ‘She was stabbed thirty times, but East St Louis PD got no trace evidence, no blood – except hers, there was plenty of that. The semen in her was mixed, and unusable.’
Simms ran down the checklist in front of her. He was right: Elleesha’s was not a good review case.
‘Anyway, your guys had the perp,’ Ellis said, nodding towards Dunlap, the East St Louis detective. ‘You just couldn’t break his alibi.’
‘I remember that case,’ Detective Dunlap said. ‘I never thought the pimp was a good suspect.’
The FBI behaviourist stirred, spoke like a man coming out of a dream. ‘I would agree. Pimps are more inclined to use cruelty and fear as a means of control; it’s far more likely that Elleesha was murdered by a client.’ Dr Detmeyer was on assignment from the BAU’s Unit 4 – the unit responsible for the Violent Criminal Apprehension Programme, ViCAP, so he would know.
‘Chief Simms, what’s your take?’ Dunlap asked.
‘I’ll go with the consensus,’ Simms said. But—’ The word was out of her mouth before she could stop it.
‘Go ahead,’ Dunlap said. The American team seemed curiously non-hierarchical to her British sensibilities, but Dunlap often assumed the role of the designated spokesperson.
‘You know how it is – the place tells a story, gives you the context.’ Simms heard herself paraphrasing Nick Fennimore, and she told herself to stop – she didn’t need Fennimore in her head just now. ‘Okay, Elleesha doesn’t fit half the criteria, but that building might be pulled down before anyone gets another chance to revisit it. Even if no new evidence comes out of it, at the very least we’d have an opportunity to compare crime-scene procedures.’
‘So you guys can show us how to “do it right”?’ Detective Ellis raked air quotes with his first and middle fingers, the clean white linen of his shirt cracking like a sail in a crisp wind.
‘Hey, come on, now, Ellis.’ This was Detective Valance – young, boyish and blue-eyed. He wore his fair hair cropped tight to his head, Simms suspected, to make him look tougher, but it only emphasized the softness of his features.
‘It’s okay,’ Simms said. ‘Now is as good a time as any to set the record straight.’ She looked around the table, making eye contact with everyone present. ‘UK police forces have lost over seven thousand front-line officers and twelve thousand back-office staff in cutbacks. We need to learn how to work more efficiently – and you guys work a higher volume of murders than we do. We’re here to share expertise, and pick up a few tips on the way.’
Ellis looked a little abashed, but made no apology.
‘So, how about it,’ Dunlap said, his voice warm, and rich, and reasonable. ‘Fresh eyes?’
Valance nodded, enthusiastic. Roper said, ‘I’m in.’ Detmeyer watched them all.
‘What have we got to lose,’ Simms said. ‘A few hours?’
‘You could lose a lot more than time, heading into East St Louis,’ Ellis grumbled.
Soft laughter around the table elicited a scowl – Ellis did not play the room for laughs. ‘I’m serious.’ He jerked his chin to Dunlap. ‘Dunlap, you know.’
‘Yes,’ Dunlap said, ‘I do.’ He thought about it for a few seconds. ‘And I say it’s worth a shot.’
The stairwell smelled of mould and burning plastic.
‘Meth,’ Dunlap said.
Methamphetamine had been the curse of inner-city and rural communities alike over the last twenty years. According to the RAND stats, meth addiction was costing the United States up to $50 billion a year.
Looking up the centre of the stairwell, his hand on his pistol, Dunlap added, ‘They probably scooted when they got word Five-O was paying a visit, but let’s be careful.’
They cleared each floor as they came to it, and when they reached the third landing where Elleesha had lived, Detective Ellis stood guard on the door while the rest of them went inside.
There was no light or power, and the boards on the windows put the apartment in gloom, but the CSIs set up three battery-powered LED spots in under a minute.
‘Wallpaper’s been stripped,’ Simms said, comparing the scene photos with the dove-grey washed walls.
‘They detailed the apartment after the CSIs had finished in here,’ Dunlap said. ‘Stripped the walls and repainted, glossed the doors.’
‘The crime-scene report said the attack began on the bed,’ Simms said.
‘Bed was under the window.’ This was Paul Roper, the St Louis CSI. He was tall and wiry, a spare man who seemed to hum with nervous energy. ‘She bled out in the corner, between the bed and the window.’
‘Defensive wounds to her arms suggest she fought,’ Simms said. ‘Maybe she rolled off the bed to get away from him.’
Roper moved to the wall, a blow-up of a crime scene photograph in hand. ‘There was a lot of arterial spray and cast-off,’ he said.
Simms looked at the picture. Arcs of arterial spray on the wall, window and sill; scattered amongst them a few drops that didn’t seem to belong – cast-off from the knife as the killer drew his arm back to strike again.
‘But this one looks off,’ the CSI said. He circled a single drop on the photograph with the tip of his right pinkie finger.
‘Off, how?’ Ellis demanded from the doorway. It was hot in there; his shirt had lost its starched freshness and clung damply to him; he looked out of sorts with himself and the world at large.
‘You’ve got a lot of blood spatter radiating out from where she lay.’ Roper indicated some teardrop-shaped blood drops on the image. ‘As the perp pulled the knife out and back, droplets would move in the direction of his hand.’ He passed the photograph around while he mimed the movement of the blood spatter from the knife to the wall. ‘Some droplets look like they got flicked back, some up, which is what you’d expect.’ He plucked the image from Valance’s fingers. ‘But this looks like it impacted from the vertical.’ He indicated a single drop that looked like an inverted exclamation point.
‘So, it went up, then fell, hitting the wall on the downward trajectory,’ Dunlap suggested.
The CSI looked doubtful. ‘This is more of a blob than a streak, which means low velocity.’ He darted forward to lay a photograph of the bed where it would have been at the crime scene. ‘The foot of the bed was about … here,’ he said, sketching a line with the blade of his hand and taking a step back. ‘Elleesha’s body was in the corner at the bedhead.’
The photographs showed the densest concentration of arcs and blood spatter under the window and in the corner, as Elleesha pushed and kicked and squirmed backwards, trying to escape the blade. The blood drop Roper was interested in had been on the wall a couple of feet away from the foot of the bed.
‘This drop of blood is at least nine feet away from where the main assault occurred. Why?’
‘Because plunging a knife through flesh and muscle thirty times is tiring work.’ These were the first words the FBI behaviourist had said since they walked inside the building.
They turned to look at him.
FBI Special Agent Dr Detmeyer rarely spoke, yet Simms got the impression he was in constant dialogue with himself. He was a slim man in his early fifties, medium height, with an intense gaze and quick, precise movements. He paced to the corner in three steps and hunched over, mimed a few strikes. ‘Elleesha stops struggling as she bleeds out, he stands back to take a breath, maybe he staggers a little.’
‘Or his foot gets caught in the bedclothes,’ Valance said, his young face eager.
The FBI psychologist regarded him calmly and he flushed, apologizing.
‘No need,’ Dr Detmeyer said. ‘It’s a good suggestion. So, he staggers – or stumbles – holding the knife point down, and tries to recover his balance.’ He jerked both hands in a typical startle reaction to an anticipated backward tumble. ‘A drop of blood rolls to the tip of the blade and falls, making contact with the wall on the vertical at low velocity. A blitz attack, the victim fighting back as Elleesha did, the blood gets everywhere,’ the psychologist went on. ‘Blood is slippery stuff – you’ll often see cuts on an attacker’s hand where it slipped down the knife onto the blade.’
Simms felt a tingle of excitement. ‘So, we could be looking at the offender’s blood.’
‘A picture of it,’ Ellis said over his shoulder. ‘This area wasn’t sampled. Wallpaper’s gone. There’s nothing left to sample.’
Simms stared at the photograph under the arc lights. A thin, brownish-red trickle of blood tracked down the wall from the drop singled out by the CSI. She crouched, photograph in hand, comparing the position of the window, estimating the length of the bed, trying to approximate where the blood had traced down the wallpaper.
There was a hint of shadow at the crucial point along the skirting. ‘Could we get a light in here?’ she said.
One of the LED arc lights was repositioned. They all saw it: a tiny gap between the wall and the skirting board. One by one they straightened up, crowding around the image of the drop of blood, looking from the image to the wall, each doing their own mental calculations.
Simms moved in and pressed her cheek flat against the wall. Someone handed her a flashlight and she shone it down into the crack. ‘I think I see a brownish stain,’ she said. ‘Could be blood.’
‘Only one way to find out,’ CSI Roper said, grinning, as he headed for the door. ‘I’ll go fetch the power saw from the SUV.’
Copyright © 2015 A.D. Garrett.
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
A. D. Garrett is the pseudonym for the writing collaboration of prize-winning thriller writer Margaret Murphy and forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay. Margaret Murphy is the author of nine psychological thrillers. She lectures on writing and is a former Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow. Professor Barclay is a world renowned forensics expert and senior lecturer in forensic science at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.