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Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly (Detective Sean Duffy #6)
Author:Adrian McKinty

“We haven’t removed the bolt from the second victim yet. We’ve only just discovered him.”

“I see. And this first guy?”

“He lived.”

“Well, that’s good. I suppose. Where was he shot?”

“In the back like victim number two.”

“Did he happen to see who shot him?”

“Maybe, but it’s the usual thing. He’s not telling us anything.”

“Of course not.”

“So do you want to come back for it? Or do you want me and Lawson to handle it? Up to you, Sean, but I thought I’d let you know. Our first murder in nearly a year, and a weird one at that …”

I lowered my voice. “Crabbie, just between us, you’re a total lifesaver, mate. Have you heard of a thing called St Patrick’s Purgatory?”

“No.”

“No, why would ya, you big Proddy heretic.”

I quickly explained the nature of the pilgrimage and what my dad wanted us to do.

“So you see, Crabbie, if I have to rush back to Carrickfergus to help solve this crossbow-wielding-vigilante-potential-serial-killer case I won’t have to go to that bloody island and get verrucae, mildew and trench foot.”

Crabbie, however, was not one to shirk off religious obligations lightly. “No,” he said reflectively. “I think you should do that thing with your father. It sounds very holy, so it does.”

“Crabbie, listen, I’m coming back. Saint Patrick and all the sinners in purgatory can wait.”

“All right, I won’t let anyone disturb the crime scene till you get there. When do you think that would be?”

“It’s a one and a half hour drive back to Carrickfergus. If the baby wasn’t in the car with me I’d be there in an hour, but as it is I’ll have to leave the wife and kid off first and take it easy on the roads. Be there in an hour and a half. Maybe eighty eight minutes, OK? Anything else going on?”

“Did you hear about John Strong?”

“What about him?”

“He’s moving on.”

“To the choir invisible?”

“To Assistant Chief Constable.”

“Same thing, really. Finally someone we almost like up at command level.”

“Aye. And listen, what do you know about Bulgaria?”

“Uhm, decent defence and midfield, lacks imagination up front. Why?”

“I’ll explain when you get here. 15 Mountbatten Terrace in Sunnylands Estate,” Crabbie said.

“Sunnylands Estate – why am I not surprised? All right, take it easy, mate.”

I hung up the phone and went into the kitchen with a downcast look on my face.

“What’s the matter, Sean?”

“Mum, Dad, I’m really sorry but I have to go back to Carrickfergus. There’s been a murder. Suspected serial killer. Maybe even a vigilante. It’s action stations at Carrickfergus RUC. Top brass have been on the phone. The BBC. You know how it is.”

“What does this all mean, Sean?” Dad asked.

“I’ve got to get back. It’s all hands on deck. We’ll have to do Saint Patrick’s Purgatory another time.”

I could see the look of relief flit across Dad’s face. “Oh dear. Dear oh dear. I’m disappointed, son. I really wanted to go,” he lied like a trooper.

“I know, Dad. I wanted to do it, too. We’ll just have to go in the summer when the weather’s better. Or next year.”

“Yes! When the weather’s better.”

“A murder, Sean? You haven’t had one of those for a while,” Mum said.

“Nope. This is the first this year. Some drug dealer shot in the back with an arrow.”

“Like Saint Sebastian,” Mum said sadly.

“Saint Sebastian was shot in the front, love. Several times. You remember the painting by Botticelli,” Dad prompted.

“So who am I thinking of that was shot in the back?”

“Jimmy Stewart in Broken Arrow? He was shot in the back. He survived but poor Debra Paget, his beautiful Apache wife, she died,” Dad explained.

“Debra Paget,” Mum said thoughtfully.

“She was shot by Will Geer who, of course, went on to play Grandpa Walton,” Dad explained.

This was heading the way of all their conversations so I knew I had to nip it in the bud. I pointed at my watch. “Really sorry about the pilgrimage, Dad. I was so looking forward to it. But someone has to keep the streets safe,” I said but neither of them was really listening to me.

“Is Jimmy Stewart still alive?” Mum asked.

“He is too! And in fine fettle. He was on Gay Byrne just last year,” Dad insisted.

“Debra Paget, I know that name,” Mum said.

“Of course you know Debra Paget!” Dad insisted. “She was Elvis’s girlfriend in Love Me Tender and she married Chiang Kai-shek’s nephew. In real life that is, not in Love Me Tender.”

“Oh yes, that’s right. I remember, now,” Mum said, satisfied.

I pointed at my watch again. “Listen, guys, it’s been great, but duty calls.”

We packed our bags, gave hugs all round and ran outside into the rain.

I looked underneath the BMW for bombs, secured Emma in her car seat and got Beth comfy in the front.

I got in the driver’s side, turned the key in the ignition and we both grinned as the Beemer’s throaty, fuel-injected six cylinder engine roared into life.

Eighty-eight minutes later I was at the crime scene.