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Heav’n hath no rage like love to hatred turn’d

CHAPTER 1

Five months ago.

Evan Buckley got back from the men’s room to find a man sitting on his stool up at the bar of the Jerusalem Tavern. Kate Guillory was where he’d left her, beside him. In his mid-to-late forties, the guy looked very out of place. Expensive charcoal-gray pinstriped suit and still with his dark-red tie perfectly cinched at his neck, he looked like he’d be more at home in an up-market cocktail bar or an exclusive gentleman’s club.
Guillory turned towards Evan as he approached.
‘Evan, this is Reece Chandler. He’s looking for you.’ Making it sound like she’d met a man who collected toenail clippings as a hobby.
Chandler slipped off the stool and smiled. Standing, he was an inch taller than Evan. He stuck out his hand, confirmed Evan’s suspicions as they shook.
‘I’m an attorney. I was wondering if I could have a word.’
Evan went to pull up another stool. Chandler stopped him.
‘In private, if you don’t mind.’
‘You can talk in front of Kate.’
Guillory took it as her cue to join in.
‘I guarantee I won’t be surprised or offended by anything you say.’ She hooked her thumb at Evan. ‘I’d even put his money on it.’
Chandler looked from one to the other, not sure who to respond to.
‘It’s not that. I meant somewhere quieter, that’s all. The music’s a bit loud in here.’
Evan hadn’t noticed. He cocked his ear, the sound of Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer in the background. He shrugged as Chandler continued.
‘My car’s outside. Detective Guillory is welcome to join us.’
Guillory frowned. Gave Chandler a piercing look that he didn’t notice, too busy concentrating on Evan. She didn’t say anything. Evan got the impression she hadn’t given Chandler her name. Nor would she have told him she was a detective in an attempt to impress him. She waved her hand towards the door.
‘No, you go ahead.’
Evan picked up his beer glass, drained it, careful not to smack his lips in front of a well-dressed potential client.
‘Don’t want it to get warm.’
‘You like your beer cold?’ Chandler said.
‘The colder the better.’
Chandler’s face compacted, doubt edging into his voice.
‘I hope that’s not going to be a problem.’
Then he was gone, heading towards the door with long purposeful strides. Evan and Guillory exchanged a look, then Evan set off after him. Outside, more than a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of shiny black BMW sat idling at the curb, the driver similarly attired in a dark suit and tie, if not as obviously expensive. Evan climbed into the leathery ambience of the back seat behind the driver as Chandler walked around to the other side and slid in. He gave a small nod towards the driver watching him in the mirror. The big car moved away in a silent whoosh and you can forget about your electric toy cars.
As soon as they were on the move, the lawyer pre-empted Evan’s first question.
‘You were recommended to me.’
‘Okay.’
‘By a mutual acquaintance. Arabella Carlson. Bella.’
It wasn’t what he was expecting. It also changed his expectations of what was coming. Had he been a mercenary money-grabbing type, he’d have mentally doubled his daily rate.
‘Really? That explains how you found me in the Jerusalem Tavern.’
Chandler nodded.
‘Exactly.’
A while back, Evan had been enjoying a quiet beer in the Jerusalem when the woman he came to know as Bella Carlson sat down beside him. They’d chatted and joked, but he’d sensed something was off immediately. It didn’t take long before he was proved right when a man came in and tried to stab her. He’d chased the assailant and his partner off, but then found himself embroiled in a thirty-year-old family feud, Bella turning out to be a wealthy Boston heiress. None of that explained why Chandler had come looking for him in person.
‘You could’ve called.’
Chandler shrugged.
‘I’ve heard it’s a great bar.’
Evan heard something different.
I have my reasons that I’m not about to share.
He guessed it had something to do with checking out a man whose primary point of contact was a bar, personal recommendation or not.
‘Are you working for Bella?’
‘My firm’s Boston office is retained by the Carlson family, yes. The matter I want to talk to you about tonight concerns a different client. Have you heard of Benjamin Bradlee?’
It was a safe bet he didn’t mean the late editor of the Washington Post, in which case Evan hadn’t. He looked thoughtful—a difficult thing for him to pull off according to Guillory—for a long moment.
‘I don’t think so.’
Chandler gave a satisfied nod.
‘Good. That’s the way Mr. Bradlee likes it. He’s a very private man.’
Sinking deeper into the fine leather of the BMW’s seat and with Chandler in his five-thousand-dollar suit and with his gold cufflinks and vintage Rolex peeking out, Evan made a mental stab at the unspoken part of the sentence.
Despite his enormous wealth.
Chandler then proceeded to confirm it. He explained that Bradlee, now aged eighty-five, was the founder and major shareholder of Bradlee Technologies Corp., a major defense contractor, the industry sector going some way to explaining Benjamin Bradlee’s obsession with secrecy. He also explained that Bradlee hadn’t worked in the business for some years.
‘It’s now run by Benjamin Jr.?’ Evan said.
Chandler shook his head, his face a picture of solicitousness. Regret mingled with sadness in his voice.
‘Unfortunately not. Mr. Bradlee’s only son, William, died in an accident five years ago. The plane he was piloting went down in a storm as they were returning from a skiing vacation in Colorado. His wife was with him at the time. As was their daughter and one of her friends. It was a tragedy.’
‘Did they have any other kids?’
Relief flooded Chandler’s face, a silver lining lighting up his voice.
‘They did. Mercifully, their son, Barrett, wasn’t with them at the time. He had a knee injury that prevented him from accompanying them. It’s no fun being a teenager watching your big sister and her friend who’s taken your place ski. He was with Mr. Bradlee, his grandfather. Which is where he’s stayed ever since. Mr. Bradlee’s wife had already passed by then. Needless to say, Mr. Bradlee has doted on him after the remainder of his family was taken from him. Barrett is all he’s got left . . .’
Evan was getting a feeling for the story. He was tempted to tap the driver on the shoulder, get him to join in with a rousing chorus of the blindingly obvious.
‘And now he’s disappeared?’
‘Exactly.’
Evan buzzed the window down a couple inches to let in some air. The driver scowled at him in the mirror for interfering with his carefully-regulated environment. Evan buzzed it down another inch, went back to Chandler.
‘And Mr. Bradlee being a very private person doesn’t want to involve the police?’
‘Not until he has to, no. Hopefully it won’t ever come to that.’
Evan bit his tongue, smiled like he believed it. Personally, he preferred the one about the tooth fairy. Seemed it wasn’t enough, Chandler feeling the need to press the point, his voice earnest.
‘At present, there is no reason to believe that it will. Nothing sinister or untoward has occurred, but Mr. Bradlee hasn’t heard from Barrett for a couple of months now.’
‘How often would they normally talk?’
Chandler shook his head as if it was an irrelevant question.
‘More frequently than that, certainly.’ He cleared his throat, made Evan think, here we go. ‘The thing is, they had a falling out, of sorts. Barrett is something of a disappointment to Mr. Bradlee. After his son William was killed, Mr. Bradlee made what he sees as the obvious assumption that Barrett would step up to the plate and take over the running of the company.’
‘But Barrett’s got other ideas?’
‘Indeed. Mr. Bradlee is a hard taskmaster, as you’d expect any self-made man in his position to be.’ He cleared his throat again, his words addressed to the perfect crease in his pants leg. ‘In my own opinion, he’s also a little unrealistic. Barrett is still only twenty-three. Of course, by the age of twenty-three, Mr. Bradlee himself was already well on the way to his first million and can’t see why anyone else, especially his own flesh and blood, would be any different.’
‘What does Barrett spend his time doing? Blowing all grandpa’s money on booze and drugs?’
Evan would’ve expected a disapproving scowl for his impertinence, but Chandler surprised him.
‘Very probably. Unsuitable women, too, no doubt. Outside of that, he’s still studying. He’s halfway through an MBA.’ A small unprofessional smile flitted across Chandler’s face. ‘Which gives rise to outbursts along the lines of, when’s the boy going to stop reading about it and start damn well doing it?
Evan smiled with him, tried to imagine what it must be like to have a billion-dollar corporation ready and waiting for the day you wake up and decide you’re bored with sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. He didn’t get far, moved on. Or back, to the real world.
‘You’ve checked with the college?’
‘We have. They confirmed that he’s been skipping classes for about the same length of time. But kids drop out all the time. So long as you don’t ask for your money back, they don’t really care.’
‘So what’s happened? Why start looking now?’
Chandler opened his hands wide. The gesture implied that his relationship with Mr. Bradlee was not such that he got to ask such questions—nor did he want to when there was a fee to be made.
‘Nothing in particular, so far as I am aware. However, the longer it goes on, the more it preys on his mind. You can see why we can’t go to the police.’
Evan could, although he’d have put it differently.
I’m paid to indulge a rich old man, the police aren’t.
Evan hadn’t been paying attention to where they’d been driving as they talked. If it hadn’t been for the wind whistling through the open window he wouldn’t have been aware that they were moving at all in the insulated cocoon of the car. Unlike the driver, who’d clearly been paying close attention to how the conversation in the back seat was progressing, judging things accordingly. They were now approaching the Jerusalem Tavern again, to coincide with the meeting winding down. Once they’d pulled up outside, Chandler leaned between the front seats, took an ostrich-hide briefcase off the front passenger seat. He rested it on his knees, popped the catches, removed a manila envelope. Offered it to Evan. Then kept hold of his end as Evan grasped it, as if they were fighting over a giant winning lottery ticket.
‘Photographs, background information. Take a look at it at your leisure. I’ll call you tomorrow morning and you can let me know if you’re interested.’
Evan couldn’t see the point of waiting until the morning, and said so. He’d be happy to take the job on.
The same knowing smile as earlier when talking about his client Benjamin Bradlee’s impatience with his grandson appeared on Chandler’s face.
‘You remember I asked about how you like your beer cold?’
‘Uh-huh.’ Thinking get out of the damn car as his mouth watered at the prospect of another cold one to celebrate a nice fat fee coming his way.
‘I didn’t tell you where Barrett is doing his MBA. Cambridge.’
‘He’s at Harvard, is he?’
Chandler’s smile grew wider at Evan’s understandable error.
‘Not Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge, England.’

 

Guillory looked up as Evan pushed through the Jerusalem’s door, caught his eye in the backbar mirror, the sound of the Cowboy Junkies’ Those Final Feet on the jukebox in the background. He slipped onto the stool next to her, raised two fingers at Kieran the bartender.
‘So?’ she said.
He waited until Kieran brought the beers over, put them on the bar in front of them. Picked one up, offered it to her.
‘Put that between your thighs, will you?’
‘What?’
‘I need you to warm it up.’
She narrowed her eyes at him. Like maybe Chandler hadn’t been a lawyer after all. He’d been a drug dealer dressed up as one and Evan had spent the past quarter hour shooting up in the back seat of his shiny BMW.
‘I’m thinking of putting your head between them. See if I can’t thaw out your frozen brain.’ She flicked her fingers at the beer until he put it back on the bar, tried again. ‘So? What was that all about? And how did he know my name?’
‘How would you like a vacation in England?’
The question took her by surprise. Then it clicked about the beer.
‘That’s what all that was about? He’s got a job he wants you to do in England?’
‘Yep.’ He took her through it, starting as Chandler had with the reason for approaching him. She’d been with him on the night it happened, outside, taking a call. She’d ended up being punched by one of the attackers as they fled. It put a wry smile on her face.
‘You think Bella told him how it ended? What you actually did for her?’ Drawing a hangman in the condensation pooled on the bar as she said it.
He pulled his head back, as if to get a better look at her.
‘Are you serious? He’s a lawyer. I’m not going to tell him that. Anyway, his client’s grandson has gone AWOL . . .’
Halfway through telling Chandler’s story, she picked up the manila envelope from where he’d left it on the bar, wiped beer off it with her sleeve, then shook the contents out onto a dry patch. She picked up a photograph from the top of the pile, studied it. Then placed it where they could both see it. It showed a tanned preppy-looking young man who Evan guessed wasn’t wearing any socks. Sunglasses perched on the top of his head, a pale lemon sweater draped around his shoulders. He was smiling, a glass of beer in one hand and a half-eaten chicken leg in the other. A lot of similarly-dressed people carrying glasses and plates of food milled around on the perfectly-manicured grass behind him. In the distance a small forest of yacht masts stood out against the brilliant blue of the sky.
‘Barbeque at the yacht club,’ Guillory murmured under her breath. ‘Obviously Chandler decided against the sympathy angle when he chose which photo to give you.’ Then, when he’d finished the story, ‘You gonna go?’
‘I already told him yes, but he said to think it over. I think what he meant was ask your permission.’
She pulled a face like her beer had turned sour on her.
‘Yeah, right. Like you take any notice of what I say.’ Her forehead creased suddenly as something came back to her. ‘How did he know my name?’
‘Apart from you being so famous, you mean?’
‘Apart from that, yeah.’
‘I figure he wanted to show us how good his research is.’
‘If it’s so good, how come they can’t find the kid themselves?’ Then her eyes narrowed, a look on her face she claimed the taxpayers demanded for their money.
‘What?’
‘Either Bella did tell him what you did for her, after all, or he knows more than he’s saying about the way this is likely to go.’
They talked it through for a while longer, not getting anywhere beyond a mutual acceptance that there was every chance there’d be more to it than Chandler had implied. As such, his decision to approach Evan was based not so much on Arabella Carlson’s personal recommendation, but on Evan’s expendability.
‘It’s nice to know I’m good for something,’ he said.
She gave his leg a comforting squeeze.
‘That’s what dung beetles say. But you’re right, it looks like you’re gonna need a grown-up to hold your hand while you’re over there. I’ve got some vacation coming.’ A rigid digit appeared an inch off the end of his nose accompanied by a sudden seriousness in her voice. ‘There’s one thing we need to get straight first.’
He nodded wearily, pretending he couldn’t see the mischief in her eyes.
‘Let’s hear it.’
‘You are not, I repeat not doing any of the driving. You’re bad enough on the right side of the road.’

CHAPTER 2

Two days later, they flew overnight into London Heathrow via Boston, getting in at 06:55 a.m. From there they took the Heathrow Express into Paddington, then a cab to the Great Northern Hotel in King’s Cross. Twenty years previously, the area around the station itself had been notorious for prostitution and street crime, the wider neighborhood a byword for urban blight and decay. Since then, it had been transformed by one of London’s largest and most successful redevelopments into a vibrant canal-side destination. A shining example of what the realtors described as transforming the industrial past into the creative present, a perfect mix of grittiness and shininess.
Best of all, you couldn’t walk ten yards without tripping over a bar or restaurant.
They’d decided against staying in Cambridge itself. It was only a short fifty-three-minute train journey from King’s Cross, the trains running every half hour. They’d also decided against renting a car and either of them driving. The medieval city was easier to navigate on foot rather than spend the whole time trying to find somewhere to park.
Besides, Evan liked trains, even if they were unlikely to let him sit in the cab with the engineer.
They were too early to be let into their room, so, after dropping off their bags, they went for breakfast in a restaurant in nearby Granary Square. Guillory played safe and opted for eggs benedict. Evan went for the full English breakfast with added cholesterol—eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and fried tomato. The waiter asked if he also wanted the black pudding.
‘Why wouldn’t I?’ Evan said, mildly offended at the slur on his appetite.
‘It’s not to everyone’s taste, sir.’ Looking at Guillory as he said it.
Intrigued, Evan went straight to it when his breakfast arrived. It was round and flat, about three inches across and half an inch thick. He prodded it with his knife when the waiter put his plate down, as if he thought it might push back.
‘What’s it made of?’
The waiter glanced around, then took great pleasure in explaining.
‘Congealed blood and gristle, basically. Enjoy.’
Guillory looked like she didn’t want it on the same table as her, but Evan dug in happily.
‘Yum. It’s sort of crumbly. You want to try it?’ Holding a piece towards her on his fork.
She pulled her head back like a small child refusing food.
‘You want to try eating it a different way? You’ll have to stand up first.’
She watched him eat much as a vegetarian on their first safari might watch a lion eat an antelope, morbid curiosity preventing her from looking away. She made a chugging noise in the back of her throat when he’d finished wiping up the last of the grease with his finger.
‘You know what that noise is?’
He was tempted to say that maybe one of the prostitutes from before the redevelopment had snuck in and was under the table, thought better of it. She was already explaining anyway.
‘It’s your blood trying to fight its way through your clogged arteries.’
‘Want me to make the noise all the rabbit food you eat produces?’ He raised an eyebrow at her, got a sorry headshake back. ‘No, I didn’t think so.’
After walking off their breakfast, they caught the 11:05 train. It got them into Cambridge at a minute after midday. Evan tried calling Barrett on the cell phone number Chandler had given him as they left the station. It went straight to voicemail. What he didn’t get was a recorded message telling him the number was out of service. He hesitated, killed the call without leaving a message.
Guillory was studying him, a small smile curling the edges of her mouth.
‘This is going to be fun. Watching the ace detective at work. I’m hoping to pick up a few tips, share them with Ryder.’
Ryder aka Donut was her long-term partner, his long-term nemesis. Evan ignored the reference to him, spread his arms wide. Took in the station plaza, the street ahead running into the city center.
‘Welcome to my world. No gun, no jurisdiction, nobody doing what you tell them to.’
‘Really? Your world is full of people exactly like yourself? Not sure I’m gonna like it. What’s next, Ace?’
‘After putting you back on the train to London, you mean?’
She smiled at him like a person inspecting their teeth for food scraps in the mirror.
‘Sorry. What should I call you?’
He ignored the second facetious question, answered the first.
‘I thought we’d have lunch.’
‘We only just had breakfast.’
His face compacted in confusion.
‘I thought if we’re going to be partners I better start acting like Donut.’ Puffing his cheeks out and bulging his eyes.
‘Tell you what . . . you don’t use the P-word again and I won’t call you Ace.’
‘Sure thing, partner.’
‘Ace.’
They’d started down the appropriately named Station Road by now. The street was lined with predominantly modern commercial buildings giving way to older properties and then shops and bars and restaurants as they got closer to the city center.
Evan stopped in front of The Bicycle Shop which didn’t sell bicycles and was actually a bar. The whole of the front was taken up by a large window with a long counter immediately behind the glass.
‘We could grab a beer, sit there and watch the street, see if he walks past.’
She nodded to herself like she was only sorry she hadn’t suggested it herself.
‘Maybe try calling him on his cell phone every hour or so. Until he answers or you fall off your seat. As Ryder would say, our jobs are safe.’
They moved on.
From the city center they crossed a small park known as Christ’s Pieces, got slightly lost before picking up Victoria Avenue heading north, Jesus College on their left. They walked diagonally across Jesus Green to the Jesus Green lock and over the bridge to Chesterton Road, the last-known address Chandler had given them for Barrett. Although the university required all undergraduates to live in university-owned halls of residence, no such restrictions were placed on postgraduate students.
The house was a four-story Victorian red-brick affair with large stone-faced bays housing draughty old sash windows. Big on character and style, not so great in winter when the wind blew across the green and off the river. Despite that, it was the sort of place only affordable by wealthy foreign students. Barrett had the third-floor apartment, the top floor if you didn’t count the attic.
Evan left Guillory on the sidewalk, she being of the opinion that it wasn’t worth climbing the dozen steps up to the dog-turd-brown front door for nothing. Barrett’s name was still on the card beside the buzzer for the third floor, an encouraging start. The fact that nobody responded to him repeatedly leaning on the buzzer wasn’t. He tried all of the others in turn, got no reply from any of them.
Back on the sidewalk, he saw Guillory’s mouth twitch, as if she decided against saying, what now, Ace?
At the risk of sounding like Donut, he broached the subject of lunch again. She shrugged, why not? He pulled out his phone, found their location on Google maps. Two hundred and fifty yards further along Chesterton Road there was a pub on the riverside called The Boathouse. He switched to street view, showed it to her.
‘You want to get it or wait here?’
She pulled a face at him, nice try, as they crossed the road together.
‘I’ll go. You can’t be trusted.’
He parked his butt on the metal railings flanking the riverside park as she went in search of sustenance. A quarter hour later she was back carrying a plate with two burgers and a pile of fries, hunched over like she was expecting a bum to rush her, try to steal them.
‘They don’t do take out. I had to pretend I was eating in the beer garden.’
He took a burger, let her keep the plate.
‘Breathe on me,’ he said.
‘What? You think I had time to drink a beer while I was there? I don’t drink like you do.’
He leaned in anyway, sniffed. She breathed over him, anything for an easy life.
‘Happy now?’
‘I’d have been happier if you’d brought a beer back with you.’
‘Into each life some rain must fall.’ She pointed at the house opposite with a fry. ‘Anything happening over there?’
‘Nope. They must all be in class.’
‘I think I saw some of them in the pub.’
He ignored her, concentrated on his burger, aware of her watching him.
‘What?’
‘I hope you’re enjoying that.’
‘Is that your way of saying I’m making too much noise eating?’
She shook her head.
‘Uh-uh. Have you got any idea how much these cost?’
He said he didn’t.
‘Fourteen pounds. Or quid as they say.’
‘That’s not too bad. Seven quid each.’
‘No. Fourteen pounds each.’
He stopped eating mid-chew, gawked at her.
‘Are you serious?’
‘Uh-huh.’
‘I wish I’d eaten it slower. Chewed a bit more.’
‘That makes two of us.’
They lapsed into a comfortable silence, Guillory insisting that he hold the plate if he was determined to eat all the fries himself. Across the road, nothing stirred. Behind them on the river, a punt approached Jesus lock. A young man wearing cream linen pants and a white shirt worked the pole effortlessly to turn the punt around as his girlfriend lay back and let the sun warm her face, unaware they’d even changed direction.
Then Evan had a bright idea.
Except it had nothing to do with tracking down Barrett Bradlee. He waved the plate at her.
‘I’ll take this back. It wouldn’t look good if you got arrested for stealing pub property on your first day here.’
The plate changed hands again before he could react.
‘I’ll do it. You—’
‘Can’t be trusted, I know.’
She was a lot quicker this time, back in under five minutes.
‘Want to smell my breath again?’
‘Not with bits of burger in your teeth, no thanks.’
They waited for another two and a half hours before anything happened. Then a man in his mid-twenties with a battered leather satchel over his shoulder crossed the footbridge behind them coming from Jesus Green. He walked swiftly and purposefully without stopping to admire the view down the river from the middle of the bridge, dodged through the traffic with practiced ease, then stopped at the bottom of the steps leading up to Barrett’s front door. Evan heard his phone ringing from across the street.
Satchel Man had finished his call by the time Evan and Guillory had crossed the street remembering to look the wrong way. He hadn’t made a move to go inside. Guillory hung back as Evan approached him.
‘Do you live here?’
The guy laughed, looked behind him at the house.
‘I wish.’
Evan made an easy guess based on the fact that the guy seemed in no hurry to move along.
‘Are you waiting for someone who does?’
‘Yeah. He’s running late. As usual.’
‘His name’s not Barrett, is it?’
Satchel Man shook his head like he was staring at a blackboard trying to decipher what the hell the tutor had just scribbled on it.
‘No. Why?’
‘I’m a friend of Barrett’s, is all. This is the last address I had for him. He said to look him up if I was ever over here.’
‘Have you tried ringing the bell?’
Evan was tempted to ask whether the entry requirements for the university—one of the best in the world—had been recently relaxed. He didn’t, of course.
‘I tried them all. Nobody’s in.’
‘You’re American?’
‘Uh-huh. So’s Barrett.’
The guy smiled, a hint of mocking in his voice.
‘You’ve brought him some grits to remind him of home, whatever they are?’
Evan wanted to say, at least we don’t eat congealed blood for breakfast. Except the guy wasn’t paying attention by now, raising a hand in a wave to a similarly-aged young man hurrying down the street. The newcomer didn’t stop. He started up the steps as he apologized for being late, barely aware of Evan talking to his friend.
Evan stepped around the friend, called to him.
‘Do you live here?’
‘This guy’s looking for someone called Barrett.’ This from the friend.
The latecomer came back down to join them on the sidewalk. Guillory took the opportunity to sidle up. Evan introduced her to them.
‘This is Kate. I’m Evan. We’re friends of Barrett’s from back home.’
The latecomer nodded.
‘I caught the accent.’
His own accent suggested English wasn’t his first language but that good aka expensive schooling had ironed out most of the kinks.
‘Do you know Barrett?’ Evan said.
‘Only to say hello to when we pass on the steps.’ Indicating the steps behind him as if Americans wouldn’t know the word. ‘We didn’t mix socially. I’m Farid, by the way.’
‘Alastair,’ Satchel Man chipped in.
Evan nodded an acknowledgement, went back to Farid.
‘Do you know if he’s still living here?’
‘His name’s still next to the bell.’
‘When was the last time you saw him?’
Farid thought about it.
‘I’m on the second floor. I used to hear him moving around above me more than I saw him. Now you mention it, I haven’t heard him for a while. Maybe a month?’ He smiled apologetically. ‘You’d think you’d remember exactly when something that annoyed you stopped.’
‘Did he make a lot of noise?’ This from Guillory.
It was obvious what Farid wanted to say—all Americans make a lot of noise. He watered it down.
‘It wasn’t too bad. But when you’re studying and you’ve got a deadline looming . . .’ He opened his hands, what can I say.
Alastair didn’t agree.
‘He used to have parties, too.’
Farid said he’d forgotten about those. Alastair gave him a pitying look.
‘Is there anyone else in the house he was friendly with?’ Guillory said.
‘No more so than myself. People tend to keep to themselves. It’s not like it’s a house full of undergraduates.’ Making it sound like a derelict warehouse where junkies went to shoot up.
‘Any regular visitors?’ Evan said.
Farid shook his head. Alastair wasn’t happy with that either.
‘What about that girl? You know the one I mean.’
A look passed between them. Farid colored slightly. Addressed the space between Evan and Guillory.
‘I thought she looked like a whore. If not an actual prostitute, a gold-digger. My own family are wealthy. I know the type. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have work to do.’
He was already halfway up the steps. Alastair stayed where he was.
‘Are you really friends of Barrett’s?’
The question was aimed at Guillory. As if he’d already identified where the most truthful answers would be found.
‘More like friends of his parents. They’re worried because they haven’t heard from him. We were over here so we said we’d look in on him.’
Let’s hope they haven’t already been reunited, Evan thought as she lied. Seeing as they’re dead.
Alastair pulled out his phone, scrolled through the image gallery. Passed the phone to Guillory.
‘That’s her there.’ He made it sound as if he’d taken a picture of a drunk being sick on his friend’s front steps.
It had been taken from above, looking down on her as she descended the steps. She was looking back and upwards, but higher than the person taking the photograph. At the floor above—Barrett’s apartment, assuming Alastair had taken the shot from Farid’s window.
Her face was clearly visible. Short dark hair, eyes a color it was impossible to identify from the photograph. Not so her lips, her most distinguishing feature. Plump and so bulgingly ripe she looked as if she was getting ready to whistle.
Guillory passed the phone to Evan. Asked Alastair the obvious question.
‘What made you take it?’
A voice from the top of the steps interrupted before he answered, an edge of petulant impatience to it.
Alastair. We’ve got a lot to get through. I already made us late.’
The interruption threw Alastair. It was as if he’d forgotten the question and now he was answering a different one as he started up the steps in response to the peremptory summons.
‘I saw her one time in the Blue Ball Inn in Grantchester. Try asking there.’

END OF EXCERPT

© JAMES HARPER