TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
Hiding the Elephant – Chapter 18
The girl was six or seven. Her frame was. Her eyes were wiser than God. She looked up, part-way, then turned back into the room without a word, leaving the two men to enter or not as they pleased. The curtains were part drawn. Two boys of about four and five sat side by side in a black leather armchair. An out of sight TV screen cast blue and yellow moving shadows over their blank little faces.
Grant should have prepared himself for the presence of the children. There had always been children. During the crack of dawn drug raids amongst deliberately pounding, irrepressible thump of footsteps, warnings shouted out as much to scare as to caution, between obscenities of scantily clad women and the obligatory shatter of backroom windows, there have always been stares at knee height, at elbow height, from brightly coloured cots and through cracks in ready to be slammed doors. The eyes, always the same, unblinking and ungiving, ageless.
‘Have you found him?’ She stood sideways, making herself even smaller and thinner at the kitchen door, wiping her hands into a chequered kitchen towel. Grant had never really seen her face properly before. It wasn’t a face of a woman who’d wear a backless green velvet dress ever again.
The Sergeant patted the six year old on the head, but she moved away and went over to her mother.
‘No, I am afraid, we haven’t caught him yet, Mrs. Silcock. But we’ve found the car. ‘
‘Oh.’ said the woman.
‘I thought you may like to know.’
‘Yeah’ said the woman. ‘Yeah. Ta.’
Lock Up Your Daughters – Chapter 18
‘Just like the home life of our dear Queen,’ laughed the Superintendent and bit into a chocolate cookie. ‘We only have the vending machine at St. Aldate’s, and a kettle when that one’s out of order. Which is all the time.’
Oxford! Yes, that made sense. He was nearly there.
‘You’ve sent me a DNA sample last week. I may have a match.’ Spriggs paused to gauge the reaction.
‘Jesus! Fast work, Ma’am.’
‘Jennifer. Better still, Jenny.’ In response to his questioning look she pointed to the teapot. ‘No milk. Just as it comes.’
‘And?’ Grant dispensed the drinks and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.
‘We had a case, years ago, that’s remained unsolved to this day. Very similar to yours in virtually every aspect…’
Grants insides churned.Oxford, said Spriggs. Bloody hell. Like a dream come true. Or, would that be a nightmare?
Superintendent Spriggs opened her briefcase. ‘I’ve brought you the file to read. You might find it useful. Fifteen years ago a second year female student was strangled in pretty much the same way as your recent victim. In the middle of the night on the banks of Nathan Brook. That’s just a small stream that runs through a mainly residential area.’
Grant could have added that the female student was strangled on the night between 8th and 9th June 1978, at quarter to one or as close as didn’t matter. But, he remained silent.
‘Mainly students’ flats, really,’ she continued. ‘Which was probably why no one heard anything or saw anything. Most had already left and those who didn’t were either out drinking or dead to the world.’
Most, perhaps. But not everyone. Some still had their last exam to take the following morning.
‘I had the samples compared,’ continued Jenny Spriggs. ‘In case you’re wondering, I always compare that old sample with anything that comes in. Hope is the last to die, as the Latino proverb has it.’
‘And they came up trumps?’
‘I think so. It was a rush job, but my tame analyst at the lab is pretty certain. Does that help you any?’
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