M. Beaton: Death Of An Addict

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M. Beaton Death Of An Addict
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    Death Of An Addict
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    Детектив / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Constable Hamish MacBeth goes undercover to investigate the mysterious death of a recovered heroin addict, whose church has been suspected of being in the drug trade.

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"Hamish, this is Parry. It's yon fellow, Tommy Jarret. He's dead."

"Dead. How? Why?"

"They think it's an overdose. They found a syringe."

"I'll be right over."

Cursing, Hamish rapidly changed into his uniform. How could it all have happened so quickly? he thought. The lad had been all right. What had happened to his, Hamish Macbeth's, famous intuition? He could have sworn Tommy Jarret was not in danger of returning to his drug taking.

He drove off up the winding road leading out of Lochdubh towards Glenanstey, his heart heavy. Large black clouds were building up behind the mountains. They seemed like black omens, harbingers of trouble to come.

CHAPTER TWO

I will a round unvarnished'd tale deliver

Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,

What conjuration, and what mighty magic,

For such proceedings I am charged withal.

– William Shakespeare


There is something particularly tragic about the death of a young person. Only that day, Tommy Jarret's life had seemed to stretch out in front of him. Now he was a crumpled piece of clay.

"You didn't touch anything?" Hamish asked Parry as they surveyed the body in silence.

"I checked his pulse. I had to make sure he was dead. Och, Hamish, he must have felt he was safe when you gave him that chance and so he decided to go back on the stuff."

Hamish pushed back his peaked cap and scratched his fiery hair in bewilderment. "But how did this happen so soon? How could it? Did he drive down to Strathbane?"

"I didn't see him go."

"What about visitors? Where were you yourself this afternoon, Parry?"

"Here, now. You are neffer thinking I did it!"

"Come on, Parry. I want to know if you were around the croft. You might have seen someone or something."

"I ran over to Dornoch to see about some spare parts for my car. I wass away the two hours."

Hamish heard the wail of a police siren. "That'll be Strathbane. I hope it's not Blair." Detective Chief Inspector Blair was the bane of Hamish's normally quiet life.

But it was Blair's sidekick, Detective Jimmy Anderson, who came in. Policemen and a forensic team crowded in after him.

"No Blair?" asked Hamish.

Jimmy snorted with contempt. "Blair wouldn't move his arse for a dead junkie."

"Could be murder," suggested Hamish.

"Oh, aye," sneered Jimmy. "The great detective has pronounced judgement. A junkie wi' a record is found dead with a syringe beside him and you ignore the obvious."

"I was talking to him earlier today," said Hamish stubbornly. "And I could have sworn he would never go back on the stuff."

"Let me tell you this, Hamish. Drugs is a dirty business. It gets them and it keeps them. Stuck up here in the backwoods wi' your sheep, you don't see much of life."

The pathologist, Mr. Sinclair, pushed his way past them. "Give me some peace," he said, "until I have a look at this."

Everyone walked outside. "Now," said Jimmy, turning to the crofter, "you're Parry McSporran."

"Aye."

"Who's in the other chalets?"

"Only a wee lassie called Felicity Maundy."

"Let's go and see her. May as well pass the time until Sinclair finishes and then the forensic boys will have to dust the place."

At that moment Felicity came driving up. Her face turned white when she saw all the police cars.

She stopped and got out slowly. Hamish thought she looked as if she might faint.

"What do you know about this?" demanded Jimmy, advancing on her with a truculence worthy of his master, Blair.

She looked about her in a dazed way. "Wh-what?"

"Tommy Jarret's dead."

"He… he can't be."

"It looks like an overdose."

"But he was clean," wailed Felicity, and then she began to cry.

"You'll get nothing out of her that way," said Hamish. "I'll get her a cup of tea. Come along, Miss Maundy. Time to have a word with you. We'll just go to your chalet and have a cup of tea."

She was unresisting as he led her towards her chalet. "Got the key?" he asked.

"I n-never bothered locking up."

He opened the door and led her inside. Her chalet was identical to Tommy's except that dried herbs hung from hooks in the ceiling, there was a knitting machine in one corner and a sewing machine in the other. "Now sit yourself down," said Hamish soothingly.

He went into the small kitchen. There was nothing but herb tea so he made a cup of camomile and took it to her.

Hamish watched her as she sipped her tea and then said gently, "Why were you so upset when you saw me outside Patel's today?"

"I didn't even see you," she said, her eyes moving this way and that like a hunted animal.

"We'll leave that one for the moment. When did you last speak to Tommy?"

"Today. He asked me to get him some groceries from Patel's. He was working hard on his book."

"How well did you know him?"

"Not very well. He was just a neighbour. He wouldn't have taken drugs." She began to cry again.

Hamish saw a box of tissues on the kitchen counter and handed it to her. She blew her nose noisily. Hamish waited until she had recovered, thinking hard all the while. Why was she so shattered, so distressed, if she and Tommy had been only neighbours?

"And before you left," he continued, "did you see any strange people around? Hear a car?"

She shook her head. "A couple of cars passed me on the road to Lochdubh heading the other way, but I didn't notice them particularly."

"You must have noticed something about them," said Hamish sharply. "Colour? Large, small?"

She shook her head wearily. "One was small and black, I think, and the other grey, and a bit bigger."

"Hatchback? Saloon?"

"I don't know," she wailed. "And you're harassing me."

Hamish decided to get back to her later. "I'll send a policewoman to sit with you."

He went out again and found a policewoman and directed her to Felicity. He approached Parry. "What's the latest?"

"I heard thon pathologist say it's an open-and-shut case of an overdose."

Hamish fretted because he felt he was being kept out of things. But, he reminded himself, it was his own fault for having decided to remain an ordinary copper instead of taking promotion when it had been offered.

After a long wait Jimmy Anderson, who had gone back into the dead man's chalet, emerged.

He came up to Hamish. "They're taking the body away. They'll know more about what happened after a postmortem. But it all seems very straightforward. No murder for you, Hamish."

"That book he was writing," said Hamish. "He was writing a book about his experience with drugs. Anything there? I mean anything that might have incriminated anyone?"

"We're looking into it," said Jimmy sharply. "Why don't you just get back to your beat and let us sort this out."

"This is my beat," said Hamish huffily.

"Aye, well, it's not as if you can do anything. Had the wee lassie anything to offer?"

"She said he was all right. She asked Tommy if he wanted any groceries, then she drove to Lochdubh. She said two cars passed her on the road going the other way but when I pressed her for a description, she started on about harassment, so I got out of there and sent in a policewoman."

"If it was a murder case," said Jimmy, "she could howl about harassment until she was black in the face, but this is just an accidental death."

"But Glenanstey is a dead end. After here the road does nae go anywhere," protested Hamish.

"Aye, but there's a wee road afore here that goes to Crask," said Jimmy.

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