Rreginald Hill: A Killing kindness

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Rreginald Hill A Killing kindness
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    A Killing kindness
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    Полицейский детектив / на английском языке
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A Killing kindness

Reginald Hill

Chapter 1

… it was green, all green, all over me, choking, the water, then boiling at first, and roaring, and seething, till all settled down, cooling, clearing, and my sight up drifting with the few last bubbles, till through the glassy water I see the sky clearly, and the sun bright as a lemon, and birds with wings wide as a windmill's sails slowly drifting round it, and over the bank's rim small dark faces peering, timid as beasts at their watering, nostrils sniffing danger and shy eyes bright and wary, till a current turns me over, and I drift, and still am drifting, and…

What the hell's going on here! Stop it! This is sick…

Please. Oh God! Be careful you 'll…

Jack! No!


See! Look. The lights… please

… fakery… I don't want

… lights! Mrs Stanhope, Mrs Stanhope, are you all right?

… auntie, are you OK? Please, auntie…

… thank you, love, I'm a bit… in a minute… did I get.. .

… vicious blackmailing cow and I'll see…

'… picking up lots of forget-me-nots. You make me…'

'Sorry,' said Sergeant Wield, switching off the pocket cassette recorder. 'That was on the tape before.'

'Pity. I thought she was proving that Sinatra really was dead,' said Pascoe putting down the sergeant's handwritten transcription of the first part of the recording. 'Did you switch off there, or what?'

'Or what, I think. I had the mike in my pocket, nice and inconspicuous. When I jumped up to grab at Sorby it must've fallen out and pulled the connection loose. I'm sorry about all this, sir!'

'Oh no, you're not,' said Pascoe. 'Not yet. When Mr Dalziel comes through that door with the Evening Post in his hand, that's when you're going to be sorry.'

Wield nodded gloomy agreement with the inspector, who now studied his report as if seeking some hidden meaning.

Like all Sergeant Wield's reports, it was pellucid in its clarity.

Calling on Mrs Winifred Sorby in pursuit of enquiries into the murder of her daughter, Brenda, he had found her in the company of her neighbour, Mrs Annie Duxbury. A short time later, Mrs Rosetta Stanhope and her niece, Pauline, had turned up. Mrs Stanhope was known to the sergeant by reputation as a self-professed clairvoyant and medium. It emerged that Mrs Sorby wished Mrs Stanhope to attempt to get in touch with her dead daughter. The sergeant had been pressed to stay and take part. Agreeing, he had excused himself to go out to his car where he had a small cassette recorder. Concealing this under his jacket, he had returned and joined the women round a table in the dead girl's darkened bedroom. After a while Mrs Stanhope had seemed to go into a trance and finally started talking in a voice completely different from her own. But only a few moments later the door had burst open and Mr Sorby, the dead girl's father, had entered angrily and brought the seance to an end.

His fury at his wife's stupidity had been redirected when he became aware of the sergeant's presence. He had rapidly found a sympathetic ear for his complaints in the local press and by the time a chastened Wield had returned to the station, Pascoe had already fielded several enquiries about the police decision to use clairvoyance in the Sorby case.

'His wife's always gone in for that kind of stuff,' explained Wield. 'Sorby's never approved. Naturally she wasn't expecting him back for a couple of hours.'

'Perhaps he's got second sight,' grunted Pascoe.

He was examining the transcript again. It had taken Wield nearly an hour of careful listening to sort out the confusion of overlapping voices.

'Let's get it straight,' said Pascoe. 'Mrs Stanhope in her trance voice. That's clear. Then Sorby arrives and starts shouting. OK?'

'Yes,' said Wield. 'Next – that's "Please. Oh God", etc., is the niece, Pauline. "Jack… no!" – that's Mrs Sorby.'

'And this great yell?'

'Mrs Stanhope coming out of her trance. Then the niece again, Sorby going on about fakery, Mrs Sorby asking Mrs Stanhope if she's all right.'

'Which she is. Speaking in her normal voice again, right?'

'Right. And Sorby again. The niece had jumped up and put the light on. Sorby pushed her aside and looked as if he was going to assault Mrs Stanhope. That's when I got in on the act.'

'And the rest is silence,' said Pascoe. 'That's apt.'

'I wish it had all been bloody silence,' said Wield. He had one of the ugliest faces Pascoe had ever seen, the kind of ugliness which you didn't get used to but were taken aback by even if you met him after only half an hour's separation. The advantage of such an arrangement of features was that it normally blanked out tell-tale signs of emotion. But at the moment unease was printed clearly on the creased and leathery surface.

The phone rang.

It was the desk sergeant.

'Mr Dalziel's just come in,' he said. 'He's on his way up.'

The door burst open as Pascoe replaced the receiver.

Detective-Superintendent Andrew Dalziel stood there. A long intermittently observed diet had done something to keep his bulging flesh in check, but now anger seemed to have inflated him till his eyes threatened to pop out of his grizzled bladder of a head and his muscles seemed on the point of ripping apart the dog-tooth twill of his suit.

Like the Incredible Hulk about to emerge, thought Pascoe.

'Hello, sir. Good meeting?' he said, half rising. Wield was standing to attention as if rigor mortis had set in.

'Champion, till I got off the train this end,' said Dalziel, raising a huge right hand which was attempting to squeeze the printing ink out of a rolled up copy of the local paper.

He pretended to notice Wield for the first time, went close to him and put his mouth next to his ear.

'Ah, Sergeant Wield,' he murmured. 'Any messages for me?'

'No sir,' said Wield. 'Not that I know of.'

'Not even from the other bloody side!' bellowed Dalziel. He looked as if he was about to thump the sergeant with the paper.

'It's all a mistake, sir,' interposed Pascoe hastily.

‘Mistake? Certainly it's a bloody mistake. I go down to Birmingham for a conference. Hello Andy, they all say. How's that Choker of yours? they all say. Fine, I say. All under control, I say. That was the bloody mistake! You know what it says here in this rag?'

He unfolded the paper with some difficulty.

'It has long been common practice among American police forces to call on the aid of clairvoyants when they are baffled,' he read. 'I leave a normal English CID unit doing its job. I come back and suddenly it's the Mid-Yorkshire precinct and we're baffled! No wonder Kojak's bald.'

Pascoe risked a smile. Lots of things made Dalziel angry. Not having his jokes appreciated was one of them.

The fat man hooked a chair towards him with a size ten foot and sat down heavily.

'All right,' he said. 'Tell me.'

For answer, Pascoe shoved Wield's report towards him.

He read it quickly.



'Oh, stop standing there as if you'd crapped yourself,' said Dalziel wearily.

'Think I may have, sir,' said Wield.

This tickled Dalziel's fancy and he grinned and belched. There had obviously been a buffet bar on the train.

'How'd it happen you had a recorder in your car, lad? Not normal issue these days, is it?'

'No, sir,' said Wield. 'It's my nephew's. It'd gone wonky so I'd been having it repaired.'

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