The Quiet Ones

They’d pulled out all the stops with this one. One of Scotland’s most prominent businessmen found hanging from a rope with his tongue cut off was major-league, even for Glasgow. Alec Davies stood at the front of the incident room, a mixture of plain-clothed and uniformed cops filling the front two rows, Jim and Toria slightly to his left. He’d already gone over the bare facts, which were scant to say the least, not that that stopped press speculation. Hardly surprising really. They were baying for blood and demanding answers. Davies wondered what the collective name for photographers was. He’d managed to avoid the mob this morning only because he’d stayed overnight at the station, grabbing a couple of hours’ shut-eye before trying to drag himself awake with a shower and a shave.
This wasn’t going to be easy and the Chief Constable would have his balls on a plate if he didn’t shut this one down quick-style. Despite the press speculation that the streets of Glasgow were no longer safe as long as this crazed killer was on the loose, Davies doubted they would strike anywhere else. This killer had targeted Harry Nugent for a reason and was unlikely to be a danger to anyone else. But they were still dangerous – make no mistake. He took a strange comfort in the fact, however, that in the wake of such a horror the streets were indeed safer – for a few nights at least – as revellers cancelled plans, and even the die-hard neds chose instead to stay where they knew they’d be safe.
Behind him, the incident board read like a who’s who of Scottish sports stars, as well as the usual suspects. Family, close friends, relatives, anyone who’d been connected with Nugent. But it was now running into hundreds of people.
They were waiting for the full post-mortem report, but he’d spoken to the pathologist earlier. Rosemary Gardner was the best they had. Her initial findings were that Nugent had been drugged, then died from asphyxiation through hanging. Lesions around his wrists and his ankles suggested plastic ties had been used as restraints. Despite a detailed search, the ties had not been found, suggesting the killer took the time to remove them. His tongue too, had been sliced off post-mortem, which would account for the lack of blood and the fact his wife had initially thought it was suicide. This was no frenzied, random attack. Nugent had clearly been up to his neck in something, had clearly pissed off someone big style. This was some fucking grudge which bore all the hallmarks of a gangland-style execution.
‘The killer might well have paid some heavies to do his dirty work for him.’ Toria looked shattered; Davies guessed she didn’t get much sleep last night. ‘It’s a bit of a high risk strategy doing that lot on your own… and besides…’
‘Stating the bleeding obvious…’ DS Gilroy shifted in his seat. Davies had worked alongside him in the same station, on and off, for years.
‘Yeah,’ he replied, ‘but she did state it, which is more than you’ve done so far, Gilroy, so can we just work together on this one?’ Davies checked Gilroy’s smirk as he glanced around the room. You could read a lot into one expression, and from the look on Gilroy’s face came the suggestion that Davies fancied Toria and was cutting her more than the usual bit of slack. He felt weary, and not just because of this case. The thought of coming across as a sad old git fancying a girl young enough to be his daughter, or grand-daughter in some parts of Glasgow, left a bitter taste in his mouth. Truth was she was a good copper; she had an unusual way of looking at things and Davies knew that a fresh eye could often see minor details that a jaded eye could miss. Davies caught Gilroy’s eye and mouthed fuck off under his breath before continuing.

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Mel Sherratt

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