After the briefing meeting, Roy Grace retreated to the quiet sanctuary of his office and spent a few moments looking out of the window, across the main road at the ASDA car park, and the ugly slab building of the supermarket itself cutting off what would have been a fine view across the city of Brighton and Hove he loved so much. At least he could actually see some sky, and for the first time in several days patches of it were blue, with rays of sun breaking through the cloud.
Nursing the hot mug of coffee that Eleanor had just brought him, he glanced down at the plastic trays containing his prized collections – three dozen vintage cigarette lighters that he hadn’t yet put up on display and a fine selection of international police caps.
Lying beside the stuffed brown trout he had caught on a visit to Ireland some years ago was a new addition, a birthday present from Cleo. It was a stuffed carp, in a display case, at the base of which was engraved the legend – a terrible pun – Carpe diem.
His briefcase sat open on the table, together with his mobile, his dictating machine and a bunch of transcripts relating to the court hearings he was helping to prepare, one of which he had go through this morning, because the CPS lawyer was on his back for it.
What’s more, thanks to his promotion, he now had new stacks of files, growing by the minute, that Eleanor was bringing in and placing on every available flat surface. They contained case summaries of all the major crimes that Sussex CID were currently investigating, which he now had to review.
He made a list of everything he needed to follow up on Operation Dingo, then he went through the transcript, which took him an hour. When he had finished, he pulled out his notebook and, starting at the back, read his most recent jotting. His handwriting was bad, so he took a moment to decipher it and remember.
Katherine Jennings, Flat 82, Arundel Mansions,
29 Lower Arundel Terrace.
He stared at it blankly, for some moments. Waiting for his brain’s synapses to kick in and provide him with some recollection of why he had written that down. Then he remembered Kevin Spinella cornering him after the press briefing yesterday. Telling him something about her being freed from a trapped lift and that she had seemed frightened about something.
Most people trapped in a lift would have been frightened. Mildly claustrophobic and with a fear of heights, he probably would have been too. Scared witless. Still, you never knew. He decided to do the dutiful thing and report it to East Brighton District. He dialled the internal number of the most efficient officer he knew there, Inspector Stephen Curry, gave him the woman’s name and address, and explained the provenance.
‘Don’t make it a priority, Steve. But maybe have one of your beat officers swing by some time, make sure all is OK.’
‘Absolutely,’ said Stephen Curry, who was sounding rushed. ‘Leave it with me.’
‘With the greatest pleasure,’ Grace said.
Having hung up, he looked down at the workload on his desk and decided he would stroll down later this morning, towards lunchtime, to collect his car. Take in a bit of fresh air. Enjoy a rare bit of sunshine and try to clear his head. Then make his way downtown to see if he couldn’t find one or two of Ronnie Wilson’s old acquaintances. He had a good idea where to start looking.