Few in suburban Surrey mourn the violent passing of Division Commander Alastair Gilbert, whose arrogance and cruelty were legendary in his village and in wider police circles—which only makes the job of Scotland Yard investigators Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James more difficult. And as every discovery reveals another instance of misplaced trust, festering secrets, and murderous rage, they must put aside their own personal feelings for the victim—and for each other—in the name of justice and the law.
About the Author
Deborah Crombie is a native Texan who has lived in both England and Scotland. She lives in McKinney, Texas, sharing a house that is more than one hundred years old with her husband, two cats, and two German shepherds.
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Mourn Not Your Dead
By Deborah Crombie
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Deborah Crombie
All right reserved.
His office seemed to shrink as he paced. The walls drew in, their angles distorted by the elongated shadows cast from the swivel lamp on his desk. The Yard always felt a bit eerie at night, as if the very emptiness of the rooms had a presence. He stopped at the bookcases and ran his finger along the spines of the well-thumbed books on the top shelf. Archeology, art . . . canals . . . crime reference . . . Many of them were gifts from his mother, sent in her continual quest to remedy what she considered his lack of a proper education. Although he'd tried to group them alphabetically by subject, there were a few inevitable strays. Kincaid shook his head -- would that he could order his life even half as well as he did his books.
He glanced at his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes, then crossed to his desk and sat down very deliberately. The call that had brought him in had been urgent -- a high-ranking police officer found murdered -- and if Gemma didn't arrive soon he'd have to go on to the crime scene without her. She'd not been in to work since she had left his flat on Friday evening. And although she had called in and requested leave from the chief superintendent, she had not answered Kincaid's increasingly frantic calls over the past five days. Tonight Kincaid had asked the duty sergeant to contact her, and she'd responded.
Unable to contain his restlessness, he rose again and had reached to pull his jacket from the coat stand when he heard the soft click of the latch. He turned and saw her standing with her back to the door, watching him, and a foolish grin spread across his face. "Gemma!"
"I've tried and tried to ring you. I thought something must have happened -- "
She was already shaking her head. "I went to my sister's for a few days. I needed some time -- "
"We have to talk." He moved a step nearer and stopped, examining her. She looked exhausted, her pale face almost transparent against the copper of her hair, and the skin beneath her eyes held faint purple shadows. "Gemma -- "
"There's nothing to say." She slumped, resting her shoulders against the door as if she needed its support. "It was all a dreadful mistake. You can see that, can't you?"
He stared at her, astonishment freezing his tongue. "A mistake?" he managed finally, then wiped a hand across his suddenly dry lips. "Gemma, I don't understand."
"It never happened." She took a step towards him, entreating, then stopped as if afraid of his physical proximity.
"It did happen. You can't change that, and I don't want to." He went to her then and put his hands on her shoulders, trying to draw her to him. "Gemma, please, listen to me." For an instant he thought she might tilt her head into the hollow of his shoulder, relax against him. Then he felt her shoulders tense under his fingers and she pulled away.
"Look at us. Look at where we bloody are," she said, thumping a fist against the door at her back. "We can't do this. I've compromised myself enough already." She took a ragged breath and added, spacing the words out as if to emphasize their weight, "I can't afford it. I've my career to think of . . . and Toby."
The phone rang, its short double brrr echoing loudly in the small room. He stepped back to his desk and fumbled for the receiver, bringing it to his ear. "Kincaid," he said shortly, then listened for a moment. "Right, thanks." Replacing the handset in the cradle, he looked at Gemma. "Car's waiting." Sentences formed and dissolved in his mind, each sounding more futile than the last. This was not the time or the place to discuss it, and he would only embarrass them both by going on about it now.
Finally, he turned away and slipped into his jacket, using the moment to swallow his disappointment and compose his features in as neutral an expression as he could manage. Facing her again, he said, "Ready, Sergeant?"
Big Ben struck ten o'clock as the car sped south across Westminster bridge, and in the backseat beside Gemma, Kincaid watched the lights shimmer on the Thames. They sat in silence as the car zigzagged on through south London, inching its way towards Surrey. Even their driver, a usually chatty PC called Williams, seemed to have caught their mood, remaining hunched in taciturn concentration over the wheel.
Clapham had vanished behind them when Gemma spoke. "You'd better fill me in on this one, guv."
Kincaid saw the flash of Williams's eyes as he cast a surprised glance at them in the rearview mirror. Gemma should have been briefed, of course, and he roused himself to answer as ordinarily as possible. Gossip in the ranks would do neither of them any good. "Little village near Guildford. What's it called, Williams?"
"Holmbury St. Mary, sir."
"Right. Alastair Gilbert, the division commander at Notting Dale, found in his kitchen with his head bashed in."
He heard Gemma draw a sharp breath, then she said with the first spark of interest he'd heard all evening, "Commander Gilbert? Jesus. Any leads?"
"Not that I've been told, but it's early days yet," Kincaid said, turning to study her.
She shook her head. "There will be an unholy stink over this one, then. And aren't we the lucky coppers, having it land in our laps?" When Kincaid snorted in wry agreement, she glanced at him and added, "You must have known him."
Shrugging, he said, "Didn't everyone?" He was unwilling to elaborate in front of Williams.
Gemma settled back into her seat. After a moment she said, "The local lads will have been there before us. Hope they haven't messed about with the body."
Excerpted from Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie Copyright © 2005 by Deborah Crombie.
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