Chapter Fifteen

Admiral Street Police Station

Day 17

Chief Inspector Mark Salisbury is in a bad mood. He has an unsolved murder on his hands with no leads apart from suggestions that the victim may have been part of a Chinese spy ring, although that is now looking less likely. The note placed on young Zhang’s body is almost certainly a deliberate attempt to point the investigation in the wrong direction. Zhang may have Chinese heritage but he is from Dublin and his killing probably has more with that than any spy ring.

   That, however, is not the end of the spy ring conspiracy by any means and he has Special Branch tramping all over the station with his Super’s blessing; not that she had very much choice in the matter no doubt.

   It isn’t that, however, that has affected his mood. The usual routine in CID has been thrown into complete chaos with all manner of scientific experts arriving to talk to the various Special Branch people who have commandeered a sizeable chunk of available space.

   The only answer he was given when he tentatively mentioned it to his Super is that it is a matter of national security which apparently trumps everything else, including it would seem.  the murder of a hapless student,

   Salisbury could understand it if there is a bomber on the loose putting lives at risk but the spy ring, if indeed there is one, poses no threat to the public as far as he can make out. So why is it necessary for them to virtually take over the entire station?

   He glares at the mountain of paper in his in-tray which never completely disappears no matter how hard he tries. So much for the paper-less society he mutters, switching from his computer and its equally daunting number of emails. I’ve become a bloody filing clerk, he says to nobody in particular.

   Mark Salisbury is a copper of the old school. He has worked his way up through the ranks and was promoted to chief inspector a few years ago after the Poseidon affair in which he played a significant role in ending a major conspiracy in which files to weaponise the weather were prevented from falling into terrorist hands.

   Naomi Richards played a pivotal part in that case and he has taken an almost fatherly interest in her ever since and so when DS Steve Bannon told him a few minutes ago that agent Button has become interested in her and has been questioning her, his rection was one of total disbelief. ‘They don’t bloody think she’s involved in a spy ring do they for God’s sake?’

   He mutters ‘bloody spooks’ as Bannon sidles out of his office grinning, only to be replaced shortly afterwards by Button himself who is sitting opposite him without being invited to do so. Salisbury glares at him as he removes his specs and gently polishes them with a spotless linen handkerchief.

   ‘I hear you have been questioning Naomi Richards,’ he says. ‘You should know that she has been of considerable assistance to us here in clearing up two important cases, one of which involved MI5.’

   He studies Button who is unperturbed by that information. It is common knowledge that relationships between the two security services is occasionally strained. Salisbury decides to rub it in a little more.

   ‘If this spying business is so important how come the security service is not involved? As I understand it Special Branch are mainly involved in terrorism and extremism. What is going on here is hardly a threat to public safety I would have thought.’

   Button finishes polishing his specs and replaces them, staring coldly at Salisbury. ‘We come at things from different directions,’ he says and then cocks his head to one side. ‘And as for security threats, they come in different forms, one of which are spy rings intent on gathering valuable and sensitive commercial and technical information which would undermine our defensive capabilities.’

   He sits back and allows that to sink in and then suddenly stands up and walks over to the window, staring at the traffic outside. He turns to Salisbury and frowns. ‘As for the delectable Miss Richards, yes I did have a little chat to her, mostly about her links with a Miss Taylor who we would very much like to question but nobody appears to know where she is.’

   ‘So, you think she’s involved in the spy ring?’

   Button smiles thinly. ‘I’m not too sure what Miss Taylor is involved in but I do think she has knowledge that would assist us. And as for Miss Richards I think we will continue to keep an eye on her too.’

   Salisbury is about to protest but before he can, Button continues. ‘Just because she was helpful to you in the past does not mean that she is incapable of veering off the straight and narrow. As a senior policeman, I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of that.’

  He heads for the door and is about to walk out when he stops and pauses. ‘And as for her so-called psychic abilities, she gave me a little demonstration of that.’ He snorts. ‘Clever stuff I must say, but I doubt it had anything to do with the spirit world.’ And with that he saunters off.

   Salisbury stares after him. ‘Arrogant bastard,’ he growls under his breath hoping that perhaps Naomi foresaw something unpleasant and that had unsettled him. The sooner all this is wrapped up the better, he thinks just as Lucy Fairchild appears at his door. She knocks politely. He waves her in and stares at her expectantly, his eyebrows raised.

   She clears her throat and looks at a note she is holding. ‘We’ve had a request from the Garda in Dublin asking for our co-operation in locating someone,’ she says.

   ‘That’s all we need,’ says Salisbury. ‘At the moment, a missing person is very low priority what with a murder enquiry and our colleagues from Special Branch ruling the roost. All the same that has to be cleared by Superintendent Jill Jones who will respond to them. Do you have all the details there?’ She nods.

   ‘Well, I would print it out and pop upstairs with it. I’m sure she would like to meet you anyway as the new officer on the block.’

   As she turns to leave, he asks: ‘Just out of interest, who are they looking for?’

   Fairchild glances at her notes. ‘Someone called Roisin Doyle.’

Published by pod1942

I am a cereer journalist having worked for the London Dail Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside as well as the journalists’ leader in the region. I have experience as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University. I now divide my time between art and writing. I will shortly be publishing my first full-length novel, The Poseidon Files and as a taster I have written a short story which features the same central female character in which she talks about her world and her life. It is, however, essentially a ghost story.

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