Chapter Five

Walk a Crooked Road

University of Liverpool

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Press release

The University of Liverpool today announces a major breakthrough in developing new composite materials that will transform the aerospace industries.

The new composites will create aircraft and spacecraft that weigh less. Lighter vehicles use less fuel and reduce carbon emissions. Carbon, glass, metal, and ceramics are essential components in composites, ten times stronger than aluminium and will revolutionise the aerospace industry.

The new innovative materials will be used in a wide variety of areas – from lighter, more agile aircraft and emerging hypersonic systems, to personal protection equipment and anywhere risks or damage can be reduced.

Progress in developing these advanced materials is expected to address the integration of functions such as energy harvesting, camouflage, structural and personal health monitoring.

Graphene, for example, is a carbon-based material, which is one atom thick and can be used to make batteries that are lightweight, durable, and applicable in high capacity energy storage – plus, they charge more rapidly than a typical battery. 

Development of the new composite is a triumph for both the university and British industry and gives the UK a world lead in aerospace engineering.


For more information, contact the Director of Communications and Public Affairs:

Admiral Street Police Station

Day 7

DCI Mark Salisbury gazes at the new member of his detective team as she stands in front of his desk to attention. He suppresses a smile. She is one of the new recruits in the Fast-Track programme which at one time was open to people straight from university, and which led to frustration in the ranks. Now it is only open to serving constables. Having said that, someone with a good degree and the ability to show an intelligent grasp of current affairs, business, computers, and determination, could go far. But first, they must undergo the two-year probationary period and basic training like all Police officers.

   Salisbury’s bag man is Sergeant Steve Bannon, one of the last direct entry officers, but despite the mutterings behind his back and the resentment, he proved his worth and sailed through his sergeant’s exam. That was a few years ago. Now he is pushing for promotion to inspector. Along the way, he has won Salisbury’s respect, no mean feat for somebody who has become something of a legend in the Merseyside force. Salisbury does not take fools or laziness lightly. His round, moon-like, beaming face can give quite the wrong impression but steely-grey eyes don’t. His officers, and especially Bannon, will tell you that he is fair but demanding and expects his team to go the extra mile when necessary.

   The new recruit clears her throat and says: ‘Good morning Sir’ in a clear, but firm voice. Salisbury looks at the file in front of him which declares her to be Lucy Fairchild, aged 25, from Chester. He notes that her father is a retired solicitor and her mother a nurse who is still practising. She has a First in applied psychology from Durham University.

   ‘You don’t need to stand to attention constable. You aren’t in the army, and you are also in plain clothes.’ He looks behind her to where Bannon is leaning casually on the door frame, a grin on his face. ‘If you ever see Sergeant Bannon stand to attention, let me know because it would have to be somebody pretty bloody important.’ He treats her to a smile. ‘But I suspect you might have a long time to wait.’ She turns and gives Bannon a questioning look. He just nods.

   Salisbury is reading her file and looks up. ‘So why did you join Merseyside Police. Have Cheshire Police offended you in some way?’

   ‘No Sir. I have always enjoyed coming to Liverpool and I think there is more diversity as far as crime is concerned.’

   ‘That’s one way of putting it,’ mutters Bannon. She half turns at that but ignores the remark and continues, wiping away strands of blonde hair that have fallen across her grey eyes.

   ‘I wanted to get away from my home city,’ she explains and then as Salisbury’s brow furrows questioningly: ‘I didn’t want to have my leg pulled because I chose to be a copper,’ she says quietly. ‘Most of my friends have become lawyers or doctors but crime, real crime, has always interested me and I’m more likely to see that here rather than in mostly rural Cheshire.

   ‘You’re likely to be called things a great deal worse than copper,’ says Bannon. ‘This can be a tough city and there are some seriously nasty people out there.’ She turns and stares at him. Bannon is slightly under six feet, smartly dressed in a good grey suit. His slicked back dark hair and intelligent brown eyes study her with a sardonic gleam. 

   ‘All cities have an unpleasant underbelly,’ she retorts. ‘I don’t expect Liverpool to be any different.’

   Salisbury nods and closes the file. ‘Well, welcome to Admiral Street,’ he says, holding out his hand. She shakes it formally. ‘This is a busy city centre station as you will be finding out,’ he says grimly. ‘You will be working to sergeant Bannon here who will show you to your desk and give you the guided tour.’ And with that she is dismissed.

   As they walk away from his office, Bannon grins at her: ‘His bark is worse than his bite, take my word for it. There are far worse bosses around I can assure you.’

   Later, as he sits at his desk staring at his computer, Bannon reflects on the enigma that is Lucy Fairchild. There is something about her that is unfathomable. As he showed her around there was a coldness about her; an absence of any warmth; a distance that he could not understand. It had been him who had done most of the talking. In the past he has had difficulty getting new recruits to listen in between an avalanche of questions. Why were there no questions? Maybe she has had a bad experience with men; he had noticed there were no rings in evidence, nothing to suggest she was with anyone.

   He looks around. She is sitting at her desk. None of the other DCs appear to be interested and yet Lucy is an attractive woman; blonde hair, an attractive, oval face and conservatively dressed.

   He frowns. He is being unfair. The woman is new; she is probably a bit shy and this is her first CID job. She might be terrified inside for all he knows. Perhaps towards the end of the shift he will invite her to the local pub along with one or two others in a get-to-know session. Maybe then she will unwind.

   He is about to investigate evidence of a county line operation when his phone rings. It is the control room who have had a message about a body found in Prince’s Park which is almost around the corner from Admiral Street. Bannon walks briskly into Salisbury’s office and informs him.

   ‘Set up a crime scene Steve, let the forensic people know and inform the pathologist. You know the drill. I’ll come and take a look a bit later.’ He pauses and smiles. ‘Take the new girl with you since she wants to experience crime diversity.’

They arrive at the park and are directed to where a small group of officers are standing with another officer talking to a man with a dog a little distance away.

   ‘What do we have?’ Bannon asks one of them.

   ‘IC5, male. Looks like his throat has been cut.’ He points to where two large tree trunks are lying on the ground and in between them lies a body in a pool of blood. They walk a little closer but stop when Steve holds up his hand.

   ‘No closer. We do not want to disturb the crime scene,’ he explains to Fairchild who stares at the scene apparently unmoved. Bannon looks at her curiously. Usually, an officer’s first experience of such a scene of horror is accompanied by a rush to the nearest toilet, or bushes if there is not one nearby. Fairchild simply nods and backs off.

   They walk over to the dog walker who is sitting on a tree stump looking pale. His name is Archie Monroe, a man is his early sixties by the looks of him and out for a morning walk when his dog discovered the body. Bannon introduces himself and Fairchild and asks him if he saw anyone else in the vicinity at the time. His dog, a Border Colley, wags his tale encouragingly. Monroe shakes his head and says there one or two people at the other side of the field but otherwise the place was deserted.

   ‘What does the piece of paper say?’ he asks Bannon.

   ‘What piece of paper?’ Bannon replies sharply.

   ‘There was a piece of paper on the body,’ he says. ‘I think one of the officers took it.

   Without responding, Bannon strides over to the group of constables nearby and asks which one of them removed it.

   ‘I did serge,’ says one sheepishly. ‘It was in danger of being blown away.’ He takes a paper out of his pocket and hands it over.

   ‘For fuck’s sake Carter, the forensic people will be all over this. It should have been put in an evidence bag immediately. You should have known better. At least you were wearing gloves.’

   As he speaks, the formidable grey-haired figure of Dr Clive Bixter, the head forensic scientist, is striding towards them purposefully. At 6ft 3in he is a stern, no-nonsense man of military bearing in his 50s with a thin pencil moustache who has a reputation for being something of a martinet among his colleagues. With him is a pathologist who immediately heads to the corpse. They are both wearing forensic coveralls.

   ‘Well Bannon, where’s Salisbury. I would have thought an unexplained death might have warranted his attendance. If he isn’t here who is SIO?’

   ‘He will be. He’s on his way,’ lies Bannon handing him the piece of paper which is now in an evidence bag.

   Bixter unfolds it and they both stare at it.


   ‘God knows what that means,’ mutters Bannon.

   ‘You don’t need to ask him,’ says Bixter. ‘I can tell you. I worked in China for a while. It says: He betrayed us.’

   ‘Does it indeed,’ says Bannon quietly. ‘Sounds like a gang killing.’

   ‘You may be right,’ says Bixter as he headed off to join his colleague.

   ‘You had better brush up on your Mandarin,’ he shouts back.

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