Cut to the Bone
directed to?’
    ‘Yes, an Officer Miller, down in Southwark,’ said Gill. ‘Arnold Miller.’
    ‘Thanks,’ said Zain.
    He looked out into the Edgware Road traffic, his thoughts circling. His phone made the sound of a letterbox. Email from Gill Leake. He would open it when Riley was there.
    Zain called Southwark police station, asked for PC Arnold Miller. He was off duty, did the night shift. Zain asked for his home number, said it was PCC business. That got the supervising officer’s back up. The Westminster commissioner was managing stretches of their patch. They resented him something twisted.
    Constable Arnold Miller was asleep when Zain phoned.
    ‘This is Detective Sergeant Zain Harris, from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office.’
    Miller coughed, a smoker’s cough, and Zain thought he heard the click of a lighter, confirmed by a momentary intake of breath on the other end.
    ‘How can I help you, Sergeant Harris?’ said Miller, yawning.
    ‘You took the despatch call Ruby Day early this morning,’ said Zain.
    ‘Yes,’ said Miller.
    ‘What did you do with the call?’
    ‘Usual – logged it on the system, started a case file. Then got ready to head out there.’
    ‘After the despatch call, how come you didn’t go to investigate? I was the first officer on the scene. Did you flag it up to the commissioner’s office?’
    ‘No. I was heading out, but Despatch called me back. Said the call had been escalated. Hope, I mean the commissioner, had asked for his office to lead.’
    ‘You didn’t think this was odd?’ said Zain.
    ‘Saved me a trip out, and who’s going to argue with the big chief, right?’
    ‘I take your point,’ said Zain.
    ‘I was surprised, though, that he was getting involved in the case,’ said Miller.
    ‘Golf buddies, you know how it is. Don’t worry about it. I’m taking charge of the files, so will restrict access.’
    ‘As you wish,’ said Miller, a long drag, smoke blown out. The adult version of the raspberry.
    ‘What’s your username and password for case files?’ said Zain. ‘So I can assign ownership to myself?’ A beat. ‘Alternatively, you can come down to the station, right now, and do it manually?’
    ‘I’m not sure about this, fella,’ said Miller.
    ‘Look, save us both some hassle, mate. I’m not going to implicate myself, so you’re fine.’
    Thinking time. Smoke being drawn and released.
    ‘Username is MILL73. Password is MPC1783942,’ said Miller.
    Zain repeated it back to him to confirm. ‘You kept the default password?’ he said.
    ‘Hey, I have enough problems remembering the one for my computer. Bastard changes every two weeks. So shoot me if I didn’t change the one for the database.’
    ‘No, it’s fine. Thanks, Miller. Go back to bed.’
    Zain logged into the central database storing case files using Miller’s details, bringing up Southwark police station’s. He had credentials giving him access to most of the Met’s databases to some level, with full clearance for the majority of those in Hope’s patch. But he couldn’t reassign the case to himself without Miller’s login.
    Ruby’s file was flagged as current. Tom Williams in Despatch had assigned the file to Miller. Zain made himself the new owner, and locked it down. He logged out and then logged back in again as himself, amending the record to show that the call to investigate had been flagged to him.
    The case records now showed that the Days had called Despatch, and Tom Williams had sent the call through to the PCC’s Office. DCI Riley was called by Justin Hope, and then Zain called by her. Flawless chain. False chain.
    Zain made a call.
    ‘It’s done. I’ve changed the database. The only part I couldn’t get to was Despatch records. They still show Miller’s involvement. But I have software at home, so I’ll do it later tonight.’
    ‘Very efficient, Zain,’ said the voice on the other end.
    Zain felt a sliver of guilt, but shook it off. Convince yourself

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