For Death Comes Softly

For Death Comes Softly by Hilary Bonner Read Free Book Online

Book: For Death Comes Softly by Hilary Bonner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hilary Bonner
worked together regularly before both moving into Child Protection and I wouldn’t have been without him for the world – although I was sometimes not sure he always felt quite the same way about me.
    When I’d first started working with Mellor I’d found him disconcertingly humourless. He’d learned. Nowadays he had developed a droll, nicely irreverent sense of humour. His timing was good too.
    Peter Mellor was usually based at Lockleaze, the former district police station which serves as the Bristol area headquarters for the CPT, but had come over to Portishead, my base as Deputy Chief, in order to brief me on anything he felt I should know about which had happened while I had been on leave. He was exceptionally able at keeping his ear to the ground, and I trusted his judgement more than that of any other cop I knew. A briefing from Mellor was always invaluable. However it appeared that on this occasion I was going to have to face the boss without that luxury.
    We obediently followed Titmuss into his lair, with me rubbing my stained jacket in desultory fashion with the back of one hand.
    â€˜Attention!’ whispered Mellor at the door.
    Titmuss, who vaguely resembled a younger Captain Mainwaring without the charm, was wearing a dark pin-striped double-breasted suit so stiffly formal it was something of a miracle that he could move in it. I knew I could safely bet a month’s salary that he was going out to lunch. Or to a lunch, I should say. He was very hot on the kind of occasions any normal copper would volunteer to police an England soccer international with Germany in order to avoid. Chamber of commerce lunches, Rotary lunches, civic investitures. And you could always tell when he was going to one because of both the expression and the suit that he wore – each clearly inclined towards self-importance.
    Titmuss slapped a file on the desk in front of him and peered through his round gold-framed spectacles. Even his eyebrows bristled when he was in this sort of mood.
    â€˜We’ve had a complaint,’ he began. I felt my back involuntarily stiffen. What had Mellor and I done now, I wondered fleetingly.
    â€˜. . . of an exceptionally delicate nature even within the realms of the CPT,’ he went on. ‘One that will have to be treated with extreme discretion.’
    So it was just another child abuse incident. Terrible to think like that, or to be relieved at such a matter, but it was not normal for our cases to be filtered down from Titmuss. As well as being Titmuss’s deputy, I also had direct control of the Bristol and South Gloucestershire division at Lockleaze. The social services and the medical authorities, sources of most of our workload, would normally report straight to me or one of my officers – six sergeants and twenty-four constables – rather than to the big boss whose job was the overall administration of the team.
    â€˜Just the thing for you, Rose,’ continued Titmuss, reverting briefly to patronising mode.
    His inference was plain enough. The importance of CPT work is pretty obvious, but only months previously I had been heading the Avon and Somerset’s biggest murder investigation in years, the serial killing of male prostitutes and, I know it’s awful, but a major murder investigation is inclined to be the ambitious detective’s dream job. Some of us find a big murder hard to follow, and Titmuss, rather curiously as he was the CPT chief, liked to rub it in by implying that I had in some way been demoted to an area much more suitable for a woman.
    I was in any case aware that was really nonsense and that I had the kind of track record which made Titmuss’s patronising approach to me quite unforgivable, but the bloody man had the knack of getting under my skin and I had to force myself to concentrate on the job in hand. Child abuse is something police officers, like the vast majority of people, find especially abhorrent,

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