Maxwell's Crossing

Maxwell's Crossing by M.J. Trow Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Maxwell's Crossing by M.J. Trow Read Free Book Online
Authors: M.J. Trow
room as she passed the doorway, ran lightly down the stairs and in no time he heard the car start and she was gone.
    *  *  *
    Detective Inspector Jacquie Carpenter Maxwell, with her glug of gin in mind, drove sedately across the Dam, heading for the Barlichway Estate. It glowed faintly in the distance, pulsing slightly as the million Christmas light bulbs flashed on and off, the Barlichway version of kneeling before the radiant boy. She glanced down at the GPS screen and saw that the address she needed was at the far side of the estate, through the rabbit warren of affordable housing and burnt-out garages that a large proportion of Leighford’s population called home. She turned down the volume on her Christmas CD which Nolan and Maxwell insisted on having permanently installed in the car for the whole of the season and squared her shoulders. ‘Merry Christmas, everyone,’ she mouthed along with Shakin’ Stevens as she took the slip road, away from Christmas and into hell.
    Henry Hall looked up as she drew up outside the house. No Christmas lights here, making it look like a black hole in comparison with the condensed Blackpools on either side. The door stood open and faint light spilt down the path, giving the DCI a halo as it caught in his hair. There was a sprawled shape on the path, with a dark pool at the end where the head had so recently been. On the snow to either side was a spray pattern, looking dark in the faint light but, Jacquie knew, in the arc lights the forensics boys were setting up it would look an eerie grey and red with sparkling spicules of white bone. Hall was wearing white coveralls and latex gloves and looked like a snowman from a horror movie, flanked as he was with piles of grey scraped-up snowfrom the greasy road. His usual immaculate three-piece was hidden away under that lot but he didn’t look out of place. For both Henry and Jacquie this was gear they both wore all too often. He raised his hand in greeting.
    She got out of the car and stood on the pavement until one of the forensics team standing at the back of their van handed her a coverall. Hall wandered over to her as she struggled into it. She looked up at him and saw her expression mirrored in his face. That he had an expression at all was a surprise and showed how this case had affected him. It was unfair – and inappropriate – to liken the DCI to something out of I, Robot but there were those who did. ‘Merry Christmas, Henry,’ she said, softly. There was a faint question in the statement.
    â€˜I think so, yes,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to speak ill of the dead,’ he said, ‘but I’m certainly not sorry to see this today.’
    In her head, Jacquie heard Maxwell’s voice say ‘Each man’s death diminishes me’ but she ignored it; even John Donne would not be sorry to see this man dead. She focused on the task in hand. ‘Did his wife do it?’ she asked.
    â€˜Hmmm, now there’s a question,’ Hall mused. ‘No, I don’t think she did. He was shot from quite close range with a large handgun, something along the lines of a .44 Magnum, or the forensics team think so at least. His head is gone, more or less, and there isn’t much else that can do that amount of damage. There’s no sign of the weapon, but with the snow, it may be lying close by and we wouldn’t see it, so that’s nothing really. But the wifewas still in her slippers when we got here, and they were dry. They would be soaking if she had faced him from the path. The footprints were pretty scuffed; neighbours came running, if only to applaud, so we’ll get nothing there.’
    Devil’s advocate J Carpenter Maxwell put in her ten penn’orth. ‘She could have changed her shoes. She could have hidden the gun.’
    â€˜She’s distraught.’
    â€˜She could be acting.’
    Hall looked at her, light clouding his glasses, one eyebrow

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