Here’s another story from the above, that is free to download right now. It’s an adventure, where Jack acts as a police negotiator in a desperate situation.
I blinked when strong sunlight blinded my eyes as I carried Jean Chapman’s body in my arms, out through the smashed front door of her house, and towards the police cars and armed SO19 officers, who were pointing their weapons in my direction.
As I came closer to the waiting paramedics, I heard DCI Connors shouting over the tannoy. I was aware of activity behind me, weapons clacking against the front drive, each of the three vicious men being told to lie flat on the ground, spread-eagled, one by one, as armed officers ran past me to cuff them.
Why on earth had everything gone wrong?
At six o’clock that morning four armed men had forced their way into Mark and Jean Chapman’s large detached house on the outskirts of town. One of these desperados, Alfie Mason, had then driven Mark into Canterbury, to the Northanger Building Society of which Chapman was manager, while Jean was held captive. There’d been an agonising wait until Simon Rutherford, Assistant Branch Manager, had arrived with the second pair of the vault’s regularly changed access codes, but finally the cash had been bundled into Alfie’s car, and he’d gone. Mark had been told that if there was any deviation from Alfie’s instructions, or if the police panic button was pressed, a single text or phone call to Alfie’s three colleagues at Mark’s house would mean Jean’s death. Compliance guaranteed her release.
Little did Mark realise that by the time he was able to tell the police what had happened, they were already at his house, having been summoned by neighbours who’d heard shooting.
Since I had done a police negotiator’s course, I had volunteered to try to get inside the house. That had been hours ago. More shots had been fired while I’d been doing my best to negotiate a way out.
And right now, when I reached the crowd, I caught sight of Mark weeping uncontrollably as he watched me handing Jean’s body to the medics.
“Why?” he kept asking anyone who was within earshot. “Why did they do it? I did everything they asked of me.”
Now behind the police lines, I moved close to Mark, and put an arm around his shoulders to try and comfort him, as I’d done years before when we’d been eight-year-old classmates in prep school, and Mark had been the victim of bullies. No one had liked him at school, and I’d never known quite why. I’d always felt sorry for him in those days. Since then he’d done well, but people said that it was his wife’s money that had paid for the huge house and the fancy cars and foreign holidays.
Surreptitiously, I slipped my hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out his mobile phone, then, clapping Mark on the shoulder in farewell, I walked across to DCI Connors, and quickly passed the phone across to him.
Mark, his crying having abated, came across to us.
“Jack?” He was frowning, hand in his pocket. “Why on earth did you just take my phone?”
I turned to face him. “Jean overheard those three guys discussing how you’d arranged everything so neatly, your little idea to avoid paying for an expensive divorce, and about the increased life insurance,” I told him. “But two of the guys weren’t prepared to go through with it. There was a fight. Jean got involved. The gun went off.” I looked across at Jean’s body on the medics’ trolley. “Afterwards I managed to persuade them that if they were prepared to say who’d put them up to it, the police might believe they hadn’t intended to kill her, that it was a genuine accident.”
“What a warped imagination you have, Jack,” Mark said quietly. “You actually believe this nonsense? I’ve been the victim of this terrible crime and my poor wife has just died because of police incompetence. And who’s going to believe those three guys? They’d make up any crazy story to save their skins.”
“But they might believe your girlfriend.” Connors showed Mark his mobile phone screen with the words We’ve done it! there.
“Mr Chapman,” Connors went on. “This was sent just now to your secretary, Sandra Page, who tells us you’ve been having an affair with her for a year. When we confronted her she denied having anything to do with your plan to have your wife ‘accidentally’ killed.”
Mark’s face drained of colour. “Of course she denied it! There is no plan. It’s not illegal to have an extra-marital affair. That text is no proof of anything!”
His words stuttered to a halt as Jean Chapman climbed off the paramedics’ trolley and walked across to her husband.
She just stared at him.
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