Detective Inspector Rod Eliot was watching the rain running down his office window. He looked at his watch. 6.30. Time to leave the mountain of papers on his desk and go to The Queen’s Head pub across the road.
‘But only one beer,’ he told himself. ‘I don’t want to be stopped by some junior policeman for drunk driving. Then I’ll have to go home to an empty house.’
Just as he was leaving the office, the phone rang. He turned back automatically and picked it up. He half hoped it might be his wife.
‘Sorry to disturb you, sir,’ said Detective Constable Jamie Bowen. ‘But we’ve got a bit of a problem.’
‘So have I,’ said Eliot. ‘I shouldn’t be here. Ask Inspector Merryon.’
‘Sorry, sir,’ said Bowen, ‘but Inspector Merryon hasn’t arrived yet. He phoned to say his car is stuck in a traffic jam in Hackney. He probably won’t be here for at least an hour,’ Eliot hit the top of his desk angrily.
The lights from The Queen’s Head looked so inviting. But in the street below people were crowded into shop doorways, trying to escape from the rain. The water poured onto the street and was thrown up again by the lines of cars moving slowly away from the centre of London.
‘All right, Bowen,’ he said. ‘You’d better tell me about it then. What is it?’
‘We’ve just had a report of a death, sir. And there’s a gun.’
This was the last thing Eliot wanted to hear. He had been in a bad mood all day. He usually liked Friday because of the weekend ahead, when he could spend time with his wife Sally and eight-year-old son Micky. Micky was crazy about football, and Eliot always took him to watch West Ham on Saturdays when they played at home. This weekend would be different, though. Eliot had to work, and Sally had taken Micky to her parents’ house in Brighton for two nights. He had argued with her that morning. ‘Stop shouting,’ she had said. ‘You’re just angry because you don’t want us to go away. Why can’t you admit it?’
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