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Authors: Russel D. McLean

04-Mothers of the Disappeared

BOOK: 04-Mothers of the Disappeared
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Table of Contents


The A.J. McNee Mysteries by Russel D. McLean

Title Page




Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Notes and Acknowledgements

The A.J. McNee Mysteries by Russel D. McLean






available from Severn House

A J. McNee Mystery
Russel D. McLean

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.



First published in Great Britain and the USA 2014 by
19 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM2 5DA.

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2014 by Russel D. McLean

The right of Russel D. McLean to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

McLean, Russel D. author.

Mothers of the disappeared.

1. McNee, J. (Fictitious character)–Fiction. 2. Dundee

(Scotland)–Fiction. 3. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title


ISBN-13: 978-07278-8410-7 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-536-9 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

For Lesley

Literary Critic. Doctor of Joyce. Drinker of Prosecco.

With love.

(And wine)

(And chocolate)


ive years,’ the old bugger says. ‘Five years since I offered you the chance to come and work with me.’

‘Aye,’ I say, ‘and I’m here now.’ Playing it cool. This is how it is. Neither of us can change anything.

He’s not buying it. Why would he? This isn’t the usual dance. We’re learning new moves here, and he’s not convinced about the tempo.

‘Things have changed, then? The events of the last few weeks, perhaps?’

‘A lot of things changed,’ I say. ‘But the last two years … Maybe I made a few wrong choices.’

He nods. ‘I understand. You’ve lost a lot. Your friends. Your woman. Your reputation. And now … you understand … don’t you? Finally.’

He sees the way his words sting. But he doesn’t gloat. We’re walking a fine line here. Like close friends tipping over into lovers; one wrong move and everything we’ve worked towards is irrevocably destroyed.

The simile, of course, is a little on the nose.

‘You need to prove to me that you’re serious.’ He talks slowly. Calmly. His eyes refuse to leave mine. Searching for any sign of deception.

I meet his gaze. ‘What do you need?’

‘Information. That’s all. You can get me some information, can’t you? Isn’t that what you do for people all the time?’

‘I guess so. What kind of information?’

He leans forward. ‘Are you an artistic man, Mr McNee? Do you like taking photographs?’

‘Can’t say it’s a passionate hobby.’ I always said I’d never stoop to the peeping Tom jobs. But that was another time. Another life. Before everything changed.

He nods. ‘Just need you to watch an address for me. A hotel room.’

He waits for a moment. Perhaps thinking I’ll ask for more detail. This is all part of the test. He needs to know how many of my principles I’m willing to abandon for him.

After he’s sure I’m not going to say anything, he writes down an address for me. Passes the scrap of paper across the desk. I read it, try not to smile.

He knows what he’s doing, the wily old shite-bag. He’s been waiting for this moment.

Who can blame him?

This is his tipping point. This is the moment when he finally owns me.

He’s always talked like I’m the son he never had. Truth is, he just wants power over me. Same as with everyone he meets. David Burns wants you to know that he’s the man in charge. That he owns you. Owns everyone you know.

‘Well?’ he says.

I don’t hesitate this time. ‘Long as you pay up front.’

Can he see what I’m really feeling?

‘Is cash acceptable?’

‘Sure,’ I say. ‘For a job like this.’

I stand and offer my hand. He stands, too, and when we shake, he continues to lock his eyes on to mine.

When I leave the room, I feel different.

Like someone just paid for my soul.


stared at the letter.

Read it again.


Dear Mr McNee

In light of recent charges brought against your agency, the Association of British Investigators has been forced to consider your current active status. Until such time as a full investigation can be conducted, your membership will be suspended …

I placed the letter back on the desk, stood up, crossed the floor of the office to the window. Looked out across to the DSS building, beyond to the rear of the Overgate Shopping Centre. Sandstone and steel, a far cry from its heyday as a concrete monstrosity inflicted on the city during the sixties, when the council had proceeded to destroy any vestige of character the city may have possessed. It had long been a symbol of the new Dundee; a city looking to the future rather than remembering its past.

I sucked in a heavy breath, let it go. Slow. Like a smoker’s last desperate gasp on his final fag-end.

The word
echoed in my head.

Someone laughed.

Of course, it took a moment before I realized it was me.

I called on Lindsay. At his house.

Bad idea?

Maybe. But things had changed between us since he came out of the coma. We weren’t friends. Never would be. But we’d found an uneasy alliance in shared experience.

And shared betrayal.

As always, answering the door, he didn’t smile. Didn’t say anything. Just stepped back to allow me inside.

Maybe twenty seconds before his opening gambit: ‘How long did it take you to put away the crutches?’

‘I still have them,’ I said. ‘Just in case.’

Five years earlier, I’d been involved in a car accident. Wound up with a limp that the doctors said had no real physical cause.

These days, I limped less. And life was good. So go figure if there was a connection.

We went through to the sitting room, Lindsay taking the lead, his gait awkward, cane tap-tapping an off-beat rhythm on the hardwood floors.

The TV was on BBC daytime; middle-class timewasters searching for bargains at a car-boot sale. Lindsay said, ‘Better than morphine.’

Sure, and without the entertainment value.

It was strange, not to hear him swear. Like he was the same man, but not quite. Until recently, I’d known next to nothing about who DCI George Lindsay was off the job.

He had a six-year-old son, and didn’t want the lad to grow up hearing daddy swear.

Double standards?

We all have them. And if you can’t swear when you’re overseeing a brutal murder investigation, then God only knows when you can.

Lindsay and I sat across from each other. I took the sofa. He took a faux-leather armchair. Manoeuvred down awkwardly. The plastic leather creaked.

I pretended not to notice. ‘Have you heard from her?’

He shook his head. ‘Thought she’d contact you. You know. Considering.’

‘Nothing since she left.’

Susan and I had a strange relationship, made worse when she lied to protect a teenage girl who murdered a man – a monster – in self-defence. The secret had brought us together before it eventually pushed us further apart than we had ever been.

There was a physics lesson in there, I was sure of that.

Susan decided to go travelling. Told me she wanted to ‘find herself’.

I didn’t know what it meant then, and over six months later I wasn’t any more clued-in. Except that whatever she was doing, she wasn’t saying much about it beyond the occasional postcard and awkward email.

Now the only person I had left to talk to was Lindsay.

Aye, well, laugh it up. We were, after all, the best of enemies. Even when we’d been on the force, the antagonism had got the better of our professional instincts more than once.

But then he took a beating while trying to help me uncover the truth behind the death of Susan’s father. The attack severe enough to put him in a coma. During those weeks, the ones that turned into months before he finally decided to come back to the world, I found myself in the habit of visiting his bedside and unburdening myself.

A confessional without the religious trappings.

I wonder if he heard me during those weeks. Since he woke up, neither of us have talked about it. But something had definitely changed between us.

Why I found myself in his front room at half nine on a Tuesday morning.

I told him about the letter. About the reason it had been sent.

‘You shouldn’t be talking to me about that.’

‘Why not?’

He didn’t say anything. I took his meaning. This was trouble coming home to roost. Maybe for both of us.

Four years earlier, I had killed a man. Shot him in the chest one rainy night in the centre of the Necropolis graveyard out to the west end of the city.


The man had been a killer himself. Two days earlier he had killed a woman on the run from her gangster husband. And that evening, he’d been looking to take me out.

I always wondered whether Lindsay – the investigating officer on the case – truly believed the story I sold him, or if he had chosen to fudge the details for his own inscrutable reasons, letting me off the hook, justifying my actions on that rain-soaked evening.

Four years later, someone was raising doubts as to the official account of what happened. Questioning not just my story but the investigation into the events.

BOOK: 04-Mothers of the Disappeared
9.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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