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Authors: Pauline Rowson

Dead Man's Wharf

BOOK: Dead Man's Wharf
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DEAD MAN'S WHARF

An Andy Horton Marine Mystery

Pauline Rowson

Recent Titles by Pauline Rowson
TIDE OF DEATH
IN COLD DAYLIGHT
IN FOR THE KILL
DEADLY WATERS *
THE SUFFOCATING SEA *
BLOOD ON THE SAND *

*
available from Severn House

First world edition published 2010 in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of 9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
This eBook edition published 2010 by SUMMERSDALE PUBLISHERS LTD
Copyright © 2010 by Pauline Rowson.
All rights reserved. The moral right of the author has been asserted.
eISBN-13: 978-1-84839-405-6

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.

To Harry

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My grateful thanks to Ian Barefoot, Project Officer, Diving into History of the Nautical Archaeological Society; to English Heritage at Fort Cumberland; and to Andy Luxton of the Kendalls Group, Portsmouth.

ONE

Monday 5 January
'H
as Mr Jackson received death threats before?' Inspector Horton tried to contain the anger in his voice. Usually he took such matters seriously, but not this time.
  'No, Inspector, and neither has Nick.' The woman opposite him dropped her eyes as soon as they connected with Horton's. Was that from guilt, he wondered, at wasting police time?
  She was perched nervously on the large leather chair opposite him. The woman dressed from head to toe in black looked more like a nun without the wimple than a television director to Horton. But then he guessed his views of directors were coloured by newspaper and magazine articles where they were usually men of presence and power.
Wrecks Around
Britain
, though, was hardly
Titantic
and Perry Jackson wasn't exactly Leonardo DiCaprio. Not that Horton had met Jackson yet as Corinna Denton had waylaid him and Sergeant Cantelli the moment they had entered the plush reception of the Queen's Hotel on the Southsea seafront.
  On their way there, Sergeant Barney Cantelli had told him that the programme always contained an element of danger, which had convinced Horton that the anonymous threatening telephone calls were a publicity stunt designed to attract media coverage. He had bet Cantelli a month of free canteen lunches they were.
  'Television personalities do get stalked, you know, Andy,' Cantelli had replied. 'There are some seriously weird people out there.'
  'I know, I've met them.'
  'Then why so sure these calls are fakes?'
  'Let's just say I can feel it in my gut.'
  Did he? Or was he simply angry that he'd been ordered here by his boss, DCI Lorraine Bliss, because of the status of Perry Jackson and his television partner, Nicholas Farnsworth. Horton had never heard of either of them, but that was hardly surprising when he didn't own a television on the boat where he lived.
  'Where is Mr Jackson now?' he asked Corinna Denton.
  'Having breakfast with Nick.'
  The threats obviously hadn't affected his appetite then! Horton had missed breakfast. Not that he could have eaten a thing anyway. Since he had decided, in the middle of the night, to meet Emma at Heathrow Airport earlier that morning, food had become of periphery interest.
  His mind slewed back to the arrivals lounge and Catherine's incensed expression as their eight-year-old daughter had run into his arms. He had promised Emma that she could stay with him on the boat. She was overjoyed. Catherine was outraged. A state she seemed to be permanently in regarding matters relating to him gaining access to Emma. He didn't know why. He guessed that Catherine was already on to her solicitor complaining. Well, let her.
  He brought his attention sharply back to the matter in hand. The sooner he got this out of the way, the quicker he could return to the station and get on with solving real crimes.
  'Where are your film crew?'
  'Jason, our camera and sound man, is probably still in bed.'
  Horton noted the slight shift in her tone that told him she didn't approve of this. Or perhaps she didn't approve of Jason.
  'We work on a very tight budget, Inspector. If we need any extra lighting or cameras then we hire it in wherever we're shooting. We're only here for a few days, doing some external shots, meeting with the diving contractors, working out a schedule. And Perry's doing some additional research. He's writing a book.' Corinna said it as if it was the only book in the world, and maybe it was to her and Mr Jackson. 'The dive is being filmed in May,' she added, running a hand through her short dark hair. 'We'll call up anyone else we need then.'
  So why the anonymous calls now if this was a publicity stunt? Surely it would have been better to have staged them when the programme was being filmed. But because Horton was a cynical copper, he asked, 'Are they showing the programme on television now?'
  There was a slight hesitation and lowering of eyes before she answered. 'I think they're repeating the
Diving off Devon
series.'
  You think! You bloody know. And the media attention this stunt would attract would draw in additional viewers. Not bothering to hide his contempt, he said, 'Have you mentioned these calls to the press?'
  She looked surprised. 'Of course not. Perry didn't even want me to phone you. I wouldn't have bothered, only Nick insisted. If it had been just the one call, but three—'
  'I'd like to speak to Mr Jackson.'
  'I'll call him.'
  'He's having breakfast, you said.'
  Before she could stop him, Horton was marching across the reception area and heading for the restaurant, his eyes scouring the room for any likely looking media types. He wouldn't mind betting he was being filmed or that Corinna Denton had a Dictaphone stashed in her handbag. He had a deep mistrust of journalists and it wouldn't surprise him if his voice, and Cantelli's, rang out on the programme when it was aired. Something along the lines of:
Perry Jackson continued diving despite the threats to his life
. Well, bollocks to them, he thought, scanning the restaurant. No more than half a dozen tables were occupied and none of them with journos unless they had suddenly got a hell of a lot older.
  There was only one table with two men sitting together. He didn't need to be a detective inspector to work out they must be Jackson and Farnsworth. They seemed to be arguing. Their heads were bent low over the table, their expressions serious. One of them definitely looked out of sorts. A deep frown showing on his receding hairline and a faint flush on his swarthy skin.
  They both looked up as Horton drew level.
  The man with the frown paused mid-sentence. 'Yes?' he snapped.
  'Mr Jackson?'
  'What is it? Can't you see I'm having breakfast?'
  Corinna Denton, who had scurried up behind him, hastily made the introductions.
  Jackson's frown didn't automatically vanish, but it rested on Corinna for a moment, before he forced his round features into an expression he obviously considered to be welcoming.
  If that was welcoming, Horton thought he'd rather meet Dracula on a cold dark night in a cemetery.
  Horton pulled up a chair. His first impressions of Jackson as a pompous prick were confirmed when the man said, 'I really don't know what you are doing here, Inspector. It's not at my behest.'
  Who the hell used words like that these days? Prime Minister John Major had come close, but then even he was history.
  Jackson was stockily built, with dark hair and hot, angry brown eyes that had a way of looking both through you and into you. Horton guessed he was in his early forties. He was the complete opposite of the fair man sitting across the table from him, who Corinna had introduced as Nicholas Farnsworth.
  Farnsworth's expression assumed one of concern. 'Corinna is worried, Perry, and so am I. We have to take these calls seriously. Coffee, Inspector?'
  'Thanks.' He might as well get something from this farce. He was even more convinced now that it was one after seeing the fake expression of concern on Farnsworth's face.
  Catching the waiter's eye, Farnsworth commanded another cup and more coffee with an ease that Horton both resented and secretly admired. He had those rugged good looks combined with sophistication that made Horton instantly think of James Bond. Though the character rather than any of the actors who had played Bond over the years. He would have said that Farnsworth was a little younger than Jackson, but he could have been mistaken. He was taller with a leaner, more athletic frame. Horton wondered if Jackson was Farnsworth's plain man against the handsome and if he'd been cast because of it.
  Horton addressed himself to Perry Jackson. 'Tell us about these calls, sir.' He thought that now that he was here, he might as well go through the motions.
  Cantelli pulled his notebook from his jacket pocket and removed the small stubby pen from behind his ear while Horton shrugged off his sailing jacket.
  'It's just some prank.' Jackson dismissed it with a wave of his hand. 'I told Corinna not to bother you. I hate fuss.'
  'When did you receive the first call?' Horton ignored his protest.
  Jackson frowned, and then obviously seeing he wasn't going to get rid of Horton easily, resigned himself to answering.
  'Six p.m. yesterday. We'd only just checked into the hotel. The caller said, "Watch your back."'
  That suggested to Horton that the mystery caller,
if
there had been one, had either seen them arrive or knew what time they had been scheduled to check in.
  Cantelli said, 'Nothing else?'
  Jackson swivelled his gaze. 'No. I said, "Hello, who is this?" and the line went dead. I hung up and didn't think anything of it. Then last night after dinner, I returned to my room and the phone rang. It was the same caller. This time he said, "You've been warned."'
  'It was a man then?' Horton said.
  Jackson looked surprised, as if Horton should have known that. 'Yes.'
  'What time was this?'
  'Midnight.'
  'And this morning?'
  'Just on eight.'
  On the hour again. Horton wondered if that was significant. But if these two had organized the bogus calls between them, perhaps they thought it sounded more dramatic that way.
  'This time the caller said, "You'll pay for what you've done."'
  'Have you any idea what he meant by that?' Horton didn't really expect a sensible or an honest answer, and he didn't get one.
  'If I had, I would tell you,' Jackson snapped.
  I bet you wouldn't, Horton decided, wondering what Jackson had done to upset someone
if
these calls were genuine. He still had his doubts about that.
  'It's just some weirdo,' Jackson added, echoing Cantelli's words earlier.
  'You get them, Inspector,' Farnsworth intervened. 'Especially when you're famous.'
  Hardly that, thought Horton, looking at Farnsworth to check he wasn't kidding. No, the man was deadly earnest.
  He swivelled his eyes back to the scowling Jackson. 'Can you describe the voice?'
  'I've already told you. It was a man.'
  'Was there any accent?' Cantelli interceded.
  Jackson frowned. 'No.'
  'Posh voice or common?' pressed Cantelli, his pencil poised over his notebook.
  'For heaven's sake, I've no idea.'
  'Young or old?'
  'Voices can be deceptive when heard on the telephone, Sergeant,' Farnsworth said pleasantly.
  Horton bristled at his tone, or rather at the patronizing smile that went with it, but Cantelli simply nodded as though he'd just learnt something. Horton knew he was playing dumb cop. Cantelli was looking thinner than before his Christmas leave, Horton thought, and his dark eyes were sunk just a little deeper in his gaunt face. A shadow seemed to have fallen on his usually cheerful countenance and Horton knew the reason for it. On Thursday his father's funeral was being held.
  'Sometimes you can get an impression, sir,' Cantelli said.
  'Young rather than old then,' Jackson capitulated with exasperation. 'I mean his voice didn't quaver like some old people's do.'
  Cantelli seemed to take a long time writing this down in his notebook, which Horton knew was a deliberate ploy. He noted Jackson's impatience and Farnsworth's disdain.
  Horton asked, 'Who knows you're staying in the hotel?'
  It was Corinna who answered. 'No one except us. I made the reservations myself.'
  'What about family, friends, business acquaintances?'
BOOK: Dead Man's Wharf
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