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Authors: Lin Anderson

Driftnet

BOOK: Driftnet
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Praise for
Driftnet

Lin Anderson
possesses a rare gift of magnetic quality: you just can’t put her
books down.
The
Times

In Driftnet the
very dangerous worlds of paedophilia, politics and the Internet are
skilfully linked together. It simply makes your skin crawl. Ms
Anderson’s brilliant debut leaves you hoping for a sequel soon.
The Independent

 

Driftnet

by

Lin
Anderson

 

Smashwords
Edition

Copyright 2011
Lin Anderson

 

This book is
available in print at most online retailers

Discover other
titles by Lin Anderson at Smashwords.com

 

Smashwords
Edition, License Notes

 

This ebook is
licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be
re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share
this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy
for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not
purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please
return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

 

Chapter 1

The boy did not
expect to die.

When the guy
put the tasselled cord round his neck, grinning at him, he thought
it was just part of the usual game. The guy was excited, a dribble
of saliva slithering down his chin and falling onto the boy’s bare
shoulder. He nodded his agreement. He was past feeling sick at
their antics. He lay back down, turning his head sideways to the
greyish pillow that smelt of other games, closed his eyes and
shifted his thoughts to something else. There was a goal he liked
to play out in his head.

On the right,
the Frenchman, arrogant, the ball licking his feet, thrusting
forward. The opposition starts to group and there’s a scuffle.
Bastards. But no worry cos the Frenchman’s through and running, the
ball anchored to him, like a child to its mother. The crowd
breathes in. Time stretches like an elastic band. Then the ball’s
away, curving through the air. Wham! It’s in the net.

The boy can
usually go home now. Not this time. This time before the ball
reaches the net, his head is pulled back, then up. The intense
pressure bulges his eyes, bursting a myriad of tiny blood vessels
to pattern the white. His body spasms as the cord bites deeper,
slicing through skin, cutting the blood supply to his brain. At the
moment of death, his penis erupts, scattering silver strands of
semen over the multicoloured cover.

 

 

Chapter 2

Sean was
already asleep beside her. Rhona liked that about him. His baby
sleep. His face lying smooth and untroubled against the pillow, his
lips opened just enough to let the breath escape in soft noiseless
puffs. No one, she thinks, should look that good after a bottle of
red wine and three malt whiskies.

Rhona has given
up watching Sean drink. It is too irritating, knowing the next
morning he won’t have a hangover. Instead he’ll throw back the
duvet (letting a draught enter the warm tent that had enclosed
their bodies), slip out of bed and head for the kitchen. From the
bed she will watch (a little guiltily), as he moves about; a
glimpse of thigh, an arm reaching up, his penis swinging soft and
vulnerable. He’ll whistle while he makes the coffee and forever in
her mind Rhona will match the bitter sweet smell of fresh coffee
with the high clear notes of an Irish tune.

They have been
together for seven months. The first night Rhona brought Sean home
they never reached the bedroom. He held her against the front door,
just looking at her. Then he began to unwrap her, piece by piece,
peeling her like ripe fruit, his lips not meeting hers but close,
so close that her mouth stretched up of its own accord and her body
with it. Then, with a flick of his tongue, he entered her life.

When the phone
rang, Sean barely moved. Rhona knew once it rang four times the
ansaphone would cut in. The caller would listen to Sean’s amiable
Irish voice and change their view of answering machines, thinking
they might be human after all. Rhona lifted the receiver on the
third ring, knowing it would be an emergency or they wouldn’t phone
so late. When she suggested to the voice on the other end that she
would need a taxi, the Sergeant told her that a police car was
already on its way.

Constable
William McGonigle had never been at a murder scene before. He had
stretched the yellow tape across the close mouth like the Sergeant
told him and chased away two drunks who thought that police
activity constituted a better bit of entertainment than staggering
home to hump the wife. Constable McGonigle didn’t agree.

‘Go home,’ he
told them. ‘There’s nothing to see here.’

He was peering
up the stairwell, wondering how much longer he would have to stand
there freezing his balls off when he heard the sound of high heels
clipping the tarmac. A woman leaned over the tape and stared into
the dimly lit stair.

‘Sorry Miss.
You can’t come in here.’

‘Where’s
Detective Inspector Wilson?’

Constable
McGonigle was surprised.

‘Upstairs
Miss.’

‘Good,’ she
said.

Her fair hair
shone white in the darkness and Constable McGonigle could smell her
perfume. She lifted a silken leg and straddled his yellow tape.

‘I’d better go
on up then,’ she said.

The click of
Rhona’s heels echoed round the grimy stairwell, but if she was
disturbing any of the residents, they didn’t show it by opening
their doors. No one here wanted to be seen. If there was a fire
they might come out, she thought, in the unlikely event they
weren’t completely comatose.

A door on the
second landing stood ajar. She could hear DI Wilson’s voice inside.
If Bill was here at least she wouldn’t have to explain who she was.
She could just get on with the job, go home and crawl back into
bed.

The narrow hall
was a fetid mix of damp and heat. The sound of her heels died in
the dark mottled carpet, that curled at the edge like some withered
vegetable. She paused. Three doors, all half open. On her right a
kitchen, on her left a bathroom. She caught a glimpse of a white
suit and heard the whirr of a camera. The Scene of Crime Officers
were already at work.

The end door
opened fully and Detective Inspector Bill Wilson looked out.

‘Bill.’

‘Dr
MacLeod.’

He nodded.
‘It’s in here.’

He allowed
himself a tight smile. The two other men in the room turned and
stared out at her. Dr MacLeod was not what either of them had
expected.

Rhona looked
down at her black dress and high-heeled sandals. ‘I came out in a
bit of a hurry.’

‘McSween will
get you some kit.’

Bill nodded to
one of the men, who went out and came back minutes later with a
plastic bag.

Rhona pulled
out the scene suit and mask, put her coat into the bag and handed
it to the Officer. She took one shoe off at a time and slipped her
feet into the suit. Only then did she step inside.

Rhona took in
the small room at a glance. The hideous nicotine-stained curtains
stretched tightly across the window. A wooden chair with a pair of
jeans and a tee-shirt thrown over it. Two glasses on a formica
table. A pair of trainers on the floor beside the bed. A divan,
three quarters width, no headboard but covered with heavy silken
brocade in an expensive burst of swirling colours.

The boy’s naked
body lay face down across it, his head turned stiffly towards her,
eyes bulging, tongue protruding slightly between blue lips. The
dark silk cord knotted round the neck looked like a bow tie the
wrong way round. The body showed signs of hypostasis, and the
combination of dark purple patches and pale translucence reminded
Rhona of marble. Below the hips blood soaked into the
bedclothes.

‘I turned the
gas fire off when I arrived,’ Bill said. ‘The smell nearly finished
off our young Constable, so I put him on duty outside for some
fresh air.’

‘Did anyone
take the room temperature?’

‘McSween has
it.’

Rhona took a
deep breath before she put on the mask. The smell of a crime scene
was important. It might mean she would look for traces of a
substance she would otherwise have missed. Here the nauseating
odour of violent death, mixed with stale sex and sweat masked
something else, something fainter. She got it. An expensive men’s
cologne.

‘McSween and
Johnstone have covered the rest of the room. The photographer is
working on the kitchen and bathroom.’

‘What about a
pathologist?’

‘Dr Sissons
came and certified death. Then suggested I get a decent forensic to
take samples and bag the body because he needed to get back to his
dinner party.’

‘Important
guests?’

‘He did mention
a ‘Sir’ somewhere in the list.’

Rhona smiled.
Dr Sissons preferred analysing death in the comfort of his
mortuary. Taking samples of bodily fluids in the middle of the
night, he regarded as her territory.

‘That’s some
bedcover!’

‘We think it
might be a curtain, but we’ll get a better look once we take the
body away.’

‘Did the doctor
turn him over?’

‘Just enough to
tell if he’s been moved. He said the left side of the face, the
upper chest and hips had been compressed since death occurred. He’s
lying where he was killed.’

Rhona opened
her case and took out her gloves. She knelt down beside the
bed.

‘There’s a lot
of blood under the body.’

Bill nodded
grimly. ‘You’d better take a look underneath.’

Rhona lifted
the right arm and rolled the body a little. The genitals had been
gnawed, the penis severed by a jagged gash that ran from the left
hand tip to halfway up the right side. One testicle was mashed and
hanging by a thin strip of skin.

‘This must have
been done after he died or the blood would be all over the
place.’

‘That’s what
Sissons said.’

Rhona let the
body roll back down. The boy’s head nestled back into the dirty
pillow.

‘Any sign of a
weapon?’

Bill shook his
head. ‘Maybe it wasn’t a weapon.’

‘A biter? Did
Dr Sissons check for other bite marks?’

‘He muttered
something about bruising on the nipples and the shoulder.’

‘I’ll take some
swabs.’

‘How long do
you think he’s been dead?’ Bill said.

Rhona pressed
one of the deepening purple patches, and watched it slowly blanch
under her finger. ‘Maybe six, seven hours. Depends on the
temperature of the room.’

Bill risked a
satisfied smile.

‘Matches the
Doc.’

Rhona raised
her eyebrows a little. Doctor Sissons and she didn’t usually agree.
He had a habit of disagreeing with her on points like the exact
time of death. It was almost a matter of principle. Rhona had done
three years medicine before she switched to forensic science. She
liked to practise now and again.

‘How did you
find him?’

‘An anonymous
phone call.’

‘The
murderer?’

‘A young male
voice. Very frightened. Maybe another rent boy come here to meet a
client?’

‘Alive, this
one would have been pretty,’ Rhona said.

Bill nodded.
‘Not the usual type for this area,’ he said. ‘A bit more class, but
rented all the same. I’ll leave you to it? Just shout if you need
anything.’

She was nearly
an hour taking samples of everything that might prove useful later
on. After she’d finished with the surrounds, she concentrated on
the body, under the fingernails, the hair, the mouth. Dr Sissons
would take the anal and penile swabs.

The skin felt
cold through her gloves, but with the blonde hair flopped over the
empty eyes, he might have been any teenager fast asleep. Rhona
lifted the hair and studied the face trying to imagine what the boy
would have looked like in life. There were none of the tell tale
signs of poor diet and drug abuse. This one had been healthy. So
how did he end up here?

‘Finished?’
Bill’s timing was immaculate. ‘Mortuary boys are here.’ He looked
at her face. ‘Go home and have a hot toddy,’ he said.

A hot toddy was
Bill’s answer to almost any ailment.

Rhona got up
from the bed and unwrapped her hands. ‘Any idea who he is?’ she
said.

‘Not yet. But I
don’t think he was Scottish.’ He pointed to the hall. Behind the
door hung a leather jacket and a football scarf. ‘Manchester
United,’ he said in mock disgust.

‘There are
people up here who support Man U,’ Rhona suggested cheekily,
knowing Bill was a Celtic man.

‘Yes but they
wouldn’t flaunt it. Not in Glasgow anyway.’

Rhona
laughed.

BOOK: Driftnet
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