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Authors: Barbara Fradkin

Honour Among Men

BOOK: Honour Among Men
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HONOUR
AMONG
MEN

An Inspector Green Mystery

BARBARA FRADKIN

Text © 2006 by Barbara Fradkin

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher.

Cover art and design: Trudy Agyeman

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program

RENDEZVOUS CRIME

an imprint of Napoleon and Company

Toronto, Ontario Canada

10 09 08 07     5 4 3 2

2nd printing June 2007

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Fradkin, Barbara Fraser, date-

Honour among men: an Inspector Green mystery / Barbara Fradkin.

(RendezVous crime)

ISBN 1-894917-36-7 (pbk.)

I. Title. II. Series.

PS8561.R233H65 2006

C813'.6

C2006-903892-9

The Inspector Green Mysteries

Do or Die
Once Upon a Time
Mist Walker
Fifth Son
Honour Among Men

Acknowledgements

The theme of
Honour Among Men
is a timely one as Canada searches its soul for its place as peacemaker in the modern world. The characters and the story are entirely fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead, is purely coincidental. However, the historical places and details are based on fact, and I am indebted to two authors, military historian Sean M. Maloney and journalist Carol Off, for their detailed and compassionate books on our peacekeepers' experiences in the former Yugoslavia, which provided much of the background information for my story. Any errors or distortions, whether accidental or intentional, are mine alone.

Writing a novel is a solitary, uncertain journey, but as always I am grateful to the many people who provided information, inspiration and constructive criticism along the way. As always, a very special thanks is due to Mark Cartwright of the Ottawa Police for his technical expertise and critical eye for realism. Second, thanks to Paul Fiander and my cousins Sally, Ed and Jeff Goss for their colourful insights into Halifax. Third, writers need a mirror to see the images they create, so I'd like to thank the members of my critiquing group, Joan Boswell, Vicki Cameron, Mary Jane Maffini, Sue Pike and Linda Wiken, who held up the mirror for me by diligently wading through the first draft. Fourth, I am grateful for the ongoing belief and support of my agent Leona Trainer, my editor Allister Thompson and my publisher Sylvia McConnell, whose efforts brought it to final fruition.

And last but not least, a very special thanks for my family. For everything.

ONE

November 2 1992, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
.

Today I finally did it. Put my name in for a peacekeeping tour overseas. Danny's been bugging me for weeks to volunteer so we could go together. Do our part for peace and see the world. Easy for him to say. For him, our reserve unit is the most exciting thing in his life, but for me it's just a way of making money to pay for college
.

“There's more to the world than sheep farms,” says Danny. “You never even been outside of Antigonish County!” Which is unfair. I went over to Prince Edward Island only last month to check out their vet school. I don't want to end up like Dad, working fifteen-hour days in the barns and up to his eyeballs in manure and debt
.

Anyway it's the animals I like. The new lambs you help into the world, the old dog at your side no matter what. But the cost of vet school blew me away. Even if I get in—and that's a big if—I'd be up to my own eyeballs in debt before I'm through. That was what did it. I looked at the sign-up forms, did the math, and figured by the end of the six month tour, I'd have enough money to pay for vet school and maybe even marry Kit. And Dad's proud of me that I'm going off to work for peace
.

Kit is another story. Tryouts are in less than a month. There are probably thousands of reservists trying to get in, so my
chances are slim, but if I pass the screening, I ship out right after New Years. What do I tell her? Wait for me? What's six months in the big picture of our lives?

Daylight leaked through the jagged rip in the blind and lit the dust in the tiny room. As it worked its way behind Patti's closed eyelids, she cursed and rolled over to face the wall. The bed springs shrieked, and her ratty quilt fell off.

She yanked it back around her, shivering. The goddamn sun was getting up earlier now, but it sure as hell wasn't bringing any warmth with it. The April wind swept across the top of Citadel Hill and down Gottingen Street to rattle the solitary window of her third floor walk-up. It whistled through the cracks in the aging clapboard and swept down the chimney of the boarded up fireplace. The landlord was on such an economy drive with the heat that even the cockroaches had moved out.

April 9th. Patti felt a wave of despair. It sapped the strength from her limbs and the breath from her lungs. Ten years. Ten years to the day since Danny died. And look what she was reduced to. No fucking pension, no little house and curly-haired kid, no respect or sympathy. Just a throw-away life.

Bitterness rose up on cue, in the familiar dance of feelings that had kept her company these ten lonely years. Sure, she had her job, with its endless days of breathing dry-cleaning fumes and taking crap from bitchy housewives for stains that wouldn't come out. She had the happy hour gang at the Seaman's Watch on Friday nights. But it wasn't supposed to be like this.

After Danny died, she'd thought things would eventually get better. She'd loved him, but face it, he hadn't been the easiest
guy to get along with at the end, and she'd assumed someone new would come along. She'd expected Danny's friends to rally around her, help her out, start a fund or something, then maybe one of them would even step up to the plate.

But the truth was Danny didn't have any friends. Not by the end. Drinking buddies was all, and she'd learned what they were worth. “Didn't see nothing, didn't hear nothing”, never knew a thing that went on that night. They'd melted into the woodwork, leaving her to sort out the whole mess of his life by herself. Even his family had come and gone from town so fast that she'd barely learned their names. They'd brought with them a photo of Danny for the wake. Dressed in his reserves uniform all ready for parade, with his hat on square, his eyes set straight ahead and just the tiniest smile on his playful lips.

Looking nothing like the Danny he'd become those last months.

She'd wanted to feel a connection with them, to find a hint of Danny in them, but they were strangers. And after the funeral, they'd gone back to Cape Breton, sad but resigned. Like they'd lost Danny years ago.

“What about all his things?” Patti had asked on the morning after the wake, as they all slumped over coffee in the Tim Hortons on the way out of town.

His mother was a stick of a woman with basset eyes and ropes of muscle along her arms. Her eyes drooped further. “Is there much?”

Patti shook her head. Judging from the way Danny had borrowed off her in the last three months, he hadn't a penny to his name. When he'd been laid off for the winter, he hadn't even bothered looking for another job.

“Then you keep it, dear. I'm sure Danny would have wanted you to have it.”

Danny didn't expect to die, she'd wanted to snap back, but she held her tongue. They were all in shock, all bumping around blindly in the dark.

Truth was, there wasn't much worth having in his little basement apartment off the harbour. He'd never invited her there, because he said it smelled of booze and piss, so she was surprised by how neat it was. Danny's last few months had been a mess, but his shoes and clothes were all lined up, his old enamel sink spit-polished and his blanket stretched tight across his bed. Once a soldier, always a soldier. She'd buried her face in his jacket, inhaling his scent of sweat and lemon spice aftershave. Neatly stowed under his bed, she found a kit bag full of books, souvenirs and letters from herself and his mother, all upbeat and cheerful with news from home. There were photos of himself with his company overseas, soldiers grinning ear to ear with their guns and their makeshift bunks.

For hours she'd sat on his bed, poring over the photos and letters, reading back in time to a Danny she barely remembered. Young, naïve, cocky, setting out on his first grand adventure. Then she'd packed up the bag and brought everything back to her own place, thinking she'd send it on to his family some day, when she could put all this behind her.

But now, hugging the quilt around her to fend off the cold and the ache inside, she realized that time had never come. Instead, she'd been stuck in limbo, waiting for answers. For justice. Maybe even for a chance at revenge. But against what? Against the big, faceless public bureaucracy that had robbed Danny of his life? Or against an enemy much more specific. With a face, surely a name . . .

Something thumped against the front door at the bottom of the stairs. A dog barked. She rolled over, opened one eye, and squinted at the clock. Seven-twenty. The kid from down
the street had just delivered the Halifax
Sunday Herald
, and if she didn't hurry, the asshole from downstairs would steal it so he could read the comics. It was her one pleasure on a Sunday morning, when she didn't have to rush to work. When she could brew a proper cup of tea, snuggle up in bed, and check her weekly horoscope to see if her luck had changed.

She pulled Danny's old jacket over her pyjamas for the trip down the chilly staircase to the front door. The door on the landing opposite was just opening when she snatched up the paper. It slammed in her wake as she dashed back upstairs.

The headlines were the usual crap. Another suicide bombing in the Middle East, another refugee crisis in Africa, more hype from Ottawa about still another useless election campaign. She tossed the paper down on the table in disgust. Why should anyone even bother to vote? The world was going to shit, and there wasn't a fucking thing the little guy could do about it. Danny was right about that.

BOOK: Honour Among Men
3.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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