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Authors: Mark Billingham

Rush of Blood

BOOK: Rush of Blood
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Mark Billingham
has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel, and has also won a Sherlock Award for the Best Detective
created by a British writer. Each of the novels featuring Detective Inspector Tom Thorne has been a
Sunday Times
bestseller, and
Sleepyhead
and
Scaredy Cat
were made into a hit TV series on Sky 1 starring David Morrissey as Thorne. Mark lives in north London with his wife and
two children.

Visit the author’s website at:
www.markbillingham.com

Also by Mark Billingham

The DI Tom Thorne series

Sleepyhead

Scaredy Cat

Lazybones

The Burning Girl

Lifeless

Buried

Death Message

Bloodline

From the Dead

Good as Dead

Other fiction

In The Dark

Copyright

Published by Hachette Digital

ISBN: 978-0-74812-049-9

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright © Mark Billingham Ltd 2012

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, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.

Hachette Digital

Little Brown Book Group

100 Victoria Embankment

London, EC4Y 0DY

www.hachette.co.uk

For Mum and Dad

PROLOGUE
FLORIDA

It’s all wrong
.

The light winking on the blue mirror of the pool, the sunhats and the sweating beer bottles clutched in their fists. The drone
of insects. The smell of warm skin slick with suntan lotion
.

All of it
.

It couldn’t really be any more unsuitable, bearing in mind what’s happening. One of them thinks there’s a word for it, for
that … clash, but he can’t remember what the word is. The six of them just listen and shake their heads, trying their best
not to let the woman see how awkward they’re feeling – God, that would be terrible, all things considered – but it only makes
the situation worse. Now, they’re worried that they just look even more relaxed, even more insensitive. Like they don’t give
a shit about the missing girl
.

It makes them all feel even guiltier
.

I mean, clearly it’s just a question of ‘context’ or whatever you call it, because for the previous thirteen days the picture
could not have been more perfect. Wasn’t that exactly what they’d paid their money for, and weren’t they there to relax? But
that was before the flashing lights on the roofs of cars were visible through the palm trees. Before there were cops and State
Troopers running about and radios crackling
.

On top of which, the woman herself seems pretty relaxed about it all
.


It’s so crazy,’ she says, and raises her hands in a ‘stay where you are’ gesture when one of them tries to get up from the
sunbed. ‘I feel stupid putting everyone to all this trouble.’ She takes a step away and says, ‘No, really,’ when another asks
if there’s anything they can do. ‘It’s fine, honestly
…’

Later on, talking in whispers, one of the men says, ‘Why should we feel
guilty? I mean, there was no shortage of people out looking for her, and it’s not like we didn’t offer to help, is it?

His wife shrugs. ‘There’s not much we can do about the sunshine, is there?

A couple of the others nod
.


Disparity,’ one of them says. ‘Is that the word?

So, they eat their final meal together and try to enjoy the last night of their holiday. They talk about how the woman’s daughter
has probably just gone to the mall, if she hasn’t turned up already, and keep talking in much the same way even though the
police cars are still around the following morning. On a full flight back to Gatwick, they try and fail to sleep. Scratchy-eyed,
they eat their foil-wrapped meals and watch movies, and several pick at the skin that is already peeling from chests and shoulders.
They stay cheerful, more or less, but each of them is thinking about the woman by the pool and a smile that quivered and died.
That kept on dying, a little bit quicker each time it was cranked into place
.

Thinking about her insistence that everything would be fine, that everything
was
fine, and the words – spoken with something approaching irritation – when she glimpsed what she took to be sympathy
.


She’s missing,’ the woman says. ‘That’s all, just missing. So, don’t even
think
it.’ And her voice rises just a little and cracks, and just before she pushes her sunglasses back into place, there’s something
fierce and tight around her eyes
.


My daughter is not dead
.’

PART ONE
ANGIE AND BARRY

From:
Angela Finnegan
[email protected]

Date:
16 May 17:31:01 BST

To:
Susan Dunning
[email protected]

Cc:
Marina Green
[email protected]

Subject:
Dinner!!!

Hi All!

You know how you meet people on holiday and say things like ‘we really must stay in touch’? I bet you’re regretting swapping
those email addresses now. Ha ha!

Seriously though, it was an amazing holiday even if it did end a bit oddly, so I thought it would be great if we could all
get together. So, me and Barry would love it if the four of you could come to dinner on Saturday, June 4th. I know it’s a
bit of a trek down here to deepest, darkest Crawley but I do a mean bread and butter pud and I promise to send out sherpas
if you get lost!!

Talk to the boys and let me know ASAP, but I really hope you can all make it.

Lotsa love,

Angie xxx

PS. Been looking at the local papers on the internet and still no sign of that poor girl. Can’t imagine what her mother must
be going through. Horrible, just horrible.

PPS. Can’t remember, but is anyone a veggie?

ONE

Angie moved slowly along the aisle, nudging the trolley with its squeaky wheel past white meat and along to red, picking up
some bacon – which they needed anyway – before turning and heading back again. Still trying to decide between chicken and
lamb. Chops or
coq au vin
.

She’d originally wanted to do something themed. A holiday-style menu to remind them all of their fortnight in the sun, with
piña coladas to kick things off. Seafood had been the obvious choice, a chowder perhaps – if she could find the clams – and
then some sort of fish for a main. She had even gone online and found a recipe for Key Lime pie.

Barry had said it was a stupid idea, so she’d let it go.

She glanced down into the trolley, wondered if she should get some ice cream to go with the frozen pizzas she’d picked out
for the kids. It was all quick and easy and it would be handy to get dinner for the pair of them done and dusted before her
guests arrived. She knew that Laura and Luke would be happy enough with that arrangement; keen to stay out of everyone’s way
and not have to join in with boring grown-up conversations. One night in front of the computer couldn’t hurt, assuming that
any homework had already been done.

Barry was in charge of all that.

She picked up a large pack of chicken breasts. She saw that the meat was organic, clocked the price and quickly put it back
again. Right idea though. Lamb was nice enough, but it could be a bit tricky, what with some people preferring it pinker than
others, and Barry had always enjoyed her
coq au vin
. She reached for a cheaper pack …

‘I just thought it would have been nice,’ she had said. ‘A bit different.’

‘I don’t see the point.’

‘There’s no
point
, it’s just a bit of fun, that’s all. Cooking something Floridian.’


What?

‘Something that comes from Florida.’

‘I know what the word means,’ Barry said, eyes narrow. He crushed the empty beer can he was holding, opened the lid of the
bin in the corner of the kitchen and tossed the can inside. ‘I’m just trying to work out why the hell you’re saying it. It’s
poncey.’

‘Look, it doesn’t matter.’

‘The whole thing’s poncey, you ask me.’ He slammed the lid of the bin shut and walked across to the fridge. ‘You’ll make us
look stupid.’

‘Fine, I’ll just do chicken or whatever.’ Angie reached for the cloth that was draped over the edge of the sink. ‘That OK,
then?’ Rubbing at a smear on the granite worktop, she watched as her husband stared into the fridge for almost half a minute,
then closed the door again without taking anything out. There was a bit more hair gone at the back, she noticed, and the mottled
roll of fat above his collar seemed that little bit thicker. Not that she was in any position to talk, of course. ‘OK, then,’
she said to herself.

‘Yeah, fine, whatever.’

He walked behind her, put his hands on her shoulders and kissed the back of her head. She carried on rubbing at the granite,
though the smear had already gone.

‘Can’t see why we’re even bothering though, to be honest,’ he said. He moved away and pulled out one of the seats at the breakfast
bar. ‘Haven’t we got enough friends?’

‘It’s just a get-together, that’s all. Sort of an add-on to the holiday kind of thing.’

‘Why do we want to do that?’ he asked. ‘I mean, it all went a bit weird at the end.’

‘Only at the end.’

‘That girl and everything.’

‘All the more reason. It’s something we’ve got in common, isn’t it?’

‘So, because of that we have to go to all this trouble?’


You
don’t have to do anything,’ she said.

‘You know what I mean.’

‘You got on all right with Ed and Dave, didn’t you?’

He shrugged. ‘They were nice enough.’

‘And the girls.’

Barry rolled his head slowly around on his neck. ‘Ed’s wife was all right, but that what’s-her-face … Marina … got right on
my nerves.’

‘Really?’

‘A bit full of herself, I reckon.’

Angie just nodded, happy to let him think he was being clever. She knew very well he was only pretending not to like Marina
Green because he fancied the arse off her. Because he was a sucker for big tits and an over-the-top dye job. Angie had watched
him ogling her on the sly, saucer-eyed behind his knock-off Oakleys, pretending he was still reading his paper as she climbed
out of the pool in a bikini that anyone could see was too small for her.

‘Well,
I
think she’s nice,’ Angie said.

‘Up to you.’

‘I think they’re all nice, and providing you make an effort we’ll have a nice evening.’ She could hear raised voices in the
lounge, an argument about what to watch on TV. She opened the kitchen door and shouted at her children to stop bickering.
When she turned back into the kitchen, Barry was standing, rubbing the belly that strained against a maroon polo shirt.

‘What about the diet?’ he asked.

She considered the fact that he was almost certainly more concerned
about
her
putting on a few pounds than
him
. She thought about the two cans of lager he’d got through in the half-hour since he’d come in from work and the empty crisp
packets she was always digging out of his car. ‘I’ll do fruit for pudding,’ she said. ‘It’s just one night.’

‘It won’t be though, will it?’ He slid a hand beneath the shirt, began to scratch. ‘We have them over here, then each of them
invites us to their place, whatever.’

‘What’s wrong with that?’

‘Like I told you, we’ve got enough friends.’

‘Name them,’ Angie said.


Excuse me, could I just …?

Angie blinked and apologised to the man who was stretching to reach past her for something. She nudged the trolley with the
squeaky wheel out of his way and wondered how long she had been standing there, staring blankly at the meat like a mad woman.
She glanced down at the pack of chicken that was still in her hand.

The shiny pink flesh, pressed tight against the polythene wrap.

She dropped the meat into her trolley and moved quickly towards the till. Remembering that last meal the six of them had eaten,
the blood-red sunset and all the police cars back at the resort. It would be strange, she thought, to see them all again,
eight weeks and a world away from where they had met.

A holiday to remember, in spite of everything.

Finnegan
Bros
. That’s what it said on the signs and on the sides of the vans and on that overpriced headed notepaper he never wanted in
the first place.

Bros. Brothers.
Two
of them …

You wouldn’t know that though, Barry thought. Not the way he was spoken to sometimes, and dismissed. The way he got given
the runaround like he was just another employee.

Adrian was the younger brother, that’s what made it even harder to stomach. Three years younger, but while Barry had been
getting his hands dirty, Adrian was the one swanning about at college just long
enough to get some poxy business management qualification. Now he seemed to think he was Alan Sugar or something and that
some pointless bit of paper made his contribution to the firm more important than Barry’s.

Well, it fucking
didn’t
.

Barry slammed the heel of his hand against the steering wheel, pulled it left and put his foot down hard to take the Audi
past some idiot doing forty miles an hour in the outside lane like a tit in a trance.

Forty-five minutes each way, just to take abuse from some moron who was still complaining that work on his loft extension
had ‘not been completed to a satisfactory standard’. A window that didn’t shut properly, a radiator that leaked, shit like
that. Forty-five minutes each way, on a Saturday afternoon, while his brother sat at home watching Sky Sports and playing
with his kids.

His jammy bastard brother, who still got to
see
his sodding kids.

A Saturday, for crying out loud, when he’d been working his arse off all week … and to cap it all, the punter had
still
not been happy. Whined like an old woman, called him a cowboy, then, after all that, said he might just as well phone Adrian
to get it sorted out.

Typical.

‘Should have spoken to the organ-grinder in the first place.’ That’s what the cheeky bastard had said. Took a good deal of
self-control on Barry’s part to keep his fist from flying into the little turd’s sweaty, red face … a job he’d
certainly
have completed to a satisfactory standard.

It was time to get things straight with his brother, Barry knew that. Time to have it out. It was a speech he had rehearsed
often enough and the list of grievances just kept on getting longer.


Saturday, Ade? You’re taking the piss, same as you always do
…’

Not that he hadn’t been happy enough to get himself out of the house while Angie was busy cleaning the place from top to bottom,
digging out the flash crockery, getting everything ready for dinner. And he guessed that she was equally glad to see the back
of him while she arranged the candles and polished the sodding cat.

‘You should
say
something to him.’ He could hear her saying it.
Had
heard her saying it, too many times. ‘You need to tell him you’re not putting up with it any more.’

Easy for her to say. Same crap he used to get from his ex.

Stand up to him, you’re the eldest.

Be a man …

He leaned on the horn, up the arse of some other idiot who refused to move out of the way. He saw the bloke check his rear-view.
Barry raised his arms and shouted, ‘Come
on
…’

‘Barry’s the practical side of the firm and I’m the nous.’ Adrian was fond of trotting that one out. A hand on Barry’s shoulder,
like as not, while Barry did his best to smile about it.

‘He’s the muscle and I’m the charm …’

He
was
though, that was the problem. Always had been.
Your little brother … birds from the trees … sand to the Arabs
… all that carry-on. Adrian was the one who found the customers and pitched them quotes at just the right level. Who kept
them sweet when every job went over time and over budget. He was the one who kept the fresh contracts rolling in, which was
what paid for the Audi and the child support and the holidays to effing Florida, which was why Angie needed to shut the hell
up and stop needling him.

Which was why, for the time being at least, that speech would stay undelivered.

Barry pushed in the cigarette lighter then reached across to the passenger seat for his Benson & Hedges. A sigh became a belch
as he flipped open the lid of the gold pack. The last thing he needed was this stupid dinner party.

What was it she’d wanted to cook? Something
Floridian?
Christ on a bike …

‘Make an effort,’ she’d said, more than once, and ‘Behave yourself,’ which he knew damn well meant ‘try not to get pissed
and show me up’. It was a shame, because having a few drinks and sneaking the odd look down Marina Green’s shirt were just
about the only things he was actually looking forward to. Besides, Angie was a fine one to talk, the
way she’d been putting it away lately. Truth was, she’d been off her face on wine and pricey cocktails almost every night
on that holiday; talking too loud and laughing at Ed’s stupid jokes, so all things considered it was a bit rich, her telling
him to mind his Ps and Qs.

She needed to show a bit more respect, Barry thought.

He lit his cigarette and cracked the window an inch to let the smoke out.

Bad as his brother …

He’d tell more of his stupid jokes, Ed would, and Dave would laugh along and Susan would roll her eyes. They’d talk about
how quickly their tans had faded and how polite and friendly everyone was in the shops over there, not like the surly bastards
you got here.

Ed would drawl ‘Have a nice day’ in his crap American accent.

Then later on they’d talk about the missing girl, bound to.

Which Barry didn’t much fancy.

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