Path of Needles

Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood

Book: Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alison Littlewood
    Heath silenced him with a look. ‘And hurry up. We want to get there before the press start trampling all over it, not to mention the bloody ramblers.’
    He paused and Cate thought at once of her own trampling over the first site. She expected him to make some sarcastic comment, but he didn’t.
    ‘Well, Cate? This is your chance. You in or not?’
    But she didn’t move. ‘It’s not that, sir – what about Cosgrove?’
    ‘All in hand. Paulson, you’re staying. Cosgrove will be in before long – DI Grainger leads, understand? I want you to get into his ribs, concentrate on the evening of the dance, where he went, what he did, when he did it – and what the hell he was doing when he said he was back home with the wife. And take your time. Got that?’
    Paulson nodded, but he didn’t speak. His skin looked a shade paler. Cate felt his gaze on her back as she followed the SIO from the room, walking past the desk where LenStockdale was still sitting. She gave him a brief nod. His eyes were narrowed, and he showed no sign of acknowledging her at all.

    Newmillerdam was directly between the estate where Angie Farrell lived and the road to the Heronry where her daughter had been found. The name applied alike to a small village and the lake by which it stood. Unlike the spot on the road where the Farrell girl had been found, the route through Newmillerdam was relatively busy: the A61 cut between the waterside and the village, giving drivers a view of the lake surrounded by trees. Nestled at the waterside was a small, decorative boat-house, built in the nineteenth century so the upper classes could enjoy the view while hunting and fishing. There was a pub at each end of the lakeside stretch of road, and at one side there was a large car park. At weekends it would be thronged; now it was about a third full, and Cate recognised a few of the vehicles huddled together close to the trees. Beyond them, the car park led directly onto the path that wound around the lake. That was the route most visitors took: a wide, even footway ideallysuited to mothers with prams or pensioners out for a gentle stroll.
    Heath swept into a parking space and yanked on the handbrake, ignoring the pained squeal of cabling. He got out without a word, already focused on the harassed-looking PC standing at the edge of the trees. ‘That way?’ He jabbed an outstretched finger towards a narrow, overgrown path that Cate had barely noticed. The PC nodded and stepped aside and he stalked past, hissing over his shoulder, ‘Ask for ID next time.’
    Cate followed him, and immediately brambles clawed at her ankles. This path was nothing but a dirt line between swathes of livid undergrowth encroaching upon the little piece of ground between them. She could hear traffic on the road quite clearly still, and yet the tall, stately trees rising all around her held a sense of presence that made it seem distant. Cate almost felt, if she listened hard enough, she would be able to hear them breathe.
    Then she heard another sound, not one she would have expected in this quiet place: someone up ahead barking, ‘Clear the area, please.’ An elderly couple came into view, darting looks back over their shoulders. Heath stood aside to let them go, and they stared at him before continuing towards the car park.
    ‘There are other pathways coming into this area,’ said Cate. ‘You can head into the woods from pretty much anywhere around the lake. You wouldn’t need to take apath, not if you knew where you were going. It’ll be a nightmare to secure.’
    Heath didn’t answer. Between the trees, white shapes were moving: scene-of-crime officers, ‘SOCOs’, wearing protective overalls to avoid contamination. Heath registered their presence at the site and checked on progress. The doctor had already left, having certified death, and the photographers were just finishing, releasing the scene to the SOCOs. He grabbed a couple of the white suits and

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