Talking to the Dead

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

Book: Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harry Bingham
Tags: Fiction, thriller, Mystery
prickle is still there, albeit fainter, and I’m deciding to treat it as a good thing, a positive energy. An energy I intend to put to work.
    When I log in to the Weatherbys website, I know what I’m looking for and I’m not surprised when I find it. Brian Penry owns only a share in one racehorse, the one I already know about, the one whose existence I’ve already cross-checked. But Prian Penry has an alter ego, a Welsh one, Brian ap Penri, who owns shares in four more horses. Two of those have Rattigan as a co-owner. One more has at least two close Rattigan associates as co-owners. The last has no obvious connection to Rattigan, but I bet there is one all the same. One of Brian ap Penri’s horses was a winner at Chepstow the day that Brian Penry’s horse was laid up and unable to race.
    Five horses, not one.
    The two men were friends, not acquaintances.
    And yesterday’s forty-thousand-pound hole has just grown into something a whole lot deeper, and ten shades darker. I wonder whose bodies may be lying at the bottom.
    I’m standing up and reaching for my car keys before I’ve even logged out of the site.

13
    Rhayader Crescent, off the Llandaff Road.
    The ordinariness of the place is almost overwhelming. The street is modern, but nice modern, semis mostly. The architectural touches are gently reassuring—dark hardwood details, those expensive bricks mottled by the firing process to give an old-fashioned look, paving slabs that are concrete but that have been made to look like they’re stone or clay. This is the kind of street which politicians seek to conjure when they talk about the hardworking families of Middle Britain. A street for teachers married to nurses. Middle managers and youngish solicitors. Also, it turns out, a street for corrupt ex-coppers.
    I ring the doorbell of Number 27. There’s a car—an old Toyota Yaris—in the parking area. No area set aside for lawn or flowers. No pots. The neighbors all have at least an attempt at planting. The weather’s warm again today, but with a kind of pressing closeness. Distances blur into haze, while objects that are close at hand seem preternaturally distinct. The whole world wants a good hard rainstorm to wake it up. Or I do.
    I’m about to ring again, when I catch noises from within—a shape glimpsed behind frosted glass—then the sound of the catch and the door swinging open.
    “Mr. Penry, I’m D.C. Griffiths. We met six weeks ago, down at Cathays Park.”
    I say this to jog his memory. We met when he was being interviewed, but I wasn’t, by a long shot, the main entertainment of the day, and I don’t expect him to recognize me. I say “Cathays Park,” not “Police Headquarters,” because first of all Cathays Park is the term any copper would use, and second of all, I’m not here to set neighbors gossiping.
    Penry’s a tough-looking fifty. Hair still dark, worn longish and untidy. His face is mostly unlined, but the lines that are present are deeply marked. He’s the sort of cop that would have fit straight into a 1970s TV drama, all leather jackets and free-flying fists. Right now, he’s wearing jeans, with no shoes or socks, and a ropy old T-shirt that advertises some sailing club. His feet are tough and brown, with nails like slices of old horn.
    He doesn’t answer immediately, or open the door any further, or indeed do anything else, other than look at me and smirk to himself.
    “Well, it must be important if they’ve sent you.”
    “May I come in?”
    It’s a real question, as Penry well knows. If he says no, he means no, and the English law of my-home-is-my-castle, the law made sacred by Magna Carta and everything since, means that his “no” has the strength of iron bars. He pauses a long time before answering.
    Then: “Do you want coffee?”
    His question sounds invitational, but his posture is anything but. He’s still hanging on the door, scratching his chest inside his T-shirt, showing me his abs and pecs and body hair as

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