The Complaints

The Complaints by Ian Rankin Page A

Book: The Complaints by Ian Rankin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ian Rankin
chalkboard to the left of the main door promised quiz nights, karaoke and hot food. There was a double-measure/single-price deal on spirits. Just the one CCTV camera, bolted high up on the wall and protected by a wire cage. Fox knew he could go inside and flash his warrant card, ask to see the footage, but what good would it do? And if word got back to Billy Giles that he’d been there . . . Instead, he executed a three-point turn and got back on to the road to Saughtonhall.

    The door was answered by a woman he didn’t know. He introduced himself as Jude’s brother.

    ‘I’m Sandra,’ the woman said. ‘Sandra Hendry.’ She was around Jude’s age, with dark, tired eyes and a blotchy face. The outfit - artfully ripped and patched denims; top trimmed to show her midriff - would have suited someone half her age and forty pounds lighter. Her hair resembled candyfloss, beginning to darken at its roots. Gold hoop earrings dangled from her lobes. Her nose and tongue were pierced and studded. ‘Jude’s in bed,’ she said, leading him inside. ‘Do you want to go up?’

    ‘In a minute.’ They were in the living room by now. The place looked relatively tidy. The woman called Sandra had retreated to the armchair and was crossing one leg over the other. The TV was on, but with the sound just audible. A tanned man seemed to be trying to train an unruly dog.

    ‘Love this,’ Sandra commented. Fox noticed that one of her ankles sported a tattoo of a scorpion.

    ‘How’s she doing?’ Fox asked, commencing a circuit of the room.

    ‘Just got back from the Gestapo . . .’ She broke off and stared at him, eyes widening as she remembered what Jude’s brother did for a living.

    ‘I’ve heard worse,’ he reassured her.

    ‘She was shattered, reckoned a nap might help.’

    Fox nodded his understanding. Flipping open the lid of the kitchen bin, he saw that its inner bag had been removed. Forensics would be busy at their Howdenhall HQ, poring over its contents.

    ‘I appreciate you looking after her.’

    Sandra shrugged. ‘My shift doesn’t start till four.’

    ‘Where do you work?’

    ‘The Asda on Chesser Avenue.’ She offered him a stick of gum, but he shook his head. The empty bottles and cans had gone. Ashtrays had been cleaned. The breakfast bar now boasted only a couple of dirty mugs and a pizza carton.

    ‘Did you ever meet Vince?’ Fox asked.

    ‘Four of us used to go out.’

    ‘You and your partner?’

    ‘He works with Vince.’ She paused, stopped chewing. ‘Past tense, I suppose.’

    ‘He’s in construction, then?’

    She nodded. ‘Foreman - Vince’s boss, I suppose.’

    ‘So was it your partner who took Vince on?’

    She shrugged. ‘Husband, not partner. Sixteen years - you’d get less for murdering someone, that’s what Ronnie says.’

    ‘He’s probably right. You and Ronnie knew Vince pretty well, then?’

    ‘Suppose so.’

    ‘Ever end up at a place called Marooned?’

    ‘That shit-hole? Not if we could help it. In the better weather, the boys liked the Golf Tavern - meant they could play pitch ’n’ putt on Bruntsfield Links.’

    ‘You and Jude didn’t play?’

    ‘Dinner and a few games of roulette or blackjack - that’s more my thing.’

    ‘Which casino?’

    ‘The Oliver.’

    ‘At Ocean Terminal?’ He’d finished looking around and was standing in the middle of the room, facing her as she stared at the TV.

    ‘That’s the one.’

    ‘Not far from Salamander Point, then.’

    ‘Within staggering distance.’

    Fox nodded to himself. ‘What did you make of him, Sandra?’

    At mention of her name, she peered up at him. ‘Vince, you mean?’ She considered his question. ‘He was all right - bit of a laugh when you got him in the right mood.’

    ‘Meaning he sometimes wasn’t?’

    ‘I knew he had a temper - but Jude’s not exactly lacking in that department either.’

    ‘What do you think about him breaking her arm?’

    ‘She says she

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