The Kill Call

The Kill Call by Stephen Booth

Book: The Kill Call by Stephen Booth Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephen Booth
noticed Cooper, too. She turned to Hitchens and Fry.
    ‘DC Cooper is supposed to be on leave, isn’t he?’
    ‘Yes, ma’am.’
    Fry regarded her with a certain respect. A woman who could memorize the duty rosters must have a ruthlessly efficient administrative brain. Most senior officers wouldn’t even have bothered looking.
    ‘He heard we were short-handed and came in to see if he could help,’ explained Fry. ‘But I can send him home, if –’
    ‘No, why would you do that? We should be encouraging such enthusiasm, DS Fry.’
    ‘Of course.’
    A few minutes later, Fry found Mr Enthusiasm himself standing at her desk.
    ‘You didn’t mention any trouble with the hunt,’ he said.
    ‘It was all a storm in a teacup.’
    ‘Sabs, I suppose?’
    ‘Yes, but there were hunt stewards involved. I didn’t like the look of them too much, Ben. There were one or two familiar faces, I’m sure.’
    ‘Customers of ours?’
    ‘Almost certainly. When I get hold of their names, I think there’ll be a few counts of affray and GBH on record. Some potential suspects there, well capable of cracking a person’s skull. If we could link one of them to Patrick Rawson, then tie it up with the forensics …’
    ‘You’re focusing on the hunt stewards rather than the saboteurs?’ said Cooper.
    ‘The protestors were a motley bunch. But some of them looked as though they wouldn’t say “boo” to a goose. They’d probably be too afraid of violating its rights.’
    Cooper perched on an adjacent desk. ‘The sabs are pretty clever and sophisticated now. They’ve had a lot of experience over the years. In fact, some people say successful hunt sabotage needs as much knowledge of hunting techniques as hunting itself. You have to understand the direction a scent travels, possible lines a fox might take. And good communication is vital.’
    ‘According to Inspector Redfearn, there are mainly hard-core activists left since the ban. They seem to be convinced that hunts are trying to break the law every time they go out.’
    ‘Not all hunts,’ said Cooper. ‘The Eden Valley have developed a bad reputation with the sabs. Some of the neighbouring hunts, like the High Peak, are considered pretty clean and law abiding. But, yes, there are definitely some extreme groups. A while ago, there were a bunch called the Hunt Retribution Squad, who were alleged to have been responsible for a series of fire bombings. That was after the deaths of two young saboteurs in incidents involving hunt vehicles.’
    ‘Deaths? Really?’
    ‘It was a few years ago.’
    Cooper had got Fry’s interest now, and he could see it. He sat down at his PC and did a quick search, soon coming up with the details.
    ‘Yes, they were both in 1993. One in Cheshire, and one in Cambridgeshire. The sabs who died were aged eighteen and fifteen. The fifteen-year-old was crushed under the wheels of a horse box.’
    ‘That’s just a child,’ said Fry.
    Cooper nodded. ‘Funny thing is, the angle of the media reports at the time damaged the reputation of the saboteurs rather than the hunt supporters. There were allegations of children being recruited directly from schools and sacrificed for the “anti” cause, with a few hints at Nazi sympathies thrown in.’
    ‘Which suggests the hunt lobby might have had better PR than the opposition.’
    ‘Maybe.’
    Fry tapped a pen on her desk. ‘This has been going on for years, then. There could be some old scores to be settled, couldn’t there? A young sab in the early nineties might be in his mid-forties now.’
    ‘You’re thinking of your victim – Patrick Rawson?’
    ‘It’s a theory. There were too many horses at the scene for the hunt not to be involved in some way. And I got a bad feeling from that woman, Mrs Forbes, and the huntsman. I was convinced they were concealing something.’
    ‘They learn to be defensive,’ said Cooper.
    ‘Even so …’
    ‘Yes?’
    ‘Well, let’s be fair,’ said Fry. ‘There are some

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