Cara answered the phone.
"Hi," came Detective Garda Ricky Norton's friendly,
educated north Dublin accent â€“ quite different, now she
thought of it, to the speech of the former council tenants
next door. Cara smiled as she responded.
"Hi there, not gone yet?"
"Just tidying up the office first. I don't like paperwork
but they won't let me do much else. As you've noticed I'm
growing a beard and office rules say this is a sight too
horrible to let loose on the public. A small detail just
caught my eye today. Have you been working in Ailesbury Road
area this week?"
"Why yes," she said, amused by the detective's
"That's okay. A report noted that a female was seen
climbing trees around there and I said, I'll give good odds
"Odds don't come into it," the girl told him. "I'm the
only female tree surgeon in Ireland that I know of,
certainly the only one working in Dublin. Why were your
"Oh, you know that district, if someone sneezes someone
else's alarm rings. And given you were working right next
door to one of the embassies...."
"Chancellery actually," she told him. "Their embassy gate
is on Ailesbury Road itself, number pad and voice link. The
chancellery has two gates, both on Ailesbury Lawn, main gate
number pad and voice link, side gate number pad."
"And which gate do you use?" he wondered.
"Side gate. I have the number code so when they call me I
just turn up and go to work."
"Do you work for many embassies?"
"We probably have that code on file, but can you think of
Get lost Ricky, if they want you to know it they'll tell
"Good girl," he said with a laugh. "Right answer."
She chuckled and saw that Mike was grinning.
"So I'll put a note in the file that you're not a problem."
"Well, provided I'm who they see," Cara considered.
"Like, I never use binoculars. I'll always be using tools up
a tree, and I always wear a blue helmet, maybe a harness.
Any time I'm in a tree or climbing over a wall to retrieve a
branch, I'll have the helmet on. That way if the neighbours
see me from a window they know I'm working, not thieving."
"Blue," repeated Ricky.
"The building sites of Dublin, such as are still busy,
are full of yellow helmets. Occasional orange ones, and
white ones for people who walk around with plans. I get my
suppliers to order me blue."
"Fine. Since you're in the neighbourhood, actually, I
wonder if you could keep your eyes and ears open?"
"I'm not working for you again." Cara's voice came out
sharper than she'd intended.
"No, no." Ricky backed off fast. "Nothing like the last
"Mmm. What, then?"
"I recall you saying you work for elderly ladies. Well,
one elderly lady on Ailesbury Lawn died several months ago.
Number nineteen. Very sad. Coroner returned accidental
death. Case closed. Just, if any of her neighbours talks to
you, could you keep it in mind?"
"I could." The girl frowned. "How would I pass anything
on to you?"
"Can't really. I'll be away from tonight. The phone'll
be dead, personal e–mails will bounce once the
in–box fills. Maybe just make a note of it. No
urgency, and nobody else but me is interested."
"May I ask why you are?"
"I went in to check it out. Purely because of the
neighbourhood. And I didn't like what I found, but I
couldn't prove anything was wrong."
Ricky had been right on a previous occasion.
"Okay. I won't go out of my way though."
"No, no. But, just as a personal statement, and nothing
to do with what we've discussed â€“ I don't like people who
murder elderly ladies."
"No," agreed Cara.