"The Junior Minister," George said, unable to stop the
words. "Appointed in the reshuffle last week. That's why
The Branch men's shoulders settled and faces broadened
very slightly; they might almost be smiling. They'd just
been waiting for the penny to drop; he was stuck with them.
"Minister of State for what is it, Rick?" mused Joe.
"Paperclips or something," said the younger, checking his
watch. "He wanted a word with us about security procedures.
Since he isn't entitled to a Garda driver. So on our way
back we dropped into the station, found Finane and Macken
short of a car."
Then they'd found that a vicious crime had been carried
out just a couple of streets away from the home of a
newly–appointed Minister, who would lose no
opportunity for self–aggrandisement. "So you see,"
concluded Joe gently, "we really are at your disposal. The
Superintendent will be the team leader I take it, but I
expect you'll be in charge of the incident room."
"Right, that's grand so," George assured them, because he
might as well put a good face on it. "Well, we've secured
the perimeter –" the community guards were at the
entrance ready to repel the curious and had already sent a
dog–walker and woman with a buggy on their way
"– we're making a scene log, and while we're waiting
for the pathologist and technical staff, is there anything
else we can tell you about?"
"Know the deceased?" asked Joe. "Either one?"
"How's the coffee in your station?" asked Rick.
"Fair to middling," he said, "but there's a place near
that does good takeout cups."
Rick's grey eyes brightened.
"I'll go – I mean, I'll tell one of the uniform lads to
go and get us some," Shay offered.
"Better bring one for his nibs," George reminded him. The
superintendent was seated in the red Focus monitoring radio
traffic and talking on his phone. George didn't know the man
at all, wasn't used to being under this kind of scrutiny.
"I find it's useful to start with the neighbours," Joe
considered. "They raised the alarm and in a nice, mature
area like this they know each other's routines and usual
"Then there'll be the autopsy attendance. For evidentiary
Collier realised that yes, a detective assigned to the
case would be obliged to maintain the chain of evidence by
watching the procedures, so there was no possibility that a
mix–up could be argued in court. All three gazed at
young Shay, on his way back to the group. George felt his
"That better be me," he stated.
"Long procedure," Joe told him. "Tomorrow, I'd say, if
she can fit it in. The victims' bodies can be moved
tonight, I'd expect; they only have to go as far as the new
morgue in the fire training centre on the Malahide Road.
Two autopsies will take hours. Why doesn't one of us attend
with you, that way we can spell each other."
"I'd appreciate that, yes."
"Is it your turn, Rick?" Joe wondered.
"Toss you for it," said the younger man, unconcerned.
"Well we can come back to that," Joe dismissed the matter
as Shay arrived. "We'll need formal identification of the
poor souls, by relatives. Ideally before it gets posted on
"We don't know who the woman is," supplied Shay. "And
it's not likely she's his wife. The neighbours told our
lads that William Fleming was separated."
"She'll have some ID," said George. He hoped. "And she
may be reported missing by now. Shay, you might take on a
very unpleasant task for me. You might inform the deceased
man's widow of these events. And tell her that she'll be
required to identify the body – not immediately. At the
morgue. You could get started by asking the neighbours for
her contact details, and asking them not to discuss this
with anyone until families have been notified."
Shay nodded, squaring his shoulders.
"When we've had the coffee, that is. You will also be an
evidence recorder so start by looking at the crime scene
conditions as they are now, from outside progressing inward.
Weather, distance from other houses, locked doors and
windows." The procedures he'd learnt and applied to less
heinous crimes were coming smoothly now he'd got started.
"We'll need an evidence log, a latent print log – we need to
get the family notifications over with before the media get
"His sons are hitchhiking around Eastern Europe," said
Joe. "So your lads told us. One isn't eighteen yet."
"You wouldn't really want to be told about this over a
mobile phone in the street," George realised. "I would
rather we got a police officer over there to break it to
them. How – how do we get that co–operation?"
"I leave that class of thing to Rick," explained Joe with
a slight wave of his hand.
"Sure," said Rick. He slipped a high–tech phone
from his inside breast pocket, one which made the Garda
issue mobiles look like valve radios.
"What's the procedure?" Shay asked.
"Interpol will tell me where they spend the night," Rick
enlightened him. "Over there you present your passport when
you take a room. They'll put me on to the nearest police
station and I'll tell them the story, get an officer who
speaks English to find and tell the kids. If need be I'll
phone the kids and tell them to go to the station for some
news. And we can tell them to contact the DFA if they have
trouble getting flights."
"But they could be anywhere," George realised with a
frown. "How do you know you'll get an English speaker on
the phone to begin with?"
"They'll speak something I do."
The casual certainty of this utterance added another
factor to George Collier's assessment of Rick Norton; very,
"Here's the coffee," said Rick, in a heartening tone.
"Oh, and we'll need a ladder."