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Chapter One



It was increasingly unusual for PC’s to be enthusiastic in their work, DI Ellison had noticed as his years in the force had passed, so it was somewhat surprising that the usually laissez-faire PC Earnshaw was stood in front of him almost begging to interview the Central Academy shooting suspect.

            “Why so keen?” he asked, always wary of a dedicated employee.

            “I was the first on the scene,” Earnshaw replied.  “I brought him here.  I think he’ll talk to me.  It’s a guarantee.”

            “Did he speak on the way here?”

            “Well, no.”

            “Then how can you be so sure?”

            “Well, I think he’s a bit like me.”

            “I’m not sure it’s wise to liken yourself to the murderer in cell five, do you constable?”

            “No, Sir,” he replied, his request not going well.  It was not easy to explain why he wanted to interview the suspect.  He didn’t really know himself.  There was something about his demeanour, the flecks of relief that were sketched across his face when Earnshaw had first addressed him, before the reality of the situation kicked in.  The suspect had chosen to kill someone at a gig he had planned to go to – so to some extent they must be similar.  And for that reason he wanted to know what had brought this on.  It was very rare you could associate with a criminal so he wanted to make the most of it.

            Ellison was losing interest, his rotund face glowering underneath a pair of thick rimmed spectacles.  He had no time for this.

            “He’s not your average murderer, is he?” Earnshaw continued.

            “Please define your average murderer,” challenged Ellison wearily. 

            “With all due respect, sir, I don’t wish to get bogged down in rhetoric.”  Ellison glared sharply and Earnshaw changed his approach accordingly.  “I believe I can get a result with this one.”

            “You know, I honestly couldn’t give a shit what you think.” Ellison punctured the air with his crisp pronunciation of the profanity.  “You are a PC, and PC’s don’t interview murder suspects.  You were way out of line tonight, and you’re lucky no-one’s making any more out of it.  I don’t know why you’re so keen, and I don’t care to know.  Leave it to the professionals.” 

            Earnshaw was gutted, and he didn’t know why.  Police careers could be made on murder cases, he knew that.  But he had been thinking about leaving the force for months now, so he was sure it wasn’t that.  He wasn’t career-minded, but for once he wanted to do his job well. 

            He wanted the accused to walk free.

            Quashing the thought, Earnshaw strode purposefully down the corridors, looking for DC Patton, who was also working on the case.  She was a tolerant woman, very good at getting results.  She was pretty fearless, but fifteen years of policing had taught her that.  Earnshaw hadn’t worked with her many times, but he knew to be nervous around her.  She was pretty stunning for an older woman, and she was aware of it.  She was at the front desk, trying to gain basic information on the latest gun-crime administrator on the PNC.  There was nothing.  He had an immaculate record, if he was telling the truth.  He had confirmed his name as Ryan Pendlebury, and spoke with a Mancunian accent to back up his claim that he was from Manchester. 

            It could all be an act of course.  He wouldn’t be the first suspect to give false details. 

            Still, the powers that be would be out of the way for a while, trying to work out exactly what had gone on that evening.  Earnshaw had things to keep himself occupied if the night proved uneventful. 

            He would be working out ways to get the charge reduced.

            He had no reason to trust Ryan Pendlebury, but he did.  Positive policing at last, he thought, hoping that Patton couldn’t tell where his loyalties lay.