/ Language: English / Genre:thriller

Exit Music

Ian Rankin

BCA Crime Thriller of the Year (nominee) It's late autumn in Edinburgh and late autumn in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he tries to tie up some loose ends before retirement, a murder case intrudes. A dissident Russian poet has been found dead in what looks like a mugging gone wrong. By apparent coincidence a high-level delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, keen to bring business to Scotland. The politicians and bankers who run Edinburgh are determined that the case should be closed quickly and clinically. But the further they dig, the more Rebus and his colleague DS Siobhan Clarke become convinced that they are dealing with something more than a random attack – especially after a particularly nasty second killing. Meantime, a brutal and premeditated assault on local gangster 'Big Ger' Cafferty sees Rebus in the frame. Has the Inspector taken a step too far in tying up those loose ends? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, inglorious career, will Rebus even make it that far?

Ian Rankin

Exit Music

Book 17 in the Inspector Rebus series, 2007

Father always said a policeman's knock is unmistakable, and it is, the rap on the paintwork a very public command, feasting. the hearer's capacity for guilt.

Andrew O'Hagan, Be Near Me

Day One. Wednesday 15 November 2006

1

The girl screamed once, only the once, but it was enough. By the time the middle-aged couple arrived at the foot of Raeburn Wynd, she was kneeling on the ground, hands over her face, shoulders heaving with sobs. The man studied the corpse for a moment, then tried shielding his wife's eyes, but she had already turned away.

He took out his phone and called the emergency number. It was ten minutes before the police car arrived, during which time the girl tried to leave, the man explaining calmly that she should wait, his hand rubbing her shoulder. His wife was seated kerbside, despite the nighttime chill. November in Edinburgh, not quite cold enough for a frost but heading that way. King's Stables Road wasn't the busiest of thoroughfares. A No Entry sign prevented vehicles using it as a route from the Grassmarket to Lothian Road. At night it could be a lonely spot, with not much more than a multistorey jcar park on one side, Castle Rock and a cemetery on the other. The street lighting seemed underpowered, and pedestrians kept leir wits about them. The middle-aged couple had been to a ol service in St Cuthbert's Church, helping raise money for the “s children's hospital. The woman had bought a holly wreath, rhich now lay on the ground to the left of the corpse. Her husband ldn't help thinking: a minute either way and we might not have rd, might be heading home in the car, the wreath on the back at and Classic FM on the radio.

'I want to go home,' the girl was complaining between sobs. She standing, knees grazed. Her skirt was too short, the man felt,, her denim jacket was unlikely to keep out the cold. She looked liar to him. He had considered – briefly considered – lending his coat. Instead, he reminded her again that she needed to stay put. Suddenly, their faces turned blue. The police car was arriving, lights flashing.

'Here they come,' the man said, placing his arm around her shoulders as if to comfort her, removing it again when he saw his wife was watching.

Even after the patrol car drew to a halt, its roof light stayed on, engine left running. Two uniformed officers emerged, not bothering with their caps. One of them carried a large black torch. Raeburn Wynd was steep and led to a series of mews conversions above garages which would once have housed the monarch's carriages and horses. It would be treacherous when icy.

'Maybe he slipped and banged his head,' the man offered. 'Or he was sleeping rough, or had had a few too many…'

'Thank you, sir,' one of the officers said, meaning the opposite.

His colleague had switched the torch on, and the middle-aged man realised that there was blood on the ground, blood on the slumped body's hands and clothes. The face and hair were clotted with it.

'Or someone smashed him to a pulp,' the first officer commented.

'Unless, of course, he slipped repeatedly against a cheese-grater.'

His young colleague winced. He'd been crouching down, the better to shine light on to the body, but he rose to his feet again.

'Whose is the wreath?' he asked.

'My wife's,' the man stated, wondering afterwards why he hadn't just said 'mine'.

'Jack Palance,' Detective Inspector John Rebus said.

'I keep telling you, I don't know him.'

'Big film star.'

'So name me a film.'

'His obituary's in the Scotsman.'

'Then you should be clued up enough to tell me what I've seen him in.' Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke got out of the car and slammed shut the door.

'He was the bad guy in a lot of Westerns,' Rebus persisted.

Clarke showed her warrant card to one of the uniforms and took a proffered torch from the younger of the two. The Scene-of-Crime unit was on its way. Spectators had started gathering, drawn to the scene by the patrol car's blue beacon. Rebus and Clarke had been working late at Gayfield Square police station, hammering out a theory – but no prime suspect – in an unsolved investigation.

Both had been glad of the break provided by the summons. They'd arrived in Rebus's wheezing Saab 900, from the boot of which he was now fetching polythene overshoes and latex gloves. It took him half a dozen noisy attempts to slam shut the lid.

'Need to trade it in,' he muttered.

'Who'd want it?' Clarke asked, pulling on the gloves. Then, when he didn't answer: 'Were those hiking boots I glimpsed?'

'As old as the car,' Rebus stated, heading towards the corpse.

The two detectives fell silent, studying the figure and its surroundings.

'Someone's done a job on him,' Rebus eventually commented. He turned towards the younger constable. 'What's your name, son?'

'Goodyear, sir… Todd Goodyear.'

Todd?'

'Mum's maiden name, sir,' Goodyear explained.

'Ever heard of Jack Palance, Todd?'

'Wasn't he in Shane?

Tfou're wasted in uniform.'

Goodyear's colleague chuckled. 'Give young Todd here half a chance and it's you he'll be grilling rather than any suspects.'

'How's that?' Clarke asked.

The constable – at least fifteen years older than his partner and maybe three times the girth – nodded towards Goodyear. 'I'm not good enough for Todd,' he explained. 'Got his eyes set on CID.'

Goodyear ignored this. He had his notebook in his hand. Want us to start taking details?' he asked. Rebus looked towards the pavement.

A middle-aged couple were seated kerbside, holding hands.

Then there was the teenage girl, arms wrapped around herself as she shivered against a wall. Beyond her the crowd of onlookers was starting to shuffle forward again, warnings forgotten.

'Best thing you can do,' Rebus offered, 'is hold that lot back till we can secure the scene. Doctor should be here in a couple of lutes.'

He's not got a pulse,' Goodyear said. 'I checked.'

Rebus glowered at him.

Told you they wouldn't like it,' Goodyear's partner said with ler chuckle.

I'XJontaminates the locus,' Clarke told the young constable, show[him her gloved hands and overshoes. He looked embarrassed.

f'Doctor still has to confirm death,' Rebus added. 'Meantime, you.start persuading that rabble to get themselves home.'

jrlorified bouncers, that's us,' the older cop told his partner as ¦ moved off.

'Which would make this the VIP enclosure,' Clarke said quietly.

She was checking the corpse again. 'He's well enough dressed; probably not homeless.'

'Want to look for ID?'

She took a couple of steps forward and crouched beside the body, pressing a gloved hand against the man's trouser and jacket pockets. 'Can't feel anything,' she said.

'Not even sympathy?'

She glanced up at Rebus. 'Does the suit of armour come off when you collect the gold watch?'

Rebus managed to mouth the word 'ouch'. Reason they'd been staying late at the office so often – Rebus only ten days from retirement, wanting loose ends tied.

'A mugging gone wrong?' Clarke suggested into the silence.

Rebus just shrugged, meaning he didn't think so. He asked Clarke to shine the torch down the body: black leather jacket, an open-necked patterned shirt which had probably started out blue, faded denims held up with a black leather belt, black suede shoes. As far as Rebus could tell, the man's face was lined, the hair greying. Early fifties? Around five feet nine or ten. No jewellery, no wristwatch. Bringing Rebus's personal body-count to… what?

Maybe thirty or forty over the course of his three-decades-plus on the force. Another ten days and this poor wretch would have been somebody else's problem – and still could be. For weeks now he'd been feeling Siobhan Clarke's tension: part of her, maybe the best part of her, wanted Rebus gone. It was the only way she could start to prove herself. Her eyes were on him now, as if she knew what he was thinking. He offered a sly smile.

'I'm not dead yet,' he said, as the Scene-of-Crime van slowed to a halt on the roadway.

The duty doctor had duly declared death. The SOCOs had taped off Raeburn Wynd at top and bottom. Lights had been erected, a sheet pinned up so that onlookers no longer had a view of anything except the shadows on the other side. Rebus and Clarke were suited up in the same white hooded disposable overalls as the SOCOs. A camera team had just arrived, and the mortuary van was standing by. Beakers of tea had materialised from somewhere, wisps of steam rising from them. In the distance: sirens headed elsewhere; drunken yelps from nearby Princes Street; maybe even the hooting of an owl from the churchyard. Preliminary statements had been taken from the teenage girl and the middle-aged couple, and Rebus was nicking through these, flanked by the two constables, the elder of whom, he now knew, was called Bill Dyson.

'Rumour is,' Dyson said, 'you've finally got your jotters.'

'Weekend after next,' Rebus confirmed. 'Can't be too far away yourself.'

'Seven months and counting. Nice wee taxi job lined up for afterwards.

Don't know how Todd will cope without me.'

'I'll try to maintain my composure,' Goodyear drawled.

'That's one thing you're good at,' Dyson was saying, as Rebus went back to his reading. The girl who had found the body was called Nancy Sievewright. She was seventeen and on her way home from a friend's house. The friend lived in Great Stuart Street and Nancy in Blair Street, just off the Cowgate. She had already left school and was unemployed, though hoping to get into college some day to study as a dental assistant. Goodyear had done the interview, and Rebus was impressed: neat handwriting, and plenty of detail. Turning to Dyson's notebook was like turning from hope to despair – a mess of hastily scrawled hieroglyphs. Those seven months couldn't pass quickly enough for PC Bill Dyson. Through guesswork, Rebus reckoned the middle-aged couple were Roger and Elizabeth Anderson and that they lived in Frogston Road West, on the southern edge of the city. There was a phone number, but no hint of their ages or occupations. Instead, Rebus could make out the words 'just passing1 and 'called it in'. He handed the notebooks back without comment. All three would be interviewed again later.

Rebus checked his watch, wondering when the pathologist would arrive. Not much else to be done in the meantime.

Tell them they can go.'

'Girl's still a bit shaky,' Goodyear said. 'Reckon we should drop her home?'

Rebus nodded and turned his attention to Dyson. 'How about the other two?'

Their car's parked in the Grassmarket.'

'Spot of late-night shopping?'

Dyson shook his head. 'Carol concert at St Cuthbert's.'

'A conversation we could have saved ourselves,' Rebus told him, ' you'd bothered to write any of it down.' As his eyes drilled into constable's, he could sense the question Dyson wanted to ask: I would be the bloody point of that? Luckily, the old-timer knew tter than to utter anything of the kind out loud… not until the Br old-timer was well out of earshot.

Rebus caught up with Clarke at the Scene-of-Crime van, where she was quizzing the team leader. His name was Thomas Banks – ' Tarn ' to those who knew him. He gave a nod of greeting and asked if his name was on the guest list for Rebus's retirement do.

'How come you're all so keen to witness my demise?'

'Don't be surprised,' Tam said, 'if the suits from HQ come with stakes and mallets, just to be on the safe side.' He winked towards Clarke. 'Siobhan here tells me you've wangled it so your last shift's a Saturday. Is that so we're all at home watching telly while you take the long walk?'

'Just the way it fell, Tam,' Rebus assured him. 'Any tea going?'

Tou turned your nose up at it,' Tam chided him.

'That was half an hour ago.'

'No second chances here, John.'

'I was asking,' Clarke interrupted, 'if Tarn 's team had anything for us.'

'I'm guessing he said to be patient.'

'That's about the size of it,' Tam confirmed, checking a text message on his mobile phone. 'Stabbing outside a pub at Haymarket,'

he informed them.

'Busy night,' Clarke offered. Then, to Rebus: 'Doctor reckons our man was bludgeoned and maybe even kicked to death. He's betting blunt force trauma at the autopsy.'

'He's not going to get any odds from me,' Rebus told her.

'Nor me,' Tam added, rubbing a finger across the bridge of his nose. He turned to Rebus: 'Know who that young copper was?' He nodded towards the patrol car. Todd Goodyear was helping Nancy Sievewright into the back seat, Bill Dyson drumming his fingers against the steering wheel.

'Never seen him before,' Rebus admitted.

Tou maybe knew his grandad though…' Tam left it at that, wanting Rebus to do the work. It didn't take long.

'Not Harry Goodyear?'

Tam was nodding in confirmation, leaving Clarke to ask who Harry Goodyear was.

'Ancient history,' Rebus informed her.

Which, typically, left her none the wiser.

2

Rebus was giving Clarke a lift home when the call came in on her mobile.

They did a U-turn and headed for the Cowgate, home to the city's mortuary. There was an unmarked white van sitting by the loading bay. Rebus parked next to it and led the way. The night shift consisted of just two men. One was in his forties and had the look – to Rebus's eyes – of an ex-con. A faded blue tattoo crept out of the neck of his overalls and halfway up his throat. It took Rebus a moment to place it as some sort of snake. The other man was a lot younger, bespectacled and gawky.

'I take it you're the poet,' Rebus guessed.

'Lord Byron, we call him,' the older man rasped.

That's how I recognised him,' the young attendant told Rebus. 'I was at a reading he gave just yesterday…' He glanced at his watch. Day before yesterday,' he corrected himself, reminding Rebus that it was past midnight. 'He was wearing the exact same clothes.'

'Hard to ID him from his face,' Clarke interrupted, playing devil's j advocate.

The young man nodded agreement. 'All the same… the hair, that jacket and the belt…'

'So what's his name?' Rebus asked.

Todorov. Alexander Todorov. He's Russian. I've got one of his oks in the staffroom. He signed it for me.'

That'll be worth a few quid.' The other attendant sounded sudly interested.

you fetch it?' Rebus asked. The young man nodded and luffled past, heading for the corridor. Rebus studied the rows of srated doors. 'Which one's he in?'

'Number three.' The attendant rapped his knuckles against the door in question. There was a label on it, but no name as yet. 'I wouldn't bet on Lord Byron being wrong – he's got brains.'

'How long has he been here?'

'Couple of months. Real name's Chris Simpson.'

Clarke had a question of her own. 'Any idea how soon the autopsy will get done?'

'Soon as the pathologists get their arses down here.'

Rebus had picked up a copy of the day's Evening News. 'Looking bad for Hearts,' the attendant told him. 'Pressley's lost the captaincy and there's a caretaker coach.'

'Music to DS Clarke's ears,' Rebus told the man. He held the paper up so she could see the front page. A Sikh teenager had been attacked in Pilrig Park and his hair lopped off.

'Not our patch, thank God,' she said. At the sound of footsteps, all three of them turned, but it was only Chris Simpson returning with the slim hardback book. Rebus took charge of it and turned to the back cover. The poet's unsmiling face stared back at him.

Rebus showed it to Clarke, who shrugged.

'Looks like the same leather jacket,' Rebus commented. 'But he's got some sort of chain round his neck.'

'He was wearing it at the reading,' Simpson confirmed.

'And the guy you brought in tonight?'

'No chain – I had a quick look. Maybe they took it… whoever mugged him, I mean.'

'Or maybe it's not him. How long was Todorov staying in town?'

'He's here on some sort of scholarship. Hasn't lived in Russia for a while – calls himself an exile.'

Rebus was turning the pages of the book. It was called Astapovo Blues. The poems were in English and called things like 'Raskolnikov', 'Leonid', and 'Mind Gulag1. 'What does the title mean?' he asked Simpson.

'It's the place where Tolstoy died.'

The other attendant chuckled. 'Told you he had a brain on him.'

Rebus handed the book to Clarke, who flicked to the title page.

Todorov had written an inscription, telling 'Dear Chris' to 'keep the faith, as I have and have not'. 'What did he mean?' she asked.

'I said I was trying to be a poet. He told me that meant I already was. I think he's saying he kept faith with poetry, but not with Russia.' The young man was starting to blush.

'Where was this?' Rebus asked.

'The Scottish Poetry Library – just off the Canongate.'

'Was anyone with him? A wife maybe, or someone from the publisher?'

Simpson told them he couldn't be sure. 'He's famous, you know.

There was talk of the Nobel Prize.'

Clarke had closed the book. 'There's always the Russian consulate,'

she suggested. Rebus gave a slow nod. They could hear a car drawing up outside.

'That'll be at least one of them,' the other attendant said. 'Best get the lab ready, Lord Byron.'

Simpson had reached out a hand for his book, but Clarke waved it at him.

'Mind if I hang on to it, Mr Simpson? Promise I won't put it on eBay.'

The young man seemed reluctant, but was being prodded into action by his colleague. Clarke sealed the deal by slipping the book into her coat pocket. Rebus had turned to face the outer door, which was being hauled open by a puffy-eyed Professor Gates. Only a couple of steps behind him was Dr Curt – the two pathologists had worked together so frequently that they often seemed to Rebus a single unit. Hard to imagine that outside of work they could ever lead separate, distinguishable lives.

'Ah, John,' Gates said, proffering a hand as chilled as the room.

The night's grown bitter. And here's DS Clarke, too – looking forward, no doubt, to stepping out from the mentor's shadow.'

Clarke prickled but kept her mouth shut – no point in arguI ing that, as far as she was concerned, she'd long ago left Rebus's 1»hadow. Rebus himself offered a smile of support before shaking hands with the ashen-faced Curt. There had been a cancer scare; eleven months back, and some of the man's energy had failed to jjjeturn, though he'd given up the cigarettes for good.

'How are you, John?' Curt was asking. Rebus felt maybe that lould have been his question, but he offered a reassuring nod.

'I'm guessing box two,' Gates was saying, turning to his associite.

'Deal or no deal?'

'It's number three actually,' Clarke told him. 'We think he may a Russian poet.'

“Not Todorov?' Curt asked, one eyebrow raised. Clarke showed the book, and the eyebrow went a little higher.

Wouldn't have taken you for a poetry lover, Doc,' Rebus comBnted.

'Are we in the midst of a diplomatic incident?' Gates snorted.

auld we be checking for poisoned umbrella tips?'

'Looks like he was mugged by a psycho,' Rebus explained.

'Unless there's a poison out there that strips the skin away from your face.'

'Necrotising fasciitis,' Curt muttered.

'Arising from Streptococcus pyogenes,' Gates added. 'Not that I think we've ever seen it.' To Rebus's ears, he sounded genuinely disappointed.

Blunt force trauma: the police doctor had been spot-on. Rebus sat in his living room, not bothering to switch on any lights, and smoked a cigarette. Having banned nicotine from workplaces and pubs, the government were now looking at banning it from the home, too. Rebus wondered how they'd go about enforcing that. A John Hiatt album was on the CD player, volume kept low. The track was called 'Lift Up Every Stone'. All his time on the force, he hadn't done anything else. But Hiatt was using stones to build a wall, while Rebus just peered beneath them at the tiny dark things scuttling around. He wondered if the lyric was a poem, and what the Russian poet would have made of Rebus's riff on it. They'd tried phoning the consulate, but no one had answered, not even a machine, so they'd decided to call it a night. Siobhan had been dozing off during the autopsy, much to Gates's irritation. Rebus's fault: he'd been keeping her late at the office, trying to get her interested in all those cold cases, all the ones still niggling him, hoping that maybe they would keep his memory warm…

Rebus had dropped her home and then driven through the silent pre-dawn streets to Marchmont, an eventual parking space, and his second-floor tenement flat. The living room had a bay window, and that was where his chair was. He was promising himself he'd make it as far as the bedroom, but there was a spare duvet behind the sofa just in case. He had a bottle of whisky, too – eighteenyear-old Highland Park, bought the previous weekend and with a couple of good hits left in it. Ciggies and booze and a little night music. At one time, they would have provided enough consolation, but he wondered if they would sustain him once the job was behind him. What else did he have?

A daughter down in England, living with a college lecturer.

An ex-wife who'd moved to Italy.

The pub.

He couldn't see himself driving cabs or doing precognitions for defence lawyers. Couldn't see himself 'starting afresh' as others

had done – retiring to Marbella or Florida or Bulgaria. Some had sunk their pensions into property, letting flats to students – a chief inspector he knew had made a mint that way, but Rebus didn't want the hassle. He'd be nagging the students all the time about cigarette burns in the carpet or the washing-up not being done.

Sports? None.

Hobbies and pastimes? Just what he was doing right now.

'Bit maudlin tonight, are we, John?' he asked himself out loud.

Then gave a little chuckle, knowing he could maudle for Scotland, gold medal a nap at the Grump Olympics. At least he wasn't being sewn together again and slid back into drawer number three.

He'd gone through a list in his mind – offenders he knew who'd go overboard on a beating. Most were in jail or under sedation on the psycho ward. Gates himself had said it – “There's a fury here.'

'Or furies plural,' Curt had added.

True, they could be looking for more than one attacker. The victim had been whacked on the back of the head with enough force to fracture the skull. Hammer, cosh or baseball bat – or anything else resembling them. Rebus was guessing that this had been the first blow. The victim would have been poleaxed, meaning he posed no threat to his attacker. So why then the prolonged beating to the face? As Gates had speculated, no ordinary mugger would have bothered. They'd have emptied the pockets and fled. A ring had been removed from one finger, and there was a line on the left hand wrist, indicating that the victim had been wearing a watch.

A slight nick on the back of the neck showed that the chain might have been snapped off.

'Nothing left at the scene?' Curt had asked, reaching for the chest-cutters.

Rebus had shaken his head.

Say the victim had put up some sort of struggle… maybe he'd Ipushed a button too many. Or could there be a racism angle, his snt giving him away?

The condemned ate a hearty meal,' Gates had eventually rerked, opening the stomach. 'Prawn bhuna, if I'm not mistaken, rashed down with lager. And do you detect a whiff of brandy or rhisky, Dr Curt?'

Unmistakably.'

And so it had progressed, with Siobhan Clarke fighting to stay irake and Rebus seated next to her, watching as the pathologists it about their business.

fNo grazes on the knuckles or shreds of skin under the finger

nails – nothing to suggest that the victim had been able to defend himself. The clothing was chain-store stuff and would be sent to the forensic lab. With the blood washed off, the face more clearly resembled the one on the poetry book. During one of her short naps, Rebus had removed the volume from Siobhan Clarke's pocket and found a potted biography of Todorov on the flyleaf. Born 1960 in the Zhdanov district of Moscow, former literature lecturer, winner of numerous awards and prizes, author of six poetry collections for adults and one for children.

Seated now in his chair by the window, Rebus tried to think of Indian restaurants near King's Stables Road. Tomorrow, he would try looking in the phone book.

'No, John,' he told himself, 'it's already tomorrow.'

He'd picked up an Evening News at the all-night petrol station, so he could check the headlines again. The Marmion trial was continuing at the Crown Court – pub shooting in Gracemount, one dead, one lucky to be alive. The Sikh teenager had escaped with bumps and bruises, but hair was sacred to his religion, something the attackers must have known or guessed.

And Jack Palance was dead. Rebus didn't know what he'd been like in real life, but he'd always played tough guys in his films.

Rebus poured another Highland Park and raised his glass in a toast.

'Here's to the hard men,' he said, knocking the drink back in one.

Siobhan Clarke got to the end of the phone book's listing for restaurants.

She'd underlined half a dozen possibles, though really all the Indian restaurants were possible – Edinburgh was a small city and easy to get around. But they would start with the ones closest to the locus and work their way outwards. She had logged on to her laptop and searched the Web for mentions of Todorov – there were thousands of hits. He even featured in Wikipedia. Some of the stuff she found was written in Russian. A few essays came from the USA, where the poet featured on various college syllabuses. There were also reviews of Astapovo Blues, so she knew now that the poems were about Russian authors of the past, but also critiques of the current political scene in Todorov's home country – not that Mother Russia had actually been his home, not for the past decade.

He'd been right to term himself an exile, and his views on post glasnost Russia had earned him a good deal of Politburo anger and

derision. In one interview, he'd been asked if he considered himself a dissident. 'A constructive dissident,' he had replied.

Clarke took another gulp of lukewarm coffee. This is your case, girl, she told herself. Rebus would soon be gone. She was trying not to think about it too much. All these years they'd worked together, to the point where they could almost read one another's mind. She knew she would miss him, but knew, too, that she had to start planning for a future without him. Oh, they would meet for drinks and the occasional dinner. She'd share gossip and titbits with him.

Maybe he would nag her about those cold cases, the ones he was trying to dump on her…

BBC News 24 was playing on the TV, but with the sound turned off. She'd made a couple of calls to check that no one as yet had reported the poet missing. Not much else to be done, so eventually she turned off the TV and computer both, and went through to the bathroom. The lightbulb needed changing, so she undressed in the dark, brushed her teeth, and found she was rinsing the brush under the hot tap instead of the cold. With her bedside light on, a pale pink scarf draped over it, she plumped up the pillows, and raised her knees so she could rest Astapovo Blues against them.

It was only forty-odd pages, but had still cost Chris Simpson a tenner.

Keep the faith, as I have and have not…

The first poem in the collection ended with the lines:

As the country bled and wept, wept and bled, He averted his eyes, Ensuring he would not have to testify.

Flicking back to the title page, she saw that the collection had been translated from the Russian by Todorov himself, 'with the assistance of Scarlett Colwell'. Clarke settled back and turned to the second poem. By the third of its four stanzas, she was asleep.

Day Two. Thursday 16 November 2006

3

The Scottish Poetry Library was located down one of innumerable pends and wynds leading off the Canongate. Rebus and Clarke managed to miss it, and ended up at the Parliament and the Palace of Holyrood. Driving more slowly back uphill, they missed it again.

'There's nowhere to park anyway,' Clarke complained. They were in her car this morning, and therefore dependent on Rebus to spot Crighton's Close.

'I think it was back there,' he said, craning his neck. 'Pull up on to the pavement and we'll take a look.'

Clarke left the hazard lights on when she locked the car, and folded her wing mirror in so it wouldn't get side-swiped. 'If I get a ticket, you're paying,' she warned Rebus.

'Police business, Shiv. We'll appeal it.'

The Poetry Library was a modern building cleverly concealed amidst the tenements. A member of staff sat behind the counter and beamed a smile in their direction. The smile evaporated when Rebus showed her his warrant card.

'Poetry reading a couple of nights back – Alexander Todorov.'

'Oh yes,' she said, 'quite marvellous. We have some of his books I for sale.'

“Was he in Edinburgh on his own? Any family, that sort of thing…?'

The woman's eyes narrowed, and she clutched a hand to her iigan. 'Has something happened?'

It was Clarke who answered. 'I'm afraid Mr Todorov was attacked st night.'

'Gracious,' the librarian gasped, 'is he…?'

'As a doornail,' Rebus supplied. 'We need to speak to next of kin, or at the very least someone who can identify him.'

'Alexander was here as a guest of PEN and the university. He's been in the city a couple of months…' The librarian's voice was trembling, along with the rest of her.

TEN?'

'It's a writers' group… very big on human rights.'

'So where was he staying?'

'The university provided a flat in Buccleuch Place.'

'Family? A wife maybe…?'

But the woman shook her head. 'I think his wife died. I don't recall them having any children – a blessing, I suppose.'

Rebus was thoughtful for a moment. 'So who organised his event here? Was it the university, the consulate…?'

'It was Scarlett Colwell.'

'His translator?' Clarke asked, gaining a nod of confirmation.

'Scarlett works in the Russian department.' The librarian started sifting the slips of paper on her desk. 'I've got her number here somewhere… What a terrible thing to have happened. I can't tell you how upsetting it is.'

'No trouble at the reading itself?' Rebus asked, trying to make the question seem casual.

'Trouble?' When she saw he wasn't about to elucidate, she shook her head. 'It all went swimmingly. Terrific use of metaphor and rhythm… even when he recited in Russian, you could feel the passion.' She was lost for a moment in reminiscence. Then, with a sigh: 'Alexander was happy to sign books afterwards.'

Tou make it sound,' Clarke pointed out, 'as if that might not always have been the case.'

'Alexander Todorov was a poet, a very considerable poet.' As if this explained everything. 'Ah, here it is.' She held up the piece of paper but seemed unwilling to relinquish it. Instead, Clarke entered the number into her own mobile, before thanking the librarian for taking the trouble.

Rebus was looking around. 'Where exactly did the performance happen?'

'Upstairs. We had an audience of over seventy.'

'I don't suppose anyone filmed it, did they?'

'Filmed it?'

'For posterity.'

'Why do you ask?'

Rebus gave a shrug by way of reply.

'There was a sound recording,' the woman admitted. 'Someone from a music studio.'

Clarke had her notebook out. 'Name?' she asked.

'Abigail Thomas.' The librarian realised her mistake. 'Oh, you mean the name of the recordist? Charlie something…' Abigail Thomas screwed shut her eyes with the effort, then opened them wide. 'Charles Riordan. He has his own studio in Leith.'

'Thank you, Ms Thomas,' Rebus said. Then: 'Can you think of anyone we should contact?'

Tou could talk to PEN.'

'There wasn't anyone here that night from the consulate?'

'I wouldn't have thought so.'

'Oh?'

'Alexander was quite vocal in his opposition to the current situation in Russia. He was on the Question Time panel a few weeks back.'

'The TV show?' Clarke asked. 'I watch that sometimes.'

'So his English was pretty good then,' Rebus surmised.

'When he wanted it to be,' the librarian said with a wry smile.

'If he didn't like the point you were making, the ability seemed suddenly to desert him.'

'He sounds quite a character,' Rebus had to admit. He saw that a small pile of Todorov's books had been given their own display on a table near the stairs. 'Are these for sale?' he asked.

'Indeed they are. Would you like to buy one?'

'Would they happen to be signed?' He watched her nod. 'In that case, make it half a dozen.' He was reaching into his jacket for his wallet as the librarian rose from her seat to fetch them. Feeling Clarke's eyes on him, he mouthed something to her.

Something very like 'eBay”.

The car had not received a ticket, but there were dirty looks from the line of motorists attempting to squeeze past. Rebus threw the jjfoag of books on to the back seat. 'Should we warn her we're comig?'

'Might be wise,' Clarke agreed, punching the keys on her phone ad holding it to her ear. 'Tell me, do you even know how to sell lething on eBay?'

I can learn,' Rebus said. Then: 'Tell her we'll meet her at his flat, st in case he's lying in a stupor there and we've got a looky-likey the mortuary.' He stuck a fist to his mouth, stifling a yawn.

'Get any sleep?' Clarke asked.

'Probably the same as you,' he told her.

Clarke's call had connected her to the university switchboard.

She asked for Scarlett Colwell and was put through.

'Miss Colwell?' A pause. 'Sorry, Doctor Colwell.' She rolled her eyes for Rebus's benefit.

'Ask her if she can fix my gout,' he whispered. Clarke thumped his shoulder as she began to give Dr Scarlett Colwell the bad news.

Two minutes later, they were heading for Buccleuch Place, a six storey Georgian block which faced the more modern (and far uglier) university edifices. One tower in particular had been voted the building most people in Edinburgh wanted to see condemned. The tower, perhaps sensing this hostility, had begun to self-destruct, great chunks of cladding falling from it at irregular intervals.

“You never studied here, did you?' Rebus asked, as Clarke's car rumbled across the setts.

'No,' she said, nosing into a parking space. 'Did you?'

Rebus gave a snort. 'I'm a dinosaur, Shiv – back in the Bronze Age they let you become a detective without a diploma and a mortarboard.'

'Weren't the dinosaurs extinct by the Bronze Age?'

'Not having been to college, that's just the sort of thing I wouldn't know. Reckon there's any chance of grabbing ourselves a coffee while we're here?'

“You mean in the flat?' Clarke watched him nod. Tou'd drink a dead man's coffee?'

'I've drunk a damn sight worse.'

“You know, I actually believe that.' Clarke was out of the car now, Rebus following. 'Must be her over there.'

She was standing at the top of some steps, and had already unlocked the front door. She gave a little wave, which Rebus and Clarke acknowledged – Clarke because it was the right thing to do, and Rebus because Scarlett Colwell was a looker. Her hair fell in long auburn waves, her eyes were dark, her figure curvy. She wore a hugging green miniskirt, black tights and brown calf-length boots. Her Little Red Riding Hood coat reached only as far as her waist. A gust of wind caused her to push the hair back from her eyes, and Rebus felt as if he were walking into a Cadbury's Flake advert. He saw that her mascara was a bit blurry, evidence that she'd shed a few tears since receiving the news, but she was businesslike as the introductions were made.

They followed her up four flights of tenement stairs to the top floor landing, where she produced another key, unlocking the door to Alexander Todorov's flat, Rebus arriving, having paused for breath on the landing below, just as the door swung open. There wasn't much to the apartment: a short, narrow hallway led to the living room with a kitchenette off it. There was a cramped shower room and separate toilet, and a single bedroom with views towards the Meadows. Being in the eaves of the building, the ceilings angled sharply downwards. Rebus wondered if the poet had ever sat up sharply in bed and thumped the crown of his head. The whole flat felt not so much empty as utterly desolate, as though marked by the departure of its most recent resident.

'We're really sorry about this,' Siobhan Clarke was saying as the three of them stood in the living room. Rebus was looking around him: a waste-paper bin full of crumpled poems, an empty cognac bottle lying next to the battered sofa, an Edinburgh bus map pinned to one wall above a foldaway dining table on which sat an electric typewriter. No sign of a computer or a TV or a music system, just a portable radio whose aerial had been snapped off. Books scattered everywhere, some English, some Russian, plus a few other languages.

A Greek dictionary sat on the arm of the sofa. There were empty lager cans on a shelf meant for knick-knacks. Invitations on the mantelpiece to parties from the previous month. They had passed a telephone on the floor in the hallway. Rebus asked if the poet had owned such a thing as a mobile. When Colwell shook her head, hair bouncing and swaying, Rebus knew he wanted to ask another question she could answer in the same way. Clarke's clearing of the throat warned him against it.

'And no computer either?' he asked anyway.

'He was welcome to use the one in my office,' Colwell said. 'But Alexander mistrusted technology.'

Tfou knew him fairly well?'

'I was his translator. When the scholarship was announced, I petitioned hard on his behalf.'

'So where was he before Edinburgh?'

' Paris for a time… Cologne before that… Stanford, Melbourne, Ottawa…' She managed a smile. 'He was very proud of the stamps in his passport.'

'Speaking of which,' Clarke interrupted, “his pockets had been emptied – any idea what he would usually carry around with him?'

'Anotebook and pen… some money, I suppose…”

'Any credit cards?'

'He had a cash card. I think he'd opened an account with First Albannach. Should be some statements around here somewhere.'

She looked about her. “You say he was mugged?'

'Some sort of attack, certainly.'

'What kind of man was he, Dr Colwell?' Rebus asked. 'If someone confronted him in the street, would he put up a struggle, fight them back?'

'Oh, I'd think so. He was physically robust. Liked good wine and a good argument.'

'Did he have a temper?'

'Not especially.'

'But you said he liked to argue.'

'In the sense that he enjoyed debate,' Colwell corrected herself.

'When did you last see him?'

'At the Poetry Library. He was headed to the pub afterwards, but I wanted to get home – essays to mark before we break for Christmas.'

'So who did he go to the pub with?'

'There were a few local poets in the audience: Ron Butlin, Andrew Greig… I'd guess Abigail Thomas would be there, too, if only to pay for the drinks – Alexander wasn't brilliant with money.'

Rebus and Clarke shared a look: they'd have to talk to the librarian again. Rebus gave a little cough, playing for time before asking his next question. 'Would you be willing to identify the body, Dr Colwell?'

The blood drained from Scarlett Colwell's face.

'You seem to have known him better than most,' Rebus argued, 'unless there's a next of kin we can approach.'

But she had already made up her mind. 'It's all right, I'll do it.'

'We can take you there now,' Clarke told her, 'if that's okay with you.'

Colwell nodded slowly, eyes staring into space. Rebus caught Clarke's attention. 'Get on to the station,' he said, 'see if Hawes and Tibbet can come give this place a look-see – passport, cash card, notebook… If they're not here, someone's either got them or dumped them.'

'Not forgetting his set of keys,' Clarke added.

'Good point.' Rebus's eyes scanned the room again. 'Hard to say if this place has been turned over or not – unless you know better, Dr Colwell?'

Colwell shook her head again, and had to remove a strand of hair from over one eye. 'It was always pretty much like this.'

'So no need for forensics,' Rebus told Clarke. 'Just Hawes and Tibbet.' Clarke was nodding as she reached for her phone. Rebus had missed something Colwell had said.

'I've a tutorial in an hour,' she repeated.

'We'll have you back in plenty of time,' he assured her, not particularly caring one way or the other. He held out a hand towards Clarke. 'Keys.'

'Pardon?'

“You're staying here to let Hawes and Tibbet in. I'll drive Dr Colwell to the mortuary.'

Clarke tried staring him out, but eventually relented.

'Get one of them to bring you to the Cowgate afterwards,' Rebus said, hoping to sugar the pill.

4

The identification was immediate, even though most of the body was kept in its shroud, concealing the work done by the pathologists.

Colwell laid her forehead against Rebus's shoulder for a moment, and allowed a single tear to escape from either eye. Rebus regretted not having a clean handkerchief on him, but she reached into her shoulder bag for one, dabbing her eyes and then blowing her nose. Professor Gates was in the room with them, dressed in a three-piece suit which had fitted him beautifully four or five years back. He held his hands in front of him, head bowed, respecting the formalities.

'It's Alexander,' Colwell was eventually able to say.

“You're sure of that?' Rebus felt obliged to press.

'Positive.'

'Perhaps,' Gates piped up, raising his head, 'Dr Colwell would like a cup of tea before the paperwork?'

'Just a couple of forms,' Rebus explained quietly. Colwell nodded slowly, and the three of them went to the pathologist's private office. It was a claustrophobic space with no natural light and the smell of damp wafting in from the shower cubicle next door. The day shift was on, and Rebus didn't recognise the man who brought the tea. Gates called him Kevin, told him to close the door again on his way out, then opened the folder on his desk.

'By the way,' he said, 'was Mr Todorov any sort of car enthusiast?'

'I don't think he'd have known the engine from the boot,' Colwell said with a hint of a smile. 'He once got me to change the bulb in his desk lamp.'

Gates smiled back at her, then turned his attention to Rebus.

'Forensics asked if he maybe worked as a mechanic. There was some oil on the hem of the jacket and the trouser knees.'

Rebus thought back to the crime scene. 'Could have been some on the ground,' he admitted.

'King's Stables Road,' the pathologist added. 'A lot of the stables were turned into garages, weren't they?'

Rebus nodded and glanced towards Colwell, gauging her reaction.

'It's all right,' she told him. 'I'm not going to start blubbing again.'

'Who was it spoke to you?' Rebus asked Gates.

'Ray Duff.'

'Ray's no slouch,' Rebus said. In fact, Rebus knew damned well that Ray Duff was the best forensic scientist they had.

'What's the betting he's at the locus right now,' Gates said, 'checking for oil?'

Rebus nodded and lifted the mug of tea to his lips.

'Now that we know the victim really is Alexander,' Colwell said into the silence, 'do I need to keep quiet about it? I mean, is it something you want to keep from the media?'

Gates gave a loud snort. 'Dr Colwell, we wouldn't stand a chance of keeping it from the Fourth Estate. Lothian and Borders Police leaks like the proverbial sieve – as does this very building.' He lifted his head towards the door. 'Isn't that right, Kevin?' he called.

They could hear feet beginning to shuffle back down the corridor.

Gates gave a satisfied smile and picked up his ringing telephone.

Rebus knew it would be Siobhan Clarke, waiting in reception…

After dropping Colwell back at the university, Rebus treated Clarke to lunch. When he'd made the offer, she'd stared at him and asked if anything was wrong. He'd shaken his head and she'd said he must be after a favour then.

fWho knows how often we'll get the chance, once I'm retired,'

he'd explained.

They went to an upstairs bistro on West Nicolson Street, where the dish of the day was venison pie. It came with chips and garden peas, over all of which Rebus dumped quarter of a bottle of HP sauce. He was limiting himself to a half-pint of Deuchar's, and had managed four drags on a cigarette before stepping over the threshold. Between mouthfuls of pie crust, he told her about Ray Duff, and asked if everything was okay at Todorov's flat.

'Reckon young Colin has a thing going for Phyllida?' Clarke mused. Detective Constables Phyllida Hawes and Colin Tibbet shared the CID suite at Gayfield Square with Rebus and Clarke.

Until recently, all four had worked under the baleful gaze of Detective Inspector Derek Starr, but Starr, seeking the further advancement which he saw as his right, was on secondment to police headquarters on Fettes Avenue. The rumour was that once Rebus walked into the sunset, Clarke would take his place, promoted inspector. It was a rumour Clarke herself was trying not to listen to.

'Why do you ask?' Rebus lifted his glass, noting that it was already almost empty.

'They just seem very comfortable with one another.'

Rebus stared at her, trying for a look of pained surprise. 'And we're not?'

'We're fine,' she answered with a smile. 'But I think they've been on a couple of dates – not that they want anyone to know.'

Tou reckon they're snuggling up just now in the dead man's bed?'

Clarke wrinkled her nose at the suggestion. Then, half a minute later: 'I'm just wondering how to handle it.'

'You mean once I'm out of the way and you're in charge?' Rebus put down his fork and gave her a glare.

'You're the one who wants all the loose ends tied up,' she complained.

'Maybe so, but I've never thought of myself as an agony aunt.' He lifted his glass again, only to find that he'd finished it.

'Do you want coffee?' she asked, making it sound like a peace offering. He shook his head and started patting his pockets.

'What I need is a proper smoke.' He found the packet and rose to his feet. Tfou get yourself a coffee while I'm outside.'

'What about this afternoon?'

He thought for a moment. 'We'll get more done if we diwy it up – you go see the librarian again, I'll hit King's Stables Road.'

'Fine,' she said, not bothering to disguise the fact that it wasn't really fine at all. Rebus stood his ground for a moment, as if about to muster some words, then waved the cigarette in her direction and headed for the door.

'And thanks for the lunch,' she said, as soon as he was out of earshot.

Rebus thought he knew why they could barely hold a five-minute conversation without starting to snipe at one another. It was bound to be a tense time, him leaving the field of battle, her on the cusp of promotion. They'd worked together so long – been friends almost as long… Bound to be a tense time.

Everyone assumed that they'd slept together at some point down the line, but no way either of them would have let it happen. How could they have worked as partners afterwards? It would have been all or nothing, and they both loved the job too much to let anything else get in the way. The one thing he'd made her promise was that there'd be no surprise parties his last week at work. Their boss at Gayfield Square had even offered to host something, but Rebus had thanked him with a shake of the head.

'You're the longest-serving officer in CID,' DCI Macrae had persisted.

'Then it's the folk who've put up with me who deserve the medal,'

Rebus had retorted.

The cordon was still in place at the bottom of Raeburn Wynd, but one of the locals ducked beneath the blue-and-white-striped tape, resistant to the idea that anywhere in Edinburgh could be off limits to him. Or so Rebus surmised by the hand gesture the man made when warned by Ray Duff that he was contaminating a crime scene. Duff was shaking his head, more in sorrow than anything else, when Rebus approached.

'Gates reckoned this is where I'd find you,' Rebus said. Duff rolled his eyes.

'And now you're walking all over my locus.'

Rebus answered with a twitch of the mouth. Duff was crouching beside his forensic kit, a toughened red plastic toolbox bought from B amp;Q. Its myriad drawers opened concertina-style, but Duff was in the process of closing them.

'Thought you'd be putting your feet up,' Duff commented.

'No you didn't.'

Duff laughed.'True enough.'

'Any joy?' Rebus asked.

Duff snapped shut the box and lifted it with him as he got to his feet. 'I wandered as far as the top of the lane, checking all the garages along the way. Thing is, if he'd been attacked up there, we'd have traces of blood on the roadway.' He stamped his foot to reinforce the point.

'And?'

“The blood's elsewhere, John.' He gestured for Rebus to follow

and took a left along King's Stables Road. 'See anything?'

Rebus looked hard at the pavement and noticed the trail of splashes. There were intervals between them. The blood had lost most of its colour but was still recognisable. 'How come we didn't spot this last night?'

Duff shrugged. His car was parked kerbside, and he unlocked it long enough to stow his box of tricks.

'How far have you followed it?' Rebus asked.

'I was just about to get started when you arrived.'

'Then let's go.'

They began walking, eyes on the sporadic series of drips. Tou going to join SCRU?' Duff asked.

'Think they'd want me?' SCRU was the Serious Crime Review Unit. It consisted of three retired detectives, whose job was to look at unsolveds.

'Did you hear about that result we got last week?' Duff said.

'DNA from a sweated fingerprint. Sort of thing that can be useful on cold cases. DNA boost means we can decipher DNA multiples.'

'Shame I can't decipher what you're saying.'

Duff chuckled. 'World's changing, John. Faster than most of us can keep up with.'

'You're saying I should embrace the scrapheap?'

Duff just shrugged. They'd covered a hundred yards or so and were standing at the exit to a multistorey car park. There were two barriers; drivers could choose either one. Once you'd paid for your ticket, you slid it into a slot and the barrier would rise.

'Have you ID'd the victim?' Duff asked, looking around as he tried to pick up the trail again.

'A Russian poet.'

'Did he drive a car?'

'He couldn't change his own lightbulbs, Ray.'

'Thing about car parks, John… there's always a bit of oil left lying around.'

Rebus had noticed that there were intercoms fixed alongside either barrier. He pressed a button and waited. After a few moments, a voice crackled from the loudspeaker.

What is it?'

'Wonder if you can help me…'

“You after directions or something? Look, chief, this is a car park.

All we do here is park cars.' It took Rebus only a second to work things out.

Tou can see me,' he said. Yes: a CCTV camera high up in one

corner, pointing at the exit. Rebus gave it a wave.

'Have you got a problem with your car?' the voice was asking.

'I'm a cop,' Rebus answered. 'Want to have a word with you.'

'What about?'

'Where are you?'

'Next floor up,' the voice admitted eventually. 'Is this to do with that prang I had?'

'That depends – did you happen to hit a guy and kill him?'

'Christ, no.'

'Might be okay then. We'll be there in a minute.' Rebus moved away from the barrier towards where Ray Duff was down on all fours, peering beneath a parked BMW.

'Not keen on these new Beamers,' Duff said, sensing Rebus behind him.

'Found something?'

'I think there's blood under here… quite a bit of it. If you were asking me, I'd say this is trail's end.'

Rebus walked around the vehicle. There was a ticket on the dashboard, showing that it had entered the car park at eleven that morning.

'Next car along,' Duff was saying, 'is there something underneath it?'

Rebus did a circuit of the big Lexus but couldn't see anything.

Nothing else for it but to get down on hands and knees himself. A bit of string or wire. He reached a hand beneath the car, fingertips scrabbling at it, eventually drawing it out. Hauled himself back to his feet and held it dangling by thumb and forefinger.

A plain silver neck-chain.

'Ray,' he said, 'better go fetch your kit.'

5

Clarke decided it wasn't worth visiting the librarian, so called her from Todorov's flat while Hawes and Tibbet started the search.

Clarke had barely punched in the number for the Poetry Library when Hawes arrived back from the bedroom, waving the dead man's passport.

'Under a corner of the mattress,' Hawes said. 'First place I looked.'

Clarke just nodded, and moved into the hallway for a bit more privacy.

'Miss Thomas?' she said into her phone. 'It's Detective Sergeant Clarke here, sorry to trouble you again so soon…'

Three minutes later she was back in the living room with just a couple of names: yes, Abigail Thomas had accompanied Todorov to the pub after his recital, but she'd only stayed for the one, and knew that the poet wouldn't be satisfied until he'd sampled another four or five watering-holes.

'I reckoned he was in safe hands with Mr Riordan,' she'd told Clarke.

'The sound engineer?'

Tes.'

'No one else was there? None of the other poets?'

'Just the three of us, and as I say, I didn't stay long…'

Colin Tibbet meantime had finished rummaging through desk drawers and kitchen cupboards and was tilting the sofa to see if anything other than dust might be hidden there. Clarke lifted a book from the floor. It was another copy ofAstapovo Blues. She'd managed a couple of minutes' research on Count Tolstoy, so knew that he'd died in a railway siding, shunning the wife who

had refused to join his pared-to-the-bone lifestyle. This helped her make more sense of the collection's final poem, 'Codex Coda', with its refrain of 'a cold, cleansed death'. Todorov, she saw, had not quite finished with any of the poems in the book – there were pencilled amendments throughout. She reached into his waste-bin and uncrumpled one of the discarded sheets.

City noise invisible Havoc-crying air Congested as a

The rest of the sheet consisted of doodled punctuation marks.

There was a folder on his desk, but nothing inside it. A book of Killer Sudokus, all of them finished. Pens and pencils and an unused calligraphy set, complete with instructions. She walked over to the wall and stood in front of the Edinburgh bus map, traced a line from King's Stables Road to Buccleuch Place. There were a dozen routes he could have chosen. Maybe he was on a pub crawl, or a little bit lost. No reason to assume he'd been heading home.

He could have left his flat and crossed George Square, made for Candlemaker Row and wandered down its steep brae into the Grassmarket. Plenty of pubs there, and King's Stables Road only a right-hand fork away… Her phone rang. Caller ID: Rebus. 'Phyl found his passport,' she told him.

'And I just found his neck-chain, lying on the floor of the multistorey.'

'So he was killed there and dumped in the lane?'

'Trail of blood says so.'

'Or he staggered that far and then keeled over.'

'Another possibility,' Rebus seemed to concede. 'Thing is, though, what was he doing in the car park in the first place? Are you at his flat?'

'I was just about to leave.'

'Before you do, add car keys or a driving licence to the search list. And ask Scarlett Colwell if Todorov had access to a vehicle.

I'm pretty sure she'll say no, but all the same…'

'No sign of any abandoned cars in the multistorey?'

'Good point, Shiv, I'll have someone check. Talk to you later.' The phone went dead, and she managed a little smile, hadn't heard Rebus so fired up in several months. Not for the first time, she wondered what the hell he would do with himself when the work was done.

Answer: bug her, most likely – phone calls daily, wanting to know everything about her case load.

Clarke got through to Dr Colwell on the mobile, Colwell having forgotten to turn her own off.

'Sorry,' Clarke apologised, 'are you in the middle of your tutorial?'

'I had to send them away.'

'I can understand. Maybe you should shut up shop for the day.

You've had quite a shock.'

'And do what exactly? My boyfriend's in London, I've got the whole flat to myself.'

'There must be a friend you could call.' Clarke looked up as Hawes walked back into the room, but this time all Hawes did was offer a shrug: no notebook, keys or cash card. Tibbet had done no better and was sitting on the chair, frowning over one of the poems in Astapovo Blues. 'Anyway,' Clarke rattled on, 'reason I'm phoning is to ask if Alexander owned a car.'

'He didn't.'

'Could he drive?'

'I've no idea. I certainly wouldn't have ventured into any vehicle with him behind the wheel.'

Clarke was nodding towards the route map – stood to reason Todorov would take buses. 'Thanks anyway,' she said.

'Did you talk to Abi Thomas?' Colwell asked abruptly.

'She went to the pub with him.'

'I'll bet she did.'

'But only stayed for one.'

'Oh yes?'

Tou sound as if you don't believe her, Dr Colwell.'

'Abi Thomas got hot flushes just reading Alexander's poems…

imagine how she felt squeezed in next to him at a corner table in some seedy bar.'

'Well, thanks for your help…” But Clarke was talking into a dead phone. She stared at it, then became aware of two pairs of eyes on her: Hawes and Tibbet.

'I don't think we're going to find anything else here, Siobhan,'

Hawes piped up, while her partner clucked his agreement. He was an inch shorter than her and several inches less smart, but knew enough to let her argue their case.

'Back to base?' Clarke suggested, to enthusiastic nods. 'Okay,'

she agreed, 'but take one more recce first – and this time we're after car keys or anything else that might suggest the deceased

would have need of a car-parking space.' Having said which, she relieved Tibbet of his book and swapped places with him, settling back to see if there was anything she'd missed in 'Codex Coda'.

The SOCOs tried pushing the BMW aside, with no success at all.

They then debated jacking it up, or maneuvering a hoist in so they could lift it. The rest of the parking level had become a buzz of activity, as a line of cops in white overalls shuffled along in formation on their knees, checking that the ground held no further clues.

Todd Goodyear was among them, and greeted Rebus with a nod.

Photos and video were being taken, and another team was outside, tracing the route from car park to lane. The SOCOs were trying not to look too shamefaced, knowing they should have spotted the blood trail on the night itself. They gave Ray Duff dirty looks whenever his back was turned.

Such was the scene which greeted the BMW's owner when she returned, briefcase and shopping bags in hand. Todd Goodyear was told to get to his feet and take a brief statement from her.

'Bloody brief,' Tam Banks stressed, keen for his team to start work on the evidence beneath her car.

Rebus was standing alongside the car park's security guard.

The man had just returned from a check of the other levels. His name was Joe Wills and the uniform he was wearing had probably been tailored with someone else in mind. He'd already explained that it would be hard to tell an abandoned car from any of the others.

Tou're open twenty-four hours?' Rebus had asked.

Wills had shaken his head. 'Close at eleven.'

'And you don't look to see if any cars are left?'

Wills had offered a shrug which went beyond the casual. Not much job satisfaction, Rebus had guessed.

Now Wills was explaining that he still couldn't say whether any of the current bays had been occupied overnight.

'We do a numberplate check once a fortnight,' he said.

'So a stolen car, to give an example, could sit here fourteen days before you'd have an inkling?'

'That's the policy.' The man looked to Rebus like a drinker: grey stubble, hair in need of a wash, eyes red-rimmed. There was probably a bottle of something hidden away in his control room, to be added to the daily round of teas and coffees.

'What sort of shifts do you work?'

'Seven till three or three till eleven. I seem to prefer the mornings.

Five days on, two off; there's other guys usually do the weekends.'

Rebus checked his watch: twenty minutes till the changeover.

Tour colleague will be starting soon – is that the same one who'd have been here last night?'

Wills nodded. 'Name's Gary.'

Tou haven't spoken to him since yesterday?'

Wills shrugged. 'Here's what I know about Gary: lives in Shandon, supports Hearts and has a stoater of a missus.'

'That's a start,' Rebus muttered. Then: 'Let's go look at your CCTV.'

'What for?' The man's eyes were glassy as he met Rebus's glare.

'To see if the tapes caught anything.' From the look on Wills's face, Rebus knew what was coming next, a single word forming echo and question both.

'Tapes…?'

They walked back up the exit slope anyway. Wills's lair was a small booth with greasy windows and a radio playing. Five flickering black-and-white screens, plus a sixth which was blank.

'Top storey,' Wills explained. 'It's playing up.'

Rebus studied the remaining five. The pictures were blurry; he couldn't pick out any individual licence plates. The figures from the floor below were indistinct, too. 'What the hell use is this?' he couldn't help asking.

'Bosses seem to think it gives the clients a sense of security.'

'Bloody false at best, as the poor sod in the mortuary can testify.'

Rebus turned away from the screens.

'One of the cameras used to point pretty much at that spot,' Wills said. 'But they get moved around…'

'And you don't keep any recordings?'

'Machine packed in a month back.' Wills nodded towards a dusty space below the monitors. 'Not that we bothered much. All the bosses were interested in was when anyone tried conning their way out without paying. System's pretty foolproof, didn't happen often.' Wills thought of something. 'There's a set of stairs between the top storey and the pavement, we had a punter attacked there last year.'

'Oh?'

'I said at the time they should get CCTV into the stairwell, but nothing ever happened.'

'At least you tried.'

'Don't know why I bother… job's on the way out anyway. They're replacing us with just the one guy on a motorbike, scooting between half a dozen car parks.'

Rebus was looking around the cramped space. Kettle and mugs, a few tattered paperbacks and magazines, plus the radio – these were all on the work surface opposite the monitors. He guessed that for most of the time, the guards would be facing away from the screens. Why the hell not? Minimum wage, bosses only a distant threat, no job security. One or two buzzes on the intercom per day, people who'd lost their tickets or didn't have change. There was a rack of CDs, bands whose names Rebus vaguely recognised: Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight, Killers, Strokes, White Stripes…

'No CD player,' he commented.

'They're Gary 's,' Wills explained. 'He brings one of those little machines with him.'

'With headphones?' Rebus guessed, watching as Wills nodded.

'Just wonderful,' he muttered. “You were working here last year, Mr Wills?'

'Been here three years next month.'

'And your colleague?'

'Eight, maybe nine months. I tried his shift but couldn't hack it.

I like my afternoons and evenings free.'

'The better to do some drinking?' Rebus cajoled. Wills's face hardened, encouraging Rebus to press on. 'Ever been in trouble, Mr Wills?'

'How do you mean?'

'Police trouble.'

Wills made show of scratching dandruff from his scalp. 'Long time ago,' he eventually said. 'The bosses know about it.'

'Fighting, was it?'

'Thieving,' Wills corrected him. 'But that was twenty years back.'

'What about your car? You said you'd had a prang?'

But Wills was peering through the window. 'Here's Gary now.' A pale-coloured car had drawn to a halt outside the cabin, its driver locking it after him.

The door burst open. 'Hell's going on downstairs, Joe?' The guard called Gary wasn't yet quite in uniform. Rebus guessed the jacket was in his carrier bag, along with a sandwich box. He was a few years younger than Wills, a lot leaner, and half a foot taller. He dumped two newspapers on to the worktop but couldn't get any further into the room – with Rebus there, space was at a

premium. The man was shrugging out of his coat: crisp white shirt beneath, but no tie – probably a clip-on tucked into a pocket somewhere.

'I'm Detective Inspector Rebus,' Rebus told him. 'Last night, a man was severely beaten.'

'On Level Zero,' Wills added.

'Is he dead?' the new arrival asked, wide-eyed. Wills made a cutthroat gesture with accompanying sound effect. 'Bloody hell. Does the Reaper know?'

Wills shook his head and saw that Rebus needed an explanation.

'It's what we call one of the bosses,' he said. 'She's the only one we ever see. Wears a long black coat with a pointy hood.'

Hence the name. Rebus nodded his understanding. 'I'll need to take a statement,' he told the new arrival. Wills seemed suddenly keen to leave, gathering up his bits and pieces and stuffing them into his own supermarket carrier.

'Happened on your watch, Gary,' he said with a tut. 'The Reaper won't be happy.'

'Now there's a turn-up for the books.' Gary had moved out of the cabin, giving Wills room to make his exit. Rebus came out, too, needing the oxygen.

'We'll talk again,' he warned the departing figure. Wills waved without looking back. Rebus turned his attention to Gary. Lanky, he'd have called him, and round-shouldered as if awkwardly aware of his height. A long face with a square jaw and well-defined cheekbones, plus a mop of dark hair. Rebus almost said it out loud: you should be on a stage in a band, not stuck in a dead-end job. But maybe Gary didn't see it that way. Good-looking, though, which explained the 'stoater of a missus'. Then again, Rebus couldn't tell just how high or low Joe Wills's standards might be…

Twenty minutes got him nothing except a retread: full name, Gary Walsh; maisonette in Shandon; nine months on the job; tried taxi-driving before that but didn't like the night shift; had seen and heard nothing unusual the previous evening.

'What happens at eleven?' Rebus had asked.

'We shut up shop – metal shutters come down at the entrance and exit.'

'Nobody can get in or out?' Walsh had shaken his head. 'You check no one's locked in?' A nod. 'Were any cars left on Level Zero?'

'Not that I remember.'

Tou always park next to the cabin?'

'That's right.'

'But when you drive out, you exit on Level Zero?' A nod from the guard. 'And you didn't see anything?'

'Didn't hear anything either.'

'There would have been blood on the ground.'

A shrug.

'You like your music, Mr Walsh.'

'Love it.'

'Lie back in your chair, feet up, headphones on, eyes shut…

Some security guard you make.'

Rebus had stared at the monitors again, ignoring Walsh's glower.

There were two covering Level Zero. One was fixed on the exit barriers, the other trained on the far corner. You'd have had better luck with a camera-phone.

'Sorry I can't be more help,' Walsh had said, not bothering to sound sympathetic. 'Who was he anyway?'

'A Russian poet called Todorov.'

Walsh had thought for a moment. 'I never read poetry.'

'Join the club,' Rebus had told him. 'Bit of a waiting list, mind…'

6

CR Studios took up the top floor of a converted warehouse just off Constitution Street. Charles Riordan's hand, when Clarke shook it, was pudgy and moist, seeming to leave a residue on her palm which rubbing couldn't remove. There were rings on his right hand, but not the left, and a chunky gold watch loose around his wrist. Clarke noted sweat stains at the armpits of Riordan's mauve shirt. He'd rolled his sleeves up, showing arms matted with curled black hairs. The way he moved, she could tell he always wanted to appear busy. There was a receptionist at a desk just inside the door, and some sort of engineer pushing buttons at a control desk, eyes fixed to a screen showing what Clarke guessed were sound waves.

'The Kingdom of Noise,' Riordan announced.

'Impressive,' Clarke allowed. Through a window, she could see two separate booths, but no sign of anyone in them. 'Bit tight for a band, though.'

'We can accommodate singer-songwriters,' Riordan said. 'One man and his guitar – that sort of thing. But really we're for the spoken word – radio commercials, audio books, TV voiceovers…'

A pretty specialised kingdom, Clarke couldn't help thinking. She asked if there was an office where they could talk, but Riordan just stretched out his arms.

A specialised small kingdom.

'Well,' she began, 'as I said on the phone-'

'I know!' Riordan burst out. 'I can't believe he's dead!'

Neither receptionist nor engineer batted an eyelid; Riordan had obviously told them the minute he'd come off the phone.

'We're trying to account for Mr Todorov's last movements.' Clarke had opened her notebook for effect. 'I believe you had a few drinks with him, the night before last.'

'I saw him more recently than that, sweetheart.' Riordan couldn't help making it sound like a boast. He'd been wearing sunglasses, but now slipped them off, showing large, dark-rimmed eyes. 'I treated him to a curry.'

'Yesterday evening?' Clarke watched the man nod. 'Where was this?'

' West Maitland Street. We'd had a couple of beers near Haymarket. He'd been through to Glasgow for the day.'

'Any idea why?'

'Just wanted to see the place. He was trying to figure out the difference between the two cities, in case it helped explain the country – and bloody good luck to him! I've been here most of my life and still can't make sense of it.' Riordan shook his head slowly.

'He did try explaining it to me – his theory about us – but it went in one ear and out the other.'

Clarke noticed the receptionist and engineer share a look, and assumed this was nothing new as far as they were concerned.

'So he spent the day in Glasgow,' she recapped. 'What time did you meet up?'

'Around eight. He'd been waiting till rush hour was past, meant he got a cheap ticket. Met him off the train and we hit a couple of pubs. Weren't the first drinks he'd had that day.'

'He was drunk?'

'He was voluble. Thing about Alex was, when he drank he got more intellectual. Which was a bugger, because if you were drinking with him you soon started to lose the plot.'

“What happened after the curry?'

'Not much. I had to be heading home, he said he was getting thirstier. If I know him, he would have gone on to Mather's.'

'On Queensferry Street?'

'But he's just as likely to have wandered into the Caledonian Hotel.'

Leaving Todorov at the west end of Princes Street, not a stone's throw from King's Stables Road.

'What time was this?'

'Must've been around ten.'

'I'm told by the Scottish Poetry Library that you recorded Mr Todorov's recital the previous night.'

'That's right. I've done a lot of poets.'

'Charlie's done a lot of everything,' the engineer added. Riordan laughed nervously.

'He means my little project… I'm putting together a sort of soundscape of Edinburgh. From poetry readings to pub chatter, street noise, the Water of Leith at sunrise, football crowds, traffic on Princes Street, the beach at Portobello, dogs being walked in the Hermitage… hundreds of hours of the stuff.'

'Thousands more like,' the engineer corrected him.

Clarke tried not to be deflected. 'Had you met Mr Todorov before?'

'I taped another performance of his at a cafe.'

'Which one?'

Riordan shrugged. 'It was for a bookshop called Word Power.'

Clarke had seen it that very afternoon, opposite the pub where she'd had lunch with Rebus. She remembered a line in one of Todorov's poems – Nothing connects – and thought again how wrong he was.

'How long ago was that?'

'Three weeks back. We had a drink that night, too.'

Clarke tapped her pen against her notebook. 'Do you have a receipt for the restaurant?'

'Probably.' Riordan reached into his pocket and brought out a wallet.

'First sighting this year,' the engineer said, eliciting a laugh from the receptionist. She'd clamped a pen between her teeth and was playing with it. Clarke decided the two of them were an item, whether their employer knew it or not. Riordan had pulled out a mass of receipts.

'Reminds me,' he muttered, 'need to get some stuff to the accountant… Ah, here it is.' He handed it over. 'Mind if I ask why you want it?'

'Shows the time you got the bill, sir. Nine forty-eight – much as you said.' Clarke slipped the piece of paper into the back of her notebook.

'One question you haven't asked,' Riordan said teasingly. 'Why did we meet up at all?'

'All right then…why did you?'

'Alex wanted a copy of his gig. Seemed to him it had gone well.'

Clarke thought back to Todorov's flat. 'Did he ask for any particular format?'

'I burned it on to a CD.'

'He didn't have a CD player.'

Riordan gave a shrug. 'Plenty of people do.'

True enough, but the CD itself hadn't turned up, most likely taken with the other stuff…

'Could you make another copy for me, Mr Riordan?' Clarke asked.

'How would that help?'

'I'm not sure, but I'd like to hear him in full flow, as it were.'

'The master's back at my home studio. I could get it burnt by tomorrow.'

'I'm based at Gayfield Square – any chance someone could pop it in?'

'I'll have one of the children do it,' Riordan agreed, eyes taking in the engineer and receptionist.

'Thanks for your help,' Clarke said.

When smoking had been banned, back in March, Rebus had foreseen disaster for places like the Oxford Bar – traditional pubs catering to basic needs: a pint, a cigarette, horse-racing on TV and a hotline to the local turf accountant. Yet most of his haunts had survived, albeit with reduced takings. True to form, however, the smokers had formed a stubborn little gang that would congregate outside, trading stories and gossip. Tonight, the talk was the usual mix: someone was giving his views on a recently opened tapas bar, while the woman alongside wanted to know what the quietest time was to visit Ikea; a pipe-smoker was arguing for full-scale independence, while his English-sounding neighbour teased that the south would be glad of the break-up – 'and no bloody alimony!'

' North Sea oil's the only alimony we'll need,' the pipe-smoker said.

'It's already running out. Twenty years and you'll be back with the begging-bowl.'

'In twenty years we'll be Norway.'

'Either that or Albania.'

'Thing is,' another smoker interrupted, 'if Labour lost its Scottish seats at Westminster, it'd never get elected again south of the border.'

'Fair point,' the Englishman said.

'Just after opening or just before closing?' the woman was asking.

'Bits of squid and tomato,' her neighbour stated. 'Not bad once you got the taste…'

Rebus stubbed out his cigarette and headed indoors. The round of drinks was waiting for him, along with his change. Colin Tibbet had emerged from the back room to help out.

“You can take your tie off, you know,' Rebus teased him. 'We're not in the office.'

Tibbet smiled but said nothing. Rebus pocketed the change and hefted the two glasses. He liked that Phyllida Hawes drank pints.

Tibbet was on orange juice, Clarke sticking to white wine. They'd taken the table at the far end. Clarke had her notebook out. Hawes raised her fresh glass in a silent toast to Rebus. He scraped himself back into the chair.

'Drinks took longer than I thought,' he offered by way of apology.

'Managed a quick smoke, though,' Clarke chided him. He decided to ignore her.

'So what have we got?' he asked instead.

Well, they had a time-line for Todorov's last two or three hours of life. They had a growing list of items missing – presumed removed – from the deceased. They had a new locus, the car park.

'Is there anything,' Colin Tibbet piped up, 'to suggest that we're dealing with something other than a particularly brutal mugging?'

'Not really,' Clarke offered, but she met John Rebus's eyes and he gave a slow blink of acknowledgement. It didn't feel right; Clarke could sense it, too. It just didn't feel right. His phone, which he'd laid on the tabletop, started to vibrate, sending tremors across the surface of the pint glass next to it. He picked it up and moved away, either for a better signal or to escape the hubbub. They weren't alone in the back room: a group of three tourists sat bewildered in one corner, showing too much interest in the various artefacts and adverts on the walls. Two men in business suits were hunched over another table, arguing near-silently about something. The TV was on, tuned to a quiz show.

'We should enter a team of four,' Tibbet said. Hawes asked what he meant. 'HQ is having a pub quiz, week before Christmas,' he explained.

'By then,' Clarke reminded him, 'we'll be a team of three.'

'Heard anything about the promotion?' Hawes asked her. Clarke just shook her head. 'Taking their time,' Hawes added, twisting the knife. Rebus was coming back.

'Curiouser and curiouser,' he said, sitting down again. 'That was Howdenhall with a bit of news. Tests show our Russian poet had ejaculated at some point during the day. Stained underpants, apparently.'

'Maybe he got lucky in Glasgow,' Clarke speculated.

'Maybe,' Rebus agreed.

'Him and this sound recordist?' Hawes offered.

Todorov had a wife,' Clarke said.

Tou can never tell with poets, though,' Rebus added. 'Could've been some time after the curry, of course.'

'Any time up until the minute he was attacked.' Clarke and Rebus shared another look.

Tibbet was shifting in his chair. 'Or it could have been… you know.' He cleared his throat, cheeks reddening.

'What?' Clarke asked.

“You know,' Tibbet repeated.

'I think Colin means masturbation,' Hawes interjected. Tibbet's look was a study in gratitude.

'John?' It was the barman. Rebus turned towards him. 'Thought you'd want to see this.' He held up a newspaper. It was the day's final printing of the Evening News. The headline was DEATH OF A POET and beneath it, in bold lettering, 'The maverick who dared to say nyet!' There was an archive photo of Alexander Todorov. He stood in Princes Street Gardens, the Castle louring behind him. A tartan scarf was wrapped around his neck; probably his first day in Scotland. A man with only two months to live.

'Cat's out of the bag,' Rebus said, taking the proffered newspaper.

Then, to anyone around the table who might know: 'Does that count as metaphor?'

Day Three. Friday 17 November 2006

7

There was a funny smell in the CID office at Gayfield Square police station. You often noticed it at the height of summer, but this year it seemed determined to linger. It would disappear for a matter of days or weeks, then one morning would announce its creeping reappearance. There had been regular complaints and the Scottish Police Federation had threatened a walkout. Floors had been lifted and drains tested, traps set for vermin, but no answers.

'Smells like death,' the seasoned officers would comment. Rebus knew what they meant: every now and again, a body would be discovered decomposing in the armchair of a sixties semi, or a floater would be pulled from Leith docks. There was a special room set aside for them at the mortuary, and the attendants had placed a radio on the floor, which could be switched on when desired: 'Helps take our minds off the pong.'

At Gayfield Square, the answer was to open all available windows, which sent the temperature plummeting. The office of Detective Chief Inspector James Macrae – separated by a glass door from the CID suite – was like a walk-in fridge. This morning, Macrae had shown foresight by hauling an electric heater into work from his Blackhall home. Rebus had seen somewhere that Blackhall boasted the wealthiest residents in the city. It had sounded an unlikely setting – bungalows and more bungalows. Homes in Barnton and the New Town fetched millions. Then again, maybe that explained why the people who lived there weren't as rich as those in Bungalowland.

Macrae had plugged the heater in and switched it on, but it stayed his side of the desk, and radiated warmth only so far.

Phyllida Hawes had already shuffled so close to it that she was almost seated on Macrae's lap, something the DCI noted with a scowl.

'Right,' he barked, clenching his hands together as if in angry prayer, 'progress report.' But before Rebus could begin, Macrae sensed a problem. 'Colin, shut the door, will you? Let's keep what heat there is to ourselves.'

'Not much room, sir,' Tibbet commented. He was standing in the doorway, and what he said was true: with Macrae, Rebus, Clarke and Hawes inside, space in the DCI's den was limited.

'Then go back to your desk,' Macrae replied. 'I'm sure Phyllida can report on your behalf.'

But Tibbet didn't want that happening: if Clarke was promoted DI, there'd be a vacancy at detective sergeant, making Hawes and him rivals as well as partners. He sucked in his stomach and managed to get the door closed.

'Progress report,' Macrae repeated. But then his phone rang and he lifted it with a growl. Rebus wondered about his boss's blood pressure. His own was nothing to boast about, but Macrae's face was typically puce, and though a couple of years younger than Rebus, his hair had almost gone. As Rebus's own doctor had conceded during his last check-up, 'You've had a lucky run, John, but luck always runs out.'

Macrae made only a few grunts before putting the phone back down. His eyes were on Rebus. 'Someone from the Russian consulate at the front desk.'

'Wondered when they'd turn up,' Rebus said. 'Siobhan and I should take this, sir. Meantime, Phyl and Colin can tell you all you need to know – we had a pow-wow last night.'

Macrae nodded his agreement and Rebus turned to Clarke.

'One of the interview rooms?' she suggested.

'Just what I was thinking.' They moved out of the DCI's office and through the CID suite. The wall-boards were still blank. Later today, photos from the crime scene would go up, along with lists of names, jobs to be done, and schedules of hours. At some murder scenes, you would set up a temporary HQ, work from there. But Rebus didn't see the point this time round. They would put up posters at the car park exit, appealing for information, and maybe get Hawes and Tibbet or a few of the uniforms to stick leaflets on windscreens. But this large, cold room would be their base. Clarke was looking back over her shoulder towards Macrae's office. Hawes and Tibbet seemed to be in competition to see who could offer the best titbits to the boss.

'Anyone,' Rebus commented, 'would think there's a DS slot going begging. Who's your money on?'

Thyl's got more years in,' Clarke answered. 'She's got to be favourite. If Colin gets it, I think she'll walk.'

Rebus nodded his agreement. 'Which interview room?' he asked.

'I like Three.'

'Why so?'

'Table's all greasy and scabby, graffiti scratched on the walls…

It's the sort of place you go when you've done something.'

Rebus smiled at her thinking. Even for the pure at heart, IR3 was a troubling experience.

'Spot on,' he said.

The consular official was called Nikolai Stahov. He introduced himself with a self-effacing smile. He was young-looking and shiny faced with a parting in his light-brown hair which made him seem even more boyish. But he was six feet tall and broad-shouldered, and wore a three-quarter-length black woollen coat, complete with belt and the collar turned up. From one pocket peeked a pair of black leather gloves – mittens, actually, Rebus realised, smooth and rounded where there should have been fingers. Did your mum dress you? he wanted to ask. But he shook Stahov's hand instead.

“We're sorry about Mr Todorov,' Clarke said, reaching out her own hand towards the Russian. She got a little bow along with the shake.

'My consulate,' Stahov said, 'wishes to be assured that everything possible is being done to capture and prosecute the perpetrator.'

Rebus nodded slowly. 'We thought we'd be more comfortable in one of our interview rooms…'

They led the young Russian down the corridor, stopping at the third door. It was unlocked. Rebus pulled it open and gestured for Clarke and Stahov to go in. Then he slid the panel across the door, changing its message from Vacant to In Use.

'Take a seat,' he said. Stahov was studying his surroundings as he lowered himself on to the chair. He was about to place his hands on the tabletop, but thought better of it and rested them on his lap instead. Clarke had taken the seat opposite, Rebus content to lean against the wall, arms folded. 'So what can you tell us about Alexander Todorov?' he asked.

'Inspector, I came here for reassurances and from a sense of protocol. You must know that as a diplomat, I am not obliged to answer any of your questions.'

'Because you've got immunity,' Rebus acknowledged. 'We just assumed you'd want to assist us in any way possible. It is one of

your countrymen who's been killed, and rather a notable one at that.' He tried to sound aggrieved.

'Of course, of course, that's unquestionable.' Stahov kept turning his head, trying to talk to both of them at the same time.

'Good,' Clarke told him. 'Then you won't mind us asking how big a thorn Todorov was proving to be?'

'Thorn?' It was hard to tell if Stahov's English was really defeating him.

'How awkward was it for you,' Clarke rephrased the question, ¦having a noted dissident poet living in Edinburgh?'

'It wasn't awkward at all.'

Tou welcomed him?' Clarke pretended to guess. 'Was there any kind of party at the consulate? He'd been talked about for the Nobel… that must have given you great satisfaction?'

'In today's Russia, the Nobel Prize isn't such a big deal.'

'Mr Todorov had given a couple of public performances recently…

did you happen to go see him?'

'I had other engagements.'

'Did anyone from the consulate-'

But Stahov felt the need to interrupt. 'I don't see what bearing any of this could have on your inquiries. In fact, your questions could be construed as a smokescreen. Whether we wanted Alexander Todorov here or not is of no consequence. He was murdered in your city, your country. Edinburgh is not without its problems with race and creed – Polish workers have found themselves attacked.

Wearing the wrong football shirt can be provocation enough.'

Rebus looked towards Clarke. 'Talk about a smokescreen…'

'I am speaking the truth.' Stahov's voice was beginning to tremble, and he made an effort to calm himself. 'What my consulate requires, Inspector, is to be kept informed of developments. That way, we can reassure Moscow that your investigation has been rigorous and fair, and they in turn can advise your government of our satisfaction.'

Rebus and Clarke seemed to consider this. Rebus unfolded his arms and slipped his hands into his pockets.

'There's always the possibility,' he said quietly, 'that Mr Todorov was attacked by someone with a grudge. That person could be a member of the Russian community here in Edinburgh. I'm assuming the consulate keeps a list of nationals living and working here?'

'My understanding, Inspector, was that Alexander Todorov was just another victim of this city's street crime.'

'Foolish to rule anything out at this stage, sir.'

'And that list would come in handy,' Clarke stressed.

Stahov looked from one detective to the other. Rebus hoped he'd make up his mind soon. One error they'd made in opting for IR3 -it was bloody freezing. The Russian's overcoat looked toasty, but Rebus reckoned Siobhan was going to start shivering soon. He was surprised their breath wasn't visible in the air.

'I will see what I can do,' Stahov said at last. 'But quid pro quo -you will keep me informed of developments?'

'Give us your number,' Clarke told him. The young Russian seemed to take this as agreement.

Rebus knew it was anything but.

There was a package waiting for Siobhan Clarke at the front desk.

Rebus had gone outside for a cigarette and to see whether Stahov had a chauffeur. Clarke opened the padded envelope and found a CD inside, with the single word 'Riordan' written on it in thick black pen. It told her a lot about Charles Riordan that he used his own name, in place of Todorov's. She took the CD upstairs, but there was no machine to play it on. So instead she headed for the car park, passing Rebus as he came in.

'Big black Merc waiting for him,' Rebus confirmed. 'Guy wearing shades and gloves at the helm. Where are you off to?'

She told him and he said he wouldn't mind joining her, though warning that he 'might not last the pace'. In the end, though, the pair of them sat in Clarke's car for a solid hour and a quarter, engine running so the heater stayed on. Riordan had recorded everything: some chat between audience members, then the introduction by Abigail Thomas, Todorov's half-hour and the Q and A session after, most of the questions steering clear of politics. As the applause died and the audience dispersed, Riordan's mike was still picking up chatter.

'He's an obsessive,' Clarke commented.

'I hear you,' Rebus agreed. Almost the last thing they heard was a muttered snatch of Russian. 'Probably,' Rebus speculated, 'saying “Thank Khrushchev that's over”.'

'Who's Khrushchev?' Clarke asked. 'Some friend of Jack Palance?'

The recital itself had been riveting, the poet's voice by turns sonorous, gruff, elegiac and booming. He performed some of his work in English, some in Russian, but the majority in both – usually Russian first, English after.

'Sounds like Scots, doesn't it?' Clarke had asked at one point.

'Maybe to someone from England,' Rebus had retorted. Okay, so she'd walked into that one, as so often before – her 'southern'

accent had been easy prey for Rebus since the moment they'd met.

This time, she'd refused to rise to him.

'This one,' she'd said at another point, 'is called “Raskolnikov”

– I remember it from the book. Raskolnikov's a character in Crime and Punishment.'

'A book I'd probably read before you were even born.'

'You've read Dostoevsky?'

“You think I'd lie about something like that?'

'What's it about then?'

'It's about guilt. One of the great Russian novels, in my opinion.'

'How many others have you read?'

'That's neither here nor there.'

Now, as she turned the CD off, he swivelled towards her. 'You've listened to the show, you've been through Todorov's book – have you found anything resembling a motive for his killing?'

'No,' she conceded. 'And I know what you're thinking – Macrae's going to treat it as a mugging gone wrong.'

'Which is pretty well how the consulate wants to see it handled, too.'

She gave a slow, thoughtful nod. 'So who did he have sex with?'

she eventually asked.

'Is it relevant?'

We won't know till we know. Most likely candidate is Scarlett ColwelL'

'Because she's a stunner?' Rebus sounded dubious.

'Can't bear to think of her with anyone else?' Clarke teased.

'What about Miss Thomas at the Poetry Library?' But this time Clarke gave a snort.

'I don't see her as a contender,' she explained.

'Dr Colwell didn't seem so sure.'

'Which probably says more about Dr Colwell than Ms Thomas.'

'Maybe young Colin had a point,' Rebus ploughed on. 'Or it's just as likely our red-blooded poet picked up a tart in Glasgow.' He saw Clarke's look. 'Sorry, I should have said “sex worker” – or has the terminology changed again since I last got my knuckles rapped?'

'Keep going and I'll rap them again.' She paused for a moment, eyes still fixed on him. 'Funny to think of you reading Crime and Punishment.' She took a deep breath. 'I did a search on Harry Goodyear.'

'Thought you might.' He turned his attention to the windscreen and the bleak car park beyond. Clarke could see that he wanted to wind down the window so he could smoke. But the smell was out there, lying in wait just above the level of the tarmac.

'He was a pub landlord in Rose Street, mid-eighties,' she said.

'You were a detective sergeant. You helped put him away.'

'He was dealing drugs from the premises.'

'He died in jail, didn't he? Just a year or two after… bad heart or something. Todd Goodyear wouldn't long have been out of nappies.'

She paused in case he had anything to add, then went on. Todd's got a brother, did you know that? Name's Sol, been on our radar a few times. I say that, but actually he lives in Dalkeith, making him E Division's problem. Guess what he's been in trouble for.'

'Drugs?'

'So you know about him?'

Rebus shook his head. 'Educated guess.'

'And you didn't know Todd Goodyear was in the police?'

'Believe it or not, Shiv, I don't keep tabs on the grandkids of villains I locked up two decades back.'

'Thing is, we didn't just get Sol for possession – we tried to have him for dealing, too. Court gave him the benefit of the doubt.'

Rebus turned towards her. 'How do you know all this?'

'I was in the office before you this morning. Few minutes on the computer and one phone call to Dalkeith CID. Rumour at the time was, Sol Goodyear was dealing on behalf of Big Ger Cafferty.'

She could see straight away that she'd struck a nerve: Cafferty was unfinished business – big unfinished business – his name top of Rebus's 'to do' list. Cafferty had made a decent fist of looking like a retired villain, but Rebus and Clarke knew better.

Cafferty still ran Edinburgh.

And had found himself a place at the top of her list, too.

'Is any of this leading somewhere?' Rebus asked, turning his attention back to the windscreen.

'Not really.' She ejected the CD from its slot. The radio blasted into life – Forth 1, the DJ talking twenty to the dozen. She switched it off. Rebus had noticed something.

'Didn't know there was a camera there,' he said. He meant at the corner of the building, between the first and second storeys. The camera was pointing into the car park.

'They reckon it stops vandalism. Reminds me actually – think there's any point looking at city-centre footage from the night Todorov was killed? Bound to be cameras at the west end of Princes

Street, maybe on Lothian Road, too. If someone was shadowing him…' She let the sentence drift.

'It's an idea,' he admitted.

'Needle in a haystack,' she added. His silence seemed to confirm it and she rested her head against the back of the seat, neither of them in any hurry to go back inside. 'I remember reading in a paper that we've got the most surveillance of any country in the world; more CCTV in London than the whole of the USA… can that be right?'

'Can't say I've noticed it reducing the crime stats.' Rebus's eyes narrowed. 'What's that noise?'

Clarke saw that Tibbet was gesturing from an upstairs window.

'I think we're wanted.'

'Maybe guilt got the better of our killer and he's come to hand himself in.'

'Maybe,' Clarke said, not believing it for one moment.

8

'Been here before?' Rebus asked, once they'd passed through the metal-detector. He was scooping loose change back into his pocket.

'Got the guided tour soon after it opened,' Clarke admitted.

There were indented shapes in the ceiling; Rebus couldn't tell if they were supposed to be Crusader-style crosses. Plenty of activity in the main entrance hall. Tables had been set up for the tour parties, ID badges lying on them and placards to say which groups were expected. Staff were everywhere, ready to direct visitors to the reception desk. At the far end of the hall, some schoolkids in uniform were settling down for an early lunch.

'First time for me,' Rebus told Clarke. 'Always wondered what four hundred million pounds looks like…'

The Scottish Parliament had divided public opinion from the moment its plans were revealed in the media. Some thought it bold and revolutionary, others wondered at its quirks and its price tag.

The architect had died before completing the project, as had the man who'd commissioned it. But it was built now and working, and Rebus had to admit that the debating chamber, whenever he'd seen it on the TV news, looked a bit special.

When they told the woman on the reception desk that they were here to see Megan Macfarlane, she printed out a couple of visitor passes. A call to the MSP's office confirmed that they were expected, and another member of staff stepped forward and asked them to follow him. He was a tall, brisk-stepping figure and, like the receptionist, probably not a day under sixty-five. They followed him down corridors and up in a lift and down more corridors.

'Plenty of concrete and wood,' Rebus commented.

'And glass,' Clarke added.

'The special, expensive kind, of course,' Rebus speculated.

Their guide said nothing until they turned yet another corner and found a young man waiting for them.

'Thanks, Sandy,' the man said, 'I'll take it from here.'

As the guide headed back the way they'd just come, Clarke thanked him, and received a little grunt of acknowledgement.

Maybe he was just out of breath.

'My name's Roddy Liddle,' the young man was telling them. 'I work for Megan.'

'And who exactly is Megan?' Rebus asked. Liddle stared at him as if he were maybe making a joke. 'All our boss told us,' Rebus explained, 'was to come down here and talk to someone with that name. Apparently she phoned him.'

'It was me who did the phoning,' Liddle said, making it sound like yet another arduous task that he'd taken in his stride.

'Good for you, son,' Rebus told him. The 'son' obviously rankled.

Liddle was in his early twenties and reckoned he was already well on his way in politics. He looked Rebus up and down before deciding to dismiss him as irrelevant.

'I'm sure Megan will explain.' Having said which, Liddle turned and led them to the end of the corridor.

The MSPs private offices were well proportioned, with desks for staff as well as the politicians themselves. It was Rebus's first sighting of one of the infamous 'think-pods' – little alcoves with curved windows and a cushioned seat. This was where the MSPs were supposed to come up with blue-sky ideas. It was also where they found Megan Macfarlane. She rose to greet them.

'Glad you could come at such short notice,' she said. 'I know you're busy on the inquiry, so I won't keep you long.' She was short and slim and impeccably groomed, not a hair out of place and with just the right amount of make-up. She wore half-moon glasses which rested most of the way down her nose, so that she peered over them at the two detectives. 'I'm Megan Macfarlane,' she said, inviting them to make introductions of their own. Liddle was back behind his desk, staring at messages on his computer. Rebus and Clarke gave their names, and the MSP looked around for places to sit, before having a better idea.

'We'll go downstairs and get a coffee. Roddy, can I bring you one back?'

'No thanks, Megan. One cup a day's plenty for me.'

'Good point – I don't need to be in the chamber later on?' She waited till he'd shaken his head, then focused her gaze on Clarke.

'Diuretic effects, you know, doesn't do to be caught short when you're halfway through a point of order…'

They went back the way they'd come and found themselves descending an impressive staircase, Macfarlane announcing that the 'Scot Nats' had high hopes for May's elections.

'Latest polls put us five points clear of Labour. Blair's unpopular, and so is Gordon Brown. The Iraq war, cash for peerages – it was one of my colleagues who started that investigation. Labour's panicking because Scotland Yard say they've uncovered “significant and valuable material”.' She gave a satisfied smile. 'Scandal seems to be our opponents' middle name.'

'So it's the protest vote you're after?' Rebus asked.

Macfarlane didn't seem to feel this merited any sort of reply.

'If you win in May,' Rebus went on, 'do we get a referendum on independence?'

'Absolutely.'

'And we suddenly become a Celtic tiger?'

'The Labour Party has been failing the people of Scotland for fifty years, Inspector. It's time for a change.'

Queuing at the counter, she announced that this would be her 'treat'. Rebus ordered an espresso, Clarke a small cappuccino.

Macfarlane herself opted for a black coffee into which she poured three sachets of sugar. There were tables nearby, and they chose an empty one, pushing aside the leftover crockery.

'We're still in the dark,' Rebus said, lifting his cup. 'I hope you don't mind me getting straight to the point, but as you said yourself, we've got a murder inquiry waiting for us back at base.'

'Absolutely,' Macfarlane agreed. Then she paused for a moment, as if to marshal her thoughts. 'How much do you know about me?'

she began by asking.

Rebus and Clarke shared a look. 'Until we were told to come see you,' Rebus obliged, 'neither of us had ever heard of you.'

The MSP, trying not to show any pain, blew across the surface of her coffee before taking a sip.

'I'm a Scottish Nationalist,' she said.

'That much we'd guessed.'

'And that means I'm passionate about my country. If Scotland is to flourish in this new century – and flourish outwith the confines of the UK – we need enterprise, initiative and investment.' She counted these three off on her fingers. 'That's why I'm an active member of the URC – the Urban Regeneration Committee. Not that our remit is purely urban, you understand; in fact, I've already

proposed a name-change in order to make that clear.'

'Forgive me for interrupting,' Clarke said, having noted Rebus's agitation, 'but can I ask what any of this has to do with us?'

Macfarlane lowered her eyes and gave a little smile of apology.

'I'm afraid when I'm passionate about something, I do tend to rabbit on.'

Rebus's glance towards Clarke said it all.

'This unfortunate incident,' Macfarlane was saying, 'involving the Russian poet…'

'What about it?' Rebus prompted.

'Right now, a group of businessmen is in Scotland – a very prosperous group, and all of them Russian. They represent oil, gas and steel, and other industries besides. They are looking to the future, Inspector – Scotland 's future. We need to ensure nothing jeopardises the links and relationships that we've painstakingly fostered over the past several years. What we certainly don't want is anyone thinking we're not a welcoming country, a country that embraces cultures and nationalities. Look at what happened to that young Sikh lad…'

Tou're asking us,' Clarke summarised, 'if this was a racial attack?'

'One of the group has voiced that concern,' Macfarlane admitted.

She looked towards Rebus but he was staring at the ceiling again, still not sure about it. He'd heard that its concave sections were supposed to look like boats. When he turned his attention back to the MSP, her worried face demanded some reassurance.

'We can't rule anything out,' he decided to tell her instead.

'Could have been racially motivated. The Russian consulate told us as much this morning – there've been attacks on some of the migrant workers from Eastern Europe. So it's certainly a line we'll be following.'

She looked shocked by these words, just as he'd intended. Clarke was hiding her smile behind a raised cup. Rebus decided there was more fun to be had. 'Would any of these businessmen have met with Mr Todorov recently? If so, it would be helpful to talk to them.'

Macfarlane was saved from answering by the appearance of a new arrival. Like Rebus and Clarke, he wore a badge which proclaimed him a visitor.

'Megan,' he drawled, 'I saw you from the reception desk. Hope I'm not interrupting?'

'Not at all.' The MSP could hardly disguise her relief. 'Let me get

you a coffee, Stuart.' Then, to Rebus and Clarke: 'This is Stuart Janney, from First Albannach Bank. Stuart, these are the officers in charge of the Todorov case.' Janney shook hands before pulling over a chair.

'I hope you're both clients,' he said with a smile.

'State of my finances,' Rebus informed him, 'you should be happy I'm with the competition.'

Janney made a show of wincing. He'd been carrying his trench coat over one arm, and now folded it across his lap. 'Grim news about that murder,' he said, while Macfarlane rejoined the queue at the counter.

'Grim,' Rebus echoed.

'From what Ms Macfarlane just said,' Clarke added, 'I'm guessing she's already spoken with you about it.'

'Happened to come up in conversation this morning,' Janney acknowledged, running a hand through his blond hair. His face was freckled, the skin pink, reminding Rebus of a younger Colin Montgomerie, and his eyes were the same dark blue as his tie.

Janney seemed to have decided that further explanation was needed. 'We were on the phone to one another.'

'Are you something to do with these Russian visitors?' Rebus asked. Janney nodded.

'FAB never turns away prospective customers, Inspector.'

FAB: it was how most people referred to the First Albannach Bank. It was a term of affection, but behind it lay one of the biggest employers – and probably the most profitable company – in Scotland. The TV adverts showed FAB as an extended family, and were filmed almost as mini-soaps, while the bank's brand-new corporate HQ – built on green-belt land, despite the protests – was a city in miniature, complete with shopping arcade and cafes. Staff could get their hair done there, or buy food for the evening meal.

They could use the gym or play a round of golf on the company's own nine-hole course.

'So if you're looking for someone to manage that overdraft…'

Janney handed out business cards. Macfarlane laughed when she saw it, before passing him his black coffee. Interesting, Rebus thought: he takes it the same way she does. But he'd bet that if Janney was out with an important customer, whatever the customer ordered would be Janney's drink of choice, too. The Police College at Tulliallan had run a course on it a year or two back: Empathic Interviewing Techniques. When questioning a witness or a suspect, you tried to find things you had in common, even if

that meant lying. Rebus had never really got round to trying it, but he could tell that someone like Janney would be a natural.

'Stuart's incorrigible,' the MSP was saying. 'What have I told you about touting for business? It's unethical.' But she was smiling as she spoke, and Janney gave a quiet chuckle, while sliding his business cards closer to Rebus and Clarke.

'Mr Janney,' Clarke began, 'tells us the pair of you were discussing Alexander Todorov.'

Megan Macfarlane nodded slowly. 'Stuart has an advisory role in URC 'I didn't think FAB would be pro-Nationalist, Mr Janney,' Rebus said.

'Completely neutral,' Janney stressed. 'There are twelve members of the Urban Regeneration Committee, Inspector, representing five political parties.'

'And how many of them did you speak to on the phone today?'

'So far, only Megan,' the banker admitted, 'but then it's not quite lunchtime.' He made show of checking his watch.

'Stuart is our three-I consultant,' Macfarlane was saying. 'Inward Investment Initiatives.'

Rebus ignored this. 'Did Ms Macfarlane ask you to drop by, Mr Janney?' he asked. When the banker looked to the MSP, Rebus had his answer. He turned his attention to Macfarlane herself. 'Which businessman was it?'

She blinked. 'Sorry?'

'Which one was it who seemed so concerned about Alexander Todorov?'

'Why do you want to know?'

'Is there any reason I shouldn't know?' Rebus raised an eyebrow for effect.

'The Inspector's got you cornered, Megan,' Janney was saying with a lopsided smile. He got a baleful look in return, which had gone by the time Macfarlane turned towards Rebus.

'It was Sergei Andropov,' she stated.

'There was a Russian president called Andropov,' Clarke commented.

'No relation,' Janney told her, taking a sip of coffee. 'At HQ, they've taken to calling him Svengali.'

'Why's that, sir?' Clarke sounded genuinely curious.

'The number of takeovers he's finessed, the way he built up his own company into a global player, the boards he's won round, the strategies and gamesmanship…' Janney sounded like he could

go on all day. I'm pretty sure,' he said, 'it's meant as a term of endearment.'

'Sounds like he's endeared himself to you, at any rate,' Rebus commented. 'I'm guessing First Albannach would love to do business with these big shots.'

'We already do.'

Rebus decided to wipe the smile off the banker's face. 'Well, Alexander Todorov happened to bank with you, too, sir, and look what happened to him.'

'DI Rebus has a point, sir,' Clarke interrupted. 'Any chance you could get us details of Mr Todorov's accounts and most recent transactions?'

'There are protocols…'

'I understand, sir, but they might help us find his killer, which in turn would put your clients' minds at rest.'

Janney gave a thoughtful pout. 'Is there an executor?'

'Not that we know of.'

'Which branch was his account with?'

Clarke stretched out her arms and gave a shrug and a hopeful smile.

'I'll see what I can do.'

'We appreciate it, sir,' Rebus told him. 'We're based at Gayfield Square.' He made show of studying his surroundings. 'Not quite as grand as this, but then it didn't bankrupt the taxpayer either…'

9

It was a quick run from the Parliament to the City Chambers.

Rebus told the staff on reception that they had a 2 p.m. appointment with the Lord Provost and were hellish early, but could they leave their car parked outside anyway? Everyone seemed to think that was fine, which caused Rebus to beam a smile and ask if they could fill in the time by saying hello to Graeme MacLeod. More passes, another security check, and they were in. As they waited for the lift, Clarke turned to Rebus.

'I meant to say, you handled Macfarlane and Janney pretty well.'

'I guessed as much from the way you let me do most of the work.'

'Is it too late for me to withdraw the compliment?' But they were both smiling. 'How long till they find out we've nicked a parking space under false pretences?'

'Depends whether they bother to ask the Lord Prov's secretary.'

The lift arrived and they got in, descending two storeys below ground level to where a man was waiting. Rebus introduced him to Clarke as Graeme MacLeod, and MacLeod led them into the CMF Room, explaining that CMF stood for Central Monitoring Facility. Rebus had been there before but Clarke hadn't, and her eyes widened a little as she saw the array of closed-circuit monitors, dozens of them, three deep and with staff manning desks of computers in front of them.

MacLeod liked it when visitors were impressed, and needed no prompting to give his little speech.

'Ten years the city's had CCTV,' he began. 'Started with a dozen cameras in the centre, now we've got over a hundred and thirty,

with more due to be introduced shortly. We maintain a direct link to the Police Control Centre at Bilston, and about twelve hundred arrests a year are down to things we spot in this stuffy wee room.'

The room was certainly warm – heat from all the monitors – and Clarke was shrugging off her coat.

'We're open 247 MacLeod went on, 'and can track a suspect while telling the police where to find them.' The monitors had numbers above them, and MacLeod pointed to one. 'That's the Grassmarket. And if Jenny here' – meaning the woman seated at the desk – 'uses the little keypad in front of her we can swivel the camera, and zoom in on anyone parking their car or coming out of a shop or pub.'

Jenny showed how it was done, and Clarke nodded slowly.

'The picture's very clear,' she commented. 'And in colour – I was expecting black and white. Don't suppose you've any cameras on King's Stables Road?'

MacLeod gave a dry chuckle. 'I knew that's what you'd be after.'

He reached for a logbook and flicked back a couple of pages. 'Martin was manning the decks that night. He tracked the police cars and ambulance.' MacLeod ran a finger along the relevant entry. 'Even had a look back at what footage there was but didn't spot anything conclusive.'

'Doesn't mean there's nothing there.'

'Absolutely.'

'Siobhan here,' Rebus said, 'was telling me there's more CCTV in the UK than any other country.'

'Twenty per cent of all the closed-circuit cameras in the world, one for each and every dozen of us.'

'So quite a lot then?' Rebus muttered.

Tou save all the footage?' Clarke asked.

We do what we can. It goes on to hard disk and video, but there are guidelines we have to follow…'

“What Graeme means,' Rebus explained for Clarke's benefit, 'is that he can't just go handing material to us – Data Protection Act 1997.'

MacLeod was nodding. 'Ninety-eight actually, John. We can give you what we've got, but there are hoops to be gone through first.'

'Which is why I've learned to trust Graeme's judgement.' Rebus turned to MacLeod. 'And I'm guessing you've been through the recordings with whatever the digital equivalent is of a fine-toothed comb?'

MacLeod smiled and nodded. 'Jenny gave me a hand. We had

the photos of the victim from the various news agencies. I think we've picked him up on Shandwick Place. He was on foot and unaccompanied.

That's at just gone ten. Next time we see him is half an hour later on Lothian Road. But as you've guessed, we've no cameras on King's Stables Road itself.'

'Did you get the sense anyone was following him?' Rebus asked.

MacLeod shook his head. 'And neither did Jenny.'

Clarke was studying the screens again. 'A few more years of this and I'll be out of a job.'

MacLeod laughed. 'I doubt that. Surveillance is a tricky balancing act. Invasion of privacy is always an issue, and the civil rights people oppose us every step of the way.'

'Now there's a surprise,' Rebus muttered.

'Don't tell me you'd want one of our cameras peering in through your own window?' MacLeod teased.

Clarke had been thinking. 'Charles Riordan picked up the tab at the curry house at nine forty-eight. Todorov left there and headed into town along Shandwick Place. How come it took him half an hour to travel quarter of a mile to Lothian Road?'

'He stopped for a drink?' Rebus guessed.

'Riordan mentioned Mather's or the Caledonian Hotel. Wherever he went, Todorov was back on the street at ten forty, meaning he'd have been outside the car park five minutes later.' She waited for Rebus to nod his agreement.

'Shutters go down on the car park at eleven,' he added. The attack must've been quick.' Then, to MacLeod: 'What about afterwards, Graeme?'

MacLeod was ready for this. 'The passer-by who found the body called it in at twelve minutes past eleven. We took a look at the footage from the Grassmarket and Lothian Road ten minutes either side of that time.' He gave a shrug. 'Just the usual pub-goers, office parties, late-night shoppers… no crazed muggers legging it with a hammer swinging from their hand.'

'Be handy if we could take a look at that,' Rebus stated. 'We might know faces you don't.'

'Fair enough.'

'But you'd want us to jump through the hoops?'

MacLeod had folded his arms, the gesture providing an answer in itself.

They were heading back through the reception area, Rebus breaking

open a fresh packet of cigarettes, when an attendant in some sort of official garb stopped them. It took a moment for Rebus to register that the Lord Provost herself was there, too, her gold chain of office hanging around her neck. She didn't look particularly happy.

'I believe we have an appointment?' she was asking. 'Though nobody seems to know about it except you two.'

'Bit of a cock-up there,' Rebus apologised.

'So not just a ploy to grab yourselves a precious parking bay?'

'Perish the thought.'

She glared at him. 'Just as well you're going – we need that space for more important visitors.'

Rebus could feel his grip tightening on the cigarettes. 'What could be more urgent than a murder inquiry?' he asked.

She caught his meaning. 'The Russian poet? We need that one cleared fast.'

'To appease the money-men of the Volga?' Rebus guessed. Then, after a moment's thought: 'How much does the council have to do with them? Megan Macfarlane tells us her Urban Regeneration Committee is involved.'

The Lord Provost was nodding. 'But there's council input, too.'

'So you're glad-handing the fat cats? Good to see my council tax being put to such good use.'

The Lord Provost had taken a step forwards, glare intensifying.

She was readying a fresh salvo when her attendant cleared his throat. Through the window, a long black car could be seen trying to manoeuvre itself through the arch in front of the building. The Lord Provost said nothing, just turned from Rebus and was gone.

He gave her five seconds, then made his own exit, Clarke at his shoulder.

'Nice to make friends,' she said.

'I'm a week from retirement, Shiv, what the hell do I care?'

They walked a few yards down the pavement, then stopped while Rebus got his cigarette lit.

'Did you see the paper this morning?' Clarke asked. 'Andy Kerr won Politician of the Year last night.'

'And who's he when he's at home?'

'Man who brought in the smoking ban.'

Rebus just snorted. Pedestrians were watching the official-looking car draw to a halt in front of the waiting Lord Provost. Her liveried attendant stepped forward to open the back door. Tinted windows had shielded the passenger from view, but as he stepped out Rebus immediately guessed he was one of the Russians. Big coat, black

gloves, and a chiselled, unsmiling face. Maybe forty years old, hair short and well groomed with some greying at the temples. Steely grey eyes which took in everything, Rebus and Clarke included, even as he was shaking the Lord Provost's hand and answering some remark she'd made. Rebus sucked smoke deep into his lungs and watched as the party disappeared back inside.

'Looks like the Russian consulate's going into the taxi business,'

Rebus stated, studying the black Mercedes.

'Same car Stahov had?' Clarke guessed.

'Could be.'

'What about the driver?'

'Hard to tell.'

Another official had appeared and was gesturing for them to move their car so the chauffeur could park. Rebus held up a single digit, meaning one minute. Then he noticed that Clarke was still wearing her visitor's badge.

'Better hand them back,' he said. Tou take this.' He held out the half-smoked cigarette towards her, but she was reluctant, so instead he balanced it on a windowsill nearby. 'Watch it doesn't blow away,' he warned, taking her badge and unclipping his own.

'I'm sure they don't need them,' she commented. Rebus just smiled and headed for reception.

'Thought we better give you these,' he told the woman behind the desk. Tou can always recycle them, eh? We've all got to do our bit.' He was still smiling, so the receptionist smiled back.

'By the way,' he added, leaning over the desk, 'that bloke with the Lord Provost – was it who I think it was?'

'Some sort of business tycoon,' the woman said. Yes, because the visitors' log was sitting there in front of them, and the last name to be entered – entered with what looked like thick blue ink from a fountain pen – was the same one she uttered now.

'Sergei Andropov.'

'Where to?' Clarke asked.

'The pub.'

'Do you have one in mind?'

'Mather's, of course.'

But as Clarke drove them down Johnston Terrace, Rebus told her to take a detour, a series of left turns bringing them into King's Stables Road from the Grassmarket end. They drew to a halt outside the multistorey, and saw that Hawes and Tibbet

were busy. Clarke sounded the horn as she turned off the ignition.

Tibbet turned and waved. He'd been sticking flyers on windscreens – POLICE INCIDENT: INFORMATION REQUIRED. Hawes was setting up a sandwich board on the pavement next to the exit barriers – a larger version of the flyer, exact same wording. There was a grainy photograph of Todorov: 'Around 11 p.m. on Wednesday 15 November a man was attacked within the confines of this car park, dying from his injuries. Did you see anything? Was anyone you know parked here on that evening? Please call the incident room…'

The number given was a police switchboard.

'Just as well,' Rebus pointed out, 'seeing as there's no one currently home at CID.'

'Macrae was saying much the same thing,' Hawes agreed, studying her handiwork. 'Wanted to know how many more officers we'd be needing.'

'I like my teams small and perfectly formed,' Rebus replied.

'Obviously not a Hearts fan,' Tibbet added in an undertone.

Tou a Hibs fan then, Colin, same as Siobhan here?'

' Livingston,' Tibbet corrected him.

'Hearts have got a Russian owner, haven't they?'

It was Clarke who answered. 'He's Lithuanian actually.'

Hawes interrupted to ask where Rebus and Clarke were headed.

'The pub,' Clarke announced.

'Lucky you.'

'Business rather than pleasure.'

'So what do Colin and me do after this?' Hawes's eyes were on Rebus.

'Back to base,' he told her, 'to await the torrent of phone calls.'

'And,' Clarke suddenly remembered, 'I need someone to call the BBC for me. See if they'll send us a copy of Todorov on Question Time. I want to see just how much of a stirrer he really was.'

'They ran a bit of it on the news last night,' Colin Tibbet announced.

'There was a package about the case, and that was all the footage of him they seemed to have.'

'Thanks for sharing,' Clarke told him. 'Maybe you could get on to the Beeb for me?'

He gave a shrug, indicating willingness. Clarke's attention was drawn to the stack of flyers he still held. Though they were printed on various colours of paper, most seemed to be a particularly lurid pink.

'We wanted them in a hurry,' Tibbet explained. 'This was what was on offer.'

'Let's go,' Rebus told Clarke, making for the car, but Hawes had other ideas.

'We should be doing the follow-up interviews with the witnesses,'

she called. The and Colin could do it.'

Rebus pretended to think for all of five seconds before turning down the offer.

Back in the car, he stared at the No Entry sign which was denying them direct access to Lothian Road.

'Think I should chance it?' Clarke asked.

'Up to you, Shiv.'

She gnawed at her bottom lip, then executed a three-point turn.

Ten minutes later, they were on Lothian Road, passing the other end of King's Stables Road. 'Should've chanced it,' Rebus commented.

Two further minutes and they were parking on the yellow lines outside Mather's, having disregarded a road sign warning them they could only turn into Queensferry Street if they were a bus or a taxi. The white van in front had done the selfsame thing and the estate car behind them was following suit.

'A regular little law-breaking convoy,' was Rebus's comment.

'I despair of this town,' Clarke said, teeth bared. 'Who thinks up the traffic management?'

“You need a drink,' Rebus informed her. He didn't get into Mather's much, but he liked the place. It was old-fashioned, with few chairs, most of them occupied by serious-looking men. Early afternoon, and Sky Sports was on the television. Clarke had brought a few of the flyers with her – yellow in preference to pink – and went around the tables with them, while Rebus held one up in front of the barman's face.

'Two nights ago,' he said, 'around ten o'clock, maybe a little after.'

'Wasn't my shift,' the barman answered.

'Then whose was it?'

'Terry's.'

'And where's Terry?'

'In his kip, most likely.'

'Is he on again tonight?' When the barman nodded, Rebus pressed the flyer on him. 'I want a phone call from him, whether he served this guy or not. No phone call, it's you I'll blame.'

The barman just gave a twitch of the mouth. Clarke was standing next to Rebus. 'Guy over in the corner seems to know you,'

she said. Rebus looked and nodded, then walked over to the table, Clarke following.

'All right, Big?' Rebus said by way of greeting.

The man drinking alone – half of heavy and an inch of whisky -seemed to be enjoying his berth, one foot up on the chair next to him, a hand scratching his chest. He was wearing a faded denim shirt, undone to below the breastbone. Rebus hadn't seen him in maybe seven or eight years. He called himself Podeen – Big Podeen.

Ex-Navy, ex-bouncer, looking his age now, his huge, weatherbeaten face caving in on itself, most of the teeth having disappeared from the fleshy-lipped mouth.

'Not bad, Mr Rebus.' There were no handshakes, just slight tilts of the head and occasional eye contact.

'This your local then?' Rebus asked.

'Depends how you mean.'

'Thought you were living down the coast.'

'That was years back. People change, move on.' There was a pouch of tobacco on the table, next to a lighter and cigarette papers.

Podeen picked it up and began to play with it.

'Got something for us?'

Podeen puffed out his cheeks and exhaled. 'I was here two nights back, and your man there wasn't.' He nodded towards the flyer.

'Know who he is, though, used to see him in here round about closing time. Bit of a nighthawk, if you ask me.'

'Like yourself, Big?'

'And your good self, too, I seem to remember.'

'Pipe and slippers these days, Big,' Rebus told him. 'Cocoa and in bed by ten.'

'Can't see it somehow. Guess who I bumped into the other day -our old friend Cafferty. How come you never managed to put him away?'

'We got him a couple of times, Big.'

Podeen wrinkled his nose. 'A few years here and there. He always seemed to get back off the canvas, though, didn't he?' Podeen's eyes met Rebus again. 'Word is, you're for the gold watch. Not a bad heavyweight career, Mr Rebus, but that's what they'll always say about you…'

'What?'

'That you lacked the knockout punch.' Podeen lifted his whisky glass. 'Anyway, here's to the twilight years. Maybe we'll start seeing you in here more often. Then again, most of the pubs in this city, you'd have to keep your back to the wall – plenty of grudges, Mr Rebus, and once you're not the law any more…' Podeen gave a theatrical shrug.

'Thanks for cheering me up, Big.' Rebus glanced towards the flyer. 'Did you ever talk to him?' Podeen made a face and shook his head. 'Anyone else in here we should be asking?'

'He used to stand at the bar, as near the door as possible. It was the drink he liked, not the company.' He paused for a moment.

“You've not asked me about Cafferty.'

'Okay, what about him?'

'He said to say hello.'

Rebus stared him out. 'Is that it?'

'That's it.'

'And where did this earth-shattering exchange take place?'

'Funnily enough, just across the road. I bumped into him as he was coming out of the Caledonian Hotel.'

Which was their next destination. The vast pink-hued edifice had two doors. One led into the hotel's reception area and boasted a doorman. The other took you directly into the bar, which was open to residents and waifs alike. Rebus decided he was thirsty and ordered a pint. Clarke said she'd stick to tomato juice.

'Been cheaper across the road,' she commented.

'Which is why you're paying.' But when the bill came, he slapped a five-pound note on it, hoping for change.

Tfour chum in Mather's was right, wasn't he?' Clarke ventured.

'When I go out for the night, I always keep watch on who's coming and going, just in case I see a face I know.'

Rebus nodded. 'Number of villains we've put away, stands to reason some of them are back on the street. Just make sure you frequent a better class of watering-hole.'

'Like this place, for instance?' Clarke looked around her. 'What do you think Todorov would see in it?'

Rebus thought for a moment. 'Not sure,' he conceded. 'Maybe just a different sort of vibe.'

“Vibe?' Clarke echoed with a smile.

'Must've picked that up from you.'

'I don't think so.'

'Tibbet then. Anyway, what's wrong with it? It's a perfectly decent word.'

'It just doesn't sound right, coming from you.'

'Should have heard me in the sixties.'

'I wasn't born in the sixties.'

'Don't keep reminding me.' He'd downed half his drink, and

signalled for the barman, flyer at the ready. The barman was short and stick-thin with a shaved head. He wore a tartan waistcoat and tie, and only looked at Todorov's photo for a few seconds before starting to nod, bald pate gleaming.

'He's been in a few times recently.'

'Was he in two nights ago?' Clarke asked.

'I think so.' The barman was concentrating, brow furrowed.

Rebus knew that sometimes the reason people concentrated was to think up a convincing lie. The badge on the barman's waistcoat identified him only as Freddie.

'Just after ten,' Rebus prompted. 'He'd already had a few drinks.'

Freddie was nodding again. 'Wanted a large cognac'

'He just stayed for one?'

'I think so.'

'Did you speak to him?'

Freddie shook his head. 'But I know who he is now – I saw about it on the news. What a hellish thing to happen.'

'Hellish,' Rebus agreed.

'Did he sit at the bar?' Clarke asked. 'Or was he at a table?'

'The bar – always the bar. I knew he was foreign, but he didn't act like a poet.'

'And how do poets act, in your experience?'

'What I mean is, he just sat there with a scowl on his face. Mind you, I did see him writing stuff down.'

'The last time he was in?'

'No, before that. Had a wee notebook he kept taking from his pocket. One of the waitresses thought maybe he was an undercover inspector or doing a review for a magazine. I told her I didn't think so.'

'The last time he was here, you didn't see the notebook?'

'He was talking to somebody.'

'Who?' Rebus asked.

Freddie just shrugged. 'Another drinker. They sat pretty much where you two are.' Rebus and Clarke shared a look. 'What were they talking about?'

'Pays not to eavesdrop.'

'It's a rare bartender who doesn't like to listen in on other people's conversations.'

“They might not have been talking in English.'

What then – Russian?' Rebus's eyes narrowed.

'Could be,' Freddie seemed to concede.

'Got any cameras in here?' Rebus was looking around him.

Freddie shook his head.

'Was this other drinker male or female?' Clarke asked.

Freddie paused before answering. 'Male.'

'Description.'

Another pause. 'Bit older than him… stockier. We dim the lights at night, and it was a busy session…' He shrugged an apology.

“You're being a great help,' Clarke assured him. 'Did they talk for long?' Freddie just shrugged again. 'They didn't leave together?'

'The poet left on his own.' Freddie sounded confident about this at least.

'Don't suppose cognac comes cheap in here,' Rebus commented, taking in his surroundings.

'Sky's the limit,' the barman admitted. 'But when you've a tab running, you tend not to notice.'

'Not until your bill's handed to you at checkout,' Rebus agreed.

'Thing is, though, Freddie, our Russian friend wasn't a resident here.' He paused for effect. 'So whose tab are we talking about?'

The barman seemed to realise his mistake. 'Look,' he said, 'I don't want to get into trouble…'

Tou certainly don't want to get into trouble with me,' Rebus confirmed. 'The other man was a guest?'

Freddie looked from one detective to the other. 'I suppose so,' he said, seeming to deflate. Rebus and Clarke locked eyes.

'If you were here from Moscow on a business trip,' she said quietly, 'maybe some kind of delegation… which hotel would you stay at?'

There was only one way to answer that, but through in reception the staff said they couldn't help. Instead, they called for the duty manager, and Rebus repeated his question.

'Any Russian businessmen bunking here?'

The duty manager was studying Rebus's warrant card. When he handed it back, he asked if there was a problem.

'Only if your hotel continues to obstruct me in a murder inquiry,'

Rebus drawled.

'Murder?' The duty manager had introduced himself as Richard Browning. He wore a crisp charcoal suit with a checked shirt and lavender tie. Colour flooded his cheeks as he repeated Rebus's word.

'A man left the bar here a couple of nights back, got as far as King's Stables Road, and was beaten to death. Means the last people who saw him were the ones knocking back cocktails in

your hotel.' Rebus had taken a step closer to Richard Browning.

'Now, I can get my hands on your registration list and make sure I interview every single guest – maybe set up a big table next to the concierge desk so that it's nice and public…' Rebus paused. 'I can do that, but it'll take time and it'll be messy. Or…' Another pause.

Tfou can tell me what Russians you have staying here.'

Tou could also,' Clarke added, 'go through the bar receipts and find the names of anyone who paid for a large cognac some time after ten on the night before last.'

'Our guests have the right to their privacy,' Browning argued. 'We only want names,' Rebus told him, 'not a list of whatever porn they've been watching on the film channel.'

Browning stiffened his spine.

'Okay,' Rebus apologised, 'this isn't that sort of hotel. But you do have some Russians staying here?'

Browning admitted as much with a nod. Tou know there's a delegation in town?' Rebus assured him he did. 'To be honest, we only have three or four of them. The rest are spread around the city – the Balmoral, George, Sheraton, Prestonfield…'

'Don't they get along?' Clarke asked.

'Just not enough presidential suites to go round,' Browning sniffed.

'How much longer are they here?'

'A few days – there's a trip to Gleneagles planned, but they're keeping their rooms, saves checking out and checking in again.'

'Nice to have the option,' Rebus commented. 'How soon can we have the names?'

'I'm going to have to talk to the general manager first.'

'How soon?' Rebus repeated.

'I really can't say,' Browning spluttered. Clarke handed him a card with her mobile number.

'Sooner the better,' she nudged him.

'Else it'll be a table by the concierge,' Rebus added.

They left Browning nodding to himself and staring at the floor.

The doorman saw them coming and held open the door. Rebus handed him one of the lurid flyers by way of a tip. As they crossed to Clarke's car – which she'd parked in an empty cab rank – Rebus saw a limo drawing to a halt, the black Merc from the City Chambers and the same figure emerging from the back: Sergei Andropov.

Again, he seemed to sense eyes on him, and returned Rebus's stare for a moment before entering the hotel. The car cruised around the corner and entered the hotel's car park.

'Same driver Stahov had?' Clarke asked.

'Still didn't get a good enough look,' Rebus told her. 'But that reminds me of something meant to ask when we were inside – namely, what the hell is a respectable hotel like the Caledonian doing letting Big Ger Cafferty over its threshold?'

10

They waited until 6 p.m. to do the witness interviews, reckoning there'd be a better chance of finding people at home. Roger and Elizabeth Anderson lived in a detached 1930s house on the southern edge of the city with views to the Pentland Hills. The path leading through the garden to the front door was lit, allowing them to take in the impressive rockeries and an expanse of lawn which could well have been trimmed with nail scissors.

'A little hobby for Mrs Anderson?' Clarke guessed.

'Who knows – maybe she's the high-flyer and he stays at home.'

But when Roger Anderson opened the door he was dressed in his work suit, the tie loosened and top shirt-button undone. He held the evening paper in one hand, and had pushed his reading glasses to the top of his head.

'Oh, it's you,' he said. 'Wondered when you'd get round to us.' He headed back indoors, expecting them to follow. 'It's the police,' he called to his wife. Rebus gave her a smile when she arrived from the kitchen.

'See you've not put the wreath up yet,' he said, gesturing towards the front door.

'She had me throw it in the bin,' Roger Anderson said, using the remote to turn off the TV.

'We're about to sit down to dinner,' his wife pointed out.

This won't take long,' Clarke assured her. She'd brought a folder with her. PCs Todd Goodyear and Bill Dyson had typed up their initial notes. Goodyear's were immaculate, Dyson's riddled with spelling mistakes. 'It wasn't you who actually found the body, was it?' Clarke asked.

Elizabeth Anderson had taken a few more steps into the room,

standing just behind her husband's chair, the chair Roger Anderson was sinking back into without bothering to ask if either detective would like to sit. Rebus, however, was happier standing – it meant he could cruise the room, taking it all in. Mr Anderson had laid his newspaper down on the coffee table next to a crystal tumbler of what smelled like three parts gin to one of tonic.

'We heard the girl screaming,' the man was saying, 'went over to see what was happening. Thought she'd been attacked or something.'

'You were parked…' Clarke pretended to be scouring the notes.

'In the Grassmarket,' Mr Anderson stated.

'Why there, sir?' Rebus broke in.

'Why not there?'

'Just seems a fair walk from the church. You were at a carol service, yes?'

'That's right.'

'Bit early in the year for it?'

'The Christmas lights go on next week.'

'It finished pretty late, didn't it?'

'We had a spot of supper afterwards.' Anderson sounded indignant that any questions at all needed to be asked of him.

'You didn't think to use the multistorey?'

'Closes at eleven – wasn't sure we'd be back at the car by then.'

Rebus nodded. “You know the place then? Know its opening hours?'

'I've used it in the past. Thing is, the Grassmarket doesn't cost anything after six thirty.'

'Got to be careful with the pennies, sir,' Rebus agreed, looking around the large, well-furnished room. 'It says in the notes you work in…?'

'I'm on the staff at First Albannach.'

Rebus nodded again, pretending not to be surprised. Dyson hadn't actually bothered to make a note of Anderson 's profession.

'You're bloody lucky to find me home so early,' Anderson went on. 'Been hellish busy recently.'

'Do you happen to know someone called Stuart Janney?'

'Met him many times… Look, what's any of this got to do with the poor sod who died?'

'Probably nothing at all, sir,' Rebus admitted. 'We just like to build up as full a picture as possible.'

'Another reason we park in the Grassmarket,' Elizabeth Anderson said, voice not much above a whisper, 'is that it's well lit, and there

are always people about. We're very careful that way.'

'Didn't stop you taking a scary route to get there,' Clarke pointed out. 'That time of night, King's Stables Road 's pretty well deserted.'

Rebus was peering at a selection of framed photographs in a cabinet. Tou on your wedding day,' he mused.

'Twenty-seven years ago,' Mrs Anderson confirmed.

'And is this your daughter?' He knew the answer already: half a dozen photos time-lined the girl's life.

'Deborah. She'll be home from college next week.'

Rebus nodded slowly. Seemed to him that the most recent pictures were half hidden behind framed memories of a gap-toothed infant and schoolgirl. 'I see she's been going through a Goth stage.'

Meaning the hair suddenly turning jet black, the heavily kohled eyes.

'Again, Inspector,' Roger Anderson interceded, 'I don't see what possible bearing any of this…”

Rebus waved the objection aside. Clarke looked up from the notes she'd been pretending to read.

'I know it's a stupid question,' she said with a smile, 'but you've had time to think back over everything, so is there anything you can add? You didn't see anyone else, or hear anything?'

'Nothing,' Mr Anderson stated.

'Nothing,' his wife echoed. Then, after a moment: 'He's quite a famous poet, isn't he? We've had reporters on the phone.'

'Best not to say anything to them,' Rebus advised.

'I'd love to know how the hell they got to hear about us in the first place,' her husband growled. 'Is this the end of it, do you think?'

'I'm not sure I understand.'

'Will you lot keep coming back, even though we've nothing to tell you?'

'Actually, you need to come to Gayfield Square to make a formal statement,' Clarke told them. She pulled another of her business cards out of the folder. Tou can call this number first, and ask for DC Hawes or DC Tibbet.'

'What's the bloody point?' Roger Anderson asked.

'It's a murder inquiry, sir,' Rebus responded crisply. 'A man was beaten to a pulp, and the killer's still out there. Our job is to find him… sorry if that inconveniences you in any way.'

Tou don't sound too sorry, I must say,' Anderson grumbled.

'Actually, Mr Anderson, my heart bleeds – apologies if that doesn't always come across.' Rebus turned as if readying to leave,

but then paused. 'What sort of car is it, by the way, the one you need to keep parked where there's plenty of light?'

'A Bentley – the Continental GT.'

'From which I take it you don't work in the mailroom at FAB?'

'Doesn't mean I didn't start there, Inspector. Now if you'll excuse us, I think I can hear our dinner shrivelling on the hob.'

Mrs Anderson put a hand to her mouth in horror, and darted back into the kitchen.

'If it's burnt,' Rebus said, 'you can always console yourself with a couple more gins.'

Anderson decided not to grace this with an answer, and rose to his feet instead, the better to usher the two detectives off the property.

'Did you have a good supper?' Clarke asked casually, slipping the notes back into her folder. 'After the carols, I mean.'

'Pretty good, yes.'

'I'm always on the lookout for a new restaurant.'

'I'm sure you can afford it,' Anderson said, with a smile which suggested the opposite. 'It's called the Pompadour.'

'I'll make sure he's paying.' Clarke nodded towards Rebus.

Tou do that,' Anderson told her with a laugh. He was still chuckling when he closed the door on them.

'No wonder his wife likes the garden,' Rebus muttered. 'Chance for some time away from that pompous prick.' He started down the path, reaching into his pocket for a cigarette.

'If I tell you something interesting,' Clarke teased, 'will you buy me dinner at the Pompadour?'

Rebus busied himself with his lighter, nodding a reply.

'There was a copy of its menu sitting on the concierge's desk.'

Rebus exhaled a plume of smoke into the night sky. 'Why's that then?'

'Because,' Clarke told him, 'the Pompadour is the restaurant at the Caledonian Hotel.'

He stared at her for a moment, then turned back to the door and gave it a couple of thumps with his fist. Roger Anderson looked less than delighted, but Rebus wasn't about to give him the chance to complain.

'Before he was attacked,' he stated, 'Alexander Todorov was drinking in the bar at the Caledonian.'

'So?'

'So you were in the restaurant – you didn't happen to see him?'

'Elizabeth and I didn't go near the bar. It's a big hotel, Inspector…'

Anderson was closing the door again. Rebus thought about wedging a foot in to stop him; probably been years since he'd done anything like that. But he couldn't think of any other questions, so he just kept his gaze on Roger Anderson until the solid wooden door was between them. Even then, he focused on it for a few seconds more, willing the man to open up again. But Anderson was gone. Rebus headed back down the path.

'What do you think?' Clarke asked.

'Let's go talk to the other witness. After that, I'll give you my best guess.'

Nancy Sievewright's flat was on the third storey of a Blair Street tenement. There was an illuminated sign across the street, advertising a basement sauna. Further up the steep incline, smokers were huddled outside a bar and there were a few yips and yells from Hunter Square, where the city's homeless often held court until moved on by the police.

There wasn't much light in the tenement's doorway, so Rebus held his cigarette lighter under the intercom, while Clarke made out the various names. Rented flats and a shifting population, meaning some of the buzzers boasted half a dozen names alongside, with scrawled amendments on peeling bits of gummed paper.

Sievewright's name was just about legible, and when Clarke pressed the button the door clicked open without anyone bothering to check who wanted in. The stairwell was well enough lit, with some bags of rubbish at the bottom and a stack of several years'

worth of unwanted telephone directories.

'Someone's got a cat,' Rebus said, sniffing the air.

'Or an incontinence problem,' Clarke agreed. They climbed the stone steps, Rebus pausing at each level as though studying the various names on the doors, but really just catching his breath.

By the time he reached the third floor, Clarke had already rung the bell. The door was opened by a young man with tousled hair and a week's growth of dark beard. He wore eyeliner and a red bandanna.

You're not Kelly,' he said.

'Sorry to disappoint you.' Clarke was holding up her warrant card. 'We're here to see Nancy.'

'She's not in.' He sounded instantly defensive.

'Did she tell you about finding the body?'

'What?' The young man's mouth fell open and stayed that way.

'You a friend of hers?'

'Flatmate.'

'She didn't tell you?' Clarke waited for a response that didn't come. 'Well, anyway, this is just a back-up call. She's not done anything wrong-'

'So if you'll kindly let us in,' Rebus interrupted, 'we'll try to ignore the smell of Bob Hope wafting into our faces.' He gave what he hoped was an encouraging smile.

'Sure.' The young man held the door open a little wider. Nancy Sievewright's head appeared around her bedroom door.

'Hello, Nancy,' Clarke said, stepping into the hall. There were boxes everywhere – stuff for recycling, stuff to be thrown out, stuff that hadn't made it into the flat's limited cupboard space. 'Just need to check a few things with you.'

Nancy was in the hallway, closing her bedroom door after her.

She wore a short tight skirt with black leggings and a crop top which showed off her midriff and a studded belly button.

'I'm just on my way out,' she said.

Td put another layer on,' Rebus suggested. 'It's perishing.'

'Won't take a moment,' Clarke was reassuring the teenager.

'Where's the best place to talk?'

'Kitchen,' Nancy stated. Yes, because the sweet smell of dope was coming from behind another closed door, probably the living room. There was music, too, something rambling and electronic.

Rebus couldn't place it, but it reminded him a bit of Tangerine Dream.

The kitchen was narrow and cluttered, seemed the flatmates existed on takeaways. The window had been left open a couple of inches, which did little to lessen the smell from the sink.

'Someone's missed their turn to do the washing-up,' Rebus commented.

Nancy ignored him. She had folded her arms and was waiting for a question. Clarke went back into her folder again, bringing out Todd Goodyear's impeccable report and another business card.

'We'd like you to come down to Gayfield Square some time soon,'

Clarke began, 'and give a proper signed statement. Ask for either of these officers.' She handed over the card. 'Meantime, we just want to check a couple of things. You were on your way back here when you found the victim?'

'That's right.'

'You'd been to a friend's in…' Clarke pretended to look at the report. She was expecting Nancy to finish the sentence, but the

teenager seemed to be having trouble remembering. ' Great Stuart Street,' Clarke reminded her. Nancy nodded in agreement. 'What's your friend's name, Nancy?'

'What do you need that for?'

'It's just the way we are, we like as much detail as we can get.'

'Her name's Gill.'

Clarke wrote the name down. 'Surname?' she asked.

'Morgan.'

'And what number does she live at?'

'Sixteen.'

'Great.' Clarke wrote this down, too. 'Thanks for that.'

The living-room door opened and a female face peered out, disappearing again after meeting Rebus's glare.

'Who's your landlord?' Rebus decided to ask Nancy. She gave a shrug.

'I give the rent to Eddie.'

'Is Eddie the one who answered the door?'

She nodded, and Rebus took a couple of steps back into the hall.

On top of one of the cardboard boxes sat a pile of mail. As Clarke asked another question, he sifted through it, stopping at one envelope in particular. In place of a stamp, there was a business frank, and alongside it the name of the company: MGC Lettings. Rebus dropped the letter and listened to Nancy 's answer.

'I don't know if the car park was locked up – what difference does it make?'

'Not much,' Clarke seemed to concede.

'We think the victim was attacked there,' Rebus added. 'He either staggered along to the lane where you found him, or else he was carried there.'

'I didn't see anything!' the teenager wailed. Tears were welling in her eyes, and she had wrapped her arms more tightly around her. The living-room door opened again and Eddie emerged into the hall.

'Stop hassling her,' he said.

'We're not hassling her, Eddie,' Rebus told him. The young man blanched when he realised Rebus now had his name. He held his ground a further moment or two for pride's sake, then retreated.

Why didn't you tell him what had happened?' Rebus asked Nancy.

She was shaking her head slowly, having blinked back the tears.

'Just want to forget all about it.'

'Can't blame you for that,' Clarke sympathised. 'But if you do

remember anything…' She was pointing towards the business card.

'I'll call you,' Nancy agreed.

'And you'll come to the station, too,' Clarke reminded her, 'any time Monday.' Nancy Sievewright nodded, looking utterly dejected.

Clarke threw a glance towards Rebus, wondering if he had any other questions. He decided to oblige.

' Nancy,' he asked quietly, 'have you ever been to the Caledonian Hotel?'

The teenager gave a snort. 'Oh yeah, I'm in there all the time.'

'Seriously, though.'

'What do you think?'

'I'll take that as a no.' Rebus gave a little jerk of his head, signalling to Clarke that it was time to go. But before they did, he shoved open the living-room door. The place was a haze of smoke.

There was no ceiling light, just a couple of lamps fitted with purple bulbs and a row of thick white candles on the mantelpiece. The coffee table was covered with cigarette papers, torn bits of card, and shreds of tobacco. Apart from Eddie, there were three figures sprawled on the sofas and the floor. Rebus just nodded at them, then retreated. 'Do you do anything yourself?' he asked Nancy. 'A bit of blaw maybe?' She was opening the front door.

'Sometimes,' she admitted.

'Thanks for not lying,' Rebus said. There was a girl on the doorstep: Kelly, presumably. She was probably the same age as Nancy, but the make-up would get her into most over-21s nightspots.

'Bye then,' Nancy told the two detectives. As the door closed, they could hear Kelly asking Nancy who they were, along with Nancy 's muffled reply that they worked for the landlord. Rebus gave a snort.

'And guess who that landlord would be?' He watched Clarke give a shrug. 'Morris Gerald Cafferty – as in MGC Lettings.'

'I knew he had a few flats,' Clarke commented.

'Hard to turn a corner in this city and not find Cafferty's pawprints nearby.' Rebus was thoughtful for a moment.

'She was lying,' Clarke stated.

'About the friend she was visiting?' Rebus nodded his agreement.

'Why would she lie?'

'Probably a hundred good reasons.'

'Her stoner buddies, for example.' Clarke was starting back down

the stairs. 'Is it worth trying to talk to someone called Gill Morgan at 16 Great Stuart Street?'

'Up to you,' Rebus said. He was looking over his shoulder towards the door of Nancy Sievewright's flat. 'She's an anomaly, though.'

'How so?'

'Every other bugger in this case seems to use the Caledonian like a home from home.'

Clarke was smiling a little smile as the door opened behind them. It stayed open as Nancy Sievewright padded down the stairs towards them.

'There's something you can do for me,' she said, voice lowered.

'What's that, Nancy?'

'Keep that creep away from me.'

The two detectives shared a look. 'Which creep is that?' Clarke asked.

'The one with the wife, the one who phoned 999…'

'Roger Anderson?' Rebus's eyes had narrowed.

Nancy gave a nervous nod. 'He was round here yesterday. I wasn't in, but he must have waited. He was parked outside when I got back.'

'What did he want?'

'Said he was worried about me, wanted to make sure I was all right.' She was heading back up the steps again. 'I'm done with that.'

'Done with what?' Rebus called, but she didn't answer, just closed the door softly after her.

'Bloody hell,' Clarke whispered. 'What was all that about?'

'Something to ask Mr Anderson. Funny, I was just thinking to myself that Nancy looks a bit like his daughter.'

'How did he get her address?'

Rebus just shrugged. 'It'll keep,' he stated, after a moment's thought. 'I've another little mission for you tonight…'

Another little mission: meaning she was on her own when she met with Macrae in his office. He'd been out to some function or other and was dressed in a dinner jacket and black bowtie. There was a driver waiting outside to take him home. As he sat behind his desk, he removed the tie and undid his top button. He'd fetched himself a glass of water from the cooler and was waiting for Clarke to say something. She cleared her throat, cursing Rebus. His reasoning: Macrae would listen to her. That was the whole of it.

'Well, sir,' she began, 'it's about Alexander Todorov.'

'You've got someone in the frame?' Macrae had brightened, but only until she shook her head.

'It's just that we think there may be more to it than a mugging gone wrong.'

'Oh yes?'

'We've not got much in the way of evidence as yet, but there are a lot of…' A lot of what? She couldn't think of a convincing way of putting it. 'There are a lot of leads we need to follow, and mostly they point away from a random attack.'

Macrae leaned back in his chair. 'This sounds like Rebus,' he stated. 'He's got you in here arguing his corner.'

'Doesn't mean I don't agree with him, sir.'

'Sooner you're free of him the better.' Clarke prickled visibly, and Macrae gave a little wave of apology. 'You know what I mean, Siobhan. How long till he goes? A week… and what happens then?

Will the case be closed by the time he packs his bags?'

'Doubtful,' Clarke conceded.

'Meaning you'II be left with it, Siobhan.'

'I don't mind that, sir.'

Macrae stared at her. 'Reckon it's worth a few more days, this hunch of his?'

'It's more than a hunch,' Clarke stressed. 'Todorov connects to a number of people, and it's a matter of ruling them out rather than ruling anything in.'

'And what if there's less to this than meets the eye? We've been here before with John after all.'

'He's solved a lot of cases in his time,' Clarke stated.

You make a good character witness, Siobhan.' Macrae was smiling tiredly. 'I know John outranks you,' he said eventually, 'but I want you in charge of the Todorov murder. Makes things easier, as he himself would admit.'

Clarke nodded slowly, but said nothing.

'Two or three days – see what you can come up with. You've got Hawes and Tibbet – who else are you going to bring aboard?'

'I'll let you know.'

Macrae grew thoughtful again. 'Someone from the Russian embassy spoke to Scotland Yard… and they spoke to our dear Chief Constable.' He sighed. 'If he knew I was letting John Rebus anywhere near this, he'd have kittens.'

'They make nice pets, sir,' Clarke offered, but Macrae just glowered.

'It's why you're in charge, Siobhan, not John. Is that clear?'

“Yes, sir.'

I'm guessing he's skulking nearby, waiting for you to report back to him?'

Tou know him too well, sir.'

Macrae made a little gesture with his hand, telling her she was dismissed. She wandered back through the CID suite and down to the lobby, where she saw a face she recognised. Todd Goodyear had either finished a shift or was working undercover, dressed as he was in black straight-leg denims and a black padded bomber jacket. Clarke made show of trying to place him.

'The Todorov crime scene? PC Goodyear?'

He nodded, and glanced towards the folder she was still carrying.

“You got my notes?'

'As you can see…' She was playing for time, wondering why he was there.

'Were they all right?'

'They were fine.' He looked keen for a bit more than that, but she just repeated the word 'fine', then asked what he was doing.

Waiting for you,' he owned up. 'I'd heard tell you worked late.'

'Actually, I just got here twenty minutes ago.'

He was nodding. 'I was outside in the car.' He glanced over her shoulder. 'DI Rebus isn't with you?'

'Look, Todd, what the hell is it you want?'

Goodyear licked his lips. 'I thought PC Dyson told you – I'm after a stint with CID.'

'Good for you.'

'And I wondered if you maybe needed someone…” He let the sentence drift off.

With Todorov, you mean?'

'It'd be a chance for me to learn. That was my first murder scene… I'd love to know what happens next.'

'What happens next is a lot of slogging, most of it with nothing to show at the end.'

'Sounds great.' He offered her a grin. 'I write a good report, DS Clarke… I don't miss too many tricks. I just feel I could be doing more.'

'Persistent little sod, aren't you?'

'Let me try to convince you over a drink.' 'I'm meeting someone.'

'Tomorrow, then? I could buy you a coffee.'

'Tomorrow's Saturday, and DCI Macrae hasn't put together a budget.'

'Meaning no overtime?' Goodyear nodded his understanding.

Clarke thought for a moment. 'Why me rather than Rebus? He's the ranking officer.'

'Maybe I thought you'd be a better listener.'

'Meaning more gullible?'

'Meaning just what I said.'

Clarke took another moment to make up her mind. 'Actually, it's me in charge of this case, so let's meet for that coffee first thing Monday morning. There's a place on Broughton Street I sometimes use.' She named it, and a time.

'Thanks, DS Clarke,' Goodyear said. Tou won't regret it.' He held out his hand and they shook on it.

Day Four. Monday 20 November 2006

11

Siobhan Clarke was ten minutes early, but Goodyear was already there. He was in his uniform, but with the same bomber jacket as Friday night covering it and zipped to the neck.

'Embarrassed to be seen in it?' Clarke asked.

'Well, you know what it's like…'

She did indeed. Long time since she'd worn a constabulary uniform, but the job was still something you didn't always readily own up to. Parties she'd been to, people always seemed a bit less comfortable once they knew what she did for a living. It was the same on a night out, guys either losing interest or else making too many jokes: going to cuff me to your bedposts? Wait till you see my truncheon.

Don't worry about the neighbours, I'll come quietly, officer…

Goodyear was back on his feet, asking what she'd like. 'They're on the case,' she assured him. Her regular cappuccino was being prepared, so all Goodyear had to do was pay for it and fetch it over.

They were seated on stools at a table by the window. It was a basement, so all they could see was a passing parade of legs at street level. Gusts of rain were blowing in from the North Sea; everyone was hurrying to be somewhere else. Clarke turned down his offer of sugar and told him to relax.

You're not at a job interview,' she said.

'I thought I was,' he replied with a nervy little laugh, showing a line of slightly crooked teeth. His ears stuck out a little bit, too, and his eyelashes were very fair. He was drinking a mug of filter coffee and the crumbs on his plate were evidence of an earlier croissant. 'Good weekend?' he asked.

'Great weekend,' she corrected him. 'Hibs won six-one, and Hearts lost to Rangers.'

'You're a Hibs fan.' He nodded slowly to himself, filing the information away. 'Were you at the game?'

She shook her head. 'It was at Motherwell. I had to content myself with a film.'

'Casino RoyaleT She shook her head. 'The Departed.' They lapsed into silence, until a thought struck Clarke. 'How long were you waiting before I got here?'

'Not too long. Woke up early and thought I might as well…' He took a deep breath. 'To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd find this place, so I left plenty of time. I always err on the side of caution.'

'Duly noted, PC Goodyear. So tell me a bit about yourself.'

'Like what?'

'Anything.'

'Well, I'm guessing you know who my grandad was…' He looked up at her, and she nodded. 'Most people seem to, whether they say as much to my face.'

Tou were young when he died,' Clarke said.

'I was four. But I hadn't seen him for the best part of a year.

Mum and Dad wouldn't take me with them.'

'To the prison, you mean?' It was Goodyear's turn to nod.

'Mum fell apart a bit… She was always highly strung, and her parents thought her a class above my dad. So when his dad ended up in jail, that seemed all the proof they needed. Added to which, my dad always liked drowning his own sorrows.' He offered a rueful smile. 'Maybe some people would be better off never marrying.'

'But then there'd be no Todd Goodyear.'

'God must have had his reasons.'

'Does any of it explain why you joined the police?'

'Maybe – but thanks for not making a straight assumption. So many people have tried spelling it out to me like that. “You're atoning, Todd” or “You're showing not all Goodyears are cut from the same cloth.”'

'Lazy thinking?' Clarke guessed.

'How about you, DS Clarke? What made you become a cop?'

She considered a moment before deciding to tell him the truth. 'I think I was reacting against my parents. They were typical liberal lefties, growing up in the sixties.'

'The only way to rebel was to become the Establishment?'

Goodyear smiled and nodded his understanding.

'Not a bad way of putting it,' Clarke agreed, lifting her cup to her lips. 'What does your brother think of it all?'

Tou know he's been in trouble a few times?'

'I know his name's on our books,' Clarke admitted.

Tou've been checking up on me?' But Clarke wasn't about to answer that. 'I never see him.' Goodyear paused. 'Actually, that's not strictly true – he's been in hospital, and I went to visit him.'

'Nothing serious?'

'He got himself into some stupid argument in a pub. That's just the way Sol is.'

'Is he older than you or younger?'

'Two years older. Not that you'd ever have known it – when we were kids, neighbours used to say how much more mature than him I seemed. They just meant I was better behaved – plus I used to do the shopping and stuff…' He seemed lost in the past for a moment, then shook his head clear. 'DI Rebus,' he said, 'has a bit of history with Big Ger Cafferty, doesn't he?'

Clarke was surprised by the change of subject. 'Depends what you mean,' she said warily.

'It's just gossip among the uniforms. The pair of them are supposed to be close.'

'They detest one another,' Clarke heard herself say.

'Really?'

She nodded. 'I sometimes wonder how it'll pan out…' She was almost talking to herself, because it had crossed her mind often these past few weeks. 'Any particular reason why you're asking?'

'When Sol started dealing, I think he was talked into it by Cafferty.'

'You think or you know?'

'He's never admitted it.'

'Then what makes you so sure?'

'Are cops still allowed to have hunches?'

Clarke smiled, thinking of Rebus again. 'It's frowned upon.'

'But that doesn't stop it happening.' He studied what little was left in his mug. 'I'm glad you've put my mind at rest about DI Rebus. You didn't sound surprised when I mentioned Cafferty.'

'Like you said, I did some checking.'

He gave a smile and a nod, then asked if she wanted a refill.

'One's enough for now.' Clarke drained her cup, taking only a few seconds to make up her mind. “You're based at Torphichen, right?'

'Right.'

'And can they spare you for a morning?' Goodyear's face brightened like a kid at Christmas. 'I'll give them a call,' Clarke went on,

'and tell them I've snaffled you for a few hours.' She wagged a finger in his face. 'Just a few hours, mind. Let's see how we get on.'

“You won't regret it,' Todd Goodyear said.

'That's what you said on Friday – better make sure I don't.'

My case, Clarke was thinking, and my team… and here was her first little bit of recruiting. Maybe it was his naked enthusiasm, reminding her of the cop she'd been, too, once upon a time. Or the notion of rescuing him from his time-serving partner. Then again, with Rebus on the cusp of retirement, a buffer between herself and her remaining colleagues might prove handy…

Being selfish or being kind? she asked herself.

Was it possible for an action to be both?

Roger Anderson had reversed halfway down his drive when he spotted the car blocking the gates. The gates themselves were electric, and had swung open at the push of a button, but there was a Saab on the roadway, stopping him getting out.

'Of all the inconsiderate bloody…' He was wondering which neighbour was responsible. The Archibalds two doors down always seemed to have workmen in or visitors staying. The Graysons across the road had a couple of sons home for the winter from their gap years. Then there were the cold callers and the people dropping leaflets and cards through the door… He sounded the Bentley's horn, which brought his wife to the dining-room window.

Was there someone in the Saab's passenger seat? No… they were in the bloody driving seat! Anderson thumped on the horn a couple more times, then undid his seatbelt and got out, stomping towards the offending vehicle. The window on the driver's side was sliding down, a face peering out at him.

'Oh, it's you.' One of the detectives from last night… Inspector something.

'DI Rebus,' Rebus reminded the banker. 'And how are you this morning, Mr Anderson?'

'Look, Inspector, I do intend coming to your station sometime today…'

'Whenever suits you, sir, but that's not the reason I'm here.'

'Oh?'

'After we left you on Friday, we paid a call to the other witness – Miss Sievewright.'

'Oh yes?'

'She told us you'd been to see her.'

'That's right.' Anderson glanced over his shoulder, as if checking his wife was out of earshot.

'Any particular reason, sir?'

'Just wanted to make sure she hadn't suffered any… well, she'd had a nasty shock, hadn't she?'

'Seems you gave her another one, sir.'

Anderson 's cheeks had flushed. 'I only went round there to-'

'So you've said,' Rebus interrupted. 'But what I'm wondering is, how did you know her name and address? She's not in the phone book.'

'The officer told me.'

'DS Clarke?' Rebus was frowning. But Anderson shook his head.

'When our statements were being taken. Or rather, just after.

I'd offered to run her home, you see. He happened to mention her name and Blair Street both.'

'And you wandered up and down Blair Street looking for a buzzer with her name on?'

'I don't see that I've done anything wrong.'

'In which case, I'm sure you'll have told Mrs Anderson all about it.'

'Now look here…'

But Rebus was starting his ignition. 'We'll see you at the station later… and your good lady wife, too, of course.'

He pulled away with the window still open and left it that way for the first few minutes. This time of the morning, he knew the traffic would be sluggish heading back into town. He'd only had the three pints last night, but his head felt gummy. Saturday he'd watched a bit of TV, rueing another obituary – the footballer Ferenc Puskas.

Rebus had been in his teens when the European Cup Final had come to Hampden. Real Madrid against Eintracht Frankfurt, Real winning 7-3. One of the great games, and Puskas one of the greatest players. The young Rebus had found Hungary, the footballer's home country, in an atlas, and had wanted to go there.

Jack Palance, and now Puskas, both gone for ever. That was what happened with heroes.

So: Saturday night at the Oxford Bar, sorrows drowned, any and all conversations forgotten by the next morning. Sunday: laundry and the supermarket, and news that a Russian journalist called Litvinenko had been poisoned in London. That had made Rebus sit up in his chair, increasing the volume on the TV. Gates and Curt had joked about poisoned umbrella tips, but here was

the real-life equivalent. One theory was that a meal in a sushi restaurant had contained the poison, the Russian mafia to blame.

Litvinenko was in hospital under armed guard. Rebus had decided against calling Siobhan; it was just a coincidence after all. He'd been agitated, waking each morning to dread. His last weekend as a serving officer; his last week now beginning. Siobhan had done all right on Friday night, and had even looked a little bit sheepish when explaining that Macrae wanted her spearheading the case.

'Makes sense to me,' was all Rebus had said, getting in the drinks. He thought he knew the way Macrae would be thinking.

Less to this than meets the eye… That was the way Siobhan said he had put it. But it would keep Rebus occupied until retirement day, after which Siobhan would be persuaded to return to route one: a mugging gone wrong.

'Makes sense to me,' he repeated now, heading down a rat run.

Ten minutes later, he was parking at Gayfield Square. No sign of Siobhan's car. He went upstairs and found Hawes and Tibbet seated together at the same desk, staring at the mute telephone.

'No joy?' Rebus guessed.

'Eleven calls so far,' Hawes said, tapping the notepad in front of her. 'One driver who exited the car park at nine fifteen on the night in question and therefore had nothing at all to tell us but wanted to chat anyway.' She glanced up at Rebus. 'He enjoys hill-walking and jogging, if you're interested.' Without bothering to look, she could sense Tibbet grinning beside her, and gave him an elbow in the ribs.

'He was on the phone to Phyl for half an hour,' Tibbet added after stifling a grunt.

'Who else have we got?' Rebus asked.

'Anonymous cranks and practical jokers,' Hawes replied. 'And one guy we're hoping will call back. He started talking about a woman hanging around on the street, but the line went dead before I could get any details.'

'Probably just saw Nancy Sievewright,' Rebus cautioned. But he was thinking: why would Nancy be 'hanging around'? 'I've got a job for the pair of you,' he said, reaching for Hawes's notepad and finding a clean sheet. He jotted down the details of Nancy 's 'friend'

Gill Morgan. 'Go see if this checks out. Sievewright reckons she was on her way home from Great Stuart Street. Even if there's someone by that name living at the address, give them a bit of a grilling.'

Hawes stared at the page. 'You think she's lying?'

'Seemed to have trouble remembering. But she'll probably have primed this pal of hers.'

'I can usually tell when someone's spinning me a line,' Tibbet stated.

'That's because you're a good cop, Colin,' Rebus told him. Tibbet puffed out his chest a little, which Hawes noticed with a laugh.

Tou've just been spun a line,' she pointed out to her partner.

Then, rising to her feet: 'Let's go.' Tibbet followed her sheepishly, pausing in the doorway.

Tfou okay manning the phones?' he asked Rebus.

'It rings, and I pick it up… does that about cover it?'

Tibbet was trying not to scowl as Hawes returned to fetch him.

'By the way,' she said to Rebus, 'if you get bored you can watch the telly – we got hold of that video Siobhan wanted.'

Rebus noticed it lying on the desk. It was marked with the words 'Question Time'.

Tou might learn something,' was the parting shot from the doorway, made by Tibbet rather than Hawes. Rebus was quietly impressed.

'We'll make a man of you yet, Colin,' he muttered under his breath, reaching out to pick up the tape.

12

Charles Riordan wasn't at the studio. The receptionist told them he was spending the morning at home and, when asked, provided them with an address in Joppa. It was a fifteen-minute drive away, and took them past the flat grey waters of the Firth of Forth. At one point, Goodyear tapped the side window.

'Cat and dog home back there,' he said. 'I went once, thinking I'd get a pet. In the end, I couldn't choose… told myself I'd go back some day.'

'I've never had a pet,' Clarke said. 'Find it hard enough taking care of myself.'

He laughed at that. 'Any boyfriends?'

'One or two down the years.'

He laughed again. 'I meant just now.'

She took her eyes off the road long enough to give him a look.

Tfou're trying too hard, Todd.'

'Just nervous.'

'That why you're asking so many questions?'

'No, not at all. I'm just… well, I suppose I'm interested.'

'In me?'

'In everybody.' He paused. 'I think we're put here for a purpose.

Never find out what it is if you don't ask questions.'

'And your “purpose” is to pry into my love life?'

He gave a little cough, face reddening. 'I didn't mean it like that.'

'Back in the cafe, you talked about God's purpose – is this where you tell me you're religious?'

'Well, as a matter of fact, I am. Is there anything wrong with that?'

'Nothing at all. DI Rebus used to be, too, and I've managed to cope with him all these years.'

'Used to be?'

'In that he went to church…' She thought for a moment. 'Actually, he went to dozens of them, a different one every week.'

'Looking for something he couldn't find,' Goodyear guessed.

'He'd probably kill me for telling you,' Clarke warned.

'But you're not religious yourself, DS Clarke?'

'Lord, no,' she said with a smile. 'Hard to be, in this line of work.'

Tou reckon?'

'All the stuff we deal with… people gone bad, hurting themselves and others.' She gave him another glance. 'Isn't God supposed to have made us in his or her image?'

'An argument that might take us the rest of the day.'

'Instead of which, I'll ask if you've got a girlfriend.'

He nodded. 'Her name's Sonia, works as a SOCO.'

'And what did the two of you get up to at the weekend – apart from church, obviously?'

'She had a hen party Saturday, I didn't see much of her. Sonia's not a churchgoer…'

'And how's your brother doing?'

'Okay, I think.'

Tou mean you don't know?'

'He's out of hospital.'

'I thought you said it was a punch-up?'

'There was a knife…'

'His or the other guy's?'

'The other guy's, hence Sol's stitches.'

Clarke was thoughtful for a moment. Tou said your mum and dad fell apart when your grandad went to jail…'

Goodyear leaned back into his seat. 'Mum started on medication.

Dad walked out soon after and hit the bottle harder than ever. There were days I'd bump into him outside the shops and he wouldn't even recognise me.'

'Tough on a young kid.'

'Sol and me mostly stayed with our Aunt Susan, Mum's sister.

House wasn't really big enough, but she never complained. I started going with her to church on Sundays. Sometimes she was so tired, she nodded off in the pew. Used to have a bag of sweets with her, and this one time they slid from her lap and started rolling across the floor.' He smiled at the memory. 'Anyway, that's about all there is to it.'

'Just as well – we're nearly there.' They were heading down Portobello High Street and – a first for Clarke – without being held up by roadworks. Two more minutes and they were turning off Joppa Road and cruising a street of terraced Victorian houses.

'Number eighteen,' Goodyear said, spotting it first. Plenty of kerbside parking – Clarke reckoned most people had taken their cars to work. She pulled on the handbrake and turned off the ignition.

Goodyear was already striding down the path.

'All I need,' she muttered to herself, undoing her seatbelt, 'is a bloody holy-roller…' Not that she meant it: as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew where she'd got them – or at least their sentiment.

John Rebus.

She'd only just reached Goodyear as the door opened, Charles Riordan looking surprised to be face-to-face with a police uniform.

He recognised Clarke however and ushered the two officers inside.

The hallway was lined with bookshelves but no books. Instead, all the available space was taken up with old-fashioned reels of tape and boxes of cassettes.

'Come in if you can get in,' was Riordan's comment. He led them into what should have been the living room but had been fitted out as a studio, complete with acoustic baffling stapled to the walls and a mixing-desk surrounded by more cartons of cassettes, minidiscs and reel-to-reels. Cables snaked underfoot, microphones lay in the dust, and the curtains covering the only window looked half an inch thick.

'Riordan Mansions,' Charles Riordan announced.

'Can I take it you're not married?' Clarke asked.

'Was once, but she couldn't hack it.'

“The equipment, you mean?'

But Riordan shook his head. 'I like to make recordings.' He paused meaningfully. 'Of everything. After a while, it started to get to Audrey.' He slipped his hands into his pockets. 'So what can I do for you today, officers?'

Clarke was looking around the room. 'Are we being taped, Mr Riordan?'

Riordan gave a chuckle and, by way of answer, pointed to a slender black microphone.

'And the other day at your studio?'

He nodded. 'I used DAT. Though these days I'm more into digital.'

'I thought DAT was digital?' Goodyear asked.

'But it's tape – I'm talking about straight to the hard drive.'

'Would you mind turning it off?' Clarke asked, making it sound like the demand it really was. Riordan shrugged and hit a switch on the mixing desk.

'More questions about Alexander?' he asked.

'One or two, yes.'

'You got the CD?'

Clarke nodded. 'Thanks for that.'

'He was a great performer, wasn't he?'

'He was,' Clarke acknowledged. 'But what I really wanted to ask you about was the night he died.'

Tes?'

'After the curry, you said you parted company. You were heading home, and Mr Todorov was going to find a drink?'

'That's right.'

'And you added that it was a toss-up whether he went to Mather's or the Caledonian Hotel – why those two in particular, Mr Riordan?'

Riordan gave a shrug. 'He was going to have to walk past both of them.'

'And a dozen more besides,' Clarke countered.

'Maybe he'd mentioned them to me.'

'You don't remember?'

'Is it important?'

'It could be.' Clarke glanced towards Goodyear. He was playing the game: shoulders back, legs slightly parted, hands clasped in front of him… and saying nothing. He looked official. Clarke doubted Riordan would pay any attention to the prominent ears or the crooked teeth or the eyelashes… all he'd be seeing was a uniform, focusing his mind on the gravity of the situation.

Riordan had been rubbing his chin thoughtfully. 'Well, I suppose he must have mentioned them,' he said.

'But not on the night you met?' Clarke watched Riordan shake his head. 'So he didn't have a rendezvous planned?'

'How do you mean?'

'After you split up, Mr Todorov headed straight for the bar at the Caledonian. He got talking to someone there. Just wondered if it was a regular thing.'

'Alexander liked people: people who'd buy him drinks and listen to his stories and then tell him a few of their own.'

'Never thought of the Caledonian as a place for story-telling.'

'You're wrong – hotel bars are perfect. You meet strangers there, and you spill your life out for the twenty or thirty minutes that you're with them. It's quite incredible what people will tell complete strangers.'

'Maybe because they are strangers,' Goodyear interrupted.

'The constable has a good point,' Riordan said.

'But how do you know this, Mr Riordan?' Clarke asked. 'Can I assume you've done some covert taping in places like the Caledonian?'

'Plenty of times,' Riordan admitted. 'And on trains and buses – people snoring or talking to themselves or plotting the overthrow of the government. Tramps on park benches and MPs at the hustings; ice-skaters and picnickers and love rats on the phone to their mistresses.' He turned to Goodyear. 'My little hobby,' he explained.

'And when did it turn to an obsession, sir?' Goodyear asked politely.

'Some time before your wife left you, I'd imagine.'

The smile fell from Riordan's face. Realising he'd slipped up, Goodyear risked a glance towards Clarke. She was shaking her head slowly.

'Are there any other questions?' Riordan asked coldly.

Tou can't think of anyone Alexander Todorov could have been drinking with at the hotel?' Clarke persisted.

'No.' Riordan was moving towards the door. Goodyear mouthed the word 'sorry' at Clarke as the pair of them followed their host into the hallway.

Back in the car, Clarke told Goodyear not to worry. 'I think we'd had about all we were going to get.'

'All the same, I should have left the talking to you.'

'A lesson learned,' Clarke said, turning the ignition.

13

'What's Sonny Jim doing here?' Rebus asked. He was leaning back in his chair, feet up on the desk, the remote for the video recorder in his hand, having just frozen the TV picture.

'He's on secondment from Torphichen,' Clarke stated. Rebus stared at her, but she refused to make eye contact. Todd Goodyear had his hand stretched out for shaking. Rebus turned his attention to it, but ignored the offer. Goodyear let his arm fall back to his side and Clarke gave a vexed sigh.

'Anything good on the box?' she eventually asked.

'That video you wanted.' Rebus seemed already to have dismissed the new arrival from his mind. 'Come and take a look.' He let the programme run again, but turned the sound most of the way down.

A panel of politicians and pundits was being asked questions by a sawy-looking audience. Large letters on the floor between the two groups spelt out the word EDINBURGH.

'Filmed at The Hub,' Rebus explained. 'I went to a jazz concert there, recognised it straight off.'

You like jazz?' Goodyear asked, only to be ignored.

'Do you see who I see?' Rebus was asking Clarke.

'Megan Macfarlane.'

'Funny she didn't mention it,' Rebus mused. 'When the presenter was doing the introductions, he said she's number two in the SNP and likely to take over when her leader jacks it in. Making her, in the presenter's words, “candidate for president of an independent Scottish state”.'

'And the rest of the panel?'

'Labour, Tories, and Lib Dems.'

'Plus Todorov.' The poet was seated next to the presenter at the

semicircular desk. He seemed relaxed, doodling with his pen on some paper. 'How's he doing?'

'Knows more about politics than I do,' Rebus admitted, 'and seems to have an opinion on everything.'

Goodyear had folded his arms and was concentrating on the screen. Rebus gave Clarke another look, this time achieving eye contact. She shrugged, then narrowed her eyes slightly, warning him off. Rebus turned towards Goodyear.

'You know I helped put your grandad away?'

'Ancient history,' the young man said.

'Maybe so, but if it's going to be an issue, best tell me now.'

'It's not an issue.' Goodyear was still staring at the screen.

'What's the deal with this woman Macfarlane?'

'She's a Scot Nat MSP,' Clarke explained. 'Has a vested interest in us not shaking things up.'

'Because of all the Russian tycoons in town?' Goodyear saw that Clarke was impressed. 'I read the papers,' he explained. 'So Macfarlane had a little chat, but neglected to say that she knew the victim?'

'That's the size of it.' Rebus was showing more interest in the new recruit.

'Well, she's a politician. Last thing she wants is bad PR – and being linked to a murder inquiry probably counts as a negative.'

Goodyear offered a shrug, analysis complete.

The TV show was coming to an end, the dapper presenter announcing that the following week's episode would be coming from Hull. Rebus turned off the tape and stretched his spine.

'Anyway,' he asked, 'where've you two been?'

'Riordan,' Clarke stated, starting to fill him in on the meeting.

Halfway through, Hawes and Tibbet returned and had to be introduced to Todd Goodyear. Hawes had brought cakes for the office, and apologised to Goodyear that there wasn't one left over.

'I don't have a sweet tooth,' he replied with a shake of the head. Tibbet had spent a few months in uniform at Torphichen, just before his promotion to CID, and asked about old colleagues.

Rebus got stuck into his slice of caramel shortbread while Clarke boiled the kettle. She checked, but there was no sign of Macrae.

'Meeting at HQ,' Rebus explained as she placed a mug on his desk. Then, in an undertone: 'Have you cleared the Sundance Kid with him?'

'Not yet.' She glanced over to where Goodyear was chatting

easily with Tibbet and Hawes, and even managing to make them both laugh.

'Bringing a uniform in on a murder case?' He kept his voice low.

'Sure you know what you're doing?'

'DCI Macrae put me in charge.'

'Meaning you're responsible for any and all fuck-ups.'

'Thanks for reminding me.'

'How much do you know about him?'

'I know he's young and he's keen, and he's spent too long hanging around with a dead weight.'

'I hope you're not drawing parallels, DS Clarke.' Rebus slurped from the mug.

'Perish the thought, DI Rebus.' She looked towards Goodyear again. 'I'm just giving him a taster, that's all – couple of days and he'll be back to West End. Besides, Macrae wanted a few more recruits to the cause…'

Rebus nodded slowly, slid from his chair and wandered over, his hand landing on Goodyear's shoulder.

'It was you who took the statement from Nancy Sievewright?' he checked. Goodyear nodded. 'When she said she'd just been passing by, did you get any sort of an inkling?'

The young man thought for a moment, holding his bottom lip between his teeth. 'Not really,' he said at last.

Tfou either did or you didn't.'

'In which case, I didn't.'

Rebus nodded, turning to Hawes and Tibbet. 'What did you get in Great Stuart Street?'

'Gill Morgan does live there, and she knows Nancy Sievewright.'

Rebus stared at Hawes. 'But?'

Tibbet didn't want to be left out. 'But,' he said, 'we got the feeling she was parroting something she'd been told to say.'

Rebus turned back to Goodyear. 'And DC Tibbet can tell when someone's spinning him a line… What does that tell you?'

Goodyear gave his lip another gnaw. 'She's asked a friend to cover for her, because she was lying to us that night.'

'Lying to you,' Rebus corrected him, 'and you didn't even know it.'

Having made his point, he seemed to dismiss the constable again, turning to Hawes and Tibbet. 'What's Morgan like?'

Hawes: 'Lives in a nice flat… doesn't seem to be sharing with anyone.'

'Just her name on the door,' Tibbet added.

'Works as a model, so she says. But no jobs today. If you're asking me, though, she's got credit at the Bank of Mum and Dad.'

'Different league from Sievewright,' Rebus commented, waiting for Clarke to nod agreement. 'So how do they know one another?'

Hawes and Tibbet seemed at a loss. Rebus made a tutting sound, a teacher whose star pupils had eventually slipped up.

'I think they just know each other socially,' Tibbet blurted out.

Rebus glared at him. 'Attend the same regattas, you mean?'

Hawes felt compelled to come to her partner's defence. 'She wasn't that posh.'

'Just making a point, Phyl,' Rebus told her.

'Maybe we should bring her in,' Clarke suggested.

“Your call, Shiv,' Rebus reminded her. “You're the one Macrae's put in charge.'

This was news to Hawes and Tibbet; news to Goodyear, too, by the look of it. He was studying Rebus as though wondering how a sergeant could suddenly outrank an inspector. The ringing phone broke the silence. Rebus, being closest, picked it up.

'Todorov inquiry, DI Rebus speaking.'

'Oh… hello.' The voice was male and tremulous. 'I called earlier…'

Rebus caught Hawes's eye. 'About a woman, sir? We appreciate you taking the trouble to phone back.'

Tes, well…'

'So what is it I can do for you, Mr…?'

'Do I have to give my name?'

'This can be as confidential as you like, sir, but a name would be nice.'

'By “confidential” you mean…?'

7 mean spit it out! Rebus wanted to yell into the receiver. But instead he kept his voice level and pleasant, thinking of something he'd once been told: sincerity is everything – when you can fake that, the sky's the limit.

'Well, all right then,' the caller was saying, 'my name's-' He broke off again. 'I mean, you can call me George.'

'Thank you, George.'

'George Gaverill.'

'George Gaverill,' Rebus repeated, watching Hawes add the name to her notepad. 'Now what is it you'd like to say, George? My colleague mentioned something about a woman…'

¦Yes.'

'And you're calling because you saw our flyers at the car park?'

'On the sandwich board outside the car park,' the man corrected Rebus. I'm sure it's nothing. I mean, I saw it on the news… the poor guy was mugged, wasn't he? I don't think she could have done it.'

“You're probably right, sir. All the same, we try to gather up as much information as we can, helps us build a picture.' Rebus was rolling his eyes. Clarke made a circular motion with her finger: keep him talking.

'I wouldn't want my wife to think it was anything other than what it actually was,' Gaverill was saying.

'Absolutely. So this woman, sir…?'

'The night that man was murdered-' The voice broke off abruptly and Rebus thought he'd lost him. But then he heard breathing on the line. 'I was walking along King's Stables Road…'

'What time was this?'

'Ten… maybe ten fifteen.'

'And there was a woman?'

Tea.'

'I'm with you so far, sir.' Rebus rolled his eyes again.

'She propositioned me.'

It was Rebus's turn to pause. 'By which you mean…?'

'Just what I say: she wanted to have sex, though she put it rather more crudely.'

'And this was on King's Stables Road?'

Yes.'

'Near the car park?'

'Outside the car park, yes.'

'A prostitute?'

. 'I suppose so. I mean, it's not every day something like that happens – not to me, at any rate.'

'And what did you say to her, sir?'

'I turned her down, naturally.'

'And this was around ten or quarter past?'

'Something like that, yes.'

Rebus shrugged, letting the others know he wasn't sure what he was getting. He really wanted a description, but it would be easier face to face. Moreover, Gaverill's eyes would tell Rebus whether he i was dealing with just another crank.

'Is there any way,' he began quietly, 'I could persuade you to come to the station? I can't stress how vital your information might be.'

'Really?' Gaverill perked up for a moment, but only a moment.

'My wife, though… I couldn't possibly…'

“You could make some excuse, I'm sure.'

'Why do you say that?' the man barked suddenly.

'I just thought…' But the line had gone dead. Rebus cursed under his breath and dropped the phone back on to the desk. 'In the movies, someone would have traced the call.'

'I've never heard of a sex worker operating from that street or anywhere near,' Clarke commented sceptically.

'Sounded genuine enough,' Rebus felt bound to counter.

'Reckon Gaverill's his real name?'

'I'd put money on it.'

'Then we look him up in the phone book.' Clarke turned to Hawes and Tibbet. 'Get on to it.'

They got on to it, while Rebus tapped the phone, willing it to ring again. When it did, he snatched the receiver up.

'I shouldn't have done that,' Gaverill was saying. 'It was rude of me.'

'Don't blame you for being a little cautious, sir,' Rebus assured him. 'We were just hoping you'd phone again. This is one of those cases where we're desperate for a break of some kind.'

'But she wasn't a mugger or anything.'

'Doesn't mean she didn't see something. We reckon the victim was attacked just before eleven. If she was in the area…'

Tes, I see what you mean.'

Hawes and Tibbet had done the deed. A piece of paper was waved under Rebus's nose: phone number and address for George Gaverill.

'Tell you what,' Rebus said into the phone, 'this call must be costing you money. Let me ring you back – are you on the 229 number?'

“Yes, but I don't want…' The rest of the sentence died with a gurgle in Gaverill's throat.

'Now then,' Rebus said, a little more steel in his voice, 'we either come round to question you at your home, Mr Gaverill, or you come and see us here at Gayfield Square – which is it to be?'

Sounding like a chastened child, Gaverill told Rebus to give him half an hour.

But before Gaverill arrived, there were three other visitors. Roger and Elizabeth Anderson were first. And after Hawes and Tibbet

had taken them to an interview room, Nancy Sievewright turned up. Rebus asked the front desk to put her in one of the spare rooms – 'but not IR3' – and give her a cup of tea.

'Don't want her seeing Anderson,' he explained to Clarke.

She nodded. 'We need to talk to Anderson anyway, see what he says to Nancy 's story.'

'Already done,' Rebus admitted. Her gaze hardened, but all he did was shrug. 'Happened to be out that way this morning, thought I might as well ask him about it.'

'What did he say?'

'He was worried about her. Got her name and address from…'

Rebus turned towards Todd Goodyear. 'Wasn't you, was it?'

'Must've been Dyson,' Goodyear said.

'That's what I thought. Anyway, I've warned him off.' He seemed to think for a moment, then asked Clarke if she wanted to take Goodyear with her and get Sievewright's formal statement.

'Part of Todd's learning curve,' he argued.

Tfou're forgetting one thing, John – I'm in charge.'

'Only trying to be helpful.' Rebus had stretched his arms, all innocence.

'Thanks, but I'd rather hear what GaveriU's got so say.'

'I get the feeling he'll be easily intimidated. He trusts me now, but when he comes up against three of us…' He started to shake his head. 'Don't want him clamming up again.'

'Let's wait and see,' was all Clarke said. Rebus gave another shrug and wandered over to the window.

'Meantime,' he said, 'want to hear my theory?'

Tour theory of what?'

“Why he's so sweaty about his wife finding out.'

'Because,' Goodyear piped up, 'she'll think he accepted the offer.'

But Rebus was shaking his head. 'Quite the reverse, young Todd.

Would DS Clarke like to hazard a guess?'

'Slay us with an insight,' she said instead, folding her arms.

“What else is there on King's Stables Road?' Rebus asked.

'Castle Rock,' Goodyear offered.

'And?'

'A churchyard,' Clarke added.

'Exactly,' Rebus said. 'And on the corner of that churchyard you'll find an old lookout tower. It was used a couple of centuries back to keep watch for body-snatchers – and to my mind they should put it back into use. Dodgy place at night, that churchyard…' He let his words hang in the air.

'Gaverill's gay,' Clarke speculated, 'and his wife doesn't know it?'

Rebus shrugged but seemed pleased that she'd reached the same conclusion as him.

'So he was hardly going to take up the woman's offer,' Goodyear continued, nodding to himself.

At which point the phone buzzed. It was the front desk, letting them know George Gaverill was waiting for them.

They'd already decided that he should be brought to the CID suite – just that little bit more welcoming than an interview room.

But first Rebus shook him warmly by the hand and led him along the corridor to IR2, where he asked him to put his eye to the peephole.

'See the young woman?' Rebus asked quietly.

“Yes,' Gaverill whispered back.

'She the one?'

Gaverill turned towards him. 'No,' he stated. Rebus stared at the man. Gaverill was about five and a half feet tall, thin-boned and pale-faced with mousy brown hair and some sort of rash on his face. He was probably in his early forties, and Rebus got the feeling the rash could have been with him since his teens.

'Sure?' Rebus asked.

'Fairly sure. This woman was a bit taller, I'd say. Not as young and not as skinny.'

Rebus nodded and led him back the way they'd come, before climbing the stairs to CID. He shook his head when Clarke made eye contact – no identification. She gave a twitch of the mouth and held up the latest Evening News. There was a photo of the man called Litvinenko; he was attached to wires in his hospital bed and the poison had made him lose his hair.

'Coincidence,' was all Rebus said as Clarke introduced herself to Gaverill.

'Can't thank you enough for coming, sir.'

Goodyear meantime was busy on the phone, taking notes from someone who'd called the hotline and looking less than thrilled.

Clarke had gestured for Gaverill to sit down.

'Can we get you anything?' she asked.

'I just want this over and done with.'

'Well then,' Rebus intervened, 'we'll get straight to business.

Maybe you can tell us in your own words exactly what happened?'

'Like I told you, Inspector, I was on King's Stables Road, around quarter past ten, and there was this woman loitering there, close

to the car park exit. I reckoned she was waiting for someone, but when I was making to pass her, she spoke to me.'

'And what did she say?'

'She asked if I wanted…' Gaverill swallowed hard, his Adam's apple bouncing.

'A fuck?' Rebus offered.

'Exact words,' Gaverill agreed.

'Was any sort of a price mentioned?'

'She told me it was… I think she said “no strings”, something like that. No strings, no comebacks. Said she just wanted a…' But he still couldn't bring himself to say it.

'And this was going to happen right where you stood?' Rebus sounded disbelieving.

'Maybe in the car park…'

'Did she say as much?'

'I don't really remember. I'd started walking away. To be honest with you, I was a bit shocked.'

'I can imagine,' Clarke sympathised. 'What a hellish thing to happen. So can you tell us what she looked like?'

'Well, she was… I'm not sure exactly. About the same height as me… a bit older than the lass downstairs, though I'm not very good at ages – women's ages, I mean.'

'Lots of make-up?'

'Some make-up… and perfume, but I couldn't tell you what kind.'

'Would you say she looked like a prostitute, Mr Gaverill?' Rebus asked.

'Not the kind you see on TV, no. She wasn't dressed provocatively.

She had a coat on with a hood. It was cold that night, don't forget.'

'A coat with a hood?'

'Like a duffel coat maybe… or a bit longer than a duffel…, I'm not terribly sure.' He gave a nervous little laugh. 'I wish I could be more help.'

Tou're doing fine,' Rebus assured him.

'Better than fine,' Clarke added.

To be honest with you,' Gaverill went on, 'when I played it back in my mind, I decided she was probably a wee bit bonkers. I remember one time, there was a woman on the steps of a church by Bruntsfield Links, and she was lying there with her legs in the air, skirt hiked up, and it turned out she'd escaped from the Royal Ed…' He seemed to think some explanation was needed. 'That's where they keep the-'

'Psychiatric patients,' Clarke interrupted him with a nod.

'Well, I was only a bairn when that happened, but I still remember it.'

'Not the sort of thing you'd forget,' Rebus agreed. 'Surprised it didn't put you off women for life.' He gave a laugh so Gaverill would take it as a joke, but Clarke's eyes warned him to go easy.

'Irene's a special woman, Inspector,' Gaverill stated.

'I'm sure she is, sir. Been married a while?'

'Nineteen years – she was the first real girlfriend I ever had.'

'First and last, eh?' Rebus offered.

'Mr Gaverill,' Clarke interrupted, 'would you be willing to do us one further favour? I'd like an identification officer to work with you on a composite of the woman's face. Do you think that might be possible?'

'Right now?' Gaverill checked his watch.

'Soon as possible, while the memory's still fresh. We could have someone here in ten or fifteen minutes…' Meaning half an hour.

'Meant to ask, Mr Gaverill,' Rebus butted in, 'what's your line of work?'

'Auctions,' Gaverill told him. 'I pick stuff up and sell it on.'

'Flexible hours,' Rebus argued. “You can always explain to Irene that you were with a punter.'

Clarke gave a little cough, but Gaverill hadn't read anything into Rebus's words. 'Ten minutes?' he asked.

'Ten or fifteen,' Clarke assured him.

Lunchtime sandwiches: they'd given their orders to Goodyear, Rebus stressing that it was all part and parcel of the training. Roger and Elizabeth Anderson had gone home; so had Nancy Sievewright.

Hawes and Tibbet had gleaned nothing new from either interview.

Rebus was studying the computer image of a woman's face. Gaverill had insisted that most of it be left in shadow, the hood pulled low over the forehead.

'Nobody we know,' Clarke said, not for the first time. Gaverill had just left, and not in the best of moods – it had taken almost an hour for the ID expert, with the help of his laptop, printer and software, to put together the e-fit.

'Could be anybody,' Rebus said in response to Clarke's statement.

'Still… let's say she was there, whoever she is.'

Tou buy Gaverill's story?'

Tou mean you don't?'

'He seemed genuine to me,' Goodyear piped up, before quickly adding: 'for what it's worth.'

Rebus gave a snort and dumped the remains of his filled roll into the bin, brushing his shirt free of crumbs.

'So now,' Hawes added, 'we've got a woman trying to lure men into the car park to have quick, meaningless sex with her?' She paused. 'I can see where Siobhan has a problem.'

'Tends not to happen too often,' Clarke agreed, 'unless the boys know different?'

Rebus looked to Tibbet and Tibbet looked to Goodyear; none of them said anything.

'A hooker, then,' Tibbet decided to offer.

'Sex worker,' Rebus corrected him.

'But the Andersons and Nancy Sievewright walked right past the car park and didn't see a woman in a hood.'

'Doesn't mean she wasn't there, Colin,' Rebus pointed out.

'There's a term for it, isn't there?' Goodyear asked. 'When a woman sets a man up…'

'Honey trap,' Rebus told him. 'So are we back to the mugging theory again? It's not an MO I've come across – not in Edinburgh.

And here's another thing – forensics say Todorov had had sex that day.'

The room was quiet for a moment as they tried to untangle the various threads. Clarke sat with her elbows on the desk, face in her hands. Eventually she looked up.

'Is there anything at all stopping me from coming to the obvious conclusion, and taking that conclusion to DCI Macrae? Victim was robbed, beaten, left for dead.' She nodded towards the e-fit. 'And here's the only suspect we have.'

'So far,' Rebus cautioned. 'But Macrae said we've got a few days to keep digging, so why not use them?'

'And dig where exactly?'

Rebus tried to think of an answer, but gave up. He gestured for Clarke to follow him into the corridor, Hawes and Tibbet looking hurt by the snub. Rebus paused at the top of the stairs. Clarke was approaching, arms folded.

'Are you sure,' Rebus asked her, 'that Phyl and Col are okay with Goodyear suddenly appearing on the team?'

'How do you mean?'

'I mean he's not one of us.'

She stared at him. 'I don't think they're the ones with the

problem.' She paused before continuing. 'Do you remember your first day in CID?'

“Vaguely.'

'I remember mine like it was yesterday. The way everybody kept saying I was “fresh meat”, I thought they were vampires.' She unfolded her arms, rested her hands on her hips. Todd wants that taste of CID, John.'

'Sounds like he's got his teeth into you at any rate.'

Her smile became a scowl, but the thought of vampires had given Rebus a notion. 'Might be a long shot,' he said, 'but the guard at the car park said something about one of the bosses, the only one that ever went near the place. He called her the Reaper. Want to know why?'

'Okay then, why?' Clarke was determined not to be placated.

'On account,' Rebus told her, 'of the hood she always wears.'

14

Gary Walsh was in the car park's security shack, having relieved Joe Wills about an hour before. With the jacket of his uniform undone and his shirt tieless, he looked fairly relaxed.

'Money for old rope, this,' Rebus teased him as he knocked on the half-open door. Walsh slid his feet from the tabletop and pulled out his earphones, turning off the CD player. 'What're you listening to?'

'Primal Scream.'

'And what would you have done if I'd been one of the bosses?'

'Reaper's the only one we ever see.'

'So you said… Anyone told her about the murder?'

'She got it from a reporter.'

'And?' Rebus was studying a newspaper next to the radio: that afternoon's Evening News with the crossword already done.

Walsh just shrugged. 'Wanted to see the blood.'

'She sounds lovely.'

'She's all right.'

'Got a name for her?'

Walsh was studying him. Tou nicked anybody yet?'

'Not yet.'

What do you want to talk to Cath for?'

'That's her name – Cath?'

'Cath Mills.'

'Does she look anything like this?'

Walsh took the picture of the hooded woman from Rebus and stared at it unblinkingly, then shook his head.

'Sure?' Rebus said.

'Nothing like her.' Walsh handed the picture back. Who's it supposed to be?'

'Witness saw a woman hanging around outside on the night Todorov was murdered. It's a question of ruling people out.'

'Well, you can rule the Reaper out straight away – Cath wasn't here that night.'

'All the same, I'll take her phone number.'

Walsh pointed to a corkboard behind the door. 'It's up there.'

Rebus started jotting down the mobile number. 'How often does she drop by?'

'Maybe a couple of times a week – once on Joe's shift, once on mine.'

'Ever had trouble with the local prossies?'

'Didn't know there were any.'

Rebus was closing his notebook when the buzzer sounded. Walsh was looking at one of the monitors: a driver was out of his car and standing at the exit barrier.

'Is there a problem?' Walsh asked into the microphone.

'Bloody thing's just chewed up my ticket.'

Walsh rolled his eyes for Rebus's benefit. 'Been doing that a lot,'

he told him. He pushed a button and the barrier started to rise, the driver getting back behind his steering wheel without so much as a 'thanks' or 'goodbye'.

'Going to have to close that exit,' Walsh muttered, 'till they come and fix it.'

'Never a dull moment, eh?'

Walsh gave a snort. 'This woman,' he said, rising to his feet, 'reckon she had anything to do with it?'

'Why do you ask?'

Walsh was buttoning his uniform. Tou don't get many women muggers, do you?'

'Not many,' Rebus conceded.

'And it was a mugging? I mean, papers say the guy's pockets were emptied.'

'Looks that way.' Rebus paused for a moment. Tou lock up at eleven, right?'

'Right.'

'That's pretty much when the body was found.'

'Oh aye?'

'But you didn't see anything?'

'Nothing.'

'You'd have driven right past Raeburn Wynd.'

Walsh just shrugged. 'I didn't see anything and I didn't hear anything. I certainly didn't see a woman in a cloak. Probably have

scared the life out of me, with that graveyard across the road…'

He broke off, brow furrowing.

'What is it?' Rebus asked.

'Probably nothing – just thinking about those ghost tours they do… dressing up in costumes, putting a fright on the tourists…'

'I don't think our mystery woman was in that sort of game.' But Rebus knew what he meant. You saw them at night, wandering up and down the Royal Mile: guides dressed as vampires or Godknew-what.

'Besides, I've never heard of them doing walking tours down here.'

'Cemetery's not safe enough,' Walsh agreed, ready to leave the kiosk. He'd picked up a glossy plastic sign with the words OUT OF ORDER on it. Rebus preceded him out.

'Ever get any hassle from that quarter?' Rebus asked.

'Couple of junkies wanting a handout… If you ask me, they beat that poor bugger up in the stairwell last year.'

Tour colleague told me about that – never solved?'

Walsh gave a snort, which was all the answer Rebus needed.

'Any idea which station did the investigating?'

'It was before I started here.' Walsh's eyes narrowed. 'Is it because this guy's foreign, or because he's a bigwig?'

'Not sure I get you.' They were heading down the ramp towards the exit level.

'Is that why you're spending so much time on it?'

'It's because he was murdered, Mr Walsh,' Rebus stated, getting out his mobile.

Megan Macfarlane had been to some meeting in Leith. Roddy Liddle said she could probably manage ten minutes at the Starbucks just uphill from the Parliament, so that was where Clarke and Todd Goodyear were waiting. Goodyear was drinking tea, while Clarke's own Americano had come with the requested extra shot of espresso. She'd also splashed out on two slices of carrot cake, though Goodyear had tried paying.

'My treat,' she'd insisted. Then had asked at the till for a receipt, just in case she could finesse it as an expense. They sat at a table near the window, with a view of the darkening Canongate. 'Daft place to put a parliament,' she commented.

'Out of sight, out of mind,' Goodyear offered.

She smiled at that, and asked him what he thought of CID so far. He considered for a moment before answering.

'I like that you've kept me on.'

'So far,' she warned.

'And you seem to click as a team -1 like that, too. The case itself…'

His voice drifted off.

'Spit it out.'

'I think maybe all of you – and this isn't a criticism – are a little bit in thrall to DI Rebus.'

'Can you be a “little bit” in thrall?'

'You know what I mean, though… he's old, experienced, seen a lot of action down the years. So when he has hunches, you tend to follow them.'

'It's just the way some cases go, Todd – you drop a pebble in water, and the ripples start to spread.'

'But it's not like that at all, is it?' He pulled his chair closer to the table, warming to his argument. 'It's actually linear. The crime is committed by a person, and the job of CID is to find them. Most of the time, that's pretty straightforward – they feel guilty and hand themselves in, or someone witnesses the crime, or they're already known to us and their prints or DNA give them away.' He paused. 'I get the feeling DI Rebus hates those sorts of case, the ones where the motive's too easy to spot.'

'You barely know DI Rebus Clarke prickled.

Goodyear seemed to sense he'd gone too far. 'All I mean is, he likes things to be complex, gives him more of a challenge.'

'Less to this than meets the eye – that's what you're saying?'

'I'm saying we should keep an open mind.'

'Thanks for the advice.' Clarke's voice was as chilled as the carrot cake. Goodyear stared into his mug and looked relieved when the door opened and Megan Macfarlane approached the table. She was toting about three kilos of ring-binder, which she let clatter to the floor. Roddy Liddle had gone to the counter to order their drinks.

'The hoops we have to go through,' Macfarlane complained. She gave Todd Goodyear a questioning smile and Clarke made the introductions.

'I'm a great fan,' Goodyear told the MSP. 'I admired the stand you took on the tram system.'

Tou wouldn't happen to have a few thousand friends who think the same way?' Macfarlane had collapsed into her chair, eyes staring ceilingwards.

'And I've always supported independence,' Goodyear went on.

She angled her head towards him before turning to Clarke.

'I like this one better,' she commented.

'Speaking of DI Rebus,' Clarke said, 'he's sorry he can't make it along this afternoon. But he was the one who happened to spot your Question Time appearance – we're wondering why you didn't mention it.'

'Is that all?' Macfarlane sounded irritated. 'I thought maybe you'd arrested someone.'

'Did you just meet Mr Todorov that one time?' Clarke persisted.

Tea.'

'So you met at the studio?'

'The Hub,' Macfarlane corrected. 'Yes, we were all due to rendezvous there an hour before recording.'

'I thought it went out live,' Goodyear interrupted.

'Not quite,' the MSP insisted. 'Of course, Jim Bakewell, being a Labour minister, had to turn up fashionably late – floor staff didn't like that, which might explain why he got so little screen time.'

She perked up again at the memory, and gave Liddle a blessing as he arrived with her black coffee and a single espresso for himself.

He dragged a chair over so he could be part of the company, and shook hands with Goodyear.

'Think we'll start to hear rumours, Roddy?' Macfarlane asked, pouring a first sachet of sugar into her drink. The being seen with a uniformed police officer?'

“Very likely,' Liddle drawled, lifting the tiny cup to his mouth.

Tou were saying about Mr Todorov,' Clarke prompted.

'She wants to know about Question Time,' Macfarlane explained to her assistant. 'Thinks I must be hiding something.'

'Just wondering,' Clarke interrupted, 'why you didn't think to mention it.'

'Tell me, Sergeant, have any of the other politicos who shared the stage with the victim come forward with their reminiscences?'

The question didn't seem to require an answer. 'No, because they'd have said much the same as me – our Russian friend necked some wine, crammed a few sandwiches into his face, and said nary a word to us. I rather got the impression he wasn't a great fan of politicians as an overall species.'

'What about after the show?'

'Taxis were waiting… he grunted his goodbyes and left, tucking a spare bottle of wine under his jacket.' She paused. 'How any of this aids your inquiry is a mystery to me.'

“That was the only time you met him?'

'Didn't I just say so?' She looked to her assistant for confirmation. Clarke decided to look at him, too.

'What about you, Mr Liddle?' she asked. 'Did you talk to him at The Hub?'

'I introduced myself – “surly”, I'd have called him. There's usually a non-politician on the show, and there's always a rigorous pre-interview. The researcher who'd talked with Todorov didn't sound too thrilled – you could tell by her notes that he hadn't been forthcoming. To this day, I don't know why they had him on.'

Clarke thought for a moment. Charles Riordan had said that Todorov liked to chat to people, yet the drinker in Mather's had said he hardly uttered a word. And now Macfarlane and Liddle were saying much the same. Did Todorov have two sides to his personality? 'Whose idea would it have been to book him on the show?' she asked Liddle.

'Producer, presenter, one of the crew… I dare say anyone can propose a guest.'

'Could it have been,' Goodyear interrupted, 'a case of sending a message to Moscow?'

'I suppose so,' Macfarlane conceded, sounding impressed.

'How do you mean?' Clarke asked Goodyear.

'There was a journalist killed there a while back. Maybe the BBC wanted people to know you can't stifle free speech so easily.'

'Someone stifled it eventually, though, didn't they?' Liddle added.

'Or we wouldn't be having this conversation. And look at what happened to that poor bloody Russian in London…'

Macfarlane was scowling at him. 'That's exactly the kind of rumour we want to clamp down on!'

'Of course, of course,' he mumbled, busying himself with his already empty cup.

'So, just to recap,' Clarke announced into the silence, 'the two of you saw Mr Todorov at the Question Time recording, but didn't get much of a conversation going. You hadn't met him before, and you didn't see him again afterwards – is that the way you'd like me to phrase it in my report?'

'Report?' Macfarlane fairly barked the word.

'Not for public consumption,' Clarke reassured her. Then, after a moment's beat, she delivered her coup de grace: 'Until the trial, of course.'

'I've already stressed, Sergeant, that we have some influential investors in town, and it might not take much to spook them.'

'But you'd agree, wouldn't you,' Clarke countered, 'that we need to show them how scrupulous and thorough our police force is?'

Macfarlane seemed about to say something to that, but her phone was trilling. She turned away from the table as she answered.

'Stuart, how are things?'

Clarke guessed 'Stuart' might be the banker, Stuart Janney.

'I hope you got them all a booking at Andrew Fairlie?' Macfarlane had got to her feet and was on the move. She headed outside, glancing through the window as she continued her conversation.

'It's the restaurant at Gleneagles,' Liddle was explaining.

'I know,' Clarke told him. Then, for Goodyear's benefit: 'Our economic saviours are staying the night there – nice big dinner and a round of golf after breakfast.' She asked Liddle who would be picking up the tab. 'The hard-pressed taxpayer?' she guessed.

He gave a shrug and she turned back to Goodyear. 'Still reckon the meek will inherit the earth, Todd?'

'Psalm 37, Verse 11,' Goodyear intoned. But now Clarke's own phone was ringing. She picked it up and held it to her ear. John Rebus wanted a progress report.

'Just getting a bit of scripture from PC Goodyear,' she told him.

'The meek inheriting the earth and all of that.'

15

Rebus had only called because he was bored. But within a minute of Clarke answering his call, a black VW Golf was roaring to a kerbside stop outside the car park. The woman who emerged had to be Cath Mills, so Rebus cut the call short.

'Miss Mills?' he said, taking a step towards her. With late afternoon darkness had come biting gusts of wind, scudding in from the North Sea. He didn't know what he'd been expecting 'the Reaper' to be wearing – a full-length cape maybe. But in fact her coat was more like a parka with fur-trimmed hood. She was in her late thirties, tall, with red hair in a pageboy cut and black-rimmed spectacles. Her face was pale and rounded, lips reddened with lipstick. She looked nothing like the picture in his pocket.

'Inspector Rebus?' she assumed, giving a short-lived shake of the hand. She wore black leather driving gloves which she plunged into her pockets afterwards. 'I hate this time of year,' she muttered, checking the sky. 'Dark when you get up, dark when you go home.'

'You keep regular hours?' Rebus asked.

'Job like this, there's always something needs dealing with.' She glowered at the OUT OF ORDER sign next to the nearest exit barrier.

'So were you out and about on Wednesday night?'

She was still looking at the barrier. 'Home by nine, I seem to think. Problem at our facility in Canning Street – shift hadn't turned up. I got the attendant to pull a double, so that was that.'

Slowly, she turned her attention to Rebus. “You're asking about the night the man was killed.'

'That's right. Pity your CCTVs worse than useless… might've given us something to work with.'

'We didn't install it with slaughter in mind.'

Rebus ignored this. 'So you didn't happen to pass here around ten o'clock on the night it happened?'

'Who says I did?'

'No one, but we've a woman matching your description…' Okay, so he was stretching it, but he wanted to see how she would react.

All she did was raise an eyebrow and fold her arms.

'And how,' she asked, 'did you happen to get my description in the first place?' She glanced towards the car park. 'Boys been telling tales out of school? I'll have to see to it they're disciplined.'

'Actually, all they said was that you sometimes wear a hood. A pedestrian happened to spot a woman hanging around, and she was wearing a hood, too…'

'A woman with her hood up? At ten o'clock on a winter's night?

And this is your idea of narrowing the field?'

All of a sudden, Rebus wanted the day to be over. He wanted to be seated on a bar stool with a drink before him and everything else left far behind. 'If you weren't here,' he sighed, 'just say so.'

She thought this over for a moment. 'I'm not sure,' she said at last, drawing the words out.

'What do you mean?'

'Might liven things up, being a suspect in a police case…'

'Thanks, but we get quite enough time-wasters as it is. The worst offenders,' he added, 'we might even prosecute.'

Her face opened into a smile. 'Sorry,' she apologised. 'Been a long, gruelling day; I probably picked the wrong person to tease.'

Her attention was back on the barrier. 'I suppose I should talk to Gary, make sure he's reported that.' She peeled back a glove to look at her wristwatch. 'Just about see me through to the end of play…' She brought her eyes back to Rebus's. 'After which I dare say I can be located in Montpelier 's.'

'Wine bar in Bruntsfield?' It had taken Rebus only a couple of seconds to place it.

Her smile widened. 'Thought you looked the kind who'd know,'

she said.

In the end, he stayed for three drinks – blame the “Third Glass Free' promotion. Not that he was drinking glasses of anything: three small bottles of imported lager, keeping his wits about him. Cath Mills was a pro, her own three drinks adding up to a whole bottle of Rioja. She'd parked her car around the corner,

since she lived in some flats nearby and could leave it there overnight.

'So don't think you can have me for drunk-driving,' she'd said with a wag of the finger.

'I'm walking, too,' he'd answered, explaining that his own flat was in Marchmont.

When he'd entered the bar, assailed by loudspeaker music and office chatter, she'd been waiting in a booth at the back.

'Hoping I wouldn't find you?' he'd speculated.

'Don't want to seem too easy, do I?'

The conversation had mostly been about his job, plus the usual Edinburgh rants: the traffic, the roadworks, the council, the cold.

She'd warned him that there wasn't much of a story to her own life.

'Married at eighteen, divorced by twenty; tried again at thirty four and it lasted all of six months. Should have known better by then, shouldn't I?'

“You can't always have been a parking supervisor, though?'

Indeed not: office job after office job, then her own little consulting business which had plummeted to earth after two and a half years, not helped by Husband Two hoofing it with the savings.

'I was a PA after that but couldn't hack it… bit of time on the dole and trying to retrain, then this came along.'

'My line of work,' Rebus had said, 'I hear people's stories all the time – they always hold back the interesting stuff.'

'Then take me in for questioning,' she'd replied, stretching her arms wide.

Eventually, he'd got her to say a little about Gary Walsh and Joe Wills. She, too, suspected Wills of drinking on the job, but had yet to catch him.

'Being a detective, you could find out for me.'

'It's a private eye you need. Or set up a few more CCTV cameras without him knowing about it.'

She'd laughed at that, before telling the waitress she was ready for her free drink.

After an hour, they were checking their watches and giving little smiles across the table to one another. 'What about you?' she'd asked. 'Found anyone who'll put up with you?'

'Not for a while. I was married, one daughter – in her thirties now.'

'No office romances? High-pressure job, working in a team… I know how it is.'

'Hasn't happened to me,' he'd confirmed.

'Bully for you.' She sniffed and gave a twitch of the mouth. 'I've given up on one-night stands… more or less.' The twitch becoming another smile.

'This has been nice,' he'd said, aware of how awkward it sounded.

“You won't get into trouble for consorting with a suspect?'

'Who's going to tell?'

'Nobody needs to.' And she'd pointed towards the bar's own CCTV camera, trained on them from a corner of the ceiling. They'd both laughed at that, and as she shrugged back into her parka he'd asked again: 'Were you there that night? Be honest now…' And she'd shaken her head, as much of an answer as he was going to get.

Outside, he'd handed her a business card with the number of his mobile on it. No peck on the cheek or squeeze of the hand: they were two scarred veterans, each respectful of the other. On his way home, Rebus had stopped for fish and chips, eating them out of the little cardboard box. They didn't come wrapped in newspaper any more, something to do with public health. Didn't taste the same either, and the portions of haddock had been whittled away. Blame overfishing in the North Sea. Haddock would soon be a delicacy; either that or extinct. He'd finished by the time he arrived at his tenement, pulling himself up the two flights of stairs. There was no mail waiting, not even a utility bill. He switched on the lights in the living room and selected some music, then called Siobhan.

'What's up?' she asked.

'Just wondered where we go from here.'

'I was thinking of going to the fridge for a can of something.'

'Time was, that would have been my line.'

“The times are a-changing.'

'And that's one of mine, too!'

He could hear her laughing. Then she asked how his interview with Cath Mills had gone.

'Another dead end.'

'Took long enough to drive down it.'

'Didn't see the point of coming back to base.' He paused. 'Thinking of reporting me for bad time-keeping?'

'I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. What's the music you're playing?'

'It's called Little Criminals. There's a track on it called “Jolly Coppers on Parade”.'

'Not someone au fait with the police then…'

'It's Randy Newman. There's another title of his I like: “You Can't Fool the Fat Man”.'

'And would the fat man be yourself, by any chance?' 'Maybe I'll keep you guessing.' He let the silence linger for a moment. You're starting to side with Macrae, aren't you? You think we should be concentrating on the mugger file?'

'I've put Phyl and Colin on it,' Clarke conceded.

'You're losing your bottle?'

'I'm not losing anything.'

'Okay, I put that badly… It's good to be cautious, Shiv. I'm not about to blame you for it.'

'Think about it for a second, John. Was Todorov followed from the Caledonian Hotel? Not according to your CCTV wizard. Did a prostitute proposition him? Maybe, and maybe her pimp jumped in with a length of lead pipe. Whatever happened, the poet was in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

'That much we agree on.'

'And getting up the noses of MSPs, Russian tycoons and First Albannach Bank isn't going to get us anywhere.'

'But it's fun, isn't it? What's the point of a job if you're not having fun?'

'It's fun for you, John… it's always been fun for you.'

'So humour me, my last week at work.'

'I thought that's what I was doing.'

'No, Shiv, what you're doing is writing me off. That's what Todd Goodyear is about – he's your number two, same way you used to be mine. You're already starting to train him up, and probably enjoying it, too.'

'Now hang on a sec…'

'And I'm guessing he's also a means to an end – as long as you've got him with you, you don't have to choose between Phyl and Col. '

'With insights like that, it's a wonder you never got further up the ladder.'

'Thing about that ladder, Shiv, each rung you climb there's another arse waiting to be licked.'

'What a lovely image.'

'We all need some poetry in our lives.' He told her he'd see her tomorrow – 'always supposing I'm needed' – and ended the call. Sat there another five minutes wondering if she'd call back, but she didn't. There was something too cheery about Randy Newman's delivery, so Rebus turned off the album. Plenty of darker stuff he

could play – early King Crimson or Peter Hammill, for example – but instead he walked around the silent flat, going from room to room, and ended up in the hallway with the keys to the Saab in his hand.

'Why the hell not?' he told himself. It wasn't as if it would be the first time, and he doubted it would be the last. Wasn't drunk enough for it to be a problem. He locked the flat and headed down the stairwell, out into the night. Unlocked the Saab and got in. It was only a five-minute drive, and took him past Montpelier 's again.

A right-hand turn off Bruntsfield Place, then one more right and he was parking in a quiet street of detached Victorian-era houses.

He'd been here so often, he'd started to notice changes: new lampposts or new pavements. Signs had gone up warning that come March the parking would be zoned. It had already happened in Marchmont; hadn't made it any easier to find a space. A few rubbish skips had come and gone. He'd heard the Polish accents of the workmen. Extensions had been added to some homes, and the garages dismantled in two separate gardens. Plenty of comings and goings during the day, but much quieter in the evening. Practically every house had its own driveway, but cars from neighbouring streets would park up overnight. No one had ever paid attention to Rebus. In fact, one dog-walker had started to mistake him for a local, and would nod and smile or offer a hello. The dog itself was small and wiry and looked less trusting, turning away from him the one time he'd tried crouching down to pat it.

That had been a rare occurrence: mostly he stayed in the car, hands on the steering wheel, window rolled down and a cigarette between his lips. The radio could be playing. He wouldn't even be watching the house necessarily, but he knew who lived there.

Knew, too, that there was a coach-house in the back garden, which was where the bodyguard lived. One time, a car had stopped when it was halfway through the driveway gates. The bodyguard was in the front, but it was the back window which had slid soundlessly down, the better for the passenger to make eye contact with the watching Rebus. The look was a mixture of contempt, frustration, and maybe even pity – though this last would have been imitation.

Rebus doubted Big Ger Cafferty had ever in his adult life felt an emotion like pity for another human being.

Day Five. Tuesday 21 November 2006

16

The air still smouldered, the charred smell almost overpowering.

Siobhan Clarke held a handkerchief to her mouth and nose. Rebus stubbed out his breakfast underfoot.

'Bloody hell,' was all he could think to say.

Todd Goodyear had heard the news first and had phoned Clarke, who was halfway to the scene before she decided to call Rebus.

They now stood on a roadway in Joppa while the fire crew gathered up the spent coils of hose. Charles Riordan's house was a shell, the windowpanes gone, roof collapsed.

'Can we go in yet?' Clarke asked one of the firemen.

'What's the rush?'

'I'm just asking.'

'Talk to the boss…'

Some of the firemen were sweating, rubbing smudges of soot across their foreheads. They'd taken off their oxygen tanks and masks. They were talking among themselves, like a gang after a rumble, debating their roles in the action. A neighbour had brought them water and juice. More neighbours were standing in their doorways or gardens, while onlookers from further afield shuffled and whispered. It was a D Division call and two suits from Leith CID had already asked Clarke what Gayfield Square 's interest (.was.

Witness in a case,' was all she'd told them: no point giving away anything more. The suits hadn't been happy about it, and were now keeping their distance, phones held to their ears.

'Reckon he was at home?' Rebus asked Clarke.

She shrugged. 'Remember what we were talking about last t»ight?'

1.l;31

“You mean the argument we were having? Me reading way too much into Todorov's death?'

'Don't rub it in.'

Rebus decided to play devil's advocate. 'Could be an accident, of course. And hey, maybe we'll find him alive and well at his studio.'

'I've tried calling – no answer as yet.' She nodded towards a kerbside TVR. 'Woman two doors down says that's his car. He parked it last night – she knows it was him because of the noise it makes.'

The TVR's windscreen was shrouded in ash. Rebus watched two more firemen step gingerly over some timbers on their way into what was left of the house. Some of the shelves were still visible in the hallway, though most had been destroyed.

'Fire investigator on his way?' Rebus asked.

'On her way,' Clarke corrected him.

'The march of progress…' An ambulance crew had turned up, too, but were now checking their watches, unwilling to waste much more time. Todd Goodyear came bounding forward, dressed in a suit rather than a uniform. He nodded a greeting at Rebus and started leafing back through his notebook.

'How many of those do you get through a month?' Rebus couldn't help asking. Clarke gave him a warning look.

'I've talked to the neighbours either side of him,' Goodyear reported to Clarke. 'They're in a state of shock, of course – terrified their own houses might be about to explode. They want to get back in and save a few bits and pieces, but the brigade's not having it.

Seems Riordan came home at eleven thirty. After that, not a peep from him.'

'The way he'd soundproofed the house…'

Goodyear nodded enthusiastically. 'Unlikely they'd have heard anything. One of the fire officers says the acoustic baffling was probably part of the problem – it can be incredibly flammable.'

'Riordan didn't have any visitors in the night?' Clarke asked.

Goodyear shook his head. He couldn't help glancing towards Rebus, as if expecting some sort of praise or appraisal.

'You're in mufti,' was all Rebus said.

The constable's eyes swivelled between the two detectives. Clarke cleared her throat before speaking.

'If he's working with us, I thought he'd look less conspicuous…'

Rebus tried staring her out, then nodded slowly, though he knew she was lying. The suit had been Goodyear's idea, and now she was covering for him. Before he could say anything, a red car with flashing light roared into view, stuttering to a halt.

'The fire inspector,' Clarke announced. The woman who emerged from the car was elegant and businesslike, and seemed straight off to have the brigade's attention and respect. Officers started pointing at parts of the smoke-streaked building, obviously giving their side of the story, while the two detectives from Leith hovered nearby.

'Think we should introduce ourselves?' Clarke asked Rebus.

'Sooner or later,' he told her. But she'd already decided and was striding towards the cluster of bodies. Rebus followed, indicating for Goodyear to hang back. The constable seemed reluctant, hopping from pavement to roadway and back again. Rebus had attended plenty of house fires, including one he'd ended up being accused of starting. There'd been a fatality that time, too… Not much fun for the pathologists, when there were victims to be identified. He'd almost burned his own flat down once, as well, falling into a stupor on the sofa with the cigarette hanging from his mouth. He'd woken to smouldering fabric and a plume of sulphurous smoke.

Easily done…

Clarke was shaking hands with the FI. Not everyone looked happy: the firefighters reckoned CID should leave them to get on with it. Natural reaction, and one Rebus could sympathise with.

All the same, he started lighting another cigarette, reckoning it might get him noticed.

'Bloody menace,' one of the brigade dutifully muttered. Mission accomplished. The FFs name was Katie Glass, and she was telling Clarke what happened next: locating any victims; securing breached gas-sources; checking the obvious.

'Meaning anything from a chip pan left on the heat to an electrical fault.'

Clarke nodded along until Glass had finished, then explained about the homeowner's role in an ongoing investigation, aware of Leith CID listening in.

'And that makes you suspect something?' Glass guessed. 'So be it, but I always like to enter a scene with an open mind – preconceptions mean you can miss things.' She moved towards the garden I gate, flanked by firefighters and watched by Rebus and Clarke.

“There's a cafe back in Portobello,' Rebus said, giving a final glance towards the gutted house. 'Fancy a fry-up?'

Afterwards, they headed to Gayfield Square, where Hawes and Tibbet, feeling abandoned, welcomed them with frowns. They soon

perked up at news of the fire and asked if it meant they could put the HMF away. Goodyear asked what that was.

'Habitual Mugger File,' Hawes explained.

'Not an official term,' Tibbet added, slapping a hand against the pile of box files.

'Thought they'd all be on computer,' Goodyear commented.

'If you're applying for the job…?'

But Goodyear waved the offer aside. Clarke was seated at her desk, tapping it with a pen.

'What now, boss?' Rebus asked, receiving a glare for his efforts.

'I need to talk to Macrae again,' she said at last, though she could see his office was empty. 'Has he been in?'

Hawes shrugged. 'Not since we got here.'

'Travel in together?' Rebus asked, all innocence. It was Colin Tibbet's turn to glower at him.

'This changes everything,' Clarke was saying quietly.

'Unless it was an accident,' Rebus reminded her.

'First Todorov, now the man he spent his final evening with…'

It was Goodyear who had spoken, but Clarke was nodding her agreement.

'Could all be a horrible coincidence,' Rebus argued. Clarke stared at him.

'Christ, John, you were the one seeing conspiracies! Now it looks like we've got a connection, you're pouring cold water on it!'

'Isn't that what you do with a fire?' When he saw the blood shooting up Clarke's neck, he knew he'd gone too far. 'Okay, say you're right – you still need to run it past Macrae. And meantime, we wait to hear if they find a body. And supposing they do, we then wait to see what Gates and Curt make of it.' He paused. 'That's what's called “procedure” – you know it as well as I do.' Clarke knew he was right, and he watched as her shoulders relaxed a little and she dropped the pen on to the desk, where it rolled and settled.

'For once John's not wrong,' she told the room, 'much as it galls me to say it.' She smiled, and he smiled back with a little bow from the waist.

'Had to happen once in my career,' he said. 'Better late than never, I suppose.' There were more smiles, and Rebus felt it at that moment. The inquiry had been on the go for days, but only now had everything changed.

Despite the scowls and the sniping, they really were a team.

Which was how Macrae found them when he walked into the CID suite. Even he seemed to sense a change of atmosphere. Clarke

gave him her report, keeping everything simple. The phone rang on Hawes's desk and Rebus wondered if it was another response to their public appeal. He thought again of the prostitute, trying to do business on a no-through-road, and of Cath Mills, stoking up on Rioja. Todorov was attractive to women – and attracted by them, no doubt. Could a stranger have lured him to his doom with an offer of sex? It was straight out of Le Carre…

Hawes was off the phone and advancing towards Rebus's desk.

'They found the body,' was all she needed to say.

Rebus knocked on Macrae's door, relaying the message with a look and a nod. Clarke asked the boss if she could be excused. Back in the main body of the kirk, she asked Hawes for details.

'Male, they think. Under a collapsed section of ceiling in the living room.'

'Meaning the studio room,' Goodyear interrupted, reminding them all that he, too, had been to the producer's home.

'They've got their own team taking photographs and the like,'

Hawes went on. 'Body is on its way to the mortuary.'

To be placed in the Decomposing Room, Rebus didn't doubt. He wondered how Todd Goodyear would react to seeing a crispy one.

We should go there,' Clarke told him. But Rebus was shaking his head.

'Take Todd,' he offered. 'Part of that CID learning curve…'

Hawes was on the phone to CR Studios, giving them the news while confirming that Riordan himself hadn't actually turned up so far that day. Colin Tibbet's task was to chase up Richard Browning at the Caledonian Hotel. How long did it take to go through an evening's worth of bar tabs? If Rebus didn't know better, he'd have said Browning was chancing his arm, hoping CID would forget all about it. When a face appeared around the door, Rebus was the only one not doing anything.

There's someone downstairs,' the desk sergeant said. 'Looking to hand in a list of Russians… could it be the Hearts first team for Saturday?'

But Rebus knew who and what it was: Nikolai Stahov from the consulate; Russian nationals based in Edinburgh. Again, Stahov had taken his time, and Rebus doubted they'd have much use for the list – the landscape had changed since they'd first asked for it. All the same, and for want of anything better to do, he nodded and said he'd be down straight away.

But when he opened the door to the reception area, the man studying the posters on the walls was not Stahov.

It was Stuart Janney.

'Mr Janney,' Rebus said, holding out a hand and trying not to show his surprise.

'It's Detective Inspector…?'

'Rebus,' he reminded the banker.

Janney nodded, as if in apology for not having remembered. 'I'm just handing in a message.' He'd lifted an envelope from his pocket.

'Didn't expect someone of your calibre to be on the receiving end.'

'Likewise, I didn't know you ran errands for the Russian consulate.'

Janney managed a smile. 'I ran into Nikolai at Gleneagles. He happened to find the envelope in his pocket… mentioned he was supposed to bring it in.'

Tou told him you'd save him the trouble?'

Janney gave a shrug. 'No big deal.'

'How was the golf?'

'I didn't play. FAB was giving a presentation, which happened to coincide with the visit by our Russian friends.'

'That is a coincidence. Anyone would think you were stalking them.'

Now Janney laughed, head back. 'Business is business, Inspector, and, lest we forget, good for Scotland.'

'True enough – that why you're keeping in with the SNP, too?

Reckon they'll be running the show next May?'

'As I said at our first encounter, the bank has to stay neutral.

On the other hand, the Nats are making a strong showing.

Independence may be a ways off, but it's probably inevitable.'

'And good for business?'

Janney gave a shrug. 'They're pledging to drop the rate of corporation tax.'

Rebus was examining the sealed envelope. 'Did Comrade Stahov happen to mention what's in here?'

'Russian nationals living locally. He said it's to do with the Todorov case. I can't really see the connection myself…' Janney let the sentence hang, as if ready for Rebus's explanation, but all Rebus did was tuck the envelope inside his jacket.

'How about Mr Todorov's bank statements?' he asked instead.

'Any further forward with them?'

'As I said, Inspector, there are procedures. Sometimes, without the benefit of an executor, the wheels grind slow…'

'So have you done any deals yet?'

'Deals?' Janney seemed not to understand.

'With these Russians I'm supposed to be tiptoeing around.'

'It's nothing to do with “tiptoeing” – we just don't want them getting the wrong idea.'

'About Scotland, you mean? A man's dead, Mr Janney – not much we can do to change that.'

The door next to the reception desk opened and DCI Macrae appeared. He was dressed in coat and scarf, ready to leave.

'Any news on the fire?' he asked Rebus.

'No, sir,' Rebus told him.

'Nothing from the post-mortem?'

'Not yet.'

'But you still think it ties to the poet fellow?'

'Sir, this is Mr Janney. He works for First Albannach Bank.'

The two men shook hands. Rebus hoped his boss would take the hint, but just in case, he added the information that Janney was going to provide details of Todorov's bank account.

'Am I to understand,' Janney said, 'that someone else has died?'

'House fire,' Macrae barked. 'Friend of Todorov's.'

'Gracious me.'

Rebus had extended his own hand towards the banker. 'Well,' he interrupted, 'thanks again for dropping by.'

“Yes,' Janney conceded, 'you must have a lot on your plate.'

'The whole help-yourself buffet,' Rebus acknowledged with a smile.

The two men shook hands. For a moment, it looked as if Macrae and the banker might leave the station together. Rebus didn't like the idea of Macrae spilling any more of the buffet, so told him he needed a word. Janney exited alone, and Rebus waited until the door had closed. But it was Macrae who spoke.

'What do you think of Goodyear?' he asked.

'Seems proficient.' Macrae seemed to be expecting some caveat, but Rebus shrugged his shoulders instead and left it at that.

'Siobhan appears to agree with you.' Macrae paused. 'There'll be a few changes to the team when you retire.'

Tes, sir.'

'I reckon Siobhan's about ready for a step-up to inspector.'

'She's been ready for years.'

Macrae nodded to himself. 'What was it you wanted to speak to me about?' he eventually asked..'It'll keep, sir,' Rebus assured him. He watched the boss head for

the exit and considered stepping into the car park for a smoke. But instead, he headed back upstairs, tearing open the envelope and studying the names. There were a couple of dozen, but no other details – nothing like addresses or a list of occupations. Stahov had been scrupulous to the point of adding his own name at the very bottom – maybe he'd done it for a laugh, knowing the sheet itself was of no possible use to the inquiry. But as Rebus pushed open the door to the CID suite, he saw that Hawes and Tibbet were on their feet, keen to tell him something.

'Spit it out,' he said.

Tibbet was holding out another sheet of paper. 'Fax from the Caledonian. Several of the hotel residents bought brandies at the bar that night.'

'Any of them Russian?' Rebus asked.

'Have a look.'

So Rebus took the fax from him and saw three names staring back at him. Two were complete strangers, but didn't sound foreign.

The third wasn't foreign either, but it sent the blood thrumming in his ears.

Mr M. Cafferty.

M for Morris. Morris Gerald Cafferty.

'Big Ger,' Hawes explained, with no necessity whatsoever.

17

Rebus had only the one question: bring him in, or question him at his house?

'My decision, not yours,' Siobhan Clarke reminded him. She'd been back from the mortuary half an hour and seemed to be nursing a headache. Tibbet had made her a coffee, and Rebus had watched her press two tablets from their foil enclosure into the palm of her hand. Todd Goodyear had thrown up only the once, in the mortuary car park, though there had been another crisis point on the way back to Gayfield Square when they passed some men laying tarmac.

'Something about the smell,' he'd explained.

He now looked pale and shaken, but kept telling everyone he was all right – whether they wanted to hear it or not. Clarke had gathered them round so she could tell them what Gates and Curt had told her: male, five ten, rings on two fingers of the right hand, gold watch on one wrist, and with a broken jaw.

'Maybe a roof beam fell on him,' she speculated. The victim hadn't been tied to any piece of furniture, and neither his hands nor his feet had been bound. 'Just lying in a heap on the living-room floor.

Probable cause of death: smoke inhalation. Gates did stress that these were preliminary findings…'

Rebus: 'Still makes it a suspicious death.'

Hawes: 'Which means it's ours.'

'And ID?' Tibbet asked.

'Dental records, if we're lucky.'

'Or the rings?' Goodyear guessed.

'Even if they belonged to Riordan,' Rebus told him, 'doesn't mean Riordan was the last man wearing them. I had a case ten or

twelve years back, guy being done for fraud tried faking his own death…'

Goodyear nodded slowly, beginning to see.

After which, Rebus divulged his own news, before asking his question.

Clarke sat with the fax in one hand, head resting in the other.

'This,' she said, 'just keeps getting better and better. Then, raising her eyes to meet Rebus's: 'Interview Room 3?'

'IR3 it is,' he said, 'and remember to wrap up warm.'

Cafferty, however, sat with his chair slid back from the table, one leg crossed over the over and hands behind his head, for all the world as if he were in the parlour back home.

'Siobhan,' he said as she walked into the room, 'always a great delight. Doesn't she look businesslike, Rebus? You've trained her to perfection.'

Rebus closed the door and took up position by the wall, Clarke easing herself on to the chair opposite Cafferty. He gave her a little bow, inclining the great dome of his head but keeping the hands where they were.

'I was wondering when you would pull me in,' he said.

'So you knew it was coming?' Clarke had placed a blank pad of paper on the table and was taking the top off her pen.

'With DI Rebus only days away from the scrapheap?' The gangster glanced in Rebus's direction. 'I knew you'd dream up some pretext for giving me grief.'

'Well, as it happens, we've got slightly more than a pretext-'

'Did you know, Siobhan,' Cafferty broke in, 'that John here sits outside my house of an evening, making sure I'm tucked up in bed?

I'd say that level of protection goes somewhat beyond the call of duty.'

Clarke was trying not to be deflected. She placed her pen on the table, but then had to stop it rolling towards the edge. 'Tell us about Alexander Todorov,' she began.

'Say again?'

'The man you bought a tenner's worth of cognac for last Wednesday night.'

'In the bar of the Caledonian Hotel,' Rebus added.

'What? The Polish guy?'

'Russian, actually,' Clarke corrected him.

Tou live a mile and a half away,' Rebus pressed on. 'Makes me

wonder why you'd need a room.'

'To get away from you, maybe?' Cafferty made show of guessing.

II'Or just because I can afford one.'

'And then you sit in the bar, buying drinks for strangers,' Clarke added.

Cafferty unlinked his hands so he could raise a finger, as if to stress a point. 'Difference between Rebus and me – he'd sit in the bar all night and buy drinks for no bugger.' He gave a cold chuckle.

'This is the sum total of why you've dragged me here – because I bought some poor immigrant a drink?'

'How many “poor immigrants” do you reckon would wander into that bar?' Rebus asked.

Cafferty made show of thinking, closing his sunken eyes and then opening them again. They were like dark little pebbles in his huge pale face. Tou have a fair point,' he admitted. 'But the man was still a stranger to me. What's he gone and done?'

'He's gone and been murdered,' Rebus said, with as much restraint as he could muster. 'And as of right now, you're the last person who saw him alive.'

'Whoa there.' Cafferty looked from one detective to the other.

'The poet guy, the one I saw in the papers?'

'Attacked on King's Stables Road, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes after drinking with you. What was it the pair of you fell out about?'

Cafferty ignored Rebus and concentrated on Clarke. 'Do I need my solicitor here?'

'Not as yet,' she said levelly. Cafferty smiled again.

'Are you not wondering, Siobhan, why I'm asking you and not Rebus? He outranks you, after all.' Now he turned back to Rebus.

'But you're days from the scrapheap, just like I say, while Siobhan here's still on the way up. If the pair of you have got a case on the go, my guess is that Old Man Macrae will have seen sense and put Shiv in charge.'

'Only my friends get to call me Shiv.'

'My apologies, Siobhan.'

'Far as you're concerned, I'm Detective Sergeant Clarke.'

Cafferty whistled through his teeth and slapped one meaty thigh.

Trained her to perfection,' he repeated. 'And rare entertainment with it.'

“What were you doing at the Caledonian Hotel?' Clarke asked, as if he'd never spoken.

'Having a drink.'

'And staying in a room?'

'It can be murder, finding a taxi home.'

'So how did you meet Alexander Todorov?'

'I was in the bar…'

'Alone?'

'But only because I wanted to be – unlike DI Rebus there, I have plenty of friends I can drink and have a laugh with. I'm betting you'd be fun to drink with, too, DS Clarke, so long as misery-guts was elsewhere.'

'And Todorov just happened to sit next to you?' Clarke was guessing.

'I was on a stool at the bar. He was standing, waiting to get served. Barman was crafting a cocktail, so we had a minute or two to talk. I liked him well enough to put his drink on my tab.'

Cafferty offered an exaggerated shrug. 'He slugged it, said thanks, and buggered off.'

'He didn't offer to buy one back?' Rebus asked. He took the poet to be a drinker of the old school; etiquette would have demanded no less.

'Actually he did,' Cafferty admitted. 'I told him I was fine.'

'Here's hoping the CCTV backs you up,' Rebus commented.

For the first time, Cafferty's mask slipped a little, though the unease was momentary at best. 'It will,' he stated.

Rebus just nodded slowly while Clarke suppressed a smile. Good to know they could still rattle Cafferty.

“Victim was beaten without mercy,' Rebus went on. 'If I'd thought about it, I'd've had you in the frame from the word go.'

Tou always did like framing people.' Cafferty turned his gaze on Clarke. So far all she'd added to the top sheet of paper was a sequence of doodles. 'Three, four times a week, he's in that old banger of his, parked on the street outside my house. Some people would cry “harassment” – what do you think, DS Clarke? Should I apply for one of those restraining orders?'

'What did the two of you talk about?'

'Back to the Russian guy again?' Cafferty sounded disappointed.

'Far as I can recollect, he said something about Edinburgh being a cold city. I probably said he was dead right.'

'Maybe he meant the people rather than the climate.'

'And he'd still have been right. I don't mean you, of course, DS Clarke – you're a little ray of sunshine. But those of us who've lived here all our lives, well, we can be on the morose side, wouldn't you agree, DI Rebus? A pal of mine told me once it's because we've

never stopped being invaded – a silent invasion, to be sure, quite a pleasant invasion, and sometimes more a trickle than an onslaught, but it's made us… prickly – some more than most.' Giving a sly glance towards Rebus.

'You've still not explained why you were paying for a room at the hotel,' Rebus stated.

'I thought I had,' Cafferty countered.

'Only if you mistake us for half-wits.'

'I agree, “halfwits” would be stretching it.' Cafferty gave another chuckle. Rebus had slipped his hands into his trouser pockets, the better to curl them into unseen fists. 'Look,' Cafferty went on, seeming suddenly to tire of the game, 'I bought a drink for a stranger, somebody mugged him, end of story.'

'Not until we know the who and the why,' Rebus corrected him.

'What else did you talk about?' Clarke added.

Cafferty rolled his eyes. 'He said Edinburgh was cold, I said yes.

He said Glasgow was warmer, I said maybe. His drink arrived and we both said “cheers”… Come to think of it, he had something with him. What was it? A compact disc, I think.'

Yes, the one Charles Riordan had given him. Two dead men sharing a curry. Rebus clenching and unclenching his hands.

Clenching and unclenching. Cafferty, he realised, stood for everything that had ever gone sour – every bungled chance and botched case, suspects missed and crimes unsolved. The man wasn't just the grit in the oyster, he was the pollutant poisoning everything within reach.

And there's no way I can take him down, is there?

Unless God really was up there, handing Rebus this last slim chance.

'The disc wasn't on the body,' Clarke was saying.

'He took it with him,' Cafferty stated. 'Slipped it into one of his pockets.' He patted his right-hand side.

'Meet any other Russians in the bar that night?' Rebus asked.

'Now you mention it, there were some rum accents – I thought they must be Gaels or something. Soon as they started with the ceilidh songs, I swore I'd be heading for bed.'

'Did Todorov speak to any of them?'

'How should I know?'

'Because you were with him.'

Cafferty slapped both hands against the greasy tabletop. 'One drink I had with him!'

'So you say.' Got you rattled again, you bastard!

'Meaning you were the last person he spoke with before he died,'

Clarke reinforced.

You're saying I followed him? Put the boot in him? Fine, let's take a look at this CCTV of yours… let's get the barman in here to say how late I stayed at the bar. You've obviously seen my tab – what time was it signed for? I didn't move from that place until gone midnight. Room full of witnesses… signed bar tab… CCTV.'

He held up three fingers triumphantly. There was silence in IR3.

Rebus eased himself from the wall and took the couple of steps which left him standing beside Cafferty's chair.

'Something happened in that bar, didn't it?' he said, his voice not much above a whisper.

'Sometimes I wish I had your fantasy life, Rebus, I really do.'

There was a sudden knock at the door. Clarke released the breath she'd been holding and called out for whoever it was to come in.

Todd Goodyear edged nervously around the door.

'What do you want?' Rebus snapped. Goodyear's eyes were on the gangster, but the message was for Clarke.

'Fire investigator's got some news.'

'Is she here?' Clarke asked.

'In the suite,' he confirmed.

'Fresh blood,' Cafferty drawled, measuring Goodyear from head to toe. 'What's your name, son?'

'PC Goodyear.'

'A police constable out of uniform?' Cafferty smiled. 'CID must be desperate. Is he your replacement, Rebus?'

“Thanks, Goodyear,' was all Rebus said, nodding to let the young man know he was dismissed. Cafferty, however, had other ideas.

'Used to know a heid-the-ba' called Goodyear…'

'Which one?' Todd Goodyear decided to ask. Cafferty's smile turned into a laugh.

'You're right – there was old Harry, used to run a pub on Rose Street. But I was thinking of more recent times.'

'Solomon Goodyear,' Todd stated.

'That's the one.' Cafferty's eyes gleamed. 'Sol, everyone calls him.'

'My brother.'

Cafferty nodded slowly. Rebus was gesturing for Goodyear to hoof it, but Cafferty's stare held the young man captive. 'Now I think of it, Sol did have a brother… never seemed to want to talk about him, though. Does that make you the black sheep, PC Goodyear?' He was laughing again.

'Tell the FI we'll be there in a minute,' Clarke interrupted, but still Goodyear didn't move.

Todd?' Rebus's use of his first name seemed to break the spell.

Goodyear nodded and disappeared around the door again.

'Nice kid,' Cafferty mused. 'He'll be your pet project then, DS Clarke, for when Rebus slopes off into the sunset, just like you used to be Rebus's.' When neither detective spoke, Cafferty decided to quit while he was ahead. He stretched his spine, arms extended to either side, and started getting to his feet. 'We done here?'

'For the moment,' Clarke conceded.

Tou don't want me to make a statement or anything?'

'Wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on,' Rebus growled.

'Get all the digs in while you can,' Cafferty advised. He was at eye level with his old adversary. 'See you tonight maybe – same time, same place. I'll be thinking of you, freezing in your car. Speaking of which, it was a nice touch turning off the heating in here – it'll make my room at the hotel feel all the cosier.'

'Speaking of the Caledonian,' Clarke decided to add, 'you bought a lot of drinks that night – eleven, according to your tab.'

'Maybe I was thirsty – or just generous.' His gaze settled on her.

'I can be the generous sort, Siobhan, when the circumstances are right. But then you know that already, don't you?'

'I know a lot of things, Cafferty.'

'Oh, I'm sure of that. Maybe we can talk about them while you give me a lift back into town.'

'Bus stop's across the road,' Rebus said.

18

'Something happened in that bar,' Rebus repeated as he walked with Clarke back to the CID suite.

'So you said.'

'Cafferty was there for a reason. He's never squandered so much as a quid in his life, so what's he doing booked into one of the dearest hotels in town?'

'I doubt he'll tell us.'

'But his stay happens to coincide with the oligarchs.' She looked at him and he gave a shrug. 'Looked it up in the dictionary. Thought maybe it had to do with oil.'

'It means a small group of powerful people, right?' Clarke checked.

'Right,' Rebus confirmed.

'Thing is, John, we've also got this woman at the car park…'

'Cafferty could have put her there. He's owned a fair few brothels in his time.'

'Or she could be nothing to do with it. I'm going to have Hawes and Tibbet talk to the witnesses, see if the e-fit jogs any memories.

But meantime, there's a more pressing question – namely, what the hell are you doing running a one-man stakeout on Big Ger Cafferty?'

'I prefer “vendetta” to “stakeout”.' She seemed ready to say something but he held up his hand. 'I was outside his place last night, as it happens, and he was at home.'

'So?'

'So he's keeping a room at the Caledonian, but not spending much time there.' They had arrived at the door to CID. 'And that means he's up to something.' Rebus opened the door and went in.

Katie Glass had been given a mug of strong-looking tea and was studying it warily.

'DC Tibbet always does that,' Rebus warned her. 'If you want tannin poisoning, feel free to drink up.'

'I might pass,' she said, placing the mug on the corner of a desk.

Rebus introduced himself and shook her hand. Clarke thanked her for coming in and asked if she'd found something.

'Early days,' Glass hedged.

'But…?' Rebus nudged, knowing there was more.

'We may have a source for the fire: small glass bottles filled with a chemical of some kind.'

'What kind of chemical?' Clarke asked, folding her arms. All three were standing, while Hawes and Tibbet listened in from behind their desks. Todd Goodyear was standing by one of the windows, staring out. Rebus wondered if he'd been tracking Cafferty's departure.

'Gone for analysis,' the fire inspector was saying. 'If I had to guess, I'd say maybe it was cleaning fluid of some kind.'

'Household cleaner?'

Glass shook her head. 'Bottles were too small. But this was a man who had a lot of tapes in his house…'

'Cassette cleaner,' Rebus stated. 'For wiping oxidation off the heads of the cassette decks.'

'Impressive,' Glass said.

'I used to have a thing about hi-fi.'

'Well, at least one of the bottles looks like someone had wadded some tissue into its neck. It was sitting in the midst of a pile of melted tape casings.'

'In the living room?'

Glass nodded.

'So you think it was deliberate?'

Now she shrugged. 'Thing is, if you wanted to kill someone in a fire, usually you'd go to town – slosh petrol around the place, that sort of thing. This was a couple of sheets of loo roll and a small bottle of something flammable.'

'I think I see what you're getting at,' Rebus told her. 'Maybe Riordan wasn't the target.' He paused to see if anyone would beat him to it. 'The tapes were,' he eventually explained.

The tapes?' Hawes asked, forehead creasing.

'Piled around the little home-made pyre.'

'Meaning what exactly?'

That Riordan had something somebody wanted.'

'Or something they didn't want anyone else to have,' Clarke added, running a finger beneath her chin. 'Is there anything at all left of those tapes, Katie?'

Glass gave another shrug. 'Most of the tape itself is done to a crisp. Some of the casings fared a little better.'

'So there could still be writing on them?'

'It's possible,' Glass conceded. 'We've got a slew of stuff that the fire didn't quite get to – dunno how playable any of it will be. Heat, smoke and water may have done their bit. We've also got some of the deceased's recording equipment – again, the stuff on the hard disks might be salvageable.' She didn't sound optimistic.

Rebus caught Siobhan Clarke's eye. 'Right up Ray Duffs street,'

he said.

Goodyear had turned away from the window and was trying to catch up. 'Who's Ray Duff?'

'Forensics,' Clarke explained. But she was focusing on Rebus.

'How about the engineer at Riordan's studio? He might be able to help.'

'Could have kept back-ups,' Tibbet piped up.

'So,' Glass said, folding her arms, 'do I send the stuff here, or to forensics, or the dead man's studio? Whatever the answer, I'll have to keep your D Division colleagues in the loop.'

Rebus thought for a moment, then puffed out his cheeks, exhaled noisily, and said: 'DS Clarke's in charge.'

Freddie the barman was on duty again. Rebus had spent a few minutes outside the Caledonian Hotel, smoking a cigarette and watching the choreography of passing traffic. Two taxis were parked in the cab rank, the drivers chatting to one another. The Caledonian's liveried doorman was giving directions to a couple of tourists. The elaborate clock at the corner of Fraser's department store was being photographed, presumably by another tourist.

There never seemed to be enough rooms in Edinburgh for these visitors; new hotels were always being proposed, considered and constructed. He could think of five or six off the top of his head, all opening within the past ten years, and with more to come. It gave the impression of Edinburgh as a boomtown. More people than ever seemed to want to work there, or visit, or do business.

The Parliament had brought plenty of opportunities. Some argued that independence would spoil things, others that it would build on the success while dealing with devolution's failings. It interested

him that a hard-nosed executive like Stuart Janney would cosy up to a nationalist like Megan Macfarlane. But not as much as these Russian visitors interested him. Big place, Russia, and rich in all manner of resources. You could drop Scotland into it dozens of times over. So why were these men here? Rebus was more than curious.

He finished the cigarette and headed indoors, sliding on to one of the bar stools and offering Freddie a reasonably hearty 'good afternoon'. For a couple of seconds, Freddie mistook him for a guest -he knew the face, after all. He placed a coaster in front of Rebus and asked what he was having.

'The usual,' Rebus teased, enjoying the barman's confusion. Then he shook his head. 'I'm the cop from Friday. But I'll take a dram with a spot of water in it, so long as it's on the house.'

The young man hesitated, but eventually turned to the array of spirits bottles.

'A malt, mind,' Rebus warned him. There was no one else in the bar, no one at all. 'Bit of a graveyard, this time of day.'

'I'm on a double shift – the quiet suits me fine.'

The, too. Means we can talk that bit more freely.'

'Talk?'

'We've got the bar tabs from the night that Russian came in.

Remember? He sat right here, and one of your guests bought him a cognac. Guest's name is Morris Gerald Cafferty.'

Freddie placed the whisky in front of Rebus, and filled a small glass jug with tap water. Rebus dribbled some into the malt and thanked the barman.

Tou'll know Mr Cafferty?' he persisted. 'Last time we spoke, you pretended you didn't. Might explain why you tried pulling a flanker, telling me Todorov could've been talking Russian to the man who bought him the drink. Can't say I blame you, Freddie -Cafferty's not a man you'd want to get on the wrong side of.' He paused. 'Problem is, same goes for me.'

'I was confused, that's all – it was a busy night. Joseph Bonner was in with a party of five… Lady Helen Wood at another table with half a dozen friends…'

'No problem remembering names now, eh, Freddie?' Rebus gave a smile. 'But it's Cafferty I'm interested in.'

'I know the gentleman,' the barman eventually conceded.

Rebus's smile widened. 'Maybe it's because he gets called “gentleman”

that he stays here. Wouldn't happen everywhere in the city, believe me.'

'I know he's been in trouble down the years.'

'No secret,' Rebus agreed. 'Maybe he mentioned it himself and told you to get a copy of that book about him, the one that came out last year?'

Freddie couldn't help smiling back. 'Gave me a copy, actually – signed and everything.'

'He's generous that way. Comes in here most days, would you say?'

'He checked in a week ago; due to leave us in a couple of days.'

'Funny,' Rebus said, pretending to concentrate on the contents of his glass, 'that just about coincides with all these Russians.'

'Does it?' The way Freddie said it, he knew damned well what Rebus was up to.

'Can I remind you,' Rebus said, voice hardening, 'I'm looking into a murder… two murders actually. The night the poet came in here, he'd just had a meal and a drink with a man who's now turned up dead. It's getting serious, Freddie – something you need to bear in mind. You don't want to say anything, fine by me, I'll just arrange to have a patrol car come and pick you up. We'll put you in cuffs and make you comfortable in one of our excellent cells while we get the interrogation room ready…' He paused, letting it sink in. 'I'm trying to be nice here, Freddie, doing my best to be things like “understated” and “people-centred”. That can all change.' He tipped the last of the whisky down his throat.

'Get you another?' the barman asked, his way of saying he was going to cooperate. Rebus shook his head.

'Tell me about Cafferty,' he said instead.

'Comes in most evenings. You're right about the Russians – if it looks like none of them are coming in, he doesn't linger. I know he tries the restaurant, too – has a look around and if they're not there, he won't stay.'

'What about if they are there?'

'Takes a table nearby. Same thing in here. I get the feeling he didn't know them before, but he knows some of them now.'

'So they're all friendly and chatty?'

'Not exactly – they've not got much English. But each of them has a translator – usually some good-looking blonde…'

Rebus thought back to the day he'd seen Andropov outside the hotel and the City Chambers: no glamorous assistant. 'They don't all need a translator,' he said.

Freddie was nodding. 'Mr Andropov speaks English fairly fluently.'

'Which means he probably speaks it better than Cafferty.'

'I do sometimes get that impression. Other thing I felt was that maybe they weren't strangers when they met…'

'What do you mean?'

'First time they ran into one another in here, it was like they didn't need introductions. Mr Andropov, when he shook hands with Mr Cafferty, he sort of gripped his arm at the same time… I dunno.' Freddie shrugged. 'Just seemed like they knew one another.'

'How much do you know about Andropov?' Rebus asked. Freddie shrugged again.

'He tips well, never seems to drink very much – usually bottles of water, he insists on Scottish.'

'I meant what do you know of his background?'

'Nothing at all'

The neither,' Rebus admitted. 'So how many times have Cafferty and Andropov met?'

'I've seen them in here a couple of times… the other barman, Jimmy, says he saw them having a chinwag one time, too.'

'What do they talk about?'

'Not a clue.'

Tou better not be holding back on me, Freddie.'

'I'm not.'

Tou said Andropov's English was better than Cafferty's.'

'But not from hearing them in conversation.'

Rebus was gnawing away at his bottom lip. 'So what does Cafferty talk to you about?'

' Edinburgh, mostly – the way it used to be… how things have changed…“

'Sounds riveting. Nothing about the Russians?'

Freddie shook his head. 'Said the best moment of his life was the day he went “legit”.'

'He's about as legit as a twenty-quid Rolex.'

'I've been offered a few of those in my time,' the barman mused.

'Something I noticed about all the Russian gentlemen – nice watches. Tailored suits, too. But their shoes look cheap; I can never understand that. People should take better care of their feet.' He decided Rebus merited an explanation. 'My girlfriend's a chiropodist.'

'The pillow talk must be scintillating,' Rebus muttered, staring at the empty room and imagining it full of Russian tycoons and their translators.

And Big Ger Cafferty.

'Night the poet was in here,' he said, 'he just had the one drink with Cafferty and then left…'

'That's right.'

'But what did Cafferty do?' Rebus was remembering that bar tab: eleven drinks in total.

Freddie thought for a moment. 'I think he stayed for a bit… yes, he was here till I closed up, more or less.'

'More or less?'

'Well, he may have nipped to the toilet. Actually, he went over to Mr Andropov's booth. There was another gentleman there, a politician, I think.'

Tou think?'

'Whenever they come on the telly, I turn the sound down.'

'But you recognised this man?'

'Like I say, I think he's something to do with the Parliament.'

'Which booth was this?' The barman pointed, and Rebus slid from his stool and headed over to it. 'And Andropov was where?'

he called.

'Move in a bit further… yes, there.'

From where Rebus was now sitting, he could only see the nearest end of the bar. The stool he'd just risen from, the one Todorov had taken, was hidden from view. Rebus got to his feet again and walked back to Freddie.

“You sure you've not got cameras in here?'

'We don't need them.'

Rebus thought for a moment. 'Do me a favour, will you?' he said.

'Next time you get a break, find a computer.'

'There's one in the Business Centre.'

'Log on to the Scottish Parliament website. There'll be about a hundred and twenty-nine faces there… see if you can match one of them.'

'My breaks tend to be twenty minutes.'

Rebus ignored this. He gave Freddie his card. 'Call me as soon as you've got a name.' Perfect timing: the door was swinging open, a couple of suits coming in. They looked as though some deal had done them a few favours.

'Bottle of Krug!' one of them barked, ignoring the fact that Freddie was busy with another customer. The barman's eyes met Rebus's and the detective nodded to let him know he could go back to his job.

'Bet they're not even tippers,' Rebus said under his breath.

'Maybe not,' Freddie acknowledged, 'but at least they'll pay for their drinks…'

19

Clarke decided to take the call outside, so Goodyear wouldn't hear her asking Rebus if he was going senile.

'We've already been warned off,' she said into the phone, her voice just above a whisper. 'What grounds have we got for pulling him in?'

'Anyone willing to drink with Cafferty has got to be dodgy,' she heard Rebus explain.

She gave a sigh she hoped he'd hear. 'I don't want you going within a hundred yards of the Russian delegation until we have something a bit more concrete.'

“You always spoil my fun.'

'When you grow up, you'll understand.' She ended the call and went back into the CID suite, where Todd Goodyear had plugged in a tape deck borrowed from one of the interview rooms. Turned out Katie Glass had been toting a couple of evidence sacks' worth of stuff from Riordan's house. Goodyear had carried them up from the boot of her car.

'Drives a Prius,' he'd commented.

When the bags were opened, the smell of burnt plastic filled the room. But some of the tapes were intact, as were a couple of digital recorders. Goodyear had slotted a cassette tape home, and as Clarke walked in through the door he pressed the play button.

The machine didn't have much of a loudspeaker, and they leant down either side of it, the better to listen. Clarke could hear chinks and clinks and distant, indistinguishable voices.

'A pub or a cafe or something,' Goodyear commented. The hubbub continued for a few more minutes, interrupted only by a cough much closer to the microphone.

'Riordan, presumably,' Clarke offered.

Getting bored, she told Goodyear to fast forward. Same location, same clutter of the overheard everyday.

Tfou couldn't dance to it,' Goodyear admitted. Clarke got him to eject the tape and turn it over. They appeared to be in a railway station. There was the platform master's loud whistle, followed by the sound of a train moving off. The microphone then headed back to the station concourse, where people mingled and waited, probably watching the arrivals or departures board. Someone sneezed and Riordan himself said, 'Bless you.' A couple of women were caught in the middle of a conversation about their partners, and the mic seemed to follow them as they headed for a food kiosk, discussing which filled baguettes took their fancy. Purchases made, it was back to gossiping about their partners again as they queued for coffee at a separate kiosk. Clarke heard the espresso machine at work, a sudden announcement over the station tannoy masking the dialogue. She heard the towns Inverkeithing and Dunfermline being mentioned.

'Must be Waverley,' she said.

'Could be Haymarket,' Goodyear hedged.

'Haymarket doesn't have a sandwich bar as such.'

'I bow to your superior knowledge.'

'Even when I'm wrong, you should bow anyway.'

He did so, giving a courtier-style flourish of the hand, and she smiled.

'He was obsessive,' Clarke stated, Goodyear nodding his agreement.

You really think his death is linked to Todorov?' he asked.

'As of this moment, it's a coincidence… but there are precious few murders in Edinburgh – now we get two in a matter of days, and the victims just happen to know one another.'

'Meaning you don't really think it's coincidence at all.'

'Thing is, Joppa is a D Division call, and we're B Division. If we don't argue our corner, Leith CID will take it.'

'Then we should claim it.'

'Which means persuading DCI Macrae that there's a connection.'

She stopped the tape and ejected it. 'Reckon they're all going to be like that?'

'Only one way to find out.'

'There'll be hundreds of hours of the stuff.'

We don't know that; fire could have made a lot of it unlistenable.

Best for one of us to check it first, then pass anything difficult on

to Forensics or the engineer at Riordan's studio.'

'True.' Clarke still didn't share Goodyear's enthusiasm. She was thinking back to her own days in uniform… not that long ago, really, in the span of things. She'd been every bit as keen as Goodyear, confident that she would make a difference to each and every case – and maybe, just now and then, a telling difference.

It had happened sometimes, but the glory had been grabbed by someone more senior – not Rebus, she was thinking back to before their pairing. Her at St Leonard 's, being told that it was all about teamwork, no room for egos and prima donnas. Then Rebus had arrived, his old station having burned to the ground – wiring gone bad. She had to have a little smile to herself at that.

Wiring gone bad: a fair description of Rebus himself at times.

Bringing with him to St Leonard 's his mistrust of 'teamwork', his two-decades-plus of bets hedged, lines crossed and rules broken.

And at least one very personal vendetta.

Goodyear was suggesting they give one of the little digital recorders a listen. There was no external speaker, but the headphones from Goodyear's iPod fitted one of the sockets. Clarke didn't really fancy pushing the little buds into her own ears, so told him he could do the listening. But after about half a minute and the pressing of buttons in various configurations, he gave up.

'That's one for our friendly specialist,' he said, moving to the next machine.

'I meant to ask,' Clarke said, 'how you felt meeting Cafferty.'

Goodyear considered his answer. 'Just looking at him,' he said eventually, 'you can see he's full of sin. It's in his eyes, the way he looks at you, the way he carries himself…'

You judge people by the way they look?'

'Not all the time.' He did a bit more button-pushing, earphones still in place, and then held up a finger to let her know he was getting something. After a moment's listening he made eye contact. 'You're not going to believe this.' He unplugged himself and offered her the earphones. Reluctantly, she held them either side of her head, close to her ears but not touching. He'd rewound a little, and now she heard voices. Tinny little voices, but words she recognised:

'After you split up, Mr Todorov headed straight for the bar at the Caledonian. He got talking to someone there…

'That's me,' she said. 'He told us he wasn't recording!'

'He lied. People do sometimes.'

Clarke gave him a scowl and listened to a bit more, then told Goodyear to fast forward. He did, but there was silence.

'Go back again,' she ordered.

What was she hoping for? Riordan's last moments, captured for posterity? His attacker's voice? Riordan gaining some measure of justice from beyond the grave?

Only silence.

'Further back.'

Clarke and Goodyear himself, winding up their questioning of Riordan in his living room.

'We're the last thing on it,' she stated.

'Does that make us suspects?'

'Any more wisecracks, you're back in the woolly suit,' she warned him.

Goodyear looked contrite. 'Woolly suit,' he repeated. 'I've not heard that one before.'

'Picked it up from Rebus,' Clarke admitted.

So many things he'd given her… not all of them useful.

'I don't think he likes me,' Goodyear was telling her.

'He doesn't like anyone.'

'He likes you,' Goodyear argued.

'He tolerates me,' Clarke corrected him. 'Different thing entirely.'

She was staring at the machine. 'I can't believe he recorded us.'

'If you ask me, not being recorded by Mr Riordan would have put us in the minority.'

'True enough.'

Goodyear picked up another of the clear plastic sacks and gave it a shake. 'Plenty more for us to listen to.'

She nodded, then leaned across and patted his shoulder. 'Plenty for you to listen to, Todd,' she corrected him.

'Learning curve?' he guessed.

'Learning curve,' she agreed.

'Want to do something tonight?' Phyllida Hawes asked. She was driving, Colin Tibbet her passenger. It annoyed her that he would sit with one hand gripping the door handle, as if ready to eject should her skills suddenly desert her. Sometimes she would put the wind up him on purpose, accelerating towards the vehicle in front or taking a turn at the last possible and unsignalled second.

Serve him right for doubting her. One time, he'd told her she drove as though they'd just nicked the car from a forecourt.

'Could go for a drink,' he offered.

'Now there's a novelty.'

'Or we could not go for a drink.' He thought for a moment.

'Chinese? Indian?'

'With ideas as radical as these, Col, you should be running a brains trust.'

Tou're in a mood,' he stated.

'Am I?' she replied icily.

'Sorry,' he said.

Another thing that was starting to annoy her: rather than argue his corner, he'd concede on just about any and every point.

Until eight weeks back, Hawes had had a lover – a live-in lover at that. Colin had managed a few single-nighters and one girl who'd actually stuck with him for the best part of a month. Somehow, three weeks ago, they'd fallen into bed together after a night on the piss. Neither had really recovered from it since waking up, faces an inch apart, horror dawning.

It was an accident.

Best put behind us.

And never mentioned.

Forget it ever happened…

But how could they? It had happened, and despite herself she'd quite like for it to happen again. She had transferred her annoyance with herself on to Colin, in the hope he might do something about it, but he was like some sort of sponge, just soaking it all up.

'Wouldn't surprise me,' he said now, 'if Shiv takes us all for a drink tonight. Keep the team together – it's what good managers do.'

'What you mean is, better that than having John Rebus to herself.'

Tou may have a point.'

'On the other hand,' Hawes added, 'could be she'll want young Todd all to herself…'

He turned towards her. Tou don't really think so?'

'Women work in mysterious ways, Colin.'

'So I've noticed. Why do you think she brought him on to the team?'

'Maybe she just fell for his charms.'

'Seriously, though.'

'The DCFs put her in charge. Means she can recruit who she likes, and young Todd wasn't backwards at coming forwards.'

'She was easy to persuade?' Tibbet's forehead was creased in thought.

'Doesn't mean you can persuade her to put your name forward for promotion.'

'That's not what I was thinking,' Tibbet assured her. He looked through the windscreen. 'It's next right, isn't it?'

Hawes refused to signal, and only crossed the traffic when there was a bus bearing down on them.

'I wish you wouldn't do that,' Tibbet said.

'I know,' Phyllida replied with a thin-lipped smile. 'But when you're driving a car you've just nicked from a forecourt…'

They were headed – Shiv's orders – to Nancy Sievewright's flat.

Had to ask her about the woman in the cowl. Very word Shiv had used – 'cowl' – Hawes checking afterwards that she hadn't meant 'hood'.

'Hood or cowl, Phyl, what's the difference exactly?' Shiv having grown prickly these past couple of weeks.

'Just here on the left,' Colin Tibbet was saying. 'There's a space further down.'

'Which I couldn't possibly have spotted without you, DC Tibbet.'

To which he gave no reaction whatsoever.

The door to the communal stairwell had been wedged open, so they decided not to bother with the intercom. Once you crossed the threshold you were in a cold, shadowy place. The white wall-tiles had been damaged and now sported graffiti tags. Voices echoed from somewhere above. A woman, by far the louder of the two. The deeper male bass was softer, entreating.

'Just get the fuck away from me! Why can't you take a telling?'

'I think you know why.'

'I don't fucking well care!'

The couple seemed unaware of the two new arrivals who were climbing towards them.

The man: 'Look, if you'll only talk to me for a moment.'

Interrupted by Colin Tibbet: 'Is there a problem here?' His ID open, letting them know who – and more importantly what – he was.

'Christ, what now?' the man uttered in exasperation.

'Pretty much what I was asking myself thirty seconds ago, sir,'

Hawes told him. 'It's Mr Anderson, isn't it? My partner and I took the statements from you and your wife.'

'Oh, yes.' Anderson had the good grace to look embarrassed.

Hawes saw that one of the doors on the next landing up was wide open. That would be Nancy Sievewright's flat. Hawes met the eyes of the underfed, underdressed girl.

'We interviewed you, too, Nancy,' she said.

Sievewright nodded her agreement. 'Two birds with one stone,'

Colin Tibbet stated.

'I didn't realise,' Hawes said, 'y°u two knew one another.'

'We don'tV Nancy Sievewright exploded. 'He just keeps coming here!'

'Grossly unfair,' Anderson snarled. Hawes shared a look with Tibbet. They knew what they had to do.

'Let's get you inside,' Hawes told Sievewright.

'And if you'll come downstairs with me, sir,' Tibbet said to Anderson. 'There's a question we were hoping to ask you…'

Sievewright stomped back into her flat and made straight for the narrow kitchen, where she picked up the kettle and filled it. 'The other two, I thought they were going to deal with it.'

Meaning, Hawes guessed, Rebus and Clarke. 'Why does he keep coming round?' she asked.

Sievewright tugged at a straggle of hair above one ear. 'No idea.

Says he wants to check I'm all right. But when I tell him I am, he conies back again! I think he hangs around until he knows I'm in the flat on my own…' She twisted the hair into a tighter skein.

'Fuck him,' she said defiantly, hunting among the mugs on the drainer for the one least likely to poison her.

'You could make a formal complaint,' Hawes told her, 'explain he's harassing you…'

'Reckon that would stop him?'

'It might,' Hawes said, believing it about as much as the girl herself did. Sievewright had rinsed her chosen mug and now dumped a tea bag into it. She patted the kettle, willing it to boil.

'Social call, was it?' she asked at last.

Hawes rewarded her with a friendly smile. 'Not exactly. Some new information's come to light.'

'Meaning you've not arrested anybody.'

'No,' Hawes admitted.

'So what's this information?'

'A woman in a hood, seen hanging around the exit to the multistorey.'

Hawes showed her the e-fit. 'If she was still there, you'd have walked right past her.'

'I didn't see anyone… I've already told you this!'

'Easy, Nancy,' Hawes said quietly. 'Calm yourself down.

'I'm calm.'

'The tea's a good idea.'

'I think the kettle's knackered.' Sievewright was resting the

palm of her hand against it.

'No, it's fine,' Hawes reassured her. 'I can hear it.'

Sievewright was staring at the kettle's reflective surface.

'Sometimes we try to see how long we can stay touching it while it boils.'

'We?'

The and Eddie.' She gave a sad little smile. 'I always win.'

'Eddie being…?'

'My flatmate.' She looked at the detective. 'We're not a couple.'

The front door creaked and they turned to look down the passageway.

It was Colin Tibbet.

'He's gone,' Tibbet told them.

'Good riddance,' Sievewright muttered.

'Did he tell you anything?' Hawes asked her partner.

'Seemed adamant neither he nor his wife saw any woman in a hood. He asked if maybe it was a ghost of some kind.'

'I meant,' Hawes said, voice toneless, 'did he say why he was giving Nancy here such a hard time?'

Tibbet shrugged. 'Told me she'd had this great shock and he wanted to be sure she wasn't bottling it up. “Storing up trouble for later” I think his exact words were.'

Sievewright, one hand still pressed to the kettle, gave a hoot of derision.

'Very noble of him,' Hawes said. 'And the fact that his act of charity isn't at all what Nancy wants…?'

'He promised to stay away.'

'Fat chance,' Sievewright sneered.

'That kettle's nearly boiled,' Tibbet felt it necessary to warn her, having just noticed what she was doing with her hand. He was rewarded with something that was between a grimace and a smile.

'Anyone care to join me?' Nancy Sievewright offered.

20

The headline on page five of the Evening News was DAS KAPITALISTS. The story below it recounted a dinner at one of Edinburgh 's Michelin-rated restaurants. The party of Russians had booked the whole place. Fourteen sat down to a dinner of foie gras, scallops, lobster, veal, sirloin, cheese and dessert, washed down with several thousand pounds' worth of champagne, white Burgundy and venerable red Bordeaux, finishing with port from before the Cold War. Six grand in total. The reporter liked the fact that the champagne – Roederer Cristal – had been a favourite with the tsars of pre-revolutionary Russia. None of the diners was identified by name. Rebus couldn't help wondering if Cafferty had slimed his way on to the guest list. Another story on the page opposite stated that the murder rate was down – there had been ten in the past year, twelve the year before that.

They were seated around a large corner table in a Rose Street pub. The place was about to get noisy: Celtic were readying to kick off against Manchester United in the Champions' League and the big-screen TV was the focus of most drinkers' attentions. Rebus closed the paper and tossed it back towards Goodyear, who was seated across from him. He realised he'd missed the last bit of Phyllida Hawes's story, so got her to repeat Anderson 's words: storing up trouble for later.

'I'll give him “trouble”,' he muttered. 'And he can't say I didn't give him fair warning…'

'So far,' Colin Tibbet said, 'we've only got one sighting of the mystery woman.' Having noticed that Todd Goodyear had taken off his tie, he was now in the process of removing his own.

'Doesn't mean she wasn't there,' Clarke told him. 'Even if she

played no part, she might have seen something. There's a line in one of Todorov's poems about averting your eyes so you'll never have to testify.'

'And what's that supposed to mean?' Rebus asked her.

'She could be lying low for a reason – people don't always want to get involved.'

'Sometimes,' Hawes agreed, 'they have good reason not to get involved.'

'Do we still think Nancy Sievewright's holding something back?'

Clarke asked.

'That friend of hers was definitely spinning us a yarn,' Tibbet said.

'So maybe we need to go over her story again.'

'Anything so far from those tapes?' Hawes was asking. Clarke shook her head and gestured towards Goodyear.

'Just that the deceased liked to listen into people's conversations,'

he obliged, 'even if it meant following them around.'

'Bit of a weirdo, then?'

'One way of looking at it,' Clarke conceded.

'Christ's sake,' Rebus butted in, 'there's a bigger picture you're not looking at – Todorov's last stop before ending up dead… a drink with Big Ger Cafferty, and some of the Russians not ten yards away!' He rubbed a hand across his forehead.

'Can I just ask one thing?'

Rebus stared at Goodyear. 'And what's that, young Todd?'

'Don't take the Lord's name in vain.'

Tou taking the piss?'

But Goodyear was shaking his head. 'I'd look on it as a great favour…'

“Which church do you go to, Todd?' Tibbet asked.

'St Fothad's in Saughtonhall.'

'That where you live?'

'Where I grew up,' Goodyear corrected Tibbet.

'I used to go to the kirk,' Tibbet went on. 'Stopped when I was fourteen. My mum died from cancer, couldn't see the point after that.'

'”God is the place that always heals over,“' Goodyear recited, '”however often we tear it“.' He smiled. 'That's from a poem, though not one of Todorov's. Seems to make sense of it all – to me, at any rate.'

'Hell's teeth,' Rebus said. 'Poems and quotations and the Church of Scotland. I don't come to pubs for a sermon.'

Tou're not alone,' Goodyear told him. 'Plenty of Scots try to hide their cleverness. We don't trust clever people.'

Tibbet was nodding. 'We're supposed to be “all Jock Tamson's bairns” – meaning we're all the same.'

'And not allowed to be different.' Goodyear was nodding back at him.

'See what you're going to miss when you retire?' Clarke said, her eyes on Rebus. 'Intellectual debate.'

'I'm getting out just in time, then.' He started to rise to his feet. 'Now if you eggheads will excuse me, I've got a tutorial with Professor Nicotine…'

Rose Street was busy: a hen-night pub crawl, the women dressed in identical T-shirts marked with the words 'Four Weddings and a Piss-Up'. They blew kisses at Rebus as they passed him, but were then stopped by a crowd of young men heading in the opposite direction. A stag do by the look of it, the groom-to-be spattered with shaving foam, eggs and flour. Office workers eased past, on their way home after a couple of bevvies. There were tourist families, too, not sure what to make of the hens and stags, and men hurrying to catch the match.

The door opened behind Rebus and Todd Goodyear stepped out.

'Wouldn't have taken you for a smoker,' Rebus told him.

'I'm headed home.' Goodyear was shrugging himself back into his suit jacket. 'I left cash on the table for the next round.'

'Prior engagement, is it?'

'Girlfriend.'

'What's her name?'

Goodyear hesitated, but couldn't seem to think of a valid excuse not to tell Rebus. 'Sonia,' he said. 'She's one of the SOCOs.'

'Was she there last Wednesday?'

Goodyear nodded. 'Short blonde hair, mid-twenties…'

'Can't place her,' Rebus admitted. Goodyear looked tempted to take this as an insult, but changed his mind.

Tou used to be a churchgoer, didn't you?' he asked instead.

'Who told you that?'

'Just something I heard.'

'Best not to believe rumours.'

'Even so, I get the feeling I'm right.'

'Maybe you are,' Rebus conceded, blowing smoke into the air.

“Years back, I tried a few different churches. Didn't find any answers.'

Goodyear nodded slowly. 'What Colin said sums up a lot of

people's experience, doesn't it? A loved one dies and we blame God.

Is that what happened with you?'

'Nothing happened with me,' Rebus stated stonily, watching the hen party move off in search of its next watering-hole. The stags were watching, too, one or two debating whether to follow.

'Sorry,' Goodyear was apologising, 'just nosy…'

'Well, don't be.'

'Are you going to miss the job?'

Rebus rolled his eyes. 'Here he goes again,' he complained to the sky above. 'All I want is a peaceful smoke and now it's Question Time.'

Goodyear smiled a further apology. 'I better get going while I still can.'

'Before you do…'

Tes?'

Rebus studied the tip of his cigarette. 'Cafferty in the interview room… was that the first time you'd met him?' Goodyear nodded.

'He knew your brother, and your grandad, too, if it comes to that.'

Rebus looked up and down the street. 'Your grandad's pub was the next block, wasn't it? Forget what it was called…'

'Breezer's.'

Rebus nodded slowly. 'When he went to court, I was the one in the witness box.'

'I didn't know that.'

'Three of us made the bust, but I was the one who gave evidence.'

'Have you ever been in that position with Cafferty?'

'He got put away both times.' Rebus spat on to the pavement.

'Shiv tells me your brother was in a fight. Is he all right?'

'I think so.' Goodyear was looking uncomfortable. 'Look, I'd better get going.'

¦You do that. I'll see you tomorrow.'

'Night, then.'

'Night,' Rebus said, watching him leave. Didn't seem a bad kid.

Decent enough cop. Maybe Shiv could do something with him…

Rebus remembered Harry Goodyear pretty well. Guy's pub had been notorious – speed, coke and a bit of blow, all being shifted from the place, Harry himself a small-timer, in and out of trouble.

Rebus had wondered at the time, how did he get a pub licence?

Reckoned money had changed hands, someone on the council pitching for him. Friends could always be bought. Time was, Cafferty himself had owned a number of councillors. That way, he stayed

one step ahead; cheap at whatever the price. He'd tried buying Rebus, too, but that was never going to run – Rebus had learned his lesson by then.

'Not my fault Grandpa Goodyear died in the clink…'

He stubbed out the cigarette and turned towards the door, but then paused. What was waiting for him inside? Another drink, plus a table of youngsters – Shiv, Phyl and Col would be discussing the case, bouncing ideas around. And what exactly could Rebus add to the mix? He took out another cigarette and lit it, then started walking.

He took a left on to Frederick Street and a right into Princes Street. The castle was being illuminated from below, its shape picked out against the night sky. The funfair was under construction in Princes Street Gardens, along with the market stalls and booths parked at the foot of The Mound. It would be a magnet for shoppers in the run-up to Christmas. He thought he could hear music: maybe the open-air ice rink was being tested out. Groups of kids were weaving their way past the shopfronts, paying him not the slightest heed. When did I become the invisible man? Rebus asked himself. Catching his reflection in a window he saw heft and bulk. Yet these kids teemed past as if he had no place in their version of the world.

Is this how ghosts feel? he wondered.

He crossed at the traffic lights and pushed open the door to the bar of the Caledonian Hotel. The place was busy. Jazz was playing on the hi-fi and Freddie was busy with a cocktail shaker. A waitress was waiting to take her tray of drinks over to a table filled with laughter. Everyone looked prosperous and confident. Some of them held mobile phones to their ears, even as they spoke to the person next to them. Rebus felt a moment's irritation that someone had taken his stool. In fact, all the stools were taken. He bided his time until the barman had finished pouring. The waitress moved off, balancing the tray on her hand, and Freddie saw Rebus. The frown he gave told Rebus that the situation had changed. The bar was no longer empty, and Freddie would be unwilling to talk.

'Usual, please,' Rebus said anyway. And then: You weren't exaggerating about the double shift…'

This time, when the whisky arrived, the bill came with it. Rebus smiled to let Freddie know this was fine with him. He trickled a few drops of water into the glass and swirled it in his hand, sniffing the contents as he scanned the room.

'They've gone, in case you're wondering,' Freddie told him.

'Who?'

'The Russians. Checked out this afternoon, apparently. Winging their way back to Moscow.'

Rebus tried not to look too deflated by this news. 'What I was wondering,' he said, 'is whether you've got that name for me.'

The barman nodded slowly. 'I was going to phone you tomorrow.'

The waitress had arrived with another order and he went to fill it. Two large helpings of red wine and a glass of the house champagne.

Rebus started listening in on the conversation next to him.

Two businessmen with Irish accents, eyes glued to the football on the soundless TV. Some property deal had failed to come off and they were drowning their sorrows.

'And God grant them a lingering death,' seemed to be the toast of choice. One of the things Rebus liked best about bars was the chance to eavesdrop on other people's lives. Did that make him a voyeur, not so very different from Charles Riordan?

'Any chance we get to screw them over…' one of the Irishmen was saying. Freddie had returned the champagne bottle to the ice bucket and was coming back to Rebus's end of the bar.

'He's Minister for Economic Development,' the barman explained.

'Ministers are listed first on the Parliament's website. Might've taken a while otherwise…'

'What's he called?'

'James Bakewell.'

Rebus wondered why he knew the name.

'Saw him on the TV a few weeks back,' Freddie was saying.

'On Question Time?' Rebus guessed. The barman was nodding.

Yes, because Rebus had seen Bakewell there, too, arguing the toss with Megan Macfarlane while Alexander Todorov sat between them. Jim, everyone seemed to call him… 'And he was in here with Sergei Andropov, same night as the poet?' Freddie kept nodding.

And the same night, too, as Morris Gerald Cafferty. Rebus rested his hands against the bar, letting them take his weight. His head was swirling. Freddie had moved to take another order. Rebus thought back to the tape of Question Time. Jim Bakewell had been New Labour with some of the rough edges left untreated. Either he wouldn't let the image consultants near him, or that was his image. Late forties with a mop of dark brown hair and wire-framed spectacles. Square-jawed and blue-eyed and self-deprecating. He'd got a lot of respect north of the border for the way he'd resigned a safe seat at Westminster to stand for the Scottish Parliament.

This made him a rare beast indeed. Seemed to Rebus that a lot of the political talent was still drawn to London. Freddie hadn't mentioned any minders, which Rebus also found interesting. If Bakewell had been meeting the Russians in an official capacity, surely there'd have been assistants and advisers on hand. The Minister for Economic Development… late-night drinks with a foreign businessman… Big Ger Cafferty crashing the party…

Too many questions were hammering away at the inside of Rebus's skull. It was as if his brain had developed a pulse. Finishing the drink, he left some money on the bar and decided it was time to head home. His phone alerted him to a text message. Siobhan was wondering where he'd got to.

'Took you long enough,' he muttered to himself. As he passed the Irishmen, one of them was leaning in towards the other.

'If he dies on Christmas morning,' he was confiding in a booming voice, 'that'll be tinsel enough for me…'

Two ways to leave the hotel: the bar's own door, or through reception.

Rebus wasn't sure why he chose the latter. As he crossed the lobby, two men had just emerged through the revolving door. The one in front he recognised: the man who'd been driving Andropov.

The other was Andropov himself. He had seen Rebus and his eyes were narrowing, wondering where he knew him from. Rebus gave a little bow of the head as they approached one another.

'Thought you'd all gone home,' he said, trying to sound casual.

'I'm staying a few more days.' There wasn't much of an accent at all. Rebus could tell Andropov was still trying to place him.

'Friend of Cafferty's,' he pretended to explain.

'Ah yes.' The chauffeur was standing just the other side of Rebus, hands clasped in front of him, feet splayed. Chauffeur and bodyguard.

'The few extra days,' Rebus enquired of Andropov, 'business or pleasure?'

'Usually I find business a distinct pleasure.' It sounded like a line he'd used dozens of times before, always expecting a laugh or a smile. Rebus obliged as best he could.

'Seen Mr Cafferty today?' he asked eventually.

'I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten your name…'

'I'm John,' Rebus told him.

'And your connection to Cafferty…?'

'I was wondering the same about you, Mr Andropov.' Rebus decided he'd already been rumbled. 'It's fine to hobnob with the great and the good, being fawned over by politicians of all creeds

and colours… but when you start cosying up to a career criminal like Cafferty, alarm bells are bound to start ringing.'

Tfou were at the City Chambers,' Andropov announced with a wag of one gloved finger. 'And then you were outside the hotel here.'

'I'm a detective, Mr Andropov.' Rebus held up his warrant card and Andropov examined it.

'Have I done something wrong, Inspector?'

'A week back, you were having a little chat with Jim Bakewell and Morris Gerald Cafferty.'

'What if I was?'

'There was another man in the bar – a poet called Todorov. Less than twenty minutes after walking out of here, he was murdered.'

Andropov was nodding. 'A great tragedy. The world has an apparent need of poets, Inspector. They are, so they tell us, its “unacknowledged legislators”.'

'I'd say they've got a bit of competition in that department.'

Andropov decided to ignore this. 'Several people,' he said instead, 'inform me that your police force may not be investigating Alexander's death as a simple street attack. Tell me, Inspector, what do you think happened?'

'A story best told at my police station. Would you be willing to drop in for an interview, Mr Andropov?'

'I can't see that anything would be gained from that, Inspector.'

'I'll assume that's a no.'

'Let me offer my own theory.' Andropov took a step closer, mimicked by his driver. 'Cherchez la femme, Inspector.'

'Meaning what exactly?'

Tou don't speak French?'

'I know what it means; I'm just not sure what you're getting at.'

'In Moscow, Alexander Todorov had something of a reputation.

He was forced to leave his teaching post after accusations of improper conduct. Female students, you know, and apparently the younger the better. Now, if you'll excuse me…' Andropov was obviously heading for the bar.

'Hooking up with your gangster friend again?' Rebus guessed.

Andropov ignored him and kept walking. The driver, however, decided that Rebus merited a final baleful look, the kind that said you, me and a dark alley…

The look Rebus gave him back carried another message, no less threatening. You're on my list, pal, you and your boss both.

Outside once again in the crisp night air, he decided he might try

walking home. His heart was pounding, mouth dry, blood coursing through him. He gave it a few hundred yards, then hailed the first taxi he saw.

Day Six. Wednesday 22 November 2006

21

The sound engineer was called Terry Grimm and the secretary was Hazel Harmison. They seemed shell-shocked, and with good reason.

'We've no idea what to do,' Grimm explained. 'I mean… do we get paid at month's end? What do we do about all the jobs we've got on our books?'

Siobhan Clarke nodded slowly. Grimm was seated at the mixing desk, swivelling nervily on his chair. Harmison was standing by her desk, arms folded. 'I'm sure Mr Riordan will have made some kind of provision…' But Clarke wasn't sure of that at all. Todd Goodyear was staring at all the machinery, the banks of knobs and dials, switches and slider controls. In the pub last night, Hawes had hinted that really it should be either her or Tibbet who accompanied Clarke today. It made Siobhan wonder again if she'd brought Goodyear into the team precisely because she didn't want to have to make that choice.

'Can neither of you sign company cheques?' Clarke asked now.

'Charlie wasn't that trusting,' Hazel Harmison piped up.

'The company accountant's the one to speak to.'

'Except he's on holiday.'

'Someone else at his firm, then?'

'One-man band,' Grimm stated.

'I'm sure it'll all work out,' Clarke remarked crisply. She'd had enough of their bellyaching. 'Reason we're here is, some of Mr Riordan's recordings have been salvaged from the house. Most, however, went up in smoke. I'm wondering if he kept copies.'

'Might be some in the storeroom,' Grimm conceded. 'I was always warning that he didn't back up enough…' He met her eyes. 'The hard disks didn't make it?'

'Mostly not. We've brought some stuff with us, wondered if maybe you'd have better luck than us.'

Grimm gave a shrug. 'I can take a look.' Clarke handed her car keys to Goodyear.

'Fetch up the bags,' she said. The phone had started ringing, and Harmison picked it up.

'CR Studios, how can I help you?' She listened for a moment. 'No, I'm sorry,' she began to apologise. 'We can't take on any new work at the moment, due to unforeseen circumstances.'

Clarke still had the engineer's attention. “You could go it alone,'

she told him quietly. 'I mean the two of you…' Glancing towards Harmison. He nodded and got up, walked over to the desk and gestured for the telephone. 'One moment, please,' Harmison said into the mouthpiece. 'I'm just going to hand you over to Mr Grimm.'

'How can I help?' Terry Grimm asked the caller. Harmison wandered over towards Clarke, her arms folded again, as if to form a shield against further blows.

'First time I was here,' Clarke said, 'Terry hinted that Mr Riordan recorded everything.'

The secretary nodded. 'One time, the three of us went out for dinner. They brought something we hadn't ordered. Charlie pulled this little recorder from his pocket and played it back to the staff, proving it was them to blame.' She was smiling at the memory.

There've been times I'd have done the same,' Clarke acknowledged.

The, too. Plumbers who promise to be there at eleven… people on the phone who say the cheque's in the post…'

Clarke was smiling now, too. But Harmison's face fell again.

'I feel so sorry for Terry. He's worked every bit as hard as Charlie, probably put in more hours, truth be told.'

'What sort of work have you got on just now?'

'Radio ads… couple of audio books… plus editing the Parliament project.'

'What Parliament project?'

“You know they have a Festival of Politics every year?'

'I didn't, actually.'

'Had to happen – we've got festivals for everything else. This coming year, there's an artist they've commissioned to put something together. He works in video and so on, and he wanted a sound collage to go with whatever it is he's doing.'

'So you've been taping stuff at the Parliament?'

'Hundreds of hours of it.' Harmison nodded towards the battery of machines. But Grimm was clicking his fingers, gaining her attention.

'I'll just put my assistant back on,' he was telling the caller. 'And she'll fix up a meeting.'

Harmison fairly trotted towards the desk and the appointments diary. Clarke reckoned it was his use of 'assistant' that had done it. No longer a mere secretary or receptionist…

Grimm was nodding in gratitude as he approached Clarke.

'Thanks for the tip,' he said.

'Hazel was just telling me about the Festival of Politics.'

Grimm turned his eyes heavenwards. What a nightmare. Artist hadn't a clue what he wanted. Bounces around between Geneva and New York and Madrid… We'd get the occasional e-mail or fax.

Get me some sounds of a debate, but make sure it's heated. All the meetings of one of the committees… some of the guided tours…

interviews with visitors… He'd be vague as hell, then tell us we hadn't done what he wanted. Luckily we kept all his e-mails.'

'And of course Charlie would have taped any meetings or phone calls?'

'How did you guess?'

'Hazel told me.'

'Well, our artist friend loved that. I mean, not everyone likes it when they find out they've been secretly taped…'

'I can imagine,' Clarke drawled.

'But he thought it was hysterical.'

'Sounds like a big project, though.'

'Nearly done. I put together two hours of collage, and so far he seems to like it. Plans to use it with some video installation at the Parliament building.' Grimm gave a shrug, which seemed to sum up his attitude to 'artists'.

“What's his name?'

'Roddy Denholm.'

'And he's not based in Scotland?'

'Has a flat in the New Town, but never seems to be there.'

The intercom buzzed, letting them know Goodyear was back with the spools of tape and the digital recorders.

'What is it you think we might get from them?' Grimm asked, staring at the polythene sacks as Goodyear placed them on the floor.

'To be honest, I'm not sure,' Clarke admitted. Hazel Harmison had finished making the appointment and was now staring in

morbid fascination at the sacks. She'd folded her arms once more, but it wasn't proving at all effective.

'Did you make the appointment for today or tomorrow?' Grimm asked her, hoping to divert her attention.

'Midday tomorrow.'

'This recording you've been doing at the Parliament…' Clarke asked Grimm. “You said you'd been taping one of the committees – mind if I ask which one?'

'Urban Regeneration,' he stated. 'Not exactly a cauldron of human drama, believe me.'

'I believe you,' Clarke told him. Interesting all the same. 'So was it you doing the actual recording rather than Mr Riordan?'

'Both of us.'

'That committee's chaired by Megan Macfarlane, isn't it?'

'How do you know that?'

“You might say I've got an interest in politics. Mind if I take a listen?'

'To the Urban Regeneration Committee?' He sounded nonplussed.

'You've gone beyond an “interest in politics”, Sergeant…'

She took the bait: 'And into what?'

'Masochism,' he stated, turning towards the mixing desk.

'Gill Morgan?' Rebus asked into the intercom. He was standing outside a door on Great Stuart Street. Cars rumbled across the setts, taking drivers and passengers to Queen Street and George Street. The morning rush hour wasn't quite over and Rebus had to lean down, ear pressed to the intercom's loudspeaker, to make out the eventual reply.

'What is it?' The voice sounded bleary.

'Sorry if I woke you,' Rebus pretended to apologise. 'I'm a police officer, a few follow-up questions regarding Miss Sievewright.'

“You've got to be joking.' Bleary and irritated.

'Wait till you hear the punchline.'

But she'd missed that: the setts sending tremors through a lorry.

Rather than repeat himself, Rebus just asked to be let in.

'I need to get dressed.'

He repeated the request and the buzzer sounded. He pushed open the door into the communal stairwell and climbed the two nights.

She'd left her door ajar for him, but he gave a knock anyway.

Wait in the living room!' she called, presumably from her bedroom.

Rebus could see the living room. It was at the end of a wide

hall, the sort that often got called a 'dining hallway', meaning you were supposed to have a table there and entertain your friends to supper rather than have them traipse all over your actual living room. It seemed to him a very Edinburgh thing. Welcoming, but not very. The living room itself boasted stark white walls to complement stark white furniture. It was like walking into an igloo. The floorboards had been stripped and varnished and he concentrated on them for a moment, trying to avoid becoming snow-blind. It was a big room with a high ceiling and two huge windows. He couldn't imagine that Gill Morgan shared with anyone, the place was too tidy. There was a flat-screen TV on the wall above the fireplace and no ornaments anywhere. It was like the rooms in the Sunday newspaper supplements, the ones designed to be photographed rather than lived in.

'Sorry about that,' a young woman said, walking into the room. 'I realised after I'd let you in that you could be anybody. The officers the other day carried ID – can I see yours?'

Rebus got out his warrant card, and as she studied it, so he studied her. She was tiny – almost elfin-like. Probably not even five feet tall, and with a pointy little face and almond-shaped eyes.

Brown hair tied into a ponytail, and arms the thickness of pipe cleaners. Hawes and Tibbet had said she was a model of some kind… Rebus found that hard to believe. Weren't models supposed to be tall? Satisfied with his credentials, Morgan had sunk into a white leather armchair, tucking her legs beneath her.

'So how can I help you, Detective Inspector?' she asked, hands clasped to her knees.

'My colleagues said you have a modelling career, Miss Morgan – must be going well for you?' He made show of admiring the living room's proportions.

'I'm moving into acting, actually.'

'Really?' Rebus tried to sound interested. Most people would have responded to his original question by asking what business it was of his, but not Gill Morgan. In her universe, talking about herself came naturally.

'I've been taking classes.'

Would I have seen you in anything?'

'Probably not yet,' she preened, 'but there's some screen work on the horizon.'

'Screen work? That's impressive…' Rebus lowered himself on to the chair opposite her.

'Just a small part in a television drama…' Morgan seemed to

feel the need to play down the significance, no doubt in the hope that he'd think she was being modest.

'Exciting, all the same,' he told her, playing along. 'And it probably helps explain something we've been wondering about.'

Now she looked puzzled. 'Oh?'

'When my colleagues spoke to you, they could see you were trying to feed them a line. Fact that you say you're an actor explains why you thought you'd get away with it.' He leaned forward, as if to take her into his confidence. 'But here's the thing, Miss Morgan, we're now investigating two murders, and that means we can't afford to get sidetracked. So before you get into serious trouble, maybe you should own up.'

Morgan's lips were the same pale colour as her cheeks. Her eyelids fluttered, and for a moment he thought she might faint.

'I don't know what you mean,' she said.

'I wouldn't give up those lessons just yet – looks to me like you've got a few things to learn about delivering a line. The blood's left your face, your voice is shaking, and you're blinking like you've been caught in someone's headlights.' Rebus sat back again. He'd been here five minutes, but he thought he could read the whole of Gill Morgan's life in what he'd seen of her so far: cushy upbringing, parents who poured money and love over her, schooled in the art of confidence and never having faced a challenge she couldn't sweet talk her way out of.

Until now.

'Let's take it slowly,' he said in a softening voice, 'ease you into it. How did you meet Nancy?'

'At a party, I think.'

Tou think?'

'I'd been to a few bars with some friends… we ended up at this party and I can't remember if Nancy was already there or if she'd somehow attached herself to the group along the way.'

Rebus nodded his understanding. 'How long ago was this?'

'Three or four months. Around Festival time.'

'I'm guessing the two of you come from different backgrounds.'

'Absolutely.'

'So what did you find in common?' She didn't seem to have a ready answer. 'I mean, something must have helped you bond?'

'She's just good fun.'

'Why do I get the feeling you're lying again? Is it the shaky voice or the fluttering eyelids?'

Morgan leapt to her feet. 'I don't have to answer any of your

questions! Do you know who my mother is?'

'Wondered how long it would take,' Rebus said with a satisfied smile. 'Go on then, impress me.' He clasped his hands behind his head.

'She's the wife of Sir Michael Addison.'

'Meaning he's not your actual father?'

'My father died when I was twelve.'

'And you kept his surname?' Colour had flooded back into the young woman's cheeks. She'd decided to sit down again, but keeping her feet on the floor this time. Rebus unclasped his hands and rested them on the chair arms. 'So who's Sir Michael Addison?' he asked.

'Chief executive of First Albannach Bank.'

'A useful sort to know, I'm guessing.'

'He rescued my mother from alcoholism,' Morgan stated, eyes boring into Rebus's. 'And he loves both of us very much.'

'Nice for you, but it doesn't help the poor sod who ended up dead on King's Stables Road. Your friend Nancy found the body, then lied to us about where she'd been heading home from. She gave your name, Gill, and your address. Meaning she must think you're one hell of a friend, the kind who'd go to jail on her behalf rather than tell the truth…'

He didn't realise his voice had risen, but when he stopped, there was a moment's reverberation from the walls.

“You think your stepdad would want you doing that, Gill?' he went on, voice softening again. 'You think your poor mum would want that?'

Gill Morgan had bowed her head and seemed to be analysing the backs of her hands. 'No,' she said quietly.

'No,' Rebus agreed. 'Now tell me, if I were to ask you right now where Nancy lives, could you give me an answer?'

A single tear dropped into the young woman's lap. She squeezed her eyes with thumb and forefinger, then blinked any further tears back. 'Somewhere off the Cowgate.'

'Doesn't sound to me,' Rebus said, 'as if you really know her all that well. So if the two of you aren't what you might call bosom buddies, why are you covering for her?'

Morgan said something he didn't catch. He asked her to repeat it. She glared at him, and this time the words were unmistakable.

'She was buying me drugs.' She let the words sink in. 'Buying us drugs, I should say – some for her, and some for me. Just a bit of pot, nothing to send civilisation crashing to its knees.'

'Is that how you became friends?'

'I dare say it's part of the reason.' But Morgan couldn't really see the point of lying. 'Maybe quite a lot of the reason.'

'The party you met her at, she brought dope with her?'

Tes.'

'Was she sharing or selling?'

We're not talking about some Medellin cartel here, Inspector…'

'Cocaine, too?' Rebus deduced. Morgan realised she'd said too much. 'And you had to protect her because otherwise she was going to – pardon the pun – grass you up?'

'Is that the punchline you were talking about?'

'I didn't think you'd heard that.'

'I heard.'

'So Nancy Sievewright wasn't here that night?'

'She was supposed to turn up at midnight with my share. It annoyed me at the time, because I'd had to rush home.'

'Where from?'

'I've been helping out one of my drama teachers. He has a sideline running one of those nighttime walking tours of the city.'

'Ghost tours, you mean?'

'I know they're preposterous, but the tourists like them and it's a bit of a giggle.'

'So you're one of the actors? Jumping out from the shadows and going “Boo!”?'

'I have to play several roles, actually.' She sounded hurt by his glibness. 'And between set-ups, I have to run like blazes to the next location, changing costume as I go.'

Rebus remembered Gary Walsh saying something about the ghost tours. 'Where does it happen?' he asked now.

'St Giles to the Canongate, same route each night.'

'Do you know of any tours that take in King's Stables Road?'

'No.'

Rebus nodded thoughtfully. 'So who exactly do you play?'

She gave a puzzled laugh. 'Why the interest?' 'Indulge me.'

She puckered her lips. 'Well,' she said at last, 'I'm the plague doctor… I have to wear a mask like a hawk's beak – the doctor would fill it with potpourri to ward off the stench from his patients.'

'Nice.'

'And then I'm a ghost… and sometimes even the Mad Monk.'

'Mad Monk? Bit of a challenge for a woman, isn't it?'

'I only have to do a bit of moaning and groaning.'

'Yes, but they can see you're not a bloke.'

'The hood covers most of my face,' she explained, smiling again.

'Hood?' Rebus echoed. 'I wouldn't mind having a look at that.'

'The costumes stay with the company, Inspector. That way, when one actor's off sick, they can use another as cover.'

Rebus nodded as if satisfied by the explanation. 'Tell me,' he asked, 'did Nancy ever come to see you perform?'

'A couple of weeks back.'

'Enjoy herself, did she?'

'Seemed to.' She gave another nervy little laugh. 'Am I walking into some trap here? I can't see what any of this has to do with your case.'

'Probably nothing,' Rebus assured her.

Morgan grew thoughtful. 'You're going to talk to Nancy now, aren't you? She'll know I've told you.'

'Afraid you may be in the market for another supplier, Miss Morgan. Shouldn't worry, though – there are plenty of them about.'

Rebus got to his feet. She followed suit, standing on tiptoe and still below the height of his chin.

'Is there…' She swallowed back the rest of the question but decided she had to know. 'Is there any reason why my mother might get to hear of this?'

'Depends, really,' Rebus said, after a moment's pretend thought.

'We catch the killer… it comes to trial… the time-line is gone through minute by minute. Defence is going to want some doubt in the jury's minds, and that means showing any witnesses to be less than trustworthy. They show Nancy 's original statement to be a pile of dung, and it all starts to smell from then on in…' He gazed down at her. 'That's the worst-case scenario,' he offered. 'Might never happen.'

'Which is another way of saying it might.'

Tou should have told the truth from the start, Gill. Lying is all very well for an actor, but out here in the real world we tend to call it perjury.'

22

'I'm not sure I can take all this in,' Siobhan Clarke admitted. They were gathered in the CID suite. Clarke was pacing up and down in front of the Murder Wall. She passed by photos of Alexander Todorov in life and in death, a photocopied pathology report, names and phone numbers. Rebus was polishing off a ham salad sandwich, washed down with polystyrene tea. Hawes and Tibbet sat at their desks, swaying gently in their chairs, as if in time to a piece of music only they could hear. Todd Goodyear was sipping milk from a half-litre carton.

'Want me to recap for you?' Rebus offered. 'Gill Morgan's stepdad runs First Albannach, she buys drugs from Nancy Sievewright, and she has ready access to a hooded cape.' He shrugged as if it was no big deal. 'Oh, and Sievewright knew about the cape, too.'

'We need to bring her in,' Clarke decided. ' Phyl, Col – go fetch.'

They managed a synchronised nod as they rose from their chairs.

'What if she's not there?' Tibbet asked.

'Find her,' Clarke demanded.

'Yes, boss,' he said, sliding his jacket back on. Clarke was glaring at him, but Rebus knew Tibbet hadn't been trying for sarcasm.

He'd called her 'boss' because that was what she was. She seemed to sense this, and glanced towards Rebus. He balled up the wrapper from his sandwich, and missed the waste-bin by about three feet.

'She doesn't seem like a dealer to me,' Clarke said.

'Maybe she's not,' Rebus responded. 'Maybe she's just a friend who likes to share.'

'But if she charges for that share,' Goodyear argued, 'doesn't

that make her a dealer?' He had walked over to the waste-bin and picked up Rebus's wrapper, making sure it found its target. Rebus wondered if the young man was even aware that he'd done it.

'So if she wasn't at Gill Morgan's flat that night, where was she?'

Clarke asked.

While we're adding ingredients to the broth,' Rebus interrupted, 'here's another for you. Barman at the hotel saw Andropov and Cafferty with another man, the night Todorov was murdered. The man in question is a Labour minister called Jim Bakewell.'

'He was on Question Time,' Clarke stated. Rebus nodded slowly.

He'd decided not to mention his own run-in with Andropov at the Caledonian.

'Did he talk to the poet?' Clarke asked.

'I don't think so. Cafferty bought Todorov a drink at the bar, then, when the poet hoofed it, he went and joined Andropov and Bakewell at their table. I sat where they'd been sitting – there's a blind spot, doubtful Andropov saw Todorov.'

'Coincidence?' Goodyear offered.

'We've not much room for that in CID,' Rebus told him.

'Doesn't that mean you often see connections where none exist?'

'Everything's connected, Todd. Six degrees of separation, they call it. I'd've thought a bible-thumper would concur.'

'I've never thumped a bible in my life.'

Tou should try it – good way of letting off steam.'

'When you two boys have quite finished,' Clarke chided them. Tfou want us to talk to this Bakewell character?' she asked Rebus.

'At this rate, we'd be as well precognosing the whole Parliament,'

Goodyear stated.

'How do you mean?' Rebus asked.

So then it was their turn to tell him about their morning: Roddy Denholm's project and the Urban Regeneration Committee recordings.

As if to prove the point, Goodyear held up a box of DAT tapes.

'Now if only we had a player,' he said.

'One's on its way from Howdenhall,' Clarke reminded him.

'Hours and hours of fun,' he muttered, laying the small cassettes out in a row across the desk in front of him. He stood them on their sides, as if attempting to build a run of dominoes.

'I think the allure of CID is beginning to wane,' Rebus suggested to Clarke.

Tou could be right,' she agreed, giving the desk a nudge so that the tape cases fell over.

'Think we need to talk to Megan Macfarlane again?' was Rebus's next question.

'On what grounds?'

'That she probably knew Riordan. Funny she has links to both the victims…'

Clarke was nodding, without looking entirely convinced. 'This case is a bloody minefield,' she eventually groaned, turning back to the Murder Wall. Rebus noticed for the first time that a photo of Charles Riordan had been added to the collection.

'A single killer?' he suggested.

'Let me just go ask the ouija board,' she shot back.

'Not in front of the children,' Rebus teased her. Goodyear had found a biscuit wrapper on the floor and was tidying it into the bin.

We've got cleaners to do that, Todd,' Rebus reminded him. Then, to Siobhan Clarke: 'One killer or two?'

'I really don't know.'

'Close enough – the correct answer should be “doesn't matter”.

All that's important at this stage is that we're treating the two deaths as connected.'

She nodded her agreement. 'Macrae's going to want the team enlarged.'

'The more the merrier.'

But when her eyes drilled into his, he could see she wasn't confident.

She'd never led a full-scale inquiry before. The death at the G8 last year had been kept low-key, so as not to grab headlines.

But once the media got to hear that they were dealing with a double murder, they'd be resetting their front pages and demanding plenty of action and a quick result.

'Macrae's going to want a DI heading it up,' Clarke stated. Rebus wished Goodyear wasn't there – the pair of them could talk properly.

He shook his head.

'Make your case,' he said. 'If you've anyone in mind for the team, tell him. That way you get the people you want.'

'I've already got the people I want.'

'Aww, isn't that sweet? But what the public needs to hear is that there's a twenty-strong force of detectives prowling the badlands, hot on the villain's scent. Five of us in a room in Gayfield Square doesn't have the same ring to it.'

'Five was enough for Enid Blyton,' Clarke said with a thin smile.

'Worked for Scooby Doo, too,' Goodyear added.

'Only if you include the dog,' Clarke corrected him. Then, to Rebus: 'So who do I start annoying first – Macrae, Macfarlane or Jim Bakewell?'

'Go for the hat-trick,' he told her. The phone on his desk started ringing and he picked it up.

'DI Rebus,' he announced to the caller. He pursed his lips, gave a couple of grunts in response to whatever was being said, and let the receiver clatter back into its cradle.

'The chiefs are demanding a sacrifice,' he explained, hauling himself to his feet.

James Corbyn, Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, was waiting for Rebus in his office on the second floor of the Fettes Avenue HQ. Corbyn was in his early forties, a parting in his black hair and a face that shone as though freshly shaved and cologned.

People usually paid too much attention to the Chief Constable's grooming, as a way of not staring at the oversized mole on his right cheek. Officers had noticed that, when interviewed on TV, he always stayed right-of-screen, so that the other side of his face would be in profile. There had even been discussion as to whether the blemish most resembled the coastline of Fife or a terrier's head.

His initial nickname of Trouser Press had soon been supplanted by the more telling Mole Man, which Rebus seemed to think was also the name of a cartoon villain. He'd met Corbyn only three or four times, never (so far) for a pat on the back or a congratulatory handshake. Nothing he'd heard over the phone had suggested a change of script this time round.

'In you come then,' Corbyn himself snapped, having opened his door just wide enough to stick his head around. By the time Rebus rose from the corridor's only chair and pushed the door all the way open, Corbyn was back behind his large and unfeasibly tidy desk. There was a man seated across from the Chief Constable.

He was bulky and balding, with an overfed face tinged pink by hypertension. He rose up just long enough to shake Rebus's hand, introducing himself as Sir Michael Addison.

'She works fast, your stepdaughter,' Rebus told the banker. And Addison was no slouch himself; no more than ninety minutes since Rebus had left Gill Morgan's flat, and here they all were. 'Nice to have friends, isn't it?'

'Gill's explained everything,' Addison was saying. 'Seems she's fallen in with a bad lot, but her mother and I will deal with that.'

'Her mother knows, does she?' Rebus decided to probe.

'We're hoping that may not be necessary…'

'Wouldn't want her falling off the wagon,' Rebus agreed.

The banker seemed stunned by this; Corbyn took the silence as his cue. 'Look, John, I can't see what you've got to gain from pressing the point.' His use of Rebus's first name was a message that they were all on the same side here.

'What point might that be, sir?' Rebus asked, refusing to play along.

'You know what I mean. Young girls are susceptible… maybe Gill was scared to tell the truth.'

'Because she'd be losing her supplier?' Rebus pretended to guess.

He turned towards Addison. 'The friend's called Nancy Sievewright, by the way – mean anything to you?'

'I've never met her.'

'One of your colleagues has, though – name of Roger Anderson.

Seems he can't keep away from her.'

'I know Roger,' Addison admitted. 'He was there when that poet's body was found.'

'Found by Nancy Sievewright,' Rebus stressed.

'And does any of this,' Corbyn broke in, 'really concern Gill?'

'She lied to a murder inquiry.'

'And now she's told you the truth,' Corbyn pressed. 'Surely that's good enough?'

'Not really, sir.' He turned to Addison. 'Here's another name for you – Stuart Janney.'

“Yes?'

'He works for you, too.'

'He works for the bank rather than for me personally.'

'And spends his days hanging out with MSPs and trying to protect dodgy Russians.'

'Now wait a minute.' Addison 's fleshy face had gone from pink to red, highlighting razor-rash at the neck.

'I've just been talking with my colleagues,' Rebus ploughed on, 'about how everything's connected. Country the size of Scotland, city as small as Edinburgh, you start to see the truth of it. Your bank's hoping to do some big deals with the Russians, isn't it?

Maybe you took some time out of your busy schedule for a round of golf with them at Gleneagles? Stuart Janney making sure everything went smoothly…?'

'I really don't see what any of this has to do with my stepdaughter.'

'Might be a bit embarrassing if it turns out she's linked to the Todorov murder… doesn't matter how many degrees of separation you try to make out there are. She leads straight to you, straight to the top of FAB. Don't suppose Andropov and his pals will be too thrilled with that.'

Corbyn banged his fists against the table, eyes like burning coals. Addison was shaking, levering himself to his feet. 'This was a mistake,' he was saying. 'I blame myself for not wanting to see her hurt.'

'Michael,' Corbyn started to say, but then broke off, having nothing with which to finish the sentence.

'I notice your stepdaughter hasn't taken your surname, sir,'

Rebus said. 'Doesn't stop her asking for favours, though, does it?

And that lovely apartment of hers – owned by the bank, is it?'

Addison 's overcoat and scarf were hanging on a peg behind the door, and that was his destination.

'An appeal to common decency, that's all,' the banker was saying, more to himself than anyone else. He'd managed to get one arm into a sleeve but was struggling with the other. Nevertheless, his need to get out was too great, and the coat was hanging off him as he left. The door stayed open. Corbyn and Rebus were on their feet, facing one another.

'That seemed to go well,' Rebus commented.

“You're a bloody fool, Rebus.'

'What happened to “John”? Reckon he'll hike your mortgage, just out of spite?'

'He's a good man – and a personal friend,' Corbyn spat.

'And his stepdaughter is a lying drug-user.' Rebus offered a shrug. 'Like they say, you can't choose your family. You can, however, choose your friends… but FAB's friends seem to be a fairly rum bunch, too.'

'First Albannach is one of the few bloody success stories this country has!' Corbyn erupted again.

'Doesn't make them the good guys.'

'I suppose you opt to see yourself as the “good guy”?' Corbyn let out a jagged laugh. 'Christ, you've got a nerve.'

Was there anything else, sir? Maybe a neighbour who wants CID to focus its scant resources on the theft of a garden gnome?'

'Just one last thing.' Corbyn had seated himself again. His next three words were spaced evenly. “You… are… history.'

“Thanks for the reminder.'

'I mean it. I know you've got three days left till retirement, but

you're going to spend them on suspension.'

Rebus stared hard at the man. 'Isn't that just a tiny bit petty and pathetic, sir?'

'In which case, you're going to love the rest of it.' Corbyn took a deep breath. 'If I hear you've so much as crossed the threshold at Gayfield Square, I'll demote each and every officer within your compass. What I want you to do, Rebus, is crawl away from here and tick off the days on the calendar. You're no longer a serving detective, and never will be.' He held out the palm of one hand.

'Warrant card, please.'

Want to fight me for it?'

– 'Only if you're ready to spend time in the cells. I think we could hold you for three days without too much trouble.' The hand twitched, inviting Rebus's cooperation. 'I can think of at least three chief constables before me who would love to be here right now,'

Corbyn cooed.

The, too,' Rebus agreed. 'We'd get a barbershop quartet going and sing about the fuckwit sitting in front of us.'

'And that,' Corbyn added triumphantly, 'is the reason you're being suspended.'

Rebus couldn't believe the hand was still there. 'You want my warrant card,' he said quietly, 'send the boys round for it.' He turned and headed for the door. There was a secretary standing there, clutching a file to her chest, eyes and mouth gawping. Rebus confirmed with a nod that her ears had not deceived her, and mouthed the word 'fuckwit', just to be on the safe side.

Outside in the car park he unlocked his Saab, but then stood there, hand on the door handle, staring into space. For a while now, he'd known the truth – that it wasn't so much the underworld you had to fear as the overworld. Maybe that explained why Cafferty had, to all purposes and appearances, gone legit. A few friends in the right places and deals got done, fates decided. Never in his life had Rebus felt like an insider. From time to time he'd tried -during his years in the army and his first few months as a cop.

But the less he felt he belonged, the more he came to mistrust the others around him with their games of golf and their 'quiet words', their stitch-ups and handshakes, palm-greasing and scratching of backs. Stood to reason someone like Addison would go straight to the top; he'd done it because he could, because in his world it felt entirely justified and correct. Rebus had to admit, though, he'd underestimated Corbyn, hadn't expected him to pull that particular trick. Kicked into touch until gold-watch day.

'Fuckwit,' he said out loud, this time aiming the word at no one but himself.

That was that, then. End of the line, end of the job. These past weeks, he'd been trying so hard not to think about it – throwing himself into other work, any work. Dusting off all those old unsolveds, trying to get Siobhan interested, as if she didn't have more than enough on her plate in the here and now – a situation unlikely to change in the future. The alternative was to take the whole lot home with him… call it his retirement gift; something to keep his brain active when the idea of the pub didn't appeal.

For three decades now this job of his had sustained him, and all it had cost him was his marriage and a slew of friendships and shattered relationships. No way he was ever going to feel like a civilian again; too late for that; too late for him to change. He would become invisible to the world, not just to revelling teenagers.

'Fuck,' he said, drawing the word out way past its natural length.

It was the casual arrogance that had flipped his switch, Addison sitting there in the full confidence of his power – and the stepdaughter's arrogance, too, in thinking one weepy phone call would make everything better. It was, Rebus realised, how things worked in the overworld. Addison had never woken from a beating in a piss-stained tenement stairwell. His stepdaughter had never worked the streets for money for her next fix and the kids' dinner.

They lived in another place entirely – no doubt part of the buzz Gill Morgan got from mixing with the likes of Nancy Sievewright.

The same buzz Corbyn got from having one of the most powerful men in Europe come to him with a favour.

The same buzz Cafferty got, buying drinks for businessmen and politicians… Cafferty: unfinished business, and likely to remain that way if Rebus heeded Corbyn's orders. Cafferty unfettered, free to commute between underworld and overworld. Unless Rebus went back indoors right now and apologised to the Chief Constable, promising to toe the line.

The scrapheap's hurtling towards me as it is… give me this one last chance… please, sir… please…

'Aye, right,' Rebus said, yanking open the car door and stabbing the key into the ignition.

23

' Nancy, we're going to record this, okay?'

Sievewright's mouth twitched. 'Do I need a lawyer?'

'Do you want a lawyer?'

'Dunno.'

Clarke nodded for Goodyear to switch on the deck. She'd slotted home both tapes herself – one for them and one for Sievewright.

But Goodyear was hesitating and Clarke had to remind herself that he'd not done this sort of thing before. Interview Room 1 felt stuffy and sweltering, as if it was sucking all the heat from the rooms around it. The central heating pipes hissed and gurgled and couldn't be turned down. Even Goodyear had taken off his jacket, and there were damp patches beneath his arms. Yet IR3, two doors along, was freezing, maybe because IR1 was keeping all the heat to itself.

'That one and that one,' she explained, pointing to the relevant buttons. He pressed them, the red light came on, and both tapes started running. Clarke identified herself and Goodyear, her final few words drowned by the scrape of his chair as he drew it in towards the desk. He gave a little grimace of apology, and she repeated herself, then asked Sievewright to state her name, before adding date and time to the recording. Formalities done with, she sat back a little in her chair. The Todorov file was in front of her, autopsy photo uppermost. She had padded the file itself with blank sheets of copy paper, to make it seem more impressive and, perhaps, more threatening. Goodyear had nodded admiringly.

Same went for the post-mortem photo, plucked from the Murder Wall to remind Sievewright of the grim seriousness of the case.

The young woman certainly looked unnerved. Hawes and Tibbet

had explained nothing of their appearance at her door, and had kept tight-lipped during the drive to Gayfield Square. Sievewright had then been left in IR1 for the best part of forty minutes, without any offer of tea or water. And when Clarke and Goodyear had come in, they'd both been carrying a fresh brew – even though Goodyear himself had insisted he wasn't thirsty.

'For effect,' Clarke had told him.

Next to the file on the table sat Clarke's mobile phone, and next to that a pad of paper and a pen. Goodyear, too, was bringing out a notebook.

'Now then, Nancy,' Clarke began. 'Want to tell us what you were really up to the night you found the victim?'

'What?' Sievewright's mouth stayed open long after the question had left it.

'The night you were out at your friend's flat…' Clarke made show of consulting the file. 'Gill Morgan.' Her eyes met Sievewright's.

Tour good friend Gill.'

Tes?'

Your story was that you'd been round to her flat and were on your way home. But that was a lie, wasn't it?'

'No.'

'Well, somebody's lying to us, Nancy.'

'What's she been saying?' The voice taking on a harder edge.

We're led to believe, Nancy, that you were on your way to her flat, not from it. Did you have the drugs on you when you tripped over the body?'

'What drugs?'

'The ones you were going to share with Gill.'

'She's a lying cow!'

'I thought she was your friend? Enough of a friend to stick to the story you gave her.'

'She's lying,' Sievewright repeated, eyes reduced to slits.

'Why would she do that, Nancy? Why would a friend do that?'

Tou'd have to ask her.'

'We already have. Thing is, her story fits with other facts in the case. A woman was seen hanging around outside the car park…'

'I already told you, I never saw her.'

'Maybe because you were her?'

'I look nothing like that picture you showed me!'

'See, she was offering herself for sex, and we know why some women will do that, don't we?'

'Do we?'

'Money for drugs, Nancy.'

'What?'

'You needed the money to buy drugs you could sell on to Gill.'

'She'd already given me the money, you dozy cow!'

Clarke didn't bother replying; just waited for Nancy 's outburst to sink in. The teenager's face crumpled and she knew she'd said more than she should.

'What I mean is…' she stumbled, but the lie wouldn't come.

'Gill Morgan gave you money to buy her some dope,' Clarke stated.

'To be honest with you – and this is for the record – I couldn't give a monkey's. Doesn't sound to me like you're some big-shot dealer.

If you had been, you'd have scarpered that night rather than sticking around to wait for us. But that makes me think you didn't have anything on you at the time, which means you were either waiting to score or on your way to score.'

'Yes?'

'I wouldn't mind knowing which it was.'

'The second one.'

'On your way to meet your dealer?'

Sievewright just nodded. 'Nancy Sievewright nods,' Clarke said for the benefit of the slowly spooling tapes. 'So you weren't hanging around outside the car park?'

'I already said, didn't I?'

'Just want to make sure.' Clarke made show of turning to another page in the file. 'Ms Morgan has ambitions to be an actress,'

she stated.

Teah.'

'Ever seen her in anything?'

'Don't think she's been in anything.'

Tou sound sceptical.'

'First she was going to write for the papers, then it was TV presenting, then modelling…'

'What we might call a gadfly,' Clarke agreed.

Tou call it what you want.'

'Must be fun, though, hanging out with her?'

'She gets good invites,' Sievewright admitted.

'But she doesn't always take you with her?' Clarke guessed.

'Not often.' Sievewright shifted in her chair.

'I forget, how did you two meet?'

'At a party in the New Town… got talking to one of her pals in a pub, and he said I could tag along with them.'

'You know who Gill's father is?'

'I know he must have a few quid.'

'He runs a bank.'

'Figures.'

Clarke turned to another sheet of paper. Really, she wanted Rebus there, so she could bounce ideas off him, and let him do some of the running while she collected her thoughts between rounds.

Todd Goodyear looked stiff and uncertain and was gnawing away at his pen like a beaver with a particularly juicy length of timber.

'She works on one of the city's ghost tours, did you know that?'

Clarke asked eventually.

'Can I get a drink or something?'

'We're nearly done.'

Sievewright scowled, like a kid on the verge of a major sulk.

Clarke repeated her question.

'She took me along with her one time,' the teenager admitted.

'How was it?'

Sievewright shrugged. 'Okay, I suppose. Bit boring really.'

Tou weren't scared?' The question received a snorted response.

Clarke closed the file slowly, as if winding up. But she had a few more questions. She waited until Sievewright was readying to get up before asking the first of them. 'Remember the cloak Gill wears?'

'What cloak?'

'When she's being the Mad Monk.'

'What about it?'

'Ever seen it at her flat?'

'No.'

'Has she ever been to your flat?'

'Came to a party once.'

Clarke pretended to spend a few moments considering this. “You know I'm not going to be chasing you for drugs offences, Nancy, but I wouldn't mind knowing your dealer's address.'

'No chance.' The teenager sounded adamant. She was still poised to get up; in her mind, she was already leaving, meaning she'd want to give quick answers to any further questions. Clarke rapped her fingernails against the closed file.

'But you know him pretty well?'

'Says who?'

'I'm guessing you had some dope on you at that first party; explains how you made friends so quickly.'

'So?'

'So you're not going to give me a name?'

'Bloody right I'm not.'

'How did you meet him?'

'Through a friend.'

Tour flatmate? The one with the eyeliner?'

'None of your business.'

'The day I was there, quite an aroma was wafting from the living room…' Sievewright stayed tight-lipped. Tou in touch with your parents, Nancy?'

The question seemed to throw the young woman. 'Dad did a runner when I was ten.'

'And your mum?'

'Lives in Wardieburn.'

Not the city's most salubrious neighbourhood. 'See her much?'

'Is this turning into a social work interview?'

Clarke smiled indulgently. 'Had any more trouble from Mr Anderson?'

'Not yet.'

Tou think he'll be back?'

'He better think twice.'

'Funny thing is, he works for Gill's dad's bank.'

'So what?'

'Gill's never taken you to any of their parties? No possibility Mr Anderson could have met you there?'

'No,' Sievewright stated. Clarke let the silence linger, then leaned back in her chair and placed her palms on the tabletop.

'Again, just to be clear, you're not a prostitute and he's not one of your clients?' Sievewright glared at her, forming some sort of comeback. Clarke didn't give her the chance. 'I think that's us, then,' she said. 'I want to thank you for coming in.'

'Didn't have much choice,' Sievewright complained.

'Interview ends at…' Clarke checked the time, announced it for the benefit of the recorder, then switched the machine off and ejected both tapes, sealing them in separate polythene bags. She handed one to Sievewright. 'Thanks again.' The young woman snatched the bag. 'PC Goodyear will see you out.'

'Do I get a lift home?'

'What are we, a taxi service?'

Sievewright gave a curl of the lip, letting Clarke know what she thought of that. Goodyear led her outside, while Clarke gave a twitch of her head to let him know she'd see him upstairs. Once the door was closed, Clarke lifted her phone to her ear.

Tou caught all of that?'

'Pretty much,' Rebus's voice said. She could hear him lighting up.

'This is going to cost us both a fortune in phone bills.'

'That depends on where you do the interviews,' he told her.

'Anywhere outside the station, I can sit in. It's only Gayfield itself Corbyn told me to avoid.'

Clarke slipped the cassette tape into the file and tucked it under her arm. 'Do you think I got everything I could out of her?' she asked.

Tou did fine. It was good to leave some of the big questions till the end… had me wondering if you were going to remember to ask them.'

'Did I leave anything out?'

'Not that I can think of.'

She was out in the corridor now, glad to find it about eight degrees cooler.

'One thing, though,' Rebus was adding. 'Why did you ask about her parents?'

'Not sure really. Maybe it's because we see so many like her – single-parent household, mum probably holding down a job, giving the daughter time to be led astray…'

'Are you going to go all liberal on me?'

'Growing up in Wardieburn… and then suddenly you're going to parties in the New Town.'

'And pushing drugs,' Rebus reminded her. Clarke shouldered open the door to the car park. He was there in his Saab, phone to his ear and a cigarette in his other hand. She folded her phone shut as she opened the passenger-side door and slid in, closing it after her. Rebus had put his own phone back in his pocket.

'That everything?' he asked, holding out a hand for the file.

'As much as I could photocopy without the troops suspecting.'

He removed the inch-deep block of unsullied copy paper. “You learned all the right tricks, Kwai Chang Caine.'

'Does that make you Master Po?'

'Didn't think you were old enough for Rung Fu.'

'Old enough for the reruns.' She watched him place the file on the back seat. 'All through the interview, I was praying you wouldn't cough or sneeze.'

'Couldn't risk lighting a ciggie either,' Rebus replied. She stared at him, but he was avoiding eye contact.

'How come,' she asked eventually, 'you couldn't play nice, just this once?'

'People like Corbyn seem to push my buttons,' he explained.

'Making them part of the majority,' she chided him.

'Maybe so,' he admitted. 'Are you going to interview Bakewell at the Parliament?' She nodded slowly. 'Am I invited?'

'Remind me, what does it mean to be “on suspension”?'

'Last time I looked, Shiv, the public were allowed into the Parliament building. Buy the man a coffee, and I could be seated at the next table over.'

'Or you could go home and let me talk to Corbyn, see if I can change his mind.'

'Won't happen,' he stated.

'Which – you going home or him changing his mind?'

'Both.'

'God give me strength,' she sighed.

'Amen to that… and speaking of the Almighty, I didn't hear much from young Todd during the interview.'

'He was there to observe.'

'It's all right, you know… you can admit that you missed me.'

'Weren't you just saying that I covered all the bases?'

She watched Rebus shrug. 'Maybe there were bases she kept hidden from us.'

'You're telling me you'd have teased the dealer's name out of her?'

'Twenty quid says I'll have it by day's end.'

'If Corbyn gets wind that you're still on the case…'

'But I won't be, DS Clarke. I'll be a civilian. Not much he can do about that, is there?'

'John…' she began to caution, but broke off, knowing she'd be wasting her breath. 'Keep me posted,' she muttered at last, opening the car door and easing herself out.

'Notice something?' he asked. She leaned back down into the car.

'What?'

He waved his arm, taking in the car park. 'The smell's gone…

Wonder if that's an omen.' He was smiling as he turned the key in the ignition, leaving Clarke with an unasked question: Good omen or bad?

24

' Nancy at home?' Rebus asked Sievewright's flatmate when the young man answered the door.

'No.'

No, because she'd been walking up Leith Street when Rebus had passed her in his Saab. Meaning he had maybe a twenty-minute start on her, always supposing she'd head straight for her flat.

'It's Eddie, right?' Rebus said. 'I was here a few days ago.'

'I remember.'

'Didn't catch your surname, though.'

'Gentry.'

'As in Bobbie Gentry.'

'Not many people know her these days.'

'I'm older than most people – got a couple of her albums at home.

Mind if I come in?' Rebus noted that Gentry had lost his bandanna but still wore the smudgy eyeliner. 'She told me to be here at three,'

he lied blithely.

'Someone was at the door for her a while back…' Gentry was reluctant, but Rebus's stare told him resistance was futile. He opened the door a little wider and Rebus gave a little bow of the head as he walked in. The living room smelt of stale tobacco and something that could have been patchouli oil – been a while since Rebus had come across that particular scent. He wandered over to the window and peered down on to Blair Street.

'Tell you a funny story,' he said, back still to Eddie Gentry.

'There's a warren of basements across the way where bands used to practise. Owner was thinking of redeveloping, so he got some builders in. They were working in these tunnels – miles and miles of them – and they started to hear unearthly groans…'

'The massage parlour next door,' Gentry said, cutting to the punchline.

“You've heard it.' Rebus turned from the window and studied some of the album sleeves – actual LPs rather than CDs. 'Caravan,'

he commented. ' Canterbury 's finest… didn't know people still listened to them.' There were other sleeves he recognised: the Fairports and Davey Graham and Pentangle.

'Somebody studying archaeology?' he guessed.

'I like a lot of the old stuff,' Gentry explained. He nodded towards the corner of the room. 'I play guitar.'

'So you do,' Rebus agreed, seeing a six-string acoustic nestling on its stand, a twelve-string lying on the floor behind it. 'Any good?'

In answer, Gentry picked up the six-string and settled on the sofa, legs crossed beneath him. He started to play, and Rebus realised that he'd grown the fingernails long on his right hand, each one a ready-made plectrum. Rebus knew the tune, even if he couldn't place it.

'Bert Jansch?' he guessed over the closing chord.

'From that album he did with John Renbourn.'

'Haven't listened to it in years.' Rebus nodded his appreciation.

Tfou're pretty good, son. Shame you can't make a living from it, eh?

Might have stopped you from dealing drugs.'

What?

' Nancy 's told us all about it.'

'Whoa, wait a minute.' Gentry put his guitar aside and rose to his feet. 'What's that you're saying?'

'A deaf musician?' Rebus sounded impressed.

'I heard the words, I just don't know why she would say that.'

'Night the poet was killed, she was picking up a delivery from the guy you introduced her to.'

'She didn't say that.' Gentry was trying to sound confident, but his eyes told Rebus a different story. 'I didn't introduce her to anybody V Rebus shrugged with his hands in his pockets. 'No skin off my nose,' he commented. 'She says you're dealing, you say you're not… We all know there's stuff being smoked here.'

'Stuff she gets from her boyfriend,' Gentry burst out. But then he corrected himself. 'He's not even her boyfriend… she just thinks he is.'

'Who's this?'

'I don't know. I mean, he's been here a couple of times, but he

just calls himself Sol – says it's Latin for “the sun”. Not that he strikes me as that bright.'

Rebus laughed as if this were the best joke he'd heard in a while, but Gentry wasn't smiling.

'I can't believe she'd try dropping me in it,' he muttered to himself.

'She dropped a pal of hers in it, too,' Rebus revealed. 'Got her to provide an alibi.' Rebus let his final word hang in the air.

'Alibi?' Gentry echoed. 'Christ, you think she killed that guy?'

Rebus offered another shrug. 'Tell me,' he said, 'does Nancy own anything like a cape or a cloak? Sort of thing a monk might wear?'

'No.' Gentry sounded bewildered by the question.

'Have you ever met her friend Gill?'

'Hooray Henrietta from the New Town?' Gentry screwed up his face.

Tou know her, then?'

'She came to a party a while back.'

'I hear that she throws a good party, too. You could offer to play a set.'

'I'd rather stick pins in my eyes.'

“You're probably right, same as I'd rather listen to Dick Gaughan than James Blunt.' Rebus sniffed loudly, drawing a handkerchief from his pocket. 'This Sol character… got an address for him?'

'Afraid not.'

'Not to worry.' Rebus was over at the window again, putting the handkerchief back as he gazed down on the street. Not long now till Nancy Sievewright returned. Top of Leith Street, then North Bridge and Hunter Square… 'Do you sing as well as play?'

'A little bit.'

'But not in a band?'

'No.'

Tou should get yourself up to Fife. Friend of mine says there's some sort of acoustic scene up there.'

Gentry was nodding. 'I've played Anstruther.'

'Funny to think of the East Neuk as the centre of anything…

used to be it was shut winter and weekends.'

Gentry smiled. 'Wait there, will you?' He was gone from the living room less than a minute. When he came back, he was holding something out towards Rebus – a CD in a clear plastic pocket.

There was a folded square of white paper with the titles of three tracks listed. 'My demo,' Gentry announced proudly.

'That's great,' Rebus said. 'After I've played it, do you want it back?'

'I can burn another one,' Gentry said with a shake of the head.

Rebus patted the disc against the palm of his left hand. 'I really appreciate that, Eddie. As long as you appreciate that it's not a bung of some kind.'

Gentry looked horrified. 'No, I just thought…'

But Rebus touched him on the shoulder, and assured him he was only joking. 'I'd best be off,' he said. 'Thanks again.' He gave a little wave with the CD and made for the hallway and the front door.

With the door closed behind him, he started down the stairs, just as Nancy Sievewright was making her way up, still holding the sealed polythene bag with the interview tape inside. Rebus offered her a nod and a smile, but said nothing. All the same, he could feel her watching his descent. At the bottom, he looked up – sure enough, she hadn't moved.

'Just told him,' Rebus called to her.

'Told who what?' she called back.

Tour flatmate Eddie,' he answered. 'The one you tried fobbing us off with…'

He exited the tenement and unlocked his car. It was parked illegally but had managed to avoid a ticket.

'My lucky day,' he told himself. He'd finally got round to installing a CD player in the Saab. He drew Gentry's offering from its sleeve and slotted it home, then studied the titles of the songs.

Meg's Mons.

Minstrel in Pain.

Reverend Walker Blues.

He liked them already. With the volume low, he took out his phone and called Siobhan Clarke.

'Tell me you're in the pub,' was her opening line.

' Blair Street, actually – and you owe me twenty notes.'

'I don't believe you.'

'You won't when I tell you.' He paused for dramatic effect.

'Sievewright gets her stuff from someone called Sol. Her flatmate thinks he's named himself after the sun, but we know differently, don't we?'

'Sol Goodyear?'

'I take it Todd's not within earshot?'

'Making me a coffee.'

'Isn't that sweet of him?'

'Sol Goodyear?' she repeated, as if she still couldn't take it in.

Eventually, she asked him what he was listening to.

' Nancy 's flatmate plays guitar.'

'I'm assuming he's not in the car with you.'

'Probably shouting the odds at Sievewright as we speak. But he did give me a demo he made.'

'That was good of him. Bet you can't remember the last time you listened to anything made after 1975.'

Tou gave me that Elbow album…'

'True.' The tangent had run its course. 'So now we need to add Todd's brother to the list?'

'Nice to stay busy,' Rebus consoled her. 'Do you have a time for Jim Bakewell yet?'

'Haven't been able to track him down.'

'And Macrae?'

'Wants to add another twenty or so bodies to the team.'

'As long as they're warm ones…'

'He's even thinking of bringing Derek Starr back from Fettes.'

'Which would mean relegating you to vice-captain?'

'If only I had some vices…'

'Should have listened to me, Shiv. I could've given you a few tips.

Will I see you later at the pub?'

'Might have an early night actually… no offence.'

'None taken, but don't think I'll forget about that twenty.' Rebus ended the call and turned the music up a little. Gentry was humming along to the melody, and Rebus wasn't sure if it was meant to be picked up by the mic. It was still the first track, 'Meg's Mons '.

He wondered if Meg was a real woman. Peering at the slip of paper in the clear plastic sleeve, he thought he could make out writing on the other side. He pulled out the track listing and unfolded it. Sure enough, on the back was written the name of the studio where Gentry had recorded his demo.

CR Studios.

25

Rebus sat in front of his own personal video monitor. Graeme MacLeod had placed him in a corner of the room, and had piled the videotapes next to him. Edinburgh city centre's west end, the night of the Todorov killing.

“You're going to get me shot,' MacLeod had complained, fetching the tapes from their locked cupboard.

Rebus had been sitting for an hour in the Central Monitoring Facility, sometimes hitting 'search' and sometimes 'pause'. There were cameras on Shandwick Place, Princes Street and Lothian Road. Rebus was looking for evidence of Sergei Andropov or his driver, or maybe Cafferty. Or anyone else attached to the case, come to that. So far he had nothing at all to show for his efforts.

The hotel would have its own surveillance, of course, but he doubted the manager would hand it over without a fight, and couldn't see himself persuading Siobhan to put in the request.

There was something soothing about the unhurried voyeurism going on around him. One act of vandalism reported, and one known shoplifter tracked along George Street. The camera operators seemed as passive as any daytime TV viewers, and Rebus wondered if there might be some reality show to be made from it. He liked the way the staff could control the remote cameras using a joystick, zooming in on anything suspicious. It didn't feel like the police state the media were always predicting. All the same, if he worked here every day, he'd be careful of himself on the street, for fear of being caught picking his nose or scratching his backside.

Careful in shops and restaurants, too.

And probably with no interest in the TV at home.

MacLeod was back at Rebus's shoulder. 'Anything?' he asked.

'I know you've been over this footage more than once, Graeme, but there are a few faces I may know that you don't.'

'I'm not having a moan.'

'If I were in your shoes, I'd be thinking the same.'

'Just a pity we didn't have a camera in King's Stables Road.'

'Hardly anyone uses it at night, I've noticed that. Plenty of people turning into Castle Terrace, but almost no one into King's Stables.'

'And no woman in a hood?'

'Not yet.'

MacLeod consoled Rebus with a pat on the shoulder, then went back to work. It didn't make sense to Rebus: why would some woman be hanging around there, doling out offers of sex? They only had the one witness's word for it. Could it have been some fantasy he'd been harbouring? Rebus felt his vertebrae snap back into place as he stretched his spine. He wanted a break, but knew if he took one he might not be tempted back. He could always go home – it was what everybody wanted. But then his phone rang and he scooped it from his pocket. Caller ID: Siobhan.

“What's up?' he asked, cupping the phone to his mouth so he wouldn't be overheard.

'Megan Macfarlane's just called DCI Macrae. She's not happy you've been harassing Sergei Andropov.' She paused. 'Want to tell me about it?'

'Happened to run into him last night.'

'Whereabouts?'

'Caledonian Hotel.'

“Your regular watering-hole?'

'No need for sarcasm, young lady.'

'And you didn't think to let me in on it?'

'I really did just bump into him, Shiv. No big deal.'

'To you maybe, but Andropov seems to think it is, and now Megan Macfarlane thinks so, too.'

'Andropov's Russian, probably used to politicians controlling the police…' Rebus was thinking out loud.

'Macrae wants to see you.'

'Tell him I'm banned from Gayfield.'

'I've told him. He was furious about that, too.'

'Corbyn's fault for not alerting him.'

'That's what I said.'

'Any word from Jim Bakewell's office?'

'No.'

'So what are you up to?'

'Trying to make space for the new recruits. Four have arrived from Torphichen and two from Leith.'

'Anyone we know?'

'Ray Reynolds.'

'He's not even a good imitation of a detective,' Rebus stated. Then he asked her if she was going to do anything about Sol Goodyear.

'Soon as I've worked out what to say to Todd,' she decided.

'Good luck with that.'

One of the CCTV operators suddenly called to her colleague that she had the shoplifter on Camera 10, entering the bus station.

Clarke's groan was almost audible.

“You're at the City Chambers,' she stated.

'We'll make a detective of you yet.'

“You're on suspension, John.'

'It keeps slipping my mind.'

'Studying the tapes from that night?'

'Correct.'

'Trying to place who at the scene exactly?'

'Who do you think?'

'Why in God's name would Cafferty want a Russian poet killed?'

'Maybe he gets annoyed when verses don't rhyme. By the by, here's a strange one for you – that CD Sievewright's flatmate gave me was recorded at Riordan's studio.'

“Yet another coincidence.' But she was silent for a moment.

'Think it's worth talking to the engineer about?'

Tou're mob-handed, Shiv – it's worth chasing every single lead, no matter how brittle.'

'I'm not great at delegating.'

The neither. Still headed straight home from work?'

'That's the plan.'

'I'll be thinking of you, then.'

'John, just promise me one thing – no more drinks at the Caledonian Hotel.'

Tes, boss. Talk to you later.' He ended the call but sat there staring at the phone. Macrae, Macfarlane and Andropov – all annoyed as hell with him.

'Good,' he said quietly, reaching for the next videotape.

'Can I ask you about your brother?'

Clarke had led Todd Goodyear into the corridor for a bit of privacy. She'd already set the new recruits to work. Some were studying the 'bible' – the collating of everything pertaining to the case – while others had been assigned the Riordan tapes. It wasn't exactly a collection of the brightest and the best – no CID unit wanted to give up its star players to a rival team. A detective from Goodyear's own station had recognised him and asked what he thought he was up to, 'masquerading as a proper cop'.

'Sol?' Goodyear was asking now, looking puzzled. 'What about him?'

'He was in a fight – what night was that?'

'Last Wednesday.'

Clarke nodded. Same night Todorov was attacked. 'Can you give me an address for him?'

'What's going on?'

'Turns out he might know Nancy Sievewright.'

'You're kidding me.' He'd started laughing.

'No joke,' she assured him. 'We think he was her dealer. Did you know he was still in the game?'

'No.' The blood was rising up Goodyear's neck.

'So I need his address.'

'I don't know it. I mean, it's somewhere around the Grass market…'

'I thought he lived in Dalkeith.'

'Sol's always on the move.'

'How did you know he'd been in a fight?'

'He called me.'

'So you're still in touch?'

'He has my mobile number.'

'Meaning you've got his?'

Goodyear shook his head. 'He keeps changing it.'

'This fight he had… any idea where it happened?'

'A pub in Haymarket.'

Clarke nodded to herself. The SOCO, Tarn Banks, had got a message about the incident, hadn't he? Mentioned it at the Todorov scene. A stabbing… 'So you don't keep in touch, but he phones you I when he's been stabbed?'

Goodyear ignored this. 'What does it matter if he knows Nancy ievewright?'

'Just another loose end that needs tying.'

We've got more of those than a frayed rug.' Clarke offered up a

tired smile and Goodyear sighed, shoulders slumping. 'When you find Sol's address, do you want me along?'

'Can't happen,' she said. 'You're his brother.'

He nodded his understanding.

'I'm assuming West End took an interest in the stabbing?' she asked. Meaning the police station on Torphichen Place. Goodyear nodded again.

'They asked him a few questions at A amp;E. By the time I saw him, he'd been transferred to a ward. Just the one night, for observation.'

'Do you think he told the officers anything?'

Goodyear shrugged. 'All he said was, he was having a drink and this guy took against him. It moved outside and Sol came off worst.'

'And the other guy?'

'Didn't say anything about him.' Goodyear bit his bottom lip. 'If Sol's connected… does that mean a conflict of interest? Back to my old station and uniform?'

'I'll have to ask DCI Macrae.'

He nodded again, but dolefully this time. 'I didn't know he was still dealing,' he stressed. 'Maybe Sievewright's lying…'

Clarke imagined herself placing a hand on his arm, offering comfort. But in the real world, she just moved past him and back into the already overcrowded CID suite. Chairs had been borrowed from the interview rooms, and she had to weave between them as she made for her desk. There was another officer stationed there.

He apologised but didn't move. Three more detectives were huddled around Rebus's desk. Clarke picked up her phone and called Torphichen. She was patched through to CID and found herself talking to Detective Inspector Shug Davidson.

'Want to thank you,' he chuckled, 'for taking Ray Reynolds off our hands.' She looked across the room towards Reynolds, a detective constable these past nine years, promotion never on the cards. He was standing in front of the Murder Wall and rubbing his stomach as if preparing for another of his infamous belches.

'That's good,' she told Davidson, 'because I'm after a favour in return.'

'What's this I hear about John getting booted into touch?' 'News travels…'

'Age has not softened him – that's a quote from somewhere.'

'Listen, Shug, do you remember last Wednesday night, a fight outside a pub at Haymarket?'

'Sol Goodyear, you mean?'

'That's right.'

Tou've got his brother on secondment, I'm told. Seems like a decent bloke. I think he's embarrassed about Sol – and rightly so.

Sol's got a fair bit of form.'

'So this fight he got into…?'

'If you ask me, there was money owed by one of his punters.

Guy didn't fancy paying up, so decided to have a go at Sol. We're considering making it attempted murder.'

Todd says he was only in hospital the one night.'

'With eight stitches in his side. More of a slice than a proper stabbing, meaning he got lucky.'

Tou caught the attacker?'

'He's pleading self-defence, naturally. Name's Larry Fintry – Crazy Larry, he gets called. Should be in the nut-house, if you ask me.'

'Care in the community, Shug.'

'Aye, with the pharmaceuticals dispensed by Sol Goodyear.'

'I need to speak to Sol,' Clarke said.

'Why's that?'

'The Todorov murder. We think the girl who found the body was on her way to Sol's.'

'More than likely,' Davidson agreed. 'Last address I have for him is Raeburn Wynd.'

Clarke's whole body froze for a moment. 'That's where we found the body.'

'I know.' Davidson was laughing. 'And if Sol hadn't been getting himself stabbed at Haymarket around the exact same time, I might have thought to mention it earlier.'

In the end, she took Phyllida Hawes with her. Tibbet had looked distraught, as if fearing Siobhan had already made up her mind who should replace her at sergeant level when she was promoted. She hadn't bothered reminding him that she would have little or no say over anyone's fate. Instead, she had simply told him that he was in charge until her return, which perked him up a little.

They'd taken Clarke's car, sticking to shop talk interrupted only occasionally by awkward silences – Hawes wanting to know about life post-Rebus (but not daring to ask), while Clarke didn't quite get round to bringing up Hawes's relationship with Tibbet. It was a mercy when the car finally stopped at the foot of Raeburn Wynd.

The lane was L-shaped. From the main road, all you could see were garages and lock-ups, but around the corner, buildings which at one time would have housed horses and their coaches had been turned into mews flats.

'None of the neighbours heard anything?' Hawes asked.

'Might send the team out to ask them again and flash that e-fit,'

Clarke considered.

'Can Ray Reynolds be one of them, please?'

Clarke managed a smile. 'Didn't take long.'

'I'd heard the stories,' Hawes said, 'but nothing quite prepares you…'

They'd turned the corner into the mews proper. Clarke stopped at one of the doors, checked the address she'd copied into her notebook, and pressed the bell. After twenty seconds, she tried again.

'I'm coming!' someone yelled from within. There was the sound of feet thumping down a flight of stairs, and the door was opened by Sol Goodyear. Had to be him: same eyelashes and ears as his brother.

'Solomon Goodyear?' Clarke checked.

'Christ, what do you lot want?'

'Well spotted. I'm DS Clarke, this is DC Hawes.'

'Got a warrant?'

'Want to ask you a couple of questions about the murder.'

'What murder?'

'The one at the bottom of your street.'

'I was in hospital at the time.'

'How's the wound?'

He lifted his shirt to show a large white compress, just above the waistband of his underpants. 'Itches like buggery,' he admitted.

Then, catching on: 'How did you know about it?'

'DI Davidson at Torphichen filled me in. Mentioned Crazy Larry, too. Bit of a tip for you, actually – before you square up to someone, always check their nickname.'

Sol Goodyear snorted at that, but still didn't show any great desire to let them in. 'My brother's a cop,' he said instead.

'Oh, yes?' Clarke tried to sound surprised. She reckoned Sol would try this line on any police officer he met.

'He's still in uniform, but not for much longer. Todd's always been a fast-track kind of guy. He was the white sheep of the family.'

He gave a little laugh at what Clarke reckoned was another of his well-rehearsed lines.

'That's a good one,' Hawes obliged, managing to sound as though

she meant the opposite. The laugh died in Sol Goodyear's throat.

'Well, anyway,' he sniffed, 'I wasn't here that night. They didn't discharge me till the evening after.'

'Did Nancy come to see you at the hospital?'

' Nancy who?'

Your girlfriend Nancy. She was on her way here when she tripped over the body. You were going to sell her some stuff for a friend of hers.'

'She's not my girlfriend,' he stated, having decided in the blinking of an eye that there was no point lying about things they already knew.

'She seems to think she is.'

'She's mistaken.'

Tou're just her dealer, then?'

He scowled as though pained by this turn in the conversation.

'What I am, officer, is the victim of a stabbing. The painkillers I'm on make it highly unlikely that anything I say could be used in a court of law.'

'Clever boy,' Clarke said, sounding admiring, 'you know your loopholes.'

'Learned the hard way.'

She nodded slowly. 'I've heard it was Big Ger Cafferty got you started on the selling – do you still see him?'

'Don't know who you're talking about.'

'Funny, I've never heard of a stabbing affecting someone's memory before…' Clarke looked to Hawes for confirmation of this.

'Think you've got the patter, don't you?' Sol Goodyear was saying.

'Well try this for a pay-off.'

And with that, he slammed the door in their faces. From behind it, as he started climbing the stairs again, could be heard a stream of invective. Hawes raised an eyebrow.

'Bitches and lesbians,' she repeated. 'Always nice to learn something new about yourself 'Isn't it?'

'So now we've got one brother involved, I suppose that means the other has to be taken off the case?'

That's a decision for DCI Macrae.'

'How come you didn't tell Sol we've got Todd working with us?'

'Need-to-know basis, Phyl.' Clarke stared at Hawes. You in a hurry to see the back of PC Goodyear?'

'Just so long as he remembers he is a PC. Now that the suite's filling up, he's looking too comfortable in that suit of his.'

'Meaning what exactly?'

'Some of us have worked our way out of uniform, Siobhan.'

'CID's a closed shop, is it?' Clarke turned away from Hawes and started moving, but stopped abruptly at the corner. From where she stood, it was about sixty feet to the spot where Alexander Todorov was murdered.

'What are you thinking?' Hawes asked.

'I'm wondering about Nancy. We're assuming she was on her way to Sol's when she found the body. But she could've walked up here, rung his bell a few times, maybe thumped on his door…'

'Not knowing he's been injured in a brawl?'

'Exactly.'

'And meantime Todorov's managed to stagger from the car park…'

Clarke was nodding.

Tou think she saw something?' Hawes added.

'Saw or heard. Maybe hid around this corner, while Todorov's attacker followed him and delivered the final blow.'

'And her reason for not telling us any of this…?'

'Fear, I suppose.'

'Fear'll do it every time,' Hawes concurred. 'What was that line from Todorov's poem…?'

'”He averted his eyesEnsuring he would not have to testify.“'

'The sort of lesson Nancy might have learned from Sol Goodyear.'

'Yes,' Clarke agreed. Tfes, she might.'

26

Rebus was eating a bag of crisps and listening again to Eddie Gentry's CD on his car stereo. Except that it wasn't stereo exactly, one of the speakers having packed in. Didn't really matter when it was just one man and his guitar. He'd already finished the first packet of crisps, plus a curried-vegetable samosa bought from a corner shop in Polwarth and washed down with a bottle of still water, which he tried to persuade himself made it a balanced meal. He was parked at the bottom end of Cafferty's street and as far as possible from any of the streetlamps. For once, he didn't want the gangster spotting him. Then again, he couldn't even be sure Cafferty was at home: the man's car was in the driveway, but that didn't mean much in itself. Some of the house lights were on, but maybe just to deter intruders. Rebus couldn't see any sign of the bodyguard who lived in the coach-house to the rear of the property. Cafferty never seemed to use him much, leading Rebus to believe he was on the payroll for reasons of vanity rather than necessity. Siobhan had texted a couple of times, ostensibly to ask if he fancied supper one night. He knew she'd be wondering what he was up to.

Two hours he'd been parked there, for no good reason. The fifteen-minute break spent at the corner shop had given Cafferty ample time to head out without Rebus being any the wiser. Maybe for once the gangster would be using his room at the Caledonian.

As a surveillance, it was laughable, but then he wasn't even sure it was a surveillance. Might be it was just a pretext for not going home, where the only thing waiting was a reissue of Johnny Cash's Live at San Quentin that he hadn't got round to playing. Kept forgetting to put it in the car, and wondered how it would sound on

a single speaker. First stereo he'd ever owned, one of the speakers had packed in after only a month. There was a track on a Velvet Underground album, all the instruments on one channel, vocals on the other, so that he couldn't listen to both together. It had taken him ages to buy his first CD player, and even now he preferred vinyl. Siobhan said it was because he was 'wilful'.

'Either that or I've just not got the herd mentality,' he'd argued back. These days, she had an MP3 player and bought stuff online.

He would tease her by asking if he could take a look at the album cover or lyric sheet.

Tou're missing the big picture,' he'd told her. 'A good album should be more than the sum of its parts.'

'Like police work?' she'd guessed, smiling. He hadn't bothered admitting that he was just coming to that…

He'd finished the crisps and folded the bag into a narrow strip so he could tie it into a knot. Didn't know why he did that, just seemed neater somehow. A mate back in army days had done it, and Rebus had followed suit. It made a change from putting a match under the empty packet and watching it shrivel to a miniature version of itself, like something from a doll's house. Simple pleasures, same as sitting in a car on a quiet nighttime street, music playing and belly full. He would give it another hour. He had The Who's Endless Wire for when he got fed up of Gentry. Hadn't yet worked out what the title meant, but because he'd bought the CD at least he had the lyrics.

A car was reversing out of some gates up the road. Looked to Rebus very much like Cafferty's gates, Cafferty's car. Being driven by the bodyguard, because there was a reading light on in the back seat, illuminating Cafferty's dome of a head. He seemed to be peering at some papers. Rebus waited. The car was turning downhill, meaning it would drive straight past him. He ducked down, waiting until its lights had passed. It signalled right, and Rebus turned the ignition, doing a three-point turn and following. At the Granville Terrace junction, Cafferty's car jumped out in front of a double-decker bus. Rebus had to wait for traffic to clear, but knew there was nothing Cafferty could do now until Leven Street. He stayed behind the bus until it signalled to pick up passengers, then moved out and past it. There was a gap of a hundred yards between him and the car in front. Eventually its brake lights glowed as it reached the traffic lights at the King's Theatre. As Rebus crawled nearer, he saw that something was wrong.

It wasn't Cafferty's car.

He drew up behind it. The car in front of it, stopped on red, wasn't Cafferty either. No way the bodyguard could have passed both cars and got through the lights while they were still on green.

Rebus had been behind the bus for maybe a couple of minutes.

There had been the Viewforth crossroads, but he'd looked both ways and seen no sign of Cafferty. Had to have turned sharpish down one of the narrow side streets, but which one? He did another three-point turn, a taxi sounding a complaint as it waited to follow him back along Gilmore Place. There were a few boarding houses whose front gardens had been paved and turned into car parking, but none of the vehicles matched Cafferty's Bentley.

“You wait two solid hours and then you lose him at the first hurdle,' Rebus muttered to himself. There was a convent, its gates open, but Rebus doubted he'd find the gangster there. Roads off to left and right, but none looked promising. At the Viewforth traffic lights he turned the car again. This time he signalled left and headed down a narrow one-way street towards the canal. It wasn't well lit and wouldn't be used much this time of night, meaning he'd stick out like a sore thumb, so when a kerbside parking space appeared, he reversed into it. There was a bridge across the canal, but it was blocked to everything except bikes and pedestrians. As Rebus headed that way on foot, he finally saw the Bentley. It was parked up next to some wasteland. A couple of canal boats were moored for the night, smoke billowing from the chimney of one of them. Rebus hadn't been down this way in ages. New blocks of flats had appeared from somewhere, but it didn't look as though many of them were occupied. Then he saw a sign stating that they were 'serviced apartments'. The Leamington Lift Bridge was a construction of wrought iron with a wooden roadway. It could be raised to let barges and pleasure boats through, but otherwise lay level with either bank of the canal. Two men were standing in the middle of it, their shadows thrown on to the water by a near-as dammit full moon. Cafferty was doing the talking, throwing out his arms to illustrate each point. The focus of his interest seemed to be the canal's far bank. There was a walkway stretching from Fountainbridge to the city limits and beyond. At one time it had been a treacherous spot, but a new footpath had been built and the canal seemed a lot cleaner than Rebus remembered it. Beyond the footpath stood a high wall, behind which, Rebus knew, was one of Edinburgh 's redundant industrial sites. Until about a year back, it had been a brewery, but now most of the buildings were in the process of being dismantled, the steel mash tuns removed.

Time was, the city had boasted thirty or forty breweries. Now, Rebus seemed to think there was just the one, not too far away on Slateford Road.

When the other man half turned to concentrate on what Cafferty was saying, Rebus recognised the silhouette of Sergei Andropov's distinctive face. The door to Cafferty's car opened, but only so his driver could get out to light a cigarette. Rebus heard another door, almost like an echo of the first. He decided to pretend he was on his way home, tucked his hands into his jacket, hunched his shoulders and started walking. Risking just the one glance back over his shoulder, he saw that there was another car parked alongside Cafferty's. Andropov's driver had decided on a cigarette break, too.

Cafferty and the Russian, meantime, had crossed the bridge and were still deep in conversation. Rebus wished he'd thought to bring a microphone of some kind – the engineer at Riordan's studio would have obliged. As it was, he couldn't make out anything. What was more, he was headed away from the scene, and it would raise suspicions were he suddenly to turn and retrace his steps. He passed a car workshop, locked up tight for the night. Past it were some tenement flats. He thought about going inside, climbing a flight and peering from the stairwell window. Instead, he stopped and lit a cigarette, then pretended to take a phone call, holding the mobile close to his face. He started walking again, but slowly, aware of the two men on the opposite bank. Andropov gave a whistle, and gestured to the drivers to stay put. Rebus saw that the canal was coming to an end at a recently completed basin, complete with a couple of more permanent-looking barges, one of which had a For Sale sign taped to its only window. New buildings had been thrown up here, too: office blocks, restaurants, and a bar with plenty of glass frontage and outside tables, which were being used tonight only by hardened smokers. One of the units was still to let, and Rebus couldn't see much action in the restaurants. The bar had a cash machine to one side of it, and he paused to use it, risking another glance towards the approaching figures.

But they weren't there any more.

He looked in through the windows of the bar and saw that they were removing their coats. Even from here, Rebus could hear pounding music. Several TV sets were also on the go, and the clientele was predominantly young and studenty. The only person who paid attention to the new arrivals was their waitress, who bounded over with a smile and took their order. No way Rebus could go in – the place wasn't so busy that he'd be able to hide in

the throng. And even supposing he did go in, he'd never get close enough to hear anything. Cafferty had chosen wisely: not even Riordan would have stood a chance. The two men could have a chat without fear of eavesdroppers. What to do next…? Plenty of dark corners out here, meaning he could bide his time and freeze his backside. Or he could retreat to his car. The two men would have to return to their own cars eventually. With a hundred quid extracted from the machine, Rebus made his choice. He walked back along the other side of the canal, crossed at the Leamington Bridge, and hummed to himself as he passed the piece of wasteground.

Not that the two drivers paid any attention, they were too busy talking to one another. Rebus doubted Cafferty's man spoke any Russian, meaning Andropov's driver must have a decent grasp of English.

Once installed in the Saab, Rebus considered switching the engine on, so he could have some heat. But an idling motor might make the guards curious, so he rubbed his hands together and drew his coat more tightly around him. It was a further twenty minutes before anything happened. He hadn't caught sight of Andropov and Cafferty, but both cars were on the move. He followed them back to Gilmore Place. They signalled to turn right at the Viewforth junction, and then right again at Dundee Street. Two minutes later they were pulling to a halt outside the bar. While one of its sides faced the canal, the other fronted Fountainbridge. Traffic here was busier, with plenty of parked cars. Rebus found a space near the old Co-op Funeral Home. Major works were in progress, and one building had lost everything but its facade, while a new construction rose up to fill the space behind. It was all insurance companies and banks around here, Rebus seemed to think, which made him think also of Sir Michael Addison, Stuart Janney and Roger Anderson – First Albannach men all. In his wing mirror, he could see that the two cars were idling but hadn't bothered to switch off their lights or engines. Give it a couple of years, he'd probably be empowered to arrest them under some CO2 injunction.

Except that he wouldn't be here in a couple of years…

'Bingo,' he said to himself as Andropov and Cafferty emerged.

They got into their separate cars and headed off, passing Rebus and making towards Lothian Road. Again, Rebus followed: harder to lose them this time. As they passed the end of King's Stables Road, Rebus felt his stomach tighten at the prospect that they might end up at the car park, but they stayed on the main drag and turned into Princes Street, Charlotte Square and Queen Street.

When passing Young Street, Rebus glanced down it towards the Oxford Bar.

'Not tonight, my love,' he cooed, blowing it a kiss.

At the end of Queen Street, they forked left on to Leith Walk, passing Gayfield Square. Great Junction Street, North Junction Street and they were on the waterfront to the west of Leith itself.

More redevelopment was happening here, blocks of apartments rising from what had been dockland and industrial estates.

'Hardly the tourist trail, Sergei,' Rebus muttered as the cars pulled over again. There was another car already sitting there, hazard lights on. Rebus drove past – no way he could park, the streets were deserted. Instead, he took the first turning he came to, did another of the three-pointers he was becoming so expert in, and crawled back to the junction. He signalled right and passed the three cars. Same deal: Cafferty and Andropov standing on the pavement, Cafferty with his arms stretched wide as if to encompass everything. But this time with two new attendants: Stuart Janney and Nikolai Stahov. The consular official stood with his gloved hands behind his back, a Cossack hat on his head. Janney looked thoughtful, arms folded, nodding to himself.

'Gang's all here,' Rebus commented.

There was a petrol station with its lights still on, so he pulled into the forecourt and dribbled some unleaded into the tank. Bought chewing gum from the cashier when he paid, and stood beside the pump, unwrapping a piece slowly and making as if to check messages on his phone. The cashier kept staring out at him, and he knew this wasn't an act he could keep up for long. He looked back along the street, but couldn't make out much. Cafferty still seemed to be holding the floor. A car had pulled up at the pump behind him. Two men got out. One busied himself with the nozzle while the other gave a few stretches and started walking towards the kiosk, but then seemed to change his mind and headed towards Rebus instead.

'Evening,' he said. He was big, bigger than Rebus. His belt was on its last notch and looked ready to snap. His head was shaved, some grey showing through. Pudgy face like an overfed baby who still objected every time the breast was taken away. Rebus just nodded a reply, flicking the gum wrapper into a bin.

The new arrival was studying Rebus's car. 'Bit of a clunker,' he offered, 'even as Saabs go.'

Rebus looked back at the man's own car. Vauxhall Vectra with a black paint job.

'Least I own mine,' he said.

The man gave a smile and a nod, as if to admit that, yes indeed, his belonged to the company. 'He wants a word,' he said, giving a flick of the head in the Vectra's direction.

'Oh aye?' Rebus seemed more interested in the packet of gum.

'Maybe you should talk to him, DI Rebus,' the man continued, a gleam in his eye as he clocked the effect: an emergency stop on the gum-chewing.

'Who are you?' Rebus asked.

'He'll tell you. I've got to pay for the petrol.' The man moved off.

Rebus stood his ground a moment. The cashier was looking interested.

The man at the Vectra was concentrating on the pump's meter. Rebus decided to go see him.

'You wanted me,' he said.

'Believe me, Rebus, you're the last thing I want.' The man was neither tall nor short, fat nor thin. His hair was brown, eyes somewhere between brown and green and set in the blandest of faces. Always blending in, and instantly forgettable – perfect for surveillance work.

'I'm assuming you're CID,' Rebus went on. 'Don't know you, though, which means you're from out of town.'

The man released his grip on the pump as the meter hit thirty pounds dead. He seemed satisfied with this outcome and replaced the nozzle in its holster. Only then, as he replaced the cap and wiped his hands on his handkerchief, did he deign to focus his attention on the man standing before him.

Tou're Detective Inspector John Rebus,' he stated. 'Based at Gayfield Square police station, B Division, Edinburgh.'

'Let me write this down in case I forget.' Rebus made show of reaching into a pocket for his notebook.

Tou have a problem with authority,' the man went on, 'which is why everyone's so relieved you're about to retire. They've only just stopped short of putting up bunting at Fettes HQ.'

'Seems you know all there is to know about me,' Rebus conceded. 'And so far all I know about you is that you drive the sort of overpowered cock-mobile favoured by a certain type of cop… usually the kind who's happiest investigating other cops.'

“You think we're The Complaints?'

'Maybe not, but you seem to know who they are.'

'I've been on their receiving end a couple of times myself,' the jfman confided. “You're not a proper cop otherwise.'

'Makes me a proper cop, then,' Rebus added.

'I know,' the man said quietly. 'Now get in and let's do some proper talking.'

'My car's…' But as Rebus looked over his shoulder, he saw that the baby-faced giant had somehow squeezed in behind the Saab's steering wheel and was turning the ignition.

'Don't worry,' Rebus's new friend assured him, 'Andy knows a thing or two about cars.' He was getting back into the Vectra's driving seat. Rebus walked around to the passenger side and climbed in. The big man – Andy – had left a dent in the seat. Rebus looked around for clues as to the men's identity.

'I like your thinking,' the driver admitted. 'But when you're undercover, you try not to give the game away.'

'I can't be much good, then, seeing how you had no trouble spotting me.'

'Not much good, no.'

'While your pal Andy couldn't look more like a copper if he had the word tattooed on his forehead.'

'Some people think he looks like a bouncer.'

'Bouncers tend to have that bit more refinement.'

The man had lifted a mobile phone for Rebus to see. 'Want me to relay that to him while he's in charge of your vehicle?'

'Maybe later,' Rebus said. 'So who are you then?'

'We're SCD,' the stranger said. Short for SCDEA, the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency. 'I'm DI Stone.'

'And Andy?'

'DS Prosser.'

'What can I do to help you, DI Stone?'

Tou can start by calling me Calum, and I hope it's all right to call you John?'

'Nice and friendly, eh, Calum?'

'Let's just aim for civil and see how it goes.'

The Saab was already signalling to turn off the main road. They entered the car park of a casino, not far from Ocean Terminal, where the Saab pulled to a stop, Stone drawing up alongside.

'Andy seems to know his way around,' Rebus commented.

'Football routes only. Andy's a Dunfermline fan, comes through here to watch his team play Hibs and Hearts.'

'Not for much longer, the way the Pars are struggling.'

'A sore point.'

'I'll bear that in mind…'

Stone had turned in his seat, the better to meet Rebus face to face. 'I'm being straight with you, because I think any other

approach might see your hackles rise. I hope you'll offer me the same courtesy.' He paused for a moment. 'Why are you so interested in Cafferty and the Russian?'

'A case I'm working.'

'The Todorov killing?'

Rebus nodded. 'Last drink he had before he died happened to be with Cafferty. Andropov was in the bar at the same time.'

'You think the pair of them are in cahoots?'

'I just wasn't sure how.'

'And now…?'

'Andropov's looking to buy a huge swathe of Edinburgh,' Rebus guessed. 'With Cafferty as his middleman.'

'Could be,' Stone conceded. Rebus was looking out of the passenger-side window towards his own car. Prosser seemed to be thumping the dodgy speaker with his foot.

'Not sure Andy shares my taste in music,' Rebus commented.

'Depends on whether you listen to nothing but Strathspey reels…'

'We may have a problem.'

Stone pretended to laugh. 'Bit unusual, isn't it?' he asked. 'A one-man stakeout? Is CID around these parts really that short of bodies?'

'Not everyone wants to work nights.'

'Tell me about it – wife's sometimes so surprised to see me, I keep thinking she must have the milkman hidden in the wardrobe.'

'You don't wear a wedding ring.'

'No, I don't. While you, John, are divorced with a grown-up daughter.'

'Anyone would think it was me you were interested in rather than Andropov.'

'I couldn't care less about Andropov. Authorities in Moscow are a gnat's bollock away from charging him with God-knows-what – fraud and deception and bribery…'

'He seems pretty relaxed about it. Is that because he's thinking of relocating?'

“Wait and see. But for what it's worth, whatever the reason for him being here, it seems legit.'

'Even with Cafferty in tow?'

'Thing about crooks, John, ninety per cent of everything they do is completely kosher.'

Rebus considered for a moment, the word overworld reverberating in his head. 'So if it's not Andropov you're after…'

'We've got your friend Cafferty in our sights, John, and this time he's going down. Reason your name flashed on the radar – all those run-ins down the years. But he's ours, John. Six of us have been slaving over him these past seven months. We've got phone taps and forensic accountants and a lot more besides, and we aim to have him in jail shortly with his ill-got gains reverting to the Exchequer.' Stone looked pleased with himself, but his eyes were cold, bright marbles. 'Only thing that could mess it up is someone blundering in, hellbent on their own half-baked theories and stoked by long-held prejudice.' Stone was shaking his head slowly. 'Can't let that happen, John.'

'Or in other words – butt out.'

'If I told you to do that,' Stone continued quietly, 'I have the suspicion you'd do exactly the opposite, just for the hell of it.' In the Saab, Prosser's head had disappeared from view as he wrestled with the door panel.

'What are you going to charge Cafferty with?'

'Maybe drugs, maybe money-laundering… tax evasion's always a good one. He doesn't think we know about his various offshore accounts…'

'Those forensic accountants you were mentioning?'

'They're so good, they have to stay anonymous – there'd be a price on their heads otherwise.'

'I can imagine.' Rebus was thoughtful for a moment. 'Anything tying Cafferty and Andropov to Alexander Todorov?'

'Only that Andropov knew him in Moscow.'

'Knew Todorov?'

'From years back… same school or college or something.'

'So you know a bit about Andropov… tell me, what's his connection to Cafferty? I mean, he's a different league, isn't he?'

'Listen to yourself, John… pushing sixty and frisky as a pup.'

Stone laughed again, but this time it sounded genuine. “You want Cafferty put away – that much is clear. But the best chance we have of giving you that little retirement gift is if you leave us to get on with it. Cafferty's not going to go to jail because you've been busy tailing him. He's going to be brought down by a paper trail: shell companies, VAT dodges, banks in Bermuda and Lithuania, sweeteners and pay-offs and doctored balance sheets.'

'That why you're busy tailing him?'

'We heard Cafferty on the phone to his lawyer, saying you'd pulled him in. Lawyer wanted to make an official complaint – called it “harassment”; Cafferty wouldn't have it, said it was actually “a bit

flattering”. That's what got us worried, John – don't want a loose cannon out there, not when we're readying to attack. We know you've been watching Cafferty's house – we've seen you do it. But I'm betting you've never seen us.'

'That's because you're so much better at it than I am,' Rebus said.

'You better believe it.' Stone leaned back in his seat, a gesture which seemed to have some significance for Prosser. The Saab's door opened and the fat man got out, tugging at the handle on the Vectra's passenger side.

'How's my hi-fi?' Rebus asked him.

'Good as new.'

Rebus turned his attention back to Stone. The detective handed him his business card.

'Be good,' Stone said. 'Leave the stakeouts to the professionals.'

'I'll sleep on it,' was all Rebus said. He got into his Saab and tried the stereo. The wonky speaker was working again, no sign of damage to the grille or door panel. Had to admit, he was impressed with that, but he managed not to let it show. Reversed out of the car park and made his way back to the main road. His options: a left turn into the city, or a right towards where he'd last seen Cafferty and Andropov. He signalled left and waited for the traffic to clear.

Then took the right turn.

But all three cars had gone. Rebus cursed under his breath. He could keep cruising, or maybe try the Caledonian Hotel. He could head to Cafferty's house and check if he was back.

'Just go home, John,' he told himself.

So that was what he did, working his way through Canonmills and the New Town and the Old Town, along the Meadows and then left into Marchmont itself and Arden Street. Where a parking space – the universe's small reward for his labours – awaited him.

As did two flights of stairs. He wasn't breathing too hard at the top.

Got a glass of water from the kitchen and gulped it, then poured in a fresh inch to carry through to the living room. Added the same amount of whisky and stuck Johnny Cash on the hi-fi before collapsing into his chair. But the Man in Black wasn't right. Rebus; felt a bit guilty, ejecting the CD. Cash had Fife roots, he seemed to i recall. Photos of him in some old newspaper visiting his hereditary home in Falkland. Rebus stuck John Martyn on instead, Grace and I Danger, one of the great break-up albums. Dark and brooding and I feeling just about perfect.

'Fuck,' Rebus announced, the single word summing up the day's adventures. He didn't know how to feel about the SCD men. Yes, he wanted Cafferty taken out of the game. But suddenly it was important that it be him making the bone-crunching tackle. So it couldn't just be about Cafferty; it was about the means and method, too. Years he'd been fighting the bastard, and now technology and some bespectacled penpusher might end up finishing the job. No mess, no fuss, no blood.

There should be mess.

There should be fuss.

John Martyn was singing about some people being crazy. A little later, he would move on to 'Grace and Danger' itself, followed by 'Johnny Too Bad'.

'Singing my whole life story,' John Rebus told his whisky glass.

What the hell was he going to do with himself if Cafferty was out of bounds? If Stone and his men did actually manage to put the gangster away, cleanly and coldly?

There should be mess.

There should be fuss.

There should be blood…

Day Seven. Thursday 23 November 2006

27

Rebus was parked on the other side of Gayfield Square from the police station. He had a pretty good view of the news crews. TV cameras were being erected or dismantled, depending on how early the teams had arrived. Journalists paced the pavement, mobile phones pressed to their ears, keeping a respectful distance from each other so as not to be tempted into a bit of eavesdropping.

Photographers were wondering how to get anything usable from the dismal cop-shop frontage. Rebus had watched a trickle of suits climb the steps and enter the building. He recognised some – Ray Reynolds, for example. Others were new to him, but they all looked like CID, meaning they'd been seconded to the team. Rebus bit into the remains of his breakfast roll and chewed slowly. When buying the roll, he'd added a coffee, newspaper and orange juice to the order. Skimming through the paper, he'd found more news of the ailing Litvinenko – the poisoning still a mystery – but no mention of Todorov and only a paragraph on Charles Riordan, at the foot of which he was directed to the obituary columns further back. He learned that Riordan had worked on various rock tours in the 1980s, including Big Country and Deacon Blue. One of the musicians was quoted as saying that 'Charlie could mix a sweet sound in an aircraft hangar.' Further back in time, he'd been a session musician, appearing on albums by Nazareth, Frankie Miller and the Sutherland Brothers, which meant Rebus probably owned stuff he'd played on.

'Wish I'd known,' he'd said to himself.

Staring out at the media scrum, he wondered who had leaked the information that the Todorov and Riordan deaths were being linked. Didn't really matter; bound to come out sooner or later.

But it did mean he'd lost an opportunity for leverage. There was a favour he was after, and it would have been nice to offer the titbit in return…

Still no sign of his quarry, however. But an official-looking car had drawn up, Corbyn stepping out, pausing for photos in his smart uniform, shiny cap, and black leather gloves. A morale booster for the troops would be the excuse, but Rebus knew Corbyn would have been alerted to the media. Nothing warmed a chief constable more than a hungry news gathering. He'd have them eating out of his hand. Rebus punched Siobhan's number into his phone.

'High Hiedyin alert,' he warned her.

'Who and where?'

'Corbyn himself, posing for the press. Give him two minutes and he'll be in your face.'

'Meaning you're nearby…'

'Don't worry, he can't see me. How's it all going?'

'We're going to have to speak to Nancy Sievewright yet again.'