/ Language: English / Genre:thriller

The Naming of the Dead

Ian Rankin

BCA Crime Thriller of the Year July 2005, and the G8 leaders have gathered in Scotland. With daily marches, demonstrations, and scuffles, the police are at full stretch. Detective Inspector John Rebus, however, has been sidelined, until the apparent suicide of an MP coincides with clues that a serial killer may be on the loose. The authorities are keen to hush up both, for fear of overshadowing a meeting of global importance – but Rebus has never been one to stick to the rules, and when his colleague Siobhan Clarke finds herself hunting down the identity of the riot cop who assaulted her mother, it looks as though both Rebus and Clarke may be up pitted against both sides in the conflict. THE NAMING OF THE DEAD is a potent mix of action and politics, set against a backdrop of the most devastating week in recent British history.

Ian Rankin

The Naming of the Dead

Book 16 in the Inspector Rebus series, 2006

To everyone who was in Edinburgh on July 2, 2005

We have the choice to try for a new world every day, to tell what we know of the truth every day, to take small actions every day.

– A. L. Kennedy, writing about the march on Gleneagles

Write us a chapter to be proud of.

– Bono, in a message to the G8

SIDE ONE. The Task of Blood

Friday, July 1, 2005

1

In place of a closing hymn, there was music. The Who, “Love Reign o’er Me.” Rebus recognized it the moment it started, thunderclaps and teeming rain filling the chapel. He was in the front pew; Chrissie had insisted. He’d rather have been further back: his usual place at funerals. Chrissie’s son and daughter sat next to her. Lesley was comforting her mother, an arm around her as the tears fell. Kenny stared straight ahead, storing up emotion for later. Earlier that morning, back at the house, Rebus had asked him his age. He would be thirty next month. Lesley was two years younger. Brother and sister looked like their mother, reminding Rebus that people had said the same about Michael and him: the pair of you, the spitting image of your mum. Michael…Mickey, if you preferred. Rebus’s younger brother, dead in a shiny-handled box at the age of fifty-four, Scotland ’s mortality rate that of a third world nation. Lifestyle, diet, genes-plenty of theories. The full postmortem hadn’t come through yet. Massive stroke was what Chrissie had told Rebus on the phone, assuring him that it was “sudden”-as if that made a difference.

Sudden meant Rebus hadn’t been able to say good-bye. It meant his last words to Michael had been a joke about his beloved Raith Rovers soccer team in a phone call three months back. A Raith scarf, navy and white, had been draped over the coffin alongside the wreaths. Kenny was wearing a tie that had been his dad’s, Raith’s shield on it-some kind of animal holding a belt buckle. Rebus had asked the significance, but Kenny had just shrugged. Looking along the pew, Rebus saw the usher make a gesture. Everyone rose to their feet. Chrissie started walking up the aisle, flanked by her children. The usher looked to Rebus, but he stayed where he was. Sat down again so the others would know they didn’t have to wait for him. The song was only a little more than halfway through. It was the closing track on Quadrophenia. Michael had been the big Who fan, Rebus himself preferring the Stones. Had to admit, though, albums like Tommy and Quadrophenia did things the Stones never could. Daltrey was whooping now that he could use a drink. Rebus had to agree, but there was the drive back to Edinburgh to consider. The function room of a local hotel had been booked. All were welcome, as the minister had reminded them from the pulpit. Whiskey and tea would be poured, sandwiches served. There would be anecdotes and reminiscences, smiles, dabs at the eyes, hushed tones. The staff would move quietly, out of respect. Rebus was trying to form sentences in his head, words that would act as his apology.

I need to get back, Chrissie. Pressure of work.

He could lie and blame the G8. That morning in the house, Lesley had said he must be busy with the buildup. He could have told her, I’m the only cop they don’t seem to need. Officers were being drafted in from all over. Fifteen hundred were coming from London alone. Yet Detective Inspector John Rebus seemed surplus to requirements. Someone had to man the ship-the very words DCI James Macrae had used, with his acolyte smirking by his shoulder. DI Derek Starr reckoned himself the heir apparent to Macrae’s throne. One day, he’d be running Gayfield Square police station. John Rebus posed no threat whatsoever, not much more than a year away from retirement. Starr himself had said as much: Nobody’d blame you for coasting, John. It’s what anyone your age would do. Maybe so, but the Stones were older than Rebus; Daltrey and Townshend were older than him too. Still playing, still touring. The song was ending now, and Rebus rose to his feet again. He was alone in the chapel. Took a final look at the purple velvet screen. Maybe the coffin was still behind it; maybe it had already been moved to another part of the crematorium. He thought back to adolescence, two brothers in their shared bedroom, playing 45s bought down Kirkcaldy High Street. “My Generation” and “Substitute,” Mickey asking about Daltrey’s stutter on the former, Rebus saying he’d read somewhere that it had to do with drugs. The only drug the brothers had indulged in was alcohol, mouthfuls stolen from the bottles in the pantry, a can of sickly stout broken open and shared after lights-out. Standing on Kirkcaldy promenade, staring out to sea, and Mickey singing the words to “I Can See for Miles.” But could that really have happened? The record came out in ’66 or ’67, by which time Rebus was in the army. Must have been on a trip back. Yes, Mickey with his shoulder-length hair, trying to copy Daltrey’s look, and Rebus with his military crew cut, inventing stories to make army life seem exciting, Northern Ireland still ahead of him…

They’d been close back then, Rebus always sending letters and postcards, his father proud of him, proud of both the boys.

The spitting image of your mum.

He stepped outside. The cigarette packet was already open in his hand. There were other smokers around him. They offered nods, shuffling their feet. The various wreaths and cards had been lined up next to the door and were being studied by the mourners. The usual words would crop up: condolence and loss and sorrow. The family would be in our thoughts. Michael wouldn’t be mentioned by name. Death brought its own set of protocols. The younger mourners were checking for text messages on their phones. Rebus dug his own out of his pocket and switched it on. Five missed calls, all from the same number. Rebus knew it from memory, pushed the buttons, and raised the phone to his ear. Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke was quick to answer.

“I’ve been trying you all morning,” she complained.

“I had it switched off.”

“Where are you anyway?”

“Still in Kirkcaldy.”

There was an intake of breath. “Hell, John, I completely forgot.”

“Don’t worry about it.” He watched Kenny open the car door for Chrissie. Lesley was motioning to Rebus, letting him know they were headed for the hotel. The car was a BMW, Kenny doing all right for himself as a mechanical engineer. He wasn’t married; had a girlfriend, but she hadn’t been able to make it to the funeral. Lesley was divorced, her own son and daughter off on holiday with their dad. Rebus nodded at her as she got into the back of the car.

“I thought it was next week,” Siobhan was saying.

“I take it you’re phoning for a gloat?” Rebus started walking toward his Saab. Siobhan had been in Perthshire the past two days, accompanying Macrae on a recon of G8 security. Macrae was old pals with Tayside’s assistant chief constable. All Macrae wanted was a look around, his friend happy to oblige. The G8 leaders would meet at Gleneagles Hotel, on the outskirts of Auchterarder, nothing around them but acres of wilderness and miles of security fence. There had been plenty of scare stories in the media. Reports of three thousand U.S. Marines landing in Scotland to protect their president. Anarchist plots to block roads and bridges with hijacked trucks. Bob Geldof had demanded that a million demonstrators besiege Edinburgh. They would be housed, he said, in people’s spare rooms, garages, and gardens. Boats would be sent to France to pick up protesters. Groups with names like Ya Basta and the Black Bloc would aim for chaos, while the People’s Golfing Association wanted to break the cordon to play a few holes of Gleneagles’s renowned course.

“I’m spending two days with DCI Macrae,” Siobhan was saying. “What’s to gloat about?”

Rebus unlocked his car and leaned in to slide the key into the ignition. He straightened again, took a last drag on his cigarette, and flicked the butt onto the roadway. Siobhan was saying something about a Scene of Crime team.

“Hold on,” Rebus told her. “I didn’t catch that.”

“Look, you’ve got enough on your plate without this.”

“Without what?”

“Remember Cyril Colliar?”

“Despite my advancing years, the memory’s not quite packed in.”

“Something really strange has happened.”

“What?”

“I think I’ve found the missing piece.”

“Of what?”

“The jacket.”

Rebus found that he’d lowered himself onto the driver’s seat. “I don’t understand.”

Siobhan gave a nervous laugh. “Me neither.”

“So where are you now?”

“Auchterarder.”

“And that’s where the jacket’s turned up?”

“Sort of.”

Rebus swung his legs into the car and pulled the door shut. “Then I’m coming to take a look. Is Macrae with you?”

“He went to Glenrothes. That’s where the G8 control center is.” She paused. “Are you sure you should be doing this?”

Rebus had started the engine. “I need to make my apologies first, but I can be there inside the hour. Will I have any trouble getting into Auchterarder?”

“It’s the calm before the storm. When you’re driving through town, look for the sign to the Clootie Well.”

“The what?”

“Easier if you just come and see for yourself.”

“Then that’s what I’ll do. Scene of Crime on their way?”

“Yes.”

“Which means word will get around.”

“Should I tell the DCI?”

“I’ll let you decide.” Rebus had wedged the phone between his shoulder and his cheek so he could steer the maze-like course to the gates of the crematorium.

“You’re breaking up,” Siobhan said.

Not if I can help it, Rebus thought to himself.

Cyril Colliar had been murdered six weeks before. Age twenty, he’d been locked away on a fixed ten-year stretch for a vicious rape. At the end of the sentence, he’d been released, despite the reservations of prison warders, police, and social services. They figured he was as big a threat as ever, having shown no remorse, denying his guilt despite DNA evidence. Colliar had returned to his native Edinburgh. All the bodybuilding he’d done in prison paid off. He worked as a nighttime bouncer and daytime muscle. His employer on both counts was Morris Gerald Cafferty. Big Ger was a villain of long standing. In had been Rebus’s job to confront him about his latest employee.

“What do I care?” had been the retort.

“He’s dangerous.”

“Way you’re hassling him would try the patience of a saint.” Cafferty swinging from side to side on his leather swivel chair, behind his desk at MGC Lettings. Anyone was slow with the weekly rent on one of Cafferty’s flats, Rebus guessed that was where Colliar would take over. Cafferty owned minicabs, too, and at least three raucous bars in the less salubrious parts of town. Plenty of work for Cyril Colliar.

Right up until the night he’d turned up dead. Skull caved in, the blow coming from behind. Pathologist figured he’d have died from that alone, but just to make sure, someone had added a syringe of very pure heroin. No indication that the deceased had been a user. Deceased was the word most of the cops on the case had used-and grudgingly at that. Nobody bothered with the term victim. Nobody could say the words out loud-Bastard got what he deserved-that wasn’t the done thing these days.

Didn’t stop them from thinking it, sharing it through eye contact and slow nods. Rebus and Siobhan had worked the case, but it had been one among many. Few leads and too many suspects. The rape victim had been interviewed, along with her family and her boyfriend from the time. One word kept coming up in discussing Colliar’s fate: “Good.”

His body had been found near his car, down a side street next to the bar where he’d been working. No witnesses, no scene-of-crime evidence. Just the one curiosity: a sharp blade had been used to slice away part of his distinctive jacket, a black nylon bomber emblazoned with the phrase CC Rider on the back. This was what had been removed, so that the white inner lining was revealed. Theories were in short supply. It was either a clumsy attempt to disguise the deceased’s identity, or there had been something hidden in the lining. Tests had proved negative for traces of drugs, leaving the police to shrug and scratch their heads.

To Rebus, it looked like a hit. Either Colliar had made an enemy, or a message was being sent to Cafferty. Not that their several interviews with Colliar’s employer had been enlightening.

“Bad for my reputation” was Cafferty’s main reaction. “Means either you catch whoever did it…”

“Or?”

But Cafferty hadn’t needed to answer. And if Cafferty got to the culprit first, it would be the last that was ever heard of them.

None of which had helped. The inquiry had hit a wall around the same time G8 preparations started focusing minds-most of them driven by images of overtime pay-elsewhere. Other cases had intruded, too, with victims-real victims. The Colliar murder team had been wound down.

Rebus lowered his driver’s-side window, welcoming the cool breeze. He didn’t know the quickest route to Auchterarder; he knew Gleneagles could be reached from Kinross, so had headed that way. A couple of months back, he’d bought a GPS for the car, but he hadn’t got round to reading the instructions yet. It lay on the passenger seat, screen blank. One of these days he’d take it to the garage that installed the car’s CD player. An inspection of the backseat, floors, and trunk had failed to turn up anything by The Who, so Rebus was listening to Elbow instead-Siobhan’s recommendation. He liked the title track, “Leaders of the Free World.” Stuck it on repeat. The singer seemed to think something had gone wrong since the ’60s. Rebus tended to agree, even coming at it from a different direction. He guessed the singer would have liked more change, a world run by Greenpeace and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, poverty made history. Rebus had been on a few marches himself in the ’60s, before and after joining the army. It was a way to meet girls if nothing else. Usually there was a party somewhere afterward. These days, though, he saw the ’60s as the end of something. A fan had been stabbed to death at a Stones concert in 1969, and the decade had petered out. The 1960s had given youth a taste for revolt. They didn’t trust the old order, certainly didn’t respect it. He wondered about the thousands who would descend on Gleneagles, confrontation a certainty. Hard to imagine it in this landscape of farms and hillsides, rivers and glens. He knew that Gleneagles’s very isolation would have been a factor in its choice as venue. The leaders of the free world would be safe there, safe to sign their names to decisions that had already been made elsewhere. On the stereo, the band was singing about climbing a landslide. The image stuck with Rebus all the way to the outskirts of Auchterarder.

He didn’t think he’d been there before. All the same, he seemed to know the place. Typical small Scottish town: a single, well-defined main street with narrow side roads leading off, built with the notion that people would walk to their local shops. Small, independently owned shops at that; he didn’t see much that would inflame the antiglobalization campaigners. The baker was even selling limited-edition G8 pies.

The good folk of Auchterarder, Rebus seemed to recall, had been vetted under the guise of providing them with ID badges. These would be necessary so they could cross the eventual barricades. Yet as Siobhan had pointed out, there was an eerie tranquillity to the place. Only a few shoppers and one carpenter who seemed to be measuring windows for protective boards. The cars were muddy 4x4s, which had probably spent more time on farm tracks than motorways. One woman driver was even wearing a head scarf, something Rebus hadn’t seen in a while. Within a couple of minutes, he was at the far end of town and heading toward the A9. He did a three-point turn and this time kept his eyes open for signposts. The one he wanted was next to a pub, pointing down a lane. He signaled, following the road past hedges and driveways, then a newer housing estate. The landscape opened before him, showing distant hills. In moments he was out of town again, flanked by neat hedgerows that would leave their mark on his car if he had to make way for a tractor or delivery van. There were some woods to his left, and another sign told him this was home to the Clootie Well. He knew the word from clootie dumpling, a sticky steamed dessert his mother had sometimes made. He remembered the taste and texture as being similar to Christmas pudding, dark and cloying and sugary. His stomach gave a small protest, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten in hours. His stop at the hotel had been brief, a few quiet words with Chrissie. She’d hugged him, just as she had back at the house earlier that morning. All the years he’d known her, there hadn’t been many hugs. In the early days, he’d actually fancied her; awkward under the circumstances. She’d seemed to sense this. Then he’d been best man at the wedding, and, during one dance, she’d blown mischievously in his ear. Later, on the few occasions when she and Mickey had been separated, Rebus had taken his brother’s side. He supposed he could have called her, said something, but he hadn’t. And when Mickey had gotten into that spot of bother, ended up in jail, Rebus hadn’t visited Chrissie and the kids. Mind you, he hadn’t visited Mickey that often either, in jail or since.

There was more history: when Rebus and his own wife had separated, Chrissie had blamed him entirely. She’d always gotten on well with Rhona; kept in touch with her after the divorce. That was family for you. Tactics, campaigning, and diplomacy: the politicians had it easy by comparison.

Back at the hotel, Lesley had mimicked her mother, giving him a hug too. Kenny had thought for a second before Rebus put the lad out of his misery by extending a hand to be squeezed. He wondered if there would be any fallings-out; there usually were at funerals. With grief came blame and resentment. Just as well he hadn’t stayed. When it came to the potential for confrontation, John Rebus punched well above his already substantial weight.

There was a parking area just off the road. It looked newly built, trees having been cleared, chippings of tree bark strewn across the ground. Room enough for four cars, but only one was waiting. Siobhan Clarke was leaning against it, arms folded. Rebus pulled on the brake and got out.

“Nice spot,” he said.

“Been here over a hundred years,” she told him.

“Didn’t think I drove that slowly.”

She offered only a twist of the mouth, leading him into the woods, arms still folded. She was dressed more formally than usual: knee-length black skirt and black stockings. Her shoes were smudged from having walked this same trail earlier.

“I saw the sign yesterday,” she was saying. “The one leading off the main drag. Decided I’d take a look.”

“Well, if the choice was that or Glenrothes…”

“There’s a bulletin board back at the clearing, tells you a bit about the place. All sorts of witchy goings-on over the years.” They were ascending a slope, rounding a thick, twisted oak. “The townspeople decided there must be sprites living here; shrieks in the dark, that sort of thing.”

“Local farmhands more like,” Rebus offered.

She nodded agreement. “All the same, they started leaving little offerings. Hence the name clootie.” She glanced around at him. “You’ll know what it means, you being the only native Scot around here?”

He had a sudden image of his mother lifting the pudding out of its pan. The pudding wrapped in…

“Cloth,” he told her.

“And clothing,” she added as they entered another clearing. They stopped and Rebus breathed deeply. Damp cloth…damp, rotting cloth. He’d been smelling it for the past half minute. The smell clothes gave off in his old house, the one he’d grown up in, when they weren’t aired, when the damp and the mildew got to them. The trees around him were strung with rags and remnants. Pieces had fallen to the ground, where they were decomposing to a mulch.

“Tradition has it,” Siobhan said quietly, “they were left here for good luck. Keep the sprites warm, and they’d see no harm came to you. Another theory: when kids died young, their parents left something here, by way of remembrance.” Her voice caught, and she cleared her throat.

“I’m not made of glass,” Rebus assured her. “You can use words like remembrance-I’m not going to start blubbing.”

She nodded again. Rebus was walking around the clearing. Leaves and soft moss underfoot, and the sound of a stream, just a thin trickle of water pushing up from the ground. Candles and coins had been left by its edges.

“Not much of a well,” he commented.

She just shrugged. “I was here a few minutes…didn’t really warm to the atmosphere. But then I noticed some of the newer clothing.” Rebus saw it too. Strung from the branches. A shawl, overalls, a red polka-dot handkerchief. A nearly new sneaker, its laces dangling. Even underwear and what looked like children’s stockings.

“Christ, Siobhan,” Rebus muttered, not really knowing what else to say. The smell seemed to be growing stronger. He had another flashback to a ten-day bender many years before, coming out of it to find that a load of laundry had been sitting in the machine, waiting to be hung. When he’d opened the door, this same smell had hit him. He’d washed everything again but still had to throw it all away afterward. “And the jacket?”

All she did was point. Rebus walked slowly toward the tree in question. The piece of nylon had been pierced by a short branch. It swayed just a little in the breeze. Threads straggling from it but no mistaking the logo.

“CC Rider,” Rebus said in confirmation. Siobhan was running her hands through her hair. He knew she had questions, knew she would have been turning them over in her mind all the time she’d been waiting for him. “So what do we do?” he prompted.

“It’s a crime scene,” she began. “A team is on the way from Stirling. We need to secure the site, comb the area for evidence. We need to reassemble the original murder squad, start going door to door locally-”

“Including Gleneagles?” Rebus interrupted. “You’re the expert, so you tell me: how many times has the hotel staff been vetted? And how do we go about knocking on doors in the middle of a weeklong demonstration? Securing the site won’t be a problem, mind you, not with all the secret service teams we’re about to welcome…”

Naturally she had considered all these points. He knew as much and his voice trailed off.

“We keep it quiet till the summit’s over,” she suggested.

“Tempting,” he admitted.

She smiled. “Only because it gives you a head start.”

He admitted as much with a wink.

She sighed. “Macrae needs to be told. Which means he’ll tell Tayside Police.”

“But the SOCOs are coming from Stirling,” Rebus added, “and Stirling belongs to Central Region.”

“So that’s just the three police forces who need to know…Shouldn’t have any trouble keeping it under wraps.”

Rebus was looking around. “If we can at least get the scene checked and photographed…take the cloth back to the lab…”

“Before the fun and games start?”

Rebus puffed out his cheeks. “Kicks off on Wednesday, right?”

“The G8 does, yes. But there’s the Poverty March tomorrow and another planned for Monday.”

“In Edinburgh, though, not Auchterarder.” Then he saw what she was getting at. Even with the evidence at the lab, the whole place could be under siege. Getting from Gayfield Square to the lab at Howdenhall meant crossing the city, always supposing the technicians had managed to force their way into work.

“Why leave it here?” Siobhan asked, studying the patch again. “Some sort of trophy?”

“If so, why here specifically?”

“Could be local. Any family connections with the area?”

“I think Colliar’s solid Edinburgh.”

She looked at him. “I meant the rape victim.”

Rebus formed his mouth into an O.

“Something to consider,” she added. Then she paused. “What’s that sound?”

Rebus patted his stomach. “Been a while since I’ve eaten. Don’t suppose Gleneagles is open for afternoon tea?”

“Depends on your credit card limit. There are places in town. One of us should stay for the SOCOs.”

“Better be you, then; don’t want accusations that I’m hogging the limelight. In fact, you probably deserve a complimentary cup of Aucherarder’s finest tea.” He turned to go, but she stopped him.

“Why me? Why now?” Her arms stretching from her sides.

“Why not?” he answered. “Just call it kismet.”

“That’s not what I mean…”

He turned toward her again.

“What I mean,” she said quietly, “is that I’m not sure I want them caught. If they are, and it’s because of me…”

“If they are, Shiv, it’ll be due to their screwup.” He stabbed a finger in the direction of the patch. “That, and maybe even a bit of teamwork.”

The Scene of Crime Unit hadn’t been thrilled by news that Rebus and Siobhan had entered the crime site. Prints of their shoes had been taken, for purposes of elimination, along with hair samples.

“Go easy,” Rebus had warned. “I can’t afford to be generous.”

The SOCO-Scene of Crime officer-had apologized. “Got to get the root, else we can’t get the DNA.” On the third try with the tweezers, he’d been successful. One of his colleagues had almost finished videoing the scene. Another was taking photographs and yet another was in conversation with Siobhan about how much of the other clothing they should take to the lab.

“Just the most recent,” she told him, her eyes on Rebus. He nodded his agreement, sharing her train of thought. Even if Colliar was a message to Cafferty, it didn’t mean there weren’t other messages here.

“Sports shirt seems to have a company logo on it,” the SOCO commented.

“Your job could hardly be easier,” Siobhan said with a smile.

“My job’s collection. The rest is up to you.”

“Speaking of which,” Rebus interrupted, “any chance this could all go to Edinburgh rather than Stirling?”

The SOCO stiffened his shoulders. Rebus didn’t know him but he knew the type: late forties, half a lifetime’s experience. There was plenty of rivalry between the various police regions as it was. Rebus held up his hands in mock surrender.

“All I mean is, it’s an Edinburgh case. Makes sense if they don’t have to keep traipsing through to Stirling every time there’s something you need to show them.”

Siobhan was smiling again, amused by his use of they and them. But she gave a slight nod, too, recognizing a useful ploy when she saw one.

“Especially now,” Rebus was arguing, “with the demonstrations and everything.” He looked up to where a helicopter was circling. Gleneagles surveillance, it had to be. Someone up there wondering at the sudden appearance of two cars and two unmarked white vans at the Clootie Well. Returning his gaze to the SOCO, Rebus realized the chopper had sealed the deal. A time like this, cooperation was paramount. It had been hammered home in memorandum after memorandum. Macrae himself had said as much at the past dozen or so briefings at Gayfield Square.

Be nice. Work together. Help each other. Because for these few short days, the world would be watching.

Maybe the SOCO had been at similar briefings. He was nodding slowly, turning away to continue his work. Rebus and Siobhan shared another look. Then Rebus reached into his pocket for his cigarettes.

“No traces, please,” one of the other SOCOs warned him, so Rebus moved away, back toward the parking lot. He was just lighting up when another car appeared. The more the merrier, he thought to himself as DCI Macrae leaped out. He was dressed in what looked like a new suit. New tie, too, and a crisp white shirt. His hair was gray and sparse, face saggy, nose bulbous and red veined.

He’s the same age as me, Rebus thought. Why does he seem so much older?

“Afternoon, sir,” Rebus said.

“Thought you were supposed to be at a funeral.” The tone was accusatory, as though Rebus might have fabricated a death in the family to secure a Friday sleep-in.

“DS Clarke interrupted proceedings,” Rebus explained. “Thought I’d show my face.” Making it sound like a sacrifice. The words worked, too; Macrae’s tightened jaw relaxed a little.

I’m on a roll, Rebus thought. First the SOCO, now the boss. Macrae had been pretty good actually, green-lighting a day off for Rebus as soon as news broke of Mickey’s death. He’d told Rebus to go get smashed, and Rebus had obliged-the Scotsman’s way of dealing with death. He’d found himself in a part of town he didn’t know, no idea how he got there. He walked into a drugstore and asked where he was. Answer: Colinton Village Pharmacy. He’d thanked them by making the purchase of some aspirin.

“Sorry, John,” Macrae said now, taking a deep breath. “How did it go?” Trying to sound concerned.

“It went” was all Rebus said. He watched the helicopter bank steeply as it turned for home.

“Hope to Christ that wasn’t TV,” Macrae commented.

“Not much to see, even supposing it was. Shame to tear you away from Glenrothes, sir. How’s Sorbus looking?”

Operation Sorbus: the policing plan for G8 week. To Rebus, it sounded like something a dieter would use in his tea instead of sugar. Siobhan had set him straight, told him it was a kind of tree.

“We’re prepared for any eventuality,” Macrae stated briskly.

“Except maybe one,” Rebus felt it his duty to add.

“Back burner till next week, John,” his boss muttered.

Rebus nodded his agreement. “Always assuming they agree.”

Macrae followed Rebus’s sight line and saw the car approaching. It was a silver Merc with tinted rear windows.

“Probably means the chopper wasn’t TV,” Rebus added for Macrae’s benefit. He reached into his own car’s passenger seat and brought out what remained of a sandwich. Ham salad: the first had slipped down without touching the sides.

“The hell’s this?” Macrae was asking through gritted teeth. The Merc had pulled to an abrupt stop beside one of the Scene of Crime vans. The driver’s door opened and a man got out. He walked around the car and tugged open the rear passenger-side door. It took several moments for the man inside to emerge. He was tall and narrow, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses. As he secured all three buttons of his suit coat, he seemed to be studying the two white vans and the three unmarked police cars. Eventually, he peered up at the sky, mouthed something to his driver, and stepped away from the vehicle. Instead of approaching Rebus and Macrae, he walked over to the signpost, the one informing tourists of the Clootie Well’s history. The driver was back behind his steering wheel, eyes on Rebus and Macrae. Rebus blew him a little kiss, content to stand there until the new arrival consented to make introductions. Again, he thought he knew the type: cold and calculating, making a show of being the real power. Had to be security of some kind, following up the chopper’s call.

Macrae took only seconds to crack. Strode over to the man and asked him who he was.

“I’m SO12, who the hell are you?” the man replied in a measured voice. Maybe he’d missed the briefings on friendly cooperation. English accent, Rebus noted. Stood to reason. SO12 was Special Branch, based in London. One step away from the spooks. “I mean,” the man went on, his interest still apparently concentrated on the signpost, “I know what you are. You’re CID. And those are Scene of Crime vans. And in a clearing just ahead of us there are men in white protective overalls making a detailed examination of the trees and ground.” Finally he turned toward Macrae and reached a slow hand to his own face to remove the sunglasses. “How am I doing so far?”

Macrae’s face had reddened in anger. All day he’d been treated with the dignity that was his due. Now this.

“Care to show some ID?” Macrae snapped. The man stared at him then gave a wry smile. Is that all you’ve got? the smile seemed to say. As he reached into his jacket, not bothering to unbutton it, his eyes shifted from Macrae to Rebus. The smile stayed, inviting Rebus to share its message. A small black leather wallet was held open for Macrae’s inspection.

“There,” the man said, snapping it shut again. “Now you know all there is to know about me.”

“You’re Steelforth,” Macrae said, clearing his throat between words. Rebus could see his boss had been thrown. Macrae turned toward him. “Commander Steelforth is in charge of G8 security,” he explained. But Rebus had already guessed as much. Macrae turned back to Steelforth. “I was in Glenrothes this morning, being given a tour courtesy of ACC Finnigan. And Gleneagles yesterday…” Macrae’s voice faltered. Steelforth was already moving away from him, toward Rebus.

“Not interrupting your coronary, am I?” he asked, glancing at the sandwich. Rebus gave the belch he felt the query demanded. Steelforth’s eyes narrowed.

“We can’t all be dining courtesy of the taxpayer,” Rebus said. “How is the food at Gleneagles, by the way?”

“I doubt you’ll get the chance to find out, Detective Sergeant.”

“Not a bad guess, sir, but your eyes deceive you.”

“This is DI Rebus,” Macrae was explaining. “I’m DCI Macrae, Lothian and Borders.”

“Based where?” Steelforth asked.

“ Gayfield Square,” Macrae answered.

“In Edinburgh,” Rebus added.

“You’re a long way from home, gentlemen.” Steelforth was heading down the path.

“A man was murdered in Edinburgh,” Rebus explained. “Some of his clothing has turned up here.”

“Do we know why?”

“I intend keeping a lid on it, Commander,” Macrae stated. “Once the SOCOs are finished, that’s us done and dusted.” Macrae was at Steelforth’s heels, Rebus bringing up the rear.

“No plans for any premiers or presidents to come leave a wee offering?” Rebus asked.

Instead of answering, Steelforth marched into the clearing. The senior SOCO stuck a hand against his chest. “More fucking footprints,” he growled.

Steelforth glared at the hand. “Do you know who I am?”

“Don’t give a bollocks, pal. Fuck up my crime scene, you’ll answer for it.”

The Special Branch man considered for a moment, then relented, retracing his steps to the edge of the clearing, content to watch the operation. His cell sounded, and he answered it, moving farther away to prevent being overheard. Siobhan gave a questioning look. Rebus mouthed the word later and dug into his pocket, bringing out a ten-pound note.

“Here,” he said, offering it to the SOCO.

“What’s that for?”

Rebus just winked, and the man pocketed the money, adding the word “Cheers.”

“I always tip for service beyond the norm,” Rebus told Macrae. Nodding, Macrae dug into his own pocket and found a fiver for Rebus.

“Halfers,” the DCI said.

Steelforth was returning to the clearing. “I need to get back to more important matters. When will you be finished here?”

“Half an hour,” one of the other SOCOs answered.

“Longer if need be,” Steelforth’s nemesis added. “A crime scene’s a crime scene, no matter what other wee sideshows there are.” Like Rebus before him, he hadn’t been slow to work out Steelforth’s role.

The Special Branch man turned to Macrae. “I’ll inform ACC Finnigan, shall I? Let him know we have your full understanding and cooperation?”

“As you wish, sir.”

Steelforth’s face softened a little. His hand made contact with Macrae’s arm. “I’m willing to bet you didn’t see everything there is to see. When you’re finished here, come see me at Gleneagles. I’ll give you the proper tour.”

Macrae melted; a kid on Christmas morning. But he recovered well, stiffening his spine.

“Thank you, Commander.”

“Call me David.”

Crouched as if for evidence gathering some way behind Steelforth’s back, the senior SOCO made a show of sticking a finger down his throat.

Three cars would be making their way separately to Edinburgh. Rebus shuddered to think what the ecologists would say to that. Macrae peeled off first, heading for Gleneagles. Rebus had driven past the hotel earlier. When you approached Auchterarder from Kinross, you saw the hotel and its grounds a long time before you reached the town. Thousands of acres but few signs of security. He had caught just the one glimpse of fencing, alerted by a temporary structure which he took to be a watchtower. Rebus shadowed Macrae on the way back, his boss sounding the horn as he turned into the hotel’s driveway. Siobhan had guessed Perth as the quickest road, Rebus opting to retrace his cross-country route, pick up the M90 eventually. Still plenty of blue in the sky. Scottish summers were a blessing, a reward for the long winter’s twilight. Rebus turned down the music and called Siobhan’s cell.

“Hands-free, I hope…” she told him.

“Don’t be smart.”

“…otherwise you’re setting a bad example.”

“First time for everything. What did you make of our friend from London?”

“Unlike you, I don’t have those hang-ups.”

“What hang-ups?”

“With authority…with the English…with…” She paused. “Want me to go on?”

“Last time I looked, I still outrank you.”

“So?”

“So I could cite you for insubordination.”

“And give the chiefs a good laugh?”

His silence conceded the point. Either she’d gotten lippier down the years, or he was getting rusty. Both, probably. “Think we can talk the lab techs into a Saturday shift?” he asked.

“Depends.”

“What about Ray Duff? One word from you and he’d do it.”

“And all I’d have to do in return is spend a whole day with him, touring in that smelly old car.”

“It’s a design classic.”

“Something he won’t begin to tire of telling me.”

“Rebuilt it from scratch…”

Her sigh was audible. “What is it with forensics? They all have these hobbies.”

“So you’ll ask him?”

“I’ll ask him. Are you carousing this evening?”

“Night shift.”

“Same day as a funeral?”

“Someone’s got to do it.”

“I’m betting you insisted.”

He didn’t answer, instead asked what her own plans were.

“Getting my head down. Want to be up bright and early for the march.”

“What have they got you doing?”

She laughed. “I’m not working, John-I’m going because I want to.”

“Bloody hell.”

“You should come too.”

“Aye, right. That’s going to make all the difference in the world. I’d rather stay at home to make my protest.”

“What protest?”

“Against Bob bloody Geldof.” She was laughing in his ear again. “Because if as many turn up as he wants, it’ll look like it’s all because of him. Can’t have that, Siobhan. Think about it before you sign your name to the cause.”

“I’m going, John. If nothing else, I need to look out for my mum and dad.”

“Your…?”

“They’re up from London -and not because of anything Geldof said.”

“They’re going on the march?”

“Yes.”

“Do I get to meet them?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’re just the sort of cop they’re afraid I’ll become.”

He was supposed to laugh at this but knew she was only half joking.

“Fair point” was all he said.

“Have you shaken off the boss?” A conscious change of subject.

“Left him at valet parking.”

“Don’t joke-they actually have that at Gleneagles. Did he toot the horn at you?”

“What do you think?”

“I knew he would. This whole trip, it’s shaken years off him.”

“Kept him out of the station, too.”

“So everybody wins.” She paused. “You think you’ve got a crack at this, don’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Cyril Colliar. The next week or so, nobody’s going to be holding your leash.”

“I didn’t realize I was up there in your estimation.”

“John, you’re a couple of years away from retirement. I know you want one last go at Cafferty.”

“And it seems I’m transparent, too.”

“Look, I’m just trying to-”

“I know, and I’m touched.”

“You really think Cafferty could be responsible?”

“If he’s not, he’ll want whoever was. Look, if it all gets a bit fraught with your parents…” Now who was changing the subject? “Send me a text and we’ll meet for a drink.”

“All right, I will. You can turn the Elbow CD up now.”

“Well spotted. Talk to you later.”

Rebus cut the connection and did as he was told.

2

The barriers were going up. Down George IV Bridge and all along Princes Street, workmen were busy putting them in place. Road repairs and building projects had been put on hold, scaffolding removed so it couldn’t be taken apart and used as missiles. Mailboxes had been sealed shut and some shops boarded up. Financial institutions had been warned, staff advised not to wear formal clothing-it would make them easy targets. For a Friday evening, the town was quiet. Police vans cruised the central streets, metal grilles fixed to their windshields. More vans were parked out of sight in unlit side roads. The cops on board wore riot gear and laughed among themselves, swapping stories from previous engagements. A few veterans had seen action during the last wave of miners’ strikes. Others tried to match these memories with stories of soccer battles, poll-tax demonstrations, the Newbury Bypass. They exchanged rumors about the expected size of the Italian anarchist contingent.

“ Genoa toughened them up.”

“Just the way we like it, eh, lads?”

Bravado and nerves and camaraderie. The talk faltering whenever a radio crackled to life.

The uniformed police working the train station wore bright yellow jackets. Here, too, barriers were being erected. They were blocking exits, so there remained a single route in and out. Some officers carried cameras with which to record the faces of arrivals from the London trains. Special cars had been added on for the protesters, which made them easy to identify. Not that such skills were really needed: they sang songs, carried backpacks, wore badges and T-shirts and wristbands. They carried flags and banners, were dressed in baggy pants, camouflage jackets, hiking boots. Intelligence reports said busloads had already left from the south of England. First estimates had stated fifty thousand. The latest guess was north of a hundred thousand. Which, added to the summer tourists, would swell Edinburgh ’s population nicely.

Somewhere in the city there was a rally signaling the start of G8 Alternatives, a weeklong series of marches and meetings. More police would be there. If needed, some of these would be on horseback. Plenty of dog handlers, too, including four on Waverley Station’s concourse. The plan was simple: visible strength. Let any potential troublemakers know what they’d be dealing with. Visors and billly clubs and handcuffs, horses and dogs and patrol vans.

Force of numbers.

Tools of the trade.

Tactics.

Earlier in its history, Edinburgh was prone to invasion. Its inhabitants hid behind walls and gates, and when those were breached they retreated to the warrenlike tunnels below the castle and the High Street, leaving the city empty and the victory hollow. It was a talent the denizens continued to bring to the annual August festival. As the population swelled, the locals became less visible, blending in to the background. It might also explain Edinburgh ’s reliance on invisible industries such as banking and insurance. Until lately, it was said that St. Andrew Square was the richest in Europe, boasting several corporate HQs. But with space at a premium, new building projects had prospered on Lothian Road and farther west toward the airport. The Royal Bank’s HQ at Gogarburn, recently completed, was seen as a target. So, too, buildings owned and staffed by Standard Life and Scottish Widows. Driving through the streets, killing some time, Siobhan figured the city would be tested in the coming days as never before.

A police convoy, sirens blaring, pulled out to pass her. No mistaking the schoolboy grin on the driver’s face; he was loving every minute. Edinburgh provided his own personal racetrack. A purple Nissan filled with local youths was riding the slipstream. Siobhan gave it ten seconds, then signaled to move back out into the flow of traffic. She was on her way to a temporary campsite in Niddrie, one of Edinburgh ’s less genteel areas. Instead of pitching their tents in people’s gardens, marchers were being told to go there.

Niddrie.

The council had chosen the grasslands around the Jack Kane Center. They were planning for ten thousand visitors, maybe even fifteen. Portable toilets and showers had been provided and a private security firm put in charge. Probably, Siobhan couldn’t help thinking, to keep the neighborhood gangs out rather than the marchers in. The local joke was that there’d be a lot of tents and camping gear for sale around the pubs in the next few weeks. Siobhan had offered to let her parents stay at her place. Of course she had: they’d helped her buy it. They could have her bed; she’d crash on the sofa. But they’d been adamant: they would be traveling by bus and camping with the others. They’d been students in the 1960s and had never quite shaken themselves free of the period. Though now nearing sixty-Rebus’s generation-her dad still kept his hair tied back in a sort of ponytail. Her mum still wore dresses that were mostly caftans. She thought of her words to Rebus earlier: You’re just the sort of cop they’re afraid I’ll become. Thing was, part of her felt now that she’d joined the police mostly because she’d thought they wouldn’t approve. After all the care and affection they’d doled out, she’d needed to rebel. Payback for the times their teaching jobs had led to yet another move, another new school. Payback simply because it was in her power. When she’d told them, their looks had almost made her recant. But that would have been weak. They’d been supportive, of course, while hinting that police work might not be the most fulfilling use of her skills. That was enough to make her dig in her heels.

So she’d become a cop. Not in London, where her parents lived, but in Scotland, which she hadn’t really known at all until attending college there. One final heartfelt plea from her mum and dad: “Anywhere but Glasgow.”

Glasgow, with its hard-man image and knife culture, its sectarian divide. Yet, as Siobhan had found, a great place to shop. A place she sometimes went with friends-all-girl parties which led to them staying the night at some boutique hotel or other, sampling the nightlife, steering clear of any bars with bouncers at the door-a point of drinking protocol on which she and John Rebus agreed. While Edinburgh, meantime, had proved more deadly than her parents could ever have imagined.

Not that she would ever tell them that. During Sunday phone calls she tended to brush off her mum’s inquiries, asking her own questions instead. She’d offered to meet them at the bus, but they’d said they would need time to get the tent ready. Stopped at traffic lights, she pictured this, and the image made her smile. Nearly sixty, the pair of them, and messing around with a tent. They’d taken early retirement the previous year from their teaching jobs. Owned a fair-sized house in Forest Hill, the mortgage paid off. Always asking her if she needed money…

“I’ll pay for a hotel room,” she’d told them on the phone, but they’d remained resolute. Pulling away from the lights, she wondered if it might be some form of dementia.

She parked on the Wisp, ignoring the orange traffic cones, and stuck a POLICE BUSINESS notice on her windshield. At the sound of her idling engine, a yellow-jacketed security guard had come for a look. He shook his head and pointed at the notice. Then he drew a hand across his throat and nodded toward the nearest housing development. Siobhan removed the sign but left the car where it was.

“Local gangs,” the guard was saying. “Sign like that’s a red rag to a bull.” He slid his hands into his pockets, puffing up his already substantial chest. “So what brings you here, Officer?”

His head was shaved, but he sported a full, dark beard and a tangle of eyebrows.

“Social call, actually,” Siobhan said, showing him her ID. “A couple by the name of Clarke. Need a word with them.”

“In you come then.” He led her to a gate in the perimeter fence. In miniature, it was a bit like the Gleneagles security. There was even a sort of watchtower. Every ten yards or so along the fence stood another guard. “Here, put this on,” her new friend was saying, handing her a wristband. “Makes you less conspicuous. It’s how we keep tabs on our band of happy campers.”

“Quite literally,” she said, taking it from him. “How’s everything going so far?”

“Local youth don’t like it much. They’ve tried coming in, but that’s about it.” He shrugged. They were walking along a metal walkway, stepping off it for a moment as a young girl roller-skated past, her mother watching cross-legged from the ground next to her tent.

“How many are here?” Siobhan found it hard to judge.

“Maybe a thousand. There’ll be more tomorrow.”

“You’re not keeping count?”

“Not taking names either-so I’m not sure where you’re going to find your friends. Only thing we’re allowed to take from them is the fee for their site.”

Siobhan looked around. The summer had been dry, and the earth underfoot was solid. Beyond the skyline of apartment buildings and houses she could make out other, more ancient shapes: Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat. She could hear some low chanting and a few guitars and pennywhistles. Children’s laughter and a baby ready for its next feeding. Hand claps and chatter. Silenced suddenly by a megaphone, carried by a man with his hair crammed into an outsize woolly hat. Patchwork trousers lopped off at the knees and flip-flops on his feet.

“Big white tent, people-that’s where it’s happening. Vegetable curry at four quid, thanks to the local mosque. Only four quid…”

“Maybe that’s where you’ll find them,” Siobhan’s guide said. She thanked him and he headed back to his post. The “big white tent” seemed to serve as a general meeting place. Someone else was calling out that a group would be heading into town for a drink. Meet in five minutes by the red flag. Siobhan had passed a row of portable toilets and some standpipes and showers. All that was left for her to explore now were tents. The line for curry was orderly. Someone tried to hand her a plastic spoon, and she shook her head before remembering that it was a while since she’d eaten. Her Styrofoam plate heaped high, she decided to take a slow walk through the camp. People were cooking their own food on camp stoves. One pointed at her.

“Remember me from Glastonbury?” he called. Siobhan just shook her head. And then she saw her parents and broke into a smile. They were doing the camping thing with style: a big red tent with windows and a covered porch, foldaway table and chairs, and an open bottle of wine with real glasses next to it. They got up when they saw her, exchanged hugs and kisses, apologized that they’d only brought two chairs.

“I can sit on the grass,” Siobhan assured them. There was another young woman already doing just that. She hadn’t moved at Siobhan’s approach.

“We were just telling Santal about you,” Siobhan’s mum said. Eve Clarke looked young for her years, only the laugh lines giving the game away. The same could not be said for Siobhan’s dad, Teddy. He’d grown paunchy, and the skin drooped from his face. His hairline had receded, the ponytail sparser and grayer than ever. He refilled the wineglasses with gusto, his gaze never leaving the bottle.

“I’m sure Santal’s been riveted,” Siobhan said, accepting the glass.

The young woman gave the beginnings of a smile. Her hair was neck length and dirty blond, gelled or mistreated so that it emerged in clumps and braids from her scalp. No makeup, but multiple piercings to her ears and one to the side of her nose. Her dark green sleeveless T-shirt showed Celtic tattoos on either shoulder, and her bare midriff showed another piercing to her navel. Plenty of jewelry strung around her neck, and hanging lower still what looked like a digital video camera.

“You’re Siobhan,” she said with a trace of a lisp.

“Afraid so.” Siobhan toasted the company with her glass. Another had been produced from a picnic basket, along with another bottle of wine.

“Steady on, Teddy,” Eve Clarke said.

“Santal needs a refill,” he explained, though Siobhan couldn’t help noticing that Santal’s glass was actually almost as full as her own.

“Did the three of you travel up together?” she asked.

“Santal hitched from Aylesbury,” Teddy Clarke said. “After the bus ride we’ve just endured, I think next time I’d do the same.” He rolled his eyes and fidgeted in his seat, then unscrewed the wine bottle. “Screw-top wine, Santal. Don’t say the modern world doesn’t have its pluses.”

In fact, she didn’t reply at all. Siobhan couldn’t say why she’d taken such an immediate dislike to this stranger, except that Santal was just that: a stranger. Siobhan had wanted some time with her mum and dad. Just the three of them.

“Santal’s got the campsite next to us,” Eve was explaining. “We needed a bit of help with the tent…”

Her husband laughed suddenly and loudly, filling his own glass. “Been a while since we camped,” he said.

“Tent looks new,” Siobhan commented.

“Borrowed from neighbors,” her mother said quietly.

Santal was rising to her feet. “I should go.”

“Not on our account,” Teddy Clarke protested.

“There’s a bunch of us heading to a pub.”

“I like your camera,” Siobhan said.

Santal looked down at it. “Any of the cops take my picture, I want theirs in return. Fair’s fair, isn’t it?” Her unblinking look demanded agreement.

Siobhan turned toward her father. “You’ve told her what I do,” she stated quietly.

“Not ashamed, are you?” Santal all but spat the words out.

“Just the opposite, to be honest.” Siobhan’s eyes shifted from father to mother. Suddenly both her parents seemed intent on the wine in front of them. When she looked back at Santal, she saw that the young woman was pointing the camera at her.

“One for the family album,” Santal said. “I’ll send you a JPEG.”

“Thanks,” Siobhan replied coldly. “Odd name, isn’t it, Santal?”

“Means ‘sandalwood,’” Eve Clarke answered.

“At least people can spell it,” Santal herself added.

Teddy Clarke laughed. “I was telling Santal about how we burdened you with a name nobody down south could pronounce.”

“Shared any more family history?” Siobhan said, bristling. “Any embarrassing stories I need to be aware of?”

“Touchy, isn’t she?” Santal commented to Siobhan’s mother.

“You know,” Eve Clarke admitted, “we never really wanted her to become-”

“Mum, for Christ’s sake!” Siobhan broke in. But her further complaint was cut short by sounds from the direction of the fence. She saw guards jogging toward the scene. There were kids on the outside, making Nazi salutes. They wore regulation dark hooded tops and wanted the guards to send out “all the hippie scum.”

“The revolution starts here!” one of them yelled. “Up against the wall, wankers!”

“Pathetic,” Siobhan’s mother said.

But now there were objects sailing through the darkening sky.

“Get down,” Siobhan warned, all but pushing her mother into the tent, unsure what protection it would offer from the volley of rocks and bottles. Her father had taken a couple of steps toward the trouble, but she hauled him back, too. Santal was standing her ground, pointing her camera toward the melee.

“You’re just a bunch of tourists!” one of the locals was yelling. “Piss off home on the rickshaws that brought you here!”

Raucous laughter; jeers and gestures. If the campers wouldn’t come outside, they wanted the guards. But the guards weren’t that stupid. Instead, Siobhan’s friend was on his radio for reinforcements. Situation like this, it could die down in moments or flare into all-out war. The guard found her standing by his shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m sure you’re insured…”

It took her a second to get his meaning. “My car!” she shouted, heading for the gate. Had to elbow her way past two more guards. Ran out onto the road. Her hood was dented and scratched, back window fractured, NYT sprayed on one door.

Niddrie Young Team.

They stood there in a line, laughing at her. One of them held up his camera phone to get a picture.

“Take all the photos you want,” she told him. “Makes you even easier to trace.”

“Fuckin’ police!” another of them spat. He was in the center, a lieutenant behind either shoulder.

The leader.

“Police is right,” she said. “Ten minutes in Craigmillar cop-shop and I’ll know more about you than your own mother.” She was pointing for emphasis, but all he did was sneer. Only a third of his face was visible, but she would file it away. A car was drawing up, three men inside. Siobhan recognized the one in the back: local councilman.

“Away you go!” he was yelling as he emerged, waving both arms as if putting sheep back in a pen. The gang’s leader pretended to tremble but could see that his fellow soldiers were wavering. Half a dozen of the security had come from behind the fence, the bearded guard at their head. Sirens in the distance, growing closer.

“Go on, bugger off with you!” the councilman persisted.

“Camp full of lezzies and fags,” the gang’s leader snarled in reply. “And who’s paying for it, eh?”

“I very much doubt you are, son,” the councilman said. The other two men from the car were flanking him now. They were big men, probably hadn’t backed down from a fight in their lives. Just the sort of pollsters a Niddrie politician would need.

The gang leader spat on the ground, then turned and walked off.

“Thanks for that,” Siobhan said, holding out a hand for the councilman to shake.

“Not a problem,” he replied, seeming to dismiss the whole incident, Siobhan included, from his mind. He was shaking the bearded guard’s hand now, the two obviously known to each other.

“Quiet night otherwise?” the councilman asked. The guard chuckled a response.

“Was there something we could do for you, Mr. Tench?”

Councilman Tench looked around him. “Just thought I’d drop by, let all these lovely people know that my district stands firmly behind them in the fight to end poverty and injustice in the world.” He had an audience now, fifty or so campers standing just on the other side of the fence. “We know something about both in this part of Edinburgh,” he bellowed, “but that doesn’t mean we’ve no time for those worse off than us. Bighearted, I like to think we are.” He saw that Siobhan was examining the damage to her car. “Few wild ones in our midst, naturally, but then what community hasn’t?” Smiling, Tench opened his arms again, this time like a brimstone preacher.

“Welcome to Niddrie!” he told his congregation. “Welcome, one and all.”

Rebus was alone in the CID suite. It had taken him half an hour to find the notes for the murder inquiry: four boxes and a series of folders, floppy disks, and a single CD-ROM. He’d left these latter items on their shelf in the storeroom and now had some of the paperwork spread out in front of him. He’d made use of the half dozen desks available, pushing in-boxes and computer keyboards aside. By walking through the room, he could shift between the different stages of the inquiry: crime scene to initial interviews; victim profile to further interviews; prison record; connection with Cafferty; autopsy and toxicology reports…The phone in the DI’s little booth had rung a few times, but Rebus had ignored it. He wasn’t the senior DI here; Derek Starr was. And the smarmy little bastard was out on the town somewhere, it being a Friday night. Rebus knew Starr’s routine because Starr himself shared it with all and sundry each Monday morning: couple of drinks at the Hallion Club, then maybe home for a shower and change of clothes before coming back into town; back to the Hallion if it was lively, but always heading to George Street afterward-Opal Lounge, Candy Bar, Living Room. Nightcap at Indigo Yard if he hadn’t gotten lucky before then. There was a new jazz place opening on Queen Street, owned by Jools Holland. Starr had already made inquiries about membership.

The phone rang again; Rebus ignored it. If it was urgent, they’d try Starr’s cell. If it was being transferred from the front desk…well, they knew Rebus was up here. He’d wait till they tried his extension rather than Starr’s. Could be they were winding him up, hoping he’d answer so they could apologize and say it was DI Starr they were after. Rebus knew his place in the food chain: somewhere down among the plankton, the price for years of insubordination and reckless conduct. Never mind that there’d been results along the way, too: far as the bigwigs were concerned, these days it was all about how you got the result, about efficiency and accountability, public perceptions, strict rules and protocols.

Rebus’s translation: covering your own ass.

He stopped by a folder of photographs. Some he had already removed and spread out across the surface of the desk. But now he sifted through the others. Cyril Colliar’s public history: newspaper clippings, Polaroids offered by family and friends, the official photos from his arrest and trial. Someone had even snapped a grainy shot of him during his time in prison, reclining on his bed, arms behind his head as he watched TV. It had made the front page of the tabloids: “Could Life Be Any Cushier for Rape Beast?”

Not any longer.

Next desk: details of the rape victim’s family. Name kept secret from the public. She was Victoria Jensen, eighteen at the time of the attack. Vicky to those closest to her. Followed from a nightclub…followed as she walked with two pals to the bus stop. Night bus: Colliar had found himself a seat a couple of rows behind the three. Vicky got off the bus alone. Not much more than five hundred yards from home when he’d struck, hand over her mouth, hauling her into an alley…

Surveillance videos showed him leaving the club straight after her. Showed him boarding the bus and taking his seat. DNA from the attack sealed his fate. Some of his associates had attended the trial, made threats toward the victim’s family. No charges brought.

Vicky’s father was a vet; his wife worked for Standard Life. Rebus himself had delivered the news of Cyril Colliar’s demise to the family home in Leith.

“Thanks for telling us,” the father had said. “I’ll break it to Vicky.”

“You don’t understand, sir,” Rebus had responded, “there are questions I need to ask you…”

Did you do it?

Hire someone to do it for you?

Know anyone who might’ve been compelled?

Vets had access to drugs. Maybe not heroin, but other drugs which could be exchanged for heroin. Dealers sold ketamine to clubbers-Starr himself had made the point. It was used by vets to treat horses. Vicky had been raped in an alley, Colliar killed in one. Thomas Jensen had appeared outraged by the insinuations.

“You mean you’ve really never thought of it, sir? Never planned any sort of revenge?”

Of course he had: images of Colliar rotting in a cell or burning in hell. “But that doesn’t happen, does it, Inspector? Not in this world…”

Vicky’s friends had been questioned too, none of them ready to own up. Rebus moved to the next table. Morris Gerald Cafferty stared back at him from photographs and interview transcripts. Rebus had needed to argue his case before Macrae would let him anywhere near. Feeling was, their shared history ran too deep. Some knew them for enemies; others thought them too similar…and way too familiar with each other. Starr for one had voiced his concerns in front of both Rebus and DCI Macrae. Rebus’s snarled attempt to grab his fellow DI by the shirtfront had been, in Macrae’s later words, “just another goal for the other team, John.”

Cafferty was dexterous: fingers in every imaginable criminal pie. Saunas and protection, muscle and intimidation. Drugs, too, which would give him access to heroin. And if not him personally, Colliar’s fellow bouncers for sure. It wasn’t unknown for clubs to be shut down when it emerged that the so-called doormen were controlling the flow of dope into the premises. Any one of them could have decided to get rid of the Rape Beast. Might even have been personal: a disrespectful remark; a slight against a girlfriend. The many and varied possible motives had been explored at length and in detail. On the surface, then, a by-the-book investigation. Nobody could say otherwise. Except…Rebus could see the team’s heart hadn’t been in it. A few questions missed here and there; avenues left unexplored. Notes typed up sloppily. It was the sort of thing only someone close to the case would spot. Effort had been spared throughout, just enough to show what the officers really thought of their victim.

The autopsy, however, had been scrupulous. Professor Gates had said it before: it didn’t bother him who was lying on his slab. They were human beings, and somebody’s daughter or son.

“Nobody’s born bad, John,” he’d muttered, leaning over his scalpel.

“Well, nobody makes them do bad things either,” Rebus had retorted.

“Ah,” Gates had conceded. “A conundrum pored over by wiser heads than ours through the centuries. What makes us keep doing these terrible things to each other?”

Gates hadn’t offered an answer. But something else he’d pointed out resonated with Rebus now as he moved to Siobhan’s desk and picked up one of the postmortem photographs of Colliar. In death we all return to innocence, John…It was true that Colliar’s face seemed at peace, as though nothing had ever troubled it.

The phone was ringing again in Starr’s office. Rebus let it ring, picked up Siobhan’s extension instead. There was a Post-it note affixed to the side of her hard disk: rows of names and phone numbers. He knew better than to try the lab, punched in the cell number instead.

Picked up almost immediately by Ray Duff.

“Ray? It’s DI Rebus.”

“Inviting me to join him on a Friday-night pub crawl?” Rebus’s silence was answered with a sigh. “Why am I not surprised?”

“I’m surprised at you though, Ray, shirking your duties.”

“I don’t sleep in the lab, you know.”

“Except we both know that’s a lie.”

“Okay, I work the odd night…”

“And that’s what I like about you, Ray. See, we’re both driven by that passion for the job.”

“A passion I’m jeopardizing by showing my face at my local pub’s trivia night?”

“Not my place to judge you, Ray. Just wondering how this new Colliar evidence is shaping up.”

Rebus heard a tired chuckle at the other end of the phone. “You never let up, do you?”

“It’s not for me, Ray. I’m just helping out Siobhan. This could mean a big promotion for her if she nails it. She’s the one who found the patch.”

“The evidence only came in three hours ago.”

“Ever heard of striking while the iron is hot?”

“But the beer in front of me is cold, John.”

“It would mean a lot to Siobhan, Ray. She’s looking forward to you claiming that prize.”

“What prize?”

“The chance to show off that car of yours. A day out in the country, just the two of you on those winding roads…Who knows, maybe even a hotel room at the end of it if you play your cards right.” Rebus paused. “What’s that music?”

“One of the trivia questions.”

“Sounds like Steely Dan, ‘Reelin’ in the Years.’”

“But how did the band get their name?”

“A dildo in a William Burroughs novel. Now tell me you’re heading to the lab straight after.”

Well satisfied with the outcome, Rebus treated himself to a mug of coffee and a stretch of the legs. The building was quiet. The desk sergeant had been replaced by one of his juniors. Rebus didn’t know the face, but nodded anyway.

“Been trying to get CID to take a call,” the young officer said. He ran a finger along his shirt collar. His neck was pitted with acne or some species of rash.

“That’ll be me then,” Rebus told him. “What’s the emergency?”

“Trouble at the castle, sir.”

“Have the protests started early?”

The uniform shook his head. “Reports of a scream and a body landing in the gardens. Looks like someone fell from the ramparts.”

“Castle’s not open this time of night,” Rebus stated, brow creasing.

“Dinner for some of the bigwigs…”

“So who ended up going over the edge?”

The constable just shrugged. “Shall I tell them there’s no one available?”

“Don’t be crazy, son,” Rebus announced, heading off to fetch his jacket.

As well as being a major tourist attraction, Edinburgh Castle acted as a working barracks, something Commander David Steelforth stressed to Rebus when he intercepted him just inside the portcullis.

“You get about a bit,” Rebus said by way of response. The Special Branch man was dressed formally: bow tie and cummerbund, dinner jacket, patent shoes.

“Thing is, that means it is quite properly under the aegis of the armed forces.”

“I’m not sure what aegis means, Commander.”

“It means,” Steelforth hissed, losing patience, “military police will be looking into the whys and wherefores of what occurred here.”

“Good dinner, was it?” Rebus was still walking. The path wound uphill, fierce gusts whipping around both men.

“There are important people here, DI Rebus.”

As if on cue, a car appeared from some sort of tunnel ahead. It was making for the gates, forcing Rebus and Steelforth to stand aside. Rebus caught a glimpse of the face in the back: a glint from metal-rimmed glasses; long, pale, worried-looking face. But then the foreign secretary often seemed to look worried, as Rebus pointed out to Steelforth. The Special Branch man frowned, disappointed at the recognition.

“Hope I don’t need to interview him,” Rebus added.

“Look, Inspector…”

But Rebus was moving again. “Here’s the thing, Commander,” he said over his shoulder. “Victim may have fallen-or jumped, or any other ‘why’ or ‘wherefore’-and I’m not disputing he was on army turf when he did, but he landed a few hundred feet farther south, in Princes Street Gardens”-Rebus proffered a smile-“and that makes him mine.”

Rebus started walking again, trying to remember the last time he’d been inside the castle walls. He’d brought his daughter here, of course, but twenty-odd years ago. The castle dominated the Edinburgh skyline. You could see it from Bruntsfield and Inverleith. On the drive in from the airport, it took on the aspect of a lowering Transylvanian lair, and made you wonder if you’d lost your color vision. From Princes Street, Lothian Road, and Johnston Terrace its volcanic sides seemed sheer and impregnable-and so they had proved over the years. Yet approaching from the Lawnmarket, you climbed a gentle slope to its entrance, with little hint of its enormous presence.

The drive from Gayfield Square had almost stymied Rebus. Uniformed cops hadn’t wanted to let him use Waverley Bridge. A great grinding and clanking of metal as the barriers were dragged into position for tomorrow’s march. He’d sounded his horn, ignoring gestures that he should find another route. When one officer had approached, Rebus had rolled down the window and shown his ID.

“This route’s closed,” the man stated. English accent, maybe Lancashire.

“I’m CID,” Rebus told him. “And behind me there’s going to be maybe an ambulance, a pathologist, and a Scene of Crime van. Want to tell them the same story?”

“What’s happened?”

“Someone’s just landed in the gardens.” Rebus nodded toward the castle.

“Bloody protesters…one got stuck on the rocks earlier. Fire brigade had to winch him down.”

“Well, much as I’d like nothing better than a chat…”

The officer scowled but moved the barrier aside.

Now another barrier had placed itself in front of Rebus: Commander David Steelforth.

“This is a dangerous game, Inspector. Better left to those of us specializing in intelligence.”

Rebus’s eyes narrowed. “You calling me thick?”

A short, barked laugh. “Not at all.”

“Good.” Rebus moved past him again. He saw where he was supposed to go. Military guards peering over the edge of the battlements. A cluster of elderly and distinguished-looking men, dressed for dinner, lurked nearby, smoking cigars.

“This where he fell?” Rebus asked the guards. He had his ID open but had decided not to identify himself as civilian police.

“Must be about the spot,” someone answered.

“Anyone see it?”

There were shakes of the head. “There was an incident earlier,” the same soldier said. “Some idiot got stuck. We were warned more of them might try.”

“And?”

“And Private Andrews thought he saw something round the other side.”

“I said I wasn’t sure,” Andrews said, defending himself.

“So you all skedaddled to the other side of the castle?” Rebus made a show of sucking in breath. “That used to be called deserting your post.”

“Detective Inspector Rebus has no jurisdiction here,” Steelforth was telling the group.

“And that would have counted as treason,” Rebus warned him.

“Do we know who’s unaccounted for?” one of the older men was asking.

Rebus heard another car making for the portcullis. Headlights threw wild shadows across the wall ahead. “Hard to say, with everyone running off,” he said quietly.

“No one’s running off,” Steelforth snapped.

“Just a bunch of prior engagements?” Rebus guessed.

“These are hellish busy people, Inspector. Decisions are being made that may change the world.”

“Won’t change whatever happened to the poor guy down there.” Rebus nodded toward the wall, then turned to face Steelforth. “So what was going on here tonight, Commander?”

“Discussions over dinner. Moves toward ratification.”

“Good news for all rats. What about the guests?”

“G8 representatives-foreign ministers, security personnel, senior civil servants.”

“Probably rules out pizza and a case or two of beer.”

“A lot gets done at these get-togethers.”

Rebus was peering over the edge. He’d never much liked heights and didn’t linger. “Can’t see a damned thing,” he said.

“We heard him,” one of the soldiers said.

“Heard what exactly?” Rebus asked.

“The scream as he fell.” He looked around at his comrades for support. One of them nodded.

“Seemed to scream all the way down,” he added with a shiver.

“Wonder if that rules out suicide,” Rebus speculated. “What do you think, Commander?”

“I think there’s nothing for you to learn here, Inspector. I also think it odd that you seem to pop up like this whenever there’s bad news to find.”

“Funny, I was just thinking the same thing,” Rebus said, eyes boring into Steelforth’s, “about you…”

The search party had comprised yellow-jacketed officers from barricade duty. Outfitted with flashlights, they hadn’t taken long. Paramedics declared the man dead, though anyone could have done the job. Neck twisted at an unnatural angle; one leg folded in half from the impact; blood seeping from the skull. He had lost a shoe on the way down and his shirt had been ripped open, probably by an overhang. Police HQ had spared a single SOCO, who was photographing the body.

“Want to place a small wager on cause of death?” the SOCO asked Rebus.

“Not a chance, Tam.” Tam the SOCO had not lost a bet like that in fifty or sixty cases.

“Did he jump or was he pushed, that’s what you’re asking yourself.”

“You’re a mind reader, Tam. Do you do palms as well?”

“No, but I take photos of them.” And to prove his point, he got close up to one of the victim’s hands. “Nicks and scratches can be very useful, John. Know why?”

“Impress me.”

“If he’s been pushed, he’ll have scrabbled for purchase, clawed at the sides of the rock.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

The SOCO let off another flash. “His name’s Ben Webster.” He turned to gauge Rebus’s reaction, seemed satisfied with the result. “I recognize his face-what’s left of it anyway.”

“You know him?”

“I know who he is. Member of parliament from up Dundee way.”

“The Scottish parliament?”

Tam shook his head. “The one in London. He’s something to do with international development-leastways, he was last time I looked.”

“Tam…” Rebus sounded exasperated. “How the hell do you know all this?”

“Got to keep up with politics, John. It’s what makes the wheels turn. And besides, our young friend here shares a name with my favorite tenor saxophone player.”

Rebus was already tottering back down the grassy slope. The body had come to rest against a shelf of rock fifteen feet above one of the narrow paths that snaked around the base of the ancient volcanic plug. Steelforth was on the path itself, taking a call on his cell. He flipped the phone shut as Rebus neared.

“Remember,” Rebus reminded him, “how we saw the foreign secretary leaving in his chauffeured car? Funny that he’d go without one of his men.”

“Ben Webster,” Steelforth stated. “That was the castle on the phone; seems he’s the only one missing.”

“International development.”

“You’re well informed, Inspector.” Steelforth made a show of looking Rebus up and down. “Maybe I’ve misjudged you. But international development is a separate department from the F.O. Webster was PPS-parliamentary private secretary.”

“Meaning what?”

“The minister’s right-hand man.”

“Excuse my ignorance.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m still impressed.”

“Is this where you make an offer to keep me off your back?”

Steelforth smiled. “That’s usually not necessary.”

“Might be in my case.”

But Steelforth was shaking his head. “I doubt you can be bought in that particular way. Nevertheless, we both know this will be wrenched from your hands in the next few hours, so why waste energy? Battlers like yourself usually know when it’s time to rest and refuel.”

“Are you inviting me to the Great Hall for port and cigars?”

“I’m telling you the truth as I see it.”

Rebus was watching another van arrive on the road below them. It would be from the morgue, here to collect the body. Another job for Professor Gates and his staff.

“You know what I think really bothers you, Inspector?” Steelforth had taken a step closer. His phone was ringing but he chose to ignore it. “You see all this as an incursion. Edinburgh is your town, and you wish we’d all just fuck off and go back home. Does that about sum it up?”

“Just about.” Rebus was prepared to admit it.

“A few days, it’ll all be over, like a bad dream you’ll wake up from. But in the meantime…” His lips were almost touching Rebus’s ear. “Get used to it,” he whispered, and moved away.

“Seems a nice sort,” Tam commented. Rebus turned toward him.

“How long’ve you been there?”

“Not long.”

“Any news for me?”

“Pathologist’s the one with the answers.”

Rebus nodded slowly. “All the same, though…”

“Nothing points to him doing anything but jumping.”

“He screamed all the way down. Think a suicide would do that?”

“I know I would. But then, I’m scared of heights.”

Rebus was rubbing the side of his jaw. He stared up at the castle. “So either he fell or he jumped.”

“Or was given a sudden push,” Tam added. “No time to even think about clawing his way to safety.”

“Thanks for that.”

“Could be there was bagpipe music between courses. Might’ve broken his will to live.”

“You’re a jazz snob, Tam.”

“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“No note tucked away inside his jacket?”

Tam shook his head. “But I did have half a mind to give you this.” He held up a small cardboard folder. “Seems he was staying at the Balmoral.”

“That’s nice.” Rebus opened the folder and saw the plastic key card. He removed it. Closing the folder, he examined Ben Webster’s signature and room number.

“Might be a good-bye-cruel-world waiting for you there,” Tam said.

“Only one way to find out.” Rebus slipped the key into his own pocket. “Thanks, Tam.”

“Just remember: it was you that found it. I don’t want any grief.”

“Understood.” The two men stood in silence for a moment, a pair of old pros who’d seen everything the job could throw at them. The morgue attendants were approaching, one of them carrying a body bag.

“Nice night for it,” he commented. “All done and dusted, Tam?”

“Doctor’s not arrived yet.”

The attendant checked his watch. “Think he’ll be long?”

Tam just shrugged. “Depends who’s drawn the short straw.”

The attendant puffed air out from his cheeks. “Going to be a long night,” he said.

“Long night,” his partner echoed.

“Know they’ve had us move some of the bodies out of the morgue?”

“Why’s that?” Rebus asked.

“In case any of these rallies and marches turns nasty.”

“Courts and cells are empty and waiting, too,” Tam added.

“ERs on standby,” the attendant countered.

“You make it sound like Apocalypse Now,” Rebus said. His cell sounded and he moved away a little. Caller ID: Siobhan.

“What can I do for you?” he said into the phone.

“I need a drink,” her voice explained.

“Trouble with the folks?”

“My car’s been vandalized.”

“Catch them in the act?”

“In a manner of speaking. So how about the Oxford Bar?”

“Tempting, but I’m on something. Tell you what, though…”

“What?”

“We could rendezvous at the Balmoral.”

“Spending your overtime?”

“I’ll let you be the judge of that.”

“Twenty minutes?”

“Fine.” He snapped shut the phone.

“Tragedy runs in that family,” Tam was musing.

“Which one?”

The SOCO nodded in the direction of the corpse. “Mum was attacked a few years back, died as a result.” He paused. “Think something could prey on your mind all that time?”

“Just needs the right trigger,” one of the morgue attendants added.

Everyone, Rebus decided, was a bloody psychologist these days.

He decided to leave the car and walk; quicker than trying to negotiate the barriers again. He was at Waverley in minutes; had to clamber over a couple of obstacles. Some unlucky tourists had just arrived by train. No taxis to be had, so they stood behind the railings, bemused and abandoned. He gave them a body swerve, turned the corner into Princes Street, and was outside the Balmoral Hotel. Some locals still called it the North British, though it had changed its name years back. Its large, illuminated clock tower still ran a few minutes fast, so passengers would be sure to catch their train. A uniformed doorman ushered Rebus inside, where a keen-eyed concierge immediately marked him as trouble of some kind.

“How can I be of assistance this evening, sir?”

Rebus held out his ID in one hand, key card in the other. “I need to take a look at this room.”

“And why’s that, Inspector?”

“Seems the guest checked out early.”

“That’s unfortunate.”

“I daresay someone else is picking up his tab. Actually, that’s something you could look into for me.”

“I’ll need to clear it with the manager.”

“Fine. Meantime, I’ll be upstairs.” He waved the key card.

“I need to clear that, too, I’m afraid.”

Rebus took a step back, the better to size up his opponent. “How long will it take?”

“Just need to track down the manager…couple of minutes is all.” Rebus followed him to the reception desk. “Sara, is Angela about?”

“Think she went upstairs. I’ll page her.”

“And I’ll check the office,” the concierge told Rebus, moving off again. Rebus waited and watched as the receptionist punched numbers into her phone before putting down the receiver. She looked up at him and smiled. She knew something was up, and wanted to know more.

“Guest just dropped dead,” Rebus obliged.

Her eyes widened. “That’s terrible.”

“Mr. Webster, room two fourteen. Was he here on his own?”

Her fingers busied themselves on her keyboard. “Double room, but just the one key issued. I don’t think I remember him…”

“Is there a home address?”

“ London,” she stated.

Rebus guessed this would be a weekday pied-à-terre. He was leaning across the reception desk, trying to seem casual, unsure how many questions he’d get away with. “Was he paying by credit card, Sara?”

She studied her screen. “All charges to-” She broke off, aware that the concierge was approaching.

“All charges to…?” Rebus nudged.

“Inspector,” the concierge was calling, sensing something was going on.

Sara’s phone was ringing. She lifted the receiver. “Reception,” she trilled. “Oh, hello, Angela. There’s another policeman here…”

Another?

“Will you come down, or shall I send him up?”

The concierge was behind Rebus now. “I’ll take the inspector up,” he told Sara.

Another policeman…Up…Rebus was getting a bad feeling. When the elevator doors signaled that they were opening, he turned toward the sound. Watched David Steelforth step out. The Special Branch man gave the beginnings of a smile as he shook his head slowly. His meaning couldn’t have been clearer: Buddy, you’re not getting anywhere near room 214. Rebus turned round and grabbed the computer monitor, swiveling it toward him. The concierge locked on to his arm. Sara gave a little shriek into the telephone, probably deafening the manager. Steelforth bounded forward to join the fray.

“That’s definitely out of order,” the concierge hissed. His grip was vise-like. Rebus decided the man had seen some action in his time; decided not to make an issue of it. He lifted his hand from the monitor. Sara swung it back toward her.

“You can let go now,” Rebus said. The concierge released his grip. Sara was staring at him in shock, the phone still held in one hand. Rebus turned to Steelforth.

“You’re going to tell me I can’t see room two fourteen.”

“Not at all.” Steelforth’s smile broadened. “But the manager is. That’s her prerogative, after all.”

As if on command, Sara put the phone to her ear. “She’s on her way,” she said.

“I’ll bet she is.” Rebus’s eyes were still on Steelforth, but there was another figure a little way behind him: Siobhan. “Bar still open, is it?” Rebus asked the concierge. The man desperately wanted to say no, but the lie would have been blatant. He gave a little nod instead. “I won’t ask you to join me,” Rebus said to Steelforth. He brushed past both men and climbed the steps to the Palm Court. Stood at the bar and waited for Siobhan to catch up. He took a deep breath and reached into his jacket for a cigarette.

“Little problem with the management?” Siobhan asked.

“You saw our friend from SO12?”

“Nice perks they get in Special Branch.”

“I don’t know if he’s staying here, but a guy called Ben Webster was.”

“The Labor MP?”

“That’s the one.”

“I feel there’s a story behind this.” Her shoulders seemed to slump a little, and Rebus remembered that she, too, had had adventures this evening.

“You go first,” he insisted. The barman had placed bowls of nibbles in front of them. “ Highland Park for me,” Rebus told him. “Vodka tonic for the lady.” Siobhan nodded her agreement. As the barman turned away, Rebus reached for one of the paper napkins. Took a pen from his pocket and jotted something down. Siobhan angled her head to get a better look.

“Who or what is Pennen Industries?”

“Whoever they are, they’ve got deep pockets and a London postal code.” From the corner of his eye, Rebus could see Steelforth watching from the doorway. He made a show of waving the napkin at him before folding and pocketing it.

“So who was it that attacked your car-CND, Greenpeace, Stop the War?”

“Niddrie,” Siobhan stated. “More specifically, the Niddrie Young Team.”

“Think we can persuade the G8 to list them as a terror cell?”

“Few thousand marines would sort things nicely.”

“Sadly, however, Niddrie has yet to strike oil.” Rebus reached a hand out toward the tumbler of whiskey. Slightest of tremors, that was all. Toasted his drinking partner, the G8, and the marines…and would have toasted Steelforth, too.

Had the doorway not been empty.

Saturday, July 2, 2005

3

Rebus awoke to daylight and realized he hadn’t closed the curtains the previous night. The TV was showing early-morning news. Seemed mostly to be about the concert in Hyde Park. They were talking to the organizers. No mention of Edinburgh. He switched it off and went into the bedroom. Changed out of the previous day’s clothes and into a short-sleeved shirt and chinos. Splashed some water on his face, studied the results, and knew he needed something more. Grabbed his keys and phone-he’d left it charging overnight; couldn’t have been that drunk-and left his apartment. Down two flights of stairs to the tenement’s main door. His area of town, Marchmont, was a student enclave, the upside of which was that it was quiet during the summer. He’d watched them pour out at the end of June, loading cars belonging to them or their parents, stuffing duvets into the chinks of spare space. There had been parties to celebrate the end of exams, meaning Rebus had twice had to remove traffic cones from the roof of his car. He stood now on the pavement and sucked in what was left of the overnight chill, then headed for Marchmont Road, where the local market was just opening. A couple of single-decker buses trundled past. Rebus thought they must be lost, until he remembered. And now he could hear it: workmen’s hammers, a PA system being tested. He paid the shopkeeper and unscrewed the top from the Irn-Bru bottle. Downed it in one, which was fine; he’d added a backup of the soda to his purchases. Unpeeled and ate the banana as he walked-not straight back home, but down to the bottom of Marchmont Road, where it connected with the Meadows. The Meadows had been just that, several centuries back: meadowland on the outskirts of the city, Marchmont itself not much more than a farm with surrounding fields. Nowadays the Meadows was used for games of soccer and cricket, for jogging or picnics.

But not today.

Melville Drive had already been cordoned off, turning an important traffic artery into a bus lot. There were dozens of them, stretching to the curve of the road and beyond, three abreast in some places. They were from Derby and Macclesfield and Hull, Swansea and Ripon, Carlisle and Epping. People dressed in white were getting off. White: Rebus remembered that everyone had been asked to wear the same color. It meant that when they marched around the city, they would create a vast and visible ribbon. He checked his own clothes: the chinos were fawn, the shirt pale blue.

Thank Christ for that.

A lot of the bus people looked elderly, some quite frail. But they all sported their wristbands and their sloganed shirts. Some carried homemade banners. They looked delighted to be there. Farther along, marquees had been constructed. Vans were arriving, ready to sell fries and meat-free burgers to the hungry masses. Stages had been erected, and there was a display of huge wooden jigsaw pieces laid out next to a series of cranes. It took Rebus only a matter of seconds to spell out the words MAKE POVERTY HISTORY. There were uniformed cops in the vicinity, but nobody Rebus knew; probably not even local. He looked at his watch. It was just after nine, another three hours till kickoff. Hardly a cloud in the sky. A police van had decided that its quickest route would entail mounting the curb, forcing Rebus to backtrack onto the grass. He scowled at the driver, who returned the look. The side window opened.

“What’s your problem, granddad?”

Rebus made a rude gesture, willing the driver to stop. The pair of them could have a nice little chat. But the van had other ideas; it kept moving. Rebus finished his banana, thought about dropping the skin but figured he’d be pounced on by the Recycling Police. Headed over to a trash can instead.

“Here you go,” a young woman said, smiling and holding out a plastic bag. Rebus looked inside: a couple of stickers and a Help the Aged T-shirt.

“Hell do I want this for?” he growled. She took it back, trying hard to retain the traces of her original smile.

He moved away, opening the reserve bottle of Irn-Bru. His head felt less gummy, but there was sweat on his back. A memory had been trying to force its way through, and now he grasped it: Mickey and himself, church outings to Burntisland links. Buses took them there, trailing streamers from their windows. Lines of buses waiting to take them home after the picnic and the organized races across the grass-Mickey always able to beat him from a standing start, so that Rebus had stopped trying eventually-his only weapon against his kid brother’s sinewy determination. White cardboard boxes containing their lunch: jam sandwich, iced cake, maybe a hard-boiled egg.

They always left the egg.

Summer weekends, appearing endless and unchangeable. Nowadays, Rebus hated them. Hated that so little would happen to him. Monday mornings were his true release, a break from the sofa and the bar stool, the supermarket and curry house. His colleagues returned to work with stories of shopping exploits, soccer games, bike rides with the family. Siobhan would have been to Glasgow or Dundee, seeing friends, catching up. Cinema trips and walks by the Water of Leith. Nobody asked Rebus anymore how he spent the weekend. They knew he’d just shrug.

Nobody’d blame you for coasting…

Except that coasting was the one thing he had no time for. Without the job, he almost ceased to exist. Which was why he punched a number into his phone and waited. Listened to the voice-mail message.

“Good morning, Ray,” he said when prompted, “this is your wake-up call. Every hour on the hour till I start to get some answers. Speak to you soon.” He ended the call, immediately make another, leaving the same message on Ray Duff’s home machine. Cell and landline taken care of, there wasn’t much he could do but wait. The Live 8 concert started around two, but he didn’t think either The Who or Pink Floyd would appear until evening. Plenty of time for him to go over the Colliar case notes. Plenty of time for follow-up on Ben Webster. Pushing Saturday along until it turned into Sunday.

Rebus figured he would survive.

The only things Information could give him on Pennen Industries were a phone number and an address in central London. Rebus called, but got a message telling him the switchboard would open again on Monday morning. He knew he could do better than that, so he placed a call to Operation Sorbus HQ in Glenrothes.

“It’s CID here, B Division in Edinburgh.” He crossed the floor of his living room and peered out the window. A family, kids with their faces painted, was making its way down the street toward the Meadows. “We’ve been hearing rumors about the Clown Army. Seems they might have their sights trained on something called”-he paused for effect, as though consulting a document-“Pennen Industries. We’re in the dark, wondered if your techs could shed some light.”

“Pennen?”

Rebus spelled it.

“And you are…?”

“DI Starr…Derek Starr,” Rebus lied blithely. No way of knowing what would get back to Steelforth.

“Give me ten minutes.”

Rebus was about to offer thanks, but the line was dead. It had been a male voice, noises off: the sounds of a busy hub. He realized the officer hadn’t needed to ask for his phone number…must’ve come up on some sort of display, making it a matter of record.

And traceable.

“Oops,” he said quietly, heading for the kitchen and some coffee. He recalled that Siobhan had left the Balmoral after two drinks. Rebus had added a third, before crossing the road to the Café Royal for a nightcap. Vinegar on his fingers this morning, which meant he’d eaten fries on the way home. Yes: taxi driver dropping him at the end of the Meadows, Rebus saying he’d walk from there. He thought of calling Siobhan, make sure she got home all right. But it always annoyed her when he did that. She’d probably be out already: meeting her parents at the march. She was looking forward to seeing Eddie Izzard and Gael García Bernal. Others were making speeches too: Bianca Jagger, Sharleen Spiteri…She’d made it sound like a carnival. He hoped she was right.

Had to get her car to the garage, too, see about fixing the damage. Rebus knew Councilman Tench; knew of him, at least. Some sort of lay preacher, used to have a spot at the foot of the Mound, calling out for the weekend shoppers to repent. Rebus used to see him when he was on his way to the Ox for a lunchtime session. Had a good rep in Niddrie, harvesting development grants from local government, charities, even the EU. Rebus had told Siobhan as much, then given her a number for a mechanic off Buccleuch Street. Guy specialized in VWs but owed Rebus a favor.

His phone was ringing. He took the coffee through to the living room and picked up.

“You’re not at the station,” the same voice in Glenrothes said warily.

“I’m at home.” He could hear a helicopter somewhere overhead, outside his window. Maybe surveillance; maybe news. Or could it be Bono parachuting in with a sermon?

“Pennen doesn’t have any offices in Scotland,” the voice was saying.

“Then we don’t have a problem,” Rebus replied, trying to sound casual. “Time like this, the rumor mill’s on overtime, same as the rest of us.” He laughed and was about to add a fresh question, but the voice made it unnecessary.

“They’re a defense contractor, so the rumors might still have force.”

“Defense?”

“Used to belong to the MoD; sold off a few years back.”

“I think I remember,” Rebus made a show of saying. “London-based, right?”

“Right. Thing is, though…their managing director is up here just now.”

Rebus whistled. “Potential target.”

“We had him red-flagged anyway. He’s secure.” The words didn’t sound right in the young officer’s mouth. Rebus figured he’d learned the phrases only recently.

Maybe from Steelforth.

“He’s not based at the Balmoral, is he?” Rebus asked.

“How do you know that?”

“Rumors again. But he’s got protection?”

“Yes.”

“His own or ours?”

The caller paused. “Why do you want to know?”

“Just looking out for the taxpayer.” Rebus laughed again. “Think we should talk to him?” Asking advice…as if the caller were the boss.

“I can pass the message along.”

“Longer he’s in town, tougher it is…” Rebus stopped. “I don’t even know his name,” he admitted.

Suddenly another voice broke into the call. “DI Starr? Is that Detective Inspector Starr speaking?”

Steelforth…

Rebus sucked in air.

“Hello?” Steelforth was saying. “Gone shy all of a sudden?”

Rebus cut off the call. Cursed under his breath. Punched in more numbers and was connected to the switchboard at the local news paper.

“Features, please,” he said.

“I’m not sure anyone’s in,” the operator told him.

“What about the news desk?”

“Bit of a ghost ship, for obvious reasons.” She sounded as if she, too, would rather be elsewhere, but put him through anyway. It took a while for someone to pick up.

“My name’s DI Rebus, Gayfield CID.”

“Always happy to talk to an officer of the law,” the reporter said brightly. “Both on and off the record…”

“I’m not giving you business, son. I just need to speak to Mairie Henderson.”

“She’s gone freelance. And she’s features, not news.”

“Didn’t stop you putting her and Big Ger Cafferty on the front page, did it?”

“I thought about it years back, you know…” The reporter sounded as if he was getting comfortable, ready for a chat. “Not just Cafferty though-interviews with all the gangsters, east coast and west. How they got started, codes they live by…”

“Well, thanks for that, but have I tuned in to a talk show here or what?”

The reporter snorted. “Just making conversation.”

“Don’t tell me: it’s a ghost ship there, am I right? They’re all out with their laptops, trying to transform the march into elegant prose? Here’s the thing, though…a guy fell from the castle ramparts last night, and I didn’t see anything about it in your paper this morning.”

“We didn’t get wind of it till too late.” The reporter paused. “Straight suicide though, right?”

“What do you think?”

“I asked you first.”

“Actually, it was me that asked first-for Mairie Henderson’s number.”

“Why?”

“Give me her number, and I’ll tell you something I’m not going to tell her.”

The reporter thought for a moment, then asked Rebus to hang on. He was back half a minute later. Meantime, the receiver had been making a noise, letting him know someone else was trying to reach him. He ignored it, jotted down the number the reporter gave him.

“Thanks,” he said.

“Now do I get my little treat?”

“Ask yourself this: straight suicide, why is a Special Branch slimeball called Steelforth clamping down on it?”

“Steelforth? How do you spell-”

But Rebus had cut off the connection. His phone began ringing immediately. He didn’t answer; he had more than half an idea who it would be-Operation Sorbus had his number, would have taken about a minute for Steelforth to work out whose home address it belonged to. Another minute to call Derek Starr and ascertain he didn’t know anything about anything.

Brreeep-brreeep-brreeeppp.

Rebus put the TV on again; pressed the mute button on the remote. No news, just kids’ programs and pop videos. The chopper was circling again. He made sure it wasn’t his tenement.

“Just because you’re paranoid, John…” he muttered to himself. His phone had stopped ringing; he made the call to Mairie Henderson. They’d been close friends a few years back; traded info for stories, stories for info. Then she’d gone and written a book about Cafferty-written it with the gangster’s full cooperation. Asked Rebus for an interview, but he’d refused. Asked again later.

“Way Big Ger talks about you,” she’d cajoled, “I really think you need to give your side.”

Rebus hadn’t felt that need at all.

Which hadn’t stopped the book being a roaring success, not just in Scotland but farther afield. U.S., Canada, Australia. Translations into sixteen languages. For a time, he couldn’t pick up the paper without reading about it. Couple of prizes, TV talk shows for journalist and subject. Wasn’t enough that Cafferty had spent his life ruining people and their communities, terrorizing them; now he was a full-scale celebrity.

She’d sent Rebus a copy of the book; he’d sent it back by return mail. Then he’d gone out two weeks later and bought himself a copy-half price on Princes Street. Flicked through it but hadn’t had the stomach for the whole thing. Nothing brought the bile up quicker than a penitent…

“Hello?”

“Mairie, it’s John Rebus.”

“Sorry, the only John Rebus I know is dead.”

“Now that’s hardly fair…”

“You sent my book back! After I’d signed it to you and everything!”

“Signed it?”

“You didn’t even read the inscription?”

“What did it say?”

“It said, ‘Whatever it is you’re wanting, get stuffed.’”

“Sorry about that, Mairie. Let me make it up to you.”

“By asking a favor?”

“How did you guess?” He smiled into the receiver. “You going to the march?”

“Thinking about it.”

“I could buy you a tofu burger.”

She gave a snort. “Long time since I was that cheap a date.”

“I’ll throw in a mug of decaf…”

“What the hell do you want, John?” The words cold, but the voice thawing a little.

“I want some info on an outfit called Pennen Industries. Used to be Ministry of Defense. I think they’re in town right now.”

“And why am I interested?”

“You’re not, but I am.” He paused to light a cigarette, exhaled smoke as he spoke. “Did you hear about Cafferty’s chum?”

“Which one?” Trying not to sound interested.

“Cyril Colliar. That missing scrap from his jacket has turned up.”

“With Cafferty’s confession written on it? He told me you wouldn’t give up.”

“Just thought I’d let you know-it’s not exactly common knowledge.”

She was silent for a moment. “And Pennen Industries?”

“Something else entirely. You heard about Ben Webster?”

“It was on the news.”

“Pennen was paying for his stay at the Balmoral.”

“So?”

“So I’d like to know a bit more about them.”

“Their managing director’s name is Richard Pennen.” She laughed, sensing his bemusement. “Ever heard of Google?”

“And you just did that while we’re talking?”

“Do you even have a computer at home?”

“I bought a laptop.”

“So you’re on the Internet?”

“In theory,” he confessed. “But, hey, I play a mean game of Minesweeper.”

She laughed again, and he knew it was going to be all right between them. He heard something hissing in the background, the clinking of cups.

“Which café are you in?” he asked.

“ Montpelier ’s. There are people outside, all dressed in white.”

Montpelier ’s was in Bruntsfield; five minutes by car. “I could come buy you that coffee. You can show me how to use my laptop.”

“I’m just leaving. Want to meet later at the Meadows?”

“Not especially. How about a drink?”

“Maybe. I’ll see what I can find about Pennen, call you when I’m finished.”

“You’re a star, Mairie.”

“And a best seller to boot.” She paused. “Cafferty’s share went to charity, you know.”

“He can afford to be generous. Talk to you later.” Rebus finished the call, decided to check for messages. There was only the one. Steelforth’s voice had gotten just a dozen words out before Rebus cut it off. The unfinished threat echoed in his head as he crossed to the stereo and filled the room with the Groundhogs.

Don’t ever try to outsmart me, Rebus, or I’ll…

“…break most of the major bones,” Professor Gates was saying. He gave a shrug. “Fall like that, what else can you expect?”

He was at work because Ben Webster was news. Rush job: everyone wanted the case closed as soon as possible.

“A nice suicide verdict” was how Gates had put it earlier. He was joined in the autopsy suite by Dr. Curt. In Scots law, two pathologists were needed: corroboration was the result. Kept things tidy in court. Gates was the heavier of the two men, face red veined, nose misshapen by early abuse on the rugby field (his version) or an ill-judged student fight. Curt, his junior by only four or five years, was slightly taller and a good deal thinner. Both men had tenure at the University of Edinburgh. With the term finished, they could have been sunning themselves elsewhere, but Rebus had never known them to take holidays-either would have regarded it as a sign of weakness in the other.

“Not on the march, John?” Curt asked. The three men were gathered around a steel slab in the morgue on Cowgate. Just behind them, an assistant was moving pans and instruments with a series of metallic scrapes and clatterings.

“Too tame for me,” Rebus answered. “Monday, that’s when I’ll be out.”

“With all the other anarchists,” Gates added, slicing into the body. There was an area for spectators, and Rebus would usually have stayed there, shielded by Plexiglas, distanced from this ritual. But this being the weekend, Gates had said they could “rise to a certain informality.” Rebus had seen the insides of a human before, but he averted his gaze nonetheless.

“What was he-thirty-four, thirty-five?” Gates asked.

“Thirty-four,” the assistant confirmed.

“In pretty good shape…considering.”

“Sister says he kept fit: jogging, swimming, gym.”

“Is that who did the formal ID?” Rebus asked, happy to turn his head in the assistant’s direction.

“Parents are dead.”

“It was in the papers, wasn’t it?” Curt drawled, keeping a beady eye on his colleague’s work. “Scalpel sharp enough, Sandy?”

Gates ignored this. “Mother was killed during a break-in. Tragic, really; father couldn’t go on without her.”

“Just wasted away, didn’t he?” Curt added. “Want me to take over, Sandy? Can’t blame you for feeling tired, the week we’ve had…”

“Stop fussing.”

Curt offered a sigh and a shrug, both for Rebus’s benefit.

“Did the sister come down from Dundee?” Rebus asked the assistant.

“Works in London. She’s a cop, nicer-looking than most.”

“No valentine for you next year,” Rebus retorted.

“Present company excepted, obviously.”

“Poor girl,” Curt commented. “To lose your family…”

“Were they close?” Rebus couldn’t help asking. Gates thought it an odd question; he glanced up from his work. Rebus ignored him.

“Don’t think she’d seen much of him lately,” the assistant was saying.

Like me and Michael…

“Pretty cut up about it all the same.”

“She didn’t travel up on her own, did she?” Rebus asked.

“Wasn’t anyone with her at the ID,” the assistant said matter-of-factly. “I left her in the waiting area after, gave her a mug of tea.”

“She’s not still there, is she?” Gates snapped.

The assistant looked around him, unsure what rule he’d broken. “I had to get the cutters ready…”

“Place is deserted apart from us,” Gates barked. “Go see she’s all right.”

“I’ll do it,” Rebus stated.

Gates turned toward him, hands cradling a pile of glistening innards. “What’s the matter, John? Lost the stomach…?”

There was no one in the waiting area. An empty mug, decorated with the logo of a soccer team, the Glasgow Rangers, sat on the floor beside a chair. Rebus touched it: still warm. He walked toward the main door. Members of the public entered the building from an alley off the Cowgate. Rebus looked up and down the road but saw no one. Walked around the corner into Cowgate itself and saw the figure seated on the low wall that fronted the morgue. She was staring at the children’s nursery across the street. Rebus stopped in front of her.

“Got a cigarette?” she asked.

“You want one?”

“Seems as good a time as any.”

“Meaning you don’t smoke.”

“So?”

“So I’m not about to corrupt you.”

She looked at him for the first time. She had short fair hair and a round face with prominent chin. Her skirt was knee length, an inch of leg showing above brown boots with fur edging. On the wall next to her sat an oversize bag, probably everything shepacked-hurriedly, haphazardly-before rushing north.

“I’m DI Rebus,” he told her. “I’m sorry about your brother.”

She nodded slowly, eyes returning to the nursery school. “Is that working?” she asked, gesturing in its direction.

“As far as I know. It’s not open today, of course…”

“But it is a nursery.” She turned to examine the building behind her. “And right across the road from this. Short journey, isn’t it, DI Rebus?”

“I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you ID’d the body.”

“Why? Did you know Ben?”

“No…I just thought…how come nobody’s with you?”

“Such as?”

“From his constituency…the party.”

“Think Labor gives two hoots about him now?” She gave a short laugh. “They’ll all be lining up at the head of that bloody march, ready for the photo op. Ben kept saying how close he was getting to what he called ‘the power.’ Little good it did him.”

“Careful there,” Rebus warned her, “you sound like you’d fit right in with the marchers.” She gave a snort, but didn’t say anything. “Any idea why he would-?” Rebus broke off. “You know I need to ask?”

“I’m a cop, same as you.” She watched him bring out the packet. “Just one,” she begged. How could he refuse? He lit both their cigarettes and leaned against the wall next to her.

“No cars,” she stated.

“Town’s locked down,” he explained. “You’ll have trouble getting a taxi, but my car’s parked-”

“I can walk,” she told him. “He didn’t leave a note, if that’s what you wanted to know. Seemed fine last night, very relaxed, etcetera. Colleagues can’t explain…no problems at work.” She paused, raising her eyes skyward. “Except he always had problems at work.”

“Sounds like the two of you were close.”

“He was in London most weekdays. We hadn’t seen each other for maybe a month-actually, probably more like two-but there were texts, e-mails…” She took a drag on the cigarette.

“He had problems at work?” Rebus prompted.

“Ben worked on foreign aid, deciding which decrepit African dictatorships deserved our help.”

“Explains what he was doing here,” Rebus said, almost to himself.

She gave a slow, sad nod. “Getting closer to the power-a bang-up dinner at Edinburgh Castle while you discuss the world’s poor and hungry.”

“He’d be aware of the irony?” Rebus guessed.

“Oh, yes.”

“And the futility?”

She fixed her eyes on his. “Never,” she said quietly. “Wasn’t in Ben’s nature.” She blinked back tears, sniffed and sighed, and flipped most of the cigarette onto the road. “I need to go.” She brought a wallet from her shoulder bag, handed Rebus a business card. Nothing on it but her name-Stacey Webster-and a cell number.

“How long have you been in the police, Stacey?”

“Eight years. The last three at Scotland Yard.” Her eyes fixed on his. “You’ll have questions for me: did Ben have any enemies? Money problems? Relationships gone bad? Maybe later, eh? A day or so, give me a call.”

“Okay.”

“Nothing in the…?” She had trouble getting the next word out; sucked in some air and tried again. “Nothing to suggest he didn’t just fall?”

“He’d had a glass or two of wine-might’ve made him woozy.”

“Nobody saw anything?”

Rebus offered a shrug. “Sure I can’t give you a lift?”

She shook her head. “I need to walk.”

“Word of advice: steer clear of the parade route. Maybe I’ll see you again…and I really am sorry about Ben.”

Her eyes bored into his. “You actually sound as if you mean that.”

He almost opened up to her-I left my own brother in a box only yesterday-but gave a twitch of the mouth instead. She might have started asking questions: Were you close? Are you okay? Questions he didn’t really know the answers to. He watched her start her long and lonely walk along Cowgate, then went back inside for the autopsy’s closing act.

4

By the time Siobhan arrived at the Meadows, the line of waiting marchers stretched all the way down the side of the old infirmary and across the playing fields to where the rows of buses sat. Someone with a megaphone was warning that it might be two hours before those at the back of the line actually started moving.

“It’s the pigs,” someone explained. “Only letting us go in batches of forty or fifty.”

Siobhan had been about to defend the tactic but knew it would give her away. She moved down the patient line, wondering how she was expected to meet her parents. There had to be a hundred thousand people here, maybe even double that. She’d never known a crowd like it; T in the Park only got sixty thousand. The local soccer derby might attract eighteen on a good day. New Year’s Eve in and around Princes Street, you could get close to a hundred.

This was bigger.

And everyone was smiling.

Hardly a uniform to be seen; not many security guys either. Families streaming down from Morningside and Tollcross and Newington. She’d bumped into half a dozen acquaintances and neighbors. The lord provost was leading the procession. Some said Gordon Brown was there, too. Later, he’d be addressing a rally, the police protection squad in attendance, though Operation Sorbus had graded him low risk due to his active pronouncements on aid and fair trade. She’d been shown a list of celebrities who were expected to hit the city: Geldof and Bono, of course; maybe Ewan McGregor (who was due at an event in Dunblane anyway); Julie Christie; Claudia Schiffer; George Clooney; Susan Sarandon…Having worked her way down the line, Siobhan headed for the main stage. A band was playing, a few people were dancing enthusiastically. Most just sat on the grass and watched. The small tented village nearby offered activities for children, first aid, petitions, and exhibits. Crafts were being sold, flyers handed out. One of the tabloids seemed to have been distributing MAKE POVERTY HISTORY placards. Recipients were now tearing off the top section of each placard, removing the tabloid’s masthead. Helium-filled balloons rose into the sky. A makeshift brass band was circumnavigating the field, followed by an African steel band. More dancing; more smiles. She knew then, knew that it was going to be all right. There’d be no riots today, not on this march.

She looked at her cell. No messages. She’d tried her parents twice, but they weren’t answering. So she commenced another tour of the site. A smaller stage had been erected in front of a stationary open-topped bus. There were TV cameras here, and people were being interviewed. She recognized Pete Postlethwaite and Billy Boyd; caught a glimpse of Billy Bragg. The actor she really wanted to see was Gael García Bernal, just in case he really did look as good in the flesh…

The lines at the vegetarian food vans were longer than the one for burgers. She’d been vegetarian herself at one time but had lapsed several years back, blaming Rebus and the bacon rolls he’d kept wafting in her face. She thought of texting him, dragging him down here. What else would he be doing? Either slumped on the sofa or resting on a stool at the Oxford Bar. But she sent a text to her parents instead, then headed toward the waiting lines again. Banners had been hoisted high, whistles were being blown, drums beaten. All that energy in the air…Rebus would say it was being wasted. He’d say the political deals had already been done. And he’d be right: the guys at Sorbus HQ had told her as much. Gleneagles was for private confabs and public photo ops. The real business had been thrashed out in advance by lesser mortals, chief among them the chancellor of the exchequer. All of it done on the quiet and ratified by eight signatures on the final day of the G8.

“And how much is it all costing?” Siobhan had wondered.

“A hundred and fifty mil, give or take.”

The answer had produced a sharp intake of breath from DCI Macrae. Siobhan had pursed her lips, saying nothing.

“I know what you’re thinking,” her informant had continued. “Same sort of money buys a lot of vaccine…”

Every path across the Meadows was now four-deep with waiting marchers. A new line had formed, stretching back to the tennis courts and Buccleuch Street. As Siobhan squeezed her way past, still no sign of her parents, she caught a blur of color at the edge of her vision. Bright yellow jackets hurrying down Meadow Lane. She followed them, rounding the corner into Buccleuch Place.

And was stopped dead.

Sixty or so black-clad demonstrators had been encircled by double that number of police. The protesters had air horns, which rasped a deafening complaint. They wore sunglasses, black scarves muffling their faces. Some wore hooded tops. Black combat pants and boots, a few bandannas. They didn’t carry signs, and none of them were smiling. Riot shields were all that separated them from the police lines. Someone had spray-painted the anarchist symbol on at least one translucent shield. The mass of demonstrators pressed forward, demanding access to the Meadows. But police tactics said different: containment above all else. A demonstration contained was a demonstration controlled. Siobhan was impressed; her colleagues had to have known the protesters were on their way. They’d taken up position fast and weren’t about to let the situation develop any further than here and now. There were a few other bystanders, torn between this spectacle and a need to join the march. Some of them had their camera phones out. Siobhan looked around, making sure no fresh intake of riot officers tried corralling her. The voices from within the cordon seemed foreign, maybe Spanish or Italian. She knew some of the names: Ya Basta, Black Bloc. No sign of anything as outlandish as the Wombles or Rebel Clown Army. Her hand went into her pocket, clutching her ID. Wanted to be ready to show it if things got heated. Helicopter hovering overhead, and a uniformed officer videotaping proceedings from the steps of one of the university buildings. He scanned the street with his camera, pausing on her for a moment before moving on to the other bystanders. But Siobhan was suddenly aware of another camera, focused on him. Santal was inside the cordon, recording everything with her own digital video. She was dressed like the others, backpack slung over one shoulder, concentrating on her task rather than joining in with the chants and slogans. The demonstrators wanted their own record: to watch later and enjoy; so they could learn police tactics and how to counter them; and just in case of-maybe even in the hope of-heavy-handedness. They were media savvy, counted lawyers among their activist friends. Film from Genoa had been beamed around the world. No reason fresh film of violent policing wouldn’t be just as efficacious.

Siobhan realized Santal had seen her. The camera was pointed her way, and the mouth below the viewfinder broke into a scowl. Siobhan didn’t think it the right time to wander over and ask for her parents’ whereabouts. Her phone started to vibrate, telling her she had an incoming call. She checked the number but didn’t recognize it.

“Siobhan Clarke,” she said, holding the slim little box to her ear.

“Shiv? It’s Ray Duff. I’m bloody well earning that day out-”

“What day out?”

“The one you owe me…” He paused. “Except that’s not the deal you made with Rebus, is it?”

Siobhan smiled. “All depends. Are you at the lab?”

“Working my ass off on your behalf.”

“The stuff from Clootie Well?”

“Might have something for you, though I’m not sure you’re going to like it. How soon can you get here?”

“Half an hour.” She turned away from the sudden blare of the air horn.

“No prizes for guessing where you are,” Duff’s voice said. “I’ve got it on the news channel here.”

“The march or the demonstration?”

“Demo, naturally. Happy, law-abiding marchers hardly make for a story, even when they number quarter of a million.”

“Quarter of a million?”

“That’s what they’re saying. See you in half an hour.”

“Bye, Ray.” She ended the call. A figure like that…more than half the population of Edinburgh. It was like three million on the streets of London. And sixty black-clad figures hogging the news cycle for the next hour or two…

Because after that, all eyes would turn to the Live 8 concert in London.

No, no, no, she thought, too cynical, Siobhan; you’re thinking like John bloody Rebus. Nobody could ignore a human chain encircling the city, a ribbon of white, all that passion and hope…

Minus one.

Had she ever planned to stick around, add her own small self to the statistics? No chance of that now. She could apologize later to her parents. For now, she was on the move, walking away from the Meadows. Her best bet: St. Leonard ’s, the nearest police station. Hitch a lift in a patrol car; hijack one if need be. Her own car was sitting in the garage Rebus had recommended. Mechanic had said to call him on Monday. She remembered how one owner of a 4x4 had apparently moved her car out of town for the duration, lest rioters should target it. Just one more scare story, or so she’d thought at the time…

Santal didn’t appear to notice her leave.

“…can’t even mail a letter,” Ray Duff was saying. “They’ve locked up all the mailboxes in case someone decides to put a bomb in one.”

“Some of the shop fronts on Princes Street are boarded up,” Siobhan added. “What do you reckon it is Ann Summers is afraid of?”

“Basque separatists?” Rebus guessed. “Any chance of us getting to the point?”

Duff snorted. “He’s afraid he’ll miss the big reunion.”

“ Reunion?” Siobhan looked at Rebus.

“Pink Floyd,” Rebus answered. “But if it’s anything like McCartney and U2, I’m well shut of it.”

The three were standing in one of the labs belonging to the Lothian and Borders Forensic Science Unit on Howdenhall Road. Duff, midthirties with short brown hair and a pronounced widow’s peak, was polishing his glasses on a corner of his white lab coat. The rise of television’s CSI franchise had had, to Rebus’s mind, a detrimental effect on all the Howdenhall techs. Despite their lack of resources, glamour, and pounding sound track, they all seemed to think they were actors. Moreover, some of the CID had started to agree and would ask them to replicate the TV shows’ most far-fetched forensic techniques. Duff had apparently decided that his own role would be that of eccentric genius. As a result, he had dispensed with his contact lenses and reverted to NHS-style specs with thick black frames, the better to complement the row of multicolored pens in his top pocket. Additionally, a line of alligator clips was attached to one lapel. As Rebus had pointed out on arrival, he looked like he’d walked out of a Devo video.

And now he was stringing them along.

“In your own time,” Rebus encouraged him. They were standing in front of a workbench on which various pieces of cloth had been laid out. Duff had placed numbered squares beside each one, and smaller squares-apparently color-coded-next to any stains or blemishes on each article. “Sooner we’re done, sooner you can get back to polishing the chrome on your MG.”

“That reminds me,” Siobhan said. “Thanks for offering me to Ray.”

“You should have seen first prize,” Rebus muttered. “What are we looking at, Prof?”

“Mud and bird shit mostly.” Duff rested his hands on his hips. “Brown for the former, gray for the latter.” He nodded at the colored squares.

“Leaving blue and pink…”

“Blue is for stuff that needs further analysis.”

“Tell me pink is for lipstick,” Siobhan said quietly.

“Blood, actually.” Duff spoke with a flourish.

“Oh, good,” Rebus responded, eyes fixing on Siobhan. “How many?”

“Two so far. Numbered one and two. One is a pair of brown cord trousers. Blood can be a bugger to make out against a brown background-resembles rust. Two belongs to a sports shirt, pale yellow, as you can see.”

“Not really,” Rebus said, leaning over for a closer look. The shirt was caked with dirt. “What’s that on the left breast? Badge of some kind?”

“What it actually says is Keogh’s Garage. The blood spatter is on the back.”

“Spatter?”

Duff nodded. “Consistent with a blow to the head. Something like a hammer, you make contact, break the skin, and when you draw the hammer away, the blood flies off in all directions.”

“Keogh’s Garage?” Siobhan’s question was directed at Rebus, who merely shrugged. Duff, however, cleared his throat.

“Nothing in the Perthshire phone book. Or Edinburgh, come to that.”

“Fast work, Ray,” Siobhan said approvingly.

“Another brownie point there, Ray,” Rebus added with a wink. “How about contestant number one?”

Duff nodded. “Not spatter this time-dollops on the right leg, around the level of the knee. Whack someone on the head, you’ll get some drips like that.”

“You’re saying we’ve got three victims, one attacker?”

Duff shrugged. “No way to prove it, of course. But ask yourself: what are the chances of three victims having three different attackers, all ending up in the same obscure location?”

“You’ve got a point, Ray,” Rebus conceded.

“And we’ve got a serial killer,” Siobhan said into the silence. “Different blood types, I take it?” She watched Duff nod. “Any idea which order they might have died in?”

“CC Rider is the freshest. I’d guess the sports shirt is the oldest.”

“And no other clues from the cords?”

Duff shook his head slowly, then dug into his lab-coat pocket and produced a clear plastic envelope. “Unless you count this, of course.”

“What is that?” Siobhan asked.

“Cash-machine card,” Duff told her, relishing the moment. “Name of Trevor Guest. So never let me hear you say I don’t earn my little rewards…”

Back in the fresh air, Rebus lit a cigarette. Siobhan paced the length of a parking bay, arms folded.

“One killer,” she stated.

“Yep.”

“Two named victims, the other a mechanic…”

“Or a car salesman,” Rebus mused. “Or just someone who had access to a shirt advertising a garage.”

“Thanks for refusing to narrow the search.”

He shrugged. “If we’d found a scarf with a soccer team’s logo on it, would we be homing in on the team?”

“All right, point taken.” She stopped in her tracks. “Do you need to get back to the autopsy?”

He shook his head. “One of us is going to have to break the news to Macrae.”

She nodded. “I’ll do it.”

“Not a hell of a lot more to be done today.”

“Back to Live 8 then?”

He gave another shrug. “And the Meadows for yourself?” he guessed.

She nodded, her mind elsewhere. “Can you think of a worse week for this to happen?”

“Why they pay us the big bucks,” Rebus told her, drawing the nicotine deep.

A fat parcel was waiting for Rebus at the door of his apartment. Siobhan was heading back down to the Meadows. Rebus had told her to drop by later for a drink. He realized his living room was stuffy so forced open the window. He could hear sounds from the march: echoey, amplified voices; drums and whistles. Live 8 was on TV, but not a band he recognized. He kept the sound down, opened the parcel. There was a note inside from Mairie-You don’t deserve it-followed by pages and pages of printout. News stories about Pennen Industries, dating right back to its separation from the MoD. Snippets from the business pages, detailing rising profits. Profiles praising Richard Pennen, accompanied by photos of him. Every inch the successful businessman: well-groomed, pin-striped, coiffed. Salt-and-pepper hair, even though he was still in his midforties. Steel-rimmed glasses and a square-set jaw below perfect-looking teeth.

Richard Pennen had been an MoD employee, something of a whiz with microchips and software programs. He stressed that his company didn’t sell arms as such, just the components to make them as efficient as possible. “Which has to be better than the alternative, for all concerned,” he was quoted as saying. Rebus flicked quickly though interviews and background features. Nothing to link Pennen to Ben Webster, except that both dealt with aspects of trade. No reason why the company wouldn’t treat MPs to five-star hotel rooms. Rebus turned to the next set of stapled sheets and gave a silent thank-you to Mairie. She’d added a list of stuff about Ben Webster himself. Not that there was much about his career as an MP. But five years back the media had shown sudden interest in the family, following the shocking attack on Webster’s mother. She and her husband had been vacationing in the Borders, renting a cottage in the countryside outside Kelso. He’d gone into town one afternoon for supplies and had returned to find the cottage ransacked and his wife dead, strangled with a cord from the window blinds. She had been beaten but not sexually assaulted. Money was missing from her bag, as was her cell phone. Nothing else had been taken.

Just some loose cash and a phone.

And a woman’s life.

The inquiry had dragged on for weeks. Rebus looked at photos of the isolated cottage, the victim, her grieving husband, the two children-Ben and Stacey. He lifted from his pocket the card Stacey had given him, rubbed its edges with his fingers as he continued to read. Ben the MP for Dundee North; Stacey the cop from the Met, whom colleagues described as “diligent and well liked.” The cottage was placed on the edge of woodland, amid rolling hills, no other habitation visible. Husband and wife had liked to take long walks and were regularly seen in Kelso’s bars and eateries. The region had been their destination of choice for many holidays. Councillors for the area were quick to point out that the Borders “remains largely crime-free and a haven of peace.” Didn’t want the tourists scared off…

The killer was never caught. The story drifted to the inside pages, then deeper into the paper, reappearing sporadically as a paragraph or two when Ben Webster was being profiled. There was one in-depth interview with him, dating back to when he’d been made PPS. He hadn’t wanted to talk about the tragedy.

Tragedies-plural, actually. The father hadn’t lasted long after his wife’s murder. His death came from natural causes. “The will to live just left him” was how one neighbor in Broughty Ferry had put it. “And now he’s at peace with the love of his life.”

Rebus looked again at the photograph of Stacey, taken on the day of her mother’s funeral. She’d gone on TV, apparently, appealing for information. Stronger than her brother, who’d decided not to join her at the press conference. Rebus really hoped she would stay strong…

Suicide seemed the obvious conclusion, grief finally catching up with the orphaned son. Except that Ben Webster had screamed as he fell. And the guards had been alerted to an intruder. Besides, why that particular night? That location? The world’s media hitting town…

A very public gesture.

And Steelforth…well, Steelforth wanted it all swept away. Nothing must deflect attention from the G8. Nothing must be allowed to perturb the various delegations. Rebus had to admit, the reason he was holding on to the case was simply to piss off the Special Branch man. He got up from the table and went into the kitchen, made himself another mug of coffee, and brought it back through to the living room. He changed channels on the TV but couldn’t find any feeds from the march. The Hyde Park crowd looked to be enjoying themselves, though there was some sort of enclosure directly in front of the stage, sparsely filled. Security maybe; either that or media. Geldof wasn’t asking for money this time around; what Live 8 wanted was to focus hearts and minds. Rebus wondered how many concert-goers would afterward heed the call and trek the four hundred miles north to Scotland. He lit a cigarette to go with his coffee, sat down in an armchair, and stared at the screen. He thought again of the Clootie Well, of the ritual played out there. If Ray Duff was right, they had at least three victims, and a killer who had made a shrine of sorts. Did that mean someone local? How well known was the Clootie Well outside Auchterarder? Did it appear in travel books, tourist brochures? Had it been chosen for its proximity to the G8 summit, the killer guessing that all those extra police patrols were bound to mean his grim little offering was found? In which case, was his spree now finished?

Three victims…no way they were going to keep that away from the media. CC Rider…Keogh’s Garage…a cash card…The killer was making it easy for them; he wanted them to know he was out there. World’s press gathered in Scotland as never before, giving him an international stage. And Macrae would relish the opportunity. He’d be out there in front of them, chest puffed up as he answered their questions, Derek Starr right beside him.

Siobhan had said she would call Macrae from the march, let him know the lab’s findings. Ray Duff meantime would be doing more tests, trying for DNA fingerprints from the blood, seeing if any hairs or fibers could be isolated and identified. Rebus thought about Cyril Colliar again. Hardly a typical victim. Serial killers tended to prey on the weak and the marginalized. A case of wrong place, wrong time? Killed in Edinburgh, but the scrap from his jacket ends up in the woods in Auchterarder, just as Operation Sorbus is getting started. Sorbus: a kind of tree…the CC Rider’s patch left in a wooded glade…If there was any hint of a connection with the G8, Rebus knew the spooks would wrench the case out of Siobhan’s hands and out of his. Steelforth wouldn’t have it any other way. The killer taunting them.

Leaving calling cards.

There was a knock at his door. Had to be Siobhan. He stubbed out the cigarette, stood up, and took a look around the room. It wasn’t too bad: no empty beer cans or pizza boxes. Whiskey bottle by the chair; he picked it up, put it on the mantelpiece. Switched the TV to a news channel and headed for the door. Swung it open and recognized the face, felt his stomach clench.

“That’s your conscience salved then, is it?” he asked, feigning indifference.

“Pure as the driven fuckin’ snow, Rebus. But can you say the same?”

Not Siobhan. Morris Gerald Cafferty. Dressed in a white T-shirt bearing the slogan MAKE POVERTY HISTORY. Hands in trouser pockets. Slid them out slowly and held them up to show Rebus they were empty. A head the size of a bowling ball, shiny and all but hairless. Small, deep-set eyes. Glistening lips. No neck. Rebus made to shut the door on him, but Cafferty pressed a hand to it.

“That any way to treat an old pal?”

“Go to hell.”

“You look like you’ve beat me to it-did that shirt come off a scarecrow?”

“And who dresses you-the girls from What Not to Wear?”

Cafferty snorted. “I did meet them on breakfast TV, actually. See, isn’t this better? We’re having a nice wee chat.”

Rebus had stopped trying to close the door. “Hell are you doing here, Cafferty?”

Cafferty was examining his palms, brushing imaginary grime from them. “How long have you been living here, Rebus? Got to be thirty years.”

“So?”

“Ever hear of moving up in the world?”

“Christ, now it’s Location, Location, Location…”

“You’ve never tried to improve your situation, that’s what I can’t understand.”

“Maybe I should write a book about it.”

Cafferty grinned. “I’m thinking of a follow-up, charting a few more of our little disagreements.”

“Is that why you’re here? Memory needs refreshing, does it?”

Cafferty’s face darkened. “I’m here about my boy Cyril.”

“What about him?”

“I hear there’s been some progress. I want to know how much.”

“Who told you?”

“It’s true then?”

“Think I’d tell you even if it was?”

Cafferty gave a snarl, hands shooting forward, propelling Rebus backward into the hall, where he collided with the wall. Cafferty grabbed at him again, teeth bared, but Rebus was ready, managed to get a handful of the T-shirt. The two men wrestled, twisting and turning, moving farther down the hall until they were in the doorway to the living room. Neither had said a word, eyes and limbs doing their talking. But Cafferty glanced into the room and seemed to freeze. Rebus was able to free himself from his grasp.

“Jesus Christ.” Cafferty was staring at the two boxes on the sofa-part of the Colliar case notes, brought home from Gayfield the previous night. Lying on the top was one of the autopsy photos, and, just visible beneath, an older photograph of Cafferty himself. “What’s all this stuff doing here?” Cafferty asked, breathing heavily.

“None of your damned business.”

“You’re still trying to pin this on me.”

“Not as much as I was,” Rebus admitted. He walked over to the mantelpiece and grabbed the whiskey. Lifted his glass from the floor and poured. “It’ll be public knowledge soon enough,” he said, pausing to drink. “We think Colliar’s not the only victim.”

Cafferty’s eyes narrowed as he tried to take this in. “Who else?”

Rebus shook his head slowly. “Now get the hell out.”

“I can help,” Cafferty said. “I know people.”

“Oh yeah? Trevor Guest ring a bell?”

Cafferty thought for a moment before conceding defeat.

“What about a garage called Keogh’s?”

Cafferty stiffened his shoulders. “I can find things out, Rebus. I’ve got contacts in places that would frighten you.”

“Everything about you frightens me, Cafferty; fear of contamination, I suppose. How come you’re so het up about Colliar?”

Cafferty’s eyes strayed to the whiskey bottle. “Got a spare glass?” he asked.

Rebus fetched one from the kitchen. When he returned, Cafferty was reading Mairie’s covering note.

“I see Ms. Henderson’s been lending a hand.” Cafferty gave a cold smile. “I recognize her handwriting.”

Rebus said nothing; poured a small measure into the glass.

“I prefer malt,” Cafferty complained, wafting the contents under his nose. “What’s your interest in Pennen Industries?”

Rebus ignored this. “You were going to tell me about Cyril Colliar.” Cafferty made to sit down. “Stay on your feet,” Rebus commanded. “You’re not going to be here that long.”

Cafferty knocked back the drink and placed the empty glass on the table. “It’s not Cyril I’m interested in as such,” he admitted. “But when something like that happens…well, rumors get started. Rumors that someone’s out there with a grudge. Never very good for business. As you well know, Rebus, I’ve had enemies in the past.”

“Funny how I never see them anymore.”

“Plenty of jackals out there who’d like a share of the spoils…my spoils.” He stabbed a finger into his own chest.

“You’re getting old, Cafferty.”

“Same as you. But there’s no retirement package in my line of business.”

“And meantime the jackals get younger and hungrier?” Rebus guessed. “And you need to keep proving yourself.”

“I’ve never backed down, Rebus. Never will.”

“It’ll come out soon enough, Cafferty. If there’s no connection between you and the other victims, then there’s no reason for anyone to see it as a vendetta.”

“But meantime…”

“Meantime what?”

Cafferty gave a wink. “Keogh’s Garage and Trevor Guest.”

“Leave them to us, Cafferty.”

“Who knows, Rebus, maybe I’ll see what I can turn up about Pennen Industries, too.” Cafferty started to walk out of the room. “Thanks for the drink and the wee bit of exercise. Think I’ll go join the tail end of the march. Poverty’s always been a great concern of mine.” He paused in the hall, taking in his surroundings. “Never seen it as bad as this though,” he added, heading for the stairwell.

5

The Right Honorable Gordon Brown, MP, chancellor of the exchequer, had already started to speak when Siobhan entered the room. An audience of nine hundred had gathered in the Assembly Hall at the top of the Mound. The last time Siobhan had been there, the place was acting as temporary home to the Scottish parliament, but the parliament now had lavish premises of its own opposite the queen’s residence at Holyrood, leaving the Assembly Hall once again the exclusive property of the Church of Scotland who, along with Christian Aid, had organized the evening’s event.

Siobhan was there for a meeting with Edinburgh ’s chief constable, James Corbyn. Corbyn had been in charge just over a year, having replaced Sir David Strathern. There had been mutters of dissent over the appointment. Corbyn was English, a “bean counter,”and “too bloody young.” But Corbyn had proved himself a hands-on copper who made regular visits to the front line. He was seated a few rows back, in full dress uniform, cap resting on his lap. Siobhan knew she was expected so found a space by the doors, content to listen to the chancellor’s vows and pledges. When he announced that Africa ’s poorest thirty-eight countries would see a debt write-off, there was spontaneous applause. But when the clapping died down, Siobhan was aware of a voice of dissent. A lone protester had stood up. He was wearing a kilt, and he lifted it to reveal a cut-out picture of Tony Blair’s face on the front of his underpants. Security moved in quickly, and those around the man helped with the process. As he was dragged to the doors, the fresh applause was for security. The chancellor, who had busied himself tidying his notes, continued where he’d left off.

The commotion, however, provided useful cover for James Corbyn to make his move. Siobhan followed him out of the hall and introduced herself. There was no sign of the protester or his captors, just a few civil servants pacing the floor, waiting for their master to finish. They carried document files and cell phones and seemed exhausted by the day’s events.

“DCI Macrae says we have a problem,” Corbyn stated. No niceties; straight to the heart of the matter. He was in his early forties, with black hair parted to the right. Solidly built, just over six feet in height. There was a large mole on his right cheek, which Siobhan had been warned not to stare at.

“Bloody hard to keep eye contact,” Macrae had told her, “with that thing in your sight line…”

“We may have three victims,” she said now.

“And a murder site on the G8’s doorstep?” Corbyn snapped.

“Not exactly, sir. I don’t think we’ll find bodies there, just trace evidence.”

“They’ll be out of Gleneagles by Friday. We can stall the investigation till then.”

“On the other hand,” Siobhan offered, “the leaders don’t start arriving till Wednesday. Three full days away…”

“What are you proposing?”

“We keep things low-key but do as much as we can. Forensics can make a full sweep by then. The one definite victim we have is an Edinburgh guy, no need to go disturbing the bigwigs.”

Corbyn studied her. “You’re a DS, am I right?”

Siobhan nodded.

“Bit junior to be heading something like this.” It didn’t sound like criticism; he was simply stating a fact.

“A DI from my station was with me, sir. We both worked the original inquiry.”

“How much help will you need?”

“I’m not sure much can be spared.”

Corbyn smiled. “It’s a sensitive time, DS Clarke.”

“I appreciate that.”

“I’m sure you do. And this DI of yours…he’s reliable?”

Siobhan nodded, maintaining eye contact, not blinking. Thinking: Maybe he’s too new to have heard of John Rebus…

“Happy to work a Sunday?” he asked.

“Absolutely. Not so sure about the SOCOs.”

“A word from me should help.” He grew thoughtful. “The march passed off without incident…perhaps we’ll have it easier than we feared.”

“Yes, sir.”

His eyes regained their focus. “Your accent’s English,” he remarked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Ever given you problems?”

“A few gibes along the way.”

He nodded slowly. “All right.” Straightening his back. “See what you can get done before Wednesday. Any problems, let me know. But do try not to step on any toes.” He glanced in the direction of the civil servants.

“There’s an SO12 officer called Steelforth, sir. He may raise a few objections.”

Corbyn looked at his watch. “Direct him to my office.” He fixed his braided cap to his head. “Time I was elsewhere…You do realize the enormous responsibility…?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Make sure your colleague gets the message.”

“He’ll understand, sir.”

He held out his hand. “Very well. Let’s shake on it, DS Clarke.”

They shook.

On the radio news, there was a report from the march and, in a postscript, mention that the death of international development minister Ben Webster was “being treated as a tragic accident.” The chief story, however, was the Hyde Park concert. Siobhan had heard plenty of complaints from the hordes gathered at the Meadows. They felt the pop stars would upstage them.

“Limelight and album sales, that’s what they’re after,” one man said. “Ego-tripping bastards…”

The latest estimate of numbers on the march was 225,000. Siobhan didn’t know how many were at the London concert, but she doubted it was even half that. The nighttime streets were busy with cars and pedestrians. Plenty of buses, too, heading south out of the city. Some of the shops and restaurants she passed had put signs in their windows: WE SUPPORT MAKE POVERTY HISTORY. WE ONLY USE FAIR TRADE PRODUCE. SMALL LOCAL RETAILER. MARCHERS WELCOME. There was graffiti, too: anarchy symbols and messages exhorting the passersby, Activ8, Agit8, Demonstr8. Another statement stated simply, Rome Wasn’t Sacked in One Day. She hoped the chief constable would be proved right, but there was a long way to go.

Buses were parked outside the Niddrie campsite. The tented village had grown. The same guard as the previous night was in charge. She asked him his name.

“Bobby Greig.”

“Bobby, I’m Siobhan. Looks busy tonight.”

He shrugged. “Maybe a couple of thousand. I guess that’s as busy as it’ll get.”

“You sound disappointed.”

“Council’s spent a million on this place-could have given them all a hotel room for that, never mind a spot in the wilderness.” He nodded toward the car she’d just locked. “I see you’ve got a replacement.”

“Borrowed from the garage at St. Leonard ’s. Had any more trouble from the natives?”

“Nice and quiet,” he told her. “Dark now, mind…that’s when they come out to play. Know what it feels like in here?” He scanned the compound. “One of those zombie films.”

Siobhan offered a smile. “That makes you mankind’s last great hope, Bobby. You should be flattered.”

“My shift ends at midnight!” he called after her as she made her way to her parents’ tent. There was no one home. She unzipped the opening and looked in. The table and stools had been folded away, sleeping bags rolled tight. She tore a sheet of paper from her notebook and left a message. No sign of life in the surrounding tents either. Siobhan began to wonder if her mum and dad had maybe gone out drinking with Santal.

Santal: last seen at the demonstration in Buccleuch Place. Which meant she might be trouble…might get into trouble.

Listen to yourself, girl! Afraid your trendy leftist parents will be led astray!

She tutted to herself and decided to kill some time walking around the camp. It was little changed from the previous night: a strummed guitar, a cross-legged circle of singers, kids playing barefoot on the grass, cheap food doled out at the big tent. New arrivals, weary after the march, were being handed their wristbands and shown where to pitch camp. There was still some light left in the sky, making a startling silhouette of Arthur’s Seat. She thought maybe she would climb it tomorrow, take an hour to herself. The view from the top was a thrill. Always supposing she could afford an hour to herself. She knew she should call Rebus, let him know the score. He was probably still at home in front of the box. Time enough yet to give him the news.

“Saturday night, eh?” Bobby Greig said. He was standing just behind her, holding a flashlight and his two-way. “You should be out enjoying yourself.”

“Seems to be what my friends are up to.” She nodded in the direction of her parents’ tent.

“I’ll be having a drink myself when I finish,” he hinted.

“I’ve got work tomorrow.”

“Hope you’re on overtime.”

“Thanks for the offer, though…maybe another night.”

He gave a huge shrug. “I’m trying not to feel rejected here.” His radio burst into life with a jolt of static. He raised it to his mouth. “Say again, tower.”

“Here they come again,” came the distorted voice.

Siobhan looked toward the fence, couldn’t make anything out. She followed Bobby Greig toward the gate. Yes: a dozen of them, hooded tops drawn tight around their heads, eyes shaded by baseball caps. No sign of weapons, other than a quart of cheap booze being passed among them. Half a dozen guards had gathered inside the gate, waiting for Greig to give the word. The gang outside was gesturing: Come and have a go. Greig stared back, seeming bored with the performance.

“Should we call it in?” one of the other security men asked.

“No sign of missiles,” Greig replied. “Nothing we can’t handle.”

The gang had steadily been approaching the fence. Siobhan recognized the one in the middle as the leader from Friday night. The mechanic at Rebus’s recommended workshop had said it might end up costing six hundred to fix her car.

“Insurance might do some of it” had been his only crumb of comfort. In reply she’d asked him if he’d ever heard of Keogh’s Garage, but he’d shaken his head.

“Can you ask around?”

He’d said he would do that, then had asked for a deposit. A hundred gone from her bank account, just like that. Five hundred still to go, and here were the culprits, not twenty feet from her. She wished she had Santal’s camera…fire off a few shots and see if anyone at Craigmillar CID could put names to faces. Had to be security cameras around here somewhere…maybe she could…

Sure she could. But she knew she wouldn’t.

“Off you go now,” Bobby Greig was calling out in a firm voice.

“Niddrie’s ours,” the leader spat. “It’s youse should fuck off!”

“Point taken, but we can’t do that.”

“Makes you feel big, eh? Playing babysitter to a bunch of scum.”

“Happy-clappy hippie shit,” one of his followers concurred.

“Thanks for sharing” was all Bobby Greig said.

The leader barked out a laugh; one of the gang spat at the fence. Another joined him.

“We can take them, Bobby,” one of the security men said softly.

“No need to.”

“Fat bastard,” the gang’s leader goaded.

“Fat-ass bastard,” one of his lieutenants added.

“Alky.”

“Pop-eyed baldy ass-licking…”

Greig’s eyes were on Siobhan. He seemed to be making up his mind. She shook her head slowly. Don’t let them win.

“Thieving bastard.”

“Asshole.”

“Bloated schmuck.”

Bobby Greig turned his head toward the guard next to him, gave a brief nod. “Count of three,” he said in an undertone.

“Save your breath, Bobby.” The guard leaped for the gate, his comrades right behind him. The gang scattered but regrouped at the other side of the road.

“Come on then!”

“Any time you like!”

“You want us? Here we are!”

Siobhan knew what they wanted. They wanted the security men to chase them into the labyrinth of streets. Jungle warfare, where local knowledge could defeat firepower. Weapons-ready-made or improvised-could be waiting there. A larger army could be hidden behind hedges and down shadowy alleys. And meantime, the camp was left unguarded.

She didn’t hesitate; called it in on her cell. “Officer requiring assistance.” Brief details of where she was. Two, three minutes, they’d start arriving. Craigmillar cop-shop wasn’t farther away than that. The gang’s leader was bending over, making a show of offering his backside to Bobby Greig. One of Greig’s men accepted the insult on his behalf and ran at the leader, who did what Siobhan had feared: appeared to retreat farther down the walkway.

Into the heart of the housing project.

“Careful!” she warned, but no one was listening. Turning, she saw that some of the campers were watching the action. “Police will be here in a minute,” she assured them.

“Pigs,” one of the campers said in evident disgust.

Siobhan jogged out into the road. The gang really had scattered now; at least, that was what it looked like. She traced Bobby Greig’s route, down the path and into a cul-de-sac. Low-rise blocks all around, some of the last and worst of the old streets. The skeleton of a bike lay on the pavement. A supermarket cart’s carcass sat curbside. Shadows and scuffles and yells. The sound of breaking glass. If there was fighting, she couldn’t see it. Back gardens were the battleground. Stairwells, too. Faces at some of the windows, but they withdrew quickly, leaving only the cold blue glare of TV sets. Siobhan kept walking, checking to left and right. She was wondering how Greig would have acted had she not been there to witness the taunts. Bloody men and their bloody machismo…

End of the street: still nothing. She took a left, then a right. In one front garden, a car sat on bricks. A lamppost had had its cover removed, its wiring ripped out. The place was a bloody maze, and how come she couldn’t hear sirens? She couldn’t hear any yells now either, apart from an argument in one of the houses. A kid on a skateboard came toward her, maybe ten or eleven at most, staring hard at her until he was past. She reckoned she could take a left and be back at the main road. But she entered another cul-de-sac and cursed under her breath-not even a footpath to be seen. Knew the quickest route might be to skirt around the end terrace and climb the fence. Next block over and she’d be back where she started.

Maybe.

“In for a pound,” she said, heading down the cracked paving slabs. There wasn’t much of anything behind the row of houses: weeds and ankle-high grass and the twisted remains of a rotary clothesline. The fence was broken-backed, easy to cross into the next set of back gardens.

“That’s my flower bed,” a voice called in mock complaint. Siobhan looked around. Stared into the milky blue eyes of the gang’s leader.

“Tasty,” he said, eyeing her from top to toe.

“Don’t you think you’re in enough trouble?” she asked.

“What trouble’s that then?”

“It was my car you got at last night.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He’d taken a step closer. Two shapes behind him to the left and right.

“Your best bet right now’s to start walking,” she warned them. The response: low laughter.

“I’m CID,” she said, hoping her voice would hold up. “Anything happens here, we’re talking a lifetime’s payback.”

“So how come you’re quaking in your boots?”

Siobhan hadn’t moved, hadn’t retreated an inch. He was nose to nose with her now. Knee-in-the-groin close. She felt some of her confidence return.

“Walk away,” she said quietly.

“Maybe I don’t want to.”

“Then again,” came a deep, booming voice, “maybe you do.”

Siobhan looked behind her. It was Councilman Tench. He had his hands clasped in front of him, legs slightly apart. He seemed to fill Siobhan’s vision.

“Nothing to do with you,” the gang leader complained, stabbing a finger in Tench’s direction.

“Everything around here’s got something to do with me. Those that know me know that. Now scamper back to your rabbit holes and we’ll say no more.”

“Thinks he’s the big man,” one of the gang sneered.

“Only one big man in my universe, son, and He’s up there.” Tench gestured skyward.

“Dream on, preacher,” the leader said. But he turned and walked into the encroaching darkness, his men following.

Tench unclasped his hands and let his shoulders relax. “Could have turned nasty,” he said.

“Could have,” Siobhan agreed. She introduced herself, and he nodded.

“Thought to myself last night-that lassie looks like a copper.”

“Seems you’re on regular peacekeeping duties,” she told him.

He made a face, as if to play down his role. “Quiet around here most nights. You just picked a bad week for a visit.” His ears picked out a single siren, growing closer. “Your idea of the cavalry?” Tench offered, leading the way back to the camp.

The car-her loaner from St. Leonard ’s-had been sprayed with the letters NYT.

“Beyond a damned joke,” Siobhan told herself through gritted teeth. She asked Tench if he had names for her.

“No names,” he stated.

“But you know who they are.”

“What difference does that make?”

She turned instead to the uniforms from Craigmillar, gave them her description of the leader’s build, clothes, eyes. They shook their heads slowly.

“Camp’s in one piece,” one of them said. “That’s what matters.” His tone said it all-she was the one who’d summoned them here, and there was nothing for them to see or do. Some name-calling and a few (alleged) thrown punches. None of the security men had any injuries to report. They looked exhilarated, brothers in arms. No real threat against the camp, and no damage to report-other than Siobhan’s car.

In other words: a wild-goose chase.

Tench was moving among the tents, introducing himself all over again and shaking hands, rubbing the kids’ heads and accepting a cup of herbal tea. Bobby Greig was nursing bruised knuckles, though all he’d connected with, according to one of his team, was a wall.

“Livens things up, eh?” he said to Siobhan.

She didn’t reply. Walked to the big tent and someone poured her a cup of chamomile. She was outside again, blowing on it, when she saw that Tench had been joined by someone with a handheld tape machine. She recognized the journalist, used to be pals with Rebus…Mairie Henderson, that was the name. Siobhan moved closer and heard Tench talking about the area.

“G8’s all fine and well, but the executive should be looking a damn sight closer to home. Kids here, they can’t see any sort of a future. Investment, infrastructure, industry-what we need here is the rebuilding of a shattered community. Blight’s destroyed this place, but blight is reversible. An injection of aid, and these kids will have something to be proud of, something to keep them busy and productive. Like the slogan says, it’s fine and dandy to think global…but we shouldn’t forget to act local. Thank you very much.”

And he was moving again, shaking another hand, rubbing another child’s head. The reporter had spotted Siobhan and came bounding over to her, holding out the tape machine.

“Care to add a police perspective, DS Clarke?”

“No.”

“I hear that’s two nights running you’ve been here. What’s the attraction?”

“I’m not in the mood, Mairie.” Siobhan paused. “You’re really going to write a story about this?”

“Eyes of the world are on us.” She shut off the machine. “Tell John I hope he got the package.”

“What package?”

“The stuff about Pennen Industries and Ben Webster. Still not sure what he thinks he can make of it.”

“He’ll come up with something.”

Mairie nodded. “Just hope he remembers me when he does.” She was studying Siobhan’s cup. “Is that tea? I’m gasping.”

“From the tent,” Siobhan said, nodding in that direction. “It’s a bit weak though. Tell them you want it strong.”

“Thanks,” the reporter said, moving away.

“Don’t mention it,” Siobhan said quietly, pouring the contents of her cup onto the ground.

The Live 8 concert was on the late-night news. Not just London, but Philadelphia and the Eden Project and elsewhere. Viewing figures in the hundreds of millions, and worries that with the concert running over, the crowds would be forced to sleep outside for a night.

“Tut-tut,” Rebus said, draining the dregs from a last can of beer. The Make Poverty History march was on the screen now, a noisy celeb stating that he just felt the need to be “here on this day, making history by helping make poverty a thing of the past.” Rebus flipped to Channel 5-Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He didn’t understand the title: wasn’t every victim special? But then he thought of Cyril Colliar and realized the answer was no.

Cyril Colliar, muscle for Big Ger Cafferty. Looking like a targeted hit at first, but now almost certainly not. Wrong place, wrong time.

Trevor Guest…so far only a piece of plastic, but all those coded numbers would yield an identity. Rebus had been through the phone book for Guests, found almost twenty. Called half of those, with only four answering-and none of them knew a Trevor.

Keogh’s Garage…There were a dozen Keoghs in the Edinburgh phone book, but by then Rebus had given up on the notion that all three victims would be from the city. Draw a wide enough circumference around Auchterarder and you would take in Dundee and Stirling as easily as Edinburgh – Glasgow and Aberdeen, too, at a push. The victims could have come from anywhere. Nothing to be done about it till Monday.

Nothing except sit and brood, drinking beers and making a sortie to the corner shop for an oven-ready dinner of Lincolnshire sausage with onion gravy and Parmesan mash. Plus four more beers. The people lining up at the register had smiled at him. They were still dressed in their white T-shirts. They were talking about the “whole amazing afternoon.”

Rebus had nodded his agreement.

One autopsy on a member of parliament. Three victims of some anonymous killer.

Somehow, amazing didn’t quite do it justice.

SIDE TWO. Dance with the Devil

Sunday, July 3, 2005

6

So how was The Who?” Siobhan asked. It was late morning on Sunday, and she’d invited Rebus over for brunch. His contribution: a packet of sausages and four floury rolls. She’d put them to one side and made scrambled eggs instead, topping each helping with slices of smoked salmon and a few capers.

“The Who was good,” Rebus said, using his fork to maneuver the capers to the side of his plate.

“You should try one,” she admonished him. He wrinkled his nose and ignored the advice.

“Floyd was good, too,” he told her. “No major fallings-out.” They were facing each other across the small foldaway table in her living room. She lived in a tenement just off Broughton Street, five minutes’ walk from Gayfield Square. “What about you?” he asked, looking around the room. “No signs of Saturday-night debauchery.”

“Chance would be a fine thing.” Her smile grew thoughtful, and she told him about Niddrie.

“Lucky to get out in one piece,” Rebus commented.

“Your friend Mairie was there, writing a piece on Councilman Tench. She said something about some notes she’d sent you…”

“Richard Pennen and Ben Webster,” he confirmed.

“So are you getting anywhere?”

“Onward and upward, Shiv. I also tried phoning a few Guests and Keoghs-with nothing to show for it. Might as well have been chasing a few hoods around the houses.” He’d cleared his plate-capers aside-and was leaning back in his chair. Wanted a cigarette but knew he should wait till she’d finished eating. “Oh, and I had an interesting encounter myself, as it happens.”

So he told her about Cafferty, and by the time he was done her plate was empty.

“He’s the last thing we need,” she said, rising to her feet. Rebus made the beginnings of an offer to clear the table, but she nodded toward the window instead. Smiling, he made his way over and eased it open. Cool air wafted in and he crouched down, lighting up. Made sure to direct the smoke through the gap; held the cigarette out of the window between puffs.

Siobhan’s rules.

“More coffee?” she called.

“Keep it coming,” he answered.

She came in from the kitchen carrying a fresh pot. “There’s another march later on,” she said. “Stop the War Coalition.”

“Bit late for all that, I’d have thought.”

“And the G8 Alternatives…George Galloway’s going to be speaking.”

Rebus gave a snort, stubbed out his cigarette on the windowsill. Siobhan had wiped clean the table, lifted one of the boxes onto it. The boxes she’d asked Rebus to bring.

The Cyril Colliar case.

The offer of double pay-sanctioned by James Corbyn-had persuaded the Scene of Crime Unit to put a team together. They were on their way to the Clootie Well. Siobhan had warned them to keep a low profile: “Don’t want local CID getting sniffy.” Advised that SOCOs from Stirling had covered the same area two days before, one of the Edinburgh team had given a chuckle.

“Time we let the grown-ups try it then” was all he’d said.

Siobhan wasn’t hopeful. All the same, on Friday all they’d been doing was bagging evidence of one crime. Now, the signs pointed to two more. It was worth a bit of sifting and lifting.

She started unloading files and folders from the boxes. “You’ve been through this lot already?” she asked.

Rebus slid the window closed. “And all I learned was that Colliar was a big bad bastard. Chances are, he had more enemies than friends.”

“And the odds of him falling prey to a random killing?”

“Slim-we both know that.”

“And yet that appears to be what happened.”

Rebus held up a finger. “We’re reading a lot into a couple of items of clothing, owners unknown.”

“I tried Trevor Guest with Missing Persons.”

“And?”

She shook her head. “Not on any local register.” She tossed an emptied box onto the sofa. “It’s a Sunday morning in July, John…not a hell of a lot we can do before tomorrow.”

He nodded. “Guest’s bank card?”

“It’s HSBC. They’ve only one branch in Edinburgh -precious few in Scotland as a whole.”

“Is that good or bad?”

She gave a sigh. “I got through to one of their call centers. They told me to try the branch on Monday morning.”

“Isn’t there some sort of branch code on the card?”

Siobhan nodded. “Not the sort of information they give out over the phone.”

Rebus sat down at the table. “Keogh’s Garage?”

“Information did what they could. No listing on the Web.”

“The name’s Irish.”

“There are a dozen Keoghs in the phone book.”

He looked at her and smiled. “So you checked too?”

“Soon as I’d sent the SOCOs off.”

“You’ve been busy.” Rebus opened one of the folders; nothing in it he hadn’t seen before.

“Ray Duff’s promised me he’ll go to the lab today.”

“He has his eyes on the prize.”

She gave him a hard look before emptying the final box. The amount of paperwork caused her shoulders to slump.

“Day of rest, eh?” Rebus said. A phone started ringing.

“Yours,” Siobhan said. He went over to the sofa, lifted the cell from his jacket’s inside pocket.

“Rebus,” he announced. Listened for a moment, face darkening. “That’s because I’m not there…” Listening again. “No, I’ll meet you. Where is it you need to be?” Glancing at his watch. “Forty minutes?” Eyes on Siobhan. “I’ll be there.”

He snapped the phone shut.

“Cafferty?” she guessed.

“How did you know?”

“He does something to you…your voice, your face. What does he want?”

“He went to my flat. Says there’s something I need to see. No way I was letting him come here.”

“Much appreciated.”

“He’s got some land deal going on, needs to get to the site.”

“I’m coming with you.”

Rebus knew there was no way to refuse.

Queen Street… Charlotte Square… Lothian Road. Rebus’s Saab, Siobhan the wary passenger, gripping the doorsill with her left hand. They’d been stopped at barriers, made to show ID to various uniforms. Reinforcements were on their way into the city: Sunday was when the big exodus of officers north was due to happen. Siobhan had learned as much during her two days with Macrae, passed the info along to Rebus.

As they waited at lights on Lothian Road, they saw people standing outside the Usher Hall.

“The alternative summit,” Siobhan said. “That’s where Bianca Jagger’s due to speak.”

Rebus just rolled his eyes. In return, she smacked a fist into the side of his thigh.

“Did you see the march on TV? Two hundred thousand!”

“Nice day out for all concerned,” Rebus commented. “Doesn’t change the world I’m living in.” He looked at her. “What about Niddrie last night? Have the ripples from all those positive vibes managed to stretch that far?”

“There were only a dozen of them, John, against two thousand in the camp.”

“I know which side my money’d be on…”

After which they sat in silence until reaching Fountainbridge.

Once an area of breweries and factories where Sean Connery had spent his early years, Fountainbridge was changing. The old industries had all but vanished. The city’s financial district was encroaching. Style bars were opening. One of Rebus’s favorite old watering holes had already been demolished, and he reckoned the bingo hall next door-the Palais de Danse as was-would soon follow. The canal, not much more than an open sewer at one time, had been cleaned up. Families would go there for bike rides or to feed the swans. Not far from the CineWorld complex stood the locked gates of one mothballed brewery. Rebus stopped the car and sounded his horn. A young man in a suit appeared from behind the wall and released the padlock, swinging one half of the gate open, just enough to squeeze the Saab through.

“You’re Mr. Rebus?” he asked through the driver’s-side window.

“That’s right.”

The young man waited to see if Rebus was about to introduce Siobhan. Then he gave a nervous smile and handed over a brochure. Rebus glanced at it before passing it on.

“You’re a real estate agent?”

“I work for Bishops Solicitors, Mr. Rebus. Commercial property. Let me give you my card…” He was reaching into his jacket.

“Where’s Cafferty?”

The tone of voice made the young man more nervous still. “Parked around the side.”

Rebus didn’t wait to hear more.

“He obviously thinks you’re one of Cafferty’s team,” Siobhan said. “And from the line of sweat on his top lip, I’d say he knows who Cafferty is.”

“Whatever he thinks, it’s good news he’s here.”

“Why?”

Rebus turned to her. “Makes it less likely we’re walking into a trap.”

Cafferty’s car was a dark blue Bentley GT. He was standing over it, pressing a plan of the site against the hood so it wouldn’t blow away.

“Here, take a corner, will you?” he said. Siobhan obliged. Cafferty gave her a smile. “DS Clarke. A pleasure as ever. Promotion can’t be too far off, eh? Especially when the chief constable’s trusting you with something this big.”

Siobhan glanced toward Rebus, who shook his head, letting her know he wasn’t Cafferty’s source.

“CID leaks like a sieve” was Cafferty’s explanation. “Always has, always will.”

“What do you want with this place?” Siobhan couldn’t help asking.

Cafferty slapped a hand against the unruly sheet of paper. “Land, DS Clarke. We don’t always realize how precious it is in Edinburgh. You’ve got the Firth of Forth to the north, North Sea to the east, and the Pentland Hills to the south. Developers are scrabbling about for projects, putting pressure on the council to free up the Green Belt. And here’s a twenty-acre plot only five minutes’ walk from the financial district.”

“So what would you do with it?”

“Apart,” Rebus interrupted, “from burying a few bodies in the foundations.”

Cafferty decided to laugh at this. “That book made me a bit of money. Need to invest it somehow.”

“Mairie Henderson thinks your share went to charity,” Rebus said.

Cafferty ignored him. “Did you read it, DS Clarke?”

She hesitated, giving Cafferty his answer. “Like it?” he asked.

“Don’t really remember.”

“They’re thinking of turning it into a film. The early chapters, at any rate.” He lifted the plan and folded it, tossed it onto the Bentley’s backseat. “I’m not sure about this place.” He turned his attention to Rebus. “You mentioned bodies, and that’s what I get a sense of. All the people who used to work here, all of them gone, and Scottish industry along with them. A lot of my family were miners-I’ll bet you didn’t know that.” He paused. “You’re from Fife, Rebus. I’m betting you grew up surrounded by coal.” He paused. “I was sorry to hear about your brother.”

“Sympathy from the devil,” Rebus said. “That’s all I need.”

“A killer with a social conscience,” Siobhan added in an undertone.

“I wouldn’t be the first…” Cafferty’s voice drifted off. He rubbed a finger along the underside of his nose. “In fact, maybe that’s what’s landed on your plate.” He reached into the car again, opening the glove box this time. Drew out some rolled-up sheets of paper and made to hand them to Siobhan.

“Tell me what they are,” she asked, hands on hips.

“They’re your case, DS Clarke. Proof that we’re dealing with a bad bastard. A bad bastard who likes other bad bastards.”

She took the papers but didn’t look at them. “We’re dealing with?” Quoting his own words back at him.

Cafferty’s attention turned to Rebus. “Doesn’t she know that’s the deal?”

“There was never a deal,” Rebus stated.

“Like it or not, I’m on your side in this one.” Cafferty’s eyes were on Siobhan again. “These papers cost me some substantial favors. If they help you catch him, I’ll accept that. But I’ll be hunting him, too…with you or without you.”

“Then why help us?”

Cafferty’s mouth twitched. “Makes the race that bit more exciting.” He held open the back door of the Bentley. “Bags of space in the rear…make yourselves at home.”

Rebus joined Siobhan on the backseat, while Cafferty sat in the front. Both detectives were aware of Cafferty’s gaze. He wanted them to be impressed.

Rebus, for one, was finding it hard not to give anything away. He wasn’t just impressed; he was amazed.

Keogh’s Garage was in Carlisle. One of the mechanics, Edward Isley, had been found murdered three months back, his body dumped on waste ground just outside the city. A blow to the head and a toxic injection of heroin. The body had been naked from the waist up. No witnesses, no clues, no suspects.

Siobhan met Rebus’s eyes.

“Does he have a brother?” Rebus asked.

“Some obscure musical reference?” she guessed.

“Read on, Macduff,” Cafferty said.

The notes were just that, culled from police records. Those same police records went on to report that Isley had been in employment only a little over a month, having been released from a six-year prison stretch for rape and sexual assault. Both Isley’s victims had been prostitutes: one picked up in Penrith and the other farther south in Lancaster. They worked the M6 motorway, catering to truck drivers. It was believed there might be other victims out there, scared either of testifying or of being identified.

“How did you get these?” The question burst from Rebus. It caused Cafferty to chuckle. “Networks are wonderful things, Rebus-you should know that.”

“Plenty of palms greased along the way, no doubt.”

“Christ, John,” Siobhan was hissing, “look at this.”

Rebus started reading again. Trevor Guest. The notes started with bank details and a home address-in Newcastle. Guest had been unemployed ever since being released from a three-year term for aggravated burglary and an assault on a man outside a pub. During one break-in, he’d attempted to sexually assault a teenage babysitter.

“Another piece of work,” Rebus muttered.

“Who went the same way as the others.” Siobhan traced the relevant words with her index finger. Body found dumped by the shore at Tynemouth, just east of Newcastle. Head smashed in, lethal dose of heroin. The killing had happened two months back.

“He’d only been out of jail for two weeks.”

Edward Isley: three months past.

Trevor Guest: two.

Cyril Colliar: six weeks.

“Looks like maybe Guest put up a fight,” Siobhan commented.

Yes: four broken fingers, lacerations to the face and chest. Body pummeled.

“So we’ve got a killer who’s only after scumbags,” Rebus summed up.

“And you’re thinking, More power to him?” Cafferty guessed.

“A vigilante,” Siobhan said. “Tidying up all the rapists.”

“Our burglar friend didn’t rape anyone,” Rebus felt it necessary to point out.

“But he tried to,” Cafferty said. “Tell me, does all of this make your job easier or harder?”

Siobhan just shrugged. “He’s working at pretty regular intervals,” she said to Rebus.

“Twelve weeks, eight, and six,” he agreed. “Means we should have had another one by now.”

“Maybe we just haven’t looked.”

“Why Auchterarder?” Cafferty asked. It was a good question.

“Sometimes they take trophies.”

“And hang them on public display?” Cafferty’s brow furrowed.

“The Clootie Well doesn’t get that many visitors.” Siobhan grew thoughtful, turned back to the top of the first sheet and started reading again. Rebus got out of the car. The leather smell was beginning to get to him. He tried to light a cigarette, but the breeze kept extinguishing the flame. Heard the door of the Bentley open and close.

“Here,” Cafferty said, handing him the car’s chrome-plated lighter. Rebus took it, got the cigarette going, gave it back with the briefest of nods.

“It was always business with me, Rebus, back in the old days…”

“That’s a myth all you butchers use. You forget, Cafferty, I’ve seen what you did to people.”

Cafferty gave a slow shrug. “A different world…”

Rebus exhaled smoke. “Anyway, looks like you can rest easy. Your man was picked out all right, but not because of any connection to you.”

“Whoever did it, he carries a grudge.”

“A big one,” Rebus conceded.

“And he knows about convicts, knows release dates and what happens to them after.”

Rebus nodded, scraping the heel of one shoe over the rutted tarmac.

“And you’ll go on trying to catch him?” Cafferty guessed.

“It’s what I’m paid for.”

“But it’s never been about the money to you, Rebus, never just been a job.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Actually I do.” Cafferty was nodding now. “Otherwise I’d have tempted you onto my payroll, like dozens of your colleagues over the years.”

Rebus flicked the remains of his cigarette onto the ground. Flecks of ash blew back, dotting Cafferty’s coat. “You really going to buy this shit hole?” Rebus asked.

“Probably not. But I could if I wanted to.”

“And that gives you a buzz?”

“Most things are within reach, Rebus. We’re just scared what we’ll find when we get there.”

Siobhan was out of the car, finger stabbing the bottom of the final sheet. “What’s this?” she was asking as she walked around the Bentley toward them. Cafferty narrowed his eyes in concentration.

“I’m guessing a Web site,” he said.

“Of course it’s a Web site,” she snapped. “That’s where half this stuff comes from.” She shook the sheets in his face.

“You mean it’s a clue?” he asked archly.

She’d turned her back, making for Rebus’s Saab, signaling to him with her arm that it was time to go.

“She’s really shaping up, isn’t she?” Cafferty told Rebus in an undertone. It didn’t just sound like praise either: to Rebus’s mind, it was as if the gangster was taking at least a portion of the credit.

On the way back into town, Rebus found a local news station. An alternative children’s summit was being held in Dunblane.

“I can’t hear the name of that place without shivering,” Siobhan admitted.

“I’ll let you in on a secret: Professor Gates was one of the pathologists.”

“He’s never said.”

“Won’t talk about it,” Rebus told her. He turned up the radio volume a little. Bianca Jagger was speaking to the audience at the Usher Hall.

“They have been brilliant at hijacking our campaign to make poverty history…”

“She means Bono and company,” Siobhan said. Rebus nodded agreement.

“Bob Geldof has not just danced with the devil, but slept with the enemy…”

As applause broke out, Rebus turned the volume down again. The reporter was saying that there was little evidence the Hyde Park audience was making its way north. Indeed, many of Saturday’s marchers had already returned home from Edinburgh.

“‘Dance with the Devil,’” Rebus mused. “Cozy Powell song, I seem to remember.” He broke off, slamming his feet on brake and clutch. A convoy of white vans was racing toward the Saab on the wrong side of the road. Headlights flashing, but no sirens. The windshield of each van was covered with a mesh grille. They’d streamed into the Saab’s lane to get past a couple of other vehicles. Cops in riot gear could be seen through the side windows. The first van careered back into its own lane, missing the Saab’s front wing by an inch. The others followed.

“Bloody hell,” Siobhan gasped.

“Welcome to the police state,” Rebus added. The engine had stalled, so he turned the ignition again. “Not a bad emergency stop though.”

“Were they some of our lot?” Siobhan had turned in her seat to examine the disappearing convoy.

“No markings that I could see.”

“Think there’s been trouble somewhere?” She was thinking of Niddrie.

Rebus shook his head. “If you ask me, they’re scooting back to Pollock Halls for tea and biscuits. And they pulled that little stunt just because they could.”

“You say they as if we’re not on the same side.”

“Remains to be seen, Siobhan. Want a coffee? I need something to get the old heart pumping.”

There was a Starbucks on the corner of Lothian Road and Bread Street. Hard to find a parking space. Rebus speculated that they were too close to the Usher Hall. He opted for a double yellow line, stuck a POLICE notice on the dashboard. Inside the café, Siobhan asked the teenager behind the register if he wasn’t scared of protesters. He just shrugged.

“We’ve got our orders.”

Siobhan dropped a pound coin into the tips box. She’d brought her shoulder bag with her. At the table, she slid her laptop out and switched it on.

“This me getting my tutorial?” Rebus asked, blowing across the surface of his coffee. He’d gone for regular, complaining that he could buy a whole jar for the price of one of the costlier options. Siobhan scooped whipped cream from her hot chocolate with a finger.

“Can you see the screen all right?” she asked. Rebus nodded. “Then watch this.” Within seconds, she was online and typing names into a search engine:

Edward Isley.

Trevor Guest.

Cyril Colliar.

“Plenty of hits,” she commented, scrolling down a page. “But only one with all three.” Her cursor ran back up to the first entry. She tapped the touch pad twice and waited.

“We’d have checked this, of course,” she said.

“Of course.”

“Well…some of us would. But first we’d have needed Isley’s name.” Her eyes met Rebus’s. “Cafferty has saved us a long day’s slog.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m about to join his fan club.”

The welcome screen from a Web site had appeared. Siobhan studied it. Rebus moved a little closer for a better view. The site seemed to be called BeastWatch. There were grainy head-and-shoulder shots of half a dozen men, with chunks of text to the right.

“Listen to this,” Siobhan said, tracing the words on the screen with her finger. “‘As the parents of a rape victim, we feel it is our right to know the whereabouts of her attacker after his release from prison. The aim of this site is to allow families and friends-and victims themselves-to post details of release dates, along with photos and descriptions, the better to prepare society for the beasts in our midst…’” Her voice died away, lips moving silently as she read the rest to herself. There were links to a photo gallery called Beast in View and a discussion group, as well as an online petition. Siobhan moved the cursor to Edward Isley’s photo and tapped the pad. A page of details came up, showing Isley’s expected release date from prison, nickname-Fast Eddie-and areas he would most likely frequent.

“It says ‘expected release date,’” Siobhan pointed out.

Rebus nodded. “And nothing more up to date…no sign they knew where he was working.”

“But it does say he was trained as a car mechanic…mentions Carlisle, too. Posted by…” Siobhan sought out the relevant details. “It just says Concerned.”

She tried Trevor Guest next.

“Same set-up,” Rebus commented.

“And posted anonymously.”

She returned to the home page and clicked on Cyril Colliar. “That same photo’s in our files,” she said.

“It’s from one of the tabloids,” Rebus explained, watching more photos of Colliar pop up. Siobhan swore under her breath. “What is it?”

“Listen: ‘This is the animal who put our beloved daughter through hell, and who has blighted our lives ever since. He’s up for release soon, having shown no remorse, or even admitting his guilt despite all the evidence. We were so shocked that he will soon be back in our midst that we had to do something, and this site is the result. We want to thank all of you for your support. We believe this may be the first site of its kind in Britain, though others like it exist elsewhere, and our friends in the USA in particular have given us such help in getting started.’”

“Vicky Jensen’s parents did all this?” Rebus said.

“Looks like.”

“How come we didn’t know?”

Siobhan shrugged, concentrated on finishing the page.

“He’s picking them off,” Rebus went on. “That’s what he’s doing, right?”

“He or she,” Siobhan corrected him.

“So we need to know who’s been accessing this site.”

“Eric Bain at Fettes might help.”

Rebus looked at her. “You mean Brains? Is he still talking to you?”

“I haven’t seen him in a while…”

“Not since you gave him the brush-off?”

She glowered at Rebus, who held up his hands in surrender. “Got to be worth a try, all the same,” he admitted. “I can do the asking, if you like.”

She sat back in her chair, folded her arms. “Bugs you, doesn’t it?”

“What?”

“I’m the DS, you’re the DI, yet Corbyn’s put me in charge.”

“No skin off my nose…” He tried to sound slighted by the accusation.

“Sure about that? Because if we’re going to work together on this…”

“I only asked if you wanted me to speak to Brains.” His irritation showed now.

Siobhan unfolded her arms, bowed her head. “Sorry, John.”

“Just as well you didn’t have espresso” was all he said in reply.

“A day off would have been nice,” Siobhan stated with a smile.

“Well, you could always go home and put your feet up.”

“Or?”

“Or we could go talk to Mr. and Mrs. Jensen.” He wafted a hand toward the laptop. “See what they can tell us about their little contribution to the World Wide Web.”

Siobhan nodded slowly, dipped her finger back into the whipped cream. “Then that’s what we should probably do,” she said.

The Jensens lived in a rambling four-story house overlooking Leith Links. The basement level was daughter Vicky’s domain. It had its own separate entrance, reached by a short flight of stone steps. The gate at the top of the steps boasted a lock, and there were bars on the windows on either side of the door, plus a sticker warning potential intruders of an alarm system.

None of this had been deemed necessary before Cyril Colliar’s attack. Back then, Vicky had been a bright eighteen-year-old studying at Napier College. Now, ten years later, she still lived at home, as far as Rebus was aware. He stood on the doorstep, hesitated a moment.

“Diplomacy’s never been my strong point,” he advised Siobhan.

“Then let me do the talking.” She reached past him and pushed the bell.

Thomas Jensen was removing his reading glasses as he opened the door. He recognized Rebus and his eyes widened.

“What’s happened?”

“Nothing to worry about, Mr. Jensen,” Siobhan assured him, showing her ID. “Just need to ask a few questions.”

“You’re still trying to find his killer?” Jensen guessed. He was medium height and in his early fifties, hair graying at the temples. The red V-neck sweater looked new and expensive. Cashmere, maybe. “Why the hell do you think I’d want to help you?”

“We’re interested in your Web site.”

Jensen frowned. “Pretty standard practice these days if you’re a vet.”

“Not your clinic, sir,” Rebus explained.

“BeastWatch,” Siobhan added.

“Oh, that…” Jensen looked down at the floor, gave a sigh. “Dolly’s pet project.”

“Dolly being your wife?”

“Dorothy, yes.”

“Is she at home, Mr. Jensen?”

He shook his head. Looked past them as if scanning the outside world for a sign of her. “She was going to Usher Hall.”

Rebus nodded as if this explained everything. “Thing is, sir, we’ve got a bit of a problem…”

“Oh?”

“It’s to do with the Web site.” Rebus gestured in the direction of the hallway. “If we could come in and tell you about it…?”

Jensen seemed reluctant, but good manners prevailed. He led them into the living room. There was a dining room off, its table spread with newspapers. “Seem to spend all of Sunday reading them,” Jensen explained, tucking his spectacles into his pocket. He motioned for them to sit down. Siobhan settled herself on the sofa, while Jensen himself took an armchair. Rebus, however, stayed standing by the glass doors to the dining room, peering through them toward the array of newsprint. Nothing out of the ordinary, no particular stories or paragraphs marked…

“The problem is this, Mr. Jensen,” Siobhan was saying in mea sured tones. “Cyril Colliar is dead, and so are two other men.”

“I don’t understand.”

“And we think we’re looking at a single culprit.”

“But…”

“A culprit who may have plucked the names of all three victims from your Web site.”

“All three?”

“Edward Isley and Trevor Guest,” Rebus recited. “Plenty more names in your hall of shame…I wonder who’ll be next.”

“There must be some mistake.” The blood had drained from Jensen’s face.

“Do you know Auchterarder at all, sir?” Rebus asked.

“No, not really.”

“Gleneagles?”

“We did go there once, a veterinarians’ conference.”

“Was there maybe a bus trip to the Clootie Well?”

Jensen shook his head. “Just some seminars and a dinner dance…” He sounded befuddled. “Look, I don’t think I can help you.”

“The Web site was your wife’s idea?” Siobhan asked quietly.

“It was a way of dealing with…She’d gone online looking for help.”

“Help?”

“Victims’ families. She wanted to know how to help Vicky. Along the way, the idea came to her.”

“She had help to construct the site?”

“We paid a firm of designers.”

“And the other sites in America…?”

“Oh, yes, they helped with layout. Once it was up and running…” Jensen shrugged. “I think it almost manages itself.”

“Do people subscribe?”

Jensen nodded. “If they want the newsletter. It’s supposed to be every quarter, but again, I’m not sure Dolly’s kept it up.”

“So you have a list of subscribers?” Rebus asked.

Siobhan looked at him. “Not that you need to be a subscriber to look at the site.”

“There’ll be a list somewhere,” Jensen was saying.

“How long has the site been active?” Siobhan asked.

“Eight or nine months. It was when his release date started to come closer…Dolly was getting more and more anxious.” He paused, glanced at his watch. “For Vicky, I mean.”

As if on cue, the front door opened and closed. An excited, breathless voice came from the hallway.

“I did it, Dad! The shore and back!” The woman who filled the door frame was red-faced and overweight. She shrieked when she saw that her father was not alone.

“It’s all right, Vicky.”

But she’d turned on her heels and fled. Another door opened and slammed shut. They heard her footsteps as she padded down to her basement refuge. Thomas Jensen’s shoulders slumped.

“That’s as far as she’s managed on her own,” he explained.

Rebus nodded. The shore was barely half a mile away. He knew now why Jensen had been so anxious at their arrival, and why he had scanned the world outside.

“We pay someone to stay with her weekdays,” Jensen went on, hands in his lap. “Means we can both keep working.”

“You told her Colliar’s dead?” Rebus asked.

“Yes,” Jensen confirmed.

“She was interviewed about it?”

Now Jensen shook his head. “The officer who came to ask us questions…he was very understanding when we explained about Vicky.” Rebus and Siobhan shared a look: Going through the motions…not trying too hard…‘We didn’t kill him, you know. Even if he’d been standing there in front of me…” Jensen’s eyes grew unfocused. “I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it.”

“They all died of injections, Mr. Jensen,” Siobhan stated.

The vet blinked a couple of times, raised a hand slowly and squeezed the skin either side of his nose, just below the eyes. “If you’re going to accuse me of anything, I’d like my lawyer to hear it.”

“We just need your help, sir.”

He stared at her. “And that’s the one thing I’m determined not to give you.”

“We’ll need to talk to your wife and daughter,” Siobhan said, but Jensen was on his feet.

“I want you to leave now. I have to look after Vicky.”

“Of course, sir,” Rebus said.

“But we’ll be back,” Siobhan added. “Lawyer or no lawyer. And remember, Mr. Jensen, tampering with evidence can get you locked up.” She strode toward the door, Rebus following in her wake. Outside, he lit a cigarette, staring toward a makeshift game of soccer on the links.

“See, when I said diplomacy wasn’t my strong point…?”

“What?”

“Five more minutes in there, you’d’ve been roughing him up.”

“Don’t be stupid.” But the blood had risen to her face. She puffed out her cheeks and made an exasperated sound.

“What did you mean about evidence?” Rebus asked.

“Web sites can be wound down,” she explained. “Subscriber lists can be lost.”

“Which means the sooner we speak to Brains, the better.”

Eric Bain was watching the Live 8 concert on his computer-at least, that was what it looked like to Rebus, but Bain soon corrected him.

“Editing it, actually.”

“A download?” Siobhan guessed, but Bain shook his head.

“Burned it onto DVD-ROM; now I’m taking out anything I don’t need.”

“That would take some time in my case,” Rebus said.

“It easy enough once you get the hang of the tools.”

“I think,” Siobhan broke in, “DI Rebus means he’d be deleting a lot of stuff.”

Bain smiled at this. He hadn’t gotten up since they’d arrived, hadn’t so much as glanced up from the screen. It was his girlfriend, Molly, who’d opened the door for them; Molly who’d asked if they’d like a cup of tea. She was in the kitchen now, boiling the kettle, while Bain stuck to his task in the living room.

It was a top-floor apartment in a warehouse conversion off Slateford Road. The brochure had probably referred to it as the “penthouse.” There were expansive views from the small windows, mostly of chimneys and abandoned factories. The top of Corstorphine Hill was just visible in the distance. The room was neater than Rebus had expected. No lengths of wiring, cardboard boxes, soldering irons, or game consoles. Hardly the typical residence of a self-confessed gadget geek.

“How long you been here, Eric?” Rebus asked.

“Couple of months.”

“Pair of you decided to move in together?”

“That’s about the size of it. I’ll be finished here in a minute…”

Rebus nodded, went over to the sofa and made himself comfortable. Molly shuffled in with the tea tray, fizzing with energy. She was wearing mules on her feet. Tight blue jeans that only reached as far as her calves. A red T-shirt with Che Guevara on it. Great figure, and long blond hair-dyed that color, but still suiting her. Rebus had to admit he was impressed. He’d risked several glances toward Siobhan, who on each occasion had been studying Molly the way a scientist would a lab rat. Clearly she too thought Bain had done well for himself.

And Molly had made her mark on Brains: the boy had been housebroken. What was that Elton John line? You nearly had me roped and tied…Bernie Taupin actually. The original Brown Dirt Cowboy to Reg’s Captain Fantastic.

“Place looks great,” Rebus said to Molly as she handed him a mug. His reward: her pink lips and perfect white teeth breaking into a smile. “Didn’t catch your last name…?”

“ Clark,” she said.

“Same as Siobhan here,” Rebus informed her. Molly looked to Siobhan for confirmation.

“I’ve an e at the end,” Siobhan offered.

“Not me,” Molly replied. She’d settled on the sofa next to Rebus but kept moving her bottom, as if unable to get comfortable.

“Still, it gives you something else in common,” Rebus added teasingly, receiving a scowl from Siobhan for his effort. “How long have you two been an item then?”

“Fifteen weeks,” she said breathlessly. “Doesn’t seem long, does it? But sometimes you just know.”

Rebus nodded agreement. “I’m always saying, Siobhan here should settle down. It can be the making of you, can’t it, Molly?”

Molly didn’t look convinced, but still looked at Siobhan with something like sympathy. “It really can,” she stressed. Siobhan gave Rebus a hard stare and accepted her own mug.

“Actually,” Rebus went on, “for a wee while back there, Siobhan and Eric looked like becoming an item.”

“We were just friends,” Siobhan said, forcing out a laugh. Bain seemed frozen in front of the computer screen, hand unmoving on the mouse.

“Is that right, Eric?” Rebus called to him.

“John’s just teasing,” Siobhan was assuring Molly. “Take no notice of him.”

Rebus offered Molly a wink. “Lovely spot of tea,” he said. She was still fidgeting.

“And we’re really sorry to disturb your Sunday,” Siobhan added. “If it wasn’t an emergency…”

Bain’s chair creaked as he rose from it. Rebus noticed he had lost a good bit of weight, maybe as much as fifteen pounds. His pale face was still fleshy, but the gut had shrunk.

“Still based at the Forensic computer branch?” Siobhan asked him.

“That’s right.” He accepted some tea and sat down next to Molly. She slid an arm protectively around him, stretching the material of her T-shirt, further accentuating her breasts. Rebus concentrated all the harder on Bain. “Been busy with G8,” he was saying, “sifting intelligence reports.”

“What sort of stuff?” Rebus asked, getting up as if to stretch his legs. With Bain on the sofa, it was getting crowded there. He began sauntering toward the computer.

“The secret sort,” Bain replied.

“Come across anyone called Steelforth?”

“Should I have?”

“He’s SO12…seems to be running the show.”

But Bain just shook his head slowly and asked them what they wanted. Siobhan handed him the sheet of paper.

“It’s a Web site,” she explained. “Might suddenly disappear. We need everything you can get: subscription lists, anyone who’s been looking at it, maybe downloading stuff…”

“That’s a big ask…”

“I know it is, Eric.” The way she said his name seemed to hit a nerve. He got up and walked to the window, perhaps to hide from Molly the flush of color that had risen up his neck.

Rebus had picked up a piece of paper from beside the computer. It was a letter, headed Axios Systems, signed by someone called Tasos Symeonides. “Sounds Greek,” he said. Eric Bain seemed relieved to be changing the subject.

“Based right here,” he said. “An IT outfit.”

Rebus wafted the letter in front of him. “Sorry to be nosy, Eric…”

“It’s a job offer,” Molly explained. “Eric gets them all the time.” She had risen to her feet and crossed to the window, sliding an arm around Bain. “I have to keep persuading him that his police work is crucial.”

Rebus put the letter back and returned to the sofa. “Any chance of a refill?” he asked. Molly was happy to pour. Bain seized the moment, fixed Siobhan with a stare, dozens of unspoken words transmitted in a few seconds.

“Lovely,” Rebus said, accepting a bit of milk. Molly was seated next to him again.

“How soon could it be shut down?” Bain asked.

“I don’t know,” Siobhan admitted.

“Tonight?”

“More likely tomorrow.”

Bain studied the piece of paper. “All right,” he said.

“Isn’t this nice?” Rebus seemed to be asking the question of the whole room, but Molly wasn’t listening. She’d slapped both of her hands to her face, mouth falling open.

“I forgot the biscuits!” She jumped back to her feet. “How could I have done that? And nobody said…” She turned to Bain. “You could have said!” Color was flushing her cheeks as she flew from the room.

And for the first time Rebus realized that the place wasn’t just tidy.

It was neurotically so.

7

Siobhan had watched the procession, with its anti-war chants and banners. The route was lined with police waiting for trouble. Siobhan caught the sweet smell of cannabis in her nostrils, but doubted anyone would be arrested for it: the Sorbus briefings had said as much.

If they’re shooting up as they pass you, take them in; otherwise, let it go…

Whoever was targeting the BeastWatch Web site had access to high-grade heroin. She thought again of the mild-seeming Thomas Jensen. Vets might not have access to H, but they could always trade for something.

Access to heroin, and a grudge. Vicky’s two pals, the ones who’d been with her at the club and on the bus…maybe they needed to be questioned.

The blow to the head, always from behind. Someone less physically strong than those being attacked. Wanting them down before the injection. Lashing out at Trevor Guest because he’d not been KO’d? Or did it show the killer becoming more unhinged, more brazen, starting to enjoy the process?

But Guest had been the second victim. The third, Cyril Colliar, hadn’t been dealt with so harshly. Meaning someone had stumbled on the scene perhaps, the killer fleeing before he’d had a chance to get his jollies?

Had he killed again? If so…Siobhan gave a little cluck. “He or she,” she reminded herself.

“Bush, Blair, CIA, how many kids did you kill today?”

The chant was taken up by the crowd. They were streaming up Calton Hill, Siobhan following. A few thousand of them, heading for their rally. The wind was biting, the hilltop exposed to the elements. Views toward Fife and across the city to the west. Views south to Holyrood and the parliament, cordoned day and night by police. Calton Hill, Siobhan seemed to recall, was another of Edinburgh ’s extinct volcanoes. The castle sat on one; Arthur’s Seat was another. There was an observatory at the top, and a series of public monuments. Best of all was the Folly: a single side of what had been meant as a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens. The mad donor had died, leaving the thing unfinished. Some marchers were clambering onto it. Others were gathering around to hear the speeches. One young woman, in a world of her own, danced around the periphery, singing to herself.

“Didn’t expect to see you here, dear.”

“No, but I thought I might see you.” Siobhan gave her parents a hug. “Couldn’t find you at the Meadows yesterday.”

“Wasn’t it fantastic?”

Siobhan’s father gave a laugh. “Your mum was in tears throughout.”

“So emotional,” his wife agreed.

“I came looking for you last night.”

“We went out for a drink.”

“With Santal?” Siobhan tried to make the question sound casual. She ran a hand over her head, as if trying to erase the voice within: I’m your bloody daughter, not her!

“She was there for a little while…didn’t seem to appeal to her.” The crowd was clapping and cheering the first speaker.

“Billy Bragg’s on later,” Teddy Clarke said.

“I thought we could get something to eat,” Siobhan was saying. “There’s a restaurant on Waterloo Place…”

“Are you hungry, dear?” Eve Clarke asked her husband.

“Not really.”

“Me neither.”

Siobhan shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe later, eh?”

Her father put a finger to his lips. “They’re starting,” he whispered.

“Starting what?” Siobhan asked.

“The naming of the dead…”

And so they were: reading out the names of a thousand victims of the warfare in Iraq, people from all sides of the conflict. A thousand names, the speakers taking it in turn, their audience silent. Even the young woman stopped dancing. She stood staring into space instead. Siobhan retreated a little at one point, realizing her cell was still on. Didn’t want Eric Bain calling with news. She took it from her pocket and switched it to vibrate. Drifted a little farther away, still in earshot of the roll call. She could see the Hibernian stadium below, empty now that the season was over. The North Sea looked calm. Berwick Law to the east, looking like yet another extinct volcano. And still the names continued, forcing a secret, rueful smile from her.

Because this was what she did, her whole working life. She named the dead. She recorded their last details, and tried to find out who they’d been, why they’d died. She gave a voice to the forgotten and the missing. A world filled with victims, waiting for her and other detectives like her. Detectives like Rebus, too, who gnawed away at every case, or let it gnaw at them. Never letting go, because that would have been the final insult to those names. Her phone was buzzing. She lifted it to her ear.

“They were quick,” Eric Bain told her.

“The site’s gone?”

“Yep.”

She cursed under her breath. “Did you get anything?”

“Bits and pieces. I couldn’t burrow far enough in, not with the gear at home.”

“No subscriber list?”

“Afraid not.”

Another speaker had taken over at the microphone. The names kept coming.

“Anything else you can try?” she asked.

“From the office, yes, maybe one or two little tricks.”

“Tomorrow then?”

“If our G8 masters can spare me.” He paused. “It was good to see you, Siobhan. Sorry you had to meet…”

“Eric,” she warned, “don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“All of it…none of it. Let’s just not, okay?”

There was a long silence on the line. “Still friends?” he eventually asked.

“Absolutely. Call me again tomorrow.” She ended the call. Had to, otherwise she’d have been telling him, Stick to your nervous, pouting, bosomy girlfriend…you might end up having a future…

Stranger things had happened.

She studied her parents from behind. They were holding hands, her mother leaning her head against her father’s shoulder. Tears threatened to well up in Siobhan’s eyes, but she forced them back down. She remembered Vicky Jensen, running from the room, and Molly, doing the same thing. Both of them scared of life itself. In her teens, Siobhan had run from plenty of rooms, rooms her parents had been in. Tantrums, bust-ups, battles of wits, power plays. And all she wanted now was to be standing right there between them. Wanted it, but couldn’t do it. Instead, she stood fifty feet behind them, willing them to turn their heads.

Instead of which, they listened to the names…the names of people they’d never known.

“I appreciate this,” Steelforth said, rising to shake Rebus’s hand. He’d been waiting in the lobby of the Balmoral Hotel, sitting with one leg crossed over the other. Rebus had kept him waiting quarter of an hour, using that time to walk past the doors of the Balmoral several times, glancing inside to see what traps might await. The Stop the War march had been and gone, but he’d spotted its rump, moving slowly up Waterloo Place. Siobhan had told him she was headed there, thought she might catch up with her parents.

“You’ve not had much time for them,” Rebus had sympathized.

“And vice versa,” she’d muttered.

There was security at the door of the hotel: not just the liveried doorman and concierge-a different one from Saturday night-but what Rebus assumed were plainclothes officers, probably under Steelforth’s control. The Special Branch man was looking more dapper than ever in a double-breasted pinstripe. Having shaken hands, he was gesturing toward the Palm Court.

“A small whiskey perhaps?”

“Depends who’s paying.”

“Allow me.”

“In which case,” Rebus advised, “I might manage a large one.”

Steelforth’s laugh was loud enough but empty at its core. They found a corner table. A cocktail waitress appeared as if conjured into being by their very arrival.

“Carla,” Steelforth informed her, “we’d like a couple of whiskeys. Doubles.” He turned his attention to Rebus.

“Laphroaig,” Rebus obliged. “The older the better.”

Carla bowed her head and moved off. Steelforth was adjusting the line of his jacket, waiting for her to leave before he spoke. Rebus decided not to give him the chance.

“Managing to hush up our dead MP?” he inquired loudly.

“What’s to hush up?”

“You tell me.”

“As far as I can establish, DI Rebus, your own investigation so far has consisted of one unofficial interview with the deceased’s sister.” Having finished toying with his jacket, Steelforth clasped his hands in front of him. “An interview conducted, moreover, lamentably soon after she had made formal identification.” He paused theatrically. “No offense intended, Inspector.”

“None taken, Commander.”

“Of course, it may be that you’ve been busy in other ways. I’ve had no fewer than two local journalists raking over the coals.”

Rebus tried to look surprised. Mairie Henderson, plus whoever it was he’d spoken to on the Scotsman news desk. Favors now owed to both…

“Well,” Rebus said, “since there’s nothing to hush up, I don’t suppose the press will get very far.” He paused. “You said at the time that the investigation would be taken out of my hands…that doesn’t seem to have happened.”

Steelforth shrugged. “Because there’s nothing to investigate. Verdict: accidental death.” He unclasped his hands as the drinks arrived, and with them a small jug of water and a bowl brimming with ice cubes.

“Do you want to leave the bill open?” Carla asked. Steelforth looked at Rebus, then shook his head.

“We’ll just be having the one.” He signed for the drinks with his room number.

“Is it the taxpayer picking up the tab,” Rebus inquired, “or do we have Mr Pennen to thank?”

“Richard Pennen is a credit to this country,” Steelforth stated, adding too much water to his drink. “The Scottish economy in particular would be the poorer without him.”

“I didn’t realize the Balmoral was so expensive.”

Steelforth’s eyes narrowed. “I mean defense jobs, as you well know.”

“And if I interview him about Ben Webster’s demise, he’ll suddenly send the work elsewhere?”

Steelforth leaned forward. “We need to keep him happy. Surely you can see that?”

Rebus savored the aroma of the malt, then lifted it to his mouth.

“Cheers,” Steelforth said grudgingly.

“Slainte,” Rebus replied.

“I’ve heard you enjoy a drop of the hard stuff,” Steelforth added. “Maybe even more than a drop.”

“You’ve been talking to the right people.”

“I don’t mind a man who drinks…just so long as it doesn’t interfere with his work. But then I also hear it’s been known to affect your judgment.”

“Not my judgment of character,” Rebus said, putting the glass down. “Sober or drunk, I’d know you for a prick of the first order.”

Steelforth made a mock toast with his glass. “I was going to offer you something,” he said, “to make up for your disappointment.”

“Do I look disappointed?”

“You’re not going to get anywhere with Ben Webster, suicide or not.”

“Suddenly you’re ruling in suicide again? Does that mean there’s a note?”

Steelforth lost patience. “There’s no bloody note!” he spat. “There’s nothing at all.”

“Makes it an odd suicide, wouldn’t you say?”

“Accidental death.”

“The official line.” Rebus lifted his glass again. “What were you going to offer me?”

Steelforth studied him for a moment before answering. “My own men,” he said. “This murder case you’ve got…I hear tell the count is now three victims. I’d imagine you’re stretched. Right now it’s just you and DS Clarke, isn’t it?”

“More or less.”

“I’ve plenty of men up here, Rebus-very good men. All sorts of skills and specialties among them.”

“And you’d let us borrow them?”

“That was the intention.”

“So we’d be able to focus on the murders and give up on the MP?” Rebus made a show of thinking the proposal over; went so far as to press his hands together and rest his chin on his fingertips. “Sentries at the castle said there was an intruder,” he said quietly, as if thinking aloud.

“No evidence of that,” Steelforth was quick to reply.

“Why was Webster on the ramparts…that’s never really been answered.”

“A breath of air.”

“He excused himself from the dinner?”

“It was winding down…port and cigars.”

“He said he was going outside?” Rebus’s eyes were on Steelforth now.

“Not as such. People were getting up to stretch their legs…”

“You’ve interviewed all of them?” Rebus guessed.

“Most of them,” the Special Branch man qualified.

“The foreign secretary?” Rebus waited for a response, which didn’t come. “No, I didn’t think so. The foreign delegations then?”

“Some of them, yes. I’ve done pretty much everything you’d have done, Inspector.”

“You don’t know what I’d have done.”

Steelforth accepted this with a slight bow of the head. He had yet to touch his drink.

“You’ve no qualms?” Rebus added. “No questions?”

“None.”

“And yet you don’t know why it happened.” Rebus shook his head slowly. “You’re not much of a cop, are you, Steelforth? You might be a whiz at the handshakes and the briefings, but when it comes to policing, I’d say you haven’t a fucking clue. You’re window dressing, that’s all.” Rebus rose to his feet.

“And what are you exactly, DI Rebus?”

“Me?” Rebus considered for a moment. “I’m the janitor, I suppose…the one who sweeps up after you.” He paused, found his punch line. “After you and around you, if it comes to that.”

Exit stage right.

Before leaving the Balmoral, he’d wandered downstairs to the restaurant, breezing through the anteroom despite the best efforts of the staff. The place was busy, but there was no sign of Richard Pennen. Rebus climbed the steps to Princes Street and decided he might as well drop into the Café Royal. The pub was surprisingly quiet.

“Trade’s been lousy,” the manager confided. “ Lot of locals keeping their heads down the next few days.”

After two drinks, Rebus headed along George Street. The workmen had stopped digging the roads-council orders. A new one-way system was being introduced, and with it confusion for motorists. Even the traffic cops thought it ham-fisted, and weren’t going out of their way to enforce the new NO ENTRY signs. Again, the street was quiet. No sign of Geldof’s army. The bouncers outside the Dome told him the place was three quarters empty. On Young Street, the narrow lane’s one-way routing had been switched from one direction to the other. Rebus pushed open the door to the Oxford Bar, smiling at something he’d been told about the new system.

They’re doing it in easy stages: you can go in either direction for a while…

“Pint of IPA, Harry,” Rebus said, reaching for his cigarettes.

“Eight months and counting,” Harry muttered, pulling the pump.

“Don’t remind me.”

Harry was counting the days till Scotland ’s smoking ban took effect.

“Anything happening out there?” one of the regulars asked. Rebus shook his head, knowing that in the drinker’s sealed-off world, news of a serial killer wouldn’t quite qualify for the category of anything happening.

“Isn’t there some march on?” Harry added.

“Calton Hill,” one of the other drinkers confirmed. “Money this is costing, we could’ve sent every kid in Africa a picnic basket.”

“Putting Scotland on the world stage,” Harry reminded him, nodding in the direction of Charlotte Square, home to the first minister. “A price Jack says is worth every penny.”

“It’s not his money though,” the drinker grumbled. “My wife works at that new shoe shop on Frederick Street, says they might as well have shut down for the week.”

“Royal Bank’s going to be closed all tomorrow,” Harry stated.

“Aye, tomorrow’s going to be the bad one,” the drinker muttered.

“And to think,” Rebus complained, “I came in here to cheer myself up.”

Harry stared at him in mock disbelief. “Should know better than that by now, John. Ready for another?”

Rebus wasn’t sure, but he nodded anyway.

A couple of pints later, and having demolished the last sandwich on display, he decided he might as well head home. He’d read the Evening News, watched the Tour de France highlights on TV, and listened to further opposition to the new road layout.

“If they don’t change it back, my wife says they might as well pull down the shutters where she works. Did I tell you? She’s in that new shoe shop on Frederick Street…”

Harry was rolling his eyes as Rebus made for the door. He considered walking home, or calling Gayfield to see if anyone was out in a patrol car and could maybe pick him up. A lot of the taxis were steering clear of the center, but he knew he could take a chance outside the Roxburghe Hotel, try to look like a wealthy tourist.

He heard the doors opening but was slow to turn around. Hands grabbed at his arms, pulling them behind his back.

“Had a bit too much to drink?” a voice barked. “Night in the cells will do you good, pal.”

“Get off me!” Rebus twisted his body, to no effect. He felt the plastic restraints going around his wrists, pulled tight enough to cut off circulation. No way to loosen them once they were on: you had to slice them off.

“Hell’s going on?” Rebus was hissing. “I’m bloody CID.”

“Don’t look like CID,” the voice was telling him. “Stink of beer and cigarettes, clothes like rags…” It was an English accent; London maybe. Rebus saw a uniform, then two more. The faces shadowy-maybe tanned-but chiseled and stern. The van was small and unmarked. Its back doors were open, and they pushed him in.

“I’ve got ID in my pocket,” he said. There was a bench for him to sit on. The windows were blacked out and covered on the outside by a metal grille. There was a faint smell of sick. Another grille separated the back of the van from the front, with a sheet of plywood blocking any access.

“This is a big mistake!” Rebus yelled.

“Tell it to the marines,” a voice called back. The van started moving. Rebus saw headlights through the back window. Stood to reason: three of them couldn’t fit in the front; had to be another vehicle. Didn’t matter where they took him- Gayfield Square, West End, or St. Leonard ’s-he’d be a known face. Nothing to worry about, except the swelling of his fingers as the blood failed to circulate. His shoulders were in agony, too, drawn back by the tightness of the cuffs. He had to slide his legs apart to stop himself careering around the enclosure. They were doing maybe fifty, not stopping for lights. He heard two pedestrians squeal at a near miss. No siren, but the roof light was flashing. Car behind seemed to have neither siren nor flasher. Not a patrol car then…and this wasn’t exactly a regulation vehicle either. Rebus thought they were heading east, meaning Gayfield, but then they took a sharp left toward the New Town, barreling downhill so that Rebus’s head thumped the roof as they went.

“Where the hell…?” If he’d been drunk before, he was sober now. Only destination he could think of was Fettes, but that was HQ. You didn’t take drunks there to sleep off their binge. It was where the brass hung out, James Corbyn and his cronies. Sure enough, they took a left into Ferry Road, but didn’t make the turn to Fettes.

Which left only Drylaw police station, a lonely outpost in the north of the city-Precinct Thirteen, some called it. A gloomy shed of a place, and they were pulling to a halt at its door. Rebus was hauled out and taken inside, his eyes adjusting to the sudden glare of the strip lighting. There was no one on the desk; place seemed deserted. They marched him into the back where two holding cells waited, both with their doors wide open. He felt the pressure on one hand ease, the blood tingling its way back down the fingers. A push in the back sent him stumbling into one of the cells. The door slammed shut.

“Hey!” Rebus called out. “Is this some sick kind of joke?”

“Do we look like clowns, pal? Think you’ve wandered into an episode of Jackass?” There was laughter from behind the door.

“Get a good night’s sleep,” another voice added, “and don’t go giving us any trouble, else we might have to come in there and administer one of our special sedatives, mightn’t we, Jacko?”

Rebus thought he could hear a hiss. Everything went quiet, and he knew why. They’d made a mistake, given him a name.

Jacko.

He tried to remember their faces, the better to exact his eventual revenge. All that came to him was that they’d been either tanned or weather-beaten. But there was no way he was going to forget those voices. Nothing unusual about the uniforms they’d been wearing…except the badges on the epaulets had been removed. No badges meant no easy means to ID them.

Rebus kicked the door a few times, then reached into his pocket for his phone.

And realized it wasn’t there. They’d taken it from him, or he’d dropped it. Still had his wallet and ID, cigarettes and lighter. He sat on the cold concrete shelf which served as a bed and looked at his wrists. The plastic cuff was still encircling his left hand. They’d sliced open the one around his right. He tried to run his free hand up and down the arm, massaging the wrist, the palm and fingers, trying to get some blood going. Maybe the lighter could burn its way through, but not without searing his flesh in the process. He lit a cigarette instead, and tried to slow his heartbeat. Walked over to the door again and banged on it with his fist, turned his back to it and hammered his heel into it.

All the times he’d visited the cells in Gayfield and St. Leonard ’s,hearing these selfsame tattoos. Thum-thum-thum-thum-thum. Making jokes with the jailer about it.

Thum-thum-thum-thum-thum.

The sound of hope over experience. Rebus sat down again. There was neither toilet nor basin, just a metal pail in one corner. Ancient feces smeared on the wall next to it. Messages gouged into the plaster: Big Malky Rules; Wardie Young Team; Hearts Ya Bass. Hard to believe, but someone with a bit of Latin had even been holed up here: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit. In the Scots: Whau Daur Meddle Wi’ Me? Modern equivalent: Screw Me and I’ll Screw You Right Back.

Rebus got to his feet again, knew now what was going on, should have realized from the word go.

Steelforth.

Easy for him to get his hands on some spare uniforms and dispatch three of his men on a mission, the same men he’d offered to Rebus earlier. They’d probably been watching as he’d left the hotel. Followed him from pub to pub until they picked their spot. The lane outside the Oxford Bar was perfect.

“Steelforth!” Rebus yelled at the door. “Come in here and talk to me! Are you a coward as well as a bully?” He pressed his ear to the door but heard nothing. The spy hole was closed. The hatch which would be opened at mealtimes was locked shut. He paced the cell, opened his cigarette packet but decided he needed to conserve supplies. Changed his mind and lit one anyway. The lighter spluttered-not much lighter fluid left…a toss-up which would run out first. Ten o’clock, his watch said. A long time till morning.

Monday, July 4, 2005

8

The turning of the lock woke him. The door creaked open. First off, he saw a young uniform, mouth agape in amazement. And to his left, Detective Chief Inspector James Macrae, looking irate and with his hair uncombed. Rebus checked his watch: just shy of four, which meant Monday was dawning.

“Got a blade?” he asked, mouth dry. He showed them his wrist. It was swollen, the palm and knuckles discolored. The constable produced a penknife from his pocket. “How did you get in here?” he asked, voice shaking.

“Ten o’clock last night, who was holding the fort?”

“We had a call-out,” the constable said, “locked the place before we left.”

Rebus had no reason to disbelieve the story. “How did the call-out go?”

“False alarm. I’m really sorry…why didn’t you shout or something?”

“I assume there’s nothing in the log?” The cuffs fell to the floor. Rebus started rubbing life back into his fingers.

“Nothing. And we don’t check the cells when they’re empty.”

“You knew they were empty?”

“Kept that way so we can stick any rioters in them.”

Macrae was studying Rebus’s left hand. “Need to get that seen to?”

“I’ll be fine.” Rebus grimaced. “How did you find me?”

“Text message. I’d left the phone to charge in my study. The beeping woke my wife.”

“Can I see it?”

Macrae handed over the phone. At the top of the screen was the caller’s number, and below it a capitalized message: REBUS IN DRYLAW CELLS. Rebus punched the Return Call option, but when connected all he got was a machine telling him the number was not in use. He handed the phone back to Macrae.

“Screen says the call was sent at midnight.”

Macrae failed to meet Rebus’s gaze. “It was a while before we heard it,” he said quietly. But then he remembered who he was, and stiffened his spine. “Care to tell me what happened here?”

“Some of the lads having a laugh,” Rebus improvised. He kept flexing his left wrist, trying not to show how much it was flaring with pain.

“Names?” asked Macrae.

“No names, no one gets in trouble, sir,” said Rebus.

“So if I were to return their little text message?”

“Number’s already been canceled, sir.”

Macrae studied Rebus. “Few drinks last night, eh?”

“A few.” He turned his attention back to the uniform. “Nobody’s left a cell at the front desk, by any chance?”

The young officer shook his head. Rebus leaned in toward him. “Something like this gets out…well, there’ll be a few laughs at my expense, but you’ll be the ones the joke’s really on. Cells unchecked, station left unmanned, front door unlocked…”

“The door was locked,” the constable argued.

“Still doesn’t look good for you, does it?”

Macrae patted the officer’s shoulder. “So let’s keep this to ourselves, eh? Now come on, DI Rebus, I’ll drop you home before the barricades go up again.”

Outside, Macrae paused before unlocking his Rover. “I can see why you’d want this kept quiet, but rest assured-if I find the culprits, there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Yes, sir,” Rebus agreed. “Sorry to have been the cause.”

“Not your fault, John. Now hop in.”

They drove southward in silence through the city, dawn breaking to the east. A few delivery vans and bleary pedestrians, but little clue as to what the day might bring. Monday meant the Carnival of Full Enjoyment. The police knew it was a euphemism for trouble. This was when the Clown Army, the Wombles, and the Black Bloc were expected to make their move. They would try to shut the city down. Macrae had switched the radio to a local station, just in time to catch a news flash-an attempt to padlock the pumps at a gas station on Queensferry Road.

“The weekend was just for starters,” Macrae commented as he drew to a halt on Arden Street. “So I hope you enjoyed it.”

“Nice and relaxing, sir,” Rebus said, opening his door. “Thanks for the lift.” He patted the roof of the car and watched it drive off, then climbed the two flights, searching his pockets for his keys.

No keys.

Of course not: they were hanging from the lock on his door. He swore and opened up, withdrew the keys, and held them in a bunch in his right fist. Walked into the hall on tiptoe. No noises or lights. Padded past the kitchen and bedroom doorways. Into the living room. The Colliar case notes weren’t there, of course: he’d taken them to Siobhan’s. But the stuff Mairie Henderson had found for him-about Pennen Industries and Ben Webster, MP-was strewn about the place. He picked his cell phone up from the table. Nice of them to bring it back. He wondered how thoroughly they had scoured it for calls in and out, messages and texts. Didn’t really bother him: he deleted stuff at the end of each day. Didn’t mean it wasn’t still hidden on the chip somewhere…And they’d have the authority to ask his phone company for records. When you were SO12, you could do most things. He went into the bathroom and ran the tap. It always took a while for the water to run hot. He was going to spend a good fifteen or twenty minutes under the shower. He checked the kitchen and both bedrooms: nothing seemed out of place, which in itself also meant nothing. Filled the kettle and switched it on. Might the place be bugged? He’d no way of telling; didn’t think it was as easy these days as unscrewing the base from the telephone to find out. The paperwork on Pennen had been tossed about but not taken. Why? Because they knew it would be easy for him to get the same information again. It was all in the public domain, after all, only a mouse click or two away.

They’d left it because it was meaningless.

Because Rebus wasn’t anywhere near getting to whatever it was Steelforth was trying to protect.

And they’d left his keys in the lock, his phone in plain view, to add insult to injury. He flexed his left hand again, wondering how you could tell if you had a blood clot or thrombosis. He took the tea through to the bathroom, turned off the tap at the sink, shed his clothes, and climbed into the shower. He tried to empty his mind of the previous seventy-two hours. Started listing his desert island disks instead. Couldn’t decide which track off Argus to choose. He was still busy debating with himself as he got out and toweled himself dry; found himself humming “Throw Down the Sword.”

“Not on your life,” he declared to the mirror.

He was determined to get some sleep. Five restless hours curled up on a slab hardly counted. But first he had to charge his phone. Plugged it in and decided to see what messages there were. One text-same anonymous caller as Macrae.

LET’S CALL A TRUCE.

Sent barely half an hour before. Which meant two things: They knew he was home. And the out-of-service number was somehow back in play. Rebus could think of a dozen replies, but decided to switch the phone off again instead. Another mug of tea and he made for the bedroom.

Panic on the streets of Edinburgh.

Siobhan had never known the place so tense. Not during the local soccer championship, not even during Republican and Orange marches. The air was somehow heightened, as if an electric current ran through it. Not just Edinburgh either: a peace camp had been established in Stirling. There had been short, sharp outbursts of violence. Still two days to go before the G8 opened, but the protesters knew that a number of delegations had already arrived. A lot of the Americans were based at Dunblane Hydro, a short drive from Gleneagles. Some foreign journalists had found themselves much farther away in hotels in Glasgow. Japanese officials had taken over many of the rooms in the Edinburgh Sheraton, just across the road from the financial district. Siobhan’s instinct had been to use the hotel’s lot, but there was a chain across its entrance. A uniformed officer approached as she wound down her window. She showed him her ID.

“Sorry, ma’am,” he apologized in a polite English voice. “No can do. Orders from on high. Your best bet is to do a U-turn.” He pointed farther down the Western Approach Road. “There’s some idiots on the road…we’re trying to herd most of them into Canning Street. Bunch of clowns, by all accounts.”

She did as instructed, finally finding a space on a yellow line outside the Lyceum Theater. Crossed at the lights, but instead of going into the Standard Life HQ, decided to walk past it, down the concrete lanes which ran mazily through the whole area. Turned a corner into Canning Street and found herself stopped by a cordon of police, on the other side of which black-clad demonstrators mixed with figures from the big top. A bunch of clowns, quite literally. This was Siobhan’s first real sighting of the Rebel Clown Army. They wore red and purple wigs, faces painted white. Some brandished feather dusters, others waved carnations. A smiley face had been drawn on one of the riot shields. The cops were in black, too, protected by knee and elbow pads, stab-proof vests, visored helmets. One of the demonstrators had somehow scrambled up a high wall and was shaking his bared buttocks at the police below. There were windows all around, office workers peering out. Plenty of noise, but no real fury as yet. As more officers jogged into view, Siobhan retreated as far as the pedestrian bridge which crossed over the Western Approach Road. Again, the protesters were heavily outnumbered. One of them was in a wheelchair, a lion rampant attached to the back, fluttering in the breeze. Traffic heading into town was at a standstill. Whistles were being blown, but the police horses looked unfazed. As a line of officers marched beneath the footbridge, they held their shields above their heads to protect themselves.

The situation seemed under control and unlikely to change, so Siobhan headed for her final destination.

The revolving door which led to the Standard Life reception area was locked. A guard stared out at her before buzzing her in.

“Can I see your pass, miss?”

“I don’t work here.” Siobhan showed her ID instead.

He took it from her to study it. Handed it back and nodded toward the reception desk.

“Any problems?” she asked.

“Couple of goons tried to get in. One’s scaled the west side of the building. Seems to be stuck three floors up.”

“Fun for all concerned.”

“It pays the bills, miss.” He gestured once more toward the desk. “Gina there will sort you out.”

Gina did indeed sort Siobhan out. First, a visitor’s pass-“to be kept in view at all times, please”-and then a call upstairs. The waiting area was plush, with sofas and magazines, coffee, and a flat-screen TV showing some midmorning design show. A woman came striding toward Siobhan.

“Detective Sergeant Clarke? I’ll take you upstairs.”

“Mrs. Jensen?”

But the woman shook her head. “Sorry to’ve kept you waiting. As you can imagine, things are a bit fraught…”

“That’s okay. I’ve been learning which floor lamp to buy.”

The woman smiled without really comprehending and led Siobhan to the elevator. As they waited, she studied her own clothes. “We’re all in civilian clothes today,” she said, explaining the slacks and blouse.

“Good idea.”

“It’s funny seeing some of the men in jeans and T-shirts. Hardly recognizable, some of them.” She paused. “Is it the riots you’re here about?”

“No.”

“Mrs. Jensen seemed in the dark…”

“Up to me to shed some light then, isn’t it?” Siobhan replied with a smile as the elevator doors opened.

The nameplate on Dolly Jensen’s office stated that she was Dorothy Jensen but gave no indication of her job title. Had to be quite high-powered, Siobhan figured. Jensen’s assistant had knocked on the door, then retreated to her own desk. The main floor was open plan, plenty of faces peering up from their computers to study the new arrival. A few stood by the available windows, coffee mugs in hand, watching the outside world.

“Come in,” a voice called. Siobhan opened the door and closed it behind her, shook Dorothy Jensen’s hand, and was invited to take a seat.

“You know why I’m here?” Siobhan asked.

Jensen leaned back in her chair. “Tom told me all about it.”

“You’ve been busy since, haven’t you?”

Jensen scanned her desk. She was the same age as her husband. Broad-shouldered and with a masculine face. Thick black hair-the gray dyed out of it, Siobhan guessed-fell in immaculate waves to her shoulders. Around her neck hung a simple pearl necklace.

“I don’t mean here, Mrs. Jensen,” Siobhan explained, allowing the irritation to show. “I mean at home, wiping all trace of your Web site.”

“Is that a crime?”

“It’s called impeding an investigation. I’ve seen people go to court for it. Sometimes we can up the ante to criminal conspiracy, if we’re of a mind…”

Jensen took hold of a pen from her desk, twisted its barrel, opening and closing it. Siobhan was satisfied that she had breached the woman’s defenses.

“I need everything you’ve got, Mrs. Jensen-any paperwork, e-mail addresses, names. We need to clear all those people-you and your husband included-if we’re going to catch this killer.” She paused. “I know what you’re thinking-your husband told us pretty much the same-and I can appreciate you’d feel that way. But you’ve got to understand…whoever did this, they’re not going to stop. They could have downloaded everyone listed on your site, and that turns those men into victims-not so very different from Vicky.”

At mention of her daughter’s name, Jensen’s eyes burned into Siobhan’s. But they soon grew liquid. She dropped the pen and opened a drawer, bringing out a handkerchief and blowing her nose.

“I tried, you know…tried to forgive. It’s supposed to make us divine after all, isn’t it?” She forced a nervous laugh. “These men, they go to jail to be punished, but we hope they’ll change, too. The ones who don’t…what use are they? They come back to us and do the same things over and over again.”

Siobhan knew the argument well and had found herself many times on both sides of it. But she stayed silent.

“He showed no remorse, no sense of guilt, no sympathy…What kind of creature is that? Is it even human? At the trial, the defense kept on about the broken home he came from, the drugs he took. They called it a chaotic lifestyle. But it was his choice to destroy Vicky, his little power trip. Nothing chaotic about that, let me tell you.” Jensen’s voice had grown tremulous. She took a deep breath, adjusting her posture, calming by degrees. “I work in insurance. We deal with choice and risk. I do know a little of what I’m talking about.”

“Is there any paperwork, Mrs. Jensen?” Siobhan asked quietly.

“Some,” Jensen admitted. “Not very much.”

“What about e-mails? You must have corresponded with the site’s users?”

Jensen nodded slowly. “The families of victims, yes. Are they all suspects too?”

“How soon can you get everything to me?”

“Do I need to talk to my lawyer?”

“Might be an idea. Meantime, I’d like to send someone to your home. He knows about computers. If he comes to you, it saves us having to take your hard drive elsewhere.”

“All right.”

“His name’s Bain.” Eric Bain of the pneumatic girlfriend…Siobhan shifted in her chair and cleared her throat. “He’s a detective sergeant, like me. What time this evening would suit?”

“You look rough,” Mairie Henderson said as Rebus tried to squeeze himself into the passenger seat of her sports car.

“Restless night,” he told her. What he didn’t add was that her 10 a.m. call had woken him. “Does this thing go back any farther?”

She bent down and tugged at a lever, sending Rebus’s seat flying backward. Rebus turned to examine what space was left behind him. “Thanks for the invite, by the way.”

“In that case, you can pay for the drinks.”

“What drinks are those?”

“Our excuse for being there in the first place.” She was heading for the top of Arden Street. Left, right, and left would put her on Grange Road and only five minutes away from Prestonfield House.

Prestonfield House Hotel was one of the city’s better-kept secrets. Surrounded by 1930s bungalows and with views across to the projects of Craigmillar and Niddrie, it seemed an unpromising location for a grand house in the baronial style. Its substantial grounds-including an adjacent golf course-gave plenty of privacy. The only time the place had been in the news, to Rebus’s knowledge, was when a member of the Scottish parliament had tried setting fire to the curtains after a party.

“I meant to ask on the phone…” Rebus said to Mairie.

“What?”

“How do you know about this?”

“Contacts, John. No journalist should ever leave home without them.”

“Tell you something you’ve left at home though…the brakes on this bloody death trap.”

“It’s a road racer,” she told him. “Doesn’t sound right when you dawdle.” But she eased her foot back a little.

“Thanks,” he said. “So what’s the occasion exactly?”

“Morning coffee, then he gives his pitch, and then lunch.”

“Where exactly?”

She shrugged. “A meeting room, I suppose. Maybe the restaurant for the actual lunch.” She signaled left into the hotel driveway.

“And we are…?”

“Looking for some peace and quiet amid the madness. Plus a pot of tea for two.”

Staff were awaiting them at the front door. Mairie explained the situation. There was a room off to the left where their needs could be met, or another to the right, just past a closed door.

“Something on in there?” Mairie asked, pointing.

“Business meeting,” the employee revealed.

“Well, just so long as they’re not kicking up a fuss, we’ll be fine in here.” She entered the adjoining room. Rebus heard peacocks squawking outside on the lawn.

“Is it tea you’re wanting?” the young man asked.

“Coffee for me,” Rebus told him.

“Tea-peppermint if you’ve got it; otherwise chamomile.” The employee disappeared, and Mairie pressed her ear to the wall.

“I thought eavesdropping had gone electronic,” Rebus commented.

“If you can afford it,” Mairie whispered. She lifted her ear away. “All I can hear is muttering.”

“Stop the presses.”

She ignored him, pulled a chair over toward the doorway, making sure she’d have a view of anyone entering or leaving the meeting.

“Lunch sharpish at twelve, that’s my guess. Get them feeling good about their host.” She checked her watch.

“I brought a woman here for dinner once,” Rebus mused. “Had coffee in the library after. It’s upstairs. Walls a sort of curdled red. I think someone told me they were leather.”

“Leather wallpaper? Kinky,” Mairie said with a smile.

“By the way, I never did thank you for going straight to Cafferty with news of Cyril Colliar…” His eyes drilled into hers, and she had the good grace to allow some red to creep up her neck.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

“Nice to know that when I come to you with confidential information, you’ll feed it to the city’s biggest villain.”

“Just that once, John.”

“Once too often.”

“The Colliar killing has been gnawing away at him.”

“Just the way I like it.”

She gave a tired smile. “Just the once,” she repeated. “And please bear in mind the huge favor I’m currently doing you.”

Rebus decided not to answer, walked back out into the hall instead. The reception desk was at the far end, past the restaurant. It had changed a bit in the years since Rebus had spent half his paycheck on that meal. The drapes were heavy, the furniture exotic, tassels everywhere. A dark-skinned man in a blue silk suit tried to pass Rebus, giving a little bow.

“Morning,” Rebus said.

“Good morning,” he said crisply, coming to a stop. “Is the meeting already closing?”

“I wouldn’t know.”

The man bowed his head again. “My apologies. I thought perhaps…” But he left the sentence unfinished and walked the rest of the way to the door, tapping once before disappearing inside. Mairie had come out for a look.

“Not much of a secret knock,” Rebus informed her.

“It’s not the Masons.”

Rebus wasn’t so sure about that. What was the G8, after all, if not a very private club?

The door was opening again, two more men stepping out. They made for the driveway, stopping to light their cigarettes.

“Breaking up for lunch?” Rebus guessed. He followed Mairie back to the doorway of their own little room and watched the men filter out. Maybe twenty of them. Some looked African, others Asian and Middle Eastern. A few wore what Rebus took to be their national dress.

“Maybe Kenya, Sierra Leone, Niger…” Mairie was whispering.

“Meaning that really you’ve got no idea whatsoever?” Rebus whispered back.

“Geography was never my strong point-” She broke off and clutched his arm. A tall imposing figure was now mingling with the others, shaking hands and exchanging some words. Rebus recognized him from Mairie’s press pack. His elongated face was tanned and lined, and some brown had been added to his hair. Pinstripe suit with an inch of crisp, white shirt cuff. He had a smile for everyone, seemed to know them personally. Mairie had retreated a few steps farther into the room, but Rebus stayed in the doorway. Richard Pennen took a good photograph. In the flesh, the face was slightly scrawnier, the eyes heavy-lidded. But he did look disgustingly healthy, as though he had spent the previous weekend on a tropical beach. Assistants stood on either side of him, whispering information into his ear, making sure this part of the day, like those before and after, was without a hitch of any kind.

Suddenly, a member of the staff was blocking Rebus’s view. He bore a tray with the tea and coffee. As Rebus moved to let him pass, he saw that he’d come to Pennen’s notice.

“Your treat, I believe,” Mairie was saying. Rebus turned into the room and paid for the drinks.

“Would it be Detective Inspector Rebus?” The deep voice came from Richard Pennen. He was standing just a few feet away, still flanked by his assistants.

Mairie took a couple of steps toward him and held out her hand.

“Mairie Henderson, Mr. Pennen. Terrible tragedy at the castle the other night.”

“Terrible,” Pennen agreed.

“I believe you were there.”

“I was.”

“She’s a journalist, sir,” one of the assistants said.

“I’d never have guessed,” Pennen answered with a smile.

“Just wondering,” Mairie plowed on, “why you were paying for Mr. Webster’s hotel room.”

“I wasn’t-my company was.”

“What’s your interest in debt relief, sir?”

But Pennen’s focus was on Rebus. “I was told I might be seeing you.”

“Nice to have Commander Steelforth on your team…”

Pennen looked Rebus up and down. “His description didn’t do you justice, Inspector.”

“Still, it’s nice that he took the trouble.” Rebus could have added because it means I’ve got him rattled.

“You’re aware, of course, of how much flak you might get if I were to report this intrusion?”

“We’re just enjoying a cup of tea, sir,” Rebus said. “Far as I’m aware, you’re the one doing the intruding.”

Pennen smiled again. “Nicely put.” He turned to Mairie. “Ben Webster was a fine MP and PPS, Miss Henderson, and scrupulous with it. As you know, any gifts in kind received from my company would be listed in members’ interests.”

“Doesn’t answer my question.”

Pennen’s jawline twitched. He took a deep breath. “Pennen Industries does most of its business overseas-get your economics editor to fill you in. You’ll see what a major exporter we’ve become.”

“Of arms,” Mairie stated.

“Of technology,” Pennen countered. “What’s more, we put money back into some of the poorest nations. That’s why Ben Webster was involved.” He turned his gaze back to Rebus. “No cover-up, Inspector. Just David Steelforth doing his job. A lot of contracts could get signed during these next few days…huge projects green-lighted. Contacts made, and jobs saved as a result. Not the sort of feel-good story our media seem to be interested in. Now, if you’ll excuse me…” He turned away, and Rebus was gratified to see that there was a blob of something on the heel of one black leather brogue. No expert, Rebus would still have bet heavily on it being peacock shit.

Mairie slumped onto a sofa, which creaked beneath her, as if unused to such mistreatment.

“Bloody hell,” she said, pouring out some tea. Rebus could smell the peppermint. He poured himself some coffee from the small carafe.

“Remind me,” he said, “how much is this whole thing costing?”

“The G8?” She waited till he’d nodded, puffed out her cheeks as she tried to remember. “A hundred and fifty?”

“As in millions?”

“As in millions.”

“And all so businessmen like Mr. Pennen can keep plying their trade.”

“There might be a bit more to it than that.” Mairie was smiling. “But you’re right in a sense: the decisions have already been made.”

“So what’s Gleneagles all about but a few nice dinners and some handshakes for the cameras.”

“Putting Scotland on the map?” she offered.

“Aye, right.” Rebus finished his coffee. “Maybe we should stay for lunch, see if we can rile Pennen more than we already have.”

“Sure you can afford it?”

Rebus looked around him. “Which reminds me, that flunky’s not come back with my change.”

“Change?” Mairie gave a laugh. Rebus caught her meaning and decided he was going to drain the carafe to its last drop.

According to the TV news, central Edinburgh was a war zone.

Half past two on a Monday afternoon. Normally, there would have been shoppers in Princes Street, laden with purchases; people in the adjacent gardens, enjoying a promenade or resting on one of the commemorative benches.

But not today.

The newsroom cut to protests at the Faslane Naval Base, home to Britain ’s four Trident-class submarines. The place was under siege from about two thousand demonstrators. Police in Fife had been handed control of the Forth Road Bridge for the first time in its history. Cars heading north were being stopped and searched. Roads out of the capital had been blocked by sit-down protests. There had been scuffles near the Peace Camp in Stirling.

And a riot was kicking off in Princes Street. Baton-wielding police making their presence felt. They carried circular shields of a kind Siobhan hadn’t seen before. The area around Canning Street was still causing trouble, marchers still bringing traffic to a halt on the Western Approach. The studio cut back to Princes Street. The protesters seemed to be outnumbered not only by police but by cameras, too. A lot of pushing on both sides.

“They’re trying to start a fight,” Eric Bain said. He’d come to Gayfield to show her what little he’d been able to find so far.

“It could have waited till after you’d seen Mrs. Jensen,” she’d told him, to which all he’d done was shrug.

They were alone in the CID office. “See what they’re doing?” Bain asked, pointing at the screen. “A rioter wades in, then backs off. The nearest cop raises his billy club, and the papers get a photo of him striking out at some poor guy who’s first in line. Meantime, the real troublemaker is tucked away somewhere behind, ready to do the same thing again.”

Siobhan nodded. “Makes it look like we’re being heavy-handed.”

“Which is what the rioters want.” He folded his arms. “They’ve learned a few tricks since Genoa.”

“But so have we,” Siobhan said. “Containment, for one thing. That’s four hours now the group in Canning Street have been corralled.”

Back in the studio, one of the presenters had a live feed to Midge Ure. He was telling the troublemakers to go home.

“Shame none of them are watching,” Bain commented.

“Are you going to speak with Mrs. Jensen?” Siobhan hinted.

“Yes, boss. How hard should I push her?”

“I’ve already warned we could set her for obstruction. Remind her of that.” Siobhan wrote the Jensens’ address on a sheet of her notebook, ripped it out, and handed it over. Bain’s attention was back on the TV screen. More live pictures from Princes Street. Some protesters had climbed onto the Scott Monument. Others scrambled over the railings into the gardens. Kicks were aimed at shields. Divots of earth were being thrown. Benches and trash cans were next.

“This is getting bad,” Bain muttered. The screen flickered. A new location: Torphichen Street, site of the city’s West End police station. Sticks and bottles were being hurled. “Glad we’re not stuck there” was all Bain said.

“No, we’re stuck here instead.”

He looked at her. “You’d rather be in the thick of things?”

She shrugged, stared at the screen. Someone was calling into the studio by cell phone, a shopper, trapped like so many others in the branch of British Home Stores on Princes Street.

“We’re just bystanders,” the woman was shrieking. “All we want to do is get out, but the police are treating us all the same, mothers with babies, old folk…”

“You’re saying the police are overreacting?” the journalist in the studio asked. Siobhan used the remote to change channels: Columbo on one side, Diagnosis: Murder on another, and a film on Channel 4.

“That’s Kidnapped,” Bain said. “Brilliant.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” she said, finding another of the news channels. Same riots; different angles. The same protester she’d seen in Canning Street was still on top of his wall. He sat swinging his feet, only his eyes showing through the gap in his ski mask. He was holding a cell phone to his ear.

“That reminds me,” Bain said, “I had Rebus on the phone, asking how an out-of-service number could still be active.”

Siobhan looked at him. “Did he say why?” Bain shook his head. “So what did you tell him?”

“You can clone the SIM card, or specify outgoing calls only.” He gave a shrug. “All kinds of ways to do it.”

Siobhan nodded, eyes back on the TV screen. Bain ran a hand across the back of his neck.

“So what did you think of Molly?” he asked.

“You’re a lucky man, Eric.”

He gave a huge grin. “Pretty much my thinking.”

“But tell me,” Siobhan asked, hating herself for being led down this route, “does she always twitch so much?”

Bain’s grin melted away.

“Sorry, Eric, that was out of order.”

“She said she likes you,” he confided. “She’s not got a bad bone in her body.”

“She’s great,” Siobhan agreed. Even to her own ears, the sentiment sounded hollow. “So how did you two meet?”

Bain froze for a moment. “A club,” he said, recovering.

“Never took you for a dancer, Eric.” Siobhan glanced in his direction.

“Molly’s a great dancer.”

“She’s got the body for it…” Relief washed over her as her own cell sounded. She hoped to hell it would offer the excuse to be anywhere but here. It was her parents’ number.

“Hello?”

At first she mistook the noise on the line for static, then she realized: yells and catcalls and whistles. Same noises she’d just been hearing on the report from Princes Street.

“Mum?” she said. “Dad?”

And now a voice, her father’s. “Siobhan? Can you hear me?”

“Dad? What the hell are you doing down there?”

“Your mum…”

“What? Dad, put her on, will you?”

“Your mum’s…”

“Has something-”

“She was bleeding…ambulance…”

“Dad, you’re breaking up! Where are you exactly?”

“Kiosk…gardens.”

The line went dead. She looked at its small rectangular screen. Connection lost.

“Connection lost,” she echoed.

“What’s going on?” Bain asked.

“My mum and dad…that’s where they are.” She nodded toward the TV. “Can you give me a lift?”

“Where?”

“There.” She stabbed a finger at the screen.

“There?”

“There.”

9

They didn’t get any farther than George Street. Siobhan got out of the car and told Bain not to forget the Jensens. He was telling her to be careful as she slammed shut the door.

There were protesters here, too, spilling down Frederick Street. Staff watched in fascinated horror from behind the doors and windows of their shops. Bystanders pressed themselves to walls in the hope of blending in. There was debris underfoot. The protesters were being pushed back down into Princes Street. Nobody tried to stop Siobhan crossing the police line in that direction. Easy enough to get in; getting out was the problem.

There was only one kiosk she knew of-just down from the Scott Monument. The gates to the gardens had been closed, so she made for the fence. The skirmishes had moved from the street into the gardens themselves. Trash flew through the air, along with stones and other missiles. A hand grabbed at her jacket.

“No, you don’t.”

She turned to face a policeman. Just above his visor were the letters XS. For a brief moment she read it as excess-just perfect. She had her ID ready.

“I’m CID,” she yelled.

“Then you must be crazy.” He released his grip.

“It has been said,” she told him, clambering over the spikes. Looking around, she saw that the rioters had been reinforced by what looked like local hooligans: any excuse for a fight. Wasn’t every day they could lash out at the cops and have a good chance of getting away with it. They were disguising their identities with scarves around their mouths, jackets zipped all the way to the chin. At least these days they all wore sneakers rather than Doc Martens boots.

The kiosk: it sold ice cream and cold drinks. Shards of glass lay strewn around it, and it was closed. She circled it in a crouch: no sign of her father. Spots of blood on the ground, and she followed them with her eyes. They stopped short of the gates. Circled the kiosk again. Banged on the serving hatch. Tried again. Heard a muffled voice from inside.

“Siobhan?”

“Dad? You in there?”

The door to the side was yanked open. Her father was standing inside, and next to him the kiosk’s terrified owner.

“Where’s Mum?” Siobhan asked, voice shaking.

“They took her in the ambulance. I couldn’t…they wouldn’t let me past the cordon.”

Siobhan couldn’t remember ever seeing her father in tears, but he was crying now. Crying, and obviously in shock.

“We need to get you out.”

“Not me,” his companion said with a shake of her head. “I’m guarding the fort. But I saw what happened…bloody police. She was only standing there.”

“It was one of their sticks,” Siobhan’s father added. “Right across her head.”

“Blood was gushing out…”

Siobhan silenced the woman with a look. “What’s your name?” she asked.

“Frances…Frances Neagley.”

“Well, Frances Neagley, my advice is to get out.” Then, to her shivering father: “Come on, let’s get going.”

“What?”

“We need to go see Mum.”

“But what about…?”

“It’ll be all right. Now come on.” She tugged at his arm, felt she would have hauled him out of there bodily if need be. Frances Neagley closed the door on them and locked it.

Another divot flew past. Siobhan knew that tomorrow, this being Edinburgh, the major complaint would be of destruction to the famed flower beds. The gates had been forced open by the demonstrators from Frederick Street. A man dressed as a Pictish warrior was being dragged by his arms behind the police lines. Directly in front of the cordon, a young mother was calmly changing the diaper on her pink-clad baby. A placard was being waved: NO GODS, NO MASTERS. The letters X and S…the baby in pink…the message on the placard…they all seemed incredibly vivid to her, snapshots bright with a significance she couldn’t quite determine.

There’s a pattern here, some meaning of sorts…

Something to ask Dad later…

Fifteen years ago, he’d tried explaining semiotics to her, supposedly helping with a school essay, but just getting her more confused. Then, in class, she’d called it semenotics, and her teacher laughed out loud.

Siobhan sought out faces she might know. She saw none. But one officer’s vest bore the words POLICE MEDIC. She pulled her father toward him, ID held open in front of her.

“CID,” she explained. “This man’s wife’s been taken to hospital. I need to get him there.”

The officer nodded and guided them through the police line.

“Which hospital?” the medic asked.

“What’s your guess?”

He looked at her. “Dunno,” he admitted. “I’m down here from Aberdeen.”

“Western General’s closest,” Siobhan said. “Any transport available?”

He pointed up Frederick Street. “The road that crosses at the top.”

“ George Street?”

He shook his head. “Next one.”

“ Queen Street?” She watched him nod. “Thanks,” she said. “You better get back there.”

“Suppose so,” he said, with no real enthusiasm. “Some of them are going in a bit strong…Not our lot-the ones from the Met.”

Siobhan turned to face her father. “Any chance you can ID him?”

“Who?”

“The one who hit Mum.”

He rubbed a hand across his eyes. “I don’t think so.”

She made a small, angry sound and led him up the hill toward Queen Street.

There was a line of parked patrol cars. Unbelievably, there was also traffic: all the cars and trucks diverted from the main drag, crawling past as if it were just another day, another commute. Siobhan explained to one police driver what she wanted. He seemed relieved at the thought of being elsewhere. She got into the back with her dad.

“Blues and twos,” she ordered the driver. Cue flashing lights and siren. They pulled past the line of traffic and got going.

“Is this the right way?” the driver shouted.

“Where are you from?”

“ Peterborough.”

“Straight ahead, I’ll tell you when to turn.” She squeezed her father’s hand. “You’re not hurt?”

He shook his head, fixed her with his eyes. “How about you?”

“What about me?”

“You’re amazing.” Teddy Clarke gave a tired smile. “Way you acted back there, taking control…”

“Not just a pretty face, eh?”

“I never realized…” There were tears in his eyes again. He bit his bottom lip, blinked them back. She gave his hand a tighter squeeze.

“I never really appreciated,” he said, “how good you might be at this.”

“Just be thankful I’m not in uniform, or it might’ve been me wielding one of those batons.”

“You wouldn’t have hit an innocent woman,” her father stated.

“Straight across at the lights,” she told the driver, before turning her attention back to her father. “Hard to say, isn’t it? We don’t know what we’ll do till we’re there.”

“You wouldn’t,” he said determinedly.

“Probably not,” she conceded. “What the hell were you doing there anyway? Did Santal take you?”

He shook his head. “I suppose we were…we thought we’d be spectators. The police didn’t see it that way.”

“If I find whoever…”

“I didn’t really see his face.”

“Plenty of cameras there-hard to hide under that sort of coverage.”

“Photographs?”

She nodded. “Plus security, the media, and us, of course.” She looked at him. “The police will have filmed everything.”

“But surely…”

“What?”

“You can’t sift through the whole lot?”

“Want to bet on it?”

He studied her for a moment. “No, I’m not sure I do.”

Almost a hundred arrests. The courts would be busy on Tuesday. By evening, the standoff had moved from Princes Street Gardens to Rose Street. Cobbles were torn from the road surface, becoming missiles instead. There were skirmishes on Waverley Bridge, Cockburn Street, and Infirmary Street. By nine thirty, things were calming. The final bit of trouble had been outside McDonald’s on South St. Andrew Street. The uniforms were back at Gayfield Square now and had brought burgers with them, the aroma making its way into the CID suite. Rebus had the TV playing-a documentary about an abattoir. Eric Bain had just forwarded a list of e-mail addresses, regular users of BeastWatch. His e-mail had ended with the words Shiv, let me know how you got on! Rebus had tried calling her cell, but no one was answering. Bain’s e-mail had stipulated that the Jensens had given him no grief but had been only “grudgingly cooperative.”

Rebus had the Evening News open beside him. On its cover, a picture of Saturday’s march and the headline “Voting with Their Feet.” They’d be able to use the headline again tomorrow, with a photo of a rioter kicking at a police shield. The TV page gave him the title of the abattoir film-Slaughterhouse: The Task of Blood. Rebus stood up and walked to one of the free desks. The Colliar notes stared up at him. Siobhan had been busy. They’d been joined by police and prison reports on Fast Eddie Isley and Trevor Guest.

Guest: burglar, thug, sexual predator.

Isley: rapist.

Colliar: rapist.

Rebus turned to the BeastWatch notes. Details of twenty-eight further rapists and child molesters had been posted. There was a long and angry article from someone calling herself Tornupinside-felt to Rebus as if the author was female. She railed against the court system and its iron-clad ruling on rape versus sexual assault. Hard enough to get a conviction for rape anyway-but sexual assault could be every bit as ugly, violent, and degrading, yet with lesser penalties attached. She seemed to know her law: hard to tell if she was from north or south of the border. He skimmed through the text again, looking for burglar or burglary-the term in Scotland was housebreaking. But all she’d used were assault and assailant. Still, Rebus decided a reply was merited. He logged on to Siobhan’s terminal and accessed her Hotmail account-she used the same password for everything: Hibsgirl. Ran a finger down Eric Bain’s list until he found an address for Tornupinside. Started typing:

I’ve just finished reading your piece at BeastWatch. It really interested me, and I would like to talk to you about it. I have some information that you may find interesting. Please call me on…

He thought for a moment. No way of knowing how long Siobhan’s cell would be out of commission. So he typed in his own number instead, but signed off as Siobhan Clarke. More chance, he felt, of the writer replying to another woman. He read the message through, decided it looked as if it had been written by a cop. Gave it another go:

I saw what you said on BeastWatch. Did you know they’ve shut the site down? I’d like to talk to you, maybe by phone.

Added his number and Siobhan’s name-just her first name this time; less formal. Clicked on Send. When his phone started trilling only a few minutes later, he knew it was too good to be true-and so it proved.

“Strawman,” the voice drawled: Cafferty.

“Think you’ll ever get fed up of that nickname?”

Cafferty chuckled coldly. “How long has it been?”

Maybe sixteen years…Rebus giving evidence, Cafferty in the dock, one of the lawyers confusing Rebus for a previous witness called Stroman…

“Anything to report?” Cafferty was asking.

“Why should I tell you?”

Another chuckle, even colder than the first. “Say you catch him and it goes to court…how would it look if I suddenly piped up that I’d helped you out? Lot of explaining to do…could even lead to a mistrial.”

“I thought you wanted him caught.” Cafferty stayed silent. Rebus weighed up what to say. “We’re making progress.”

“How much progress?”

“It’s slow.”

“Only natural, with the city in chaos.” That chuckle again; Rebus wondered if Cafferty had been drinking. “I could have pulled off any size heist today, and you lot would have been too stretched to notice.”

“So why didn’t you?”

“Changed man, Rebus. On your side now, remember? So, if there’s anything I can do to help…”

“Not right now.”

“But if you needed me, you’d ask?”

“You said it yourself, Cafferty-more you’re involved, harder it might be to get a conviction.”

“I know how the game’s played, Rebus.”

“Then you’ll know when it’s best to miss a turn.” Rebus turned away from the TV. A machine was flaying the skin from a carcass.

“Keep in touch, Rebus.”

“Actually…”

“Yes?”

“There are some cops I could do with talking to. They’re English, but they’re here for the G8.”

“So talk to them.”

“Not so easy. They don’t wear any insignia, run around town in an unmarked car and van.”

“Why do you want them?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

“Descriptions?”

“I think they might be the Met. Work in a team of three. Tanned faces…”

“Meaning they’ll stand out from the crowd up here,” Cafferty interrupted.

“…leader’s called Jacko. Could be working for a Special Branch guy called David Steelforth.”

“I know Steelforth.”

Rebus leaned back against one of the desks. “How?”

“He’s put away a number of my acquaintances over the years.” Rebus remembered: Cafferty had links to the old-school London mob. “Is he here, too?”

“Staying at the Balmoral.” Rebus paused. “I wouldn’t mind knowing who’s picking up his room tab.”

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all,” Cafferty said, “John Rebus comes asking you to go sniffing around Special Branch…I get the feeling this has got nothing to do with Cyril Colliar.”

“Like I said, I’ll tell you later.”

“So what are you up to just now?”

“Working.”

“Want to meet for a drink?”

“I’m not that desperate.”

“Me neither, just thought I’d offer.”

Rebus considered for a moment, almost tempted. But the line had gone dead. He sat down and drew a pad of paper toward him. The sum total of his evening’s efforts was listed there:

Grudge against?

Poss. victim?

Access to H…

Auchterarder-local connection?

Who’s next?

He narrowed his eyes at this last line. Interesting wording-it was the title of a Who album, another of Michael’s favorites. Home to “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” which they were using these days as the theme on one of those CSI shows…He felt the sudden urge to talk to someone, maybe his daughter or his ex-wife. The tug of family. He thought of Siobhan and her parents. Tried not to feel slighted that she hadn’t wanted him to meet them. She never spoke about them; he didn’t really know how much family she had.

“Because you never ask,” he chided himself. His phone beeped, telling him he had a message. Sender: Shiv. He opened it.

CN U MEET ME @ WGH

WGH meant the Western General Hospital. He hadn’t heard reports of any police injuries…no reason she’d have been in Princes Street or anywhere near.

Let me know how you got on!

He tried her number again on his way out to the lot. Nothing but the busy signal. Jumped into his car, tossing the phone onto the passenger seat. It rang before he’d gone fifty yards. He grabbed at it, flipped it open.

“Siobhan?” he asked.

“What?” A female voice.

“Hello?” Gritting his teeth as he tried to steer with one hand.

“Is this…I was looking for…No, never mind.” The phone died in his hand and he threw it toward the seat next to him. It bounced once and hit the floor. He wrapped both fists around the steering wheel and hit the accelerator hard.

10

There were lines of cars at the Forth Road Bridge. Neither of them really minded. There was plenty to talk about; plenty of thinking to be done, too. Siobhan had told Rebus all about it. Teddy Clarke would not be budged from his wife’s bedside. Staff had said they could make up a temporary bed for him. They were planning to give Eve a scan first thing in the morning, checking for brain damage. The baton had caught her across the top half of her face: both eyes swollen and bruised, one of them closed altogether. Her nose covered with gauze: not broken. Rebus had asked, Was there any danger she could lose her sight? Maybe in one eye, Siobhan had admitted.

“After the scan, they’ll take her to the eye pavilion. Know what the hardest thing was though, John?”

“Realizing your mum’s only human?” he’d guessed.

Siobhan had shaken her head slowly. “They came and questioned her.”

“Who?”

“Police.”

“Well, that’s something.”

At which she’d laughed harshly. “They weren’t looking to find out who’d hit her. They were asking what she’d done.”

Yes, of course, because hadn’t she been one of the rioters? Hadn’t she been in the vanguard?

“Christ,” Rebus had muttered. “Were you there?”

“If I had been, there’d’ve been hell to pay.” And a little later, just above a whisper: “I saw it down there, John.”

“Looked hairy, judging by the TV.”

“Police overreacted.” Staring hard at him, willing him to contradict her.

“You’re angry” was all he’d said, winding down his window for the security check.

By the time they reached Glenrothes, he’d told her about his own evening, warning her that she might get an e-mail from Tornupinside. She hardly seemed to be listening. At the Fife police HQ, they had to show ID three times before they could gain entry to Operation Sorbus. Rebus had decided not to mention his night in the cells-not her problem. His left hand was back to something like normal at last. It had only taken a box of ibuprofen.

It was a control room much like any other: security-camera pictures; civilian staff at computers, headsets on; maps of central Scotland. There was a live feed from the security fence at Gleneagles, cameras posted at each watchtower. Other feeds from Edinburgh, Stirling, the Forth Bridge. And traffic video from the M9, the highway passing alongside Auchterarder.

Night shift had kicked in, which meant voices were lowered, the atmosphere muted. Quiet concentration and a lack of hurry. No brass that Rebus could see, and no Steelforth. Siobhan knew one or two faces from her visit of the week before. She went to ask her favor, leaving Rebus to cross the room at his own pace. Then he, too, spotted someone. Bobby Hogan had been promoted to DCI after a result in a South Queensferry shooting. But with the promotion had come a move to Tayside. Rebus hadn’t seen him for a year or so but recognized the wiry silver hair, the way the head sunk into the shoulders.

“Bobby,” he said, holding out a hand.

Hogan’s eyes widened. “Christ, John, tell me we’re not that desperate.” He returned Rebus’s grip.

“Don’t worry, Bobby, I’m only acting as chauffeur. How’s life treating you?”

“Can’t complain. Is that Siobhan over there?” Rebus nodded. “Why is she talking to one of my officers?”

“She’s after some surveillance footage.”

“That’s one thing we’ve no shortage of. What does she want it for?”

“A case we’re working, Bobby…suspect might have been at that riot today.”

“Needle in a haystack,” Hogan commented, creasing his forehead. He was a couple of years younger than Rebus, but had more lines on his face.

“Enjoying being DCI?” Rebus asked, trying to deflect his friend’s attention.

“You should try it sometime.”

Rebus shook his head. “Too late for me, Bobby. How’s Dundee treating you?”

“I’ve got quite the bachelor pad.”

“I thought you and Cora were getting back together?”

Hogan’s face creased further. He shook his head vigorously, letting Rebus know it was a subject best avoided.

“This is quite an ops room,” he said instead.

“Command post,” Hogan said, puffing out his chest. “We’re in contact with Edinburgh, Stirling, Gleneagles.”

“And if the shit really does hit the fan?”

“The G8 moves to our old stomping ground-Tulliallan.”

Meaning the Scottish Police College. Rebus nodded to show he was impressed.

“Direct line to Special Branch, Bobby?”

Hogan just shrugged. “End of the day, John, it’s us in charge, not them.”

Rebus nodded again, this time feigning agreement. “Bumped into some of them, all the same.”

“Steelforth?”

“He’s strutting around Edinburgh like he owns the place.”

“He’s a piece of work,” Hogan admitted.

“I could put it another way,” Rebus confided, “but I better not…you two might be bestest pals.”

Hogan hooted. “Fat chance.”

“See, it’s not just him.” Rebus lowered his voice. “I had a run-in with some of his men. They’re in uniform, but no badges. Unmarked car, plus a van with lights but no siren.”

“What happened?”

“I was trying to be nice, Bobby…”

“And?”

“Let’s just say I hit a wall.”

Hogan looked at him. “Literally?”

“As good as.”

Hogan nodded his understanding. “You’d like a few names to go with their faces?”

“I can’t offer much of a description,” Rebus said apologetically. “They’d been in the sun, and one of them’s called Jacko. I think they’re from the southeast.”

Hogan thought for a moment. “Let me see what I can do.”

“Only if it means you staying under the radar, Bobby.”

“Relax, John. I told you, this is my show.” He placed a hand on Rebus’s arm, as if by way of reassurance.

Rebus nodded his thanks; decided it wasn’t his job to pierce his friend’s bubble…

Siobhan had narrowed her search. She was only interested in footage from the gardens, after all, and only within a thirty-minute period. Even so, there would be over a thousand photographs to look at, and film from a dozen different viewpoints. Which still left any security-camera evidence, plus video and stills shot by protesters and onlookers.

“Then there’s the media,” she’d been told. BBC News, ITV, Channels 4 and 5, plus Sky and CNN. Not to mention photographers working for the main Scottish newspapers…

“Let’s start with what we’ve got,” she’d said.

“There’s a booth you can use.”

She’d thanked Rebus for the lift and told him he’d best get home. She’d find a ride back to Edinburgh somehow.

“You’re staying here all night?”

“Maybe it won’t come to that.” Both knowing it might. “Cafeteria’s open twenty-four/seven.”

“And your parents?”

“I’ll head there first thing.” She’d paused. “If you can spare me…”

“We’ll just have to see, won’t we?”

“Thanks.” And she’d hugged him, not exactly sure why. Maybe just to feel human, the night stretching in front of her.

“Siobhan…Always supposing you find him, what then? He’ll say he was doing his job.”

“I’ll have proof that he wasn’t.”

“If you push it too hard…”

She’d nodded, given him a wink and a smile. Gestures she’d learned from him, used whenever he was planning on crossing the line.

A wink and a smile, and then she was gone.

Someone had painted a large anarchy symbol on the doors of the C Division police HQ in Torphichen Place. It was an old, crumbling building, with twice the atmosphere of Gayfield Square. Street sweepers were gathering debris and overtime outside. Broken glass, bricks and stones, fast-food cartons.

The desk sergeant buzzed Rebus in. Some of the Canning Street protesters had been brought here for processing. They’d spent the night in cells cleared for the purpose. Rebus didn’t like to think how many junkies and muggers were roaming the Edinburgh streets, having been ejected from their rightful lockups. The CID room was long and narrow and always had about it the faint musk of human odor, something Rebus put down to the regular presence of DC Ray “Rat-Ass” Reynolds. He was slouched there now with his feet crossed on the desk in front of him, tie undone and a can of beer in his fist. At another desk sat his boss, DI Shug Davidson. Davidson’s tie was all the way off, but he appeared to be still working, pounding with two fingers at his computer keyboard. The can of beer next to him had yet to be opened.

Reynolds didn’t bother to stifle a belch as Rebus walked into the room. “It’s the specter at the feast!” he called out in recognition. “I hear you’re about as welcome near the G8 as the Rebel Clown Army.” But he raised his can in a toast anyway.

“That cuts to the quick, Ray. Been hectic, has it?”

“We should be on bonuses.” Reynolds held up a fresh beer, but Rebus shook his head.

“Come to see where the action is?” Davidson added.

“Just need a word with Ellen,” Rebus explained, nodding in the direction of the room’s only other occupant. DS Ellen Wylie looked up from the report she was hiding behind. Her blond hair was cut short, with a center parting. She’d put on some weight since the days when Rebus had worked a couple of cases with her. Her cheeks had filled out, and were now flushed, something Reynolds could not resist referring to by rubbing his hands together and then holding them out in her direction, as though warming them at an open fire.

She was rising to her feet, but without making eye contact with the intruder. Davidson asked if it was anything he should know about. Rebus just shrugged. Wylie had lifted her jacket from the back of her chair, picked up her shoulder bag.

“I was calling it a night anyway,” she announced to the room. Reynolds gave a whistle and nudged the air with his elbow.

“What do you reckon, Shug? Nice when love blossoms between colleagues.” Laughter followed her out of the room. In the corridor, she leaned against the wall and let her head drop.

“Long day?” Rebus guessed.

“You ever tried questioning a German anarcho-syndicalist?”

“Not recently.”

“All had to be processed tonight so the courts could have them tomorrow.”

“Today,” Rebus corrected her, tapping his watch. She checked her own.

“Is that really the time?” She sounded exhausted. “I’ll be back here in six hours.”

“I’d offer to buy you a drink if the pubs were still open.”

“I don’t need a drink.”

“A lift home?”

“My car’s outside.” She thought for a moment. “No, it’s not-didn’t bring it in today.”

“Good move, considering.”

“We were warned not to.”

“Foresight is a wonderful thing. And it means I can give you that lift home after all.” Rebus waited until her eyes met his. He was smiling. “You still haven’t asked what I want.”

“I know what you want.” She bristled slightly, and he raised his hands in surrender.

“Easy now,” he told her. “Don’t want you getting all…”

“All what?”

Walking straight into his punch line. “Torn up inside,” he obliged.

Ellen Wylie shared a house with her divorced sister.

It was a terrace in Cramond. The back garden ended in a sheer drop to the River Almond. The night being mild, and Rebus needing to smoke, they sat at a table outside. Wylie kept her voice low-didn’t want the neighbors complaining, and besides, her sister’s bedroom window was open. She brought out mugs of milky tea.

“Nice spot,” Rebus told her. “I like that you can hear the water.”

“There’s a stream just over there.” She pointed into the darkness. “Masks the noise of the planes.”

Rebus nodded his understanding: they were directly under the flight path into Turnhouse Airport. This time of night, it had only taken them fifteen minutes from Torphichen Place. On the way, she’d told him her story.

“So I wrote something for the Web site…not against the law, is it? I was just so pissed off at the system. We bust a gut to get these animals to court, and then the lawyers do their damnedest to get their sentences whittled away to nothing.”

“Is that all it was?”

She’d shifted in the passenger seat. “What else?”

“Tornupinside-sounds like it was more personal.”

She’d stared through the windshield. “No, John, just angry…Too many hours spent on rape cases, sexual assault, domestic abuse-maybe it takes a woman to understand.”

“Which is why you phoned Siobhan back? I recognized your voice straight off.”

“Yes, that was particularly devious of you.”

“My middle name…”

Now, seated in her garden with a cold breeze blowing, Rebus buttoned his jacket and asked about the Web site. How did she find it? Did she know the Jensens? Had she ever met with them…?

“I remember the case” was all she said.

“Vicky Jensen?” She nodded slowly. “Did you work on it?”

A shake of the head. “But I’m glad he’s dead. Show me where he’s buried and I’ll dance a little jig.”

“Edward Isley and Trevor Guest are dead, too.”

“Look, John, all I did was write a bit of a blog…I was letting off steam.”

“And now three of the men listed on the site are dead. A blow to the head and a smack overdose. You’ve worked murders, Ellen…what does that MO tell you?”

“Someone with access to hard drugs.”

“Anything else?”

She thought for a moment. “You tell me.”

“Killer didn’t want a face-to-face with the victims. Maybe because they were bigger and stronger. Didn’t really want them to suffer either-a straight KO and then the injection. Doesn’t that sound like a woman to you?”

“How’s your tea, John?”

“Ellen…”

She slapped a palm against the tabletop. “If they were listed on BeastWatch, they were grade-A scumbags…don’t expect me to feel sorry for them.”

“What about catching the killer?”

“What about it?”

“You want them to get away with it?”

She was staring into the darkness again. The wind was rustling the trees nearby. “Know what we had today, John? We had a war, cut-and-dried-good guys and bad…”

Rebus’s thought: Tell that to Siobhan.

“But it isn’t always like that, is it?” she went on. “Sometimes the line blurs.” She turned her gaze on him. “You should know that better than most, number of corners I’ve seen you cut.”

“I make a lousy role model, Ellen.”

“Maybe so, but you’re planning to find him, aren’t you?”

“Him or her. That’s why I need to get a statement from you.” She opened her mouth to complain, but he held up a hand. “You’re the only person I know who used the site. The Jensens have closed it down, so I can’t be sure what might have been on there.”

“You want me to help?”

“By answering a few questions.”

She gave a harsh, quiet laugh. “You know I’ve got court later today?”

Rebus was lighting another cigarette. “Why Cramond?” he asked. She seemed surprised by the change of subject.

“It’s a village,” she explained. “A village inside a city-best of both worlds.” She paused. “Has the interview already started? Is this you getting me to drop my guard?”

Rebus shook his head. “Just wondered whose idea it was.”

“It’s my house, John. Denise came to live with me after she…” She cleared her throat. “Think I swallowed a bug,” she apologized. “I was going to say, after her divorce.”

Rebus nodded at the explanation. “Well, it’s a peaceful spot, I’ll give you that. Easy out here to forget all about the job.”

The light from the kitchen caught her smile. “I get the feeling it wouldn’t work for you. I’m not sure anything short of a sledgehammer would.”

“Or a few of those,” Rebus countered, nodding toward the row of empty wine bottles lined up beneath the kitchen window.

He took it slow, driving back into town. Loved the city at night, the taxicabs and lolling pedestrians, warm sodium glare from the streetlamps, darkened shops, curtained tenements. There were places he could go-a bakery, a night watchman’s desk, a casino-places where he was known and where tea would be brewed, gossip exchanged. Years back, he could have stopped for a chat with the working girls on Coburg Street, but most of them had either moved on or died. And after he, too, was gone, Edinburgh would remain. These same scenes would be enacted, a play whose run was never ending. Killers would be caught and punished; others would remain at large. The world and the underworld, coexisting down the generations. By week’s end, the G8 circus would have trundled elsewhere. Geldof and Bono would have found new causes. Richard Pennen would be in his boardroom, David Steelforth back at Scotland Yard. Sometimes it felt to Rebus that he was close to seeing the mechanism that connected everything.

Close…but never quite close enough.

The Meadows seemed deserted as he turned up Marchmont Road. Parked at the top of Arden Street and walked back downhill to his tenement. Two or three times a week he got flyers through his mailbox, firms eager to sell his apartment for him. The one upstairs had gone for two hundred K. Add that sort of money to his CID pension and he was, as Siobhan herself had said, “on Easy Street.” Problem was, it wasn’t a destination that appealed. He stooped to pick up the mail from inside the door. There was a menu from a new Indian take-out. He’d pin it up in the kitchen, next to the others. Meantime, he made himself a ham sandwich, ate it standing in the kitchen, staring at the array of empty cans on the work surface. How many bottles had there been in Ellen Wylie’s garden? Fifteen, maybe twenty. A lot of wine. He’d seen an empty Tesco’s bag in the kitchen. She probably did a regular recycling run, same time she did the shopping. Say every two weeks. Twenty bottles in two weeks; ten a week-Denise came to stay with me after she…after her divorce. Rebus hadn’t seen any nighttime insects illuminated against the kitchen window. Ellen had looked washed out. Easy to blame it on the day’s events, but Rebus knew it went deeper. The lines under her bloodshot eyes had taken weeks to accumulate. Her figure had been thickening for some time. He knew that Siobhan had once seen Ellen as a rival-two DSes who’d have to fight tooth and nail for promotion. But lately, Siobhan had stopped saying as much. Maybe because Ellen didn’t look quite so dangerous to her these days…

He poured a glass of water and took it into the living room, gulped it down until only half an inch was left, then added a slug of malt to the remainder. Tipped it back and felt the heat work its way down his throat. Topped it up and settled into his chair. Too late now to put any music on. He rested the glass against his forehead, closed his eyes.

Slept.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

11

The best Glenrothes could offer was a lift to the railway station at Markinch.

Siobhan sat on the train-too early yet for the commuter rush-and looked out at the passing countryside. Not that she saw any of it: her mind was replaying footage of the riot, the same hours of footage she had just walked away from. Sound and fury, swearing and swinging, the clatter of hurled objects and the grunts of exertion. Her thumb was numb from pressure on the remote control. Pause…slow back…slow forward…play. Fast forward…rewind…pause…play. In some of the still photographs, faces had been circled-people the force would want to question. The eyes burned with hatred. Of course, some of them weren’t demonstrators at all-just local troublemakers ready to rumble, smothered in Burberry scarves and baseball caps. In the U.S., they’d probably be called juvenile delinquents, but up here they were neds. One of the team, bringing her coffee and a chocolate bar, had said as much as he stood behind her shoulder.

“Neddy the Ned from Nedtown.”

The woman across from Siobhan on the train had the morning paper open. The riot had made the front page. But so, too, had Tony Blair. He was in Singapore, pitching for London to win the Olympic bid. The year 2012 seemed a long way off; so did Singapore. Siobhan couldn’t believe he was going to make it back to Gleneagles in time to shake all those hands-Bush and Putin, Schröder and Chirac. The paper also said there was little sign of Saturday’s Hyde Park crowd heading north.

“Sorry, is this seat taken?”

Siobhan shook her head and the man squeezed in beside her.

“Wasn’t yesterday terrible?” he said. Siobhan grunted a reply, but the woman across the table said she’d been shopping in Rose Street and had only just escaped being caught up in it. The two then started trading war stories, while Siobhan stared out the window again. The skirmishes had been just that. Police tactics had been unchanged: go in hard; let them know the city’s ours, not theirs. From the footage, there’d been obvious provocation. But they’d been forewarned-no point in joining a demonstration if it didn’t make the news. Anarchists couldn’t afford ad campaigns. Baton charges were their equivalent of free publicity. The photos in the paper proved it: cops with gritted teeth swinging their clubs; rioters defenseless on the ground, being dragged away by faceless uniforms. All very George Orwell. None of it got Siobhan any closer to finding out who had attacked her mother, or why.

But she wasn’t about to give up.

Her eyes stung when she blinked, and every few blinks the world seemed to swim out of focus. She needed sleep but was wired on caffeine and sugar.

“Sorry, but are you all right?”

It was her neighbor again. His hand was brushing her arm. When she blinked her eyes open, she could feel the single tear running down her cheek. She wiped it away.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Just a bit tired.”

“Thought maybe we’d upset you,” the woman across the table was saying, “going on about yesterday…”

Siobhan shook her head, saw that the woman had finished with her paper. “Mind if I…?”

“No, pet, you go ahead.”

Siobhan managed a smile and opened the tabloid, studying the pictures, looking for the photographer’s name…

At Haymarket she lined up for a cab. Got out at the Western General and went straight to the ward. Her father was slurping tea in the reception area. He’d slept in his clothes and hadn’t managed a shave, the bristles gray on his cheeks and chin. He looked old to her, old and suddenly mortal.

“How is she?” Siobhan asked.

“Not too bad. Due to get the scan just before lunch. How about you?”

“Still haven’t found the bastard.”

“I meant, how are you feeling?”

“I’m all right.”

“You were up half the night, weren’t you?”

“Maybe a bit more than half,” she conceded with a smile. Her phone beeped: not a message, just warning her its battery was low. She switched it off. “Can I see her?”

“They’re getting her ready. Said they’d tell me when they’d finished. How’s the outside world?”

“Ready to face another day.”

“Can I buy you a coffee?”

She shook her head. “I’m swimming in the stuff.”

“I think you should get some rest, love. Come see her this afternoon, after the tests.”

“I’ll just say hello first.” She nodded toward the ward doors.

“Then you’ll go home?”

“Promise.”

The morning news: yesterday’s arrests were being sent to the sheriff court on Chambers Street. The court itself would be closed to the public. A protest was taking place outside the Dungavel Immigration Center. Forewarned, the immigration service had already moved the waiting deportees elsewhere. The demonstration would go ahead anyway, organizers said.

Trouble at the Peace Camp in Stirling. People were starting to head for Gleneagles, the police determined to stop them, using Section 60 powers to stop and search without suspicion. In Edinburgh, the cleanup was well advanced. A vehicle loaded with ninety gallons of cooking oil had been detained-the oil would have formed a road slick, causing traffic chaos. Wednesday’s Final Push concert at Murrayfield was coming together. The stage had been built, lighting installed. Midge Ure was hoping for some “decent Scottish summer weather.” Performers and celebrities had started arriving in the city. Richard Branson had flown one of his jets to Edinburgh. Prestwick Airport was gearing up for the next day’s arrivals. An advance guard of diplomats had already arrived. President Bush would be bringing his own sniffer dog, plus a mountain bike so he could maintain his daily exercise regime. Back in the newsroom, the TV presenter read out an e-mail from a viewer, suggesting the summit could have been held on one of the North Sea’s many decommissioned oil platforms, “saving a small fortune in security, and making protest marches an interesting proposition.”

Rebus finished his coffee and turned down the sound. Vans were arriving in the police station lot, ready to transport prisoners to the court. Ellen Wylie was due in around ninety minutes to make her statement. He’d tried Siobhan’s cell a couple of times but it went straight to messaging, meaning she’d switched it off. He’d called Sorbus HQ, only to be told she’d left for Edinburgh. Tried the Western General, but learned only that “Mrs. Clarke has had a comfortable night.” Number of times he’d heard that in his life…A comfortable night: meaning “She’s still alive, if that’s what’s worrying you.” He looked up and saw that a man had entered the CID room.

“Help you?” Rebus asked. Then he recognized the uniform. “Sorry, sir.”

“We’ve not met,” the chief constable said, holding out his hand. “I’m James Corbyn.”

Rebus returned the handshake, noting that Corbyn wasn’t a Freemason. “DI Rebus,” he said.

“Are you working with DS Clarke on the Auchterarder case?”

“That’s right, sir.”

“I’ve been trying to reach her. She owes me an update.”

“Some interesting developments, sir. There’s a Web site set up by a local couple. Might be how the killer chose his victims.”

“You’ve got names for all three?”

“Yes, sir. Same MO each time.”

“Could there be others?”

“No way of knowing.”

“Will he stop at three?”

“Again, sir, hard to tell.”

The chief constable was patrolling the room, inspecting wall charts, desks, computer monitors. “I told Clarke she had until tomorrow. After that, we shut the case down till the G8 is done and dusted.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“Media haven’t got hold of it yet. No reason we can’t sit on it for a few days.”

“Trails have a way of going cold, sir. If we give suspects that bit of extra time to get their stories straight…”

“You’ve got suspects?” Corbyn had turned toward Rebus.

“Not as such, sir, but there are people we’re talking to.”

“G8 has to take priority, Rebus.”

“Mind if I ask why, sir?”

Corbyn glared at him. “Because the world’s eight most powerful men are going to be in Scotland, staying at the country’s best hotel. That’s the story everyone wants. The fact that a serial killer is stalking the central belt might just get in the way, don’t you think?”

“Actually, sir, only one of the victims is from Scotland.”

The chief constable walked to within a few inches of Rebus. “Don’t try to be smart, DI Rebus. And don’t think I haven’t dealt with your kind before.”

“What kind is that, sir?”

“The kind that thinks because he’s been around awhile, he knows better than anyone else. You know what they say about cars-more miles on the clock, closer they are to being scrapped.”

“Thing is, sir, I prefer vintage cars to the stuff they’re churning out today. Shall I pass your message along to DS Clarke? I expect you’ve got better things to be doing with your time. Off to Gleneagles yourself at any point?”

“None of your bloody business.”

“Message received.” Rebus gave the chief constable something that could have been construed as a salute.

“You’ll shut this thing down.” Corbyn slapped a hand against some of the paperwork on Rebus’s desk. “And remember-DS Clarke is in charge, not you, Inspector.” His eyes narrowed a little. Then, seeing that Rebus wasn’t about to reply, he stalked out of the room. Rebus waited the best part of a minute before exhaling, then made a phone call.

“Mairie? Any news for me?” He listened to her apology. “Well, never mind. I’ve got a wee bonus here for you, if you can manage the price of a cup of coffee…”

Multrees Walk took him less than ten minutes on foot. It was a new development adjacent to the Harvey Nichols department store, and some of the shops were still unrented. But the Vin Caffe was open for snacks and Italian coffee, and Rebus ordered a double espresso.

“And she’s paying,” he added as Mairie Henderson arrived.

“Guess who’s covering the sheriff court this afternoon?” She slid into her seat.

“And that’s your excuse for treading water on Richard Pennen?”

She glared at him. “John, what does it matter if Pennen paid for an MP’s hotel room? There’s nothing to prove it was cash-for-contracts. If Webster’s area was arms procurement, I might have the beginnings of a story.” She made an exasperated sound and gave a theatrical shrug of the shoulders. “Anyway, I’m not giving up yet. Let me talk to a few more people about Richard Pennen.”

Rebus ran a hand across his face. “It’s just the way they’re going about protecting him. Not just Pennen, actually-everyone who was there that night. No way we’re going to get near them.”

“You really think Webster was given a shove over that wall?”

“It’s a possibility. One of the guards thought there was an intruder.”

“Well, if it was an intruder, reason dictates it wasn’t anyone at the actual dinner.” She angled her face, seeking his agreement. When he failed to concede, she straightened again. “Know what I think? I think all of this is because there’s a bit of the anarchist in you. You’re on their side, and it annoys you that you’ve somehow ended up working for The Man.”

Rebus snorted a laugh. “Where did you get that from?”

She laughed with him. “I’m right though, aren’t I? You’ve always seen yourself as being on the outside-” She broke off as their coffees arrived, dug her spoon into her cappuccino and scooped foam into her mouth.

“I do my best work on the margins,” Rebus said thoughtfully.

She nodded. “That’s why we used to get along so well.”

“Until you chose Cafferty instead.”

She gave another shrug. “He’s more like you than you care to admit.”

“And I was just about to do you this huge favor.”

“Okay.” She narrowed her eyes. “The pair of you are like apples and oranges.”

“That’s better.” He handed her an envelope. “Typed by my own fair hands, so the spelling might not be up to your own high journalistic standard.”

“What is it?” She was unfolding the single sheet of paper.

“Something we were keeping the lid on: two more victims, same killer as Cyril Colliar. I can’t give you everything we’ve got, but this’ll get you started.”

“Christ, John-” She looked up at him.

“What?”

“Why are you giving me this?”

“My latent anarchic streak?” he pretended to guess.

“It might not even make the front page, not this week.”

“So?”

“Any week of the year except this…”

“Are you checking my gift horse’s mouth?”

“This stuff about the Web site…” She was scanning the sheet for a second time.

“It’s all kosher, Mairie. If you don’t have a use for it…” He held out his hand to take it back.

“What’s a ‘serial kilter’? Is that someone who can’t stop making kilts?”

“Give it back.”

“Who is it that’s pissed you off?” she asked with a smile. “You wouldn’t be doing this otherwise.”

“Just hand it over and we’ll say no more.”

But she slid the page back into the envelope and folded it into her pocket. “If things stay calm for the rest of the day, maybe my editor can be persuaded.”

“Stress the link with the Web site,” Rebus advised. “Might help the others on the list be a bit more cautious.”

“They’ve not been told?”

“Haven’t got around to it. And if the chief constable gets his way, they won’t find out till next week.”

“By which time the killer could strike again?”

Rebus nodded.

“So really you’re doing this to save these scuzzballs’ lives?”

“To protect and serve,” Rebus said, trying another salute.

“And not because you’ve had a falling-out with the chief constable?”

Rebus shook his head slowly, as if disappointed in her. “And I thought I was the one with the cynical streak…You’ll really keep looking at Richard Pennen?”

“For a little while longer.” She waved the sheet of paper at him. “Got to retype all of this first though. Didn’t realize English wasn’t your first language.”

Siobhan had headed home and run a bath, closing her eyes after getting in, then waking with a jolt, chin touching the surface of the tepid water. She’d gotten out and changed her clothes, ordered a taxi, and headed for the garage where her car was ready. She’d driven to Niddrie, trusting that lightning wouldn’t strike twice…actually, three times, though she’d managed to get the St. Leonard’s loaner back to its berth without anyone spotting her. If anyone came asking, she could always say the damage must have been done in the car lot.

There was a single-decker bus idling next to the pavement, its driver busy with his newspaper. A few campers passed Siobhan on their way out to it, knapsacks bulging. They gave sleepy smiles. Bobby Greig was watching them leave. Siobhan looked around and saw that others were busy dismantling their tents.

“Saturday was our busiest night,” Greig explained. “Each day since has been a bit quieter.”

“You didn’t have to turn people away then?”

His mouth twitched. “Facilities for fifteen thousand, and only two could be bothered to show.” He paused. “Your ‘friends’ didn’t come home last night.” The way he said it let her know he’d worked something out.

“My parents,” she confirmed.

“And why didn’t you want me to know that?”

“I’m not sure, Bobby. Maybe I didn’t think a cop’s mum and dad would be safe here.”

“So they’re staying with you?”

She shook her head. “One of the riot police cracked my mum across her face. She spent the night in a hospital bed.”

“Sorry to hear that. Anything I can do?”

She shook her head again. “Any more trouble with the locals?”

“Another standoff last night.”

“Persistent little jerks, aren’t they?”

“Councilman happened by again and made the truce.”

“Tench?”

Greig nodded. “He was showing a bigwig around. Some urban regeneration thing.”

“Area could use it. What sort of bigwig?”

Greig shrugged. “Government.” He ran his fingers over his shaved head. “This place’ll be dead soon. Good riddance to it.”

Siobhan didn’t ask if he meant the camp or Niddrie itself. She turned and made for her parents’ tent. Unzipped the flap and looked inside. Everything was intact, but with a few additions. It looked as if those who were moving out had decided to leave gifts of leftover food, candles, and water.

“Where are they?”

Siobhan recognized Santal’s voice. She backed out of the tent and straightened up. Santal, too, was toting a knapsack and holding a bottle of water.

“Heading out?” Siobhan asked.

“Bus to Stirling. I wanted to say good-bye.”

“You’re off to the Peace Camp?” Siobhan watched Santal’s braids flex as she nodded. “Were you at Princes Street yesterday?”

“Last time I saw your parents. What’s happened to them?”

“Someone belted my mum. She’s in the hospital.”

“Christ, that’s hellish…Was it…” She paused. “One of your lot?”

“One of my lot,” Siobhan echoed. “And I want him caught. Lucky you’re still here.”

“Why?”

“Did you get any film? I thought maybe I could look at it.”

But Santal was shaking her head.

“Don’t worry,” Siobhan assured her, “I’m not looking to…It’s the uniforms I’m interested in, not the demonstration itself.” But Santal kept shaking her head.

“I didn’t have my camera.” A bald lie.

“Come on, Santal. Surely you want to help.”

“Plenty of others taking photos.” She gestured around the camp with an outstretched arm. “Ask them.”

“I’m asking you.”

“The bus is leaving…” She pushed her way past Siobhan.

“Any message for my mum?” Siobhan called after her. “Shall I bring them to see you at the Peace Camp?” But the figure kept moving. Siobhan cursed under her breath. Should have known better: to Santal she was still a pig, the filth, the cops. Still the enemy. She found herself standing beside Bobby Greig as the bus filled, its door closing with a hiss of air. The sound of communal singing came from inside. A few of the passengers waved out at Greig. He waved back.

“Not a bad bunch,” he observed to Siobhan, offering her a piece of gum, “for hippies, I mean.” Then he slid his hands into his pockets. “Got a ticket for tomorrow night?”

“Failed in the attempt,” she admitted.

“My firm’s doing security…”

She stared at him. “You’ve got a spare?”

“Not exactly, but I’ll be there, meaning you could be ‘plus one.’”

“You’re joking, right?”

“Not a date or anything…offer’s there if you want it.”

“It’s very generous, Bobby.”

“Up to you.” He was looking everywhere but at her.

“Can I take your number, let you know tomorrow?”

“Thinking something better might come up?”

She shook her head. “Work might come up,” she corrected him.

“Everyone’s allowed a night off, DS Clarke.”

“Call me Siobhan,” she insisted.

“Where are you?” Rebus asked into the cell.

“On my way to the Scotsman.”

“What’s at the Scotsman?”

“More photos.”

“Your phone’s been switched off.”

“I needed to charge it.”

“Well, I’ve just been taking a statement from Tornupinside.”

“Who?”

“I told you yesterday…” But then he remembered that she’d had other things on her mind. So he explained again about the blog and how he’d sent a message, and Ellen Wylie had called back…

“Whoa, back up,” Siobhan said. “Our Ellen Wylie?”

“Wrote a long and angry piece for BeastWatch.”

“But why?”

“Because the system’s letting the sisterhood down,” Rebus answered.

“Are those her exact words?”

“I’ve got them on tape. Of course, the one thing I don’t have is corroboration, since there was no one around to assist with the interview.”

“Sorry about that. So is Ellen a suspect?”

“Listen to the tape, then you can tell me.” Rebus looked around the CID room. The windows needed a clean, but what was the point when all they looked down on was the rear parking lot? A lick of paint would cheer up the walls, but soon be covered by scene-of-crime photos and victim details.

“Maybe it’s because of her sister,” Siobhan was saying.

“What?”

“Ellen’s sister Denise.”

“What about her?”

“She moved in with Ellen a year or so back…maybe a bit less actually. Left her partner.”

“So?”

“Her abusive partner. That was the story I heard. They lived in Glasgow. Police were called in a few times but never got a charge to stick. Had to get a restraint order on him, I think.”

Came to live with me after she…after the divorce. Suddenly, the “bug” Ellen had swallowed made sense.

“I didn’t know,” Rebus said quietly.

“No, well…”

“Well what?”

“It’s the sort of thing women talk to other women about.”

“But not to men, is that what you’re saying? And we’re the ones who’re supposed to be sexist.” Rebus rubbed his free hand over the back of his neck. The skin felt tight. “So Denise goes to live with Ellen, and next thing Ellen’s on the Net, looking for sites like BeastWatch…”

And staying in at night with her sister, overeating, drinking too much…

“Maybe I could talk to them,” Siobhan suggested.

“Haven’t you enough on your plate? How is your mum anyway?”

“She’s having a scan. I was planning to go see her next.”

“Then do it. I’m assuming you didn’t get anything from Glenrothes?”

“Nothing but a sore back.”

“There’s another call coming in. I better go. Can we meet up later?”

“Sure thing.”

“Because the chief constable stopped by.”

“Sounds ominous.”

“But it can wait.” Rebus pushed the button to pick up the next caller. “DI Rebus,” he stated.

“I’m at the courts,” Mairie Henderson said. “Come see what I’ve got for you.” There were hoots and cheers in the background. “Got to go,” she said.

Rebus headed downstairs and hitched a lift in a patrol car. Neither uniform had been involved in yesterday’s running battles.

“Backup,” they explained gloomily. “Sat on a bus for four hours listening to it on the radio. You giving evidence, Inspector?”

Rebus said nothing until the car turned into Chambers Street. “Drop me here,” he ordered.

“You’re welcome,” the driver informed him in a growl, but only after Rebus had climbed out.

The patrol car did a screeching U-turn, drawing the attention of the media positioned outside the sheriff court. Rebus stood across the street, lighting a cigarette next to the steps of the Royal Scottish Museum. Another protester was leaving the court building to cheers and whoops from his comrades. His fist punched the air as they slapped him on the back, press photographers capturing the moment.

“How many?” Rebus asked, aware that Mairie Henderson was standing next to him, notebook and tape recorder in hand.

“About twenty so far. Some of them have been farmed out to other courts.”

“Any quotes I should be looking out for tomorrow?”

“How about ‘Smash the system’?” She glanced at her notes. “Or ‘Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker’?”

“Seems like a fair swap.”

“It’s Malcolm X, apparently.” She flipped her notebook shut. “They’re all being issued restraining orders. Can’t go anywhere near Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Stirling, central Edinburgh-” She paused. “Nice touch though: one guy said he had a ticket for T in the Park this weekend, so the judge said he could go to Kinross.”

“Siobhan’s going to that,” Rebus said. “Be nice to have the Colliar inquiry wrapped up in time.”

“In which case this may not be good news.”

“What is it, Mairie?”

“The Clootie Well. I got a friend at the paper to do some background.”

“And?”

“And there are others.”

“How many?”

“At least one in Scotland. It’s on the Black Isle.”

“North of Inverness?”

She nodded. “Follow me,” she said, turning and heading for the museum’s main door. Inside she took a right, into the Museum of Scotland. The place was busy with families-school holidays, kids with too much energy. The smaller ones were squealing and bouncing on their toes.

“What are we doing here?” Rebus asked. But Mairie was already at the elevators. They got off and climbed some stairs. Through the windows, Rebus had a great view down onto the sheriff court. But Mairie was leading him into the farthest corner of the building. “I’ve been here before,” Rebus told her.

“The section on death and belief,” she explained.

“There are some wee coffins with dolls inside…”

This was the very display she stopped at, and Rebus realized there was an old black-and-white photograph behind the glass.

A photo of the Black Isle’s Clootie Well.

“Locals have been hanging bits of cloth there for centuries. I’ve got my friend widening the search to England and Wales, on the off-chance. Think it’s worth a look?”

“Black Isle’s got to be a two-hour drive,” Rebus mused, eyes still on the photo. The scraps of material looked almost batlike, clinging to thin, bare branches. Next to the photo sat witches’ casting sticks, bits of bone protruding from hollowed pebbles. Death and belief…

“More like three, this time of year,” Mairie was telling him. “All those RVs to get past.”

Rebus nodded. The A9 north of Perth was notoriously slow. “Might just get the locals to take a look. Thanks, Mairie.”

“I got these from the Net.” She handed over a few sheets, detailing the history of the Clootie Well near Fortrose. There were grainy photographs-including a copy of the one on display-which showed it to be almost identical to its namesake in Auchterarder.

“Thanks again.” He rolled the sheets up and put them in his jacket pocket. “Did your editor take the bait?” They started retracing their steps to the elevator.

“Depends. A riot tonight might see us relegated to page five.”

“A gamble worth taking.”

“Is there anything else you can tell me, John?”

“I’ve given you a scoop-what else do you want?”

“I want to know you’re not just using me.” She pushed the elevator button.

“Would I do a thing like that?”

“Of course you bloody well would.” They were quiet all the way back out to the steps. Mairie watched the action across the street. Another protester, another clenched-fist salute. “You’ve kept the lid on this since Friday. Aren’t you scared the killer will go deep cover once he sees it in the paper?”

“Can’t get any deeper than he is right now.” He looked at her. “Besides, all we had on Friday was Cyril Colliar. It was Cafferty gave us the rest.”

Her face hardened. “Cafferty?”

“You told him the patch from Colliar’s jacket had turned up. He paid me a visit. Went away with the other two names and came back with the news they were dead.”

“You’ve been using Cafferty?” She sounded incredulous.

“Without him telling you, Mairie-that’s what I’m getting at. Try trading with him, you’ll find it’s all one-way traffic. Everything I’ve given you on the killings, he had it first. But he wasn’t going to tell you.”

“You seem to be under some sort of misapprehension that the two of us are close.”

“Close enough for you to go straight to him with the news about Colliar.”

“That was a promise of long standing-any new developments, he wanted to know. Don’t think I’m about to apologize.” Her eyes narrowed and she pointed across the street. “What’s Gareth Tench doing here?”

“The councilman, you mean?” Rebus followed the path of her finger. “Preaching to the heathen, maybe,” he offered, watching as Tench shuffled along crablike behind the line of photographers. “Maybe he wants you to do another interview.”

“How did you know about…? I suppose Siobhan told you.”

“No secrets between Siobhan and me.” Rebus gave a wink.

“So where is she now?”

“She’s down at the Scotsman.”

“My eyes must be deceiving me then.” Mairie was pointing again. Sure enough, it was Siobhan, and Tench had stopped right in front of her, the two of them exchanging a handshake. “No secrets between you two, eh?”

But Rebus was already on his way. This end of the street had been closed to traffic, easy enough to cross.

“Hiya,” he said. “Sudden change of mind?”

Siobhan gave a little smile and introduced him to Tench.

“Inspector,” the councilman said with a bow of his head.

“You’re a fan of street theater, Councilman Tench?”

“I don’t mind it at festival time,” Tench said with a chuckle.

“Used to do a bit yourself, didn’t you?”

Tench turned to Siobhan. “The inspector means my little Sunday-morning sermons at the foot of the Mound. Doubtless he paused a moment on his way to Communion.”

“Don’t seem to see you there anymore,” Rebus added. “Did you lose your faith?”

“Far from it, Inspector. But there are ways of getting a point across besides preaching.” His face composed itself into a more serious professionalism. “I’m here because a couple of my constituents got caught up in all that trouble yesterday.”

“Innocent bystanders, I don’t doubt,” Rebus commented.

Tench’s eyes flitted to him, then back to Siobhan. “The inspector must be a joy to work with.”

“Nonstop laughs,” Siobhan agreed.

“Ah! And the Fourth Estate, too!” Tench exclaimed, holding out a hand toward Mairie, who’d finally decided to join them. “When is our article running? I’ll assume you know these two guardians of truth.” He gestured toward Rebus and Siobhan. “You did promise me a wee peek at the contents before publishing,” he reminded Mairie.

“Did I?” She was trying to look surprised. Tench wasn’t falling for it. He turned to the two detectives.

“I think I need to have a word in private…”

“Don’t mind us,” Rebus told him. “Siobhan and I need a minute too.”

“We do?” But Rebus had already turned away, leaving her little option but to follow.

“Sandy Bell’s will be open,” he told her, once they were out of earshot. But she was checking the crowd.

“Someone I need to see,” she explained. “Photographer I know…apparently he’s here somewhere.” She stood on tiptoe. “Ahh…” Pushed her way into the scrum of journalists. The photographers were checking the backs of each other’s cameras, examining the digital screens to see what they’d got. Rebus waited impatiently while Siobhan talked to a wiry figure with cropped salt-and-pepper hair. At least he had an explanation now: she’d gone to the Scotsman only to be told that the person she needed to see was right here. The photographer took a bit of persuading, but eventually followed her back to where Rebus was standing with arms folded.

“This is Mungo,” Siobhan said.

“Would Mungo like a drink?” Rebus asked.

“I’d like that very much,” the photographer decided, wiping a sheen of sweat from his forehead. The gray in his hair was premature-probably wasn’t much older than Siobhan herself. He had a chiseled, weather-beaten face and an accent to match.

“Western Isles?” Rebus guessed.

“Lewis,” Mungo confirmed, as Rebus led the way to Sandy Bell’s. There was another cheer from behind them, and they turned to see a young man exiting the gates of the sheriff court.

“I think I know him,” Siobhan said quietly. “He’s the one who’s been tormenting the campsite.”

“Bit of respite last night then,” Rebus stated. “He’ll have been in the cells.” As he spoke, he realized he was rubbing his left hand with his right. When the young man gave a salute to the spectators, it was returned by several of the crowd.

Including, as a bemused Mairie Henderson watched, Councilman Gareth Tench.

12

Sandy Bell’s had only been open ten minutes, but a couple of regulars had already settled themselves at the bar.

“Just a half of Best,” Mungo said when asked what he was drinking. Siobhan wanted orange juice. Rebus decided he could tackle a pint. They sat around a table. The bar’s narrow and shadowy interior smelled of brass polish and bleach. Siobhan explained to Mungo what she wanted, and he opened his camera bag, lifting out a small white box.

“An iPod?” Siobhan guessed.

“Useful for storing pictures,” Mungo explained. He showed her how to work it, and then apologized that he hadn’t captured the whole day.

“So how many photos are on there?” Rebus asked as Siobhan demonstrated the small color screen to him, using the flywheel to flip to and fro among stills.

“A couple of hundred,” Mungo said. “I’ve weeded out the no-hopers.”

“Is it all right if I look at them now?” Siobhan asked. Mungo just shrugged. Rebus offered him the pack of cigarettes.

“Actually, I’m allergic,” the photographer warned. So Rebus took his addiction to the other end of the bar, next to the window. As he stood there, staring out onto Forrest Road, he saw Councilman Tench walking toward the Meadows, busy talking with the young man from the court. Tench was giving his constituent’s back a pat of reassurance; no sign of Mairie. Rebus finished his cigarette and returned to the table. Siobhan turned the iPod around so he could see its screen.

“My mum,” she said. Rebus took the device from her and peered at it.

“Second row back?” he said. Siobhan nodded excitedly. “Looks like she’s trying to get out.”

“Exactly.”

“Before she was hit?” Rebus was studying the faces behind the riot shields, cops with their visors down, teeth bared.

“It seems I failed to capture that particular moment,” Mungo admitted.

“She’s definitely trying to push her way back through the crowd,” Siobhan stressed. “She wanted to get away.”

“So why give her a whack across the face?” Rebus asked.

“The way it worked,” Mungo offered, enunciating each syllable, “the leaders would lash out at the police line, then retreat. Chances are, anyone left at the front would suffer the consequences. Picture desks then have to choose what to publish.”

“And it’s usually the riot cops retaliating?” Rebus guessed. He held the screen a little farther from his face. “Can’t really identify any of the police.”

“No ID on their epaulets either,” Siobhan pointed out. “All nice and anonymous. Can’t even tell which force they’re from. Some of them have letters stenciled above their visors-XS, for example. Could that be a code?”

Rebus shrugged. He was remembering Jacko and his pals…no insignia on display there either. Siobhan seemed to remember something and gave her watch a quick check. “I need to call the hospital.” She rose from her seat and headed outdoors.

“Another?” Rebus asked, pointing at Mungo’s glass. The photographer shook his head. “Tell me, what else are you covering this week?”

Mungo puffed out his cheeks. “Bits and pieces.”

“The VIPs?”

“Given the chance.”

“Don’t suppose you were working Friday night?”

“As a matter of fact I was.”

“That big dinner at the castle?”

Mungo nodded. “Editor fancied a pic of the foreign secretary. The ones I got were pretty feeble-that’s what happens when you aim a flash at a windshield.”

“What about Ben Webster?”

Mungo shook his head. “Didn’t even know who he was, more’s the pity-it would have been the last-ever photo of him.”

“We took a few at the morgue, if that makes you feel any better,” Rebus said. Then, as Mungo smiled a soulful smile: “I wouldn’t mind a look at the ones you did get.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“They’re not on your little machine then?”

The photographer shook his head. “That lot are on my laptop. It’s mostly just cars whizzing up Castle Hill-we weren’t allowed as far as the Esplanade.” He had a thought. “You know, they’ll have taken an official portrait at the dinner itself. You could always ask to see that, if you’re really interested.”

“I doubt they’d just hand it over.”

Mungo gave a wink. “Leave it to me,” he said. Then, as he watched Rebus drain his glass: “Funny to think it’ll be back to old clothes and porridge next week.”

Rebus smiled and wiped his thumb across his mouth. “My dad used to say that when we came back from vacation.”

“Don’t suppose Edinburgh will ever see anything like this again.”

“Not in my lifetime,” Rebus conceded.

“Think any of it will make a difference?” Rebus just shook his head. “My girlfriend gave me this book, all about 1968-the Prague spring and the Paris riots.”

Think we dropped the baton, Rebus thought to himself. “I lived through 1968, son. Didn’t mean anything at the time.” He paused. “Or since, come to that.”

“You didn’t tune in and drop out?”

“I was in the army-short hair and an attitude.” Siobhan was returning to the table. “Any news?” he asked her.

“They’ve not found anything. She’s off to the eye pavilion for some tests, and that’s that.”

“Western’s discharged her?” Rebus watched Siobhan nod. She picked up the iPod again. “Something else I wanted to show you.” Rebus heard the wheel click. She turned the screen toward him. “See the woman at the far right? The one with the braids?”

Rebus saw. Mungo’s camera was focused on the line of riot shields, but at the top of the picture he’d caught some onlookers, most holding camera phones in front of their faces. The woman with the braids, however, was toting some sort of video.

“That’s Santal,” Siobhan stated.

“And who’s Santal when she’s at home?”

“Didn’t I tell you? She was camping next door to my mum and dad.”

“Funny sort of name…reckon she was born with it?”

“Means ‘sandalwood,’” Siobhan told him.

“Lovely-smelling soap,” Mungo added. Siobhan ignored him.

“See what she’s doing?” she asked Rebus, holding the iPod close to him.

“Same as everyone else.”

“Not exactly.” Siobhan turned the machine toward Mungo.

“They’re all pointing their phones toward the police,” he answered, nodding.

“All except Santal.” Siobhan angled the screen toward Rebus again, and rubbed the flywheel with her thumb, accessing the next photo. “See?”

Rebus saw but wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“Mostly,” Mungo obliged, “they want photos of the police-useful propaganda.”

“But Santal’s photographing the protesters.”

“Meaning she might have caught your mum,” Rebus offered.

“I asked her at the campsite, she wouldn’t show me. What’s more, I saw her at that demonstration on Saturday-she was taking pictures then, too.”

“I’m not sure I get it,” Rebus admitted.

“Me neither, but it could mean a trip to Stirling.” She looked at Rebus.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because that’s where she was headed this morning.” She paused. “Think my absence will be noted?”

“Chief constable wants the Clootie Well put on ice anyway.” He reached into his pocket. “I meant to say…” Handing her the scrolled sheets. “We’ve another Clootie Well on the Black Isle.”

“It’s not really an island, you know,” Mungo piped up. “The Black Isle, I mean.”

“You’ll be telling us next it’s not black either,” Rebus scolded him.

“The soil’s supposed to be black,” Mungo conceded, “but not so you’d notice. I know the spot you’re talking about, though-we had a vacation up there last summer. Bits of rags hanging from the trees.” He screwed up his face in distaste. Siobhan had finished reading.

“You want to take a look?” she asked. Rebus shook his head.

“But someone should.”

“Even when the case is supposed to be on ice?”

“Not until tomorrow,” Rebus said. “That’s what the chief constable specified. But you’re the one he put in charge…up to you how we play it.” He leaned back in his seat, the wood creaking in protest.

“Eye pavilion’s five minutes’ walk,” Siobhan mused. “I was thinking I might head over there.”

“And a wee drive to Stirling thereafter?”

“Think I’ll pass for a hippie chick?”

“Might be problematic,” Mungo chipped in.

“I’ve got a pair of combats in the wardrobe,” Siobhan argued. Her eyes fixed on Rebus. “Means I’m leaving you in charge, John. Any disturbance you cause, I’ll be the one with the bruises.”

“Understood, boss,” Rebus said. “Now, whose round is it?”

But Mungo had to get to his next job, and Siobhan was heading for the hospital, leaving Rebus alone in the pub.

“One for the road,” he muttered to himself. Standing at the bar, waiting for his drink to be poured, staring at the optics, he thought again of that photo…the woman with the braids…Siobhan called her Santal, but she reminded Rebus of someone. Screen had been too small for him really to get a good look. Should have asked Mungo for a print…

“Day off?” the barman asked as he placed the pint in front of Rebus.

“Man of leisure, that’s me,” Rebus confirmed, lifting the glass to his mouth.

“Thanks for coming back in,” Rebus said. “How was court?”

“I wasn’t needed.” Ellen Wylie placed her shoulder bag and attaché case on the floor of the CID room.

“Can I fix you a coffee?”

“Got an espresso machine?”

“In here, we call it by its proper Italian name.”

“And what’s that?”

“A kettle.”

“That joke’s as weak as I suspect the coffee will be. How can I help you, John?” She eased her jacket off. Rebus was already in shirt sleeves. Summer, and the station’s heating was on. No apparent means of adjusting the radiators. Come October, they’d be lukewarm. Wylie was looking at the case notes spread across three desks.

“Am I in there?” she asked.

“Not yet.”

“But I will be.” She picked up one of the Cyril Colliar mug shots, held it by its corner, as if fearing contamination of some kind.

“You didn’t tell me about Denise,” Rebus commented.

“I don’t remember you asking.”

“She had an abusive partner?”

Wylie’s face twisted. “He was a piece of work.”

“Was?”

She stared at him. “All I mean is, he’s out of our lives. You’re not going to find bits of him at Clootie Well.” A photo of the site was pinned to the wall; she studied it, angling her head. Then she turned and cast her gaze around the room. “Got your work cut out, John,” she stated.

“Some help wouldn’t go amiss.”

“Where’s Siobhan?”

“Other business.” He was looking at her meaningfully.

“Why the hell should I help you?”

Rebus shrugged. “Only one reason I can think of-you’re curious.”

“Just like you, you mean?”

He nodded. “Two killings in England, one in Scotland. I’m finding it hard to work out how he’s choosing them. They weren’t listed together on the site…didn’t know each other…crimes they committed are similar but not identical. They chose all sorts of victims…”

“All three served time, right?”

“Different jails though.”

“All the same, word travels. Ex-cons might talk to other ex-cons, pass along the name of a particular sleazeball. Sex offenders aren’t liked by other inmates.”

“It’s a point.” Rebus pretended to consider it. Really, he didn’t see it, but he wanted her thinking.

“You’ve spoken to the other police forces?” she asked.

“Not yet. I think Siobhan sent written requests.”

“Don’t you need the personal touch? See what they can tell you about Isley and Guest?”

“I’m a bit swamped, Ellen.”

Their eyes met. He could see she was hooked-for the moment.

“You really want me helping?” she asked.

“You’re not a suspect, Ellen,” he said, trying for sincerity. “And you know more about all of this than Siobhan and me.”

“How’s she going to feel about me coming on board?”

“She’ll be fine.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” She thought for a moment, then gave a sigh. “I posted one message on the site, John. I never met the Jensens…”

Rebus merely shrugged. She took a minute to make the decision. “They arrested him, you know-Denise’s-” Swallowed back the next word, couldn’t bring herself to say partner, lover, man. “Nothing ever came of it.”

“What you mean is, he was never jailed.”

“She’s still terrified of him,” she said quietly, “and he’s still out there.” She unbuttoned the sleeves of her blouse and started rolling them up. “Okay, tell me who I should be calling.”

He gave her numbers for Tyneside and Lancashire, then got on the phone himself. Inverness sounded disbelieving at first. “You want us to what?” Rebus could hear a hand unsuccessfully smothering the mouthpiece at the other end. “Edinburgh want us taking snaps o’ the Clootie Well. We used to go there for picnics when I was a lad…” The receiver changed hands.

“This is DS Johnson. Who am I speaking to?”

“DI Rebus, B Division in Edinburgh.”

“Thought you lot had your hands full with all the Trots and Chairman Maos.” There was laughter in the background.

“That may be so, but we also have three murders. Evidence from all three was found in Auchterarder, at a local spot known as the Clootie Well.”

“There’s only one Clootie Well, Inspector.”

“Apparently not. Might be that the one you’ve got up there also has bits of evidence draped over its branches.”

Bait the detective sergeant could not refuse. Few enough moments of excitement in the Northern Constabulary.

“Let’s start with photos of the scene,” Rebus went on. “Plenty of close-ups, and check for anything intact-jeans, jackets. We found a cash card in a pocket. Best if you can send me the photos as an e-mail. If I can’t open it, somebody here will be able to.” He looked across to Ellen Wylie. She sat on the corner of a desk, skirt straining at the thigh. She was playing with a pen as she talked into her receiver.

“Your name again?” DS Johnson was asking.

“DI Rebus. I’m based at Gayfield Square.” Rebus gave a contact number and his e-mail. He could hear Johnson writing the information down.

“And if we do have anything up here?”

“Means our guy has been busy.”

“All right with you if I call this in? Just want to be sure you’re not winding me up.”

“Be my guest. My chief constable’s called James Corbyn-he knows all about it. But don’t waste more time than you have to.”

“There’s a constable here, his dad does portraits and graduations.”

“Doesn’t mean to say the constable knows one end of a camera from the other.”

“I wasn’t thinking of him-I was thinking of his dad.”

“Whatever works,” Rebus said, putting down the phone just as Ellen Wylie was doing the same.

“Any luck?” she asked.

“They’re going to send a photographer, if he’s not too busy at a wedding or kid’s birthday. How about you?”

“The officer in charge of the Guest investigation, I couldn’t speak to him personally but one of his colleagues filled me in. There’s some additional paperwork on its way to us. Reading between the lines, they weren’t busting a gut on the case.”

“It’s what they always tell you in training-the perfect murder is where nobody’s looking for the victim.”

Wylie nodded. “Or in this case, where no one’s grieving. They thought maybe it was a drug deal gone wrong.”

“Now that’s original. Any evidence that Mr. Guest was a user?”

“Apparently so. Could have been dealing, too, owed money for goods and couldn’t…” She saw the look on Rebus’s face.

“Lazy thinking, Ellen. Same thing might explain why no one thought to connect the three killings.”

“Because nobody was trying very hard?” she guessed.

Rebus nodded slowly.

“Well,” she said, “you can ask him yourself.”

“Ask who?”

“Reason I couldn’t talk to the boss is that he’s right here.”

“Here?”

“Sent to Lothian and Borders CID.” She glanced down at her notes. “He’s a detective sergeant, name of Stan Hackman.”

“So where can I find him?”

“His pal suggested the student residences.”

“Pollock Halls?”

She shrugged, picked up the notepad and turned it toward him. “I’ve got his cell, if that helps.” As Rebus stalked toward her, she tore off the sheet and held it out to him. He snatched at it.

“Get on to whoever led the Isley inquiry,” he said, “see what you can get from them. I’ll go have a word with Hackman.”

“You forgot to say thank you.” Then, watching him shrug his arms back into the sleeves of his jacket: “Remember Brian Holmes?”

“I used to work with him.”

She nodded. “He told me once you had a nickname for him. Used to call him Shoeleather because he did all the donkey work.”

“Donkeys don’t wear shoes, do they?”

“You know what I mean, John. You’re swanning off and leaving me here-it’s not even my office! What does that make me?” She had picked up the telephone receiver and was waving it as she spoke.

“Switchboard, maybe?” he pretended to guess, heading for the exit.

13

Siobhan wouldn’t take no for an answer.

“I think,” Teddy Clarke said to his wife, “maybe we should listen to her this time.”

Siobhan’s mother wore a gauze patch over one eye. Her other eye was bruised, and there was a cut to the side of her nose. The painkillers seemed to have dulled her resolve; she just nodded when her husband spoke.

“What about clothes?” Mr. Clarke said as they got into the taxi.

“You can go to the camp later,” Siobhan told him, “bring back what you need.”

“We’d booked places on the bus for tomorrow,” he mused as Siobhan gave the driver directions to her place. She knew he meant one of the protest buses: a convoy heading to the G8. His wife said something he didn’t quite catch. He leaned closer, squeezing her hand, and she repeated it for him.

“We’re still going.” Her husband looked hesitant. “Doctor doesn’t see a problem,” Eve Clarke went on, clearly enough for Siobhan to hear.

“You can decide in the morning,” Siobhan said. “Let’s concentrate on today first, eh?”

Teddy Clarke smiled at his wife. “Told you she’d changed,” he reminded her.

When they reached the apartment, Siobhan paid for the taxi, waving aside her father’s offer of money, then headed upstairs ahead of her parents, checking the living room and bedroom. No underwear on the floor or empty Smirnoff bottles lying around.

“In you come,” she told them. “I’ll get the kettle on. Make yourselves at home.”

“Must be ten years since we’ve been here,” her father commented, making a little tour of the living room.

“I couldn’t have bought the place without your help,” Siobhan called from the kitchen. She knew what her mother would be looking for: signs of male occupation. Whole point of giving her money toward the deposit had been to help her “get settled,” that great euphemism. Steady boyfriend, then marriage, then kids. Not a route Siobhan had ever managed to start on. She took in the teapot and mugs, her father rising to help.

“You can pour,” she told him. “I just need to sort some things in the bedroom.”

She opened the wardrobe and hauled out her overnight bag. Tugged open drawers as she considered what she would need. With a bit of luck, she might not need any of it, but it was best to be safe. Change of clothes, toothbrush, shampoo…She delved to the bottom of a couple of drawers, finding the scruffiest, least-ironed items. Overalls she’d painted the hall in, one shoulder strap held on with a safety pin; a gauzy cotton shirt that had been left behind by a three-night stand.

“We’re driving you out,” her father said. He was in the doorway, holding a mug of tea toward her.

“There’s a trip I have to make, nothing to do with the two of you being here. I might not be back till tomorrow.”

“We could be gone to Gleneagles by then.”

“Might see you there,” she answered with a wink. “The pair of you will be all right tonight? Plenty of shops and places to eat. I’ll leave you a key.”

“We’ll be fine.” He paused. “This trip, is it to do with what happened to your mother?”

“Might be.”

“Because I’ve been thinking…”

“What?” She looked up from her packing.

“You’re a cop, too, Siobhan. If you keep on with this, chances are you’ll just make enemies.”

“It’s not a popularity contest, Dad.”

“All the same…”

She zipped the bag shut, left it on the bed, and took the mug from him. “I just want to hear him say he was wrong.” She took a sip of the lukewarm tea.

“Is that likely to happen?”

She shrugged. “Maybe.”

Her father had settled himself on a corner of the bed. “She’s determined to go to Gleneagles, you know.”

Siobhan nodded. “I’ll drive you to the camp, bring your things back here before I leave.” She crouched down in front of him, pressing her free hand to his knee. “You’re sure you’ll be all right?”

“We’ll be fine. What about you?”

“Nothing’s going to happen to me, Dad. I’ve got a force field around me, or hadn’t you noticed?”

“I think I might have caught a glimpse of it in Princes Street.” He placed his own hand over hers. “All the same, take care, eh?”

She smiled and stood up, saw that her mother was watching from the hallway, and shared the smile with her, too.

Rebus had been to the cafeteria before. In term time it was crowded with students, many of them just starting at the university, looking wary and even downright scared. A few years back, a second-year undergraduate had been dealing drugs; Rebus arrested him over breakfast.

The students who used the cafeteria brought laptops and iPods with them, so that even when busy the place was never noisy, except for the trilling of cell phones.

But today, the cafeteria rang with the sounds of harsh, raised voices. Rebus could sense the crackle of testosterone in the air. Two tables had been put together to form a temporary bar, from which small bottles of French lager were being sold. The No Smoking signs were being disregarded as uniformed officers slapped each other on the back and shared awkward approximations of the American high five. Stab vests had been removed, lined up against one wall, and the busy female staff were dishing out plates of fried food, red-faced either from exertion or the exaggerated compliments of the visitors.

Rebus was on the hunt for visual clues, for some sort of Newcastle insignia. At the gatehouse, he’d been directed to an old baronial-style building behind it, where a civilian assistant had found a room number for Hackman. But Rebus had knocked on the door without answer, so he had come here-the assistant’s next suggestion.

“Of course, he could still be in the field,” she’d cautioned, relishing the chance to use the phrase.

“Message received and understood,” Rebus had replied, helping to make her day even more satisfying.

There wasn’t a single Scottish accent in the cafeteria. Rebus saw uniforms from the Met and the London Transport Police, South Wales and Yorkshire…He decided to buy a mug of tea, only to be told there was no charge, having heard which he added a sausage roll and Mars Bar to his purchases. Asked a table if he could sit with them. They shifted to make some room.

“CID?” one of them guessed. Sweat had matted the man’s hair, and his face was flushed.

Rebus nodded, realizing he was the only bloke in the place not wearing a white shirt open at the neck. There was a smattering of female uniforms, too, but they were seated together, ignoring the various remarks launched in their direction.

“Looking for one of my number,” Rebus remarked casually. “A DS called Hackman.”

“You from round here then?” one of the other uniforms asked, placing Rebus’s accent. “Bloody beautiful city you’ve got. Shame we had to mess it up a bit.” His laughter was shared by his colleagues. “Don’t know any Hackman though.”

“He’s from Newcastle,” Rebus added.

“That lot over there are from Newcastle.” The officer was pointing to a table farther toward the window.

“They’re from Liverpool,” his neighbor corrected him.

“All look the bloody same to me.” There was more laughter at this.

“Where are you from then?” Rebus asked.

“Nottingham,” the first officer replied. “Guess that makes us the sheriffs. Food’s shit though, isn’t it?” He was nodding toward Rebus’s half-eaten sausage roll.

“I’ve had worse-at least it’s free.”

“That’s a proper Jock talking and no mistake.” The man laughed again. “Sorry we can’t help you find your friend.”

Rebus just shrugged. “Were you in Princes Street yesterday?” he asked, as if making conversation.

“Half the bloody day.”

“Nice bit of overtime,” his neighbor added.

“We had the same thing a few years back,” Rebus added. “Commonwealth heads of government meeting. Choggum, we called it. Few of the lads chipped a lump off their mortgages that week.”

“Mine’s going toward a vacation,” the uniform said. “Wife fancies Barcelona.”

“And while she’s there,” his neighbor said, “where will you be taking the girlfriend?” More laughter, elbows digging into ribs.

“You earned it yesterday though,” Rebus stated, getting them back on track.

“Some did,” came the reply. “Most of us sat on the bus, waiting for things to really kick off.”

His neighbor nodded. “Compared to what we’d been warned might happen, it was a walk in the park.”

“Photos in the paper this morning, at least some of you drew a bit of blood.”

“The Met boys probably. They train against Millwall fans, so yesterday was nothing special.”

“Can I try another name on you?” Rebus asked. “Guy called Jacko, might be with the Met.”

They shook their heads. Rebus decided he wasn’t going to get much more, so tucked his Mars Bar into his pocket and rose to his feet. Told them to take care and went for a wander. There were plenty of other uniforms milling about outside. If rain hadn’t been threatening, he suspected they’d be lying on the lawns. He overheard nothing approximating a Newcastle accent, and nothing about giving innocent protesters a good beating. He tried Hackman’s cell, but it was still switched off. On the verge of giving up, he decided to try Hackman’s room one last time.

And the door was opened from within.

“DS Hackman?”

“Who the hell wants to know?”

“DI Rebus.” Rebus showed his ID. “Can I have a word?”

“Not in here, there’s barely room to swing a cat. Place could do with a bit of fumigating, too. Hang on a sec…” As Hackman retreated into his room, Rebus made a quick examination: clothes strewn everywhere; empty cigarette packs; girlie mags; a personal stereo; can of cider sitting on the floor by the bed. Sound of horse racing from the TV. Hackman had picked up a phone and lighter. Patted his pockets till he found his key. Back out into the hall again. “Outside, yeah?” he suggested, leading the way whether Rebus liked it or not.

He was stocky: huge neck and close-cropped fair hair. Maybe early thirties, the face pitted and pockmarked, nose squashed to one side by a brawl too many. His white T-shirt had suffered too many washes. It rode up at the back, revealing the top of its owner’s underpants. He wore jeans and sneakers.

“Been working?” Rebus asked.

“Just back.”

“Undercover?”

Hackman nodded. “Ordinary man in the street.”

“Any trouble getting in character?”

Hackman’s mouth twitched. “Local cop?”

“That’s right.”

“I could do with a few tips.” Hackman glanced around at Rebus. “Lap bars are on Lothian Road, right?”

“There and thereabouts.”

“Which one should I grace with my hard-earned cash?”

“I’m not an expert.”

Hackman looked him up and down. “Sure about that?” he asked. They were outside now. Hackman offered Rebus a cigarette-readily received-and flicked his lighter open.

“Leith’s got its share of whorehouses, too, right?”

“Right.”

“And it’s legalized here?”

“We tend to turn a blind eye, so long as it’s kept indoors.” Rebus paused to inhale. “I’m glad to see it’s not all work and no play…”

Hackman gave a rasping laugh. “We’ve got better-looking women at home, and that’s the truth of it.”

“Your accent’s not Newcastle though.”

“Grew up near Brighton. Been in the northeast eight years.”

“See any action yesterday?” Rebus was making a show of studying the view before them-Arthur’s Seat rising skyward.

“Is this my debriefing?”

“Just wondering.”

Hackman narrowed his eyes. “What can I do for you, DI Rebus?”

“You worked the Trevor Guest murder.”

“That was two months back; plenty more in my in-box since.”

“It’s Guest I’m interested in. His trousers have turned up near Gleneagles, cash card in the pocket.”

Hackman stared at him. “He wasn’t wearing any when we found him.”

“Now you know why: killer’s been taking trophies.”

Hackman wasn’t slow. “How many?”

“Three victims so far. Two weeks after Guest, he struck again. Identical MO, and a little souvenir left at the same location.”

“Bloody hell…” Hackman drew hard on his cigarette. “We had it down as…well, lowlife like Guest makes plenty enemies. He was a druggie, too, hence the heroin-sending a message.”

“It went to the bottom of your in-box?” Rebus watched the big man shrug. “Any leads at all?”

“Interviewed those who owned up to knowing him. Traced his last night on earth, but didn’t come up with any startling conclusions. I can have all the paperwork sent-”

“Already in hand.”

“Guest was two months back. You say he struck again a couple of weeks later?” Hackman watched Rebus nod agreement. “And the other vic?”

“Three months ago.”

Hackman thought it through. “Twelve weeks, eight, then six. What you expect of killers once they get a taste for it-they speed up. Each new fix satisfies them that bit less than the one before. So what’s happened between then and now? Six weeks without another killing?”

“Sounds unlikely,” Rebus agreed.

“Unless we’ve caught him for something else; or he’s moved his business elsewhere.”

“I like the way you think,” Rebus admitted.

Hackman looked at him. “You’ve already figured out everything I’ve just said, haven’t you?”

“That’s why I like your thinking.”

Hackman gave a scratch to his crotch. “All I’ve been thinking about the past few days is pussy-now you go and do this to me.”

“Sorry about that.” Rebus stubbed the remains of his cigarette. “I wanted to ask if there was anything you could tell me about Trevor Guest-anything that sticks in your mind.”

“For the price of a cold beer, my head is your oyster.”

Problem with oysters, Rebus considered as they walked to the cafeteria, was that you were more likely to get a load of old grit than a pearl.

The place had quieted a little, and they found a table to themselves-though not before Hackman had made an effort to introduce himself to the female officers, formally taking each one by the hand.

“Lovely,” he announced as he returned to Rebus’s table. He clapped his palms together and was rubbing them as he sat down. “Bottoms up,” he said, raising his bottle. Then he gave a little chuckle. “Should be the name of a lap-dancing club.”

Rebus refrained from revealing that it already was. Instead, he repeated Trevor Guest’s name.

Hackman drank half his lager straight off. “Like I said, lowlife. In and out of jail-burglaries, selling the stuff he’d stolen, some other petty stuff and a bit of grievous bodily. He was up here for a time, few years back. Kept his nose clean, far as we could tell.”

“By here you mean Edinburgh?”

Hackman stifled a belch. “Jockland generally…no offense.”

“None taken,” Rebus lied. “I wonder if there’s any way he could have met the third victim-club bouncer called Cyril Colliar, got out of jail three months back.”

“Name doesn’t register. Want another of these?”

“I’ll get them.” Rebus was halfway out of his chair, but Hackman waved him back. Rebus watched as he first approached the women’s table, asking if they were all right for drinks. He made one of them laugh, which probably counted as a result in his book. He carried four bottles back to the table.

“Pissy little things,” he explained, sliding two across toward Rebus. “Besides, got to spend the loot somehow, eh?”

“I notice no one’s paying for bed and board.”

“No one except the local taxpayer.” Hackman’s eyes widened. “I suppose that’s you. So thanks very much.” He toasted Rebus with a fresh bottle. “Don’t suppose you’re free tonight to act as the tour guide?”

“Sorry.” Rebus shook his head.

“I’d be buying…hard offer for a Jock to turn down.”

“I’m turning it down anyway.”

“Suit yourself,” Hackman said with a shrug. “This killer you’re looking for…got any leads?”

“He targets scum; maybe gets them from a victim-support Web site.”

“Vigilante, eh? Meaning someone with a grudge.”

“That’s the theory.”

“Clever money would say the connection’s to the first victim. Should have been the beginning and end, but he caught the bug.”

Rebus nodded slowly, having considered the same conclusion. Fast Eddie Isley, attacker of prostitutes. Isley’s killer maybe a pimp or boyfriend…tracked Isley using BeastWatch, then asked himself a question-why stop with just one?

“How hard do you really want to find this guy?” Hackman asked. “That’s what I’d be wrestling with…sounds like he’s on our side.”

“You don’t believe people can change? All three victims had served their sentences, no sign of reoffending.”

“You’re talking about redemption.” Hackman mimed the act of spitting. “Could never stand that goody-good bullshit.” He paused. “What are you smiling at?”

“It’s a line from a Pink Floyd song.”

“Is it? I could never stand them either. A bit of Tamla or Stax, songs to seduce the chicks by. Our Trev was a bit of a ladies’ man.”

“Trevor Guest?”

“Liked them a bit on the young side, judging by the girlfriends we dug up.” Hackman snorted. “Believe me, if they’d been any younger, we’d’ve been using a nursery school and not an interview room.” He enjoyed this joke so much, he found it hard to take his next slug of lager. “I like my meat a bit more mature,” he said finally, smacking his lips, seeming lost in thought. “A lot of the escorts in the back of your local paper, they call themselves mature, too. How old do you figure that makes them? I mean, I’m not one for geriatrics…”

“Guest attacked a babysitter, didn’t he?” Rebus asked.

“Broke into a house, happened to find her there on the couch. Far as I remember, all he wanted was a blow job. She hollered and he scampered.” He offered a shrug.

Rebus’s chair scraped against the floor as he stood up. “I need to be going,” he said.

“Finish your drink.”

“I’m driving.”

“Something tells me you might get away with a misdemeanor or two this week. Still, waste not, want not.” Hackman slid the untouched bottle toward himself. “What about a pint later on? I need a sherpa to show me the way.” Rebus ignored him, kept walking. Back in the fresh air, he risked a glance through the window, saw Hackman doing a little improvised shuffle as he headed toward the women.

14

The so-called Camp Horizon on the edge of Stirling, sandwiched between a soccer field and a trading estate, reminded Siobhan of some of the temporary encampments she’d seen around the Greenham Common Air Base in the 1980s, when she’d hitched there as a teenager to protest about nuclear missiles. There weren’t just tents here, but elaborate wigwams and structures made of osiers, resembling willow igloos. Canvases had been strung between the trees, daubed with rainbows and peace signs. Smoke was rising from campfires, and there was the pungent scent of cannabis in the air. Solar panels and a small wind turbine seemed to be providing electricity for strings of multicolored lightbulbs. A trailer was supplying legal advice and free condoms, while discarded leaflets provided additional information on everything from HIV to third world debt.

She had been stopped at five separate checkpoints on the route from Edinburgh. Despite her showing ID, one security man had even insisted she open the trunk of her car.

“These people have all kinds of sympathizers,” he’d explained.

“They’re well on their way to getting another,” Siobhan had muttered in response.

The inhabitants of the camp seemed to have split into distinct tribes, with the anti-poverty contingent remaining separate from the hard-core anarchists. Red flags seemed to be acting as a border between the two. Old-time hippies formed another subgroup, one of the wigwams their epicenter. Beans were cooking on a stove, while a makeshift sign announced reiki and holistic healing between the hours of five and eight with “special rates for unwaged/students.”

Siobhan had asked one of the guards at the entrance about Santal. He’d shaken his head.

“No names, no problems.” He’d looked her up and down. “Mind a word of warning?”

“What?”

“You look like a cop working undercover.”

She’d followed his eyes. “Is it the overalls?”

He’d shaken his head again. “The clean hair.”

So she’d ruffled it a bit, without seeming to convince him. “Anyone else in there undercover?”

“Bound to be,” he’d said with a smile. “But I’m not going to spot the good ones, am I?”

Her car was parked in the city center. If worse came to the worst, she’d sleep in the car rather than under the stars. The site was a lot bigger than the one in Edinburgh, the tents more densely grouped. As dusk encroached, she had to watch out for tent pegs and guy ropes. Twice she passed a young man with a straggly beard who was trying to interest people in “herbal relaxation.” Third time, their eyes met.

“Lost somebody?” he asked.

“Friend of mine called Santal.”

He shook his head. “Not a great one for names.” So she gave a brief description. He shook his head again. “If you just sit and chill, maybe she’ll come to you.” He held out a ready-rolled joint. “On the house.”

“Only available to new customers?” she guessed.

“Even the forces of law and order need to relax at day’s end.”

She stared at him for a moment. “I’m impressed. Is it the hair?”

“The bag doesn’t help,” he commented. “What you really want is a muddy backpack. That thing”-indicating the guilty item-“makes you look like you’re off to the gym.”

“Thanks for the advice. You weren’t scared I might want to bust you?”

He shrugged. “You want a riot, go right ahead.”

She gave a brief smile. “Maybe another time.”

“This ‘friend’ of yours, any chance she might have been part of the advance guard?”

“Depends what you mean.”

He had paused to light the joint, inhaling deeply, then exhaling and speaking at the same time. “Stands to reason there’ll be blockades from first light, your lot trying to stop us getting near the hotel.” He offered her a hit, but she shook her head. “You’ll never know till you try,” he teased.

“Believe it or not, I was a teenager once…So the advance guard headed out of here earlier?”

“Ordnance survey maps in hand. Only the Ochil Hills between us and victory.”

“Cross-country in the dark? Isn’t that a bit risky?”

He offered a shrug, then drew on the joint again. A young woman was hovering nearby. “Get you anything?” he asked her. The transaction took half a minute: a tiny shrink-wrapped package for three ten-pound notes.

“Cheers,” the woman said. Then, to Siobhan: “Evening, Officer.” She was giggling as she left them. The dealer was looking at Siobhan’s overalls.

“I know when I’m beaten,” she admitted.

“So take my advice: sit and chill for a while. You might find something you didn’t know you were looking for.” He stroked his beard as he spoke.

“That’s…deep,” Siobhan told him, her tone letting him know she was thinking the exact opposite.

“You’ll see,” he retorted, moving past her into the gloom. She walked back to the fence and decided to phone Rebus. He didn’t pick up, so she left a message.

“Hi, it’s me. I’m in Stirling, no sign of Santal. I’ll see you tomorrow, but if you need me in the meantime, feel free to call.”

An exhausted but excited-looking group was entering the compound. Siobhan snapped shut her phone and moved to within earshot of them as they were met by some of their comrades.

“Heat-seeking radar…dogs…”

“Armed to the teeth, man…”

“American accents…marines, if you ask me…no ID…”

“Choppers…searchlights…”

“Had us for dead…”

“Tracked us halfway back to base camp…”

Then the questions started. How close did they get? Any weak points in the security? Did they reach the fence? Was anyone still out there?

“We split up…”

“Submachine guns, I figure…”

“Weren’t messing…”

“Split into ten groups of three…easier to lie low…”

“State of the art…”

More questions flew at them. Siobhan started counting heads, stopped at fifteen. Meaning a further fifteen were still out on the Ochils somewhere. In the hubbub, she launched her own question.

“Where’s Santal?”

A shake of the head. “Didn’t see her after we split up.”

One of them had unfolded a map, to show how far they’d gotten. He had a flashlight strapped to his forehead and was tracing the route with a muddied finger. Siobhan squeezed closer.

“It’s a total-exclusion zone…”

“Has to be a weak spot…”

“Force of numbers, that’s all we’ve got…”

“We’ll be ten thousand strong by morning.”

“Herbal cigarettes for all our brave soldiers!” As the dealer started handing them out, there were bursts of laughter from the crowd-a release of tension. Siobhan retreated to the back of the throng. A hand grasped her arm. It was the young woman who’d bought from the dealer earlier.

“Pigs better get wings,” she hissed.

Siobhan glared at her. “Or what?”

The young woman offered a malevolent smile. “Or I might have to squeal.”

Siobhan said nothing, just hoisted her bag and backed away. The young woman waved her off. The same guard was on duty at the gate.

“Did the disguise hold?” he asked with something just shy of a smirk.

All the way back to her car, Siobhan tried to think of a comeback…

Rebus had acted the gentleman: returned to Gayfield Square bearing cup noodles and chicken tikka wraps.

“You’re spoiling me,” Ellen Wylie said as he switched on the kettle.

“You also get first choice-chicken and mushroom or beef curry?”

“Chicken.” She watched him peel open the plastic containers. “So how did it go?”

“I found Hackman.”

“And?”

“He wanted a tour of the fleshpots.”

“Yuck.”

“I told him I couldn’t oblige, and in return he told me very little we don’t already know.”

“Or couldn’t have guessed?” She’d come over to join Rebus at the kettle. Picked up one of the wraps and examined its sell-by date: July 5. “Half-price,” she commented.

“I knew you’d be impressed. But there’s even more.” He produced the Mars Bar from his pocket and handed it over. “So what news of Edward Isley?”

“Again, there’s more paperwork coming north,” she said, “but the DI that I spoke to was one of the brighter lights on the tree. Recited most of it from memory.”

“Let me guess: no shortage of enemies…someone with a grudge…keeping an open mind…no progress to report?”

“Just about sums it up,” Wylie admitted. “I got the impression a few stops had been left unpulled.”

“Nothing to connect Fast Eddie to Mr. Guest?”

She shook her head. “Different prisons, no sign of shared associates. Isley didn’t know Newcastle, and Guest hadn’t been hanging around Carlisle or the M6.”

“And Cyril Colliar probably knew neither of them.”

“Bringing us back to their shared appearance on BeastWatch.” Wylie watched Rebus pour water onto the noodles. He offered her a spoon and they stirred their individual pots.

“Have you spoken to anyone at Torphichen?” he asked.

“Told them you were short-handed.”

“Rat-ass probably hinted we were involved in a bunk-up.”

“How well you know DC Reynolds,” she said with a smile. “By the way, some JPEGS arrived from Inverness.”

“That was quick.” He watched as she logged on at the computer. The photos appeared as thumbnails, but Wylie enlarged each one.

“It looks just like Auchterarder,” Rebus commented.

“Photographer got some close-ups,” Wylie said, bringing them up on screen. Tattered remnants of cloth, but none of it looking recent. “What do you think?” she asked.

“I don’t see anything for us, do you?”

“No,” she agreed. One of the phones started ringing. She picked up and listened.

“Send him up,” she said, replacing the receiver. “Guy called Mungo,” she explained. “Says he has an appointment.”

“More of an open invitation,” Rebus said, sniffing the contents of the wrap he’d just opened. “Wonder if he likes chicken tikka…”

Mungo did indeed, and demolished the gift in two huge bites while Rebus and Wylie examined the photographs.

“You work fast,” Rebus said by way of thanks.

“What are we looking at?” Ellen Wylie asked.

“Friday night,” Rebus explained, “a dinner at the castle.”

“Ben Webster’s suicide?”

Rebus nodded. “That’s him there,” he said, tapping one of the faces. Mungo had been as good as his word: not just his own snatched shots of the motorcade and its passengers, but copies of the official portraits. Lots of well-dressed smiling men shaking hands with other well-dressed smiling men. Rebus recognized only a few: the foreign secretary, defense secretary, Ben Webster, Richard Pennen…

“How did you get these?” Rebus asked.

“Openly available to the media-just the sort of PR opportunity the politicos like.”

“Got any names to put to the faces?”

“That’s a job for a sub-editor,” the photographer said, swallowing the last of the wrap. “But I dug out what I could.” He reached into his bag and pulled out sheets of paper.

“Thanks,” Rebus said. “I’ve probably already seen them…”

“But I haven’t,” Wylie said, taking them from Mungo. Rebus was more interested in the photos from the dinner.

“I didn’t realize Corbyn was there,” he mused.

“Who’s he when he’s at home?” Mungo asked.

“Our esteemed chief constable.”

Mungo looked to where Rebus was pointing. “Didn’t stay long,” he said, sifting through his own prints. “Here he is leaving again. I was just packing up…”

“So how long was that after it all kicked off?”

“Not even half an hour. I’d been biding my time in case of latecomers.”

Richard Pennen hadn’t made it into any of the official portraits, but Mungo had snapped his car as it entered the compound, Pennen caught unawares, mouth agape…

“It says here,” Ellen Wylie piped up, “Ben Webster helped try to negotiate a truce in Sierra Leone. Also visited Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Timor.”

“Racked up a few air miles,” Mungo commented.

“And liked a bit of adventure,” she added, turning a page. “I didn’t realize his sister was a cop.”

Rebus nodded. “Met her a few days back.” He paused for a moment. “Funeral’s tomorrow, I think. I was supposed to be calling her…” Then he went back to studying the official photographs. They’d all been posed, leaving little for him to glean: no tête-à-têtes caught in the background; nothing these powerful men didn’t want the world to see. Just like Mungo said: a PR exercise. Rebus picked up the phone and called Mairie on her cell.

“Any chance you could drop in to Gayfield?” he asked her. He could hear the clacking of her keyboard.

“Need to polish this off first.”

“Half an hour?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“There’s a Mars Bar riding on it.” Wylie’s face showed her displea sure. Rebus ended the call and watched Wylie unwrap the chocolate and bite into it.

“Bang goes my bribe,” Rebus told her.

“I’ll leave these with you,” Mungo was saying, brushing flour from his fingers. “They’re yours to keep anyway-but not for publication.”

“Our eyes only,” Rebus agreed. He spread out the photos of the various backseat passengers. Most were blurred, the result of vehicles refusing to slow for the photographer. A few of the foreign dignitaries were smiling, however, perhaps pleased to be noticed.

“And can you give these to Siobhan?” Mungo added, handing over a large envelope. Rebus nodded and asked what they were. “The Princes Street demonstration. She was interested in the woman on the edge of the crowd. I’ve managed to zoom in a little.”

Rebus opened the envelope. The young woman with braided hair held her own camera to her face. Santal, was that what she was called? Meaning sandalwood. Rebus wondered if Siobhan had run the name past Operation Sorbus. The face seemed focused on its job, the mouth a thin line of concentration. Dedicated; maybe a professional. In other snaps, she was holding the camera away from her, looking to left and right. As if on the lookout for something. Totally uninterested in the array of riot shields. Not scared of the flying debris. Not excited or in awe.

Just doing her job.

“I’ll see she gets them,” Rebus told Mungo as the photographer strapped his bag shut. “And thanks for these. I owe you.”

Mungo nodded slowly. “Maybe a tip-off, next time you’re first at a scene?”

“Seldom happens, son,” Rebus warned him. “But I’ll keep it in mind.”

Mungo shook both officers’ hands. Wylie watched him leave. “You’ll keep him in mind?” she echoed.

“Bugger is, Ellen, at my time of life the memory’s not what it was.” Rebus reached for the noodles, only to find they’d gone cold.

Good as her word, Mairie Henderson turned up within the half hour, her look turning sour as she saw the Mars Bar wrapper on the desk.

“Don’t blame me,” Rebus apologized, holding up his hands.

“Thought you might like to see this,” she said, unfolding a printout of the next morning’s front page. “We got lucky: no big stories.”

“Police Probe G8 Murder Mystery.” Plus photos of the Clootie Well and Gleneagles Hotel. Rebus didn’t bother reading the text.

“What was it you were just saying to Mungo?” Wylie teased.

Rebus ignored her, focusing instead on the dignitaries. “Care to enlighten me?” he asked Mairie. She took a deep breath and started reeling off names. Government ministers from countries as diverse as South Africa, China, and Mexico. Most had trade or economic portfolios, and when Mairie wasn’t sure, she placed a call to one of the paper’s pundits, who set her straight.

“So we can assume they were talking about trade or aid?” Rebus asked. “In which case what was Richard Pennen doing there? Or our own defense minister, come to that?”

“You can trade in weapons, too,” Mairie reminded him.

“And the chief constable?”

She shrugged. “Probably invited as a courtesy. This man here…” She tapped one of the portraits. “He’s Mr. Genetic Modification. I’ve seen him on TV, arguing with the environmentalists.”

“We’re selling genetics to Mexico?” Rebus wondered. Mairie shrugged again.

“You really think they’re covering something up?”

“Why would they do that?” Rebus asked, as though surprised by her question.

“Because they can?” Ellen Wylie suggested.

“These men are cleverer than that. Pennen’s not the only businessman on display.” She pointed to two other faces. “Banking and airlines.”

“They got the VIPs out of there in a hurry,” Rebus said, “once Webster’s body was discovered.”

“Standard procedure, I’d think,” Mairie answered.

Rebus slumped into the nearest chair. “Pennen doesn’t want us sticking our oars in, and Steelforth’s been trying to give me a good smack. What does that tell you?”

“That any publicity is bad publicity…when you’re trying to trade with some governments.”

“I like this guy,” Wylie said, coming to the end of the Webster notes. “I’m sorry now he’s dead.” She looked at Rebus. “You going to the funeral?”

“Thinking about it.”

“Another chance to rub Pennen and Special Branch the wrong way?” Mairie guessed.

“Paying my respects,” Rebus countered, “and telling his sister that we’re getting nowhere.” He’d picked up one of Mungo’s close-ups from Princes Street Gardens. Mairie was looking at them, too.

“Way I hear it,” she said, “you guys went over the top.”

“We went in hard,” Wylie said, sounding prickly.

“Few dozen hotheads versus a few hundred riot police.”

“And who is it gives them the oxygen of publicity?” Wylie sounded ready for the fight.

“You and your billy clubs,” Mairie countered. “If there was nothing to report, we wouldn’t report it.”

“But it’s the way the truth can be twisted…” Wylie realized that they had lost Rebus. He was staring at one photograph in particular, eyes narrowed. “John?” she said. When the name had no effect, she nudged him. “Care to back me up here?”

“I’m sure you can fight your own battles, Ellen.”

“What’s wrong?” Mairie asked, peering over his shoulder at the tableau. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“In a manner of speaking,” Rebus said. He picked up the phone, but thought better of it, let it clatter back into its cradle again. “After all,” he said, “tomorrow is another day.”

“Not just another day, John,” Mairie reminded him. “It’s when everything finally kicks off.”

“And here’s hoping London doesn’t get the Olympics,” Wylie added. “We’ll be hearing about it from now till doomsday.”

Rebus had risen to his feet, still seemingly distracted. “Beer time,” he stated. “And I’m buying.”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Mairie sighed. Wylie went to fetch her jacket and bag. Rebus was leading the way.

“Not leaving that?” Mairie hinted, nodding at the photo he still held in his hand. He glanced down at it, then folded it into his pocket. Patted his other pockets before resting his palm on Mairie’s shoulder.

“I’m a bit short, as it happens. Any chance of a loan…?”

Later that evening, Mairie Henderson returned to her Murrayfield home. She owned the top two floors of a detached Victorian pile and shared the mortgage with her boyfriend, Allan. Problem was, Allan was a TV cameraman, and she saw precious little of him at the best of times. This week was turning out to be pure murder. One of the spare bedrooms was now her office, and she made straight for it, throwing her jacket over the back of a chair. The coffee table didn’t have room for even a single mug of the stuff, covered as it was with piles of newsprint. Her own cuttings files took up a whole wall, and her precious few journalism awards were framed above the computer. She sat down at her desk and wondered why she felt so comfortable in this cramped and stuffy room. The kitchen was airy, but she spent very little time there. The living room had been swamped by Allan’s home cinema and stereo. This room-her office-was hers and hers alone. She looked at the racks of cassette tapes-interviews she’d done, each one encapsulating a life. Cafferty’s story had demanded more than forty hours of conversation, the transcripts stretching to a thousand pages. The resulting book had been compiled meticulously, and she knew she deserved a bloody medal for it. Not that one had been forthcoming. That the book sold by the truckload had done nothing to alter the flat fee she’d signed up for. And it was Cafferty who appeared on the talk shows, Cafferty who did the bookstore signings, the festivals, the circuit of celebrity parties in London. When the book had gone into its third printing, they’d even changed the jacket, magnifying his name and shrinking hers.

Bloody nerve.

And when she saw Cafferty these days, all he did was tease her with the notion of a further installment, hinting that he might get another writer this time round-because he knew damned well she wouldn’t allow herself to be conned in the same way. What was the old saying…? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Bastard.

She checked for e-mails, thinking back to the drink she’d just had with Rebus. She was still annoyed with him. Annoyed that he hadn’t given her an interview for the Cafferty book. Without him, it had been Cafferty’s word alone on so many events and incidents. So, yes, she was still annoyed with Rebus.

Annoyed because she knew he’d been right to refuse.

Her fellow journalists thought she’d probably cleaned up on the Cafferty book. Some had stopped talking to her or answering her calls. Jealousy doubtless played a part, but they also felt they had nothing to offer her. Work had dried up. She found herself scratching around, penning pieces about councillors and charity workers-human interest stories with very little interest. Editors sounded surprised that she needed the work.

Thought you’d cleaned up on Cafferty…

Naturally, she couldn’t tell them the truth, so she made up lies instead about needing to keep her hand in.

Cleaned up…

Her few remaining copies of the Cafferty book were stacked beneath the coffee table. She’d stopped handing them out to family and friends. Stopped after watching Cafferty share a joke with a daytime TV host, the audience lapping it up, Mairie feeling grubbier than ever. But when she thought about Cafferty, she couldn’t help picturing Richard Pennen, too-glad-handing at Prestonfield House, cosseted by yes-men, buffed to a spotless sheen. Rebus had a point about the Edinburgh Castle dinner. It wasn’t so much that an arms dealer of sorts had found himself at the top table, but that no one had taken any notice. Pennen had said that anything he’d given to Ben Webster would have been declared in the register of members’ interests. Mairie had checked, and it looked as though the MP had been scrupulous. It struck her now that Pennen had known she would look. He’d wanted her looking into Webster’s affairs. But why? Because he’d known there was nothing for her to find? Or to tarnish a dead man’s name?

I like this guy, Ellen Wylie had said. Yes, and after a few minutes’ chat with Westminster insiders, Mairie had started to like him, too. Which only made her trust Richard Pennen all the less. She fetched a glass of tap water from the kitchen and settled again at her computer.

Decided to start from scratch.

Typed Richard Pennen’s name into the first of her many search engines.

15

Rebus was three steps away from the tenement door when the voice called his name. Inside the pockets of his coat, his fingers curled into fists. He turned to face Cafferty.

“Hell do you want?”

Cafferty wafted a hand in front of his nose. “I can smell the booze from here.”

“I drink to forget people like you.”

“Wasted your money tonight then.” Cafferty gave a flick of his head. “Something I want to show you.”

Rebus stood his ground a moment, till curiosity got the better of him. Cafferty was unlocking the Bentley, gesturing for Rebus to get in. Rebus opened the passenger door and leaned inside.

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere deserted, if that’s what’s worrying you. Point of fact, place we’re going will be packed.” The engine roared into life. With two beers and two whiskeys under his belt, Rebus knew his wits weren’t going to be the sharpest.

Nevertheless, he got in.

Cafferty offered chewing gum and Rebus unwrapped a stick. “How’s my case going?” Cafferty asked.

“Doing just fine without your help.”

“As long as you don’t forget who put you on the right track.” Cafferty gave a little smile. They were heading east through Marchmont. “How’s Siobhan shaping up?”

“She’s fine.”

“Hasn’t left you in the lurch then?”

Rebus stared at Cafferty’s profile. “How do you mean?”

“I heard she was spreading herself a bit thin.”

“Are you keeping a watch on us?”

Cafferty just smiled again. Rebus noticed that his own fists were still clenched as they rested on his lap. One tug of the steering wheel, and he could put the Bentley into a wall. Or slide his hands around Cafferty’s fat neck and squeeze…

“Thinking evil thoughts, Rebus?” Cafferty guessed. “I’m a taxpayer, remember-top-bracket at that-which makes me your employer.”

“Must give you a warm glow.”

“It does. That MP who jumped from the ramparts…making headway?”

“What’s it to you?”

“Nothing.” Cafferty paused a couple of beats. “It’s just that I know Richard Pennen.” He turned toward Rebus, pleased by the visible effect of this statement. “Met him a couple of times,” he continued.

“Please tell me he was trying to sell you some iffy weapons.”

Cafferty laughed. “He has a stake in the firm that published my book. Meant he was at the launch party. Sorry you couldn’t make it, by the way…”

“Invite came in handy when the toilet paper ran out.”

“Met him again over lunch when the book hit fifty thousand. Private room at the Ivy…” He glanced at Rebus again. “That’s in London. I thought of moving there, you know. Used to have a lot of friends down south. Business acquaintances.”

“Same ones Steelforth put away?” Rebus thought for a moment. “Why didn’t you tell me you knew Pennen too?”

“There have to be some secrets between us,” Cafferty said, smiling. “I ran a check on your pal Jacko by the way…didn’t get anywhere. You sure he’s a cop?”

Rebus answered with another question of his own. “What about Steelforth’s bill at the Balmoral?”

“Picked up by Lothian and Borders Police.”

“That’s generous of us.”

“You never let up, do you, Rebus?”

“Why should I?”

“Because sometimes you just have to let things go. What’s past is another country-Mairie told me that when we were doing the book.”

“I just had a drink with her.”

“And not grape juice by the smell of it.”

“She’s a good kid. Shame she’s got your claws in her back.”

The car was heading down Dalkeith Road, Cafferty signaling left toward Craigmillar and Niddrie. Either that or they were heading for the A1 south out of the city.

“Where are we going?” Rebus asked again.

“Not far now. And Mairie’s quite capable of looking after herself.”

“Does she pass everything along?”

“Probably not, but that doesn’t stop me asking her. See, what Mairie really needs is another bestseller. This time, she’d push for a percentage rather than a set fee. I keep tempting her with stories that didn’t make it into the book…The girl needs to keep me happy.”

“More fool her.”

“It’s funny,” Cafferty went on, “but talking about Richard Pennen reminds me of a few tales about him, too. Not that you’d want to hear them.” He started chuckling again, his face lit from below by the dashboard. He seemed all shadows and smudges, a preparatory sketch for some grinning gargoyle.

I’m in hell, Rebus thought. This is what happens when you die and go downstairs. You get your own personal devil…

“Salvation awaits!” Cafferty cried suddenly, turning the steering wheel hard so that the Bentley slalomed through a set of gates, sending gravel flying skyward. It was a hall, lights glowing within. A hall attached to a church.

“Time to renounce the demon drink,” Cafferty teased, shutting off the engine and pushing open his door. But a sign next to the open doorway told Rebus this was a public meeting, part of G8 Alternatives-Communities in Action: The Future Crisis Averted. Entry was free to students and the unwaged.

“Unwashed, more like,” Cafferty muttered, seeing the bearded figure holding a plastic bucket. The man had long, curly black hair and wore prescription glasses with thick black frames. He shook the bucket as the new arrivals approached. There were coins inside, but not many. Cafferty made a ritual of opening his wallet and extracting a fifty-pound note. “Better be going to a good cause,” he warned the collector. Rebus followed him indoors, pointing out to the bucket holder that his share could come out of Cafferty’s contribution.

There were three or four rows of empty chairs at the back, but Cafferty had made the decision to stand, arms folded and legs apart. The room was busy, but the audience looked bored, or maybe just lost in contemplation. Up on the stage, four men and two women were squeezed behind a trestle table, sharing a single distortion-prone microphone. There were banners behind them stating, CRAIG-MILLAR WELCOMES G8 PROTESTERS and OUR COMMUNITY IS STRONG WHEN WE SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE. The one voice speaking at that particular moment belonged to Councilman Gareth Tench.

“It’s all very well,” he boomed out, “saying give us the tools and we will do the job. But there need to be jobs there in the first place! We need concrete proposals for the betterment of our communities, and that’s what I’m striving for in my own small way.”

There was nothing small about the councilman’s delivery. A hall this size, someone like Tench barely needed a microphone in the first place.

“He’s in love with his own voice,” Cafferty commented. Rebus knew it was true. It had been the same when he’d stopped to watch Tench deliver his sermons on the Mound. He hadn’t shouted to be heard; he’d shouted because the noise confirmed for him his own importance in the world.

“But friends…comrades…” Tench continued without seeming to draw breath, “we’re all prone to see ourselves as cogs in the vast political machine. How can we be heard? How can we make a difference? Well, think about it for a moment. The cars and buses you used when you traveled here tonight…remove just one small cog from the engine and the machinery breaks down. Because every single moving part has equal worth-equal importance-and that’s as true in human life as it is with the infernal congestion engine.” He paused long enough to smile at his own pun.

“Preening little prick,” Cafferty muttered to Rebus. “He couldn’t love himself any better if he was double-jointed and giving himself a blow job.”

Rebus was powerless to prevent the sudden choking laugh that escaped him. He tried camouflaging it as a cough, but to little avail. Some in the audience had turned in their seats to seek out the commotion’s cause. Even Tench had been pulled up short. What he saw from the stage was Morris Gerald Cafferty patting the back of Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rebus knew he’d been recognized, despite the hand he was holding over his mouth and nose. Tench, put off his stride, worked hard to regain the momentum of his speech, but some of his previous forcefulness had evaporated into the night. He handed the microphone to the woman next to him, who emerged from her trancelike state and started reciting in a monotone from the copious notes in front of her.

Cafferty passed in front of Rebus and stepped outside. After a moment, Rebus followed. Cafferty was pacing the parking lot. Rebus lit a cigarette and bided his time till his nemesis was standing before him.

“I still don’t get it,” Rebus admitted, flicking ash from the cigarette.

Cafferty shrugged. “And you’re supposed to be the detective.”

“A clue or two would help.”

Cafferty stretched out his arms. “This is his territory, Rebus, his little fiefdom. But he’s getting itchy, planning to expand.”

“You mean Tench?” Rebus narrowed his eyes. “You’re saying he’s the one muscling in on your turf?”

“Mr. Fire and Brimstone himself.” Cafferty lowered his arms so that his hands slapped his thighs, as if placing a period on the proceedings.

“I still don’t get it.”

Cafferty glared at Rebus. “The thing is, he sees nothing wrong with shouldering me aside, because he’s got righteousness on his side. By controlling the illicit, he makes it a force for good.” Cafferty gave a sigh. “Sometimes I think that’s how half the globe operates. It’s not the underworld you should be watching-it’s the overworld. Men like Tench and his ilk.”

“He’s a councilman,” Rebus argued. “I mean, they may take the occasional bribe…”

Cafferty was shaking his head. “He wants power, Rebus. He wants control. See how much he loves being able to make his speeches? The stronger he is, the more talking he can do-and be listened to.”

“So set some of your thugs on him, make sure he gets the message.”

Cafferty’s eyes bored into him. “That’s your best shot, is it?”

Rebus shrugged. “This is between you and him.”

“I’m owed a favor…”

“You’re owed the square root of fuck-all. Good luck to him if he takes you out of the game.” Rebus flicked the remains of the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath his heel.

“You sure about that?” Cafferty asked quietly. “You sure you’d rather have him running the show? Man of the people…man with political clout? Think he’ll be an easier target than me? But then, you’re just shy of retirement…so maybe it’s Siobhan we should be thinking of. What is it they say?” Cafferty angled his head upward, as if the words were somewhere up there. “Better the devil you know,” he declared.

Rebus folded his arms. “You didn’t bring me here to show me Gareth Tench,” he said. “You did it to show me to him-the two of us side by side, you patting me on the back…a nice little portrait we must have made. You want him to think I’m in your pocket, and the rest of CID with me.”

Cafferty tried to look hurt by the accusation. “You overestimate me, Rebus.”

“I doubt that. You could have told me all this back in Arden Street.”

“But then you’d have missed the show.”

“Aye, and so would Councilman Tench. Tell me, how’s he going to finance this takeover? And where are the soldiers to back him up?”

Cafferty stretched his arms out again, this time spinning 360 degrees. “He owns this whole district-the bad as well as the good.”

“And the money?”

“He’ll talk his way into the money, Rebus. It’s what he does best.”

“I do talk a good game, it’s true.” Both men turned to see Gareth Tench standing in the doorway, illuminated from behind. “And I’m not easily scared, Cafferty-not by you, not by your friends.” Rebus was about to protest, but Tench hadn’t finished. “I’m cleaning up this area, no reason I can’t do the same job elsewhere in the city. If your pals in the force won’t put you out of business, the community might have to.”

Rebus noted the two thickset men standing farther back in the doorway, on either side of Tench. “Let’s go,” he suggested to Cafferty. Last thing he wanted was to step in between Cafferty and a beating.

All the same, he knew he’d have to step in.

His hand was on Cafferty’s arm. The gangster shrugged him off. “I’ve never fought a battle and lost,” Cafferty warned Tench. “Think about that before you start.”

“I don’t need to do anything,” Tench shot back. “Your little empire’s turning to dust. Time you woke up to the fact. Having trouble recruiting bouncers for your pubs? Can’t find tenants for your death-trap apartments? Taxi firm short a few drivers?” A smile was spreading across Tench’s face. “You’re in the twilight zone, Cafferty. Wake up and smell the coffin…”

Cafferty started to spring forward. Rebus grabbed him, just as Tench’s men pushed past their boss. Rebus turned Cafferty, so his own back was facing the door. He gave the gangster a shove toward the Bentley.

“Get in and get going,” he ordered.

“Never lost a battle!” Cafferty was raging, face puce. But he yanked open the door and dumped himself into the driver’s seat. As Rebus walked around to the passenger side, he looked toward the doorway. Tench was waving a gloating good-bye. Rebus wanted to say something, if only to let Tench know he wasn’t Cafferty’s man…but the councilman was already turning away, leaving his minions to monitor proceedings.

“I’m going to rip his fucking eyeballs out and make him suck them like jawbreakers,” Cafferty was snarling, flecks of saliva pocking the inside of the windshield. “And if he wants concrete fucking proposals, I’ll mix the cement myself before I whack him with the shovel-now that’s betterment of the community!”

Cafferty stopped talking as he maneuvered out of the lot. But his breathing remained fast and noisy. Eventually, he turned toward his passenger. “I swear to God, when I get my hands on that prick…” His knuckles were white as they wrapped themselves around the steering wheel.

“But if you do say anything,” Rebus intoned, “which may be used against you as evidence in a court of law…”

“They’d never convict,” Cafferty roared with a wild laugh. “Forensics will have to scoop up what’s left of him with a teaspoon.”

“But if you do say anything…” Rebus repeated.

“It started three years back,” Cafferty said, making an effort to control his breathing. “Gaming licenses refused, bar applications refused…I was even going to open a cab office on his turf, take a few of the locals off the dole. He made sure the council bounced me out every time.”

“So it’s not just that you’ve finally met someone with the guts to stand up to you?”

Cafferty glanced at Rebus. “I thought that was your job.”

“Maybe it is.”

Eventually, Cafferty broke the resulting silence. “I need a drink,” he said, licking his lips. The corners of his mouth were coated with white flecks.

“Good idea,” Rebus told him. “Like me, maybe you’ll drink to forget…”

He kept watching Cafferty during the rest of the silent ride back into town. The man had killed and gotten away with it-probably more times than Rebus knew. He’d fed victims to the hungry pigs on a Borders farm. He’d ruined countless lives, served four jail terms. He’d been a savage since his teenage years, served an apprenticeship as enforcer to the London mob…

So why the hell was Rebus feeling sorry for him?

“I’ve got some thirty-year-old malt at the house,” Cafferty was saying. “Butterscotch and heather and melted butter…”

“Drop me in Marchmont,” Rebus insisted.

“What about that drink?”

But Rebus shook his head. “I’m supposed to be renouncing it, remember?”

Cafferty snorted, but said nothing. All the same, Rebus could tell the man wanted him to change his mind. Wanted them to have that drink together, sitting opposite each other as the night circled them on tiptoe.

Cafferty wouldn’t insist though. Insisting would sound like begging.

He wouldn’t beg.

Not just yet.

It struck Rebus that what Cafferty feared was a loss of power. Tyrants and politicians alike feared the selfsame thing, whether they belonged to the underworld or the overworld. The day would come when no one listened to them anymore, their orders ignored, reputation diminished. New challenges, new rivals and predators. Cafferty probably had millions stashed away, but a whole fleet of luxury cars was no substitute for status and respect.

Edinburgh was a small city; easy for one man to exert control over the greater part of it. Tench or Cafferty? Cafferty or Tench?

Rebus couldn’t help wondering if he would have to choose…

The overworld.

Everyone from G8 leaders to Pennen and Steelforth. All of them driven by the will to power. A chain of command affecting every person on the planet. Rebus was still thinking about it as he watched the Bentley drive away. But then he became aware of a shadowy figure standing next to his tenement door. He clenched his fists and looked around, in case Jacko had brought his buddies. But it wasn’t Jacko who stepped forward. It was Hackman.

“Evening all,” he said.

“I nearly took a swing at you then,” Rebus replied, relaxing his shoulders. “How the hell did you find me?”

“Couple of phone calls is all it took. Very helpful, the local cops. Must say, though, I wouldn’t have thought a street like this was your style.”

“So where am I supposed to live?”

“Dockside condo,” Hackman stated.

“Is that right?”

“Nice young blond thing to cook you breakfast on weekends.”

“I only see her on weekends, do I?” Rebus couldn’t help smiling.

“That’s all the time you can give her. Clean out the old pipes and then it’s back to the daily grind.”

“You’ve got it all worked out. Doesn’t explain what you’re doing here this time of night.”

“Couple of bits and pieces I’ve remembered about Trevor Guest.”

“And they’re mine for the price of a drink?” Rebus guessed.

Hackman nodded. “But there’s got to be a floor show, mind.”

“A floor show?”

“Chicks!”

“You’ve got to be joking…” But Rebus could tell from Hackman’s face that he was quite, quite serious.

They hailed a cab on Marchmont Road and headed for Bread Street. The driver gave a little smile into his rearview: two middle-aged men with a few drinks under their belts heading for the fleshpots.

“So tell me,” Rebus said.

“What?” Hackman asked.

“The info on Trevor Guest.”

But Hackman wagged a finger. “If I tell you now, what’s to stop you jumping ship?”

“My word as a gentleman?” Rebus offered. He’d had enough for tonight; no way he was embarking on a lap-dance crawl of Lothian Road. He’d get the info, then leave Hackman curbside, point him in the right direction.

“All the hippies are shipping out tomorrow, you know,” the Englishman said. “Busloads heading for Gleneagles.”

“What about you?”

Hackman shrugged. “I do what I’m told.”

“Well, I’m telling you to cough up what you know about Guest.”

“Okay, okay…so long as you promise not to beat it as soon as the taxi stops.”

“Scout’s honor.”

Hackman leaned back in the seat. “Trevor Guest had a short fuse, made a lot of enemies. Headed south to London once, but it didn’t work out. Ripped off by some tart or other…seemed to take against the fairer sex after that. You said Trev ended up on some Web site…?”

“BeastWatch.”

“Any idea who posted his details?”

“They did it anonymously.”

“But Trev was predominantly a burglar…a burglar with a temper-that’s why he went into the clink.”

“So?”

“So who put him on the Web site-and why?”

“You tell me.”

Hackman gave another shrug, gripping on to the handrail as the taxi made a sharp turn. “One more story,” he said, checking he had Rebus’s attention. “When Trev went to London, rumor was that a consignment of tasty drugs went with him-could even have been smack.”

“He was an addict?”

“Occasional user. I don’t think he injected…until the night he died, that is.”

“Did he rip someone off?”

“Could be. See…I’m wondering if there’s a connection you’re not getting.”

“And what connection might that be?”

“Small-time villains, maybe getting too big for their boots or ripping off those they shouldn’t.”

Rebus was thoughtful. “The Edinburgh victim worked for our local mobster.”

Hackman clapped his hands together. “There you are then.”

“I suppose Eddie Isley might have had-” But he broke off, unconvinced. The taxi was pulling to a stop, the driver telling them it would be a fiver. Rebus realized that they were directly outside the Nook, one of the city’s more respectable lap-dance bars. Hackman had jumped out and was paying the cabbie through the passenger-side window-a sure sign he was a visitor; locals paid up from the backseat. Rebus considered his options: stay in the cab, or get out and tell Hackman he was calling it a night.

The door was still open, the Englishman gesturing impatiently.

Rebus got out-just as the door of the Nook burst open, a man staggering from its darkened interior. The two doormen were right behind him.

“I’m telling you, I didn’t touch her!” the man was protesting. He was tall, well dressed, and dark-skinned. Rebus seemed to know the blue suit from somewhere…

“Bloody liar!” one of the doormen yelled, stabbing a finger at the customer.

“She robbed me,” the suit was protesting. “Her hand was trying to extract my wallet from my jacket. It was only when I stopped her that she started to complain.”

“Another bloody lie!” the same doorman spat.

Hackman had given Rebus a dig in the ribs. “You don’t half know some classy joints, John.” But he seemed happy enough. The other doorman was talking into his wrist microphone.

“She was attempting to take my wallet,” the suit kept arguing.

“So she didn’t rob you then?”

“Given the chance, she most certainly-”

“Did she rob you? You swore blind a minute ago that she did. And I’ve got witnesses to prove it.” The doorman’s head twitched toward Rebus and Hackman. The customer turned toward them and recognized Rebus straight off.

“My friend, do you see the situation I am in?”

“Sort of,” Rebus was forced to admit. The suit was shaking his hand.

“We met at the hotel, yes? At that delicious lunch hosted by my good friend Richard Pennen.”

“I wasn’t at lunch,” Rebus reminded him. “We chatted in the hallway.”

“You do get around, John.” Hackman chuckled, giving Rebus’s ribs another dig.

“This is a most unfortunate and serious situation,” the suit was saying. “I felt myself to be thirsty, and entered what I assumed would be a tavern of some description…”

Both doormen gave a snort. “Yeah,” the angrier of the two said, “after we’d told you the admission charge.”

Even Hackman had to laugh at that. But he was cut off by the door swinging open again. This time, it was a woman who emerged. One of the dancers, obviously, dressed in bra, G-string, and high heels. Her hair was piled atop her head and she was wearing too much makeup.

“Says I mugged him, does he?” she roared. Hackman looked as though he’d found the best ever ringside seat.

“We’re handling it,” the angry doorman said, staring daggers at his partner, who’d obviously passed the accusation along.

“He owes me fifty for the dances!” the woman shouted. She had a hand stretched out, ready to collect payment. “Then he starts pawing me! Right out of order…”

A marked patrol car cruised past, faces inside staring out. Rebus saw its brake lights come on, and knew it would be doing a U-turn.

“I am a diplomat,” the suit was declaring. “I have a right to protection from false allegations.”

“Swallowed a dictionary and all,” Hackman commented, laughing to himself.

“Legal immunity,” the suit went on, “as a member of the Kenyan delegation…”

The patrol car had stopped, two officers climbing out, fixing their caps to their heads.

“Seems to be the trouble here?” the driver asked.

“Just escorting this gentleman from the premises,” the no-longer-angry doorman said.

“I was forcibly removed!” the Kenyan protested. “And almost robbed of my wallet also!”

“Calm down, sir. Let’s get this sorted out.” The uniform had turned toward Rebus, aware of movement from the corner of his eye.

Rebus’s badge, shoved into his face.

“I want these two taken to the nearest cop-shop,” Rebus stated.

“No need for that,” the doorman began to argue.

“You want to go with them, pal?” Rebus demanded, shutting him up.

“Which cop-shop’s that then?” the uniform asked. Rebus stared at him.

“Where you from?”

“Hull.”

Rebus made an exasperated sound. “West End,” he said. “It’s on Torphichen Place.”

The uniform nodded. “Near Haymarket, yeah?”

“That’s the one,” Rebus confirmed.

“Diplomatic immunity,” the Kenyan was stressing. Rebus turned to him.

“There’s a necessary procedure,” he explained, trying to find words long enough to satisfy the man.

“You don’t want me,” the woman was saying, pointing to her ample breasts. Rebus didn’t dare look at Hackman, fearing he’d be salivating.

“Afraid I do,” Rebus told her, gesturing to the uniforms. Client and dancer were ushered toward the patrol car.

“One in the front, one in the back,” the driver told his partner. The dancer looked at Rebus as she clacked past him on her heels.

“Hang on,” he said, removing his jacket and slipping it over her shoulders. Then he turned to Hackman. “I need to see to this,” he explained.

“Like your chances, eh?” The Englishman leered.

“Don’t want a diplomatic incident,” Rebus corrected him. “Will you be okay?”

“Never better,” Hackman confirmed, slapping Rebus on the back. “I’m sure my friends here”-making sure the doormen could hear him-“will waive their entry fee for an officer of the law…”

“Just one thing, Stan,” Rebus cautioned.

“What’s that then?”

“Don’t let your hands wander.”

The CID suite was deserted, no sign of Rat-Ass Reynolds or Shug Davidson. Easy enough to secure two interview rooms. Easy to get a couple of uniforms on overtime to act as babysitters.

“Glad of the business,” one of them said.

First, the dancer. Rebus took her a plastic cup of tea. “I even remember how you like it,” he told her. Molly Clark sat with arms folded, still wearing his jacket and not much else. She was shuffling her feet, face twitching.

“Might have let me get changed,” she complained, giving a loud sniff.

“Afraid you’ll catch a cold? Don’t worry, a car will run you back in five minutes.”

She looked at him, eyes rimmed with kohl, cheeks rouged. “You’re not charging me?”

“What with? Our friend’s not going to want to pursue it, trust me.”

“It’s me should be pursuing him!”

“Whatever you say, Molly.” Rebus offered her a cigarette.

“There’s a No Smoking sign,” she reminded him.

“So there is,” he agreed, lighting up.

She hesitated another moment. “Go on then…” Took the cigarette from him, leaned across the table so he could light it for her. He knew her perfume would be clinging to his jacket for weeks. She inhaled and held the smoke deep within her.

“When we came to see you on Sunday,” Rebus began, “Eric was a bit shaky when it came to explaining how you met. I think I can guess now.”

“Bully for you.” She was examining the cigarette’s glowing tip. Her body rocked a little, and Rebus realized she was pumping one knee up and down.

“So he knows what you do for a living?” Rebus asked.

“Is it any business of yours?”

“Not really.”

“Well, then…” Another drag on the cigarette, as if drawing nourishment from it. The smoke billowed into Rebus’s face. “No secrets between Eric and me.”

“Fair enough.”

She finally made eye contact. “He was touching me up. And as for that line about me grabbing his wallet…” She snorted. “Different culture, same shit.” She calmed a little. “That’s why Eric means something.”

Rebus nodded his understanding. “It’s our Kenyan friend who’s in trouble, not you,” he assured her.

“Really?” She gave him that wide smile again, same as on Sunday. The whole dreary room seemed to brighten for an instant.

“Eric’s a lucky man.”

“You’re a lucky man,” Rebus told the Kenyan. Interview room 2, ten minutes later. The Nook was sending a car for Molly-a car and some clothes. She’d promised to leave Rebus’s jacket at the station’s front desk.

“My name is Joseph Kamweze and I have diplomatic immunity.”

“Then you won’t mind showing me your passport, Joseph.” Rebus held out his hand. “If you’re a diplomat, it’ll say so.”

“I do not have it with me.”

“Where are you staying?”

“The Balmoral.”

“Now there’s a surprise. Room paid for by Pennen Industries?”

“Mr. Richard Pennen is a good friend to my country.”

Rebus leaned back in his chair. “How’s that then?”

“In matters of trade and humanitarian assistance.”

“He sticks microchips into weapons.”

“I do not see the connection.”

“What are you doing in Edinburgh, Joseph?”

“I am part of my nation’s trade mission.”

“And what part of your job description took you into the Nook tonight?”

“I was thirsty, Inspector.”

“And maybe a wee bit horny…?”

“I am not sure what it is that you are trying to insinuate. I have already told you that I have immunity.”

“And I couldn’t be happier for you. Tell me, do you know a British politician called Ben Webster?”

Kamweze nodded. “I met him one time in Nairobi, at the high commission.”

“You’ve not seen him this trip?”

“I did not have a chance to talk with him the night his life ended.”

Rebus stared at him. “You were at the castle?”

“Indeed, yes.”

“You saw Mr. Webster there?”

The Kenyan nodded. “I thought it unnecessary to speak with him on that occasion, as he would be joining us for lunch at Prestonfield House.” Kamweze’s face fell. “But then this great tragedy unfolded before our eyes.”

Rebus tensed. “How do you mean?”

“Please do not misunderstand. I only say that his fall was a great loss to the international community.”

“You didn’t see what happened?”

“No one did. But perhaps the cameras were of some assistance.”

“Security cameras?” Rebus felt like slapping himself across the head. The castle was an army HQ-of course there’d be cameras.

“We were given a tour of the control room. It was impressively technical, but then terrorism is an everyday threat, is it not, Inspector?”

Rebus didn’t answer for a moment.

“What’s everyone saying about it?” he eventually asked.

“I’m not sure I understand.” Kamweze’s brow had furrowed.

“The other missions-that little League of Nations I saw you with at Prestonfield-any rumors about Mr. Webster?”

The Kenyan shook his head.

“Tell me, does everyone feel as warmly toward Richard Pennen as you seem to?”

“Again, Inspector, I do not think I-” Kamweze broke off and rose hurriedly to his feet, the chair toppling behind him. “I would like to leave now.”

“Something to hide, Joseph?”

“I feel you have brought me here under false pretenses.”

“We could go back to the real ones-start discussing your little one-man delegation and its fact-finding tour of Edinburgh’s lap-dancing bars.” Rebus leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. “These places have cameras, too, Joseph. They’ll have you on tape.”

“Immunity…”

“I’m not talking about charging you with anything, Joseph. I’m talking about the folks back home. I’m assuming you’ve got family in Nairobi…mum and dad, maybe a wife and kids?”

“I want to leave now!” Kamweze slammed a fist down on the table.

“Easy there,” Rebus said, holding up his hands. “Thought we were having a nice wee chat here.”

“Do you wish a diplomatic incident, Inspector?”

“I’m not sure.” Rebus seemed to ponder the notion. “Do you?”

“I am outraged!” Another thump on the table and the Kenyan headed for the door. Rebus did nothing to stop him. Instead, he lit a cigarette and lifted his legs onto the table, crossing them at the ankles. Stretched back and stared at the ceiling. Naturally, Steelforth hadn’t said anything about cameras, and Rebus knew he’d have a hell of a time persuading anyone to hand over the footage. It was owned by the military and sited within the military-strictly out of Rebus’s jurisdiction.

Which wouldn’t stop him raising the issue…

A minute passed before there was a knock at the door and a constable appeared from behind it.

“Our African friend says he wants a car back to the Balmoral.”

“Tell him the walk will do him good,” Rebus ordered. “And warn him about getting thirsty again.”

“Sir?” The constable thought he must have misheard.

“Just tell him.”

“Yes, sir. Oh, and one more thing…”

“What?”

“No smoking in here.”

Rebus turned his head and stared the young officer out. When the door had closed, he reached into his trouser pocket for his cell. Pushed the buttons and waited to be connected.

“Mairie?” he said. “Got some information you might be able to find a use for.”

SIDE THREE. No Gods, No Masters

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

16

Most of the G8 leaders touched down at Prestwick Airport, southwest of Glasgow. In all, nearly one hundred and fifty aircraft would land in the course of the day. The leaders, their spouses, and their closest personnel would then be transferred to Gleneagles by helicopter, while fleets of chauffeured cars conveyed other members of the various delegations to their eventual destinations. George Bush’s sniffer dog had its own car. Today was Bush’s fifty-ninth birthday. Jack McConnell, first minister of the Scottish parliament, was on the tarmac to greet the world leaders. There were no visible protests or disruptions.

Not at Prestwick.

But in Stirling, morning TV news showed masked protesters hitting out at cars and vans, smashing the windows of a Burger King, blocking the A9, attacking gas stations. In Edinburgh, demonstrators halted all traffic on Queensferry Road. Lothian Road was lined with police vans, a chain of uniformed officers protecting the Sheraton Hotel and its several hundred delegates. Police horses paraded down streets usually busy with the morning rush hour, but today devoid of traffic. Buses lined the length of Waterloo Place, ready to convey marchers north to Auchterarder. But there were mixed signals, no one very sure that the official route had been sanctioned. The march was off, then on, then off again. Police ordered the bus drivers not to move their vehicles until the situation could be verified one way or the other.

And it was raining; looked like the Final Push concert that evening might be a washout. The musicians and celebrities were at Murrayfield Stadium, busy with sound checks and rehearsals. Bob Geldof was at the Balmoral Hotel, but preparing to visit Gleneagles with his friend Bono, always supposing the various protests would let them through. The queen was on her way north, too, and would host a dinner for the delegates.

The news journalists sounded breathless, wired on doses of caffeine. Siobhan, having spent a night in her car, was getting by on watery coffee from a local baker’s. The other customers had been more interested in the events unfolding on the wall-mounted TV set behind the counter.

“That’s Bannockburn,” one of them had said. “And there’s Springkerse. They’re everywhere!”

“Circle the wagons,” her friend had advised, to a few smiles. The protesters had left Camp Horizon as early as two in the morning, literally catching the police napping.

“Can’t understand how those bloody politicians can tell us this is good for Scotland,” a man in painter’s overalls had muttered, waiting for his bacon roll to arrive. “I’ve got jobs in Dunblane and Crieff today. Christ knows how I’m supposed to get there.”

Back in her car, Siobhan was soon warmed by the heater, though her spine remained creaky, her neck tight. She’d stayed in Stirling because going home would have meant coming back this morning, with the same security rigmarole-maybe even worse. She washed down two aspirin and headed for the A9. She hadn’t made much progress along the two-lane highway when the flashers on a car ahead told her both lanes were at a dead stop. Drivers had emerged from their vehicles to shout at the men and women in clown costumes who were lying in the road, some chained to the central median’s crash barriers. Police were chasing other garish figures through the adjoining fields. Siobhan parked on the hard shoulder and walked to the head of the line, where she showed her ID to the officer in charge.

“I’m supposed to be in Auchterarder,” she told him. He waved his short black baton in the direction of a police motorcycle.

“If Archie’s got a spare helmet, he can have you there in two shakes.”

Archie produced the necessary helmet. “You’re going to be bloody cold on the back, mind,” he warned.

“I’ll just have to snuggle up then, won’t I?”

But as he accelerated away, the word snuggle suddenly didn’t fit. Siobhan was clinging to him for dear life. There was an earpiece inside her helmet, allowing her to listen in on messages from Operation Sorbus. Around five thousand demonstrators were descending on Auchterarder, preparing to march past the gates of the hotel. Futile, Siobhan knew: they’d still be hundreds of yards from the main building, their slogans evaporating on the wind. Inside Gleneagles, the dignitaries would have no scent of any march, any large-scale dissent. Protesters were heading across country from all directions, but the officers on the other side of the security cordon were prepared. Leaving Stirling, Siobhan had noticed fresh graffiti on a fast-food outlet: 10,000 Pharaohs, Six Billion Slaves. She was still trying to work out who was meant to be who…

Archie braked suddenly, tipping her forward so she could see over his shoulder the scene unfolding ahead.

Riot shields, dog handlers, mounted police.

A twin-engined Chinook helicopter scything the air overhead.

Flames licking from an American flag.

A sit-down protest stretching the full width of the roadway. As officers started breaking it up, Archie gunned the bike toward the gap and squeezed through. If Siobhan’s knuckles hadn’t been rigid and numb with cold, she might have eased her grip on him long enough to offer a pat on the back. The earpiece was telling her that Stirling railway station might reopen shortly, but anarchists could be using the line as a shortcut to Gleneagles. She remembered that the hotel boasted its own railway station; doubted anyone would be using it today. There was better news from Edinburgh, where torrential rain had dampened the demonstrators’ spirits.

Archie turned his head toward her. “Scottish weather!” he yelled. “What would we do without it?”

The Forth Road Bridge was operating with minimal disruption, and early road blocks on Quality Street and Corstorphine Road had been cleared. Archie slowed to negotiate another blockade, Siobhan taking the opportunity to wipe drizzle from her visor with the sleeve of her jacket. As they signaled to turn off the highway, another, smaller helicopter seemed to be following their progress. Archie brought his bike to a stop.

“End of the line,” he said. They hadn’t quite reached the town’s boundary, but she could see he was right. Ahead of them, past a police cordon, flew a sea of flags and banners. Chants, whistles, and jeers.

Bush, Blair, CIA, how many kids did you kill today? Same chant she’d heard at the naming of the dead.

George Bush, we know you, your daddy was a killer, too. Okay, so that was a new one.

Siobhan eased herself from the pillion, handed over the helmet, and thanked Archie. He grinned at her.

“Won’t get too many days as exciting as this,” he said, turning the bike around. Speeding off, he gave her a wave. Siobhan waved back, some of the feeling returning to her fingers. A red-faced cop bounded up to her. She already had her ID open.

“Which only makes you more of a bloody idiot,” he barked. You look like one of them.” He stabbed a finger in the direction of the stalled demonstration. “They see you behind our lines, they’ll think that’s where they belong, too. So either make yourself scarce or get suited up.”

“You’re forgetting,” she told him, “there is a third way.” And with a smile she walked up to the police line, squeezed between two of the black-clad figures, and ducked under their riot shields. She was now in the front line of demonstrators. The red-faced officer looked aghast.

“Show your badges!” a protester was calling out to the police rank. Siobhan stared at the cop immediately in front of her. The thing he was wearing looked almost like coveralls. The letters ZH were painted in white on his helmet above the visor. She tried to remember if any of the squad from Princes Street Gardens boasted the same insignia. All she could remember was XS.

Police excess.

Sweat was running down both sides of the officer’s face, but he seemed composed. Orders and encouragement were being called down the police line:

“Keep it tight!”

“Easy, lads.”

“Move it back!”

There was an element of agreed orchestration to the pushing on both sides. One of the demonstrators seemed to be in control, calling out that the march was official and the police were now in breach of all agreements. He could not, he said, be responsible for the consequences. Throughout, he held a cell phone to his ear, while news photographers stood on tiptoe, cameras held aloft, to capture some of the drama.

Siobhan started backpedaling, then shuffled sideways until she was on the edge of the proceedings. From this vantage point, she started scanning the crowd for any sign of Santal. There was a teenager next to her, with bad teeth and a shaved head. When he started yelling abuse, the accent sounded local. His jacket flapped open at one point, and Siobhan caught a glimpse of something tucked into his waistband.

Something not unlike a knife.

He had his cell phone out, using it to capture snippets of video, sending them to his buddies. Siobhan looked around. No way she could alert the police officers. If they waded in to arrest him, all hell would break loose. Instead, she squeezed in behind him, waiting for the right moment. When a chant broke out and hands rose into the air, she seized her chance. Grabbed his arm and wrenched it around his back, pressing forward so he was sent down onto his knees. Her free hand went to his waist, removed the knife, then pushed him hard so he fell on all fours. She moved backward briskly through the crowd, tossing the knife over a low wall into shrubbery. Melted into the crowd and raised her own arms into the air, clapping along. His face was purple with anger as he elbowed his way through the throng in front of her, seeking out his attacker.

He wasn’t going to find her.

Siobhan almost allowed herself a smile, but knew her own search might well prove every bit as fruitless as his. And meantime she was in the middle of a demonstration, one that could at any moment turn into a riot.

I’d kill for a Starbucks latte, she thought.

Wrong place, and very definitely the wrong time.

Mairie was in the foyer of the Balmoral Hotel. The elevator door opened and she saw the man in the blue silk suit appear. She got up from her chair, and he walked toward her, holding out his hand.

“Mr. Kamweze?” she asked.

He gave a bow of confirmation, and she returned his handshake.

“Good of you to see me on short notice,” Mairie said, trying not to sound too gushing. Her phone call had been just that: the cub reporter, overawed to be talking to such a senior figure in African politics…and could he possibly spare five minutes to help with a profile she was doing?

The pose was no longer necessary; he was right there in front of her. All the same, she didn’t want him bolting just yet.

“Tea?” he suggested, leading the way to the Palm Court.

“I love your suit,” she said as he drew out her chair for her. She smoothed her skirt beneath her as she sat. Joseph Kamweze seemed to enjoy the view.

“Thank you,” he said, sliding onto the banquette opposite her.

“Is it designer?”

“Purchased in Singapore, on my way back from a delegation to Canberra. Really rather inexpensive…” He leaned toward her conspiratorially. “But let’s keep that to ourselves.” He gave a huge grin, showing one gold tooth at the back of his mouth.

“Well, I want to thank you again for seeing me.” Mairie was reaching into her bag for notebook and pen. She also had a little digital recorder, and she asked him if he would mind.

“That will be dependent on your questions,” he said with another grin. The waitress arrived and he ordered Lapsang souchong for both of them. Mairie hated the stuff but kept her mouth shut.

“You must let me pay,” she told him. He waved the offer aside.

“It is of no consequence.”

Mairie raised an eyebrow. She was still busying herself with the tools of her trade when she asked her next question.

“Your trip’s being funded by Pennen Industries?”

The grin disappeared; the eyes hardened. “I beg your pardon?”

She tried for a look of unsullied naïveté. “Just wondered who was paying for your stay here.”

“What is it you want?” The voice was chilled. His hands brushed the edge of the table, the fingertips running along it.

Mairie made a show of consulting her notes. “You are part of the Kenyan trade delegation, Mr. Kamweze. What exactly is it that you’re looking for from the G8?” She checked that the recorder was running and placed it on the table between them. Joseph Kamweze seemed thrown by the sheer ordinariness of the question.

“Debt relief is crucial to Africa ’s rebirth,” he recited. “Chancellor Brown has indicated that some of Kenya ’s neighbors-” He broke off, unable to keep going. “Why are you here? Is Henderson even your real name? I’m a fool for not asking to see your identification.”

“I’ve got it right here.” Mairie began to rummage through her bag.

“Why did you mention Richard Pennen?” Kamweze interrupted.

She blinked at him. “I didn’t.”

“Liar.”

“I did mention Pennen Industries, but that’s a company, not an individual.”

“You were with the policeman at Prestonfield House.” It sounded like a statement, though he could have been guessing. Either way, she didn’t deny it.

“I think you should go now,” he stated.

“Are you sure about that?” Her own voice had hardened, and she returned his stare. “Because if you walk away from here, I’m going to splash a photo of you across the whole front page of my newspaper.”

“You are being ridiculous.”

“It’s a bit grainy, and we’ll need to blow it up, meaning it might be on the fuzzy side, too. But it will show a pole dancer cavorting in front of you, Mr. Kamweze. You’ll have your hands on your knees and a big smile on your face as you stare at her naked chest. Her name’s Molly and she works at the Nook on Bread Street. I took possession of the security-camera tape this morning.” Lies, all lies, but she loved the effect they were having on him. His fingernails were digging into the tabletop. His close-cropped hair glistened with sweat.

“You were then questioned at a police station, Mr. Kamweze. I daresay there’s footage of that little expedition, too.”

“What is it you want from me?” he hissed. But he had to compose himself as the tea tray arrived, and with it some shortbread biscuits. Mairie bit into one: no breakfast this morning. The tea smelled like oven-baked seaweed, and she pushed her cup aside after the waitress had poured. The Kenyan did the same with his.

“Not thirsty?” she asked, and couldn’t help smiling.

“The detective told you,” Kamweze realized. “He, too, threatened me like this.”

“Thing is, he can’t prosecute. Me, on the other hand…well, unless you give me a good reason to dump a front-page exclusive…” She could see he hadn’t yet taken the bait. “A front page that will be seen around the world…How long till the press in your own country picks up the story and runs with it? How long till your government masters get to hear of it? Your neighbors, friends-”

“Enough,” he growled. His eyes were focused on the table. It was highly polished, throwing his own reflection back at him.

“Enough,” he repeated, and his tone told her he was beaten. She bit into another of the biscuits. “What do you want?”

“Not much, really,” she assured him. “Just everything you can tell me about Mr. Richard Pennen.”

“Am I to be your Deep Throat, Miss Henderson?”

“If the thought excites you,” she offered.

Thinking to herself: But really, you’re just another dupe who got caught…another flawed civil servant.

Another informer…

His second funeral in a week.

He’d crawled out of the city-domino effect from earlier. At the Forth Bridge, Fife constabulary were pulling over trucks and vans, checking their potential as barricades. Once over the bridge, however, traffic was fine. He was early as a result. Drove into the center of Dundee, parked by the waterfront, and smoked a cigarette with the radio tuned to news. Funny, the English stations were on about London ’s Olympic bid; hardly a mention of Edinburgh. Tony Blair was jetting back from Singapore. Rebus pondered whether he got frequent-flier miles.

The Scottish news had picked up on Mairie’s story: everyone was calling him the G8 Killer. Chief Constable James Corbyn was making no public statements on the subject; SO12 was stressing that there was no danger to the leaders gathering at Gleneagles.

Two funerals inside a week. He wondered if one reason that he was working so hard was so he wouldn’t have time to think too much about Mickey. He’d brought a CD of Quadrophenia with him, played some of it on the drive north, Daltrey rasping the insistent question: Can you see the real me? He had the photos on the passenger seat: Edinburgh Castle, dinner jackets and bow ties. Ben Webster with about two hours to live, looking no different from anyone else. But then suicides didn’t wear signs around their necks. Neither did serial killers, gangsters, bent politicians. Beneath all the official portraits was Mungo’s close-up of Santal and her camera. Rebus studied it for a moment before placing it on top. Then he started the car and headed for the funeral home.

Place was packed. Family and friends, plus representatives from all the political parties. Labor MSPs, too. The media kept their distance, huddled at the gates. Probably the office juniors, sour-faced with the knowledge that their elders and betters were busy at the G8, capturing Thursday’s headlines and front pages. Rebus hung back as the real guests were ushered indoors. Some of them had looked at him quizzically, thinking it unlikely he’d been a man with any connection to the MP, taking him for some kind of vulture, preying on the grief of strangers.

Maybe they were right at that.

A hotel in Broughty Ferry was providing refreshments afterward. “The family,” the reverend was telling the assembly, “have asked me to say that you’ll all be most welcome.” But his eyes told another story: close family and bosom friends only, please. Quite right, too: Rebus doubted any hotel in the Ferry could cope with a crowd this size.

He was seated in the back row. The reverend had asked one of Ben Webster’s colleagues to step up and say a few words. Sounded much like the eulogy at Mickey’s funeral: a good man…much missed by those who knew him, and many did…devoted to his family…well liked in the community. Rebus reckoned he’d given it long enough. There was no sign of Stacey. He hadn’t really thought much about her since that meeting outside the morgue. He guessed she’d gone back to London, or else was clearing out her brother’s home, dealing with the banks and insurers and such.

But to miss the funeral…

There had been more than a week between Mickey’s death and his cremation. And Ben Webster? Not even five full days. Could the haste be classed as indecent? Stacey Webster’s decision, or someone else’s? Outside in the parking lot, he lit another cigarette and gave it five more minutes. Then he unlocked the driver’s side and got in.

Can you see the real me…

“Oh, yes,” he said quietly, turning the ignition.

Mayhem in Auchterarder.

The rumor had gone around that Bush’s helicopter was on its way. Siobhan had checked her watch, knowing he wasn’t due to arrive at Prestwick till midafternoon. Every chopper that came over, the crowd booed and bayed. They’d streamed down lanes and through fields, clambered over walls into people’s gardens. One aim in mind: get to the cordon. Get past the cordon. That would be the real victory; no matter if they were still half a mile from the actual hotel. They would be on the Gleneagles estate. They would have beaten the police. She saw a few members of the Clown Army, and two protesters dressed in plus fours and carrying golf bags: the People’s Golfing Association, whose mission was to play a hole on the hallowed championship course. She had heard American accents, Spanish voices, Germans. She had watched a huddle of black-clad, face-muffled anarchists planning their next move. An airship droning overhead, gathering surveillance…

But no Santal.

Back on Auchterarder’s main street, news had arrived that the Edinburgh contingent was being prevented from leaving the city.

“So they’re marching there instead,” someone explained gleefully. “Bullyboys are going to be stretched to breaking.”

Siobhan doubted it. All the same, she tried her parents’ cell. Her father answered, said they’d been sitting on the bus for hours and were still there.

“Promise me you won’t join any march,” Siobhan implored.

“Promise,” her father said. Then he put his wife on so Siobhan could hear the same pledge from her. As she ended the call, Siobhan suddenly felt like an utter idiot. What was she doing here when she could be with her parents? Another march meant more riot cops; could be her mother would recognize her attacker, or something might nudge a nugget of remembrance to the surface.

She cursed herself quietly, then turned and was face to face with her quarry.

“Santal,” she said. The young woman lowered her camera.

“What are you doing here?” Santal asked.

“Surprised?”

“Just a little, yes. Are your parents…?”

“They’re stranded in Edinburgh. I see your lisp’s improved.”

“What?”

“Monday in the gardens,” Siobhan went on, “you were busy with your little camera. Only thing is, you weren’t zeroing in on the cops. Why is that?”

“I’m not sure I know what you’re getting at.” But Santal glanced to the left and right, as if afraid they would be overheard.

“Reason you didn’t want to show me any of your photos is that they would tell me something.”

“Like what?” She sounded neither scared nor wary, but genuinely curious.

“They’d tell me you were interested in your fellow rabble-rousers rather than the forces of law and order.”

“So?”

“So I got to wondering why that might be. It should have come to me earlier. Everyone said so, after all-at the Niddrie camp and then again in Stirling.” Siobhan had taken a step closer, the two women nose to nose. She leaned in toward Santal’s ear. “You’re undercover,” she whispered. Then she stood back, as if admiring the young woman’s getup. “The earrings and piercings…mostly fake?” she guessed. “Temporary tattoos, and”-staring at the coils of hair-“a nicely made wig. Why you bothered with the lisp, I’ve no idea-maybe to help you retain a sense of your own identity.” She paused. “How am I doing?”

Santal just rolled her eyes. A phone was ringing, and she searched her pockets, bringing out two. The screen on one was lit up. She studied it, then stared over Siobhan’s right shoulder. “Gang’s all here,” she said. Siobhan wasn’t sure what she meant. Oldest trick in the book, but she turned and looked anyway.

John Rebus, standing there with a phone in one hand and what looked like a business card in the other.

“I’m not sure of the etiquette,” he commented, coming closer. “If I light up something that’s a hundred percent tobacco, does that make me a slave to the evil empire?” He shrugged and brought out the pack of cigarettes anyway.

“Santal here is a plant,” Siobhan explained to him.

“This just might not be the safest place to announce that fact,” Santal hissed.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Siobhan snorted.

“I think I can oblige,” Rebus said. But his eyes were on Santal. “Beyond the call of duty,” he told her, “skipping your own brother’s funeral.”

She glared at him. “You were there?”

He nodded. “I have to admit, though, I stared and stared at the photo of Santal, and it still took an age to dawn on me.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“You should.”

“I wanted to be there, you know.”

“What sort of excuse did you give?”

Only at this point did Siobhan butt in. “You’re Ben Webster’s sister?”

“The penny drops,” Rebus commented. “DS Clarke, meet Stacey Webster.” Rebus’s eyes were still on Stacey. “But I’m guessing we should keep calling you Santal?”

“Bit late for that now,” Stacey replied. As if on cue, a young man with a red bandanna around his forehead started toward them.

“Everything cool here?”

“Just catching up with an old friend,” Rebus warned him.

“You look like pigs to me.” His eyes shifted between Rebus and Siobhan.

“Hey, I can handle it.” Santal was back in character: the strong woman, able to fight her own battles. She stared the young man down.

“If you’re sure…” He was already retreating. As she turned back toward Rebus and Siobhan, she became Stacey again.

“You can’t stay here,” she stated. “I’m due to be relieved in an hour-we can talk then.”

“Where?”

She considered for a moment. “Inside the security fence. There’s a field behind the hotel, that’s where the drivers hang out. Wait for me there.”

Siobhan looked at the crowds surrounding them. “And how exactly do we get there?”

Stacey offered a sour smile. “Show some initiative.”

“I think,” Rebus explained, “she’s telling us to get ourselves arrested.”

17

It took Rebus a good ten minutes to push his way to the front of the throng, Siobhan tucking herself in behind him. With his body pressed to a scratched and scrawled riot shield, Rebus palmed his ID against the see-through reinforced plastic, level with the cop’s eye line.

“Get us out of here,” he mouthed. The cop wasn’t falling for it. Called out instead for his boss to decide. The red-faced officer appeared over the cop’s shoulder, recognized Siobhan straight off. She was trying to look suitably chastened.

The officer gave a sniff, then an order. The cordon of shields opened a fraction, and hands hauled at Rebus and Siobhan. The noise level rose perceptibly on the other side of the line.

“Show them your ID,” the officer ordered. Rebus and Siobhan were happy to oblige. The officer held a megaphone in front of him and let the crowd know no arrests had been made. When he identified Rebus and Siobhan as police detectives, a huge jeer went up. All the same, the situation seemed to be easing.

“I should put you on report for that little escapade,” he told Siobhan.

“We’re murder squad,” Rebus lied fluently. “There was someone we needed to talk to-what else could we do?”

The officer stared at him, but suddenly found himself with more pressing concerns. One of his men had fallen over, and the protesters were aiming to exploit this breach in the barricade. He barked out orders on his megaphone, and Rebus gestured to Siobhan that maybe they should make themselves scarce.

Van doors were opening, more cops spilling out to provide backup on the front line. A medic asked Siobhan if she was okay.

“I’m not injured,” she told him. A small helicopter was sitting on the road, rotor blades turning. Rebus got into a crouch and went to talk to the pilot, then waved Siobhan across.

“He can take us to the field.”

The pilot was nodding from behind mirrored sunglasses. “Not a problem,” he called out in an American accent. Thirty seconds later they were installed, and the machine was rising into the air, whipping up dust and litter below it. Rebus whistled a bit of Wagner-a nod to Apocalypse Now-but Siobhan ignored him. Hard to hear anything, which didn’t stop her asking Rebus what he’d told the pilot. She read his lips as he replied:

Murder squad.

The hotel was a mile to the south. From the sky, it was easy to make out the security fence and the watchtowers. Thousands of acres of deserted hillside, and pockets of demonstrators being corralled by black uniforms.

“I’m not allowed to go near the hotel itself,” the pilot was yelling. “A missile would have us down if I did.”

He sounded serious, and he took a wide arc around the hotel’s security fence. There were lots of temporary structures, probably to shelter the world’s media. Satellite dishes on the tops of anonymous-looking vans. Television, or maybe the secret service. Rebus could make out a track that led from a large white canopy toward the security fence. The field had been reduced to stubble, and someone had spray-painted a giant letter H to let the chopper know where to land. Their flight had taken only a couple of minutes. Rebus shook the pilot’s hand and jumped out, Siobhan following.

“My day for traveling in style,” she mused. “A motorbike brought me up the A9.”

“Siege mentality,” Rebus explained. “This week, it’s us and them as far as this lot are concerned.”

There was a soldier approaching, dressed in combat fatigues and toting a submachine gun. He looked far from pleased at their arrival. Both showed their ID, but this was not enough for the soldier. Rebus noted that there was no insignia on his uniform, nothing to identify his nationality, or which branch of the armed services he belonged to. He insisted on taking their badges from them.

“Wait right there,” he ordered, pointing to where they were standing. As he turned away, Rebus did a little soft-shoe shuffle and gave Siobhan a wink. The soldier had disappeared into a huge trailer. Another armed soldier guarded its door.

“I get the feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” Rebus offered.

“Does that make me Toto?”

“Let’s see what’s over there,” Rebus suggested, heading for the canopy. Its roof was a fixed structure of plastic sections, held up by a series of poles. Beneath it sat rows of limousines. Liveried drivers shared cigarettes and stories. Strangest of all, a chef, dressed in white jacket and checkered trousers, and with a toque perched on his head, was cooking what appeared to be omelets. He stood behind a sort of platform, a large red bottle of cooking gas by his side. The food was being dished out on proper plates, with silver cutlery. Tables had been set up for the drivers’ use.

“I heard about this when I was up here with the DCI,” Siobhan said. “Hotel staff are using a back route into the compound, leaving their vehicles in the next field over.”

“I’m assuming they’ve all been vetted,” Rebus said, “which is what’s happening to us right now.” He glanced toward the trailer, then nodded a greeting to one group of drivers. “Omelets all right, lads?” he asked, receiving replies in the affirmative. The chef was awaiting fresh orders.

“One with everything,” Rebus told him, turning toward Siobhan.

“Same,” she said.

The chef got busy with his little plastic containers of cubed ham, sliced mushrooms, chopped peppers. Rebus picked up a knife and fork while he was waiting.

“Bit of a change for you,” he said to the chef. The man just smiled. “All modern conveniences though,” Rebus went on, sounding impressed. “Chemical toilets, hot food, a bit of shelter for when it rains…”

“Half the cars have got TVs,” one of the drivers informed him. “Signal’s not up to much, mind…”

“It’s a hard life,” Rebus commiserated. “Ever allowed inside the trailers?”

The drivers shook their heads. “They’re chock-full of gizmos,” one man offered. “I caught a glimpse. Computers and stuff.”

“That aerial on the roof probably isn’t for Coronation Street then,” Rebus said, pointing. The drivers laughed just as a door opened and the soldier reappeared. He seemed nonplussed that Rebus and Siobhan were no longer where he’d left them. As he marched toward them, Rebus accepted his omelet from the chef and scooped up a mouthful. He was praising the food as the soldier halted in front of him.

“Want some?” Rebus offered, holding out his fork.

“It’s an earful you’ll be getting,” the soldier countered. Rebus turned toward Siobhan.

“Pretty good comeback,” she told him, taking her own plate from the chef.

“DS Clarke is an expert,” Rebus informed the soldier. “We’ll just finish our grub, then hop into one of the Mercedes to watch Columbo…”

“I’m keeping hold of your badges,” the soldier said. “For verification purposes.”

“Looks like we’re stuck here then.”

“Which channel’s Columbo on?” one of the drivers asked. “I like that program.”

“It’ll be in the TV pages,” a colleague offered.

The soldier’s head jerked upward, chin jutting as he watched a heli copter approaching. It was low and deafening. The soldier stepped out from under the canopy to get a better view.

“You have got to be kidding,” Rebus said as the man stiffly saluted the underside of the machine.

“Does it every time,” one of the drivers yelled. Another asked if it might be Bush arriving. Watches were checked. The chef was covering his ingredients, in case flying debris from the downdraft landed in them.

“He’s due around now,” someone surmised.

“I brought Boki in from Prestwick,” another added, going on to explain that this was the name of the president’s dog.

The helicopter had disappeared over a line of trees. They could hear it coming in to land.

“What do the wives do,” Siobhan asked, “while the menfolk are arm wrestling?”

“We can take them on a scenic tour.”

“Or shopping.”

“Or museums and galleries.”

“Whatever they want, that’s what they get. Even if it means shutting roads or clearing the public out of a shop. But they’re also ferrying in some arty types from Edinburgh -writers and painters-to pass the time.”

“And Bono, of course,” another driver added. “Him and Geldof are doing their glad-handing bit later today.”

“Speaking of which…” Siobhan glanced at the time on her cell. “I’ve got the offer of a Final Push ticket.”

“Who from?” Rebus asked, knowing she’d had no luck in the public draw.

“One of the guards in Niddrie. Think we’ll be home in time?”

He just shrugged. “Oh,” he said, “something I meant to tell you.”

“What?”

“I’ve co-opted Ellen Wylie onto the team.”

Siobhan’s look became a glare.

“She knows more about BeastWatch than we do,” Rebus plowed on, failing to make eye contact.

“Yes,” Siobhan said, “a damned sight too much.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning she’s too close to it, John. Think what a defense lawyer would do to her in court!” Siobhan was failing to keep her voice down. “You didn’t think to ask me? I’m the one whose head’s on the block if this all falls apart!”

“She’s just doing admin,” Rebus said, knowing himself how pathetic this sounded. He was saved by the soldier, striding back toward them.

“I need you to state your business,” the man announced crisply.

“Well, I’m in the CID business,” Rebus replied, “as is my colleague here. We’ve been told to meet someone, and this is where it’s hap pening.”

“Which person? Whose orders?”

Rebus tapped the side of his nose. “Hush-hush,” he said in an under tone. The drivers had returned to their own conversation, debating which stars they might be chauffeuring to the Scottish Open on Saturday.

“Not me,” one of them boasted. “I’m doing the run between Glasgow and T in the Park.”

“You’re based in Edinburgh, Inspector,” the soldier was saying. “This is way out of your jurisdiction.”

“We’re investigating a murder,” Rebus hit back.

“Three murders, actually,” Siobhan corrected him.

“And that means no boundaries,” Rebus concluded.

“Except,” the soldier countered, rising onto his toes, “you’ve been ordered to put your inquiry on ice.” He seemed to like the effect his words had on Siobhan in particular.

“Okay, so you made a phone call,” Rebus told him, not about to be impressed.

“Your chief constable wasn’t very happy.” The soldier was smiling with his eyes. “And neither was he…” Rebus followed the line of his eyes. A Land Rover was bumping its way toward them. The passenger-side window was wide open, Steelforth’s head leaning out from it as though he was straining at some leash.

“Oh, crap,” Siobhan muttered.

“Chin up,” Rebus advised her, “shoulders back.” He was rewarded with another withering look.

The car had screeched to a halt, Steelforth spilling out. “Do you know,” he was yelling, “how many months of training and preparation, weeks of deep cover surveillance…do you know how much of that you’ve just blown to smithereens?”

“Not sure I follow you,” Rebus answered blithely, handing his empty plate back to the chef.

“I think he means Santal,” Siobhan said.

Steelforth glared at her. “Of course I do!”

“She’s one of yours?” Rebus asked, then he nodded to himself. “Stands to reason. Send her to the campsite at Niddrie, get her taking photos of all those protesters. Compiling a nice little portfolio for future use…So valuable to you, in fact, that you couldn’t even spare her for her own brother’s funeral.”

“Her decision, Rebus,” Steelforth snapped.

“Two o’clock, Columbo started,” one of the drivers said.

Steelforth was not to be deflected. “A surveillance operation like that, oftentimes they hardly get off the ground before the cover’s blown. Months she’d been in place.”

Rebus picked up on that use of the past tense, and Steelforth confirmed it with a nod.

“How many people,” he asked, “do you think saw you with her today? How many clocked you as CID? Either they’ll start to mistrust her, or they’ll feed her garbage in the hope that we’ll bite.”

“If she’d trusted us in the first place-” Siobhan was cut off by a harsh burst of laughter from Steelforth.

“Trusted you?” He laughed again, leaning forward with the effort. “My God, that’s a good one.”

“Should have been here earlier,” Siobhan told him. “Our soldier friend’s comeback was better.”

“And by the way,” Rebus said, “I wanted to thank you for putting me in a cell overnight.”

“I can’t help it if officers decide to use their own initiative, or if your own boss won’t answer a phone call.”

“They were real cops then?” Rebus asked. Steelforth rested his hands on his waist, elbows jutting. He stared at the ground, then back up at Rebus and Siobhan.

“You’ll be put on suspension, of course.”

“We don’t work for you.”

“This week, everyone works for me.” He turned his attention to Siobhan. “And you won’t be seeing DS Webster again.”

“She has evidence-”

“Evidence of what? That your mother got hit by a baton during a riot? It’s up to her if she wants to make a complaint-have you even asked her?”

“I…” Siobhan hesitated.

“No, you just tore off on this little crusade. DS Webster’s being sent back home-your fault, not mine.”

“Speaking of evidence,” Rebus said, “whatever happened to those security-camera tapes?”

Steelforth frowned. “Tapes?” he echoed.

“The operations room at Edinburgh Castle…cameras trained on the ramparts…”

“We’ve been through this a dozen times,” Steelforth growled. “Nobody saw anything.”

“So it’s okay for me to watch the tapes?”

“If you can find any, be my guest.”

“They’ve been wiped?” Rebus guessed. Steelforth didn’t bother replying. “This suspension of ours,” Rebus went on, “you forgot to add ‘pending an inquiry.’ I’m guessing that’s because there won’t be one.”

Steelforth shrugged. “Up to the pair of you.”

“Dependent on our conduct? Like not pushing for the tapes to be made available?”

Steelforth shrugged again. “You can survive this-but just barely. I can make you look like heroes or villains-” The radio clipped to Steelforth’s belt crackled to life. Report from one of the watchtowers: security fence breached. Steelforth held the radio to his mouth and ordered a Chinook’s worth of reinforcements, then strode back toward the Land Rover. One of the chauffeurs intercepted him.

“Wanted to introduce myself, Commander. Name’s Steve and I’ll be driving you to the Open-”

Steelforth snarled some sort of oath, stopping Steve dead. The other drivers started joking that he wouldn’t be getting much of a tip this weekend. Steelforth’s Land Rover, meantime, was already revving its engine.

“Not even a farewell kiss?” Rebus called out, offering a wave of his hand. Siobhan stared at him.

“You’ve got retirement to look forward to-some of us were hoping for a career.”

“You see what he’s like, Shiv: moment this is all over, we’ll have fallen off his radar.” Rebus kept waving as the vehicle roared away. The soldier was standing in front of them, holding out their badges.

“Off you go now,” he snapped.

“Where exactly?” Siobhan asked.

“Or, more to the point, how?” Rebus added.

One of the drivers cleared his throat and stretched out an arm, drawing attention to the array of luxury cars. “I just got a text-one of the suits has to get back to Glasgow. I could drop you off somewhere.”

Siobhan and Rebus shared a look. Siobhan then smiled at the driver and nodded toward the cars.

“Do we get to choose?” she asked.

They ended up sitting in the back of a six-liter Audi A8, four hundred miles on its clock, most of them added since first thing that morning. Pungent aroma of new leather and the bright gleam of chrome. Siobhan asked if the TV was working. Rebus gave her a look.

“Just wondering if London got the Olympics,” she explained.

Their IDs were scrutinized at three separate checkpoints between the field and the hotel grounds.

“We don’t go near the hotel itself,” the driver said. “I’ll pick up the suit from the meet ’n’ greet next to the media center.” Both were situated near the hotel’s main car lot. Rebus saw that no one was playing the golf course. Pitch-and-putt and croquet lawns-both empty, except for dapper, slow-paced security men.

“Hard to believe there’s anything happening,” Siobhan commented. Her voice was just above a whisper; something about the place…Rebus felt it, too. You didn’t want to draw attention to yourself.

“Just be a sec,” the driver said, stopping the car. He pulled on his chauffeur’s peaked cap as he exited. Rebus decided to get out, too. He couldn’t see any rooftop marksmen, but figured they were probably there nevertheless. They had parked to one side of the main baronial building, near a vast conservatory that Rebus guessed was probably the restaurant.

“Weekend here would do me grand,” he confided to Siobhan as she emerged from the backseat.

“Cost you a grand, too, no doubt,” she countered. Inside the media center-a tented structure with solid sides-reporters could be glimpsed hammering copy into their laptops. Rebus had lit a cigarette. He heard a sound and turned to see a bicycle round the corner of the hotel. Its rider was bent low, aiming for speed, another bike tucked in directly behind. The leading cyclist passed within thirty feet, caught sight of them, and offered a wave. Rebus gave a flick of his cigarette in acknowledgment. But lifting his fingers from the handlebars had unbalanced the rider. His front wheel wobbled, slewing across the gravel. The other cyclist tried to avoid him, but ended up going over his own handlebars. Men in dark suits arrived as if from nowhere, making a rapid huddle around the two sprawled figures.

“Did we just do that?” Siobhan asked quietly. Rebus said nothing, just dumped the cigarette and eased himself back into the car. Siobhan followed his example, and they watched through the windshield as the first cyclist was helped to his feet, rubbing his grazed knuckles. The other rider was still on the ground, but no one seemed to be paying him much heed. A question of protocol, Rebus guessed.

The needs of President George W. Bush must always come first.

“Did we just do that?” Siobhan repeated, her voice trembling a little. The Audi driver had emerged from the meet ’n’ greet, followed by a man in a gray suit. The man carried two bulging briefcases. Like the driver, he paused for a moment to watch the commotion. The chauffeur held open the passenger-side door and the civil servant got in without so much as a nod of greeting in the direction of the backseat. The chauffeur got behind the steering wheel, his cap grazing the Audi’s roof, and asked them what was going on.

“Wheels within wheels,” Rebus offered. At last, the civil servant decided to acknowledge that he was-possibly to his chagrin-not the only passenger.

“I’m Dobbs,” he said. “F.C.O.”

Meaning foreign and commonwealth office. Rebus reached out a hand.

“Call me John,” he invited. “I’m a friend of Richard Pennen’s.”

Siobhan looked to be taking none of this in. Her attention, as the car drew away, was on the scene unfolding behind them. Two men in green paramedics’ uniforms were being prevented from reaching the U.S. president by his insistent security detail. Hotel staff had emerged to watch, as had a couple of the reporters from the media center.

“Happy birthday, Mr. President,” Siobhan sang huskily.

“Pleased to meet you,” Dobbs was telling Rebus.

“Richard been here yet?” Rebus asked casually.

The civil servant frowned. “Not sure he’s on the list.” He seemed worried that he might have been kept out of the loop.

“Told me he was,” Rebus lied blithely. “Thought the foreign sec had a role for him.”

“Quite possibly,” Dobbs stated, trying to sound more confident than he looked.

“George Bush just fell off his bike,” Siobhan commented. It was as if the words needed to be spoken before they could become fact.

“Oh, yes?” Dobbs said, not really listening. He was opening one of the briefcases, ready to immerse himself in some reading. Rebus realized the man had suffered enough small talk, his mind geared to higher things: statistics and budgets and trade figures. He decided on one last try.

“Were you at the castle?”

“No,” Dobbs drawled. “Were you?”

“I was, as a matter of fact. Hellish about Ben Webster, wasn’t it?”

“Ghastly. Best PPS we had.”

Siobhan seemed suddenly to realize what was going on. Rebus offered her a wink.

“Richard’s not too sure he jumped,” Rebus commented.

“Accident, you mean?” Dobbs replied.

“Pushed,” Rebus stated. The civil servant lowered his sheaf of papers, turned his head toward the backseat.

“Pushed?” He watched Rebus slowly nod. “Who the hell would do that?”

Rebus offered a shrug. “Maybe he made enemies. Some politicians do.”

“Almost as many as your chum Pennen,” Dobbs countered.

“How do you mean?” Rebus tried to sound slighted on his friend’s behalf.

“That company of his used to belong to the taxpayer. Now he’s making a packet out of R and D we paid for.”

“Serves us right for selling it to him,” Siobhan chipped in.

“Maybe the government was badly advised,” Rebus teased the civil servant.

“Government knew bloody well what it was doing.”