Jade pulled up outside Whiteboy’s house. Before she walked in, she went over to the shed. The broken door was hanging open. Streaks of silvery dust showed that the team had fin-gerprinted it already. She peered inside. It was empty. Next to it was a dog kennel. She squatted down and looked through the wooden entrance at the bare floor. It had been a long time since any dog had slept in there.

Then she went into the house and had a look around. Some of the old houses in the less fashionable parts of Johan-nesburg had been beautifully finished. She’d seen homes in Kensington with intricately crafted pressed ceilings and smooth, golden-hued wooden floors. Their owners took pride in restoring them to their original glory, displaying the workmanship and attention to detail that the new rich in their Sandton mansions didn’t understand or appreciate.

This house was not one of them. Instead, she found herself standing on a frayed gray carpet. The paint on the walls looked yellowish and old. The hallway was dark; the naked bulb suspended from the ceiling by a duo of electrical wires had blown.

She stepped into the lounge, where the light was only brighter because the morning sun was shining through the window. The sun’s rays picked out the motes of dust whirling in the air. The wooden arms of the chair and the top of the television were dulled by grime.

The bedroom and bathroom were basic. The double bed sagged in the middle. A duvet lay crumpled on top. In the cupboard were a few garments similar to the ones Whiteboy had been wearing when he was taken away. Faded jeans, T-shirts with stretched necklines and sweat stains under the arms. Jade saw a toothbrush and a razor on the bathroom windowsill.

After she’d completed her tour of the house she phoned David.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I think he lives somewhere else.”

“I think so too.”

“This place looks empty. It’s as if he’s moved in for a day or two. There’s no food in the kitchen. Just a tin of coffee.”

“Canvass the neighbors. See if they know anything.”

“Will do.”

Jade left the lonely house. On her way out of the gate she looked at the garage where the officers were now busy. Inside was an ancient-looking truck with a splintered headlight. The grille looked uneven, as if the car was sneering at her. She wondered if it contained any useful evidence. She doubted it. Where was the black Mercedes that the shopkeeper had seen pulling up outside Grobbelaar’s office? That car would be a treasure trove of damning evidence.

Jade didn’t have any luck with the neighbors. The lady next door to Whiteboy was stone deaf and short-sighted. The house opposite was locked up and empty. For sale, if the sign that had fallen flat on its face outside could be believed. She went back to her car feeling discouraged. Like her father used to say, “Sometimes you get a break in a case and sometimes you just don’t.”

David was on the phone when she walked into his office. From the cagey way he started talking when he saw her, and the fact he wouldn’t look her in the eye, she deduced he must be speaking to his wife. She left and went to wait in the cor-ridor. Why did life have to be so damn complicated? She drew her fist back and punched the wall, imagining it was Naisha’s irritatingly pretty face.

Williams rounded the corner. He looked alarmed to see Jade assaulting government property. She lowered her hand in a hurry, and said good morning. He returned the greeting but didn’t stop to chat. He bustled past towards his own office. She hoped her actions hadn’t further prejudiced him against David. Although she was sure she wasn’t the first person who had stood outside an investigator’s room and taken out their frustration on a wall.

“Jade,” David called.

She walked back into his office rubbing her knuckles.

“How’s Piet?” she asked.

David shook his head. “Not coping well.”

“Is he safe, at least?”

“Safe enough. He’s with two other guys as badly scared as he is. Neither of them looks violent. I’ve just bought them a pack of cigarettes.”

“When’s he getting out?”

“When we’ve cleared him. Although, if we can’t link him to the crime, we are obliged to release him on Tuesday.” He sighed. “Williams wants us to confirm that he didn’t arrange the murder of the gangster as well as the hit on his wife.”

“Williams is seriously overestimating Piet’s abilities.”

David rolled his eyes. “I know. But in the meantime, I’ve got us another lead.”

“What’s that?”

“Ellie Myers’ father. Name of Bill Scott. He lives in Her-manus, in the Cape. I’ve booked flights for us tomorrow morning.” He smiled. “Pack your bags, Jadey. We’re going to the seaside.”

The 8.30 a.m. flight took off in the chill of a Johannesburg winter morning.

“Weather in Cape Town will probably be crap,” David pre-dicted with gloomy satisfaction. “Bound to be as cold as this, and pissing with rain.”

He was wrong. The plane descended from a bright, cloud-less sky, and they walked across to the airport in mild sun-shine. A few minutes later, they were in a hired car heading out of town on the N2. Jade was at the wheel. She’d told David it was her turn to drive. He could navigate.

“Ever been to Hermanus before?” she asked him.


“Me neither. When you mentioned the name, I had this image of a sleepy little town filled with retirement homes.”

“Probably is.” David studied the map. “But it’s also a tourist attraction. Famous for the Southern Right whales, according to this brochure. They come into the bay to mate. Walker Bay, it’s called.” He squinted at the printed informa-tion. “Hey, check this out, Jadey. We’ve arrived bang at the start of their breeding season. It begins in June and carries on till October. We can sit on the cliffs and watch whales shagging.”

Jade smiled. “With such a poetic description, how could I resist?”

“I’m a born tour guide.” David cranked his seat back and gazed out of the window. “Welcome to the fairest Cape. Great weather, nice mountains. Are those vineyards I can see in the distance over there?”

Ever since Jade had seen David with Naisha, she’d felt uneasy in his company. Awkward in a way she never had before. Whenever she thought about what she had said, she felt herself start to blush with embarrassment. She wished she could turn back the clock, so she could have known what the situation was before she’d behaved like a lovelorn idiot, not afterwards. Why hadn’t David told her, for heaven’s sake? Hey Jade, he could have said. About this spark that you’ve always felt between us—well, it’s not going to happen, because I’m married and still in love with my wife. There. Easy. She would have told him had the roles been reversed.

Or would she, Jade wondered. She hadn’t actually told David much. He didn’t know about her dark past. What would he think if he knew he was sharing a car with a woman who had killed in cold blood?

Jade shivered. He must never know.

The drive to Hermanus took just over an hour. By the time they were driving into the middle of the tourist town, her tension had abated and she felt more relaxed in his company once again.

“Marine Drive is on the seafront. Or rather, the cliff front. Turn right here.”

The coastal road was lined with holiday cottages and B&Bs. Jade drove along slowly while David peered at the house names.

“Villa Tranquilla. Who the hell thought that one up? Whale View Cottage. Whale Watchers’ Retreat. Southern Right Manor. You’d never think there were whales around here, would you? Keep going. We’re nearly there. See? Here we are. Number thirty-three. Looks like old Mr. Scott doesn’t have a name for his house.” David exhaled and folded the map. “That’s a welcome relief, isn’t it?”

Jade climbed out of the car and stretched her arms. The air smelt and tasted salty. She walked over to the side of the road and looked down the short, steep slope at the waves breaking on the rocks below. Seagulls wheeled overhead. She could see a couple of ships far out on the horizon. Closer by, a couple were strolling along a path that overlooked the cliff-side view. They looked content together, fingers entwined. As she watched them, the woman said something to the man and they both laughed. He leaned over and planted a kiss on her neck. Watching this display of casual affection, Jade felt a stab of unreasonable jealousy and looked away.

“Beautiful location,” she said.

David nodded, and straightened up from adjusting his shoelace. “Might put in a request for a transfer down here when I get fired from the unit. Become part of the local constabulary.”

“Don’t know if there’s enough crime for you to have a job here. Look at all these houses. They don’t have electric fencing. Some of them don’t even have walls. This is like Jo’burg was when I was a little kid.”

“There’s always crime, Jade. Stay here for a month and you’ll hear the stories. Same as anywhere in the world. It always looks like paradise till you buy a house.”

Mr. Scott’s property was large and white-walled, with a low iron gate. There was no bell or intercom visible. No security system at all that she could see.

“Guess we just walk up and knock. What an unusual expe-rience.” The gate opened smoothly. She walked up the path and knocked on the white-painted front door, David close behind her.

After a long pause she heard deliberate footsteps. The door swung open.

An elderly man stood under the high arch of the doorway. His gray hair was neatly combed over a bald patch on the top of his head and bushy white eyebrows veiled his piercing blue eyes. In spite of his age, his bearing was authoritative. He glowered at the two strangers on his doorstep as if they were collecting for a charity he didn’t approve of.

“Can I help you?” His voice was surprisingly deep. It rasped in his throat.

“Mr. Bill Scott? My name is Jade. This is Superintendent Patel of the Johannesburg Police Service. We’ve come down here to try and obtain some information regarding a case.”

The old man’s mouth tightened. “What case would that be?”

“The murder of a Mrs. Annette Botha. We have reason to believe that somewhere along the line, a Mrs. Ellie Myers might be linked to it. Would that be your daughter, sir?”

He nodded wordlessly, but volunteered no further information.

“Would it be possible to speak to you for a few minutes?” Jade asked. “Whatever you can tell us will be most valuable.”

Bill shook his head. “It’s not a subject I choose to speak about. It’s very painful to me and I can’t see how it’s relevant. My daughter was unlucky. She was a victim of crime and her hijackers were never found. I suppose I’ll have to answer your questions. But please be brief.”

Jade took out her notebook. She wondered whether, for the sake of brevity, the old man would conduct the conversation in the doorway, forcing her to prop her notebook against the doorframe and David to stand behind her like some kind of guard.

He looked at the notebook. “You’d better come in.” He turned and led the way down the passage.

They followed him inside, David closing the front door behind them. Then they entered a little paradise.

The tiled corridor opened into a spacious living room. The entire front wall was a giant window that looked out onto a sloping green garden and had an endless view of the sea.

A plush-looking white leather lounge suite faced the window. A dark wood coffee table topped with glass stood on a blue and white carpet. A blue vase studded with what looked like lapis lazuli contained a bunch of white lilies. It stood on a polished cabinet next to the window.

Two framed photos flanked the vase. Both frames were engraved. One was a formal portrait of an older woman with jet-black hair and a string of pearls around her neck. The other was of a younger woman. Also a studio shot. She was smiling at the camera. Her skin was tanned and her dark hair hung loose on her shoulders. Jade moved closer in order to read the scripts. The engraving under the older lady read, “Mary Scott. 12 May 1935–14 June 1997.” The younger girl’s script read, “Ellie Scott. 20 June 1966–22 February 2001.”

Bill Scott’s loved ones. Both dead.

Looking closer, Jade realized that the flowers in the vase were made of silk. Very life-like, but silk.

Bill saw her standing by the cabinet. “My wife passed away after a stroke,” he explained. “Take a seat.” He gestured to the sofa as he lowered himself into the chair nearest the door.

The sofa felt as plush as it looked. It was so blindingly white she was worried she would dirty it. David waited for a minute and then sat down next to her, in such a way that she thought he was also worried about leaving a mark. Jade leaned back into the cushions and looked out of the window, watching the waves roll into shore and wondering whether she would see a whale.

“So. You want to know what happened?”

Jade unclipped her pen. “Yes, please.”

“She arrived home late one evening. The twenty-second of February. Five years ago. She stopped outside the gate while she waited for it to open.” The man sighed; a ragged, hope-less sound. “Ellie was pulled from the car and shot. She died before the paramedics arrived. They took the car, an Audi if you need to know. The vehicle tracking company found it twelve hours later in Linbro Park. Abandoned, undamaged and locked.” He raised his head and stared out over the ocean, where clouds were scudding on the horizon.

David broke the silence. “Did the police find any evidence? Fingerprints? Any witnesses to the crime?”

Bill shook his head. “The police found nothing.”

“The car might have been abandoned if the hijackers sus-pected it had a tracking device. They’ll often hide a vehicle in a secluded spot and watch it for a day to see if anyone comes along,” David said.

Jade glanced out of the window. The sky had turned gray and white-crested waves were forming. Ellie Myers and Annette Botha. Both hijacked in their driveways. Both shot dead. What was the connection between them? How had Annette known about Ellie? Why had she decided to trace her so long after her death, only to suffer the same fate herself?

“Annette was murdered in similar circumstances,” David said. “We need to know if there was a link between the two women. We need to find a person who knew Ellie well. Do you know where her husband is?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know where Mark is, and I don’t care much, either.” His voice became stronger. “I never approved of him. Ellie married him against my wishes.” He lifted his chin and Jade caught a glimpse of what he must have been like in his prime. An arrogant man. A dominating father. Somebody accustomed to getting his own way, no questions asked.

“Why?” Jade asked. “Why did you dislike him?”

The old man got to his feet and walked across the room. He lifted the vase and straightened the cork mat underneath. Then he adjusted the position of the two photographs. Jade hadn’t noticed anything wrong with them. She thought Bill was probably giving himself a moment to consider.

He returned to his chair and looked straight at them.

“I wanted my daughter to do better. Mark was a likeable man, don’t get me wrong. Good-looking, charming, pleasant company. But he was a freeloader. He lived off my daughter. I owned a highly successful law firm, and I made sure my family never wanted for anything. I would have liked Ellie to marry a man with similar principles. Mark dabbled in busi-ness. This and that. He was a good salesperson. He sold insur-ance at one stage. Then he lost interest, and it was something else. Next thing, he was selling houses. She bankrolled all his projects. None of them succeeded.”

Jade glanced at David, remembering what he had told her about the development at 48 Forest Road. “If Mark sold houses, did he sell Ellie’s place after she died?”

Bill shook his head.

“Mark inherited the house. But he didn’t want anything to do with it after what happened there,” he said. “He spoke to me at her funeral. Said he was selling it at a giveaway price. He asked me for my banking details. He told me he didn’t want to benefit from it. He wanted the money to go to me.”

“Did he ever pay you the money?” David asked.

Bill straightened in his chair again. “I didn’t give him my banking details. I didn’t want the money. He knew my opin-ion of him. Giving me the proceeds from the sale of my daugh-ter’s house wasn’t going to change that opinion.” He pursed his lips. “A banker’s check for one million rand arrived in the post a month or so later. I tore it up.”

Now Jade understood why the frame on the cabinet had been engraved with Ellie’s maiden name rather than her married name. Jade was beginning to feel sorry for his daughter. She’d drawn the short straw in the father department, that was for sure. Having family money wasn’t everything in life. And why couldn’t he have swallowed his pride for long enough to cash the check and donate the money to a deserving charity?

“Could we get a list of her friends from you? University friends, work contacts, anyone else we could talk to?” David stood up, letting Mr. Scott know that they’d asked all their questions.

“She didn’t have a job. With the trust fund I set up for her, she didn’t need one. But she kept busy. She played a lot of sports. I’ll send you the names of her friends, her sporting contacts. People who knew her.”

“That would be great.” Jade got up too. She looked out at the changing weather. Rain was lashing against the window and the sea was dark and angry. David was already walking down the passage to the front door. As she turned to go, Bill grasped her arm.

“Please find her killers. Find them for me. I want to see them brought to justice.”

“We’ll try.” Jade covered his hand with her own and gave a gentle squeeze.

“When Ellie died,” Bill paused, and his expression softened. “When she died, she was three months pregnant. She never told me. We didn’t communicate much after my wife died. That was my fault. I still blame myself today.” Quite unex-pectedly, his eyes filled with tears.

Jade put her arm around the old man and hugged him. She felt his shoulders shake. She knew how he must feel, with paradise all around him but inside him, a living hell that wouldn’t end.

While she tried to comfort him, Jade watched the rain pelting down and the swells building. Then she saw it. A huge dark shape leapt out of the water and flicked its enormous tail just before its massive body crashed back down into the churning water. A Southern Right whale, cavorting in the sea.

Random Violence