Diamonds by Gwen Leader (Chapter Seven)
The Selbright Mysteries; Book One
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, character and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Gwen Leader 2014
Gwen Leader asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be copied in any way without the express permission of the copyright owner.
Proof read and edited by Kate Pittel
Marlene dialled the number and waited.
“Well?” asked the voice at the other end.
“He doesn’t know anything, thinks she was killed by a jealous wife.”
“I see, and what did you say?”
Marlene shrugged even though the person at the other end couldn’t see her. “I agreed, he’s probably right.”
Silence, then “But I think you and I know differently don’t we?”
“What do I mean by that?” asked Marlene. Her heart was racing and her mouth had gone dry.
“Don’t play the innocent with me, did you kill her?”
Marlene’s voice was barely above a whisper as she replied, “Of course not, why should I kill her?”
“We both know why, and I’m warning you if I find out you did, I’ll make you sorry you were ever born. This could jeopardize our whole operation.”
Marlene swallowed, “I didn’t, I swear.”
“Ok but I’m warning you if I find out otherwise you’ll be sorry, and stay away from Dunn from now on, understand?”
“Yes ok.” The line went dead. Marlene was shaking as she poured herself a drink. God this was a nightmare.”
Two days later Marlene was jogging round the golf course. A figure stood in the shadow of the trees watching her. As she approached, the figure came out from the trees carrying a golf club. Marlene jumped and nearly fell. “My God, you made me jump. What are you doing?”
The person smiled, “Just taking a stroll - actually I’m glad I saw you - I have something for you.”
“Oh - what?”
“This,” said the voice as they lifted the golf club and brought it down hard on the side of Marlene’s head. She died instantly. The figure looked at her and kicked her with their toe, “That will teach you to cross me, you bitch; I know you killed Charlotte Dunn but you can’t do any more harm to my organisation now.” With that the figure threw down the golf club and strolled casually back to their car, got in and drove away.
Jane looked up as Sarah put the phone down and said, “Another body just turned up at the health club gov.”
Jane and Maureen stared at her, “Who is it?” asked Jane.
Sarah shrugged, “Don’t know - they just said a body has been found on the golf course.”
“Right let’s go.” Jane and Maureen went out to the car park, “What the hell is going on up there, why are they killing off their members?”
“Don’t know gov, not the sort of place I would want to be a member of though,” said Maureen.
Maureen and Jane walked over to where they could see all the activity; Jim Roche straightened as they approached. “Well what have we got doc?” Jane asked.
“Young woman, killed by a blow to the head and the weapon was a number seven iron golf club. Found it lying by the body.”
Jane and Maureen looked at the body, “Marlene Smith,” they said in unison. Maureen looked at Jane. “But this doesn’t make any sense - she’s our prime suspect.”
Jane nodded, “I know, ok - get that club to the lab. I want finger prints, hair samples - anything and everything.” Jane stood looking at the body of Marlene Smith. If she killed Charlotte Dunn then who the hell killed her, and more to the point, why? “Any witnesses?”
“Not really, mam. A couple of women were playing golf but they didn’t see anything much, although one of them thought she saw a figure in the trees but can’t be sure and can’t give a description,” said the young uniform police officer.
“Ok, where are they?”
“Went back to the club house quite shaken by it all. They found her, thought it was a pile of old clothes someone had dumped until they got nearer.”
“Right, give the names to Sergeant Phipps will you, and we’ll go and interview them.”
Maureen took down the names of the women and they set off for the club house. They found the women in the coffee shop drinking coffee. Jane and Maureen introduced themselves and sat down in the vacant chairs. Elizabeth Jones and Jean Woodville looked at the officers, “We can’t tell you anything Officer - all we saw was what we thought was a pile of clothes, until we got closer,” said Jean. Both women were in their late forties, early fifties; Jean Woodville was a striking woman with dark auburn hair peppered with grey, Elizabeth Jones had a pleasant friendly face and what had once been jet black hair but was now nearly white.
“So you didn’t see anyone at all?” asked Jane
“Well, I thought I saw someone in the trees but it could have been a trick of the light,” said Elizabeth.
“I see, but you madam, you didn’t see anyone.”
Jean shook her head, “No I’m sorry I didn’t. I don’t know what this club is coming to, that’s two murdered in as many weeks - I’m seriously thinking of cancelling my membership.” Elizabeth nodded agreement, “Me too, I don’t feel safe anymore.”
“Right ladies, you can go now if you wish. We may want to speak to you again so please leave your addresses with the Officer on the door and thank you for your time.” The two women grabbed their bags and all but ran out of the coffee shop.
Maureen felt sorry for the young manager of the club. Mark Dawson looked visibly worse than the last time they had seen him; he kept pushing his hand through his hair, and shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite believe what was happening. “You have to find whoever is doing this Inspector. People are just not going to come here anymore. I’ve already had four people cancel their membership since the last murder and now this - it’s a nightmare.”
“What can you tell me, if anything, about the victim sir?”
Mark Dawson stared at her, “The same as the last one, Inspector. I never met her, I have no idea about who she is or anything else about her.”
“I see, well, I’ll have to interview the staff sir, but if you do hear anything please let me know.” After speaking to the staff on duty they returned to the station.
“Well, that wasn’t very helpful was it?” said Maureen. “No-one even saw her this morning, and they knew even less about her than they did Charlotte Dunn.”
“Right - let’s check her house out, what’s the address again?”
Maureen consulted her notes, “River View estate.”
Jane looked at her. “I live on River View, whereabouts?”
“Um, Khartoum Drive, where do they come up with these names? Khartoum. That’s in India isn’t it?”
Sarah looked at her, “I don’t know Sarge but I think there was a battle there. I remember something about it in history at school.”
“When you two have finished with the history lesson, can we please get on?”
“Sorry gov. Anyway, is it anywhere near you, this street?”
“Yes about two streets away. I pass it to get to my place. It’s nice - modest enough. Come on, let’s see what we can find out.”
Standing outside no 5 Khartoum Drive, Jane and Maureen were surprised to see it was in fact a flat. “Well, not bad,” said Maureen.
They found the interior modestly but tastefully decorated, the carpets and furniture were obviously expensive but not flashy, clearly Marlene was a woman of discerning taste. They searched through cupboards and drawers, and suddenly Maureen said, “Look at this gov.” She held up a passport and some papers which Jane couldn’t make out, she took the passport and papers from Maureen and looked at them.
“Well, it’s just her passport and what’s this?”
“Birth certificate - it’s not what they are but the name on them.”
Jane looked at them; the passport was a South African one. “Good lord, how on earth do you pronounce that? Marieke De Kuyper.” She pronounced it Marie ke de Coyper. “Who the hell is that?”
“It’s her; look at the photo. And the birth certificate is in the same name.”
Jane looked at the photo in the passport, then at the birth certificate, “But if this is her real name why did she call herself Marlene Smith, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Maureen shrugged, “Search me, maybe she thought it was easier to say.”
“Yes and her accent wasn’t so pronounced so I guess she could get away with it, but it’s odd all the same.”
“It also ties up with Churchill’s assessment that she was South African. That name sounds Dutch.”
“Ok, what else have we got? Any bank statements?”
“Yes - haven’t had a good look but she seems to have kept all her important papers in this drawer.”
They took the statements over to the table and started to go through them. Suddenly Jane said, “Well the bank statements are in the same Dutch name,” and then she said quickly, “Got it - this is what I was looking for.”
“What have you got gov?”
“Large payments, just like Charlotte’s and look at the name of the payer. It’s the same - it’s that Van Der Heuvel person. She must have been mixed up with whatever was going on.”
“So do you think the health club’s involved?”
“I don’t know.” The rest of the flat was neat and tidy but threw up just one more thing of interest - a short dark curly wig.
They returned to the station. Jane went down to speak to Jim Roche, “Anything new found in the autopsy Jim?”
“No, just as I said she died from a single blow on the head from the golf club, and before you ask there are no finger prints. The murderer wore gloves or wiped it clean. I’m more inclined to the gloves myself.”
“Yes I agree - thwacked her, threw down the club and ran, but who and why? Damn it, she was my prime suspect for the other murder, it doesn’t make sense.”
Jim shrugged, “Sorry can’t help you there, that’s your department I just do the ‘how’.”
Jane smiled at him, “Thanks doc.”
Back in her office Maureen asked, “Anything new gov?”
Jane shook her head, “No, she died from a single blow to the head from that club, no prints.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“Churchill’s going under cover in that health club.”
Sarah stared at her, “Me gov? Under cover?”
“Yes Churchill. You under cover. Neither of us can go, they know us but they don’t know you.”
“But I don’t know anything about being a fitness trainer.”
“You’re not going as a fitness trainer, you’re going as a member and I want you to get friendly with both trainers and members. Just chat to people and find out what you can, ok?”
“Oh great, this is real police work not just paper work.” Churchill was clearly excited about the prospect.
Maureen looked at her excited face and said, “Yes well, you just be careful Churchill, and the first sign of trouble you get the hell out of there, understand?”
“You think it could be dangerous Sarge?”
Before Maureen could answer Jane said, “No Churchill, it won’t be dangerous but don’t lose sight of the fact that there have been two murders we don’t want a third and definitely not you, so be chatty but keep it general, ok?”
“But how are you going to get her in gov? That’s a very expensive club.”
“I’m going to have a chat with the manager. He’s not involved I know it, so he’ll sign her up, I’m sure. Also I can get him to keep an eye on things.”
The manager did not disappoint her; he was only too happy to have Sarah go in under cover to try to find out anything. He just wanted this mess cleared up so he could get back to normal. Two days later Churchill was a member of the Bayview health club and she found that she was actually enjoying working out - albeit gently - and her fitness instructor, Tracy, had given her some helpful tips on healthy eating. She was already beginning to feel the benefits of it. She’d asked Tracy about Charlotte and Marlene but she couldn’t tell her much, “Yes I knew them, but only by sight really, I never really spoke to either of them - just to say hello, that sort of thing.”
“Pretty creepy though drowning in the Jacuzzi, at least the other one died somewhere else.”
Tracy smiled, “Don’t worry the Jacuzzi has been well and truly cleaned out I assure you.”
“Yes I guess so.” Later on in the steam room and Jacuzzi, Sarah chatted to several people but no one knew anything about either murder and the consensus of opinion was that they were better off without Charlotte Dunn.
A week later, back at the station, she was pleasantly surprised when both Jane and Maureen told her that not only was she looking great but she seemed to have lost weight, “Well, at least all that hard work’s not going to waste then,” she quipped.
“Certainly not nor the diet,” said Maureen. “How are you getting on with everyone?”
“Ok, in fact I’ve made some quite nice friends. I went out for a drink with some of them the other night - not sure how they’ll take it when they find out I’m a copper though.”
“Oh, they’ll be ok. After all, how can we find the killer if we don’t go under cover? People talk more freely when they think it’s just another member but to us they wouldn’t say anything,” said Maureen.
“Yes I guess, so I haven’t found out much, except that Charlotte wasn’t liked, and as for Marlene no one really seems to know much about her. Mind you, one thing I did hear was that Charlotte took a fancy to Marco which turned out to be a fiasco.”
Jane looked at her, “Oh why?”
Sarah giggled, “Well he’s about as interesting as watching paint dry.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, he has two topics of conversation and one of them is football. The other you don’t want to know gov.”
“Oh,” groaned Maureen, “Let me guess, sex, right?”
Sarah nodded, “Yep, we bumped into him in the pub and he was boring as hell, and apparently it didn’t last five minutes with Charlotte, she dumped him after a few dates.”
“You see Phipps? Never judge a book by its cover.”
“Oh you didn’t fancy him sarge?” Sarah asked.
Maureen bristled, “Well no, not really just thought he was quite good looking that’s all.”
Sarah and Jane exchanged glances and grinned, “Well he’s best avoided, believe me.” Sarah told her.
* Chapter Eight coming shortly!
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