Wrongful Death

Lynda La Plante

Wrongful Death

The ninth book in the Anna Travis series, 2013

To my dear friends Richard and Jonny,

at whose wedding I was honoured to be an invited guest.


Special thanks and gratitude for the outstanding research and work on this novel by Callum Sutherland, whose in-depth knowledge of police procedure and dedication to working alongside me has proved to be very productive and gratifying. Sincere thanks also to Detective Superintendent Simon Morgan, for his expertise with FBI research and policy. Having two such capable professionals working to produce the necessary research was a big bonus. I would also like to thank Karol Griffiths for her support; she was and is always a pleasure to work with. As always, my sincere thanks go to the rest of the team at La Plante productions, Liz Thorburn and Richard Dobbs-Grove.

Many thanks also go to Stephen Ross, his son Daniel Ross and Andrew Bennet-Smith at Ross, Bennet-Smith, my financial advisors and dear friends.

The publication of this book would not have been possible without the constant support from my literary agent Gill Coleridge and the team at Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agents.

It is always a pleasure working with my ever-supportive book editor Susan Opie, whose care and attention to every detail is impressive and always encouraging.

I also wish to thank Simon and Schuster, my publishers, for their constant support of my work – their encouragement and long-lasting friendship makes me very fortunate to be one of their authors. Ian Chapman, Suzanne Baboneau, Kerr MacRae are a great influence and their kindness is deeply appreciated. They are a very strong creative group. I would also like to thank Dawn Burnett and especially Nigel Stoneman. Nigel is one of the dearest and most professional publicists I have ever worked alongside. He is always encouraging and I can think of no better travelling companion to promote my novels around the world with. My appreciation of his friendship is increased by his ability to create the best titles; Wrongful Death was his suggestion.

Spending so many hours over the computer, I am thankful to have a very trusted and dear woman who takes great care of me and makes sure I eat healthy and good dinners. Rose Mary Skidmore is very much a part of my family. In reality, most of these people have become close and beloved friends and with their support, working is always a joyful experience.

Chapter One

‘Good morning, nice to see you all hard at work,’ Detective Chief Inspector Anna Travis said cheerfully as she made her way across the newly refurbished major incident room in Belgravia Police Station. Both Joan Falkland and Barbara Maddox, busy setting up computer equipment, turned sharply on hearing her voice. Taken aback by her tanned glowing appearance, their jaws dropped.

‘Oh, ma’am, it’s so good to see you and you look so well. I told my mum last night that I felt it in my waters you’d be heading up our next case,’ gasped Joan.

‘Well, your waters were right,’ Anna said, smiling at the detective constable’s choice of words.

‘You look stunning,’ Barbara Maddox conceded enviously as she looked Anna up and down.

‘I finally took some leave and had the voyage of a lifetime sailing around the Aegean. I only got back last night.’

‘Bit young for a cruise, aren’t you?’ Barbara remarked.

‘It was a large clipper yacht not the QE2, Barbara. So who’s the DI on the team?’ Anna asked.

‘I am. Believe it or not, they finally promoted me,’ a voice from behind her replied.

Anna, recognizing the voice, turned to see Paul Barolli with a proud grin across his face coming out of the DI’s office. She immediately noticed how neat and tidy he looked in a new pinstripe woollen suit, white shirt, red tie and well-polished brogues. She was surprised that Paul had recovered so quickly since the serial killer Henry Oates had shot him the previous October.

‘It’s well deserved and I’m glad to see you’re fully fit again.’

‘Doctor advised me to stay off a bit longer but I was bored to tears sitting at home doing nothing,’ Paul told her.

‘So who’s replaced you as the team DS?’ Anna enquired.

‘Now you really are in for a surprise,’ Joan said.

‘I can answer for myself, Joan, and my promotion was also well deserved,’ Barbara said tersely.

‘I’m sure it was, Barbara, and well done. I’ve no doubt Paul will give you the benefit of his experiences as a former DS,’ Anna said.

‘My office door is always open for advice, Barbara,’ Paul added.

‘It will never be closed now,’ Joan muttered under her breath.

Anna asked if anyone knew anything about the case they were to investigate but everyone shrugged their shoulders. All she herself knew was that she’d got back late last night to find an answerphone message left by Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton, requesting her to be at the Belgravia station for a 10 a.m. case briefing. Joan remarked that all the office equipment was new and state-of-the-art. Barolli wondered if the case was a sensitive one, only to be discussed within the four walls of the incident room.

‘Has Langton appointed a superintendent on this team?’ Anna asked Paul.

‘Not that I know of; be great if it was Mike Lewis.’

Although Anna had enjoyed working alongside Mike Lewis on a number of cases, she doubted it would be him, as he was now overseeing all the murder teams in North London following his recent promotion. She wondered if Langton himself, seeing as he was being so secretive, would head up the inquiry.

Anna could not help but be impressed by the new high-tech incident room and the abundance of computer screens on every officer’s desk. Instead of the traditional incident-room board, on which all details of the case were pinned, there was a huge plasma touch-screen monitor, which would be used to load information and photographs direct from any one of their office computers. Paul said that one of the local officers had told him the whole office had been gutted, rebuilt, decorated and furnished in just over three months.

Intrigued, Anna couldn’t wait to see her office and was instantly struck by how plush it was, with a modern computer desk and chair, a two-seater sofa and two armchairs placed around a small coffee table. It all made her wonder not only why everything was brand-new but also who, in times of major police budget cuts, had authorized this kind of spending. Sitting down at her desk she began to check through her work e-mails that had piled up during her holiday leave, but before long she was interrupted by the beep of her mobile. It was a text message from Langton saying he was running an hour late. Exasperated but not surprised, she went into the main office to tell everyone.

Shrugging at her news, Paul Barolli headed into his office and Anna followed. ‘Do you have time for a catch-up?’ she asked.

‘Come on in,’ he said proudly. Anna smiled, knowing that this was the first time in his career that he had had an office of his own.

‘It’s not as glamorous as yours, but I’m well pleased,’ he said, pulling out a chair for her, then walking behind his desk to sit opposite.

Anna looked around and noticed there were pictures on the walls of classic sports cars.

‘It’s nice, but why all the photographs of cars?’

‘Classic cars are my hobby,’ he said proudly. ‘So, have you seen Langton recently?’

Anna nodded, somewhat amazed that you could work with someone for so many years without knowing about a personal interest such as this.

‘After the Oates case, I went back to cold casework at the Yard and bumped into him a few times in the canteen. You?’ she asked.

‘It’s been a while, but he came to see me in hospital after Oates shot me and then at home when I was on sick leave. Last time, he brought me a big bottle of malt whisky. Said it was the best medicine money could buy.’ Barolli chuckled.

An hour later found Anna and Paul deep in discussion with the rest of the team when Langton finally made his appearance. He looked as if he had taken a well-earned rest; he was tanned and had lost weight, his hair longer. Everyone welcomed him, Barbara remarking to Joan that the new hairstyle suited him – he had always worn it in a crew cut, but now it was combed back, making him look younger. He stood in front of everyone, beaming, and apologized for keeping them waiting, then loaded a USB stick onto a computer and asked them all to gather round.

‘How do you like the new office?’ he demanded as he quickly removed his suit jacket and hung it over a chair. Everyone nodded in approval and commented how modern it was.

‘Well, I’m glad that’s the case as this is the first of its kind under a new modernization scheme for the Met Homicide Command,’ Langton informed them.

‘So every murder team across London is going to get equipment like this?’ Barbara asked.

‘Eventually. This however is your new working home and you will be permanently based here.’

‘I live in Harlow. It will be a three-hour round trip every day and if they stop our free rail travel the cost will be astronomical,’ Barbara blurted angrily but Langton ignored her.

‘ ...

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