Read Cause of Death Online

Authors: Jane A. Adams

Cause of Death

Table of Contents

Recent Titles by Jane A. Adams from Severn House

Title Page

Copyright

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Epilogue

Footnotes

Recent Titles by Jane A. Adams from Severn House
The Rina Martin Mysteries
 

A REASON TO KILL

FRAGILE LIVES

THE POWER OF ONE

RESOLUTIONS

THE DEAD OF WINTER

CAUSE OF DEATH

 
The Naomi Blake Mysteries
 

MOURNING THE LITTLE DEAD

TOUCHING THE DARK

HEATWAVE

KILLING A STRANGER

LEGACY OF LIES

BLOOD TIES

NIGHT VISION

CAUSE OF DEATH
A Rina Martin Novel
Jane A. Adams

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

 
 

First world edition published 2012

in Great Britain and in the USA by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

Copyright © 2012 by Jane A. Adams.

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Adams, Jane, 1960-

Cause of Death.

1. Martin, Rina (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title

823.9'2-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-284-9 (Epub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8173-1 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-438-7 (trade paper)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Prologue

T
hey had driven from the harbour up through the little village and out into open country. It was likely no one had seen them, though a few curtains may have twitched at the sound of cars passing through so late. Those who lived here were farm workers and fishermen. At this time of year they rose early and fell into bed when the sun went down; slept the sound sleep of the justifiably exhausted.

Despite the late hour it was still surprisingly light, a gibbous moon and more stars than Jerry could ever recall seeing before lending a surprising amount of brightness to the proceedings. He took time to admire the silvered light on the fields and, as the road briefly swung back on itself, the sheen on the sea. They were early; he could see the line of trees that marked their destination. Jerry did not want to be the first to arrive.

He was driving the lead car, Santos beside him in the front seat, designated spokesman as his French was better than Jerry's. In the 4x4 behind them were two of the newbies: Skelton and Hughes. Jerry thought Skelton was a good man, but he was far from certain about Hughes, and far from happy that the boss should pick such an important and potentially difficult moment to test them out.

‘There,' Santos said, indicating a turn just as Jerry spotted it. He swung on to the track between the trees and into the woodland, pulling up a few hundred yards along the track and, out of a habit of caution, easing the car round in a multi-point turn so they were heading in the right direction for a fast exit. Santos glanced across but said nothing, while Skelton, driving the second vehicle, took his lead from Jerry and did the same – in considerably more moves, Jerry was amused to note. A snort from Santos told him his companion had shared his observation.

They got out. Jerry slipped the keys into one of the many pockets of the photographer's vest he habitually wore, but did not bother to lock the doors. Santos carried the pilot case and the four of them moved off down the track, pine needles soft beneath their feet, the scent of damp earth and resinous trees filling Jerry's nostrils.

‘Lights,' Santos muttered.

Jerry nodded. He'd already seen them. Fifty yards on and the track opened out into one of the many fire breaks that criss-crossed this forestry land. Two men stood in the centre of the clearing and Jerry spotted at least three more standing in the shadow of the trees. Their contacts had brought their vehicles right into the clearing, headlamps on. They stood, silhouetted against the light, and Jerry edged sideways, aiming to get a better view. Behind him he felt Skelton do the same.

Santos moved forward and lowered the pilot case to the ground. His opposite number came forward, knelt down and crouched over an armoured box, releasing the catches with a sharp sound that was overloud in such a quiet place. So far, so good, Jerry thought, but the feeling that something wasn't right had been growing upon him as they entered the clearing and it wouldn't go away.

And then all hell broke loose. Voices shouting from the tree line. Lights. A man yelling ‘
Attendez
!' – and then the gunfire.

Jerry hit the deck a split second after Santos. Hughes was down, shot and unmoving. Skelton was wounded too; Jerry could hear him swearing as he struggled to get under cover.

‘Get the hell out of here,' Santos hissed. He rolled and ran, keeping low, and Jerry wriggled to where Skelton writhed and moaned. He grabbed him and dragged; Skelton tried to help by half kicking, half crawling, and somehow they made it back into the cover of the trees.

‘Got to get to the cars,' Jerry said. ‘Can you make it?'

‘I don't know. What the fuck is going on?' He was gasping for breath.

‘Where are you hit? Shit!' He dragged Skelton deeper under the trees, wishing they had more cover. The regimentation of the forestry planting offered little defence if one of the powerful lights shone their way. Behind them in the clearing the shooting continued, and Jerry blessed the fact that those they had come to meet were more numerous and better armed than his group had been, though to get into a shoot-out with what he assumed must be the authorities seemed like madness. The place would become a killing ground.

Right now, though, he was not about to question good fortune. He fumbled in a pocket of his jacket for the med pack, found a bandage, wrapped it tight around Skelton's thigh. His photographer's vest was a bit of a joke with the others. They called it his utility belt, and the fact that he often had the camera to go with it and actually did take pictures caused additional hilarity. Just now, though, Jerry thought Skelton would not be seeing the funny side.

‘All right, let's go.'

He hauled Skelton to his feet, taking most of his weight as he wrapped the man's arm around his shoulders. Together they staggered forward. Jerry was listening, hoping. The last thing he wanted was for the shooting to stop and armed police to move out again into the trees. The other fear was that they'd reach the cars and find others waiting for them. Ears straining, Jerry heard an engine fire up and something drive away.

‘Santos,' he said. He hoped. So long as they could reach the 4x4 then they had a chance.

Knowing time was against them and feeling Skelton's weight increase with every step, he decided to take a risk. He turned sharply, leading them back on to the track. He paused, shuffling Skelton's body into a better position. ‘We've got to move fast, right?'

There was no response. Skelton's feet dragged. Jerry could feel him trying to take steps, but his injured leg was limp now and most of the forward momentum was down to Jerry.

Behind them the gunfire died down and voices reached them across the sudden void of silence. Jerry swore. He dragged Skelton faster, harder. Skelton moaned. Fifty yards more. Somehow they made it and Jerry shoved the injured man into the back seat, thankful for the caution that had led him to leave the vehicle facing the right way.

He started the engine, suddenly aware of movement on the path behind, and also of a shadow detaching itself from the forest and running across the track ahead.

‘Fuck.' Jerry gunned the engine and released the handbrake, surging forward. Someone behind them fired a shot. It went wide but shattered glass in the offside wing mirror. The figure up ahead raised a weapon. Jerry accelerated and the figure dived out of the way. Then they were out on to the road.

Jerry drove, not sure what direction to take or if he should be heading back towards the coast. He drove for an hour before taking the risk of stopping, and only then did he pause long enough to take a look at Skelton. The man lay very still, half on half off the back seat, and Jerry confirmed what he had already guessed. Skelton hadn't made it.

He travelled on, making guesses at each junction until he reached a main road. He stashed the car and body in a farmer's field and then, taking his backpack and camera, hitched a lift back to the coast and caught a ferry home.

The journey gave him time to think, and the more he thought about it the more wrong it all felt. Nothing on the news, nothing in the papers on either side of the Channel. Only the ongoing scandals that had hit the media a few weeks before: government departments implicated in the illegal sale of arms and intelligence; three high-level politicians and some very senior civil servants handing in their resignations.

Santos met him off the ferry. He'd made it back a day ahead.

‘Two men down. Boss isn't best pleased,' Santos said.

‘No, I can imagine losing that amount of cash isn't going to go down well.'

Santos laughed. ‘What happened to Skelton?'

Jerry told him, briefly. Santos shook his head. ‘Should have put a bullet in his head and left him in the woods,' he said. ‘Wasted your time, didn't you? Boss wouldn't look kindly on you if you'd got yourself arrested. He's mad as hell, wants to know who sold us out.'

They weren't police, Jerry thought, but something stopped him saying it out loud.

ONE

H
e watched the men come out of the pub. Three he knew: Jerry Mason, Santos, whose last name seemed to change with his mood, and Tomas James. Woe betide anyone who tried to insert an h into his name.

The other two were not familiar, and from the way the group moved it was obvious that they were new to Santos and the rest. To his practised eye there was a definite division, not a sense of hostility, but simply of the familiar versus the not yet tested. He knew the form because he would have behaved in exactly the same way towards newcomers – and had been on the receiving end of such treatment too.

Other books

SAVAGE LOVE (A Back Down Devil MC Romance Novel) by Casey, London, James, Karolyn
The Inheritance by Zelda Reed
Disgraced by Gwen Florio
Ghost House by Carol Colbert
Baldur's Gate by Athans, Philip
Tell Me No Lies by Annie Solomon
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Seven for a Secret by Lyndsay Faye