Authors: Rob Kitchin
McEvoy was signalling right, waiting for a gap in the traffic. He approached slowly and as he pulled to a halt McEvoy darted out, slipping into the traffic. He smiled to himself and turned left, heading to the site of the next attack. He wanted to make sure everything was as it should be before he headed to work.
Dessie Carthy threw the tennis ball in the air and swung the hurley in one motion. The ball sliced off the face of the stick and shot between the lime trees, across the moss-ridden tarmac and through the second set of trees that lined the path. A blur of golden retriever bounded after it, snatching the ball out of the air as it bounced through the undergrowth on the edge of a yew tree avenue. As the dog started to head back it veered off, its nose to the floor, disappearing under the yew trees.
Dessie took little notice, expecting the dog had caught the scent of a squirrel or rabbit. He continued to trail along the edge of a football pitch back toward the seminary buildings, the church steeple reaching up high, and in front of it, the four-storey, Gothic façade – grey, cold and seemingly devoid of life – dominating the landscape.
After a minute or so he looked over to where the dog had disappeared. He bellowed out. ‘Syrup! Come on. Oi, Syrup!’
There was no sign of the dog.
‘Jesus,’ he muttered to himself, changing course to try and track it down. ‘Oi, Syrup, where are you, you daft bugger. Syrup!’ He looked at his watch and winced to himself. He needed to get going, his shift started at
The dog barked a few times, but did not come into view.
Dessie passed under the first row of lime trees and onto the tarmac path, heading for the last place he’d seen the dog. He ran his hand through his short, brown hair, scratching at his scalp.
‘Syrup! Stop messing about. Come on! I need to get to work.’
The dog barked again in response.
‘Will you get out of there,’ Dessie half-shouted into the yew trees. ‘Come on. Syrup!’ He swung the hurley at twigs and other debris, snapping them and sending them scooting across the surface.
When he reached the tree line he bent down slightly to gaze under the lowest branches. He could see the dog away to his right in behind the trees on the far side of the avenue near to the cemetery wall, sniffing at something on the ground.
‘Leave it alone. Come on, Syrup.’
The dog barked in reply, asking him to come and take a look.
‘Jesus!’ Dessie crouch-walked quickly between the lower branches of two trees and hurried along the tree-enclosed path toward the dog. As he neared the cemetery entrance he lowered himself to his haunches. Through the second row of trees he could see a foot.
He shifted to one side. A man’s naked body was laid out on the ground between the stone wall and a slight mound of earth. The body was parallel to the wall, his feet pointed towards him, a white, plastic bag tied round his head. The body had been daubed with blue paint; a wide line circled each nipple and belly-button, carelessly covered the man’s flaccid penis, edging his upper thighs, and thick streaks ran down the outside of each upper arm and the thigh of each leg.
‘Holy Mother of God,’ Dessie hissed, backing away and struggling to pull his mobile phone from his pocket. ‘Get away from there. Syrup! Come here.’ He gestured at the dog, patting his thigh, trying to tempt him away from the body.
The dog stared at him and then back to the body, a quizzical look on its face.
‘I’ve been told to inform you,’ said a female voice, ‘that they’ve found another body out in Maynooth that fits the profile of the Glencree killing.’
‘What? Oh, Jesus Christ!’ McEvoy muttered, the news slowly sinking in. ‘Right, okay, tell the local super that I’ll be there shortly. And make sure the crime scene people are on their way out there and the pathologist has been informed.’
‘Yes, Sir. I’ll …’
‘Good, thanks,’ McEvoy interrupted, disconnecting the call, flipping on the blue lights hidden behind the radiator grill.
His mobile rang again. He snatched it up. ‘McEvoy.’
‘Colm, I want a full update when you get there, okay,’ Tony Bishop instructed without introducing himself.
‘Absolutely. I’m going to need a second investigative team.’ It was standard practice that each murder would be investigated by a new team. Each crime would involve thousands of hours of searching, interviewing, sieving, checking. It was unrealistic that one team would try and do this several times over and simultaneously. The trick was to link and stitch each separate investigation together. That was McEvoy’s job – to work with the officers in charge of each strand to weave an overall tapestry.
‘I’m sending Charlie Deegan out to you. I’ve been onto him already. He’s …’
‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’ McEvoy interrupted, caution in his voice. Charlie Deegan was an ambitious, up-and-coming detective. While he had the potential to be a good investigating officer he cut corners, always following the most obvious line of enquiry. He wanted
result, not necessarily the right result. Given that most of the time the obvious line of enquiry was the correct one, he’d closed cases quickly, successfully and, of appeal to senior management, cheaply.
To make it worse, Deegan was determined to rise up the ranks as quickly as possible. As a result, he was quite happy to stand on anybody who would lever him upwards, to take credit where none was due, to push blame onto colleagues who didn’t deserve it, and to generally employ any tactic that would get him noticed as a high flyer and cast his colleagues as bumbling idiots. At the same time, he cultivated friendships with those higher up the system who could develop his career and secure him promotion.
‘I know Deegan has a bit of a reputation and him and Plunkett aren’t exactly best buddies,’ Bishop continued, ‘but they’ll just have to work with each other. Deegan might be a bit of a loose cannon sometimes, and he might have his head stuck up his own arse, but he knows what he’s doing.’
‘Right, okay,’ McEvoy muttered, disappointment in his voice, unable and unwilling to challenge Bishop’s decision.
‘Clunk their heads together if they get a bit thick,’ Bishop advised, as if managing things would be as simple as admonishing them and moving on.
McEvoy ended the call and pocketed the phone, feeling deflated. He was going to get squeezed from above and below, sandwiched between egotism and antagonism.
McEvoy ran his hand over his close-cropped, thinning hair as he turned left onto Maynooth’s main street. He needed another cigarette. And a good night’s sleep. Instead he shoved his plastic stick between his lips and made do. He drove down between the small, two-storey, terraced houses, the ground floors a gaggle of shops, cars jammed in narrow parking spaces in front of them, the street lined with pollarded lime trees.
A hundred yards later he passed through a set of traffic lights and the ruins of the 15
century castle, and approached the front gates of the university. The place had once been described to him as being like an Oxford college dropped in an Irish field, though he’d never actually ventured onto the campus to see for himself, despite passing through the town numerous times. Its location, like Glencree, was the result of events in
Before the French revolution of 1789 the British had denied Irish Catholics the right to operate a seminary to train their priests. Instead seminarians travelled to
to be educated. With revolution and the subsequent wars with
, the British became afraid that the fledgling priests would bring similar ideas and actions to
. In an effort to thwart an Irish revolution, in 1795 an Act of Parliament gave permission for a seminary to be built in
and the Duke of Leinster donated lands on the edge of Maynooth village not far from his Carton estate. Despite its establishment, in 1798 the Irish rebelled, but without military help from their French allies were soon defeated. The seminary, however, had continued to operate. From 1910, St Patrick’s College had been part of the National University of Ireland, and in 1997 the seminary and university had become two separate entities, sharing the same campus, but with their own administrations, structures, procedures, and degrees.
A local guard stood between the light grey pillars, a grand manor house with long, cream-coloured residential wings behind him. Slightly off to the right, a tall steeple climbed into the grey sky. Just inside the gate, a couple of local security men stood by a wooden hut looking slightly lost.
McEvoy lowered the window and held out his identification. ‘Detective Superintendent McEvoy,’ he announced. ‘National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.’
The guard glanced at the card and nodded in acknowledgement, stepping out of the way. ‘Round to the left, Sir. Keep going as far as you can.’ He pointed along the roadway. ‘Go past the orchard and park in on the right.’
McEvoy nodded back and accelerated through the gates, swinging to the left. He followed the road up and passed another manor house and a Boston ivy covered building. He slowed as he approached a crossroads, passing straight across and between some workshops, a sign for the staff dining room, and into a small car park. In front of him was a two-storey set of classrooms and off to the right was the imposing, drab grey of the seminary building.
A little laneway ran out the far side alongside an old orchard, its trees let grow, their branches old, long and gnarled. He drove up the laneway and turned right into a large car park that ran the length of the school-like building and the seminary buildings beyond. It was filled with a dozen or so cars and vans, some painted in garda colours, and 15 or so people. A uniformed guard directed him to a parking space. He parked the car where instructed and eased himself out into the shadow of the building.
Off to his left a few guards were milling around a large crucifix affixed to the top of what seemed like a mound of earth. The crucifix was placed at the end of a row of yew trees, 40 or 50 yards long leading off to the left. He pulled his collar up against the chill wind and set off towards them, slowing puffing on his plastic cigarette, passing an aqua-coloured health and safety sign warning that dogs should be kept on a lead, and a short low wall on which were fixed two taps.
As he neared the crucifix he could see that it rose out of a low rockery. Atop of the cross was a small roof. You nail a man to a cross, McEvoy thought, and yet you shelter him from the rain? Someone had their priorities mixed up.
The four guards stood at the foot of the crucifix were all local. They occasionally swapped a few words but mostly they looked lost, waiting for orders. One of them kicked at some glass on the tarmac as they watched the tall figure, wearing a suit a couple of sizes too big, approach.
‘Detective Superintendent McEvoy,’ McEvoy announced. ‘Where’s the body?’
‘Down there,’ one of the guards pointed along the yew tree avenue, ‘on the left near to the cemetery wall.’
McEvoy looked down between the trees, the branches from each row knitting together to create a darkened tunnel 30 feet high. He could see two men standing together talking by the archway framing the entrance to the cemetery. He muttered a ‘Thanks’ and strode past a metal fence and in under the yew tree canopy.
As he approached the men turned to watch him. McEvoy recognised one of them as Dermot Meaney, the local Superintendent. Meaney was almost the total opposite to Peter O’Reilly. Tall, thin, uniform immaculate, shoes polished, well groomed. The other man was younger, shorter and more thickset, and not as well turned out.
As he reached them McEvoy extended his arm taking Meaney’s hand, shaking it. ‘Dermot. How’s it going?’
‘It was going fine until this.’ He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, before realising that he needed to introduce the second person. ‘This is Tom Bacon, the local sergeant. Tom, this is Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy of