my warrant card, waving me through on the basis that nobody else but a police officer would be stupid enough to be out this early.

I went down the stairs to the main ticket hall where the automated Oyster barriers were all locked in the open ‘fire’ position. A bunch of guys in high-vis jackets and heavy boots were standing around drinking coffee, chatting and playing games on their phones. That night’s routine engineering work was definitely not getting done – expect delays.

Baker Street opened in 1863 but most of it is retrofitted cream tile, wood panelling and wrought iron from the 1920s itself overgrown with layers of cables, junction boxes, speakers and CCTV cameras.

It isn’t that hard to find the bodies at a major crime, even one at a complicated scene like an Underground station – you just look for the highest concentration of noddy suits and head that way. When I stepped out onto platform 3 the far end looked like an anthrax outbreak. It had to be foul play then because you don’t get this much attention if you’re a suicide or one of the five to ten people that manage to accidentally kill themselves on the Underground each year.

Platform 3 was built in the old cut-and-cover system in which you got a couple of thousand navvies to dig a bloody great big trench, then you put a railway at the bottom and covered it over again. They ran steam trains back then, so half the length of the station was open to the sky to let the steam out and the weather in.

Getting onto a crime scene is like getting into a club – as far as the bouncer is concerned, if you’re not on the list you don’t get in. The list in this case being the crime scene log and the bouncer being a very serious-looking BTP constable. I told him my name and rank and he glanced over to where a short stocky woman with an unfortunate flat top was glowering at us from further up the platform. This was the newly minted Detective Inspector Miriam Stephanopoulos and this, I realised, was her first official shout as a DI. We’d worked together before, which is probably why she hesitated before nodding to the constable. That’s the other way you get into the crime scene – by knowing the management.

I signed into the log book and availed myself of one of the noddy suits draped over a folding chair. Once I was kitted out I walked over to where Stephanopoulos was supervising the Exhibits’ officer as he in turn supervised the forensics team that was swarming over the far end of the platform.

‘Morning, boss,’ I said. ‘You rang?’

‘Peter,’ she said. Around the Met she’s rumoured to keep a collection of human testicles in a jar by her bed – souvenirs courtesy of the men unwise enough to express a humorous opinion about her sexual orientation. Mind you I’ve also heard that she has a big house outside the North Circular where she and her partner keep chickens but I’ve never worked up the nerve to ask her.

The guy lying dead at the end of platform 3 had once been handsome but he wasn’t anymore. He was lying on his side, his face resting on his outflung arm, his back half curled and his legs bent at the knees. Not quite what the pathologists call the pugilistic position, more like the recovery position I’d been taught in first aid.

‘Was he moved?’ I asked.

‘The station manager found him like that,’ said Stephanopoulos.

He was wearing pre-faded jeans, a navy suit jacket over a black cashmere roll-neck. The jacket was good- quality fabric cut really well – definitely bespoke. Weirdly though, on his feet he wore a pair of Doctor Martens, classic type 1460 – work boots, not shoes. They were encrusted with mud from their soles to the third eyelet. The leather above the mud line was matt, supple, uncracked – practically brand-new.

He was white, his face pale, straight nose, strong chin. Like I said, probably handsome. His hair was fair and cut into an emo fringe that hung lankly across his forehead. His eyes were closed.

All of these details would already have been noted by Stephanopoulos and her team. Even as I crouched beside the body half a dozen forensics techs were waiting to take up samples from anything that wasn’t firmly nailed down and behind them another set of techs with cutting tools to get all the stuff that was. My job was a bit different.

I put my face mask and protective glasses on, got my face as close to the body as I could without touching it and closed my eyes. Human bodies retain vestigia very badly but any magic powerful enough to kill someone directly, if that was what had happened, is powerful enough to leave a trace. Just using my normal complement of senses I detected blood, dust and a urine smell that was definitely not foxes this time.

As far as I could tell there were no vestigia associated with the body. I pulled back and looked round at Stephanopoulos. She frowned.

‘Why’d you call me in?’ I asked

‘There’s just something off about this job,’ she said. ‘I figured I’d rather have you check it now than have to call you in later.’

Like after breakfast, when I was awake, I didn’t say. You don’t. Not when going out all hours is practically the working definition of a police officer’s job.

‘I’ve got nothing,’ I said.

‘Couldn’t you—’ Stephanopoulos gave a little wave with her hand. We don’t generally explain how we do things to the rest of the Met – apart from anything else because we make most of our procedures up as we go along. As a result senior officers like Stephanopoulos know we do something but they’re not really sure what it is.

I stepped away from the body and the waiting forensics types swarmed past me to finish processing the scene.

‘Who is he?’ I asked.

‘We don’t know yet,’ said Stephanopoulos. ‘Single stab wound to the lower back and the blood trail leads back into the tunnel. We can’t tell whether he was dragged or staggered up here himself.’

I looked down the tunnel. Cut-and-cover tunnels have their tracks running side by side, just like an outdoor railway, which meant that both tracks would have to stay shut down while they were searched.

‘Which direction is that?’ I asked. I’d got turned around somewhere back on the mezzanine level.

‘Eastbound,’ said Stephanopoulos. Back towards the Euston and King’s Cross. ‘And it’s worse than that.’ She pointed down the tunnel where it curved to the left. ‘Just past the curve is the junction with the District and Hammersmith so we’re going have to close down the whole interchange.’

‘Transport for London’s going to love that,’ I said.

Stephanopoulos barked a short laugh. ‘They’re already loving it,’ she said.

The tube was due to reopen in less than three hours for the day’s normal service and if the tracks at Baker Street were closed then the whole system was going to seize up on the opening Monday of the last shopping week before Christmas.

Stephanopoulos was right though, – there was something off about the scene. More than just a dead guy. When I glanced up the tunnel I got a flash, not of vestigia but of something older, that instinct we all inherit from the evolutionary gap between coming out of the trees and inventing the big stick. From when we were just a bunch of skinny bipedal apes in a world full of apex predators. Back when we were lunch on legs. The warning that tells you that something is watching you.

‘Want me to have a look down the tunnel?’ I asked.

‘I thought you’d never ask,’ said Stephanopoulos.

People have a funny idea about police officers. For one thing they seem to think we’re perfectly happy to rush in to whatever emergency there is without any thought for our own safety. And it’s true we’re like fire fighters and soldiers, we tend to go in the wrong direction vis-a-vis trouble, but it doesn’t mean you don’t think. One thing we think about is the electrified third rail and just how easy it is to kill yourself on it. The safety briefing on the joys of electrification were delivered to me and the waiting forensics types by a cheerful-looking BTP sergeant called Jaget Kumar. He was that rare breed, a BTP officer who’d done the five-week course on track safety that allows you to traipse around the heavy engineering even when the tracks are live.

‘Not that you want to do that,’ said Kumar. ‘The principal safety tip when dealing with live rails is not to get on the track in the first place.’

I went in behind Kumar while the rest of the forensics team hung back. They might not be sure what it is I really do but they understand the principle of not contaminating the crime scene. Besides, that way they could wait and see whether Kumar and I were electrocuted or not before putting themselves in danger.

Kumar waited until we were safely out of earshot before asking whether I really was from the Ghostbusters.

Вы читаете Whispers Under Ground
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату