And recently it hadn’t been a question of Branson’s oneupmanship getting the better of his competitive nature. Grace was on a mission to learn, to educate himself, to fill that vast cultural black hole inside his head. He had slowly come to the realization, during the past month, that his brain was a repository for pages and pages of police training manuals, rugby, football, motor-racing and cricketing facts, and not much else. And that needed to change. Quickly.

Because at long last he was dating – going out with – in lust with – totally smitten by – maybe even in love with – someone again. And he could not believe his luck. But she was a lot better educated than he was. It seemed at times that she’d read every book that had ever been written, seen every movie, been to every opera and was intellectually acquainted with the work of every artist of note, living or dead. And as if that wasn’t enough, she was halfway through an Open University course in philosophy.

Which explained the pile of philosophy books on the coffee table beside his chair. Most of them he had recently bought from City Books in Western Road, and the rest from a trawl of just about every other bookshop in the whole of Brighton and Hove.

Two supposedly accessible titles, The Consolations of Philosophy and Zeno and the Tortoise, were on the top of the pile. Books for the layman, which he could just about understand. Well, parts of them, anyhow. They gave him enough at least to bluff his way through discussions with Cleo about some of the stuff she was on about. And, quite surprisingly, he was finding himself genuinely interested. Socrates, in particular, he could connect with. A loner, ultimately sentenced to death for his thoughts and his teachings, who once said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’

And last week she had taken him to Glyndebourne, to see Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Some parts of the opera had dragged for him, but there had been moments of such intense beauty, in both the music and the spectacle, that he was moved almost to tears.

He was gripped by this black and white movie he was watching now, set in immediate post-war Vienna. In the current scene, Orson Welles, playing a black-marketeer called Harry Lime, was riding with Joseph Cotten in a gondola on a Ferris wheel in an amusement park. Cotten was chastising his old friend, Harry, for becoming corrupt. Welles retaliated, saying, ‘In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’

Grace took another long swig of his whisky. Welles was playing a sympathetic character, but Grace had no sympathy for him. The man was a villain, and in the twenty years of his career to date, Grace had never met a villain who didn’t try to justify what he had done. In their warped minds, it was the world that was skewed wrong, not them.

He yawned, then rattled the ice cubes in his empty glass, thinking about tomorrow, Friday, and dinner with Cleo. He hadn’t seen her since last Friday – she had been away for the weekend, for a big family reunion in Surrey. It was her parents’ thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and he had felt a small pang of discomfort that she hadn’t invited him to go with her – as if she were keeping her distance, signalling that although they were dating, and making love, they weren’t actually an item. Then on Monday she’d gone away on a training course. Although they’d spoken every day, and texted and emailed each other, he was missing her like crazy.

And tomorrow he had an early meeting with his unpredictable boss, the alternatively sweet and sour Alison Vosper, Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex Police. Dog-tired suddenly, he was in the process of debating whether to pour himself another whisky and watch the rest of the movie or save it for his next night in when the doorbell rang.

Who the hell was visiting him at midnight?

The bell rang again. Followed by a sharp rapping sound. Then more rapping.

Puzzled and wary, he froze the DVD, stood up, a little unsteadily, and walked out into the hall. More rapping, insistent. Then the bell rang again.

Grace lived in a quiet, almost suburban neighbourhood, a street of semi-detached houses that went down to the Hove seafront. It was off the beaten track for the druggies and the general nocturnal flotsam of Brighton and Hove, but all the same, his guard was up.

Over the years he had crossed swords with – and pissed off – plenty of miscreants in this city because of his career. Most were just plain lowlife, but some were powerful players. Any number of people could find good reason to settle a score with him. Yet he’d never bothered to install a spy hole or a safety chain on his front door.

So, relying on his wits, somewhat addled by too much whisky, he yanked the door wide open. And found himself staring at the man he loved most in the world, Detective Sergeant Glenn Branson, six foot two inches tall, black, and bald as a meteorite. But instead of his usual cheery grin, the DS stood all crumpled up and was blubbing his eyes out.


The blade pressed harder against her neck. Cutting in. Hurting more and more with every bump in the road surface.

‘Don’t even think about whatever it is you are thinking about doing,’ he said, in a voice that was calm and filled with good humour.

Blood trickled down her neck; or maybe it was perspiration, or both. She didn’t know. She was trying,

Вы читаете Not Dead Enough
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату