-poor parents worried to death!

‘For God’s sake, they’re both eighteen — they’re not teenagers they’re adults.’ He shuffled his way out of the blue plastic booties. ‘They’ll be shacked up together in an Edinburgh squat by now. Bet you any money they’re at it like rabbits on a manky futon.’

That’s no excuse for dragging your heels — bloody woman’s mother’s been on the phone again. Do I look like I’ve no’ got anything better to do than run around after your scarred backside all day? ’ A loud sniff rattled down the phone. ‘Pull your sodding socks up: you’ve done bugger all on that jewellery heist last night, there’s a stack of outstanding hate crimes. . And while we’re on the subject: your sodding mother!

‘Ah, right: here we go. The real reason.’ Logan scrunched the protective gear up into a ball and dumped it in the bin-bag taped to the remains of an Audi. ‘I’m not her keeper, OK? ’

You tell that bloody woman to-

‘I said don’t invite her to Jasmine’s dance recital, but would you listen to me? Noooooo.’

-sodding paisley patterned Attila the Hun! And another thing-

A huge mud-spattered Porsche Cayenne four-by-four growled to a halt on the rutted track, behind the SEB Transit van. Clunk and the headlights went off, leaving the driver illuminated in the glow of the dashboard. Mouth a thin grim line, nostrils flared, eyes screwed into slits. Brilliant, it was going to be one of those evenings.

-in the ear with a stick!

Logan held up a hand and waved at the Porsche. ‘Got to go, Pathologist number two’s up.’

Laz, I’m warning you, either-

He hung up.

Dr Isobel MacAllister stuck both hands against the base of her spine and puffed. Her SOC suit swelled in front, as if she was shoplifting a floor cushion. She hauled back the elasticated hood, showing off a puffy, rose- coloured face framed by a droopy bobbed haircut that looked a lot more functional than glamorous. ‘Did you really just ask for a time of death? ’

DS Chalmers nodded, biro hovering over a blank page in her notebook.

Isobel turned to Logan. ‘She’s new, isn’t she? ’

‘Just transferred down from Northern.’

‘Lord preserve us from the Tartan Bunnet Brigade.’ Isobel unzipped the front of her suit. ‘The body appears to have been necklaced — rubber tyre placed over the head and one arm, making it impossible for the victim to remove, then the outer surface is doused with paraffin and set alight. Death is usually caused by heat and smoke inhalation, leading to shock and heart failure. That can take up to twenty minutes.’ She wiped a hand across her shiny forehead. ‘It’s a popular method of summary execution in some African states.’

DS Chalmers scribbled something in her pad. Then looked up. ‘And Colombia too. I saw this documentary where the cartels would chain the guy up on an overpass, fill the tyre with petrol and light it. Everyone driving home would see them hanging there, burning, so they knew what would happen if they screwed with. .’ She cleared her throat. ‘Why are you all staring at me? ’

Isobel shook her head. ‘Anyway, I’ve-’

A car horn blared across the clearing.

She stared at the sky for a moment. Gritted her teeth. Tried again: ‘As I was saying, I’ve-’


‘Oh, for God’s sake, I can’t get five minutes to myself, can I? Not even five minutes.’ She jabbed a finger in the direction of her Porsche four-by-four, took a deep trembling breath, and let rip. ‘SEAN JOSHUA MILLER- MACALLISTER, YOU STOP THAT THIS INSTANT!’


A wee face peered over the dashboard, big eyes and dirty blond hair. Then a flashing grin.

Breeeep! Breep! Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Isobel hauled off her gloves and hurled them onto the ground. ‘You see what happens? Do you? And will Ulrika get deported for it? Of course not: we’ll be lucky if she even gets a slap on the wrist.’ Isobel stomped off towards the car. ‘YOU’RE IN BIG TROUBLE, MISTER!’ Shedding the layers of SOC gear as she went.

DS Chalmers shuffled her feet. ‘Well, that was. .? ’

‘They caught the au pair nicking things.’ Logan pulled out his phone. ‘And consider yourself lucky — the last person who asked for a time of death? She made them help her take the victim’s temperature. And the thermometer doesn’t go in the front end.’


Midges bobbed and weaved in the glow of a SEB spotlight, shining like tiny blood-thirsty diamonds. In the middle distance, Tom Jones had given way to ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’. Logan stuck a finger in his ear and shifted a couple of paces further away from the grumbling diesel generators. ‘What? I can’t hear you.’

On the other end of the phone, DCI Steel got a notch louder. ‘I said, what makes you think it’s drugs?

‘Might not be, but it looks like an execution. We’ll know more when we get an ID on the body: my money’s on a scheemie drug runner from Manchester or Birmingham.’

Sodding hell, that’s all I need: some flash bastard knocking off rival dealers like it’s a performance art.’ Silence. Then a plastic sooking sound. ‘No way I’m carrying the bucket on this one.

‘Thought that was the point of being in charge of CID? ’

Sometimes shite flows uphill, Laz, and this one’s got “Assistant Chief Constable’s Oversight” written all over it in black magic marker. Let him deal with the members of the press.

The SEB tech who’d taken him to see the body shuffled into view, holding one corner of what looked like a crate wrapped in miles of thick blue plastic. It was big enough to take a kneeling man chained to a metal stake. She grimaced at him. ‘Budge over a bit, eh? This is bloody heavy. .’

And by “members” I mean-

‘Got to go, the Procurator Fiscal wants a word.’ Which was a lie — she’d left nearly half an hour ago.

Oh no you don’t: you’re no’ going nowhere till you tell me where we are with that bloody jewellery heist. You think you get to dump all your other cases just because you’ve got a juicy wee gangland execution on the cards?

‘Investigations are on-going, and-’

You’ve done sod all, haven’t you?

‘I’ve been at a bloody murder scene!’

The SEB hauled their blue plastic parcel through the graveyard of burned-out cars, swearing and grunting all the way, feet kicking up a cloud of pale dust from the parched earth.

Well, whose fault is that? You’re a DI now: act like it! Park your arse behind your desk and organize things — send some other bugger off to play at the scene.

Rotten, stinky, wrinkled, bastarding. . ‘You’re the one who told me to come out here! I wasn’t even on duty, I was having my tea.’ He pulled the mobile from his ear and glared at it. Concentrate hard enough and her head would explode like an overripe pluke on the other end of the phone. BANG! Brains and wee bits of skull all over the walls.

‘Er. . Guv? ’ DS Chalmers tapped him on the shoulder, a frown pulling one side of her face down. ‘Are you OK? Only you’ve gone kinda purple. .’

Logan gritted his teeth, put the phone back to his ear. ‘You and I are going to have words about this tomorrow.’

Sodding right we will. I’m no’-

He hung up. Glowered at his phone for a beat, then jabbed the ‘OFF’ button. Leave it on and she’d just call back, again and again, until he finally snapped and murdered someone. Logan took a deep breath and hissed it out

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