Scutter slammed the phone down hard on the desk, leapt to his feet and marched across the room towards Giles’ desk.
‘I’ve got it,’ he announced, thumping a single sheet of report paper down on her desk.
Giles could hardly contain her excitement. Eagerly, she reached at the paper, her eyes scanning the brief. ‘You have?’
‘Henry Jones got into a little bit of trouble a few months back,’ Scutter continued, a grim smile reaching across his face. ‘He put a large amount of the bank’s money betting the wrong way. By all accounts he fell into a state of depression – he started drinking, taking drugs, the works. A few days later, the money magically reappeared in the bank’s records so he was never investigated.’
‘This is good,’ Giles agreed, placing the paper down on her desk and getting to her feet. She reached for her mobile phone and slid it into her pocket as she started to make her way towards Bolton’s office.
‘That’s not all.’
Scutter’s words brought her to a halt. As she turned to face him, she saw him produce another piece of paper – a phone bill by the look of it – that he thrust into her hands.
‘I just got Jones’ telephone records,’ he continued. ‘At the time of his mini breakdown, he made a dozen or so calls to the same number. I just confirmed it with the phone company.’
‘Let me guess…’
‘Alex Donnovan.’ Scutter tapped the phone bill. ‘Here’s our link.’
Giles couldn’t contain her delight.
‘That’s Henry Jones, Mary Crosskey, Derek Batterly and Simon Grole. That’s four victims that we can link together.’
She took one more glance down at the bill. Scutter had taken the liberty of highlighting the number on the bill; the number that Henry Jones had called a dozen times a few months before his death – the number belonging to the man she suspected of being the Bluebell Killer.
‘Let’s bring him in.’
Alex Donnovan was a weedy-looking guy – quiet and insular, his dirty, blonde hair dreadlocked down to his shoulders, his fingers yellowed with the stain of roll-up cigarettes. On first glance he didn’t look like much – he certainly didn’t look like the kind of man capable of murdering a dozen victims, particularly some of the men who looked proficient at handling themselves.
But Giles knew different.
They had been watching Donnovan for some time now. Beneath that weak exterior, he was actually quite a well-built, muscular kind of guy. Every morning, without fail, he would take a jog down to the local gym, give his arm, leg and torso muscles a punishing work out for an hour and then jog back home again just in time to start the business of the day.
As Giles sat opposite him, with Bolton to her side, she couldn’t help but feel a passing gratefulness to Max. Had it not been for him, she might never have focussed so heartily on following the money. True, the search ended up being a fruitless one – apart from the latest few victims, the money sent from the anonymous account had been a dead end - but it had led Giles to take a closer look at the victims’ finances in general.
Donnovan’s name had been all over four of them and Giles was expecting to see it more often as more records arrived.
There wasn’t a doubt in her mind.
Donnovan was the Bluebell Killer.
Bolton allowed the room to sit in silence for a little while before he finally said:
‘You slipped up, Alex,’ he said. ‘We know you sold drugs to Henry Jones. We know you leant money to Derek Batterly and Simon Grole. You were close friends with Mary Crosskey in the lead up to her death; hell, you even seen with her a few hours before she died. We’re running thorough background checks on all the other victims – I’m sure we’ll come across something that links you to all of them. Why don’t you just save us the hassle?’
Beside Donnovan, his lawyer uncurled her hands and seemed to creep out of the shadows. Her glasses bounced the light from the overhead lamp around the room, momentarily blinding Giles as she surveyed the two detectives on the other side of the interview room. Then, with a softly hissing voice, she said:
‘Detective Inspector, I do believe you are clutching at straws.’ She shot off another glimmer of light as she glanced over to Giles. ‘You have tenuous links made even more so by this ridiculous accusation that my client is some sort of drug-dealing moneylender. It simply won’t do…’
‘Your client murdered twelve people…’
‘Allegedly,’ the lawyer shot back, her thin lips curling into a smile. ‘Which begs another question: do you even have any proof that all these murders are even connected?’
‘We have reason to believe…’
‘Reason to believe?’ the lawyer snorted, settling back into the shadows. ‘My understanding is that none of the murders were committed in the same fashion – in fact, I believe that there is barely anything linking the murders at all…’
Giles butted in:
‘Except the bluebells.’
The lawyer raised her eyebrow as she looked over at Giles.
‘Quite,’ she muttered. ‘I am forgetting that they are such a rare plant in Britain. And it’s not like that aspect of the killings has been plastered over every tabloid from here to Edinburgh…’
She chuckled at her own sarcasm and turned back to face Bolton.
‘It would appear that, not only can you not link my client to these murders, you can’t even link the murders to each other. Not very good, is it?’
Giles’ patience had worn thin. She leaned forward, staring straight at Donnovan in an attempt to cut the lawyer out of the conversation and waited until his eyes rose to meet her before she asked:
‘Where were you the night Henry Jones died?’
‘My client doesn’t need to answer that question…’
Bolton piped up: ‘If he’s innocent, he won’t have a problem with it.’
‘Look,’ the lawyer replied, getting slowly to her feet and placing a reptilian hand on Donnovan’s shoulder. ‘Either charge my client or let him go. But he is under no obligation to answer any of your questions. My client will not say a word.’
Giles paid her no attention. She was too busy staring into Donnovan’s cold eyes. She had no doubt that she was looking at the Bluebell Killer, but she knew the lawyer was right – he wasn’t going to say a word.
‘What are you doing?’
The tone on the end of the phone was blunt and harsh. Even as she heard Max’s voice, Giles could feel the energy drain from her body.
She knew what this was about.
They had released Donnovan a few hours earlier to the delight and clamour of the public press. She watched the footage of him skulking out of the station and found herself cursing under her breath as the lawyer rabbited on about freedom and justice. Max was almost certainly calling to add his two cents to the mix, not that Giles needed any pressure right now.
‘We are following every line of enquiry…’
‘I mean this man, Donnovan, what has he got to do with this?’
The television began to show highlights from a debate in the House of Commons. The banner across the bottom of the screen read ‘Immigration Crisis Debate’, prompting Giles to turn her back and stare out of the window as she continued talking.
‘Max, I appreciate what you have done so far, really I do,’ she said. ‘But I am not at liberty to divulge the details of our investigation, even to you. You have been a big help to us so far. Your lead put us on to Donnovan, but I think it’s about time you take a step back and let the professionals…’
Max spluttered down the line.
‘Donnovan? Alex Donnovan? He isn’t the Bluebell Killer, not by a long shot. What the hell led you to him? I told you to follow the money…’
‘And then you disappeared,’ cut off Giles, her voice tainted with an air of spitefulness. ‘Look, Max, you gave us a good start, but if you were hoping we would just wait around for you to come up with your own theory, you have another thing coming. People are dying out there and we can’t be expected to wait for your call…’
‘I was gathering evidence,’ he hissed. ‘You wanted proof of who the Bluebell Killer is so I am getting it for you…’
‘And do you have it?’
The line went quiet.
Giles allowed her chair to swing back towards the television. If Max hadn’t irritated her already, what she saw began the process. Stood in front of the House of Commons, the leader of the Britain’s Own Party, Daniel Barker, was delivering a passionate speech. She could hear what he was saying, but she could tell by the look on his face and the tension in his arms that he was ranting about how immigrants were destroying Britain again.
She couldn’t see his appeal.
He looked smart enough – fresh faced and full of energy – but he gave off an aura that seemed distinctly terrifying.
He’s a Hitler in the making…
Giles paused for a few seconds, feeling the irritating building through her body. A slight catch of breath down the receiver reminded her of her informant and she swung the chair back away from the television again. She took a deep breath, calming her mood, and said:
‘Then stop wasting my time…’
And she hung up the phone.