HISTORY WILL DICTATE

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KNOCKING ON DOORS; RATTLING CAGES

By the time Roche and the other non-uniformed police were ready to depart the scene, the body was ready for transfer to the mortuary. The pathologists would have a closer look and hopefully get a clearer idea of the how and the when - though less likely the why. That would be up to a lot of drudgery by uniformed officers, with their door to door enquiries and a painstaking search of the surrounding area - none of which would be appreciated or applauded by anybody. The detectives would stir up the local likely-lads, sabre-rattling and generally looking for anything of relevance. All of them would be calling in favours, using whatever informants they had on their books, and making their presence felt. As for John Roche himself? He generally worked more or less alone. He had ‘his own methods’. His methods were not universally liked, and certainly not universally approved of in the upper echelons of the force, but apart from a constant entreaty by the powers that be that he should ‘rein it in’ or ‘watch his step’ or ‘be mindful’ his methods were so successful, that it was difficult for them to do much more than cover their own backs by hauling him over the coals now and again and outwardly try to distance themselves. Whilst being, of course, delighted to take the plaudits for his coups and successes. He was, by and large, a law unto himself. He had been promoted, demoted, promoted, demoted more times than anybody could really now count, but even during the not infrequent suspensions he simply continued to work as a free agent - just as normal! Whether he was ‘official’ or ‘renegade’ the methods, dedication, regard for authority (of any kind) remained the same…. A complete maverick, but John Roche always got his man …. That had always been the case, apart from Bernie O’Dwyer. The one that got away. Until now, that is. And now here he was determined to find the person who had put an end to her. He would find him - or her; he would see them locked up, because that was what he did. He was a copper. But he would not really know whether to shake their hand or handcuff them. Except, of course, whoever did it was likely just another scumbag. A rival for her crown. Somebody wanting to take her place at the top of the tree. Just somebody else in due course to take off the streets.

It was the duty of the lower order to knock on the doors - such as they were - in the vicinity. Unfortunately for the team - though perhaps fortunate for the population - there were not that many domestic doors close by to the scene of the crime. It was mostly industrial premises; one or two traders - a print shop, a locksmith, two public houses; St. Margaret’s church - and St. Margaret’s Haven, a sheltered housing complex for elderly Irish men, who had been either homeless, or likely to be homeless if they were not ‘taken in’. They were mostly - though not all by any means - now peaceable, having been worn down by the sheer loneliness and harshness of living a hand-to-mouth existence on the streets for years. Many still soothed their aching bones and even more withered psyche with copious amounts of Guinness and Irish whiskey, but that was indeed a step up from what many of them had relied on in by-gone years which frequently had been rot-gut white cider, methylated spirits, or any substitute, however harmful. There were some - though far fewer - who were former, or even current, drug users, but this was less well tolerated by the owners than was the alcohol. The Board of Trustees (volunteers and philanthropists as a rule) - as opposed to the Management who were salaried, experienced and hard-nosed -

‘understood’ the demon drink, but were not of the ‘class’ nor ‘age group’ who found it possible to look upon drugs in quite the same way. Drink was part of all of their lives; they were all, to some extent, a slave to the drink - even those who had sworn the pledge and vowed to be teetotal. That was because either they had formerly had a problem with alcohol themselves, or their fathers - or mothers - or both - before them had. This made them obsessional about their own abstemiousness, but also other people’s redemption too.

John Roche saw no real benefit in doing the interviewing of the men at the hostel himself, but decided he would be more useful and get further talking with the Manager, and the Deputy Manager, Shane Devlin and Roisin Dupre. He told his two almost-trusted colleagues - Sharon Pretty and Bobby Shillington - that he would rely on them to interview the tenants since his presence would only cause their stories to become distorted - whether to vex him, please him, or placate him. He knew each and every one of the tenants, and had done so for many years. When handing over the responsibility for interviewing these men to the others, he joked that he knew them all too well - in fact some of them better than his own mother and father. Since John Roche’s life and background had been the subject of conjecture and debate over the years, ever since he arrived as a rookie, already bitter and neither seeking nor making any proper friends - they knew that this was just John’s little joke. The grapevine had soon unearthed the truth that he had no idea who ‘his own mother and father’ were in any case and that he had been brought up in a series of failed foster families, interspersing long spells in convent orphanages and Christian Brother schools. He was born in the West of Ireland, apparently, leaving at the earliest possible moment, and not a moment too soon for the nuns and Christian Brothers who had for years both given him, and received from him, scant respect nor care. As for love or dignity, that was a commodity that he had never received, nor was he, in consequence, very good at giving out. So Sharon and Bobby went off to begin the dogged task of tracking down and talking with the ‘men of St. Margaret’s’.

Roche took himself off to seek out Shane and Roisin, both of whom he was also well acquainted with, but since they had good homes, good families, good jobs and good prospects, there was no reason for them to feel anything but well up to the task of a meeting with him. Shane was always good humoured and an affable kind of person, big and burly, a gentle giant, who nobody messed with because he could, should he choose, knock them to Kingdom come, but almost always chose not to. But the knowledge that he could was sufficient for most people.

Roisin, whose normal demeanour to everybody was somewhat uppity, was inclined to look upon John Roche as little better than a tenant any way, since he was at least as good a drinker as they, the only difference being that he was younger, fitter and luckier. She acknowledged that he was handsome, and his surly Heathcliffe act was certainly a turn on, but she was not interested. She really believed that there was time yet - and he would find himself in St. Margaret’s or somewhere similar - or worse - because he was living on borrowed time and borrowed luck. She was usually polite enough to everybody, but tended to give the impression that she was only doing the job as an act of kindness and charity. John Roche was not one to be affected by

‘attitudes’. He rarely even noticed them and certainly was never intimidated by them. It was true, though, that if Roisin was not apparently happily married to a handsome French restaurateur, John would have tried his arm at de-icing the little tease. He was, though, very moral and so Roisin had absolutely no idea - nor would she ever - that he fancied her. He would never say; she would never thaw, and their rare meetings would always remain frosty and aloof.

Having been an integral part of the local community - both in his professional and personal capacity - for the past ten years, John

Roche already knew most of the background to St

Margaret’s. Indeed, as a person not too many steps up the ladder from their normal client group, and having shared many a bar stool, if not quite a gutter with them, he perhaps ‘knew’ the scene even better than most of those who were outside looking in. Even those who were paid to be in the know. John was not only, technically, paid to be ‘in the know’ but was emotionally and psychologically well placed to see both pictures. The official portrait, and the snapshot. One might even say ‘the selfie’, but there was something that kept John Roche just the plus side of the line, rather than putting him squarely into the same bracket as the residents and hangers-on around St. Margaret’s.

He decided, since people’s idle, and not so idle chatter, usually told him what he needed to know in most situations, he would take a long-arm approach with Shane by making him talk him through the background, the policy making and the personalities who - maybe not day to day, since that was obviously Shane himself - but ultimately made the big policy decisions. Shane was disconcerted by this, knowing full well that Roche was only too aware of the background, personalities and general ‘goings on’ in St. Margaret’s and amongst the wider Irish community in the city. They had often shared a pint together in the Irish Club - and frequently more than one pint, though Shane, having seen too many men, including his own father, ruined by the demon drink, would never let himself become drink-dependent, like the detective.

Roche realised, of course, that he had absolutely no proof, not even any proper reason to believe as yet, that Bernie’s death was anything other than a random act of opportunism or, indeed, some kind of mistaken identity. He certainly had no concrete reason to believe it had anything to do with St. Margaret’s, the Irish Club, or any of the other bits of the Irish Empire that she and her acolytes had built up. But he had never worked on facts or proof, or ‘indication’ before, so why would he start now. John Roche was a renegade and worked entirely on ‘instinct’ and largely on automatic pilot. His bosses had never liked it; had originally tried to rein him in, but - like his subordinates - had soon learned that things went smoother, and more often than not, more successfully, if they let him have his head. It had always worked before. Before, though, his judgement had not been so compromised by emotion and resentment. It was not so much that he was determined to find whoever had put an end to Bernadette O’Dwyer - unless it was to give them a medal! - but this gave him an ideal opportunity to look under all the stones, into all the closets. He had been gifted a chance, which he had never dreamed he would get, of uncovering all of the skeletons and shining a light into places he had frequently had nightmares about. So, Bernie was no longer ‘the one who got away’, so much as the ‘one who would ultimately hand him the key to lock up all the rest’.

Shane said that St. Margaret’s was part of a welfare operation which had formerly been operated by the Catholic Church - via one of the religious orders - but this had long since passed into lay hands and was just one of the ‘operations’ overseen by a board of trustees. When prompted, Shane had to admit that all of these had exactly the same Board - same personnel, same style, same attitudes. They ‘ran’ not only the Club, but all of the various welfare agencies in the city supposedly working for the benefit of the Irish community. In short, they had the territory covered! Any monies gathered, spent - whether earnings, grants or donations - went via these same people. Over all of this, of course, was - or had been - Bernadette Rosario O’Dwyer. Shane did not demur when - in order to provoke a reaction - John threw in “lots of pies to have her greedy and grubby fingers in, eh!”. Shane, whether because he recognised a fishing lure when he saw one, or because he genuinely saw nothing to acknowledge - did not respond to this nudge. He agreed, however, when pushed, that though, in theory, she was just part of a Board of Trustees, Bernie was, in reality, the principal - the top of the tree - figure in the community. He would not be drawn on Roche’s comment that she was also very formidable - and a dangerous enemy to cross, and that the other Board members did well to either shut up, or toady to her every whim. When John Roche asked point blank ‘Did somebody get fed up with paying homage?’ Shane seemed really flustered and unsure of what to say. John left the question hovering, thanked him in a very formal manner which belied the fact that on many an occasion before - and presumably on many an occasion in the future - they would be playing cards or chess or darts together in the Irish Club. Unless of course it was Shane who had just had enough of Bernie and John had to see to it that he was locked up. It was clear as day to him, somebody must have got fed up of genuflecting!

Roisin, despite her normal superior attitude, when John and she sat down for a ‘formal’ interview, became more vocal and informative, almost as though the formality of the occasion made her feel important and knowledgeable. She was much more forthcoming - one might say indiscreet - than her boss had been and John let her talk, just nodding now and then, and giving her no opportunity or reason to remember who she was talking to. He needed her to just react to the fact that he was a Detective Inspector, and this was a proper murder enquiry - it was her duty to assist as best she could - despite the inferior calibre of the personnel involved!

She confirmed that the staff of the sheltered housing unit were, in theory, quite uninvolved with Bernie and her empire. It was, by and large, run as a legitimate concern, not least because it was closely scrutinised. The main funding came from the local authority - the City Council - and the Irish Embassy both of whom were not anxious to be associated with a rotten egg. Also - on a more day to day level - the very fractious and erratic nature of its clientele meant that it was frequently the object of interest and visits by the local police. From everybody’s perspective, it was important to do things properly. To keep their noses clean. To present the right image. Her raised eyebrow and a twitch of her very lovely mouth said louder than any words that she did not believe it for a moment. The look said in greater clarity than any words that for ‘image’ one should read ‘mirage’!

She was getting well into her story now. As a normally discreet and canny young woman, she had known only too well that these things were not sensible nor healthy things to discuss before - with anybody - so the opportunity to cut loose now, was cathartic. Once unleashed, she was positively euphoric at the freedom it gave her to tell somebody! This was not gossip. This was her duty. It might just be John Roche, but at this moment it was not John Roche, the drinker, it was John Roche, the Detective Inspector, and he was investigating a murder.

So she continued. More serious trouble, though, had been on the cards in recent months - perhaps for the past year or so. With a change of political persuasion amongst the councillors elected to the local authority, heads were being shaken and warnings issued, because the whole concept was felt to fall foul of the very ethos of equality and equal opportunities. The management was under pressure to open St. Margaret’s to women - and not restrict it to the Irish community and it was beginning to be said that future local government funding would be contingent upon this change. Roisin said that Shane and she were not at liberty to make this transition of their own volition, even if they agreed with it. The matter was one which had to be agreed, and organised, by the Governing Body itself. This had not gone down well with any of the Board. In particular Bernie was incensed that she was being told what to do, and how to do it. The Irish Embassy, too, apparently had found it difficult to argue against the logic of the criticism. Sure were they not always extolling the very European-ness of their situation. Oodles of money was going from European coffers to keep the Celtic Tiger in fine fettle!

Roisin looked at the door to check it was closed and nobody was within earshot. She had heard it said that Bernie was using ‘information’ to knock the city councillors and the Embassy into line. She had amassed a lot of information about people – all kinds of people! Some said it was really juicy information, scandalous information even! One day when she was in the building she was on her phone and Peader heard her say to somebody that they had better watch out because none of them knew who they were dealing with. She said that she had information and was not afraid to use it and that they would be sorry!’

Roisin said that it was not just strangers that had runs-in with Bernie! Roisin herself had never had any kind of trouble with her. She was always very polite if she spoke to her, but they tended not to do much more than pass the time of day. Most of her interaction with St. Margaret’s was through Shane. They weren’t ever invited to Board Meetings or anything – Shane sometimes was. Other people though hated her!

Roche was, of course, interested in anybody who had any kind of beef with the victim. He was definitely not going to make the mistake of getting too set in his views about likely culprits. Quite often it was something mundane and ‘domestic’ that caused violence to occur – it did not have to be big business or gangland related. He therefore asked himself “Who else for instance?” He considered himself to be well provided for with candidates.

Roisin had heard Siobhan O’Callaghan - Manager ’so-called’ (Roisin’s own words!) of the welfare side of the operation - (it was obvious that Siobhan was not one of the people on Roisin’s

Christmas list either!) arguing with some visitors - Irish politicians

- who had come over to see what the Irish Government’s money was going towards on behalf of the Dail, the Irish parliament.

Siobhan, outspoken at the best of times was, apparently, not pulling her punches. She was criticising the Government for their lack of welcome for elderly Irish people wishing to return home. The politicians were saying that of course they could come back – all Europeans are able to settle in Ireland! That apparently made Roisin hit the roof! She had said “Exactly! Having kept Ireland in food and shoe leather for all those years when you had nothing, now they are ’just as welcome as Frau or Herr Schmidt, or Señora or Señor Martinez! These same old Irish men and women who kept you lot in the manner to which you think you’re all entitled! You politicians living your grand lives, running the country into the ground, and the banks making hay with everybody’s money; and the farmers milking the subsidies and building their find houses no bloody wonder you want to stay in with the Germans – to hell with your own! Etc.etc.”

Siobhan had been lambasting the politicians to the absolute embarrassment of Roisin and Shane, and the fury of Bernie when she walked in on it! Roisin said she did not know, at the time, whether to laugh or cry. Bernie knew precisely what to do, she sacked Siobhan on the spot in front of the visitors, to everybody’s shock and to the embarrassment of the visitors. Roisin said, to give the politicians their due, they tried to dissuade Bernie, saying that it was fine, that it was just like being back in the Dail - and they would take it all back to the Government, and see that the views were made known.

According to Roisin, the wrangle over the sacking was still going on because, unfortunately for Bernie, Siobhan was not at all apologetic for her alleged ‘lack of manners’, nor was she particularly surprised or taken aback by Bernie’s reaction. She had obviously expected no less. Siobhan was one of a small number of people not afraid of Bernadette - she had many times stood toe to toe and told her precisely what she thought of her and her wheeling and dealing. As well, Siobhan had a long and honourable involvement in the Trade Union movement and called in the heavy artillery to push for ‘constructive dismissal’. Rumour had it that she had a good case. The role of the whole organisation was to look out for the best interests of Irish people living in the city and to ensure their better future. There was a view that it would have been the right thing for Bernie to have been supporting her in the argument, not sacking her. Siobhan had been championing the needs of the elderly Irish, many of whom had left their place of birth, frequently against their own wishes, in order to support the country that the politicians now held sway in. This was her job; the people that she had been talking to were in a direct position to affect and alleviate some of the problems - indeed, to a huge extent, it was their very role to do so since they were all Irish passport holders! So the issue was well within Siobhan’s job description; the politicians were, very much, legitimate targets for her argument; the place was quite perfect, since it was not ‘in public’ but within the confines of St. Margaret’s Offices, and it would have been a dereliction of duty for Siobhan to not have taken the opportunity that presented itself. If Bernadette Rosario O’Dwyer had any kind of interest in the welfare of the older Irish in the City, she would be praising Siobhan and giving her a raise, not giving her the sack. Those were the arguments which seemed to have been winning the day amongst ‘public opinion’ and were thought to provide ample reason for Siobhan to be compensated for her humiliation and abandonment! There had even been anonymous threats – some in writing – that had been received. But Bernie had walked into the Club one evening, when it was absolutely heaving with people, walked up on the stage and said “To whoever is trying to threaten me and my family, this is my answer” … and she tore the papers up into small pieces and threw them around like confetti over the floor, before adding “and …. you can all bear in mind that octopuses have long tentacles and little pigs have big ears …. nobody’s really anonymous! Nobody’s secret stays secret for long around here. So, if you know what’s good for you, whoever you are, you had better watch your step.” With that she just returned to her family, and carried on as though nothing had happened. That was last Saturday night. By Monday, she was dead.

The only person who seemed, under these circumstances, to take themselves off the suspect list was the fair Siobhan Regan, who looked like she would have more than enough spunk, support and ammunition to fight and win her battle legally. With any kind of logic, it was a wonder then that it was not Siobhan that was dead in the morgue!

So if Roche was not inclined to add her as another person on the list of potential ‘assassins’, he was definitely inclined to seek out Siobhan O’Callaghan and buy her a drink!

Roisin continued to wax lyrical, glad to express a lot of the thoughts she had harboured for a long time. She said that Shane was not a ‘gossip’ and around here walls had ears! Most people did not dare to express any views - one way or the other. She believed though that lots of people felt like she did. She believed that any number of people were antagonistic towards the Board of Trustees as a whole, and there was no shortage of people - both Board members, the staff and the world at large - who were more than antagonistic towards Bernadette O’Dwyer. She, Roisin, had lived with fear - she was brought up in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, but this was a different kind of fear. People were just not sure who - well to put it bluntly - who was in Bernie’s pocket. There was more than one way to be on Bernie’s payroll!

John was grateful for all of these outpourings, which mirrored his own views, but ‘views’ under the present circumstances, were about as much good as a tissue to an elephant.

As he thanked her, said his goodbyes and left, he still pondered the question: “But were any of them brave enough, foolhardy enough, exasperated enough to actually kill her? It is a very big step! It’s a far cry from being a bit fed up. If a person is too fearful to speak, are they more or less likely to kill! Would that not be a far greater test of bravery, a far greater display of confidence!”

As he was leaving the building, one of the staff was endeavouring to persuade a man - a very rumbustious man - to go.

“Now Jim, you know you’re banned. If I have to call the boss, your sentence will be doubled - you know that as well as I do. Now be a good chap and go nicely. If you’d only learn to behave when you’re in here, you’d have no trouble - you are just a fool to yourself. Now, off, go, go, go …...shoo shoo shooo …. Out you go!”

“I’ve more feckin’ right to be in here than anybody - most of them old fella’s are only plastic paddies - not a proper drop of Irish blood in their bodies. I can come here if I like, Bernie said I could. When I saw her last night, she said “There you are James! And why are you out here in the cold and rain, when it is nice and warm beyond in St. Margaret’s ...”

Hearing this, John Roche was immediately more interested.

“Jim, I want a word …. “

But with that, Jim Kelly gave him a withering look, muttered under his breath, gave a two fingered gesture towards the detective, and, moving surprisingly fast out the door said “Well I don’t want a word with you, Mr. Roche, so there!” and moved as quick as his short legs, and wet trousers, would take him.

Before Roche could follow him, he was accosted by a big build lady, perhaps very early 60’s but whose age was quite well disguised by her very black dyed hair, freshness of complexion, which showed no sign of wrinkle or the passing of time, and quickness of movement. “What did you say to him John ...…. He needs a bath! He smells to high heaven, and I’ve been chasing him around since Tuesday!”

“I said nothing to him, Marian, apart from the fact that I wanted a word. In any case, apparently, he is banned from here - ask your woman Josie there, on the reception desk!”

“I don’t know about that, but Bernie” … (at this point, she crossed herself theatrically, and said ‘God rest her soul’ solemnly!) before continuing … “asked me specifically to look out for him, and for George O’Donnell, and give them a bath, because they are a disgrace, and in any case they are ruining the chairs in Reception in the Club …. They have taken to sitting in there, watching the world go by. When they are not abusing everybody, they are screeching ‘up the rebels’, singing - well roaring, not singing - rebel songs, and swigging from a white fire bottle! Jim keeps blowing kisses to Bernie and calling her ‘me darling’ which is driving her demented! Twice in the past week the bar staff have rung for the polis, and they do no more than ring for a bloody ambulance. They waste everybody’s time taking them to A&E, who then send them off again - more often than not, not even

bothering to clean them up or see to them.”

For fuck’s sake, Marian, the Accident and Emergency staff are no more paid to bath drunks than the ambulance people are paid to chauffeur them around. But I’m not concerned with his personal hygiene at the minute …… I am more concerned with the fact that he seems to have seen Bernie last night …. Or so he says, and if he were anybody else apart from bloody Jim Kelly, he might have something useful to say. I was just living in hopes, that’s all. Clutching at straws - or thinking that pigs might fly and Jim might have been sober enough to be useful for once.” Marian retreated the way she had come, tutting and muttering to herself.

As he watched her depart, Roche was struck by the fact that, ignoring her instinctive and theatrical prayer for O’Dwyer’s soul, Marian’s reaction to the woman’s death could best be described as ‘unmoved’. He knew that life had to go on, but this kind of stoicism was certainly uncommon. Particularly when the death was as a result of violence. Murder! People generally felt something. Not necessarily sorrow for the victim - although most people pretended - but fear, apprehension perhaps, that there was a killer on the loose; or sympathy with the dead person’s family …. Something. Marian had acted as though it was nothing. If she had not crossed herself, he could have sworn that she had absolutely no idea that the woman was dead. She knew, but she felt nothing. On the other hand, she did not seem euphoric or relieved, or show any other kind of ‘positive’ reaction. She showed nothing. But …. Nobody’s outward emotions could be taken at face value, or judged, given the victim. After all his own were, to say the least, decidedly not straightforward.

With that, failing to find any other useful source of information, the whole reception floor, for perhaps the first time since its opening, being completely devoid of any living soul, apart from Josie behind the desk, and John himself, he walked towards the automatic doors and left the building. He would track Jim down later - he was not going anywhere. Sharon and Bobby and the uniforms were knocking on the doors in St. Margaret’s. If they thought hiding inside their cubby-holes was going to save them, they had another think coming!

He meandered back, slowly and in deep thought, back to the police station, believing the ‘top brass’ would have taken themselves off to their extended lunch breaks, ostensibly on business with ‘important people’ or ‘useful allies’. He had high hopes that some of those very ‘important people’ or ‘useful allies’ so doted upon by his so-called superiors, would become part of his own circle of acquaintances very shortly for much the same reason - their importance, and their usefulness, since Madame O’Dwyer seems to have kept book on them! Could any of them have become alarmed that she might tell their little secret? He would have loved to know which of them was today feeling relieved – or perhaps one was feeling relieved, but fearful at the same time.

He was of the opinion that probably he would not ultimately track the culprit down amongst their number. He was only daydreaming that they might be responsible. It was too crude, too spur of the moment. Opportunistic, but with malice. They had obviously panicked – otherwise they would have made it look more like a mugging by taking the other things – the phone, etc. Just to take the purse, seemed an afterthought. But the whole of the scene said spur of the moment. Panic. Horror. None of those councillors – except maybe the one or two Irish councillors – were likely just to happen to be there late at night. If they had paid somebody – or persuaded somebody – to do it, then they would have made a better job of it, wouldn’t they? They would have planned it. Not just hoped for the best.

Roche rarely sat down willingly and wrote a report - reports got done eventually, because they were essential and mandatory - but he was never chomping at the bit to do them. Today was different. He positively rubbed his hands with glee at the prospect. His report would not make uncomfortable reading for the DCI or Superintendents, and even less for those they were ultimately answerable to, the local bigwigs! Even if he did not actually suspect any of them really, he need not say that in the report. Let them all sweat for a while.

His report stated that:

“In reality, the possible ‘suspects’ ranged across the board from the sublime to the ridiculous. From any one of a highly respected and previously law abiding group of local Councillors and politicians, to any one of a number of disgruntled residents. Not to mention all of the wide boys (and girls!) and villains who Bernadette Rosario O’Dwyer controlled or antagonised in her ‘other life’ as the Queen of all that was greedy and despicable amongst the Irish community within the city and beyond.”

He outlined - in his own words, naturally - what Roisin had told him. Though he finished by agreeing that no absolutely clear way forward had yet been found, it was still the first day, and they had a long way to go, and lots and lots of important people to see and interview.”

This last fact alone should have Superintendent Griffin twitching in her comfortable seat in her air-conditioned office!

His report included much in this vein, and though he knew that the tone and undisguised amusement would be likely to cause him some grief from Griffin, he considered it a small price to pay. They were getting a report, were they not. Consider themselves lucky!

As he was finishing, his phone rang. It was Bobby to say that they had been trying all day to speak to Gerard O’Dwyer but had failed to track him down. It was thought he may have gone up to visit relatives, but his car was gone and there was no sign of life in the house. He was not answering his phone, and nobody at his business premises had seen him since mid-morning yesterday. As far as anybody could tell, nobody had been able to tell him of his wife’s death. What should they do? Was it in order to force entry to make sure that he was not inside injured, or dead?

John thought about it for a moment. More or less thinking out loud, he said “Retrieve Bernadette O’Dwyer’s possessions from the lock up at the station. See if there’s a key, or keys, amongst them. ….. If nothing else, it’s necessary to find contact details for the other bits of the family. There’s definitely the daughter, Melanie - lives somewhere localish - married name something like Burns, or Byrnes. …. There’s a son, too, but I think he is abroad somewhere - America, perhaps, or Canada. Some poncie name … Orlando ….. no, not Orlando, Tristan. Must be late 20’s or so. …… Failing Melanie, try the relatives up north - Leeds, I think, before looking further afield. They have the running of Ger O’Dwyer’s family business, so should be easy to track down. That’s if you can’t find Melanie. ……. But first, see what you can do about the keys…Oh, Bobby, send Sharon. You get off home or Lizzie will have me guts for garters! Tell Sharon I will meet her down there - at lock-up. I am at the station now anyway. Tell her I’ll come with her to the house.” Bobby tried to argue this, and in reality was somewhat jealous that he was being ‘sent home’ in favour of a mere Detective Constable, when Bobby was a Detective Sergeant! Roche was completely oblivious to this, and had not side-lined him for any other reason than the fact that if he decided to break into the O’Dwyer residence, Bobby would be more of a stickler for ‘procedures’ than Sharon would be - Sharon was more easily ‘persuaded’ or failing that merely ‘out-ranked’ or bullied!

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