The Cuckoo Murders

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Chapter 31

The news of Malan’s sudden death spread like a tsunami through the county force. He had been taken ill overnight and his heart had given out. Thomas was not surprised. Malan had looked terrible when he had last seen him. He had mixed feelings. He felt for his family, his wife, and children, but he had never liked Malan, and could not bring himself to grieve for him.

Giordano felt the same as most young people when sudden death comes knocking on a door close to theirs, fearful, sad, and apprehensive.

Grey felt bad for his family, had never wished him dead, but was not sorry to see him go.

The Chief was all business. He wasted no time in appointing Thomas in place of Malan and instructed him to hurry up and put his team together.

The funeral was held at the Crematorium. Malan had known his death was coming, if perhaps not as early as it did, and had made his wishes known to the Chief and his family.

For a week before the funeral, officers wore black shrouds over their badges and the flag was lowered to half-staff at Wootton Hall. The casket was carried by uniformed officers into the chapel while the congregation stood and sang ‘Abide With Me’.

The crematorium was packed with officers from Northampton and Malan’s earlier stations. The family filled the front two rows of the chapel nearest the coffin.

It was a long service, the police chaplain, members of Malan’s family, and the Chief spoke of his life in glowing terms and reminisced of happier times. Thomas stood stoically in the back row.

‘Jerusalem’ was the final hymn before the curtains closed on his life, the congregation filing slowly out into the open air once the service had finished. Thomas did not feel like hanging around to make small-talk and look at the flowers, but before he could make a move an attractive blonde lady, about his age, approached him with a smile and said, ‘Detective Inspector Thomas?’

‘Yes.’

‘I’m Gloria, Mrs. Malan.’ She said, holding out her hand.

Thomas shook it and said, ‘Oh, I’m very sorry for your loss.’

‘Thank you, but it saved him a lot of suffering so we should be thankful for that.’

Thomas was lost for words. What do you say to someone who has lost a husband you did not like? She solved the problem for him by saying. ‘He was always talking about you. He admired you greatly. He told me you were the best DCI he had worked with.’

Thomas was dumbfounded. Malan had been nothing if not scathing whenever they had met. His wife mistook his astonishment for embarrassment and continued, ‘Oh, no need to be shy. He thought the world of you. You should be proud.’

‘I am and thank you.’ He said, anxious to get away.

‘I wish you well for the future. Nice to have met you.’ She said and made her way back to her family. Thomas stood stock still for several seconds, his mind in a muddle. Finally, he smiled, shook his head, and made his way back to his car.

His interview with Grey was very relaxed. He told her she was his choice to fill his position and she did not hesitate to accept. The fact that he was going to continue as her boss made it an easy decision. Giordano was equally thrilled that she was to move up to take Grey’s place.

Our story ends with Thomas driving home with a warm glow in his stomach. On his radio, Elīna Garanča, the beautiful Latvian Metzo-Soprano was singing Regina Caeli, Laetare from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

He sat back in the plush leather seats of his beloved Jaguar and smiled. All was well with his world.

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