Read Mourn Not Your Dead Online

Authors: Deborah Crombie

Tags: #Yorkshire Dales (England), #Police Procedural, #Police, #Contemporary Women, #Mystery & Detective, #James; Gemma (Fictitious character: Crombie), #Yorkshire (England), #Police - England - Yorkshire Dales, #General, #Fiction, #James; Gemma (Fictitious character : Crombie), #Mystery fiction, #Women Sleuths, #Large type books, #Kincaid; Duncan (Fictitious character), #Traditional British, #Policewomen

Mourn Not Your Dead

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BY THE SAME AUTHOR

All Shall Be Well

A Share in Death

Leave the Grave Green

 

 

SCRIBNER
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
www.SimonandSchuster.com

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 1996 by Deborah Crombie

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

S
CRIBNER
and design are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster Inc.

DESIGNED BY ERICH HOBBING

Text set in B
EMBO

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 987654321

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crombie, Deborah.
Mourn not your dead: a Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James crime novel/Deborah Crombie.
p. cm.
1. Kincaid, Duncan (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. James, Gemma (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 3. Police—England—Yorkshire Dales—Fiction. 4. Policewomen—England—Yorkshire Dales—Fiction. 5. Yorkshire Dales (England)—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3553.R5378M6 1996
813’.54—dc20 95-26166 CIP

ISBN 0-684-80131-0
eISBN 978-1-4516-1763-4

For D
IANE
, D
ALE
, J
IM
, V
IQUI
, J
OHN
, and R
ICKEY,
who have once again read the book in progress
with much patience and insight.
Thanks, you guys.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

Special thanks are due to my friend Paul Styles (former chief inspector, Cambridgeshire Constabulary), who tried to keep me on the straight and narrow, and is not responsible for any deviations I may have made from proper police procedure for the sake of
story
. Diane Sullivan, RN, BSN, certified flight registered nurse, provided details on injuries and related first aid; Carol Chase vetted the manuscript; and David and Gill Hill, owners of Bulmer Farm in Holmbury St. Mary, Surrey, provided me with maps, information, and warm hospitality while I was researching this book.

Although the village of Holmbury St. Mary and its church do indeed exist, all the characters portrayed in this novel are entirely a product of the author’s imagination.

M
OURN
N
OT
Y
OUR
D
EAD

 

CHAPTER
1

 

His office seemed to shrink as he paced. The walls drew in, their angles distorted by the elongated shadows cast from the swivel lamp on his desk. The Yard always felt a bit eerie at night, as if the very emptiness of the rooms had a presence. He stopped at the bookcases and ran his finger along the spines of the well-thumbed books on the top shelf. Archeology, art… canals … crime reference … Many of them were gifts from his mother, sent in her continual quest to remedy what she considered his lack of a proper education. Although he’d tried to group them alphabetically by subject, there were a few inevitable strays. Kincaid shook his head—would that he could order his life even half as well as he did his books.

He glanced at his watch for the tenth time in as many minutes, then crossed to his desk and sat down very deliberately. The call that had brought him in had been urgent—a high-ranking police officer found murdered—and if Gemma didn’t arrive soon he’d have to go on to the crime scene without her. She’d not been in to work since she had left his flat on Friday evening. And although she had called in and requested leave from the chief superintendent, she had not answered Kincaid’s increasingly frantic calls over the past five days. Tonight Kincaid had asked the duty sergeant to contact her, and she’d responded.

Unable to contain his restlessness, he rose again and had reached to pull his jacket from the coat stand when he heard the soft click of the latch. He turned and saw her standing with her back to the door, watching him, and a foolish grin spread across his face. “Gemma!”

“Hullo, guv.”

“I’ve tried and tried to ring you. I thought something must have happened—”

She was already shaking her head. “I went to my sister’s for a few days. I needed some time—”

“We have to talk.” He moved a step nearer and stopped, examining her. She looked exhausted, her pale face almost transparent against the copper of her hair, and the skin beneath her eyes held faint purple shadows. “Gemma—”

“There’s nothing to say.” She slumped, resting her shoulders against the door as if she needed its support. “It was all a dreadful mistake. You can see that, can’t you?”

He stared at her, astonishment freezing his tongue. “A mistake?” he managed finally, then wiped a hand across his suddenly dry lips. “Gemma, I don’t understand.”

“It never happened.” She took a step towards him, entreating, then stopped as if afraid of his physical proximity.

“It did happen. You can’t change that, and I don’t want to.” He went to her then and put his hands on her shoulders, trying to draw her to him. “Gemma, please, listen to me.” For an instant he thought she might tilt her head into the hollow of his shoulder, relax against him. Then he felt her shoulders tense under his fingers and she pulled away.

“Look at us. Look at where we bloody are,” she said, thumping a fist against the door at her back. “We can’t do this. I’ve compromised myself enough already.” She took a ragged breath and added, spacing the words out as if to emphasize their weight, “I can’t afford it. I’ve my career to think of… and Toby.”

The phone rang, its short double
brrr
echoing loudly in the
small room. He stepped back to his desk and fumbled for the receiver, bringing it to his ear. “Kincaid,” he said shortly, then listened for a moment. “Right, thanks.” Replacing the handset in the cradle, he looked at Gemma. “Car’s waiting.” Sentences formed and dissolved in his mind, each sounding more futile than the last. This was not the time or the place to discuss it, and he would only embarrass them both by going on about it now.

Finally, he turned away and slipped into his jacket, using the moment to swallow his disappointment and compose his features in as neutral an expression as he could manage. Facing her again, he said, “Ready, Sergeant?”

Big Ben struck ten o’clock as the car sped south across Westminster bridge, and in the backseat beside Gemma, Kincaid watched the lights shimmer on the Thames. They sat in silence as the car zigzagged on through south London, inching its way towards Surrey. Even their driver, a usually chatty PC called Williams, seemed to have caught their mood, remaining hunched in taciturn concentration over the wheel.

Clapham had vanished behind them when Gemma spoke. “You’d better fill me in on this one, guv.”

Kincaid saw the flash of Williams’s eyes as he cast a surprised glance at them in the rearview mirror. Gemma should have been briefed, of course, and he roused himself to answer as ordinarily as possible. Gossip in the ranks would do neither of them any good. “Little village near Guildford. What’s it called, Williams?”

“Holmbury St. Mary, sir.”

“Right. Alastair Gilbert, the division commander at Not-ting Dale, found in his kitchen with his head bashed in.”

He heard Gemma draw a sharp breath, then she said with the first spark of interest he’d heard all evening, “Commander Gilbert? Jesus. Any leads?”

“Not that I’ve been told, but it’s early days yet,” Kincaid said, turning to study her.

She shook her head. “There will be an unholy stink over this one, then. And aren’t we the lucky coppers, having it land in our laps?” When Kincaid snorted in wry agreement, she glanced at him and added, “You must have known him.”

Shrugging, he said, “Didn’t everyone?” He was unwilling to elaborate in front of Williams.

Gemma settled back into her seat. After a moment she said, “The local lads will have been there before us. Hope they haven’t messed about with the body.”

Kincaid smiled in the dark. Gemma’s possessiveness over bodies always amused him. From the beginning of a case, she considered the corpse her personal property and she didn’t take unnecessary interference kindly. Tonight, however, her prickliness brought him a sense of relief. It meant she had engaged herself in the case, and it allowed him to hope that their working relationship, at least, was not beyond salvage. “They’ve promised to leave it until we’ve had a chance to see things in situ.”

Gemma nodded in satisfaction. “Good. Do we know who found him?”

“Wife and daughter.”

“Ugh.” She wrinkled her nose. “Not at all nice.”

“At least they’ll have a WPC to do the hand-holding,” Kincaid said, making a halfhearted attempt to tease her. “Lets you off the hook.” Gemma often complained that female officers were good for more than breaking bad news to victims’ families and offering comforting shoulders, but when the task fell to her she did it exceptionally well.

“I should hope so,” she answered and looked away. But not before he thought he saw her lips curve in a smile.

A half hour later they left the A road at Abinger Hammer, and after a few miles of twisting and turning down a narrow lane, they entered the sleepy village of Holmbury St. Mary. Williams pulled onto the verge and consulted a scribbled sheet of directions under the map light. “When the road
curves left we stay straight on, just to the right of the pub,” he muttered as he put the car into gear again.

“There,” said Kincaid, wiping condensation from his window with the sleeve of his coat. “This must be it.”

Turning to look out her window, Gemma said, “Look. I’ve never seen that particular sign before.” He heard the pleasure in her voice.

Kincaid leaned across her just in time to catch a glimpse of a swinging pub sign showing two lovers silhouetted against a smiling moon. Then he felt Gemma’s breath against his cheek and caught the faint scent of peaches that always seemed to hover about her. He sat back quickly and turned his attention ahead.

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