Home > The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster #1)(8)

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster #1)(8)
Robert Bryndza

‘We’ve got it,’ he interrupted.

‘No, I want you to expand your window to everything in the forty-eight hours leading up to Andrea’s disappearance, and everything since, and I want a door-to-door around the museum. I also need anything and everything you can get about Andrea. Family, friends; pull bank details, medical and phone records, email, and social media. Who liked her? Who hated her? I want to know everything. Did she have a computer, a laptop? She must have had, and I want it.’

‘I was told we couldn’t have her laptop; Lord Douglas-Brown was very specific . . .’ started Sparks.

‘Well, I’m telling you to get it.’ The incident room had now fallen silent. Erika went on, ‘And no one – I repeat, no one – is to talk to the press or share anything in any capacity. Do you hear me? I don’t even want people saying “no comment”. Mouths shut . . . Is that enough to keep you busy, DCI Sparks?’

‘Yes,’ said Sparks, glaring at her.

‘And Crane, you’ll get the incident room running smoothly?’

‘Already on it,’ he said, swallowing the last of his Mars bar.

‘Good. We’ll reconvene here at four.’

Erika walked out, followed by Moss and Peterson. Sparks threw down his coat.

‘Bitch,’ he said under his breath, and sat back down at his computer.

5

Moss peered over the steering wheel at the snowy road ahead. Erika sat beside her in the passenger seat, with Peterson in the back. The awkward silence was broken periodically by the windscreen wipers, hissing and squealing as they passed over the glass, and looking as if they were gummed up with grated coconut.

South London was a palette of grimy greys. Decaying terraced houses slid past, their front gardens paved over for parking. The only dots of colour came from the wheelie-bins packed outside in clusters of black, green and blue.

The road turned sharply to the left, and they came to a halt at the back of a line of cars stretching around the first bend of the one-way Catford Gyratory. Moss flicked on the siren, and the cars began to mount the pavement so they could pass. The heating in the squad car was broken and it gave Erika a good excuse to keep her shaking hands deep in the pockets of her long leather jacket, hoping it was hunger making them shake, and not the pressure of the task ahead. She spied a packet of red liquorice bootlaces tucked into the slot above the radio.

‘Do you mind?’ she asked, breaking the uneasy silence.

‘Yeah, go ahead,’ said Moss. She put her foot down and they sped through a gap in the traffic, the back wheels lurching to one side on the icy road. Erika pulled a bootlace from the packet, pushed it into her mouth and chewed. She eyed Peterson in the rear view mirror. He was hunched intently over an iPad. He was tall and slight with an oval, boyish face. He reminded her of a wooden toy soldier. He looked up and held her gaze.

‘So. What can you tell me about Andrea Douglas-Brown?’ said Erika, swallowing the liquorice bootlace and grabbing another.

‘Didn’t the Super brief you, boss?’ asked Peterson.

‘He did. But imagine he didn’t. I approach every case from the point of knowing nothing; you’d be surprised what new insights come up.’

‘She’s twenty-three years old,’ started Peterson.

‘Did she work?’

‘There’s no employment history . . .’

‘Why?’

Peterson shrugged. ‘Doesn’t need to work. Lord Douglas-Brown owns SamTech, a private defence company. They develop GPS and software systems for the government. At the last count he was worth thirty million.’

‘Any brother and sisters?’ asked Erika.

‘Yeah, she has a younger brother, David, and an older sister, Linda.’

‘So you could say Andrea and her siblings are trust fund kids?’ asked Erika.

‘Yes and no. The sister, Linda, does work, albeit for her mother. Lady Douglas-Brown owns a society florists. David is doing an MA at university.’

They had now reached Catford High Street, which had been gritted, and the traffic was moving normally. They sped past pound shops, payday moneylenders, and independent supermarkets with exotic produce piled high, threatening to spill over onto the slushy pavements.

‘What about Andrea’s fiancé, Giles Osborne?’

‘They are . . . they were due to have a big wedding in the summer,’ said Moss.

‘What does he do?’ asked Erika.

‘He runs an events company, upmarket stuff: Henley Regatta, product launches, society weddings.’

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