My brother interrupted a visit to my London agent as a witness to the second murder, prompting my rush return. A junior colleague was on scene and making an appropriate pest of himself with the police so I was primed with information before arriving at the bustling train station. Cursing my awkward bag, I rushed, through the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre and up the gentle slope of Exchange Walk to the Market Square. Smithy Row had been closed off for the full length of the Council House as police searched for clues. The young woman was visible only as a pair of pale legs stretched across the paving from her pile of multicoloured shopping bags. It was the spreading stain of deep red blood across the pale limestone that had alerted others to the silent shooting. By the time the police arrived on the scene, the witnesses were inconsolable.
Returning briefly for my research notes, I set off to the Central Police Station to make my presence felt again. The Detective Constable who had taken my first statement raised his eyebrows when he saw me, and they skimmed his fringe when I had announced I had been in London that morning. He almost turned me away, but I pressed my research into his hands and forced him to take note of the opening similarities and he finally began to realise what I had to offer. Leaving me in a small interview room, he disappeared with my notes to consult with his Sergeant.
_He returned fifteen minutes later with the detective sergeant and the detective inspector. As I was about to growl my frustration at the constable, the DI flashed me an apologetic smile. His teeth gleamed white as his blue eyes gleamed an appreciation for my patience stopped the words in my throat. _
“Sorry about the delay. Constable March passed your notes on to Detective Sergeant Witmore and myself to read. There certainly are some startling coincidences.”
_ “Coincidences?” There was a catch to his tone that triggered my antagonism._
“You are aware that wasting police time is a criminal offence?” DS Witmore added dryly.
“You think that because two murders take place in the same location as two historical murders they are connected?” DI Plum continued.
_“Shot in the head with a silent weapon, that makes no marks on bullets that look something like this.” _
The silence that filled the small room as I drew a large photo from my bag was palpable.
“How did you get this?” The DI demanded, black eyebrows descending into a deep scowl.
Watching the inspectors expression change from suspicion to speculation was fascinating, and led to relocation to his office, with the provision of a much appreciated cup of coffee.
“What were the concerns that you took to the police?” The prosecutor brought me back to the trial.
“That the first few murders were practice shots with no common link, aside from the manner of their deaths, to provide the police with a suspect.”
“Did the police confirm this?”
“They confirmed that as of that point, only five hours after the second murder, there were no tangible connections.”
“You were concerned about further murders?”
“Yes I was. Mark Coons’ initial two murders in the Narrow Marsh beneath Shire hall were target practice, before he moved on to his targets.”
I left my business card with a copy of the notes and the photograph with the DI for his consideration. They had given me enough information to write a suitable article, restricted in the use of my historical connections; I had to use every bit of my descriptive talent to reach 1000 words from their limited support. In my attic study, surrounded by the sloping ceiling covered with the pages of notes, articles, photographs and timelines of my research, I contemplated my next move.
_With the information available in the archives, anyone could have stumbled onto the copy cat idea with no motive. Tracing those who had accessed the records would be an impossible task, as the information was on Microfiche with other newspaper articles. Names given on entry to the archives would be easier to note.. If the police hadn’t taken it first, I decided to get a look at the guest book on my visit the following day as I investigated descendants for contacting. _
I met a female detective constable collecting the visitor book on my return to the archives. I laughed off the teasing welcome from the reception staff and headed for the cataloguing desks.
“Did you manage to trace any useful information?”
“After about a week with the assistance from a young detective constable I did.” I hid my smile behind the glass of water, recalling Constable Stubbs struggle with the research.
_Continually mumbling as she translated the old handwriting, by the end of the second page, Julia was bored. However annoying it had been, having assistance had made results much quicker to find. _
“What did you find?”
“The murderer Mark Coons is the accused Max Coons’ great great grandfather. We were able to cross reference the electoral role with birth, marriage and death certificates.”
“And you are absolutely certain about the link.”
Constable Stubbs invited me back to the police station to confirm the discoveries to the detective inspector. He was intrigued by our results. However, when he sent Constable Stubbs to prepare a third statement for me to sign, he expressed his disapproval.
“Constable Stubbs seems to think that you have been crucial in achieving the results this week.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.” DI Plum’s intense gaze had been disquieting. “It’s my job. Your constable soon learned her way round.”
“Yet from what she suggested, you were researching Mark Coon’s before she arrived. Is that true?”
“We arrived at the same time, but I started the research first, that’s true.”
“Might I remind you Ms Gadon, that this is an ongoing murder investigation, not a subject for another book. I appreciate the information you have so far been able to provide, and your assistance with the research, but must insist that you let us pursue the investigations.”
“I see. Will I be permitted to discuss my research with Max and Paul Coons as part of my current book research?”
“For the time being, I think it would be best you didn’t.”
_With a sigh, I nodded, retrieving my bag from the floor at my feet, making my way out of his office. After signing the statement confirming my involvement with the research, I left the station feeling disappointed. Further attacks were still a clear risk, and I had hoped to lend my assistance to preventing them. The restrictions on my access to the murderers descendent were a frustration that did not improve my mood. _