“After you signed your third statement, when was your next involvement?”
“Six months later, I was told about the third murder by my editor whilst on holiday in the Caribbean, and came back to find a request from the Detective Inspector Plum to discuss the case.”
Arriving back mid morning exhausted from over eight hours travelling, I listened to my voice message impassively. With two weeks letters to sort, a suitcase full of dirty washing and a desperate need to sleep I delayed responding. The DI’s parting comment flashed back into my mind, so I felt no compunction to rush. Reaching the station the following noon, I was shown straight into the Detective Inspectors office. He was on the phone, and raised an eyebrow at my tan as I accepted the Constables offer of a cup of coffee.
“Been anywhere nice?”
_“My book is being processed, having finally been allowed to interview Max Coons and his brother.” I was still annoyed by the Inspectors insistence that Detective Sergeant Witmore sat in on the interview. _
“I see. Well you have heard about the latest incident?”
“My editor called me with the news. A local sports retailer taking his mid afternoon run was shot in the head on Stoney Street, outside the Adam’s building?”
_“That’s right. I was interested in your input.”DI Plum leaned forward and flashed a broad grin as he acknowledged my astonished hesitation. _
“I’ve read your book. It’s very good.”
_“Thank you.” I eyed him dubiously. _
“Your brother lent me his copy of your proof when I popped in. I was hoping you would be willing to run through the information we have so far, and check for anything we might have missed. Are you willing to help?”
“Certainly. I’m always happy to help make the streets safer.”
“There will of course be a confidentiality agreement.”
“When can you start?”
“Any time now.”
“Very good.” The DI pushed his chair back and rifled through a filing cabinet. He dropped a handful of papers in front of me with a flap that skimmed a cool breeze across my skin as he continued to the door.
“If you could just read those and sign in the relevant places, I will just be a moment.”
Nodding, I focused on the police jargon as he left, siphoning out the meaning in the various disclaimers without difficulty. Signing it meant that I was unable to publish any ‘inside information’ for some years after the case was resolved .
The arrival of Detective Sergeant with the paperwork coincided with the arrival of sandwiches, triggering a three day case review.
“Did you find any further information?”
“I was able to confirm the suspicions of the police that the third murder was targeted. There were significant connections to Mark Coon’s third victim.”
“Could you confirm what they were to the court?”
_The police notes were clearly organised chronologically from the first murder. All the statements, observations and research gathered together. Skimming the first two murders took all afternoon. Returning the following day, I picked up the notes where I left off and had very soon gone through three cups of coffee before reaching the third case. DI Plum had arrived at mid-day with a tray of sandwiches and we discussed the amount of information the police had been receiving. There was little the public were able to offer, but still they tried, calling in with descriptions of suspicious characters, unusual noises and all had to be investigated. Starting the official report into the third murder, the first thing that had struck me was the name. _
Paul Vivienne’s name triggered a memory discarded once my book reached the publishers. The DI offered me my brother’s proof copy, and I skimmed through until I was able to make the connection.
“The third victim was a relative of Mark Coons’ only surviving victim, Albert Vivienne an athlete who changed allegiance. In both cases, the first being unsuccessful, the victims were running round the lace market.”“What were Mark Coons motives for his crimes?” The prosecutor pressed.
“The arrival of the larger, cheaper, ‘Sports Stores’ and increasing costs were to his mind connected, and set out to ruin him.”
“He perceived the company and his victims’ threats?”
Having linked the victims, I continued to read through the detailed case notes. New College Nottingham had held an Open Day at the Adams Building, the day of the attack, giving easy access for Nottingham’s population to a number of high vantage points. The murderer had obviously taken advantage. Every visitor to the college had provided a statement, and I was only half way through the pile when DI Plum drew my attention to the time.
“Are you still here?” He asked from the doorway. “It’s half past seven.”
_“Is it really?” _
“Yes. This is what I call above and beyond the call of duty…Come on, let me take you to dinner in payment.”
“But I’ve not…”
“You can continue tomorrow. It’s the fifteenth today, so our murderer is unlikely to strike for another few weeks at least.”
The following day, after a delightful evening learning much about the young Detective Inspector, I returned to the waiting statements. The second grabbed my attention instantly. Max Coons, photographer, had been touring the building, taking photographs for the prospectus and his collection. Stunned by the connection between Max and photography, memories of the grey October day of the first murder came flooding back; investigating the castle grounds, I had spotted a photographer in the distance, crawling across the wet grass. Two photographers at two murder scenes struck me as strange, so I alerted DS Witmore to my observation.
“Once you had identified the link with two of the three murder scenes, what happened next?”
“The police continued their investigations learning that Max Coons had visited an office on Speakers’ Corner to take photographs overlooking Smithy Row on the day of the second murder.”
“And you continued yours?”
“I made a visit to Max Coons gallery.During our interview we had not discussed his occupation.”
Max Coons was a quiet, observant presence in his shop as I admired his work. His love of Nottingham and sports were clear from the range of images available. With a space on my wall begging for decoration from a fresh royalty payment, I lingered. There were several photos from the three murder scenes, from several angles, and they in particular caught my eye. Eventually, his intense study of my movements drove me from the shop without purchasing anything. Walking down the street, I noticed DS Witmore’s car pulling into the parking bay in front of the gallery.
For two more days, I continued reading through the police notes, immediately falling into the comfortable silence of the research that fuelled my curiosity. By the end of the week, my drive for research had been stoked, fuelling an interest in a new project. Leaving, I passed Max Coons shaking DI Plum’s hands in the door, his lawyer waiting patiently by his side.
“He doesn’t deny being at the scenes, and has provided us with the images taken there.” DI Plum shrugged as he watched me sign out at reception. “At the moment all we have is circumstantial evidence. We will keep an eye on him .”