The Carib Club is one of Bradfield's most popular night clubs, especially in the local black community-but it's in the heart of a Muslim district. Members of the local mosque are keen to get the club closed down, so when, after a night out clubbing, Jeremy Adams is knocked down by a taxi and left in a coma, the pressure on the Carib Club starts building. Jeremy had taken ecstasy tablets before the accident happened and his father, wealthy local businessman Grantley Adams, wants to know who supplied him with the pills.
DCI Michael Thackeray is put on the case but when none of the boy's friends seem willing to talk he finds himself getting nowhere fast. Meanwhile Thackeray's girlfriend, reporter Laura Ackroyd, is conducting her own investigation into Bradfield's drugs problem. A young boy has died after falling from a tower block on the Wuthering Heights housing estate-the police are blaming the accident on a heroin overdose, but his friends swear that he was clean.
A gripping and thought-provoking mystery, Death in Dark Waters is the latest to feature Patricia Hall's acclaimed Thackeray and Ackroyd, and is sure to please fans of this always fascinating, intelligent series.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Patricia Hall is a former journalist who worked for The Yorkshire Post, The Guardian, and The Observer. The author of nine previous crime novels featuring Thackeray and Ackroyd, most recently Deep Freeze, she was born in Yorkshire and now lives in Oxford.
Death in Dark Waters
Chapter OneThe crowd of young people spilled out of the entrance to the Carib club into Chapel Street, where the red and green lights which shook in the strong wind scattered dancing patches of colour onto the rain-soaked tarmac. The kids were high on chemically induced adrenaline and the music which had just come to an explosive end inside, where the sweat-soaked, dreadlocked DJ had sunk into a seat close to his turntables utterly exhausted. In the narrow street outside, lined on each side by tall warehouses most of which had been recently converted into offices and shops, the dilapidated building which housed the Carib was squeezed between a mini-cab office and an indie record shop. The street was narrow here, pot-holed and puddled, although it was used as a day-time rat-run between Aysgarth Lane, the main road out of Bradfield to the north, and the university quarter half a mile away on another of the town's seven hills.At four in the morning, it was apparently deserted until the jubilant clubbers spilled off the narrow pavement and across the road to avoid the showers of fizzy water being sprayed about by a couple of girls in mini-skirts and tops that were more strap than substance and unlikely to protect them from the wintry, rain-spattering gusts from the west. It was their shrieks of laughter which almost drowned the squeal of brakes as a taxi came fast around the bend in the road from the Aysgarth direction. Jeremy Adams never knew what hit him as the cab swerved wildly, skidding on the wet surface, missing three or four revellers by inches before it caught him from behind and tossed him like a rag-doll head-first onto the kerb."Man, what the hell is you doin'?" a tall black youth in combat gear cried out angrily as the vehicle slid to a halt. He pulled open the door and dragged out the driver, an Asianman little older than he was himself. From the passenger compartment shocked faces, dark eyes staring from beneath white headscarves, gazed out at the now silent crowd."Get an ambulance," a girl's voice cried, shrill and shaking in the silence, and half a dozen mobile phones were instantly pressed into use. A skinny blonde girl in a short black skirt and silver top knelt beside the boy who was lying absolutely still in the gutter with a pool of blood around his head. She seemed oblivious to the fact that the rain, which had been relentless for days, had resumed, soaking her hair and thin clothes within minutes. Someone passed her a coat which she tucked around the boy's body."Jez, Jez, come on Jez, it's all right, you're gonna be all right." Behind her, the taxi driver edged his way through the crowd and looked down for a moment at his victim before turning away, shaking, to vomit in the gutter. The tall youth who had pulled him from the cab followed him."You was driving too fast, man," he said loudly, his words echoed by other youngsters, black and white, who gazed in horror at the victim."He was right in the middle of the road," the driver muttered, wiping his face with his hand. "I got to get these women home. I drove from Manchester airport. It's late. It's very late. There's snow on the motorway. They wanted to get home quick."Suddenly the mood of the crowd changed, like embers fanned into life by the sharp wind which funnelled down the street. Exhilaration slid perceptibly into a mutter of anger, sullen at first but menacing enough for the young driver, his face grey with shock and his dark eyes beginning to take on a hunted look, to begin to edge his way back to his cab. By now the numbers packed into the narrow defile outside the club had swelled as more sweating dancers emerged from the double doors. Murmured explanations passed on a version of events which cranked up the tension quickly amongst the teenagers who began toclog the street and hem in the taxi and its occupants in spite of the downpour."I'll get the police," the taxi driver said, his voice high with anxiety. "Let me use my radio to get the police.""We did 999," someone called out. "They're on their way.""Don't let him drive off," came another shout and the crowd surged to surround the cab, pressing the driver backwards against the bonnet and rocking the vehicle until sounds of protest could be heard from the women inside.Standing above the crowd on the steps of the club a tall dreadlocked man in a sleeveless vest under his unbuttoned Armani shirt, evidently as impervious to the chill Pennine wind as the scantily clad girls, put up a golf umbrella and glanced at his companion, standing almost as tall and as dark in the shadows except where the dim street-lights caught sallower skin and lighter eyes."Feel like sorting this little lot, sergeant?" the black man asked, making sure they were not overheard, and if there was a hint of irony in the courtesy his companion ignored it."No way'" Kevin Mower said. He glanced up the street to where blue emergency lights could already be seen in the distance. "Not only am I not on duty, I'm actually on the sick. Let the plods deal. It's only an RTA.""If one of those hyped-up little bastards hits the driver it'll be a lot more than that," his companion said. "I've seen it happen in a flash. I get the feeling that the brothers here don't like the Asians much."Mower watched as the black man raised his voice and slipped easily into the broad accent in which he performed."Is you all goin' to block the street so's no ambulance can get through?" He spoke from the steps behind the crowd from under his blue and gold striped umbrella but was authoritative enough to cause many of those jammed into the narrow space to turn around. "I say they as didn't see what happened get off home now, and let the Old Bill through to sort it," went on the dreadlocked DJ, still a good head above the milling mob evenas he stepped down to street level. The now urgent sound of a siren indicated that either an ambulance or the police or both were about to arrive. A collective shrug of sullen acceptance seemed to go through the assembled clubbers most of them now thoroughly drenched and cooled down by the rain, and gradually those on the edge of the crowd, who had arrived last and seen least, began to drift away down Chapel Street in the direction of the brighter lights of Aysgarth Lane and the taxi ranks where they would find transport home.Almost casually the DJ stepped down from his vantage point beside Mower and shouldered his way through those who remained as far as the taxi and pulled open the driver's door."If I was you, man, I'd sit quiet there till the police come down," he said, ushering the driver back into his seat and taking the keys out of the ignition in one easy movement. "You is safe now."He moved on to where the injured boy lay, the dark pool around his head bigger now and beginning to trickle away towards the gutter, the mini-skirted girl more distraught. He held his umbrella protectively over them for a moment while he looked down at the boy. He shook his head almost imperceptibly before helping the girl to her feet."Here's the ambulance now, honey," he said. "You come inside and get dry and then I'll take you down the Infirmary to see how he's doing.""I'm all right," the girl said, pulling away from the DJ's arm as the ambulance and a police car inched their way through the stragglers and halted beside the victim. "I'm with some friends." But when she scanned the crowd for her friends she could not find them. Suddenly most of the clubbers had melted away."Can you tell us who he is," asked one of the paramedics minutes later, crouching beside the injured boy, his feet in the pool of blood and rainwater which now surrounded the victim."His name's Jez, Jeremy, Jeremy Adams," the girl said, her voice high with panic. "I'm not sure of his address, but he goes to the grammar school, we're in the sixth form. His dad owns that big warehouse place on Canal Road. And he's going to be absolutely livid that we came clubbing down here."Back on the steps the DJ took Kevin Mower's arm, let down his umbrella and shook it fastidiously before pulling the policeman back inside."Racist little bitch," he said without a smile. "You see her jump when I touched her? My car's out back. We can get through the fire doors.""Cool," Mower said, turning his back on the incident with a sense of profound relief.
At much the same time that the ambulance pulled away from Chapel Street, siren blaring in anticipation of heroic efforts to save Jeremy Adams' life, a younger boy was crouching under the shelter of the overhead walkways of Holtby House, one of the blocks of crumbling flats which dominated Bradfield's skyline to the west. Stevie Maddison felt sick and he shivered as the chilly rain soaked through his thin jacket and t-shirt. He pulled nervously on his cigarette, shielding the glowing tip with his hand, anxious not to be seen. Unable to sleep, he had called his best friend on his mobile and arranged to meet him, hoping to blag some skunk from the lad he had gone around with at school, in the days when he bothered to go to school. These days he clung to Derek with the frantic clutch of a drowning man, because Derek had been where he was now, stick thin, light-headed and nauseous in turn, desperate for a fix and yet desperate not to have one. Derek had been a heroin user but now Derek was clean. But tonight Derek, who usually answered his urgent phone calls promptly, did not show and his mobile remained on voice-mail, the cool cultured woman's voice seeking messages that Stevie was in no state to give.He pinched out the end of his roll-up between finger and thumb and was about to turn back towards his home three floors above to resume his elusive search for sleep when he caught a flicker of movement a hundred yards away at the entrance to Priestley House, the most westerly of the three surviving blocks on the Heights. At last, he thought, expecting Derek to emerge from the swing doors but before he could shout a greeting he realised that what he had seen was not someone coming out but three figures in hooded jackets going in, one tall, the others smaller and, he thought, younger. Stevie shrank back into the shadows. He knew most of the drug dealers on the estate only too well, but this group was too far away in the swirling rain for recognition. His heart thumped hard against his skinny ribcage as he watched and waited close to the doors of Holtby ready to bolt into his burrow like a terrified rabbit at any threat closer to hand. For long minutes he heard only the relentless lashing of the rain against concrete and, far away the whine of a car being driven until its engine screamed and tyres squealed. Some kids somewhere on the other side of town getting their kicks, he guessed. But then a shout snapped his eyes upwards to the roof of Priestley where, in spite of the rain, he could just make out a figure silhouetted against the reddish glow of the night sky, then another and another, until three or four shapes merged into one and then one became detached, apparently swimming through the downpour, arms and legs flailing, as he fell to earth like a wounded bird."Oh God, oh God," Stevie muttered, wondering if this was all hallucination but sure in the sick pit of his churning stomach that it was not. "Oh God, oh God," he said as he waited, back pressed against the wall, until the remaining figures on the roof had disappeared before he pushed open the door to Holtby and slipped inside, to race up the concrete stairs to his mother's flat. "Oh God, oh God," he said as he glanced over the walkway balcony and saw the three figures he had seen enter Priestley House come out again, laughing, hoodsthrown back now and at least one dark face clearly recognisable as he clutched a mobile phone to one ear. "Oh God, oh God," he said as he fell onto his sweaty crumpled bed and lay there shuddering, not wanting to know what he knew and terrified of what he didn't. The long scream of whoever had fallen repeated itself like a faint echo in his ears. But what really made him retch with fear and grief was the belief, much more than a suspicion the more he thought about it, that it was Derek who had plunged to earth, that it was his friend who had died.
DCI Michael Thackeray stood in his superintendent's office next morning with a distinct feeling of déjà vu. Arriving in Bradfield from a far-flung corner of the county a few years before, he had learned to live with the glimmer of suspicion which had never seemed to leave Jack Longley's slightly protuberant blue eyes. However much Thackeray thought he had served out his time after almost destroying a promising career some ten years earlier, he had known then that he would have to prove - and keep on proving - to his new boss that he had buried the past and could be trusted. Second chances were hard to come by in the police force and no one had been less convinced than he was himself that he deserved one. But after a couple of years, with those blue eyes watching him every inch of the way, and some successful investigations and even more interesting accommodations achieved, he thought he had seen the suspicion fade for good. Yet this morning it was back and he did not know why. That worried him.Longley shifted uneasily in his seat and ran a finger round the back of his shirt collar as if it were too tight."Grantley Adams, he's been on to the chief constable already'" he said. "And that's likely only the start of it.""Right," Thackeray said cautiously. He knew that Grantley Adams ran one of the largest building supplies firms in Yorkshire, if not in the country, a self-made man employing hundreds, with all the expectations of thanks from a gratefulnation that seemed to imply these days. "But this is a road traffic accident we're talking about? Nothing for CID?""That's what it looked like. But the doctors are saying the lad was off his head on Ecstasy. That's what's really rattled Adams's cage.""So it's not the taxi driver he's gunning for?" Thackeray had flicked through the previous night's incident reports as a precaution before answering Longley's pre-emptory summons at a time of the morning when most of CID's officers were contemplating the day's prospects over a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich and a bawdy discussion of the previous night's action - or lack of it."No. That's summat to be thankful for. He's been booked for dangerous driving, apparently, but Adams seems to accept that his lad probably wouldn't have noticed an Eddie Stobart juggernaut coming up Chapel Street, the state he was in.""But he's alive?" Thackeray asked, hoping that the his face gave away nothing of the turmoil inside at the thought of another man losing a son."Not so's you'd notice," Longley said. "In intensive care, two broken legs, fractured skull, possible internal injuries. The taxi was moving at quite a lick, apparently.""So not talking?""No chance. But his dad is. Shouting and screaming, more like. He's good at that, is Grantley Adams, when someone's upset him." Thackeray smiled faintly. He could imagine just how good a man like Adams was at throwing his weight about if it suited him."So what does he want us to do?" he asked without enthusiasm."Find the pusher. Close the club down. Lock up whoever we can find to blame and throw away the key.""Is that all? Doesn't he know it's likely the lad's best friend who got him the tablets?"
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