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This book is dedicated to all the essential workers everywhere.

What Abigail Did That Summer

Ben Aaronovitch



Title Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40



Also by Ben Aaronovitch


Все счастливые семьи похожи друг на друга, каждая

несчастливая семья несчастлива по-своему.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is

unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (Poly Styrene)


Achieving Best Evidence

I’m sitting in an interview room in Holmes Road police station. It’s not like the ones you see on TV, with bare walls, a table and an old-fashioned twin-deck tape recorder. Who makes those machines anyway, and where are they getting the cassette tapes from? Somebody somewhere is making a ton of cash selling obsolete gear to the Metropolitan Police.

Anyway, the room I’m in has low-slung wood seating with foam cushions covered in pastel-coloured fabric. There is an open space with a red and yellow rug and beanbag seats. Against the wall are shelves with the sort of board games and cheap plastic toys you can buy down the market or in Poundland.

The room also has a pair of perspex domes fixed to the ceiling where the CCTV cameras hide, and somewhere nearby will be a room with monitors and recorders and probably a senior police officer of detective inspector rank or higher. I know the Feds. I know how they work. And I know that this is the Achieving Best Evidence suite, ABE, where they interview children and victims of sexual assault.

Or catch a crafty nap on night shift, Peter says. But Peter isn’t here right now. He’s in Herefordshire, hunting his own set of missing kids.

A white woman enters, a typical Fed with an off-the-peg suit, a lying face and suspicious eyes. She says her name is Kay but the name on the warrant card hanging on a lanyard around her neck is Karen Jonquiere. She will be an experienced detective constable with special training in interviewing traumatised children and stroppy teens. This is why she’s stressing her northern accent – going for that no-nonsense Coronation Street mood. She’s impatient, unconsciously tapping her foot. There are missing kids, time is of the essence. Deep down, I know, she wants to grab me and shake me until I tell her what she wants to know. I get that a lot. But the last adult that got physical with me ended up barred from working with children – and that’s after he got out of hospital.

She knows all this, of course. She’s read my file, which means she knows about the Folly and about the magic. But she’s the type that won’t believe in the supernatural until it pops up and slaps her in the face.

She glances down at the untouched plate of biscuits and the drink that sits between us on the coffee table.

‘You’re not hungry?’ she asks.

I’m actually bare hungry and my stomach is growling. But I like being hungry sometimes. I like the feeling of being in control of my own body, my own wants and needs. I’m not anorexic, right? That’s important. When I look in the mirror I see myself the way I am. It’s good discipline not to give in, not to just grab the first tasty thing that comes your way. I’m thirsty, too. But the drink they brought me was easier to resist – I mean, Capri-Sun. What were they thinking?

Hungry and thirsty makes me keen, makes me sharp like a knife. Because whatever Lady Fed thinks, I ain’t here to answer questions. Quite the contrary, really.

‘Who’s still missing?’ I ask.

Lady Fed’s eyes narrow but she says nothing.

‘Did Jessica come home?’ I ask, and there is a tiny reaction. A tightening of the lips.

Yeah, I think, Jessica just walked out, didn’t she? Turned up at her yard as if nothing happened and her mum hadn’t been sticking photos of her on every lamppost from Chalk Farm to Tufnell Park. Some of the kids wandered in and out like the house was a youth centre and they were doing a summer activities course. Some people got to stay. These would be the ones Lady Fed was interested in.

‘What about Natali?’ I ask, and Lady Fed is frowning because she so wants to ask who’s Natali, but can’t because I’ve got to have an appropriate adult because I’m thirteen – that’s the law, that is.

I could name other names but you don’t want to push the Feds too far. They can get obstreperous and this one’s already giving me the squinty-eyed look that adults always give me after meeting me for more than five minutes.

‘We’re trying to help here, you know,’ she says.

To keep her sweet I pick up the Capri-Sun, strip out the straw and punch it into the juice pouch. I take a long pull, which calms Lady Fed down a bit and gives me time to think. Obviously some of the children are leaking out of the house and some are not – what the differences are between them might be the clue I’m looking for.

The door opens and Simon’s mum walks in.

She is one of them big little white women who spends her days ordering men around a conference table, and her evenings making plans for Nigel or Tarquin or Fionnuala or whatever their kids are called. She was obviously off duty when the police called her, because she’s wearing navy trousers and a beige cashmere roll-neck jumper. A couple of kids at my school have mums like her, or at least the trendy Let’s send our kids to the local comprehensive to show how right-on we are versions.

Simon’s mum isn’t right-on or trendy, but I reckon she’s my best chance of walking out of the fuzz box without so much as a social worker’s report.

Whoever Lady Fed was expecting to turn

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