- Author: Will Harker
Book online «Silencing the Dead Will Harker (free ebooks for android TXT) 📖». Author Will Harker
SILENCING THE DEAD
A Scott Jericho Thriller
End House Publishing
Copyright © 2021 by Will Harker
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Published by End House Publishing
For Nick, Josh and George
Scott Jericho will return
About the Author
GLOSSARY OF TRAVELLER SLANG
The only corpse I found in the killer’s attic was a skeletal mouse, its papery bones encased in webs and buried under piles of old clothes. Looking down at the tiny body, I allowed myself a wry smile. I was pretty sure this rodent had died of natural causes.
I turned off my phone light and started back through the open hatchway. The foldaway steps creaked under my weight as I descended to the landing. Having grown up in a Traveller’s trailer, I’d never developed that traditional childhood dread of attics. Instead, my nightmares had concentrated on the shadowy space beneath our home—a cramped, oily gap into which hideous monsters might crawl and lie, breathlessly listening to my heartbeat above.
I hadn’t known then that all monsters possess a human face.
One of the blandest and most inconspicuous of faces now stared up at me from the back garden. I remained at the landing window for a moment, returning his gaze. Impassive as ever, Peter Garris, retired detective chief inspector and dormant serial killer, raised his hand and waved. He was dressed in gardening gear, cut-off Wellington boots, mud-stained corduroys, a checked shirt, and a ridiculous straw hat to keep the hard October sun out of his eyes. No sign of the paisley tie his late wife had insisted he wear every day to work.
That fashion atrocity, as well as the fiction of Harriet Garris herself, had all been part of his act. A carefully calibrated performance to divert attention from the hollow shell that, like those monsters under our trailer, lay patiently concealed. The house in which I stood was yet another layer of that performance. From the outside, it appeared to be the residence of any other middle-class, middle-aged widower. A neat two-up, two-down in an unremarkable suburban street, its patch of front lawn dutifully mowed, its curtains drawn at 8:30 every morning, just the hanging baskets outside the door in need of a little watering. But such oversights were to be expected. Poor Mr Garris was, after all, still in the first stages of grief.
Except he wasn’t. Like love and regret and compassion, grief was unknown to him. And anyway, Harriet had never existed. I wondered if Garris’ neighbours, delivering their sympathy cards and hearty casseroles, might have recoiled a little had they ever stepped over this threshold. Not because there was anything obviously disturbing here. Garris didn’t display trophies from his victims on the mantelpiece nor make lampshades out of their hides. No, it was the emptiness that would have unnerved them. Not a single family photograph adorned these walls, not one cherished keepsake to relieve the clinical tidiness. It was a home as vacant as the killer who occupied it.
I turned away from the window.
Heading downstairs, I wondered not for the first time, could there be a storage unit somewhere? A garage lockup perhaps, anonymous and paid for by the year? And does he visit this place, like an old man recalling the glory days of his youth, running hands nostalgically over humming freezers and specimen jars cloudy with formaldehyde? That last night in Bradbury End, he’d confessed to taking tokens from the victims of his early kills, all the while promising that those savage appetites had left him for good.
If such a place existed, and I could find it, then all this futile watching and searching might be over. I could lay proof before the police that even DCI Garris’ reputation could not withstand. Because without corroborative evidence it was impossible to move against him. The twisted murders he’d committed four months ago, all in an effort to save me from my own self-destruction, could not be traced back to him. He had slaughtered five people without leaving behind a scrap of DNA. But those early kills, before he’d joined the force and had no knowledge of forensic procedure, if there were traces of those and I could get at them?
I stepped off the last stair. There was, of course, a more immediate solution to all this. I could make an anonymous call, suggesting the police take a look in the eastern corner of Garris’ back garden. Moving through his immaculate kitchen, with its sparkling pans and glinting knives hanging from their hooks, I stopped at the patio door. He was standing there, right beside the burial plot. If the police dug beneath those fast-growing marigolds, they would find the shattered corpse of a child-killer. But in discovering Lenny Kerrigan they would also unearth other secrets. Ones that could endanger the person I loved most in this world.
Before stepping outside, I caught my reflection in the glass of the door. Harry had been going on at me for weeks about needing a haircut. He was right. A mess of blue-black curls were currently spilling over my ears. Otherwise, I looked better than I had in years. A combination of Haz’s homecooked meals and the hard labour of working on my dad’s fair had recut muscle I’d lost during my time in prison. Still, there was something I didn’t like about the winter-grey eyes of this figure. A hunger, a restlessness, a kind