THE DARKNESS PREQUEL Episode 6 by CLAIRE DUFFY

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C.S. Duffy writes psychological suspense thrillers with a healthy dose of black humour. Her background is in film and TV. She has several projects in development in Sweden and the UK and her other writing has appeared in Elle Canada and The Guardian. She is the author of Life is Swede, a thriller that was originally written as a blog – leading several readers to contact Swedish news agencies asking them why they hadn’t reported the murder that features in the blog. She is the author of Dark of Night and Just Before Dawn, a thriller series set in Glasgow which was selected for a Spotlight slot at this year’s Bloody Scotland.

On the web: csduffy.com

On Twitter: @csduffywriter

“Where did you say you were from again?’

DCI Cara Boyle wasn’t what Ricky had been expecting at all. He’d done a bit of snooping when his transfer to Glasgow had come through, and learned that his new guv’nor was infamous throughout the force. She’d kicked off her career all by but singlehandedly bringing down a trafficking ring after months of undercover work as a fresh faced recruit. She was one of the youngest female DCIs in Police Scotland, and Ricky had pictured someone imperious and tall who’d look down her nose at him as though he were a lad called into the headmistresses office.

Cara Boyle was five-foot-nothing with cropped platinum hair and a warm smile. She wore a black suit that was just a fraction too big for her, and as Ricky scuttled after her, he realised that she put him in mind of that comedian from black and white films. She just needed a bowler hat and a cane to twirl.

‘Leeds, ma’am, born and bred.’ He was half out of breath keeping up with her.

‘Forensics is down that way, we often find a wee nudge in person does wonders to move things along so would be worth your while poking your head in to say hello. I went to Leeds on a hen weekend a while back, fell in the river. Incident room in there, my office beyond. Have you been issued with your laptop yet?’

Ricky stared at her a moment. ‘Sorry — how did you fall the river?’

‘I was doing the running man and I tripped. Laptop?’

‘No, they said to pop down once I’d reported to you.’

‘Right then you’d better go. Hold on — do you want tea first?’

Ricky nodded, feeling a bit overwhelmed. He could see the list of active cases and assignments on the whiteboard that dominated one wall, a couple of uniformed officers tapping industriously at laptops, a woman in plain clothes pleading into a phone — begging for a rush on some forensics tests, he’d bet. It was all familiar, he reminded himself. Police work was police work. Even if he’d already heard at least three accents he couldn’t begin to decipher, and everyone seemed to have at least one bottle of Irn Bru on their desks. Not to mention the most senior officer in the department was handing a lowly Detective Constable a cup of tea.

‘You don’t take sugar do you?’ Cara said. ‘I took a chance with milk. It’s mad how we always ask if folk take milk and sugar, when have you ever in your life met a human who doesn’t take milk?’ Cara beckoned for him to follow her to her office. ‘To be fair, my husband doesn’t take milk, but he’s Swedish and only has those mad fruity teas that taste like toilet air freshener. Sorry, you were going to get your laptop, weren’t you? Then we can get you logged in and everything. This is Iain McNabb, case manager, he’ll sort you out with passwords and all that jazz.’

Ricky judged Iain McNabb to be fifties or so, with thinning red hair and sharp eyes behind wire rimmed glasses. He nimbly wove his wheelchair through the maze of desks with a brief nod in Ricky’s direction. ‘Aye come and find me when you’re set up.’

‘Samira, did you tell me there was a message to ring someone at the Met?’ Cara was saying. ‘Sorry, this is DC Ricky Dawson, Ricky, DI Samira Shah. She’ll take you under her wing a bit this week.’

Samira Shah looked as though she had got lost on her way to a Paris fashion show. She was petite with long, jet black hair pulled into a sophisticated, twisty hair-do Ricky’s wife would know the name of. She wore a sleek skirt suit that even Ricky could tell was expensive, and when she sat down he got a glimpse of the red sole on her black high heels. He couldn’t remember exactly what a red sole meant, but he knew it was something significant and fashiony; he made a mental note to check with his wife later.

‘Welcome to the team Ricky,’ Samira said with a brief smile. ‘Sorry Cara, I didn’t take any message from London.’

Cara shrugged. ‘I could have sworn I heard — must be going round the bend in my old age. No worries. Ricky, are you away to get that laptop then?’

Head to Jen Med’s Book Reviews for the next instalment tomorrow!

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