MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE
It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.
Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to the Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life.
But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community.
Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.
Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?
Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved.
Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises?
How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?
This is the first book in the thrilling new DI Tudor Manx series.
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It took Manx several turns of the key and a string of romantic phrases he’d be too embarrassed to utter in the bedroom, before the Interceptor cooperated. When it finally rumbled to life, the large V8 engine purred out of the driveway and onto the main Amlwch road. A midnight blue, 1971 Mark Three Jensen, with a seven-litre engine was hardly the most practical choice of transport, but the car was a gift, conferred to him by his father, Tommy, and had been in storage for the past part of a decade.
The car, Manx had concluded, suited him in a manner that, ten years ago, he would have dismissed as ridiculous. The worn leather interior, the temperamental nature of the electrics, the grumpy reluctance of most of the moving parts were all strangely comforting, as if the Jensen itself was empathetic to his own state of mind and bodily condition. Trading the car in for a younger, perkier model would have seemed like a betrayal, carrying with it an odour of middle-age desperation he was not willing to surrender to; at least, not yet.
PC Priddle was at Cemaes Bay harbour, a fifteen-mile drive via the A502. As Manx drove past the overgrown hedges hemming the dual carriageway, he was reminded of how abruptly night could fall here, like the unexpected drop of a theatrical curtain mid-performance.
At eight fifty-five, Manx pulled up at the harbour, and peered through the rain-soaked windscreen towards the sway of boats, tossed like toy models in the gale. He stepped from the car, and flipped up his jacket collar. Somewhere in the cacophony of wind and rain, there were frantic shouts.
“Inspector! Inspector! Over here!”
Manx recognised the scrawny outline of PC Priddle, looking in his high visibility vest like an under-filled, neon windsock. To the right of Priddle, two other officers shuffled their feet, unsure of why they were there, and wishing they were elsewhere.
“Why isn’t the area cordoned off?” Manx shouted. The wind tore the words from his throat.
“What’s that?” Priddle said, leaning closer, and providing Manx with an unpleasant, vinegary whiff of his fish and chip dinner.
“The caution tape,” Manx shouted.
“Oh, right! Bloody storm blew it out to sea, didn’t it? Bloody lucky it didn’t carry us with it. Dai here reckons it’s the worst we’ve had in ten years.”
Dai, the larger of the two officers, nodded solemnly.
Manx felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention, as he listened to Priddle’s thick, North Wales accent. Having been away for over a quarter of a century, Manx had forgotten how fully chewed-on the English language could sound in the mouth of a native North Wales speaker. His own accent had been eroded over the years to such a flat, non-descript burr most people would be hard-pressed to pinpoint to any specific region other than, “not from ‘round here.”
Manx took a quick inventory. “Make sure no one else comes past the harbour entrance before forensics arrive.”
“Got it, sir,” Priddle said, his attention distracted by large slip of green, wind-blown tarpaulin scraping across the harbour floor like a ghost.
“Didn’t call me away from my pint to admire the weather, did you?” Manx said, with a stiff edge of impatience.
Priddle stood to attention. “Oh, yeah! Follow me, sir,” he said, walking towards the harbour wall. “And be careful, the seaweed’s bloody lethal.”
At the harbour’s edge, Priddle directed Manx’s gaze towards a small fishing boat, no more than thirty feet long tethered to the mooring pegs. A large wave caught the keel of the boat, and raised her several feet above the waterline to reveal the name: Bendith Magdalen. “Magdalen’s Blessing,” Manx translated to himself, as the boat levelled for a moment on the crest of a wave then crashed violently into the harbour wall.
“Jesus!” Manx said, stepping back from the violent spray of seawater.
“Gets worse, sir.” Priddle directed his torch at the boat’s port side.
Manx squatted, his eyes tracing the path of the beam. There was something attached to the boat: a pig carcass, thick, pink, and fleshy. He wiped the seawater from his eyes. As the tide hauled the boat upwards, the figure rose, like an alien creature, from the surface. Manx stepped back.
He was right; it was a carcass, but it was human, not swine. The body was naked, bound with thick ropes around his wrists and ankles. Manx’s first impression was the man had been crucified. His arms were spread outward, his head leaning towards his left shoulder. As another wave surged forward, the boat rose and slammed into the wall. This time, the body took the brunt of the impact. Manx winced as the bones crunched against the ancient stonework.
“They’ll have a bugger of a time identifying the body,” Priddle said.
The boat reeled back. “Anyone else been down here?”
“Just the two specials.” Priddle gestured at the two Community Service Officers, their heads bowed low against the rain.
“I hope you kept them clear of the crime scene,” Manx said. “Not that there’s any evidence to botch, even for that lot.”
He watched as the boat rolled under the swell. “Not much chance of boarding either, until this storm blows itself out. ETA on forensics?”
“Half hour, or so,” Priddle said.
“And the photographer?”
“On his way. Weren’t too happy been called in on a Saturday night.”
“Yeah, welcome to the club.”
“Aye, sorry sir. I know it’s your night off, an’ all, but it looked serious-
like, so I had to contact a senior.”
“You did the right thing,” Manx said. “Who called it in?”
“Dick Roberts.” Priddle indicated to the man in a yellow sou’wester, sitting on the wooden bench outside the lavatories. “It’s his boat.”
Manx looked at the fisherman, who was attempting to light a cigarette.
“Told me he came down to check on the boat, because of the storm. Called us as soon as,” Priddle added.
Manx nodded. “Secure the boat,” he said. “Radio the Coastguard. Throw some anchors and ropes, or something, over it, and tie it to the harbour. Pinky and Perky over there can give you a hand while I talk to Captain Birds Eye. And, for fucks sake, don’t drop him in the brink.”
“Mr. Roberts?” Manx asked, shaking the rainwater from his jacket. The fisherman nodded, and kept a fixed, steady gaze on the sea, as if he were waiting for something to materialise over the horizon. Manx wiped the drizzle from his face, and sat. “Jesus, this rain, gets right in my bones.”
Dick Roberts kept his gaze seaward, and pulled hard on his roll-up.
“Used to come down here all the time when I was a kid,” Manx said, gesturing towards the crescent-shaped bay below. “There used to be a cafe down by the beach, with a big tin roof on it. Made a hell of a din when it rained. Good place to meet girls, if I remember, decent jukebox, too.” Manx smiled, caught in a memory he hadn’t tapped into for several decades.
“I know who you are,” Dick said. “You’re Alice Manx-William’s son. Left years ago, didn’t you? Why you back, then? Run out of money?”
Manx reached inside his jacket, and carefully peeled a length of a King Edward Cigar from its wrapper. “Maybe I just missed the friendly locals.”
Dick flipped the butt of his cigarette onto the ground.
“Do you mind?” Manx said. “Always leaving mine at home.”
Dick passed over his lighter. Manx had smoked King Edward’s since he was sixteen. He’d bypassed the whole teenage, cigarette rite-of-passage and opted for the fattest, cheapest cigars he could afford. It was another one of his bad habits he had every intention of breaking, someday. He drew on the cigar, and watched the smoke dissipate into nothing.
“Tough job, fishing, these days, I’d imagine, especially on a small boat.”
The fisherman man spat on the ground. “I do all right.”
“All those commercial trawlers? Must cut into your income, though?”
“Why are you interested? Got a better offer, or something?” Dick said, meeting Manx’s eyes for the first time. Manx noticed how the vein in his neck twitched, as if he resented every word he was required to utter.
“So, what’s the catch of the day? Mackerel, flatfish?”
“Anything I can sell. Pubs want it fresh, don’t much care what, so long as it’s still wet.”
“Gastro pubs, eh? I bet you can’t flog a lobster, without some chef wanting to know where you caught it, and who its next of kin are.”
The fisherman looked to the ground.
“Why did you come down to the harbour tonight, Mr. Roberts?”
“Had to check the boat.”
“Many fishermen do that?”
“They do, if they’ve got something to lose.”
“Not much you could do though, was there? I doubt you could even board with the sea that rough. Then again, I’m no fisherman.” Manx let the sentence hang; Roberts resisted the bait and kept looking out to sea.
“Was there anyone else here at the harbour when you came down?”
Dick shook his head. “Just saw that bloody mess. Called you lot, as soon as I realised what it was.”
“About what time was that?”
“Seven, maybe. Don’t remember exactly.”
“Really? I was enjoying my first pint of the evening about then. There was no sign of a storm where I was, not until around eight-thirty.”
“Depends where you are. Storm works its way around the island.”
“And you’re sure you saw no one else? No cars, strangers?”
“Told you already, no one.”
Manx leant his arms back on the bench. “We’ll need to take a statement. Any plans to leave the island? No tropical vacations, exotic safaris?”
“Expect you’ll be all over my bloody boat, too?”
“Shouldn’t be more than a couple of days.”
“You won’t find nothing, you know,” Dick said, licking at a freshly rolled cigarette, and settling it tightly between his lips.
Manx turned up his collar, and gestured toward the boat with his cigar. “It’s a crime scene, Mr. Roberts,” he said. “It’s unusual if we don’t find something.”