Thursday 31 May – Saturday 2 June 2012
The incident room was alive with speculation. Why did the DCI want the Carlisle women brought in for questioning? Who was Tara Roberts, and how was she involved?
‘More importantly,’ asked DC Harris at the top of his voice, ‘who is making the coffee, and where are the jam rolls I requested earlier?’
The room filled with laughter, and a single voice could just be heard over the noise.
‘By the looks of your tie and your waistline, Guv, the jam rolls are in you.’
‘Alright, alright, you smart arse,’ the DC replied.
His mood drastically fell when he read the fax message he’d been holding since entering the station. A desk sergeant had passed it too him on his way up to the incident room, and eager to get there before his boss, Harris had taken the stairs by twos and had forgone reading the fax until now.
‘Bollocks,’ was the only word to fall from his lips, as the room was subdued by the arrival of DCI James.
‘What’s bollocks, Harris?’ he asked.
‘This,’ he said holding up the note as he spoke, ‘and you’ve got ears like . . . something that has really good hearing.’
‘Well? Explain the aforementioned excrement, Harris. Come on. I’ve got suspects to interview.’
Harris chose not to explain the message, instead holding it out to James. The DCI snatched it from Harris’ hand.
‘Bollocks,’ James repeated. ‘Don’t mention this to either of the Carlisles. I want to see what they know.’
With Harris walking at his side, James left the incident room. They strode down the hall without a word exchanged between them, and stopped in front of a door. Interview Room One was boldly written on a removable sign that sat about head height for DCI James.
‘Who is in this one?’ he quietly asked his junior.
‘Right. Let’s get on with this then.’
James threw open the door, startling Lady Carlisle in the process. She inhaled her surprise, and waited for James to do the gentlemanly thing and apologise for frightening her. His apology did not come. It was a tactic that he had employed with great success on a number of female suspects. Catching off guard manipulative and wily women, who were considered suspects, was a small pleasure for DCI James.
‘Lady Carlisle, sorry to have kept you waiting,’ he started, ‘I’ve got a few things that I’d like your help with, if that’s okay?’
‘Certainly, Detective Chief Inspector,’ she replied, a little more at ease now that she believed the DCI didn’t have her on his list of suspects.
‘As a start, I just wondered if you’d ever heard of a journalist by the name of Tara Roberts. She wrote for a small, sort of independent newspaper in London.’
‘No, no, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of her,’ she calmly lied. James looked at Harris, who had finally decided to sit down next to him.
‘Now that is very interesting, Lady Carlisle,’ James said.
‘Why so?’ she asked.
‘Seems Ms. Roberts was writing an exposé piece on your husband, and she contacted your daughter, Helen, several times. At least, that’s what our colleagues in London have faxed to us. They’ve had an opportunity to go through some of Ms. Roberts’ papers, and appointment diary. She was fastidious about documenting meetings. Are they going to find out anything else that you might be able to tell us now?’
James hoped to push Lady Carlisle into admitting that she, at the very least, knew of Tara Roberts’ intention to write the exposé, but the woman sat stony-faced in front of him, unflinching, unemotional.
‘Nothing at all, Detective Chief Inspector.’
‘Fair enough. If you’ll be so kind as to wait here, we’ll go in and have the same discussion with Helen.’
James and Harris stood up, exited the room, and left the elder Carlisle alone in interview room one.
Next door in interview room two, their interrogation of Helen Carlisle had a very different result.
‘Yes, DCI James, I have heard of Tara Roberts . . . and so has my mother. In fact, on different occasions, we’ve both met with her. Satisfied?’ Helen sneered.
‘Very much so, Ms. Carlisle,’ James said, ‘and now, if you’ll be so kind to explain to us where you were when Ms. Roberts was murdered.’
. . . To be continued . . .