In the cold, gray light of a mid-February afternoon, Michael Waterman watched
Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Yardley's putt roll gently over the
manicured green heading toward the thirteenth hole, and walked over, hand
outstretched, conceding the putt before the ball had stopped moving. "Too
good," he said, taking out his wallet, and extracting five twenties. "I
believe we said a hundred?"
"We did." Ray grinned, sliding the notes into his back pocket. "Which means a lot more to me than it does to you."
Michael picked up both balls and put his redundant putter back in the bag, hoisting it to his shoulder as the two men walked together toward the clubhouse. He'd lost at the thirteenth hole on the thirteenth of the monthmaybe there was something in the superstition after all.
But Ray's burly figure dwarfed the slight, wiry Michael, and that was much more likely to be where Michael's problems lay. Admittedly, Michael was looking closely at fifty and Ray had just turned forty, but they were both fit, they were both competitive. Age wasn't a factor. Ray could drive the ball farther, it was as simple as that; he gave himself a better chance of a simple approach shot to the green. Maybe, Michael thought, he should go to one of these coaches to help him get more power into his shot.
"I'd have thought you'd know better than to gamble," said Ray. "At least when you know you don't stand a chance of winning."
"I make my living from people who gamble when they've no chance of winning. And I would remind you that some of my best customers are coppers."
Ray grinned. "Ohpolicemen gamble on anything. I think our unofficial bookies sometimes take more than you do in a day's trading." He pulled open the clubhouse door, and stood aside to let Michael go ahead. "The current book is on who's going to head the major crime unitthe betting's been very heavy."
"Oh?" Michael frowned. "I thought that had been shelved."
"The serious crime squad's been shelvedit was felt that the specialist units already in place covered the causes of most serious crime. Drugs, fraud, terrorismthat sort of thing. The major crime unit will have a different brief," he said, as they reached the bar. "What'll you have?"
"A whisky, thanks." It was a rare treat; Michael never drank when he was driving, and he was usually driving. "So what would this major crime unit do?"
"It would deal with the serious crimes non-criminals commit. The thinking is that detectives used to dealing with known offenders and hardened criminals aren't so hot when it comes to honest citizens turned murderers. Crimes like that need a different approach. It would be a small, hand-picked unit."
"Is there enough of that sort of crime to keep a specialist unit going?"
"I think so, because of the length of time they can take to investigate. But they'll also reopen cold cases, see what someone with a bit more imagination than the average copper can do with them."
Michael smiled. "I'm tempted to say that everyone has"
"I know, I know," said Ray, before Michael could finish. "But some of us can see past the ends of our noses."
Present company excepted, thought Michael. Ray might have fast-tracked his way to his current job of heading Malworth CID, but he had no imagination whatsoever. "So who's the front-runner?" he asked.
"Detective Chief Inspector Hill, assuming she applies for it. I told you we gambled on anythingshe might not come under starter's orders. She's based at Malworthshe's done a good job there." He smiled. "She's very attractive, too."
"Wellmaybe I can get an introduction."
Excerpted from Unlucky for Some by Jill McGown Copyright © 2005 by Jill McGown. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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