MALIGN INTENT - Teaser Chapter
Crowe drove out of the dry, vacant city, heading north through Drumcondra and onto Griffith Avenue to the Office of the State Pathologist. August bank holidays were traditionally the beginning of the city emptying and the builders' holidays beginning. Somewhere overhead in the cloudless sky, the Garda helicopter hovered and clattered. A lone somnambulant freight train rumbled over Drumcondra Bridge. At a Garda checkpoint, hoping to snatch some road tax evaders, Crowe showed his ID and was waved through. Just a typical August bank holiday Sunday, he thought. Everyone gone and everywhere shutting down and the force left remaining to loiter with intent.
He pulled into the rear car park of the imposing red brick building. He texted McDaid. Buzzed in, Crowe pumped the hand sanitiser and donned shoe covers, a net hat and mask. The building was cool and deserted, apart from the bright lights coming from the examination room.
McDaid was hunched over his notes and speaking in low tones into an old-fashioned handheld dictaphone. The crime scene photographs were laid out neatly like a hand of solitaire. The assistant, Higgins, who everyone called ‘The Goomba’, because of his uneven gait and vivid facial birthmark, was tidying away the equipment and bagged samples on a trolley. A mop and bucket for dealing with spillages off the metal slab stood sentinel beside him. He was sealing up Hanafin’s clothes and whistling Sinatra’s ‘That Old Black Magic’. The melody ricocheted shrilly off the sanitised metal and stone of the room. To Crowe it sounded like the punchline to a joke.
Crowe turned his attention to the two thin pieces of orange rope, neatly cut in half. Taped with adhesive tape at either end, beside the dead man’s shoes, ready for bagging by Higgins. The overhead fluorescents washed the dead body in garish light. ‘The Goomba’ gave him a nod as he trundled out of the examination room.
“So, it’s a suicide?” asked Crowe.
McDaid swivelled the chair in a graceful movement and rose without breaking a beat with the nimble gait of a much younger man.
“In a nutshell, Crowe. Not proven,” he said.
“Not proven - meaning?” replied Crowe.
“Why I called was that Chief Superintendent O’Suilleabháin phoned me first thing this morning. He suggested quite aggressively that I wrap this up as a suicide. ‘Tag, bag and bury the bastard’ were his exact words. Very unprofessional if you ask me. So I fingerprinted our wee chap here and an old record came up from Phoenix Park. Let me introduce you to Mr Aonghus Hanafin: 174.2 centimetres tall, fifty-seven kilos and sixty five years of age. And, I might add, in pretty bad shape; advanced cirrhosis, lungs of a four pack a day man – we both should consider quitting the coffin nails, Crowe. He was a journalist. I’ll email you the link to his blog. We cleaned him down and sent the washing line on for forensic analysis. I’ve sent the vital organs out for further analysis. There also appears to be a second mark on the neck under the first.”
“Maybe he got lucky on the second go?” asked Crowe.
The flesh under the intense light looked like putty, like some sculpture modelled from awkward clay. In death, the dead man’s muscles had relaxed, the creases of age and hard living now erased. The fleshy mouth hung slightly agape amid the loose jowls. The thick white beetle eyebrows sat thick and spiky across the brow.
McDaid continued, “Now it is possible he hanged himself. But our wee boy, Aonghus here managed to get out to that place and fashion a noose on one end of a washing line, fasten it to a high branch, and then hang himself,”
“But it is possible,” said Crowe.
“It is possible, but I cannot be one hundred percent sure. Notice anything?”
Crowe followed McDaid’s gaze,
“No visible identifying marks, tattoos, moles, or birthmarks…” Crowe leaned closer to the face, “I’m assuming nothing on his back. Tidy looking nasal and ear hair, he was clean – am I right?”
“Exactamundo, Crowe, our wee man here, had a spot of grooming before he checked out,” said McDaid.
He folded his arms and clicked his pen in slow deliberate stabs, muffled by the folds in the sleeve of his lab coat.
Crowe looked back down at the small, unclaimed body on the slab.
Not proven meant doubt. Doubt implied a crime. A second ligature mark.
MALIGN INTENT will be relased Deceomberf 2023 find out more here...