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Which was why Mackenzie had wanted Rebus out of there, whatever the price: he’d been about to do some business…

‘Besides,’ Rebus continued, ‘when it comes down to it, what choice do you have?’

‘You either talk to us… ’ the Farmer said.

‘Or you disappear. People do it all the time.’

And it never stops, Rebus could have added. Because it’s part of the dance – shifting partners, people you shared the floor with, it all changed. And it only ended when you disappeared from the hall.

And sometimes… sometimes, it didn’t even end there.

‘All right,’ Mandelson said at last, the way they’d known he would, all colour gone from his face, his voice hollow, ‘what do you want to know?’

‘Let’s start with Topper Hamilton,’ the Farmer said, sounding like a kid unwrapping his birthday present.

It was Wednesday morning when Rebus got the phone call from a Mr Bain. It took him a moment to place the name: Damon’s bank manager.

‘Yes, Mr Bain, what can I do for you?’

‘Damon Mee, Inspector. You wanted us to keep an eye on any transactions.’

Rebus leaned forward in his chair. ‘That’s right.’

‘There’ve been two withdrawals from cash machines, both in central London.’

Rebus grabbed a pen. ‘Where exactly?’

‘Tottenham Court Road was three days ago: fifty pounds. Next day, it was Finsbury Park, same amount.’

Fifty pounds a day: enough to live on, enough to pay for a cheap bed and breakfast and two extra meals.

‘How much is left in the account, Mr Bain?’

‘A little under six hundred pounds.’

Enough for twelve days. There were several ways it could go. Damon could get himself a job. Or when the money ran out he could try begging. Or he could return home. Rebus thanked Bain and telephoned Janis.

‘John,’ she said, ‘we got a postcard this morning.’

A postcard saying Damon was in London and doing fine. A postcard of apology for any fright he’d given them. A postcard saying he needed some time to ‘get my head straight’. A postcard which ended ‘See you soon.’ The picture on the front was of a pair of breasts painted with Union Jacks.

‘Brian thinks we should go down there,’ Janis said. ‘Try to find him.’

Rebus thought of how many B &Bs there’d be in Finsbury Park. ‘You might just chase him away,’ he warned. ‘He’s doing OK, Janis.’

‘But why did he do it, John? I mean, is it something we did?’

New questions and fears had replaced the old ones. Rebus didn’t know what to tell her. He wasn’t family and couldn’t begin to answer her question. Didn’t want to begin to answer it.

‘He’s doing OK,’ he repeated. ‘Just give him some time.’ She was crying now, softly. He imagined her with head bowed, hair falling over the telephone receiver.

‘We did everything, John. You can’t know how much we’ve given him. We always put ourselves second, never a minute’s thought for anything but him… ’

‘Janis… ’ he began.

She took a deep breath. ‘Will you come and see me, John?’

Rebus looked around the office, eyes resting eventually on his own desk and the paperwork stacked there.

‘I can’t, Janis. I’d like to, but I just can’t. See, it’s not as if I… ’

He didn’t know how he was going to finish the sentence, but it didn’t matter. She’d put her phone down. He sat back in his chair and remembered dancing with her, how brittle her body had seemed. But that had been half a lifetime ago. They’d made so many choices since. It was time to let the past go. Siobhan Clarke was at her desk. She was looking at him. Then she mimed the drinking of a cup of coffee, and he nodded and got to his feet.

Did a little dance as he shuffled towards her.

***

‘Trip Trap’ Copyright © 1992 Ian Rankin (first published in 1st Culprit by Chatto & Windus, 1992).

‘Someone Got to Eddie’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in 3rd Culprit by Chatto & Windus, 1994).

‘A Deep Hole’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in London Noir by Serpent’s Tail, 1994).

‘Natural Selection’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Fresh Blood by The Do-Not Press, 1996).

‘Facing the Music’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Midwinter Mysteries 4 by Little, Brown and Company, 1994).

‘Principles of Accounts’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 1995).

‘The Only True Comedian’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, February 2000).

‘Herbert in Motion’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Perfectly Criminal by Severn House, 1996, republished in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 1997).

‘Glimmer’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Blue Lightning by Slow Dancer Press, 1998).

‘Unlucky in Love, Unlucky at Cards’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March 2000).

‘Video, Nasty’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Constable New Crime 2 by Constable, 1993).

‘Talk Show’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Winter’s Crimes 23 by Macmillan, 1991).

‘Castle Dangerous’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, October 1993).

‘The Wider Scheme’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, August 1996).

‘Unknown Pleasures’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Mean Time by The Do-Not Press, 1998).

‘In the Frame’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Winter’s Crimes 24 by Macmillan, 1992).

‘The Confession’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2000).

‘The Hanged Man’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 1999, reprinted in Something Wicked by Polygon, 1999).

‘Window of Opportunity ’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, December 1995). ‘The Serpent’s Back’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in Midwinter Mysteries 5 by Little, Brown and Company, 1995, reprinted in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, April 1998).

‘No Sanity Clause’ Copyright © Ian Rankin (first published in the Daily Telegraph, December 2000).

‘Death Is Not The End’ Copyright © Ian Rankin 1998.

Ian Rankin

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into over thirty languages and are bestsellers worldwide.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America ’s celebrated Edgar award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark ’s Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull and the Open University.

A contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts. He has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh. He has also recently been appointed to the rank of Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons. Visit his website at www.ianrankin.net.

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