‘I took what I believed was a stand and I challenged Commander Marsh who was my senior officer at the time, threatening to leave. However he took me up on it…’
‘But it’s Commander Marsh who called me and has been quite insistent that you run the Jessica Collins case,’ said Camilla, chewing on the stem of her glasses.
‘I feel that DCI Foster still has much she can offer…’ started Marsh. Camilla replaced her glasses and looked back at the file.
‘You’ve had quite a chequered career. Along with The Night Stalker, you were responsible for catching multiple murderer David Douglas-Brown, multiple murderer Barry Paton…’
‘The York Strangler, marm.’
‘I have it all here. The York Strangler killed eight school girls, and you made quite a leap, identifying him from the reflection caught in a shop window opposite his doctors surgery…’
‘Yes, and he still thanks me for it every Christmas and birthday.’
Marsh grinned, but Camilla did not,
‘You weren’t so lucky with some of your other cases. You were suspended two years ago pending an investigation…’
‘I was subsequently cleared…’
‘If you’ll let me finish. You were suspended pending an investigation. You led a drug raid on an estate in Greater Manchester, resulting in the deaths of five officers, one of whom was your husband.’
‘How do you come back from that?’ asked Camilla, again watching her closely as she chewed on the stem of her glasses.
‘I received counselling, I almost lost track of who I was, and if I wanted to stay in the force. But I did come back, and the results are in my file in front of you. I know in the past I’ve locked horns with my senior officers, but I have always aimed for one goal and that’s to uphold the law to the highest standards, and catch the bad guys.’
‘The bad guys!’ Camilla exclaimed with a grin, which then quickly vanished. ‘The Jessica Collins case shares much with the Madeline McGann case in its notoriety and complexity. I need an officer who is strong, smart, and media savvy to navigate the re-opening of this investigation. Why do you think you’re the one for the job?’
‘I’m not a career police officer. I dedicate myself totally to cases, and I don’t give up until I’ve found the killer. It won’t be about my career, it will be about finding justice for Jessica. I want her family to be able to move on and grieve.’
Erika sat back, she realised she was sweating. Marsh looked a little uncomfortable too.
‘Justice for Jessica, we could use that,’ he said.
‘No,’ said Camilla shooting him a withering look. ‘Would you mind waiting outside for a moment, DCI Foster?’
Erika came back out to the waiting area. The girl behind the desk didn’t look up. The magazines were neatly back in their fan.
So many times she thought her career was over, and here she was, again at the start of something exciting. Was she at the edge of a step up, or a precipice? she thought.
There was a chime from the phone behind the desk and the girl asked Erika to go back into the office.
Camilla was pulling her police jacket on and straightening her hair by a coat stand in the corner. Marsh stood patiently by her desk.
‘DCI Foster. Thank you for coming in today. I’m pleased to say, we’d like to put you in as the Senior Investigating Officer on the Jessica Collins case.’
‘Thank you, Marm. You won’t regret your decision.’
Camilla pulled on her braided cap and adjusted it in the mirror and turned.
‘I hope you don’t regret it,’ she came over and shook Erika’s hand, realising she had to look up at her. ‘Commander Marsh will brief you on the full details. I have to fly, I’m due at a meeting with the Commissioner.’
‘Please give my regards to Sir Brian,’ said Marsh. Camilla nodded and showed them to the door.
* * *
Erika and Marsh rode down in the lift in silence.
‘You’ll be running the case from the incident room at Bromley South, I’ll be overseeing this, and you’ll report to me.’
‘What about Superintendent Yale?’
‘Hasn’t he got enough on his plate?’
‘He thinks I went behind his back.’
‘You did go behind his back.’
‘But it wasn’t personal.’
‘Things always seem personal with you, Erika.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘I never know what you’re thinking. You’re direct to the point of being brutal. You don’t trust many people.’
‘And, it’s tough to work with that.’
‘If I were a male DCI, would we be having this conversation in a lift? Would you be asking what I’m thinking?’ Marsh scowled and looked away. ‘What’s going on here? Is this about the other night?’
Marsh looked at the floor for a moment then back up her. ‘You need to do your job here, DCI Foster, and you need to do it well.’
‘I always do.’
‘The fuck -ups on the last investigation nearly led to an inquiry. Make this right. Find who did this. Close the case.’
‘I’ll be making arrangements for all files and materials relating to the two previous investigations to be sent over to Bromley Cross Station,’ said Marsh now sounding businesslike. ‘You need to get your incident room up and running and there will be a briefing with your team at 3pm.’
‘So are you in charge or am I?’
‘You’ll report to me, I’ll report to the Assistant Commissioner. You’ll also need to work closely with Superintendent Yale as you’ll be utilising his resources.’
‘Do I get to choose my team?’
‘Who do you have in mind?’ asked Marsh.
Erika didn’t see Superintendent Yale until the next morning when she was about to go into her first briefing as SIO in one of the top floor conference rooms at Bromley Station.
He was coming down the hall with a steaming mug of tea, which said, ‘Who’s the boss?’ Erika saw it and quickly looked away, but he noticed.
‘Sorry I haven’t been able to come and talk to you, Sir. Yesterday was a little crazy. I had to get up to speed on the Jessica Collins case and…’