McBurr, a police detective in South Northumberland is in a bad way. Facing corruption charges and having to fight tpo clear his name, will he succeed? Keep an eye on The Ofi Press each edition to read another chapter of this gritty cop series, set in the North East of England.
November 19th, Crown Posada Pub Newcastle, 6:30 p.m.
He hadn’t changed at all. He was still thin and wiry, three inches shorter than me. A casual observer would take him for a neatly dressed accountant, though the more experienced knew him as one of the hardest little bastards that they’d ever meet. He was the head of Northumbria police’s vice squad. He was standing at the bar, pint in one hand, tom cat cigarette in the other, marking his territory.
‘Still at it, Redpath?’ I observed signalling towards the pint and the tab.
‘McBurr, I hear that you are not.’ He nodded at the barman, who poured a fresh orange juice in front of me.
‘Good to see you.’
‘That remains to be seen…’ I countered. He nodded and smiled a proper smile, not the usual crocodile smile measuring you for the death roll.
The pub was long and thin and still had its original wooden panelling. I had been drunk in here regularly. A pub for the cognoscenti, knowledgeable drinkers, real ale, though it had lost a bit of its inner city atmosphere since the smoking ban had come in. It was quarter full. Hardcore drinkers left between those having a quick pint after work, and those coming out for the night.
‘At the bar, or at a table?’ I asked.
‘Oh, we’ll sit down, rest the old legs.’ He was a marathon runner in his spare time. ‘With you being in Comp and Stan I thought it best to meet openly. Tongues will wag, whatever we do, but if we tried to keep it secret we’d set at least a dozen rabbits away. This will just keep them wondering. I recently gave a talk on modern policing, which your boss ordered. If any one asks, this is about that.’
‘Was the talk any good?’
‘Complete waste of fucking time. But it opened the way for this conversation.’
‘Like most of the senior management team meetings then?’
‘Very droll son, you should know by now humour is not one of my strong points.’
I nodded and waited.
‘McBurr, something’s not right.’
We looked at each other.
‘I feel it in my water every time I have a piss. Some rumours, the odd hint and a couple of early morning arrests that went wrong.’
‘Aye, we are never going to be totally water-tight, but there’s something extra in the pot. No obvious new faces, but something has just unbalanced the world as we knew it. Maybe it’s money going in different directions and there is certainly more of it around. Nothing obvious you understand.’
’But you want me from the copper’s most popular division, Standards and Complaints to investigate?’
‘Shake the tree a bit, something might drop.’
‘Not official then?’
‘Not just yet.’
We both knew then that I needed a word with my boss. ‘No freelancing’ was one of his stock phrases.