The Visiting Detective – Episode 14

GABY called a few of the docks offices. There were no police involved in handling the pay, following a shift of responsibility. A small firm with a warehouse in Kent was handling the cash for 800 workers at a string of docks along the south coast. It was a new firm, and when DS Clark and DS Robsinson took a trip there, the supervisor was anxious to co-operate.

“Yes, we have our own guards,” he said, “but we’re in the middle of nowhere here, Officer. Security is not as big a worry as it is in the capital.”

“Being in the middle of nowhere is not necessarily ideal,” Gaby said. “How many guards?”

The supervisor looked uncomfortable.

“Well, we were able to . . . cut down the nine to five. We’ve, um, a very good couple of blokes, all night.”

Gaby sighed.

“Is everything all right?” the man asked. “We’re very quiet, what with the strike and all.”

“Yes, the strike.” Kit was surveying the identical blue trucks lined up inside the warehouse. “Could we have a look at your employee list? Just routine.”

Kit thrust the list under Gaby’s nose a few minutes later.

“Phil Salter,” he said. “Started work here a month ago. Could this be –”

“Any middle name?”

“Phil Lopez Salter. Funny name.”

“That’s one of her sons. Old Mr Salter, RIP, was a huge big band fan in the 20s. All his sons have someone famous as a middle name.”

“Vincent Lopez,” Kit said, impressed.

“You a Big Band lover, as well?”

“And why not? Look, can we get on? If there’s been a Salter here, our priority is to protect this cash, and quickly. Perhaps we catch the Salters red-handed. We have to get evidence that will help with Mr D’s murder. I’ll call the station.” He headed off.

Gaby took his arm.

“Hang on,” she said. Kit felt a bolt of electricity run up his body.

“A month ago,” Gaby began, thinking hard, “the strike wasn’t even a glint in somebody’s eye.”

“Maybe the Salters had been planning a hit for a while. They get to know of the warehouse; they send Phil here; they plan a robbery – hence the recent quiet from them. Then, fortuitously, there’s a strike, extra money that ought to be in the bank or people’s wage envelopes. It’s a bonus, but it needs manpower, especially to get away from the scene. Even silly little Derek is a prerequisite, because at least he can drive.”

“And Ma Salter never lets it out of the family.”

The Force acted very quickly indeed when danger to the dockyards pay vans was suggested. They set a trap for the Salter gang that was slick, silent and effective. From the unobtrusive watch on the Salter residences to the final intercept, Rawlish said they ought to be proud of themselves.

Kit and Gaby walked into the interview room the morning after the raid to find Mo Salter sitting very upright in her chair. They sat slowly opposite her and she eyed them.

“This was out of your league, Mrs Salter,” Gaby said.

She grunted.

“You should have stuck to market stall crime.”

“You should certainly,” Kit added in a low voice, “have avoided murder.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.