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By Barry Maitland

ISBN-10: 1741751764

ISBN-13: 9781741751765

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Brock said, ‘Yes, tell us about the stamps, Sammy. ’ ‘It’s quite simple really. ’ Kathy saw Bren’s face go blank with disbelief. Starling shrugged. ‘I collect postage stamps for a hobby. ’ The others received this with a heavy silence. ’ Brock asked finally. ‘I started when I was a kid, then I forgot about it for a long time. I suppose I got into it again about the time Brenda died. ’ Bren suggested, a light dawning on his face. ‘Some way of investing dodgy cash. ’ Starling looked offended. ‘It’s not a dodge.

So you felt threatened by it. ’ ‘Nothing at first. I just shrugged it off. Keller had been guilty, and he’d done his time. End of story. What was it to me, now? ’ Starling paused, blank face staring at the blank wall as if trying to picture something, and they waited for him to go on. ’ ‘A few days later I woke up in the middle of the night. The way you do . . ’ He looked at Brock, willing him to understand. Kathy, studying his face, felt she was beginning to read its subtle inflections, catching the swift little shadows, barely detectable, that turned the bland circle from fear to hope, amusement to sadness.

It wasn’t until after the weekend that I started to worry. By Tuesday evening, when I still couldn’t raise her, I decided to go up to the flat myself the next day. Then, Wednesday morning, the first letter arrived. ”’ He rubbed his fingers across his mouth. ‘It was an accusation. She was missing, and I hadn’t known . . ’ ‘The first letter was postmarked Tuesday morning,’ Brock said. ’ He passed them over to Bren, who took the two letters out of their envelopes, the same questions forming in his mind that Kathy had asked.

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The Chalon Heads by Barry Maitland

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