Cover image for Call the dead again
Title:
Call the dead again
Author:
Granger, Ann.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

©1998
Physical Description:
250 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780312205058
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Clarence Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Clearfield Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Riverside Branch Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Williamsville Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Summary

Summary

Meredith Mitchell gives a hitchhiker a lift one evening, but is left feeling distinctly uneasy. What business can she have at Tudor lodge, the beautiful old home of lawyer Andrew Penhallow, where she asks to be dropped? But when Penhallow is found murdered the next morning, Mitchell and Markby have to investigate the ghosts of Penhallow's past, as well as the secrets of the present.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her 11th mystery (after A Word After Dying) featuring British sleuthing duo Meredith Mitchell and her policeman lover, Alan Markby, Granger once again delivers a polished whodunit. A striking young woman hitchhikes her way to Bamford from London, and Mitchell gives her a lift to her destination: Tudor Lodge, the home of lawyer and European Union "mandarin" Andrew Penhallow. While his wife, Carla, is upstairs with a migraine, Penhallow confronts his unwelcome visitor, Kate Drago, alone. After stowing the young hitchhiker in a nearby seedy hotel, Penhallow returns home. Later that night, a knock at the back door brings Penhallow outside, where he is viciously attacked and murdered. Markby, who went to school with Penhallow, is called to the scene, and the investigation begins. Was Penhallow the victim of a terrorist attack? Or did Drago murder him? What is the young woman's connection with the victim and his family? Granger offers only a small cast of possible suspects, but manages to sustain the suspense of Mitchell's and Markby's investigation until the novel's tidy and believable conclusion. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

The morning after foreign service officer Meredith Mitchell drops a hitchhiker at a manor house outside Bamford, its owner is found murdered. Lover Alan Markby, detective, gets the case. More solid work for series fans. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One `I want to get to Bamford tonight. Is anyone going that way?'     The voice was well articulated and carried a faintly imperious note. The men clustered around the grimy mobile snack bar turned their heads as one. Even Wally, owner and chef, was intrigued. He placed both palms on the chain-suspended greasy counter projecting from the side of the vehicle, and leaned across to see who'd spoken.     With the shift of his not inconsiderable weight, the little white van quivered and there was an echoing jingle among its contents. A pyramid of packeted snacks slid apart and spread blue, red and green messages across the counter. Cheese and Onion flavour -- Barbecue Beef -- Chicken Tikka. One fell over the edge to the ground. A customer, at whose feet it landed, picked it up and stuck it in the pocket of his leather blouson jacket. Wally was never so distracted that he missed something like that. He rolled a bloodshot eye and the customer hastily fumbled for loose change and dropped a jumble of coins on the counter. Immediately he returned his gaze to the speaker.     The isolated lay-by was cluttered with parked trucks. Wally's was a regular revictualling stop for the long-distance lorry drivers. He dispensed hot drinks, burned sausages, wedges of heavy pastry stuffed with potato and swede and euphemistically named `pasties', bacon butties and squares of curranty bread pudding. Wally's proud boast was that his food `filled you up'. It not only filled, it made the customer feel he'd never need to eat again. Wally's prices were low, his hygiene sketchy, he worked all hours. He saw, as he later told Sergeant Prescott, `life. Just about everyfing.'     What he saw on this occasion was a girl he judged about eighteen or nineteen, slender in build, wearing jeans. She also wore a tweedy jacket of the sort Wally associated with the leathery men and women who occasionally descended from the cabs of horseboxes and loudly demanded service as if he'd been the ruddy Ritz. She was standing a short distance away, surveying them all in a critical fashion.     `And,' added Wally in the course of that later conversation, `she was a stunner. Just like one of them models. Tall, bit on the thin side, but hair like you never saw. Masses of the stuff.' Here Wally sounded a little wistful and passed a hand over his thinning pate. `Wonderful colour. Out of a bottle, I suppose. But marvellous, it was. Sort of goldy bronze. She wasn't your usual run-of-the-mill hitchhiker nor your ordinary tart. She had class.' He sounded reverential.     Similar thoughts ran through the mind of Eddie Evans. He was on his way home with an unladen lorry. An empty rig was bad business but there'd been a bit of a mix-up and an owner-driver like Eddie, a self-employed one-man band as he termed it, was likely to be out of pocket. The weather had remained dull all day although it was supposed to be springtime. This year winter seemed reluctant to give way to any warmer season. The sun was obscured by a thick wadding of cloud and temperatures were unseasonably low. The trees and hedgerows were only slowly coming into bud, the spring flowers were all late.     The grey mood had permeated Eddie's very being. He'd drawn into the lay-by at the sight of Wally's van, emblazoned with promises of hot and cold refreshments, not because he needed a cup of tarry tea to refresh the body, but seeking enlivening company to refresh the soul. Other drivers, several of whom he knew, gathered there at this time of day, a little after four in the afternoon. He felt like taking a break and chatting to someone.     He didn't, as a general rule, pick up hitchhikers, male or female. He knew of a fellow who'd had a lot of trouble from doing that. He -- Eddie's acquaintance -- had given a lift to a girl who'd later turned up dead in a ditch at the other end of the country. The police had tracked down everyone who'd seen the kid or taken her along in his cab and there'd been hell to pay. There was no one to run Eddie's business or pay off his mortgage if he was held for questioning and his schedules went out of the window. He ignored the hitchers standing forlornly by the wayside clutching their scraps of card printed with the names of distant cities.     But Wally's tea hadn't dispersed the feeling of depression caused by steely skies and lost business. Instead it had substituted a reluctance to leave the sociable huddle around the van. A simple human need for company led Eddie on this one occasion to break his rule.     Almost without thinking, he heard himself say, `I can take you most of the way, ducks, drop you at the Bamford turning. You'll have to hitch yourself another ride from there.'     Faces which had been gawping at the girl, turned to gawp at him instead. They all knew Eddie Evans never took pity on a hitchhiker.     In the silence Wally's tea urn hissed and gurgled. Wally, silent and disapproving, withdrew his head, picked up the coins placed on the counter in payment for the crisps and put them in his elderly, spring-operated till.     The girl was waiting. No one else made a better offer. No one else said anything but their thoughts hung in the air like the steam escaping from the pressure pot of the urn.     The girl turned to Eddie and said crisply, `Right. Thanks.'     She picked up the old khaki haversack which lay on the ground by her feet and slung it over her shoulder. Clearly, she wasn't one to hang about. Her attitude was more that of someone who'd hailed a taxi than one who'd begged a lift from a trucker.     Eddie, prompted by her impatience, tossed his empty polystyrene cup into the battered wire rubbish basket. There was a murmur of amusement as he strode through the group and made for his rig.     Wally had already turned his attention to his spluttering urn. His remaining clientele expressed the opinion among themselves that Eddie had got himself trouble. Privately Wally was minded to agree but he never allowed himself to be drawn into wayside arguments.     Then someone asked, `Who brought her here?'     There was a silence followed by a buzz of question and denial.     `She must have got here somehow. She couldn't have come from nowhere!' insisted the first questioner. `Look!' he added, throwing out a brawny arm to encompass the surrounding fields. `Miles from bleedin' anywhere!'     But no one claimed responsibility for bringing the girl thus far, and no one had even seen her arrive.     `Like she come out of thin air,' said someone, and Wally, not a superstitious man, felt a sudden chill even in the stuffy heat of his van. Eddie was already having second thoughts by the time he'd reached his rig. He climbed into the cab with a stab of doubt at his heart. The familiarity of the cab's interior, the slightly sweaty smell, the Cornish pixie mascot, the snapshot of his wife Sellotaped alongside the speedometer, all these things failed to reassure him. They seemed instead to be reminding him that he'd broken his rule.     The girl scrambled nimbly up to join him. He took a surreptitious look at her as she stowed her khaki bag under her seat. She was about the age of his own daughter. Gina, too, had long hair and wore it tied back like that. But there resemblance ended. There was something about this girl, an air, a touch of something indefinable which Gina lacked. Proud of his own girl as he was, Eddie felt vaguely resentful.     It wasn't as though this girl was fancily dressed. She wore the usual jeans and funny tan leather ankle boots. Not the lace-up sort, but old-fashioned elastic-sided jobs which probably cost a packet. Gina went in for these fashion fads and they were always overpriced. These looked good quality, not cheaply produced in the Far East or South America to cater for a passing trend. Her jacket, dark brown tweed with leather elbow patches, was quality, too. She wore a dark shirt of some sort underneath it and a man's yellow wool scarf round her neck. He watched her remove it to sit with it crumpled in her hand.     The hair was in glorious contrast to all this plainness. In the dull light it seemed to have an inner glow. He thought of a polished brass candlestick in a church reflecting the dancing flames all around it. It was bunched at the nape of her neck with a piece of ribbon and spilled down her back and over one shoulder. A lock had escaped and hung down by her face. It didn't look untidy. It just looked as if it were meant to be like that. She had beautiful skin. Gina had spots and spent a fortune on acne cures.     He drew out of the lay-by, conscious of watching eyes from the direction of Wally's snack bar. He said, `I got a daughter about your age. Her name's Gina.'     `Oh? Right.' The reply was carelessly polite.     Niggled, he asked, `What's your name, then?'     `Kate.'     It bloomin' would be, thought Eddie glumly. Their acquaintance was only minutes old, and already he felt as if twenty-five years or so had been stripped from his life. He was an awkward youngster again, trying to chat up a girl in a pub or at a party, a girl who'd arrived with a different crowd from his own. A girl he was realising belonged in a different crowd from his.     `You live in Bamford, then?' he asked with a jollity which fooled neither of them.     `No, I'm going to see a friend.'     `Come far today?'     `Far enough.' A pause. `London.' She raised a hand and scraped back a hank of mermaid's hair from her long, white, unlined neck. Sorrier than ever that he'd put himself in this situation, Eddie took refuge in fatherly advice.     `Hitching can be tricky for a young girl!' he said censoriously, wrenching at the wheel.     Widely spaced grey eyes turned to him. `I'm careful.'     His mouth seemed dry. It was that tea of Wally's. You could paint a ship's timbers with that tea.     `You a student, then?' he asked hoarsely.     `Mmm ...' She settled back and stared dreamily through the windscreen down the road ahead.     `Gina, my girl, she's a nursery nurse.' He could hear the desperation in his own voice.     `Great ...' She sounded faraway.     Fair enough, he thought. She doesn't want my conversation and I'm digging a pit for myself trying to chat her up like this. I should have stuck to my own rule. The sooner I can get rid of her, the better. What's she doing, hitching, anyway? She must have money.     But money was often nothing to do with it. It struck him in an unpleasant moment's insight, that she was playing some sort of game. He hadn't picked her up. She had picked him up.     `This friend of yours in Bamford,' he said. `He -- she -- expecting you?'     `I don't know,' she murmured. `But he ought to be, even if he isn't.' She turned her head towards him again and smiled, quite nicely. `It's to be a surprise,' she said. He set her down, as promised, at the Bamford turn. By now the natural light had faded and mist had crept across the fields. The trees were spectres in the early dusk. You'd have thought it was still winter. He'd been looking forward to parting from her, getting rid of her, not to put too fine a point on it! Yet Eddie still felt compunction at setting down a young girl, any woman, in this deserted spot, all alone at this time of the evening. He glanced at the dashboard clock. But it was still only twenty past six and not so late after all. However, it was chilly out there. The cold breeze swept in through the open door.     `You going to be all right, love?'     `Sure!' she called up to him. Only her head was visible as she stood in the road.     She made to slam the cab door but he leaned across and held it open. `I'd turn off and take you right to where you was going -- but I don't want to run late. My old lady will be waiting for me at home.'     `No need.' She sounded so calmly confident that he was almost embarrassed at his own fretting. She was moving away already, the khaki haversack slung across her shoulders, obscuring the mane of hair.     `Thanks!' she called back and raised her hand briefly in farewell. It was a sliver of alabaster white in the gloom. He watched her disappear into the twilight, her form growing fuzzy, indistinct and finally invisible. All the remainder of his drive home he was unable to rid himself of the feeling that he had somehow connived in something wrong. Meredith Mitchell caught up with the lorry as it pulled away from the Bamford turn. Its rear lights glowed like angry red eyes as it roared off into the gathering dusk of a now deserted countryside. She wondered why it had stopped there. Perhaps the driver had been lost, confused, wanted to consult a road map. Perhaps he'd clambered out to scramble up into the hedge in response to a call of nature.     She forgot it as she turned on to the Bamford road and felt her heart lift. She was on the last stretch of her homeward journey. She'd been away from her Foreign Office desk, acting as one of the instructors on a week's course, pleasantly set among the South Downs. In theory, the course was to conclude tomorrow, Friday, at lunchtime, to enable all attending, whether as lecturers or audience, to set off for their scattered homes. In practice virtually everyone had deserted the place tonight, Thursday.     Meredith had joined the lemming exodus, seeing little point in remaining at her post like that doomed sentry at the gates of Pompeii. The few attendees who were down to listen to her on Friday morning had accepted with visible relief her suggestion that an extra half-hour on today's schedule would deal quite well with remaining matters and let them all go home.     She'd rung Alan before leaving and told him of the change in timetable. They'd arranged that she should go straight to his place, not her own. He'd try and get away from work early and meet her there. They'd crack open a bottle of wine and put the world to rights.     Pleasure at escaping the course and looking forward to a convivial evening was tempered by the fact that she didn't like driving at this time of the evening. She didn't mind in the true night when the headlights cut bright swathes to illuminate the road ahead and set light against dark in a clear distinction. But at twilight, the headlights vied with what remained of the waning daylight and roadside shapes became misshapen and took on anthropomorphic life. She was always reminded of the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, stopping to pick an apple from a wayside tree, is disconcerted by the tree snatching it back.     Ahead of her was something in the road. It moved over to the verge as the headlights picked it up. At first she thought it might be an animal. Muntjak deer roamed the plantations to the side of the road, having escaped long ago from someone's park and thrived. But this, she soon saw, was a human shape and a real one, not something from her overwrought imagination. Someone was walking along the roadside, out here, three miles at least from the first houses of the country town. Someone from a farm, perhaps?     Then, as she swept past, she saw it was a girl, saddled with a small backpack of some sort. It was late for a hitchhiker, although to be fair, the girl hadn't signalled she wanted a lift. Perhaps because of that Meredith pressed her foot on the brake. As she waited for the walker to catch up, she switched on the car's internal light so that the girl could see it was a woman waiting up there ahead of her, not some oaf fancying his chances.     Having the light on inside the car, however, made it difficult to see anything reflected in the rear mirror. It tilted the odds against the car driver, whose former advantage was lost. Now it was Meredith who sat here alone, illuminated, feeling as if she were in a fishbowl, while out there was an unseen walker -- or prowler. Only one? There might have been two, and Meredith simply hadn't seen the other. She would have done better, perhaps, not to have heeded instinct and stopped. The impulse to play Good Samaritan might end with being mugged by a pair of wandering hippies. She almost drove on, but if the walker were genuinely in need of help, that would appear a cruel prank. Meredith waited.     When the walker finally caught up with the car and appeared at the passenger window, it was as such a sudden apparition that Meredith was caught unawares. She was glad to see that the girl was, apparently, alone after all.     Meredith rallied, let down the window and called out, `I'm going into Bamford if you want a lift!'     `I don't want to go all the way into town, just to the edge.' It was an educated voice. Not that that meant anything these days.     `Fine, I'll drop you off.' The girl sat on the passenger seat, her haversack on her knees. She stared straight ahead out of the window, watching the yellow beam of the car lights, and stayed silent.     The complete lack of any attempt at communication was unnerving. Meredith was prompted to ask, `Do you live in Bamford?'     `No.' Courteous but firm. Not your business, indicated the tone.     Fair enough, thought Meredith, who also disliked being quizzed by strangers. She confined her next remark to a necessary, `Whereabouts do you want to be dropped off?. Do you know exactly?'     The girl turned her head at last towards the speaker. `It's called Tudor Lodge. I believe -- it was described to me -- it's located on the edge of town, almost the first house.'     `I know it. It belongs to the Penhallows.'     `Yes.'     `I know Carla Penhallow. Are you a friend of Luke's?'     There was another silence and Meredith felt that somehow the question had thrown her companion.     `No.' The reply was bald, as before, but lacked the closed composure of the earlier monosyllables.     Well, Meredith reminded herself, her business is her business. If she doesn't want to tell me, it's for me to shut up.     But her curiosity was aroused and it won over discretion. She heard herself persist with, `If you haven't visited the house before, you'll be surprised. It's very old and rather beautiful in a patchwork sort of way.'     `Patchwork?' At last the girl's voice echoed curiosity of her own. Meredith thought, human at last .     `The oldest bit, Elizabethan, is to the left, as you look at the house from the street. There's a later Georgian addition to the right. The stone porch is a Victorian addition in Tudor style. But it all works somehow. I rather envy Andrew and Carla that house.'     `It sounds nice ...' There was the faintest encouragement in the other's voice. The girl approved this line of conversation. She wanted to know more.     But now it was Meredith who was suddenly reluctant to part with information. Who the dickens was this kid, anyhow? She appeared about nineteen, well educated, cool as a cucumber and--     Here Meredith belatedly put two and two together. The girl must have got out of that lorry, back there at the turn. She'd hitched this far from wherever she'd started. And it didn't make sense. It would have made sense if she'd been some friend of Luke's, the Penhallows' son. Another student, hard up as they all were. But if she were a friend of the parents', of Andrew or Carla's, perhaps someone from Carla's publisher or the television people who produced Carla's popular science programmes, well, she ought to have a car.     The town's name gleamed fluorescently on a road sign together with that of the obscure French town with which it was twinned. The car passed the last hedgerows and the lights picked out a petrol station forecourt, untidy but well lit, bright and reassuring, then a terrace of stone cottages, followed by a patch of trees. They'd reached the first streetlamps, just flickering into ochre-coloured life. And there was Tudor Lodge, set back from the road behind iron railings, its tall chimneys and pointed gables still distinguishable as shapes against the battleship-grey sky.     Meredith pulled over. `There it is--'     She broke off. The girl was already sliding out of the car.     `Thanks for the lift!' She slung her haversack over her shoulder and turned on the narrow pavement to face the car, waiting for Meredith to drive away. Out of courtesy to her benefactor?     No, Meredith thought. Because she doesn't want me to see her walk up to the door. There was something wrong, she knew there was. But if so, it was difficult to think what. The girl seemed really rather upmarket. At this time of the day when people were returning to their homes it was unlikely that a burglar would make for a target or, even less, let someone else know about it.     Meredith forced a brief smile, returned the farewell salute and prepared to drive off.     `Your trouble,' she told herself, `is you hang around with a copper and it's made you suspicious.'     In the mirror, she saw the slender form turn towards Tudor Lodge, pass through the front gate, and merge into the gloom of the gardens. She didn't hear the blackbird, always the last of a garden's feathered inhabitants to retire for the night. As it made its dusk patrol of its territory it spied the intruder and fled, shrieking its loud, repetitive warning.     It was as well she hadn't heard it. For despite her attempt to put aside her fears, Meredith, as Eddie Evans earlier, had been left with the disquieting feeling that she'd conspired in some mischief.

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