N ightingale smoked two cigarettes after he had helped Morris over the wall. He was thinking about lighting a third when his mobile phone rang. It was Morris. ‘Please don’t tell me you’ve done a runner, Eddie,’ said Nightingale.
‘Press the buzzer again,’ said Morris.
Nightingale went over to the gate and pressed the button.
‘Who is it?’ said Morris over the intercom.
‘Don’t screw around, Eddie,’ said Nightingale.
There was a buzzing sound from the gates and then a loud click and they opened. Nightingale got back into the MGB and drove along the curving driveway towards a three-storey modernist cube of glass and concrete. He parked in front of the flight of white marble steps that led up to a gleaming white double-height door.
Morris opened the door and bowed to Nightingale. ‘Welcome, m’lord,’ he said. ‘Would m’lord care for tea in the conservatory?’
‘Any problems?’ asked Nightingale as he got out of the car.
‘Easy peasy, lemon squeezy,’ said Morris. ‘The alarm’s self-contained but they’d left the manufacturer’s override on it. Most people do.’
‘How did you get in?’
‘Kitchen door,’ said Morris. ‘Did the lock so no one will know we’ve been here.’ He gestured up at a CCTV camera aimed at the front door. ‘The cameras are off.’
‘Thanks, Eddie. Do you want to push off or wait in the car?’
‘I’ll hang around the house,’ said Morris, stepping back into the hallway.
Nightingale jogged up the steps, his raincoat flapping behind him. ‘You’re not thinking about taking anything, are you?’ he said.
‘I just fancy a look,’ said Morris. ‘It’s right out of one of those posh-homes magazines, isn’t it?’
‘It’s one hell of a house,’ agreed Nightingale. ‘But we’re leaving it exactly the way we found it. No helping yourself to a little souvenir.’
He looked around the white-marbled hallway.
Morris pointed at one of two stainless-steel CCTV cameras covering the hall. ‘He really had a thing about cameras, didn’t he?’
‘Like I said, he was paranoid.’
‘Yeah, well, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. What was he scared of?’
‘Dunno,’ lied Nightingale.
‘Because there’re more of them cameras inside the house than outside. That’s just plain weird.’
‘The guy who lived here was weird,’ agreed Nightingale.
‘How did he die?’
‘Like I said, it doesn’t matter.’
Morris looked up at a glass feature light hanging from the centre of the ceiling. It looked like a waterfall that had been frozen in mid-flow. ‘Nice,’ he said. ‘Could get a fair few bob for that.’
‘Don’t even think about it, Eddie,’ said Nightingale. He walked across the hallway towards a jet-black door with a glossy white handle. ‘He was through this way.’ He opened the door and walked into a long room that overlooked the gardens at the back of the house. The walls and ceiling were white and the floor was the same white marble as in the hallway, though in the centre of the room a pentagram had been set into the floor with black stone. Within the pentagram there was a hospital bed and a green leather armchair with an oxygen tank next to it.
‘Now that’s just weird,’ said Morris. ‘He was Jewish, was he?’
Morris pointed at the pentagram. ‘Star of David. That’s a Jewish thing. Mate of mine wears one on a chain around his neck.’
‘It’s not a Star of David,’ said Nightingale. ‘If anything, it’s the opposite.’ He unlocked the French windows, which led out onto a stone-flagged patio. A cold wind blew in from the garden, ruffling his hair.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Forget it,’ said Nightingale. He walked out onto the patio and looked across the well-tended lawns. He frowned as he stared at the flagstones, then he took out his cigarettes and lit one. The last time he’d been at the house he’d drawn a pentagram on the flagstones but now there was no trace of it. It was as if he’d never been there.
Morris joined him on the patio. Nightingale pointed at the CCTV camera mounted on the rear wall of the house. ‘I wonder if there’s a recorder at the other end of that?’
‘Bound to be,’ said Morris. ‘They’ll all feed to one central location. It’ll be linked to a recording system.’
‘Think you can find it?’
Morris grinned. ‘Does the Pope shit in the woods?’ He went back into the house and Nightingale followed him.
There were six identical black doors leading off the hallway. One led to a kitchen, another opened into a storage room, and a third led to a small library lined with books. There was a circular oak table in the middle of the room, with books stacked on it.
‘Eddie, go and see if you can find where the CCTV feeds go to.’
‘No sooner done than said,’ said Morris. He went back to the hallway as Nightingale rummaged through the books.
The diary he was looking for was bound in red leather, the colour of congealed blood. It wasn’t on the table but after ten minutes of working his way along the bookshelves he found it wedged between a book on exorcism and another on mythological creatures. He pulled it out and flicked through the yellowing pages, which were covered in handwritten reverse-Latin script with scribbled illustrations.
Nightingale tucked the book under his arm. ‘What?’
‘Found it!’ shouted Morris. ‘Upstairs!’