TABOO - Excerpt
at her desk, her features screwed up in an expression of intense concentration
as she studied the crime-scene inventory for the Clare Ryan case. It was a
couple of days after the shooting and nearly all the staff had long since left
for the day.
To most people, the clinical setting and the oppressive silence - broken only
by the low hum of the machinery - would feel eerie and discomfiting. For
Reilly however, the peace and quiet of late evening was her preferred time to
Now that everyone had gone home, she was free from the noisy distractions of
twenty or so laboratory staff laboring all around her. The silence allowed her
more time to work, more time to think, and tonight it might allow her uncover
what it was about this shooting that had been niggling at her for the last two
She'd sensed from the start that something wasn't right but so far had found
nothing out of the ordinary amongst the evidence to back this feeling up. The
two things she trusted most during an investigation were evidence and instinct.
And since leaving that scene, Reilly's instincts were screaming that something
was seriously amiss.
Gorman would have laughed if she'd tried to explain this to him. The long-time
incumbent, he was head of the old forensic department and hadn't exactly been
over the moon about her appointment, or the setting up of the new unit in
general. She was glad that the old man would be away on vacation for a while;
it gave her an opportunity to run this case the way she wanted - the way she
was trained to do back home.
Since she'd arrived at the GFU he'd tried to put her in her place, inferring
that her job was just to oversee work in the lab, and that she should have
little or no interference in what he was doing, or had done, up to now. While
this was true to a degree, from what Reilly had seen, the older man's current
methods were pretty half-hearted and pedantic considering it was such an
important role, and the old dog had no interest in new tricks.
On top of it, Gorman had an unbelievable ego - something she'd at least been
forewarned about before she got here. Like many traditional scientists, he
seemed to operate under the belief that his word was gospel and he was also a
condescending old chauvinist - something she could handle were he not such a
sloppy investigator with it. Still she resented the way he spoke to the female
staff, particularly Lucy, who was a real sweetie and Reilly knew was routinely
wounded by her superior's dismissiveness.
But office politics aside, Reilly also had to deal with the force's natural
resistance to an 'outsider', to say nothing of the inevitable dumb blond jokes.
She shook her head, recalling how on her very first day at the office, she'd
come out of a morning meeting to find a crimson Baywatch-style swimsuit laid
out on her desk. No doubt the culprit and his buddies found it hilarious but it
was water off a duck's back to Reilly; she'd had to deal with a lot worse back
in her Quantico days.
She looked again at the evidence for the Ryan homicide. This was one of the
first scenes she'd managed to co-ordinate entirely on her own, outside of
Gorman's interference. Without him breathing down her neck, she'd had as much
time as she wanted to run the scene in as much detail as possible. And plenty
of time to apply her 'touchy-feely' techniques, she thought, biting back a
smile as she recalled the reaction that had gotten.
It was something she'd learned and perfected in her FBI student days. Her Quantico lecturer Rob
Crichton, one of the best forensic investigators in the business, had drilled
into his recruits the importance of the three-dimensional crime scene. She
smiled fondly, recalling the now deceased Crichton - an anti-personnel device
at a perp's apartment having put an end to the life of one of the best
criminalists she'd ever had the fortune to work with. Although his death was a
tragedy, she figured that Rob would have appreciated the irony of his body
being blown to smithereens. He himself finally becoming the physical evidence
he'd spent much of his life collecting.
'Your senses are there for a reason, people,' he used to say. 'Never ever
While Reilly had initially been sceptical, she soon discovered when she applied
Rob's painstaking methods that she had an unusually keen sense of smell -
something that had been invaluable in almost every case she worked. For some
reason she was particularly attuned to perfume and could draw easily on her
inner database of various fragrance brands and body creams. For example, she
knew that the ME, Karen Thompson favored Red Door by Elizabeth Arden, and that
Carol, the GFU receptionist routinely wore CK One. Interestingly she'd noticed
that Chanel No. 5, the American woman's favorite, had a far less fervent following
on this side of the Atlantic.
Either way, her instincts had served her well in the past and she wasn't about
to discard them just because some red-nosed Irish cop thought they were dumb
and irrelevant. All mouth and little substance; Reilly could eat a guy like
Kennedy for breakfast - not that she wanted to, she thought, shuddering at the
notion. He seemed OK, just old school. She'd heard his partner's name mentioned
a few times over the last couple of months; Chris Delaney seemed to have a good
reputation within the force, and unlike some of his more conservative
colleagues, also seemed to be well disposed toward the GFU. She figured that
those dark, almost Mediterranean looks must work well when it came to
extracting information - particular from the female side of the population -
although from what little she knew about him, he didn't seem the type to play
on that. And in contrast to Kennedy, he certainly hadn't given her any attitude
that morning, and seemed happy to take on board anything significant the lab
might come up with.
Which, at the moment, wasn't exactly much.
They'd sent blood samples off for a toxicology screen which, if they came back
positive, might - for the shooter at least - go some way toward explaining his
actions. However, with the speed the labs worked at, who knew when she'd get
They'd also collected the usual - fingerprints, trace, and fibers - which were
now being analyzed. Ballistics were in possession of the gun and cartridges,
and Reilly was planning on calling down there the following morning to see if
they'd come up with anything of interest.
In the meantime, she was doing what she did best, going over the scene in her
mind, trying to recreate the kill, taking into account the evidence they'd
uncovered, and hoping for something, anything, that might just help move this
But so far, all Reilly could come up with was that something didn't feel right.
She sat forward in her seat and for the umpteenth time picked up the photos of
the victims taken at the scene before their removal.
What was it? she thought, kneading her forehead in the vain hope that
the answer might somehow be released. What was it that about this whole
situation that was bothering her? Given the gun's caliber, trajectory and
shooting distance, as well as the residue found on the guy's hand, the results
all looked consistent, yet there was something telling her that there was more
to this, that she was missing something. Something important.
Chasing evidence, hoping to find answers - sometimes Reilly felt it was all
she'd been doing her whole life.