The Devil to Pay

By Barbara Fradkin

The Devil to Pay
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Impetuous, exasperating Ottawa Police Inspector Michael Green returns and unwittingly puts his daughter, a rookie patrol officer, in the line of fire.
“For those who like a solid classic mystery with added character, Inspector Green is perfect. ” —Globe and Mail

Sidelined ... Read more


Impetuous, exasperating Ottawa Police Inspector Michael Green returns and unwittingly puts his daughter, a rookie patrol officer, in the line of fire.
“For those who like a solid classic mystery with added character, Inspector Green is perfect. ” —Globe and Mail

Sidelined to administrative duties, Inspector Michael Green misses the thrill of the chase. So when his daughter Hannah, now a rookie patrol officer, responds to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance in a wealthy suburban neighbourhood, he is intrigued. Both husband and wife deny a problem and, despite Hannah’s doubts, no further police action is taken, but Green encourages her to dig deeper on her own. When the husband disappears and his car is found at the airport, the police conclude he is simply fleeing an unhappy home, a floundering law practice, and a mountain of debt. Until a body is discovered.

While Green’s old friend Brian Sullivan investigates the victim’s work and family, Hannah is haunted by fear that her actions precipitated the murder. On her own time, she begins to dig into questions that linger at the periphery of the case. What has happened to the family dog, which disappeared the same night as the husband? And who is the odd, solitary young Ph. D. student who was researching ducks near the murder site? Her relentless search for answers leads her into the countryside, straight into the path of danger. And another body.

Barbara Fradkin

Barbara Fradkin is a retired psychologist who is fascinated with why people turn bad. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Amanda Doucette series and the award-winning Inspector Green novels. She lives in Ottawa.


Chapter One
Their in-car computer screen lit up with a whoosh just as her partner was shouting their orders into the speaker at the Tim Hortons drive-through. A BLT and medium double double for her, and a crispy chicken combo with a large double double for him. Another awesome dinner on the job.
Hannah read the alert. “Unit 3206A, 10-55 at 26 Lake Point Road. Two-person call. ”
“Ah-ha,” Rick said, “10-55. What’s that?”
“Domestic disturbance. ” Hannah leaned forward to type a reply just as a large black F-150 pulled into line behind them.
“Tell them we’ll be a moment. ”
She glanced across at him in surprise. At 8:58 on a sticky evening in late May, dusk was just leaching colour from the sky. The street lights had come on in the parking lot, splashing puddles of light into the gloom and carving sharp angles into his tired face. Rick was a cop with twenty-six years on the street, assigned as her coach officer to teach her the ropes. Twenty-six years of responding to calls like this day in and day out. Were they just a number to him now?
He flicked his hand at the line ahead. “We’re not going anywhere. Plus, we need to eat or we’ll be no good for the rest of the shift. Lesson number one, Pollack, take care of yourself first. ”
“We could jump the curb. ”
He gave her a slow smile, that annoying one he saved for special moments when he was sharing his superior wisdom. His superior experience. “Tell them we’re blocked in a line at Tim Hortons so we’ll be a couple of minutes. ”
“It’s a domestic,” she said.
“Five minutes tops. Ask Dispatch if anyone else is available. ”
Hannah cringed but did as she was told. She kept her mouth shut as they crawled forward in the line, just handed over her ten-dollar bill and took the sandwich he passed to her. Barely a spare word had passed between them all shift. Maybe if she’d been one of his buddies, they would have talked about the NHL playoffs, but the twenty-five-year age gap between them, not to mention the gender gap, was too big for him to leap.
The screen lit again, asking if they were on their way. Rick took a swig of his coffee and shut his eyes. “Tell her we’re responding. What was that address again?”
“It’s 26 Lake Point Road. ” Hannah scrolled through the details. “It’s a detached residence owned by Edward McAuley; report of screaming called in by a neighbour, Philip Walker, at 24 Lake Point. ”
With a sigh, Rick put the cruiser in gear and accelerated out of the parking lot.
“Lights?” Hannah asked.
He shook his head as he pulled onto Carling Avenue and stomped on the accelerator. “That’s a quiet, high-end neighbourhood. Low crime. No need to go in with sirens and lights blazing. But check out the owner while we’re en route. Domestics can be tricky, and his name rings a bell. ”
Hannah was already pulling Edward McAuley up on their internal database. “He’s pretty clean,” she said as she scanned. “He called 911 once when his daughter broke her arm, another time he was witness to an MVA, two noise complaints against him by a neighbour for loud parties —”
“Same neighbour?”
Hannah nodded. “Philip Walker. And another complaint from Walker about destruction of property. ” She tried to make sense of the brief note. “Looks like McAuley cut down his tree. ”
Rick grunted. He was shooting down Carling Avenue, wide open at that time of the evening. On his right, the broad Ottawa River sparkled in the emerging moonlight as they passed the sailing club. Hannah loved the many faces of the legendary river that began far to the north and coursed through the city on toward the St. Lawrence. At some points of the city, it hurtled through rapids, but here it spread out as wide and gentle as a lake.
Rick slowed briefly to glance at the GPS. “Run the neighbour’s name. He may be a chronic complainer. ”
Hannah entered the new name. “Not much. The same complaint entries, plus a 911 call on December thirty-first last year — his wife collapsed. Paramedics treated on scene, deceased. ” She stopped as the human story behind the cold, sparse notes sank in. She thought of her grandfather, who had never recovered his joy after his wife’s death years earlier. This man’s wife had died in their home on New Year’s Eve, not even six months ago.
Rick eased his foot off the gas as he turned off Carling Avenue onto a narrow residential street. In the growing darkness, the houses were barely visible on spacious lots behind tall, lush trees.
“So he’s grieving,” he said. “He may be extra sensitive. We’ll check out the McAuley house before we talk to him. ”
As they rounded a bend, 26 Lake Point Road loomed ahead in a blaze of lights on the quiet street. There were security lights at every corner that cast the shrubs into eerie webs on the fieldstone walls, and a porch light burnished the expensive columns on either side of the front stoop. Hannah wondered if they were marble. Even by the standards of the street, it was a huge house. A silver Lexus SUV and a blood-red Mercedes coupe sat in front of the two-car garage, and at the edge of the drive was a speedboat on a boat trailer. Behind the trailer were several pallets of patio stones and a pile of crushed stone. The fancy house was about to get fancier.
They climbed out of the cruiser and stood a moment. “What do you see here, Pollack?”
Hannah took stock. “Blinds are drawn on all the windows. Huge windows but you can’t see inside. Security lights everywhere. ” Someone hiding from prying eyes, she thought, but kept the speculation to herself. Rick was a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of guy. She listened for screams but heard nothing but the chirp of crickets and frogs. Through the trees, she caught the shimmer of the river behind the house. “No sound of fighting. Some serious money here, though. ”
He nodded and pulled on his mask as he started up the drive. “I’ll handle the beginning, and you take the wife. Okay?”
The bell rang through the house, setting up a high-pitched yapping inside. A man shouted at the dog, to no avail. After a delay, during which Hannah suspected they were being sized up on video cam, the door opened to reveal a man dressed in shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops. He’d made no effort to put on a mask. Although he wasn’t tall, he was well muscled and reeked of confidence — the kind of confidence that comes with owning a two-million-dollar waterfront home and tooling around in a Mercedes coupe. A few strands of gray at his temples lent an air of dignity to his blond, boyish good looks, and his blue eyes were sharp.
Rick sucked in his gut. Somewhere inside, the dog continued to yap.
“Good evening, Officers,” the man said with an easy smile. “What brings you out to our quiet neck of the woods?”
Rick introduced himself. “Mr. Edward McAuley?”
“Guilty. What can I do for you?”
“We received a call —” Rick began but was drowned out by the barking.
The man’s blue eyes flickered, and with a sigh, he turned back inside. “Krissy, honey, could you quiet the dog? The police are here about something. ”
There was no reply from inside, but the barking stopped. Hannah strained to see past the man into the hall, but he was blocking her view. “Sorry about that, Constable … Geneva, was it? Your name’s familiar. ”
“Geneva, yes, and this is Constable Pollack. We’re responding to a complaint about a disturbance at this address. ”
“Disturbance? What kind of disturbance?”
“Shouting, screaming, sounds of things breaking. This occurred about eight fifty p. m.”
“Well, I can’t think …” He snapped his fingers. “I know you! Constable Geneva. Rick, right? You investigated a traffic injury case I was handling for one of the parties. You did a good job, if I recall. A very thorough report. ” He chuckled. “It helped my client win a lot of money. ”
Rick smiled. “Right, I recognize you now. I hope that poor man is recovering. ”
“Well, he’ll never be the same, but the money helps. Now, about this shouting and screaming. I mean, my wife and I had a bit of an argument over doing the dishes. We probably raised our voices. That’s what happens when two excitable people marry — I’m Irish and she’s Latina, so …” He shrugged and ran his hand through his hair. “We forget that we’re not really out in the country here, and with the windows open …”
“So everything is all right, Mr. McAuley?”
“Ted, for God’s sake. Yeah, yeah. ”
“Who lives here in the house with you?”
“My wife, Kristina, and my two children. Daughter is seventeen, and she’s always in her room with her headphones on, so she wouldn’t hear a thing. And my son is only three. He’s fallen asleep watching TV in the family room. In fact, there might have been screaming on the TV, too. You know how these shows are. ” Ted peered past them into the drive. He still hadn’t invited them in, and the humid outside air was drifting into the house. “I’m guessing it was my neighbour who complained. Philip Walker? What exactly did he say?”
“We’ll be interviewing him next. ”
“Oh. Well, go easy on him. He’s really a very nice man, but he’s going through a rough time right now. His wife died suddenly this winter of a brain aneurysm, and he’s in the place alone. It’s probably too much for him — too empty, too many memories. I don’t appreciate him calling you guys on me, but I guess he …” He trailed off, his voice tinged with regret, his hand already on the doorknob.
Rick made no move. “So everything is okay here?”
“Yes. You’re welcome to come in to see. ”
Rick cocked his head at Hannah, her cue to take over. Taking in a breath, she stepped forward. “I’d like to speak to your wife, please. Protocol, to confirm her side?”
He gave her a faint smile and turned back. “Krissy, have you got a minute to talk to the police?”
A woman’s voice could be heard in the distance, and a few seconds later, a tall woman glided down the hall, cradling a little mop of a dog in her arms. The dog growled, and she quieted it with a soft whisper.
Kristina had a messy tangle of black curls piled on her head and a ragged caftan robe that covered her from her neck to her toes. The elegant diamond ring looked oddly out of place. Her face betrayed no emotion as she met her husband’s eyes.
“It seems Philip called the police again,” Ted said, reaching out to stroke the dog.
“Oh. ”
The dog growled again, and as Ted withdrew his hand, Hannah noticed a scratch on his arm.
“Nasty scratch,” she said. “How did you get it?”
Beside her, Rick shifted but didn’t interrupt. She knew it was off script but appropriate. Ted glanced at his arm as if he was surprised to see the scratch. Droplets of blood had beaded along the wound. “Oh, it opened up again. I scratched it on some branches biking home from the office. They really ought to trim the brush along the river path. ”
Rick grinned. “Not our department. ”
Hannah ignored the banter. “Can you confirm that, Mrs. McAuley?”
The woman’s face remained expressionless. “Yes. I mean, I didn’t see the accident, but that’s what he said when he got home. ”
“Can I have a few words inside, Mrs. McAuley?”
“No. ” Kristina glanced quickly back down the hall. “I mean … I don’t want to upset my son. He’s having trouble settling for the night. ”
“Then can we step outside for a moment?” When Kristina glanced at her husband, Hannah touched her elbow. “Just while Rick and your husband finish up the formalities. ”
Kristina was already backing up inside, pressing the dog close. “No, that’s not necessary. Everything is fine. I shouldn’t leave Peter. …”
Hannah studied Kristina carefully. There were no bruises or red marks, no sign of recent tears, but the damn caftan hid almost everything. She was refusing to talk to them, and they had nothing to go on.
Except Philip Walker’s word.
Rick was already thanking them for their time and preparing to leave. On the doorstep, standing in the harsh porch light, Ted called out, “What happens now?”
“After we take Mr. Walker’s statement, we’ll write it up. Don’t worry, we’ll go easy on him. ”
Ted nodded. “Thank you. ”


For those who like a solid classic mystery with added character, Inspector Green is perfect.

In a modern crime fiction universe in which protagonists are expected to have weaknesses as well as strengths and to portray a full range of human characteristics, Barbara Fradkin’s Inspector Michael Green has always been among the most, well, human.

Fans of character-driven police procedurals will be satisfied.

A fast-paced crime thriller [featuring] a breathtaking plot with so many twists and turns.

Many fans will, no doubt, be delighted by the return of Inspector Green, now accompanied by his headstrong daughter Hannah, in a tale with a surprise ending.

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