Murder returns to Whitechapel
For my wonderful wife, Clare, and our two amazing children, Mitch and Lauren – you guys are my raison d’être.
And also, for our first grandchild, little Archie, who arrived in January 2018, bringing so much joy and love with him.
Edited by Yvonne Goldsworthy
Cover design by Woot Han
And I’d like to say a special thank you to my little team of test readers, Clare, David and Martin, for all the feedback you provided while I was writing this story.
THIS IS ONLY THE START...
The Hunt For Chen
Glossary of terms
About the author
DCI Tyler Thriller series
20th December 1995
Connie Williams – or Willow as she was known in the trade – led the punter she’d just picked up along a narrow, cobbled alleyway just off Shacklewell Lane in Hackney. The place smelled rank, but at least it was out of the biting wind and away from prying eyes. Despite the bitter cold, the twenty-four-year-old, leggy brunette wore a lightweight coat over a low-cut black silk blouse, which was so thin it was almost see through. A red leather mini-skirt, a laddered pair of black fishnet stockings, and a pair of ridiculously high heels that she could barely walk in, completed the tacky outfit.
The night air was so cold that her breath came out as a thick cloud of vapour every time she exhaled. The bookies were giving great odds on it being a white Christmas, but only a mug would take that bet – she had never known it snow in London over the festive period.
Glancing over her shoulder, she smiled seductively at the gormless pervert who was blatantly ogling the curves of her arse. Seeing the lust that burned brightly in his beady eyes and the bulge that stretched the fabric of his stained trousers, Connie laughed. “Be patient, sweetheart,” she told him, exaggerating the sway of her hips for his benefit.
The punter, an unshaven Turk with a thick moustache, leered in anticipation of what was to come. Even from a distance, she could smell the alcohol on his breath.
It was the wrong side of midnight, and business had been painfully slow for most of the evening. It was probably a knock-on effect from the sting operation that Stoke Newington police had recently carried out to target the area’s kerb crawlers and working girls. She had read all about it in the latest edition of the Hackney Gazette. In the article, the neighbourhood policing Sergeant had boasted about the fifty-three arrests his team had made in response to local residents and businessmen complaining about the prostitution problem that was blighting the lives of decent law-abiding citizens. Yeah, right. Would that be the same citizens who regularly used her services because their fat, whingeing wives were either mind-numbingly boring in bed, or had gone off sex altogether and were no longer willing to lay there, legs apart, pretending to enjoy themselves while their inconsiderate husbands selfishly satisfied their own carnal urges?
Luckily, business had picked up during the last hour and she now had enough money to buy the crack she needed to get her through the coming day. Her teeth started chattering, and she decided to call it a night once she relieved this creep of his money.
Willow wondered what he would ask for once they were alone: a hand job, a blow job or a quick knee trembler. Her money was on the latter. She stopped by a line of garages at the far end of the alley; it was as good a place as any to rock his world.
Less than five-minutes later it was all over, and she was following Mr Pump-Pump-Squirt back out of the alley. She had been right about the knee trembler.
The Turk hesitated at the mouth of the alley, glancing around furtively before stepping onto Shacklewell Lane. It was funny how they didn’t care about being seen on the way in - when all they could think about was getting their end away. Now that his wallet and his ball-sack were both a little lighter, and he was thinking with his brain again, and not his dick, the punter was keen to leave the red-light district without being seen by someone who might recognise him or – worse – being stopped by the Old Bill. Perhaps he had read the article in the Gazette as well?
“Hello,” a voice behind her said, startling her. Willow spun around to see a white male in his early forties standing a few feet away, half concealed by the shadows. “Don’t be alarmed,” he reassured her, seeing the uncertainty that crossed her face. “I’m not with the police.” He sounded educated, unlike most of her usual clients, who either had local or foreign accents.
“What do you want?” she demanded as he emerged into the light. The man was clean shaven, and of medium height and build. She could see wisps of dark hair poking out from beneath the old-fashioned Fedora he wore upon his head. The collar of his long grey coat was turned up, successfully masking the lower part of his face, and a pair of expensive looking black leather gloves protected his hands from the cold. “I want you to do for me what you just did for him,” he said, indicating the receding figure of her last client with a jut of his chin.
Willow relaxed. A copper would never have propositioned her like that; it would have amounted to entrapment. She had planned to call it a night, but in her game, you never looked a gift horse in the mouth.