Law and Order
For the third time that morning Lavender Brown leaned across Bobbie Beadle’s desk, placing her left hand on the report Bobbie was trying to read and, for the third time that morning, the lean woman ignored the sparkling gold, diamond, and amethyst band on Lavender’s ring finger. Instead, disguising the action by running her fingers through her short-cropped brown hair, she glanced sideways at Susan Bones and gave the blonde a surreptitious wink.
‘Will you stop interrupting us, Lavender,’ Susan said sharply. ‘This paperwork is important. We need to get ready for court next week.’
‘What could possibly be more important than getting the case file sorted,’ Bobbie added, trying very hard not to smile.
‘Call yourselves investigators?’ asked Lavender scornfully. ‘You can’t even see what’s right in front of your faces.’ She waved her engagement ring at them. ‘Mark proposed to me last night, and I said yes!’
‘At last,’ said Susan in relief.
‘I make it ten thirty-four,’ said Bobbie, checking her watch.
‘I said thirty,’ Trudi Pepperell called hopefully from across the other side of the room.
‘Ten thirty-five!’ said Terry Boot, almost apologetically.
‘Terry is closest,’ Bobbie said, checking the sheet she had hidden under the file.
‘You knew! And you were running a sweep!’ said Lavender, scandalised. ‘But how did you know? Did Mark tell you?’ She snatched the sheet from Bobbie and looked at the names.
‘We’re all Aurors, Lavender,’ Susan said. ‘As you pointed out, we’re investigators.’
‘If Mark told you...’
Worried for Lavender’s fiancé, Bobbie decided that the baiting had gone on long enough. ‘Mark didn’t tell anyone anything, Lavender. Ginny was in Diagon Alley yesterday morning, and she spotted him coming out from Chang’s Jewellers,’ she told her friend. ‘He was in smart Muggle clothes, carrying a ring-box, and looking very nervous. Ginny contacted Harry and, when you told us that he was taking you to the matinee performance at the Globe Theatre and then out for a meal, it wasn’t hard to figure out what was really happening.’
‘When you left, yesterday lunchtime, you were the only one in the office who didn’t know that Mark was intending to propose,’ Susan added. Her face was calm, but her eyes showed that she was revelling in that fact.
‘Ottilia and Williamson both bet I’d turn him down!’ Lavender shrieked.
‘But most of us thought that you’d do the sensible thing and say yes,’ Bobbie told her.
‘After all, there’s a first time for everything,’ Harry Potter added as he appeared at the door to his office. ‘You lasted a lot longer than I expected. I was convinced you’d make an announcement the moment you arrived this morning, and so was Ginny.’
‘I hate you all,’ said Lavender. Her complaints were drowned out by the cheers, jeers, and catcalls of her colleagues.
She was still basking in the congratulations of her colleagues when Harry’s personal assistant, Martha, stood up from her desk and shouted over the banter. ‘Call from the Muggle Monitoring Service!’
The office fell silent. ‘The Muggle Police in Norfolk have lost contact with one of their men,’ Martha said. ‘His last known location was next to a “house on Strange Witch Lane.” The MMS contacted us because of the name, and the fact that neither the house nor the lane appears on the Muggles’ maps. They’ve started looking, but so far they haven’t found the house on our maps, either! We don’t know any more about the property than the Muggles, who are sending more police to investigate.’
The office remained silent; Harry looked at Lavender and her colleagues. ‘We’ll celebrate later,’ he said. ‘This is a case for the Muggle Interface Team. Hopefully, it’s simply a Muggle-repelling Charm that’s failed, and you’ll be back in time for lunch.’
‘We’re on our way,’ said Susan, closing the file she’d been working on.
‘Lost contact with an officer on duty is a serious matter for the police. It means that every copper in the vicinity will already be approaching at speed,’ said Bobbie as she followed Susan’s lead. ‘If you want to avoid a mass memory charm, Harry, we need to get there now.’
‘The MMS have only an approximate location. I’ll organise the Emergency Portkey for you,’ Martha called as the three women picked up their coats and dashed for the express lift.
The lift plummeted, lurched, sped rapidly forwards, and then shot upwards. When it opened, Susan, Lavender, and Bobbie were standing in the concrete gloom of a multi-storey car park. A black Range Rover was parked right next to the doors.
‘Shotgun,’ said Lavender, pushing past Susan to get to the front passenger seat of the car.
Susan, who had already begun to open the door, looked at her friend as if she were insane. ‘What?’
‘I said shotgun, so I get to sit in the front,’ Lavender told her. ‘Isn’t that right, Bobbie?’
‘In the Muggle world, yes,’ said Bobbie resignedly as she slid into the driver’s seat and buckled herself in. ‘We’re in a hurry…’
Susan resignedly climbed into the back seat. ‘I’m not wasting time arguing with you, Lavender,’ she said, shaking her head. ‘Not today.’
By the time Susan had fastened her seatbelt, Bobbie had already switched on the invisibility booster and placed a finger on the Mirrorphone fixed to the dashboard. ‘Portkey Office, Auror Office Priority.’ Bobbie said. A woman’s face appeared in the mirror. ‘Alpha-Oscar-three ready for immediate departure,’ Bobbie told her.
‘Thank you. Emergency Portkey approved, and activated,’ the woman replied.
The steering wheel glowed blue; the Range Rover lurched, and instantly translocated. The three young women found themselves hovering half a mile in the air. Bobbie looked out of the windows. Ahead was the sea, to the left a small village, to the right and rear were a flat patchwork of fields. It was the flattest terrain she’d ever seen; she could see for miles.
‘Blue lights heading this way,’ Bobbie pointed out of her side window to the east, towards the distant town. ‘It’s an area car.’ She wound down the windows, and heard the blare of distant sirens.
‘And this way,’ said Lavender, pointing in the opposite direction. ‘And there’s another one way over there in the distance.’
Susan, meanwhile, was scanning the area with her Omnioculars. ‘That must be the place, down there,’ she said, pointing down and towards the east. ‘There are two cars, a big red one and a smaller police car. They’re both parked outside that big old house. The police car has a number--thirty-six--and an orange circle painted on its roof, what does that mean?’
‘Three-six is Norfolk Constabulary, and it’s a local patrol car,’ said Bobbie as she took in the scene.
Putting the car into gear, Bobbie accelerated rapidly down towards the house. Although she was concentrating on her destination, and on dropping the car down towards the road, she also tried to keep one eye on the closest police car.
The police car parked outside the house--the patrol car--was a Ford Fiesta, but from her aerial vantage point Bobbie could see that the rapidly approaching blue lights belonged to a large Volvo area car. Bigger, faster, and carrying a lot more kit, unlike the one-man patrol car it would almost certainly be two up. The area car was travelling at speed. The presence of an orange circle on its roof showed that the officers inside were unarmed, but that was only to be expected. She’d have been astonished to find an Armed Response Vehicle in such a rural area. Nevertheless, Bobbie recognised the driving techniques of a pursuit-trained driver. She estimated that they would arrive at the scene only a minute or two before the police vehicle.
‘Interesting,’ said Lavender, pointing at the dashboard. ‘We’re still a mile away, and the Sneakoscope’s already starting to show something.’
‘Never mind that,’ exclaimed Susan. ‘Look at this!’ She pushed her Dark Detector between the front seats so that both Lavender and Bobbie could see the needle’s steady climb. As Bobbie skilfully dropped the car onto the deserted road and began to brake, the needle swung from amber through to red and began to bounce agitatedly against the stop.
‘Bloody Hell!’ said Lavender as Bobbie slammed on the brakes. ‘We’re still outside the grounds! I’ll call for the Cursebreaker Squad.’
‘What on earth are we going to? Is the entire house cursed?’ Bobbie asked in concern. As the Range Rover slithered to a stop just behind the police car, she turned off the Invisibility Booster.
‘Whatever it is, it’s certainly very nasty,’ said Susan, staring down at her Dark Detector, and shaking it in disbelief. ‘I’ve never seen a reading like this. We need to keep those Muggles well away from that house, Bobbie, no matter what! I’ll stun them and call in the Obliviator Squad if I have to.’
Lavender had already placed her thumb on the glass of the centrally mounted dashboard Mirrorphone. ‘Martha,’ she said urgently. The face of Harry’s PA instantly appeared in the mirror. ‘Susan’s Dark Detector is off the scale,’ Lavender told the curly-haired woman. ‘We’ll need the Cursebreakers, and we need to be able to pull rank on the Muggles. They’ll be here any minute now. It’s Norfolk Constabulary, right Bobbie?’
‘That’s right,’ called Bobbie. ‘We’ll all be cops, Martha; that will be easiest.’
‘I’ll get right on it, and I’ll let Harry know,’ Martha said, breaking the connection.
‘The flak jackets and baseball caps are in the boot,’ Bobbie told her companions as they unbuckled their belts and opened their doors.
After switching on the Range Rover’s concealed blue lights, Bobbie flung open her door and dashed round to the rear of the car. Susan and Lavender were already in the boot; they had shucked off their black Auror coats and were hastily fastening their equipment belts. Bobbie pulled her own belt out from its box. She had it buckled within seconds. Susan and Lavender were still struggling into their flak jackets as Bobbie pulled on hers. Conscious that the sirens were getting louder by the second, Bobbie hastily unlocked the safe containing her Glock and ammunition.
After carefully fastening the Glock in its holster, Bobbie pulled on her police baseball cap with its navy and white checked band, and turned to examine her companions. Lavender was fine, other than her loose hair, and the jaunty angle of her baseball cap. The cap was just Lavender making a statement, but the hair was unacceptable on duty. Susan hadn’t fastened the flak jacket correctly.
‘Tie your hair back,’ Bobbie told Lavender as she adjusted Susan’s attire. She had only just finished when the roof lights of police car appeared in the distance.
‘We’re from the Met, CTC! It stands for Counter Terrorism Command,’ Bobbie told her friends. ‘I’ll do the talking; you two go and check out the abandoned cars.’
The rapidly approaching Volvo wasn’t showing any sign of slowing down. That was understandable; they’d lost one of their own. Hoping that the loss wasn’t permanent, and that the house, its occupants, or its contents, hadn’t killed anyone, Bobbie took a deep breath and put on her unflappable professional face.
This was what she lived for. The adrenalin of the action, the excitement of the strange and dangerous cases, and the sheer variety of the work made up for the days at her desk writing reports. She’d joined the police service to keep the public safe, and that’s what she was doing.
She couldn’t tell the public the truth, but then she often had no idea what the truth was! In this case it was obvious that both Susan and Lavender were extremely worried by the level of Dark magic they’d detected. Their immediate agreement about calling in the Cursebreakers showed that.
A few years earlier, not long after she’d been recruited, Bobbie had witnessed a curse-death; she didn’t want to see another one. Assuring herself that she was probably saving the lives of the two police officers in the area car, Bobbie stepped into the centre of the narrow country lane. As she held up her left hand to stop the oncoming police car, she used her right to pull out her wallet.
The Volvo screeched to a halt only feet from her, and Bobbie could see that the driver, a pale and round-faced blonde, had been handed the radio mike by her colleague. The passenger, who was also female, was black, and she was watching Bobbie carefully. She said something to the driver, unclipped her seatbelt, opened her door, and stepped warily out of the car, keeping a close eye on Bobbie’s holstered gun. The rangy, fit-looking woman was as tall as Bobbie.
‘Inspector Beadle,’ Bobbie called. ‘Met, CTC! We have a potential major incident. Why are you here?’
‘Officer not responding,’ said the woman tersely. She closed the car door and strolled warily towards Bobbie. Noting the crest on Bobbie’s flak jacket, and the two silver diamonds on her epaulettes, she tried to be a little more deferential. ‘What about you, ma’am. You’re a long way from your manor. Does HQ know that the Met are here? What sort of major incident are we looking at.’
‘Anonymous tip off; firearms and possible explosives inside the property,’ Bobbie told her, improvising wildly. ‘Your Chief Constable, or at least someone senior in Ops, should know we’re here. Your “officer not responding” explains the patrol car my colleagues are looking at, and that’s why you’re here.’ She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. ‘What about your missing officer? Why was he here?’
‘The red Mondeo belongs to a missing person, a chap called Lester Lubbock. An estate agent,’ the police officer said. The contempt in her voice was restricted to her final sentence, and Bobbie registered the woman’s dislike of estate agents. ‘He didn’t turn up for work yesterday, and he weren’t answering his mobile. His boss were told that we wasn’t going to go look for him. Lubbock’s an adult with no mental health issues and no criminal record. But Lubbock’s car and mobile phone both belong to the company, so his boss reported them both stolen and we had to flag his car’s index plate.’
‘What more can you tell me about the missing person, Lubbock, and your missing officer?’ Bobbie asked.
‘IC1 male single, early thirties is all we have on Mr Lubbock, ma’am. Del found the car and told control that he was going up to the house. He said something about the roses cutting him, and then we lost contact with him. There’s no response from his radio.’
Bobbie looked warily over her shoulder towards the house. She was well aware how dangerous magical plants could be. Susan had her Omnioculars up to her eyes and was standing only a couple of feet from the gate. ‘Bones, Brown, get over here, and do notapproach the property,’ she ordered. ‘Thanks,’ she added, turning back to the officer. She noted the concern in the woman’s eyes. ‘And the missing constable, you called him Del?’ she asked.
‘Oh, er, yes, ma’am. He’s actually Constable Adrian Boyes,’ the woman said. ‘But everyone calls him Del.’
‘Of course they do,’ Bobbie told her. ‘And you are?’
‘Constable three-two-seven Aleesha Duchesne, ma’am.’
‘You work out of the same nick as PC Boyes?’ Bobbie asked.
Duchesne shook her head. ‘Not now, but he looked after me when I was a probationer,’ she said. ‘He’s a good copper, ma’am.’
Bobbie heard footsteps approaching from behind her; the tick-tick of Susan’s stilettos was accompanied by the much quieter pad of Lavender’s flats. Susan’s shoes weren’t sensible, they never were. Bobbie found it unfathomable that Lavender, who was usually the mistress of impracticality, was prepared to be separated from her fancy shoes while working, but the otherwise sensible Susan wasn’t.
The car door opened, and Aleesha’s blonde colleague finally climbed out from the car. As the second officer approached, Susan and Lavender stepped forwards to flank Bobbie.
‘Headquarters say that this lot are Met, Counter-Terrorism, Leesh,’ the blonde said. The woman’s face had lost what little colour it had possessed. ‘We’re ordered to assist in any way possible. OIC is a DI Beadle.’
‘That’s me,’ Bobbie said. ‘Meet Detective Sergeant Bones, and DC Brown.’ She indicated Susan and Lavender. ‘You are?’
‘Julia Holman, ma’am.’
The two police women assessed Bobbie and the Aurors. Bobbie wasn’t sure what they were thinking, but she was certain they’d both clocked Susan’s shoes.
‘Both cars are empty, guvnor,’ said Lavender, sounding rather too much like a TV police officer for Bobbie’s liking. ‘The police car wasn’t locked, and the engine is still warm. The other car was cold, and there are cobwebs across the door mirror. It’s been there for a while, at least overnight, I think. I managed to open it, and retrieved this.’ She showed Bobbie a digital camera.
‘There’s something very odd about the house, ma’am,’ added Susan cautiously.
‘I’ll say there is! Did you spot any blood at the gate?’ Bobbie asked. ‘Apparently PC Boyes cut himself on the thorns, but it’s possible that the gate is booby-trapped. The red car belongs to a Mr Lubbock, who’s been missing for at least twenty-four hours…’
‘The last confirmed sighting we have is more than forty-eight hours ago,’ PC Holman interjected. ‘He left his office to scout for potential properties on Monday morning. No ’un has see’d him since.’
‘And you’ve lost contact with the local patrol who found Mr Lubbock’s car,’ Bobbie shook her head worriedly and addressed the two police officers. ‘Given what we now know, I’m confirming this as a major incident. It looks very much like two people have entered the house, and neither has come out again.’ She stared into the worried eyes of the two local constables. ‘I bet your first instinct is to grab the big red doorknocker from your car and take that bloody door down.’ She waved in the direction of the house. ‘To be honest, so is mine, but although I hope for the best, it’s my job to plan for the worst. It looks like two people have gone inside, and no one has left. For that reason we’re not sending anyone else in. We’re not even going through that gate until we know what the hell is going on inside that house, understand?’
The two local officers glanced at each other, and reluctantly gave their agreement.
‘I’m going to call for back up, and I’m going ask our Office to D-notice this. If we really do have an officer and a civilian hostage in there, then the last thing we want is a bloody media circus turning up,’ Bobbie told the two constables. ‘We’ve got surveillance gear in the car, and we’re all AFOs. We’ll set up here. Holman, you go back up to the junction with the main road junction and block it. Duchesne, take PC Boyes’ patrol car to the other junction, up that way, and block the road at the far end.’
‘Yes, ma’am.’ The two constables nodded their acquiescence. Bobbie, Susan, and Lavender waited until the two cars moved away before speaking.
‘I think I can guess what a big red doorknocker is,’ Lavender began.
‘Hand held battering ram,’ Bobbie confirmed.
‘But what’s a D-notice, and an AFO?’ Lavender asked.
‘A D-notice is a ban on publicity,’ Bobbie said. ‘Hopefully it will keep the local police chatter to a minimum, and...’ she tapped her holster. ‘Authorised Firearms Officer. They don’t have guns, they can see I’m armed, and now they think you two have guns in the car, too. Have either of you any idea what we’re dealing with?’
‘Yes,’ Susan and Lavender spoke in unison.
‘Really?’ Susan looked at Lavender sceptically.
Lavender lifted the camera she was still carrying. ‘This is a… um… it’s a something-to-do-with-fingers camera.’
‘Fingers?’ asked Susan in confusion.
‘It’s digital,’ said Bobbie as she figured out what Lavender was trying to say.
‘I knew I was right,’ Lavender confirmed smugly. ‘Den was showing Fenella one the other week, and I was…’
‘Being nosey, as usual?’ Susan suggested.
‘I prefer the word inquisitive,’ Lavender corrected, using the primly censuring tone Susan usually used on her. Waving the camera, she continued. ‘This one has loads of photographs of the house on it. I took a look at them. There’s a photo of the front door and you can clearly see that there’s a crest above it.’
‘A crest?’ asked Bobbie.
‘It’s three stars above a clenched gauntlet,’ said Lavender. ‘It probably belongs to one of the old wizarding families. We should be able to find out whose house this is.’
‘I saw the crest through my Omniocculars,’ said Susan grimly. ‘We’ll have to assume that this place is packed with dark magic, because I recognised it. It’s the emblem of the Lestranges.’
‘Shit!’ said Lavender. ‘I’ll let Martha know.’
The name Lestrange was vaguely familiar to Bobbie, probably from some old background file she’d once read, but Susan’s worried face, and the fact that Lavender had now sworn twice, were enough to make her realise that they were dealing with something very serious.
‘We’re not going to get back in time for lunch, are we?’ Bobbie asked. Susan and Lavender shook their heads.
PC Julia Holman was leaning against the door of her Volvo, taking some comfort from the worried looks on the faces of some of the motorists driving past. She was dealing with the frustration brought about by her unwanted inaction by pointing the radar speed gun along Coast Road. Although she couldn’t do anything about the speeders, watching the traffic slow as it passed her gave her some relief from the boredom.
She checked her watch, and realised that she’d already had the road blocked for almost two hours. She was wondering how much longer she’d be there when the faint crunch of boots on gravel made her turn around. Her partner was striding up the lane towards her.
‘Hi, Jules,’ Aleesha called. ‘Big Geoff and Tommo arrived at the other end of the lane not long after I did. They were all for going on down to the house, but I insisted that they contact Control.’
‘And?’ Julia asked hopefully.
‘When they did they were ordered to stay where they were, and told to make certain that no one approached the house. Tommo’s really pissed off. He wanted to know why I was there, and why I was in Del’s patrol car, so I told them about Inspector Beadle of the Yard, and her CTC squad. Not that I could tell them much.’ She gave an expressive shrug. ‘Did you get a message about something called “the Auror Office” taking over?’
‘Yeah.’ Julia nodded. ‘I’ve never heard of them, have you?’
Aleesha shook her head.
‘So what’ve you been doing down there, Leesh?’
‘Big Geoff decided that it would be a good idea to take a look through Del’s patrol car,’ Aleesha told her colleague. ‘There was nothing out of the ordinary. The only thing we found was his lunch. It was under his seat, but Geoff sniffed it out. He half-inched the pork pie and a Mars Bar, but he left the salad and apple.’
Julia snorted. ‘I swear he can smell food through a solid wall,’ she said. ‘Too many pork pies and Mars Bars; that’s why he’s called Big Geoff!’
‘Yeah,’ Aleesha nodded. ‘It was dead quiet down there. Not a soul about, not even passing traffic. At least you’ve found something to do. I was getting really bored with all the footie talk, so used my initiative. I decided that, technically, Geoff and Tommo had relieved me. And that meant I was free to walk back up the lane to rejoin my partner.’
‘So, what’s going on at the house? Did you see anything?’ asked Julia eagerly. ‘I’ve only let the one car through at this end. They said they was Met, but they didn’t look like it. The driver was a bloke called Creevey. He had five others with him, but ’un of ’em looked like my granny, an’ another was a girl who looked about seventeen. Nun of ’em was wearing flak jackets. They din’t even look like they was on the job, although according to his ID Creevey was supposed to be a Detective Sergeant. I was expecting a couple of vans full of Tactical Firearms and all the gear. Perhaps they’re still on their way up from London, but our TFU would’ve been here by now.’
‘There’s still just the two Range Rovers down there,’ said Aleesha. ‘They’re a weird bunch. They were all wearing long black coats, even Brown and Bones. And they looked kind of shifty when they seen me, all except DI Beadle.’ Aleesha paused. ‘She weren’t happy. But when I told her my relief had arrived, and that I were heading back up to join you, she was okay about it. She walked me past the house, made sure I didn’t linger. I saw your old granny; she were examining the gate with some sort of probe. But, apart from Beadle and her two friends, granny was the only women among ‘em. I never saw no teenager.’
‘Blonde, skinny, very pale, quite pretty,’ Julia said.
‘She weren’t there.’ Aleesha was definite. ‘DI Beadle said that there were some sort of booby trap on the gate, razorwire in the roses, and they’s worried that the entire place is rigged with explosives.’
‘Have they made contact with anyone inside?’ Julia asked.
Aleesha shook her head. ‘There dun’t appear to be a phone line. There definitely ain’t overhead wires to the house, and there won’t be anything underground, not out here. They ain’t been able to find a phone number for the last known occupants, neither. Beadle said they’d tried using a loudhailer, but no un had replied.’
‘But they know who lives there? What about Del?’
‘They’ve got an owner’s name, Lestrange,’ Aleesha said. ‘And I asked Beadle about Del. She said that they’re having problems with their thermal imaging gear, but they think that there are two people somewhere inside. They hope that they’re Del and Lubbock. They think there might be someone else in the house, but they’re not certain.’
‘Here’s summun else now,’ Julia observed.
The black Range Rover, identical to the two already on the scene turned off the main road and halted in front of Aleesha and Julia. The driver, a bespectacled, black-haired man, lowered his window. Aleesha walked around to speak to him.
Julia walked around to the other side of the car to get a look at the passenger. She was a haughty-looking woman who appeared to be in her fifties. Her hair was an almost platinum blonde, her skin pale, and her profile sharp and angular. She didn’t move, or acknowledge Julia’s presence in any way, but simply stared straight ahead. Her expression was one of utter distain for the surroundings in which she found herself.
‘Harry Potter,’ the driver said. ‘Auror Office. I work out of the Home Office, hostage negotiations.’ Julia watched him hand an identity card to Aleesha. ‘Inspector Beadle is expecting me.’
‘And?’ Aleesha asked, staring curiously at the woman.
‘This lady is a sister-in-law of the last known owner of the house,’ Potter said. ‘She’s the only person we’ve found who has actually been inside the property. She’s kindly offered to help us.’
‘Thank you, sir,’ said Aleesha.
She nodded at Julia, who moved in front of the newest arrivals and lifted the police cones from alongside the Volvo. Both women waved Potter’s car through the gap and watched it accelerate down the narrow lane.
‘Auror Office?’ Julia asked. ‘What the hell is the Auror Office, Leesh?
‘Security Service,’ Aleesha said. ‘That’s what his card said, anyway. Never mind him; did you see what she was wearing? That dress looked positively Victorian! And I doubt she “kindly volunteered” to do anything. She couldn’t bring herself to acknowledge us.’
‘Everything is weird,’ Julia said. ‘Weird house, weird events, and weird people! At least they’ve found summ’un inside. I hope Del’s okay.’
‘CTC my arse,’ Aleesha opined. ‘I reckon they’re all security service except Beadle--and possibly Brown--I’d put money on it. All this D-notice … don’t say anything … it’s all bollocks. Do we really trust this lot to get Del out of there?’
‘If they don’t there’ll be hell to pay, Leesh,’ said Julia, who was busy scribbling in her notebook. ‘I’ve taken names, collar numbers, and vehicle plates.’