With: Anne Cleeland
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(Doyle & Acton #8)
Doyle and Acton take a holiday trip to Dublin, her hometown, but although you can take the detectives away from London, you can’t necessarily take the detectives away from murder.
There’s a body on the police station steps, and Acton knows more than he’s telling the local Irish Inspector. Meanwhile, Doyle is coping with new-motherhood as she’s trying to figure out what her husband is up to, which—strangely enough—seems to be somehow connected to an African cab-driver; an African cab-driver who wears a jaunty tam o’shanter.
Doyle warned, “Watch your step, husband; it’s not like home, here—they’ll be only too happy to throw you in the nick, and the fact that you’re an English lord will only add to the general sense of satisfaction.”
“I wasn’t going to mention that aspect,” he admitted, “out of deference to your feelings.”
“I up and married a sassanach,” she lamented. “Shame on me.”
He smiled. “I can always explain to them that you weren’t given much of a choice, if you think that would be of help.”
She laughed—as he’d intended—and squeezed his arm fondly. “Don’t encourage them—they shouldn’t have been so bristly, and I’m that ashamed for my countrymen. Although the Pakistani intern was civil, even though you’ve had a boot on her neck for centuries, too.”
“She probably wants a job at the Met.”
Doyle laughed again. “I hope not; she’s kind and smart, and wouldn’t fit in at all.”
There was a small pause, whilst they walked a few more paces in silence, and Doyle thought over the uncomfortable scene at the station-house. “I’m truly sorry, Michael; I never think about these things—these stupid tribal allegiances—and I wish everyone would just get over it.”
“I didn’t take it personally, Kathleen.”
She sighed in disagreement. “Oh—you were annoyed, my friend; mainly, you were annoyed on my behalf, but you were annoyed all the same, and I’m that sorry you had to put up with it.”
Edward began to make the little mewling sounds that were the warm-up for the big wailing sounds, and she stroked his head, gently. “There we go—the boyo’s gettin’ hungry.”
Acton glanced toward the street. “I’ll hail a cab, then.”
She feigned astonishment. “Do you even know how to hail a cab? Mayhap you should ring up Reynolds, and ask for instructions.”
“Nonsense. I need only put my mind to it.”
“You have to lift a hand, and look harassed,” she warned. “There’s a strict protocol.”
But as it turned out, Acton only needed to turn his head toward the oncoming traffic, and a cab immediately pulled over, the driver rolling down the window. “Yes? You need a ride?”
“St. Brigid’s,” said Acton, striding over to open the door for Doyle. “But no hurry, please; we must feed the baby.”
“Yes: I am very careful—very good driver,” the big man assured them, his smile flashing white against his dark skin. Incongruously, he wore a plaid tam o’shanter, and Doyle decided that it was only in keeping that they’d run across an African cab driver who wore a plaid tam o’shanter; it was shaping up to be that kind of a day.
The reason Acton normally avoided public transportation was soon made clear, as the driver did not hesitate to strike up a conversation, craning his head around in an alarming fashion—alarming because it seemed unlikely that he was able to watch the road at the same time.
“You are going to church, yes? A big church, very nice.”
“We are,” Doyle agreed, thinking to bypass all explanations about wealthy benefactors. “It was my old church, when I was growin’ up.”
“Very nice,” the man said enthusiastically, and then turned to take a passing glance at the busy road ahead.
Doyle smiled to herself, because he was clearly humoring the customers—one of whom was wearing a very expensive suit—even though there were assorted fetishes hanging from his rear-view mirror. He practiced Santeria, perhaps, but whatever-it-was, he was definitely outnumbered, here in Roman Catholic country.
“You do not live here, now?” The grinning man craned his head around, yet again.
“We are visiting from London,” Acton informed him. “And I believe the light is changing.”
“Oh—yes, yes, thank you.” With a jerk, the man halted the cab at the intersection, and was seen to hesitate a moment, as though debating what to say. “Do you know of the dead man?” He turned again to face them, this time with a more somber expression. “A dead man, this morning. A holy man.”
“Yes,” said Doyle, when Acton remained silent. “We did hear. Terrible, of course.”
The man sighed hugely, and tapped his thumbs on the sun-faded steering wheel. “You try to get away from the troubles, but the troubles find you anyway.”
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