BETRAYED in the NITH
A synopsis of a contemporary crime novel by Miller Caldwell.
This novel is set over the years 2012-2016.
Danny Kimber was born blind. He is a saxophone musician and became a Police Informant after overhearing a drugs conversation two years ago. He has known Mark Webster since birth and this relationship is at the heart of the story. Mark, the manager of a local estate agents, also an occasional band keyboard player, is devoted to Danny’s needs now that his mother aged 75 years is in a care home suffering from acute rheumatism and early signs of dementia.
Four years later, Marks father dies. After his funeral, some money was left for Mark and his brother and sister to take a holiday abroad. When he is away, on the night of a severe storm, Danny’s body is found in the river Nith. The pathologist finds no trace of any illegal cause of his death and assumes he died by misadventure being blind on a very wild night. Chief Superintendent Carla Spiers, takes a similar view and forwards the police report to the Procurator Fiscal for her to arrange a Fatal Death Inquiry.
On Mark’s return, he hears about Danny’s death and is confused. He knows Danny would not have gone out on a night as wild. He knew he was a non swimmer and indeed would avoid the river at all costs. He could not accept that this was an accidental death and tells Carla Spiers. The Chief Superintendent promises to translate Danny’s Braille notes to appease him but does so without any real prospect of overturning a sad but understandable death of a blind musician and as a Police informant, a colleague too. Chief Superintendent Spiers attends the funeral along with Mark who speaks to her afterwards. He learns she is recent widow and has a Bechstein piano in her home. He befriends her and asks to play this instrument. The start of a romantic relationship is noted.
Then Poppy Mughal a fourteen year old school girl, is found in the Nith. This time the cause is clear. She has been strangled. But Poppy was not her real name. Rather it was her way to engage in society against her parent’s better judgement. As the Police begin to investigate this murder, Carla Spiers receives a telephone call from Mrs Mughal. She tells her that her husband strangled Poppy as she had defied his marriage plans for her in Pakistan and that she, Mrs Mughal, had stabbed him to death as a result. She went on to say all this would not have happed if Poppy had not met Danny Kimber. When the police drive to Mrs Mughal’s house, they make a gruesome discovery. In addition to finding Mr Mughal’s bloody body on the bed, they find Mrs Mughal impaled on a kitchen knife, lodged in a vice attached to the table at the foot of the stairs.
Mark feels justified in thinking that there must have been a feud between the Mughals and Danny, which caused his death but as none had lived to tell the tale, he accepts he could do nothing more now. Meantime from the Braille notes, we learn that Danny had been counselling Muslim girls under pressure to return to Pakistan for arranged marriages against their will. There was also mention of a Mr George who seemed to be around when Mark was away but Mark explained Mr George was a gentle giant of a Fijian man who was a care officer at Mrs Kimber’s home and when he was away, he had offered to call in to see Danny.
Carla instigates dialogue with the Muslim community to safeguard young girls from Poppy’s fate. Mark and Carla recognise their love for each other.
When Mrs Kimber dies, Danny’s brother and sister attend the funeral along with Mark. They ask Mark to attend a meeting with the family solicitor to discuss the Will as they anticipate all will be mentioned in Mrs Kimber’s last wishes.
They learn that Mrs Kimber signed a codicil several months ago. Her estate would pass to Mr George, for his devotion to her over her last few uncomfortable years. As the family try to make sense of this news, Mr George decides to return to Fiji.
Word gets back to Carla from the Fijian police that Mr George is celebrating his early retirement on his ill-gotten gains. Carla goes out to Fiji and gets a warrant to bring him to Dumfries to face trial for the murder of Danny Robertson.
The High court sits in Dumfries and Mr George is found guilty of murder. Mark and Carla marry.