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Excerpt from Aftermath of an Affair (2021) by V. K. McGivney

This week we wanted to share a short extract from V. K. McGivney's brilliant psychological thriller Aftermath of an Affair

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Morris uttered a silent curse when the Senior Investigating

Officer, DCI Bob Venables announced that they had received the report on the results of the

autopsy and what had initially been treated as a suspicious death was now a murder

investigation. It was what he’d feared. It had been pretty clear to all of them from the start

that the man hadn’t topped himself, and in the present climate of reduced manpower and

resources, this could only mean yet more late shifts and cancelled leave. It now seemed

unlikely that he would be able to accompany Clare and the girls on the planned visit to his in-

laws at the end of the school holidays.

It was the first full meeting in the major incident room for all those involved in the enquiry

– detectives, forensic experts and support staff from the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime

Team, and Jonathan listened glumly as Venables began his summary of what they knew, and

what they didn’t know (by far the larger amount) in relation to the case. Having had little

sleep the night before, he stifled a yawn as the SIO began to outline the results of the post

mortem.

‘The forensic pathologist’s report indicates that Adam Gallagher died from a fatal head

injury – blunt force trauma – possibly caused by a fall or, as is now believed, a blow with a

heavy implement. According to Rob, the crime scene coordinator…’ Venables nodded

towards a bald-headed man sitting at the end of the table, ‘… the scratches and contusions on

the exposed parts of his body are consistent with it being pulled through thick undergrowth

before being dumped in the woods, where there was an attempt to hide it under loose soil,

twigs and leaves. It’s estimated that the victim died shortly, probably just a few hours, before

being taken to Ashtead Common. The area where the body was found is still being searched

and Forensics have been doing a vegetation and soil analysis as well as examining clothes

and other items from the crime scene. We’re hoping that will give us some important leads,

although the wet conditions could mean any DNA has already been degraded.’

Venables pushed his spectacles on to his head, then turned and with a black marker

indicated a magnified portion of a map attached to the whiteboard behind him.

‘As you already know, the body was found by a couple walking their dog here, on the

morning of Saturday the third of August, not far from a path popular with walkers and

cyclists. Gallagher was a big man, so at least two people must have carried or dragged him to

the spot. It wasn’t very far from the road, which suggests either that the individuals

concerned were physically unable to carry the body much further, or that they didn’t want to

leave their vehicle parked for long in case it was spotted and reported as suspicious.’ He drew

a line on the map with the marker. ‘The body was presumably conveyed along this footpath

leading from the road. Unfortunately, any tyre prints have been washed away by the recent

rain.’ He marked a spot on the map with a cross. ‘This is The Star pub, not far from the

footpath. The bar and catering staff working here, at on the evening of the second of August

are being questioned, and all patrons who visited the establishment that night have been

invited to come forward. As it was a Friday evening, the pub would probably have been busy.

CCTV footage of traffic leaving the M25 at Junction 9 during the late evening and hours of

darkness on August the second, and early morning on the third, is being examined. We are

also calling for witnesses who might have been driving along the A246 or the A3 that night,

to come forward.’

Venables gestured at a photo of Adam Gallagher displayed on the whiteboard. It showed

the face of a middle-aged man with grey-flecked dark hair, and strong, rather craggy features.

‘As you know, Adam Gallagher was 51. He was the founder and managing director of

Gallatech – a business selling PCs, laptops and computer accessories in retail centres across

southern England. Until spring last year, he lived in Orchard Road with his wife, Louise, and

their two sons, but after his wife started divorce proceedings he moved out on his own and

into a flat in Boxgrove Road. The family home was subsequently sold and the Decree

Absolute came through this spring.’

Venables picked up some notes from the table in front of him and glanced at them. ‘From

initial interviews with Gallagher’s ex-wife, we have learnt that a major reason for the divorce

was her discovery that her husband had been involved with a younger woman – a personal

fitness trainer called…’ he peered again at the document, ‘… Michelle Bateman, who was

employed at Davis’s Gym where Gallagher had once been a member.’

The SIO replaced the notes on the table and selected two photos – one of a dark-haired

middle-aged woman and another of a younger blond one – and stuck them on the board. With

the marker, he drew lines connecting both photos to the one of Gallagher and waited with an

ironic smile, for the chorus of wolf whistles and sarcastic tutting from the group around the

table to subside.

‘When Gallagher’s flat and belongings were searched, one of his bank accounts showed

two unexplained transfers to Ms Bateman, of £2000 and £3000 respectively, made several

weeks apart in spring last year. We obviously need to speak to that young lady. She left

Davis’s Gym over a year ago and her last known address was Epsom Road. Gallagher’s wife

still lives locally, in Albury, where she moved after the family home was sold.’

‘Before she bumped him off?’ someone quipped.

Venables smiled patiently and pushed his spectacles back on to his nose. ‘One of the last

sightings of Gallagher, as far as we know, was on Friday the second of August. At

approximately 8.15 that morning, the couple renting the flat below his, exchanged greetings

with him as he was getting into his car, presumably to go to work. They didn’t see him after

he returned that evening, but the wife says she heard voices outside and the sound of cars

stopping and starting at different times that night. She wasn’t concerned by this so didn’t go

outside to investigate. There’s no CCTV in the neighbourhood, and nobody else in the

immediate area saw or heard anything untoward that night, and no-one has provided any

additional information. Although Gallagher’s phone was found in his flat, his keys appear to

be missing, so he must have had them on him when he was killed.’ He paused. ‘Before we

put out a press release and make an online appeal for info and witnesses, Mrs Gallagher and

the rest of the family need to be informed that the case is now a murder enquiry.’

He looked across at Jonathan. ‘Jon, could you and Hayley inform the ex-wife this morning

and see if you can find out any more from her. Mrs Gallagher has already given us some

information about her ex-husband, but it’s important to see if she can shed any new light on

his activities, associates, and frame of mind before he died. Perhaps you could also go to

Newbury with Iain this afternoon, in case the sons have any additional info.’

‘Yes, Boss.’ Jonathan didn’t relish the task of informing Adam Gallagher’s ex-wife that the

enquiry into her former husband’s death had turned into a murder investigation. Nor did he

relish informing his own wife that once again he would be unable to join her and the girls on

a planned family trip. How often had he been obliged to do that in the last few years? He had

unwisely assured Clare that it wouldn’t happen this time. Why did Gallagher have to get

himself bumped off during the school holidays, he wondered grumpily? With an effort he

forced his attention back to Venables who was now reporting on the initial results of an

investigation into Gallagher’s business affairs.


___


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