N ightingale ended the call, went through to his office and sat down. He lit a cigarette and swung his feet up onto the desk.
Jenny got up and followed him. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked.
Nightingale blew a smoke ring up at the ceiling. ‘I know who my sister is. And I know where she is.’
‘Jack, that’s brilliant. Are you going to see her?’
Nightingale looked pained. ‘I’m not sure.’
‘There’s a problem?’
Nightingale nodded. ‘Yeah, there’s a problem. A big one.’
‘Come on, don’t keep me in suspenders.’ She grinned. ‘How bad can it be?’
‘Her name’s Robyn. Robyn Reynolds.’
Jenny frowned. ‘Where have I heard that name before?’
‘Splashed across the tabloids and the evening news,’ said Nightingale. ‘She’s the serial killer they caught two years ago.’
Jenny put her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide. ‘No,’ she said.
‘I’m afraid so.’
‘She killed five children, didn’t she?’
‘Butchered them, Colin said. She’s in Rampton now. The loony bin.’
‘Oh Jack…’ groaned Jenny. ‘I’m so sorry.’
‘You and me both, kid.’ He pulled on his cigarette and held the smoke deep in his lungs before letting it out slowly.
‘There’s no doubt, is there?’
Nightingale shook his head. ‘It’s a perfect parental match,’ he said.
‘Is it worth comparing her DNA to yours, to make sure?’
‘There’s no point, not with us having different mothers.’ He sighed. ‘There’s no doubt, Jenny. My sister’s a convicted serial killer.’ He forced a smile. ‘At least we know where she is. And that she won’t be going anywhere for a while.’ He flicked ash into the ashtray. ‘It’s not what I expected, that’s for sure.’
‘I’ll see what there is on the internet,’ she said, heading back to her desk.
Nightingale leaned back in his chair and blew smoke rings up at the ceiling. He remembered the Robyn Reynolds case, and the killings she was responsible for. The murders had been front-page news during Nightingale’s final three months as a police officer, and Reynolds had been caught shortly after he’d left the Met.
He finished his cigarette and stubbed out the butt in his ashtray. He opened the bottom drawer of his desk and took out the bottle of brandy he kept there for his clients, the ones that needed a stiff drink to deal with bad news. He looked around for a glass but couldn’t see one close by. There was a mug by his feet but it had stale coffee in it. He groaned and leaned back in his chair.
Jenny returned with a handful of printed sheets. ‘It’s a bit early for brandy, isn’t it?’
‘I feel like a drink.’
‘I’ll make you a coffee.’
‘An alcoholic drink,’ he said.
She gave him the sheets and took the bottle from him. ‘I’ll make you an Irish coffee.’
‘It’s whiskey in an Irish coffee,’ he said. ‘Irish whiskey, to be precise. If you use brandy, it’s a Parisienne coffee.’
‘And if I spit in it, that’ll make it an assistant’s revenge,’ she said, heading over to the coffee-maker. ‘Just be grateful for what you get.’
‘You wouldn’t spit in my coffee,’ he said.
‘Wouldn’t, shouldn’t, couldn’t,’ she said, pouring coffee into a mug.
Nightingale flicked through the sheets he was holding. ‘She has her own Wikipedia page?’
‘Yeah, but there’s not much on it,’ she said. She looked over her shoulder. ‘Notice the date of birth?’
Nightingale looked at the first sheet. ‘November the twenty-seventh. We’ve got the same birthday.’
‘That can’t be a coincidence,’ said Jenny.
‘How does Gosling manage to have two kids born on the same day, two years apart?’
‘It’s not difficult,’ said Jenny. ‘He can time the conception and then do a Caesarean if necessary.’
‘That’s incredibly controlling,’ said Nightingale.
‘Come on, Jack. He produces kids for no other reason than to sell their souls. Gosling is in total control of everything he does so why would you be surprised that he’d time the births?’ She brought over his mug of coffee. ‘Maybe there’s something significant about November the twenty-seventh.’
‘Jimi Hendrix was born on November the twenty-seventh. And Ernie Wise. And Emperor Xiaozong of China.’ He grinned. ‘In 1127, if you were going to ask.’
‘I wasn’t,’ said Jenny.
‘It could just be a coincidence,’ said Nightingale. ‘Plus we were both adopted but our adoptive parents are shown as our biological parents, so the date of birth could be suspect anyway.’ He shrugged. ‘Actually, it might be an idea to get a copy of her birth certificate just to check.’
‘I’ll get one from the General Register Office,’ said Jenny.
‘There’re no pictures of her,’ said Nightingale, flicking through the sheets.
‘She was never photographed,’ said Jenny.
‘How can that be? The press always get pictures.’
‘I Googled her and there’re no pictures anywhere. There’s not much detail about what she did, either.’
‘She killed five kids. How can there be no details?’
‘She pleaded guilty so not much was read out in court. The tabloids went to town, obviously, making her out to be a cross between Myra Hindley and Jack the Ripper, but they’re low on details. There were no interviews with her parents, she didn’t seem to have any friends, and the police didn’t comment.’ She nodded at the sheets. ‘The newspapers spoke to the detective in charge but he wouldn’t say anything other than that he was happy the case had a satisfactory conclusion.’
Nightingale sipped his coffee and frowned. ‘There’s not much brandy in this.’
‘It’s half past ten in the morning, Jack.’
‘Coffee and brandy and cigarettes – the breakfast of champions.’
‘You said that about muffins and croissants.’
Nightingale raised his mug in salute. ‘I’m flexible,’ he said.
‘You’re upset, aren’t you?’
‘That my sister’s a serial killer? What do you think?’
‘I think you should go and see her.’
Nightingale nodded. ‘You’re probably right.’