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Criminals, Guns, and a Licensed Post Office.Easy to use and conceal, Glock pistols are the weapon of choice in the Australian criminal underworld, even though possession of a Glock is restricted under Australian law.When a Glock with multiple serial numbers is discovered in the wreckage of a car after a senseless shooting, Detective Sergeant Stella Bruno investigates and finds herself on the trail of a group of gun smugglers making creative use of a Licensed Post Office.If you enjoy mystery and intrigue, you’ll love A Gun of Many Parts, the second book in Peter Mulraney’s Stella Bruno Investigates series of quick reads.
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This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events, other than those clearly in the public domain, are the products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by Peter Mulraney
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Cover image: Wil Seaman | Unsplash.com
Created with Vellum
A note from Peter
Preview: Bones in the Forest
Also by Peter Mulraney
Bikie is the Australian term for a biker or member of an outlaw motorcycle gang.
A Stobie pole is a power line pole made of two steel rails separated by a slab of concrete that is widely used throughout South Australia. See Wikipedia for more details and images.
Yatala is the name of the maximum security prison in Adelaide, South Australia.
Stella read the incident report on the shooting written by the officers who had responded to the call. She thought it looked like this was going to be an open and shut case. They had listed the name of the perpetrator under the details of the victim. She suspected it would only be a matter of time before he was in custody.
Brian parked behind the patrol car outside the victim's house in Brunswick Street, Kilburn, a suburb still waiting for the arrival of the urban renewal movement transforming the city's public housing estates.
'Not my favourite suburb, Sarge,' said Brian, pressing the lock icon on the remote.
Stella looked up the street towards Prospect Road. 'There are worse places to live.'
They walked up to the tiny porch. Stella flashed her ID to the constable taking up most of the space outside the front door.
In the front room, immediately inside the door, a policewoman was sitting on a well-worn couch with a grey-haired woman clutching a box of tissues.
'I'm Detective Sergeant Bruno,' said Stella, 'and, this is Detective Constable Rhodes. We'd like to ask you a few questions, Mrs Barnes.'
The grey-haired woman looked up from her tissues.
'Were you here when it happened?' said Stella.
'Sitting right here, love. I told him not to get involved but he never listens to me, does he?'
'What didn't you want your husband to get involved in, Mrs Barnes?'
'That silly bitch next door was fighting with her boyfriend again. They were making such a racket we couldn't hear the telly. Jeff wanted to tell them to keep it down. I told him to leave it alone, it wouldn't go on for long. It never did. But he couldn't wait. Went out and told them to shut up.'
Stella waited. She didn't think Mrs Barnes would need much prompting now that she was off on her story.
'Next thing I know there's a bang and an almighty scream. I rushed out the front. Jeff was lying on the lawn. She was screaming her head off. The boyfriend got into his car and drove off.'
'Who called the ambulance?'
'She did. I didn't want to leave him.' Mrs Barnes stopped talking and wiped away her tears. 'I'm sorry, but he was all I had.'
'I'm sorry for your loss, Mrs Barnes,' said Stella.
Stella thought of her own loss every time she spoke to a person left behind after a senseless killing. She knew the pain of that loss never went away completely, no matter what you did. Stella didn't believe that time healed all hurts. She knew it only dulled the pain into something you could live with, but only if you didn't give it too much attention.
The door of the house next door was opened by a woman in her mid-thirties with bloodshot eyes. Stella wondered if she'd slept a wink since the shooting.
'Carol Jacobs?' said Stella.
The woman nodded. 'Who are you?'
'Detective Sergeant Bruno. I'd like to ask you a few questions.'
'Why? Didn't she tell you what happened?'
Stella wondered why she was so defensive.
'If you mean Mrs Barnes, she didn't see what happened, but I understand you did.'
'Yeah, well there's not much to tell, is there? Stupid bastard shot the old geezer, didn't he?'
'This would be Greg Allen?'
'Yeah. Wish I'd never met him. He's such a loser.'
'What was the fight about last night?'
Carol looked down at her bare feet. 'I told the prick to piss off. I was sick of him turning up half-tanked and expecting me to open my legs for him. Told him to piss off and not come back.'
'I take it he didn't go quietly,' said Stella.
Carol looked Stella in the eyes. 'Silly bastard pulled out a gun and waved it at me, threatened to blow my head off. That's when Mr Barnes came out and told us to shut the fuck up. Greg just turned and shot him. Then the idiot left.'
'Do you know where we can find him?'
'No. I don't know where he lives.'
On the drive back to the office, Stella and Brian listened to a radio call directing patrols to seal off an area surrounding Torrens Road, Kilkenny, where Allen's vehicle had been spotted.
'Let's hope he doesn't do anything stupid,' said Brian.
'Bit late for that, isn't it?' said Stella.
'You know what I mean. I hope he has the sense to turn himself in.'
'Who knows what he'll do, especially when he realizes he's cornered?
They listened to the radio chatter as the patrols coordinated their positions and the police helicopter arrived over the area.
'256. I see him. He's heading North on Torrens Road. I'm in pursuit.'
'Target vehicle turning left into Aroona Road,' said a voice from the police helicopter. 'Shit! He's lost it.'
Stella held her breath.
'He's hit the Stobie pole!' said the voice from the helicopter.
'Bloody hell!' said Brian. 'I hope he hasn't killed himself.'
They waited for the next update.
'No sign of the driver. 256 has arrived.'
They listened as the officer from patrol car 256 called for an ambulance and the fire service's jaws of life.
'Must have hit that Stobie pole pretty hard if they need the jaws of life,' said Stella.
'What was he driving again?' said Brian.
'A Toyota Corolla,' said Stella.
'Not enough steel in those things when you hit a Stobie pole at speed. He's probably wrapped it around the pole if he hit it side on.'
Stella thought about the impact. 'He was turning left, wasn't he?'
'Yeah. That’s what he said.'
'He would have hit it on the driver's side,' said Stella. 'Don't like his chances.'
By the time they arrived back at the office, news had come through that Allen had been killed on impact when his vehicle slid across the intersection and collided with the Stobie pole on the corner of Aroona Road.
'This must be one of the shortest investigations we've been involved in, Sarge,' said Brian, as they waited in line to buy coffee.
'Let's hope they find his gun and match it with the bullet that killed Barnes,' said Stella. 'I'd hate to find out his girlfriend set him up, seeing she's the only witness to the shooting.'
'Hadn't thought of that.'
Stella didn't have to wait long to learn that the gun found in the wreckage of Allen's car had fired the shot that killed Jeff Barnes. The report from Ballistics was the first thing she read when she logged on the following morning.
As she studied the report, she realized it raised more questions than it answered.
'What are you reading?' said Brian, placing a coffee on her desk.
'Ballistics' report on the gun found in Allen's car.'
'What does it say?'
'He had a brand new Glock 19.'
'Did they match it with the round taken from the victim?'
'So, case closed, then.' Brian took the lid off his coffee and sat down.
'I'm not so sure, Brian. We might have solved the murder but I think this opens another can of worms.'
'What do you mean?'
'Think about it. How did he get a Glock? They're on the prohibited list.'
'Maybe he managed to buy one on the internet. You know, a private sale from someone in the States. Anyone can buy a gun over there.' Brian sipped his coffee.
'I guess that's possible but it says here that the frame, barrel and slide have different serial numbers and, according to Ballistics, those numbers are the same on a new Glock when it's sold. And, this is a new Glock we're talking about.'
Brian scratched his head and took another sip of his coffee. 'Sounds like someone must have put it together from parts. Who would do that?'
'Somebody who has more than one of them, Brian.'
'So, maybe somebody is buying these things on the internet and selling them to idiots like Allen?'
'Maybe.' Stella leant back in her chair. 'See what we have on Allen. We'll need to find out who he was hanging around with. Think I'd better go speak with DI Williams.'
Stella drank her coffee, picked up the copy of the report she had printed, and headed for DI Williams' office.
The inspector was reading the morning paper when she knocked on his door.
'Got a minute, sir? Think we might have a problem.'
DI Williams looked up from his newspaper. 'What's on your mind, Bruno?'
'This report from Ballistics.'
'Is that on the gun from Allen's car?'
'Yes, and that's the problem. It's a Glock 19.'
'Aren't they prohibited?'
'They are,' said Stella.
'How the hell did he get one then?'
'Good question, sir. As a guess, I'd say someone is importing them as parts and putting them together for people like Allen.'
'What makes you think that?'
'Ballistics reckon Allen's Glock was put together using parts from at least three different weapons.'
'How did they work that out?'
'Different serial numbers on the main parts.'
'You'd think they'd erase the serial numbers, wouldn't you, Bruno? We must be dealing with amateurs,' said DI Williams.
'I gather that when Glock sells them the main parts have the same serial number. Certainly looks like our smuggler hasn't given much attention to the details.'
DI Williams closed his newspaper. 'If someone's managed to get three of these things into the country, I wonder how many more they've imported and where they are now.'
'Where do you think we should start?'
The inspector put out his hand for the report. 'See if you can find out where Allen got his Glock. That might lead us to whoever's smuggling these things into the country from this end. I'll see if we can find out who Glock sold the guns with these serial numbers to. That might help us track them from the other end.'
Brian was scrolling through pages on the database when Stella returned to her desk.
'Suspended driver's licence, twelve speeding fines, a couple of DUIs. Nothing to suggest he'd be running around with a gun.'
'Next of kin details?'
'Got his mother's address here. It's the same as the address on his driver's licence.'
'Guess we'd better go pay her a visit, and I'd like to interview his girlfriend again. She might be a bit more forthcoming now that he's no longer a threat.'
Forty minutes later, they were standing outside the house listed as the home of Teresa Allen in Andrews Road, Elizabeth Downs. The front lawn looked like it could use a cut and the garden beds were infested with weeds. There was a small red car parked in the driveway, so they assumed she was home.
Brian pushed the button for the doorbell. There was no sound. He banged on the door.
'Hold your horses!'
A couple of minutes later, a small woman with jet black hair opened the door and glared at them.
'Who are you?'
Stella held out her ID. 'Detective Sergeant Bruno.'
'What do you want?'
Stella could smell the venom in her words.
'I'd like to talk to you about Greg.'
'Bit fucking late for that, isn't it?'
Stella thought she was going to shut the door on them.
'I know it's painful, Mrs Allen. I know what it's like to lose a loved one so unexpectedly, but you might be able to help me stop it happening to someone else.'
'How the fuck would you know what it's like?'
Stella looked her in the eye. 'My husband was killed by someone driving under the influence. Knocked him off his motorbike.' She paused and placed her hand over her heart. 'Believe me, Mrs Allen. I know how you feel.'
Mrs Allen looked at Stella and then at Brian. 'I suppose you'd better come in then.'
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