by Trevor Hopkins

All over, bar the shouting, as it turned out. Although there was quite a lot of shouting. Lots and lots of shouting, in fact.

The showdown between Luncardy and Wester was a particularly spectacular example of the shouting, and one which I was able to overhear in person. Not that I was sure I really wanted to. Nevertheless, it was impossible not to overhear their full and frank exchange of views; every copper in the 14th precinct must have been able to follow every word.

Luncardy was understandably furious with Wester's attempted interference in the course of her murder investigation. I had no doubt that the Inspector took these things extremely personally, having little separation between her personal life and her professional commitments. Put frankly, she lived for her job and had no life outside it. This probably made her a very good copper; whether she could ever be anything else was open to debate.

Wester, for his part, took exception to Luncardy's perceived insubordination. No, not perceived: she really was behaving in an insubordinate manner. Or at least, allowing her sense of ethics - her personal perception of right and wrong - to override her sense of duty and discipline.

The whole thing was brought to a head by Tarsapple's report to Wester, as far as I could tell at the time. After the return from the surface, after the shoot-out at Garrick's place, Tarsapple took it upon himself to explain to Wester how close I was to the investigation, and to certain wealthy members of the public who might be threatened. No doubt Tarsapple imagined this would somehow reflect badly on me, personally; it was all to do with that previous disagreement with me.

Wester clearly took a more flexible and pragmatic approach to police work, and to the time-honoured problem of balancing the personal needs of underpaid public servants with the existence of powerful individuals with deep pockets. He had a delicate position to protect, and no doubt considerable motivation to do so.

Wester clearly felt threatened, insecure. He attempted to pull rank, to shout Luncardy down, to threaten her with suspension. The trouble was, he was entirely guilty: of taking bribes, of concealing evidence, and of being a complete ass, too. Half the coppers on the force knew it, and the other half had heard about it in the coffee shops and locker rooms. Inspector Luncardy's chilly demeanour might not make her the most popular officer in the precinct but nobody would have suggested that she was anything less than hardworking and painfully honest.

Luncardy was having none of Wester's bullshit. She stood her ground and shouted back. Two Goblins with their careers on the line. The blatant insubordination - and the fact that this argument was in no way secret - forced Wester to threaten her with an internal investigation. Perhaps he expected this to be the clincher, that all coppers have something to hide that would not withstand such an intense scrutiny. He was wrong. He didn't know Luncardy well enough.

The interal investigation arm of any police force is the resting-place for a certain kind of intense weirdo found nowhere else in the known universe. I recognised the kind immediately when I was interviewed by an investigator who visited my office a couple of weeks later. I never really understood his brief, his name I never did catch and, in the entire time he sat in the visitor's chair, he never looked directly at me, never caught my eye.

The investigator asked me questions in a dull monotone, wrote down the answers in tediously slow longhand and thanked me mechanically, absent-mindedly, on the termination of the interview. I never received any direct feedback, any indication of whether my remarks had helped or hindered Luncardy or, for that matter, Wester in retaining their position. Public servants at their best, I suppose.

Part 96 Part 98