22 April 2017

21 - Final countdown

Friday August 15 into Saturday

The two patrol officers driving Mrs Bryce to HQ were in trouble, not just because the entire back window of their car had been smashed to smithereens and the front was rather battered from the confrontation with the dustbins, but also because they had let the prisoner escape having not kept to the rule of securing the back seat of their car, not to mention going on a clandestine shopping trip with the vehicle. After an acrid discussion they decided that finding Mrs Bryce had priority so they set off in different directions. It would be challenge to come across the woman on a moonless night, of course.

18 April 2017

20 - A Sticky end in sight

Thursday cont.

Gary and Cleo had plenty to talk about when they finally had time, but with a report in person delivered by Mia and Barbara due shortly, most of their talking was done in the kitchen preparing enough food for the five thousand. Robert had delivered a tray of lamb chops for the weekend. They would no doubt be enjoyed in their entirety that evening. Gary was assigned the potato peeling and chopping for the overworked chip pan, and Cleo made vinaigrette for the salad. As usual it would be a buffet served from the kitchen worktop.  It was ostensibly a working dinner.

14 April 2017

!9- Moving on

Thursday August 14

“I did not get the impression that your business partner is on the point of retiring,” said Gary, as he watched PeggySue making inroads into her breakfast müsli.
“Semi-retiring, whatever that means,” said Cleo. “She’s putting a lot of thought into the Edith affair.”
“Talk about Jekyll and Hyde! Not Dorothy. Edith Parsnip is leading a formidable double life.”
“Not any more. Her wings have been clipped, Gary.”

12 April 2017

18 - Senses and Sensibilities

Wednesday August 13 

Cleo did not particularly want to speak to her mother since her mother had not phoned her about her new domestic arrangements, but she was obliged to phone the shop Wednesday morning because she needed steaks for the dinner party that night.

10 April 2017

17 - Dead ends

Tuesday August 12

After devoting the rest of Monday to his family, Gary had to admit to himself on Tuesday that it was an ideal tool for escapism, but at least Cleo had an excuse for concentrating on the children and letting the agency drift until things picked up after the holiday period, with the option of closing down altogether if that did not happen.

16 - Precipitation (it never rains ...)

Day of rest (?)  then Monday August 11

Sunday turned out to be quite a success after all, at least for some. Cleo could not predict how Sonia and Joe would view it with regard to themselves.
“I’m going to take the big girls out,” Gary announced when he got home from HQ. “Where do you want to go?” he asked.
“Swimming, Daddy,” said Charlie.
“What shall I call you?” Lottie said to Gary. “You look like my Daddy.”

6 April 2017

15 - We'll keep a welcome ...

Weekending

The trip to Heathrow airport took longer than the family had hoped, but they were in good time to meet the direct flight from Cape Town. To describe the event would be to repeat what anyone has experienced who has met someone at an airport. Suffice it to say that waiting for the plane seemed long, but the luggage was finally collected from the revolving band and two weary travellers made for the exit. Joe spotted them quickly and was immediately aware of the blood turning cold in his veins.

4 April 2017

14 - No smoke without fire?

Saturday cont.

To say that Gary was at a loss to know what to do about Dorothy would be an understatement. He had found it impossible to be really angry with her although the situation called for it. Chris, who was usually good-humoured and efficient, also seemed lost for words.

2 April 2017

13 - Vaticination

Saturday August 9


The day started badly for Dorothy Price. She was officially a partner in the  Hartley agency but she had announced to all and sundry that she was retiring to a life of Beethoven, gardening and other hobbies she had not had time to pursue and was now reproaching herself for have that silly idea. The fact is that had changed her mind and did so want to be part of things. Sadly, Dorothy did not feel accepted in the same way. 

29 March 2017

12 - Precautions and Cautions

Friday August 8

Cleo and Gary’s reactions to Dorothy’s account of her talks to Rita’s neighbours were predictable. Gary pointed out that if the witnesses had seen something suspicious and had not already come forward, they were unlikely to. Only one of the dwellers at number 7 had been questioned so the information was too scanty. Frank had indeed used a key to get into Rita’s salon although he was supposed to have moved out. The only other useful information was that Rita had received frequent visits from men.

11 - Arson, fraud and other delights

Thursday cont.

“Have you finished with your drug addict, Cleo?”
“Yes. I referred him to a doctor and he’ll no doubt join a methadone programme. It makes me so angry to see young guys ruining their lives with drug abuse.”

26 March 2017

10 - Robert

Wednesday cont. into Thursday August 7


By the time Gary got home, everyone else was assembled and Dorothy was expected to come along with a report of what she had found out that day. When she had delivered her report, it was clear that Gary could not put off or even refrain from interrogating Robert Jones. One reason was Cleo’s oft quoted theory about what makes a killer. If Robert Jones had killed Kelly, he might decide to wipe out the other men with whom he thought Edith Parsnip had seen fit to have sex. That was enough reason to haul him in as soon as possible.

25 March 2017

9 - Cops Corner

Wednesday cont.

Joe had slept late, so he was in a rush when he did get up. He had an appointment at eleven to discuss editing the Police Gazette. The prospect was inviting. His concept was promising thanks to an almost sleepless night. He dashed round the block with Dog, who had been given a welcome by all, and told the animal that he would take him to the Common later that day.

23 March 2017

8 - Dorothy looks for answers

Wednesday cont.

If Dorothy had started her investigating by walking through the village she might have seen what was going on in Station Street, but she did not know about the fire at Number 5 because she decided to tramp across country to Lower Grumpsfield, so her route took her down Lavender Drive and along a public pathway that ran behind the Kelly farm to the main road.

22 March 2017

7 - Rita's salon

Wednesday August 6

It was not part of the wedded-bliss package to have to take a phone-call from anyone before breakfast. The twins had already needed a feed at 5 and Gary had remarked then that the nights were getting perilously short since he usually gave PeggySue her breakfast at 7. Phone-calls before 8 a.m. were at the very least inconsiderate.

20 March 2017

6 -Edith gets a visit

Tuesday cont.    

“How are you this afternoon?” was Cleo’s way into the phone call with Dorothy.
“Fine, Cleo. How are you? Why the formality?”
“Are you serious about not retiring?”
“Yes. I’ll keep going for a bit. It seems like the sensible thing to do with you in the family way again.”

18 March 2017

5 - Hilda joins the team

Tuesday August 5

Hilda Bone is never late. She is one of those people who never have enough time for anything, so running late would be borrowing time from the task designated to follow the one being tackled now. It’s a bit like living in the future, but since living in the past is not an option, Hilda makes the best of things.  

16 March 2017

4 - A murder is announced

Monday cont.

Gary’s mobile rang again. It was Chris Winter, whose forensic team was already on the job.
“You are coming, aren’t you, Gary,” said Chris.
“I’m on my way now, Chris,” fibbed Gary. He went round the family issuing more hugs and apologies for leaving them, before roaring off in the red car.

3 - Toes

Monday cont.

The drive to Upper Grumpsfield took long enough for Joe to explain that he had moved to Upper Grumpsfield the previous Saturday.
“Where are you living, Joe?”
“I’m lodging at Mrs Barker’s.”

2 - Look-alikes

Monday August 4

The Gazette always arrived together with the national Daily Chronicle in Upper Grumpsfield. The newspaper boy, usually a pensioner earning a few bob for the job, would roll the two newspapers together and push them noisily though letter flaps. If you wanted to get up early, it was convenient. If you wanted to sleep longer, it wasn’t.

1 - Joe

Overture and beginners

Joe Butler was going to take his landlady’s dog for a walk every morning. It was part of his living arrangements in the village of Upper Grumpsfield. Mrs Jane Barker had only one lodger. She had recently lost her husband and was trying to make ends meet. But her next door neighbour, a retired pianist by the name of Miss Dorothy Price, said that Jane Barker was lonely rather than poor and missing the heated arguments and scrapping. Jim Barker was always right, he thought. Jane suffered, but not in silence. Dorothy thought that Jane missed the invigorating air of disagreement.