Monday, 29 September 2014

Antiques in the Attic - Why and How did Kevin die?

Extract of Police Interview....

"I don't know," she responded doubtfully.  "What a good job I wasn't here," she added as they re-entered the living room.

"I doubt if he would have come in then."

"You mean someone has been watching me?"

"Yes.  Whoever is responsible for those antiques obviously isn't into violence."

"But what about Kev?  They might have killed him!"  She sat heavily on one of the armchairs.

"We don't know why that happened but I doubt if they want to harm you.  They don't strike me as people who do violence for violence sake.  They're what I call high class thieves."

"As in they only steal high-class stuff?"

"Exactly.  And I think they do have a market for what they steal.  Some of it goes abroad so they probably have a storage unit."

"You said there was one in Kev's name so does that mean he was one of them?"

"Maybe," the DI said off-handedly.  "Until we know why he was killed and can catch them we won't know."

"I hope you catch them quickly.  If I stay at Zelda's for too long I'll start to feel like a refugee.  And there's no way I can begin to think about the future now."

"We'll do our best, Sarah.  Now, have you thought of anything else about Kevin?  Something he might have said?  It may not have seemed relevant at the time."

She slowly shook her head.  "Not a thing.  We haven't been in touch since the divorce."

"Have any mutual friends said anything?"

"I don't think he had any friends.  That was one of our problems.  He didn't like Zelda because she and I would sometimes go out.  He felt that I should only go out with him.  Except that he didn't want to go out anywhere."  She added ruefully, "It would have cost money."

When she said that the DI experienced a twinge of doubt.  Perhaps she had killed her former husband?  What if she knew about the antique thefts?  Maybe all she had been doing was setting it up to make her look innocent.

Then he thought about the way her husband had died and felt she wouldn't have done that.  Couldn't have done it.  It would have needed two strong men to hold him down while he had been tortured.  Cigarette burns were painful and there was no way he could have driven the car.  And who would have suspected that he had a bad heart?

"Sarah, did you know that Kevin had heart problems?"

"He what?"

"Had heart problems.  He actually died of a heart attack."

"So he wasn't murdered?"

"Aggravated.  He was tortured, which caused the heart attack."

She paled and whispered, "Tortured?"

"Mostly cigarette burns.  They obviously wanted to get some information from him but I have no idea whether he was able to tell them what they wanted to know.  That's why I'd prefer it if you stayed elsewhere."

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Teenage Holidaymakers in Marbella

Excerpt from the third Cleo Marjoribanks Murder Mysteries, Poltergeists in the Parador.  Cleo and DCI 'Steaming' Kettle are on holiday on the Costa del Sol......

Our speculations were then rudely interrupted by a pair of teenage tourists.
'Don't be so bloody daft, Trace, I've told yer and told yer 'e's probly got a wife 'n' kids,' an Essex accent screeched.  They’re probably about eighteen and were standing on the edge of the pavement ahead of us.
'Uh-oh,' I muttered, 'another oliday romance up the spout.'
'As in she might be?' David queried.
For those of you who don't understand cockney English 'up the spout' is the same as 'up the duff' or 'bun in the oven' - pregnant.
'No.  She's probably fallen for a waiter or barman.  The old, old story.'
''E's stood 'er up.  Hey up!'  David shot forward and grabbed the girl before she was knocked down by a passing car.  The argument had been continuing as we were discussing the subject and, of course, as we got nearer to them, which was how David was able to grab her.
'Oh, gawd, Trace I fought yer was a gonner,' her friend said as she grabbed hold of Trace to pull her away from David's encircling arm and could give her a hug'Grasseus, seenor.'
David grinned.  'I won't say it's nothing.'  He looked severely at them.  'Next time have your argument in private so that when one of you wants to storm off in a temper you won't be in danger of falling under a bus.'
The pair of them looked at the pair of us - incidentally, I'm not in a caftan but cream trousers and a loose top to cover the bits and pieces.  'You're English!' gasped Trace's friend.  'Thank gawd.  Tell 'em, Trace.'
'Why don't we find somewhere in the shade to sit down,' I suggested and they agreed so we headed for the seafront, the two girls - sorry, young women - walked in front of us, whispering.  We exchanged a look but didn't say anything.  They're a pair of modern young things, one (I think she’s really called Tracy) has bleached blonde hair with bright pink stripes.  I know it's bleached cos I can see the dark roots.  Incidentally, her nails - fingers and toes - match the pink stripes in her hair.  No idea the colour of her eyes as she's wearing sunglasses.  The other one's got shoulder length mousy hair with blue stripes and nail varnish.  Dress?  What do you think?  Short shorts, bare midriff and tight fitting top. 
Once seated at a table under a sunshade and with cold drinks we looked at each other and said nothing.  David, being a copper, used his favourite tactic of silence - I know it well!  The young women kept mum.  Okay, so it was up to me.
'So, are you going to tell us about the problem?'  As if I hadn't already guessed.
'Wot d'yer fink, Trace?'
'Fer gawd sake, spit it out.  S'not like we're yer mum and dad,' I exploded.
They looked at each other in amazement.
'Yer from the East End?' gasped Tracy
'Yup.  Now, what's up?'
Tracy sipped her coca-cola or pepsi, whatever.  Probably an imitation as it had been served in a glass.  'It's Angel.'
Angel?  She's been dating an angel?  Oops.  Think, Cleo, it's a Spanish angel pronounced Ankel.  All the men I've met with that name have been far from angelic.
'What's 'e done?'
'Disappeared,' her friend responded succinctly.
Uh-oh, she getting too possessive?
'What makes you think 'e's disappeared?' the statue by my side asked.  Thought he'd gone to sleep.
''Aven't seen 'im fer two days,' Tracy responded.
'Where does 'e work?' I asked, thinking that if he was a waiter or barman he wouldn't be off work for a couple of days.
David and I exchanged a look.  'Policeman?'
'Yeah.  Plaincloves.'
'So 'ow d'yer know 'e's a copper?'
'Showed me 'is card thingy.'
'Do you read Spanish?' David  asked.
'Nah!  'E's English.'
Confusing.  David put his elbows  on the table, clasped his hands and put his chin on them then said slowly.  'The missing Angel is an English copper.  So, is 'e English or Spanish?'
'English.  'E's from London.  'Is parents is Spanish.  'E's wiv the Met.'  (Metropolitan Police force of London).
'So what's 'e doing here?  On ‘oliday?'
'Nah.  'E's workin' on somethin'.  You know.  Undercover like, which is why we've come 'ere on 'oliday.'
'As 'is cover?'  I asked.
'Wot d'yer think, Kathy?'  Oh goody, now we know the friend’s name.
She shrugged her skinny shoulders.  'We was goin' ter go on 'oliday so why not 'ere?'
'Where are you staying?' David asked.
'Got a flat in Torremolinos.'
I could tell the copper's brain was at work.  David didn't want to have this conversation in public.
'So what are yer doin' 'ere in Marbella?'
'Fought we'd come 'n' look fer 'im 'ere.  If we don't find 'im 'ere, I fought we'd go ter Malaga tomorrer.'
'Look, Trace, it's obvious 'e's dumped yer,' Kathy said.
'No!  No, 'e 'asn't.  Don't forget 'e was supposed ter meet me fer lunch yesterday.'
David interrupted before World War Three broke out.  'How did yer get ‘ere?'
'What's the address of where you're staying?'
'Why d'yer want it?'
'So we can sit down and discuss this in private,' he explained patiently.
Kathy turned to Tracy.  'See, told yer they'd 'elp.'  She hadn't actually.  All she'd said was to tell us what the problem was.  I glanced at David and hoped he wouldn't say anything.  He played dumb and Tracy, fortunately, had forgotten.
She looked at her cyclamen nails while she thought about it then, tossing back her pink and blonde hair looked at my tame policeman.  'Okay,' and gave us the address.
So that we didn't lose them they came to our car and we drove them to their car, leaving them with strict instructions to drive straight to Torremolinos.  And not to argue on the way.

'Blimey, I feel like a mother!'  I exclaimed once we were on our way in the Merc.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014


My luck was in because the Club Secretary, on his way from the bar to, presumably, his office, recognised me.
Kenneth Sibley Johnson approached me with a frown.  "Aren't you the woman who masqueraded as a police officer?"
"No.  I came here with DCI Kettle."
"Which gave everyone the impression that you were a police officer."
"I'm not responsible for people's thoughts, Mr. Johnson.  Impersonating a police officer is a criminal offence," I informed him.
"No matter."  He flapped his hand as if brushing away a long cobweb.  "You'd better come to my office.  You can't sit here.  You're not a member."
I resisted the bait and followed him into his office and went to look out of the window.
"What are you doing here, Mrs - er - . Sorry, I've forgotten your name."
Whether he had or not was a moot point.  I suspected he probably did remember and was trying a put-down.  That don't work with me.  I've been insulted by better than 'im.
"Miss Marjoribanks.  I'm neither married nor have I been neutered."  I do hate being called Ms.  Like calling the chairman or woman a chair.  A chair is a chair is a chair.  An inanimate object.  Wait a minute.  Hey, some chair people could be called that!
"Right, Miss Marjoribanks.  What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for someone who is playing golf."
"And who might that be?"
Snooty bugger.
"That Mr. Johnson is my business."
"No, Miss Marjoribanks it is my business.  Club members are entitled to privacy and to be protected from anyone who might have the intention of pestering them."
"I assume from that that you mean the press. Which I'm not, as I think you know.  The other inference is that I'm a whore and you think I'm here to pick up a man."  Bingo!  Was his face red.  "The only thing I will tell you is that I am here to meet a woman and, no, I'm not a lesbian."  His face flushed again.  "You could, of course, call DCI Kettle and tell him I'm here."
Now that really would be embarrassing for him.  You 'n' I know that David isn't slow on the uptake.
While he had been trying to insult me (and I've been insulted by the best) I'd been keeping an eye out for Stella.  Sure enough she hove into view with three other ladies.  Must have been a good game as they were chatting and laughing.
"Right, I'm off," and I left the office.  I had no intention of letting him know which of the four was my friend so I stood outside the front door until Stella spotted me.  She was about to leave the group but I waved her back and put a finger to my lips.  She got the message and I went round to the car park to wait.  Then my mobile rang.  "What's up with the secrecy, Cleo?"
"Club Secretary.  Tell you later.  I was going to chat with you here but p'raps we'd better meet somewhere else."

She named a nearby pub so I went there and waited for her.

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

When Cleo meets a horse - excerpt from Homicide in Hampshire

Cleo is a lady from London and recently moved to the New Forest.  Part of her health regime is taking walks in the forest - avoiding the ponies. She's never been close to a horse or pony and is rather scared of them!

"As I was nearing the copse I could see a saddled horse cropping the grass and wondered where the rider was.  “Oh gawd, don’t tell me someone’s fallen off and broken a leg or something,” I muttered.

I looked hard at the horse, it moved and I got the back view.  “’Ere, horse, turn round I want to get a look at your front.”  Keeping me distance I moved slowly round until I could see its face.  “I thought so.  You’re Maggie’s horse, aren’t you?”  I remembered seeing it in a photo Paula had shown me.  “Now what the heck’s your name?”  The reins were hanging down, “Come on, Cleo, be brave.  Be brave.”

I inched towards the horse.  It inched away.  I got a little closer and he moved away again.  “Oh for gawd’s sake, come ‘ere!  I want to take hold of those reins before you break your bloody leg.  Now, come ‘ere!”  Surprisingly the horse did “come ‘ere”.  I got hold of the reins.  “Now what do I do?  I’m not getting up on top of you even if I knew how.

“Come on, where is she?  You’re Maggie’s horse.  Where’s Maggie.  Come on, show me where she is.”  I was actually thinking of the horse as being like a dog.

I began walking into the copse, the horse quite close behind and getting uncomfortably close.  I could almost feel it nudging me and I broke out in a cold sweat.  “Don’t get too close, horse.  Don’t run away with me, either.  Hang on a minute.”  I stopped and it stopped.  We both listened.
I could faintly hear the sound of sobbing.  The horse whickered (I think that’s what that noise is called) and flicked his ears.  “That’s her, innit?  Come on, horse, here we go.  You lead her to me.”  I stood to one side of the footpath and let it go forward and take the lead.

Margaret was sitting on the ground nursing a foot, her helmet on the ground beside her and her fair hair like a waterfall over her face. 

“So why didn’t you use your mobile and phone your mother?”

She shoved her hair back as she looked up and whispered, “Battery’s flat.”

“How clever can you be!  So you’ve fallen off your horse.  Please don’t tell me you’ve broken your ankle.”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know,” she sobbed.

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