The Manton Rempville Mystery – start of Chapter 1

Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes surveyed the remains of Manton Rempville monastery with incredulity. He’d heard that a hundred thousand pounds had been spent on preserving the ruins and he couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. Ruins were ruins for a reason. The natural order of things, in Barnes’ mind at least, was gradual decay – preservation only delayed the inevitable, like applying skin cream to wrinkles or a new coat of paint to a rusting car. Besides, the ruins were open to anyone and there was no entry charge, so they were never going to get their money back.

Barnes stiffened slightly as he saw Detective Inspector Colin Knowles’ Land Rover chug into the car park and lurch to a halt too close to Barnes’ Morgan sports car for his comfort. He glanced down at the body and thought that Knowles, his boss, would find this crime scene interesting indeed. Barnes had heard that Knowles was on a new diet and that his latest culinary delight was vegetable kebabs cooked on his nearly new barbecue even in the depths of autumn.

Taking care not to get his highly polished shoes muddy, Barnes walked across the uneven grass as a low, cold wind whipped across the historical site, slightly disturbing his short, brown hair. He hadn’t seen much of Knowles in the past month as they’d both been away on holiday at separate times since the murders in Goat Parva. As he came towards him, Barnes noticed that even though the Inspector had lost weight, he still wasn’t able to tuck his Marks and Spencer shirt into his trousers.

“Good morning, sir, how are you today?”

“Fair to middling, Barnesy old son, the diet’s working well, nearly fifteen pounds lost.” Knowles gripped his much reduced stomach with some pride.

“How’s the gym going?”

“Gradually doing more on the treadmill, lifting a few weights, and getting some stretching done on those large blue balls they have. That’s not easy – those balls are bouncy as hell – I almost fell off the first few times I tried to lie on the thing. Anyway, not only can I see my toes now, but I can almost touch them too.”

“That’s good to hear, sir. The trick to keeping the weight off is by committing to a lifestyle change rather than thinking you’re on a diet.”

“Good point, Sergeant, lifestyle sounds very magazine-like though, very posh Sunday newspaper, but I know what you mean. Anyway, who do we have over there?” Knowles pointed in the direction of the photographer and Forensics team, who were investigating the crime scene.

The two men started to walk over to the eastern wall of the monastery’s refectory where the body had been found an hour earlier by Bingo the retriever, out on a long walk with his owner Adelaide Hills from Goat Parva. Both dog and owner were well known to the police from a few months before when Bingo had made a habit of finding bodies in the early morning.

“According to his credit cards, his name is Edward Pritchard; we are just running some computer checks to find out where he lives. It’s how he’s been killed that you will find interesting, sir.”

With his hands in his trench coat pockets, Knowles stood on the wall and looked down at the body lying on what would have been the refectory floor. Edward Pritchard had been run through with a sword and the handle was sticking out of his back on the left-hand side. Knowles smiled at Dr. Crabtree, the forensic doctor, who was examining the body.

“Dr. Crabtree, we have a real sword being used as a murder weapon?” Knowles would have rubbed his hands with glee if they hadn’t been warming up in his pockets.

“We do indeed, Colin, a very real sword. This is a heavy cavalry sword with a straight blade with one cutting edge whereas the other side has been thickened for greater strength. The blade is around three feet in length. It directly penetrated his heart and he would have died instantly.”

“Any prints on the handle?” Knowles looked hopeful when he said this.

“We’ll check back at the lab, Colin, can we move him now?”

“Yes, that will be all I think. We’ll be back at the station in an hour or so; could you have something by then in terms of fingerprints, time of death, and any ideas on a profile of who could have done it?”

“We’ll try, Colin – no promises, but we’ll try.”

“I presume the person who murdered Edward wasn’t aware of the type of sword they were using,” said Barnes, “because that’s a sword for slashing people with, not for running them through.”

“So, you would have expected a murderer who knew what he was using to have hit Edward here in the neck with the sharp side,” replied Knowles.

“Yes, sir, that’s correct.”

“So we’re looking for an ignorant murderer then? We show the suspects the sword and ask them how they would kill someone using the sword and those who opt for the neck slash are innocent?”

“They might be bluffing, sir, so we shouldn’t just use that as a method of elimination from our enquiries,” said Barnes, playing along with Knowles’ quite acerbic sense of humour.

“OK, we’ll just confine ourselves to telling the murderer, when we catch him, that he/she murdered Edward here in the wrong way. So where could the sword have come from? It’s not the sort of weapon you can easily conceal.”

“The nearest house is Manton Rempville Hall – you can see it just poking through the trees over there. That might be the best place to start.”

“Agreed – they probably maintain an assortment of weapons to keep the staff subdued and repel invasions by the local peasants in times of crisis. We should go there after visiting our oldest friend in Goat Parva, Mrs. Adelaide Hills, and her bundle of fun, Bingo.”

“It’s just like old times, sir.”

“Indeed it is, Barnesy. I just hope that this is the only body Bingo finds in this murder investigation.”

Julian Worker – New Book

Another day in the life of Detective Inspector Colin Knowles another murder. Bingo the retriever has been finding bodies again. This time someone has left a sword in the back of Edward Pritchard in the local monastery. Pritchard used to work at nearby Manton Rempville Hall as a gardener although all he seemed to cultivate was reasons for people not to like him.

As luck would have it there’s a house party at the hall so there are plenty of suspects. After interviewing everyone, Knowles can see why each one of them might want the ex-gardener dead and his theories about the murder grow.

Knowles inspects the libraries, studies, and the not-so-secret passage of this old hall in an attempt to find out who the murderer is. Bells, owls, and ironic topiary all play a part in his investigation.

Slowly Knowles weeds out the suspects until there can only be one person who did it.

The Manton Rempville Murders is the second in the Inspector Knowles Mysteries and reacquaints the reader with Knowles and his Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes, who were first introduced in The Goat Parva Murders.

The Manton Rempville Mystery – Chapter 4

Colin Knowles was lying on a beach in the Caribbean. He was drinking a mojito and soaking up the rays of the sun, while secretly admiring some of the local females. Slowly the eloquent cawing of the parrots in the trees turned into the ringing of his phone and intruded into his dream. Knowles tried to find the device without opening his eyes, but only succeeded in knocking his mint tea on to the floor. Eventually he located the phone and drew it slowly to his left ear.

“’Allo, who is this? It had better be good.”

Sergeant Rod Barnes gave Knowles a very good and brief reason why Knowles should come back from his reveries in the Caribbean to the realities of Manton Rempville Hall.

“When was this reported, Barnesy?” asked Knowles, checking the floor to see whether his tea had stained the carpet.

“Around 7:15a.m. by Fairfax,” replied Barnes.

“And everyone else will know because of the ambulance sirens, I suppose,” said Knowles, soaking up the excess tea with his bedside tissues.

“Yes, it was the first thing that Bunny Johnson mentioned to me – I am not convinced she is completely in touch with reality; sirens only after midday, what a ludicrous idea.”

“What was the weapon that was used by the way; it wasn’t the missing dagger, was it?”

“Kitchen knife, sir, straight out of the drawer.”

“Someone is taking the mickey out of us, Sergeant Barnes, unless this is the thief’s work and not the first murderer’s work.”

“That’s getting very complicated, Inspector, having one killer is bad enough, but the thought there’s competing murderers here is mind-boggling.”

“Indeed it is, Sergeant – I will be over in thirty minutes. Keep everyone happy until I arrive.”

“I will do my best, sir, I will do my best.”

=========

Knowles put two rounds of rye bread in his toaster and took the low-fat cream cheese out of his fridge. Freddie the cat was miaowing his head off and circling around Knowles’ feet like a shark scenting blood. Knowles fed both cats from the can in the fridge door compartment. He ate his toasted bread and watched in amusement as Freddie gulped down his own food and then tried to eat Gemma’s too. Gemma hissed and Freddie retreated under Knowles’ chair, watching carefully until she had finished before daring to see whether there was anything left for him.

“You’re out of luck, Freddie old son, she’s finished everything,” said Knowles as Freddie looked glumly in his direction. Knowles finished his toasted rye and put the plate with the crumbs on down on the floor for Freddie to lick off voraciously.

Knowles brushed his teeth and put on his warm coat before exiting his house. The journey over to Manton Rempville Hall took ten minutes on a Sunday morning and he was soon heading down the drive towards the inexplicable topiary boxes. He saw Barnes standing in the turning circle with his hands on his hips. As Knowles brought his Land Rover to a halt, Barnes headed towards him.

“Now then, Barnesy, how bad is it?”

“Very clinical, sir, not brutal, but would have been instantaneous. The knife was pushed into the throat with force when the victim was asleep.”

“Right, let’s go and have a look.” The officers headed towards the coach house and climbed the stairs. All the other guests were in the Hall and the only people present were from the Forensics team. The ambulance had left once the death had been confirmed.

Knowles greeted Dr. Crabtree.

“Well, Kevin, we should really meet under nicer circumstances occasionally.”

Dr. Crabtree smiled and nodded in agreement.

“Indeed we should – oh, by the way, there was some dirt on the bottom of the handle of the sword, only a few faint specks but we found them…”

Knowles beamed, but indicated Dr. Crabtree should continue.

“…Anyway, the victim is Basil Fawcett and he has been neatly stabbed through the throat with a large kitchen knife, used for carving meat. No fingerprints at all, which suggests the killer cleaned the handle at some point. Basil would not have known a thing. He would not have made a noise. I understand Toby was in the next room and Henrietta was down the hallway. Both are distraught and are receiving counselling. Time of death around seven hours ago, approximately 1:30a.m.”

Knowles looked down at Basil and shook his head.

“Oh, Basil, you didn’t tell us something – what did you do when Toby and Henrietta went for their walk? Who did you see – who was outside the lower study window at 11:30p.m. – did you follow them and didn’t tell us?”

“Does this mean he saw the murderer or Edward Pritchard before he was killed?” asked Barnes.

“Unless this is a random attack then yes, I think it does mean that – I think we can safely say that Edward Pritchard was killed after 11:30p.m. and that his watch was smashed to give the murderer an alibi. Perhaps Pritchard was the figure outside the lower study that Basil saw.”

“Why can’t people just be totally open with us, sir?” asked Barnes almost beseechingly.

“Maybe Basil here was trying a little blackmail with the murderer?”

“But he had no guile, did he? Just think about how he hung around outside the interview room door and you saw his reflection in the window. He was genuinely surprised you’d seen him. Very naive.”

“Is there anything in his pockets or on his phone that we could use, such as a text or a phone number?”

“His phone has a passcode, which isn’t immediately obvious and his pockets revealed nothing.”

“Not immediately obvious, what does that mean?”

“Well, it’s not B-A-S-I-L, 12345, or 54321, for example.”

“Does his sister know his passcode?”

“She might, but she’s too upset right now, not surprisingly.”

Knowles nodded thoughtfully. He hoped that the phone would reveal some significant communication between Basil and the person who had murdered him.

“So, Barnesy, why did Fairfax find the body and not Henrietta or Toby?”

“He was rousing people for a planned trip to the golf course, which Basil had expressed an interest in. 8:30a.m. tee off time, apparently.”

“And Henrietta and Toby weren’t going?”

“Apparently not, sir.”

“I wonder if we shouldn’t go and look at Pritchard’s place and then come back here when everyone’s had a chance to eat breakfast and to absorb the news. I doubt that Henrietta would be in any fit state to answer our questions now, anyway.”

“That sounds like a plan, sir, and I would agree with you regarding Henrietta.”

“Thought you might, Barnesy.”

“Shall we go then? I will go and tell Sir Michael that we will be back in a couple of hours.”

“Sounds good, Sergeant, I will see you by the vehicles in a couple of minutes.”

Barnes smiled and left the room.

Knowles turned to Dr. Crabtree.

“Was there any sign of a struggle, at all?”

“None whatsoever, Colin, he was taken completely by surprise by the looks of it.”

“Nothing under the nails?”

“Nothing at all.”

“Right, well would you say the person who did this committed the first murder too?”

“It’s likely; don’t forget this killing was more surgical than the first and the knife was inserted from above into the throat really quickly.”

“And the place it was inserted suggests prior knowledge of how to kill people quickly?”

“No, not really, I couldn’t say that – the throat is the most vulnerable part of the anatomy if you’re in bed and your attacker has a knife. And that might be a clue because a strong man would have smothered Basil with a pillow.”

“There’d be noise though, Kevin, with a pillow and a struggle too, both of which might have woken up the neighbours.”

“I suppose so, Colin. Anyway, can we take the body away now?”

“Please do, Kevin.”

Dr. Crabtree’s assistant, who’d been hovering in the background, came forward and helped the doctor move the body on to the stretcher. The photographer took some pictures of the now empty bedclothes as Basil Fawcett began his last but one journey to the morgue at Scoresby police station.

The Manton Rempville Mystery – Chapter 2

Barnes drove down the carefully manicured driveway of Manton Rempville Hall, while Knowles stared at the yew hedges, which had been sheared into interesting shapes that he couldn’t quite recognise. After they’d parked, Knowles walked over to one of the hedges and pointed.

“What do you think they’re supposed to be, Barnesy, these shapes?”

Barnes looked at Knowles, who was moving his head around to try and get the right angle for a correct identification of the topiary.

“Well, Inspector, isn’t that one a mouse and this one here a hedgehog?”

“It could be a hedgehog, I suppose, but I thought it might be a crouching lion – you see there’s the mane and that’s definitely a tail…”

“Excuse me, this is private property,” said a very posh female voice, “if you don’t leave I will call the police.”

“Well, there’s no need, because we are already here, madam,” said Knowles, brandishing his identification card in the lady’s face. “I am Detective Inspector Colin Knowles and this is Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes. We are here to ask you and your family about the death that occurred in the grounds of the monastery earlier today.”

“Death, you say, is that why there were all those sirens keeping us awake at some ungodly hour this morning?”

“Those sirens were the ambulance and police cars rushing to the scene of a murder. I am sorry, but I don’t know your name.”

“The impertinence – I am Lady Bunny Johnson, if you must know, and why do those people put on their sirens when the murdered person is already dead and there’s no reason to rush?” Lady Johnson smoothed her revealing blue blouse over her figure as she almost spat out these words.

“Thank you, Lady Johnson, I do need to know your name and there is always a reason to rush to a murder scene as vital evidence can easily be lost if the police aren’t on the scene as soon as possible.”

“Really – it doesn’t seem necessary to me; perhaps they could put them on just in the afternoons?” She brushed a couple of blonde hairs behind her left ear, taking care not to get them caught in her silver earring, shaped like a unicorn.

“We’ll see about that; anyway, how many people do you have in the Hall at the moment?  I would like to interview them all, please.”

“I’ll ask the butler, Fairfax, to gather the staff together in the lower library for you.”

“I would like to interview everyone in the house, staff, family, and house guests, if there are any of course.”

“You surely can’t believe that any members of the family, my family, would be involved in anything as sordid as a murder?”

“The murder was committed on a property adjacent to this Hall, last night, so I would like to eliminate every person in this Hall from my enquiries as soon as possible. So, Lady Johnson, if you please can you gather everyone in the library…”

“Which one, we have two? Upper or lower?”

“…please gather everyone in the lower library in fifteen minutes from now, so Sergeant Barnes and I can find out where everyone was last night.”

“I’ll ask Fairfax to gather the family and then he can go and get Wilkinson and Jenkins. I will ask Miss Newton to rouse everyone in the coach house.”

With that Lady Johnson had gone, leaving behind a slight scent of neroli.

“I presume that’s the coach house over there,” said Barnes, pointing to a two-storey brick building behind some topiary bushes.

As if on cue, a youngish maid wearing an apron dashed out of the front door of the Hall and headed in the direction of the building. Her auburn hair was in a bob, which swayed slightly as she hurried on her way.

“That must be Miss Newton doing as she has been bid by her boss,” growled Knowles, “and I wonder who Wilkinson and Jenkins are?”

“They sound like a firm of undertakers to me,” replied Barnes, “but presumably they’re the gardeners or the chauffeurs or one of each.”

Barnes’ phone rang and he listened intently for around a minute, while Knowles tried to work out why anyone would shape a box hedge into the shape of a box. “These people have too much leisure time and too much money,” he thought as Barnes finished his call and looked at him with a smile on his face.

“That was WPC Smythe – she has run some checks on Edward Pritchard and guess where he used to work?”

“He was a knife-grinder,” said Knowles, not expecting to be right. He didn’t like it when Barnes smiled at him; he felt like Barnes enjoyed knowing things that he didn’t.

“He might have done something similar in his role as a sub-gardener here at Manton Rempville Hall.”

“When did he stop working as a knife-grinding sub-gardener here at Manton Rempville Hall?” enquired Knowles.

“Three months ago, yesterday. He was dismissed because some money went missing from the house.”

“Really, well I wonder whether he was ever given the opportunity to deny the allegations? I don’t suppose we shall ever know, now that he’s dead.”

As he spoke, Miss Newton returned with two seventeen-year-old boys and a strikingly beautiful red-headed girl of about nineteen.

“Hello, I am Toby Johnson,” said one of the boys, shaking Barnes by the hand.

Toby was around five feet nine inches tall and was wearing a worn T-shirt and jeans. His straight black hair was cut short. He continued, “This is my friend from Harrow, Basil Fawcett, and his amazing sister Henry. She’s a stunner, isn’t she? You must be the police who want to interview us.”

“We are,” said Knowles. “I am Inspector Knowles and this is Detective Sergeant Barnes.”

“Anything of importance?” enquired Basil Fawcett, tossing his head slightly so that his brown hair fell in front of his eyes. He cleared it away from his glasses with the back of his left hand.

“It’s very important, I can assure you,” said Knowles, “and we will let you know in the fullness of time.”

“Come on, Basil,” said Henrietta Fawcett, “let’s leave the policemen to their own devices and go in to the lower library. By the way, Sergeant Barnes, my real name is Henrietta, not Henry. If you’d like to make a note of that.”

And with that the three walked into the Hall followed at an appropriate distance by Miss Newton. Barnes couldn’t help noticing how Henrietta’s red hair glinted in the faint sunlight.

Barnes had turned slightly red. Knowles looked at him and shook his head.

“Have you made a note, Sergeant?”

“No, sir, I haven’t – I had realized she was a girl.”

“I can tell, Sergeant Barnes, as I think she could too. Think of a nice ice-cold shower and you’ll be fine.”

Goat Parva Murders – Chapter 4

Knowles parked his Land Rover in the car park of the Badger & Ferret Inn and looked at his watch.

“Right, Sergeant Barnes, I think you should go and see Carol Herald and find out what she knows and work out what she’s not telling you, if you know what I mean. Above all see if she’s the proud owner of a dirty shower curtain or a golf seat that might have been used by her fellow stalkers.”

“And you’ll be visiting Mr Greggs that Tai Chi artist then?”

“I will – he should be back by now from his job in the big city. I will see you in the tap room when you’re finished.”

Barnes headed to the left to No 1 Sharrock Lane, while Knowles headed straight over to No 3. A shiny white Mercedes with a warm bonnet was parked in the drive.

Knowles rang the doorbell, stood back slightly and waited. Mr Greggs was perhaps busy after returning from London. After a minute, the door was opened by a slim, brown-haired man wearing tracksuit bottoms who was drying
his hair with a blue towel.

“OK, where’s the other one, you people usually come in pairs.”

“Not a Jehovah’s Witness, not happy and smiley enough,” said Knowles, brandishing his ID. “The name’s Detective Inspector Knowles from Scoresby CID. Can I come in and ask you a few questions about the murder this morning?”

“The murder? What murder? Where? – I didn’t see a thing.”

Knowles indicated inside with his arm and the two men went indoors.

“Yes, there was a murder in Culpepper’s Woods this morning while you were doing your pirouetting and Thai Chee – were you aware that you were being watched?”

“Not at all – although those trees do make me feel like I am the centre of attention and I am aware that there are other people around bird-watching and walking in the woods, but I have never felt like I am being stalked – why would anyone do that?”

“What do you wear when you practice your art?”

“It’s a martial art – I wear as little as possible, enough to make me decent I suppose – it would be regarded as skintight by some people.”

“That’ll be why then – it will show off your curves to good effect.”

“That’s just creepy – who was murdered and were they watching me?”

“Well, Mr Greggs, you were being watched by at least one person; he…”

“He?”

“…he was called Roger Davis and he was a Police Officer; PC Davis was hit on the head with a blunt instrument while watching you from a convenient location.”

“I didn’t see anyone carrying a blunt instrument this morning, although I do tend to look straight ahead for between 1 and 2 minutes at a time, so if this murder took place behind me then I wouldn’t have seen a thing.”

“That’s probably what happened in this case. Now you said that you’ve seen other people walking in the woods and bird-watching – do you know these people’s names?”

“I tend not to know too many people here as I work in London of course, but I’ve seen that Claude guy from the hall. I’ve seen Mrs Hills and her blessed dog, Barry with his lens, that weird Waferr woman looking for ‘things’ in the woods, and of course Carol from next door; she heads to work through the woods every morning. I occasionally see Tom Jargoy, but he always looks furtive as though I shouldn’t have seen him.”

“It would have been easier to ask you who you have not seen.”

“It would – I even saw Poppy Avon there once walking with a woman I’d not seen before – I remember Carol said ‘hello’ to her so she obviously knew her.”

“And who was bird-watching in your opinion?”

“I thought Claude was and Barry Janus was – because of their long lenses and tripods, but now I just worry that they were photographing me.”

“I have no evidence of that but you might be correct. It’s possible that other people were watching you and you never saw them.”

“That’s terrible – still I am not about to change my ways and I will be there tomorrow morning at 6am doing my pirouetting as you put it.”
“Where is it you work, Mr Greggs?”

“I work in the Square Mile for a Merchant Bank as a trader.”

“Busy at work are you?”

“Oh yes, but no two days are ever the same, Inspector. I have to relax completely before starting the day otherwise my nerves would be fried by lunchtime.”

“I can imagine – so why do you live here in Goat Parva when you work there in London; couldn’t you live closer?”

“I could do, Inspector Knowles, but it’s a complete break to come back here to the lovely countryside and be completely free of the City.”

“What’s the commute like on a good day?”

“One and a half hours, but with modern wireless technology you can still be working on the train before you get to work.”

“Right – it’s unfortunate that murder hasn’t moved on technologically – people still get bashed over the head and I have to investigate why – there’s no App for that.”

“Rather you than me, Inspector,” said Mr Greggs looking at his iPhone in a slightly bored manner.

“Did you ever see Antonia Avon in the woods or Danica Baker-Clements?”

“I don’t know either of them, I have never met them, but I’ve heard about Danica and her reputation, so if what I have heard is true she wouldn’t have time to go for a walk – too busy.” Mr Greggs then smiled at the in-joke.

“Indeed, but there was a murder on Tuesday night, the murder of Clem Shapiro who was watching Danica as she was watching TV.”

“Is there a serial killer on the loose, killing stalkers do you think?”

“Possibly but that doesn’t fit in with my theory, which isn’t completely formed yet in my mind.”

At this point Knowles’ phone rang.
“’Allo – Barnesy – you’re finished? Oh right, well I’ll see you over there.”

===========

When Knowles headed over to Number 3 Sharrock Lane,Barnes walked along to Number 1, where Carol Herald lived.

He knocked on the front door but there was no reply. Barnes peered through the front windows but it appeared that there was no-one at home. He walked around the side of the house and saw someone digging in the garden. Barnes fought the impulse to see whether it was Carol Herald and just watched for a few moments. He soon saw that it was Reverend Strong from St Timothy’s church who seemed to be planting vegetables. After watching for two minutes
Barnes finally thought of a suitable question to ask the reverend and so he approached him with some trepidation.

“Reverend Strong, I am Detective Sergeant Barnes from Scoresby CID, I was wondering whether you’d seen Carol Herald recently?”

Reverend Strong finished digging his latest hole and glanced up at Barnes.

“I haven’t seen Carol today, but I would expect she’ll be back soon unless she’s bird-watching in the woods in which case she could be a while yet.”

“Thank you – why are you planting vegetables in her garden by the way?”

“Carol’s a good friend of the church and we rely on some of our parishioners’ gardens to provide food for the events at St Timothy’s.”

“And what are you planting exactly?”

“I think I should consult my lawyer before answering that question.”

“Cannabis?”

“No, Detective Barnes, I was joking, I am planting some carrots and some tomatoes as they are the most popular vegetables with my flock.”

“And who are the other parishioners who help with the food provisions?”

“Brenda Jargoy always gives a good head of lettuce, Carly Waferr provides no end of mushrooms, Antonia Avon provides beans and peas and Wendy Jargoy loves growing onions for some reason – she always seems to be crying and I
think that might be the reason.”

“Wendy Jargoy? Does she still live at home? I thought someone had told me that she’d moved away from Goat Parva?”

“Wendy has issues with her parentage as I am sure you appreciate Detective Barnes. She’s not sure who her father really is – Brenda shrugs her shoulders when she’s asked that question, which hurts Wendy because it seems as though her mother doesn’t care. This isn’t the case because
Brenda genuinely doesn’t know. It could be her husband, Tom, or Lord Avon, or the milkman/postman/plumber – she was apparently involved with them all at the time of conception.”

“What, that frumpy middle-aged woman in the village shop who wears those cardies like a prison uniform?”

“That’s on the outside, Detective; on the inside is a woman who has been led astray by the forces of the devil incarnate, whose weakness for love has been preyed upon by the angels of Lucifer himself, whose desires for
companionship have been taken advantage of by the henchman of hell.”

“What is it about women in this village? They’re at it all the time with every man who comes their way. I will have to move here I think; all stalkers and loose women.”

“Now, Detective, don’t be flippant.”

“I wasn’t being – my village is far too sane for my own good.”

“There are some excellent examples of upright, moral women in this village – why think of Antonia Avon.”

“She’s a drunk who has the attention span of a kitten.”

“Carly Waferr then.”

“Magic mushrooms from the woods and drinks various potent wines to excess.”

“Adelaide Hills?”

“Demented, Reverend Strong – she thinks her dog has stolen her mobile phone when it was recharging and buried it under the azaleas.”

“Carol Herald – what have you got against her?”

“Nothing – yet – we haven’t met her, but she was in the vicinity when one and possibly two of the murders took place.”

“Poppy Avon?”

“Attention span half as long as her mother’s – pays for gum using a 50 pound note and then walks off without getting the change because she’s talking on the phone to her boyfriend.”

“Danica Baker-Clements? Oh no, not a good example to support my theory.”

“No, not a good example of a faithful wife.”

“I wonder where Carol is – perhaps she had to stay and work late at the animal shelter in Madeley Waterless.”

“Does she work on her own over there?”

“No, there are a couple of other volunteers and I think Wendy Jargoy helps out sometimes.”

“Who are the other volunteers – do you know their names? We may go over there tomorrow to ask a few questions.”

“Oh now this is a memory test – there’s the lovely girl called Yasmin, I think and then there’s Andrea who is slightly more plain, but they’re both beautiful in the eyes of the Lord of course.”

“Of course, Reverend – Yasmin and Andrea – I’ll make sure I remember those names.”

“They look after all sorts of animals – cats, dogs, sheep, pigs, a real menagerie – they’re all against animal cruelty especially Yasmin who has a real passion for the subject; she’s been on those protests to the labs where the monkeys and beagles are forced to smoke or wear make-up.”

While Reverend Strong was talking Barnes heard some footsteps behind him but when he looked around there was no-one there.

“Was there anyone behind me when you were talking?”

“I didn’t see anyone,” said Reverend Strong and immediately apologised to his god for telling a little white lie.

“Thank you, Reverend Strong,” said Barnes and jogged back to the road. He looked both ways, but saw no sign of anyone. Unbeknownst to him, Barnes was being watched through binoculars, which were trained on him until he
disappeared into the Badger & Ferret.

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The Goat Parva Murders – An Inspector Knowles Mystery – Beginning of Chapter 2

Knowles decided that he and Barnes should arrive at Mrs Hills’ house in his Land Rover but that Mrs Danica Baker-Clements would be more impressed by Barnes’ Morgan. They drove to Scoresby station, dropped off the Morgan and then chugged over to the Hills’ house imaginatively called The Cottage.

After they knocked on the door of The Cottage there was a deep-throated “Woof, woof” from inside the house and a muffled shout from Mrs Hills, before she flung open the front door. Knowles and Barnes brandished their IDs. The smell of kippers filled their nostrils.

“Mrs Hills? I am DI Chris Knowles and this is Rod Barnes my sergeant – we’d like to talk about your grisly discovery this morning.”

“Is that your police ID, it looked more like your library card, and it’s expired – did you know that Inspector Knowles?”

“Ah I was hoping you wouldn’t notice – I left the police ID in my other trousers at home.”

“You have another pair of trousers – I am so impressed Inspector, do come in and make yourself at home.” Barnes suppressed a smirk as Knowles cleared a path to the sitting room where they were offered a seat on the couch. Knowles sat down and Barnes stood behind him.

“Should Bingo be present, inspector,” enquired Mrs Hills, “he was the one who found the body after all.”

“Bingo should be present yes Mrs Hills – please bring him here.”

“Bingo here boy,” shouted Mrs Hills. Bingo bounded into the room and started to eye Knowles’ shoes surreptiously.

“What kind of dog is this?” said Rod Barnes, watching the creature from his vantage point behind the couch.

“He’s a pure-bred retriever, sergeant” said Mrs Hills patting Bingo and throwing an old slipper for him to ‘retrieve’ from the hallway.

“So Mrs Hills,”…

“O please call me Adelaide, inspector.”

“OK, …Adelaide, can you let us know how you came to find the body.”

“It was Bingo that found the body of the Shapiro man – Bingo and I had walked along Sharrock Lane to the river and then around Doggett’s Field when we met Carly.”

“Who she?”

“She lives just down the road; her daughter’s just left to go to university in Edinburgh – she was telling me all about this after she appeared out of Hen’s Wood.”

“What did she say she’d been doing?”

“Collecting non-poisonous mushrooms, Inspector. She had a hangover too from her home-made wine.” Mrs Hills flashed her pearly white teeth at the inspector.

“She particularly emphasized the fact that the mushrooms were non-poisonous?”

“She definitely mentioned it, yes.”

“So at what point did Bingo here find the body then, Mrs Hills?”

Mrs Hills flushed a slight red colour – “He brought back a shoe.”

“And then you went and found the body?”

“No Carly and I continued to talk and she took the shoe away from Bingo and tried it on her foot.”

“Right, so what happened next?”

“Well Bingo is a retriever…” stammered Mrs Hills, “he went and fetched the other shoe.”

“And then you went and found the body?”

“No Carly and I continued to talk and she took the shoe away from Bingo and tried it on her other foot. She did remark it was unusual to find a matching pair of shoes.”

Knowles shook his head in disbelief

“Let me get this right, you were chattering with your Carly friend while your dog was stripping the body and interfering with a crime scene?”

“I didn’t know he was doing that – it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice.”

“Where are the shoes now?”

“Carly must still have them.”

Barnes chimed in – “At what point did you suspect that there was something amiss?”

“When Bingo brought the belt for us.”

“At what point did Bingo take off Clem’s outer garments?”

“What? Bingo isn’t that strong – he couldn’t have done that – Clem was wearing a jacket when I saw the body.”

“Did Carly come with you to see the body.”

“Yes, she did.”

“Perhaps she took the jacket for some unknown reason?”

“I didn’t see her do anything to the body although I did leave her behind with it when I went to call you, the police that is.”

“We shall have to go and visit Carly – just one final thing, Mrs Hills…Adelaide, did Bingo exhibit any other unusual behaviour during his walk?”

“He didn’t really – he was distracted a few times but that’s normal for him. If I think of anything I will let you know.”

As they left Mrs Hills’ home Knowles sought Barnes’ opinion.

Barnes stroked his slight goatee beard:

“She’s not telling us the whole truth but I am not sure why as she didn’t do anything suspicious.”

“Too right, “ said Knowles, “she’s fine but that dog, it’s weird, it was staring at my shoes all the time, and I wonder whether something else is missing apart from the shoes, belt, and jacket. Like a stool or chair or something. That dog couldn’t have pulled shoes off a body, so they must have been untied beforehand, which suggests our Clem was in it for the duration and had either taken off his shoes or loosened them – but you wouldn’t do that if you were standing up. He would also have loosened the belt if he was going to spank one out while watching Danica and his hand was in the appropriate place to do that when he was smacked on the head.”

“Where to next sir?”

“Carly’s place – see if we can find those missing items.”

“So you know Carly then?”

“I do, Sergeant, I just act stupid and ignorant for the benefit of our suspects.”

“Do we charge her with receiving stolen property?”

“Unless she’s sold them then no, but we’d have a real problem convincing the jury that Bingo was a thief and she was his fence. She’s barking mad but that still doesn’t put her on the same wavelength as Bingo. ”

Continued here

The Goat Parva Murders – The First Chapter

My new book: “The Goat Parva Murders – An Inspector Knowles Mystery” is now available on Amazon.

I entered the 1st chapter into a competition and it won, so you can read this chapter here: http://writersbillboard.net/firstchapter3.html