The first extract from my forthcoming book

Chapter 1 – Tuesday, February 27th, 10 am, Scoresby

“Those are lovely flowers, Sergeant Barnes,” said PC Linda Smythe.

“Thanks, Linda,” replied Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes, “I’ve bought them for the boss, who won the verdict against that dangerous driver yesterday – he’s very pleased because he worked hard for that. I’ll just go and put them in water, so they don’t wilt. That’s odd, my watch is wrong, that’s the second time today I’ve had to adjust it.”

“Serves you right for buying a watch in the duty-free shop on holiday,” chided Smythe, “and not buying me the chocolates I asked you for. That’s karma.”

“I’m sorry, Linda, I know I compare badly with the big man, who bought you two boxes of chocolates and a large Toblerone, because he figured I would forget. But that’s not what happened, because the duty-free shop at the airport in The Seychelles didn’t have those choccies available.”

“It had watches though, didn’t it?” Smythe reminded Barnes, “watches that don’t work very well and keep changing time zone by the sound of it.”

“That’s a slight exaggeration, Linda, it’s about 15 minutes, which hardly counts as a time zone.”

“Well, that’s where you are wrong, Barnesy,” said Detective Inspector Knowles, easing himself into his new ergonomically designed office chair, which had been waiting for him on his return from The Maldives three weeks previously, “I think you’ll find there’s a 15-minute difference between Nepal and India, and there’s half-an-hour difference between Newfoundland and the other Atlantic provinces in Canada.”

“So, Sergeant Barnes has bought a Nepalese watch,” said Smythe, “or a half-working Newfoundland watch?”

“It’s been working correctly up until today,” said Barnes, “anyway not to worry, I will just go and get a vase for these flowers from lost property and place them on your desk, sir. This is a big ‘thank you’ from the lads in uniform for all the work you put in to make sure that dangerous driver was locked up, yesterday.”

“Why thank you so much – it’s the thought that counts, of course. I will keep them on my desk. I won’t take them home because the Freddie cat will try and eat them. He likes eating flowers for some reason.”

“Perhaps you don’t feed him enough, sir?” said Barnes tongue-in-cheek.

“Perhaps he’s a greedy little so-and-so who was a bad gardener in a previous life,” replied Knowles, “or perhaps it’s a cry for attention in our cruel world.”

“Is that a book on cat psychology you’ve been reading?” asked Smythe as Barnes headed off to Lost Property.

“No, but I have been reading a book on Zen Buddhism, which must have been written by a cat that Gemma is descended from, but not Freddie,” replied Knowles.

“How so?” replied Smythe.

“Gemma has self-control, practices meditation on a daily basis, has great insight, and expresses this insight in daily life, whereas Freddie has no self-control and has no real insight, just blundering into things, such as getting stuck under the bath. The taps were being replaced and he disappears down the hole without a thought as to how he would get out again.”

“How did he get out again?”

“I had to pull him out using his tail, which he didn’t like very much, of course as it was an insult to his dignity, but he was rescued. Gemma just looked at him as though he was unthinking idiot. She’s very good at that. Giving people that look.”

“‘If you were smaller I’d eat you’ kind of look?”

“That’s a slightly different look, the one I mean is a combination of a sneer and a deeply contemptuous look, which is difficult when you don’t have perceptible eyebrows.”

Barnes returned, transferred the selection of spring flowers carefully into a vase, and placed it on Knowles’s desk.

“Where did you get these flowers from, Barnesy?” asked Knowles.

“From Marigold’s on the Cambridge Road,” replied Barnes.

“Good choice, she’s always got some unusual flowers in there,” replied Knowles, “at least she did a few years ago. I often had to go into her shop to buy condolences flowers on behalf of the police.”

Whilst Knowles was speaking the phone on Smythe’s desk had rung. Knowles and Barnes listened to Linda’s conversation.

After putting the phone down, Linda looked at Knowles – “There’s a lady called Anne Richardson at reception who’d like to speak to you Inspector Knowles, strangely about the florist’s shop we’ve been talking about.”

“Right, I will go and see her. Linda, I will bring Anne to the meeting room over there; we won’t use the interview rooms. By the way, if you ever see any three-legged donkeys in these parts, then you can blame Anne.”

Barnes laughed – “Unfortunately, I will have to sit this one out as I have to get the paperwork ready for a case, but I wish you luck with the conversation.”

“She can’t be that bad,” said Smythe, “I am sure I bought a book at her shop without spending too long over it.” With that she headed over to the interview room via the water dispenser, where she poured six cups of water.