Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders
“I found this by the track about two miles down the track, Sarge,” said the constable, whom Knowles recognised as Wayne Comstock, who’d joined the force from sixth-form college two years previously.
“Did you mark the place where you found it?” asked Roberts.
“I did mark it with a flag you gave me, one of those red flags.”
Roberts passed the plastic bag to Knowles, who looked at the contents very carefully. It was a pin used to attach pieces of paper to noticeboards. It was yellow in colour and Knowles wondered how on earth Comstock had seen it from his position on the contraption. He asked the question.
“Well, Inspector, it had stuck in one of the sleepers; the point was stuck in the wood, so I was able to prize it out wearing the gloves I was given and pop it in the bag. I stuck a red flag in the sleeper as well to mark the spot.”
“Congratulations, Wayne, you may have broken this case open; you must have the eyesight of a hawk to have seen this,” replied Knowles, “what we’ll have to do now is ask the railway company to send out a loco from their works, pretend they’re on a murder/mystery, and see how long it takes the train to get to the flag – then we’ll know the latest time that the Major was jabbed in the finger with this pin, assuming this is the correct pin of course. I will take this back to the station with me and hand it over to the Forensics team. Good work everyone.”
Knowles took Sergeant Roberts to one side.
“Sarge, if you don’t find anything else by lunch, I would say you could stop searching; I think we will have spent long enough on this by then; it’s the law of diminishing returns.”
“OK, Inspector, I understand what you’re saying. I’ll see you back at the station after lunch and give you my report then.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Knowles, and bit his lip; he had to stop saying that because he didn’t want anyone to think he’d picked the phrase up from Barnes, which he had of course. “Sorry, Sarge, I think that sounds like a really good idea and I will see you later today,” he continued. Sergeant Roberts smiled and headed back to the tracks.
Knowles looked at the pin in the plastic bag again. It didn’t look big enough or grand enough somehow to be a murder weapon and yet it almost certainly was. He wondered who’d concealed it between their fingers as they shook the Major’s hand – could fingerprints be obtained from the pin? Could you conceal the pin in one hand and shake someone’s hand or would the murderer have to pretend to be really pleased to see the Major and grip his hand in both of theirs? Does the relative size of hands make a difference? These questions buzzed around Knowles’ mind like an irate wasp trapped in an empty glass until he realised the answer was to shake the dead man’s hand and find out. That would be something to do before lunch as the very thought of it made him queasy.
As Knowles drove back to the station he received a call from Barnes. They’d interviewed Mrs Harkness and had gleaned much information from her although he wasn’t sure how useful some of it would be. Knowles reminded Barnes to run checks on the military backgrounds of the passengers and to possibly help Smythe with all her calls to the passengers about handshakes and biros plus make a call regarding “The Riverbank” incident at the Frisby Waterless Fishing Club. Barnes rang off sounding a bit huffy at being told what to do. Knowles smiled at being the boss and then received another call from Smythe. Linda had been doing some more reading on the fishing club incident and passed the name of the other ‘member’ of this club involved on to Knowles. She also told him where this other ‘member’ would be found in about 20 minutes at 11 a.m. – at the Apple Tree Inn in Peatling Astley. Knowles indicated he would be coincidentally there at exactly the same time although he wasn’t feeling thirsty.