Frisby Waterless Murders – 67

Excerpt from the Frisby Waterless Murders

“Do you think the Major knew who you were?”

 

“If he did, he kept it well hidden; I was no threat to him anyway, so it doesn’t really matter if he did or not.”

 

“That is very true – anyway, I will leave you to your lines. I have to visit someone else in Little Flixton before going home. My cats will be starving.”

 

“How many do you have?”

 

“Two cats, one boy and one girl, and that’s enough for any normal person to cope with especially if that person works for a living.”

 

Ellie Hammond smiled and escorted the Inspector to the front door.

 

“Are you any closer to working out who did it, Inspector?”

 

“Ellie – this case is not as clear cut as you might think and so I haven’t really eliminated anyone from any of the crimes that were committed.”

 

“Crimes – plural?”

 

“Indeed, Ellie, crimes plural.”

 

“I thought there was only one crime committed?”

 

Knowles tapped his nose again and winked at her – he couldn’t say any more than he had already done. “Good night, Ellie, and good luck with your voiceover next Monday.”

 

“Thank you, Inspector, I will do my best.”

 

Ellie closed the door, went into the dining room, and dialled a local number.

 

Knowles drove off towards Little Flixton, his last visit of the evening, to see the Trimble family. He was heading for London Street in the hope that the family could tell him who had helped the Major open the window at around 9:50 a.m. He arrived and walked up the dimly lit path towards the beacon of the hallway light shining like a lighthouse on this cool evening. He knocked on the door and within seconds it had been wrenched open by Mrs Trimble.

 

“Oh, sorry I was expecting my husband, are you from the police? Has something happened?”

 

“I am from the police, Mrs Trimble, and I am not aware of anything happening. What time did Mr Trimble leave?”

 

“He was going to leave the Fishing Club around 5 p.m. – I am worried about him.”

Inspector Knowles books

There are five Inspector Knowles books set in and around Goat Parva, Manton Rempville, Willougby Waterless, and Melton Lazars. Where are these places you might ask?

The first book is The Goat Parva Murders – Just a typical Tuesday night in the English country hamlet of Goat Parva. The stalkers in the rhododendrons are busy watching the exhibitionists in the windows. Nothing unusual. Until that is when Bingo the retriever returns with a pair of shoes that were last seen adorning the feet of well known voyeur Clem Shapiro.

Steadily the secret lives, peccadilloes and illicit affairs of the inhabitants of this one time idyll of English Country Life all begin to unravel under the dogged investigations of Detective Inspector Colin Knowles. What seemed like a fairly simple case is rapidly deteriorating under a growing mountain of suspects, witnesses and bodies. Scratch the surface of this sleepy hamlet and it seems everybody has a motive to want somebody else dead. And D.I Knowles has only just begun to scratch. The Goat Parva Murders introduces the reader to a cast of eccentric characters that could have escaped right off the pages of a Tom Sharpe novel in search of mayhem, mischief and murder.

The second book is the Manton Rempville Murders – Bingo the retriever has been finding bodies again. This time, someone has left a sword in the back of Edward Pritchard in the grounds of a 700-year old monastery. Bingo found the body on his morning walk with his owner Adelaide Hills.

Pritchard used to work at the nearby stately home, Manton Rempville Hall, as a gardener, although all he seemed to cultivate was reasons for people not to like him. Inspector Colin Knowles and Sergeant Rod Barnes have to investigate which person hated him the most.

However, there’s a house party at the hall so there are plenty of suspects though people are unwilling to give up their secrets easily and Knowles and Barnes have to dig to find answers. They inspect the libraries, the studies, and the not-so-secret passage of the old hall in an attempt to find out who murdered Pritchard. The police are in a race against fate, because they suspect the killer will strike again.

Bells, owls, and ironic topiary all play a part in the investigation as Knowles and Barnes slowly weed out the suspects. But will they be in time to prevent further deaths and will Bingo play a role?

The third book is The Frisby Waterless Murders – Knowles and Sergeant Barnes investigate why the wrong person died on a murder/mystery excursion on a steam train. It seems more than one person wanted the victim dead and the question is: who murdered Major Harkness in full view of 24 people without any of them noticing?

The fourth book is The Black Hill Hotel Mystery – Someone is leaving tracks in the snow around The Black Hill Hotel and no one can work out why. Inspector Colin Knowles is called in when one of the guests has their wallet stolen in the middle of night. Knowles is attacked and left for dead in a snowy field, but is rescued by his favourite dog, Bingo the retriever, and his owner Adelaide Hills. Then a body is found in a snowdrift and Knowles realises that at least one person in the hotel has a lot to hide.

The Black Hill Hotel advertises itself as a place to get away from it all in the Winter. The hotel is fully booked, though not all the guests arrive when they are supposed to. The snow piles up and the hotel becomes more and more inaccessible to vehicles. Some guests are content to watch it fall, but others try to use the winter conditions to get away with murder and other crimes. An escaped prisoner, kidnapped children, impersonation, and old-fashioned revenge are all on the menu at the hotel.

Can Knowles, assisted by Sergeant Rod Barnes and Constable Linda Smythe, determine which guests have committed which crime before the snow melts? Will the murderer get away with the perfect crime? Will Knowles’s attacker be found? Could they be the same person?

The fifth book is The Melton Lazars Mystery – Murder amongst the books in Scoresby.  Inspector Knowles has to work out why a bookseller was murdered. His investigation is complicated because he had feelings for the murdered lady. Along with Detective Sergeant Rod Barnes he has to turn the page and cover all eventualities.

The killer is one step ahead and next tries to kill a florist. Knowles and Barnes root through the witness statements, leaf through the evidence, and assimilate the findings that stem from the investigation. When events shift to the nearby village of Melton Lazars, Knowles and Barnes know it’s only a matter of time until the killer is caught, though it’s almost certainly not the time on the grandmother clock in the florists!

With inaccurate clocks, a sensitive bank manager, cocky DIY professionals, a Guy Fawkes mask, and an exotic call centre worker all thrown together, this book zips along at a fast pace until the revelatory final chapter.

Frisby Waterless Murders – 66

Another excerpt from the Frisby Waterless Murders

“Dear Dad did work for the MoD and did have some contact with the Major. In fact, Harkness did report to him about his findings from Iraq, but Dad didn’t quite believe some of the things he was being told and said so. Harkness was pulled out of Iraq, but invoked the Old Boys Network to get my dad demoted, in effect, and eventually my dad left the service under a cloud, which he never forgave the Major for. Before he left though, my dad pulled some of his own strings to ensure the Major got the worst possible posting in Belfast.”

 

“Really, Ellie? Seems like the military operates on who you know rather than what you know? It makes the police service seem positively parochial.”

 

“That is certainly true, Inspector, and I will have to take your word on the police. That was the tour of duty when the Major was shot in the thigh. He was shot in the same leg in Iraq, but that was a flesh wound. The Belfast one was much worse and removed a lot of muscle from the bone. That’s why he limps. Both my Dad and myself feel the Major received his just desserts. I bear him no grudge.”

 

“Who shot the Major in Belfast?”

 

“No one claimed responsibility, not the IRA not INLA.”

 

“Ellie, your Dad didn’t pull some strings, did he?”

 

“You do have a very suspicious mind, Inspector Knowles, I am sure my Dad had nothing to do with it.”

 

“Do you know Barry Kenyon?” asked Knowles

 

“I don’t think I do, who is he?” Ellie rubbed her nose with the back of her hand.

 

“He was the driver of the excursion train. He stopped under the bridge. You didn’t arrange anything with him, did you? You didn’t throw a pram on the line, so the train would stop under that bridge and allow smoke into the carriage?”

 

“I most certainly did no such thing – I don’t know Barry Kenyon and I couldn’t fit a pram into my little Fiat; I can barely get my shopping in it.”

 

“Are you certain, Ellie?” Knowles was probing without feeling he was 100% sure of what he was saying.

 

Ellie Hammond sat down on a wooden stool and put her head into her hands.

 

“My dad once said that he’d sorted out something nice for Harkness and I’d always assumed that he meant the posting, but I wonder if he did arrange the shooting with a friendly soldier doing the necessary. You’re making me think he meant more than I have always assumed and that is quite scary for me. However, I can assure you that I arranged nothing with the driver of the train and that I had no plans to hurt the Major – I thought he’d suffered enough already and felt sorry for him.”

Frisby Waterless Murders – 65

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders. The third book in the Inspector Knowles series sees Knowles and Sergeant Barnes investigating why the wrong person died on a murder/mystery excursion on a steam train. It seems more than one person wanted the victim dead and the question is: who murdered Major Harkness in full view of 24 people without any of them noticing?

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“Hence the grandma accent,” said Knowles wondering whether grandmas were the only people who still washed their pots and pans by hand. He looked at his own hands and knew the answer.

 

“Pardon me,” said Ellie, “where are my manners, do come inside Inspector and rest your weary bones.”

 

Knowles smiled and walked into the house. The light-blue carpet looked new and complemented the orangey-yellow paint on the walls. There were two Van Gogh prints on the walls.

 

“Shall we go into the kitchen, Inspector?”

 

“Why not, just for a change,” said Knowles.

 

“You usually are invited into the Lounge, I suppose?” said Ellie, “my lounge is a bit of a mess at the moment as I have all my lines written on pieces of paper spread out on the floor.”

 

“These are the lines for the advert?”

 

“No, these lines are for Masha in the Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov.”

 

“And you are performing this where exactly?”

 

“It’s on at the King’s Theatre in Scoresby early in the new year; we take over when the pantomime finishes and usually that extends its run to accommodate the demand to see men dressing up as women and making slightly rude jokes about people in the news.”

 

“Well I hope your performance goes well and that you aren’t affected by the heavy snow we’re supposedly going to get early next year.”

 

“Are we getting heavy snow? I haven’t heard that forecast.”

 

“Well it’s not official,” said Knowles tapping the side of his nose conspiratorially, “but my next door neighbour, but one, is an old soul who has been keeping an eye on the weather for years and he swears by the predictive powers of seaweed. Apparently, he’s never seen his seaweed so limp, or is it stiff I can’t remember, any way whether it’s stiff or limp he’s predicting a cold winter with lots of snow, so you heard it from me first.”

 

Ellie Hammond smirked slightly before nodding her head as if playing along.

“I will blame you if it snows then Inspector.”

 

“No, it’s not my fault the seaweed is limp or stiff, I am just passing along some information that might or might not become true. Blame Mother Nature.”

 

“Is that why you came around, to tell me about the seaweed?”

 

“Well, that and to ask you a couple of questions regarding your father who I believe worked for the Ministry of Defence and may have had some contact with Major Harkness.”

Frisby Waterless Murders – 64

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders. The third book in the Inspector Knowles series sees Knowles and Sergeant Barnes investigating why the wrong person died on a murder/mystery excursion on a steam train. It seems more than one person wanted the victim dead and the question is: who murdered Major Harkness in full view of 24 people without any of them noticing?

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“Yes, Inspector, a man – one of the people from the Round Table.”

 

“He wasn’t going to the toilet at the back of the train?”

 

Mr Davis smiled – “Well, if he did, he was the only person to close the door quietly during the whole trip and put the lock on without a sound. Most people let the door close itself and then ram the bolt across. It hints at desperation in my mind.”

 

Knowles laughed and said his goodbyes. It would soon be getting dark and he had to go to Goat Magna to see Ellie Hammond, who lived on the Manchester Road. Knowles wondered why it was called the Manchester Road as after Goat Magna it headed towards Norwich via Peterborough. He wished he worked as a street namer for the local councils as it must be an easier job than the one he was doing now.

 

Knowles drove out of Scoresby and within fifteen minutes was parked outside Ellie’s semi-detached former council house. The bricks were light brown, almost yellow in fact, and some of the mortar was in need of repair. The garden was neatly displayed with heathers and rose bushes to the fore and a large rhododendron providing some privacy from the neighbours garden. The rickety brown fence had seen better days. A small Fiat was parked in the driveway.

 

Knowles pressed the bell and took a step back to look at the curtains upstairs. Seeing no twitching he waited patiently and then heard someone shout something from within the house. He saw some blurred movement through the glass and then the door was opened on the chain.

 

“Who is it?” asked an elderly voice .

 

“I am Detective Inspector Knowles from Scoresby CID and I would like to speak to Ms Ellie Hammond please.” Knowles placed his warrant card into the gap so that the person could read it.

 

“What is your visit about?” asked the voice.

 

“Well it’s about the murder on the train – is Ellie around?”

 

The door closed tight and then opened fully to reveal Ellie Hammond.

 

“Where did the elderly person go?” asked Knowles in a semi-serious tone.

 

“That was me all along, Inspector, fooled you didn’t I? I am practising for a voiceover in an advert next Monday in London.”

 

“Which product will you be advertising?”

 

“It is a well-known brand of washing up liquid, which some people have used for over 50 years and is still ever so gentle on your hands.”

Frisby Waterless Murders – 63

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders. The third book in the Inspector Knowles series sees Knowles and Sergeant Barnes investigating why the wrong person died on a murder/mystery excursion on a steam train. It seems more than one person wanted the victim dead and the question is: who murdered Major Harkness in full view of 24 people without any of them noticing?

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“And you found out about my uncle, Roger Davis, who was in Iraq at the same time as Major Harkness?”

“That’s correct.”

 

“Well, firstly my uncle and the Major did know each other over in Iraq. The Major was in some kind of intelligence liaison role out there for the MoD. I think this was the time before he was shot and so he was able to move about with ease. My uncle came across him in Baghdad during the course of his work as the Major used to go out on patrol with them. The Major’s role was to meet some of the locals in their own neighbourhoods and talk to them about their views on the occupation by the coalition forces. My uncle accompanied the Major several times and spoke very highly of him. This lasted on and off for about two years, but then my uncle was invalided out of the country as he was in an armoured vehicle blown up by an IED. The Major came to see him in hospital and also visited him back in this country. They became quite close especially after the Major was shot.”

 

“What does your uncle do now?”

 

“Well, he has retired from the army and is enjoying life. He worked in the recruiting department for the army after he’d convalesced. He enjoyed speaking to younger people about the life they could expect in the army and helping them understand what it could offer them in terms of personal growth and experience of other cultures.”

 

“It sounds as though your uncle had a great career.”

 

“He did and as you might have gathered I have no animosity towards either the Major or the army in general.”

 

“Fair enough – did any of the other actors you know have a grudge against the Major or the military?”

 

“I think Ellie’s father was in the MoD and Daisy’s brother, Vince, is a current soldier away on duty somewhere, but I am not sure whether they bore any resentment towards the Major.”

 

“Thank you, Mr Davis, I think I have received all the answers I have been looking for, so I will bid you a fond farewell.”

 

With that Knowles stood up and allowed Mr Davis to escort him to the front door. As Knowles was crossing the threshold, he had a sudden thought.

 

“Mr Davis, when you were about to be served coffee, did you notice whether anyone was walking around the carriage?”

 

“The girl served me, I think her name was Bridie, and someone came past her and said ‘Excuse Me’ – he was heading to the rear of the train. I think she needs to work on the parking of her trolley.”

 

“He?”

The Frisby Waterless Murders – 62

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders

“Who are you playing?”

 

“The Partridge from Rushton Mallory – they are one of the strongest teams in the league, but we beat them earlier in the year at their place and they weren’t best pleased, so will be thirsting for revenge.”

 

“Will they now, well I hope you keep a lid on things Sergeant Barnes.”

 

“I’m sure we will, sir, it ’s only a game after all.”

 

“Well, good luck, Sergeant and see you tomorrow.”

 

With that Knowles stood up and stretched before leaving the room. He was hoping for an early night as he was visiting the gym in the morning on his way into work. He drove out of the car park and headed for Allerton Avenue where John Davis lived at number 38. It was a street of red-brick houses, which were just about detached from each other allowing people to access the rear of the property via a narrow passageway. The front gardens were neatly kept with a predominance of small, square lawns surrounded by flowering shrubs.

 

Mr Davis’s house had a small pond instead of a lawn with a stone heron standing to one side. Some rushes and a water-lily added a touch of colour to the browns and greys of the rocks. Knowles rapped on the white front door using a brass knocker, which appeared to be older than the house and had probably been bought at one of the antique shops on the main square in Scoresby.

 

Knowles recognised the man who opened the door. It was Mr Davis and he was wearing the same pullover as he had on the train. It was a light-red colour that matched the slightly flushed appearance of the owner of the house, though Knowles doubted this was the reason it had been selected.

 

“Hello Mr Davis. I don’t know if you remember me, but my name is Detective Inspector Knowles from the CID here in Scoresby. I have some questions about the recent incident on the train.” Knowles showed Mr Davis his warrant card for further emphasis.

 

“Oh yes, that’s right, I do remember you, please come in.”

 

Knowles followed Mr Davis down the green hallway carpet and into the Lounge, which had a massive stone mantle above the fireplace, which sloped down towards the floor on the right-hand side of the room before finally finishing at the front wall of the house. Knowles wondered whether the mantlepiece and fish pond had been built at the same time.

 

“So, Inspector, do sit down – how can I help you?” Mr Davis stood by the mantelpiece as if to emphasise the sturdiness of the structure. Knowles chose a green leather chair with a view of the fireplace.

 

“Mr Davis, we are obviously looking into the death of Major Harkness and in particular we have been finding out whether any of the people on that train either had a background in the military or had relatives who were in the services at the same time as the dear, departed Major.”

The Frisby Waterless Murders – 61

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders

“Exactly Sergeant Barnes, so perhaps you could ascertain who drew up the seating plan and who knew where they were sitting before they arrived on the train.”

 

“I will do that, sir, the other question I have is why would you murder the Major on a train with lots of people around when there are other quieter places to commit the crime?”

 

“Well, it must be because the murderer could only get near him on the train or wanted someone else to see the Major’s demise, perhaps to punish them too.”

 

“His wife?”

 

“Well possibly – murder her husband because of something her own father did? Maybe. I don’t think so, but perhaps that was the reason. I think the murderer might have helped the Major open the window just after he had been served his coffee. That rules out the stewards who were both helping Mrs Harkness at the time. That’s a shame as they would be the ones who would most likely choose the train for murder as that’s the only occasion they would have any reason to be close to the Major. I wonder where Gerald Kennedy and the Waferr woman were at 9:50 a.m?”

 

“We could ask them?”

 

“They’d choose the train too as they wouldn’t move in the same social circles as the Major under normal circumstances.”

 

“Isn’t that also true of the actors though, sir?”

 

“It is, Barnesy, I suppose it is, but would they have known the seating arrangements before the trip started? The train staff almost certainly would have, but not the actors. They might have known where they were sitting, but not where the members of the Round Table were to be seated.”

 

“Do you think the person who threw the meat at Maudie’s dog was the murderer or one of the attempted murderers?”

 

“Good question; I can’t be sure, but if I were to guess I would say the attempted murderer, who was hoping to kill the Major with a dart shot out of a blowpipe. It’s just a guess though as I am sure you will appreciate. For the dart to be successful the Major would have to be out in the open and not stuck in a remote seat by the window.”

 

“Right, well I suppose I should try and find out who created the seating plan and how it was arrived at, and more importantly who knew the contents and when.”

 

“That’s a good idea – so I will visit John Davis, Ellie, and the Trimbles on my way home; I wasn’t doing that much this evening anyway.”

 

“Right, well all I have to look forward to is a dominoes match at The Lion on Queen’s Square.”

 

The Frisby Waterless Murders – 60

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders

“Vince is still alive though and if he’s out there then he’s not harmed in any way, so what could the Major have done to upset Daisy?”

 

“Stopped Vince getting promotion, perhaps, or had him sent out to Afghanistan again when he didn’t want to go?”

 

“Let’s ask Daisy shall we – Linda do you want to ask her?”

 

“I will do that, Inspector, I should be heading off. I will go home first before heading out to the fishing club, so I’ll probably contact Daisy tomorrow.”

 

“That should be fine, Linda, don’t let those anglers lure you away from the point of your questions.”

 

“Don’t worry, sir, I won’t – I will cast my net wide in the search for the truth.”

 

“Glad to hear it PC Smythe,” said Knowles smiling at her humour.

 

Barnes gave Smythe a mock salute as she left the room.

 

“There’s one other person who has a connection with the military and that’s John Davis – his uncle was in the forces for around twelve years during the 1980s and early 1990s before being invalided out because of a roadside bomb in Iraq. It’s entirely possible that the uncle was there at the same time as the Major.”

 

“Right, I will go and interview Mr Davis and ask him whether he holds a grudge or rather held a grudge against the Major. Maybe he’s one of the three people who believe they have successfully killed off their victim?”

 

“Perhaps he is, Inspector, so you should tell him he’s been unsuccessful in his attempts to commit murder.”

 

“I will break it to him gently, don’t worry about that Barnesy.”

 

“Don’t want to hurt his feelings at all, do you?”

 

“I will mention it to him, in a roundabaout way.”

 

“Sir, you do think that the Major was the intended victim – there’s no way that Maudie Trimble was meant to be the victim?”

 

“Yes, you’ve hit on a good point, which I hadn’t considered – I don’t think that Maudie was meant to be killed, but someone did know where she was sitting and that the Major was likely to be offered that seat if she didn’t turn up. Someone knew the Major would want to move if at all possible due to his leg.”

 

“And that someone knew he’d be easier to murder in Maudie Trimble’s seat because everyone would walk past him at some point. If he’d stayed where he was originally seated then anyone who wanted to get near him would have been seen by up to three people.”

The Frisby Waterless Murders – 59

Excerpt from the book called The Frisby Waterless Murders

“That is possible, Sergeant, but let’s find the murderer first and hopefully the attempted murderers will then become more obvious.”

 

“Right, David Yeung is in the Territorial Army with the role of Captain, but hasn’t been on a joint venture with the army proper, as it were.”

 

“As it were, meaning they were never on joint manoeuvres with the professional soldiers?”

 

“That’s right, sir, they never played with the real soldiers.”

 

“Could that have been a source of friction between them, do you think?”

 

“Who knows – could have been. Maybe Mr Yeung was wound up by the Major about being a part-time soldier rather than a full-time one.”

 

“He doesn’t strike me as being the kind of person who would be bothered by that kind of thing – anyway, is there anyone else?”

 

“Ellie Hammond’s father worked for the Ministry of Defence for 20 years. He died of a heart attack last year. He may at one time have been in liaison with army units in Belfast and Baghdad when the Major was on a tour of duty in both those places. When he returned from Iraq in 1991 Ellie’s father was given a desk job as a reward for his work abroad, although he left the MoD four years later when Ellie was nearly ten.”

 

“Did he now; was he dismissed or did he resign?”

 

“He resigned to be head of security at an engineering firm in the West Midlands.”

 

“Good for him; we should ask Ellie whether this caused her any grief.”

 

“Do you want me to speak to her?

“I will spare you the bother, Barnesy, after all you did the first round of interviews.”

 

“OK, sir, just thought I’d check. Daisy Arnold has a brother who’s in the army right now, serving in Afghanistan.”

 

“How old?”

 

“28 years old and goes by the name of Vince.”

 

“And did he join the army before the Major retired?”

 

“He did, sir, joined when he was 18. The Major has been retired for three years, bar one month, so there would have been plenty of time for their paths to have crossed. I believe young Vince was in the Guards just like the Major.”