Mystery/Crime, 439 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
DCI Peter Hatherall is called in to investigate a shooting on the Earl of Ditchburn’s country estate. The Earl’s activities have angered animal rights and environmental groups but subsequent deaths suggest Elmsgrove Racehorse Yard is the target. There is more at stake than a horse race and time is running out for Hatherall to solve the case before the culprit kills again.
Jolted from her reverie, Gladys withdrew from the window when the golf buggy came into sight. She called to Bert to come in for lunch and headed to the kitchen. The kitchen was like everything at Elmsgrove…over-sized, expensively decorated with solid wood furniture and plastered with horse images. Gladys placed the plates on the heavy oak table as the three men, her boys, scraped their chairs along the stone floor. It was like clockwork, every day of every year. Gladys was sure…if she ran away, her absence would register only after they looked down to see empty table mats. Only Bert had the decency to wash his hands before sitting down. She had given up insisting a long time ago.
Through a mouthful of food, Ben said, “Did you give a statement to the police?
Gladys put down her cutlery and finished chewing before replying. “I don’t think so. They spoke to me, but nothing was written down.”
“Poor sod, shot through the head they reckon,” Ben continued as he slurped his cup of tea.”
“Must be some Townie,” Mike said. “A drug dealer or an addict, I reckon. Maybe they screwed the bird of the local gang leader and got caught.”
“Michael, not at the table,” Gladys said. She watched the three of them with heads bent over their plates, shovelling in the food without tasting it.
“Bloody fools the police are,” Ben said, waving his fork. “Don’t know their asses from their elbows. Would you believe they started asking questions about my insurance claim from years back? Complete idiots.”
“I expect the proper police will appear tomorrow, Dad. Today’s lot were just the local bobbies who deal with shoplifting and stuff like that.”
Picking at her food, Gladys imagined her picture in the newspapers with the headline, ‘Resting actress solves murder mystery.’ The report went on to say, “Gladys, a well-loved member of the community, solved the case when the local police failed. She gave up her glittering career on the brink of stardom to support her husband’s dreams of training a winner. She was coy and modest when the chief of police thanked her publicly for her gallant bravery and fortitude.
“Gladys! Gladys! Are you listening, woman?”
“Sorry darling, what did you say?”
“I’m going to finish at least an hour late tonight, because of the time wasted dealing with the police.”
Gladys started to clear away the empty plates. “I’ll make supper an hour later, then, sweetie.”
“What are you planning to do this afternoon?”
Placing the plates in the dishwasher, Gladys said, “I might go out for a drive to look for clues.”
“Well for God’s sake, stay out of the way of the police.”
“Don’t worry, darling. I shall wear my invisibility cloak.”
Taking his coat from the stand in the hallway, Ben said, “I do wonder sometimes, what goes on in that daft woman’s head.”
“Nothing of any great interest,” Mike replied. Pulling on his work boots, he added, “I’ve arranged to go out with the lads tonight. Any chance you could lend me a few quid?”
Ben tousled his son’s hair. “Come and ask me later, after you’ve completed a full day’s work.”