Read the first few chapters of ‘The Woolly Murders’…
Picking up the Rich Tea biscuit between his yellowing finger and thumb, Albert Fisher slowly dipped it into the smooth, silken surface of his eleven o’clock cup of tea. Suddenly, his quiet contemplation was shattered by a piercing scream.
“Pa! Come quick! Our Mabel’s running around the garden – naked!”
With a deep sigh, Albert raised his hand and watched as his biscuit dropped, crumb by soggy crumb back into his tea.
The name’s Malone, Detective Inspector Mike Malone. A name of my own choosing, after all, solid alliteration gives that sense of authority that Joe Public seems to like. I had been in this sleepy little town for three months now; three months and I was still waiting for some bombshell to wake the place up – and me. Being a DI can be exciting, exhilarating and energising; it can also be exceedingly, excruciatingly exasperating. However, I had needed this transfer; a change of scene, pace and identity. The Met had been very good to me, letting me go into ‘hiding’ for a while until everything was forgotten.
It was twelve o’clock and the midday sun was beating through the window onto my desk. Rabbits, dogs and butterflies leapt across my notepad as my fingers entwined to create a menagerie of shadow puppets.
Alan Shepherd bounded into my office, scattering the animals into hidden corners. He was bouncing on his toes in excitement.
“A call, Sir. We’ve got one.”
“One what, Shepherd?”
He was quivering with anticipation.
“A case, Sir.”
“Well then, Shepherd, lead the way.”
Shepherd turned on his heels and scampered out of the office with me in hot pursuit.
The Fisher’s cottage might once have stepped off a chocolate box lid. Now however, the whitewash was beginning to peel away from the walls and weeds were invading the cobblestone path. With my trusty Polaroid I took a snap for evidence. Sending Shepherd into the garden to look for clues, I rapped my knuckles on the wooden door to announce my arrival. Hearing nobody say ‘go away’ I entered and found my way to the small, untidy kitchen.
Doris Fisher was sitting on a stool next to the kitchen table, weeping silently into her pink gingham apron. Her husband, Albert, was sitting by the stove with a bundle of rags on his knee.
“Well, what’s the story?” I asked.
Doris Fisher sniffed loudly and the bundle on Albert’s knee moved. Two black eyes appeared and watched Doris, puzzled. Doris sniffed again and wrapped her eyes in her hands. No joy there! I turned to Albert who towered above me – and I was standing.
“What did you see?”
The air in the kitchen vibrated as he shook his head violently. Don’t these people speak? Looking at the bundle that I assumed was Mabel, even though we hadn’t been introduced, I knew that she was one witness that I could not question. So after taking some more snapshots for evidence, I gathered my notebook and nodded a farewell to the Fishers. As I closed the door behind me, flakes of darkness scurried back into the depths of the kitchen as if afraid of the afternoon sun. Now, where was Shepherd?
Walking to the corner of the cottage I observed Shepherd on his hands and knees, sniffing the ground. He always liked to conduct the inch-by-inch examinations himself, and his techniques, although the source of amusement to many in the force were usually very successful. I strode masterfully through the knee high grasses to join him.
“What can you tell me?”
“Two footprints – one person, Sir.”
“No sign of a struggle. A quick and clean operation, Sir.”
I took a couple more snapshots then got out my notebook. Potatoes, milk, cat food. With my shopping list complete, I closed the book with a snap – I love that sound.
“Alright, Shepherd, back to the office. We’ve got a crime-board to start.”
With Shepherd once again on two legs, we left the garden and made our way down the path. As I closed the gate, I saw out of the corner of my eye three sad pairs of eyes watching me from the kitchen window.
© copyright Milly Reynolds 2011