Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

Part Two: A Failure of Imagination

“Good Lord, this is tiresome.” Gathercole closed the cover of yet another archaeological journal and placed it face down, reaching to the pile for another. “Are we sure this is everything?”

“Everything that’s been published.” Crispin was still in a state of dudgeon from the early morning, but he was dutifully ploughing his way through his own share of the journals.

Gathercole stifled a yawn. “We are looking for something meaningful, something singular, something that speaks to ritual or ab-natural forces. This Professor Bradley seems driven to paroxysms of near sensual joy by a few fragments of pot.”

“Why couldn’t he be interested in the Romans or the Greeks? What I wouldn’t give for a plate illustration of a saucy mosaic or a wall-painting of Apollo about now. Instead, it’s pieces of pot, animal bones and the occasional rusted lump that might, perhaps, in a certain light, be a cloak pin.”

“This is like finding hen’s teeth,” Gathercole harrumphed and turned back a page, having lost focus.

Crispin raised a finger. “All chicks have a special structure on their beak called an egg tooth, which they use to breatk their shell. So a hen’s tooth would be much easier to find than this.”

A white-haired librarian woman with thick glasses appeared around one of the stacks. “Would you mind keeping it down, gentlemen? Students are trying to learn.”

“I do apologise madam.” Gathercole inclined his head slightly.

“Oh, Professor Bradley’s work? Poor man. We’re all quite distraught to hear of his passing. One wonders who could do such a thing.” The woman tutted and shook her head.

“Or what…” Gathercole opined before Crispin gave him a sharp look. “I’m sorry, we’re assisting the police in the matter of his passing. Is this all his work? We’re hoping we might find some clue.”

“Oh, yes, this is everything. Everything that has been published at least. I pride myself on a complete catalogue, at least as it relates to the university and the record of work relating to it.”

“So there is unpublished work?” Gathercole leaned forward in the soft, yielding leather seat, which resisted his efforts.

“Yes, it can take a long time to make revisions and so forth to get published. There’s two or three papers he’s been working on, and everything relating to the Coldham dig site of course.” She couldn’t help herself, and she bent down to tidy the chaotic stacks of journals they had left strewn over the table.

“The Coldham dig site?” Gathercole was standing now, and Crispin reluctantly followed him up to his feet.

“Feelan’s Copse, find of a lifetime he said. Forever harping on about the amateur archaeologists of the past stamping around like elephants. This place was unspoilt, he said. They finished the dig not too long ago.”

“And his work on this site would be where?”

“Well, in his office.”

“Thank you, you’ve been most helpful!” Gathercole strode away on his long legs, leaving Crispin to offer the librarian his hurried apologies before he gave pursuit.

The Professor’s study wasn’t in a position of particularly good standing, tucked away in a warren of rooms and corridors, far from the light of the sun and thick with dust. There was nobody to stop them, and it wasn’t locked, but the state of the room left a great deal to be desired. The police had, clearly, already been here and while they had methodically swept the room for clues, they had not put everything back in the precise order that, presumably, the Professor had kept things in.

Gathercole began to methodically work his way through the papers and notes while Crispin half-heartedly leafed through bits and pieces and ran his fingertips across the folders on the shelves, not entirely sure what he was looking for. It took hours, and even Gathercole’s tenacious and analytical mind began to fray a little around the edges.

“Blast it, Crispin, there’s nothing here about Coldham or Feelan’s Copse other than this near illegible note begging the bursar for some funds. Another blasted dead end.”

“Hmm?” Crispin had fallen asleep a while go, in the battered arm chair that was the only other furniture in the room.

“You could have at least pretended to help for a little longer,” Gathercole snapped at him, reproachfully and got up. The study chair rolled back on its wheels into a stack of books and Gathercole yanked the door to the study open. He almost got a punch in the face, a pair of young men were standing there, one mid-knock upon the door, almost overbalancing as the door opened before him.

“Good Lord!” The first student gasped. “I’m so sorry!”

Gathercole gathered himself with a slight cough, straightening the lapels of his pale suit. “Quite alright young fellow, can I help you with anything?”

The first man looked a little crestfallen at the question, his friend, in a rather natty straw skimmer with a band in the university colours, burgundy and black, spoke up. “We are students of Professor Bradley, old boy. Were, rather, I should say. We’re trying to make do until we get a new Professor and we drew the short straw to look up the lesson plans and the last papers we handed in.”

“Who are you exactly?” The glum-looking, hatless student looked up.

“We’re consultants for the constabulary,” Crispin spoke up as Gathercole was lost for words for a moment. “We’re investigating his death, supplementing their work.”

“We may be able to help you with the papers and lesson plans, we’ve gone through this whole office. One moment.”

Gathercole ducked back into the office and tugged the papers from the shelf, holding them out to the students.

As the hatless young man was about to take them, Gathercole pulled them back, as though changing his mind. “Perhaps you could help us in return? It seems like a lot of the records are missing, particularly about the most recent dig?”

“Ah,” said the skimmer-wearer. “Well, that was only just finished, it’s all still in process. Laid out in one of the storerooms. It’s going to be a bit of a task to get everything in order without the Professor. He was a frightful stickler for doing things properly, the blighter, but a wise old head on matters scientific.”

“You can show me where these finds are?”

“Of course sir, happy to.”

Gathercole gave over the paperwork, and the two young fellows led them through the impenetrably labyrinthine corridors of the university.

Crispin trailed along beside, still thoroughly bored, though he’d seemed to have lightened up a little in the company of the student boys. “This is starting to take me back a bit Gathercole, pair of handsome of bucks like this, almost enough to make me miss it.”

“You’re incorrigible, Crispin.” Gathercole gave him an affectionate biff on the arm as they followed the students into the storeroom.

Electric lights brightened as they warmed up, a series of overhead metal lamps that gave the cement floor and brick walls an even more stark and unforgiving look than they would already have had. All over the floor were crates and boxes of finds, trinkets, broken cloak-ins, pieces of broken pottery, coins, carved stones with spirals upon their surfaces and more.

Gathercole began to move through the finds, mentally cataloguing them as he did, searching for the ineffable something that smacked of the ab-natural.

“The Professor recorded where everything was found in these notebooks, we’d begun double-checking everything. The low numbers are the outer finds, the high numbers are the inner finds. Letters indicate what manner of find it was, roughly most significant to least significant, ‘A’ through ‘Z’. Everything’s labelled too.” Said skimmer-boy.

“I say, William, this crate’s still closed. The label says one-‘A’,” Crispin called out. “I say, fellows, what’s in this one?”

“That’s the chap who was buried in the mound. Fragile skeletal remains, some grave goods. We hadn’t finished indexing them when what happened, happened.” The hatless lad was still rather dour and sad.

“Can we open it up?” Gathercole moved to the crate and rested his hand upon it.

“Na ye bloody-well kin nae open it up!” They all turned and the bellowing shout. It was a short, bald man in red-brown tweed, with a robust scots accent. He puffed on his pipe and growled around it, giving him the appearance of a rather red-faced steam locomotive. “Grey, Winston! Explain yersel, who oor thaese men, eh?”

Skimmer spoke up. “Sorry Professor Sievwright! They’re working with the police on Professor Bradley’s death. They asked to see the finds.”

“And did yae ask for their credentials?” Sievwright’s accent faded as his fury abated, though clearly, it took effort.

“No, sir.”

“Sorry, sir.”

“Away wi’ ye, and as for you two gentlemen. Gae oot!” The accent came back as quickly as it had faded as his face reddened again.

“Sir, if we’re to solve this case we simply must…” Gathercole strove to be diplomatic, but they were all interrupted a second time.

This time it was a young woman, togs and boots, a flowy blouse, a tam on her head, she cut quite the modern figure. She was white as a sheet, though, and her voice was all a-quiver. “Professor, Winnie, Flusher, there’s been another death. It’s Willy. Like Bradders, at his boarding house. The police won’t let anyone see him!”

Gathercole and Crispin shared a glance, that settled it. There were more urgent things afoot than a box. The scots guard dog could wait.

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Stain is your stereotypical washed-up cop. He’s good for nothing, surfing a life of indolence and drunkenness on past glories until he can get to retirement. Then, weirdly, he gets given a serious and important case and may have to reassess his life and career.

Stain is one of a series of ‘neopulp’ short stories I have written, updating the pulp tropes of the 20s-40s with a more modern sensibility, though not necessarily a more modern setting.

You can buy Stain HERE.

It is also bundled with my other short stories HERE

It will be available on other vendors (Lulu, Kindle etc, soon).

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Charlston P Buttcat (Esq)

Charleston P Buttcat (Esq)

I took my furry companions in to the vet to be snipped this morning. I did not want to do it particularly, despite understanding why it’s important (too many rescue kittens, feline AIDS, antisocial cat behaviour etc). We’d put it off because we wanted Charlie Cat to be a ‘proper’ cat. That is a no-bullshit, fully-grown tomcat. Plus he’s such an awesome cat he should have the opportunity to sire some kittens.

So, after a bit of a fight (I only lost two feet square of skin and one eye) both cats, Nik and Charlie, were safely secured in their respective carriers and off we went to the vets with a chorus of yowling. All the way there I harboured a sense of deep unworthiness. I was betraying my dudes.

We get to the vet, fill out all the forms, have a nice chat with a vet assistant from the village and then take the boys in for their pre-flight check.


Charlie’s nards are nowhere to be found.

Are we sure we didn’t have him done?


Are we sure he wasn’t done when we got him (8 weeks old). We’re sure, but we call the lady we got him from (my mum’s cousin) to check. Definitely no, that’s too young to get them done.

Does he act like a tomcat? Yes. He ranges far and wide, he hunts a lot. We’re pretty sure he’s sired kittens and while we don’t go regularly checking our cat’s genitalia we’re pretty sure we remember him having a pair of black, furry walnuts back there.

Vet goes to get a second opinion. That vet can’t see any balls either.

They both feel up his belly in case they’re undescended (this can happen, but is rare, and double undescended testicles is almost unheard of). Can’t feel anything in his belly to suggest retained nads.

Charlie suffers the indignity of having his genitals shaved as the quest for the golden balls continues.

Nothing. We do find what could be a well-healed scar, though the vet isn’t completely sure.

The possibilities are as follows:

  1. Charlie Cat has an incredibly rare medical condition where his testes are internal, but none of the vets can feel them in there with a touch exam.
  2. Some motherfucker kidnapped my cat and, without my consent, had him snipped.

Given the only option to settle the issue was expensive and dangerous exploratory surgery I elected not to go ahead and brought him home.

I’m making a bit of a joke of it here, but I’m actually super upset. We made an informed and conscious decision not to have him snipped and it appears some bastard decided they knew better. He’s unlikely to have been picked up as a stray since we live out in the country and there’s no farm-cat colonies around here any more (and there haven’t been for some considerable time). So someone in the village took it upon themselves to do this to my cat, my friend, muse and companion.

Nikopotamus Q Needleclaw (OBE)

Nikopotamus Q Needleclaw (OBE)

Why didn’t we notice? I’m not in the habit of checking my cats’ genitals, plus Charlie has pretty thick belly and butt fur that covers him up a bit.

Charlie has obviously been violated (this must be what alien abduction ‘victims’ feel like) but I also feel violated. It’s not unlike the feeling of being robbed or of a friend being beaten up. Someone has invaded something or someone you love and done harm to them. Violated their personal sanctity.

Nik’s still getting the snip though. Go back to pick him up this afternoon.

Poor little sod 😦

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I think my next project, once my brain sorts itself out, will be a collection of short genre-erotica. The idea’s been teasing at me and I intend to do the same sort of format that I did for the pulp stories. That is, approximately 6k stories with approximately 1.5k word ‘episodes’ in four parts forming the story as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll post the pre-edited versions here as I did before, but I might.

The current plan, subject to change, would be:

  1. The Other Woman – An espionage story about a female agent of particular talent and deadly ability.
  2. Tiger Bone – An adventure story about tourists running afoul of tiger poachers.
  3. The Lady in the Castle – A fantasy story about a spoiled brat of a maid waiting in her tower for her prince to come.
  4. Cold Hands – A horror story or ‘paranormal romance’ in which a woman takes a vampire for her lover but things don’t turn out sparkles and rainbows.
  5. No Refuge – A ‘grande guignol’ mystery in which an adulterous lover is betrayed by his unconscious mind.
  6. Heart of Glass – A detective story in which our detective tries to track down a gang of jewel thieves known for using sex as a weapon.
  7. Have a Heart – A science fiction story about a jealous robot.
  8. Conqueror of the Clouds – A steampunk story of an amazing airship and its unconventional captain.
  9. Iron in the Fire – A western story about an ambitious saloon girl dealing with her competition.
  10. Debt before Dishonour – A fantasy story in which a sell-sword finds himself on the slave blocks of Khem.
  11. The Ambassador – A science fiction story about the obsequiousness of humanity in serving a more advanced race.
  12. The Suitor – A horror story about a very persistent suitor.

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A vigilante, a ‘working class Batman’, aims to bring Justice to the streets in the 1970s. A pulp style story of corruption, violence and murder. How high does the corruption go and what can one man with a gasmask and a tool-belt do about it?


Kindle – Soon, search Amazon



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There are pubs for all sorts of people. There are pubs for cops, sportsmen or criminals. There are pubs for politicians and barristers. There are pubs for the Irish and the Scots. I suppose I should drink with other policemen, but I don’t often feel like it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I want to commiserate and bemoan the state of the world, to listen to the self-satisfied assertions that we’re the thin blue line against the chaos.

Most of the time I drink somewhere else.

There’s a pub in Camden where the freaks and the geeks, the trannies and the fetishists, the queens and would-be artists like to get together before and after they go clubbing and it’s here. Amongst the freaks that I get to actually feel vaguely normal. They’re a surprisingly accepting bunch and they know to leave me alone. The music’s atrocious, but I feel that way about all music, so that’s not a big problem for me.

The best thing about it is, with a clientèle of students and starving artists, the drinks are cheap – at least by London’s standards. That means I can afford the decent whisky long enough to get me too drunk to care about the cheap crap. Once you’re numb, even supermarket vodka tastes fine. You’ve just got to get there first.

I was working on getting there.

I’d managed to camp out a seat at the bar before the black-clad night people emerged from their clubs like bats and by the time they swirled in around me bickering and having loud, melodramatic, teenage drama I was already half-cut.

“ROUGH DAY EH?” The barman, Bob, shouted over the caterwauling music.

“YES,” no point saying much more, finesse wouldn’t be heard over the deafening hubbub.

He took the bottle down from the optics and filled my glass, waving away the twenty I tried to give him. Bob earned himself a place as patron saint of drunk cops in my personal pantheon.

I drank until Bob closed up. He let me stay an hour after and I worked my magic, making most of the rest of the bottle disappear. Even Bob’s largesse runs out after a while though and then you’re out on the street in the evening air with the rest of the drunks, the tramps the cleaners and the freaks. My people.

What was waiting for me at home? Fuck all really. A broken kitchen window and neighbours I should be arresting for one thing or another. I didn’t feel like going back there so I just wandered all through the night. I remember some of it. Finding a late-opening bar that kept me drunk until five in the morning. A garage where I picked up some B&H and a small bottle of awful Canadian whiskey that tasted like molten earwax. I remember a kebab and I remember being sick but apart from that a lot of it is a hazy blur until I was coming to, halfway through a four-pack of Red Bull with the sun coming up over the houses.

I had the Godzilla of hangovers. I was exhausted. I stank. My face was as rough as wholegrain granary toast and I was busting for a piss something chronic. I was also angry. Really, really, really fucking angry. I took a hosing slash in the bushes next to a drive-through KFC and bought a cheap coffee and that made me feel a lot better.

The Corsa was back home, where it belonged. I was in no fit state to drive anyway. I had to take the tube back to the station and some early commuter must have taken pity on me because when I woke up at my stop, some well-meaning fuck had put a two pound coin in my cup, that I nearly swallowed. That just put my anger over the top. I kept it and I used it.

No matter how bad I stank my warrant card got me into the station and I swayed my way to my desk, falling back into my seat with a thump and took care to make several, very deliberate, coffee-ring stains on the table before I passed out.

I woke up after, maybe an hour, with Cord wafting a cup of bitterly gag-inducing coffee under my nose. “Ugh, fuck, green lipstick Cord, really?”

“You alright Sir?” She pressed the hot polystyrene cup into my hand and I gave it a shot, but it was foul.

“They’re out of the good stuff again I suppose?” I grimaced and set it aside. My face must have looked like one of those old Tom and Jerry cartoons when they eat some Alum, whatever the fuck that is.

“Yeah, sorry…” She actually, genuinely looked contrite.

“Is DCI Baker in yet?” I grumbled, standing up. The shift must have wafted some of my funky street smell her way because Cord visibly paled and held her hand in front of her nose.

“He should be, it’s eleven.”

“Christ…” I gulped back the coffee, holding my nose, and slapped my face a couple of times to wake up. “Right, I’m going to see him. Hold the fort Cord and, uh, thanks, I guess. For the coffee.”

The nap had robbed me of some of that ‘wrath of god’ anger I’d been feeling but the headache I still had and the long walk to Baker’s office brought a lot of it back. I didn’t knock I just waltzed right in, leaving the door ajar behind me. Startling Baker as he sat behind his desk, tapping away at the computer like a life-long secretary, the smug shit.

“Stane? What the hell do you think you’re doing just walking in here? I could have been in a sensitive meeting!” He sniffed the air. “You’re drunk. You stink. Just who the hell do you think you are? You’re on duty. You have a duty to uphold certain standards, to reflect the force in a good light!”

I shut the door while he ranted away, all bluster and public-school diction.

Then I gave him a slap. That shut him up, at least for a moment.

“Baker. The Penfold case. It’s bollocks. You know it’s bollocks. That’s why you put me on the case. That’s why Jones’ is watching over me. That’s why you’ve given me an MIT made up of fucking kids…”

He raised his voice, started forming a word, I think it was going to be ‘How dare you?’ but I cut him off with another slap. “I’m not done talking you fucking cockweasel. You listen to me for once.”

“You think I’m fucking stupid? I checked the records. Jones works the child porn cases and him and his little gang of mates have a hardon for busting the nonces. Must be frustrating when things don’t go their way eh? I bet it gets so frustrating they stamp their little feet and if someone’s head happens to be under it at the time… well, can’t be helped, right”

“I don’t think…” I slapped him again. He didn’t seem to be able to believe someone would do that to him. He wasn’t even trying to defend himself. It was like it was a bad dream or something for him.

“Jones’ tried to keep me from seeing the CCTV footage, but everyone keeps digital backups these days. So all I had to do was go back, flash my warrant card and get them to tell me all over again. Blamed it on computer error. People will believe anything if you say that.”

He raised his hand and I grinned. It was nice to be dishing out the shit for once. “Yeah, you can speak.”

“Why the fuck do you care Stane? What’s it to you if one unprosecutable child molester gets stamped to death?”

I blinked at him, stared into his affronted face and shook my head. “If I told you all human life is precious and everyone deserves our protection you probably wouldn’t believe me and I don’t know that I would either. No, I’m happy to sit on this one for you and have it go unsolved. Like you said, nobody gives a shit about a dead nonce.”

“Then,” he spread his hands over his desk, wary that I was going to slap him again. “Why do you care?”

“I care because you’re treating me like a cunt. You didn’t think I’d work out what was going on. You did everything you could to make sure I wouldn’t. You thought I was incompetent, washed up. I’m fucking not, am I Baker? Am I?”

“No,” he admitted. “You’re not.”

“So, I’m going to keep all this information in a nice safe place, just in case, and you’re going to bring me back in permanent. You’re going to get me an assistant, and I don’t give a pint of bear’s jism if they’re scared or superstitious. I need someone to do my donkey work.”

“Blackmail Stane? Really?” His brow furrowed deep and he seemed to regain some of his dignity, getting back up onto his feet. “Sure you wouldn’t like a promotion too? Perhaps a cake?”

I flipped a B&H into my mouth, I was going to need a smoke after this. “No Baker, I’m not greedy. That’s all I want.”

“Alright then. I don’t like it, but I can live with it,” the cheeky cunt had the temerity to offer me his hand to shake, to seal the deal. I reached for it, but stopped, just short.

“Oh, there’s one last thing guv.” I slapped him again, hard, knocking him off his feet onto the blue carpet tiles. “Never underestimate me again.”

I slammed the door behind me as I left. This, was going to be the best cigarette ever.

Now where was my damn lighter?

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You’ve seen police offices on television right? The jocularity, the shitty coffee, the philosophising around the water cooler or in the lift. It’s all bollocks. Modern policing is much like any modern office job. Most of the time seems to be spent sat in front of a computer filling out spreadsheets, or going to endless meetings. It sucks balls, especially since so many of the support staff were let go. I can’t type worth a shit and I can’t find my way around a database with a detailed map and two digital sherpas.

There’s no escaping it these days though. Targets and work assessment, meeting the needs and perceptions of the public, serving the politicians, anything but actually nailing crooks and putting them away. Unless they’re nice, dreddlocked middle class kids objecting to tuition fees. Then it’s time to put on the riot gear and break some fucking heads.

Early for me when I’m not at work is two in the afternoon. Eight or nine in the morning is another country and getting in to work by car – which for some fucking reason I thought seemed like a good idea – was a trial an a half. Congestion charge… it’s bollocks. It’s like the tax they slap on tabs every fucking budget, captive audience, dress it up as something socially progressive to justify sucking more cash out of your pockets. Not that I can smoke in the office any more either. Bastards.

My desk might as well have been in any number of cubicle farms from any number of firms in the city. Flat screen monitor, filthy keyboard. The bastard cleaners had taken the opportunity to clean my desk while I was on forced leave and without my filth layered over it, it was like it belonged to someone else.

Hunt and peck, that’s my typing style. Slow as buggery, but I’ve never gotten used to the damn things. Other than the office computer the last electronic device I spent any time with was a Nintendo 64 and typing’s not a big issue when you’re playing Goldeneye. I open the files and see what we have. Specs and his crew have been busy and have filled a load of hard-drive space with pictures, results, speculations and waffle. He hadn’t listened to my post-it note comment and I was forced to wade through all his crap to get to anything that was actually pertinent.

What we did have confirmed what I’d thought, four assailants, their approximate shoe sizes, the likelihood of the victim being brought in by car. Everything I’d seen and said but justified by pages of jargon. It was a snooze-fest, especially without a cig. At least someone had bought in some of the better instant coffee. It almost made it bearable.

Jones stopped by with bad news. There’s was bugger all on the CCTV cameras, nothing useful anyway. Nor were there any witnesses. Which was just fucking typical. It was a bullshit case and we all knew it. They’d just brought me in as a token, a sop, to make it look good on the reports that quarter.

When Jones left to go back to his desk there wasn’t anything else immediately pressing on me to do. So I sloped off out for a fag with the rest of the reprobates. Wouldn’t you know it though? Lost my fucking lighter. Again. Fortunately one of the girls had one and held it up to give me a light.

“Cheers luv.”

“Aren’t you Stane?” She asked, so I actually paid attention to her. Short, pretty strong looking woman. Red hair in a short bob that didn’t suit her, made her face look fat. A mess of freckles. Rumpled women’s suit and that same bright-eyed look specs had.

“Yeah, you?”

“DC Cord. I’m supposed to be on your MIT. I was just going to bring you something on your case after I finish up here.”

“Yeah?” If she put having a fag above work maybe she wasn’t so bad after all, even if she was young.

“We got an ID from the teeth the forensics guys managed to find,” she reached into her suit jacket an pulled out a crumpled few sheets of print out. “I’ll add it to the case data when I finish up, but you may as well have this.”

I took another long drag on my cig, staring lustily at her Marlboro and tucked the bits of paper into my trouser pocket, “Can you just give me the short version?”

“Samuel Penfold. Couple of convictions for indecent exposure. Suspected kiddie-fiddler and child pornographer. Nothing recent though.”

“Penfold? Ooh, eck!” I laughed a cloud of fag smoke and coughed. She looked at me like I’d fallen off the fucking Moon. “Before your time I suppose,” I sighed. Getting old is a shitty, shitty thing. “Well that explains the severe cock-stomping he got I guess. Some sort of revenge thing. Just got to find out who he pissed off. Nothing recent you said?”

“Not for a handful of years. Either he’s cured or he got careful.” That lipstick didn’t suit her either, but I’ll be damned if the smoke blowing from her mouth wasn’t holding my attention.

“Under investigation for anything?”

“Perpetually, but nothing’s stuck for a long, long time.”

“Anything serious?” I tossed the butt of my cig down on the ground with its fallen brothers and ground it out with my shoe.

“No, just a suspect in trading child porn online lately. I mean, that’s serious, but nothing ‘real’ if you see what I mean.”

“Alright, cheers Cord, guess we’ll get the word out and see what happens.”

I left her to finish her cig and went back to my desk. I made the calls I needed to and I suppose the information must have gone out on the radio or something, because by the time I went out to buy myself a chicken wrap from Marks’ for lunch there was a sweet little angry mob outside the station. A handful of men and women with hastily made placards. Turned out they were protesting us spending any police time or resources trying to find out who’d murdered a known nonce.

The Great British public, god love ’em, hang ’em and flog ’em and bugger the consequences of a miscarriage of justice. I tried not to let them put me off wrap but it did get me to thinking. Really, honestly, nobody gave a shit that this guy was dead. Nobody is as hated in the public eye, or even by other criminals, than a nonce. This case was smelling even more of bullshit than before.

I might be shit at computers, but I’m dogged where it counts. I was, literally, the only person who gave a shit about poor, peanut-headed Penfold, the kiddie fiddler. Nobody else working the case gave a tinker’s cuss. Jones’ wasn’t even a murder investigator. Specs and his team were well-meaning, but clueless. Even Cord, it turned out when I checked her record, had only been made a detective constable a week ago.

It wasn’t like I had anything better to do though. My brain was itching for a puzzle. No point wasting Jones’ or Cord’s time. They probably had other stuff going on. They’d probably appreciate a slow day anyway. I took it upon myself, then, to go over absolutely everything. Finger-pecking away on the keyboard and writing copious notes in my scribbled handwriting over the backs of the never-ending supply of memos and notices.

I read all of Penfold’s previous cases, even though his name made me snigger at my desk. I looked over the open case investigating him on child porn charges. They had nothing on him. It certainly seemed like he’d gone straight. I looked into Cord and Jones, it was obvious why a washed up fuck like me had been put on this case, it wasn’t so obvious when it came to them.

The last thing was to go back to the scene of the crime and check it out again for myself. To check Four-eyes’ work and do a follow up on Jones’ investigations. That’s when it all fell neatly into place and I figured out what the hell was going on.

That was also when I decided to get drunk off my tits.

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