Ebook

Published: Lightning Books (April 2020)

ISBN: 9781785632112

Marrow Jam

Susan A King

£2.99

Murder, mystery...and marrows

SHORTLISTED: Write Here, Right Now competition, Bradford Literature Festival

Some people would describe Beattie Bramshaw as a pillar of the community. Many would applaud her numerous successes in the bakery competition at the annual village show. A small number might say, if pushed, that they find her a little on the bossy side. And one or two might just whisper the words ‘interfering’ and ‘busybody’ behind her back.

But no one would have her down as a murderer.

So why is she being questioned in Dreighton police station after being found in the local allotments, at the dead of night, wielding a kitchen knife just yards away from where local lottery winner, Yvonne Richards, was found stabbed to death? And what does all of this have to do with Doug Sparrow’s prize marrows?

Marrow Jam is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin. It will have you chuckling all the way through many a cup of tea.

EBOOK ONLY, COMING SOON

Extracts

Detective Inspector Grayson stood a short distance from the Formica table and double-checked the details on the arrest sheet — When apprehended the accused was found to be in a state of undress, wearing only a black jumper, black tights, and scuba mask.

On his initial reading he had automatically pictured a late-night reveller, but here sat a woman in her twilight years, wearing a blue rinse and set and very little else. His eyes fell on the undulating form of her thighs, the thick wool of her tights doing little to obscure the tell-tale signs of sprawling cellulite. Yet, despite her lack of clothing, he was surprised to note how at ease she appeared in her surroundings, sitting at the small table teasing minuscule nodules of soil from the woollen pile of her tights before depositing them in a neat stack on the table. A grey cell blanket had been draped across her midriff in an attempt at modesty but, it would seem, a night in the cells had done little to unnerve her.

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Extracts

Dreighton Police Station

Sunday, 19th September 1999 – 6.25am

Detective Inspector Grayson stood a short distance from the Formica table and double-checked the details on the arrest sheet — When apprehended the accused was found to be in a state of undress, wearing only a black jumper, black tights, and scuba mask.

On his initial reading he had automatically pictured a late-night reveller, but here sat a woman in her twilight years, wearing a blue rinse and set and very little else. His eyes fell on the undulating form of her thighs, the thick wool of her tights doing little to obscure the tell-tale signs of sprawling cellulite. Yet, despite her lack of clothing, he was surprised to note how at ease she appeared in her surroundings, sitting at the small table teasing minuscule nodules of soil from the woollen pile of her tights before depositing them in a neat stack on the table. A grey cell blanket had been draped across her midriff in an attempt at modesty but, it would seem, a night in the cells had done little to unnerve her.

He let out a long breath and acknowledged Constable Brown, already seated in the room, with a nod of his head. The constable, in turn, confirmed the attendee had been read her rights.

“And she’s refused the assistance of a solicitor, Sir,” said Brown, raising his hand to make a small circular motion with his index finger to the side of his temple.

Grayson’s eyebrows rose a fraction. That’s all he needed, a fruitcake. Could his day get any worse? Although an early morning summons came with the territory of being on-call, youth was no longer an ally and his body had grown tired of rising at the command of the night shift, the dark grey walls of the interview room the perfect complement for his foul mood. He removed his tweed jacket and placed it on the back of a standard issue plastic chair before signalling, with a wave of his hand, for the constable to push the ‘record’ button on the triple-deck tape recorder. He waited a few seconds to ensure the tape was recording, focusing his eyes on the whirring apparatus. If he did this right, and he held every expectation of doing so, he would make it in time for his customary Sunday lunch at The Crooked Staff on the High Street. He felt his mouth salivate at the thought of their famous crispy crackling, imagining the salty fat coating his tongue, and determined to wrap the interview up quickly. He rested his hands on the back of the chair, the sharp edge of the plastic digging into his palms, keeping him alert.

“The time is 6.29am on Sunday, 19th September 1999. This is Detective Inspector Robert Grayson of Dreighton Local Constabulary. Also present in the room is Constable Trevor Brown, the arresting officer.”

“Very pleased to meet you both, I’m sure.”

Not yet ready to acknowledge her presence, Grayson ignored the interruption and continued. “I am interviewing Mrs Beattie Bramshaw of ...”

“I’m sorry to intrude on your charming introduction, Inspector, but it’s Miss.”

Grayson lifted his eyes to the lady in question. “Pardon?”

“It’s ‘Miss Bramshaw,” she confirmed, rolling a freshly picked clump of mud between her index finger and thumb. “Always has been and, failing a miracle, almost certainly always will be.”

Unable to argue with her foresight, Grayson extracted a mint imperial from the stockpile in his coat pocket, nestling it in the corner of his mouth before continuing. Dinner couldn’t come soon enough.

“Very well, Miss Bramshaw,” he replied. “The time is 6.31am on Sunday, 19th September 1999. This is Detective Inspector Robert Grayson of Dreighton Local Constabulary. Also present in the room is Constable Trevor Brown, the arresting officer.  I am interviewing Miss Beattie Bramshaw of Bluebell Cottage, Main Road, Elmesbury. Miss Bramshaw has declined to have a solicitor present.”

A loud tut escaped her lips, the sound resonating in the small room, and he followed the rise of her eyes toward the ceiling.

What was it with the older generation? Out of all the age groups he had the misfortune to interview, it seemed the senior citizen brigade fancied themselves above the law. She obviously didn’t comprehend the precariousness of her situation. He pulled out the chair and sat down. His elbows anchored on the table top, he used his clasped hands to support the weight of his chin — a favoured stance of his and one he had long since calculated to be neither threatening nor comforting, leaving the detainee wondering whether to trust or fear him. He enjoyed witnessing their uncertainty; twenty six years in the force had instilled in him a need to be respected. He locked eyes with her, determined to exude an air of authority, and cleared his throat.

“Can you explain to me your intentions when discovered on your hands and knees in the Elmesbury allotments at 12.05am with a deadly weapon secreted on your person?”

“Deadly weapon?” asked the old lady, her fingers coming to an abrupt ball-rolling stop.

Grayson reached into the plastic box at his feet and, moving aside two evidence bags containing a torch and scuba mask, extracted a bag labelled ‘No. 1’, secured by a bright red sticker emblazoned with ‘Police Evidence Seal – Do Not Tamper’. “For the benefit of the tape, I’m showing the accused Exhibit No. 1,” said Grayson, dropping the bag into the centre of the table. He stared her in the eye, daring her to deny the obvious.

“Oh for goodness’ sake, that’s not a deadly weapon. That, I can assure you, Inspector, is the 12cm kitchen knife from the Robert Welch Signature range, purchased from Grimm’s Hardware Store in the High Street. I still have the receipt if you want to check it. Ideally, I would have used the 14cm, much more suitable. Unfortunately that’s been missing since the fertiliser incident.”

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ABOUT

Susan A King

Susan A King lives with her husband in a quiet suburb in Hampshire. Between them they have four grown-up sons.

The inspiration for her first novel, Marrow Jam, came from her long experience and observation of competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements.

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