‘Is it yourself?’
Detective Inspector Joseph Aloysius Rafferty winced as his mother’s voice threatened to pierce his eardrum. And, although briefly tempted to plead not guilty, he had to agree that yes, it was himself.
Surely, he demanded plaintively of his reflection in the hall mirror, a hangover, a murder, and his mother all in one morning were more than any man should be expected to cope with? Especially at six thirty and after less than four hours sleep. This was his first murder case as Senior Investigating Officer, and he was keen to do well. Of course the sadistic fates immediately put the kibosh on that by ensuring he had celebrated his promotion not wisely, but too well the night before.
To say he was feeling fragile was an understatement. The last thing he needed was his Ma putting on her best wheedling voice, and he hurried to get his excuses in before she got into her stride. ‘I can’t stop, Ma. Sergeant Llewellyn will be picking me up any minute.’
‘I won’t keep you then, son, but I didn’t know who else to turn to, and what with the wedding and all…’
Rafferty frowned, and stared at his rapidly cooling mug of tea. News of the murder had already taken its toll on his hung-over wits, but the word “wedding” on his Ma’s tongue was even more worrying, and he struggled to get his brain into gear. ‘What wedding?’
‘I know Jack’s only a distant cousin,’ she remarked briskly, ‘but surely you haven’t forgotten that he’s over from Dublin to marry my niece, Deirdre?’
That wedding. Rafferty scowled. How could he have forgotten that Jailhouse Jack, the world’s most incompetent criminal, was preparing to plight his troth and pass his genes on to the next generation? What a wonderful addition to a policeman’s close family the bridegroom would be. Thank God the happy couple would be going back to Ireland straight after the wedding, and surely even Jack could stay out of trouble for the few weeks he’d be—
‘He’s in a spot of bother, Joseph.’ After shattering his hopes, his mother didn’t pause for either of them to catch their breath but went on to explain that his troublesome cousin was being held at the Harcombe nick on suspicion of lifting a lorry load of whisky. ‘I know what you’re going to say,’ she continued, before he could get a word in, ‘but this time I’m convinced he didn’t do it.’
That would be a first, Rafferty thought, thankful that between them, the Irish Sea, and a three-times removed cousinship, usually kept Jack from embarrassing him.
‘It would be a shame if he got put away right before the wedding. Can you go and see him and sort it out, son? I wouldn’t ask, only I’ve had Deirdre here half the night, crying her eyes out. She’s scared she’ll have to cancel the wedding.’
Rafferty scowled. Better for her – and him – if she did. Jack was already causing aggravation, so God knew what trouble he’d cause if they managed to make it to the altar. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate with his first murder investigation as Senior Investigating Officer without being expected to sort out Jack’s little problem. Especially as one of his old enemies was in charge at Harcombe, and as soon as he set foot in that nick and revealed his mission of mercy, the shit would hit the fan.
His relatives were the limit, especially as some of them felt that if they must have a copper in the family, he might at least have the decency to be a bent one.
Rafferty consoled himself with the thought that he hadn’t made a firm date with the looming fates. Jack could cool his heels for a bit, and then maybe Deirdre would have come to her senses. After all, he now remembered, the wedding was still two weeks off. He had plenty of time.
His Ma must have read his mind, with that uncanny ability of mothers everywhere, because she commented tartly, ‘It’s not everyone that avoids matrimony like you, Joseph.’
He ground his teeth, frustrated that she should still be harping on that. Unfortunately, the hoped-for remarriage of her braw boy was ever close to his mother’s heart. Rafferty broke in quickly before she got into her stride. ‘I haven’t the time for that, Ma,’ he told her firmly. He glanced out of the window of his Essex flat and shivered. The day was bleak, the mist off the North Sea was thick, and he could barely see the shoreline. For once he was pleased to see his Sergeant drive onto the forecourt.
But that feeling didn’t last long. He changed his mind when Llewellyn moved the car closer, and he was able to see his new sergeant’s thinly-handsome face. Llewellyn consulted his watch, and then gazed up at Rafferty’s window with a suffering-bravely-borne expression. Rafferty scowled again.
Llewellyn had transferred from Gwynedd in Wales, and Superintendent Bradley, after interviewing him, seemed to think Llewellyn was the ideal foil for him. He’d only been in Essex for a few days, but already he was getting on his nerves. All right, he was nifty with the computer, but his pernickety personality invited put downs.
Added to Llewellyn, the fact that the new Super had decided he didn’t like Rafferty’s face made him reluctant to get out of bed in the morning. Rafferty didn’t know why their new super had taken a dislike to him, but after a month of putting up with Bradley’s snide comments every time he had to report to him, the feeling was mutual. It was fortunate that his promotion had come through before Bradley was confirmed in post, because it was evident, that if Bradley had his way, he’d be bumped down a rank, not up one.
Rafferty sighed. It was turning into one of those days, and he hadn’t even left the flat yet. For once he managed to interrupt his Ma in full flow, and said firmly, ‘I really must be off. Llewellyn’s here.’ He paused, wishing he didn’t have to tell her, but he’d never hear the end of it if she had to find out from the papers. Taking a deep breath, he said quickly, ‘There’s been a murder.’ He allowed sufficient time for her to give an echo of the “M” word, before continuing. ‘Yes. It’s rather a nasty one. A young girl.’
According to Bill Beard, the desk sergeant, the girl had been brutally battered, her face left in such a state that it would have looked more at home on a butcher’s slab. ‘She was found at that private psychiatric hospital here in Elmhurst and—’
His Ma’s swift intake of breath echoed down the line. ‘It’ll be one of them dangerous cyclepaths escaped. They’re always doing it. The people in charge of these places should be locked up. You stay well away, son,’ she advised firmly. ‘Let that superintendent sort it out.’
Rafferty gave a hollow laugh. ‘I am a policeman, Ma. And I’ll be in charge of this one. They promoted me, remember?’ Still smarting from his superior sergeant’s last correction of his own imperfect use of the English language, Rafferty said, ‘And it’s psychopath, not cyclepath. Not that he necessarily is one,’ he added hastily. ‘Just because the girl was found in a psychiatric hospital, doesn’t mean one of the patients did it, you know.’
‘Doesn’t mean to say they didn’t, either,’ she retorted. She tutted worriedly .’Sly as a fox, some of them. You watch your step son.’
He intended to. ‘I’ve got to go.’ No doubt the rest of the team would already be there working hard and calling him rude names in his absence. ‘About Jack, Ma, stop worrying. I’ll see to it.’ He knew he’d never hear the end of that, either, if he didn’t. But at least she’d dropped the matchmaking mama role. For the moment. He lifted the mug to his lips.
‘Thanks son.’ Now pride edged some of the worry out of her voice. ‘I’ll tell Deirdre that “My son, The Police Inspector’s got it in hand, and Jack’s as good as free”.’
Rafferty practically choked on his tea. He wished he shared his Ma’s confidence that springing the prospective bridegroom would be as easy as catching him usually was.
‘Well, I won’t make you late for your murder. Look after yourself, Joseph, and don’t take any nonsense from any of them high and mighty doctors at that hospital. Arrest the lot of them if you have to.’
He almost laughed out loud at this blasphemy from the normally doctor-venerating Kitty Rafferty. It was only his throbbing head that stopped him. Instead, he dryly commented, ‘I’ll bear it in mind, Ma. Good-bye.’
FREE! Get the first four novels in my 18-strong Rafferty and Llewellyn British Mystery Series
A total of 939 pages. A BARGAIN IN ANYONE’S LANGUAGE!
Here are the blurbs:
DEAD BEFORE MORNING #1
British Detective Joe Rafferty and his partner, Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn in a murder mystery involving the killing of a young woman bludgeoned beyond recognition, with no ID and found in a secure place to which she supposedly had no admission. Who is she? How has she gained access? And who was responsible for her murder? These are just a few of the questions the detective duo must answer in this first novel in the cozy mystery series. With difficulties besetting them on all sides, including their own superintendent and a media that has decided to adopt the case of the ‘Faceless Lady’ as their own personal crusade for justice, newly-promoted Inspector Rafferty has something to prove.
DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN #2
British Detectives Joe Rafferty and his partner, Dafyd Llewellyn, in their second murder mystery investigation, set out to discover who killed Barbara Longman, a woman with no known enemies. But when it soon becomes apparent that the murder has been committed by someone who must have known the victim well, the police investigation shifts to the victim’s family, the wealthy and influential Shores. Rafferty suspects that Charles Shore, not a man known to forgive failure, will use his influence to damage Rafferty’s career should he fail to find the murderer.
DEATH LINE #3
Third novel in the Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series, Death Line sees the detective duo trying to solve the murder mystery of the famed ‘seer’, Jasper Moon, with his own crystal ball. Gradually it becomes clear that Jasper Moon was a man of many parts, not all of them appeared very savoury. Moon was a wealthy man, but seems to have written no will; certainly, Detectives Rafferty and Llewellyn can’t find it. In a case involving as many twists and turns as a snake avoiding capture, the detectives must take their murder investigation back through the years to the victim’s youth to answer that question: ‘Who did it?’ And Rafferty fears that after such a long time, the evidence their murder inquiry needs will no longer be there to find.
THE HANGING TREE #4
Fourth novel in the Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery series. This murder mystery involves the detective pair in the case of the vanishing hanged man. But when the hanged man turns up in Dedman Woods for a second time, the British detectives are able to confirm that he is a man many had reason to hate. Because Maurice Smith, charged years earlier with four child rapes, had escaped on a legal technicality. Detective Rafferty feels ambivalent about the case from the start. Not sure his desire to solve it is strong enough, he has to fight the feeling that natural justice, in winning out against the judicial sort, has right on its side. The punishment has, in his book, fitted the crime. As the usual police procedure continues towards an unwanted conclusion, Rafferty, caught between the law and his own sense of morality, feels this is an investigation that could cause him to demand his own resignation as a detective.
BOOKS IN THE RAFFERTY & LLEWELLYN BRITISH MYSTERY SERIES
Get your four free Rafferty and Llewellyn mystery novels here.
Then here’s a freebie just for you. You will receive the first four mystery novels of my 17-strong (and counting) Rafferty & Llewellyn series and learn about Joe Rafferty, his ne’er-do-well family, and his po-faced partner.
From an enclosed convent, via a stashed suspect brother, loan sharks, and a pub: all contain a murder mystery that DI Joe Rafferty must solve.
My third Rafferty bundle is now ready, formatted, spellchecked, and all systems go! Well, apart from B & N Nook, who still haven’t put it up on their shelves. Slowcoaches! Yes, it’s now also up at Nook!
The bundle consists of these novels:
BLOOD ON THE BONES #9
DI Joe Rafferty’s latest case is in an enclosed Catholic convent. It is anybody’s guess whether lapsed Catholic Rafferty catches the murderer before religion catches up with him.
A THRUST TO THE VITALS
Can DI Joe Rafferty find the real murderer before he is forced to arrest his brother, Mickey, for the crime?
With his wife-to-be’s wedding budget spiraling out of control, and a series of muggings now escalated to murder, DI Joe Rafferty’s attempts to control the situations, land him in hot water on both counts.
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE
When Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty visits his local pub for a quick drink, he’s looking to forget his troubles, not add to them. His ex-fiancée Abra is still refusing to talk to him, and he’s fast losing hope of a reconciliation. But Rafferty is not destined to enjoy his drink in peace. Because a man is found dead – stabbed in the pub’s car park – and a preoccupied Rafferty is to lead the investigation.
RAFFERTY & LLEWELLYN SERIES
Dead Before Morning #1
Down Among the Dead Men #2
Death Line #3
The Hanging Tree #4
Absolute Poison #5
Dying For You #6
Bad Blood #7
Love Lies Bleeding #8
Blood on the Bones #9
A Thrust to the Vitals #10
Death Dues #11
All the Lonely People #12
Death Dance #13
Deadly Reunion #14
Kith and Kill #15
Asking For It #16
The Spanish Connection #17
HUGH HOWEY IS ONE OF THE FEATURED AUTHORS! Who’d have thought I’d get in an Anthology alongside the very famous Hugh?! But I did. Even better, on the Retailers’ listings, I’m mentioned second in the title naming of the authors participating! Has fame claimed me at last? Well, we’ll see.
Stories on the Go has been put together by the indefatigable Andrew Ashling and his equally tireless team of indie authors, just in time for you to have it FREE as a Christmas gift!
101 indie authors have contributed their short-short stories, including yours truly (I’m about number 67 in the list. My story’s called ‘One for the Boys’)! You’ll find real variety in every genre imaginable within these digital pages.
Why be bored on the bus, in a waiting room, or stuck in a queue, when you can be reading Stories On The Go and escaping into 101 other worlds?
101 authors offer 101 Very Short Stories that are perfect for reading on your phone when on the go. Feed your reading addiction in quick bites and discover new favorite authors — all for FREE.
Stories on The Go is a collection in the flash fiction style (less than 1000 words) including tales from top New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Hugh Howey and Jennifer Lewis. And me. Don’t forget me.
This anthology aims to be a showcase of recent indie writing.
Hugh Howey launched the idea on Kboards, a forum for Kindle readers, but also the meeting place of an active community of indie writers.
The result is this anthology of 101 very short stories by 101 authors.
To make it more attractive for you, the reader, we set ourselves a limit of a thousand words. You should be able to read each story in under five minutes — on your desktop computer, laptop, or tablet at home or in the office, but also on your smartphone, on the go, while you are commuting or waiting at a coffee shop for your significant other to arrive.
We included as many genres as we could. We hope that maybe, with only five minutes of your time on the line that would otherwise be wasted anyway, you’ll be tempted to venture outside your comfort zone and try out some new genres and new authors.
‘Another solid procedural leavened with a dash of quirky characters.’ KIRKUS REVIEWS ON A KILLING KARMA
For lovers of cozy mysteries and procedurals
If you enjoy some humour with your murders, you’ll likely love this British detective series
Enjoying a week’s well-earned break, Detective Chief Inspector ‘Will’ Casey’s peace is shattered by a frantic call from his mother. Moon Casey, the maternal half of his drug-taking, ‘The Sixties never died’, hippie parents, confesses there are two dead bodies in the grounds of the Fenland commune where she and Star, his father, live.
His brain numbed by shock, Casey failed to question Moon thoroughly on the ‘phone. But, on arrival at their ramshackle commune, he learns that neither death has been reported — not surprising, when it emerges that the body of the first victim was found lying on top of their crushed and illicit cannabis plants and has already been buried for some time. While the body of the second victim was laid out in one of the sheds, surrounded by candles and bearing signs of violence.
Casey is bemused to discover that Moon, Star and the rest of the commune members seem to expect him to sweep these inconvenient bodies under some kind of magic carpet rather than call in the local constabulary. And although he is a loving son, for a senior police officer, this really is an expectation too far. Determined that, for once in their lives, his parents take responsibility for their own actions, he insists that they ring their local police and report the deaths.
As if that’s not enough, once back on duty, Casey is also called upon to solve a very unpleasant murder on his own patch of King’s Langley: this time of a John Doe found dead in a dark alley. With the help of his knowing sergeant, Thomas Catt and his assorted contacts, Casey must try to get to the bottom of both official and unofficial cases.
Neither proves easy, particularly the latter, which suffers under the additional complication that he needs to keep a very low profile. If the media get a sniff of his connection to the druggie parents who are also suspects in what turns out to be a double murder investigation, his career could blow up in his face.
’Well researched. Intriguing plot. Good pace. Excellent characterisation and wry humour make this a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended.’ Mystery Women
For lovers of cozy mysteries and procedurals
If you enjoy some humour with your murders, you’ll likely love this British detective series.
When Chandra Bansi and her baby, Leela, are burned to death, DCI ‘Will’ Casey and his less than politically correct sergeant, Thomas Catt, rapidly come under pressure from their superintendent to put a couple of skinhead thugs behind bars for arson.
After the fiasco over the investigation of black teenager Stephen Lawrence‘s murder by racist white thugs, Superintendent Brown-Smith is acutely aware that he is in the hot seat. Desperate for a speedy and politically-satisfactory solution to the case and worried that his previously smooth and upward career-progression will be irretrievably damaged by failure, he places additional pressure on Casey.
But the investigation quickly unearths suspects other than the skinheads, suspects unlikely to endear Casey to his superiors or the Asian community.
The resolution of the most difficult case of his career is not eased by the arrival of his impecunious, the Sixties-never-died, hippie parents. Urgently in need of a temporary home, they selfishly concluded that decamping to Casey’s peaceful haven will provide the solution to their current difficulties.
But their raucous, undisciplined lifestyle causes Casey sleepless nights at a time he most needs calm. Bedevilled at home by his irresponsible parents, bedevilled at work by accusations of discrimination from the usual quarters, Casey and ThomCatt must wend a circuitous path through all the additional problems the investigation throws up.
For instance, just how respectable is Chandra’s businessman father? And what about her in-laws, who seem to have blamed their westernised daughter-in-law for the death of their only son? Other members of the victim’s family also come under suspicion. Casey must use the utmost sensitivity in his handling of the case if he is not to cause unrest in the Asian community.
And, at the heart of the case is the fact that Chandra, a modern young woman, had been uncomfortably caught between two cultures. It’s hard to say which of them is the more dangerous.