Gripping mysteries that twist and turn!

CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE BUT DUE TO BE REPUBLISHED ON 9TH MARCH 2024 BY JOFFE BOOKS RETITLED “DEATH BY KITCHEN SINK”

Who is most likely to kill a woman?

The fact is, it will probably be someone she knows well!

When someone murders Diana Woods in her own kitchen, fingers are soon pointing at ex-husband, Ian, who appears to be everyone’s prime suspect. It soon becomes clear Diana was very believable, and everyone who knew her thought she was some kind of saint, but DS Dave Slater, and colleague DS Norman Norman, have their doubts.

Experience tells them what people believe they know, and what they actually know, isn’t necessarily the same thing. Was Diana as squeaky clean as everyone suggests, or was she hiding something?

Before long, an alibi suggests Slater is correct and Ian Woods is in the clear. When fresh evidence leads Slater and Norman to a new suspect, everything seems to make sense.

Or is it all a bit too obvious?

Slater & Norman suspect something doesn’t quite add up, but can they put a finger on what it is?

If you like British Detectives, you’ll love Dave Slater and sidekick Norman Norman, two wonderfully, humanly, flawed characters who will soon feel like old friends.

> CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE BUT DUE TO BE REPUBLISHED ON 9TH MARCH 2024 BY JOFFE BOOKS RETITLED "DEATH BY KITCHEN SINK"

> Or, if you prefer paperback:

A new author to me but this is a classic whodunnit that will keep you engrossed until the end.

Prologue

Diana Woods looked at herself in the mirror and was pleased with the reflection she saw. The new underwear she’d been given looked good on her, but then she had known it would. She worked hard to make sure that even at forty-five she still had the sort of figure that made everything look good. She did another twirl so she could catch a view of her backside. Yes, she thought, I feel good in this stuff. He’ll be drooling next time he watches me undress.

Then the doorbell rang and she wondered who it could be. Probably Laura from next door. But she’s not supposed to come round until six. Couldn’t she have waited? I’ve only been home from work five minutes. 

She ran through to the front bedroom and looked out of the window. She could just see the roof of a small, white van parked outside. This was a nice surprise. She really hadn’t expected him to call round today. It was a pity she was going out in half an hour, but there would still be time for a little fun before she went.

She slipped a slinky, black negligee on over her new underwear and then padded down the stairs in her bare feet. She smiled to herself as she realised he had bought the negligee for her as well. It seemed as if he was all around her already, and soon she’d have him all to herself anytime she wanted.

The doorbell rang again.

‘Alright, I’m coming,’ she called, quickening her pace.

She threw the door open.

‘Oh. Hi. This is a surprise. You didn’t say you were coming round, did you? Well, come on in, but you’ll have to be quick. I wasn’t expecting you and I’m going out at six.’

She turned on her heel and started walking towards the kitchen at the back of the house, well aware that she was leaving little to her visitor’s imagination. But then, that was all part of the fun.

‘I was just going to make a cup of tea,’ she called over her shoulder. ‘Come on. I’ll make us both one.’

She heard the front door close behind her as she picked up the kettle and walked across to the sink. 

‘Why on earth have you got gloves on?’ she asked. ‘It’s not cold, is it? Or, are they your fancy driving gloves?’

There was no reply, and as she turned on the tap to fill the kettle she suddenly became aware that something wasn’t right. But by then it was too late, and her eyes widened in pain and shock as the blade of a knife was driven deep into her back. 

It would be hard to say if the blow had been delivered with great accuracy or if it was just luck, but whichever was the case, the blade struck at the perfect angle to slip neatly between her ribs and plunge straight through her heart. She didn’t even have time to scream before she slumped forward across the sink and then her knees buckled beneath her. By the time she was sprawled face down on the floor, she was dead.

The killer watched in fascination as blood seeped from the wound, creating a widening red patch around the knife handle as it soaked into the flimsy fabric of her negligee. But there wasn’t time to linger. There was still work to be done, although it wouldn’t take long. 

In less than two minutes, the front door was quietly pulled closed and the killer was gone.

Chapter One

The Bishops Common had been given to the townspeople of Tinton back in ancient times to allow the commoners to graze their animals without cost. Very few of the present day commoners were actually aware of this privilege, and none of them possessed livestock in need of grazing. 

They did have a rather exclusive enclave of ten homes all to themselves. The houses had all originally been hovels, but it was impossible to tell now. Over the years they had been restored and extended by their various owners and now formed a collection of desirable homes, in an equally desirable location.

‘So where is this place?’ asked DS Norman Norman. ‘I never heard of this Bishops Common before.’

‘That’s because it’s a rather exclusive, and sought after, area,’ replied his friend and colleague DS Dave Slater, from the driving seat. ‘It’s the epitome of peace and tranquillity where nothing ever happens and the police never need to set foot.’

‘So this isn’t a regular event then?’ 

‘If you mean do they normally find dead bodies lying around, then the answer is no. I believe this is a first.’

‘I didn’t even know there were any houses down here,’ said Norman, as they turned off the main road and onto the track that led down to the common. ‘You are sure there are houses here, are you? Only I don’t see any.’

‘That’s because they’re down the lane here and round the corner,’ replied Slater. ‘That’s part of the attraction for the people who live here. It’s the seclusion that makes it such a sought-after spot. That and the fact all the houses are detached.’

‘Well I think it’s a crappy place to live.’ As a native Londoner who loved the place, Norman found it difficult to see the attraction of living in the countryside. ‘You couldn’t pay me to live out here.’

‘Trust me,’ said Slater, smiling, ‘the likes of you and me couldn’t afford to live out here. Anyway, I don’t understand this aversion you have to country life. You spent three years in Northumberland, and you’ve been here over a year now. Surely you can’t still hanker for the noise and pollution of London?’

‘You’re never going to convince me the smell of horse shit and cow shit is better than diesel fumes,’ said Norman. ‘No way.’

‘All that crap floating around in the London air is taking years off of everyone’s life.’

‘It’s an acquired taste, I’ll grant you that.’

‘The smell of farm animals doesn’t kill your lungs.’

‘But this hankering for the smell of cow shit just isn’t natural,’ said Norman. ‘If we were supposed to like it we would have been born cows, right?’ 

‘You need to see someone about your logic.’ Slater laughed, shaking his head. ‘There is absolutely nothing natural about breathing air filled with diesel fumes.’

They rounded a bend in the lane.

‘Here we go.’ Slater took one hand off the steering wheel and pointed. ‘Crime scene up ahead.’

They could see houses now, to the right and left of the lane. Some were set well back with hedges and trees out front, and one or two were much closer to the lane. The one they were looking for was about fifty yards up on the left hand side. It was easily identified by the blue and white cordon tape and the police vehicles parked outside.

‘What time is it?’ asked Norman, squinting at his watch.

‘Eight-thirty,’ said Slater. ‘So we had a whole two hours between finishing our normal day’s work and getting dragged back out for this.’

‘D’you think this is what they meant when they said we should make better use of our own time and our opportunities to relax and sleep in between shifts?’ Norman smiled wryly.

He was referring to a recent memo that had been sent round to every department, advising officers they could become more efficient if they made better use of their own time and made sure they had sufficient rest and sleep.

‘Just having some of my own time would be a start. Do you get any time of your own?’ asked Slater as he parked the car.

‘I know what you mean.’ Norman let out a laugh. ‘But right now you need to put Mr Negative to bed and slip on your positive head. Can you do that?’

Slater had a natural tendency to focus on the negatives. Norman had made it his personal goal to instil in Slater a much more positive attitude in line with his own. It was very much a work in progress, and he still had to remind Slater sometimes, but he saw hopeful signs in his colleague.

Slater fixed a stupid grin on his face and turned to Norman.

‘There you go,’ he said. ‘I’m happy. Okay?’

‘That’s a very insincere smile. Which, in itself, is indicative of possession of a negative attitude.’

‘Oh nuts,’ said Slater, swinging his door open. ‘The use of over-wordy pronouncements indicates the desire to appear superior, which surely, in itself, is a negative trait.’

Norman tried to think of a smart remark of his own, but Slater was out of the car and the moment was gone.

As this was the scene of a murder, it was necessary for anyone entering to don one of the all-in-one paper ‘romper’ suits provided by the forensics team. Slater headed into the tent that had been erected in the front garden. Getting into these suits had always been something of a challenge for the rather portly Norman, and was often a source of great amusement for his colleagues; Slater chief among them. Fortunately, Norman didn’t seem to be offended by this and there had been more than one occasion when he had played to the gallery and gone out of his way to make everyone laugh. Slater shared Norman’s opinion that sometimes a little humour, in the right place and at the right time, was essential to help everyone cope with some of the darker stuff they had to deal with. 

Recently the forensics department had invested in the latest design of the offending suits. No one seemed to know the official name, but because they were blue, the general consensus was they made anyone wearing one look like a smurf. Norman had somehow managed to keep back a personal supply of the older white suits but these all now seemed to be gone, as Norman had showed up empty-handed.

Slater put his own suit on in less than a minute and was ready to go, but Norman seemed to be having some sort of problem. Slater folded his arms and watched patiently as his friend struggled.

‘No, it’s okay,’ said Norman. ‘You go on. I’ll catch you up in a minute. Some joker seems to have given me a small size. I distinctly said large.’

Slater winked at the PC who was responsible for signing in and handing out suits. He put his finger to his lips to indicate the PC should say nothing. 

‘Perhaps they didn’t bring any of the larger size,’ he suggested, smiling broadly. ‘I’ll go on ahead.’

He didn’t bother to tell Norman they were ‘one size fits all’ just like all the old white suits used to be. He figured his partner would find out soon enough.

He made his way through the open front door, stopped, and looked around.

‘Hello?’ he called. ‘Eamon? Where are you?’

‘Through here, in the kitchen.’ 

A familiar collection of noises told him there was a forensic photographer somewhere nearby, and as he followed the voice through to the kitchen, he could see the accompanying flashes as the cameraman did his work.

Dr Eamon Murphy, the pathologist, was kneeling over the victim’s facedown body, directing the photographer. He looked round when Slater came into the room.

‘I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s been dragged away from his dinner.’

‘Ah yes,’ Slater said, grinning at him. ‘These unannounced informal gatherings are one of the joys of police work.’

‘But I don’t work for the police.’

‘Only because we can’t afford to pay your exorbitant salary. Anyway, I thought you were on the payroll now.’

An agreement had recently been cobbled together with the local hospital whereby Murphy could be contracted out to the police as and when necessary.

‘I’m not actually a full time employee,’ said Murphy. ‘I’m supposed to be contracted on an ad-hoc, consultant, basis.’

‘So you get to choose how much you get paid? Now that’s a novel idea. Maybe I can try doing that.’

Slater squatted down near to the body, but not too near.

‘So this situation is just about perfect then,’ he continued, his grin becoming even wider. 

Murphy raised a quizzical eyebrow.

‘Well, you couldn’t get much more ad-hoc than this, could you? And it just so happens I need to consult your considered opinion as to this unfortunate lady’s death.’

‘I suppose I asked for that,’ said Murphy, with a rueful smile.

‘You did once tell me you’d like to get out and about more often,’ said Slater.

He waited while Murphy directed the photographer to take one last shot for him.

‘So, what have we got, Eamon?’ he asked, once the photographer had stepped away.

‘Diana Woods. Forty-five years old, stabbed in the back with a wide-bladed knife, possibly the one missing from the knife block up there.’ He pointed to a knife block on the kitchen side. ‘I won’t know for sure until I do the PM, but it looks like the knife went straight into, and possibly right through, the heart.’

‘Would you like to guess a time?’ 

‘I estimate she’s been dead no more than three or four hours at most. So my best guess at this stage is that she died somewhere between four thirty and six-thirty. I can’t tell you much more at the moment.’

‘That’s okay,’ said Slater. ‘It’s a start. Are we sure she was murdered in here? The body hasn’t been moved or anything?’

‘I think she was stood at the sink, filling the kettle when it happened.’

‘Really?’ Slater was impressed. ‘Filling the kettle? How do you know that?’

‘It’s in the sink, it’s full, and the lid’s on the side,’ said Murphy. ‘Simples, as they say.’

There was a commotion from the front of the house and Norman arrived on the scene. He appeared to have squeezed himself into one suit, but another was draped over his shoulders with the arms tied around his neck, and the legs tied around his waist.

‘What happened?’ Slater tried to suppress a smirk.

‘It seems they don’t make these suits with the larger person in mind.’ Norman plucked helplessly at the skin-tight suit. ‘When I did the zip up the front, the damned thing split up the back. So I had to put another one over the top just to cover the back.’ 

Slater exchanged a glance with Murphy, who was looking at Norman as if he was something the cat had dragged in.

‘Diana Woods.’ Slater pointed at the body on the floor. ‘Eamon says she was stabbed around five-thirtyish-’

‘That’s just a guess, and it could be an hour either way,’ Murphy said, quickly.

‘And it looks like she was stabbed with one of her own carving knives.’ Slater indicated the knife block with the missing knife.

‘Who found the body?’ asked Norman.

‘Next door neighbour, I think,’ said Murphy. ‘One of your officers is with her.’

Ian Becks, the Tinton forensic team leader, appeared in the doorway.

‘I thought I heard the cavalry,’ he said. ‘Late again, mind you.’

‘We can’t get here until someone tells us we’re needed,’ Norman said. 

Becks took a long, quizzical look at him.

‘What the hell are you wearing? Two suits?’

‘Yes, about that,’ said Norman, frostily. ‘You need to order a larger size.’

‘That is the larger size. Maybe it’s not actually the size of the suit that’s the problem.’

‘We can argue about that another time, Becksy.’ Slater jumped in before they could go off on a tangent about Norman’s weight problem. ‘What can you tell us about the murder scene?’

‘Not much, so far,’ said Becks. ‘There’s no sign of a struggle anywhere else in the house, and no sign of a break-in, so I guess that means she let her attacker in. We’ve got a couple of smudged footprints on the kitchen floor, but they seem to be the same size as the shoes the victim wore so they’re probably hers. No murder weapon so far either. We’ll keep looking, but I wouldn’t raise your hopes.’

‘I suppose it would have been too much to hope you might find a nice set of prints or something,’ said Slater, sighing.

‘I’m just about ready to move the body now,’ said Murphy. ‘The guys will be here shortly to take her away. The PM will begin at eight in the morning, if that’s okay with you.’

‘Sure,’ said Slater. ‘We’ll be there.’

‘Yeah, great.’ Norman looked glum. ‘I just love to watch a little slicing and dicing just after my breakfast.’

‘Maybe we can toss a coin-,’ began Slater.

‘And maybe we can’t, because you always cheat, and I end up losing. This time we’ll both go.’

‘Whatever. But I’m sure there’s something I have to do first thing.’

‘Yeah, there is. Come and watch a PM,’ said Norman, with an air of finality.

He took a look around the kitchen.

‘It looks like you two have this covered,’ he said to Becks and Murphy. ‘There’s not much we can do here that you haven’t already done, so we’ll leave you to it and go talk to this neighbour.’

‘Yeah, thanks, guys,’ Slater said, as he followed Norman out of the room. 

Night was on its way, and the light was beginning to fade as they made their way back out of the house and across to the tent, where they handed their suits in for disposal before checking which house was home to their witness.

‘Laura Pettit,’ said the PC on duty, reading from his notes. ‘She lives in the house to the left over there.’

He waved his hand in the general direction just in case they were in any doubt.

‘In my experience,’ said Norman, as they made their way towards the neighbour’s house, ‘that nice, neat murder scene, with no obvious clues, tends to suggest this murder was planned, and not some random attack.’

‘Yeah,’ said Slater, heavily. ‘That’s what I was thinking. And it looks like she probably let the killer in, led them through to the kitchen, and was comfortable enough to turn her back on them to fill the kettle.’

‘Or the killer could have had a key and let himself in.’

‘But if she was at the sink wouldn’t she have heard the key in the lock?’ 

‘Not necessarily. Maybe she had the radio on and didn’t hear anything.’

‘Either way she probably knew her killer.’ said Slater.

‘Looks that way,’ said Norman, nodding.

They were outside the house now and Slater rang the doorbell. The door slowly opened to reveal the smiling face of PC Jane Jolly.

‘Why if it isn’t Jolly Jane, Tinton’s favourite PC.’ Norman beamed fondly at her.

Jolly was probably the most well-liked officer at Tinton, and everyone who met her tended to fall under her spell. There was nothing glamorous about the hard-working mother of three, but she had an inherent goodness about her, and a winning smile that was readily shared with everyone she came into contact with. And if that wasn’t enough, she was also a very efficient, and highly valued, member of the team. Norman had a particularly large soft spot for her.

She stepped outside and pulled the door behind her.

‘Mrs Pettit’s still a bit upset,’ she explained. ‘She had a nasty shock, finding her friend like that.’

‘Can we speak to her?’ asked Slater. ‘Is she up to it?’

‘You can try. But it would probably be better if you could wait until the morning.’

‘This is murder, Jane,’ said Norman. ‘We can’t afford to sit back and do nothing. Even if we get just five minutes, it’s better than nothing.’

Jolly nodded her head slowly.

‘Yes, of course,’ she said. ‘Come on in.’

They followed her into the house and through to a huge country-style kitchen, large enough to accommodate a large pine table that dominated one end of the room. The forlorn figure of Laura Pettit sat on a chair at the table, head bowed. She didn’t even look up when they came in. 

Jolly had obviously been sitting with Laura, her empty chair now pushed back from the table.

‘I’ll make a fresh cup of tea,’ she said, crossing to the table and collecting the two cups from the table. 

‘Laura,’ she said, gently. ‘This is DS Slater and DS Norman. I know you’ve had a nasty shock, but do you think you might be able to answer some questions?’

She looked up at the mention of her name, her face tear-stained and snotty from crying.

‘Yes.’ She nodded. ‘I’ll try.’

Jolly carried the cups over to the other side of the kitchen and made herself busy while Slater and Norman made their way over to the table and sat down. Slater was painfully aware how difficult this must be for their witness.

‘I’m really sorry for the loss of your friend, Laura,’ began Slater, quietly. ‘I’m not going to insult you by pretending I know how you feel. It must be very difficult for you, but we need your help. Do you think you can tell us what happened?’

‘She was such a lovely person,’ said Laura. ‘Beautiful and bubbly, she really had it all, you know? How could anyone do something like that to her?’

‘I’m afraid there’s no real answer to that,’ said Norman. ‘I guess you could say some people are just plain evil.’

‘We like to go out together, when we get the chance. My husband’s taken our two girls to a concert tonight, so we thought we’d have a girl’s night out. Eat out early and go on to the cinema. It was my turn to drive. I was ready to go at six as we had arranged, but by ten past there was no sign of Diana so I went to see where she was. I knew she was in because her car was there, but when I rang the doorbell there was no answer. I could hear the radio was on so I went round the back, but the back door was locked, so I looked through the window and that’s when I saw her.’

This prompted a burst of tears and Jolly was quick to step in and comfort her. Norman made space for her and went off to finish making the teas. It took a couple of minutes before Laura managed to compose herself again.

‘So this would have been about ten past six?’ asked Norman, as he placed the tray of teas on the table.

‘Certainly no later than six-fifteen. And then I ran back here and called the police.’

‘You didn’t see or hear anything?’ asked Slater. ‘Say from about five onwards?’

‘I’m sorry. I was wallowing in the bath with some music on. When you have two young teenage daughters you have to make the most of your chances to relax. I didn’t get out of the bath until it was time to get ready to go out.’

‘Can you think of anyone who might want to do this to Diana?’ asked Norman.

‘Everyone thought she was wonderful,’ said Laura. ‘Well, everyone except that husband of hers.’

‘Husband? We need to notify him.’

‘His name’s Ian Woods. People call him Woody. He doesn’t live here anymore. He left her a few months ago. It turns out he was quite a nasty piece of work in private. Diana told me how he used to beat her up and pick on her all the time. You wouldn’t have known it though. He liked to pretend he adored her and he would do anything for her. I suppose it just goes to show we don’t always see the real person if that person doesn’t want us to.’

‘Why did they split up?’ asked Norman.

‘Because he was an idiot,’ she said. ‘She was the perfect wife, not only good looking and good fun, but she was a fabulous cook, too.’

‘Did she ever report his violence to the police?’ asked Slater.

‘She was much too proud to do that,’ said Laura, her lip trembling. ‘She just put up with it without complaining, which so many women do, don’t they? Anyway, I should think he’s the one who stabbed her.’

She dissolved into tears once again.

Slater and Norman shared a look. Slater could see they weren’t going to get much more from Laura tonight. They could always come back tomorrow.

‘Thank you for talking to us,’ said Slater. ‘You’ve been very helpful. But we will need to talk to you again tomorrow.’

‘We’ll let ourselves out, Jane,’ said Norman. ‘You stay here with Laura.’

Once they were outside, Slater turned to Norman. 

‘We need to find this husband.’ 

‘Yeah. He sounds a bit of a charmer, doesn’t he?’ Norman gave a grim smile. ‘Maybe we can find an address in the house somewhere. What about the rest of the neighbours?’

‘It’s getting on for ten o’clock. Let’s check the one on the other side of Diana’s house, and then we’ll go back to her house and see if we can find an address for this guy.’ 

The neighbour they wanted to speak to wasn’t at home, so they decided to try the next nearest house which was on the other side of the lane, but further down towards the common. The lady’s name was Amanda Hollis, and she backed up Laura’s view that Diana Woods had been the perfect wife and an all-round good egg. Just like Laura, Amanda claimed to have always had her doubts about Woody because he kept himself to himself.

‘You can’t trust a man who’s too quiet,’ she had told them, wagging a finger for emphasis. 

‘Do I see some sort of pattern emerging here?’ Norman asked Slater, as they walked back to Diana Woods’ house.

‘It seems our Woody’s not the most popular guy, is he?’ 

‘But if he’s such a nasty bastard why would she let him in the house and then turn her back on him?’ 

‘If he only left a few months ago, he’d have his own key,’ replied Slater. ‘And Laura said the radio was on.’

‘I dunno.’ Norman sounded skeptical. ‘If this guy had been abusing her for years, surely someone would have seen something, like a bruise, maybe.’

‘Yeah, but you know how women put up with that sort of thing.’

‘But they’re not usually confident, outgoing, bubbly personalities, are they?’ 

‘Not usually, no,’ admitted Slater. ‘Anyhow, let’s not start jumping to conclusions. We don’t even know where he lives yet.’

‘Right.’ Norman clapped his hands together. ‘Let’s see if we can find an address, or a phone number, so we can talk to the guy before we condemn him.’

‘I can’t believe a woman like this wouldn’t have a mobile phone.’ Norman peered down the back of the bed.

‘There must be one somewhere,’ said Slater. ‘Maybe the killer took it.’

‘But there doesn’t seem to be anything else missing. So if her phone was taken it must have been for a very specific reason.’

‘Perhaps there’s a message on it that incriminates our killer.’

‘That would be a good enough reason,’ Norman said. ‘But the fact nothing else seems to be missing makes me think this wasn’t some robbery that went wrong. It was definitely personal. Whoever it was came here to commit murder, plain and simple.’

‘But why would someone want to murder this woman who, according to her neighbours, is some sort of angel?’ 

‘When we figure that out, we’ll be halfway to solving this case.’

Slater turned back to his task and slid a drawer open.

‘Aha!’ He smiled and lifted a diary out. ‘Maybe this will tell us something.’

He thumbed through the pages, but to his great disappointment, most of them were blank.

‘Oh Diana,’ he said, sighing heavily. ‘What’s the point of having a diary if you’re not going to write all your secrets down for me to find?’

‘Nothing in there?’ asked Norman.

‘Just an occasional hair appointment. It doesn’t look like there’s anything significant in here.’ Slater continued to thumb through the pages.  ‘But at least we have some phone numbers.’ 

‘Anything for Woody?’ 

‘Yeah. There is. A mobile number.’

‘Let’s try it,’ said Norman. ‘They’re still married, at least on paper, and his wife’s dead. Someone should tell him.’

‘There’s one here for her parents, too,’ said Slater.

‘They’ve already been told. Better not call them again at this time of night. But let’s try this Woody guy. I’ll speak to him.’

Slater carried on with his search while Norman dialled Woody’s number. He listened for a couple of minutes and then hung up.

‘It’s gone straight to voicemail. Do you think I should leave a message?’

‘Try again,’ said Slater. ‘If he still doesn’t answer, leave a message.’

Norman dialled the number again.

‘This is DS Norman from Tinton police. I need you to contact me as soon as you can. You can reach me on…’

Slater had found something interesting and he tuned Norman out as he read what was written on the sheet of paper in front of him. The writer had obviously had second thoughts and scored through the words, but they were still legible. 

‘Dear Woody,’ it read. ‘I can’t tell you how much I miss you. Please, please, come and see me so we can talk about this situation and sort things out. I don’t want it to end like this.’

‘Here.’ Slater held out the piece of paper to Norman when he’d finished his call. ‘What do you make of this?’

Norman took it and read the words.

‘You’d think she’d be glad to see the back of him if the guy was such a shit,’ he said. ‘But this seems to say the exact opposite.’

‘She never sent it, though. And it’s dated over two months ago.’

‘Maybe this was a draft copy. Or perhaps she changed her mind. Only Woody can tell us if she ever sent him anything like this. If he doesn’t call back by about eight tomorrow morning, I think we need to find his address and pay him a call.’ 

‘It’s nearly midnight,’ said Slater. ‘Let’s call it a day for now, shall we?’

‘That’s the best idea you’ve had all day,’ said Norman. ‘Let’s do it.’

‘You’ll be pleased to know I am the proud owner of a new mobile phone,’ announced Norman, five minutes later, as he struggled to lower his rather large backside onto the passenger seat without dropping into it.

‘Mind my springs,’ said Slater. ‘That seat has developed a serious sag since you became my partner.’

‘Don’t nag. We have this discussion every time we use your car, and I maintain it’s the seat that’s at fault. My driving seat doesn’t sag one little bit, and neither do any of the other cars we use.’

He finally succeeded in lowering himself into the seat, and sat back with a sigh.

‘Have you fixed this seat belt yet?’ he asked.

‘It’s not a short belt. It’s your waistline that’s the problem,’ said Slater, patiently. 

He put the car into gear and began to pull away.

‘Anyway, what’s with the new phone?’ he asked. ‘I thought you liked living in the past.’

‘Yeah, I know,’ said Norman. ‘But sometimes even I have to move with the times. I can even get emails with this new phone.’

‘My, my,’ Slater said, smiling. ‘How cool are you?’

‘I got a new number, too.’

‘Oh, you didn’t? You do realise how much hassle that’s going to cause, don’t you?’ 

‘Actually, yes I do,’ said Norman. ‘But I have to stop all these damned spam calls I’m getting, somehow.’

‘You’re a police officer,’ said Slater. ‘Why don’t you just tell them you’re going to arrest them or something?’

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. I already tried that. It just didn’t work. Now they just won’t be able to find me.’

‘You hope,’ said Slater.

Books in the Slater & Norman series

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