Bunburry - A Taste of Murder

A Cosy Mystery Series
 
 
Bastei Lübbe (Verlag)
  • 1. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 21. Dezember 2018
  • |
  • 114 Seiten
 
E-Book | ePUB mit Wasserzeichen-DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-3-7325-5523-9 (ISBN)
 

Miss Marple meets Oscar Wilde in this new series of cosy mysteries set in the picturesque Cotswolds village of Bunburry.

In "A Taste of Murder," the third Bunburry book, a local beef farmer is found dead and Betty Thorndike, vegetarian and Bunburry's only Green Party member, is in the frame. Despite what everyone thinks, Betty is absolutely not Alfie McAlister's girlfriend. But Alfie knows what it's like to be wrongly accused, and enlists the help of his fellow amateur detectives, Liz and Marge, to find out who's responsible. There's just one problem about a farm-based investigation - Alfie's scared of cows ...

Helena Marchmont is a pseudonym of Olga Wojtas, who was born and brought up in Edinburgh. She was encouraged to write by an inspirational English teacher, Iona M. Cameron. Olga won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015, has had more than 30 short stories published in magazines and anthologies and recently published her first mystery Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar.



1. Aufl. 2018
  • Englisch
  • Köln
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  • Deutschland
  • 2,25 MB
978-3-7325-5523-9 (9783732555239)
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3. The Next Morning


The next morning, Nigel Edwards was in a worse temper than usual. He summoned all the workers and noted with grim satisfaction that while they looked sullen, they also looked scared.

The old man had never cracked the whip, never made them account for themselves. No surprise that the place had never made any money. Nigel had put them right when he took over. He laid off the useless ones and made sure he got a proper day's work out of the ones he kept. But apparently some of them still weren't clear about what was expected of them.

"I took a quick lunch break yesterday," Nigel began.

There was an outburst of coughing from the new apprentice. Nigel glared at him, but it seemed genuine enough. The lad sheepishly clamped his hand over his mouth.

"But my lunch was rudely interrupted by that crazy American woman bursting in and shouting the odds." He watched them all carefully to see if anyone looked uncomfortable or guilty. But none of the faces in front of him changed expression.

"She made a heap of slanderous accusations about animal welfare on this farm. Anyone here got a problem with how I run things? Anyone? No? That's good. Good from your point of view, I mean."

He lowered his voice to a threatening hiss. "Because if I find any of you have been talking about my business outside this farm, you will seriously regret it. What happens in here is commercially sensitive and rest assured I won't hesitate to sue anyone who passes on any information. Got that?"

He had no idea whether he could sue them or not, but he was pretty sure they had no idea either. The apprentice was looking terrified and the others certainly didn't look happy.

"One of the things she said," Nigel went on, "was that I fired my farm manager."

He looked round them all again. The apprentice nodded vigorously.

Nigel approached him, the other workers edging away. "You're nodding, son," he said in a dangerously conversational tone. "Why is that?"

The apprentice swallowed. "I was agreeing. You did fire Peter Harrison."

Nigel grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him against the wooden fence. He could feel the lad shaking. "I did nothing of the sort."

The lad squirmed. "You did. I heard you. We all did."

Nigel hauled him forward slightly, then shoved him into the fence with greater force. There was a cracking sound, and one of the slats broke in two.

"For God's sake!" Nigel shouted. "Why the hell have you let that fence get in that state? This place is going to rack and ruin."

The apprentice, rubbing his shoulder, seemed to think the question was directed at him. "Peter kept an eye on everything," he stammered. "That was one of the things he was going to get fixed before he -" He broke off nervously and gabbled: "And the gate over there, and the problem with the kerbing in the milking parlour, there was a tradesman in Bunburry -"

"I'm not wasting money on any tradesman from Bunburry!" Nigel yelled. "And just so that we're all clear, whatever I said or didn't say to Peter Harrison, he was not fired, understood?"

"So why isn't he here?" muttered a voice behind him.

He loosened his grip on the apprentice and whirled round but couldn't identify whose voice it was. "Who said that?" he asked. They all stared at him blankly. "Peter Harrison was not fired - he's gone to take up new opportunities. Anyone who disagrees with that is welcome to leave right now. Nobody? Good."

He marched up and down in front of them like a general inspecting his troops. "And another thing. I want you to look out for trespassers. If that American turns up, or anybody else who shouldn't be here, you throw them off my land. No, on second thoughts, you bring them to me, and I'll deal with them."

The American should have been dealt with already, he thought. Harry Wilson should have arrested her. These animal rights people were dangerous. She was probably planning to firebomb the place. The old man had been almost as bad, practically treating the animals like pets, wasting land for grazing when you could double, triple your profit with the numbers you could put in sheds. The old man had never had any commercial sense.

He turned back to the workers.

"And you hear anybody speaking out of turn, including you lot, you come to me about that as well. You never know, there might be a few bob in it for you."

There wouldn't be. He wasn't going to throw any more money at this bunch of wasters. But divide and rule, that was how to manage it.

What Nigel Edwards didn't know was that a trespasser would shortly approach the farm and that none of his browbeaten workers would stop them.

***

That same day, Alfie woke with a feeling of loss as intense as a physical pain. He couldn't face eating, and brewed himself some coffee and sat nursing it at the kitchen table.

He winced as he remembered his furious reaction when Oscar had said he knew how much Alfie had wanted to have a family with Vivian. He had hit out at Oscar when Oscar wasn't his target. Oscar, who had done nothing but support him in his bereavement. It was scarcely Oscar's fault that he didn't know the truth of what happened the day that Vivian was killed.

And Oscar had never told him, unlike so many others, that time was a great healer. It wasn't. Alfie put down his mug of coffee and headed in the direction of Aunt Augusta's drinks cabinet. Then he checked himself. That would solve nothing. A walk. He should go for a walk.

The disadvantage of village life was meeting people you knew when you didn't want to talk to anyone. He shrugged on his jacket and, avoiding the High Street, set off through the maze of narrow back lanes, planning to walk up to Wildshaw Woods.

As he passed the church, he could see Tom Lindsay in the distance hobbling towards him. The old man hadn't spotted him, but when he did, he would insist on giving Alfie his views on the terrible bus service, the inadequate bin collections, and the appalling behaviour of young people today, for at least fifteen minutes.

Alfie quickly pushed open the lychgate into the grassy churchyard with its jumble of weathered, lopsided tombstones. It was too much to hope that the church was open, but he could conceal himself round the back until old Tom had passed by.

He had detested this church when he was a boy, resenting his grandparents for forcing him to go to Sunday school when he could have been playing outside. The plain stone building with its towering spire had seemed grim and threatening, but now he could appreciate its architecture, the long perpendicular windows set in the local honey-coloured stone, the dark slate of the spire echoing the roofed porch of the lychgate.

Liz and Marge were regular attenders: Liz played the organ and was the choir mistress, while Marge was in charge of the flowers and the cleaning rota. He had no idea whether they were devout, or whether the church was simply part of village social life. He had evaded the vicar's invitation to come to a service, explaining that he wasn't a church-goer. And although he met Philip regularly at Betty's Green Party meetings, the three of them being the only attendees, the subject had never arisen again.

Now that he was close to the door, he could see it was slightly ajar. He stepped inside, expecting the interior to be dark and gloomy, but either his memory was playing tricks, or the church had been dramatically renovated.

Alfie sat down in the nearest pew and looked around him. The walls between the rows of stone pillars were white-painted plaster and glittered with bright reflections from the stained-glass windows. The altar was covered in a deep green velvet cloth emblazoned with a gold cross, flanked by two large floral displays, presumably Marge's handiwork.

There was a scrape of a door opening behind him and Alfie sprang up to see the elderly vicar emerge from the vestry, dressed in his customary clerical black.

"Hello, Alfie," he said. "Good to see you."

"Philip. I'm sorry," said Alfie, feeling as though he had been somehow found out, "I didn't mean to disturb you."

"I think it's the reverse," said the vicar. "I'm sorry for disturbing your quiet time."

"No, I'm not -" Alfie began. He had been about to say: "I'm not praying," as though he was explaining to the manager of a private members' club that he hadn't sneaked in to use the facilities without authorisation. "I just came in to have a look."

"It's still chilly even with the sun out," said the vicar conversationally. "The vestry's perishing. I was just about to nip back to the vicarage for a hot drink. Would you like to join me?"

Alfie was working out how to say no politely when the vicar said, "Good. You're in luck - I have some home baking from the ladies of the parish which I'm struggling to get through."

Alfie found himself being shepherded to the vicarage, a square two-storey Victorian house a few minutes' walk from the church.

The vicar led the way upstairs. "I've given over the ground floor to various community groups, so I camp out up here."

Alfie took a seat on a lumpy settee covered in a length of African printed cotton while Philip busied himself setting out a small folding table for the tea things. He returned from the kitchenette with a Victoria sponge...

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