Murder At St Marmaduke’s

To read the first six chapters, please go to my website: http://www.colin-z-smith.com/masm.html. To read the first two parts of chapter 7, see the posts below my recent ‘Doctor Who’ one.

Chapter 7

Monday 4th November 1985: 16.20 – 17.15

Section (c)

DI Jack Hampshire was fuming, and not only because of the cigarette he had stuck between his lips.

He was hammering at Joseph Makumbo’s front door and yelling, ‘Come on, I know you’re bloody in there!

That bloody interview. What the hell had happened?

He’d listened to the tape, and been astonished how much he knew of what he’d heard on it.

All that guff about little old ladies and pointy objects, for example. He remembered every bit of it; he just couldn’t remember actually being told it.

And he wouldn’t have had time to be told it. He’d been in that room for five minutes; seven, tops. That was definite; he’d verified how long he’d been gone with the blokes in the squad room. And yet he had thirty-four minutes-worth of interview on tape.

Come on! Open up!

It must have been bloody Makumbo! Some kind of voodoo trick, no doubt. It was just what his kind did!

He beat a few more minutes-worth of tattoo on the door. It remained stubbornly unanswered.

Right!

Stepping back, he raised a foot, prepared to give the offending piece of timber a good, Sweeney-style kicking-in.

A clicking of locks sounded from inside, and the door swung hesitantly open.

‘Hello?’ a small, elderly, mousy man said. ‘May I ask what on earth you’re doing?’

Hampshire shot forwards and grabbed the man’s cardigan, hauling him nose to nose. ‘Where’s bloody Makumbo!’ he barked.

The man recoiled; his eyes widened and his jaw began working as if he wanted to speak but couldn’t remember how. Smoke from Hampshire’s cigarette curled up between them, and he snatched it from his mouth and brandished it in front of the man’s face. ‘Makumbo! Where is he? Quick, you bastard!’

The man went cross-eyed. His jaw continued to wobble severely; then, just as Hampshire was choosing which of his captive’s nostrils to hide the impromptu weapon up first, a quavering sound emerged from the man’s lips: ‘Who – who are you?’

‘I ask the bloody questions!’ Hampshire snapped. Half-regretfully, he shoved the cigarette back into his mouth. ‘Who the hell are you, if it comes to that!’

‘I – I’m Mr Jones. Mr Makumbo’s upstairs neighbour.’

‘Right, Mr bloody Jones, Mr Makumbo’s upstairs bloody neighbour, I’ll ask again. Where the hell is Makumbo!

Jones’s eyes were like ping-pong balls. Any wider, they might well have left their moorings and begun rolling around the floor.

‘I – I’ll call the police,’ he whimpered.

‘I am the bloody police!’ Hampshire shot back.

He didn’t bother reaching for his warrant card. He always figured that the only credentials he needed were his natural air of authority and the threat of a knuckle sandwich. Besides, he’d lost the card months before, and didn’t want to confess this at the station and go through the rigmarole of getting another one.

Instead, he tightened his grip even further; so much so, his fingernails nearly met the back of his hands through both the other man’s clothing and his own palms.

‘I – I think he might have gone to see the vicar of St Marmaduke’s,’ Jones whimpered. ‘He went out about an hour ago. I was just coming in from the shops as he passed me at the door, and he said something about the church. Some terrible crime. He was very distracted. I got the impression he was off to the vicarage.’

‘At bloody last!’ Hampshire released his grip, sending the luckless Jones flying, and wheeled around.

Right!

He marched down the path and out onto the pavement. By God, Makumbo had better be at the vicarage or he’d start arresting everybody within a five-mile radius for obstruction, whether they had anything to do with the case or not.

And after he’d banged Makumbo away for murder, robbery and playing merry hell with time, he’d get on with his task of finding the bastard who’d run off with his missus thirteen years before.

And he would find him. If it was the last bloody thing he did!

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Who’s Good

If you read any of my previous posts on the subject, you will see that I wasn’t in favour of a female Doctor Who.

Not for any sexist reasons, just to reiterate (and to save you from having to look up ancient posts). My objection was from the point of view of consistency of character, something that every author has to try to cope with. Here was a character who has been on our screens (with a slight break) for over 50 years, and up until about 5 years ago there was no hint that he could ever be anything other than male. To me, suddenly turning him into a woman would be like JK Rowling getting halfway through book seven of the Harry Potter series and suddenly revealing that Harry was, in fact, Harriet, and had been hiding the fact from everyone around her for the last six years.

However, having said all that, I was willing to give the new, female Doctor a chance. And I have to say that Jodie Whittaker has well and truly won me round. Not only is her Doctor warm, funny and engaging, but her storylines, under the care of programme head Chris Chibnall, have been a darned sight better than most of those served up to her predecessor, Peter Capaldi.

So good on you, Jodie, and here’s hoping you have a good long run in the Tardis!

Meanwhile, I’ll be back at St Marmaduke’s soon.