Happy Hump Day everyone! Today I’m sharing an extract from Keith Wright’s latest Inspector Stark novel, Murder Me Tomorrow.
Many thanks to the fabulous Sarah Hardy for asking me to take part in the blog tour.
‘I do not know what second it will be, what minute it will be, what hour, or even day. But it will come. You may see it coming. You may not. Regardless, I can guarantee you; there will be a moment like no other when you will draw your last breath. Like it or lump it. And at that moment you will see your final view of the world. However, what I do not know, is whether your last glimpse will be the sympathetic countenance of a loved one or the grotesque, contorted, teeth-clenched face of a crazed killer. Nor do you. That is yet to be determined. Other options are available.’
Paul Masters, a family man, awakes to find his wife and daughter murdered. But how? It seems impossible. He is arrested for the crime. As he suffers a breakdown, Paul admits to the killing, but DI Stark and his team have serious doubts. When another horrific rape and murder takes place, these doubts seem well-founded, and the race is on to catch the maniac who will stop at nothing to feed his depravity. In his fifth crime thriller, critically acclaimed author, Keith Wright, once again regales the stark reality of murder, derived from his hands-on experience as a CID detective sergeant working in an inner-city area. All Keith’s books are set in Nottingham in the 1980s – a time before political correctness and mobile phones. It was a different world.
Detective Inspector Stark walked in front of Detective Sergeant Alan ‘Nobby’ Clarke over the uneven ground around Sandra Teversall’s home.
‘Are we going inside, boss?’ Nobby asked, still unsure of the nature of their business at the deserted bungalow.
‘Where are we headed?’
‘Outside the point of entry, and exit; the kitchen window.’
Stark paused at the window and had a look around at the surroundings. What would be the best way to walk down the drive, starting from this position? He thought.
‘If you were going to commit a murder in the dead of night, Nobby, and you had a bike, would you bring it right up to the house, if you had a choice to leave it out of the way?’
‘Mmm, not sure. They’re a bit noisy, and a bit clunky, aren’t they?’
‘I think so. I think there is a big difference between riding around a house and doing the actual murder, don’t you?’
‘Yes. What is it you are getting at?’
‘Just bear with me. If you were going to sneak up to the house without a bike, you would have to leave it back down the drive, wouldn’t you? Out of sight from the road, mind.’
‘That’s the only way in unless you went down to Wighay Farm, but that is miles down the wrong way and pitch black. I can’t see that as the best option.’ Nobby pondered.
‘Unless the bike was up here from the get-go and then you know you are going to kill Sandra and so what does it matter if there is noise? But then you risk Sandra getting spooked after the hours of darkness and calling the cops.’
‘Aunty Dot left around 6 when the killer was still hanging around. Assuming she went to bed at 10 pm, which is pretty early, and say he came in at midnight, that is a 6-hour wait. Surely he would piss off and come back later?’ Nobby offered succinctly.
‘In which case, you would more likely leave your bike back on the drive to quieten your approach. And we know Sandra was in bed when she was attacked, so it was sometime later that he paid a visit.’
‘We do. What is this all about, boss?’
‘Taking the assumption that he would not bring his bike up and wanted to use stealth so as not to alert the occupants, the best place to leave the bike would be on the drive. It just would be.’
‘Yes, it would have to be some way down in case she had the windows open and she heard the approach.’ Nobby looked puzzled. What was Stark getting at? He scratched his head and lit a cigarette. He didn’t offer Stark another one; it would be an expensive business at nearly £1.50 a packet.
‘Let’s have a walk, Nobby.’
‘Where are we going now?’
Stark didn’t answer but led the way. He walked at a moderate pace and headed around the house to the drive, which was more of a dirt-track road, 300 yards long. Nobby drew level and started to increase the pace. ‘Hang on a bit, not too fast.’ Stark said.
‘Why? What are we doing?’ He chuffed on his cigarette.
‘It is a little experiment, just humour me.’
‘If I’d known we were going walkabout I would have locked the car up.’
‘It’ll be fine; no-one would want to nick that pile of bloody junk. You still have to use a cranking handle to start it, don’t you?’
Nobby laughed. ‘Just about.’
‘Be fair though, Nobby, it usually starts on the third turn of the key.’
‘Sometimes, on the second.’
‘There you go then, bloody luxury.’
‘What are we doing, back-tracking his route in?’
‘Sort of but doing it this way may give us more of a chance.’
‘A chance of what exactly?’
Stark didn’t reply, and they continued their meandering.
‘Christ it’s hot.’ Nobby said and paused to stub his cigarette out.
‘Okay, let’s stop here.’
‘Why here exactly?’
‘Because this is the place where you finished your cigarette.’
‘Get your lighter out.’
Nobby did just that.
‘Give it a go.’ Stark said.
It clicked into life.
‘And again, Nobby.’
He did it again.
‘Keep doing it.’
Nobby complied. ‘Hang on boss, I don’t want to knacker my lighter up.’
Nobby stopped clicking. ‘Shit. The clicking noise, Toby mentioned. A clicking noise and he spoke with a funny voice, whatever that means.’
‘Yep. We are bloody idiots. It was when you gave me a light in the office that it dawned on me, belatedly I admit.’
‘That is going to be the clicking noise, isn’t it? Most likely.’
‘I think it probably is. You are an experienced killer. You are aware that you leave clues at the scene. So, you are wary all afternoon and collect any of your nub-ends from around the scene. Later, in the dead of night, and the middle of nowhere, you’ve just done a murder and the first thing you want as you get outside…’
‘Is a fag.’ Nobby said.
‘A fag, a cigarette. It sounds like his lighter is a bit dodgy or he needs a fill-up.’
‘Okay, fine, but why are we here?’
‘Because this is how far we got with you smoking a cigarette to the end. Is he going to step on that one and find it in the dark after he is so far down the drive? I’m not convinced he would. Let’s start looking. Any sort of cigarette butt.’
The two scoured the ground for a minute or so. ‘I’m not getting anything.’ Nobby grunted.
‘Hang on. Over here boss, in the hedge.’
Stark walked over and looked at the nub end. ‘It needs preserving for fingerprints.’
Nobby moved his face closer to it.
‘What type is it?’
‘The brand, near the filter.’
‘What about it?’
‘I’ve never heard of it.’
‘What does it say?’
‘Lucky Strike, what the fuck is that?’ Nobby asked.
‘Lucky Strike? They’re American.’ Stark said.
The two detectives blurted out in unison. ‘He spoke with a funny voice!’
‘He’s a yank.’ Stark said.
Who Is Keith Wright?
Keith Wright is the author of the crime novels in the ‘Inspector Stark series’ available on Amazon, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, Audiobook on Audible and iTunes.
Visit website: Keithwrightauthor.co.uk
Follow on twitter: @keithwwright