Here’s a weekend treat for you. Snippets from what I think will be the next Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, and what I know will be the next Mrs Capper’s Casebook.
Mrs Capper’s tale is well advanced, but where the Sanford Mystery is concerned, things are less clear. A Body in the Graveyard will (I think) be Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #25, but I’m not sure yet. It should have been with you by now, but it’s been delayed by various factors, not least of which is my poor health since the turn of the year.
As always, I pass my own illnesses to my characters, and in this volume, Joe is suffering from the same, appalling gastric problems I’ve had since January.
Unable to work in his café because of the stomach problems, he’s made his way to Cragshaven to join Maddy Chester who has a problem after finding a body in the graveyard of the local church.
As we join them, Joe and Maddy have left her bungalow and are ambling to the graveyard.
Joe had never made any secret of his attraction to the Yorkshire coast, stretching from Bridlington in the south, taking in Filey, Scarborough, Cragshaven, Whitby, and further north to the little fishing village of Staithes, a tiny, close community, similar to Cragshaven. Everywhere held a magical fascination for him, and living, as he did, in West Yorkshire, it was all no more than ninety minutes from his home.
Alongside the church tower, close to the gravestone where Claughton had been found, he insisted Maddy take a panorama of pictures sweeping from south, through East, North, West, until she had turned full circle and was effectively taking a photograph of her own bungalow a couple of hundred yards away.
Checking the scene with his naked eye, Joe could see nothing of any particular interest. A large ship plodded south along the horizon, but there was nothing to say that Claughton had seen any such vessel, and even if he had, what possible interest would it be to him? It was somewhere close to the horizon, which, as far as Joe was concerned, meant it was at least thirty miles offshore.
Maddy was right when she said they could see little of Cragshaven village other than the roofs of houses and cottages below, and there was no sign of the tiny harbour where the local fisherman moored their cobles.
“Have you done any research on Claughton?”
“A little. Nothing spectacular. He was seventy-one years old, a merchant seaman in his younger years, but that was twenty-five, thirty years ago.” Maddy laughed. “I’m like you, Joe. I have a job to do and I’m the middle of a large project, so it’s not like I can just drop everything to follow up on a whim.” She sighed. “But, it’s all a huge mystery. What was he doing here? And before you ask, I’ve checked this graveyard seven ways from Sunday, and he has no relatives, no family buried here. As Neil Kemp told me, he came from Middlesbrough. He has no history with Cragshaven.”
“And if you’re right, he was the perfect target for muggers. Come on, time we were speaking to this Constable Kemp.”
What is it, then, that makes Maddy so suspicious of Arnold Claughton’s death?
Well, you’ll have to wait for the book to be released to find out. I’m reluctant to put a timescale on it, but with luck and a following wind, the 25th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery should be with you before the official start of summer.
The Blackmail Ballot is Mrs Capper’s third outing. The local elections are upon Haxford, and after the death of the town’s long serving MP, there’s also a parliamentary election on the same day. Eileen McCrudden, the Conservative candidate, has approached Christine after being blackmailed in an attempt to make her withdraw from the election.
We join Christine at Sandra’s Snacky, where she’s taking lunch with her husband, Dennis.
I sipped at my tea, and said, “Lester mentioned someone in the car on the way here. Hal Jorry. What do you know about him?”
“He’s an idiot. He’s a teacher at Haxford College. Teaches mechanicking.” Dennis snorted. “Mechanicking, my eye. I can out-spanner him any day of the week.”
“Then how come he’s teaching it and you’re doing it?”
“You know what they say? Them as can, do, them as can’t, teach. Besides, the way you spend money, I couldn’t afford the pay cut.” He glugged from his cup. “He’s a bigger Nazi than Hitler. Don’t quote me on that, because I wouldn’t know nowt about his politics if I ran over him at a rally in Market Street, but according to Geronimo, he’s in favour of re-patronising anyone who wasn’t born and bred in Haxford.”
“You mean repatriating.”
“Do I? Happen I do. He also thinks women and children should be seen and not heard, and anyone’s who was out of work won’t be out of work for long once he sent everyone back where they were born. According to Geronimo’s calculations, by the time Jorry is finished, there’ll only be about a dozen people left in Haxford. And me and you, and Geronimo and his wife, and their two sons, make up six of those twelve.”
“What about our Simon and Ingrid?”
“Ingrid’s living in Scarborough, and Simon married a Manchester lass, and anyone who originally came from Huddersfield, Manchester, Sheffield, or wherever, will be sent home, so Simon will have to go with Naomi.”
Dennis guzzled more tea while I considered his description of this man. I had no doubt that Tony Wharrier was exaggerating. Dennis, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.
“If you’re gonna start hassling these people, Chrissy, just be careful. I’m not saying they’re out and out thugs, but a mouthpiece like Jorry won’t think twice about ruining your reputation in order to shut you up.”
“Which is exactly what my client is concerned about.”
Is Christine going to bite off more than she can chew? Or are the rumours concerning Jorry no more than scuttlebutt?
Once again, you’ll have to wait for the book’s release to find out, but it should be with you by the middle of May.
In the meantime, you can check out all my titles, 24 Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, two existing Capper Casebooks, and an assortment of darker works on my books page, HERE.