Jasmine starts a case

Is increasing pessimism a sign of ageing? Perhaps it’s just me or perhaps the world is getting more depressing. When I was young I was optimistic about lots of things – developments in  science, colonies on the Moon and Mars, improving standard of living – all that despite the threat of nuclear war which I don’t recall ever losing sleep over. Now though, well the list of depressing news just goes on getting longer: the state of the environment (global warming, pollution, extinctions, new diseases, etc.), threats from terrorists, declining economy (not helped by economists who still can’t accept a finite Earth), authoritarian, self-aggrandising government figures (how did we end up with this Conservative government and what are we going to get in the US?).  I’m not going to ramble on about all my fears and the reasons for them as it would fill up too much space.

On a personal level I am probably as happy as I have ever been. I have a wonderful, loving, supportive partner; a great relationship with children and grandchildren; I’m doing what I want to do i.e. writing, and being who I want to be; and, we cope on what we earn. Nevertheless the worries of the world trouble me. The point is I don’t want to join the crowd writing dystopic science fiction or gloomy, gory crime thrillers. I want to bring some optimism into my writing – but it’s hard.

20160122_144602(2)Anyway, it’s not all doom. We had a lovely day out last week and here’s a photo to prove it.

{Go to Jasmine Frame Publications to find out how to purchase Jasmine Frame stories}




And finally, on with the eighth Jasmine Frame prequel, Resolution.  Just one point to follow on from last week’s comment – the Dr Gupta who appears in this episode is the same character who was Dr Patel in previous stories (viz. Blueprint).

Resolution: Part 2

DS Trewin stopped the car in a narrow road clogged with police cars and vans and cars parked outside the row of terraced houses. On the other side of the road was a fence and then the railway cutting. James got out of the back of the car and looked up and down the street.  Some of the houses looked almost derelict but others had been spruced up. The police activity apparently centred on one of the renovated properties. James thought it was the type of house he and Angela would have looked at until she heard that she had passed her exams. Now they could afford something a little more upmarket.
Trewin joined James. ‘Come and get kitted out before we go in, lads.’ He led James and Tom to the open rear of a van. He reached into a cardboard box and pulled out a clear plastic packet. James took it and Trewin handed another to Tom before taking one himself. James tore open the bag and shook out the one-size-fits-all, white, disposable overall. He struggled to fit himself into it, glancing at Tom to see how we has managing to get his extra length and bulk fitted in. Trewin was ready well before James had done up the Velcro fastening.
‘Follow me,’ Trewin said, ‘I know you’ve been to crime scenes before, but as detectives you will get closer to the victim and other evidence. Don’t touch anything and watch where you are putting your feet. You’ve seen a dead body before?’ Tom and James nodded, and Trewin added, ‘Good, I thought so.’
Trewin entered the house with Tom and James close behind. They stepped straight into the living room. James noted that it was actually two small rooms, divided by a modern open staircase. They walked to the rear where other overalled figures were crouched down almost obscuring the body.
‘Doctor?’ Trewin said. One of the figures twisted around and stood up.
‘Ah, DS Trewin, a pleasure to see you.’  The overall was baggy around the pathologist’s ankles but stretched tight across his stomach. ‘I see you have brought some support.’
‘Frame and Shepherd,’ Trewin pointed to each of them, ‘New DCs, just joined us this morning. I’m guiding them until DCI Sloane decides to release them into the wild. Lads, this is Dr Gupta, pathologist.’
‘Welcome gentlemen. Excuse me for not shaking hands,’ the doctor smiled and displayed his latex covered hands. James was amused that his white moustache seemed to blend with the hood of his overall. ‘Frame you say? Didn’t you work on that drug overdose case with DS Sparrow.’
James nodded, surprised that he had been remembered. ‘Yes, I was seconded for a few days to help out. Now I’m permanent,’ he paused, realising that he sounded a bit brash, ‘at least I hope so.’
‘Well, good luck to you, both of you.’
‘What have you got for us, Doctor?’ Trewin asked.
Dr Gupta stepped aside to give James and the others a view. The body of a woman, fully dressed, lay on the floor, arms and legs twisted into contorted positions that they wouldn’t have been in if she was merely asleep. There was no sign of blood but her eyelids were wide apart and her mouth open in a silent scream.
‘Not a great deal, as yet,’ The pathologist said. ‘A woman of about fifty years, strangled.’
‘Any other signs of a struggle?’ Trewin asked.’
Dr Gupta shook his head. ‘No other bruising. A couple of her fingernails are torn as if she tried to loosen the ligature that her killer had around her neck.’
‘DNA?’ Trewin said.
‘She may have scratched his hands. We’ve taken samples from under her nails. We’ll have to see what we get.’
Trewin knelt and looked closely at the woman’s neck. ‘What did the killer use?’
‘Hmm,’ Gupta mused, ‘There are a number of possibilities but I favour a length of flex. As you can see, the bruising on the neck is narrow which rules out a pair tights or stockings and is uniform which suggests it wasn’t coiled cord or twine.’
‘You mean a length of electrical cable?’ Trewin said.
Gupta nodded, ‘That’s right, but before you ask DS Trewin, we haven’t found a piece of cable lying around.’
Trewin stood up and turned to Tom and James. ‘Any ideas, you two?’
James scanned the room not really expecting to see a convenient length of wire overlooked by the SOCO team.
‘Could he have used the cable from the TV or a kettle?’ Tom asked.
Dr Gupta nodded his head slowly as if considering Tom’s idea, ‘It would be difficult to persuade your victim into a convenient position to twist the television cable around her neck and I think if the kettle had been used there might be signs of it.’
‘He could have unplugged the lead from the kettle, used it to strangle the woman and then replaced it.’ Tom said, eagerly pursuing his suggestion.
‘It would have picked up grease, skin and hair. The cable of the kettle in the kitchen and indeed other electrical items do not show that, and neither have they be wiped clean. Everything has a thin coating of dust as we would expect.’
Tom looked disappointed that his theory had been dismissed.
Jasmine decided to speak up. ‘You mean the killer has taken the cable away and may have brought it with him.’
Dr Gupta nodded, ‘It has certainly been removed and I think it is a reasonable assumption that a suitable length of cable was brought by the killer.’
‘Which suggests premeditation,’ Trewin added. ‘Any signs of a break-in?’
Gupta shook his head. ‘No. It would appear that the deceased let the killer into her home.’
Trewin nodded and looked at James and Tom. ‘I suppose you both know that the majority of killings are carried out by people known to the victim. We need to find out all we can about this woman and her acquaintances.’
Tom and James nodded in agreement. Trewin turned back to Dr Gupta.
‘Who is she, Doctor?’
‘A Mrs Hargreaves, so I’m told,’ the pathologist said, ‘Elizabeth. Not lived here long, I understand, but that’s all I have for now.’
‘Who discovered the body?’ Trewin asked.
‘Ah, I think one of your uniformed officers can help you there,’ Dr Gupta said as he turned and knelt beside the dead woman again. ‘I need to get on here so we can move the body.’
‘Thank you, Doctor. Frame go and see if the officer is outside. He should be hanging around.’
James retraced his steps to the doorway. A female community support officer was standing on the pavement near the door.
‘Hello,’ James said. ‘Can you tell me who found the body of Mrs Hargreaves?’
‘That was the neighbour, Mrs Wilson. She lives here.’ The young woman pointed to the house they were standing next to. ‘She called the emergency services and I was the first on the scene. This is my area.’  James examined the young officer. She was very young; he wondered if she was even out of her teens. She had a smooth, slightly pink-cheeked face and short blonde hair.
‘Thank you. You are?’
‘PCSO Oakham, Sir.’
‘Your first body?’
‘Yes, Sir. I’ve only been on duty for a couple of months.’  She became even pinker and a tear trickled down her cheek. She brushed it away. ‘Sorry, Sir.’
‘Don’t worry, I remember what it was like for me. I imagine that I’ll be seeing a few more in this job. What’s your first name?’
The girl hesitated. ‘Peaches, Sir.’ James felt his eyebrows rise. ‘My mother heard the name just before I was born and decided she liked it.’ James smiled, people who had strange names inflicted on them always felt that they had to offer an explanation.
‘Well, Peaches, tell me what happened.’
The young woman took a deep breath. ‘Mrs Wilson said that she had got annoyed because the radio in the house had been playing all night. This morning she came to complain to Mrs Hargreaves but there wasn’t a reply. Mrs Wilson thought that perhaps Mrs Hargreaves had gone away forgetting the radio so she decided to go in and turn it off. She had a spare key, you see. She let herself in and, well, found the body. She rang 999 and was in quite a state when I arrived.’
‘I’m not surprised. What happened next?’
‘The paramedic got here a few moments after me but of course there was nothing he could do. Then the PCs arrived and they called in everyone else.’
James could imagine the small house filling up with the various professionals. ‘But for a few moments it was just you and the neighbour.’
‘Yes,’ Peaches sniffed.
‘Did you notice anything?’
The girl looked mystified, ‘Like what?’
James shrugged, ‘I don’t know. Anything unusual?’
‘You mean apart from the body?’
‘Yes. Furniture knocked over, things not where they might be expected to be.’
Oakham shook her head, ‘I didn’t see anything like that. Just the radio playing.’
‘Who turned that off?’
‘I don’t know, Sir. It wasn’t me.’
James felt a hard object hit the back of his legs. He turned to find Dr Gupta exiting the front door carrying his large bag.
‘Oh, sorry, Doctor. I didn’t mean to be in your way,’ he said.
‘It’s no bother, DC Frame. I’ve done what I can here for now.’ The portly pathologist started to walk towards the cars parked in the street.
James had a thought. He called out. ‘Oh, Doctor.’
Gupta stopped and turned to face James. ‘Yes, Constable?’
‘You remembered that I’d worked with DS Sparrow.’
‘I did. Three deaths caused by misjudged doses of heroin. I gather you foiled a new group of pedlars of the disgusting material. Well done.’
‘Thank you Doctor. Did you know that DS Sparrow was dead?’
The doctor’s creased face drooped. ‘Yes, I had heard. A very sad business. Strange too.’
‘Yes. I understand she was hit twice by the car and the driver has not been traced. Look I must get these samples back to the lab and prepare for the post mortem on Mrs Hargreaves. Good luck Frame.’
Gupta hurried off leaving James with Peaches Oakham by his side. He knew it was the death of Mrs Hargreaves that he should devote his attention to but the thought of Milla Sparrow being repeatedly run over car filled his mind.


2 thoughts on “Jasmine starts a case

  1. As usual, another great start to a story – Jasmine is just such a brilliant character and the stories are getting better and better – can’t wait for the next book. :o) Rhiannon x

    • Thanks. It does me good to get comments like yours. The 3rd novel is being edited and I am thinking about what to do with it. I will probably publish the 2nd prequel as an e-book fairly soon.

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