Jasmine in lists

I’ve been thinking about misogyny i.e. hatred of women. Some time ago a police force in England announced that it was considering treating acts of misogyny like other hate-crimes of minority groups. This means that all incidents are logged even if no actual crime can be said to have taken place (e.g. swearing at someone can be an offence in a public place but not in a private home). There are enhanced punishments for those convicted of a hate-crime. Women may not be a minority group but they are certainly targeted in various ways, from wolf whistles in the street to rape and murder, simply for being women. This is the indicator of a hate-crime.

Many men would no doubt say that they do not hate women and the whistles and comments and groping are signs that they are actually attracted to the object of their attention. That is not the point. That sort of behaviour shows that they hate the idea of a woman as an independent, thinking person with the same rights as themselves. The case of Trump (I hope that he will soon be forgotten and we don’t have to keep using him as an example) shows this. Treating any women as a plaything and bragging about it in “the locker-room” or the saloon bar or wherever to other blokes reveals the true misogynist nature of the man.

Of course whenever this kind of crime comes up we are reminded of George Orwell’s thoughtcrime. Is it wrong to think of women in this way? Well, I don’t think people should be prosecuted for their thoughts but I do think it shows that we have a long way to go to educate men and boys that women and girls have the right not to be the object of their attention whether verbal, manual or sexual, at least until they have consented. Education does not mean brain-washing, it means explaining and developing an understanding. It is disappointing if some men still show their misogyny in the way that they talk to other men but it is their actions towards women that should be punished.

A final thought. Some feminists refuse to accept transwomen as women or allies in the fight against misogyny.  I think that though wrong they have some reason for their actions. There are some transvestites (not, I think transsexuals) who reinforce outdated stereotypes of women and think that by dressing as women they can act like the fluffy-headed dolls that they perceive women to be. As someone who feels that I reside somewhere in the middle of the male-female spectrum that attitude appalls me as much as it would any woman.


discovering jasmine final cover

Murder in doubt cover

Painted Ladies front cover jpegLayout 1






Following the end of the Jasmine Frame story, Perspective, last week I’m taking a rest this week.  There have now been ten novellas and three novels which are listed below in chronological order

Discovering Jasmine    2000    novella   e-book          James ventures out as Jasmine

Murder in Doubt            2001     novella  e-book          James meets Angela at university (formerly Soft Focus)

Aberration                       2004     novella  unpublished   James living with Angela after uni.

Flashlight                        2009     novella  unpublished  PC Frame seconded to V&SCU

Resolution                       2009     novella  unpublished  sequel to Flashlight

Blueprint                         2009      novella  unpublished  James reveals Jasmine to Tom

Self-portrait                   2010      novella  unpublished  Jasmine starts transition

Close-up                          2010      novella  unpublished   starting hormone treatment

Split Mirror                      2011      novella  unpublished   moves to flat, alone.

Perspective                      2011      novella  unpublished   resigns from police force

Painted Ladies                 2012     novel     e-book/pbk    called in to catch serial killer

Bodies By Design            2012     novel     e-book/pbk    assisting Sloane to trace killer

Brides’ Club Murder       2012    novel     unpublished   solving a country house murder.


Jasmine takes a break

And still it goes on – the news I mean. I’m writing this a little early this week but already we’ve had Farage resigning, again, He’d done his job, so he says. No thought about the aftermath or what responsibility he might have. And Chris Evans resigning from Top Gear. I haven’t watched the new series and neither, for a long time, did I watch the old version.  I like James May and Richard Hammond but Clarkson increasingly got on my nerves with his views. But a TV programme is unimportant compared to what is happening to the government of our country. I’ve read and heard Europeans comment that they thought us Brits were calm and thoughtful and wouldn’t, couldn’t, make such a mess of things as leaving the EU. Well, all I can say is that they haven’t met the ones that voted Leave because if they holiday abroad at all, it’s likely that they stay in hotels and camps that are shut off from the country they are in and the only “foreigners” they meet are the waiters, chambermaids, etc. Doesn’t apply to all of them of course.  We shall see what the next week brings.

Having finished Aberration last week I have decided to take a break from writing Jasmine Frame stories for a few weeks.  Writing the stories is fun but each episode takes up a considerable time each week. I also feel I need to give Jasmine a rest so I can get the imagination and creativity going again. I am writing another fantasy novel which I need to devote more time to. I also want to get the third Jasmine novel ready for publication, and perhaps prepare another of the prequels for e-book publication,  so that will keep me busy. It is almost three years since I started writing the prequels and I have finished nine of them (I thought it was just eight!). For those of you that are interested, the table below lists all the Jasmine Frame stories, written, published or planned. There are still a few gaps in Jasmine’s life story, particularly her first years in the police force. However, I don’t really like writing police procedurals and her opportunities for investigations as a uniformed PC may be limited – but we will see.

This blog will continue nevertheless, with comments on the world outside fiction, especially my experience of transgenderism and news about the Jasmine publications (perhaps some free or reduced price offers soon) so I hope you will continue to pop in for a read.

To show how things change in three years here are a couple of photos of me during that time.

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2013, shortly after the publication of Painted Ladies

2016, at Hay Festival.

2016, at Hay Festival.

Provisional title date situation crime Publication & length Publication date
Discovering Jasmine 2000 James experimenting with his gender identity Transwoman intimidated by youths Ebook, Discovering Jasmine


Soft Focus 2001 James meets Angela at Uni. Transman dies; suicide or murder? Ebook, Murder in Doubt


Aberration 2004 James & Angela living together post- graduation Transman killed 16,000w  
Flashlight 2009 James seconded to V&SCU, meets DCI Sloane for the first time. Woman killed by drug overdose supplied by transwoman 24,000w  
Resolution 2009 James appointed to V&SCU. Meets DC Tom Shepherd Colleague (from Flashlight) murdered 23,000w  
Blueprint 2009 James reveals he is trans Crossdresser suicide 38,000w  
Self=portrait 2010 Start of transition Young transman accused of murder 27,000w  
Close-up 2010 Jasmine back at work. Conflict with DS Baby alleged to be snatched in high street 23,000w  
Split Mirror 2011 Separating from Angela, move into flat. Conflict with DS Transwoman disappeared 22,000w  
Painted Ladies 2012 Jasmine working as private detective. Divorce from Angela. Serial killer targeting trans women Ebook & paperback, Painted Ladies 80,000w 2013
Bodies By Design 2012 Biorchidectomy, start of relationship with Viv Transwoman murdered Ebook & paperback, Bodies By Design 72,000w 2015
The Brides’ Club Murder 2012 Electrolysis. Planning to move in with Viv Leader of Bridal wear group murdered t.b.d


Molly’s Boudoir 2013 Breast augmentation. Living with Viv Arson at trans shop t.b.d. ?
Impersonator 2014 GRS. Female impersonator killed t.b.d. ?


Jasmine fears exposure

This week we reach the end of another Jasmine Frame story. Part 13 of Resolution is below. There are now eight completed novella length prequels to the first Jasmine Frame novel, Painted Ladies. They haven’t been written in any particular order but I am publishing edited versions gradually, in the chronological order of each tale. The first, Discovering Jasmine has been available as an e-book for a few months and the second, Murder In Doubt will be available very soon – watch out for next week’s blog.  The second novel, Bodies By Design, the first sequel to Painted Ladies is also available as a paperback and e-book while the third novel, The Bride’s Club Murder is complete and awaiting my decision when and how to publish.

20160122_132302I created Jasmine about fifteen years ago, not long after I started to reveal my own trans nature. I made Jasmine a transsexual, someone who wanted to live in the gender they identified with and if possible have all the medical treatment necessary to achieve a body that matched that identity as closely as possible. I hope that in the prequels I am showing how James/Jasmine reached that decision, because it isn’t easy nor is it cut and dried. While there are many FtM and MtF transsexuals making and realising that choice, there are also many “trans” or “gender variant” people who do not want to follow that path. I am one. I am quite certain I do not want to take drugs or have surgery. I am happy to feminise my appearance using cosmetics, jewellery, and clothes (and prosthetics) and having my hair styled and ears pierced, etc. but I am content for it to be temporary. I swap or oscillate between genders, like a quantum particle sometimes displaying features of both simultaneously. I use the term “transgender” but it is a catch-all term. Others use the terms non-binary or gender-queer amongst others to describe a feeling which sets them apart from people who are content with the male and female tags. I am still exploring and discovering my own gender identity and through the Jasmine Frame stories I hope to investigate other manifestations of gender uncertainty in individuals and relationships – especially where they involve a juicy murder.

The UK may be one of the more enlightened and accepting societies in which trans people can be who they want to be. However the situation is not perfect. Hate crime still exists and many professional people in positions of authority in medicine, the police, education, government etc. still have little or no knowledge of the experiences of trans people, the diversity of types of gender variance and the pressures on them.

Resolution: Part 13

James shivered. It was British summer warm but the water of the canal had been cold and now he was cooling rapidly.
Tom knelt by his side. ‘Are you okay, Jim? There’s blood on you.’
James looked down at his soaked and stained jacket and shirt. ‘Not mine.’
‘You’d better get those wet clothes off,’ Tom said, ‘The paramedic will be here soon.’
James tugged his jacket off and felt in the pocket. He dragged out the voice recorder.
‘You’d better look after this. I don’t know whether it still works after being in the water.’
‘You recorded your conversation?’
‘I hope so.’
James found his mobile phone. The screen was blank and it didn’t respond to him pressing buttons. Approaching sirens made him look up. A first responder and a couple of police cars were racing over the canal bridge.  In moments uniforms were bustling around them. The paramedic examined Dawson briefly then turned to James.
‘Let’s have a look at you.’
Through chattering teeth James asked ‘What about him?’ He nodded towards Dawson.
‘Nothing I can do for him,’ the paramedic said. ‘But let’s get you dried off and warmed up. Do you have any injuries?
James felt the bruise on his breast bone and a graze on his knee, but shook his head.
‘Better get you checked over nevertheless, since you’ve been in the canal.’
The paramedic gave him a foil blanket from his bag. He wrapped it around himself. An ambulance arrived and more police cars. DS Trewin got out of one car, took a look around then sauntered up to James. He crouched down.
‘Well, Jim. What have you been up to?’
James opened his mouth.
‘No, don’t tell me now. Let’s get you sorted out in A&E then we can have a chat.’
James found his voice. ‘Tom Shepherd saw what happened and he’s got the recorder. You’ll find stuff on Dawson on my computer.’
‘Thank you, Jim. We’ll talk soon.’ Trewin beckoned to the ambulance personnel, a man and a woman, and walked off to speak to Tom.
‘Can you walk?’ The female paramedic asked. James struggled to his feet. The woman gave him a helping hand towards the ambulance.

‘James! Are you alright?’ Angela rushed towards James with her arms reaching out to him. He rose from the hospital chair which he had been occupying for most of the last few hours. The NHS regulation gown flapped around his knees.
‘Angela, at last.’ He said as they wrapped their arms around each other. They hugged then Angela pushed him away and looked him up and down.
‘You’re well?’ she said, almost as if she expected him to be swathed in bandages.
‘I’m fine. Just a bruise,’ James placed a hand on his chest. ‘My clothes got ruined and my phone’s knackered. That’s why I could only leave you a voice message from a payphone.’
‘I picked it up when I came out of my meeting, but I was in London. You remember?’
‘Oh yes,’ James had forgotten where Angela had said she was spending her day.
‘I’ve got some clothes for you though. Here.’ She handed him a carrier bag. He looked in it – pants, t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.
‘Looks like I’m on holiday.’
‘Well, they were easy to shove in the bag. You’re not on duty are you?’
James snorted. ‘No. Don’t think I will be for a few days, if ever. Alan Trewin called in and told me to go home and stay there until this is all over.’
‘What’s all over, James?’
‘Dawson, the guy who was following me, is dead. I was responsible, sort of. They’ll have to investigate that and the crimes he was involved in. I don’t know whether they’ll find out about Jasmine.’
Angela placed her hand on his cheek. ‘Well, you’re safe, and that’s all that matters to me. Come on. Get dressed so we can go home.’

The week went by for James in a mixture of nervous excitement and boredom. He spent it in their Reading flat with little to do except follow Angela’s instructions for packing. The contracts were exchanged on the house in Kintbridge so they would be moving in a week or so. He started sorting his and Jasmine’s clothes ready to be transported to the new house. He had no contact with police force colleagues other than brief daily calls from DS Trewin and visits from investigating officers from Birmingham, Sheffield and the Metropolitan Police.
The Sheffield investigators asked questions relating to James’ report on the Hargreaves murder and Greaves’ suicide. James had little to add and didn’t offer an opinion on the treatment of trans prisoners. They had no reason to suspect the existence of Jasmine and he wasn’t going to enlighten them.
The Birmingham detectives were interested to know about Dawson’s part in DS Sparrow’s death. They had got nowhere in tracing the driver of the burnt-out stolen vehicle that had run her down. Now they were able to follow up Dawson’s contacts and arrest a suspect. They had interviewed Tania again and James was relieved that she hadn’t revealed that it was Jasmine who had visited her and not James. The detectives left satisfied that they had Milla’s murder sewn up but upset that James had made the breakthrough.
The Met officers were also a little disgruntled that James had opened up the book of Dawson’s life in crime. To them he had been a peripheral figure in the drug supply business.  Now he was revealed as the middleman between the importers and the dealers with a remorseless way of dealing with those who got in his way. The experience in hiding his identity before and after his transition had stood him well in the murky world of crime. Now, following his death and exposure, his network was unravelling as informers came forward.
James also had a visit from Alan Trewin who had taken down his statement of the weekend’s events and James’ account of his meeting with Dawson. James neglected to report what he was wearing at the various times and Trewin revealed no knowledge of Jasmine. James guessed that Dawson had left no record of his intended blackmail.  Trewin made few comments leaving James more than a little uncertain of his future.
At midday on Friday, the phone in the flat rang. James dropped the pile of books he was carrying into the cardboard box and answered it.
Trewin’s voice greeted him. ‘Jim. The DCI would like to see you this afternoon. Be in his office at two. Don’t come any earlier and hang around, and don’t be late. Got that?’
‘Yes. . .’ The call terminated. They don’t want me chatting to Tom or the others, James thought as he hurried to start getting ready. He dressed in his other dark grey suit with a freshly ironed shirt and polished black shoes.

It was precisely two p.m. when James walked through the communal office and into Sloane’s private space. He’d sat in the police station carpark watching his watch till he judged it was time to go.
DCI Sloane looked up as James stood to attention in front of his desk. There appeared to be no warmth in the chief’s eyes.
‘Now Frame, what have you been up to?’ he paused but James didn’t think he was expecting an answer. ‘In the space of a few days since joining us you bring two cases, perhaps three or more, to a resolution but with the perpetrators dead so the cases will not be tested in court.’
James nodded, wondering where Sloane was leading.
‘Greaves was a bitter and confused fellow,’ Sloane continued, ‘but Dawson was a cunning and ruthless criminal. What this swapping between life as a woman and a man had to do with it I don’t know but the clues you provided have revealed a very nasty personality. We’ve rounded up the immigrants that he was intending to use as his new sales network. He intimidated them, making them think they had broken some employment laws and then blackmailed them to do what he wanted. The boys at the Met are following up various leads on his suppliers. The divers found the gun in the canal and it matches one used in other killings.’ Sloane took a breath and glared at James. ‘So, it seems we have a lot to thank you for, DC Frame.’
It didn’t sound as though Sloane was gushing with gratitude.
‘However, this Dawson business. First you involve yourself in the Sparrow case without authorisation from me or the Birmingham investigating officer. Then you inform no-one of the contact made with Dawson and finally you go off alone, or almost alone, to meet him when you know he is dangerous. What do you have to say, Frame.’
‘I’m sorry, Sir.’ How could he explain? ‘I wanted to see Tania, Milla’s partner, to tell her how sorry I was about Milla. Her sighting of Dawson came out by accident. The Birmingham people hadn’t asked the necessary questions. I would have informed you but then I discovered that Dawson was tailing me. He threatened me and I wasn’t sure what to do, Sir. I thought that meeting him again and getting him to confess might give me a way of . . .’ James wasn’t sure what he’d expected to happen.
‘Frame. I understand and I sympathise,’ There wasn’t much sympathy in Sloane’s grey features. ‘but you have to realise that police investigations are founded on teamwork. The heroic actions of a maverick cop only occur in crime novels. If you want to work alone then get out of the force and become a private eye.’ Sloane spoke the words with disdain. ‘Now, it does appear that you and Shepherd have struck up a bit of a partnership. He says that your swift reaction prevented Dawson getting another shot off at him and you did at least involve him in your half-baked scheme. In future, remember that in the V&SCU, we work together, we share information and we make each other’s safety paramount. Do you understand me, Frame?’
James had listened, waiting for the words that would say his career as a detective was over, but what had Sloane said – “In future”? Did that mean he was being kept on?
‘Frame?’ Sloane repeated.
James jerked to attention. ‘Yes, Sir, I understand, Sir. Teamwork, Sir.’
A hint of a smile formed at the corners of Sloane’s mouth. ‘That’s right. Don’t forget it. Now, thanks to you I have still to speak to a variety of police forces. I don’t want to see you again till eight a.m. on Monday morning, prompt. I’ll work out then which case deserves yours and Shepherd’s attention.’
James saluted, mumbled his thanks and backed out. He hurried through the outer office and out of the station. In the warm, polluted, Kintbridge air, he paused and looked around.  He was still a detective, still a member of Sloane’s team, and none of his colleagues knew about Jasmine.



Jasmine deals

PennyHad my photograph taken twice this week. The first was for some work I am doing with the police on hatecrime and the second was for the website backing up an interview we’ve done for the BBC World Service (more of that in a few weeks I expect.)

I suppose we all find it a bit strange seeing ourselves. Is that person in the mirror or the photo really me? Our inner image is always different somehow. I do know that while I would like to get rid of my spectacles (please don’t suggest contacts) whenever I take my glasses off in a photo I look like a mole squinting in the light.

I see Fay Weldon has written a trans version of her Life & Loves of the She-Devil novel from decades ago, working on the principle that men are becoming women because they see women as holding the power today. I’m not sure it’s quite like that (!?) but she can write what she likes. The same as I will support anyone’s right to speak their mind so long as they are not advocating harm to anyone. I do not go along with this “denial of platform” movement, or for that matter those people who want to deny, or somehow change, history by pulling down old statues.

I made a discovery this week; another trans writer, of SF&F – Cheryl Morgan. I’m following her blog now – perhaps she’ll find her way here sometime. I haven’t written any trans SF myself, just the Jasmine Frame crime stories. Talking of which here’s the next gripping (I hope) episode of Resolution.

Resolution: Part 12

‘Who is he anyway?’ Tom asked as they drove slowly through the many traffic lights of Reedham.
James didn’t want to give too much away. ‘His name’s Dawson. He’s a middle man. He didn’t get picked up with the lot supplying drugs from the club in Reading that Milla and I busted, but he was their contact with the suppliers in London.’
‘And he was involved with Sparrow’s killing?’
‘He arranged it.’
‘He sounds dangerous. Do you know what you’re doing, Jim?’
James turned into an industrial estate and pulled into the kerb just short of the bridge over the railway line.
‘I hope so. Here’s where you get out, Tom.’
‘Dawson is only expecting me. I’m going over the canal. There’s a row of houses on the bank by the lock. That’s where we’re meeting. Follow me but keep out of sight.’
‘What then?’
‘I’ll call you when I need you.’
Tom frowned but opened the car door. ‘Okay. I’m not sure I like it. Be careful, Jim.’
‘I will. Off you go.’ James urged Tom out of the car and as soon as the door closed he drove on.  He went up and over the canal and dropped down into the open space between the terrace of worker’s cottages and the canal. There was another car parked there – a silver Toyota Auris. Dawson was standing on the moorings below a pair of lock gates, gazing into the water.
James got out of the car and walked to join Dawson. When he heard James’ shoes scrunching on the gravel Dawson turned to him.
‘Ah, it’s DC James Frame today is it. Been at work with your colleagues have you?’
‘Yes,’ James said.
‘But you’d prefer to be Jasmine, I bet.’ A leery smile spread across his face.
‘You’d know all about it,’ James said. ‘I expect when you were a girl you always felt the urge to be a boy.’
Dawson frowned. James was pleased. Dawson hadn’t expected him to answer his taunts with his own.
‘But I followed my dream,’ Dawson said, ‘You’re stuck with your worries and fears about being found out.’
It was true. James did feel trapped between wanting to be Jasmine and not wanting to lose Angela. But he wasn’t going to let Dawson needle him.
‘You may be living as a man, Dawson, but what do all your criminal buddies think of you. I’m sure they’re not all trans-loving liberals. Do all your “clients” even know your history? Perhaps you are hiding your past like I’m wary of revealing my future.’
Dawson sniffed, glanced away for a moment watching the ducks on the water. He turned back to James, glaring.
‘I have a reputation for not standing for any nonsense. Enough about me. You’re here. If you wanted me to reveal your liking for wearing tights and bra and frilly dresses you wouldn’t be. You’re here because you’re scared and so you’ll do what I want.’
‘Maybe,’ James admitted.
‘So let’s get down to business.’
James put a hand in his trouser pocket, trying to appear relaxed, and pressed the on button on the voice recorder.
‘What business?’
Dawson grinned. ‘Well, you and Sparrow set me back a bit. There were some losses. Sparrow had been a nuisance for some time.’
‘So you had to get rid of her.’
‘Yes. She was too frigid to bend. I made sure she was disposed of.’
‘You had her killed.’
Dawson raised his hands. ‘Alright. What’s it to you; you’re not interviewing me now, are you, but yes, I had her killed.’
James frowned but inside he was cheering. That was one confession recorded.
‘You though are different. You’re new to Sloane’s unit and with the bridle I’ve got on Jasmine you could be useful.’
‘How?’ James genuinely didn’t understand what purpose Dawson had for him.
‘You’re right at the heart of serious crime investigations. You’ll be able to tell me what Sloane and his grunts know about the businesses my clients are involved with.’
‘You want me to leak our findings.’
‘That’s right. Keep me and my friends at least one step ahead of the plods.’
‘What sort of things. I’ll need to know so that I can keep you informed about the operations you’re involved in.’
‘Of course. I’ll let you know. Actually there’s one coming up. You and Sparrow caused a hiatus in our infiltration of the Reading drugs scene but it’s back on track. We have a new delivery system coming on stream.’
‘Through the Marquis club?’
‘Don’t be an idiot, Frame. We’re not so daft as to use the same depot. No, this time we utilising our European friends.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘The guys who’ve come over from eastern Europe looking for work. They’re keen to supplement the pittance they’re getting for doing the jobs no-one else wants.’
‘Not all of them are criminals.’
‘No of course not, but enough to provide an efficient distribution network.’
‘Where’s the stuff coming from.’
‘Our supply chain centred on east London. I’ll let you have some details so you know which to ignore. It will be useful if you can remove some of our competition from the picture.’
‘What about the money you collect?’
‘Ah, that goes back through our bankers. I’ll give you a heads-up on that too. We wouldn’t want you pulling in our guys for questioning would we. But it’ll be a real help if you go after the old Reading bunch. Get them out of the way for us.’
James saw Dawson’s eyes focus at something over his shoulder. He cursed inwardly. He’d got the wrong side of the trans-man allowing him a view of the bridge across the canal. Had he caught sight of Tom?
Dawson stepped forward between James and the water, pushing James to the side with his right arm, and reaching into his jacket pocket with his left.
‘You’ve been followed you fool,’ he spat.
He drew out a pistol. He’s left handed, James found himself noticing. Dawson brought up the gun and fired. The sound of the shot reverberated off the lock gates, the terrace of houses, the sides of the bridge and the steel walls of the warehouse on the opposite bank. James turned to see Tom stumbling and crouching by the garden wall of the houses. There was no cover nearby.
‘DC Shepherd I believe,’ Dawson said taking aim.
James leapt at him, reaching for Dawson’s left arm. He grabbed the forearm, dragging the gun down while his other arm circled his shoulders. They were in a bear hug teetering on the smooth curved bricks that edged the moorings.
Dawson fought to release his arm, but James pulled the gun between their bodies. He was on tip toe. Dawson’s back arched. They were off balance, falling.
The gun fired. James felt a thud against his chest just before he hit the water on top of Dawson. His grip on the other man loosened and they parted under water. James kicked for the surface. His feet hit the sloping base of the canal as his head broke the surface. His feet found purchase and though they sank into the ooze, he stood, buoyed up by the water which lapped around his chest. He looked down at himself. He chest hurt from the thump he’d received but there was no blood. The shot hadn’t hit him. It must have been the recoil that hurt.
James twisted around. Dawson was floating a little further out in the middle of the canal, face down, his suit and shirt ballooned.
‘Jim! Are you alright?’ Tom’s voice came from the bank.
James glanced at him then back at Dawson, still floating without movement.
‘Get a life-ring or a rope or something,’ James called and half stepped, half swam towards Dawson.  The centre of the canal was deeper and James felt his shoes and sodden clothes tugging him under. The current from the leaking lock was starting to take Dawson downstream towards the bridge. James kicked out and swam a few strokes until his grasping fingers encountered cloth. He gripped Dawson’s unconscious body, turned him, held him close. But he was sinking, his chin barely above the water.
There was a splash nearby. A plastic life-ring. James kicked his legs. With one arm around Dawson he reached out. His spare hand found the ring. He pulled it towards himself, the extra buoyancy allowing him to hold his head up.
‘Have you got a grip?’ Tom called.
‘Pull!’ James called with his remaining breath. He felt the tug as Tom began heaving in the ring with its catch. James found the soft weedy bottom of the canal beneath his feet again but with Dawson’s weight resting on him he couldn’t balance. Tom continued to pull them close to the bank.
At last, James’ head touched the brick canalside. He pushed with his feet sliding his body into an almost upright position against the wall.
‘Can you get Dawson out?’ he panted.
Tom reached over him, laying on the ground and grabbed the unresponsive body. He dragged him from the water onto the bank. When Dawson was lying with just his feet dangling over the edge, Tom came back to James.
‘Do you need help, Jim?’
James realised he was exhausted. There was no way he was going to be able to haul himself and his wet clothes out of the cold water.
‘Yes, please, Tom,’ he sighed.
Tom knelt and reached down and put his hands under James armpits.  The muscles in his arms felt like steel hawsers against James’ skin. Tom grunted and heaved. James rose from the water. He flailed, trying to get a grip on the brickwork. His knees cleared the bank and he bent his legs to crawl onto the land. Tom released him with a groan.
James lay panting and shivering only vaguely hearing Tom speaking into his phone.
After a few moments James found enough breath to speak.
‘He’s dead. Bullet wound through his chest.’ Tom said.


Jasmine makes a date

Back from the weekend in Manchester.  A SF&F convention is certainly a diverse gathering – all ages, sexualities, genders (including alien ones) and personalities. There was a trapped audience of a thousand but persuading them to spend their money on books still proved to be difficult. The same applies to all genres. More and more books are published and fewer and fewer people are actually buying. The writer is caught in the middle so we end up buying each other’s books and never making a living from our craft.  Still, it’s fun isn’t it.

Murder in doubt coverThe second Jasmine Frame novella will be published very shortly. It follows on from Discovering Jasmine  and is called Murder in Doubt. It is of course based on one of the serials published here. Here is a sneak preview of the cover.  More details soon.

Back to the present and the next episode of Resolution. We’re approaching a climax.





Resolution: Part 11

 James pulled on his dark trousers, tucked in his shirt and selected a tie from the rack.  Angela came into the bedroom, stopped and stared.
‘That’s your work suit. It’s Sunday. Aren’t you going to be Jasmine today?’
‘I need to call into the Station, Ange. I won’t be long, I hope.
‘Oh. Is it to do with that man that was following you? I’m worried James. If he is linked to Milla Sparrow’s death, aren’t you in danger?’
James wrapped his arms around Angela’s shoulders. ‘I don’t think he wants to kill me too. I’m going in because I need to write up my report on the Hargreaves case. We completed it on Friday evening and Sloane will want it on his desk by tomorrow morning.’
He looked into Angela’s eyes. They still were dark and worried.
‘Well, take care, and come back as soon as you can. I’m not sure I can relax with you out of my sight at the moment.’

The V&SCU office was empty which surprised James a little. Surely it wasn’t a quiet weekend for crime. Perhaps the other detectives were actually out on cases. James settled at his desk and booted up his computer. He didn’t start writing his report but instead took Eric Dawson’s card from his pocket and keyed the name and brief details into the police database. Dawson’s file appeared but didn’t tell him much. There was no link to his previous existence as a woman. There were notes in the record that linked Dawson to shady deals in Reading and London and incidents where people, predominantly criminals themselves, had been “removed”.  There was insufficient evidence to charge Dawson with any wrongdoing let alone convict him of any crime. James felt frustrated. He had to find a way of ridding himself of his tormentor before he revealed James’ dual gender.
The door to the office slammed open despite being on a stiff spring. James looked up to see the grey-suited Sloane striding across the room to his own office.
Seeing James didn’t slow him but he declared. ‘Ah, Frame. Glad you’re here. In my office, now.’
James launched himself from his chair and hurried after the DCI. Sloane rounded his desk and slumped into his seat. James stood in front of him.
‘I haven’t finished preparing the case against Michelle Greaves . . .’
‘There won’t be a case,’ Sloane said.
James was confused. ‘No case, Sir? But Michelle Greaves confessed to killing her wife on Friday evening in front of DS Trewin and myself.’
‘I know that, Frame. You both did a good job but it won’t be going to court. Not a criminal court at least.’
James shook his head in incomprehension.
Sloane went on without a pause. ‘Greaves is dead.’
‘Michelle Greaves?’ James whispered.
‘Yes. He killed himself in custody last night.’
‘Hung himself from the window catch by his bra.’
‘Yes, careless of them. We take belts away from prisoners to prevent this type of thing. The bra wasn’t actually holding up any part of his anatomy. No reason why he should have been allowed to keep it.’
‘But, Michelle was a woman,’ James mumbled.
‘What was that, Frame? Look it’s a mess. I’ve called Trewin in. I’ll need you both to write a full report of your interview with Greaves. See if there was any warning of him being a suicide risk.’
James replied cautiously, ‘She did ask if she’d be placed in a woman’s prison.’
‘Did he?’ Sloane’s bushy eyebrows rose. ‘Why? He was still physically male wasn’t he?’
‘She was transitioning,’ James explained as carefully as he could, ‘She was living as a woman while waiting for medical procedures to start. She wouldn’t have wanted to be among men in a male prison.’
‘Hmph. Well, perhaps the Sheffield lot didn’t take his mental state into consideration sufficiently. I’ll need that report from you and Trewin. It’ll be the coroner’s court for Greaves and for Elizabeth Hargreaves.’
Sloane picked up his phone and waved James away. James returned slowly to his desk. He couldn’t understand how someone could take their own life. Could the thought of being treated like a man have been so terrible for Michelle Greaves? Apparently it was. James tried to recall as much as he could of the interview with Greaves in the Sheffield Police Station. It seemed so long ago.

DS Trewin arrived and joined James in a brief discussion of the news, then he left James to prepare his account of the investigation alone. James completed it, saved it to the file and attached it to emails to Sloane and Trewin. Writing the report had helped him come to terms with Greaves’ death. He could see some kind of parallel between Michelle Greaves’ fear of being cast back into the role of a man and his own fear of being outed by Eric Dawson. He recognised that he shared with Greaves a vulnerability in gender identity that was a danger to them both. Greaves’ determination to be recognised as a woman had led to her Elizabeth’s and her own deaths. James realised that he would have to take care of his own mental state because of his fears about his mixed up gender. He could succumb to Dawson’s blackmail and become his tame monkey, or he could fight him and risk his gender confusion becoming public knowledge with whatever consequences that would have. He didn’t want the former so he would have to pursue the latter course however much that scared him.
James returned to his electronic trail of Eric Dawson. There were plenty of snippets of reports and hints about Dawson’s role in criminal activity. Now that he knew his appearance James was able to observe him in surveillance photographs of meetings of criminals. Dawson, he discovered was a link between the drug lords and the suppliers on the streets and in the clubs across the south-east as well as the go to man for removing troublesome clients and employees. Dawson had established his position and reputation despite his transgender history. Or was it “despite”? Perhaps he had gained his reputation for organisation and ruthlessness because of his adoption of a male persona. He may look a somewhat flabby specimen of a man but testosterone coursed through his veins and produced a masculine response to a crisis. Nevertheless, he had been born a girl and James felt sure Dawson must still harbour a feeling of insecurity about his female origins. James accessed his birth certificate. It was a new one, post Gender Reassignment Act certification. It told him that Eric Dawson, male, had been born in 1969 in Southampton. James would need a higher authority to delve into Dawson’s female history, but perhaps he didn’t need the truth to stick a needle in Dawson’s buried and almost forgotten fears.
A meeting would have to be arranged at which James would keep Dawson guessing as to whether he was going to be compliant or defiant. If he could play Dawson along, James hoped he could lead him into indiscretions and incriminate himself even if it meant Jasmine and James Frame were revealed as one and the same person. James’ fingers skipped across the keys, his eyes locked on the screen as he continued to build up his knowledge of everything there was to learn about Eric Dawson.
A long while later, James stretched and rubbed his eyes. He glanced at his watch, saw the time and felt a pang of anxiety about Angela. He must get back home to her to calm her anxieties. He wanted to get back into a dress again too. First though he had a phone call to make.

Next morning, following the briefing and some routine and boring paperwork James joined Tom Shepherd in the corner by the coffee machine.
‘Are you free this afternoon, Tom?’ James said in a quiet voice but trying not to be too conspiratorial.
Tom shrugged, ‘If nothing comes up, I suppose so. What’s up?’
‘I’m meeting someone and I’d like you to come along. You know, as witness, partners.’
‘What’s it about. The Hargreaves case is over now that Greaves has topped himself.’
‘No, it’s not that. It’s to do with Milla Sparrow.’
Tom frowned. ‘The DS that was killed? I thought the Birmingham lot were investigating that.’
‘Yes, they are but I’ve become involved because I knew her and we worked together on her last case here,’ James tried not to tell an outright lie. ‘I’m meeting someone who might give us a lead.’
‘Oh, right. What time?’
‘Two. We can go straight from lunch.’ When it won’t be so obvious that we’re missing, James didn’t add.

Before lunch James picked up surveillance kit from stores and hid the microphone and recording device under his clothes. He met Tom in the police canteen and after a they had each finished off a plate of sausage and chips they left in one of the cars assigned to their unit. James drove them out of Kintbridge.
‘Where are we meeting this guy,’ Tom said as they drove east along the main A road.
‘Not far,’ James replied. He felt a tightness in his stomach. His appointment with Dawson was just minutes away.


Jasmine follows

Waterstones 160323

Waterstones’ Crime shelf

I was in London one day this week. Crowded and expensive but easy travel and good mobile internet – swings and roundabouts I suppose. Anyway it was encouraging to find Painted Ladies on the crime shelves in Waterstones Piccadilly. I presume that to be there nearly thee years after publication that they must sell one or two.  No Bodies By Design of course, but I think I’ll try them. . .

This weekend my focus is on SF & F at the annual Easter convention.  This year it is Mancunicon i.e. Manchester so look at my SF&F page for information.  Nevertheless the Jasmine Frame prequel, Resolution continues below, now at part 10. You may wonder how she’s going to get out of this spot of difficulty. So do I.




Resolution: Part 10

The Toyota sped off leaving Jasmine groping at air. She ran across the road towards her car in the driveway. Angela emerged from the front door.
‘What’s going on, Jas?’
‘Where’s the car key?’ Jasmine cried reaching the drivers’ door.
Angela pulled the keys from her pocket. ‘Er, here, Jas. What are you doing?’
Jasmine grabbed the keys and opened the Fiesta’s door. She was turning the key in the ignition as she settled into the seat and pulling the seatbelt across her. The engine burbled into life and she reversed down the drive just as a car went passed with its horn blaring.  She spun the wheel and put her foot down. The engine screamed and she headed out of the estate.
She reached the junction and looked both ways. There was no sign of the silver Toyota. She hardly expected there to be. To the right was the way they had arrived, the main road through Kintbridge and elsewhere. It was the obvious way to go but no chance of catching her watcher if he had gone that way. She wasn’t sure where the road to the left went. She turned left, and accelerated beyond the thirty mile-an-hour speed limit. It was a narrow two-way country road that twisted and rose and fell through dips. She drove as fast as she dared, faster than felt safe. She careered around a couple of small roundabouts thankful that no other vehicles emerged from side roads.
She reached a straight section and she pressed her right foot to the floor. Far ahead was a glimpse of silver. It disappeared around a bend. Moments later she reached the tight double bend. The tyres squealed as she braked hard and wrenched the wheel over. The back of the Fiesta wobbled and then she was through and on a slowly curving descent. She passed a sign warning of a main road ahead. There, stopped at the junction was the silver Auris.  A couple of cars and a van went passed and Jasmine pulled up behind her quarry. The road cleared and he pulled out turning left. Jasmine followed catching a glimpse of a sign pointing towards Reedham, the town adjacent to Kintbridge. Now Jasmine knew where she was headed. She accelerated to come up to the rear of the hatchback.  Bumper to bumper they headed down the hill to the town. Ahead Jasmine saw the canal and railway line running alongside it.
They were approaching the canal bridge when the Toyota pulled off into a narrow layby. Jasmine jammed her foot on the brake, just avoiding ramming the lead car. She pulled on the handbrake, released her seatbelt and pushed her door open. She leaped out and ran to Toyota as the driver slowly hauled himself out. He was a pear-shaped gentleman, two or three inches shorter than Jasmine, wearing a summer suit just as Tania has described.
‘I’m arresting you on . . .’
He held his hands up to halt her. ‘Hold on a moment. On what grounds are you arresting me?’
Jasmine caught her breath, ‘On suspicion of conspiracy to murder Detective Sergeant Camilla Sparrow in Birmingham.’
A smile passed over the man’s bearded face. ‘Where’s your evidence?’
‘You were identified by Milla’s partner.’
‘Identified? How?’
‘She saw you in the pub just before Milla was run down.’
The man chuckled. ‘I was sitting in a pub before this detective was skilled in a road accident?’
‘It wasn’t an accident.’
The man waved his hand. ‘Whatever. I think you’ll need to be more convincing than that to link me with the incident.’
‘You’ve been following me. You followed me to Birmingham and back and to the house.’
‘I was following you was I? It seems that you have been following me, somewhat dangerously if I may say so.’
Jasmine couldn’t believe how relaxed and confident he seemed.
‘You know what you’ve done,’ she blurted out.
He held his palms out and shrugged. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
‘When we’ve questioned you, you’ll know,’ Jasmine said.
‘So you’re going to take me into the police station for interrogation are you?’ he said, smiling broadly.
‘So Jasmine Frame is the Detective Constable now is she? You’re going to reveal yourself to your colleagues are you?’
‘What?’ Jasmine was confused.
‘You’re going to appear before DCI Sloane in your short skirt and false tits?’
Jasmine looked down at herself and understood what the man was getting at. She couldn’t walk him into the police station without revealing herself to her bosses and fellow officers. She didn’t even have her warrant card and handcuffs with her, or her mobile phone.
She could see he was enjoying her sudden discomfort. ‘I know all about you Jasmine or James Frame. I know what a trans person feels when they’re undecided what their future holds. Who do you trust with your secret? How far do you want to go? Is dressing up a hobby or do you really want to be a woman. Either way do you dare let Sloane and the others know?’
He really does know me, Jasmine thought. She examined him from his round face and short ginger beard to his broad hips and big bottom. ‘You’re trans too,’ she said.
He shook his head. ‘I was. Not anymore. I’m a man.  But we’re similar. I think we could do business together. If you don’t want your colleagues to know about Jasmine, then I don’t have to inform them.’ He reached into the pocket of his jacket. ‘Here’s my card. Have a think about it. Get in touch with me.’
He stretched out his arm and Jasmine took the card from him. He turned and got back into his car, started the engine and drove on towards Reedham.  Jasmine looked at the plain business card.  Eric Dawson, property and merchandise, she read, followed by an email address and mobile phone number. She returned to the Fiesta and sat in the driving seat gripping the wheel.
She had him, Milla’s killer, or the person who had planned it, and let him go, because she couldn’t face the horror of revealing her transgender identity to her colleagues. What on earth was she to do now. She felt dirty as if she was implicated in Milla’s death but she realised that was just what Dawson intended. Had he been planning to have her killed just like Milla? Now perhaps he saw her as a puppet which he could manipulate for his own benefit.
She started the car and drove slowly back to the new house and Angela. The front door was open and Angela rushed out as she pulled into the drive.
‘What happened?’ she called.
Jasmine hauled herself out of the car. ‘I lost him,’ she said. She’d lied. She had never lied to Angela. Angela knew everything about Jasmine and James; well, everything that Jasmine was certain of about herself.
‘Who is he?’ Angela said, her eyes showing her concern.
‘I’ll explain.’ Jasmine took Angela’s hand and lead her into the house. ‘It’s all to do with Milla Sparrow.’ She explained what she had learned on her visit to Tania and from Tania’s call.
‘So you think that man was watching us and he’s the same person who organised Milla’s death?’ Angela summarised.
Jasmine nodded.
‘But why watch you as well as Milla?’ Angela said.
‘It must be to do with that case I did with Milla. It’s related to the drugs scene in Reading.’
‘That was those trans people in that club. Weren’t they all arrested and the club shut down?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘We didn’t get the top people. They kept out of sight.’
You’ll have to be careful, Jas. If they want to kill you too . . .’ Angela’s voice cracked into a sob. Jasmine reached out and pulled her into a hug. Jasmine no longer felt she was in danger while Dawson thought she could be kept dangling on a threat to out her. But she didn’t tell Angela that.
‘Shall we go home now, Ange,’ she said. Angela nodded wiping the tears from her cheeks. They locked up the house and drove back to their flat in silence. Jasmine had one question for herself – how was she going to get out of Dawson’s clutches?

Jasmine on the alert

butterflyHere’s hoping this works. This has been one of those frustrating weeks.  BT seems to have locked me out of my emails and internet – no idea how. Getting this blog ready has been a trial.  Anyway I do have the next episode of Resolution ready for your delight and I hope things are back to normal next week because there’s lots of news. Here you are.



Resolution – Part 9

They finished their drinks and walked back to Tania’s home. They didn’t speak much. Tania seemed deep in thought. Jasmine made sure she remembered all that Tania had told her.
Back inside the house, Jasmine started the farewells.
‘I’d better be heading back. Angela will be wanting me to do something with her. I have the weekend off and I don’t know how many more of those I’ll get working for DCI Sloane.’
Tania made a sort of chuckle. ‘Not many if my recollection is correct. Thank you for coming Jasmine. I think it was good for me to talk to someone who knew Milla.’
‘I didn’t know her well,’ Jasmine said.
‘You knew her better than any of the people up here. I’m finding it difficult to accept that someone hated her enough to kill her. Do you have any idea who?’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘I’ll have to look through her cases and see if there was anyone who might have had a grudge.’
‘What about the case you both worked on?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘It was only the one case, although it did turn out to be pretty big, and it was Milla’s last for Sloane. I don’t know, it’s possible.’
Tania stretched up on her toes and kissed Jasmine on the cheek. ‘Well, thanks for taking an interest. Come again some time.’
‘I will,’ Jasmine nodded, ‘You’ve got my mobile number. Give me a call if you want a chat, or if you think of anything else.’ She gave an answering kiss and left the house.

The drive back to Reading was dull but uneventful. Her phone rang once but she didn’t answer it as she didn’t have a hands-free kit. It was mid-afternoon when she got back to the flat.
Angela was delighted. ‘Wonderful. We can go and look at the house. I’ve got the key.’
‘But we haven’t exchanged contracts yet,’ Jasmine said.
‘We will next week. You know the owners have already moved out. They’ve given us permission to go in. I want to check a few things. It’ll be a rush when we complete.’
‘OK. Do you want me to change?’ Jasmine didn’t really want to put on male gear.
‘Not if you don’t want to. The neighbours are going to have to get used to Jasmine aren’t they.’
‘Hmm, yes.’
‘Well, let’s go then. Shall I drive, if you’ve had enough.’
Jasmine chucked Angela the keys.

Angela drove the Fiesta onto the driveway and pulled up right by the porch. She and Jasmine got out and stood by the door. Angela put the key in the lock.
‘Very soon this will be our front door and we’ll be stepping into our own house, Jas.’
‘Hmm,’ Jasmine sounded unexcited but inside she was feeling as emotional as her wife. After the years in sordid student flats and rental properties that were little better, this was the first home that they could call their own. Angela and James’ home; and Jasmine’s too.
Jasmine trailed after Angela from room to room occasionally holding the end of a tape measure while Angela made notes. The rooms were devoid of furniture and curtains but the floors were carpeted in a variety of colours some which Jasmine felt she could live with and others which she wanted to tear up there and then. Jasmine tried to imagine the house with their possessions in it; it was difficult.
She was standing in the lounge while Angela joyfully opened and closed cupboards in the kitchen. Jasmine remembered the call she had missed while driving home. She looked at her phone. The call was from Tania and she had left a voice message. Jasmine held the phone to her ear and listened.
‘Oh, Jasmine. I don’t suppose you can pick up while you’re driving. Look, I’ve just seen something and I’m worried. I watched you drive off and just stood looking out of the window. A car followed shortly after you and the driver looked like the man we talked about from the pub. I’m sure it was him. I’m scared, Jasmine. Why is he still watching me?’
Jasmine felt a cold hand grip her. She dialled Tania’s number. Tania picked up straight away.
‘Jasmine. Did you get my message?’
‘Yes, Tania. Can you describe the car?’
‘Um, not really. It was silver colour, quite small; a bit bigger than your car I think.’
‘Do you know the make?’
‘I’m not sure. A Nissan or a Toyota perhaps?’
‘Right. Thanks Tania.’
‘Why is he watching me, Jasmine? Milla’s dead.’
Jasmine bit her lip. Should she say what she was thinking. Surely she must say something to stop Tania worrying. ‘I don’t think he was watching you, Tania. I think it’s me. We’ll speak again soon.’ She thumbed the “end call” button and took a step towards the window. She didn’t want to get too close and be seen but she wanted to look outside. There were few cars parked in the road but she could see one on the opposite side of the road a few houses up to the left. It was a silver Toyota Auris. Jasmine couldn’t see if it was occupied. She stepped away from the window, turned and looked out of the rear window from the through lounge.
She called out to Angela. ‘What’s beyond the fence at the end of the garden?’
‘Nothing. Waste ground I think. Why?’ Angela replied.
‘Not a path or lane?’
‘I don’t think so. There’s no back gate is there?’
Jasmine stepped up to the rear window and looked at the six-foot-high wooden fence. Angela was correct; there was no gate.
Angela appeared in the lounge. ‘What’s the matter? Why are you asking about the back?’
‘Let’s go into the back garden,’ Jasmine said leading Angela back into the kitchen and to the back door. ‘Have you got the key?’
Angela picked up the bunch of keys from the worktop. ‘Yes, here. I’ve got all the keys. What are you up to?’ Jasmine took the keys from the Angela and tried fitting them in the backdoor. The third key worked. She opened the door and stepped into the small back garden which was simply a patch of weedy grass.
‘I need to get over the fence. Can you give me a hand, Ange?’
‘I suppose so but why?’
‘To get round to the front without being seen. I think there’s someone watching us.’
Angela’s eyes widened. ‘What? Why?’
‘I’m not sure. I’ll try to explain when I get back. Now give me a bunk up.’
Angela linked her hands and crouched close to the fence. Jasmine put her right foot in Angela’s hands and grabbed the top of the fence. Jasmine weighed little more than Angela and they were well matched in strength. Angela straightened up, lifting Jasmine. Jasmine stretched her left foot up to the top of the fence and vaulted over.
She landed in a patch of long reedy grass with her skirt around her waist. She stood up, brushed her skirt down and straightened the false boobs in her bra. She looked around. Angela was right. There was a patch of unused land for about a hundred metres to the boundary of a retail park. The ground was rough with clumps of soil and rubble left over from the building of the housing estate interspersed with grass and nettles and bracken. Jasmine scrambled along the fence behind the row of houses hoping that at some point she would be able to cross back over and gain access to the road.
She came to a right angle bend in the fence and realised that she had come to the end of the houses. The fence ended and she was on the pavement at the end of a cul-de-sac. She peered around the end of the fence along the curving road. It was empty as far as she could see, no pedestrians, no moving vehicles, no house owners in their front gardens. Jasmine began to walk along the street trying to look casual but she felt tense, alert, watchful.
The silver Toyota came into view parked against the kerb on the left. There was nowhere for her to hide to observe it. If it was indeed occupied by someone keeping watch on her she hoped that their attention was on the house and not on the image in their mirror. Jasmine walked slowly, praying that she wasn’t drawing attention to herself. What would she do when she reached the car?
She was just ten metres away. The back of the head of the driver was visible above the head rest. She took another step forward. The driver moved. The engine started. Jasmine ran. She was alongside as the car started to move. She reached for the passenger door handle but the car accelerated away, the driver’s face turned towards her. He had a round face with a thin beard and ginger hair.