Jasmine explores the crime scene

Inspiration. Guess the location and genre of the new novel.

Inspiration. Guess the location and genre of the new novel.

I did one of my favourite things this week. I started planning a new novel. Actually, it wasn’t quite the beginning as I had been mulling it over since last summer and even written a short prologue. But now I’ve got an outline and characters and settings, and I’ve done some research to help it all hang together. The danger is procrastination. Time spent on research or thinking up names is not writing however important they might be. The next thing is to begin at the beginning (or at the end; some writers work backwards) and that is quite daunting.

Anyway, there’s always the next Jasmine Frame piece. I got a bit carried away on this week’s episode of Resolution. It’s a bit longer than usual but I think it needed to be.  Here it is:

Resolution: Part 8

Jasmine wondered how she would feel if she lost Angela in the same way that Tania had lost Milla.  She imagined holding Angela in her arms but her mind baulked at thinking of her dead.
‘What happened next?’ Jasmine asked.
Tania sniffed. ‘Soon there was a crowd around us. I don’t know where everyone came from. A few cars stopped I think. Someone must have rung 999 because a police car and ambulance arrived soon. I was just dazed, sitting there beside Milla. Nothing made sense.’
‘The police officers questioned witnesses did they?’
‘I suppose so. I think people thought it was an accident, a hit and run.’
‘But you didn’t think so?’ Jasmine asked.
Tania shook her head and sat up. ‘No. I never thought it was an accident. He drove straight at us.  For a moment I saw the driver as the car left the road. He wasn’t panicked or anything. He was staring directly at me and Milla.’
‘Could you describe him?’ Jasmine asked, eager for some evidence.
Tania shook her head. ‘It was so brief. I just saw his eyes.’
Jasmine pressed her. ‘Was he white, dark-skinned? Hair colour?’
Tania considered. ‘White and fair. Yes, I’m sure.’
‘There, that’s something. You did take in what you saw.’
‘I didn’t tell the police that,’ Tania raised a hand to her mouth. ‘I should have.’
‘They questioned you?’
‘Yes. Straight after but I couldn’t remember anything then except his staring eyes.’
‘You were in shock. It’s understandable. Don’t worry.’
Tania frowned. ‘There was one other thing I noticed. As the car reversed back onto the road I was lying on the pavement. I saw its number plate. It was an RO number.’
‘A Reading plate?’
‘Yes. It’s a funny thing to stick in your head when your partner’s been run down. But I thought, they’ve come all the way from Reading to kill her.’
‘You told the Birmingham police that?’
‘Yes, but it wasn’t much use. They found the car next day a couple of miles away, burnt out.  It had been stolen from Kintbridge a few days before.’
‘They kept you informed of the investigation then?’ Jasmine said.
Tania shook her head. ‘Not really. I keep ringing them to find out what’s happening but they will only speak to Milla’s parents.
‘Oh?’ Jasmine didn’t understand.
‘I wasn’t her next of kin, you see,’ Tania explained. ‘As far as the West Midlands Police are concerned, Milla and I shared a house and that’s all.’ She sighed, ‘Getting a civil partnership was the next thing on our list. We hadn’t got round to it down in Kintbridge but here, with a new home and new jobs we thought we’d definitely tie the knot.’ Her voice cracked and she sobbed again. ‘Now we will never will.’
Jasmine felt a lump in her throat. How awful could it be. To be a couple in love, living together, sleeping together but not have the relationship recognised.
‘So Milla’s parents have been getting all the updates from Family Liaison have they,’ she said.
Tania wiped the tears from her eyes and shrugged. ‘I suppose so but they are so broken up about it they barely understand what’s going on. They’re quite elderly, Milla was their only child and born quite late. They’re traumatised.’
Jasmine nodded and reached again for Tania’s hand. ‘I understand. Do you know anything else about the investigation?’
Tania shook her head again. ‘Not really. It’s still going on.’
‘But they must realise that Milla was deliberately targeted by people down in Reading or Kintbridge. People who Milla had annoyed.’
‘Who could she have annoyed enough to want to kill her?’
‘That’s what I want to find out.’ Jasmine stood up. ‘Would you mind showing me where it happened, Tania. I know it must be difficult for you, but I’d like to see.’
Tania wiped her face and got up. ‘I understand. Let me find my shoes.’ She went into the hallway and returned with a pair of trainers that she tugged onto her feet. ‘Let’s go.’
Jasmine picked up her bag and followed Tania to the front door. Outside the Sun was approaching its zenith and the air was hot and dry. The cul-de-sac was quiet; the neighbours were either out enjoying the summer weather or keeping cool indoors. Jasmine felt sweat bubbling up under her wig. She wasn’t sure she could stand wearing the thing.  Perhaps she should grow her hair longer so that she didn’t have to.
Tania lead her back to the junction with the main road. They turned left and walked along the pavement, separated from the road by a strip of grass.  The road was straight and wide, an urban clearway with no parking allowed on this stretch. The new houses backed onto the road, hidden behind a high wooden fences. A few hundred yards ahead, though, Jasmine could see that the road narrowed. There were older buildings, shops, flats.  Jasmine walked alongside Tania. Cars, vans and a few lorries went by in both directions most keeping to the speed limit which Jasmine observed was forty miles per hour. Some cars were travelling faster.
About halfway to the shops, Tania grabbed Jasmine’s hand and stopped.
Her voice wobbled. ‘It was here.’
Jasmine squeezed Tania’s hand and turned around. She looked back along the road.
‘So, you were walking back home and the car came towards you on the left side of the road as it should have.’
‘Yes, that’s right.’
Jasmine looked down at the road and pavement. She released Tania’s hand and walked forward twenty or thirty metres, her head down.
She stopped. ‘Ah, here. There’s still a tyre mark on the kerb.’ She turned around and examined the verge. ‘The ground’s hard. It’s been pretty dry the last few weeks, but there’s a strip where the grass is worn away. The car must have been on two wheels at this point.’
‘It seemed to be flying towards us.’
Jasmine examined the grass closer to where Tania stood. She shook her head. ‘Difficult to see anything else. The grass is pretty thin because of the weather.’ She looked up at Tania, ‘But you’re standing where the car hit Milla?’
‘Yes.’ Tania said almost inaudibly.’
Jasmine walked towards her. ‘It came to a standstill a bit further on; then he reversed?’
Tania nodded and shivered. ‘He went over Milla again, got back on the road and drove off.’
‘In the same direction?’
‘Yes.’ Tania’s head drooped.  Jasmine realised that she was sobbing and put her arm around her shoulders.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, Tania. I didn’t think. I was just going over the sequence of events. How stupid of me. It must be dreadful being reminded of what happened.’
Tania sucked in a breath of air and looked at her. ‘It’s so vivid. It keeps replaying in my head but I think coming here is a good idea. It looks normal again. I know she’s not coming back and you going over things is sort of putting it in the past rather than always being my present.’
‘Oh. I think I understand,’ Jasmine gave her a squeeze.
‘Thank you, Jasmine. Shall we go on to the pub?’
‘Yes, OK.’ They walked on arm in arm. Jasmine expressed her thoughts aloud. ‘There must have been two of them.’
‘Two of who?’
‘The killers.’
‘There was only one person in the car. I’m sure I only saw one.’
‘Yes, of course. But he had to be told that you were heading home along this side of the road. The driver had to come from way back there. He wouldn’t know where you were until he received a tip off. He must have been waiting somewhere. The other person was watching you, saw you leave the pub and head home.’
Tania stopped and turned to look at Jasmine. ‘You mean someone watched Milla; watched us and chose the moment to kill her?’
Jasmine nodded. ‘That’s it. They must have been waiting for an opportunity. If they had decided on the car as the weapon, then they needed Milla to be on a stretch of road where they could build up speed and stand a chance of getting away afterwards. This road is ideal – fast, straight, and no parked cars.’
‘But we only decided to come out a few minutes before because Milla got home early for once. Do you mean they watched us and waited for an opportunity?’
‘I think so.’
‘How long for?’
Jasmine shrugged, ‘I don’t know. Perhaps the whole time since Milla joined you here.’
‘They watched everything we did.’ Tania shook. ‘I feel sick.’
The pub was at the start of the row of shops. They reached it and went inside. There was a long bar with a small sitting area and a larger eating space behind. The rear doors were open and Jasmine could see out into the back where people were sitting at tables in the bright sunshine.
Jasmine said, ‘Do you want to sit inside or out?’
Tania looked around the interior. It was stuffy and smelt of stale beer. ‘Outside.’
‘What would you like?’
‘A beer please, a pint. I’ll go and find some seats.’
Jasmine went to the bar to order while Tania went off. Clutching Tania’s beer and her own lemonade, Jasmine followed her and found her sitting at a table with an awning over it.
Tania smiled at her. ‘This OK for you, Jasmine. I presumed you wouldn’t want the Sun melting your make-up.’
Jasmine put the drinks down. Tania had reminded her that her foundation was probably getting streaked by the sweat running down her face. She hoped it didn’t show.
‘Can you tell?’
‘What?’
‘That my foundation’s running.’
Jasmine sat beside her. Tania examined her face.
‘It’s not too bad. You’ve got good skin. You look after yourself, but there again you are young. Like Milla.’
They sipped their drinks, or rather, Tania took a gulp of beer.
‘Do you mind me asking more questions?’ Jasmine said.
Tania put her glass down. ‘No. Go on.’
‘Where did you sit that evening? You said you had something to eat.’
Tania pointed across to a covered patio through which they had passed on their way from the bar.
‘Over there. It was a lovely evening but we preferred to be under some cover.’
‘I know this is difficult but think back. Look around. Was there anyone who might have been watching you? Someone on their own perhaps.’
Tania stared at the patio and then closed her eyes. She didn’t speak for some seconds.
‘Milla sat opposite me. We talked and talked. It was the first real chance we’d had since she came up. I only really had eyes for her. Although I was hungry and it was a lovely evening to be out I really wanted to get her home, get the clothes off her, feel her, have her hands caressing me.’ She wrapped her arms around herself. She turned to look at Jasmine, her cheeks flushed and her eyes wide and tear-filled. ‘Sorry, that sounds crude.’
Jasmine smiled, ‘No, not at all. I understand. You were in love.’ She imagined Angela in her own arms as they made love and wished, just for a moment, that that was what she was doing this very minute. ‘Did you notice anyone keeping an eye on the pair of you.’
Tania was silent again. Eventually she spoke. ‘The pub was busy. All the tables were occupied, mainly couples, some groups. Some families with kids, here on the grass. But yes, there was one man on his own. He sat a few tables away from us. I didn’t think he was paying us any attention.’
‘Was he eating?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Can you describe him?’
Tania picked up her pint glass and slowly sipped the beer. ‘He was small and fat. Small, I mean, he was sitting down but he looked as if he was short. He had a thin beard and short hair.’
‘What age?’
‘Um, difficult. His face was smooth and pale where the beard didn’t cover it. Perhaps forty-ish.’
‘Colour?’
‘Oh, he was white, but his hair and beard were gingery.’
‘Dress?’
‘He was wearing a summer suit. You know, a light beige jacket and matching trousers. I think I noticed him because he looked smarter than most of the other blokes in their shorts and T-shirts.’
‘You said he was fat.’
‘Yes, well, you know, a big rear. Does that help?’
‘If he’s the one who was watching you, I’m sure it will be. Was he still there when you left?’
Tania considered again. ‘Yes, I think he was. We didn’t stay long actually. Just time to eat and have a drink. We were both eager to get back and into bed. Not to sleep . . .’
‘I get it. So this man would have seen you get up and leave the pub. He didn’t follow you?’
‘I didn’t notice.’
Jasmine held her chin and mused, ‘He could have waited till you got out of the front of the pub, seen you heading towards home and contacted his accomplice in the car.’
‘Do you think that’s what happened?’
Jasmine shrugged. ‘There’s no proof that it was the man you described but something like that must have happened for the driver of the car to have hit you where he did. It required a tip off at just the right moment.’
‘He watched us and chose the time to murder

Inspiration. Guess the location and genre of the new novel.

Milla.’
‘That’s about it,’ Jasmine agreed.
…………………

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Jasmine questions Milla’s partner

Layout 1There have been two things that have lifted me this week and will encourage me to go on writing and publishing (I hope that prospect doesn’t terrify you too much). The first was a good review of Bodies By Design on the Eurocrime website. Go to my Jasmine Frame publications page for the link.

Seventh Child cover, designed by Alison Buck

Seventh Child cover, designed by Alison Buck

The second item was the news that the first volume of my fantasy series, Seventh Child, is a finalist in the Wishing Shelf awards (for teenage fiction). There’s more about that on my SF&F page.

 

 

With that news out of the way, here is the next episode in the Jasmine Frame prequel, Resolution. After the climax last week, we’re onto the other strand of the story here.

 

 

Resolution: Part 7

Jasmine yawned as she pulled up outside the smart, recently-built, detached house. It was still mid-morning and the little red Fiesta had made a good job of swallowing up the miles between Reading and Birmingham. Nevertheless, it had been a fairly early start after a late arrival back home. Despite what DS Trewin had hoped it took some time to charge Michelle Greaves and put her into custody. Only then could they begin the drive back to Kintbridge from Sheffield. They had been elated at their success in getting a confession from Greaves but James had felt exhausted when he finally joined Angela in their bed.
She checked her make-up in the vanity mirror and got out of the car, smoothing the cotton skirt down her thighs and making sure that the plain white vest covered her bra. It was turning into a hot day and she was pleased that she had dressed appropriately. The blonde wig was feeling a bit warm though. She recalled Milla Sparrow saying she could pass as a woman even with her short fair hair but Jasmine felt more confident with the disguise the wig provided. She brushed hairs from her face, locked the car, tossed her bag over her shoulder and advanced up the driveway to the front door.
The door opened before she got to it. Jasmine was a little surprised to see that Tania Portman looked older than she expected. She was in her late thirties, a few years older than Milla, and had short, dark hair and tired eyes.
‘I saw the car pull up and guessed it must be you. Jasmine Frame?’ Tania said, pulling the door wide and holding her hand out.
Jasmine extended her hand. Tania took it and shook it gently.
‘Thank you Tania. I hope I’m not too early,’ Jasmine said, stepping into the bright hallway. Tania gazed at the road and then closed the door.
‘No. I’ve finished breakfast and all that. On Milla’s days off, we used to hang around in bed for ages. Not that she had days off very often. Now though I just want to get up and get on. Come on through. Coffee?’
‘Yes, please.’  Jasmine followed Tania into the spacious and well-equipped kitchen. ‘You’ve got a lovely place here.’ Jasmine was comparing the house with the one she and Angela were purchasing in Kintbridge. Though she was delighted with their move into their own property it was small and cramped in comparison to this.
Tania looked around as if seeing her surroundings for the first time. ‘Yes, I suppose it is. It was meant to be a fresh start for Milla and me. Our own place, decorated how we liked; and of course we could afford a better place up here than in Kintbridge.’
‘House prices down there are pretty ridiculous,’ Jasmine agreed, wondering when the inconsequential talk would be finished.
‘But now. . .’ Tania went on, ‘It doesn’t feel right. It wasn’t meant to be just for me.’
‘You miss Milla?’ What a stupid thing to ask, Jasmine thought. Of course she misses her partner and lover.
Tania gave her a polite smile and busied herself with making the coffee. Although the question needed no answer she did respond. ‘I miss her terribly. She was the one person who I could talk about anything to and her to me. We both lead busy lives of course and police work meant a lot to her but at the end of the day, or most days, we ended up curled up together on the sofa or in bed just enjoying being in each other’s lives.’  Tania filled a mug from a coffeemaker. ‘Black or white?’
‘Black please,’ Jasmine took the mug from her and Tania proceeded to pour another.
‘Her death must have been a great shock.’ Oh, not another silly, obvious statement, Jasmine remonstrated with herself. Why was it so difficult to talk about death sensibly? She could do it when the death meant nothing to her personally, but here . . . well, she felt bound by convention.
Tania put a splash of milk in her mug and grunted. ‘I still can’t believe it’s happened. It’s over a month now but I still I expect her to walk through the door at the end of a long day and just call out “Hi”.’
Tania lead Jasmine into a lounge, sparsely furnished with a big, soft sofa and a thick, furry rug over wood flooring. ‘It all happened so soon after we’d moved up here that we hadn’t even finished unpacking or buying stuff. I don’t feel like doing either now.’
They sat next to each other on the sofa. Jasmine carefully crossed her bare legs. Tania slumped with her jean-clad legs stretched out in front of her.  Tania examined Jasmine over the rim of her steaming mug.
‘So, you’re James Frame to the police force, but Jasmine the rest of the time?’
Jasmine nodded. ‘That’s about it.’
‘None of your colleagues know about Jasmine?’
‘No. Milla was the first and only one. Did she tell you how she got to know?’
‘Yes,’ Tania said, ‘She didn’t talk about all her cases, couldn’t a lot of the time, but I remember clearly when she came home and talked about meeting you first as James then how you became Jasmine to deal with those drug deaths.’
Jasmine smiled at the memory. ‘She was great. It made sense to be in my femme mode because so many of the people involved in the case were trans in one way or another but she really worked hard to keep my secret from the guys in the force.’
‘And now you’re a detective yourself.’
Jasmine grinned. ‘Yes. It’s what I wanted to do and I think I can thank Milla for helping me to get the posting.’
‘She did say that she thought you’d make a good detective. Do you think you’ll tell DCI Sloane about Jasmine?’
Jasmine shivered despite the warmth. The thought of revealing herself to the stern, old-time-copper was horrific.
‘I don’t think so.’
‘So you’re happy with the double-life.’
Am I, Jasmine wondered. It was a question she avoided asking herself as the wrong answer created all sorts of other questions about work and her life with Angela.
‘Yes,’ she said hoping that uncertainty didn’t show in her voice.
‘But you’re married?’ Tania went on.
‘Yes. Angela has known about Jasmine from the time we first met. She met Jasmine before James actually. She’s very relaxed about me being both male and female.’  Is she really? Jasmine wasn’t certain about that either. What would Angela do if she decided to transition to the woman she almost certainly felt herself to be? Surely she wouldn’t be as obstructive as Michelle Greaves’ wife.
‘Milla was unsure about coming out at work but once we started living together it became silly not to,’ Tania said.
‘Did she have any problems?’
Tania shook her head. ‘Not really. One or two male officers looked at her in a leery sort of way, so she said, but the police force today is pretty careful about getting diversity right. I’m sure you’d have no problem if you decided to become Jasmine full-time.’
Jasmine nodded and sipped her coffee.
‘But you didn’t come here to hear my opinions on your prospects in the police service,’ Tania said.
‘Um, no.’ Jasmine had been waiting for the chance to get on to DS Sparrow’s death and it seemed Tania was making the move.
‘You want to know what happened to Milla.’
‘Yes, if you don’t mind talking about it.’
‘I don’t. Perhaps talking about her will get it out of my head and stop it going round and round with me wondering if there was anything I could have done.’ Tania paused and looked faraway for a moment. Her eyes focussed again. ‘How much do you know?’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘Not a lot. A few comments from people but that’s all. Why don’t you tell me all that you know?’
Tania took a mouthful of coffee, swallowed and thought. She took a big breath. ‘We hadn’t had time to get settled in. It was just a week after Milla started work here. I’d already been here a few weeks in my job, getting the house liveable. Of course as soon as Milla started she was up to her eyes in work but that day she got home at a similar time to me, about six. We decided to go out for something to eat. There hadn’t been a chance to find decent places but the local pub looked pretty okay so we thought we’d give it a try.’
‘Pub?’ Jasmine interrupted.
‘The Shakespeare. On the main road. Less than half a mile.’ Tania pointed out of the front window in no particular direction. ‘We walked there, had a fairly reasonable meal and a bottle of wine. It was pretty busy as it was a good summer’s evening, but we felt comfortable. It was just getting dark as we wandered home, arm in arm.’ She paused and Jasmine saw cracks appear in her face. ‘It happened so fast. I didn’t see everything that I could have done, should have done.’ Her voice croaked.
‘Take your time, Tania. I don’t want to upset you.’ Jasmine shuffled along the sofa and took Tania’s hand in hers.
‘The car just appeared, coming towards us, fast. It hit the kerb then just flew at us. Milla shoved me out of the way. I fell on the pavement and the car shot by. I heard a thump which I realised later was the car hitting Milla. Then it stopped, reversed and drove off. They went over Milla twice. I was dazed and sore, I’d banged my knee. I felt sorry for myself, then I saw her lying there, blood all over the place. I crawled to her. I wouldn’t have recognised her except for her yellow skirt. She was already . . .’ The tears had been building for a while but now they came, flowing freely down Tania’s cheeks. Jasmine put her arm around the older woman’s shoulders and pulled her to her. Tania sobbed on Jasmine’s false breasts. ‘She saved me but couldn’t save herself.’
……………

Jasmine in the mind of a killer

A bit of a rush this week, so I’ll just say to the lovely reviewer on Am**** who gave Painted Ladies a brief but very positiveLayout 1 review: there is a follow-up; it’s called Bodies By Design and is available as an e-book or from me in paperback form .

Without any more ado here is a special long episode of the prequel, Resolution (spot the reason for the title). It’s a climax but nowhere near the end.

Resolution: Part 6

 Michelle Greaves blinked at the change in topic. She shook her head. ‘No.’
The door opened and an officer in uniform entered carrying a tray of mugs. ‘Tea?’ he said.
Trewin looked peeved briefly then nodded. The officer placed one mug on the table in front of him, another for James and the last in front of Michelle Greaves, removing an empty mug. ‘Thank you,’ Trewin said as the officer departed. He turned back to face Greaves. ‘Are you sure about that, Miss Greaves or do you prefer Miz?’
Greaves shook her head. ‘I don’t care, and yes, I’m sure.’
Trewin looked mystified. ‘Strange that, because we have a witness saying they saw someone with a close resemblance to you approaching Mrs Hargreaves’ house on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before she died.’
Greaves shrugged. ‘It wasn’t me. Why are you asking all these questions? The coloured woman said Elizabeth had died but I don’t understand what you expect me to tell you.’
Trewin sighed. ‘Elizabeth Hargreaves didn’t die naturally. You are her next of kin and we need to trace the person seen visiting her who resembles how you look here and now, dressed as a woman.’
‘I am a woman,’ Greaves said, apparently, James noted, more worried by a dispute about her gender than the suspicious death of her wife.
‘When did you go full-time?’ James asked. Michelle Greaves turned her head and examined him. She didn’t answer immediately but then her facial muscles stiffened. ‘I shouldn’t have to answer that,’ she said.
‘Why not?’ Trewin said.
‘You shouldn’t question my gender,’ Greaves said. ‘As far as you’re concerned I’m a woman.’
‘And we will treat you as one,’ Trewin said.
‘But you don’t have a GRC do you?’ James said.
Greaves’ eyes narrowed. ‘So what?’
James launched into an explanation. ‘That means you haven’t had a new birth certificate issued in your reassigned gender and you presumably have not completed the period required for living full-time in the gender you identify with.’
Greaves was flustered. ‘Well, I didn’t transition at work, but I was a woman for the rest of my life.’
‘BT, wasn’t it? Your employer?’ Trewin asked. Greaves nodded.
‘I understand they’re pretty good about employees wishing to transition,’ James said. ‘What was stopping you?  You could have had that GRC by now.’
Greaves gave him a look that would have made a charging rhino stop in its tracks. She made an effort to recover and appear relaxed.
‘It wasn’t convenient. I was happy being female outside work but didn’t want the hassle of coming out to all the people I worked with.’
‘So what changed?’ Trewin asked.
‘I got made redundant,’ Greaves said. ‘They gave me a good offer. At last I didn’t have to go to work. I could be the person I wanted to be all the time.’
‘When was that?’ Trewin said.
‘Last summer,’ Greaves answered.
‘What did Elizabeth think of it?’ James asked.
Greaves shrugged, ‘She was OK.’
James wasn’t convinced by Michelle’s answer and pressed further, ‘She had known about you being trans for a long time. There are photos of you together from way back.’
Greaves glared. ‘How did you see those photos?’
‘We had to search Mrs Hargreaves’ home for evidence relating to the cause of her death,’ Trewin explained. ‘Go on with your questions DC Frame.’
James took a breath. ‘Did Elizabeth’s attitude to your transgenderism change?’
Greaves eyes shifted back and for between James and Trewin before he composed his answer. ‘When we got together we were young and full of new ideas. Elizabeth quite liked the novelty of me dressing as a woman. She accepted me as Michelle, but she wasn’t too chuffed when I said I wanted gender reassignment. When I gave up working for BT we decided to split.’
‘You both agreed to separate?’ Trewin said.
‘Yeah,’ Greaves said.
‘So what was the purpose of your trip to Kintbridge on Wednesday?’ Trewin asked.  James hid a smile at his colleague’s attempt to catch Greaves out. It didn’t work.
Greaves responded fiercely. ‘I told you I wasn’t in Kintbridge on Wednesday. I’ve never seen the place.’
James felt a vibration in his jacket pocket. He pulled out his phone and saw that he had a call.
‘Excuse me,’ he said, rising quickly from his chair and hastening to the door. He thumbed the call key. As the door closed behind him he put the phone to his ear.
‘Tom. What is it?’
‘Hi, Jim. Are you there yet?’ There was a hint of fatigue in Tom’s voice. James felt lucky that he’d bagged the awayday.
‘Yes, we’re interviewing Greaves.’
‘What’s he saying?’
‘She’s denying being in Kintbridge at any time.’
‘You’ll like this then.’
‘What’s that?’
‘I’ve been through CCTV footage from Kintbridge Railway Station.’
James felt his heart beat increase. ‘What you got?’
‘I’ve got someone who looks very much like Michelle Greaves getting off the train from London at 3:10.’
‘Fantastic. Are you sure?’
‘Well, it matches the description from the neighbour and looks reasonably like the photos in that album you picked up.’
‘Thanks Tom. That might be just what we need.’
‘Glad to be of service,’ Tom said ending the call. James dropped the phone back in his pocket and returned to the interview room feeling lighter on his feet. He sat down again. Trewin looked at him with raised eyebrows. Greaves glared sullenly at him. There was a flicker of fear in her eyes. She’s realised that I’ve got some information that will show she’s lying, James thought.
‘So, Elizabeth was unhappy about you transitioning?’ James said.
Greaves grunted something that James felt was an affirmative.
‘Why didn’t you start divorce proceedings?’ James went on. ‘Your change of gender would have been suitable grounds. You could have been divorced by now and halfway through your real-life test.’
James could see the colour drain from Greaves face despite her thick make-up. ‘No comment,’ she said. ‘Am I under arrest?’
‘Not yet,’ Trewin said, ‘We’re just trying to see if you’re implicated in the murder of Elizabeth Hargreaves.’
Greaves shuddered at the word murder but said nothing.
‘And we have evidence that contrary to what you have told us, you were in Kintbridge on Wednesday,’ James felt a feeling of elation as he presented the new information, ‘There is CCTV footage of you getting off the train from London.’
Trewin looked at James with eyes wide. He nodded and leaned forward across the table. ‘So Miss Greaves. Perhaps you had better tell us the truth now. Did you travel to Kintbridge to kill your wife?’
Greaves roared, pushed against the table and jumped up. The table and chairs, fixed to the floor, didn’t move. Trewin and James both leapt up watching the woman carefully for signals of what she was going to do next.
‘Sit down please, Miss Greaves and answer our questions.’ DS Trewin said
Slowly, Michelle settled back into her chair looking from hooded eyes at Trewin to James and back again. Trewin and James sat.
Greaves spoke softly, ‘There’s no proof I was there when she died.’
‘You mean, because you removed the murder weapon,’ Trewin said with a half-smile. ‘We have the witness who saw you and would identify you. We have the CCTV footage, and unless you wore protective clothing and gloves for the whole of your visit to your wife, there will be DNA evidence which hasn’t been analysed quite yet. I suggest that you be honest with us. It will be easier for you.’
Michelle trembled. James wasn’t sure if it was from anger or fear. She covered her face with her hands. The row of gleaming red nails formed a palisade across her forehead.
‘Did you kill Elizabeth Hargreaves at some time on Wednesday afternoon or evening?’ Trewin asked.
Sobs came from behind Michelle’s hands. There was no reply.
‘Answer my question, please Michelle,’ Trewin said.
Michelle slowly lowered her hands and whispered, ‘I didn’t want to kill her.’
DS Trewin leaned forward. ‘You brought the murder weapon, a length of cable, with you and took it away again. That looks very much like premeditated murder to me.’
‘She made me do it,’ Greaves wailed.
‘She asked you to strangle her,’ Trewin scoffed, ‘Come off it, Greaves. You travelled from here, Sheffield, to Kintbridge, prepared to kill your wife and that is what you did.’
‘She left me no choice,’ Greaves cried.
‘No choice!’ Trewin thumped the table, ‘What choice did you give her? Her life or what?’
James spoke softly. ‘Tell us why, Michelle. Was it to do with your transition? Why didn’t you divorce?’
Michelle’s tear streaked face looked at James. ‘She wouldn’t.’
‘Wouldn’t what?’ Trewin said.
‘She wouldn’t divorce you? Is that it?’ James asked.
Greaves nodded almost imperceptibly. ‘She refused. She kept on refusing. I pleaded one more time. She laughed in my face. That’s when I had to do it.’
Trewin shook his head in confusion. ‘But why? You were living apart; you’d split your finances. You could have gone on living as you were until you filed for divorce yourself. What’s the big deal?’
Greaves sobbed again but didn’t answer.
‘Ah, but it was a big deal wasn’t it?’ James said, realisation dawning. ‘It was all about your GRC wasn’t it?’
Trewin looked at him nonplussed. ‘What are you talking about Frame?’
James faced his colleague. ‘In order to be issued with a Gender Reassignment Certificate the applicant must be single. Married couples must divorce first. If Elizabeth Hargreaves was refusing the immediate divorce, Michelle might have had to wait years before she could get her certificate, change her birth records and become the person she believes herself to be. The delay might have even slow down her treatment.’
Trewin nodded slowly, ‘I see.’ He looked at Michelle Greaves.
The trans-woman sniffed and stared at James. ‘You get it now do you? Our marriage had to end.’ she said.
‘I understand why you might have been driven to kill your wife but I don’t condone it,’ James said.
‘Tell us how your, er, transition, lead to the murder,’ Trewin said.
Greaves slumped and sighed. ‘She was a vindictive bitch. She was amused by my dressing early on but she lost interest in being with Michelle, and then she turned bad-tempered and catty.’
‘Was that because you were spending more and time in your femme mode?’ James asked.
Greaves shrugged, ‘I suppose so.’
‘Why didn’t you divorce when you started falling out?’ Trewin said.
‘We had the house and we were both working in London. Splitting and trying to find somewhere else to live seemed too difficult. We rubbed along, I suppose.’
‘Until you were made redundant,’ James stated.
Greaves nodded. ‘Yeah. I was certain that I wanted to transition, but Elizabeth wouldn’t talk about it. With no job I saw it as my chance to go full-time. She couldn’t bear seeing me as Michelle at home every day. She got more and more stubborn and angry. We rowed lots of times.  Eventually she agreed to split.  My redundancy package and the money from the house meant we could be fairly comfortable if we moved out of the city.’
‘But she wouldn’t agree to the divorce that would give you freedom to remove records of Michael Hargreaves,’ James said.
‘I thought she would when the house sold but she seemed to enjoy having that last hold on me,’ Greaves said, ‘She taunted me. She said I’d never be a true woman.’
Trewin ‘So you killed her to release you from your marriage.’
‘It was the only way,’ Greaves sobbed again and buried her head in her arms. James wondered at the power of the need to transition. Surely that wouldn’t be his future would it. He was satisfied with a double life as Jasmine and James, wasn’t he? How would Angela react if he decided to transition? He couldn’t imagine her being as disturbed as Elizabeth Hargreaves and refuse a divorce. He sympathised with Michelle Greaves but no conflict was so fierce as to make murder the appropriate resolution.
‘Thank you, Michelle,’ DS Trewin said, rising slowly to his feet. ‘You’ve made it much easier for yourself by admitting your guilt now.’
Michelle Greaves looked up at him, eyes bloodshot and mascara spread across her cheeks. ‘What will happen to me?’
‘You’ll shortly be charged with murder and held in custody. There will be a court hearing and I expect you will be put on remand prior to the case coming to court. As I said, your actions look premeditated but your gender disorder may be offered in mitigation. It will be up to your defence lawyer to find evidence concerning your wife’s refusal to start divorce proceedings. You will go to prison.’
More tears appeared in Michelle’s eyes? ‘Prison? A woman’s prison?’
Trewin was surprised. ‘Huh? Perhaps. I’m not sure. You’re living as a woman but you haven’t had a sex-change have you. You’ve still got a, er, . . . You’ll have to ask someone.’ He turned to James. ‘Come on Frame. The Sheffield lot can get the formalities done.’ Trewin headed towards the door.
James rose to his feet. Was that it? Case completed? Perhaps he wouldn’t be too late getting home after all and he would be able to set off early to investigate how Camilla Sparrow had died. He hurried after Trewin.
……………………..

Jasmine meets a killer(?)

Well! Today has been a bit special.  We had a visit from a producer and presenter from BBC World Service. They 20160122_132302interviewed us for a programme about secrets. They had discovered the interview we did the The Why Factor just over two years ago and thought that our story would make an interesting contribution. So Emily interviewed me about the secret I had kept about being trans up until I informed Lou (fifteen years ago) and placed the secret on her shoulders. Then Emily asked Lou questions about her memories and feelings and thoughts about taking on the secret. I find it very difficult to think back to exactly what my thoughts were then and before. It is a blur of emotion but I recognise now that I was and have been self-centred and selfish. I am extremely grateful that Lou stuck with me but delighted that the secret has been eroded until it is just a tiny relic – I assume that most people now know I am trans.  Emily and Sinita were lovely and made over an hour of recordings including various false starts and interruptions, such as when the clock chimed. It was a long way to come for a small part of one programme but they were both very sensitive and grateful for our time. It will be interesting to see how they edit it.  When we know the broadcast date, I’ll post it here.

I don’t suppose it will give Jasmine Frame more publicity.  The never-ending search goes on for something that will present Jasmine Frame, Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design (not forgetting my fantasy titles) to the masses and trigger an explosion in sales  (dream on). Anyway, the labour of love continues (I have no problem getting inspiration to write about Jasmine) so here is the next episode of the Jasmine Frame story, Resolution.

Resolution – Part 5

‘What’s your evidence, Frame?’ Sloane barked.
‘I missed it earlier,’ James said, calling up a file on his screen. ‘Elizabeth Hargreaves’ bank statements show that after the sale of their house in Staines, a large sum was transferred to another account. I thought it was to Michael Hargreaves but the account is in the name of Michelle Greaves.’
‘Ah, so he can be traced,’ Sloane said nodding his head.
‘Yes, Sir. I’ve got an address for her in Sheffield.’
‘That’s some way from Staines,’ DS Trewin said, ‘Why would he move there? Is there family?’
‘We haven’t found any close living relations for Elizabeth or Michael Hargreaves apart from her sister but she lives in South London,’ Tom answered.
‘I can think of two reasons for moving there,’ James said, wondering if he was making his ideas fit the facts rather than the reverse.
‘They are?’ Sloane said.
‘Well, housing is a lot cheaper there than in the home counties, so if they were splitting their home and finances, Michelle would find it more affordable,’ James said.
‘A good point,’ Sloane nodded, ‘but there are many places for which you could say the same thing. What’s your second reason, Frame?’
James took a breath and blurted out, ‘There’s a Gender Identity Clinic in Sheffield.’
‘What?’ Tom said.
‘He’s moved there to get treatment to become a woman.’ Trewin stated. James thought he’d grasped the point rather quickly.
James wasn’t as certain of the chronology. ‘I don’t know when Michelle decided to transition. She’s had a driving licence in her name for a few years, but if she wanted gender reassignment surgery it would be better to be close to one of the few hospitals where it’s done and where she may get treatment on the NHS.’
‘So Michael Hargreaves has become a woman,’ Sloane said.
‘Well. . .’ James began.
‘What is it, Frame?’ Sloane growled.
‘The photos show that Michelle has been around for a long time and  I think she started to transition a while ago. I’m surprised that she hasn’t got a Gender Recognition Certificate.’
‘A what?’ Tom said.
‘They came out of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act,’ James said.
‘Ah, yes. I remember now,’ Trewin said, ‘It allows transsexuals to change their birth certificate doesn’t it.’
James nodded, pleased with Trewin’s knowledge, ‘But the birth certificate of Michael Hargreaves has not been amended and there isn’t one for Michelle Greaves. Michael disappears when he and Elizabeth separated and closed their joint account. Michelle exists in his place, but not from birth.’
Sloane scratched his chin. ‘You know a lot about this transsexual stuff,’ he said examining James.
I’m not about to say why, James thought. ‘Just been doing the research, Sir,’ he said, as calmly as he could
‘Well, very good, Frame.’ Sloane produced a small smile, ‘Where does it get us?’
Trewin was looking at the photo in the album of Michelle. ‘His appearance here seems to match the description of Elizabeth’s visitor.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ James said trying not to sound too smug.
‘There you are then,’ Sloane said straightening up to his full height, ‘You have your prime suspect. Get on to the Sheffield constabulary to take Michelle Greaves in for questioning.’ He strode off without another word.
Trewin clapped James on the back. ‘Good work, Jim. I’ll fix things up with Sheffield. You carry on digging into this Michael/Michelle thing. See if you can find out when he started living as a woman and if there is any evidence placing her in Kintbridge on Wednesday. If he did come down here from Sheffield we need a reason. Tom, you get on to Dr Gupta. He said he’d have a more detailed path report this morning, and see if forensics have come up with anything.’

James was feeling the effects of several hours in front of a computer screen.  He stretched his arms and rubbed his eyes.
‘At last!’ Alan Trewin said leaping top his feet. ‘Sheffield have pulled their finger out and found Michelle Greaves. They’ve invited us up there to interview him. Come on Jim, we’ve got a long drive. Tom, start getting those reports in order.’
Tom Shepherd looked forlorn realising that he was stuck in the office. James stood up and glanced at his watch. He wanted to be in on the interrogation but it was going to be mid to late afternoon before they reached Sheffield. How long would the questioning last? He might not get home till the early hours and he was intending setting off to see Tania in Birmingham early on Saturday morning. Oh well, there was nothing he could do about it.  He followed Trewin from the office. In the police car park Trewin chucked James the keys of the Mondeo and got into the passenger seat.

They were caught by Friday afternoon traffic on the M42 around Birmingham and they were slowed down by roadworks on the M1, so it was three-thirty when they pulled up at the Police Station. James followed the DS into the building and they presented themselves at the desk. There was just a few minutes’ wait before a dark-skinned, female plain-clothes officer approached them.
‘DS Trewin? I’m DS Mansfield.’ The Yorkshire accent was strong revealing that her Afro-Caribbean roots were at least one generation in the past. ‘Follow me. We have Miss Greaves in an interview room waiting for you.’
Trewin shook the detective’s hand and introduced James. ‘This is DC Frame. He tracked Michelle Greaves down.  Thanks for picking her up.’
Mansfield guided them through a security door.
‘How did Miss Greaves seem when you met her?’ Trewin asked.
‘She wasn’t at the address when we called after you contacted us,’ DS Mansfield said as they walked along a corridor. ‘It’s a rented flat in a what used to be one of the council blocks. One of Sheffield’s cheaper properties.
‘Saving her money,’ James observed.
‘For what?’ Trewin asked.
‘A pair of boobs, I expect,’ Mansfield said, ‘Did you know she’s a trans-woman?’
‘Jim worked that out for us,’ Trewin replied. The female DS looked at James with a look of respect. James gave her an embarrassed smile.
‘Good work. I’d say she’s got a clothes habit too.’ Mansfield went on. ‘She’d been out shopping and had a few bags of charity shop clobber when we met her.’
‘What was her response to being taken in for questioning?’ Trewin asked.
‘Calm. Cooperative.’
‘She asked the reason?’ Trewin pressed further.
‘Yes. We told her that her ex-wife had been found dead and that you wanted to speak to her.’
‘How did she react to the news?’ James said.
Mansfield turned to look directly at James. ‘She said, and I’m quoting now, “Not ex” and that was it. She agreed to come into the station and we sent a car to pick her up an hour ago.’
‘You left her on her own?’ Trewin said, and James could hear a note of annoyance.
‘You said you wanted to question her not arrest her. Does it matter?’
Trewin shrugged.  ‘Probably not. She will have disposed of any evidence of the trip to Kintbridge. If she is responsible for Elizabeth Hargreaves’ death, she must have known that we’d come for her sometime.’
Mansfield stopped at a door. ‘Well, she’s in here. Been sitting quietly since we brought her in. I’ll let you question her. Would you like tea?’
Trewin nodded. ‘Yes, please. Milk and sugar. Jim?’
‘A black coffee, please. No sugar,’ James replied. Trewin opened the door and entered the interview room. James followed.
The woman from the photos was sat at the table. She looked a little older, with the creases more visible around her eyes and mouth despite heavy make-up, and the brown hair was a little thinner and flatter. Michelle Greaves was smartly dressed in a pale-blue, sleeveless summer dress. She didn’t get up when they entered but looked up at them with an emotionless face.
‘Good afternoon, Miss Greaves,’ DS Trewin began as he took a seat on the opposite side of the table from her. ‘This is DC Frame. We’re from Kintbridge. I gather you have heard that Elizabeth Hargreaves is dead. She was found in her house yesterday morning.’
‘The coloured detective told me that,’ Greaves said in a soft voice. James realised that she was making an effort to talk with a feminine tone. ‘I’m not sure how I can help you.’
‘Elizabeth Hargreaves was your wife,’ Trewin said.
‘She was.’
‘You had not divorced?’
‘No.’ There was a flicker in Michelle’s eye and she turned her face from DS Trewin.
‘So she was still your next of kin,’ Trewin stated. Greaves tensed.
‘We were separated, as good as divorced,’ she said.
‘Was the separation amicable?’ Trewin asked. James watched carefully. Greaves was about to answer then thought better of it and composed herself before speaking.
‘As much as these things can be. We agreed to sell the house and go our different ways.’
‘No children?’
Greaves shook her head.
‘So Elizabeth moved to Kintbridge and you came to Sheffield.’
Michelle looked a little confused, as if wondering what Trewin was getting at.
Trewin went on after the briefest of pauses. ‘You came here so you could transition? That’s the word isn’t it?’
‘Yes, but not really. I’ve been Michelle for years.’
‘But you haven’t had surgery?’
Greaves turned her face from Trewin and James and muttered, ‘No.’
Trewin leaned forward. ‘Have you seen Mrs Hargreaves since you split up, Michelle?’
………………………….

Jasmine makes a discovery

20160122_144907 (2)A somewhat busy week not helped by me taking on some work I didn’t really want.  Anyway today I’m at Shrewsbury’s celebration of LGBT History Month.  I think I am almost the token trans element but there’s lots of events happening. I’m at the new University Centre at the Guildhall, signing copies of Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design (and hopefully selling a few copies).  I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people.

And so to the next episode of Resolution, the eighth of my prequels to Painted Ladies. Perhaps this episode is a bit predictable but let me know what you think.

Resolution: Part 4

James called out as he entered the flat. There was an answering cry and Angela appeared from the living room. She flung her arms around him and they kissed. Just as James was running out of breath, Angela pulled her head back.
‘Well, how did it go? Your first day as a DC.’
‘Great. We got called to a suspicious death.’
‘A murder?’ Angela grinned as if it was the best thing ever.
‘Yes. I’ve been working on it all day. That’s why I’m pretty late.’ He glanced at his watch. It was already gone seven.
Angela frowned. ‘I suppose this is what it’s going to be like. No standard shifts for a detective.’ James nodded. ‘So it’s just as well that I’ve got some other news,’ she said smiling.
‘What news?’
‘We’ve exchanged contracts. Number seven, Bridle Lane, Kintbridge is ours, or will be when we complete in a couple of weeks.’
James was stunned. Angela had handled all the paperwork and negotiations. All he had done was tag around a few houses, agreeing on the one they wanted.
‘That was quick. Wasn’t it?’
Angela shrugged. ‘So-so. It’s still a buyers’ market after the crash so we’re in a good position. The vendors wanted a quick sale and there were no hold-ups.’
‘Our own house.’ It was a strange concept. It gave James the feeling of being a normal married couple.
‘Soon, but I’d like to eat before we move. I haven’t had a chance to think of food so how about we go out and celebrate. It’s a lovely evening.’
‘Um.’
‘Yes, you can be Jasmine. Go and get ready, I’m starving.’
James hurried to the bedroom. ‘Thanks Ange. I really wanted to get out of these threads.’  He stripped, showered briefly and dressed in a summer frock in bright yellows and blues. Jasmine applied minimal make-up and pulled the lightest of her blonde wigs on to her head. She joined Angela in the living room.
Angela looked up from the magazine she was reading. ‘That’s nice. Ready?’
‘Uh, yes, almost. I just want to make a quick call.’  Jasmine returned to the bedroom and pulled the acknowledgement card from her jacket pocket. She rang the number on her mobile.
A woman’s voice answered. ‘Tania Portman.’
‘Hello, Tania. We haven’t met but I knew Camilla. I’m James Frame.’
‘Frame? I know the name. I’m sure Milla mentioned that name. Did you say James?’
Jasmine took a gamble. ‘Or Jasmine.’
‘Ah, yes. Now I remember. You’re a cop who’s trans. You worked with Milla.’
‘Yes, but just for a few days. I only heard today about her being, er, killed. I’m so sorry.’
There was no reply but Jasmine thought she could hear a distant sob as if Tania had put the phone down.
‘Tania? Are you still there?’
‘Sorry,’ the voice was shaky, ‘It still gets me when I’m reminded that she’s not going to walk in.’
‘She was a great detective and very good to me, especially about the trans thing.’
‘She told me all about it. You’re not out to your colleagues.’
Jasmine shuddered, ‘No. Especially as I’m now in Milla’s old unit.’
‘Ah, yes.’
‘Look, I’m sorry to bring it up. It must be very painful for you, but can you tell me what happened?’
‘There’s not a lot to tell,’ Tania sniffed, ‘Milla was walking home. She was just a few yards away. A car came screaming down our road, mounted the kerb and ran her down. Then the driver reversed over her and drove off.’
‘Oh, god!’
‘She died there and then. At least that was something. She didn’t suffer.’
‘It doesn’t sound like an accident.’
‘No, it doesn’t, does it.’
‘What do the Birmingham police say?’
Tania snorted. ‘Not a lot. You see I wasn’t Milla’s next of kin. We were planning a civil ceremony later this year but as far as the officials are concerned we were just housemates. The Police have been in touch with Milla’s parents but they’re not interested in the details. They’re still in shock.’
‘I’d like to find out more. Would you mind if I came to see you?’ Jasmine waited for the reply hoping that Tania would agree.
‘Yes, I’d love to meet you, Jasmine.’
She said “Jasmine”. Jasmine felt a lurch inside her. Tania expected to see her feminine persona.
‘Thanks. It’ll be this weekend. If I’m not caught up with a case.’
Tania managed a chuckle. ‘Oh, I remember how weekends and days off used to disappear, but if you’re free I’ll be here. Not a lot to do now there’s just me.’
Jasmine took the address and they said their goodbyes. She ended the call, dropped the phone into her shoulder-bag and re-joined Angela.
‘Who was that?’ Angela asked. Jasmine explained. Angela gasped as Jasmine described how Milla Sparrow had been killed.
‘Who would do something like that?’
‘Someone she had annoyed, seriously annoyed.’

They chatted as they ate, sitting overlooking the river in the warm evening. Angela nattered about the decoration and furnishings she wanted in the new house. Jasmine listened, occasionally put in a word but generally relishing simply relaxing and being herself. She thought about it. More and more the life she led as James felt like a piece of character-acting. She was looking forward to getting into the part of “detective constable” but being a man increasingly felt false. Here and now, in a loose, thin dress with bare legs and strappy sandals, chatting over a glass of white wine with her partner, surrounded by other couples and groups, she felt normal. The wig was something of an irritation, the weather being warm, but it was a necessity in giving her confidence in her feminine appearance. Was this how she wanted to be in the rest of her life? She wasn’t certain – yet.
The conversation came round to her first day amongst the detectives and then to Milla Sparrow
‘I’m going up to Birmingham on Saturday to see Tania,’ Jasmine said, ‘If Sloane doesn’t keep us working on this murder.’
‘Why, Jas? To give your condolences?’  There was a doubtful note in Angela’s voice. Jasmine wasn’t surprised. Angela knew her well.
‘Well, there’s that, but I want to find out what happened to Milla. Or, to put it bluntly, who killed her.’
Angela nodded and smiled, satisfied that her guess had been proved correct. ‘Isn’t that a job for the Birmingham Police?’
‘It is, but I can’t wait until reports filter back to us. I don’t even know if they’re investigating it as a premeditated murder.’
‘It couldn’t be anything else could it. Who would plan to kill a police officer?’
Jasmine pondered. ‘I suppose it could be someone in Birmingham wanting to make a point by getting rid of a new threat.’ She paused, ‘But I think it was more likely to be ordered by someone who knew her already. Someone who knew her from past cases.’
‘You mean from round here,’ Angela said. She glanced around as if expecting criminal masterminds to pop up from behind the tables.

James made sure he was at his desk early next morning; it was even earlier than the seven-thirty that Tom had said they should start.  He looked at the wedding photo of Elizabeth and Michael Hargreaves and the portrait of her taken after death. What had happened to the husband?  He noticed the photo albums in their plastic wallets sitting in the tray on his desk. He hadn’t looked at them yet as there hadn’t seemed any point. Now, with nothing else to do while he waited, he took them out of the evidence bags and started flicking through. There was the usual mixture of scenery, places Elizabeth had visited, portraits of individuals and groups. Frequently there were snaps of Michael or Elizabeth or both; never any of children. He turned a page and leaned closer. Who was that? There was Elizabeth, standing next to another woman. They were both wearing wide-brimmed hats and knee-length sleeveless dresses as if they had been to some smart event: a garden party, the races, an outdoor concert. Both wore high heels but the other woman was a tiny bit taller than Elizabeth. She had thick dark brown hair but her face was shaded under the hat. James peered even closer, then looked again at the wedding photograph. He was certain of it. Yes, the other woman was Michael.
He turned over the pages of the album. There she was again, alone this time, leaning against a tree in a park. No hat this time, hair brushed into a dark halo around her face. Short sleeve top, mid-thigh skirt, smooth bare legs, an attractive woman, but it was definitely Michael. A few more pages and there were other photos, sometimes alone, sometimes with Elizabeth, all seasons, a variety of outfits. James searched through the album looking for dates but couldn’t find anything recorded that said when the photos were taken. Elizabeth looked a little slimmer, younger than she had laid out on the floor of her terrace house. James guessed that the photos were a few years old, probably taken with a film camera before the days of digital. Nevertheless, it revealed the truth about Michael. He was trans.
James’ fingers skipped across his computer keyboard.  DS Trewin came in followed soon after by Tom Shepherd. Both said hello to James. He murmured a reply but didn’t take his eyes off the screen. The office filled up with other detectives. There was a hum of conversation. DCI Sloane strode in and immediately approached the trio of desks occupied by Trewin and his pair of DCs. All three of them rose to their feet.
‘Well, gentlemen, what line of enquiry are we following today?’ Sloane said in his deep bass voice.
Trewin cleared his throat and opened his mouth.
‘I think I’ve found something,’ James interrupted. Trewin, Tom and Sloane gathered around him.
‘Well?’ Sloane said.
‘Michael Hargreaves is or was transgender.’ James stated.
Tom Shepherd grimaced, ‘What does that mean?’
‘It means a bloke who likes wearing women’s knickers,’ Alan Trewin said.
‘It’s bit more than that,’ James said, silently groaning.
‘Explain, Frame,’ Sloane said.
James lifted up the photo album and pointed to a print of a figure in female dress.
‘I’m sure that is a photo of Michael Hargreaves.’
‘It looks like a woman,’ Tom said.
‘Are you sure?’ Trewin said.
James held up the wedding photo. ‘Compare them,’ he said. Three heads leaned forward.
Sloane straightened first. ‘You appear to be correct, Frame. What does this information tell us?’
James took a deep breath. ‘With the knowledge of his wife, Michael Hargreaves spent at least some of his life as a woman. There are a number of photos of him, or rather her, in this album so it wasn’t a one-off outing or a fancy dress thing. The photos are a few years old so I wondered if things had moved on.’
‘Moved on?’ Tom asked, still confused.
‘I wondered if being a woman had become, er, more habitual for Michael Hargreaves.’
‘Hmm, what are you saying Frame?’ Sloane pressed.
‘I wondered if he was transsexual.’
‘You mean if he’s had a sex-change?’ Trewin said.
‘Er, perhaps,’ James replied.
‘Out with it, Frame,’ Sloane was sounding impatient now.
‘I’m not sure,’ James said, ‘I can’t quite make out how far Michael Hargreaves has gone but she’s Michelle Greaves now.’
……………….

Jasmine reaches a dead end

20160122_132302Just one thing I’d like to comment on this week as I don’t think it has appeared in the mainstream news. According to New Scientist, the International Olympic Committee have agreed that transsexual men and women can compete in their chosen gender without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery. FtM can compete immediately, while MtF must have a test to show that their testosterone levels are within the normal range for females. That means that transwomen must at least be on anti-androgen drugs. I think that is a huge and welcome step for a worldwide body and shows acceptance of a broad definition of gender identity.

……………………………..

 

Now to this week’s episode of Resolution, a prequel to the Jasmine Frame novels Painted Ladies and Bodies By Design. This is a longer piece than usual as the case needed to get moving. Perhaps you can guess where it’s going.

Resolution: Part 3

James watched as Dr Gupta drove off then turned to see DS Trewin emerging from the house followed by DC Shepherd.
‘Well, Frame. Did you find who discovered the body?’ Trewin asked.
‘Yes, Sir. It was the neighbour, Mrs Wilson,’ James pointed to the front door directly next to the victim’s house. ‘and PCSO Oakham here was the first on the scene.’
Peaches Oakham looked a little scared as James recounted what she had told him.
Trewin smiled at Peaches, ‘Well done Oakham. We may have more questions for you later. Now though we’ll have a word with Mrs Wilson. Shepherd with me.’ He started to pull off the overalls. ‘Frame, go back in and have a good look around the house, upstairs too. See what you can find that tells us something about Elizabeth Hargreaves. If you come across anything get a SOCO to bag it up.’
James re-entered the victim’s home. He paused in the front room taking in the appearance. The room was recently decorated with white painted walls and a plain, innocuous carpet in a terracotta colour.  There were no pictures on the wall and just a mirror on the chimney breast. The room was small but nevertheless sparsely furnished with just a small sofa, coffee table and a small flat screen TV on a stand. He decided not to go into the rear room where the body lay and a pair of SOCOs were still working. Instead he went up the stairs. He glanced in the back bedroom and saw the same white walls, a double bed with a single pillow in the middle, duvet neatly spread. There was a small fitted wardrobe and dressing table.
He turned to look in the front bedroom and felt a little surge of excitement. It was decorated the same but unfurnished. Instead there were four large, cardboard packing cases sitting in the middle of the carpet. James bent down and looked in the nearest box. It contained objects wrapped in newspaper. He and Angela would be doing this soon, he thought, packing up their present home into packing cases and then moving into their new home in Kintbridge. Elizabeth Hargreaves had been living in her new house for a few weeks though. Why hadn’t she unpacked?
James unwrapped a few items. They were largely ornaments: bits of china, flower vases, framed pictures. He looked in the next box. That too contained wrapped objects, this time a complete dinner and tea set, along with some cooking utensils.  The third box contained books, mainly romantic and classic novels with a few popular chicklit titles, along with a couple of loose cushions.
James crawled to the last box and looking in saw a record of Elizabeth Hargreaves life. There were old school photographs dating from the 70s, a patched and threadbare teddy, a Barbie missing an arm and most of her hair. At the bottom of the box James could see a couple of photograph albums but they were under a glass-fronted picture frame. It was a wedding photo. James lifted it out and examined it carefully.  The bride was blonde, young and dressed in a long white dress. It was hard to compare her with the distorted features of the victim lying downstairs but James was pretty sure they were the same woman. Standing beside the youthful Elizabeth Hargreaves was a young man. He was just an inch or two taller than her, slim, and had a thin, clean-shaven face with dark brown hair almost as long as his new wife’s.
‘Frame? Are you up there?’ Trewin’s call carried up the stairs.
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘We’re heading back. Are you coming?’
James grabbed the photo albums and the wedding photo. ‘Coming, Sir.’ He hurried down the stairs. Trewin was standing in the front room.
‘What have you got there, James?’ Alan Trewin said.
‘Photos. I thought they may be useful even if they’re old.’
Trewin nodded. ‘Get them bagged up and recorded. Meet us in the car.’

James and the other two detectives were clustered by the white board that covered one wall of the V&SC office. Currently there was only one photo stuck to the board, taken by the pathology team, showing Elizabeth Hargreaves’ face in death. Written underneath were the words, “strangled – cable”.
DCI Sloane emerged from his office and joined the trio.
‘What have you got, gentlemen?’ he said.
Trewin spoke up, ‘Deceased is Elizabeth Hargreaves, female in her fifties. Recently moved in to 12 Railway Terrace. Tell us what the neighbour said, Tom.’
Tom Shepherd blushed and pulled himself up straight. ‘She, uh, that is Mrs Wilson of 13 Railway Terrace, um, they’re next door neighbours, not opposite. The houses are on just one side.’
‘Yes, Shepherd, I know the location,’ Sloane said.
Tom looked at his notebook. ‘Mrs Wilson said that she had gone into Mrs Hargreaves’ house this morning because the radio had been left on all night and she assumed Mrs Hargreaves had gone away leaving it on by mistake.’
‘Mrs Wilson had a key?’ Sloane said.
‘Yes,’ Tom replied, ‘She befriended Mrs Hargreaves when she moved in just over a month ago and Mrs Hargreaves asked her to hold a spare just in case she locked herself out.’
‘They were close friends?’ Sloane asked.
‘Not really. Apparently they chatted a bit if they met on the doorstep and Mrs Hargreaves had been into Mrs Wilson’s house for a coffee once, but that was all.’
Again Sloane posed a question. ‘Did the victim have any visitors?’
Tom smiled. ‘Well, Sir, just one. Mrs Wilson said she was not aware of Elizabeth Hargreaves having any guests until yesterday afternoon when a woman called on her.’
‘The neighbour saw the visitor?’
‘Yes, Sir. The houses are small terraces right on the street. Mrs Wilson said she was in her front room when the woman walked passed and rang the doorbell next door. She heard Elizabeth let her in.’
Trewin spoke up, ‘Apparently sounds pass through the adjoining wall, Sir, although not well enough to make out conversation.’
‘So this woman is your chief suspect?’ Sloane said.
‘The only suspect at the moment,’ Trewin said. ‘There could have been another caller that the neighbour didn’t see, but there was no sign of forced entry so the victim must have let her killer in.’
‘Unless they also had a key,’ James added.
Sloane nodded, ‘Ah, yes, a good point, Frame. The neighbour is also a suspect especially since she apparently discovered the body. What else have you got to tell us Frame?’
James took a breath, ‘Elizabeth Hargreaves was married, at least she got married about thirty years ago.’ He reached behind him to lift the wedding photo in its clear evidence bag from the desk and handed it around. James continued, ‘Although she has been in the house a few weeks now she hadn’t put this photo on display nor had she unpacked any other ornaments or pictures. I got the impression that she had moved into a recently decorated house but done nothing to make it personal or “lived in”. She doesn’t appear to have enough furniture to fill even a small house.’
Sloane frowned and stared at James, ‘What does that tell you, Frame?’
James looked from Sloane to Trewin, uncertain whether he should speak what was on his mind. ‘I don’t think she was really happy about being in her new house. She may have been lonely in a new environment without visitors – until yesterday.’
‘What about this husband?’ Sloane said.
‘He may have died or perhaps they have just separated and divorced. They may have split the contents of a joint property. Maybe that’s why she’s feeling alone.’
‘A thoughtful assessment, Frame. Well, it seems to me, Trewin, that you need to learn more about Mrs Hargreaves, trace this husband if he is still alive, and find out who her visitor was.’
‘Yes, Sir.’ Trewin said, ‘We’ve got officers doing house to house. Shepherd come with me. We’ll see if Mrs Wilson can tell us some more about this mystery visitor and see what the talk is on the street. Frame, see what you can do to trace Elizabeth Hargreaves past and find her husband.’
Sloane nodded and returned to his office. James was a bit disappointed to be relegated to the computer but he was keen to find out what had happened to bring Elizabeth to this lonely end.

By the end of the afternoon, James was feeling frustrated and his eyes ached. He leaned back in his chair, stretching the muscles which were stiff from lack of exercise. Tom Shepherd returned alone.
‘Where’s Trewin?’ James asked.
‘Gone to see Gupta, the path doc.’ Tom replied easing into his chair. ‘He told me I could pack up for today. We’ll need to start at 7:30 tomorrow. How are you doing?’
‘No case-solving insights,’ James said. ‘I’ve followed bank details and papers that the SOCOs found. Elizabeth Hargreaves moved from Staines where she did indeed share a house with her husband, Michael. She gave up a part-time job in M&S to move here alone.’
‘That was quite a life-changing move.’
‘Yes, but I don’t have a lot more. She was born and grew up in Putney where she got married in 1978, aged twenty-three. Michael Hargreaves was a year older and was born in Wembley. He worked for BT and they stayed in Putney until they moved out to Staines in 1990.’
‘That’s pretty good, Jim.’
‘It’s OK, but I can’t find anything on Michael Hargreaves now. Since they closed the joint bank account and gave up the mortgage on the Staines house, there’s no trace of him, not even a death certificate.’
Tom shrugged. ‘Surely something will give a lead to him. Perhaps tomorrow. . .’
‘I suppose so.’ James sighed and started closing down his computer.
‘Well, that’s our first day as detectives done,’ Tom said. ‘Coming for a drink to celebrate, Jim?’
James was tempted, feeling he wanted to get to know this tall, friendly colleague but he was eager to get back to Angela and out of his male clothes. He also felt uncomfortable surrounded by high-spirited male colleagues that habitually stopped off at the police local.
‘Sorry, not tonight. My wife will be waiting to hear all about the first day and it’s a bit of drive home.’
‘You live in Reading?’
‘Yes. Moving to Kintbridge soon I hope.’
‘Oh, well, perhaps we can get to know each other soon.’ Tom got up and set off to the exit. James began to follow but noticed DC Terry Hopkins at his desk.
‘DC Hopkins?’ James began.
The older man looked up. ‘Oh, hi, Frame. How’s your first day gone? I hear you’ve got a murder.’
‘Yes. It’s a bit slow at the moment. Do you mind if I ask you a question?’
‘I don’t know anything about your case.’
‘Yes, I know. This is different.’
Hopkins frowned and glared at James. ‘What is it?’
‘You worked with Camilla Sparrow for a while, didn’t you?’
‘Yeah, a good detective despite being a dyke.’
James was surprised by Hopkins answer, and his choice of term. ‘You knew she was a lesbian.’
Hopkins grinned, ‘She didn’t talk about it but she didn’t hide it. Gave some of the blokes hard-ons whenever she appeared.’
James felt a bit sick but pressed on. ‘You know she’s been killed?’
James was pleased when Hopkins showed a little remorse. ‘Yeah, I heard. She didn’t deserve that. We had a whip-round for a wreath. It was just after we collected for her leaving present but all the guys chipped in.’
James was a bit cheered. ‘Do you know how to contact her partner? Tania, I think it was.’
‘No, but she sent a thank you card. It’s probably still on the wall over there by the coffee machine. There may be some contact details on that.’ Hopkins pointed to a corner of the office that James had not yet explored.
‘Thanks. Do you know anything about the accident?’
Hopkins shook his head. ‘Nah, just that it was a hit and run. I heard that a witness said the car had an RV number.’ His eyes examined James. ‘You two got on pretty well on that drugs bust.’
Sadness filled James, ‘Yes, we did. She was very, uh, helpful. That’s why I’m here now, I think.’
‘Yeah, well, good luck with it.’ Hopkins returned to staring at his screen.
James sauntered over to the corner of the room where the coffee maker quietly steamed. There were birthday and celebrations cards blu-tacked to the wall, some curling with age. James looked at them until he found one that was just a plain card with some printed words and a handwritten message thanking the V&SC staff for their wreath, signed by Tania. At the bottom there was a mobile number. James pulled the card off the wall, stuffed it in his pocket and then hastened from the office. There was something he needed to do when he got home.

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.’
‘Strange?’
‘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.
…………………..