Under Cover Of Darkness – Episode 08

Since they were both still involved with gathering information, neither Jim nor Karen made it to morning service on Sunday. They also had to contend with more petty crime being reported, such as the etching on the Peterford bus shelter. They themselves were much too elevated to be concerned with such trivia, but they were interested to hear that, though it was certainly vandalism, it was also very artistic. The lion rampant was apparently tastefully and skilfully executed.

They were on their way to have a more thorough look at Marcia’s house when they got a call from the minister of St David’s church at the other end of Peterford.

“Good morning, Inspector. This is the Reverend Griffin here. I’d like to report the removal of lead from my church roof. Friday night’s rain seems to have been coming in, so I sent the organist up to have a look. He’s much younger and fitter than I am. He reported that there was virtually no lead left at all. Honest to goodness, it makes you despair.”

“It so happens I’ll be in Peterford this morning myself, Mr Griffin. I’ll call in, shall I? I can send my sergeant up. She’s young and fit, too.”

The minister allowed himself a brief laugh, and thanked him.

The church roof, when they got there, was much more easily accessible than the minister had indicated. A spiral stair took them up the tower, from where a door opened on to the roof itself. There was a walkway round the edge from where they could see the whole of the village laid out before them, and the country beyond.

“Fantastic!” Karen Parker said, looking over the parapet while her boss leaned back against the sloping tiles. “There’s Thistle Cottage. And the shops. And that’s Hartfield House over there. What a panorama.”

“Can you see any lead on the roof, or is the organist right?”

Karen swung round in a fashion that made Jim wince. She leaned back over the parapet and looked up, which made Jim yell, “Look out!” involuntarily.

Karen grinned at him.

“No head for heights, sir? Well, I think the organist is right. Something has definitely been stripped off the ridge and all the joints of the roof. That’ll be a big insurance job. I’ll have a look round and see if anything got left behind.”

She set off round the walkway, leaving her boss sidling back towards the door. She didn’t expect to find anything significant at all, but among the abundant leaves and the detritus that any roof collects there was a foreign object lying abandoned round the other side. She bent to pick it up, and identified it as a woollen balaclava. She trotted back to the doorway and held it out on one finger.

“Someone’s been careless, sir,” she said with a touch of triumph. “I would say this hasn’t been there too long. It’s wet, but not neglected.”

“So all we need to find is a villain not wearing a balaclava. Is there anything distinctive about it?”

Karen looked at it.

“Not at first glance. But I’ll tell you something. It’s been hand knitted. Do you think Peterford might have a granny who knits balaclavas for bad boys?”

“Let’s ask the constable, shall we? There should be someone on duty at Thistle Cottage.”

Back at ground level, the constable at Thistle Cottage was delighted to have something even moderately interesting to do. Now that the drama of the murder was over, and the hunt for the weapon had been unproductive, all he had to do was stand there and stop sightseers.

He took one look at the balaclava and said, “Mrs Norman. She has quite a cottage industry going. Balaclavas, beanies, hats with ears and pom-poms for little kids.”

Karen was intrigued.

“Would she sell in Bremston, or just Peterford?”

“She sells online.”

“Blimey. Where does she live?”

“Along past the butcher’s, down towards the park. Number four, I think.”

Karen looked up at her boss with an expectant smile.

“OK, you can do it,” he said. “I’ll go back to Marcia’s stuff. Don’t hang about too long, though. We’ve got a murder to solve.”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.