The Day in the life of Tony Cliffe

The blog that's full of discussion, advice, travel and ramblings!

Month: September, 2017

Who Killed Mr Archer? Part Five: a murder solved, another case closed

Mr Archer

Part Five – a murder solved, another case closed

“…shall I email or call you Alec?” McBride asked on the phone as Alec drove out of the Bradshaw’s gate.
“Text me if I’m right, I look forward to seeing you and the boys here. Another case solved” he hung up. He always loved this part in any case and he had his assistant to thank for it.

Eleanor had gathered the three suspects into the stateroom as Detective Locke appeared. He clasped his hands as he spoke, his footsteps echoing around the room, each footsteps like the tick of a clock, getting closer to the truth. “We were called to this Estate this morning to solve the death of poor Mr Archer.” He let his words hang in the air before continuing. “At first…like the police it seemed like an accidental death. No signs of trauma, no evidence of foul play. The perfect crime. Of course…if this was a murder all suspects had a perfect alibi.” He rubbed his chin as he turned to them all. “So who did it and how? That’s been the question I’ve been trying to answer. Who? Why? and How?

Of course the three main suspects turned out to be you three, oh and the Bradshaw’s I guess. Clear motive and stood to gain a lot from Mr Archer’s death. At first I thought they were the prime suspects but how would they kill him? That was the killers first mistake, a classic misdirect”

All three looked at each other in disbelief before Sarah spoke “You honestly don’t think any of us killed him do you!?” he raised a smile. “Yes. Yes I do.”

His phone beeped. A text from McBride. He was right.

He pulled up a chair and sat down facing them all, folding his leg over and placing his hands behind his head. He was going to enjoy this. Eleanor’s phone rang and she walked into the corner to take it, it was McBride. Alec spoke with confidence as he worked to explain just who, why and how Mr Archer died.

“You see I have one very useful thing in my detective work and it’s not my intellectual ability. It’s her…” he turned to nod towards Eleanor in the corner “I pick my assistants very well indeed. She like me writes very detailed notes down that tell me a lot about each of you”. He opened the notebook and scanned her notes. Her notes were the final pieces of the puzzle. She had done well.

“So who killed him?” he scanned the room, his eyes resting on the young blonde woman. “Sarah Rosedale”. She took a step back in disbelief “I didn’t kill him!” she pleaded. Detective Locke got up out of his chair and walked up and down the hall, his hands moving as he spoke “You were my initial prime suspect. The outsider. Why would a family member kill him? It had to be you. You had no credible alibi. You were his assistant. Rumour of an affair…what was it? He wouldn’t leave his wife for you?”

“I’d never kill him! I loved him!” her shout plunged the room into silence as Eleanor finished her phone call with McBride, she gave Alec the nod. With a clap of his hands he spoke “Ah-ha! You see the rumours were true. Motive and opportunity and a terrible alibi!”

“I swear I didn’t do it!” she demanded through her newly formed tears. He pointed at the two remaining suspects. “You see…people talk and last night’s fight got out and Eleanor here, well such a gift she has. You let slip how your father used to beat you as a child and how much your mother means to you. I can only imagine your rage when you saw the two of them exiting a bedroom together. Your father cheating on the only thing that means anything to you. Oh how that must have made your blood boil.”

“I didn’t kill him! How could I? This is absurd! I was here, there are witnesses! I was here when he was killed! You’ve proved nothing but my hatred for him!” he defended himself in anger. Alec was enjoying this, suspects could run but the truth always caught up to them in the end.

“Oh Michael. The who? I got that. The why? I think I nailed it. But the how? I’ve spent most of today racking my brains. How did any of you kill him? Perfectly alibi I agree. You were here and his blood levels had very high concentrates of alcohol in them. Even if you were discovered to have killed him, in a court of law evidence still suggests he drank too much and drowned.” Alec smiled as he spoke, reeling them in “except the toxicology report, while high, was not enough to make a man of this size paralytic and guess what? No water in his lungs. He was dead before he went under the water but you knew that already didn’t you?”

“You have no proof and I have witnesses that I was here! She doesn’t have one. She’s the slut who slept with him and killed him when he wouldn’t leave mother for her!” he spat the words out in anger.

“What about you Mrs Archer? Did you kill him?”

“How dare yo-“she went to slap Detective Locke as Eleanor jumped in to grab her arm. “I loved my husband! Like Michael I was here the whole time!”

“Eleanor my dear…I’ll let you take it from here”

Eleanor pushed a strand of red hair behind her ear as she took hold of her notebook back from Alec, this was her time to shine. “Correct. You were here at the time of the murder between 8.30 and 9.30pm. Numerous witnesses put you both here, except Sarah. All the chefs and the cleaners and the groundsman all agree. Cast iron alibi. But Sarah was ‘ill’ in her room with no one to say otherwise. Surely that was her right? She had the opportunity and you didn’t. How can you kill him? You can’t be at two places at once…but you can hide in plain sight. You see and I must commend you” she clapped as she spoke “it’s a very, very ingenious plan and I really do commend you for it”.

“What are you on about?” Catherine Archer commanded.

Eleanor just raised a sly smile and turned towards the giant clock face on the stateroom wall and pointed as Alec took over to explain. “Hidden in plain sight as Eleanor said. She came up with the idea. He was indeed murdered around 9pm but you were here then weren’t you? The staff meeting started at 8.30…but from what clock?

You see it was looking at us in the face in the entire time. None of your work staff are allowed watches or mobile phones on duty and everything in this house runs off that clock. Not so hard to adjust it by half an hour. Multiple witness put you here at the time of death because you altered the clock. What an excellent idea. Perfect!” Alec was impressed. It was an ingenious tactic and if it wasn’t for Eleanor he may never have figured it out. Time went so quickly. That’s what Maxwell had said to her, she had a theory and she was right.

“Even if we did kill that bastard, how? It’s her. We have proof we were here, she doesn’t!” Mrs Catherine Archer had now changed her tune. Eleanor spoke this time “It was a very clever plan…let me take you back to last night…”

“That son will be the death of me I tell you!” he pushed his chair back as he stood up “I don’t know where we went wrong Catherine. I’ll be in the study there are few admin things to sort out for tomorrow.”

“Good idea darling. I’ll do the staff meeting, you go and relax.” they shared an embrace before departing. Mr Archer walked up to his study and sat down, slumped in his chair. He watched as he poured a glass of Whiskey before knocking it back down the hatch, the feel of the burn complimenting his anger towards his son. He tried to push the feelings to one side, tomorrow was a big day, an important one. The Bradshaw’s were on side, Jim had even agreed to give a speech about supporting the windfarm and Mr Archer had prepared a speech about giving back to the community. He reread his speech and licked the ten envelopes that had prizes in that were to be given out tomorrow. In his alcohol infused state he noticed the strange smell and taste of the envelopes but his brain couldn’t process it, those alarm bells to stop buried deep behind a haze of whiskey.

“You see” Eleanor spoke bringing their mind back from yesterday as she recalled what had happened “that was the first part of your plan. You needed him compliant or at least unconscious for your second part of the plan to work didn’t you?”

Alec interjected “you see Eleanor has a keen eye for detail and spotted this under his desk” he held up the lone smelling pure white petal. He held it close to each one of them to see, “Why would a petal be there? There are no flowers inside the house so how did it get there? What is it?” he paused to look at their reactions before continuing “luckily I was in the right place at the right time when Eleanor sent me a picture. I showed the picture to Mrs Bradshaw and you see Mrs Bradshaw, as you well know Catherine, cultivates a lot of flowers. One particular one she’s fond of is a pretty white flower called the Valerian. Of course you knew that.  The Bradshaw’s told me how two days ago you came around as a ‘peace offering’ asking about flower arrangements for the opening of the estate. You knew she had Valerian there so you used the opportunity behind her back to cut one from the greenhouse.”

“Valerian? I have no idea what you mean?” she protested.

“The flower Valerian Mrs Archer is used to sedate people, sure the smell of the flower can make people feel sleepy, a more potent camomile for example. However when the pollen and elements of the stem are ingested can introduce a deep state of sedation. You placed the pollen on the envelopes. Within minutes he was dizzy, dazed and confused and already slipping into his final sleep.”

“You have proved nothing here Detective!” Michael tried to defend “even if that was true, he went asleep. A flower isn’t a murder weapon!” he laughed deeply. The killer thought they were home and dry.

“Well as good as Eleanor is and she is good she took a picture of the flower and sent it to me. Except, she still has a little way to go…here let me show you the picture”. Alec zoomed in on the picture of the petal “Do you see it yet?” In the far distance there was a grey pixel, almost looked like a spec of dirt but Alec had saw that shape before, the grey almost Mexican hat style plastic cover. When Sarah had left him to take her insulin this morning he watched as she pulled the cap of her needle off before injecting herself. The cap of an insulin needle was bedded deep into the carpet. The murder weapon.

“See! I told you Sarah had killed him!” Michael shouted in her face, a brief smile crossing his lips after he finished.

“Wrong” Eleanor smiled.

“You see nice work trying to frame Miss Rosedale here for your crime. You almost and I mean almost had us believing it was her. She had motive, while Mr Archer enjoyed fooling around with her he would never leave his childhood sweetheart for her. Too much bad reputation if an affair got out. She had the murder weapon. One to two vials of insulin injected into a healthy person is enough to kill them, overload their pancreas as they slip into a coma and organs fail. Peaceful. Perfect weapon too. The insulin levels are broken down by the body and never show up in a toxicology. If you inject it in the tongue then no puncture marks would show up on the skin.  So it had to be her right? The perfect crime. Well no.

You see your perfect plan nearly came off if it wasn’t for Sarah’s lie. She didn’t go to her room last night because she felt ill. She didn’t go off to see Mr Archer. Instead she was over at the Bradshaw’s finalising a deal that Mr Archer had struck with them about the windfarm, you didn’t know about that deal did you? She didn’t do it. But you both did. You changed the clocks to cover your backs and make her look like she had done it, when she said she was ill I bet you couldn’t believe your luck! Your plan coming together so well.

You started the argument that night Michael because you knew it would make him drink more, further aiding your plan of drunk man falls asleep in the bath and dies. You injected him and you and your mother placed him in the bath and set the scene. At first you were content with murdering your cheating husband and you Michael, a father who never approved and used to beat you but no. You got greedy. You tried to frame Sarah. That’s why you were so adamant Mrs Archer that he was murdered. You believed your plan to be watertight. He’s dead and she’s going to jail for a murder she didn’t commit. Two bird’s one stone. A perfect plan and very nearly executed. I must say. This was a close one for us. You very nearly got away with it.” Alec sat back in his chair and high fived Eleanor. Case solved.

Both Michael and Catherine Archer clapped their hands “Bravo famous Detective Locke and his doting underling. So we did kill him, that bastard and bitch deserved it! But last time I checked you’re not a police officer just a Private Investigator. You can’t arrest us!” her smile was as wide as the corridor above their heads.

“Correct sadly…” Alec replied, lowering his eyes to the floor.

“…But I can.” Detective McBride appeared in the doorway flanked by two police officers. “I have the whole thing on tape and I have your confessions. Mrs Catherine Archer and Mr Michael Archer I am arresting you for the murder of Mr Archer.”

The two police men handcuffed the pair and read them their rights. Now the case was solved but not before the final blow that Alec had been waiting for. He stopped the pair just before they were placed into the two police cars as the staff watched on in disbelief.

Alec smiled as he spoke “you know the funny thing about all of this? I asked Eleanor to check up on his will, turns out on the event of his death he left everything to her” he looked over in the direction of a tearful Sarah. “You got your wish Michael. He left you nothing. The person you killed and the woman you both tried to frame now has all his money and this entire estate”. Mrs Archer burst into tears while Michael fought against the handcuffs as the police officer pushed him into the back of the car. “Enjoy prison!” Eleanor added as the door was shut and the police cars sped off into the distance leaving nothing but dust.

“Well, well, well Alec. I am glad I called you in on this” McBride and Locke held a firm handshake as he patted him on the back, “Just like the good old days Dan!” he chuckled. “Let me buy you that drink and bring your assistant along too!”

He watched as McBride got into his black BMW to go back to the station to fill in the paperwork before coming back to have that overdue pint. Eleanor joined Alec at his side, “better than a one year old party?” he asked with a warm smile.

“Ha-Yes…but only just” nudging him with her arm.

Alec turned to her, “you did a great job today Eleanor. I really mean that.”

She blushed slightly “stop it. I still missed the insulin pen!”

“You’ll get there. I missed the clock so call it even! Seriously though, I don’t know what your plans are post PhD…Dr Edgecroft do I really have to call you that?” he scrunched up his face.

“It has a ring to it” she chirped.

He continued to speak, a warmth in his voice like the sun that had just appeared behind the overcast sky “I’d really like you to stay. Not just as my assistant though…but as a partner in the business. You’re too valuable to lose Eleanor. Locke and Edgecroft Investigations Services, LEIS for short?”

She bit the inside of her lip and pondered it for a moment “hmmm I’m not sure. My mum keeps telling me I should focus on the PhD and find a new job”.

Alec looked down trying to hide his disappointment “I understand.”

“But at 28 who listens to their mum anyway right? Of course I’ll stay but on one condition”

“Name it!”

“Ironic you should say that…I think Edgecroft and Locke sounds better” she grinned as he put an arm around her. “Oh is that how it is, is it?” he laughed. “We’ll see Detective Edgecroft…we’ll see.”

“To the next case then!”

“To the next case indeed!”

They both pulled out their notebooks and wrote…

Another case closed


Who Killed Mr Archer? Part Four: The Detective closes in on the Killer.

Mr Archer

Part: four – closing in on the killer

Eleanor took another look around the Archer’s home, she visited the stateroom and the kitchen and talked to the servers and the Chef. They all confirmed what Maxwell had told her except the two servers Paula and Gerrard mentioned another piece of the puzzle. “He wasn’t happy at all was Mr Archer. I came in at the end of dinner to clear the plates and he and his son were finishing an argument, they never saw eye to eye”. Eleanor discovered the fractious relationship between father and son, something any of them had failed to tell the two investigators. He was happy and content last night, that’s what his wife had told them this morning. Lie. Why did all three cover up the argument at diner? More questions to ask as she searched the grounds to talk to Michael. Her explorations took her to the outdoor gardens to where the bunting fluttered in the peaceful wind, an area that should have been full of guests, instead an eerie silence engulfed the area as if holding its breath for the truth to come out.

There he is! “Michael, can I have a word?”

“I’m busy looking after my Mum, if you want to talk you’re going to have to walk and do it” he was blunt and sarcastic. She instantly disliked this young man, an arrogance he no doubt picked up from his father.

“I believe you and your father had a fight last night?” she enquired to him, he just rolled his eyes “Father? Yeah some Father. An alcoholic who didn’t care about anyone but himself.”

Eleanor was taken aback by his response, “So what was the argument about?”

“Look Emma…El…”

“It’s Eleanor”

“Of course it is…Eleanor look, when you have a Father who does nothing but resent you for not wanting to look after the estate and see’s you as his problems at the bottom of a bottle, every day is an argument and a struggle!”

Eleanor pulled out her trusty notebook. “So you don’t want to take care of the family estate?”

He stopped in his tracks, the blazer blowing in the wind over his shoulder “I love Art and I love University. There is so much more to life than heritage and family entitlement. I can’t stand this place and feeling of being privileged. He never understood that and he never will. He just steam rolled everyone, he didn’t care what you thought unless it’s what he wanted” he began to walk again back inside the house “Eleanor I hated him but not enough to kill him. I have nothing to gain, I don’t want to take on this place. God knows what my mother saw in him.”

She offered a warm smile to Michael as Mrs Archer could be seen sitting down in one of the rooms out of the corner of her eye. “You’re close to your mother then?”

He took a deep breath as he fought back tears that had caught in his eyes, Eleanor noted the first real true emotion from him. “She’s my world. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She is nothing like him. He’s not my father. No father hits their son when they’ve had too many drinks. He is dead to me. If you’ll excuse me, I have to attend to my mother.”

With that he disappeared into the room with his mother and wrapped her up in a blanket. Eleanor closed her notebook and continued her walk around the house. She went in and out of rooms until she was back up the grand staircase and found herself on the top of the long carpeted hallway again. Maxwell was in and out of one of the far rooms cleaning still, trying to keep himself busy. To her right was a large office and she slipped inside to have a look.

Besides the book cases, the view of the gardens and hills beyond and the stack of papers and envelopes on the mahogany desk, it was like any other home office. All that was missing was a computer but she suspected Mr Archer was not one for technology. Instead in place of a computer was an empty bottle of Whiskey and a tumbler. So this is where he was before her went into the bath? She asked herself. She looked around trying to find any sign of a murder weapon or any hint that the murder had taken place. There was nothing. She looked in the draws and under the desk, nothing. She was starting to get frustrated with herself, too many questions and not enough answers. While on her hands and knees on the thick carpet something odd caught her eye under the desk. A lone white petal of a flower sat nestled in the strands of the carpet, standing out against the blood red. The smell of the flower was strong and stuck in the back of her throat as she coughed, banging her head on the desk above. There was no sign of any vase or flowers in the office and she hadn’t seen flowers in the house at all. Where did this come from? She looked under the pile of envelopes and what she saw stopped her in her tracks.

Half a mile away Detective Locke was questioning Jim and Julie Bradshaw in their home. Their estate was full of wild flower beds and meadows, a marsh and a lake to which a variety of wild birds and animals darted in and out. It wasn’t hard to see how a windfarm would ruin this idyllic location.

“Look, I didn’t kill him Detective. It was a heated argument and I know I shouldn’t have said I’d kill him but he was a very frustrating man to deal with! This is our livelihood!” Jim sat opposite Detective Locke, an exasperated look on his white grizzly bearded face. Jim and Julie where not like the Archer’s. They were very much at one with nature and any money they did have went into caring for animals. They were passionate about wild flowers and birds, enough to kill for? Julie spoke up for the first time in a while “Why would we kill him Detective? We were about to make a substantial profit from Mr Archer.” Jim shot his wife a wide eyed look “It was going to come out eventually Jim, we might as well tell him.”

Alec sat forward in his chair “go on”. Jim elected to answer this time “Yes we were opposed to the windfarm and we were very against it but he offered us a substantial amount that we couldn’t refuse. It’s enough to build our new bird sanctuary we’ve always wanted. Look, we’re not proud to be bought off but we have to survive! We have to look after the animals!”

Julie chipped in at the end “you may think of us as bad people Detective but we wouldn’t kill him. We’ve already compromised our morals enough” she took a long sip of her herbal tea before continuing “we were going to sign a contract and pick up the cheque at the event this afternoon. We wouldn’t kill him at least not before we got the money!” she laughed, her misplaced humour was not well received by Detective Locke. His gut believed them. “His assistant…Sarah, she came around last night to give us the final contracts. We were going to sign them and pick up our money today. Look here…” Julie fetched the signed contract from the table. They were telling the truth.

“What time did you say Sarah came around?” the cogs starting to work in his brain.

“8.30 for about an hour, I always water the plants in the greenhouse at 8 and it takes me half an hour to do. She arrived just as I was finishing.”

Alec’s phone rang, he excused himself and left the room as he took the call, it was Eleanor “Alec, hidden under the envelopes are death threat letters. I think it’s the Bradshaw’s but I don’t know how they could have got in to kill him”

“It’s not them” he replied bluntly. His famous brain working in overdrive. He knew who had killed him just not the how. “He bought them off. There is no way they were going to kill him Eleanor.”

“Who did then? Who would send the death threats from inside the house?” she still had something to learn in the Detective world and how to connect the dots. Eleanor provided the final clue. “They had an argument you know? The son and the Dad that night…I don’t know why but something else I found and I can’t get it out of my head. I’ll send you a picture. I’ll send over pictures of my notebook too, I had a look around”

Alec eyed the scene in front of him of the office and took a closer look at the petal that was stuck on the carpet. He zoomed in on his smartphone but not on the petal but another objected buried deep in the carpet under the desk. Bingo! That’s the murder weapon!

He called Eleanor back on the phone, asked her to do something for her and hung up with “gather them in the stateroom. I have the killer!” the excitement evident in his voice.

  • End of Part Four

Who Killed Mr Archer? Part Three: Secrets in these four walls

Mr Archer

Part: Three – secrets in these four walls

“How can I be a part of the investigation” she questioned through the tears. Eleanor spoke first, a softly calm voice to Mrs Archer “we can’t rule anyone out Mrs Archer. We have to speak to everyone who was in this house on the night of his death and we have to eliminate each of you in turn.” She turned to look at Sarah “can you write down a list of all the people who were on this estate yesterday evening? We’re going to need to question them all.”

“Sure, that shouldn’t be a problem” she tried to force a smile as she pulled out her own notebook and started to scribble down names as Mrs Archer began to tell her version of events to Detective Locke.

“I was giving a staff meeting about today’s event… I guess that’s not happening now is it” more tears flowed as her son put a tight arm around her. She spoke through the soft tears “The staff meeting started at around 8.30ish”

“Yeah it was 8.30 I remember” her son interjected.

“I don’t think we’ve been introduced” Alec stated rather than questioned.

“I’m Michael, his son” he didn’t hold out a hand to shake he just kept his arm around his mother. Alec noticed his small body language shift when he answered his question. Micro gestures they were called. A subconscious giveaway. Without realising it he had pushed his tongue against his bottom lip before he spoke, it only lasted for a nanosecond but Alec saw it. A clear sign of someone distancing themselves from the question that was asked. Instantly Alec suspected that his lack of tears for his father and his annoyance at being his son was evident. Something he made a note of to follow up in his notebook for when he questioned him.

“Your husband seemed to have been drinking when in the bath. Is this normal?” now the probing began.

“Unfortunately yes lately. He’s been drinking more and more. He’s been very stressed lately and I don’t know why” her voice trailed off. Another note was made in his notebook.

Mr Archer increasingly stressed over something? What could that be?

Eleanor spoke as Detective Locke got up off the seat and paced around the sitting room, eyeing all three suspects as she took the lead in the questioning. “If he drank so much is it not plausible that he may have had too much to drink and did accidentally drown?”

“Not at all!” this was the first time clear anger was shown from Mrs Archer’s voice “he was murdered! He was perfectly content yesterday evening. He was going to open the estate up tomorrow that was very important to him! He wouldn’t have gone that far.”

Locke continued to write notes in his book as he gazed out of the window onto the sprawling lawn of the estate as Eleanor continued to question her. “Can you think of anyone who would want to do harm to him?” she enquired.

“He had a lot of enemies. You’ve read the paper I’m sure. This stupid windfarm idea of his had caused a lot of trouble in the village. No more so than them two” she spat that out with clear venom.

“What two?” Alec butted in as he turned to face the room again.

“Jim and Julie Bradshaw!”

Sarah spoke looking up from her compiled list of names “They live in the estate next to us. They’ve been strongly opposed to George’s idea of building a windfarm on the estate. They have an aviary on their estate and they look after wildlife, particularly birds and cultivate a lot of wild flowers. They were adamant that the windfarm would disrupt the migrating patterns of their birds and stop people coming to visit their estate”.

“Enough to kill him over?”

“You tell me Detective. You most definitely would want to speak to them. Ask anyone, at the last town council meeting over the windfarm Jim threatened to kill him if he went ahead with it”

Jim and Julie Bradshaw possible suspect? Where were they on the night?
Motive: Disruption of their livelihood and profits

Jim threatened to kill Mr Archer-

“Is there anyone else you can think of who would want to do harm to your husband Mrs Archer?”

Michael the son spoke for her “look Detective. My mother has been through a terrible ordeal this morning. Can we please reconvene this later?”

Before he could rebuff the idea Michael was already lifting his mother out of her chair and walking her to towards the door “thank you for understanding” he smiled at them warmly on the way out.

“We’ll most certainly pick this up later” Alec glanced towards Eleanor and with a nod she followed them of the door.

“The list you wanted” Sarah handed a piece of paper over to Alec. His eyes scanned the names with their job titles.


Cheree D’blon (Chef)
Sharon Jackson (Cleaner)
Maxwell Partridge (Cleaner)
Archie Bucannon (Grounds keeper)
Gerrard Neil (Server)
Paula Renshaw (Server)

He placed the names into his notebook as he took a seat again in the room. “So where were you last night?”

She took a seat opposite him and pondered last night’s events before speaking, a sadness evident in her voice. “Yesterday I didn’t see much of George I must admit. I’d spent all day in around the grounds and the house making sure everything was just right for today. Making sure the extra caterers and staff were going to be coming, making sure a hundred and one things were done.”

“When did you see him last?”

She took a moment to remember “ah yes. Well I suppose it was at dinner. It was meant to be a celebration of today. Finally coming into the 21st century and opening up this place…”

“What time?” Alec was always to the point.

Sarah was taken aback by his abrupt attitude and reciprocated it in the way she directed her answer “We always eat around 8pm.”

“And you were close? His assistant right?”

“Correct” a pang of annoyance evident in her words. Alec continued to scribble down notes as she explained how she had come to work at the estate and how she got to the position she was in now. He looked up from his notebook as she finished speaking “and while he did have enemies I don’t think they wanted him dead. Sure Jim and Julie hated George but I don’t see them as killers.”

Alec reflected on her words as she spoke and delved further in “If not them – then who?”

She shifted uneasily in her seat with conflicting voices in her head as to what to say next “I don…I don’t really know”. Alec knew that was a lie as he made another scribble in his notebook. McBride was right, there was something odd with this case. From the small conversations so far he didn’t believe a single word anyone had to say. His brain began to work overdrive trying to place motives and get to the bottom of what the three of them are hiding.

Three of them hiding something what happened last night?

While Detective Locke was interviewing, Eleanor Edgecroft had made her way up the grand staircase and found herself on a long narrow corridor. Portraits of unknown men and women peered at her as she walked, her footsteps muffled by the sounds of the thick red carpet. What have you seen? She thought to herself, if only paintings could talk. She had been at a murder scene before and it always had that feeling of foreboding. She had got an instant feeling that Alec had got too, she was getting good at trusting her gut, the same as McBride. All was not as it seemed in this house. Down the end of the corridor was the bathroom where Mr Archer had died. She recalled the pictures that had been sent by McBride on the way over here. A peaceful body under the water with a bottle of one of Speysides finest whiskies. How did anyone do it?

She heard the sounds of footsteps behind her and jumped with the surprise as a voice cracked the silence behind her “Who are you and what are you doing in here?”

She turned to face a short stocky built older man, his hands were worn and his slight stoop didn’t do his height any favours. He was clutching a large bag in one hand and a brush in the other. Eleanor pulled out her P.I badge as she laughed “blimey – You made me jump. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to creep up on young women in weird manor houses?” He just starred at her in bewilderment, who was she? “I’m Eleanor, Eleanor Edgecroft I’m part of Locke Investigative Services, I’m here as part of the investigation into Mr Archers death. You are?”

Instantly he began to relax “Sorry my love. I was not expecting anyone in here and after the sad news of this morning I’m sure we’re all on edge” he looked on with sadness into the large bathroom.

“I’m sorry for your loss” she offered a compassionate smile to him.

“Forgive me. I’m Maxwell I’m one of the cleaners on the estate. Great shame, he had his enemies and his flaws but I never had a bad word to say about him”

“Where were you last night Max if I can ask between 8 and 10pm?” she had to ask, although she already suspected he wasn’t strong enough to kill someone of Mr Archers stature, plus he seemed too cute in her eyes to do it.

He didn’t hesitate to answer “Staff meeting my love.”

“Can anyone confirm that?”

“Sure. We were all there. I had just cleaned the dinner table after their meal. I was in a rush Mr Archer wanted a long staff meeting at 8.30. We have a bell that rings to start the meetings, we have a big old clock in the stateroom you see, when that rings we know the staff meeting is about to begin. I must admit the staff meeting did creep up on me, the time seemed to go so quick. Mr Archer hated people being late so I quickly finished and went over to the stateroom. We were all there”

Eleanor jotted this down in her own notebook, a tip she’d picked up from Alec. “Sorry to probe but can you tell me who is everyone?”

“You’re just doing your job” he responded with a warm smile “all the staff members so me, Sharon oh poor Sharon. She’s only young she’s only been here a month! Cheree the chef, Archie who looks after the grounds and Gerrard and Paula the kitchen servers. Oh and Mrs Archer and Michael.”

A confused look shot across Eleanor’s face as she finished jotting down the names he had mentioned, “So no Sarah or Mr Archer?”

He raised an eyebrow “No but that doesn’t surprise me”. He continued due to the quizzical look on her face “I don’t like saying a bad word about Mr Archer, he’s been very good to his staff unlike her, his Mrs. Off the record Mr Archer and Sarah were very close and I mean very close.”

“Are you implying an affair?”

He held up his hands as he spoke “I’m not implying anything…I’m just saying they were very close. I’d often see them leaving rooms together or in deep conversation. All the staff suspect it. We’d never say anything, none of us particularly like Mrs Archer she can be very degrading and demanding to her staff so if he was having an affair, I wouldn’t blame him…”

More notes were made in her notebook, Alec had to hear this. “What was the staff meeting about?” she enquired.

He sighed as he spoke “About today. This was our grand opening. He’d been planning it for weeks now. He wanted everything to be perfect. He’s been very worried about the Windfarm deal, not many people like him for that you know. So he wanted today to go off without a hitch, a good will gesture to the community. I guess that didn’t pan out for him.”

“So who did the staff meeting when Mr Archer and Sarah weren’t there?”

“The dragon”

She laughed “the what now!?”

“Sorry – The Dragon is what the staff refer to as Mrs Archer.” He sniggered “she said he was busy prepping for tomorrow but he liked to drink so wouldn’t surprise me if he’d had a bit too much and couldn’t be trusted to give a staff meeting. Then again I’m not surprised he skipped it, she went on for ages!”

Eleanor had gathered as much information as she could and thanked him for his time “if you need anything else let me know love!” She may well take him up on that offer. She started her walk back down towards the stateroom.

“…and where were you at the time of 8.30 and 9.30 Sarah?” Alec continued his interview “where you at the staff meeting too?”

She looked at him and sighed, she had grown tired of the questions although she appreciated that he was just trying to do his job. She just wished he would hurry up with it. “I was in my room, I was feeling unwell after dinner, I was having a Hypo” she finished, clasping her hands together on her knees.

“A Hypo? You’re a diabetic?” Alec added this new information in his head, any and every detail was always useful in these cases.

“Yes. I have been all my life. It’s a curse! In fact I don’t feel too great at the moment to be honest. I haven’t taken my morning insulin or eaten yet.”

“Don’t worry” Alec tried to offer some crumb of comfort “I’m nearly done with my questions. Can anyone confirm your whereabouts at that time?”

Another sigh, she knew how this looked “Well no. However I did call Paula at 9.30 to bring me up some more orange juice. She gave me the glass just after so I was in the house the entire time.”

“Alone when he died…interesting” he deliberated.

“I know how that looks Detective but I didn’t kill him. Why would i?” she defended her alibi, that was her story and she was going to stick to it. “Look, unless you want another death on this estate I really need to have some food and my insulin.”

Alec got up and opened the door as Sarah followed close behind, “Do not leave the estate Miss Rosedale, I still have some questions”

“I gathered” she muttered under her breath as she disappeared down the corridor. Alec had walked into the main hall as Eleanor was walking down the grand staircase. He watched as she elegantly made her way towards him. All the questions were running through his head and Eleanor was just about to add a whole lot more for him. “I’ve just had a very interesting chat with Maxwell the cleaner. I think you need to hear this”

Eleanor recited what the diminutive figure of Maxwell had told her, using prompts in her trusty notebook. Something Alec saw and kept the beaming pride within himself. “Good work Ms Edgecroft, I’ll make a detective out of you yet!” that was about as much praise as she was going to get from her tough mentor, “stay here and have a look around, dig a little deeper, I’m off to talk to the Bradshaw’s.”

  • End of part three

Who killed Mr Archer? Part Two: Locke & Edgecroft investigate

Mr Archer

Part: Two – Locke & Edgecroft investigate

The office phone downstairs awoke Private Detective Alec Locke from his broken sleep. He never slept particularly well and certainly not around the start of June. Those early weeks in June always left him with the nightmares of what happened two years ago. Rolling over the digital clock on his bedside table blinked 10.05 a.m. one of the only furnishings inside his bedroom. Detective Locke was certainly not one for unnecessary things. If it didn’t serve a purpose or wasn’t some sort of efficient benefit to his day then he had no need for it. He rolled back into his bed and rubbed his eyes cursing the person who decided to phone on a Saturday morning. It was the only day of the week he cherished his sleep in, especially lately. They can wait he mused. If it’s important they’ll leave a message. He strained his ears as the answering machine let out a voice “Alec, morning mate. Yes I know you can hear me. Get out of bed you lazy bastard and pick up the phone, you’re going to want to take this case. Call me…actually I’ll email it. Have a look yourself”.

A surge of curiosity rippled through him, if he’s phoning on a Saturday then this must be a good case indeed. It’s been a while. The voice belonged to D.I Daniel McBride, his old police partner. Before leaving the force two years ago to become a Private Detective, D.I McBride and Locke were the two best detectives in this part of the world. They both joined the police academy at the same time and instantly their friendship grew. They both came through the ranks together and both became detectives, their differing styles complementing each other well. There was no case that wasn’t solved and they both got results, no matter the cost. The police force allowed them to bend the rules until one day the rules were bent too far. After the events of two years ago D.I McBride was one of the only few in the police department who didn’t hold any animosity towards him. Despite the local police force resenting Alec Locke there was no doubt he got results and was incredibly effective in his job. He passed every analytical test they could throw at him and would be so effective at how he would throw himself into cases. So much that it cost him his job and his wife. After leaving the police force by mutual consent and taking the rap for what happened to save McBride’s job he set up Locke Investigation Services. Like his police work, Locke got results and despite being a single 38 year old, his P.I work was ticking along well and he considered himself a success. A quiet arrogance was part of his charm. The local police would often, albeit reluctantly, give cases to him to solve and to do things that the police couldn’t and it was always McBride, his old pal, who would come to him and as always they were the cases that seemed unsolvable. Of course, this relationship went both ways, Detective Locke could access files that no other P.I could and the police force still respected the man and would turn a blind eye to some of this more colourful techniques.

What is it going to be this time he pondered as he recalled the last case McBride had given him “the hangman” as he slowly walked into the shower. That case was a particularly interesting case of a murder on May Day of a local councilman. He was found hanged in a barn that was completely empty. Nothing but the empty ground and the bare walls. At first it was deemed suicide but there was no way that he could have got to the heights that he did with nothing in the barn. The time of death all suspects were at the May Day celebrations and were all accounted for and had cast Iron alibis. A clever trick of using ice as a platform was used to kill him. The perfect crime with no trace. Another crime solved and another person behind bars. That buzz of justice still fuelled him every morning as did the cheque of reward that helped things to tick over.

After showering and changing into his normal attire, smart jeans and a Tweed jacket, he skipped breakfast and went straight for his morning coffee. Nothing could ever be done effectively without it.


An email popped through to his mobile device that was charging on the kitchen island.

Subject: Who killed Mr Archer?

Hi Alec, I know you’ll be up by now. I have a case for you that you’re going to want to look into. I’ve attached the statements, photograph and some witness files. Early indicators point to an accidental drowning, toxicology is being run now but I have a feeling all is not as it seems. Police are pretty satisfied it was accidental death. I think otherwise but it’s out of my hands. I suggest you read yesterday’s paper page 28. Also, the wife is convinced he was murdered. She’ll pay you to investigate it. I’m still here but we’re finishing up and we’ll be gone by afternoon, I told her you’d help. All the suspects are here. Address is the Glenfield Estate. See you then.

With a sip of his morning coffee he eyed the folded up local paper that was propped up against a fruit bowl. The local paper consisted more of local adverts than any noteworthy news, although he always analysed the letters to the editor page for fun. He would read their letters, usually some complaint about yobs or bin collections however most were about the proposed move of the Glenfield site potentially leasing their land for a windfarm. When he read the letters he would profile the authors, give them an identity, what job they did, what they liked and disliked. He was always spot on and always congratulated himself every time he met one of them in this village. Not that he actively went seeking any of the villagers. He wasn’t one for socialising if he didn’t have to. He once spotted a coded message in the letters section between two names who exchanged messages weekly about the state of the local Bowling Green. To anyone else it was a man and a woman who held opposing views on a trivial matter. If you looked hard enough however it was secret messages between two people having an affair. He still chuckled at how despite technology, some were still hell bent on some cloak and dagger fooling around. Especially as the woman using a pseudonym he identified as the Mayors wife. He wondered how long it would be until that was the next big scandal to rock the town of Plumston. Well, maybe page 28 might be the next headline.

Glenfield opens its doors to the public

The Glenfield estate opens its doors this weekend to the public for a big fundraiser event for various local charities. The entire estate will be open for public viewing for the first time in its history. Explore its exquisite grounds and house. Fundraising events will take place in the evening. Mr Archer said “I know there has been a lot of opposition to the potential plans about allowing a wind farm on our land but let me remind you that is just one option. The Archer family feel that by putting on this event we can reconnect with the community and work towards reducing the growing conflict in the village”. The estate will open up from 11 a.m. this Saturday.

A man who accidentally drowns before a big event, that’s questionable. His wife who’s adamant that he was murdered, plausible.

As the last drop of bitter black coffee was swallowed he was concerned that the number of potential suspects could be large. He’d met Mr Archer at a few events, a suave well to do man who had the persona of looking down on people. Alec knew that look all too well. Money and status was the only thing that he ever seemed to care about. Alec had met his wife at one of the events, the complete opposite to him and he wondered how she even put up with him. He knew they had a son not that they’d ever met or that he’d ever seen, in the two years that Alec had lived here.  He’d drove past their large walled estate plenty of times but had never seen it, until today anyway.

Getting into his dark blue Volkswagen Passat estate he pulled out of his driveway and headed in the direction of the Glenfield estate but not before picking a passenger up on the way.  The in car phone began to dial the number under Eleanor Edgecroft.

A concerned voice filled the space in the car “He-Hello Alec?”

“What are your plans for today?” he was never good at small talk, especially when he was on a case.

“Good morning to you too boss, I’m fine thanks, how are you?” Eleanor’s voice was chirpy and laced with sarcasm. She was more than used to his direct approach and knew he needed her for something. She waited for a moment for his non response before answering his question “It’s my little niece’s birthday today. I’m going to the par-” she was cut off by him.

“Great so you’re free then! We have a case I’ll be there in ten minutes” and he hung up, driving through the small town to her apartment.

The sense of adventure began to swell within her but also anger at his complete disregard for any of her plans. Her mother kept telling her that he wasn’t a good boss and she should be treated with more respect and that she could find another job. Despite his arrogance and to the point attitude he was the best boss she had ever had in her 28 years on this earth. Once you knew his quirks he was an excellent mentor and fair and nowhere else would she get these skills, let alone practice them. She didn’t want any other job. She’d always felt a sense of justice as a kid, a clear right and wrong, good and bad. She always wanted to be a police officer until in her early teens she discovered the world of criminal psychology and so set a course for a career in that industry. After a degree in Forensic Science she spent a few years working in different labs and travelling before starting a masters degree in applied criminal psychology. By the age of 26 she worked for a law firm before starting a PhD at the age of 27. She moved universities and moved to the area and was looking for some extra work to pay the bills when fortunately, a year into Locke Investigation Services an advert was placed for an Administrator. Alec had started to take more and more clients on from affairs, to missing people, to murders and was increasingly in need of another pair of hands to handle the paperwork. Eleanor saw it as an easy job to go for, file some papers, do some finances, deal with some clients then go home. A perfect job to help compliment the PhD. At the interview Alec was impressed and she was hired. It wasn’t before long that Alec noticed that she was wasted as an admin woman. She was incredibly quick at her job and whenever she wrote up interviews or case notes she would pass comment on what she thought. He quickly realised she held an excellent aptitude for detective work and started to involve her more and more in cases until eventually he saw her as a detective in the making, someone to train. He made it his mission to give her proper training so that she could for fill her unknown potential. Highly intelligent, thought outside of the box and was very much a people person. She could wangle her way into events and get information from people before they even realised they’d been probed for it. He saw her as a vital asset and it was nice to have another female around again in his life. He held a lot of respect for the young woman and he knew it wouldn’t be long before she would eventually leave for a top law firm or even to start her own. She certainly had the skills for that and he was pleased for her and equally impressed. Not that he gave her unwanted praise. He only praised her when it was needed, something she found annoying but when that praise did come, she knew it was earnt. He got a kick out of mentoring a new detective and she learnt from one of the best. The perfect mutual beneficial working partnership. Despite his flaws and she knew full well what happened two years after doing some detective work of her own. They had developed a solid friendly working relationship. Their differences complementing each other well.

He pulled up outside her ordinary one bedroom flat in the centre of the small town. It did its job for what she needed although he always passed comment on it. Her small petite figure slid into the car followed by her long locks of auburn hair.

“Where we off to then that stopped me from having a social life?” she shot a look across the car that could kill as she strapped herself in.

“How old is your Niece?” he enquired without a hint of remorse or any actual hint of caring for her answer.

“She turns one today” a large proud smile creased across her face.


“Errm yes…One!”

He laughed as he pulled out onto the street and started their journey through the country lanes to the Glenfield estate “A birthday party for a one year old? She’s not going to remember it! What’s the point?” he spat the words out in between laughs.

“Well I’d remember it! Plus we have this new technology called a camera which captures events, you know, so you can look back on them” she retorted.

“Really? I didn’t know that!” he could take as well as dish out sarcasm. Their back and forth he always saw as a mental sparring something he enjoyed, especially when someone was as good as him at it. “We’re off to the Glenfield estates, Mr Archer died. In the glovebox is an email from McBride and he’s included the first statements”.

“What did he die of?” she enquired as she fished the folder from the glove compartment, already her detective brain starting to get to work. Secretly she’d rather be spending the day doing detective work than go to a family party. She was more than fed up of the questions she would get from her Nan of why she was single at every family party. Alec spoke as she cast her eyes over the documents.

“Drowning apparently, pissed out of his skull they believe.”

“– and we’re going to this because?” more annoyance was present in her words. Called out from a family engagement to investigate a death of a self-entitled drunk man, not the usual cases she was used to working on.

“The wife, Catherine Archer is adamant that he was murdered by someone. The police are pretty content with accidental drowning. He was heavily intoxicated, took a bath and drowned. There are no marks on his body to indicate a struggle and no signs of foul play. According to his report all suspects had an alibi. Yet, McBride has a feeling it’s not all that it seems. He had a few enemies did Mr Archer.”

“And you suspect something is up too?”

“Well the wife is adamant that he was murdered and she’s paying for the investigation so it’s worth checking out.”

Before long they entered through the main gates of the Glenfield estate, the old house looming up in the distance along the gravelled road. Two police cars passed them on their way out as they snaked along the tree lined road. One car, a black unmarked BMW was parked in front of the house, the lions looking down as if protecting one of their cubs. A man appeared from the grand oak door as they approached, it was Detective McBride. No matter the weather he was always wearing his long beige coat and his tie always halfway down his chest. Alec always wondered why he even bothered to wear that thing at all.

“Alec, good to see you again” he held out a sincere hand as Alec stepped out of the car with a crunch of gravel under his feet. “How’ve you been?”

“Good to see you again Dan, not bad. How’s the kids?” The pair shared a strong handshake and a smile and Eleanor was amazed to see Alec so conversational. His question to him about how the kids were seemed genuine. So he can be normal. “So then, murder?” those short pleasantries were over and Alec was here to work.

McBride rubbed his hands over his stubble on his face “I think so. The wife is convinced anyway. Look Alec, you know the score. We’re chronically understaffed. Looks like an accident that’s good enough for us. I have a hunch but my hands are tied. I’ll send over the autopsy and the toxicology when I get it. Plus, if it is a murder I’m sure you’ll let me know.”

Alec knew full well the state of the force since his departure. He dreaded to think how many murders hadn’t been solved and just passed off as accidental deaths. That thought made a chill run up his back. If this was a murder he was going to go out of his way to prove it. “So the suspects then? What have you go for me?”

“They’re all in the reception room. The wife Catharine, Michael the son and Sarah the assistant. Time of Death looks to be around 8.30 to 9.30pm, Good luck!” the pair exchanged another handshake “we really need to stop meeting up at crime scenes Alec! If you need anything, call me.”

Alec and Eleanor watched as the black BMW drove off down the gravel lane leaving nothing but the distant hum of gravel on tires and a dust cloud. “Another case to solve. Let’s go” the excitement bubbling in Eleanor’s voice. The pair walked under the gaze of the lions above the door and entered the grand reception area of the house. A sprawling staircase greeted the both of them, the red worn carpet standing out against the dark wood panelled walls that were illuminated by antique gas lamps. The place had a sense of power, despite it being the home of the Archer’s this was unlike any home the pair had ever stepped foot into. To their left down a corridor muffled tears could be heard along with a woman’s voice. The pair followed in the direction of the noise until they came upon the reception room. The room was large, lined with books and a grand fireplace. Alec pondered how cosy it must feel in here on a cold dark winter’s stormy night. In front of him he got his first sight at his potential three main suspects. In the large arm chair was Catherine Archer, the wife. Her tears had made her make up run and her eyes were as red as the carpet on the staircase. She was well dressed in a designer green dress with a shawl, the gold jewellery glinting in the light. She was clutching a cup and saucer of tea that had long gone cold. Sitting on the arm of the chair was a young handsome slender man, Michael. Upon first inspection he didn’t seem too upset about his father dying. Both Alec and Eleanor had already made a mental note of that. On the far side of the room was a very pretty young blonde woman dressed in a pencil skirt and a white blouse, her glasses outlining her attractive features. She was quiet staring out of the window until she noticed the pair in the doorway. She was the first to spring up out of her seat and walk over to introduce herself to the pair.

She outstretched a well-manicured hand to the pair as Alec introduced himself “Detective Alec Locke and my associate Eleanor Edgecroft” he flashed his P.I badge at her not that she took any notice “we’re here to investigate the death of Mr Archer.”

“We’re very sorry for your loss” Eleanor interjected, trying to add a bit of humility into the situation.

“Thank you.” She was softly spoken and evidently still in shock at what had happened to Mr Archer. “I’m very sorry too, he was a good man. I’m Sarah…Sarah Rosedale”.

“Are you a family member?” Eleanor quizzed.

“I like to think I’m an honorary Archer but no I’m Mr Archer’s among many things on his estate, I’m primarily his assistant. My job is to help with the day to day running of things. But please – you need to talk to Catherine”.

She led the two towards his wife who was still sniffling into her cold tea. Her bloodshot eyes looked up at the pair “you need to find who killed my Husband. I don’t care what it costs. There was no way that was an accident.”

Locke took a seat on the small green leather couch in the centre of the room and pulled out his well-used notebook. Any major details or questions to follow up he would always make a note of. Eleanor slowly lowered herself down next to him after shutting the door. Now the investigation started.

“So, Mrs Archer…can you tell me where you were after 8.30pm last night?”


  • End of part two

Who killed Mr Archer? Part One: The murder of Mr Archer


Mr Archer

Part: One – The Murder of Mr Archer

The June warm sunshine cascaded over the grounds of the Glenfield estate in the heart of the Cotswolds. Surrounded by tall mighty Oak trees, horse paddocks and hectares of arable fields this idyllic English country estate could be traced back to the late 1700’s. After a fire had destroyed the main house in 1850 the estate was sold off to the Archer family for which it had remained ever since. Harold Archer restored the main grand house to its former glory in the late 1800’s with every stone in the long driveway to the Marble Lions that stood proudly above the main entrance door. The Archers had lived in this house ever since, passing it down from generation to generation to today’s owner, Mr George Archer.

“Are we all set my dear?” Mr Archer’s voice boomed over the rear courtyard as the multi-coloured buntings fluttered in the light breeze.

“Yes we are!” a chirpy voice replied with a beaming smile “It’s just what this place needs. Forget what everyone else thinks, it’s a great idea!” she finished her sentence as she poured a glass of champagne from a bottle that had been sitting on ice on one of the vintage tables that dotted around the courtyard, giving a delightful view of the manicured gardens and rolling hills beyond. She handed the glass to him with her ever present smile “This is for you Mr Archer”.

“I do love it when you call me that” he purred as he sipped on his champagne, the coolness of it a perfect tonic for the early evening heat. He weighed the glass in his hands with a small resigned sigh as a drop of condensation trickled down the glass “I wish everyone was as on board with this as you are Sarah. I see I received another less than happy letter today that you tried to keep hidden from me. Opening up this estate is what is needed to be done for this family.”

Her blonde flowing hair swayed behind her illuminated in the golden light as she placed a soft hand on his broad shoulder. She leaned in as she spoke delicately “It’ll go off without a hitch. I promise. Those death threats are just kids messing around. It’s nothing to worry about. I really think you should tell Catherine about them however, she deserves to know”.

“George! George!” a voice echoed behind the pair as they took a step away from each other. “There you are! Dinner is ready. Come along now you two!” the whirlwind of a woman to whose voice it belong to was Mrs Catherine Archer. The pair had been childhood sweethearts, got married at 18 and have lived together ever since, 39 years of marriage – a perfect model couple.

The pair made haste and walked through the house to the grand sitting room, the large glass windows allowed the setting suns light to pour in, the gold gilded picture frames of paintings of the English countryside sparkled as they took their seats around the oak dining room table.  There were four plates set for the evening meal, Mr Archer at the head of the table, Catherine his devoted wife to the left, an empty chair and plate to his right and Sarah the house maid. Well that was her official title not that anyone on the estate ever saw her as that. She had joined the estate 12 years ago as a young girl who despite her natural intelligence never got on with school. At 16 she left and became a cleaner at the estate before eventually becoming the woman who Mr Archer would eventually rely on to run the estate, his personal assistant. Well, run everything except the bills. That was always Mr Archer’s job. One of her first jobs on the estate besides her cleaning job to earn a little extra was to baby sit Michael, the Archer’s only son and the only male Archer left to carry on the family name. Something that Mr Archer was constantly anxious about. He cast a fore-long look in the direction of the empty plate as the house servers’ poured wine into their glasses, a deep red like the anger that was welling up inside of him.

“Where is that pathetic excuse of a son?” he demanded directing his question at nothing but his sons empty presence. He emptied his glass in one felled swoop as his wife looked down, in two minds. Dinner was served, Pheasant and roasted thyme with all the trimmings and a Rhubarb crumble for dessert. One of Mr Archer’s favourites. After all this was supposed to be a celebration, tomorrow was a big day for the estate. After idle chitchat and talk about tomorrows fund raiser and opening up the estate for the first time to the public, they had finished both courses and Mr Archer a few more glasses of wine. At the end of the meal as the servers were clearing away the plates, a young slender and well-dressed man appeared, his beige skinny fit chinos tucked into a pair of brown leather Chelsea boots, a smart polo shirt and a fitted blue blazer completing his look. “Shame I missed dinner” he snorted as he wandered into the room, an arrogant swagger backing up his words.

“You entitled little bastard!” his alcohol fuelled words spat out and echoed around the hall.

“George! Stop it!” his wife held out her hand across the table.

“Oh go on Father. Tell me something new that I haven’t heard before. Let me guess…I’m a shame to you or is it I’m the biggest disappointment of a son? That’s what you said to me this morning wasn’t it?” his words laced with sarcasm ticked the dial closer to explosion as Mr Archers fists slammed into the table as he stood up.

“You boy have no idea how much you do!”

“Whatever…Father” he shot a look in his direction before continuing “go on…have another drink. What is it? Your 20th one tonight?”

Catherine raised her voice “Michael, Enough!”

Sarah Rosedale pushed her chair back and spoke calmly, trying to defuse the tension that hung in the air. “Come on Michael. I have a job for you to do for tomorrow’s grand opening” she put an arm around him and walked him to the door. He shot one last look towards his father, the hatred clear to see.

Mr Archer took another glass of wine and finished that off without hesitation, a familiar sight that his wife had grown a costumed to lately. “Why don’t you go upstairs and relax, focus on tomorrow” her words laced with compassion.

“That son will be the death of me I tell you!” he pushed his chair back as he stood up “I don’t know where we went wrong Catherine. I’ll be in the study there are few admin things to sort out for tomorrow.”

“Good idea darling. I’ll do the staff meeting, you go and relax.” they shared an embrace before departing.

An hour had passed and one bottle of Whiskey had been emptied as Mr George Archer was slouched in his well-worn leather chair in his study. 10 prize winners for tomorrow’s event had just been licked and sealed and placed in his in tray for Sarah to pick up tomorrow. He shifted uneasily in his seat, the feeling of the whiskey taking over. There were three sharp knocks on the door as a wave of dizziness and drowsiness overcame him. The door opened to reveal a blurry figure as the room lurched from side to side, the alcohol was certainly more than he’d drank in a long time as it took effect. The stress of the fight, the death threats, what weighed on the outcome of tomorrow had all driven him over the edge. He could feel a hand lifting him up and a hand around his face but his eyes wouldn’t focus on the owner. The voice was distant and muffled by another sound, the sound of running water and then it went black.

In the middle of the night a blood curdling scream rippled through the Glenfield estate as Mrs Archer found her husband dead, under the water in the bath.

–          End of part One –

Prague Trip Report: Day 4 and 5 – A rude awakening, a sobering afternoon and a trip home covered in Anti-Bac gel.

Whenever I’m away travelling I still like to keep to my usual morning schedule, at least an adapted one. I don’t mind if my morning routine is disrupted or out of order, it’s just I like doing things in an order because my brain doesn’t have to think about it! It can stay in sleep mode for that little bit longer. Part of the routine is waking up, going to the loo, doing my teeth and then jumping in the shower and then having breakfast. The girls were well used to me being in the shower first by now. I’m an early riser anyway and I tend to be the first in my house to get a shower. My family constantly say I spend too long in the shower. I don’t think 10 minutes is too excessive but they both mentioned in passing that I spend ages in the shower. Hint taken but there are some things I will not budge on. My morning shower being one of them! I had reduced my shower down to about 8 which is as good as they were going to get.

Turning the shower on in the morning as I put my tooth brush away, i step into the bath and HOLY SHI-I-I-I-T my breath is ripped away from the ice cold water that had just covered my legs and nether regions. How I didn’t fall over from shock I don’t know! I try to clamber out of the bath and ended up having a fight with the shower curtain instead while ice water continued to cascade over me. Each new place on the body the water hit sending me to gasp for breath. Annoyed and now very cold, I look at the boiler which was handily in the bathroom. A red light was flashing and the temperature dial had been replaced with a flashing F22. Mother Fucker. I mutter to myself. Yesterday was a very hot day and it was a warm night so I needed a shower. A cold one it would have to be. I had PTSD flashbacks to SAS training camp in cadets, in the cold February plains of Shropshire where despite it being 1 degree, you still had to shower in ice cold water. Something about making you stronger mentally. More like abuse but we’ll let that slide. Deep breath, control the breathing and back in we go. After the initial cold water shock when it goes over your head, I had the quickest shower I had ever done!

Getting changed in a hurry to try and get warm I then exit the bathroom “well guys shit. We have no hot water!” … “I thought you were quick!” (not the first time a woman has said that to me before haha!). I was quickly onto google. F22 was a boiler fault that was due to low water pressure. I watched a Youtube video from a very cockney plumber who explained how to rectify it (he really needed a flatcap and pipe to go with his accent and look, it felt like he was about to break into song at any minute) by adding water pressure through different valves under the boiler. I explain this to both of them and then Katie notices that the pressure reading was still 1.5 Bar. So not a water pressure issue. “Get in touch with Aldo”. Out of ideas and lacking any plumbing skills I did indeed text Aldo aka Cisco. I guess if Aldo’s Central City’s doppelganger can invent new ways to stop meta humans then he should know how to fix an F22 error. I was right! His text was simple and to the point.

“Turn it off and back on again”

Unsurprisingly that worked. If in doubt always do that! Unless it’s a nuclear reactor then maybe not but hurrah we had hot water. They were both happy, I was still thawing out by time we left the apartment for the day ahead. Laura had rescheduled the walking tour for 11 a.m. in Old Town Square, which was becoming more and more like home for us now. We would walk through it on our way to and from the apartment, so much so that we knew all the streets and no longer needed to look at any maps. One building we would see in the distance each time we crossed this main road that had tram tracks that had trams running up and down almost every two minutes. It was what we thought was a church with its tower looming up as if it was stuck in the middle of this road. We decided to go check it out, it was only fair on the poor thing! Once we got closer it turned out not to be a Church or at least not an active one. Instead it was different floors of different activities, including a Whiskey cellar, a Whiskey shop with Whiskey tours and a bar/restaurant in the roof which offered views of the city. A converted church that had Whiskey in it. Now that’s a religion I can get on board with! Sadly it was closed so after a few pictures we went in search for one of Prague’s top 10 things to Instagram. Usually you won’t find many cities top 10 things involving a trip to the municipal library but here is where we were heading. In this library was a book tower, we’re all book worms to some extent, two of us have dabbled with writing books in the past and it was free! So after a short walk we arrived. It was really odd but incredibly cool!


To the book tower!

From there it was time for our first coffee of the trip. I am truly surprised it took us this long to have one! I used to drink coffee occasionally, usually to get me through an assignment or a long day of coding. I was certainly not a massive coffee drinker (I still do prefer naps for a caffeine boost!) however since hanging out with these guys who are big coffee drinkers and doing the PhD my coffee intake has rapidly increased! So much so that I’ve even developed a taste for black Americano’s now thanks to Laura. Once we got to Old Town Square we sat outside this very fancy café called the White Horse and ordered our coffees. That was a very lovely coffee and there is something very fitting about drinking a good coffee in mainland Europe, outside in the warmth, people watching. It’s very tranquil indeed.  Until the bastard of the insect world appeared. Why do Wasps insist on being annoying bastards? They’re like the Go Compare man. Hangs around for ages with an annoying whine and just when you think its gone, It comes back. I don’t know if its my aftershave or their perfume but he was not budging from flying around us three!


Mmmmm coffee

Before we could get stung it was nearly 11 a.m and the start of our tour. Turns out plenty of tours start here in the square and they all have umbrellas to identify themselves too. Not very helpful! We were on NextCity tours free tour. An odd concept for me but one that works very well. The tour is free. There is no catch. A man, in this case, James a young lad from Chicago who went travelling after graduating University and fell in love with Prague, takes you on a three hour tour of the city for free. All he asks is that if you want, that you can tip him. Of course everyone is going to tip him (although I bet some right arseholes don’t!) but it’s a good concept, pay what you feel its worth. Seriously though, it was well worth 200 czk tip! I cannot recommend that tour enough!


Taken at lunch time on our walking tour

Before James took us on a delightful tour of the city, explaining many of the features, historical figures and the history of the place, for which Prague is steeped in. I won’t go into too much detail of the tour as I really wouldn’t want to spoil it for you as you have to come here and go do it! Some of the things we had seen on our walks before but it felt good to finally add some historical context to them. Little things like Defenestration which is the legal act of throwing someone out of a window in Prague. Totally legal thing to do! (I did get worried in case I’d end up being thrown out of a sky light now!). Although some of the things we hadn’t seen before…like a decaying arm of a thief hanging from the ceiling of a church! Yep. No bullshit!

So before we went on the walking tour he introduced himself and made the rest of us introduce ourselves too, our names, where we come from, what takes our interest (i.e world war 2 history, architecture etc.) and if we were an interesting person or not. There were two other Brits, a lot of Americans, a few other European countries and two giant German people. They were a couple but they were absolutely huge! See below. James is the same height as me so around 6 foot. They make him look small!


Giant Germans

Many people introduced themselves and bar a Scottish guy who told us he burns very easily as his interesting fact (yep I feel your pain brother!) one girl and I quote for her interesting fact “For my interesting fact I’m a Vegan”. Euuuugh you’re the worst I inwardly moan in my head as I try to supress a laugh. Way to quash your Vegan stereotypes of “How can you recognise a Vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!”

The walking tour was amazing, lunch was delicious and for me two bits of information stood out for me on that tour. One was I love World War 2 history so a walk around the Jewish Quarter is a must do and seeing the Church the two Czech soldiers hid out in after fatally wounding Hitler’s right hand man the horrific person who designed and came up with the gas chambers, was very interesting to see. Crazy how in this spot that happened due to two guys and if they didn’t pull off that mission, to which wasn’t easy (the gun jammed and they had to throw a grenade instead) if they didn’t pull it off the war could have been very very different indeed!

The second was the story of the Prague Gollum which is apparently sealed in this loft since the 17th century. From this story came the word for Robot and Superman is in fact based on this old tale of the Prague Gollum. Truly fascinating!


Enjoying our final day

After we paid James and thanked him for his service (we worked out from the amount he got that he’s on £36 an hour. No wonder he stayed!) we went to buy a ticket for the Jewish Quarter museum which gets you into the various Synagogues and exhibitions which were all museum pieces. James couldn’t recommend this enough on his tour so we all agreed it was a must thing to do. I cannot recommend the Jewish Quarter enough. You seriously have to go visit this collection of buildings and museum pieces.


The Spanish Synagogue

Two places I still get a lump in my throat thinking about now. In one of the catacombs of a Synagogue is every name of every Jewish person from Prague and the surrounding area who was taken during the Holocaust. Their names were painted on the walls and ceilings of these vast four rooms. Listed was their family name, their first name, when they were taken, when they died and what age they were. To see their names covering this vast area was truly sobering. There were too many names to take in. I saw one child’s name who was 5 when he was killed. I wonder what he would have become if he was allowed to live. These names where shadows of a future that was brutally taken away in one of History’s darkest pasts. I was moved far more than I thought I would be at this. The sheer scale of it all really threw me. Hearing vast amount of numbers killed in this case 80,000 you can still distance yourself from that but when you see those 80,000 names inscribed in front of you for as far as you can see, was just a very sobering experience. Especially as there was a mournful Jewish soundtrack playing which just added to the feel of the place. I don’t think any of us barely said a word to each other for the entire time in there. I think we were all lost in our own thoughts and contemplation’s.

The bit that I really want you to go and see is the Freidl Dicker-Brandeis exhibition. In the labour camps this was the first instance of using drawings with kids to help them get over trauma. Freidl did this in secret with the kids to help them and hid the drawings in cases under floorboards. Freidl knew they were being shipped off to the next camp to sadly perish. On display were the original drawings and paintings from some of these seven suit cases that the children had drawn. That really struck a chord with me emotionally. Some of the children had drew pictures and paintings of happier times, a life before all of this. Happy family meals, Passover, playing with friends. That gave me hope that in the darkest of times for these kids that they could hold onto the thought of positivity and happier times. Yet many showed the true horror of what they had seen and what they were going through at that time. One picture vividly sticks out in my head. Its drawing of himself bearing in mind this kid was 6 years old, he’s standing outside a burning house (which I assume was his childhood home), his mum and dad are outside with skull and crossbones over their faces, while a German soldier in the most horrific gas mask over his head, with a rifle pointing towards his parents on the ground. He drew himself to the side looking on with tears coming from his eyes. I could actually feel my eyes well up a little as I looked at it. 6 years old. Having to go through that and relive it every day just because he believed in a different religion. It made me so sad and so angry at the same time. I can only imagine what he must have felt like being in one of those camps alone with only his thoughts. He never made it past the age of 6. Another life needlessly taken.

As emotional as it was that afternoon I am so glad we decided to go and do it. It’s a must see thing and to learn about the Jewish culture and WW2 history is something I fully recommend.

After visiting there we headed back to the apartment to get changed before heading out for our last night in Prague. Laura since the first day had wanted a slice of pizza from this little Pizza place on the corner that we kept passing, she finally got her wish! It did look good and certainly smelt good too! For the evening we decided to head back to the White Horse café where we had had coffee that morning. It was a beautiful warm summer evening as we watched day turn into night and watched the hustle of Prague’s old town square transform as night fell. I had another Czech sausage which apparently doesn’t come with sides!? So I literally just had a sausage for tea. Well bar Katie very kindly offloading some of her chips to me as I agreed when she said “Tony…that’s pretty much just a starter for you isn’t it?”. She wasn’t wrong haha!


Another great Czech sausage…without sides 😦

I tried to drink in the atmosphere, the warmth, the noise and the conversation and commit it to memory. It’s so very rare in the UK that you can sit out in such a place like this and in this temperature, the whole feel about it was amazing. A busker had appeared and began playing some beautiful music on his piano as the night grew darker and the buildings grew lighter in that soft Prague street light glow. What an evening. Even the return of the bastard Wasp didn’t dampen our spirits as even he got bored before our meal arrived and buggered off to let us three enjoy our final night in Prague together. On the way back to our apartment we decided to go souvenir shopping. You’re certainly not short on places to get stuff from that’s for sure and at the end of the day it really is all tat but still, you do have to buy it! Loaded up on goodies to take home we headed back to the apartment. Some more cards were played along with a music quiz of British children’s TV shows. Damn those shows have some catchy themes! From Raggy Dolls to Poddington Peas! Although I can still never get the opening of Rosie and Jim out of my head. “JIIIIIMMM”. Oh god.

Our last morning arrived and after tidying up the apartment we said one last goodbye to what had been our home for the past few nights. On leaving we bumped into Aldo and said our goodbyes as we headed back out into the warm sunshine for one final time. One final coffee was the order of the day for breakfast. We found a nice little café in Wenceslas square and sat outside people watching as the time ticked closer to 11 a.m. I decided to skip coffee this morning and instead have some peppermint tea which is one of my favourite drinks! It came with honey and lemon too. Honey in fresh mint tea tastes amazing, lemon….not so much. Lesson learnt!


Top tip…don’t put lemon in your mint tea.

That’s not before learning how to use a cafeteria. I think four days of not having my required 8 hours sleep had turned my brain to mush. Much to their amusement! I eventually mastered this simple technique but my brain continued to fade throughout the day! So much so that in the airport Katie says “I think we broke Tony”. I think they did!

After paying up and popping to the loo which had a world map where you could place where you had come from, we headed to Albert supermarket (a place we had visited every night to get supplies) and then we jumped on the Metro and then the 119 Bus to the airport. I notice that absinth is a popular drink here, I think the driver had a bit too much as it was one crazy ride! As the bus snaked its way passed the perimeter fence of the airport I turn to Katie and say “At least I’ve learnt one word on this trip” …”Oh yeah?” … “Yeah! Prezni!” I exclaim proudly, my linguistical tongue bound to impress with my perfect Czech accent. She gave me a very confused look “Prezni? What’s that?” she enquired. “It means please…doesn’t it?” at this point my confidence wavered for the meaning of this word. She gave me that smile which I knew would lead into a laugh “Please is Prosim Tony!” … “Oh great! The one word I learnt and it’s not even the correct one!” both of them found this very amusing indeed. I still have no idea what Prezni means! I did learn another word though which is Thank You but it sounds very much like Dick Weed, so I elected to not commit that to memory or use it on the trip!

Prague airport is very odd. Who has shops before security and that security being at your gate? I finally admit defeat that Priority boarding is a complete waste of time. Something I found very difficult to admit to Katie who had the smugness of the cat who just got the cream. It seemed we weren’t the only ones trying to get home. Air traffic congestion over Germany meant we had to wait an extra 45 minutes before we took off into the late European summer blue sky. This extra 45 minutes didn’t do much good for my bladder. Katie needed the loo too but the service trolley was blocking our way and plus she had the aisle seat so had all the power. Evil woman! Finally the trolley went passed us!


Time to head home!

On my return I asked her if I could borrow her hand gel, something I always use after using a public loo because humans are dirty buggers and people don’t wash their hands! “Of course!” naaw isn’t she nice I thought as I held my hands out. That grin appeared before it was too late to react. She proceeded to pour a shit load (technical term of measurement) of hand gel all over my hands while laughing! I tried to rub it in but there was just too much. I found it very funny…especially as its something i’d deffo do to her but she got there first so probably Katie 3 me 0 now. It was good to know that my hands will be clean for the next 10 years now anyway! Plus, I’m sure the rest of the aircraft enjoyed the slightly peachy scent of Anti-Bac gel. Before long the blue skies of Europe had been replaced by the dull grey heavy clouds of North West England and we touched down. Our holiday was over and we were back home.

We said our goodbyes in the airport and exchanged hugs and the amazing five days in Prague with two awesome people was sadly over. What a trip it had been and above all such a funny one. I would definitely travel with these two again and I know we’ll have many more adventures together! So there we have it, one excellent trip to Prague. Holiday blues are replaced by the thought of my next trip, the biggest solo trip of the year to Iceland and Canada at the end of the month!