Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

"I thought you said you hated parties," River commented, as she noted the neatly folded dress shirt in Carlton's desk drawer.

"I do," Carlton commented idly, picking up another form and starting to fill in details. "Get us another cup of coffee, will you?"

River ignored him. "Then care to explain what the tux is doing in your drawer?"

Carlton threw down his pen with a smile and gave her his famous half-exasperated look. "All right, Sherlock, I give in. Yes, I'm coming tonight."

"I persuaded you?"

"Eventually." Carlton picked up his pen to resume work. "Now, care to explain what you were doing rummaging through my desk?"

"Looking for a pen?"

"That's got to be the worst excuse ever. You're coming tonight, aren't you?"

River nodded. "I'm on late shift, so I'll change here soon as I'm done and head down. Quite seriously, what did make you change your mind?"

Carlton shrugged. "I haven't been to a policeman's summer ball in five years, I'm bored of lazing around at home, and I'm fed up with you bugging me about it." He signed off the last form and put it in the out tray with a flourish. "Done!" he announced smugly, picking up the coat hanger with his suit. "I'm off to get changed. See you tonight, River."


The girl made an understated entrance into the room, dark eyelashes sweeping downwards shyly. Her dress was simple and unadorned, a sheath of navy blue which hugged her slim figure. Eyes followed her as she swayed her way down the room on thin heels, smiling at the waiter that handed her a drink.

"I must confess, you clean up pretty nice, Sergeant." Carlton appeared in front of her, out of nowhere.

River laughed. "It's Kathy tonight, sir, we're not on duty."

"In which case, I'm Mark."


He offered her his arm. "So, Kathy. I was wondering, can I introduce you to someone?"

"Ah." She took the proffered arm. "Your ulterior motive for coming here, am I right?"

He twinkled. "Guilty as charged." He started leading her up the room, a smile breaking out on his face.

"You're different today," River noted. "What's up?"

Carlton just laughed, without even his usual comeback. "Lara! Lara?"

A girl at the other end of the room was facing away from them, so River could only see the back of her dark green dress - floor length and backless. "Who's that?"

But the girl had turned, and greeted Carlton with a smile. "Mark!"

He moved away from River and slipped his arm around her waist. "Kathy, let me introduce you to Lara. Lara Truman. My fiancee."

There was a scream, and the crash of a glass. The champagne blended with the blood on the floor that even the stony-faced waiters were too shocked to clear up. "He's dead!" a woman's voice screamed, and there was suddenly a swarm of detectives around the noise.

"Back up, back up, everyone, please!" Carlton's voice rose above the babble. "You're not doing him any favours. River, call an ambulance. It would appear that Superintendent Maxwell has been stabbed."

As if responding to his name, the corpse's eyes fluttered open. Blood foamed at his lips, working to form a sound. Lara, being the nearest, leaned in, and he muttered a something at her. Then, with a groan, he collapsed, and breathed no more.

"No!" someone screamed out. "Is anyone here a doctor - a paramedic?"

A man pushed his way through the crowd - a doctor, he later explained, the husband of one of the desk sergeants - and tried to resuscitate the Superintendent. "He's lost too much blood," Carlton thought he said, and it was true... the front of his shirt was drenched, blood had even soaked its way through the thick fabric of his jacket.

And then came the paramedics, racing through the room, River leading the way. The Superintendent was examined, but the lead paramedic shook his head. "I'm sorry, everyone, but this gentleman is dead."

Carlton at once took Lara aside. "What did he say?" he said, urgently. "What was it?"

Lara was white and shaking. She looked down at her hand, still coated with blood where the Superintendent had gripped it. "I - I don't know - it was so indistinct!"

River joined them, glancing between the two. "Sir -"

Carlton spun into her face. "Now is not the time!" he shouted, and flipped back to Lara. "Tell me, what did he say?"

Tears threatened to prick the back of Lara's eyelids; she turned away. River, glaring at Carlton, took her aside. "Hey," she whispered. "This has got to be tough for you."

Lara nodded. "I never imagined - it's just so -" Her tears spilled, pouring down her cheeks. "Why is Mark so angry?" she whispered.

River placed a comforting hand on her arm. "He's not angry with you. He just gets - so intense, when he's working. Believe you me, compared to how he treats some of the others, you got the mild side."

Lara sniffed and smiled at that, so River gave her a supporting smile back. "Do you know, he never told me he was engaged," she said, conversationally. "How long have you two been together?"

Lara blew her nose. "We've been together nearly two years, engaged for the past three months," she said. "I'm surprised he never mentioned it, but it makes sense. He never really talks about work at home either. It's like he has two separate lives."

"Really?" River was amused at this new image of Carlton, seeing her superior officer for the first time as a domestic family man.

Lara nodded. "He mentioned you, though. He sounded pretty impressed."

River laughed out loud at that. "Don't tell him you said that. He'd never admit it." Having got Lara to open up to her a little, she tried asking her about the murder. "I know it's tough for you, you're not exactly used to this. But anything you could make out about what he said, it would really help us. And help Mark, too."

Lara nodded, glancing at the array of police officers standing around the corpse, their empty hands longing to help. "I think he said something about Italy. Or Italian, or tally, or something. It was a bit mumbled."

River conveyed this knowledge to Carlton, who nodded sagely. "Cheers. Right now we have a bit of a crisis on our hands."


Carlton gestured towards a sandy-haired man in a tux who was talking too loudly with a couple of officers. "DI Louis, he was sitting with the victim at the attack. Superintendent Maxwell was sitting, he'd had a heart condition this year which meant that he couldn't move around very easily. Three others were sitting down with him, DI Fred Louis, his girlfriend Talia Norman, and Mario Foscarini, a friend of his. He asked Foscarini to get him a glass of champagne when DI Louis and Talia got up, so one of them brushed past him with one of the dining room knives in their hand."

"So why are they suspecting Louis?"

Carlton finished his champagne. "Maxwell just reported him for theft. He was going to be kicked out. It's as good a motive as any."

"But Lara said he said 'Italian'. Couldn't he have meant Mario Foscarini?"

The young Italian over heard this, and attacked her with a stream of bilingual abuse. Most of it was unintelligible, but the gist was clear from the way he waved his hands and was shaking his head violently. "Why I kill my friend? Why I kill him? Signor Maxwell, he good man. He kind man. I not murderer, so why you accuse?"

"I didn't -"

"Was not me! Maybe he wanted me at his side when he died, that why he asked for the Italian. Maybe he no say that at all! Why to accuse?" The Italian spread his hands and looked pleadingly at the bunch of policemen. "You see, is not like this in my country. I not murderer!"

"Mr. Foscarini," said Carlton quietly. "There's blood on your shirt."

Who was the murderer? Highlight to read. It was Talia. She had heard that her boyfriend was to be kicked out of the force and wanted revenge. Maxwell did not say "Italy", he said "ta-li", attempting to say the name "Talia" before he died.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Elements

The Elements - Antonia Goddard

Tiula has had her first book published on Kindle! Four short stories - dramatic, intense and mysteries.

Purchase for download on Kindle or to your PC now: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Elements-ebook/dp/B008HTBUWI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341603560&sr=8-1

Monday, 26 March 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

Yes, a Selection of Mini-Mysteries has been going for one whole year! As a celebration, here's a nice mini-mystery for you.

The scream pierced the air, shattering the silence like glass. Then Lady Moira de Souza fell down in a dead faint.

For a moment, all were frozen in silent shock. One of the footmen quickly came to his senses and helped Lady de Souza back into her chair.

A grey-haired gentleman replaced the candle in the thick silver candlestick and strode quickly up from the other end of the table to take her pulse. "Fetch a glass of brandy, quickly," barked Dr. Layman. He raised the cut glass to the lady's lips, and as her eyes fluttered open she began to sip the amber liquid. A little colour began to return to her cheeks.

"The jewels..." Lady Moira murmured. "The Heart of Dreams. It's gone."

It was the evening of 26th March, and the night on which each year, every year, the de Souza's would display the national treasure, the Heart of Dreams Diamond. The guest list was specific, and there were never more than four guests present; the most coveted invitation in the country. Some claimed the Heart of Dreams was the size of a man's fist, others that it was over two thousand years old. Everyone knew that it was worth at least £21 million, and was the rarest jewel in the world.

But it was gone.

"What?" an athletic young gentleman leaned over the pretty girl next to him and flipped the jewel case towards him.

The whole table gasped in shock.

The blue velvet jewel case was empty.

"I don't understand." Mr Fairview walked up to the head of the table, his gait sedate but his face creased with worry. "They can't be gone. I saw them this morning. That case hasn't left my sight."

"Oh, you were watching carefully, were you?" The young gentleman rose to meet his gaze accusingly.

"For god's sake, that's my job, Johnson!"

"They say never trust a lawyer," Johnson snarled across the table.

"Or an con," Mr Fairview spat back.


"Boys!" The girl sitting next to Mr Johnson broke into their argument. "Stop hurling accusations until we know what's going on. Mr Fairview, you said you saw it this morning? How?"

"Sure. Aunt Moira gave me a private viewing this morning, and then put it back in the pouch and hung it around her neck. I saw it there all evening. So if that little creep stole it -"

"Go ahead! Search me!" Mr Johnson jumped back. "I didn't steal anything!"

"And you expect us to believe that? Lucy! You don't believe this conman, do you?"

The girl sighed. "Look, both of you - and Doctor Layman - danced with Lady Moira before dinner, so you all had a chance to take it."

"And it just so happens that one of us has a criminal record. Convenient, isn't it?" snapped Mr Fairview.

"Lucy, I must confess," Dr. Layman glanced up from his patient, "The evidence against Mr Johnson is pretty compelling. And we understand why you're defending him, but -"

Lucy sighed. "It's got nothing to do with us. It's to do with justice! I would have thought that you'd appreciate that, Mr Fairview."

"Maybe." Mr Fairview narrowed his eyes. "But why would I steal the diamond? It belongs to my aunt, I'm next in line to own it. I may as well wait until she dies."

"We've only got your word that she didn't bequeath it so someone else."

There was another silence. "So you're accusing me?"

"No. I'm just telling it like it is."

Lady Moira gave another moan, and Lucy was at her side in an instant. "Lady Moira, can you remember if anyone took anything from the jewellery box? Did anyone touch it whilst you were dancing? Anyone at all?"

"No... I don't remember. Wait. Dr Layman touched it once... and Mr Fairview tugged it by mistake."

"What?" Mr Fairview grabbed at his aunt's arm. "Not Mr Johnson?"

Lady Moira turned to her nephew briskly. "No! I'm not an imbecile, my dear. I barely danced with Mr Johnson, he certainly didn't touch the jewel case. I remember Dr. Layman admiring it, and you tugging on it once."

"An accident! I tripped!"

"Let's solve this calmly!" interrupted Mr Johnson. "Let's all of us turn out our pockets."

All the men emptied their pockets and tipped out the contents onto the table. The diamond was nowhere to be seen.

Who stole the diamond and where did he hide it? Dr. Layman hid it in the candlestick he was fidgeting with at the beginning.