The Custard Corpses: Extract

Chief Inspector Mason begins to see a pattern between the murder victims, but first he has to deal with an angry confrontation from one of his fellow police officers.
“We’ve been informed of other murders; they might be similar to McFarlane’s. Certainly, I’ve been to Weston and examined the case file there. Now I’m getting information from two possible cases, one before ours and one after. Smythe has permitted me to look into it in detail.”
“Where were the other cases?”
“Inverness and Berwick upon Tweed.”
“Well, there’s no connection there.” Jones’ desire to dismiss the matter immediately surprised
Sam. “Not with the other one taking place in the west, and ours here, in the centre of the country.” Jones pointedat the mapon the wallas he spoke, but rather than dissuading Sam; it merely made him think that he was right to pursue the matter.
“Well, you asked what we were doing, and that’s what we’re doing,” Sam offered, hopefully, already turning his back on Jones. If the other man was so dismissive, he was going to be no help. None at all.
“I always knew you’d not forgotten about this. You and your precious Chief Inspector Fullerton, trying to right all the bloody wrongs in the world. What a waste when you could be doing something useful.” The fury in Jones’ voice astounded Sam, but evidently not as much as O’Rourke, who looked about to launch a tirade against the sergeant.
“Well, Smythe has given his permission. So, it’s what we’re going to be doing. You can get back to doing something useful,’” Sam stated flatly.
“Suit yourself. I’m fine with you wasting your time.”
When Jones had left the room, Sam closed the door and turned to O’Rourke, a wince on his face.
“Sorry. He asked, and I thought he probably needed to know. I d idn’t think he’d get so angry about it.”
“You don’t need to apologise to me,” O’Rourke offered brightly, shaking her braids from side to side. “He’s never happy unless he’s right about something, and he’s not right about this. Now, where do you want to start?”
“You’re helping me, then?” he asked, pleased with her initiative.
“Yes, well, unless Smythe calls me away. I think you’ll need some help if that’s not too impertinent.”
“Not at all. I need someone with a young mind to keep me right. Now, to start with , I think we should mark the places on that map. It’s not a lot to go on, but I prefer to visualise such things. Are you alright to hop up beside it again?”
“Oh yes, not a problem. What shall we use?”
“Here,” and he passed a rectangular piece of card to her. “Actually, no, I’ll write some details on first. The date, the place, and the name of the victim.”
“Then maybe add one piece of information to three cards. That way, we’ll still be able to read it from down here.”
“Good idea,” he agreed and hastened todo just that, the pen lid in his mouth as he carefully wrote April 4th 1919, and then Inverness in his large and slightly lopsided handwriting. He printed the details, making it as easy as possible to read from a distance.
“Ah, I didn’t find out her name.”
“We’ll add that later,” O’Rourke stated. “Perhaps just put female for now. I think it’s relevant.” “Right, here you go. I’ll do the ones for Berwick while you attach those.”


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