With old-world charm and a military air, Mortimer Rothermere makes a most convincing conman.
Just now he is employed by the Cultox corporation, to ensure that no breath of scandal taints the reputation of their successful pet food company near Flaxborough, as the acrimonious marriage of its unsavoury MD, David Harton and his wife Julia, threatens to boil over.
But even Mortimer’s habitual sang-froid deserts him in the face of ruthless villainy and actual murder – what a relief that an old friend lives nearby, the incomparable Miss Lucy Teatime, and she is willing to dig out the dark secrets of canned WOOF (with turkey), ‘the caviar of the canine world’.
When young Alice Winters is found dead close to a ruined medieval tower just outside the remote village of Friday Street, her boyfriend Jake is charged with murder.
That evening the haunting melody is heard, which, according to village tradition, is played whenever there has been a miscarriage of justice.
The case arouses the interest of Peter and Georgia Marsh, the father and daughter team who specialize in cases where the past has reached out to touch the present. And Friday Street was also the scene of a notorious tragedy in 1968, when the famous rock singer Fanny Star returned to the village of her birth only to be murdered.
Had the tune been heard then too? Was her singing partner, Adam Jones, wrongly convicted? Peter and Georgia set out to discover the secrets of Friday Street – but their first obstacle is to break the silence of the village, anxious to protect its own.
Flaxborough has its share of fat-cat businessmen—‘wheels’ (in US gangster parlance)…
Like the brash Councillor Henry Crispin and snobbish Arnold Hatch, proprietor of the Floradora Country Club. Their bitter rivalry is well known, so when Crispin’s luxury river cruiser, the Lively Lady, is ruthlessly sunk, shortly after Hatch’s night-time shenanigans had been lit up for the world to see, no one expects the feud to die away peacefully.
But there is a death, a far from peaceful one, and DI Purbright and Sergeant Love have information that it might be linked with the arrival in town of a certain Sicilian-American gentleman.
If secrets could be taken to the grave many of us would have an ear to the ground. But as Alexander, Earl of Greengrass, discovers one clear Sunday morning late in November, death is a most efficient way of revealing the cavern of cover-ups in a guilty conscience. Caught with his trousers down in Spire village graveyard whilst his faithful wife was playing the organ inside the church, this wealthy landowner meets a gruesome end.
Luckily pet portraitist Susie Mahl is on hand to sort things out, as she’s been recently commissioned to paint Situp, the aristocratic ash grey deerhound at the village’s Glebe House. Susie discovers an unexpected zest for truth and an awesome nosey parker instinct, and soon the newly appointed Pet Detective is digging out the truth with a dogged determination.
As Miss Lucilla Teatime often remarks, there is no lack of entertainment in the delightful town of Flaxborough.
What could be more wholesome than the Folklore Society’s quarterly “revels”, with dancing, a bonfire, and a quaffing bench? Well-upholstered matrons and town worthies enter most enthusiastically into the spirit. So it’s unfortunate when a younger woman, the freethinking Edna Hillyard, goes missing that night.
Then the manufacturer of “Lucillite” (gives your wash lightness, brightness and whiteness), filming a promotion locally, is dismayed to find a gruesome bull’s head ruining his key scene, while desecrations take place in the church, and the press begins reporting on Black Magic and a Town of Fear! Are DI Purbright and his team really battling against evil forces?
An elderly sex-pest is at large in DI Purbright’s home town.
Leaping out from behind bushes at unsuspecting females, making lewd suggestions and, when challenged, scuttling away with odd off-balance leaps, he soon earns the nickname of the ‘Flaxborough crab’. No one can identify him, and it turns out that quite a few older gentlemen have begun exhibiting over-familiar behavior around the opposite sex.
Suave Dr Meadow knows more than he is letting on, yet how can Purbright, aided once again by the fragrant but dodgy Miss Lucy Teatime, get him to talk? Events take a darker turn before the ill-assorted pair succeed in catching their crab.
“I am in great danger … I know that murder is going to be the reward for my uncomplaining loyalty.”
This letter containing heartfelt and urgent pleas for help is received by three very eminent citizens of Flaxborough, including the Chief Constable himself. So when one of the town’s most tireless charity workers, Mrs Henrietta Palgrove, is found the wrong way up in her garden pond, a connection seems likely.
Yet Detective Inspector Purbright finds the case does not quite add up and it takes the acute wits of his old friend, the ever-charming Miss Lucilla Teatime, as well as the more unwitting help of Mortimer Hive, indifferent private investigator and accomplished ladies’ man, to tease out the real murderer.
Nick, Tam and Karen live on three floors of a south London house. One is struggling to find his place in society, one is drowning his sorrows in alcohol, and one has embarked on a life-changing research project.
Despite their proximity, they are completely disconnected. That is, until a murder in the house brings them together, irrevocably.
One of them is guilty, one wants to find out who did it, and one wants to find out why.
Unsettling, illuminating and thrilling in equal measures, The Man on the Middle Floor will make you think twice about those who lives around you. It is a book about society, about detachment, about guilt.
It’s about a crime where the question is not who but why.
Whatever can have happened to Lil?
Flaxborough butcher Arthur Spain is worried that his sister-in-law hasn’t been in touch lately, so he pays her a visit. But Lil’s not at home, and by her porch door are a dozen bottles of curdling milk… Alarmed, he calls in the local police, D.I. Purbright and his ever-reliable Sergeant Sid Love.
It transpires Lilian Bannister is the second middle-aged woman in the town to mysteriously vanish, and the link is traced to a local lonely hearts agency called Handclasp House. So when a vulnerable-seeming lady with the charming title of Lucy Teatime signs up for a romantic rendezvous, the two detectives try extra hard to look out for her. But Miss Teatime has a few surprises of her own up her dainty sleeve!
The gripping sight of four burly policeman manhandling a bath down the front path of a respectable villa isn’t one the residents of Flaxborough see every day.
Net curtains twitch furiously, and neighbours have observations to make to Chief Inspector Purbright and Sergeant Love about the inhabitants of 14, Beatrice Avenue. Nice Gordon Periam, the mild-mannered tobacconist, and his rather less nice (in fact a bit of a bounder) lodger Brian Hopjoy had apparently shared the house amicably.
But now neither man is to be found and something very disagreeable seems to be lurking in the drains… Then a couple of government spooks turn up, one with an eye for the ladies – the drama is acquiring overtones of a Bond movie!