The Allotment Murderer
Ex-Detective Inspector Frank Schooner tugged at his greying beard and eyed the mess on the beach thoughtfully. One of the younger uniformed police officers was vomiting noisily into the sea.
“Who found her?”
“Silas Rogers from the chip shop,” said newly-appointed Detective Inspector Cuthbert McGuire, looking greenish about the gills himself. “He was walking Sal early this morning. Said she ran off and started barking like crazy. That’s when he saw her.”
“Well she had more than enough enemies in the village, that’s for sure,” said Frank. “But nobody deserves to die like this. Has anyone told her sister?”
McGuire nodded. “We sent some family liaison around first thing. The problem we’ll have is narrowing it down - since people realised it was Miss Wilson who’d been sending the poison pen letters, the whole village has been livid. She had to leave her job at the post office.”
Frank bent down to peer at the gaping wound in Miss Wilson’s neck.
“I know what you’re thinking, sir - we thought that too, when we saw the secateurs. We picked up Mr Arnold from the allotment already. He’s down at the station for questioning.”
“None of this ‘sir’ business now, Detective Inspector,” said Frank, straightening up. “You’re the only sir here now - you’re in charge. But if I were you I’d take a closer look at those injuries. There’s no bruising around the wound - where the weapon went in - what does that tell you?”
McGuire’s eyes widened in surprise. “That she was already dead when they stabbed her?”
Frank nodded grimly “and underneath all the hacking and the mess you can make out ligature marks if you look closely.”
“You think somebody strangled her?”
“Yes, and went to an awful lot of trouble to hide that and make it look like she was stabbed in a fit of passion with the nearest instrument to hand.”
Frank lifted one stockinged leg and examined it. “I’ll bet my pension that you’ll find that the soil on her legs was rubbed on by someone wearing gloves. It’s too neat - too regular.”
McGuire bent down to look more closely.
“So someone wanted to make it look like Mr Arnold was involved?”
“Unless there is another keen gardener in the village who Miss Wilson accused of being a kiddy fiddler in a poison pen letter sent to everyone in the village?”
“Mr Arnold certainly had motive, that’s for sure. And he’s already told us that he was home alone last night, so no alibi…”
“Ah but those tell-tale ligature marks, Detective Inspector. If you look more closely at them I think you’ll understand why Mr Arnold couldn’t possibly have murdered Miss Wilson last night.”
“I told you Detective Inspector - you’re the sir now. You’ll do a great job - you just have to look at the evidence. It’s all there, plain as the nose on my face. Have a think about it and you’ll get there. I’ll be back at the pub if you need me.”
And ex-Detective Inspector Frank Schooner strolled away from the grisly crime scene with a grim smile on his lips.