By:  Quintus Noone  Completed
Language: English
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John Handful’s first client is a member of the local Polish community wanted by the police for the disappearance of his pregnant wife. A new miracle cancer drug is stolen from a pharmaceutical complex located on a shingle spit, just off the Suffolk coast. A wealthy local financier is blackmailed, and a ripple of malice spreads across the village of Oxmarket. Each household of a cul-de-sac have a secret that could point to them being the murderer of a man found shot dead in his bedroom.A perplexing case unfolds with the revelation of secret lovers, flowers from the garden and a death that is not as it appears.John Handful finds himself enmeshed in a violent, multi-layered plot at a luxury hotel on a remote island. A man kills himself despite receiving the good news that his lover’s husband has agreed to a divorce.A woman is witnessed shooting herself by her husband even though she had already been dead several hours.A man has been found shot through the head in a locked room with suicide well and truly ruled out. How did he die?Severed limbs in a concrete block, leads, John Handful to believe that a cold calculated killer with a thirst for revenge is on the loose. Ten cases, one connection. What is it?

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    32 chapters
    There was no mail for me that morning, but that was no surprise.  There had been no mail for me in the three weeks I’d been renting that tiny second-floor suite of offices in the remote Suffolk coastal town of Oxmarket.  I closed the door of the outer eight by ten office, skirted the table and chair that might one day house a receptionist if the time came that Handful Investigations could run to such glamorous extras, and pushed open the door marked “PRIVATE.”Behind the door lay the office of the head of Handful Investigations, John Handful. Me.  And not only the head but the entire staff.  It was a bigger room than the reception office, I knew that because I’d measured it, but only a trained surveyor could have told it with the naked eye.I’m no sybarite, but I had to admit that it was pretty bleak sort of place.  The distempered walls were that delicate tint of off-grey pastel shading from off-white at
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    The farmhouse was large and square and built of stone.  It was surrounded by an assortment of barns and outbuildings, also mainly built of rough, dark stone.  The farmyard was awash with mud, except for one corner that looked like it had recently been concreted and was still cordoned off by a makeshift barrier of broken white pallets.  Parked beside the pallets was a mud spattered Electra Blue 4x4.  Somewhere nearby a horse snorted and was answered by the sudden frantic barking of a dog.  I removed my mobile from my pocket, checked to see if I had a strong enough signal and called DI Silver once more.“Where are you?”  He shouted.  “It’s a terrible line!”“I’m at Heather Hill Farm,” I shouted.  “I think I might need your assistance in the next quarter of an hour.”“What are you up too, John?”“Just be here in fifteen minutes.&
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    I had walked for nearly an hour past the green, after I had left the pub, down to the darkened boatyard with the stilted walkways over the river mud, then out on the raised path towards the marsh. I was at the place where the tidal river merged with the inland water mass and the slow-swaying reedbeds. It had been one of Zoë’s favourite spots. The silence was broken only when I disturbed a swan that clattered, screaming away. “Evening, John.” I spun, coiled, tense.  I gazed at the shadow. “Only me – seen a ghost?  Sorry that was a tactless thing to say.  Didn’t mean to startle you.  It’s Jason.” “That’s okay.” “Just taking the dog out.  I hear Loraine has lumbered you with the leaflets for the Wildlife Field Day.  It’s very good of you.  I was doing the group’s accounts this evening – your donation of two hundred and fifty pounds was really generous, thanks.  Prefer to say it myself than just send
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    It was quite late when DI Paul Silver dropped me off at my flat.  An old Victorian house that had been converted into flats and I had the one on the top floor.  I stood at the communal door and waved him off and instead of going upstairs to the warming comforts that awaited me – I had left the central heating on – I  walked up to the churchyard. Zoë’s grave was conveniently near a bench close to a hedge.  Therefore, I sat there and chatted with her about things and went over the break-in at the Bio-Preparations Cobra Mist complex with her.  Obviously, I knew that I was talking to myself, but there was something comforting about this weekly ritual that helped me cope with the grief.  I knew that Zoë would not want me to be sad, all the time, but I couldn’t help it.  I just dealt with it better some days than others.  That is just how I am.  I spent some time reflecting on some of Zoë’s little foibles – how she coul
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    Within twenty minutes of receiving my fee of seven hundred pounds from Bio-Preparations in the post, my mobile started singing with an unknown number lighting up the screen.“Hello?”“Is the fee satisfactory, Mr Handful?”“More than satisfactory, Miss Gere,” I replied.  It was in fact more than double my standard fee, but I wasn’t complaining.“Call me, Kimberley,” she said and paused for a few seconds before continuing.  “I was wondering whether I could treat you to dinner as a thank you.”“You don’t have to do that, Kimberley,” I said, politely.“I insist,” she said.  “Don’t worry, Bio-preparations are paying.”“Very well,” I agreed.  “Where and when?”She chose the only Italian restaurant in Oxmarket, Figaro’s in the main street, not far from my
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    When I got back into my car and checked my mobile which I had left in the glove compartment.  I had two missed calls from a number I didn’t immediately recognise.  I removed Sir Gerard’s business card and compared the two numbers.  They were the same.  I dialled it immediately.“I’ve had another blackmail letter,” he said as soon as he answered.“I’ll be right over.”*   Sir Gerard Seymour Hornby lived in Oxmarket Castle on the northern outskirts of the town.  In fact it was the only castle for miles and during the summer it was open to the public.  Zoë and I had spent a lovely sunny day here a couple of years ago.  We had brought a hamper and devoured its contents in the picnic area before spending the whole afternoon exploring the breathtaking surroundings.Despite its crenallated battlements, round towers and embrasures
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    WPC Softly decanted me outside my flat.  After showering, and changing into some fresh clothes, I made myself some coffee and toast.The flat had three bedrooms but I had turned one end of the smallest into an office when I had set up Handful Investigations. I sat at my desk and switched on my computer.  It slowly came to life and I checked my e-mails.  Most were the usual trash trying to sell me stuff I didn’t want or need.  It never ceased to amaze me why anyone could think that this type of direct marketing sells anything.  I deleted all of them without reading them.  In amongst the masses of junk and spam, however, was one message actually meant for me.  It was from the local Oxmarket solicitors, Hogbin, Marshall and Moruzzi, and they were willing to use me as and when I was required.Quite pleased with myself, I went into the main search engine and typed in Sir Gerard Seymour Hornby and entered in
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    The next day I ended up somewhere completely different to where I had intended to be.I should have been playing golf with Grahame Moore, but it was raining. Don’t Fancy Paying Good Money To Get Wet, Can Stand In The Garden And Get Wet For Nothing was the content of the text that I had received at half-past seven that morning.          I had planned on visiting Zoë’s grave later in the day but I was already up and dressed and Kimberley had gone across to the Cobra Mist complex on the early walk-on ferry for an audit meeting.          The grass percolated water as I walked to the grave of my wife, dead eighteen months to the day.  I placed a bunch of flowers so that it lay, yellow and purple, her favourite colours, against the still shining marble.  I paused
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    We arrived back at number four, just in time to see the SOCOs lift Alistair Fleming’s body on to a plastic sheet.I started to look around the bedroom.  The bed was untouched, without a crease in the duvet.  Expensive men’s grooming products were lined up neatly on the oak dresser.  Towels were folded evenly on the towel rail of the en suite.Paul handed me a pair of disposable gloves and I opened the large walk-in wardrobe and stepped inside.  I touched his suits, his shirts and his trousers.  I put my hand in the pockets of his jackets and found a taxi receipt, a dry cleaning tag, a pound coin and an unopened packet of chewing gum.  There was a red and black Dunlop golf bag with clubs in one corner.  In the middle, there were racks of shoes, at least a dozen pairs, arranged in the neat rows and in the other corner in a large transparent plastic container at least a hundred different varieties of scented massage oils.
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    I dragged my fingers through the manicured lawn of No.2 Magnolia Close, for some traces of sand that the rainfall had washed away.  Laura Hardiman watched from her living-room window, with the obligatory glass of wine in her hand.“Found anything?”  Paul asked, shining a torch over my shoulder at the grass.“This sand is really fine,” I said, rubbing my thumb and forefinger together.  “It’s not builder’s sand.  It feels like the type of sand you would find in the bunker of a golf course.”“How can you tell?”  Paul asked.“I’ve spent enough time in bunkers to know what the sand feels like,” I joked.At that moment a battered old Mercedes that looked out of place in the plush surroundings of the cul-de-sac, pulled up on the driveway of No. 5 and a man with a lived-in face and crooked teeth climbed out.  He was wearing a rumpled jacket, which wa
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