The Murder Diaries - Excerpt
The Murder Diaries - Seven Times Over
The Murder Diaries is a modern English crime fiction novel set in Chester in the north-west of England. It features the black detective Inspector Walter Darriteau. This is the first published case featuring Walter Darriteau, though there are/were two previous books that have yet to see the light of day, White Flags and Innermost Thoughts.
But back to The Murder Diaries. The story opens with a trio of suspicious deaths. They could be accidents, but they could be murders. Walter is on the case. He doesn't believe in coincidences and three "accidents" is three too many.
If you would like to read a large excerpt from the book, here are the complete first two chapters.
Hope you like it!
The orange streetlight bounced from the wet tarmac. 2.30 in the morning. No one about. No traffic, no pedestrians, no wildlife, nothing. The dark car approached the green lights. The driver saw a man, coming from the right. He crossed the far lanes to the centre island. The lights turned amber. The driver slowed, coming down from fifth to third. The man glanced at the car and half nodded and set out to cross the road.
In the vehicle, the right designer clad training shoe switched from B to A. Brake to acceleration. The car surged forward. The man heard the engine roar and stopped dead like a fox caught in headlights, frozen in formaldehyde, as if in some sick art exhibition. The man couldn’t believe what he saw. The lights were red, he was sure of it. He tried to move, to jump away. Too late. The bumper smashed into his knees, shattering both, the bonnet crashed into his falling body, breaking ribs, sweeping the guy high into the night. He bounced on the roof, cracking his left arm, somersaulted through the air, and crashed to the pavement.
The driver glanced in the mirrors. An impression of moving black shadows, a black bundle hunched on the pavement, growing ever smaller as the car sped away. The bundle didn’t move.
It would never move again.
Darriteau yawned like a hippopotamus. Karen glimpsed his tonsils and glanced away.
‘Excuse me,’ mumbled her boss, belatedly.
‘Don’t mind me,’ she said under her breath.
‘Well, Greenwood?’ he said. ‘Anything new?’
‘Not much. Gary Jones was arrested at Ffrith Caravan Park, but you know all that.’
‘Ah yes, Gary Jones,’ the crazy man who had been in and out of borstal and prison for twenty years. Hooligan, drug dealer, burglar, wife beater, scourge of society. At least this time he would be put away for good, but too late for some, and as if Karen was following his train of thought she said: ‘It’s Millie I feel sorry for.’
‘Course,’ said Darriteau, pulling a face, and pondering on how the courts could have handed down one lenient sentence after another.
‘Anyway,’ said Karen, ‘this time it’s open and shut. He’s confessed. His fingerprints are all over the knife.’
‘Mmm,’ said Darriteau, thinking of Millie and her mischievous face, that curly, mousy hair that framed her milk white phizog, those big blue eyes that entranced men so, they certainly entranced Gary Jones. Probably cost her her life. Entrancing partners wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Millie should still be here, and Darriteau felt partly responsible for that.
‘Anything else?’ he mumbled, trying hard to sweep the image of her smiling face from his tired brain.
‘Not much. A hit and run on the by-pass.’
‘Just waiting for the post mortem now.’
Right on cue Mrs Carney swept into the office. Lobbed a file on the desks.
‘Hit and run?’ she mumbled.
‘Yep,’ said Karen.
Mrs Carney looked down and saw Walter Darriteau nod.
‘Two smashed knees, three broken ribs, broken left arm, and right ankle, but none of that killed him.’
‘So what did?’ asked Karen.
‘Cracked his head on the pavement, no one could survive that. This is the prelim; you’ll have the full report before I go home.’
‘Thank you, Sara,’ mumbled Walter.
Sara Carney pursed her lips, and glanced at the pair of them, bobbed her head and left them to it.
‘So who is he?’ asked Walter.
‘Who was he,’ corrected Karen.
Walter gave his sergeant that look of his and she began again.
‘Colin Rivers, aged forty-six, lives, or lived in a newish detached house in Saltney. Married, two daughters.’
‘What did he do for a living?’
‘Insurance salesman, office based, so I believe.’
‘Family been told?’
‘What’s his wife’s name?’
‘Is she in the house now?’
‘Find out, will you. If she is, we’ll pop down and see her.’
Karen drove the unmarked BMW. She adored driving, while Walter was happy to be driven, in the city anyway, where she couldn’t speed.
A modern red brick detached house, dull but comfortable, like a million others. The curtains were closed. A small flowerbed in front of the main window, crocus’s out, daffodils considering their options. There were two five-year-old cars on the driveway. Walter took a quick peek at the bumpers and bonnets. No scratches or dents, no blood, and no sign of any recent hurried cleaning.
Karen rang the bell.
Marian Rivers came to the door, cigarette in hand. She glanced at the ID and invited them through to the sun-streaked conservatory at the back of the house.
‘Do you want a coffee?’
Walter shook his head.
Karen said, ‘No thanks.’
‘Sit down, please.’
They sat in the cane chairs and wondered who should start.
‘Your daughters are out?’ asked Walter.
‘Sent them to school, thought it best.’
‘So sorry to hear your news,’ said Walter.
Marian pursed her lips. Didn’t say anything.
‘Tell me about your late husband.’
A short silence and then she said, ‘Not much to tell, really.’
‘Did he have any enemies?’
Marian’s mouth opened. She flicked ash into an empty coffee mug.
‘I thought you people said it was an accident?’
‘Yes, it probably was, but we are keeping an open mind.’
‘So did he?’ asked Karen.
‘He was a man. What do you think?’
‘Serious enemies?’ asked Walter.
‘No-ooo, just piddling things.’
‘How did he get on at work?’
‘OK, I suppose. An occasional promotion, occasional pay rise, that kind of thing, he was not a high achiever. Steady as he goes kind of bloke, and anyway, he was more interested in God.’
‘God?’ said Karen.
‘Yeah. Didn’t you know? He was a Lay Preacher. Didn’t your people tell you anything? That’s where he’d been, to a late night God squad meet up; they were planning a big service, something like that, that’s why I said he had enemies. He was appointed over the heads of four others, two blokes and two women, you wouldn’t believe how jealous and zealous some of them can get in the church.’
She was smiling as she said that and Walter guessed it had been a bone of contention in the Rivers’ household.
‘Did they make a habit of meeting late?’
‘Recently they had, crazy isn’t it?’
‘What church?’ asked Walter.
‘United Reformed, Curzon Park.’
‘And did you attend?’ asked Karen.
‘Nope. I can do without that kind of thing.’
‘So, to your knowledge did he have any enemies who’d want to kill him?’
‘I can’t think of anyone.’
‘How are you fixed, financially speaking?’ asked Walter.
‘Not bad, it looks like the mortgage will be paid off, and he was well insured too, with him being in insurance and all. There should be a big paycheque coming,’ and then as if reading the detectives’ minds she added, ‘And before you say anything, I didn’t do it, if that’s what you think.’
‘Course not,’ said Walter, ‘but just to be clear, where were you between two and four o’clock in the morning?’
‘In bed, on my own, asleep.’
‘And your daughters, they were in the house?’
‘Yes, course, they were asleep too, they have big exams coming up, they are working really hard.’
‘I want to ask you a personal question,’ said Karen.
‘It’s your job.’
‘Was he ever unfaithful?’
Marian threw back her head and said ‘Hah!’ and glanced at the bird poop on the conservatory roof. ‘I wish I knew the answer to that one. No, I don’t think so, but he was a man, wasn’t he. Who knows? I’ll probably never know now.’
‘Did he get paid for his church activities?’
‘Good God no, sorry God if you are listening, not a penny, no offence meant.’
‘Thank you, Mrs Rivers,’ said Walter standing and fastening his raincoat. ‘We’ll be in touch if there’s any news.’
In the ride back to the police station that overlooked the Roodee, Karen said, ‘Forgive my ignorance, but what exactly is a Lay Preacher?’
Walter thought back to his childhood in Jamaica, and of his Uncle Collis who himself was a Lay Preacher. He was always coming round to bless this house, orso he said, when in reality he was on the lookout for a free meal.
‘They stand in when the pastor is away or sick, a kind of first reserve if you like. Sometimes it can be an initial step towards higher things, but more often than not, they are just happy to help out the main man.’
‘Or woman,’ corrected Karen.
‘Yeah, that too.’
‘You don’t think one of his spurned rivals could have run him down, do you?’
‘You heard the lady, they are jealous and zealous in the church, a catchy phrase, don’t you think?’
Karen pulled a face.
‘Anyways, check them out, these two men and two women who got the hump because Colin landed the job, a position that pays nothing and carries no qualifications.’
‘Surely they can’t have killed him for that,’ said Karen, disbelievingly, guiding the car into the underground car park.
‘It’s been done for less,’ said Walter, getting out and limping toward the lift, and as he did so he shouted back over his shoulder, ‘And another thing, we only have Marian’s word that she was in bed asleep.’
The driver hadn’t slept. Jumped out of bed and booted up the internet. Typed in: How to kill people.
Twenty-seven million articles and features on How to kill people. Who writes all this crazy stuff, and more to the point, why doesn’t anyone do something about it?
Scrolled down, began reading, started making notes, flipped on the local radio. Appeals every hour on the hour for witnesses to come forward who may have seen the tragic accident on the ring road where a man was killed in the early hours.
There’ll be no witnesses, pal. There was no one about.
The driver was surprised at how pleasurable it had been. To kill someone, and so easy too. One designer trainer; lifted from B, set down on A. Acceleration! That was all there was to it. Man hit. Man dead. Job done. Such a tiny movement, such a tiny line between life and death.
An article that looked vaguely interesting caught the eye.
100 Ways to Kill People.
Click, and we’re in.
Plastic bag over the head, no.
Shotgun, pistol, rifle, I don’t think so.
Hit over head with hammer. That would be messy.
Douse with petrol and set alight. Too risky. Too dangerous.
Poison, perhaps, maybe a possibility.
Sabotage brakes on victim’s car. Too technical.
Grind up glass and hide in food. Goes to work on the stomach, apparently, excruciating death. The trouble is you wouldn’t be there to see it, to witness it, and that was half the fun.
Take out a light bulb, fill with petrol, refit and wait for victim to turn on the light. Would that work? Not for me.
Cut off head. The less said about that the better.
Wait for victim to have a bath and lob live electrical appliance into the water. Ouch!
Drowning. Sounds too much like hard work.
Cut off hands. Very messy, and too hands on, or not, as the case might be, and presumably any old limbs would do. Perhaps not.
Run up behind someone with a heart condition and yell Boo! That was getting a bit freaky.
Inject with pig’s blood. Repeat dose if necessary. Yeah right, I just happen to have a pint of porky’s blood in the fridge.
Then, inject with thirty different substances, getting weirder the further down the list. Come on!
No, there was nothing there really, nothing that leapt out, nothing that shrieked: Use me! Use me! Just have to think of something better, and then out of the blue, inspiration struck. The driver knew precisely how to do number two.
Threw on a coat, went outside and ambled to the paper shop. Bought the local paper, the Liverpool Daily Post, and there it was in the smudged LATE EXTRA. The nationals must have missed the deadline.
A man, Colin Rivers, aged 46 was knocked down and killed in Chester in the early hours of the morning. Police are appealing for witnesses. He was happily married with two daughters and was believed to be a Lay Preacher.
Well of course he was.
Happily married? How the hell would they know that?
Took the paper home, cut out the article and pinned it to the cork tiles glued to the spare bedroom wall. Stood back and admired, yet it seemed awfully bare, that wall, one small article, ‘One small step for mankind,’ spoken aloud, a grin, a clicking of the fingers, left the room, closed the door, locked up, for it was time to get ready for work.
Karen’s enquiries bore little fruit. The four spurned Lay Preachers admitted to having been mighty miffed at Colin’s promotion, especially as they were all senior to him, but they were surprised and shocked he had died, killed on the highway, and more than that, each possessed a cast iron alibi, for they had been sleeping with their partners at home, two men and two women, though not in the combinations Karen had anticipated.
‘Take a more detailed look at Marian,’ ordered Walter. ‘Dig up everything you can. Something isn’t right. Something stinks.’
The Murder Diaries – Seven Times Over
© David Carter & TrackerDog Media 2011
The right of David Carter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publishers, except by reviewers who may quote brief passages in reviews
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
If you would like to read some book reviews on The Murder Diaries click here and you will!