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Analyzing the free- download days

Perhaps a bit early for that but first let me say welcome to eight hundred and four new readers, some of whom will hopefully visit this site. I hope you enjoy the book and please do let me know what you think of it. A review on Amazon would be much appreciated but post a comment here if you’d rather do that.

The figures make interesting reading, to me at least. I know from the blog statistics that people from all round the world do look into this site. What I’d like to know is how many of the Amazon.com downloads were actually in the States but unfortunately Amazon can’t, or won’t, tell me that.

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And now for the free sample

The next exciting installment in the Karno saga, Polly picked the pistol up is in the final stages of editing/proof reading. Detective Sergeant Karno is investigating a shooting but as usual things aren’t quite what they seem. In this extract he meets up with an old friend, Wild Bill Hiscock. Alert  readers will realise that as Detective Chief Inspector Karno went to Wild Bill’s cremation in the first book, this one is set earlier in his career. Both their careers actually, if you think about it. Enjoy and as always let me know what you think. The book should be out by the end of next week, both in paperback and eBook format.

Chapter Eighteen

Wild Bill Hiscock

“Right then, I’d better have a word with the shrink then I think we need to organise a search warrant for the Bargus house, just to make sure we’ve covered all the…”

Karno was interrupted by the internal phone. He glared at it then picked it up suspiciously.

“Speak!” He commanded.

“DS Karno? Main switchboard here.”

“That’s nice for you, better than being the second switchboard at any rate.”

There was an exasperated sigh. The mains switchboard operators knew Karno of old.

“Sergeant Silver from Dancerton nick on the line for you DS Karno, connecting you now.”

“Ullo, ullo. Anybody there? Ullo!”

“Afternoon Long John, how are you you, old pirate?”

“Fred! Good to talk to you again, how’re things going in the big city?”

“Busy. Just in the middle of a bit of excitement as it happens, news of our shooting has made it out as far as your lonely outpost I suppose?

“Certainly has. A far cry from directing traffic, eh Fred?”

“Right, right. I know you haven’t rung me up for a bit of a chin wag, but how’s Alice?”

“Same as ever Fred. We’re up to four grandchildren now! Four, can you believe it? I’m retiring in six months, can’t bloody believe that either! Alice is fretting, says she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to cope having me underfoot all the time. How’s things with you?”

“Fine, fine. I’ve made a start on furthering the Karno dynasty. You’re the first to officially know but Morgelyn has a little constable in the oven.”

“Life won’t be the same Fred…”

“Right, right. Sleepless nights, crying, unexpected messes at both ends. That’ll still be the same but I expect having a kid will make a big difference.”

“You’ll get used to it but I have to say that grandkids are easier to look after. You can play with them for a bit then hand them back when they get fractious.”

“Bloody hell I’m not even a dad yet and you’re handing out tips on being a granddad. Anyway, what can I do for you?”

“Got an old chum of yours in the slammer here Fred. He’s very keen to talk to you about something.”

“Who’s that? Not Wild Bill by any chance?”

“The very same. He wandered in on Saturday wanting us to contact you. Said it was very important, the utmost importance and urgency he said.”

“Right, right. Well he would say that, wouldn’t he? What’s it all about?”

“Difficult to say, I can’t get much sense out of him. What happened was we’ve got a new, keen young inspector in charge here. Sent Bill away with a bit of a flea in his ear and told him we weren’t a messaging service. Bill promptly smashed a shop window and turned himself in.”

“Silly sod. Are you going to charge him?”

“I’ve spoken to the shop owner and explained that Bill had come to see you and been sent on his way. He’s been understanding about it, knows Bill himself actually and isn’t going to press charges.”

“Right, right. So what’s Bill got to say for himself then?”

“Ah, well thereby hangs a tale. It turns out our keen new young inspector fella-me-lad has a bit of a social conscience.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“You’re right there. I drew the short straw and had to put Bill in the shower. Oh yeah, before I forget you owe us a fiver.”

“For what?”

“Well, we tried to clean up the old sod’s clothes as well. In the end, dobey-dust couldn’t hack it and there was a bit of an accident when we tried using petrol. He looks very smart in his new togs, he’s now known as ‘Oxfam man’ incidentally. We had a bit of a station whip round and we were sure you’d want to chip in as well.”

“Right, right. So what’s so important that he had to get himself arrested to see me?”

“Difficult to say Fred.”

“Why’s that?”

“Well apparently having a social conscience means we had to sober him up as well.”

“Sober him up? You’re joking. Bill hasn’t been sober for over ten years!”

“Yeah well I wouldn’t exactly describe him as sober but he hasn’t had a drink since Saturday morning.”

“Saturday morning? Hellfire, that’s three days man! How’s he coping?”

“Well we’re just about at the tail-end of the screaming ab-dabs, he’s come to terms with the moving walls in the cell but the DT’s are a sad sight Fred, a sad sight. He’s still insisting that he has something important to tell you but he’ll only tell you because walls have ears and all coppers are bent, apart from his old chum detective sergeant Karno. I think he has actually got something to tell you although what the hell it is I don’t now. If you could see your way clear to coming over and talking to him I can get him out of here.”

“Right, right. OK I’ll drive over this afternoon. No, I’ll drive over now I need space to do a bit of thinking about this case I’m on.”

“Good. Er, now luckily I don’t have a social conscience so what I’m about to say won’t cause me any difficulties at all.”

“Wossat then?”

“If you want to get any sense out of the old reprobate you’d better bring a bottle of something.”

“Right, right. OK, see you in about an hour and a half.” Karno thoughtfully put the phone down.

“What was that all about?” Asked Gundry.

“Old friend of mine. We were at school together. I went into the force and he went onto the road. “We’ve kept in touch over the years, usually when somebody found him sleeping in a hedge and told me about it.”

“Can’t Social Services do something for him?”

“Wild Bill? Nah he likes the life on the road. God only knows where he gets the booze from though. Come on, you may as well meet another local character, if you think you can stand it after meeting Flo.”

“Maybe I should, er, well carry on with the investigation.”

“Commendable thought, but I think we need a couple of hour’s quiet reflection. I’ll get Llewellyn to organise a search warrant, that’ll take a couple of hours. In fact, I think I’ll have the whole house dusted for prints. In the middle of all that they can see if they can unearth the washing-up glove.”

“Shouldn’t we be doing all that?”

“Probably but I’m going to tell Llewellyn I don’t want to talk to mother just yet, I need a session with the shrink first and unfortunately he can’t see me until last thing this afternoon.”

“That’s lucky.”

“Lucky? I haven’t actually spoken to him yet but I know that’s what he’s going to say. ‘Fred the future’, that’s what they call me in Flo’s café.”

“So how come you don’t know the winner of the three-thirty at Haydock Park then?”

“It would be a grievous misuse of my powers and anyway you heard what Flo said, the spirits don’t give tips.”

******

“Pull in here will you, I’d better take Bill a little something to sort his head out.”

“You sure about this?”

“I think Bill’s long past sobering up and anyway his bloody internal organs would stop working due to shock if he ever did. No, if we want to get any sense out of him we either wait another couple of days or slip him a bottle. I won’t be a minute.”

The bottle brought the intrepid investigators continued on their way to Dancerton police station.

“I was stationed here for a while, when I was a beat copper. Happy days.” Said Karno.

“So this Sergeant Silver was your mentor then?”

“Long John? I suppose so, tormentor more like at times. A man with almost no ambition, bloody good beat copper and he would have been happy to retire as a constable but his feet started playin’ him up. He managed to get through his exams and he’s been behind the reception desk for about ten years now. Funny to think that he’ll be retiring in six months. Right, enough nostalgia, let’s go and talk to Wild Bill.”

“Wild because?”

“Hiscock. William Hiscock. What else was he going to be known as?”

Karno gazed almost fondly around the public area of the station as they walked in.

“Arternoon Detective Sergeant.” Silver was all smiles. ”I still say you’d have made a bloody good copper but no, you wanted to be a detective. How are you boy?”

Karno nodded.

“You’re looking well Long John. Put a bit of weight on mind. Getting’ any exercise these days?”

“Alice says I’ve got to get serious about the garden once I retire. Doesn’t sound like I’ll be doing much sitting around it and enjoying the sun.”

“Right, right. This is DC Gundry; we’re working on the murder case together. I thought he could do with a couple of hours off so I brought him along to meet my old chum. How is he?”

Gundry and Silver shook hands.

“Lookin’ forward to seeing you but he’s er, well he’s a little strange.”

“That’s nothing unusual.”

“A little stranger than usual.”

“Right. Right well we‘d better go and see him then. Come on young Gundry.”

Silver handed Karno a key.

“I’m sure you remember the way. Half an hour ago he was shouting at an invisible mouse but I think he’s settled down a bit.”

“Bill or the mouse?”

“Well let’s just say that whatever mister mouse was doing that was annoying Bill, he’s stopped doing it now.”

As they walked down the corridor they could hear a voice.

“Ill met by moonlight, proud Demelza. Whether tis better to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with quiet dignity or tis better to kick against the pricks and cry havoc, I cannot tell for I perceive things through a glass darkly. Darkly I tell you and yet alas, I have no glass through which to perceive things. Alas, I am undone. Is there no one to bring me succour in my hour of parched need?”

Karno opened the door of the cell.

“ Afternoon Bill. Succour delivery.”

Despite his recently purchased new attire, Wild Bill cut something of a shambolic figure. The unkempt hair and beard obscured most of his face, but his eyes were strangely alive.

“Fred. Wait, say nothing!” Bill stuck his head out of the cell door and looked up and down the corridor. “Shut the door Fred. Better lock it, yes, lock it. Walls have ears and who knows what horrors lurk in the night.”

“Right, right. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon Bill and the horrors don’t clock-on until six so we’re safe enough for now. But, if it’ll make you happier, lock the door would you Gundry.”

“Ah, not alone I see. Who is this?”

“This is Detective Constable Gundry. He works with me.”

“I see, I see. Watson to your Holmes or Hastings to your Poirot, no doubt.”

“Not so sure about that Bill. Mind I can definitely say that he’s not Robin to my Batman. How are you?”

“You see before you an anxious man. Foul deeds have been done and I can trust no one. No-one, except perhaps my old friend Karno. I see things Fred, I perceive things, the world as it is and yet my vision is clouded.”

“Right, right…”

“I shake with fear Fred. My sanity is at stake.”

“Perhaps this will help Bill.”

Karno proffered the brown paper bag he was carrying.

“Aha. All might yet be well, the fault lies not in our stars dear Karno but in the fact it’s impossible to get a drink in here.”

“It’s an old custom Bill. Breakfast yes, cups of tea yes but a drink, no.”

“It’s barbaric!”

“Quite possibly but what can one do against age-old custom?”

“Aha, and what is this, Scottish wine perchance?”

“A Japanese copy. Personally I’m hard-pressed to tell the difference but others turn up their noses at it.”

Bill took a healthy slug.

“Ah so. I do detect a slight oriental twang. By what name is this libation, this veritable nectar of the gods, known, pray tell?”

“King Victoria single malt blend. Lovingly matured in plastic containers for at least three days before being bottled. Personally,  I find if you think tartan whilst drinking the oriental tang is less noticeable.”

“Indeed? I shall try it.” He took another swig. “By god you’re right. I’m picturing a mist-shrouded glen, shadowy figures in kilts striding majestically across the peaty expanse…”

“Right, right. That’ll be Glen Bollocks then I should imagine. What’s so urgent that you had to get yourself arrested so you could see me Bill?”

“Foul deeds have I seen Fred…”

“We’ve done that bit Bill. What was it exactly that you saw?”

Bill looked cautiously around the cell then beckoned Karno closer.

“T’was on the beach at midnight.” He whispered.

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