For those readers who want to know what happens next in Caroline’s novels, here is a snippet from Hattie Goes to Hollywood – the first in a new series, coming soon. The much-loved character, Hattie, takes on a new role as private detective.
Follow her shenanigans and scrapes as she sets about clearing up crime in her beloved Cumbria.
Sergeant Harry Knowles liked to think of himself as a chameleon when it came to policing his patch. A man who blended in with his surroundings. This had its good points and served him well as a shadowy observer of situations, swooping in when least expected to utter the phrase he liked the most, ‘You’re nicked!’ Not that he had much opportunity to use the words, for very little happened when Harry was on duty and this he put down to good law enforcement by himself and fellow officers.
Some would say that Westmarland was a sleepy place, where not much happened, other than chasing visitors for speeding fines, or litter-dropping on the pristine streets of the tourist towns and villages of the county. But others, like Harry, found a crime around every corner and made it their duty to investigate each lost kitten and stolen bike.
But that morning, the station at Marland was a quiet as a tomb.
Harry paced around the reception area and straightened posters on a notice board then wandered over to the main desk and tidied scattered pens and miscellaneous memos. He glanced over to the corner of the room where Constable Derek Jones sat with his feet perched on a stool, sipping from a large mug of tea. The local paper was spread out before him and he studied the crossword. The constable was in shirt-sleeves, the buttons of his uniform shirt straining over a paunch. Podgy fingers reached for a biscuit from a half-consumed pack and he dunked absentmindedly as he contemplated clues.
‘Pinging call as they search for food around Bassenthwaite,’ the constable said, ‘eight letters, third letter, ‘Z’.’
‘Buzzards,’ Harry replied with little interest and stared out of the window.
It was another hot day and the streets of Marland were filled with holiday-makers in bright casual clothes. Families wandered about, shopping for burgers for their camp-side barbeques and local fudge as a take-home treat. Harry sighed as he watched the world go by. He was bored and longed for some action, something to set the streets alight and prove his worth in his new position. Anything to liven up his day.
Suddenly, the front door was flung open and a woman bustled into the station. Hot and harassed, she swept up to the front desk and drummed her fingers on the counter. ‘Anyone home?’ Hattie called out.
Derek whipped his feet off the stool and ambled to his feet, ‘What can we do for you, Madam?’ he said as he straightened his tie and wiped crumbs from his mouth.
‘You can make me a brew and shove those biscuits over here,’ Hattie said, ‘is Harry the Helmet at home?’
‘Morning Hattie,’ Harry called out, wishing that Hattie wouldn’t be so familiar. ‘What can we do for you on this lovely sunny day.’
‘I want to have a word, somewhere quiet,’ she glanced at Derek. ‘Haven’t you got something to do?’ she asked as Derek stepped forward, ‘crime won’t crack itself, Constable.’
‘Step into my office,’ Harry said, ‘two teas, when you’ve a moment, Derek.’ He guided Hattie along a dingy corridor and into a small room, where he pulled out a chair. Hattie sat down beside a rickety table. Pulling a chair up for himself, Harry rubbed his hands together. Perhaps Hattie had something interesting for him to get his teeth into?
‘So, you’re back.’ Harry said.
‘State the bleedin’ obvious,’ Hattie replied, ‘hardly needs a copper to suss that out.’
To be continued …