Cherringham - Murder Most Wild - Neil Richards - ebook
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When the Zakro Corporation attempts to build a mammoth supermarket outside Cherringham, the whole village is up in arms. But the accidental death of lead environmentalist Sam Lewis seems to hand victory to the developers. Could Sam's opposition to the project be the real reason he died? When Jack and Sarah take on the case, they will learn that what looked like an accident was - in fact - one very wild murder. Cherringham is a serial novel à la Charles Dickens, with a new mystery thriller released each month. Set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, the detective series brings together an unlikely sleuthing duo: English web designer Sarah and American ex-cop Jack. Thrilling and deadly - but with a spot of tea - it's like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby. Each of the self-contained episodes is a quick read for the morning commute, while waiting for the doctor, or when curling up with a hot cuppa. For fans of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series, Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series, Caroline Graham's Midsomer Murders, and the American TV series Murder She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury. Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), have been writing together since the mid 90’s, creating content and working on projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos, and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and - most recently - the successful crime fiction series Cherringham. Now into its second season of 12 novellas, Cherringham is popular around the world and has been adapted as a series of audiobooks in English and German.

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Contents

Cover

Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series

About the Book

The Authors

Main Characters

Murder Most Wild

Copyright

1. Small Town Politics

2. Democracy in Action

3. Down on the Farm

4. The Morning After

5. When Last Seen

6. The Wild Boar Farm

7. Eva Weiss

8. A New Suspect

9. Chapel of Rest

10. Reasonable Doubts

11. A Catch-up and Questions

12. Fire in the Night

13. Clear as Mud

14. A Second Vote

Next episode

Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series

“Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series” is a series made up of self-contained stories. A new episode is released each month. The series is published in English as well as in German, and is only available in e-book form.

About the Book

When the Zakro Corporation attempts to build a mammoth supermarket outside Cherringham, the whole village is up in arms. But the accidental death of lead environmentalist Sam Lewis seems to hand victory to the developers. Could Sam’s opposition to the project be the real reason he died? When Jack and Sarah take on the case, they will learn that what was an accident was — in fact — one very wild murder.

The Authors

Matthew Costello (US-based) is the author of a number of successful novels, including Vacation (2011), Home (2014) and Beneath Still Waters (1989), which was adapted by Lionsgate as a major motion picture. He has written for The Disney Channel, BBC, SyFy and has also designed dozens of bestselling games including the critically acclaimed The 7th Guest, Doom 3, Rage and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Neil Richards has worked as a producer and writer in TV and film, creating scripts for BBC, Disney, and Channel 4, and earning numerous Bafta nominations along the way. He's also written script and story for over 20 video games including The Da Vinci Code and Starship Titanic, co-written with Douglas Adams, and consults around the world on digital storytelling.His writing partnership with NYC-based Matt Costello goes back to the late 90's and the two have written many hours of TV together. Cherringham is their first crime fiction as co-writers.

Main Characters

Jack Brennan is a former NYPD homicide detective who lost his wife a year ago. Being retired, all he wants is peace and quiet. Which is what he hopes to find in the quiet town of Cherringham, UK. Living on a canal boat, he enjoys his solitude. But soon enough he discovers that something is missing — the challenge of solving crimes. Surprisingly, Cherringham can help him with that.

Sarah Edwards is a web designer who was living in London with her husband and two kids. Two years ago, he ran off with his sexy American boss, and Sarah’s world fell apart. With her children she moved back to her home town, laid-back Cherringham. But the small town atmosphere is killing her all over again — nothing ever happens. At least, that’s what she thinks until Jack enters her life and changes it for good or worse …

Matthew CostelloNeil Richards

CHERRINGHAM

A COSY CRIME SERIES

Murder Most Wild

»be« by BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

Digital original edition

»be« by Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

Copyright © 2015/2017 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

Written by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

Edited by Sean Sinico

Project management: Kathrin Kummer

Cover illustration © shutterstock: Buslik | Helen Hotson | xpixel; | Andromed

Cover design: Jeannine Schmelzer

eBook production: Urban SatzKonzept, Düsseldorf

ISBN 978-3-7325-0853-2

www.be-ebooks.com

Twitter: @be_ebooks_com

1. Small Town Politics

Sarah pushed her way through the crowd towards the Village Hall, Chloe trailing a few feet behind.

Chloe was fifteen and going through a stage where Sarah hardly even saw her, let alone understood what she was thinking half the time.

Which made it even more surprising that both of them were now out together walking to the Village Hall, in the middle of a very cold winter’s evening in Cherringham.

But these were dramatic times in the village.

And — incredibly — Sarah and Chloe were united in a cause.

She looked ahead and saw so many people streaming into the hall.

“Wow, looks like whole village is turning out,” said Sarah.

“They should! This is really important,” Chloe said.

Such a fierce warrior, Sarah thought, her love for her daughter now mixed with a strong dollop of admiration.

The way ahead seemed completely blocked by a wall of bodies; she looked around for a better route to the Village Hall. Perhaps if they went down the pavement to the Civil War Memorial then came back up to the main entrance by her office?

Who would have thought that a meeting of the Cherringham Parish Council could cause such a fuss?

She and Chloe had walked up together from home, and come through one of the alleyways onto the village square, just by the old stocks.

Usually on a Friday night in winter, with the shops shut and no tourists in town, this area would be totally empty.

Just tumbleweed blowing, as Jack would say.

Whatever tumbleweed was!

But tonight, with the big meeting only half an hour away, the place was packed. Hundreds of people stood between them and the Village Hall, holding up banners, shouting, chanting.

“Developers out! Developers out! Out, out, out!”

Sarah had never seen such a cross-section of village life. Families, workers, old, and young. All united in one cause.

She felt a thrill of excitement at the sight.

“Isn’t this amazing?” she said to Chloe, who now stood at her side.

“Awesome,” said Chloe.

Sarah peered at her daughter in the dark — was she being sarcastic? Kids could be so cynical these days …

But no — Chloe’s face was lit up, her eyes bright.

“Mum, it’s just so cool that everyone’s come out tonight. That they actually care …”

“Politics in action, love,” said Sarah. “Come on, I think I’ve worked out a way to get through.”

Taking Chloe’s arm, she headed off down the High Street, round the back of the hall, where the crowd was thinner.

It was a slow journey. She felt as if she knew everyone — people shaking hands, high-fiving, slapping on backs, raising fists in the air, shouting, singing.

A near party atmosphere.

Banners of all kinds were flying — lots of homemade signs, but Sarah could also see plenty of bigger generic flags and placards from a whole range of green, environmentalist causes.

There seemed to be a lot of strangers — some banners even had London addresses on them.

But there were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd: there was Grace from work, Pete Bull, her plumber, the vicar, Praveer, her father’s friend, Hope Brown, the Butterworths …

She even wondered if Jack might be here.

But he’d been pretty adamant.

Right there with you in the cause, Sarah. But I’ve done my time on protests — on both sides of the lines.

Well, he was missing something here. She’d never known the people of Cherringham be so up in arms and united.

And not surprising. The idea of a massive supermarket being built right on the edge of the village — on the site of the old ‘lost’ village of Ingleston — was just completely crazy.

The planning application from the enormous Zakro Corporation was coming up tonight for debate at the Parish Council meeting and the village had turned out in force to register its horror at the prospect.

Unanimous, it seemed.

But … when Sarah turned the corner of the Village Hall she realised she’d been completely wrong about that.

Because there — ahead of them — was a counter-demonstration. A smaller crowd, but one that was just as vocal as the protestors.

In front of them, she could see Alan Rivers, the local cop, doing his best to keep the two sides apart with portable barriers and traffic cones.

But he was clearly going to need reinforcements as the night wore on.

Sarah sensed that the mood on this side of the hall was darker. Here too she could see faces she recognised, but there was an intensity, an energy to this crowd that felt threatening.

There were no green banners, no printed logos. Just hand-painted slogans:

Jobs for locals! Stop rip-off prices! Real people need a fair deal!

“Come on, love,” said Sarah, now worried, and seeing the gap between the two sides as a way through to the hall. “Let’s get inside.”

“Alan! We’ve got seats saved for us,” she called.

She saw Alan pull open the barrier and beckon.

“Quick now,” he shouted above the din of the chanting.

Alan’s voice tense, his eyes darting all around.

Something like this — all new to him.

She grabbed Chloe’s hand and pulled her past Cherringham’s lone policeman.

“You watch out tonight, Sarah,” he said, as he pulled the barrier close behind them.

“And you,” said Sarah. “Surely you’re not on your own?”

“Got a couple of vans coming from Oxford,” he said. “And not before time. Now go on — get in there!”

Sarah nodded and headed for the Village Hall entrance where she could see two of the parish councillors standing unofficial guard.

“Tony Standish has some seats for us,” she said.

The name of her friend — the local solicitor and Parish Clerk — worked the usual wonders and the doors opened.

Inside, she caught her breath and watched as the doors closed. It was quiet in here, her footsteps echoing on the marble floor.

She looked at her daughter. Chloe’s face looked flushed, but now with anxiety as much as excitement.

Outside — something Chloe had never seen before either.

“I don’t get it, Mum” said Chloe. “I thought everybody wanted the same thing …”

“So did I,” said Sarah. “I should have listened to my own advice, huh?”

“Crowds can be unpredictable …”

“Exactly. Come on, let’s find our seats.”

And she headed up the grand stairs of the Victorian Village Hall, to the theatre space that once a month became the focus of village democracy during the regular meeting of Cherringham Parish Council.

Sarah had been to these meetings before in her role as editor of the village online newsletter. Most months they were predictable — and predictably boring. A list of low-level issues to be endured. Reports from sub-committees. Plans for next year’s carnival …

Two long hours to be suffered through with barely a voice raised.

But tonight she had a feeling things were going to be very different.

2. Democracy in Action

“And that concludes the update from the Transport Working Group, Mr. Chairman. Could I just remind councillors that volunteers for the Speedwatch survey are still required. No remuneration, of course, but a worthy cause and part of our long-term aim to make Cherringham’s roads safe for all.”

Sarah watched Arthur Bassett remove his glasses, fold his notes, and sit down.

By day Arthur was a funeral director. Once a month he was transformed into Chair of Cherringham’s Transport Sub-Committee.

“Thank you, Mr. Bassett,” said Ken Wickingham, owner of the newspaper shop on the High Street and this year’s Chairman. “Next item on the agenda, Correspondence and the Clerk’s report …”

Sarah sat back in the gallery of the hall and ticked off ‘Transport’ on the agenda that had been handed to her when she and Chloe took their seats.

That had been an hour ago — and they were still only halfway through the agenda items. She looked around. The gallery area was packed, as was the main body of the hall.

The members of the Council sat at a long table that had been set up in front of the stage, each of them behind a microphone.

Amongst them, apart from Arthur and Ken, she recognised Adrian Sloane who ran one of the biggest building companies in the area, and Tony Standish who had been Parish Clerk for some years.

Most of the others she knew as familiar faces from the shops or school events or the Huffington’s Tea Rooms.

A while back, she’d known most of the Parish Council personally — but there’d been rather a scandal over a twinning exercise with a French town and afterwards nearly all of the Council had resigned.

She and Jack had been responsible for bringing one or two Councillors to justice — one of their early cases.

She turned to Chloe next to her — poor kid must be getting so bored …

“Don’t worry Chloe,” she whispered. “This stuff will be over soon, and we’ll get onto the supermarket.”

“Are you kidding Mum?” said Chloe, leaning close. “This is amazing! I never knew all these things got decided here.”

Sarah smiled in surprise — and once again thought how little she knew her daughter who was growing up so fast.

As the Chairman talked through the month’s correspondence, Sarah drifted off into a reverie of recalled family moments, holidays with both her kids, school sports days, barbecues, then—

A ripple of applause and a couple of shouts from the gallery.

She tuned back in to the Chairman who leaned into the microphone, “Which brings us to the only item on the planning agenda this month. The application by Zakro Corporation to build a retail development on Five Acre Field, comprising a sales area of 40,000 square feet and associated landscaping, roadways, and further affiliated developments including social housing …”

As the Chairman spoke, Sarah saw an impeccably dressed woman step forward from the front row and walk over to a lectern that stood at the side of the councillors’ table.

She carried a laptop and a folder, which even from here Sarah could see had the famous Zakro logo.

“Now we have with us tonight Ms. Eva Weiss who has come here from the Zakro head office to talk through the application with the council. And I’m sure at the end of the meeting she will be available for comments and questions.”

There was a bubble of chatter from the audience and one or two indistinct comments — which Sarah could tell weren’t complimentary.

Sarah watched the Zakro representative wait at the lectern until the room fell silent again. The woman had a groomed look that Sarah knew took a lot of time and money to perfect.

Classic Brussels politico chic, she thought. Spend a thousand euros on the outfit but make sure the brand is anonymous.

Eva Weiss opened her folder and stared calmly at the room.

“Mr. Chairman, Councillors, thank you. And people of Cherringham, thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to me—”

“You ain’t seen half of it!” came a voice from the crowd and Sarah saw a ripple of laughter run around the hall.

Eva Weiss smiled and waited for silence again, then began to speak.

“The Zakro Corporation owns and runs over ten thousand supermarkets across the European mainland. We offer consumers consistently low prices, and we promise our workforce a regular wage that usually exceeds local hourly rates. Our building construction is low-impact, and we comply with all social directives in our target locations.”

Someone from the back snorted: “‘Target’ location. That what we are?”

The Zakro rep paused again — one cool customer.