AMY ROWLINGS RETURNS!
Sunday morning, and the body of Reverend Villiers has been found propped up on the vigil seat in the church’s lychgate. It appears that he has been poisoned.
When amateur sleuth and regular churchgoer, Amy Rowlings arrives she finds DI Bodkin already at the scene. Bodkin tells her about a cryptic scripture reference that has been scrawled in chalk on the stone slabs beneath the body. What the citation hints at, shocks everyone.
Amy, a huge Agatha Christie fan is determined to get involved in the investigation and despite a stern warning from the detective’s boss, Amy and Bodkin team up again to try to solve the most complex murder case he has ever been involved in. When the toxicology report comes back from the lab, the results only add to the mystery.
Meanwhile, Amy looks to her favourite Agatha Christie character, Hercule Poirot for help, and using his techniques, she narrows down the list of possible murderers to just nine suspects.
Can Amy fit together the jigsaw of clues to solve this, the most complex of cases?
The early morning mist that crawled across the land from the Kent coast, covered the tombstones like a thin grey cloak as a pale, almost water-colour March sun began to rise from behind the church tower.
In the town, men slept off the excesses of their Saturday night drinking while their wives bathed a new black eye or cut lip before starting to prepare breakfast for the family. Children would be scrubbed and dressed in their Sunday best clothes before being packed off to be lectured about their heathen ways at Sunday School. Although most of the working-class adults shunned the church, having far more important things to do on a Sunday morning, it was thought that the weekly disciplined routine was good for the children, though there was the added benefit of getting them out of their hair for an hour.
At nine o’clock precisely, Mrs Rosegarden climbed off her bicycle and wheeled it across the pavement to the church gates. Finding them still locked, she frowned, looked at her wristwatch, then checked the time again by the church clock.
‘Villiers,’ she snorted into the misty air. The aging, but surprisingly sprightly woman turned her bike around and rode across the pavement to the west side of the church where the lychgate entrance was situated.
The brittle haired, bespectacled Sunday School teacher was a woman to be feared, even by the toughest of the ragamuffins that attended her scripture lessons. Quick to anger and swift to punish she patrolled the room like a prison guard. Armed with a bible in one hand and a leather strap in the other, she stalked the three, wooden benches quoting from both testaments, threatening dire consequences, both in the present and in the afterlife for anyone who closed their ears to the word of God.
‘Drunk again, Villiers,’ she hissed as she dismounted by the lychgate. She leaned her bike against the high, stone wall and lifted the catch that secured the rough, wooden pole gates. Pulling them open, she looked through the gabled, porch-like structure to the mist covered tombstones beyond.
Sighing, she retrieved her bicycle and wheeled it over the grey-slab paving towards the gravel path that led to the church.
As she strode under the roof of the lychgate she glanced to her right-hand side where the figure of a grey haired, bespectacled man was slumped on the vigil seat. On the floor beneath the seat, a bible reference had been written in yellow chalk. Romans 13.13-14.
The man’s eyes were open, staring at nothing, his shoulders were hunched and his neck was twisted at what must have been a very uncomfortable angle. His lips were parted and his teeth were bared in a skeleton-like grin.
‘Reverend Villiers!’ Mrs Rosegarden exclaimed. Leaning her bike against the vigil seat on the opposite side of the lychgate, she reached out and grabbed the vicar by the shoulder. When he didn’t respond she shook him. When that failed to rouse him, she squatted down, grabbed the lapels of his grey jacket and shook him again.
As the vicar’s head slumped forward, the Sunday School teacher stood and turned in one movement. Forgetting her bicycle, she hurtled into the main road shouting at the top of her voice. ‘Help… someone help…. It’s the Reverend Villiers. He’s dead.’
About the author
T A Belshaw is from Derbyshire in the United Kingdom where he shares a house with his chatty rescue cat, Mia. He writes for both children and adults. A former miner and computer technician, Trevor studied Advanced Creative Writing at the Open University. He is the author of Tracy’s Hot Mail, Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail and the noir, suspense novella, Out of Control. Following the sudden death of his wife in 2015 Trevor took a five-year break from writing, returning during lockdown in 2020, when an injury forced him to take time off work. The result of this new creative burst was the Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Unspoken and the Historical Cosy Crime Whodunnit, Murder at the Mill.
Trevor signed his first contract with Spellbound Books Ltd in April 2021. He signed a further mullti-book contract with them in the spring of 2022.
His short stories have been published in various anthologies including 100 Stories for Haiti, 50 Stories for Pakistan, Another Haircut, Shambelurkling and Other Stories, Deck the Halls, 100 Stories for Queensland and The Cafe Lit anthology 2011, 2012 and 2013. He also has two pieces in Shambelurklers Return. 2014
Trevor is also the author of 15 children’s adventure books written under the name of Trevor Forest.
His children’s poem, Clicking Gran, was long listed for the Plough prize (children’s section) in 2009 and his short poem, My Mistake, was rated Highly Commended and published in an anthology of the best entries in the Farringdon Poetry Competition.
Trevor’s articles have been published in magazines as diverse as Ireland’s Own, The Best of British and First Edition.
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/trevorbelshaw