This hasn’t been a typical day – they don’t occur too often at Frogs Hill Farm, even if it is in the heart of the supposedly quiet English countryside. On second thoughts, maybe it was typical, because most days here star the unexpected and today achieved this in a big way.
It began badly. My classic car restoration business, which is run from a converted barn called the Pits, means it’s seldom quiet on the farm – except at night, when the world falls silent and I can walk to the pub for a nightcap under a starlit sky. It certainly wasn’t quiet this morning. Len and Zoe, my stalwart and dedicated staff in the Pits, which they regard as their exclusive territory, arrived so early that the noise of Zoe’s clapped-out wreck she calls a car woke me up at the crack of dawn.
It wasn’t even seven o’clock as yet. Then I remembered the French classic car, a Facel Vega, that had arrived yesterday and of course they couldn’t wait to get started. So my day began like this: get up – alone, alas. Today however this factor was something I came to regard as a privilege when my phone rang. I recognised the voice immediately and the ghastly spectre of the alternative to a lonely bed rose up before my eyes. It was my ex werewolf wife Eva. I had thought she was living peacefully – or given her temperament delete the peacefully – in South America with her bandleader husband Carlos, with whom she did a vanishing act twenty odd years ago.
Hearing her voice was shock enough, but when I heard why she was ringing, shock turned to horror. She wasn’t in South America, she was approximately fifteen miles from Frogs Hill, standing on a river bank where the murdered body of her husband had just been found. She needed help bigtime – and I was it.
I do work for the police, but for their car crime unit, not the serious crimes department. It’s true I have brushed up against several murder cases in the past, but I’ve no wish to repeat the experience. Ever felt like getting in a car and driving hell for leather to Never Never Land? I might have done just that, but there was no way I could. Partly this was because Eva is the best spinner of tales since Hans Christian Andersen, so I was already doomed. I turned the car towards the crime scene to meet my fate.
I was right. My old adversary Detective Chief Inspector Brandon already had me down as a suspect thanks to Eva’s glowing description of me as a man so pent up with jealous passion that I had got up in the middle of the night and rushed off to slaughter this poor man for doing me a favour and running off with my wife twenty years ago.
As I write this, the future looks murky. I returned to Frogs Hill, trying to figure out just what I should do. I didn’t have much choice actually. I’d have to work out who killed Carlos. Which is why I’m sitting here writing this. Where Eva’s concerned, life gets complicated and dangerous, so I intend to record my every movement as evidence in case there’s a shoot-out at the OK Corral. True, Frogs Hill doesn’t look much like the OK Corral but this area can boast more ghosts than anywhere else in Kent and I wouldn’t like to join them without having my say first.
Len and Zoe were agog to know what happened, when I parked my car after returning from the crime scene. The last they had seen of me this morning was as an afflicted madman screaming about the blows of fate in the aftermath of Eva’s phone call. They even left the Facel Vega to listen to me.
I then had the inevitable visit from the police. Apparently Eva was now chief suspect, not me, which meant that I really did have to track down the truth. Then consolation arrived in the form of Daisy. Could life be all bad if a beguilingly beautiful young blonde pleads with you to find her missing Morris Minor car called Melody?
Life can oblige with such graceful turnabouts, and after I’d taken a walk to the village pub for a pint of beer and fish and chips I felt reconciled to the world. Or almost – I still have a murder to solve plus a missing car to find. That’s tomorrow’s problem though. As for now, well, as Samuel Pepys said: ‘And so to bed.’
But that’s another story.
Read what comes next in Classic Mistake by Amy Myers, published on 1 July by Severn House and available on Amazon. Classic Mistake is the fourth in the Jack Colby Car Detective series; the first in the series is Classic in the Barn. Jack Colby has his own website and blog at www.jackcolby.co.uk.
Meet the author
Amy Myers (www.amymyers.net) has written a wide range of crime and suspense novels including two contemporary series, starring Jack Colby and Marsh & Daughter and two historical series, set in Victorian times and starring master chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. She is also well known for her short stories, many of which are published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
She lives in Kent, UK, and is married to American-born James Myers, who is a classic car buff. The Jack Colby series was their joint creation, with Jim’s input on the classic car background and Amy writing the novels.
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.