A day in the life of a London pickpocket.
Ernie Bisquets blames his lot in life on many things, but never on his name. To the contrary, it rolls off his tongue as if he were the mayor of London. Add to that the confident swagger in his walk and you have a gentleman who fits right in among the swells of Mayfair society. He’s always impeccably dressed, with shoes polished and the day’s paper tucked neatly under his arm. On a leisurely stroll through Grosvenor Square he might stop you for a light, commenting on the weather or a bit of business he thought you might find of interest. You would share pleasantries, even commend him for seeing your point of view on the latest headline, and then with a wink and a nod he bids you good day.
Most people walk away feeling good about sharing a pleasant moment of their day with a new acquaintance. I’m sure a few even convinced themselves they had met before over cocktails at the club. Did he mention his name? No matter, you’re quite sure you’ll see him again on Bond Street or strolling through Berkeley Square. Ernie Bisquets has quite an effect on people, so it’s no wonder it would be hours before you realized your wallet was missing.
Common pickpocket? Not Ernie Bisquets. In the shadows of London, where others less skilled in his profession can be found, his name is whispered with respect. “Anybody can nick a purse at night in a crowd” they would say, “but it’s a true artist what does it midday in Mayfair.” And it was midday in Mayfair that Ernie Bisquets earned his reputation.
Lord Patterson Coats, now retired, was HM Chief Inspector of Prisons at the time Ernie Bisquets was working in the prison cafeteria in Edmunds Hill. A dripping soup ladle at lunch one autumn day brought the two together. Ernie’s life took a hard right turn, though the aspect of murder and mayhem tugging relentlessly at his coattails was somehow overlooked in Patterson’s proposal of uniting their talents.
From time to time Patterson Coats is called on to investigate particularly challenging police cases, or handle delicate matters for the Crown. Despite his personal reach into all aspects of British society he lacks the ability to walk about in the shadows of London. It was to fill that void he extended an opportunity to Ernie to give back to the society he spent years making withdraws from. Ernie was quick to accept. His stay at Edmunds Hill was enough for him to consider stepping over to the other side of the law, but not everyone welcomed him with open arms.
If putting his past behind him and the new challenge of dealing with proper villains isn’t enough, Detective Inspector “Derby” Flannel stands just out of the shadows waiting for Bisquets to slip back into his old ways. The good inspector and Ernie have a history, and Flannel intends to write the last chapter sooner rather than later.
This last fact makes the new book, Passage Of Crime, that much more intriguing. Flannel finds himself navigating a very treacherous course. The recent murder of a young woman has links to 5 previously unsolved murders. Flannel’s superiors have warned him for the last time to tread cautiously around an MP he suspects was involved in the past. Because of the MP’s association with Patterson Coats, the inspector is left with no choice but to go behind his back and rely on the assistance of Ernie Bisquets. Together they disentangle a mesh of old lies and current clues attempting to bring a ruthless murderer to justice–ignoring the dangerous notion of murder being a carefully disguised trait passed from one generation to the next.
This is the last stop on the Passage of Crime Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. For other stops on this tour, click HERE
You can read more about Ernie in Passage of Crime, the third book in the “Ernie Bisquets” mystery series, published by East London Press. The first book in the series is Along Came A Fifer. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Click HERE for a rafflecopter giveaway of a signed hardback edition of the book.
Meet the author
Michael is a classically trained artist who has been painting for over 25 years. By channeling his creative talents into writing, and his passion for London and traditional English mysteries, he created The Ernie Bisquets Mystery Series. Michael has completed 3 books in the series and has plans for at least five additional books following the adventurers of London’s most remarkable pickpocket.
Michael is a proud member of the Crime Writer’s Association and Mystery Writers Of America.