Friday, 22 May 2020

Life in Lockdown

Here's a light-hearted look at exercise for the elderly and  vulnerable (that's me) during lockdown.

© David Robinson 2020

 Check out my main site at: www.dwrob.com

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Chatting with Sue Barnard

A slight departure for me. I'm in conversation with fellow author and good friend, Sue Barnard.



Please feel free to share. You can learn more about Sue at: http://broad-thoughts-from-a-home.blogspot.com/ and as always, I’m at www.dwrob.com


Sunday, 19 April 2020

For Charity



Here in the UK we’re in awe of Captain Tom Moore’s efforts to raise money for the charity NHS Together. At the age of 99, with a couple of weeks to go to his 100th birthday, he decided to raise £1000 for the charity by simply walking 100 times round his garden. According to media reports, he raised a staggering £20 million.
I take my hat off to you, sir.
It made me think about what I can do for charity. Ultimately I came up with the idea of taking five of my self-published titles and donating all profits from them to the same charity, NHS Together.
Here’s a video which I posted on the subject yesterday.

The idea wasn’t mine. It was down to my good friend, Iain Pattison, who is donating profits from his Quintessentially Quirky Tales series to the same charity, and I don’t think either of us is planning on emulating Captain Tom’s efforts. If I can raise even £20, never mind £20 million, it’s something and it will ease my feeling of uselessness during the present crisis.
Four of the titles concerned are thrillers written under the pen name Robert Devine. The fifth, an oddball, off -the-wall comedy, is written under my real name David Robinson, and you can find a full list, along with links:

All five titles are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so you members of Amazon Prime can download and read them as part of your allowance.
From now until the end of the coronavirus crisis, all profits from sales and page reads will be donated to NHS Together.
So what do you get out of it? Entertainment at a reasonable price and the satisfaction of knowing that the profits go to a worthy cause.
I thank you all in advance.

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

A Tangle in Tenerife 2



For all you STAC fans, A Tangle in Tenerife has just passed the 20,000 word mark, and the plot is shuffling along nicely.

In the following sample, Sheila, Brenda and other club members are waiting for the coach to arrive to take them on an excursion, when a distressed young woman enters reception.

***

Tabby Wade hurried into reception and up to the counter. She was obviously in some distress, and although Pablo kept his voice down, she could be clearly heard.

“My husband. Have you seen him?” Obviously worried that Pablo would not understand her, she translated it into Spanish.

Pablo replied in English. His voice was so muted that they could not hear what he said, but a shrug of his broad shoulders was enough to transmit the message. Tabby rushed out of the hotel, and from their seats, they could see her dash into the supermarket next door. She was gone less than a minute, when she came out, she hurried to the kerb, glanced both ways, then dashed across the road, hurrying into The Mother’s Ruin.

She disappeared into the bar, Brenda automatically checked her watch. “Too early for the regular crew. All she’ll find are the cleaners.”

Julia disagreed. “Paddy and his wife live on the premises.”

Almost as soon as she said it, Tabby reappeared with Paddy right behind her, and the two were obviously arguing. Paddy said something, gesticulated wildly with his arms, Tabby poked him in the chest while she gave him a mouthful by return, and Paddy grabbed her finger, leaned into her and from the look on his face, he was obviously threatening her. In the end, she turned, and headed back across the road to the Atoll.

Determined to help, Sheila got to her feet, and met her she rushed into the reception area.

“Tabitha, whatever is the matter?”

Tears streamed down the young woman’s face. “Spike. He’s missing. I woke up twenty minutes ago, and he wasn’t there. They haven’t seen him here, and the supermarket manager haven’t, and neither has that ignorant so-and-so across the road.”

Sheila took her hand, guided her to a sofa just inside the doors. “I’m sure there’s no need to worry. Maybe he’s just gone out for a walk.”

Tabby shook her head. “He wouldn’t go that. Not without telling me first. I’ve got an awful feeling that something’s wrong.”

Sheila recalled the argument she, Brenda and Joe had heard the previous evening, but diplomatically did not mention it.

“How long have you been married?”

To her surprise, Tabby seemed uncertain. “Oh… About… About three months. This is supposed to be our honeymoon. We couldn’t get time off when we were married, and anyway, who wants to go on holiday the middle of January?”

Sheila patted her hand. “It’s a time of adjustment for you both. I mean, I’m assuming you haven’t been married before.”

“We’re not old enough to have that kind of past.” The young woman sniffed back her tears. “We had… Had words last night. One of those silly things. You know. But we were all right when we went to bed.” She looked urgently into Sheila’s caring eyes. “Something’s wrong. He wouldn’t do that. Go out without telling me where he was going.”

Tabby’s distress brought memories of Sheila’s problems the previous year. For a moment, they threatened to overwhelm her, but she steeled herself, burying the distasteful memories. Her problems were the result of a lack of judgement, while Tabby’s could be put down to simple inexperience.

Pulling in a deep breath, letting it out with a sigh, Sheila gently lectured the woman. “I was married for twenty-five years to a wonderful man. He died, you know. Double heart attack. In that time, we had many a cross word, and even though Peter would often take himself off after an argument, he was usually back within an hour or two. Marrying, living together, is a whole new way of life, Tabitha. It’s different to being on your own, or going steady with a boyfriend, when you have space for yourself. It might be that Spike… What is his proper name?”

“Rodney. Rod. He prefers Spike.”

Sheila delivered an encouraging smile, which she feared came out as more of a wince. She had never been in favour of using pet names. “It might be that Spike just needed a little time to himself. Remember, if you’re finding marriage strange, he is too. He’ll be back soon. You wait and see. And if I know anything about young men and new husbands, he’ll probably have a nice bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates for you.”

Tabby gazed hopefully into Sheila’s concerned face. “You think so?”

“I’m sure of it.”

The younger woman sighed. “It’s not like him.” There was a greater sense of urgency about her. “I can’t help getting the feeling—”

Sheila cut her off. “You’re a young woman in love. It’s natural to be worried. If you’ll take my advice, go back to your apartment, make yourself a cup of tea, and try ringing him.”

“I already tried. His mobile’s turned off. That’s another thing. He never switches it off.”

Sheila maintained the benign set of her face, but behind it, the first hint of doubt entered the mind. It seemed to her that young men and women these days never switched off their mobile phones. Joe had often commented that the modern generation would need them surgically removed. A standard, irritable, Joe Murray observation on the world at large, but it was not without foundation. Even here, a holiday paradise, most people, locals and visitors alike, could be seen fooling around with their phones. They could not even enjoy a cup of coffee in an open-air cafe without tapping or chatting away on them.

Why then would Spike Wade switch his off?

With no obvious answer to the question, she determined to encourage Tabby. “It sounds as if he really does need a little time to himself. Keep your phone on, Tabitha. He’ll be in touch when he begins to miss you.”

***

Ooh. The plot thickens like gravy. Where is Spike? Why is his phone switched off? Will Joe, Sheila, Brenda and Co come to the rescue of the distraught wife?

I know you’re bursting for answers, but you’ll have to wait a while. A Tangle in Tenerife, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #20 (even though it’s the 21st book) will be with you in the late spring.

In the meantime, check out the other titles HERE

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Anagramist Second Sample



Time you were seeing another sample of The Anagramist, this time from Chapter 17.

I’ll not tell you too  much about it, other than Drake and his partner Becky are central to the tale at this point. Drake is a counsellor and head of department at Howley College, and Becky is sergeant in the uniformed division of the town’s police. Drake is also counselling Sam, whom we met in the last sample.

Now read on.

*

Coming from the college at a few minutes after half past nine, Drake was not in the best of moods.

Storms had battered much of the UK over the weekend, and the aftermath had seen the river levels rise to the point where the Wharfe was threatening to burst its banks. The winds had abated through Sunday night/Monday morning but to add to the town’s woes they brought flurries of light snow, creating more havoc for drivers and pedestrians alike, and when he left the college after a compulsory evening shift, the air temperature hovered just above zero, bringing the ever present threat of ice above the thin covering of snow.

It had been a tedious day. Two classes, both of them sparsely attended by the kind of students who would always be there come hell or high water, a single session with a member of staff in need of counselling on her husband’s gambling addiction, and a lengthy, tedious management meeting in the afternoon during which he managed to get into several arguments with his colleagues, and particularly Principal Quentin.

In such circumstances, Becky would usually provide the safety valve, but she was on late shift, and the police were still on maximum alert. It was two weeks since last Anagramist attack, which had taken place two weeks after the first, and they were anticipating the killer, working to a regular routine, striking again. In Becky’s case it meant that she and her uniformed colleagues would be called to every tiny incident, no matter how apparently irrelevant, to ensure that it was not the build-up to another murder. When he spoke to her at eight o’clock, she was as irritated as him, having already dealt with four separate calls, two of them domestics, one a case of shoplifting, and the final one an argument in a pub.

To compound matters, news had reached him via Iris Mullins that Sam had taken a step backwards. At their last appointment, a week previously, she had been in a much better frame of mind, and had opened up a little more to him. Drake confidently expected her to accept the Landshaven post within the next couple of weeks, after which, he could move on to preparing her for a return to work.

Despite warnings from Dr Southam that she was still at a stage of finely balanced indecision, Iris had pressed too hard, and Sam had slipped back into previous mood of surliness, and was refusing to cooperate or even speak to the staff once again.

In relating the tale, Iris was full apology, in response to which, Drake vented some of his annoyance on her, delivered in a forthright lecture on the need to read his reports closely, and not put groundless interpretations on them. He was due to see Sam in a little over twelve hours, and he anticipated a torrid time at Peace Garden.

Climbing the steep hill out of Howley centre, turning onto Moor Heights Lane, his turgid thoughts mumbling and grumbling, only half his mind on his driving, all he really wanted for now was to get in the house, take a quick shower, and flake in front of the fire until Becky got home at about eleven o’clock.

He passed the last of his neighbours, almost half a mile from his home, and the area plunged into darkness as the last of the sparse streetlights disappeared behind him. He had always thought it one of the loneliest areas in the town, but then, that had been half the appeal of the place when they bought it. His job entailed dealing with people; so did Becky’s. What better antidote than living in splendid isolation on the edge of the moors?

The address was 196 Moor Heights Lane, which had long been a puzzle to him. How had the powers that be calculated the number? His nearest neighbours were almost half a mile away, and consisted of a row of cottages, numbered two to twenty-six, and according to his researches there had never been any property on the intervening land. Was his house numbered purely as a guess? Had the post office decided that it would be number 196 if someone had built on the intervening gap? Or was it simply a case that they needed a house number, and they were leaving a suitable gap for future building developments?

His was also the last house on the road. Beyond it there was nothing but the moors, grazing land for sheep and dotted with the occasional reservoirs. There were several lanes leading off to the left, all of which led back into Howley, but straight ahead the road led to the A59 in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey, one of the recognised gateways to the Yorkshire Dales.

But that very seclusion presented problems of its own, especially in the winter, and not all of them related to the weather. In the early days, they had found themselves the infrequent target of burglars, and they were compelled to invest a considerable sum of money in advanced security precautions. At the slightest hint of movement, a PIR system automatically switched on powerful lights flooding both front and rear of the house, and they stayed on for several minutes. The intruder alarm met with all the necessary legal requirements, but the house’s location in total darkness meant that the flashing blue light fixed to the front wall could be seen from the town centre.

It was always his policy to reverse into the broad drive. It was marginally safer than driving in, and then having to reverse out onto the lane. As he pulled past, he noticed a Renault Clio parked thirty yards further on, and the alarms began to ring in his head. Intruder.

Other than a breakdown, or workmen repairing the dry stone walls and fences, there was nothing out here which would account for a car parked on the roadside, but in this instance, it was too late in the day for any workmen, and a breakdown looked unlikely. As far as he could ascertain, there was no one in the car, and in this day and age of the mobile telephone, it was even less likely that the driver would leave the vehicle and go in search of a phone box, the nearest of which was almost a mile back down the lane.

Senses on full alert, he reversed into the drive, killed the engine, and flipped the switch to unlock and open the boot. As he climbed out, the floodlights came on and brought a false daylight to the concrete drive and surrounding areas.

His was a large property, and even with the security lighting on, there were many places where an intruder might hide, particularly in the deeper shadows on the inside of the dry stone walls to the left side and rear of the house. He reached into the boot and took out the wheel brace/tyre iron. Only about nine inches in length, bent at one end to facilitate the removal of the wheel nuts, it was nevertheless forged of steel, and it would be enough to persuade unwelcome visitors that the best course of action was to scram.

He took out his smartphone, activated the torch, and walked to the corner of the house, from where he shone the light along the line of the front and side dry stone walls, adding to the illumination of the floodlights. At that distance, the torch was poor, but it was still enough to let him see that there was no one in hiding.

He switched off the torch, and made his way back to the front door, fished into his pocket for his key, and inserted it into the lock.

The door was composed of white uPVC, but there were two, decorative panes set into the upper quadrants. As mirrors, they were poor. Painted roses, and the general frosting of the glass, yielded nothing other than dim reflections, but as he inserted the key in the lock and turned it, he noticed movement in the glass. It came from behind and to his right. Whoever it was must have been hiding on the other side of the dry stone wall to the right, and he had climbed over the wall while Drake had his back turned to check the side and rear gardens. Now, according to his estimate, the intruder was stood at the front of his car.

He began to turn.

There was no sound. The first Drake knew of anything was intolerable pain radiating from the back of his left shoulder, accompanied by a thud as the knife hacked through his jacket and shirt, and sank into his muscles on the outside of his shoulder blade.

With a cry, he fell to the ground, dropped the tyre iron and reached frantically for the source of pain. It was out of the reach of his right hand, and the agony in his left arm made twisting it up his back all but impossible.

Footsteps padded rapidly towards him. The attacker coming at a sprint. The Anagramist. The words rang through Drake’s pain-ridden mind. Before he could turn over, the assailant’s hand pressed his back, and he gripped the knife, sending fresh spears of torture through his prone victim.

He lowered his head close to Drake’s ear.

“I’ll kill them all. I’ll make every one of them pay for what your father did to mine. Including that crazy bitch in Leeds. I thought you’d want to know that before I kill you.”

*

What happens next? Well, you’re gonna have wait to find out.

With luck and a following wind, The Anagramist will be with you in the spring.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Anagramist



A few days back, I put up a promo video for The Anagramist, the first in a new series of crime thrillers. At the end of that video, I put a link to this page, but for anyone who turned up here before now, there’s no mention of it.

So for your edification, here is the whole of Chapter 2 of The Anagramist.

BTW, don’t go looking for the cover.  There isn’t one. That’s just a blank mock up I threw together.

*

She lay on the bed, her back to the door, facing the wall adjacent to the room’s only window. The curtains were closed but penetrated by shallow, winter daylight, a dull, grey caricature of those glorious summer dawns.

“You’ll pay for this, you bitch.”

The roar of his threat echoed around her head, much as it had done for the last three months. Well, he was right. She was paying for it. She began paying the moment she first reported him. ‘Traitor’, ‘back-stabber’, ‘turncoat’ even ‘quisling’. That final, grandiloquent accusation came from one of the older hands, one who she felt should have known better.

Her rank did not seem to matter. One of the junior officers, some kid barely out of the academy, actually confronted her in the corridor. “You didn’t have to grass them up. They were only making a bit of pocket money.”

In an effort to stem the obsessive memories whirling around her head, she glanced at her bedside clock. Just turned eight o’clock. They would be here soon, announcing breakfast, opening the curtains, urging her to move. She didn’t want to move. She never wanted to move.

Pocket money? That was how that kid saw it. And he wasn’t alone. A good number of the station’s crew, CID and uniformed, were of the same opinion.

Sam knew different. After the internal investigation into her possible involvement, Professional Standards, working alongside the fraud squad, told her just how much those eight, crooked officers had been making, and it was a long way from pocket money. Hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And that was the lower estimate.

There was a double knock on the door. It opened, and one of the carers came in. “Morning, Samantha.”

She delivered the cheerful greeting as she bustled her way around the bed, and threw back the curtains.

“Another miserable day. Drop of snow in the air. Breakfast in ten minutes. Time you were making a move.”

The same routine every morning. It grated on her nerves. She yearned to tell the woman to ‘piss off’, but she couldn’t. Breakfast was only served until half past nine. If she missed it, she would get nothing to eat until lunchtime. She would have to leave the comfort of the bed.

Pocket money? At least five people had died, all of them at the hands of John Vaughan.

Protection, drug, people, weapons trafficking. No serious police officer would take the risk of involvement in such criminal sidelines for the sake of pocket money.

Naturally, she kicked that DC’s arse. “I am a detective inspector, and I expect you to treat me with some respect.”

It made no difference. He, along with all those lined up against her, remained unapologetic, and the situation reached a point where Iris Mullins, the Deputy Chief Constable, ordered her posted to another station. Things were little better there, but Sam had no choice other than to hold herself together. Her evidence would be crucial in convicting John Vaughan and his seven cohorts.

The carer left the room, and she dragged herself wearily from the mattress, shuffled to the bathroom. She decided she could not be bothered with a shower, and settled for a wash in the hand basin.

The face in the mirror was almost unrecognisable. The sparkling, china blue eyes were empty, devoid of life, the tangled head of straw hair, urgently in need of a hairdresser’s attention, the perfect, smiling lips, were turned down, not so much in a grimace, but more resignation, a reluctant acceptance that this was what she had come to. Complete collapse after the trial, total physical and mental exhaustion, and put out to grass in this quiet backwater, north of Leeds.

She was just another casualty of the fallout, every bit as much a victim as the dead men and women, the illegal immigrants working the streets or trapped in sweatshops for pennies, the heroin addicts unable to live without the next fix.

“We’ll make sure you’re all right, Sam.”

The words of Iris Mullins after her collapse.

Sam offered her resignation, but Iris would not accept it.

“We have a duty to you, to look after your health and safety. We can’t attend to your physical and psychological needs if you’re no longer part of the service.”

Sam did not want the smothering, cosseting the platitudes of the doctors, nurses and carers. She refused medication, and when one idiot tried to force them down her throat, she spat them back in his face. When they took sterner action to force drugs into her, she deliberately made herself sick, vomiting them back up before the chemicals could get into her bloodstream.

“Fuck off and leave me alone,” she screamed at them.

Living the bathroom, she dressed slowly, mechanically; a pair of jogging pants, a loose-fitting sweatshirt and a pair of trainers.

She stood for a moment at the window, looking out on the grounds. The lawns and flowerbeds were clad in their winter shroud, the grass faded, trees barren, and where the spring and summer would bring a riot of colour, there was only dirty, unkempt earth. There were few birds perched in the trees, only pigeons, blackbirds and the occasional magpie, all hanging around in anticipation of the maintenance crew or patients throwing out scraps of food.

The prosecution counsel had been at pains to point out that she was not obliged to give evidence, but she had insisted. During her fifteen year career, she might have played with the rules now and again, but she never broke them, and she had always made plain her disapproval of crooked cops.

The defence – all eight defendants had separate counsel – gave her a rough ride. That bastard accused her of being the ringleader, and he was just one of the hitmen. It was the same accusation he’d made during his initial interrogation, the same accusation that prompted an investigation into her.

She stood up to them. She remained calm, collected, in complete control of herself, and the media, crowding the courtroom in huge numbers, lauded her has the glamour girl of British policing, the paradigm which every serving officer in the country should strive to emulate.

They knew nothing of the turmoil, the internal agony, the mental anguish it had cost her, but when she asked herself would she do it again, the answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

And the hierarchy were determined to capitalise upon her sudden spotlight status. They tempted her. Immediate promotion to Chief Inspector, the promise of vacancy elsewhere, somewhere where she would lead CID, groom and nurture younger detectives in her virginal image, that of an honest, hard-working police officer.

And then came the gold nugget, the cherry on the icing. Landshaven, Yorkshire’s Premier coastal resort, would soon have a vacancy for a chief inspector. It was hers. All she had to do was say, ‘yes’.

They knew too much about her. They knew of her lifelong love affair with Landshaven, knew that, for her, it would be the dream posting.  

And yet, notwithstanding the pressure coming from Iris Mullins’ office, notwithstanding visits from the woman herself, she could not commit.

Memories of the trial rang round her head; a plethora of images, a cacophony of voices, accusations, counter-accusations, more than one juror complaining of intimidation, and then the judge’s vitriolic summing up, in which he condemned the activities of all eight defendants.

He meted out sentences ranging from eight to fifteen years, but reserved his most virulent opprobrium for John Vaughan, describing him as an axis of evil around which the other officers captivated by his almost magnetic personality, turned.

And Sam knew about that persuasiveness. She had been seduced by it too.

But no longer.

He was charged with found guilty of the same offences as his co-conspirators, he was also convicted on five charges of murder, and given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of twenty-five years.

He reserved his fury for Sam, pausing as he was led from the dock to begin his sentence, turning to glower at her, and screaming, “You’ll pay for this, you bitch. I’ll kill you.”

She remained unrepentant. To Samantha Vaughan, it made no difference that the ringleader, the man accused of leading a five-year double life as a senior detective on the one hand, and criminal architect of the worst kind on the other, was her husband of eight years.

*

So that’s Sam’s situation. What does she have to do with The Anagramist? You’ll have to wait, read the book to find out, and I’m confident that it will be with you by the late spring or early summer.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

A Tangle inTenerife




Yesterday, I promised to post the opening chapter of A Tangle in Tenerife, the 21st Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery. Naturally, I didn’t get it ready in time, and when I did, there wasn’t much I could put up that would tempt you. Instead, here is the close of Chapter 2.

Joe is at Manchester Airport, and having had his camera stolen, he’s in a grim mood and taken himself for a final smoke before boarding. In the smoke area, he’s met up with Chris Givens from Burnley who also happens to be travelling to Tenerife.

Now read on…

***

“I’ll be honest, Chris, I’m more your Scarborough or Skegness kinda guy, these days. I’ve been to the Canary Islands before.” He shuddered at the recollection of his dash from Palmanova. In order to suppress it, he worked quickly through a montage of memories as he prattled on. “Come to that, I’ve been to most parts of the world, mostly in the days when I was married, and I’ve seen all I wanna see, but our club is a democracy and the members voted for it.”

He could have added that it was his idea, but he did not.

“I like Tenerife.” There was a hint of defiance in Givens’s voice as if he were challenging Joe to disagree. “Warm all year round, without getting too hot, food’s digestible and you get decent, English beer there.”

“You could say the same about Skegness,” Joe argued. “Except for the warm all year round bit.”

Givens laughed, a low grunt like the snort of a pig. “I’d argue about the decent English beer in Skegness, too. Always said, you can’t get a decent pint south of Knutsford.”

Joe, too, laughed. “Sheffield on our side of the Pennines.”

“Listen, Joe, do yourself a favour. There’s a pub right across the road from the Atoll. The Mother’s Ruin. Paddy, the lad who runs it, keeps a belting pint, and he has entertainment on every night. Music from the sixties right up to the nineties.”

“I know it well,” Joe declared. He was telling the truth this time. He had worked for Paddy McLintock, the proprietor, as a short order cook during his stay on the island, while he was on the run from Palmanova. “My crowd should love it. The sixties, anyway. Not so sure about the nineties. Maybe I’ll see you in there, Chris.”

“Maybe you will, Joe.”

Congratulating himself on his ability to make new friends despite his reputation for surliness, Joe crushed out his cigarette, and with a final, “see you,” made his way back into the terminal where he found his two companions urgently checking their watches.

Sheila scolded him. “Everyone’s making for the gate. We thought you weren’t going to make it.”

“You worry too much. Which way do we go?”

Brenda handed Joe his backpack and picked up her handbag. “Follow me. And make sure you’ve got your boarding pass.”

While he followed the two women and other passengers along the spur leading away from the departure lounge, Joe found Les Tanner alongside him.

“Lost your camera, I believe, Murray?” As always, Tanner’s tones were clipped, military, befitting a man who was in charge of a small department at Sanford town Hall, and an ex-officer in the Territorial Army.

Joe had learned to disregard the authoritarian air many years previously, but there were those times when it irked. “Do you make a speciality of getting up my nose, Les?”

“I could,” Tanner agreed, “but I can find better things to do with my life. It simply occurred to me that losing your camera is entirely symptomatic of your lackadaisical approach to everything.”

“And are you so much better.” Joe stopped and stared his antagonist in the eye. “Remind me who misplaced his camera in Cornwall last year—”

“It was stolen, not lost.”

“— And who got it back for him.”

“Only after the police were finished with it.”

“Let me tell you something Les. I didn’t lose the damn camera. Someone stole it. And I won’t be here to find it for myself. Now come on. We’re supposed to be on holiday, aren’t we? Call a truce for the coming week.” Joe walked on, hurrying to catch up with Sheila and Brenda.

When they reached the far end, it was to find most of the available seating already taken. Joe saw Chris Givens sat alone near the windows, and opposite him were the young couple who had been so busy with their passports. George Robson and Owen Frickley were chatting with Alec and Julia Staines, while Mavis Barker had nodded off to sleep again.

Through the large windows, a telescopic bridge projected from the building to the forward door of their aircraft. Joe could see the pilot and co-pilot chatting, laughing over something, in the cockpit.

“How do they stay up?” Brenda asked. “The aeroplane, I mean, not the crew.”

Joe had the answer “Speed. The forward momentum and fast moving air under the wings, lifts it off the ground. As long as it’s moving forward, it’ll stay aloft.”

Brenda grinned. “You’re a mine of useless information, aren’t you, dear?”

“Yes, but there’s one piece of information I’m short of right now.”

Brenda raised her eyebrows and Joe snorted.

“Where’s my cam…”

He trailed off on seeing the security guard he’d dealt with earlier, hurrying towards them.

“Mr Murray,” she gasped, almost out of breath by the time she reached them. “We… we think we’ve got… got your camera.”

She handed the time over and Joe checked it. On the battery compartment he made out the initials LL. “Yes. It’s mine.”

With a broad smile, the security officer produced a form. Joe checked the details and signed it. While she walked off and the passengers began to move to the gate, Joe switched the camera on, and checked the photographs he had taken earlier in the morning.

“That just about makes my day,” he grumbled.

“What’s wrong, Joe?” Sheila asked. “You got it back, didn’t you?”

He showed her the blank screen on the rear of the camera, and its simple message. No image.

“Now why would anyone go the trouble of stealing my camera just to wipe the images off it?”

***

Why indeed?

Naturally, because this is a Sanford3rd Age Club Mystery, the puzzle will only become more complex.

A Tangle in Tenerife, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #21, will be with you some time in the late spring. Watch this space.