Hardcastle's Collector

In August 1917 the head of the CID at Scotland Yard sends Divisional Detective Inspector Ernest Hardcastle and Detective Sergeant Charles Marriott of the Whitehall Division of the Metropolitan Police to Alton in Hampshire.  The town was known for the infamous murder of Sweet Fanny Adams in 1867, but it is the murder of Daisy Salter in the nearby village of Thresham Parva that the two officers are to investigate.  

In an entirely different world from London, Hardcastle has to adapt to the slower pace of country life, and the deference shown to the gentry and the well-to-do. But it is not in Hardcastle’s nature to be inhibited by them and he ruffles a few feathers.  

For once he has plenty of suspects.  Was the murderer one of the many men Daisy had made eyes at?  Was it the shifty individual who left the local pub and disappeared the moment he saw Hardcastle?  

Was it one of several soldiers she had befriended?  That it might even have been the girl’s father crossed Hardcastle’s mind.  Curiously though, it was a railwayman’s button found in the dead girl’s handbag that finally led Hardcastle to the murderer.  But only after he discovered the identity of the collector of such items.

© Graham Ison 2017