Archives for posts with tag: Crime

Hand In Glove #1, 2013

Her answers checked out, but she twitched and fiddled. She seemed fragile and restless, rocking to and fro on the edge of the armchair. Some did – nervous witnesses often assumed the manner of the guilty. Something in the corner of the room she didn’t want him to see. Drugs? She never let her gaze go that way. The way she moved her head gave it away. Quinnell looked where she wouldn’t. A small portable TV next to an occasional table on which stood the kind of table lamp you would pick up in a discount store, and an unused glass ashtray; nothing unusual.

DI Quinnell thanked her for her time. “You’re not planning on leaving town are you? Only we may need to talk to you again if there are any details we need to clarify.”

She assured him she was staying put until the holidays in August. “So why did you run off?” he said. Without missing a beat, she said, “I was scared.” He told her that her friend, one of the other member of waiting staff, had stayed put until the police arrived. She glanced around the room, avoiding the one spot, then shook her head and said, “I ain’t him.”

“No,” he said and consulted his watch. There were other visits to be made, including one to Tanya’s flat. The framed erotic print on the wall reminded him to get going.

As he got into the Rover, he saw the girl framed by the sitting room window, elaborately placing a hat on her head, as if she was playing a dressing up game. A confection that involved a black lace veil. The other young woman who’d done a runner was a mystery. Savage was seen with her on his arm. Then nothing.


Hand In Glove was the first single to be released by The Smiths (May 1983). It did not chart (unless you include the Indie Chart) and I would have missed it had it not been for a friend in my English class who lent it me along with This Charming Man.  He told me they were the best band he’d ever heard (he still maintains this is the case). And I was totally blown away.

If you’re new to The Smiths skip the debut album and go straight to Hatful of Hollow – both of the singles are on it along with superior versions of most of the debut along with BBC session tracks. You can listen to Hand In Glove here.


In Slow Time #1, 2013


“It’s an unusual one for Bamtree,” said the Coroner. “Normally speaking I get people who’ve slashed their own wrists, not ones who’ve had a little helper. These are very careful, deliberate incisions. Someone took the time to do the job properly. Of course, the aconite was a big help in this. Our victim was paralysed – probably got to see his own lifeblood draining away. Nasty, if that’s what our murderer did. Hypothesis, of course. Any idea who did it, Rufus?”

“No,” said Quinnell. “Our victim’s got form though and connections with some of the usual Bamtree lot.”

The coroner let out a whistle. “So this was done to convey a message?”

“He was holding a piece of paper with Fin written on it,” said Quinnell.

“Bloody Hell, Rufus. Our killer has a dark sense of humour,” said the coroner.

“Yeah.” Quinnell smiled.


 So why use aconite? And the focus on the veins. Was that part of the message or just a method of torture? What it did mean was that despite Mark Savage’s size, the killer did not need to be a big man. Mark Savage had been incapacitated by a herb. And then drained of blood, possibly while still conscious. Rather than narrowing down the list of suspects swarming in DI Quinnell’s head, the coroner’s report had just enlivened them.

There had been no aconite found in Savage’s nostrils. So he had not mistakenly snorted the powder. The poison had been swallowed along with a chicken and bacon sandwich, some tomato, rye bread and mozerella cheese, and several glasses of red wine.


In Slow Time is the sixth track on Peter Hammill’s 1980 album, A Black Box. With the exception of some sax and flute (courtesy Peter Jackson of Van der Graaf Generator) and synthesizer and tambourine (played by David Ferguson, co-writer of In Slow Time and member of Random Hold), all the instrumentation was performed by Hammill. Side one of the original LP is made up of seven songs, side two one: Flight (19:36). It was the first time, post Van der Graaf Generator that Hammill had recorded a complex, multi-section song. And it’s a doozy! You can see a video of  Peter Hammill dancing to In Slow Time here. I’m not putting a link in to Flight – I’m sure you can find it if you want to or, you know, go and buy the album.


I Come and Stand at Your Door #1, 2013

 “You’re wearing odd shoes,” said Detective Sergaent Donohue. Quinnell grumbled. He shuffled across the tiles towards Donohue, a pained expression on his face, his plastic overshoes rustling. “It’s an interesting look,” said Donohue.

“Why did you call me, Franc? Surely you know, I’m the sh_t on the sole of the department’s shoe. My presence here could cause you all kinds of problems,” said Quinnell.

“Oh, I don’t think so, DI Quinnell,” said Donohue. He busied himself with the examination of the corpse. “There’s cash in his trouser pocket, and a what looks like a wallet in his jacket, so I don’t think we’re looking at a robbery,” said Donohue.

The victim was sprawled on the toilet, a lilac shirt wound round his head like a makeshift bandage. But there did not appear to be any blood on it. The victim was naked to the waist, suggesting the shirt was his own. A loosely folded sheet of paper protruded from his left hand. Quinnell placed the man in his forties. His lower jaw reminded Quinnell of that of a comic book hero. It was accentuated by a beard as black as a policeman’s notebook.

“What about Stamp? Did you call him?” said Quinnell. Donohue hummed to himself. “Stamp’s sick,” he said. “Ah, so I was second choice after all,” said Quinnell. Donohue stooped to examine the victim’s arms. “Wounds to both wrists. Most of the blood’s pooled here and here. Odd but it looks like once the action moved into the cubicle, he just sat still for it,” said Donohue. “And no, I wanted you.”

Quinnell crouched down to examine the trail of blood that led out of the cubicle. “Did you get a statement from the CSOs?” he said. DS Donohue nodded and said, “But they weren’t the first on the scene. The two men who raised the alarm would have been more useful, but the CSOs let them go.”

Donohue registered Quinnell’s look of disbelief, then smiled and said, “It gets better. The CSOs compromised the scene: no gloves or overshoes. Their fingerprints are probably everywhere. And one of them moved the body – he thought our man here was alive.”

Quinnell shook his head. “What about the other witnesses – the party guests?” he said.

“One of the CSOs ran into the private view and told the guests what they’d found. The guests lost interest in the art pretty quickly after that,” said Donohue.

“I can’t believe I let you drag me into this – I’ve got a bad foot,” said Quinnell.


I Come and Stand At Your Door is the twelfth track on The Fall’s 1997 album, Levitate. It’s a predominantly electronic collection and features sound cut-ups and unusual vocal arrangements (particularly on The Quartet of Doc Shanley). I Come and Stand At Your Door is one of the more straightforward tracks – based on a poem by Nazım Hikmet and a traditional tune, previously performed by Pete Seeger, The Misunderstood and The Byrds. The album was released on a label called Artful, which no longer exists, so the physical artifact is pretty difficult to track down. You can hear the whole album here. I thoroughly recommend you listen to track 4, I’m a Mummy!


Lemmings #1, 2013

Spider clawed at the thick fingers around his throat. He stamped at the pedals, the floor of the car, and the door, but he couldn’t seem to get the message through to Quinnell that he did not want to die. “Stop struggling,” said Quinnell. He gave Spider’s head a hard slap and Spider did as he was told. The Mustang’s windows had steamed up. From the darkness a short-bladed knife consolidated itself and glittered in the rear-view mirror.

“Mr Quinnell,” Spider hissed.

“You mucked everything up,” said Quinnell with a tone that sounded like regret. He pressed the tip of the blade to Spider’s throat. Spider yelped.

Quinnell’s face was flushed. Even the red in his moustaches seemed to have intensified. Following the curve of Spider’s throat, the blade moved slowly and with great deliberation, not too soft and not too hard. Momentarily, it left behind a neat red line. Then it got messy.

Spider spluttered something that sounded like f_k. “You didn’t have to do that,” he rasped. He squirmed in his seat. There was blood down the front of his yellow jumpsuit.

“It’s been a long day,” said Quinnell.

Spider tried to turn his head, but Quinnell did not want him to turn his head. So he hit the side of Spider’s head with the hilt of his knife to keep it where he wanted it.

“How did you find me?” said Spider.

“I’m asking the questions,” said Quinnell. “You lied to me, Mickey.”

The slight movement of Spider’s neck Quinnell’s fingers allowed suggested he wanted to shake his head. “Why?” said Quinnell. Spider sniffed.

“Of course, you’re not going to tell me anything. Not for nothing; that would be against your principles,” said Quinnell. “But I could torture the answer out of you.”

“Who’s your boss, Mr. Quinnell?” Spider hissed.

“You’re the one who knows everything; you tell me,” said Quinnell.

“Detective Superintendent Pankhurst,” said Spider. “Think about it.”

“Pathetic. That’s your answer?” Quinnell relaxed his grip. But the knife blade remained. “Very weak, Mickey,” he said.

Spider chanced turning his head to face his interrogator. “The culture’s changing, Mr. Quinnell,” he said. “And Bamtree’s changing with it. Our old arrangement was good, but someone made me a better offer.”

“Who actually paid you?” said Quinnell.

“No money involved.” Spider laughed a tight little laugh, which turned into a cough that rattled through him and shook the car around them. When the fit subsided he added, “Just be glad you didn’t hurt me too bad, Mr. Quinnell. I’ve become an asset.”

“You’re a prick,” said Quinnell. “Tell me who paid you.”

“I can’t do that, Mr Quinnell. As you know, words is my business, and those words would cost me dear.” There was a sour chemical taint to Spider’s breath. He turned back round so he was facing the windscreen. “Please don’t make a mistake here that we’ll both regret.”

“Mickey, you are no longer under my protection. May God help you.” Quinnell withdrew the knife. He slid back in his seat, folded the knife away, swung the car door open and climbed out. It had all been for nothing – paying the kid in the squad car – the bloody car-chase. Quinnell blinked in the darkness.


Lemmings (Including Cog) is the first track on Van der Graaf Generator’s 1971 album, Pawn Hearts. The original album was a massive three tracks long, the whole of side two being taken up by A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers (23:04). The album reached the number one spot in Italy. When the band toured the country to support it in 1972, riots broke out. Exhausted on their return to the UK, the band split. And reformed in 1975. Split again in 1978. Reformed in 2005 and are still going today (minus flute/ sax player David Jackson). The remaining members (Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans) are touring this year and have promised to play A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers in full. You can see the song being performed on Belgian TV here. But, you know, buy the album.


Just after I ran into Jimmy Clancy, I met up with David Cook. I’ve known David since 1986. We were at art school together in the nineteen (mutter, mutter, mutter). He’s an artist and runs a great blog about art in London here. I was very jealous of David’s red jacket (not the reason this photograph is B&W). Anyway, thanks for letting me take your photograph, David! Hope you like it.

David Cook, 2013

Industry #1, 2013

Spider took some time to decide the shape was inanimate. While he was thinking about it, a thick mist descended on the quarry, coating everything in glistening damp. He shrugged and shrugged again, sniffing at the air. Swaying, he cocked an ear to the rustle and creak of the trees.

On a path above him, Quinnell farted and laughed.

Putting the flashlight down for a moment, Spider patted the pockets of his canary yellow jumpsuit, eventually locating what he was after – a small wrap of paper. This he unpicked and held to his nose. He snorted hungrily.

Because, because, because there were shaky, angular shadows to be cast, work boots that needed crunching unevenly over the loose chippings, and oaths to be spoken.

A little further along the track, he wiped the aviator shades from his face and folded them into a top pocket. “Your move,” he shouted less than confidently, and rubbed the torch over his brow. There was no reply; Spider loathed silence. To his friends in the clubs he would say, “The thing about silence is it’s difficult to interpret, and near worthless as a commodity.”

He followed the curve of the path and approached the dark shape of the Rover. Because he wanted the answer to a question: who was responsible for running his beautiful claret-coloured 1966 Ford Mustang off the road?

Near enough to read the number plate he shouted in surprise.  The car was as still and dark as a freshly dug grave. Spider stepped away smartly and played the torch beam over the immediate area. Including through the windscreen into the car’s cabin, which was empty. “Shit,” he said.

The track was about ten foot wide. A couple of feet to the right there was a steep drop to the next escarpment, to the left a vertical climb to more trees. Beyond the Rover, the track narrowed to little more than a footpath, hemmed in on either side by straggly-looking undergrowth. From there the path disappeared into the murk created by a stand of bushy evergreens. This seemed to be the only option as Quinnell’s hiding place. “I’m not going in there,” Spider mumbled. Wind and the drizzle slicked his black hair to his face.

There was a movement in the evergreens – a slight swaying caused by the wind. Faraway a dog snarled, and as an afterthought added a weak warning bark. Otherwise the quarry was quiet. Spider waited. When he was sure he could not hear anything human in origin, he turned on his heels and ran.

All the way back to his car, where he tugged at the door, tossed the baseball bat onto the passenger seat, and jumped into the driver’s seat. The seat was in the wrong position – it had been ratcheted forward. And there was something else different about the car: the smell. The air had become heavy and sweet. Adjusting the rear-view mirror he became aware of the shape of a man sitting on the back seat. “Fuh – ” said Spider. The man on the back seat’s fingers closed around Spider’s throat, and squeezing hard, cut off the final consonant.

“Hello Mickey,” said the man.


Industry is the sixth track on King Crimson’s 1984 album, Three of a Perfect Pair. It’s an instrumental piece. The album’s the third and final by the 80s version of the band.  You can listen to a live version of the track here.


Just outside The Plough, a pub on Museum Street, I ran into Jimmy Clancy. He is an art collector. He was very interested in portraits and agreed to me taking a few shots of him. This was the first; I took it the moment he agreed. It’s my favourite. Thanks very much, Jimmy! Hope you like your picture.

Jimmy Clancy, 2013

Steppenwolf #1, 2013

When the call came, Detective Inspector Quinnell was sitting in the shadows of a tree at the edge of the topmost escarpment of the Light and Jennings’ Agricultural Lime and Bulk Chalk Quarry.

Far below, a man called Spider moved shakily through the lunar eeriness of the excavations, nervously playing a flashlight beam over the path his instinct had told him to follow. His other hand held a baseball bat. Quinnell watched him turn a bend and stop. Something had given Spider pause, an ambiguity in the torch-lit future. He stood still. Without taking his eyes from the shape, he shouted, “Whoever you are, you’re f_ing mental – you nearly killed us both.”

Quinnell wheezed happily to himself. Forcing two fingers into his trouser pocket he turned off the mobile. It was time to inflict some pain.


Steppenwolf is the second track on Hawkwind’s 1976 album, Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. The album marks a point of transition for the band. Bassist, Lemmy was gone and vocalist/ poet, Robert Calvert was back. There are space-rock wigouts in evidence, but songs like Back on The Streets point the way to the band’s taughter, more angular future. You can listen to Steppenwolf here.


No travelogue today. Too tired.

Disappearer, 2013


They found him in that little bit of time between sunset and dusk. He was still alive. But it was dark and M. Hergé and his colleague M. Goscinny had no medical training, so they assumed the worst. Besides, they were on a diplomatic visit from D_ville and had not expected murder to be part of the agenda.

The evening started promisingly enough. M Hergé and M. Goscinny were shown around the painting exhibition and introduced to Bamtree’s most important figures by the town’s mayor. But an hour after they arrived the mayor had been called away on urgent business, leaving the two men somewhat out of their depth in such parochially prestigious company. When the private view began to wind down and the guests were invited to explore the renovations going on in the rest of the Guild Hall, M Hergé and M. Goscinny were without a chaperone, and decided to take their leave. As Bamtree’s most important people made their way up the main staircase, M Goscinnyd made for the main door, but his attention was caught by what looked like an unusual piece of art deco sculpture down an ill-lit, ground floor corridor. On closer inspection, the sculpture proved to be a poor imitation. But just beyond it lay the gents toilets. M. Goscinny decided to pay a visit, while M Hergé waited outside. Switching on the light, Goscinny saw blood and cried out. M Hergé went to his colleague’s aid, and found he had stepped into the aftermath of a bloody pre-meditated killing.

Later, M. Goscinny would say, “We were not certain of protocols for this situation…” “Assuming there was no person with legal authority in the Guild Hall, we left the scene to seek assistance,” said M. Hergé. “To find a policeman,” said M. Goscinny.

“We had no idea finding that policeman would lead to such complications,” said M. Hergé.


Disappearer is the seventh track on Sonic Youth’s 1990 album, Goo. The album was the band’s first release on a major label and their most accessible work. It is often unfavourably compared to their previous album, Daydream Nation, (lacking that albums panoramic sweep) but nevertheless contains a number of great alternative pop/ rock nuggets. Disappearer was released as a single in 1990. You can listen to it here.


Kingsway is part of the A4200. It runs from High Holborn (in the London Borough of Camden) to the Aldwych (in the City of Westminster, and home of Bush House – the BBC’s old home). The road was formally opened in 1905 and linked the ancient routes The Strand and High Holborn. It’s 100 feet wide and a lot of slum dwellings were demolished to make way for it. They were replaced by mid-rise buildings in a neoclassical or neo-baroque style. We’re going to head north towards High Holborn…

Barrytown, 2013

There was still blood under the nail of her left index finger. She was tempted to suck it out, but felt sudden revulsion. Impossible – she couldn’t have done that. She walked along an alley dotted with overflowing dustbins; no one had been murdered – tomorrow must be bin day, she thought. For a moment she hesitated, frozen to the spot half way along the alley, ahead of her a frenzied version of herself dropped a bagful of  bloodstained clothes into a wheelie bin.


Barrytown is the fourth track on Steely Dan’s 1974 album, Pretzel Logic. The track is a sharp dissection of class prejudice, wedded to searing sarcasm, and an upbeat backing track. “I can tell by what you carry that you come from Barrytown” being a sample lyric. You can listen Barrytown here.


So, having finished my ham sandwiches, I step out onto Kingsway. It’s a road with a lot of history…

Exit Music, 2012

This was taken not far from St. Paul’s, London, UK. (Same day as Ask The Dust, so I have no idea of the street name.)

Exit Music  is the seventeenth and final novel about Inspector John Rebus by Ian Rankin. The book is named after the Radiohead song Exit Music (For a Film), fact gatherers. It was published in 2007.

I had real trouble trying to summarise this, so here we go from Amazon: “It’s late autumn in Edinburgh and late autumn in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he tries to tie up some loose ends before retirement, a murder case intrudes. A dissident Russian poet has been found dead in what looks like a mugging gone wrong. By apparent coincidence a high-level delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, keen to bring business to Scotland. The politicians and bankers who run Edinburgh are determined that the case should be closed quickly and clinically. But the further they dig, the more Rebus and his colleague DS Siobhan Clarke become convinced that they are dealing with something more than a random attack – especially after a particularly nasty second killing. Meantime, a brutal and premeditated assault on local gangster ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty sees Rebus in the frame. Has the Inspector taken a step too far in tying up those loose ends? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, inglorious career, will Rebus even make it that far?”

I’ve read most of the Rebus books – they’re gritty, funny, tackle big subjects and totally addictive. Nikki is not so keen.

Here’s part of the first paragraph:

The girl screamed once, only the once, but it was enough. By the time the middle-aged couple arrived at the foot of Raeburn Wynd, she was kneeling on the ground, hands over her face, shoulders heaving with sobs. The man studied the corpse for a moment, then tried shielding his wife’s eyes, but she had already turned away. He took out his phone and called the emergency number. It was ten minutes before the police car arrived, during which time the girl tried to leave, the man explaining calmly that she should wait, his hand rubbing her shoulder. His wife was seated kerbside despite the nighttime chill. November in Edinburgh, not quite cold enough for a frost but heading that way. King’s Stables Road wasn’t the busiest of thoroughfares. A No Entry sign prevented vehicles from using it as a route from the Grassmarket to Lothian Road. At night it could be a lonely spot, with not much more than a multistorey car park on one side, Castle Rock and a cemetery on the other. The street lighting seemed underpowered, and pedestrians kept their wits about them.

In our house, the book can be found: sitting room, right-hand bookshelves, second shelf down.

* * *

My usual thanks to John and Deanne, who made me think about titles. Extra thanks to Deanne for  tag ideas etc (and for bitter-sweet and brilliant posts every day). Ta too to Terry for sending me bookshelfwards in search of ideas, and of course to Richard at CK Ponderings for being a super-cool collaborator. The most recent one is a few posts back, so check it out!

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

Untitled digital photograph, 2012

“What are we doing here?” said DI Quinnell.

“Keep watching the door,” said DS Donohue. They were sitting in Donohue’s car across the street from a cafe. It was  cold, even for November. They could so easily have wasted the morning at the station instead; it would have been warmer.

“There,” said Donohue, jabbing a gloved finger at the windscreen. A slightly-built bookie-type entered the café. “There’s your man.”

“He’s got nothing to do with the murder,” said Quinnell.

“Wait,” said Donohue. So they waited. The car’s ineffectual heater hummed. Two women pushed buggies past the car, followed by a small boy wearing an inside-out blazer. He swaggered over and pressed his face against the passenger window, until Quinnell flashed his badge. Then the boy ran off.

“That woman,” said Donohue, nodding at the café entrance…