The Pearly Knife – Part I [A Lucy Lore Mystery] (Story by R.C. Peris)

Oh, it sounded lovely when I stumbled across it on the map. Heath on the Hampshire. Undulating hills, blooming greenery, valleys that added dimension and glowed gold in the sunlight, stone houses, moss on walls, lichen marred trees, a graceful church with a tall spire, and a local pub where you could drink a pint and talk about the weather. It was bucolic England and sometimes the roads got blocked by traveling sheep. I had been a detective at Scotland Yard. London was hard, grating and there seemed to be too much death, drugs, and sex trafficking. It was mayhem. Crossing the Thames was like crossing the river Styx into Hades. And there was the high rent, the traffic, constant yapping. God, I was tired of London. It was one of the greatest cities in the world and I was done with it. I divorced my husband last year and then an aunt died who left me an inheritance. I was too young to collect a pension so I quit being a copper, moved to Heath on the Hampshire, rented a suite of rooms above the pub and figured I could find a job in a shop or someplace for extra pounds each week. It was an easy move except for my thirty boxes of books that I piled in the smallest room of my suite. Everyone was friendly except for Linus who seemed to have close relations with his sheep and chickens. I chatted with nearly everyone. Quite a change from London where people wouldn’t even look you in the eye.

Three times a week I went to the local community center to swim. As I was changing into my bathing suit, I heard screams and gasps. I wrapped a towel around me and walked to the pool area. Floating in the pool was Maureen, the local veterinarian, face up with a knife with a pearly handle stuck in her chest. The water around her was cloudy with blood. More people crowded around the pool.

“Stand back,” I yelled instinctively. I knew they could be trampling on evidence. No one seemed to move so I yelled again.

The constable arrived. He was in his twenties with high eyebrows that gave his face a permanent look of surprise. He stared at the floating body with an open mouth.

“You have to get everyone out of here,” I said. “A perimeter needs to be set up.”

He looked at me. “You’re the copper from London.”

I sighed. “Yes.”

“I’m going to need your help. I…I…never investigated…murder. I’m making you an honorary constable.”

So much for bucolic Heath on the Hampshire. It seems mayhem followed me from London. Or maybe being a detective was my true life path.

“Get everyone to the rec room. They need to be interviewed,” I told the constable.

And that was that. I was back to sleuthing.


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