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One cold, wet evening in an otherwise unusually dry April, a man falls from the fifth floor window of a hotel in Hythe. Did he jump or was he pushed? Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman is already struggling to juggle her work and private life: she is having difficulties finding a company willing to restore her and her boyfriend’s new home and has to put Mark up in her own cottage while the work is completed. And now, why did this man jump from a hotel balcony when he had a perfectly good balcony at home? A glitch with the water system and her boyfriend’s troublesome daughter add more problems to Fran’s lot. Can she find the time to discover what it is that appears not quite right about Alec Minton’s death?
like.’ ‘You couldn’t have your grandchildren going to one of those,’ she agreed, glad she could see eye to eye with him about that at least. ‘But she could surely exclude Lloyd from the marital home. If he has hit her, he can be done for assault, and a spell for him in the cells would enable her to make all the proper legal moves.’ For a moment he looked almost shifty. Then he said, ‘I don’t actually believe he has struck her. Certainly, when I pressed for details she became evasive, really
she asked, hoping she sounded as if she cared. A much more important enquiry would be into Roo’s state of health this morning. And Kanga’s. Clearly he regarded her question as at best an irrelevance, at worst an impertinence. ‘You weren’t in earlier this morning,’ he said. ‘No. I was out on a case. The Lady in the Lake that the media are so interested in.’ Her subtext was that if the media were sniffing round, it was incumbent on the CID to put up their most stalwart representatives. Fran had
saving them up till West Midlands have called back. Wolverhampton and Oldbury, wherever that might be.’ ‘They call it the Black Country, on account of the smoke the factories generated during the nineteenth century. Did you know Queen Victoria thought the place was so awful she had the blinds of her railway carriage pulled down so she didn’t have to soil her eyes with the sight?’ Fran asked, slightly alarmed that her mind, which should have been preoccupied with far more momentous thoughts,
positive all the time? And how dared life deal her another bad hand in the form of Gates? ‘Hi, there!’ she greeted them all, sunny as usual. ‘Paula tells me you’ve identified the man who keeps parking here – Simon Gates, is that right?’ ‘I’m afraid he’s a colleague of ours,’ Mark said, contriving all the same to leave no one in any doubt that in a dispute he would back Caffy. ‘Oh, I know that. He’s a pretty big cheese, isn’t he? But such a cold fish. Whoops! I didn’t half mix my metaphors
was seriously wrong. ‘In fact,’ she added, pointing to the untouched wine, ‘I’ll drive, shall I? Have you got your house keys?’ ‘What would I need them for?’ Did she imagine Sammie lying ill, with only two howling babies for company? A glance at her serious face gave nothing away. ‘I don’t know… But take them anyway.’ ‘That’s Lloyd’s car,’ Mark declared, as Fran pulled onto the drive, to find curtains drawn and lights on all over the house. ‘My God, what’s he doing to her?’ He was out of the