The Selbright Mysteries; Book One

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, character and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © Gwen Leader 2014

Gwen Leader asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. No part of this publication may be copied in any way without the express permission of the copyright owner.

Proof read and edited by Kate Pittel

Link to Chapter Three

Chapter Four

“Something smells good,” said Jane as she walked through the door.

“Dinner, my speciality,” smiled her husband Adam. Jane went over and kissed him. At five seven Adam seemed to tower over his petite wife; they were the same age and had been in the same class at school although they hadn’t dated whilst in school – they had met up again while training.

“You’re a sweetheart, so chilli it is then. Is there any wine left in that bottle or do I need to open another one?”

“Adam lifted the bottle, “No I just opened it.”

“Oh I thought we had some left over from last night.”

“We did, I finished that.” He poured Jane a glass and handed it to her.

“So how was your day?”

“Oh don’t ask, some woman got herself murdered at the health club this morning.”

“Crikey, battered with a medicine ball was she?”

Jane laughed, “Idiot, no drowned in the Jacuzzi.”

“Flippin heck, wouldn’t want to go in there now. Why do you reckon she was killed?”

“Well, by all accounts she was a man eater, after anything and everything in trousers. Upset a lot of women.”

“Oh yes, never upset a woman, very envious and competitive, women are,” said Adam. Jane dug him in the ribs, “Hey watch it you, this is your wife remember not one of your mates.” He hugged her and kissed the top of her head. “Yes and you even look like my wife now I think of it.” They both laughed.

During dinner he said “So what clues have you got to go on, anything much?” Adam was also a Detective Inspector at Woudenhurst station, the nearest big town to Selbright. “Not much really, she was held under but whoever did it wore gloves, so no finger prints, nothing in her diary for today except one word – Yarpie – ever heard it before?”

Adam frowned and shook his head, “Yarpie, no, what is it?”

Jane shrugged, “That’s just it. Nobody seems to know, or at least I think a couple might have an idea but they denied ever hearing it before.”

“Have you looked it up in the dictionary?”

“Never thought of that, good point.”  Jane got up and fetched the dictionary from the shelf; she leafed through it, “No it’s not here.”

“Ok, so maybe it’s code for something, or a nickname, or…”

“Oh that’s enough please. My poor head won’t take any more.”

Adam looked at her, “Tell you what, why don’t we have an early night and see if we can come up with something, eh? What do you say?”

Jane looked at him and smiled, “Sounds good to me, but I bet I know what you’ll come up with and it won’t be to do with work either.”

Maureen and her husband Geoff were lying cuddling in bed, Maureen was feeling very relaxed and sleepy when a thought suddenly struck her, “I meant to ask you, does the name Yarpie mean anything to you?”

Geoff yawned, “No, why should it?”

“No, I just wondered. It’s to do with the case we’re working on – just thought you might have heard it.” He turned on his side and looked at her.

“Forget work now, do you fancy another round?” He wiggled his eyebrows and Maureen giggled.

“You randy sod, Geoff Phipps.”

“Don’t remember hearing any complaints earlier.”

“You won’t hear any complaints from me,” She sighed as he started to caress her again.

The next morning at breakfast Geoff asked, “So what’s this case you’re working on then?” Geoff was a doctor at Selbright General; they had met when Maureen had interviewed a suspect being treated by him. “A woman was found murdered in the Jacuzzi at the Bayview Health Club yesterday, drowned.”

Geoff whistled, “Blimey, wouldn’t think that will do them any good, people won’t want to go in there now.”

“Well, I wouldn’t.”

“So what’s that word you asked me about last night?”

“Yarpie.” He frowned as he looked at her.

“What does it mean?”

Maureen shrugged and shook her head. “Haven’t the faintest idea, we spent most of yesterday trying to find out but no-one knows it, or at least we think two people might, but they weren’t telling if they did.”

Geoff thought a bit then he said. “What about harpy? That’s a word, maybe she spelt it wrong or put a “Y” instead of an “H”, you know hit the wrong key on the key board.”

“No, and anyway it’s handwritten in her diary.”

“Oh I see, well sorry my darling, but I can’t help you and now I’m off to work. See you tonight – have a good day.”

“You too. I’d better get going as well or I’ll be late.” They went out the door together and kissed goodbye on the drive, got into their respective cars and drove off to work.

“OK.” Said Jane, “So who can we rule out?”

“Well, Pauline Butler for starters. No motive really unless Charlotte was derogatory about her being gay, or was very unpleasant about her partner.”

“Agreed, also Mr & Mrs Wilson – can’t see they had a motive either. What about Marlene Smith?”

“I don’t think so gov, she didn’t seem the sort to me, anyway she’d talk her victims to death not drown them.” They both laughed.

“Yes that’s true, but I’m still not happy ruling her out. We can definitely rule out the Thompsons; they’re not guilty, I’m pretty sure of it. So that narrows it down – who do we have left?”

Maureen consulted her list. “So that leaves Mike Griffiths, Jack Cummings, Phillip Dunn – what about Kevin Porter, think he did it?”

Jane shook her head, “No, he’s arrogant and stupid and conceited but he’s not a murderer. After all, as he said he’s had more fun since she split him and Kylie up than he ever had before. No, definitely not guilty.”

“So what about Kylie, think she did it?”

“Again no. Anyway neither of them are members of the club. If they were going to kill they would have done it somewhere else.”

“Mmm, true I guess, actually that’s a point.”

Jane looked up, “What is?”

“Well, Pauline Butler would have been in the changing room at about the same time as Charlotte came in to go to the Jacuzzi, and yet she denied having seen her.”

Jane looked at her, “Crikey I hadn’t thought of that, yes odd that. Ok ,let’s go and talk to Ms Butler see what she has to say for herself.”


Pauline smiled at them, “There is a perfectly simple explanation Inspector, you see, and I know this is going to sound silly but I am very shy and do not like undressing or dressing in front of a lot of strangers, so I use the private cubicle. You can go in and lock the door to get privacy, so I always use that even if the changing room is empty.”

Jane looked at her and smiled. “I see, but surely you would have seen her when you came out.”

Pauline shook her head, “Not necessarily, she may have been round the other side. There are two parts to the changing room.”

Maureen nodded, “Yes that’s true gov, I remember.”

“So if she was round the other side you wouldn’t have seen her?” asked Jane.

“No I came out of the cubicle and just went straight out to the coffee shop.” Jane smiled, she was glad. She liked Pauline Butler – she seemed so genuine and pleasant, the thought of having to arrest her for murder didn’t sit well with her. “Well thank you Ms Butler, I appreciate it.” “That’s all right Inspector – after all you have a job to do. This person must be caught. I couldn’t bring myself to go there this morning. I may even cancel my membership to be honest, it gives me the creeps.”

“Yes,” they thought, “Wonder how many people will do that now?”

“Never ceases to amaze me how some people are over their body. After all we’re all the same really and yet people go to great lengths to change without actually stripping off, weird,” said Maureen.

“Not everyone’s like you Phipps, happy to flash it all over the shop.” Maureen bridled – she resented that remark. “Oh come on gov, I don’t flash it all over the shop, but be honest we are really weird in this country over nudity. In other countries they go in the sauna and Jacuzzi naked.”

“Ok point made, but I’m not sure I would want to strip off in front of a lot of strangers.” Maureen laughed, “I don’t know – you don’t have a bad figure and you’re not fat.”

Jane looked at her, “Just get in the car Phipps and drive will you.”

“Yarpie,” said Jane.

“That’s not nice gov – surprised at you. Never had you pegged as a racist,” said PC Churchill. Jane and Maureen looked at her, looked at each other then back to Churchill. “What are you talking about Churchill?” asked Jane.

“What you just said.”

“What about what I just said.”

“Well Yarpie, not nice that’s all.”

“Why isn’t it nice and why should it be racist?” asked Maureen. Sarah Churchill looked at her superior officers, “Well you know what it means don’t you?” They both shook their heads. “No Churchill, we don’t know what it means but I’ve got a feeling you’re about to tell us,” said Jane.

“Well, it’s what some people call South Africans.”

They stared at her, “So are we looking for a coloured person here?” asked Maureen. Sarah shook her head, “No Sarge, it’s what they call white South Africans of Dutch origin.” Jane and Maureen exchanged looks, “Wait a minute, let me get this right, are you saying that Yarpie is a derogatory term for a white South African?”

Sarah nodded, “Yes, that’s right gov.”

Jane put her head in her hands, “I don’t believe this. We’ve spent the last few days running around like headless chickens trying to find out what that word means and all the time you’ve been sitting there and you knew what it meant?”

“Well you didn’t ask gov – it’s the first time I’ve heard you say it,” Sarah replied in her own defence.

“She has a point there gov,” said Maureen.

“Go and get me some tea Phipps would you? Blimey I need it.”

Maureen smiled, “Oh good – an impromptu tea break, does this mean I still get my normal one?”

“Oh sod off Phipps and get that bloody tea.” Maureen left the office laughing. “Ok Churchill – one question. How the hell do you know that?”

“My mum and dad lived out there for five years; dad was the manager of a hotel.”

Jane stared at her, “Good lord, really?”

The girl nodded at her, “Yes, mum and dad loved it, my sister and I were at boarding school. We used to go over in the holidays, it was great.”

Jane shook he head in disbelief. “You never cease to amaze me, Churchill,” she said.


Maureen came back and they sat sipping their tea. “So how would you know if someone was from South Africa?” asked Maureen.

“Accent, Sarge – they’d have an accent.”

“Yes but what sort of accent, what does it sound like?” asked Jane,

“Well, to an untrained ear it sounds Australian or even Kiwi.” Jane nearly dropped her cup; both she and Maureen stared at each other. “Marlene Smith,” they said in unison. Jane looked at Sarah, “Would you know the difference between a South African Accent and an Australian one?”

Sarah nodded vigorously. “Oh yeah, they’re quite different really.”

“Right you two come on.”


“I knew there was something about her. I saw it in her eyes she knew that word when I said it to her. Bloody good actress – she never flinched but I saw it, her eyes took on a furtive look and she had the nerve to pretend she’d never heard it before. I’ll bloody have her,” said Jane. “She could be Australian, gov,” said Maureen.

“Well, we’ll soon find out once Churchill speaks to her.” “What am I going to talk to her about, gov?”

Jane rolled her eyes, “Bloody hell Churchill, we are in the middle of a murder enquiry and she’s a suspect. Use your imagination girl.” Jane looked at the young PC, she looked scared to death. “All right, I’ll do the talking but pay close attention Churchill. We can’t afford to get this wrong, understand?”

Sarah nodded, “Ok gov.


They sat and looked at Marlene Smith; she looked very calm. “So inspector, what can I do for you?”

“I wondered if you could just clear something up for me, Ms Smith.”

“Well if I can, of course – what is it?”

“We have someone who said they were in the changing room at least half an hour before Mrs Dunn was killed which means there is a possibility you saw them. I know you said you didn’t see anyone but I’d like you to really think hard. It would be very helpful: could you go over your movements step by step?”

Marlene looked at her, “What the hell is this all about?” she thought. “Well, let me think, I got to the gym, went into the changing room, went up and had my workout, then went back down and had a steam and a Jacuzzi, had a shower and came to work. That’s it.” Jane looked at Churchill and she knew that would do it by the look on Churchill’s face. She smiled at Marlene. “Well thank you Ms Smith, I think that about clears that up.”

Back in the car Maureen asked, “Well? Is she or isn’t she?”

“We didn’t do a flaming pregnancy test Phipps, but what about it Churchill? As Sergeant Phipps put it, is she or isn’t she?”

“Yes, definitely South African, her voice had that twang.”

“I knew it,” said Jane,

“So do we bring her in for questioning, gov?”

Jane shook her head, “No not yet. She was rattled. Let her sweat for a while.”


Upstairs Marlene Smith stood looking out of the window. She could see the three police officers in the car talking and started to sweat a little. Bloody Charlotte, fancy writing that in her flaming diary, bloody cheek too. Yarpie indeed, insulting bitch – oh yes, she got what she deserved all right. She went back to her desk and lifted the phone, “Yes,” said the voice. “I’ve just had the police here, not sure what they wanted but thought you should know, and they’re sitting out the front in the car talking. What do you advise?”

“Sit tight – don’t leave till they’re gone and for God’s sake don’t panic and do anything to draw attention to yourself.”

“Don’t worry I wasn’t planning to, but what about tomorrow? Are we still on or not?”

“Of course. We can’t call it off now – the transfer has to go ahead, but if you think you’re being followed you stay away, understand? I don’t want you leading the cops right to our door.” “Ok, I’ll keep you informed.”

“You do that.” The line went dead; Marlene sat staring into space. Bloody Charlotte – if she hadn’t got so greedy this wouldn’t be happening.

* Chapter Five coming shortly!

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