Exclusive Excerpt: The Cricketer’s Arms: A Clyde Smith Mystery by Garrick Jones

Excerpt:

I stayed with Trescoe for an hour, helping him put the study back into order. He was a nice enough bloke, but over time I came to realise although the enormity of the tragedy of Mike Hissard’s death had hit hard, he hadn’t really cared much for the man, calling him at one stage a “misguided petty thief”. He wouldn’t be pressed, but the more we chatted, the more I sensed he’d been aware of something untoward going on, but had made a conscious decision to keep his nose clean, and to mind his own business. I offered him a lift home, which he accepted, telling me after I’d enquired about the cat that he was happy it had found a good home. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear; as much as I liked animals, I wasn’t sure right now was the best time for me to be tied down to regular feeds, cat-tray cleaning, and patting sessions.

As he got out of my car and thanked me for the lift, he passed me a key.

“Laneway behind Kellett Street, at The Cross,” he said. “Garage marked with M.H. above the door. It’s the third one along on your left, coming from Bayswater Road.”

“What’s in it?”

“I’ve no idea. But it was originally his father’s. Michael always said to me if anything ever happened to him, to take everything inside to the incinerator at the tip and burn it—and not to look at what’s inside.”

“Would you have?”

He shrugged. “What you don’t know can’t kill you. Any fool will tell you that.”

I smiled. It was a bittersweet smile, because during my time in the war it had always been what you did know would save your life. Only those who didn’t know what was coming bit the dust.

“Will you be all right?” I asked. “What will you do?”

“His parents left a proviso in their will for me, and he promised me the same. I hope he’s honoured it. Between the two, it will keep me going.”

“Well, thank you for the phone number and the offer to help if need be. Detective Sergeant Telford will be in touch. If you’ve got any queries, or are worried about anything, here’s my number.”

I scribbled it on a sheet of paper from my notebook. He touched his hat as he waved me goodbye.

*****

I decided the garage at The Cross could wait until another day. It was after four and I wanted to have a quick look through both Stan Lowe’s and Philip Mason’s home offices—assuming they both had one.

As Stan’s flat was in a short laneway off Broadway, I went there first; I could call past Philip’s on the way home. Its back door was, like mine, up a fire escape and on the top floor. The lock opened easily; no inner bolts. Inside, the house was immaculate; not in the same obsessive way Mike’s had been, but as if everything had been put away while the owner was on an extended holiday. I checked—the fridge had been turned off and the phone was disconnected. He had a set of suspended files in one of his deep desk drawers—there wasn’t much there, so I emptied them into a large leather briefcase I’d brought with me. There were only two bundles of documents. The first was company invoices—Liu and Sons, Importers and Exporters of Fancy Goods. The other bundle consisted of bank statements—two separate accounts with the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank in Dixon Street. Each bundle was held together by a sturdy alligator clip and faced with a long strip of paper covered in Chinese writing.

Philip’s house was not so tidy. There was stuff everywhere. It didn’t look like it had been ransacked, more like he and his wife had packed and left in a hurry. On his study desk was a pile of manuscripts and radio plays. I knew he did some radio theatre broadcasting occasionally. In his typewriter was the second page of a play he’d been writing. I glanced at the first page on the desk next to the typewriter and then read as far as he’d got on the sheet in the machine. It was truly awful, overwritten, clueless muck, so I wasn’t at all surprised to find a pile of manuscripts on the floor next to his desk with rejection letters. However, taped to the underneath of the top drawer, in which he kept his pens and pencils, was a clear-paned envelope, in it a bank statement for the Bank of the Philippines, in the name of Mr. Mason Phillipe—a nice enough pen name—with a recent deposit of two thousand pounds. I slipped that into my jacket pocket.

As I was about to leave, something caught my eye. I’d noticed it, but then not taken notice of it. It was a roll of thin, striped cord—two hundred yards, the label said. Exactly the same type and colour of thin cord that had been used, not only to bind up Daley Morrison’s collection of pubic hair samples, but also his wrists when he was found dead on the pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground. That went into my briefcase with everything else I’d collected that afternoon.

My mind whirred on the way home. I got out of the car, unlocked my garage, and then drove the car inside, sitting for a moment while I got my thoughts into order after I’d turned off the engine. I glanced at my watch to check the time, when a soft metallic click sounded from behind my right ear.

“You know the drill, Mr. S.,” Larry the Lamb said. I knew his voice; I didn’t even have to look. “Raise your hands slowly in the air, and don’t try anything fancy, because my friend here, Mr. Clancy, has a tommy gun trained on your back. He doesn’t like me much, so even if you grab me, we’re both dog food.”

I raised my hands slowly in the air, and then a black hood slipped over my head, and I smelled the distinctive sweet, clinical odour of chloroform as a hand pressed a pad of something soft over my mouth.

Blurb:

“I’m sorry I have to tell you this, Harry, but Daley Morrison was murdered. It was no heart attack. He was stabbed through the heart and then staked out, naked, in the middle of the Sydney Cricket Ground as some sort of warning to someone.”

Harry Jones almost fell into his chair, such was his shock.

Clyde Smith is brought into the investigation by his former colleague, Sam Telford, after a note is found in the evidence bags with Clyde’s initials on it. Someone wants ex-Detective Sergeant Smith to investigate the crime from outside the police force. It can only mean one thing—corruption at the highest levels.

The Cricketer’s Arms is an old-fashioned, pulp fiction detective novel, set in beachside Sydney in 1956. It follows the intricacies of a complex murder case, involving a tight-knit group of queer men, sports match-fixing, and a criminal drug cartel.

Was Daley Morrison killed because of his sexual proclivities, or was his death a signal to others to tread carefully? Has Clyde Smith been fingered as the man for the case, or will the case be the end of the road for the war veteran detective?

More About Author Garrick Jones

From the outback to the opera.

After a thirty year career as a professional opera singer, performing as a soloist in opera houses and in concert halls all over the world, I took up a position as lecturer in music in Australia in 1999 at the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music, which is part of CQUniversity.

Brought up in Australia, between the bush and the beaches of the Eastern suburbs, I retired in 2015 and now live in the tropics, writing, gardening, and finally finding time to enjoy life and to re-establish a connection with who I am after a very busy career on the stage and as an academic.

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