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Authors: Graham Ison

Hardcastle's Obsession

Recent Titles by Graham Ison from Severn House
The Hardcastle Series
HARDCASTLE’S SPY
HARDCASTLE’S ARMISTICE
HARDCASTLE’S CONSPIRACY
HARDCASTLE’S AIRMEN
HARDCASTLE’S ACTRESS
HARDCASTLE’S BURGLAR
HARDCASTLE’S MANDARIN
HARDCASTLE’S SOLDIERS
HARDCASTLE’S OBSESSION
Contemporary Police Procedurals
ALL QUIET ON ARRIVAL
BREACH OF PRIVILEGE
DIVISION
DRUMFIRE
JACK IN THE BOX
KICKING THE AIR
LIGHT FANTASTIC
LOST OR FOUND
WHIPLASH
WHISPERING GRASS
WORKING GIRL
HARDCASTLE’S
OBSESSION
Graham Ison
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
 
This first world edition published 2011
in Great Britain and the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2011 by Graham Ison.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Ison, Graham.
Hardcastle’s obsession.
1. Hardcastle, Ernest (Fictitious character)–Fiction.
2. Police–England–London–Fiction. 3. World War,
1914-1918–Casualties–England–London–Fiction.
4. Great Britain–History–George V, 1910-1936–Fiction.
5. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title
823.9′14-dc22
ISBN-13: 978-1-7801-0011-1   (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8002-4   (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-329-8   (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
GLOSSARY
ALBERT:
a watch chain of the type worn by Albert, Prince Consort (1819–61).
APM:
assistant provost marshal (a lieutenant colonel of the military police).
BAILEY, the:
Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London.
BAILIWICK:
area of responsibility.
BEAK:
a magistrate.
BEETON, Mrs:
famous writer of a widely read cookery book.
BEF:
British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders.
BIRD, to give the:
to dismiss.
BLACK ANNIE or BLACK MARIA:
a police or prison van.
BLIGHTY ONE:
a wound suffered in battle that necessitated repatriation to the United Kingdom.
BLOW, a:
police slang for a relief.
BLUEJACKET:
a seaman in the navy.
BOB:
a shilling (now 5p).
BOCHE:
derogatory term for Germans, particularly soldiers.
BOOTNECK:
a member of the Royal Marines.
BOOZER:
a public house.
BRADSHAW:
a timetable giving routes and times of British railway services.
BRIEF, a:
a warrant
or
a police warrant card
or
a lawyer.
CARPET:
three months’ imprisonment. Three months was the time it took to weave a carpet in prison workshops.
DABS:
fingerprints.
DARTMOOR:
a remote prison on Dartmoor in Devon.
DDI:
Divisional Detective Inspector.
DEKKO:
a look (
ex
Hindi).
DRUM:
a dwelling house, or room therein. Any place of abode.
DUFF, to put up the:
to make pregnant.
DUMMY, to throw a:
to set a false trail.
FOURPENNY CANNON, a:
a steak and kidney pie.
FRONT, The:
theatre of WW1 operations in France and Flanders.
GAMP:
an umbrella (from Sarah Gamp in Charles Dickens’s
Martin Chuzzlewit
).
GLIM:
a look (a foreshortening of ‘glimpse’).
GLOSTERS:
Alternative spelling for the Gloucestershire Regiment.
GUNNERS, The:
a generic term to encompass the Royal Horse Artillery, the Royal Garrison Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery. In the singular, a member of such a regiment.
GUV
or
GUV’NOR:
informal alternative to ‘sir’.
HALF-COLONEL:
a lieutenant colonel.
HAVE IT UP, to:
to engage in sexual intercourse.
HAWKING THE MUTTON:
leading a life of prostitution.
HOLLOWAY:
women’s prison in North London.
JIG-A-JIG:
sexual intercourse.
KC:
King’s Counsel: a senior barrister.
MADAM:
a brothel keeper.
MATELOT:
a sailor, usually of the Royal Navy.
NICK:
a police station
or
prison
or
to arrest
or
to steal.
NICKED:
arrested
or
stolen.
OLD BAILEY:
Central Criminal Court, in Old Bailey, London.
ON THE GAME:
leading a life of prostitution.
OX AND BUCKS:
Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
PICCADILLY WINDOW:
a monocle.
PIMP:
a prostitute’s ‘minder’.
POLICE GAZETTE
:
official nationwide publication listing wanted persons, etc.
PROSS:
a prostitute.
PROVOST, the:
military police.
QUID:
£1 sterling.
RAGTIME GIRL:
a sweetheart; a girl with whom one has a joyous time; a harlot.
RECEIVER, The:
senior Scotland Yard official responsible for the finances of the Metropolitan Police.
ROSIE:
tea (rhyming slang: Rosie Lee).
ROYAL A:
informal name for the A or Whitehall Division of the Metropolitan Police.
SALLY ANNE:
the Salvation Army.
SAM BROWNE:
a military officer’s belt with shoulder strap.
SAUSAGE AND MASH:
cash (rhyming slang).
SCREWING:
engaging in sexual intercourse.
SDI:
sub-divisional inspector.
SHILLING:
now 5p.
SILK, a:
a King’s Counsel (a senior barrister) from the silk gowns they wear.
SKIP
or
SKIPPER:
an informal police alternative to station-sergeant, clerk-sergeant and sergeant.
SMOKE, The:
London.
SOMERSET HOUSE:
formerly the records office of births, deaths and marriages for England & Wales.
SOV or SOVEREIGN:
one pound sterling.
SPALPEEN:
a rascal; a worthless fellow.
SWADDY:
a soldier (
ex
Hindi).
TITFER:
a hat (rhyming slang: tit for tat).
TOM:
a prostitute.
TOMFOOLERY:
jewellery (rhyming slang).
TOMMING:
pursuing a life of prostitution.
TOMMY or TOMMY ATKINS:
a British soldier. The name ‘Tommy Atkins’ was used as an example on early army forms.
TOPPED:
murdered or hanged.
TOPPING:
a murder or hanging.
TOUCH OF THE VAPOURS, a:
to be overcome with faintness.
TRICK, a:
a prostitute’s client.
TRICK, to turn a:
to engage in sexual intercourse.
TUMBLE, a:
sexual intercourse.
UNDERGROUND, The:
London Underground railway system.
UP THE SPOUT:
pregnant.
UP THE DUFF:
pregnant.
WAR HOUSE:
army officers’ slang for the War Office.
WAR OFFICE:
Department of State overseeing the army. (Now a part of the Ministry of Defence.)
WIPERS:
Army slang for Ypres in Belgium, scene of several fierce Great War battles.
ONE
A
Zeppelin hovered over central London. But the moderate south-east wind was not strong enough to move the clouds, and the visibility was so poor that the huge menacing shape of the giant airship was invisible to the probing searchlights on Apsley Gate. Only the steady throb of its four 210-horse-power Maybach engines could he heard in the streets below. And it was raining.
It was five past ten on the night of Sunday the 24th of September 1916. The Great War had been in progress for just over two years, and the nation was still reeling from the losses on the first day of the Battle of the Somme: 58,000 casualties of which a third were dead.
The maroons, warning of an air raid, had been set off thirty minutes earlier from the nearby fire station in Greycoat Place. At the time, there were thirteen people in the old Victorian house at 143 Washbourne Street; it was perhaps fortunate that there were not more.
When the alert had sounded, a few of the residents had made for the basement of the four-storied dwelling. Others, some in nightclothes with just an overcoat or even a blanket around their shoulders, had fled the short distance to Victoria railway station, there to seek sanctuary in the depths of the Underground railway system. Some were clutching their dearest personal possessions; in their haste others had not bothered. A couple of the women were clasping tiny babies each wrapped in a shawl.
Minutes after the departure of the shelter-seeking inhabitants, the Zeppelin discharged a cluster of bombs intended for the railway station. But they struck the roof of No 143, and penetrated to the third floor before exploding with deadly force. The entire house imploded, sending tons of masonry into the basement. A section of wall fell outwards into the street, and by chance struck a passing telegram delivery boy. He was thrown from his bicycle and died instantly, another casualty of this apparently interminable war.
The fire brigade crew that arrived minutes later could do little but extinguish the flames. If anyone was buried beneath the piles of rubble, it would need more than the slender resources of the firemen to excavate them. They sent for workmen from the City of Westminster depot. But neither they nor the fire crew held out much hope for any survivors.
The search operation had continued all night. But by nine o’clock on the Monday morning, when clerks were hurrying to work at the offices in Victoria, seven bodies had been recovered, two of them small children.
Inspector Jasper Sankey and two constables from Rochester Row police station had been on hand for most of the night to assist in the recovery of the corpses.
A small knot of sightseers watched the grisly task confronting police and rescue workers. Corralled to one side of this crowd were the lucky residents of number 143 who were congratulating themselves on the wisdom of having taken shelter elsewhere. But delight at their salvation from this latest German atrocity was tinged by the sadness of having lost their homes, all their worldly possessions, and in some cases, their friends.
‘Is there anyone from this house who’s an old soldier?’ asked Sankey, addressing the group of survivors. He had a good reason for posing the question.

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