There is mischief afoot in the village of Fallow Fold. Persons unknown have been on a spree of vandalism, scratching cars, smashing colourful pots of flowers in full bloom, breaking greenhouse windows – and defiling a front door with a racist word, written in spray paint. The police are called, and given the unavailability of more junior personnel DI Harry Falconer and DS ‘Davey’ Carmichael arrive to investigate, but there are no obvious suspects.
Then a resident is attacked as he keeps a nocturnal vigil, hoping to catch whoever is responsible for the vandalism. Soon, there is a surfeit of uncharacteristic behaviour from those who live there, and Falconer begins to suspect that there is more to come.
When the man who runs the local bridge circle disappears, there is a palpable whiff of evil in the air – which leads to a murderous attack on one of the police officers. This is a time when DI Falconer is forced to search his soul to discover what, and who, is really important in his life, and what really matters in it.
Death in High Circles is the tenth full-length instalment in the Falconer Files, detective novels featuring dastardly deeds done in picture-postcard villages – and a delightful slice of humour.
The two men stood helplessly in A&E, disbelievingly watching the hospital trolley that was being rushed into the emergency admissions bay of Market Darley Hospital.
The shorter man, with mid-brown hair, bowed his head in despair, thinking how easily this dreadful thing could have happened to any of the team, and feeling guilty that he hadn’t been able to do more at the scene.
The slightly taller man with the olive complexion was feeling as if he had been hit over the head with an iron bar. He was completely stunned, and simply couldn’t believe what had happened, and with such swift, unstoppable inevitability. The man on the trolley was in a bad way, and the faces of those admitting him and in the ambulance had tried to reassure them, but their eyes were grave behind their professionally optimistic expressions.
He stood straight as a ramrod, as if standing to attention, wondering whatever he would do if the man didn’t make it. What would happen to his family? Who would replace him in his job? But even more importantly to him, who would replace him not just as a colleague, but as the reliable partner he had become? In his own way, his partner was irreplaceable, and had carved a special place in his heart for the way he conducted both his personal and professional life. Sometimes he had driven him almost to distraction with some of his eccentricities, but he’d never worked with anyone better.
The shorter man grabbed the arm of a doctor who was rushing towards the room into which the trolley had disappeared, and asked if the patient was going to be all right.
‘It’s not a clear picture yet, but we do need to get him to the operating theatre to stop the internal bleeding. After that, it’s all down to how strong his constitution is, and whether there are any complications that we don’t know about yet.’
The taller man stood, still staring at the closed doors of the emergency admissions room, tears pouring, unchecked and unnoticed, down his cheeks, his heart breaking for what might have been prevented if either he or his partner had been just that little bit quicker thinking, or had made a move a fraction of a second before that terrible, deadly strike.
For the first time since he had been a child, he prayed silently, not even having indulged sincerely in this occupation during his years in the army. This was one compatriot that he couldn’t bear to lose: his life would be so much the poorer for him to continue in any useful pattern, and it was something he knew he would never get over.
Although they rarely showed their respect and affection for each other, it was tacit in their good working relationship, and he couldn’t believe that such a pointless attack might deprive him of this unique personality forever.