- Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series
- About the Book
- The Authors
- Main Characters
- 1. The Party’s Over
- 2. Home Sweet Home
- 3. A Secret
- 4. A Conundrum
- 5. Secrets
- 6. Student Life
- 7. Everyone’s Got a Secret
- 8. What About the River?
- 9. A Little Subterfuge
- 10. Telling Tales
- 11. Breaking and Entering
- 12. Inside Lavender’s Lair
- 13. Goodbye to Cherringham
- 14. Stand-off
- 15. Sing Willow
- Next episode
Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series
“Cherringham — A Cosy Crime Series” is a series made up of self-contained stories. A new episode is released each month. The series is published in English as well as in German, and is only available in e-book form.
About the Book
Claire and Terry Goodman seem to have everything. Successful business. Son at Oxford. New mansion right on the River Thames. And seemingly … plenty of money to spend. But when Jack and Sarah are asked to investigate an odd robbery at their home, secrets start to emerge. And as the truth is revealed, for someone it will be too much to bear, and murder may be the only way out.
Matthew Costello (US-based) is the author of a number of successful novels, including Vacation (2011), Home (2014) and Beneath Still Waters (1989), which was adapted by Lionsgate as a major motion picture. He has written for The Disney Channel, BBC, SyFy and has also designed dozens of bestselling games including the critically acclaimed The 7th Guest, Doom 3, Rage and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Neil Richards has worked as a producer and writer in TV and film, creating scripts for BBC, Disney, and Channel 4, and earning numerous Bafta nominations along the way. He’s also written script and story for over 20 video games including The Da Vinci Code and Starship Titanic, co-written with Douglas Adams, and consults around the world on digital storytelling.
His writing partnership with NYC-based Matt Costello goes back to the late 90’s and the two have written many hours of TV together. Cherringham is their first crime fiction as co-writers.
Jack Brennan is a former NYPD homicide detective who lost his wife a year ago. Being retired, all he wants is peace and quiet. Which is what he hopes to find in the quiet town of Cherringham, UK. Living on a canal boat, he enjoys his solitude. But soon enough he discovers that something is missing — the challenge of solving crimes. Surprisingly, Cherringham can help him with that.
Sarah Edwards is a web designer who was living in London with her husband and two kids. Two years ago, he ran off with his sexy American boss, and Sarah’s world fell apart. With her children she moved back to her home town, laid-back Cherringham. But the small town atmosphere is killing her all over again — nothing ever happens. At least, that’s what she thinks until Jack enters her life and changes it for good or worse …
1. The Party’s Over
Claire Goodman looked over at her husband, Terry — and wished she could give him a quick nudge under the table.
Here they were at this completely lovely dinner party at the Edwards’ house — and he sat there, shirt sleeves rolled up — with his elbows on the table!
Elbows on the table!
She had told him that he simply had to wear a tie, after all this was a proper dinner party!
So he did at least have a tie around his neck!
But he’d loosened the knot the minute they’d sat down to eat and now he looked like he was out for beers with his mates.
Claire so wanted to make a good impression.
They had moved to Cherringham only a year ago, when Terry relocated his luxury car dealership from West London to just outside the village.
Claire had thrown herself into so many village activities.
She felt as if she had finally … arrived.
Unfortunately, she had arrived with a husband who, though unquestionably doing well financially, didn’t realise that this was the Cotswolds.
A place for more refined behaviour. A place of beauty.
And class, she thought.
She’d grown up in East London, in a 60’s tower block which she couldn’t leave fast enough. Living here, in their beautiful home on the new and expensive development just outside the village, with river frontage — was like living in a style magazine.
She looked around the table to gauge everyone’s reaction to Terry — pontificating as usual about anything and everything.
The vicar, Reverend Edwards nodded.
His sweet shy wife, Emily, still fiddled with her pudding. Will Goodchild — the village historian — now there was a man who was fascinating to listen to — rubbed his cheek.
I bet he’s thinking … hope this man stops talking!
And Roger Reed, the head of the Oratorio Society and director of the upcoming opera-themed concert.
Roger seemed intent on keeping his wine glass at nothing less than half full.
Bit of a tippler.
And Helen and Michael Edwards?
They had been perfect hosts. The dinner had been fabulous — Cornish game hens with a delicious rosemary sauce. The white wine perfectly matched, crisp, delicious.
And the pudding — a creamy lemon sorbet that Helen said she had made herself (with some help from a TV chef!) — was to die for.
“What do you think, reverend?” Terry said.
“Hmm?” The vicar said.
“This Europe nonsense? In? Out? Or none of the above! Can’t see the Eurozone’s doing my business any good. All that red tape.”
Then a barrel laugh so … gauche.
“Not that I’m hurting at all. If you have to sell luxury cars, there’s no better place than right here in the Cotswolds.”
Reverend Hewitt smiled.
His eyes drifted to Claire, as if signalling he understood her discomfort.
“I think, Terry … that will be for the voters to decide. Hmm?”
Another laugh from her husband at that.
“And so God hasn’t whispered to you his thoughts on the way things might go?”
The vicar smiled again.
Such a gentle, kind man.
Who clearly could suffer fools and dinner guests with grace and aplomb.
Then Michael stood up — as if to break the thread of all this political tattle.
“Well, I have a rather decent port for us to try.”
Michael poured the port slowly into delicate crystal glasses that caught the flickering light of the candles on the table.
Then he made a toast.
And the port — so good, smooth, silky.
But she saw Terry knock it back as if it was a shot of Bells!
Michael quickly poured him another, though everyone else was still savouring theirs.
Helen turned to Reverend Hewitt and his wife.
“And vicar, Emily … have you heard what big plans we have for our winter concert?”
That’s how she met Helen — how they became friends, over a shared love of singing and opera.
Finally she had someone to talk to about all that!
“No, Roger here has been very secretive about plans.”
Helen looked right at Claire.
“Cat out of the bag time!” Roger said. “We could not be more excited. The theme this year is Verdi’s heroines …”
Helen continued: “And both Claire and I will be doing solos on the night.”
“Can’t wait,” Terry said, as if proud of his rudeness.
Claire jumped in quickly. “Helen will be singing ‘Sempre Libera’ from ‘La Traviata’, and I’ll be doing the ‘Willow Song’ …”
“From ‘Otello’,” Will Goodchild said. “Wonderful! Perhaps my favourite of the entire Verdi canon.”
“Semi-staged, of course,” Roger Reed said. “Want to make sure we have a bit of drama along with the wonderful singing.”
“And the chorus will have their work cut out for them,” Claire said. “Doing everything from ‘Va Pensiero’ from ‘Nabucco’ to—”
Which is when Terry raised his arms, sleeves up, to look at his golden Rolex.
“Blimey, is that the time? We’d best shove off, Claire. Got a shipment coming in, crack of dawn.”
Then unceremoniously he stood up. “No rest for the wicked eh, vicar?”
Effectively terminating all chat about opera and the upcoming concert.
At least he didn’t try to change the subject to dreaded football, she thought.
Could she and Terry be more different? she wondered.
Still — despite everything — she had loved the evening, loved being part of village life and friends with all these new people.
And as Terry stood up, peeling his blazer off the back of his dining room chair, Claire followed suit.
“Good night,” she said. “Helen, it was marvellous. Such a wonderful meal.”
Helen smiled back.
And Claire meant what she said. Her days of letting Terry’s behaviour ruin her enjoyment of life had ended a long time ago.
Now she just had to get through the ride home.
2. Home Sweet Home
“Bit of a stiff lot,” Terry said. “Though the wine … that was certainly good.”
“Just people with different interests, Terry.”
She looked at him as he drove the short way back to their house, just a mile further down river from the Edwards.
“Opera? English bloody history? Religion?”
He glanced at her as he drove.
“Not exactly a night for having a laugh or two.”
Claire opted not to respond.
These days, she and her husband moved in different orbits.
And that was okay with her.
He doesn’t have to know about my life, she thought.
Nor me about his.
The one area they did come together is when they discussed their son, Oliver.
Currently away at Oxford — where it seemed the boy was always short of money and always having difficulty with his flatmates.
And when he came home?
Well, then Terry seemed to make himself scarce rather than deal with the son who spent the visits mainly watching telly, hanging with friends, and playing those noisy video games on the big screen.
Claire also tried not to be around much during those weeks.
How did he even get into Oxford? Claire often wondered.
Could Terry have had something to do with that …? Surely you couldn’t buy your way into a place like Oxford?
Hard to tell with Terry.
“Money talks, doll,” he used to say when they were first married.
Thank god he didn’t call her that now. She looked at her husband again.
Terry had been drinking, but he seemed steady behind the wheel of the big Porsche Cayenne, slowing as they came to Coutts Lane, the road that led down to the river, where their house was the last — and the largest — of the new places there.
So shiny and modern, but that was Terry’s taste. She would have preferred a proper Cotswold cottage; all honey stone and old-fashioned flowers.
Still, you couldn’t fault the setting, right by the river.
Set back from the others, hidden by a copse of trees in front, high shrubs on both sides.
Nice sense of privacy.
Would be good to slip into their giant bed, read for a bit.
Terry didn’t seem interested in pushing things there as well.
Which also suited her just fine.
And then, with a sharp turn, they came to the short gravel driveway to their home.
And immediately Claire saw that something was very wrong.
Terry pulled the 4WD right up to the front steps, braking hard.
“Bloody hell!” he said, popping open his door and bolting out.
The front door was open!
They had left a light on in the porch and one in the hallway. But now, lights were on all over the house, the whole place lit up like it was on display.
Claire hurried to follow her husband.
“Terry — what’s happened?”
He stood at the entrance.
And she had the same thought that she guessed he had. Whoever had done this … might still be inside.
He turned to her.
His tone, his look, almost accusing. “Looks like someone broke into the house, Claire.”
“But what about the alarm system? How could—”
But she was left talking to the air as Terry, fists bunched up, barrelled into the house.
And Claire felt she had no choice but to follow.
So follow she did.
As Terry went first into the living room.
She looked at the upturned chairs, pricey items from Harrod’s ‘classic’ line, designed to look like genuine eighteenth century but instead brand new.
And the sofa, a claw-footed item that matched the chairs, had its cushions pulled off, tossed around the room.
The photos on the mantelpieces, wedding pictures, Oliver as a baby, and then other benchmarks … his gap year in Thailand with friends, pictures of him moving into his room at Oxford.
All had been bulldozed to the floor.
Why? she thought.
Why would someone do that?
“The damn TV’s still here! Least they didn't get that.”
Terry spun around and started walking to a small study, which also served as his home office.
“God, damn it!” he said.
“What is it?”
Again he turned to her. “My bloody MacBook! Gone! You’d better check for yours.”
Claire nodded and started walking to the kitchen. A small room to the side provided a little office — her hideaway as she thought about it.
A place to write emails, shop online, do all that stuff — away from the noise of the massive TV and its speakers, the screams of the football fans.
It was her private place.
And luckily her MacBook — albeit a smaller one — was still there.
Terry appeared by her elbow.
“They must have missed that,” he said. “Though I don’t see how the hell they could.”
“Please, Terry. Language.”
“We’ve been burgled and all you can go on about is my ‘language’?”
She watched him shake his head.
”What an idiot!” And then he turned away from her.
“Where are you going?” she asked, as he raced past her.
“Upstairs. See what else they nicked; what else the bastards have trashed.”
And Claire — wondering the very same thing — hurried to catch up with him.
In the master bedroom, the mattress had been yanked off the bed base. The base itself had been upturned as if someone was checking under the bed, or even inside the base itself.
Claire took that in — but then quickly went over to her dresser. She opened the top right drawer that held her locked jewellery chest.
She pulled it open.
“My things, Terry. They’re gone.”
Claire didn’t have a lot of expensive jewellery.