Clued Up

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How did Miss Peacock fall to her death? Something doesn’t quite add up in this entertaining whodunnit…

DCI Hazel Thomson crouched to examine the body at the foot of the stairs before glancing up at the pathologist.

“She fell, right?” she asked hopefully.

He pointed up the stairs where the flex for the vacuum cleaner was caught around the leg of a small occasional table and stretched across the stairs.

“That rather suggests otherwise.”

Hazel’s heart sank. When the body had been removed and the forensic team were gone she turned to her young DS.

“So what do we have, Jerry?”

He checked his notes.

The victim – whether murder or accident – is Miss Cora Peacock, wealthy homeowner and rather unpleasant by all accounts. She had just sacked her entire household staff, accusing them of laziness.

“Apparently she was meeting an agency this morning to hire replacements but had misplaced her phone and returned home unexpectedly to look for it. Then this happened,” he continued.

Hazel considered. “Who was here?”

Jerry couldn’t hide his grin.

“Would you believe Mrs White the housekeeper, Mrs Plum the cook and Mr Green the gardener?”

“Seriously?” said Hazel. “I’m surprised she wasn’t found in the library with a lead pipe. OK, we’ll start with Mrs White.”

“I was in the drawing room,” said Mrs White nervously. “I like to have a tea break in the morning when I can. I was here, by the window. I could see Mr Green, leaning on his spade and chatting on his phone. But he looked towards the house immediately he heard the scream so he must have seen me. I’m sure he’ll vouch that I was nowhere near the stairs.”

Hazel checked her notes. “You were vacuuming? So you were the one who left the Hoover at the top of the stairs?”

Mrs White turned pink. “I always leave it out,” she confessed. “Then even if Miss Peacock comes home unexpectedly, it looks as if I’m working.”

Mr Green leaning on his spade and Mrs White lounging on a tea break. Cora Peacock might have good reason to believe her staff were lazy, thought Hazel.

“Did you hear Miss Peacock return?”


They approached the gardener next.

“What did you see?” Hazel asked.

“Nothing,” he stated. “She drove up in that fancy car, muttering. A few minutes later I heard a scream. I looked towards the house. I saw Mrs White in the drawing room and Mrs Plum in the kitchen.”

Hazel turned. He was right; there was a clear view of both rooms.

“You can vouch they were there the exact time you heard the scream?”

The boss might criticise my weeding but there’s nowt wrong with my eyes!

Hazel and Jerry trooped to the kitchen to speak to the cook next.

“I took Mrs White her tea, as I always do,” said Mrs Plum. “I was back here in the kitchen when I heard the crash. I didn’t know Miss Peacock was home.”

“And you definitely saw Mr Green in the garden?” Hazel checked.


“It’s a real shame you all lost your jobs,” said Hazel.

“We didn’t lose our jobs. She sacked us! For laziness. Can you imagine!” Mrs Plum’s eyes glittered with injustice.

Hazel looked around the untidy kitchen and said nothing.

“Well,” said Jerry later, “this is a tough one. They all have alibis. Looks like an accident after all.”

“Oh no,” said Hazel. “It was murder, all right. Round them all up, Jerry.”

“But –”

She raised an eyebrow and he hurried to comply.

“So here’s what happened,” said Hazel when everyone gathered at the foot of the stairs. “First, Mrs White. You hid Miss Peacock’s phone so she would have to come back for it. Then you left the vacuum at the top of the stairs. Miss Plum, when your employer returned, you waited until she went upstairs then nipped up and wrapped the flex around the table leg. That just left you, Mr Green. Once you saw Mrs Plum back in the kitchen, you called Miss Peacock’s number. She, hearing the phone ring downstairs, hurried to answer…”

“And toppled down the stairs,” finished Jerry breathlessly.

“Exactly,” said Hazel. “Everyone is guilty.”

“I didn’t… I mean they made me…” began Mrs White looking panicked.

“Shut up!” snapped Mr Green. “This is pure speculation. She has no evidence!”

“Don’t I?” Crossing her fingers Hazel took out her phone and dialled Miss Peacock’s number. Everyone jumped as a phone rang in a desk drawer at the foot of the stairs. Hazel smiled.

“Bag that for evidence, Jerry. As for you, Mrs Plum, Mrs White and Mr Green, I think it’s safe to say the game is up!”

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.