By John Lynch
on June 12, 2020 0 Comments
6 min read
Futch Mucking, the village in which these books are set, is a composite of three villages in which I have lived. Anyone who knows this part of north Shropshire is likely to recognise the places I’ve described, but the people and events are entirely a figment of my imagination. They don’t exist. They didn’t happen. Honestly.
Look, I’m a writer – would I lie to you?
I call these books the Cindy Williams Mysteries, but in fact Cindy shares the protagonist role with Emlyn Davies. Williams and Davies – you probably recognise those as Welsh names and the fact is that this place where I live is as much Welsh as it is English and Welsh names are common. The border between the two countries moved from time to time; all three of the villages I have assembled into Futch are in England but the names of two of them are obviously Welsh in origin.
Cindy Williams grew up in Futch, brought up by her Uncle Tomos after her mother encountered a little problem that I haven’t yet decided whether or not to tell you about. She left to join the police and, when that didn’t work out, she retrained as a journalist. She is now back in Futch after the death of her uncle and the collapse of her relationship with Patrick Sousa.
Emlyn Davies was born in Futch and has never lived anywhere else. He’s a good ten years older than Cindy, divorced, and a police constable. Cindy gets drawn into solving mysteries. She does it with her freelance journalist’s hat on, but Emlyn is a neighbour and what more natural than that they should pool their skills and interests?
Where is Daisy Howell?
This, the first book in the series, is scheduled for publication in February, 2022. Cindy Williams has just returned home to Futch, where she has inherited her late uncle’s house and his not inconsiderable fortune; he has also bequeathed to her some papers about the unsolved disappearance of Bethany Marsh in the clear hope that she will bring this thirty-year-old mystery to a conclusion. By coincidence, a young Futch resident, Daisy Howell, has also disappeared. Emlyn Davies, as the local policeman, is looking for Daisy without success. Cindy wants to find Daisy, but she also wants to know what happened to Bethany.
As a taster, here’s how the book starts:
The supervisor on this floor of the care home seemed unable to stop talking. She peppered the visitor with questions – had she known Mervyn Hughes long? Visits were so important to residents’ well-being and it was so long since poor Mr Hughes had had a visitor – was there anyone else she could think of who might be talked into coming? She showed increasing irritation at the visitor’s failure to offer a single word in reply. When they emerged from the lift, the supervisor set off down the corridor in a huff. She threw open the last but one door on the right. ‘Someone to see you, Mr Hughes.’ She turned her head to the visitor. ‘When you want to leave, ring that bell.’ She pointed at a cord hanging from the ceiling. ‘Someone will come and show you out. It may take a few minutes; the staff here are very busy and you will understand that residents’ needs come first.’ And then she was gone, closing the door behind her with what you could only describe as a slam.
When Mervyn Hughes realised who had come to see him, the slightly vacant look on his face turned to fear. ‘It’s you.’
‘Not completely gaga, then? Yes, DI Hughes. It’s me.’
Hughes shrank into his chair. ‘What do you want? I haven’t said anything.’
‘That’s good, Merv. I haven’t said anything, either. So we’re quits. But you’re not going to say anything in the future. Are you?’
‘Why would I?’ He had to say it twice, conscious that the first time had been little more than a whisper.
‘Don’t they give you newspapers here? Don’t you watch the news on television? Something’s happened, Merv. Just down the road in Maserfield. A girl has gone missing.’
‘Oh, God. Not again.’
‘Yes. Again. And the police, your one-time employers, are going to be asking questions. And one of the people they’ll want to question is you. Our old friend, Merv the Perv.’
‘I won’t say anything.’
‘Of course you won’t. Because you’re not so far gone you don’t realise what I will be telling people if I hear that you’ve been telling people. You keep my secret and I keep yours. Do we understand each other?’
‘Good. I’ll be off now. Lovely seeing you once more. We must do this again in another thirty years.’ Without even glancing at the cord the supervisor had told her to pull, she let herself out of the room, went quietly down the corridor, got back into the lift and left the building.
Retired Detective Inspector Mervyn Hughes pulled himself out of his chair and found his cigarettes. He only allowed himself five each day, but he was fairly sure he would exceed that ration today. He had to go outside because smoking was permitted only in one place and that was some distance from the building. As he passed the carers’ room, the supervisor stuck her head out. ‘Mr Hughes? Where’s your visitor?’
‘Gone? But she didn’t ask anyone to see her out.’
‘I’m afraid that’s the story of her life.’
‘Will she be coming back?’
‘My God, I hope not.’ When he got to the smokers’ corner, he found the usual collection of people already there. He stood at a distance from them. Right now, friendly banter was the last thing he wanted.
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