Entertaining the French is not cricket

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It's time for another crime story featuring Inspector Keith Braid, the Sixty Second Sleuth. He's called that because a minute is what it takes him to solve every crime. Sometimes not even a minute. Sometimes only 55 seconds. Let's see how long it takes him today in a story called:

It's time for another crime story featuring Inspector Keith Braid, the Sixty Second Sleuth. He's called that because a minute is what it takes him to solve every crime. Sometimes not even a minute. Sometimes only 55 seconds. Let's see how long it takes him today in a story called:

A Tiger In Your Pétanque

"Very picturesque," said Sergeant Comfort, as he and Inspector Braid drove into the little village of Spencer Tracey. "Very Midsomer Murders country..."

" Midsomer Murders?" said Braid.

Comfort sighed.

"TV crime series, sir," he said. "In every series the entire population of an English village is wiped out one by one. They are replaced in the next series by a totally new population - all of whom have lived there all their lives!"

"Fascinating," said Braid, making a mental note not to buy a TV set just yet. "And what brings us here today?"

"Man found murdered," said Comfort. "Major Pomfret. Head bashed in. Found in bushes on the village green."

"Any known enemies?"

"In France, perhaps."

"France!?"

Braid looked sideways at Comfort. Was he drunk?

"Major Pomfret was head of the town twinning committee in Spencer Tracey. Twinned with a village in Normandy called..." he looked at his notes, "Camus-sur-Sartre. The French side are due to make a visit here."

"Are they indeed ?" said Braid thoughtfully. "Well, let us meet what is left of the twinning committee."

There were two of them available, Jack and Olive Tanner, who seemed surprised but not shocked by the Major's death.

"Pomfret was not an easy man to like," said Jack. "Always had his nose in other people's business. Scandal-monger and trouble-maker."

"And a randy old goat," sniffed Olive.

"Did he ever make a pass at you?" said Braid.

"Certainly not," said Olive. "I was far too old for him. Young meat, that was what he liked."

"Tell me," said Braid, "were there any young girls in the boules team?"

"Boules team?" said Jack.

"Certainly," said Braid. "Every time a village receives its twin village from France, there is always a boules match. They cannot learn cricket, but we can learn boules."

"Well, yes, we do have a boules team..."

"Was the Major in it?"

"No. But Yvonne Duroc is. She is very pretty, even if not very good at boules."

"Ah ha! Were they by any chance practising yesterday on the village green?"

"Yes, they were," said Jack. "Oh, that reminds me, darling," he said to his wife, "we ought to get some more boules. They were one short after the practice yesterday."

"I don't think there will be any need to buy any more," said Inspector Braid. "I think you will find the missing boule in the bushes near where the Major was found."

"How do you reckon that, sir?" said Comfort.

"Seems pretty obvious to me, Sergeant," said Braid. "The team was out for a practice. The Major was hidden in the bushes, either eavesdropping on them, or ogling Mlle Yvonne or both. Quite by accident, one of the team throws a long shot, way off target, which hits the Major on the head and kills him. Ironically, it may well have been Yvonne."

"But, surely, sir, wouldn't they have gone to retrieve the boule and found the major's body?"

"Exactly what happened, Comfort. And they took fright when they thought they might be accused of murder, and left the scene of the crime. Except, of course, there was no crime. Unless failure to report an accident is a crime."

Which, in view of the impending French visit, they decided it was not, and the whole thing was allowed to blow over. Indeed there was a happy ending, for on the day Spencer Tracey beat Camus-sur-Sartre by nine games to six.

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