Miles Kington: A village murder to get in on the village murder racket

In all the murder investigations I have attended, the dead person had no enemies. Makes you wonder who killed them
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Today I am bringing you a complete crime novel in 700 words - yes, another yarn featuring the indefatigable Sixty Second Sleuth, Inspector Keith Braid, and his patient sidekick, Sergeant Comfort. As you know, Braid solves every murder within a minute at most, and he doesn't let us down today in Location, Location, Location.

It was quite ironic, really, that there should be a murder in the idyllic village of Courtney Pine. Courtney Pine had become familiar to TV viewers in Britain as the place where Village Violence was filmed. It was lovely and thatched and flowery, and had a pub and a pond, and every week someone was murdered, and after 57 minutes of investigation the murderer was unmasked by an actor playing a policeman.

And now there had been a real murder.

During the filming of the latest episode.

What was meant to happen was that the actors discovered a body in the river rolled up in a canvas sail and found it was a pretend body.

What actually happened was that they found a real body, and it was the body of Jason Gold, the owner of the Georgian mansion on the green called Wesley Hall.

"I can't understand it," said the producer, a man called Timkins, when Inspector Braid arrived on the scene. "Jason had no enemies that I know of."

"You might be surprised to know," said Braid, "that in all the murders I have attended I have always been told the dead person had no enemies. Makes you wonder who killed them. How many episodes of Village Violence have been shot here?"

"What? Oh, about 35," said Timkins, taken off-balance.

"And do you hire people's houses for the location shooting?"

"Some. It gets expensive. For instance we liked using Gold's over there ..." he pointed to a large Georgian house on the green, "... because Jason Gold is very reasonable. Was, I mean."

"Why that one ? And not the one next to it?" said Braid curiously.

"We would actually have preferred the one next door," said Timkins. "But old Colonel Bull wanted too much money."

"Greedy, is he?" said Braid.

"Money troubles, from what I hear," said Timkins.

"I think I'll say hello to Colonel Bull," said Inspector Braid. "Come on, Comfort."

Inspector Braid and Sergeant Comfort walked up the path to Colonel Bull's front door.

"Garden's been let go a bit," said Comfort.

"So's the house," said Braid, looking at the peeling paint. "Ah, good morning, sir," he said, as the front door opened. "We're from Scotland Yard."

"Are you actors or the real thing?" said Colonel Bull.

"The real thing," said Braid. "We're investigating the death of your neighbour, Mr Gold."

"Dead? DEAD? Poor old Jason? Dead?"

"Yes, sir. We'll have to trace the next of kin."

Colonel Bull's face cleared.

"Ah, so that's why you've come to me. Well, believe it or not, I think his mother's still alive."

"No, sir, that's not why we've come to you. We've come to arrest you for the murder of Jason Gold ..."

"I've often noticed that the arrival of film crews in small places turns people's minds," said Braid to Comfort, later. "The presence of famous actors, or big budgets, can slightly unhinge even the most staid of people. It must have been a huge shock to Colonel Bull, who was seriously in debt, when the big pay-off went to Jason Gold next door. He would have brooded on the injustice of it. And calculated that if Jason Gold was off the scene, they'd have to find another location. Namely, his own house."

"So Bull committed a village murder so that he could get in on the village murder racket?"

"Precisely," said Braid.

"I thought that the plots in TV crime soaps were creaky," said Sergeant Comfort," but that's as unfeasible as anything I've ever come across."

"If you learn one thing from being a policeman," said Inspector Braid, "it is that if murders had to have a feasibility study done on them in advance, nobody would kill anyone."