Miles Kington: Attempted murder is just not cricket

'And if you had died, we would all have thought it was just a tragic accident'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Today I bring you another complete crime story starring the Sixty Second Sleuth, Inspector Keith Braid, who has never taken longer than a minute to solve any crime. Here he goes again, in a tale entitled ...

Today I bring you another complete crime story starring the Sixty Second Sleuth, Inspector Keith Braid, who has never taken longer than a minute to solve any crime. Here he goes again, in a tale entitled ...

On the Silver Screen

"Where are you taking me?" said Inspector Braid, as Sergeant Comfort turned off the A road on to a B road and then on to what must surely be a C minus road, so rough was it.

"Scene of the crime, sir", said Comfort. "Attempted murder. Claud Asperley, the famous film producer, lives at the end of this lane."

"And who has he tried to kill?"

"Nobody, sir. He was the intended victim, it seems. He was driving down this lane late last night, on his way home, when suddenly a lorry came the other way at about 60 miles an hour. There was no room for both vehicles, so Asperley pulled off the road into the ditch. Hit the wall. Car burst into flames."

"Did the lorry stop?"

"No, sir. Asperley managed to get out safely and walk the rest of the way home, and rang the emergency services. He says wryly it must be very unusual that he should have to ring an ambulance, a fire engine and a policeman, all for the same incident. This is where the incident took place."

They pulled to a halt outside the village cricket green, where a lone constable was guarding the site.

"Anything to report, Milton?" said Comfort.

"Nothing, sir," said PC Milton. "Except one thing. If this bloke swerved to avoid a lorry, why are there no lorry tyre marks? A damp track like this would easily take tracks."

"Quite right, lad," said Braid. "For instance, this track here."

He pointed to a wheel mark, just off the track, on the verge.

"And on the other side as well," continued Braid, pointing to a nearly identical track on the far verge, about 12 feet away.

"Whatever it was went one way on that side and came back the other side," said Comfort.

"Unless of course it was a vehicle with a 12-foot wheelspan."

"Impossible," said Comfort.

"If you say so," said Braid, with that knowing smile which sometimes really maddened Comfort.

They found Asperley pale and shaken.

"Yes, I have many enemies in the film world," said Asperley. "But only one who would want to kill me. This is his name."

He wrote it on a piece of paper and passed it across to Braid.

"Sir Alex Kringler," read out Braid. "Who's he ?"

"Big man of British films," said Sergeant Comfort. "Went bankrupt the other day."

"My fault, I'm afraid," said Asperley. "That's why he is out to get me. But he is not the sort to drive a lorry at me ..."

"Oh, there was never any lorry," said Braid.

"But I saw it!"

"No, Mr Asperley. What you saw was the image of a lorry. It was being projected on to a screen across the road. It was done deliberately to drive you off the road."

"Projected ? But projected on to what ?"

"A cricket sightscreen," said Braid. "Wheeled out from the adjacent cricket ground. On a wheelbase about 12 feet wide. Sightscreens used to be solid wood, but now they are cloth, and can be unrolled, just like a cinema screen. Much more like a cinema screen than we had realised."

"You mean, someone who knew I was coming home late had prepared a film of a lorry and rolled out the screen to project it and scare the living daylights out of me ?"

"Yes. It's an idea which has been used in films before - I think I first saw it in an old Will Hay film - but never in real life. And of course, if it had worked, and you had died in the crash, nobody would ever know that you had swerved to avoid a lorry. We'd all have thought it was just a tragic accident."

"It's ludicrous," said Asperley. "It's barmy."

"So, I believe, is the film world," said Braid. "And now I think we'll pay Sir Alex Kringler a little social call ..."

The Sixty Second Sleuth will be back soon!

Comments