Cut of a Knife

Background:

Cut of a Knife is the first in a series of four novels based in Hobart and features Detective Inspector Oscar Noones and Detective Constable Anna Pine. The style is at the gritty end of crime fiction but is leavened with a significant amount of dark humour.

The novel has a planned release date of June 2021.

Comments on sample:

The sample is from Chapter Three.

Noones is returning to work from medical leave after being abducted and tortured.

On his first night back he is called to a murder at Rangaroo National Park.

He begins by addressing the Pathologist, Dr Everard. Anna and fellow DC Sharon Carr are also present.

Sample

“Evening Stiffy.”

“Inspector. Glad you’re back.”

It was the briefest exchange, but Anna felt the weight of shared history between the two men. They were old friends.

“Right then. Someone get me up to speed?”

Sharon drew Noones’ attention to a tall man slumped against the side of a nearby table.

“Sir, that’s Terry Williams. The Park Ranger who found the body.”

“And that,” Everard butted in as his left hand pointed to a spot near Sharon’s feet, “is the regurgitated remains of Mr Williams’ dinner.”

Anna and Sharon took an involuntary step back. Noones moved the other way, getting as close to the table as possible. The artificial lights continued to play tricks, and when Noones leaned over the body it reminded Anna of a vulture poised over its prey.

“So, what’s your best guess?” Noones asked the pathologist.

“Some sort of packet beef and rice dish I would suggest.”

A blink and you’d miss it grin tugged the corner of Noones’ face.

“No, I meant this poor bastard. Was he alive when Williams found him?”

“Yes, not for long though. Williams found him trussed up inside a picnic umbrella which my guys have already tagged, removed, and taken away. I need to run the tox screens, but more than likely our victim was drugged beforehand. Williams had given the umbrella a decent prod and got no response.”

“Must have thought this guy was hammered, or maybe the butt of a stag night joke? Wouldn’t be unusual up here, and we’re all skirting around the bleeding obvious. Our deceased is dressed in a fucking chicken suit.”

“Good to see you haven’t lost any observational powers,” Everard said. “But of more importance is how our feathered friend was despatched. A sadistic mind at work here Oscar. The internal mechanism of the umbrella had been tampered with. Three of the metal spokes had been cut and bent, the points fashioned into small arrowheads. Two were pressed under the ribcage and the other into his neck.”

“I don’t need to be a genius to guess what happened. Our man ends up as a chicken skewer.”

“Exactly. Williams pulls on the umbrella arms to release him, and bingo, the redirected prongs drilled straight into the heart and carotid artery. Williams hauled the arms out again as soon as he saw what was going on which unfortunately was the worst thing to do. It made our man bleed out like Vesuvius erupting.”

“No wonder our Ranger lost his meal. It’s cruel with a bit of showmanship added in as a side dish. Somebody desperately wanted to send a message, but the question is to who?”

“One of your easiest cases though. Technically the killer is standing fifty yards away.”

“I don’t think we’ll press charges against poor old Terry any time soon. Sharon, can you cover off his interview in the morning? I doubt we can get anything useful out of him tonight, but he is our best hope for a lead. Do we know who our victim is?”

“The techs went through his pockets,” Sharon answered. “Nothing.”

“Damn. Can you tell the rest of the team that any plans they had for the weekend are cancelled? A meeting at nine am.”

Noones seemed to notice Anna for the first time.

“And you are?”

“DC Anna Pine, sir. I started with CID this morning. Can I help with anything?”

“Have you worked a murder before?”

“No, sir.”

“A major crime scene?”

Anna shook her head.

“In that case, I’m sure we can all quickly and accurately conclude that you will be no help whatsoever. So, here’s what I need you to do: keep out of everyone’s way, don’t touch anything unless you’re asked, and generally don’t fuck up. Stick to that and we’ll be off to a reasonable start.”

Anna and Sharon began to move away, but Noones called Anna back.

“Before you go, It might be a good time to work out if we should even keep you around. Any thoughts?”

Anna processed the images she had seen since their arrival and tried to sequence her thoughts. She was damned if she was going to let this bastard treat her like shit on a shovel.

“I don’t think the victim got a look at his attacker.”

“Why?”

“The whole set-up works on the assumption that someone would open the umbrella without checking more closely. That’s a huge risk to take. If our victim had survived, he could have made a positive ID.”

Noones gave a curt nod.

“Not bad. Probably beginners’ luck but I hope you have more insights to share. We need to find out who did this in a hurry because a setup this elaborate is where things begin rather than come to an end. It’s not just the weather that tells me we are about to get pissed on from a great height.”