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Authors: Veronica Heley

Murder in Mind

BOOK: Murder in Mind
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Table of Contents

Further Titles by Veronica Heley from Severn House

Title Page


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One


Further Titles by Veronica Heley from Severn House

The Ellie Quicke Mysteries













Veronica Heley

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.


First world edition published 2012

in Great Britain and in the USA by


9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

Copyright © 2012 by Veronica Heley.

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Heley, Veronica.

Murder in mind.

1. Quicke, Ellie (Fictitious character)–Fiction.

2. Widows–Great Britain–Fiction. 3. Detective and

mystery stories.

I. Title


ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-289-4 (Epub)

ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8179-3 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-435-6 (trade paper)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.


llie Quicke considered she had more than enough to worry about ahead of a visit from her husband's family, before a couple of murders sent her stress levels right off the scale . . . and her daughter Diana's latest problem came to light!

Monday, after school

‘You freak me out, treading on my heels! Angelika will do her nut if she finds you in her own personal gym. You know she doesn't let anyone else use it. Well, apart from me, duh!

‘Oh, get out of my way! I want to use the treadmill. Whatever are you like! Don't fiddle with the speedo. I don't like to go any faster than . . . are you deaf as well as stupid?

don't touch the . . . Omigod! I can't . . . not so fast . . . take your hand off so I can turn it down! Aaargh!'

She stepped awkwardly off the treadmill, caught her foot, tripped and plunged across the room, arms flailing. Helped on her way with a kick from a well-aimed boot, she ran head first into the opposite wall. Blood sprayed. She folded down on to the floor.


She's dead? Must check. Yes.

Well, that couldn't have gone better, could it?

Now, wipe fingerprints off the speedo.

Leave the treadmill running.

Close the door on leaving.

Wednesday afternoon

Ellie had never considered herself a great brain, particularly where mathematics was concerned, but it did occur to her that allocating rooms for all the visitors she was expecting was like trying to fit a quart into a pint pot. She had inherited a large sum of money – which she'd put into a charitable trust – and a spacious Victorian house into which she, her second husband, Thomas, and their elderly housekeeper, Rose, fitted without any trouble.

Now that dear Rose found the stairs so difficult and had moved into a bed-sitting-room next to the kitchen, her original bedroom and bathroom upstairs could also be used for guests . . . except that it hadn't been decorated for years and the furniture and furnishings were a hotchpotch of leftovers.

Marrying a widower late in life, Ellie had acquired a second family who lived in Canada but who planned to visit the United Kingdom for the first time in many years. Of course it would be delightful – if slightly intimidating – to meet Thomas's children by his first wife. Would they like her? Thomas said that of course they'd adore her, but he was biased, wasn't he?

Thomas couldn't see any problem. He said his family would go to a hotel and he'd cover the cost, but Ellie felt this would be wrong when they lived in such a large house.

Only, she couldn't make the maths work.

The guest room had a double bed in it and was en suite. This would be ideal for Thomas's son and his wife.

They had two children. Now, if Ellie arranged for a second single bed to be put in the room her grandson used when he stayed overnight, then that would do for the twins, though they'd probably quarrel over who had which bed. Well, their parents could sort that out. So far, so good.

Ah, but where could she find a second single bed? Was there one in the unused room at the end of the corridor upstairs, currently filled with junk furniture? Might that room be made habitable as an extra bedroom in time? She made a note to herself to investigate.

Suppose she could manage to get that end room cleared out, would it be suitable for Thomas's daughter and her partner?

Oh dear, Ellie did so dislike this modern trend of having ‘partners' but not bothering to get married. She knew that nowadays people tended to have trial relationships, as if they could turn their emotions on and off like a tap. They seemed to think it was perfectly all right to move in with one man because he had a nice line in chat, then move on to another when they got fed up with the first one getting legless every night. If there was a child involved before they split up, why worry, because everyone does it and children adapt, don't they?

Well, no; they didn't. Ellie could think of several children, including her own grandson, who had had trouble adapting to the break-up of their parents' marriage.

Supposing she could get that end room cleared and furnished, where could she put their child? Rose's old room at the top of the stairs wouldn't be suitable for a young girl.

Oh dear, oh dear. If only the council had seen fit to approve the plans Ellie had submitted to convert the unused top floor of the house into separate accommodation with its own outside staircase and parking place. Time and again her plans had been rejected because of worries about those very parking slots, of all things.

She told herself there was no sense worrying about something over which she had no control. Which didn't stop her worrying, of course.

Another thing. Rose might very soon need more help in the house. If there was one thing Ellie was sure about, it was that her old friend was not going to be shovelled away into the nearest council home, but would be looked after as part of the family as long as possible.

Ellie had someone in mind who might be enticed to move into the house to help Rose – one of her former cleaners, who'd recently proven herself a trustworthy ally
– but the timing was all wrong; Ellie had only got Rose's old accommodation upstairs to offer at the moment, which was not sufficient for a single parent with a child in tow.

In any case, Vera, the girl concerned, might now like to go to college, to catch up on the higher education that had been denied her when she'd fallen pregnant at a school-leaving party. If so, it would be up to Ellie to see that the girl realized her dream.

Ellie smiled to herself; she could well imagine what her avaricious daughter Diana would say to her mother giving someone else a helping hand up the ladder of life. Diana would be furious!

Ellie's mind slid on to the ever-vexatious question of her demanding daughter. In the past Ellie had been accustomed to panic whenever Diana got into financial trouble, thinking it was up to her to help out, but her generosity of spirit had finally dried up under Diana's aggressive tactics and there had been a noticeable cooling in their relationship over the past few months.

That being said, even now the thought of Diana caused Ellie to frown. How long was it since Diana had seen fit to honour them with her presence? Six or seven weeks, perhaps?

The leaves on the trees were beginning to turn gold and brown and the sun's rays to lose their warmth. Autumn was upon them. Ellie decided she ought to check that Diana was all right.

Well, comparatively all right. Diana tended to live in the centre of a whirlwind, always in a state about something. Men or money. Or both.

Life had been beautifully quiet without her.

Only, now she came to think about it, Ellie had an uneasy feeling that no news from Diana was not always good news.

When last heard of, Diana's failing estate agency was about to be taken over by Hoopers, a large and thriving business in the town centre. Evan Hooper, who ran it, was a businessman of the old school who had earned the nickname of the Great White Shark. Not the cuddly sort, no.

Ellie grinned. Perhaps those two deserved one another?

Ellie picked up their marauding ginger tom, mis-called Midge, and tried to cuddle him. He objected, and she let him leap down on to the floor. He was a typically self-centred cat who wanted food, not caresses.

The front doorbell rang, and who should be there but Diana. Surprise! Shiny black car. Shiny and enormous black handbag. Black business suit with a touch of white around the collar. Black hair stunningly cut to show off a well-shaped head. Make-up rather heavy around the eyes. Diana had not inherited Ellie's beautiful skin, or the curl in her silvery hair.

Midge the cat disliked Diana, so he disappeared with a flick of his tail.

Ellie wasn't wearing any make-up at all and, as she'd been working in the garden, was wearing a pale-blue long-sleeved sweater, a navy skirt, and useful but clumpy clogs. Diana made Ellie feel frumpish, until she noticed that instead of her usual high heels, Diana was wearing ballerina shoes.

Ellie couldn't remember Diana wearing flatties before, not even when she'd been pregnant with little Frank during her first marriage.

Oh. Surely not?

No, of course not.

‘Long time no see,' said Ellie, trying to dismiss thoughts of pregnancy from her mind. ‘I was just going to have a coffee. Will you join me?'

Diana marched into the sitting room and stood by the French windows, looking out on to the garden. ‘I'm off coffee.'

There are several things a mother – however modern – does not wish to hear from a divorced, single-parent daughter.

‘I'm pregnant' must be top of the list. Or perhaps, ‘I'm gay'? Now, there was a toss-up. Which would you prefer?

‘I'm pregnant,' said Diana.

Ellie ran down a list of possible fathers in her mind and decided that almost any of the one-night stands Diana had enjoyed in the past might be more welcome than the name which leapt to the forefront of her mind.
Please God, let it not be Evan Hooper!

BOOK: Murder in Mind
6.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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