First Monday Free Fiction: Santa’s Sticky Fingers

Santa's Sticky Fingers by Cora BuhlertWelcome to the December 2020 edition of First Monday Free Fiction. To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month.

Since the holiday season is in full swing, this month’s free story is Santa’s Sticky Fingers, one of two Christmas mysteries in my Helen Shepherd Mysteries series.

So follow Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team, as they investigate a wave of thefts at a Christmas market and deal with…


Santa’s Sticky Fingers


Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd considered herself something of a Grinch, but the ridiculous cosiness of the Kingston upon Thames Christmas Market with its little wooden huts, faux snow covered roofs and twinkling lights could instil some holiday spirit even into her hardened heart.

Since she was here already, she might as well take a look around and get some Christmas gifts while she was at it. Once the business at hand was dealt with, of course.

Next to her, Detective Constable Kevin Walker was much less sanguine.

“Why exactly did they send us out to the boondocks to deal with a plague of pickpockets?” he grumbled as he trudged across the cobblestones, “We’re the Met. We deal with murders, not petty theft.”

“Yes, we’re the Met and it’s our job to solve crimes,” Helen replied dryly, “And since there is no convenient murder, pickpockets it is.” She cast a sideways glance at DC Walker. “Unless you wish to commit one, that is.”

“No thanks,” DC Walker grumbled, kicking a half-eaten chip out of the way. A pigeon eager seized upon it.

“But honestly, boss, why us?” he continued, “This is nothing that the locals can’t handle. Just have a couple of uniforms patrol the market and voilà, this whole crime wave is a thing of the past.”

Helen sighed. “Because the chap who organises this whole thing is good friends with the Superintendent. They play golf together or some such thing.”

“Of course, they do,” DC Walker grunted.

They found the chap in question, one Jeremiah Blue, strutting around the market like a capitalist from a Charles Dickens movie, impatiently consulting his very expensive looking watch.

“Can I help you?” he snapped as Helen and DC Walker approached them.

“I hope so,” Helen replied dryly and flashed her ID, “I’m Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and this is Detective Constable Kevin Walker of the Metropolitan Police. We heard that you have a problem here.”

“Oh, you’re the police. Good. Nigel promised me he’d send his best people, after those bumblers from the local station did absolutely nothing.”

“Detective Superintendent Whittington told us you had a problem with pickpockets and petty crime here, but he didn’t give us any details,” Helen said, “So would you mind telling us a little more?”

“Petty crime?” Jeremiah Blue exploded, “It’s a disaster, an unmitigated disaster.”

Helen sincerely doubted that, unless Blue’s definition of ‘unmitigated disaster’ was very different from her own. “What precisely happened?”

“What happened? The Christmas market has been overrun by pickpockets, that’s what happened.”


This story was available for free on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in Santa’s Sticky Fingers. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.



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