When Edgar Asheford-Browne is found dead in his palatial home, with a hole in his head and a bloody fire poker next to his body, the cause of death seems obvious. Edgar Asheford-Browne was beaten to death.
But as Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd and her team begin to unravel the case, it suddenly seems much less clear. For Helen has to deal not only with contradictory evidence, but also with an entire library full of suspects who are all accusing each other.
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- Parlour Game is a novelette of 10800 words or approximately 38 print pages. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- Parlour Game also marks the eleventh appearance of Detective Inspector Helen Shepherd, her assistant Detective Constable Kevin Walker and forensic medical examiner Dr. Rajiv. Police Constable Martin Jackson and Charlotte Wong, scene of the crime officer and DC Walker’s girlfriend, reappear as well, as does Detective Chief Inspector Simon Westmoreland of the Counter Terrorism Command, whom Helen met in Mightier than the Sword and has been dating ever since.
- Parlour Game came about when I decided that I wanted to plop Helen and her team into a traditional country house mystery.
- Helen and her team are well aware that they have landed in a traditional country house mystery and so references to Agatha Christie, Midsomer Murders and Downton Abbey abound and the “The butler did it” cliché is invoked repeatedly.
- Coincidentally, Parlour Game also taught me why traditional mystery writers like putting all the suspects in the same room so much. Because once you do, the suspects start accusing each other and the investigator has to do nothing but listen and maybe ask the occasional question.
- Of course, a traditional country house mystery requires a country house. Unfortunately, those are in rather short supply in London. However, those that do exist like Osterley Park, Syon House and Chiswick House are concentrated in West London in the Borough of Hounslow, which is also where the fictional Honeydew House is located. And since Hounslow proper is an Indian dominated neighbourhood, the character of Rajvar Chowdry was born.
- In Parlour Game, Simon Westmoreland is revealed to be an antiques and architecture buff. Meanwhile, DC Walker, Charlotte Wong and PC Jackson are revealed to be Star Wars
- The butler James Frinton (because every country house mystery has to have a butler) was named for British comedian Freddie Frinton whose skit Dinner for One is a New Year’s Night TV staple in Germany. The butler in the skit is named James and played by Freddie Frinton.
- The case of the would-be terrorists plotting a ricin attack in the flat over a pharmacy that Simon mentions is based on a real case, though it took place in Wood Green, not Hounslow.
- The cover image is a stock photo of a broken vase by design56. In the first draft of the novelette, the broken vase was a crystal vase, but I changed this to fit the photo.