Calfspool Copse – A new crime mystery from Alan Peters – Going live on Amazon 23rd August
British author Alan Peters is launching a brand new crime fiction book for 2020 titled ‘Calfspool Copse’. Alan Peters has a number of popular books published in both paperback and kindle e-book formats on Amazon. You can enjoy an advanced preview of the new British detective and crime novel with an extract from the book below. This special preview of the exciting new murder mystery thriller is only available here on the Alan Peters website, keep scrolling down to read the preview of this exciting new British crime fiction book 2020.
Read the extract from the new British crime fiction book 2020
‘The lights went out for Daniel much less painfully than he expected. A tightness in the chest, an enormous rushing in his ears as though he’d fallen off his surfboard again, and Dad was glaring down at him in disbelief at his incompetence.
‘Dad, dad. I did it like you said,’ he was fighting the water flooding into his mouth. He reached out for dad’s arm, but already, his father was striding through the water, towards Lucy, who had already mastered the board, even though she was three years younger than him.’
A child dies at one of England’s most prestigious schools. Terrible accident or deliberate act. Goodley and Cape are sent to investigate, and enter a world with its own values, its own language…and its own suffering.
In the extract below, Inspector Goodley and Sergeant Cape have travelled to the West Country to interview a Master at the school. His views are not ones they expected to find.
‘One of England’s little secrets,’ continued Goodley. ‘watch out for the sheep on the road and beware the wild boar. Hard to say which are the more dangerous.’ Cape did and was rewarded with plenty of sightings of the former, if not the latter.
Soon a rambling hostel appeared, and Goodley squeezed the car to a gravelly stop. It took only a moment to ascertain that Rance (‘Rance? Nobody of that name, we’ve a school in this week. Oh, you mean Geoff,’) had already left, and was taking a group caving at the nearby Symonds Yat.
‘Splendid,’ smiled Goodley, clapping his hands together as he reversed the car back out of its parking space and swung its nose back towards the drive. ‘Now you really are in for a treat. The Yat has the most incredible views you’ll ever see, down the Wye, Peregrines hunting. And, if it’s still there, a brilliant little café. Or we can head down to the pub on the river. When we’ve finished with Rance, of course.’
‘Sounds brilliant,’ muttered Cape. He hoped for the pub option, because Goodley would find it hard to resist a pint, especially under the sun, which was already warm, at nine forty-five in the morning. Then, it would be down to him, Cape, to drive them back. They journey might take a bit longer but would be very much safer.
‘If we get a move on, we’ll probably catch them up,’ said Goodley, sending another dagger of worry into Cape. The roads they had driven along for the last twenty minutes had not seemed the kind to lend themselves to ‘getting a move on.’
Goodley, though, seemed intent on enjoying the views. Especially the frequent glimpses of the Wye, and the bridges they used to cross it. In fact, they did not quite catch Rance up, but soon saw three Calfspool minibuses parked next to each other in the large but rustic car park. Small groups of children, with taller adults, could be seen at various places donning hard hats and harnesses. It did not take long to spot Rance, standing slightly to the side of a group. As the police officers made their way towards them, a young man with long hair and the sort of beard only ever worn by somebody more at home outdoors than in, started to lead his temporary students on.
It was apparent that they were heading into the woods.
‘Wish I’d brought my boots,’ muttered Goodley, as they caught the group. So did Cape. Soon he was slipping and sliding as though the tangled leaves and roots that littered the kind of path were made of ice.
‘Sir, there’s somebody following us.’
They picked up the voice of one of the children who was trailing near the back of the line. Rance turned and stopped.
‘Mr Rance, good morning,’ said Goodley extending a hand as he slithered warily to a stop.
‘I think you’ll find I’m working, Inspector,’ came the not overly welcoming response. Rance took in the officers, their ties and smart trousers, their jackets already ruffling under the heat. He was dressed in walking boots and many pocketed combat shorts, with a rough T shirt. Unlike the rest of the group, he had forsaken the torn blue boiler suit uniform.
Suddenly he smiled. ‘But I am not intending to go into the caves. I leave that for the younger generation. So, as long as you don’t mind accompanying me down the hill, I should have an hour, or maybe a little more, to answer your questions.’
‘Can’t we talk at the car park, sir,’ asked Cape, whose salary did not comfortably stretch to providing a new work suit. ‘Perhaps over a coffee.’
The bearded one had also stopped and moved back to re-join them. ‘No can do,’ he said with surprising authority. I need a second adult in case of emergencies. Geoff needs to come with me, even if he waits by the entrance.’
He too looked them up and down, taking in their inappropriate attire. ‘If it’s OK with Jeff, you can come as well. Take the easy path (he indicated a small indentation in the bushes to the side which suggested anything but an easy descent). You should be OK, might slip a bit. Here.’ He pointed at a couple of children carrying spare kit, and they each handed over a battered red helmet. ‘Pop these on. Just stick to the path until you see us. Come on kids, let’s get in a cave.’
There was a moderately enthusiastic cheer from the children, and off they set, while, with a ‘Take care, officers,’ a smiling Rance accompanied them. ‘There’s been enough avoidable falls of late…’ The last words caused the policemen to stop and look hard in Rance’s direction.
‘Did you hear that, sir?’ asked Cape, his voice harsh.
‘I hope not, I really do,’ came the threatening goodbye. As though aware they were looking in his direction, Rance raised an arm, waving without looking.
‘Bloody man,’ said Cape.
‘Don’t let him get to you, Sergeant.’
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The easy path proved, as they suspected, anything but. It was narrow, overgrown, slippery and tangled. But at least it was dry. Quite what anybody looking down from above would have made of two men, each approaching middle age, topped in a bald red dot and scrambling down a wooded path as though otherwise dressed for church, is hard to say. Suffice that after a dozen steps, Goodley removed the helmet.
‘I’ll take my chances,’ he said. Cape felt the same.
But eventually they did see Cape, sitting on a rock by a narrow gap in the hillside. Children were disappearing into it one at a time, pulling themselves through.
‘Beats working, eh?’ smiled the teacher when the last child disappeared as though gulped down by the hillside,
Goodley looked at his shoes, now scuffed and scratched. He took off his jacket and tie, noting with annoyance the pulled threads in the silk pattern. He sat on another boulder, Cape taking his own seat on a log further round, any thought about preserving his own messed up suit long gone. Both were clear. Rance had enjoyed dragging them down here. Fair enough that he could be annoyed by their intrusion into his little empire, maybe… but they were going to get their money’s worth out of the next sixty minutes.
‘Tell me about your cricket team,’ started Goodley, determined to make the most of the time before the children returned from their Morlockian explorations. Rance looked surprised, but quickly regained his composure.
‘Not so good this year, to be honest,’ he began. ‘We usually win more than we lose but won’t manage that this season. Still that’s the way it goes. Just wish Johnson would see it that way.’
Goodley was surprised to hear such open criticism so early in their conversation. But maybe being away from school, in an environment where Rance could operate without interference gave him confidence.
‘No stars with bat or ball at all, then?’ he probed.
‘Nice phrasing,’ Rance smiled, the briefest twitch of the corners of his mouth. ‘Not really, for what it is worth. I have to say, Inspector Goodley, even though I accounted for my movements to one of your colleagues last week, I rather assumed you might catch up with me at some time – I used the term ‘catch up’ advisedly’ – he pushed his hands forward, palm down. ‘But I rather expected it might wait until I got back next week. What I didn’t expect was a conversation about cricket.’
‘Well, sir’ said Goodley, ‘I watched your boys at the weekend. Thought they looked reasonably useful.’
‘Oh, it’s a high standard at our sort of school. Did you know, last season ten of the County Under 13s were from Prep Schools; the other kid was just a token, we thought. Three of those were Calfspool boys. None of your plastic bats and orange balls and smack it as hard as you can here. Proper cricket. That’s what we play.’
‘I thought I saw some plastic stumps hanging around…’ interjected Cape, annoyed by the teacher’s tone and implied superiority complex.
‘Oh, only for the little ones. The babies. No, our standards are high. I expect the best.’
‘And who is the best? This year, from what you’ve got.’
Rance thought for a moment. ‘Butler shows promise. The wicket keeper. Big lad. He’s tidy enough behind the stumps, and the others do as he says. Gets carried away when he’s batting, though. He’ll cruise to twenty, then go for the big one. Bad habit.’
‘He your captain?’ asked Cape.
Rance nodded, a little curiously. ‘You seem to know a fair bit about my team. Not really sure what they have to do with your investigation.’
‘Ways and means, sir,’ answered Goodley obliquely. ‘Who else? Shaw?’
‘Not really,’ answered Rance with a shake of his head. ‘He’s quick enough, but erratic. A good player picks his bad ones. Too short, and too wide. He thinks he’s a six-foot two West Indian, instead of a five-foot four Wasp. Still, got a bit of a sting,’ he seemed to enjoy the metaphor.
‘Nobody else, then?’
‘Well, there’s Anderkai, of course. He’s still only a Duodec, but, despite everything, he’s got some promise.’
‘The boy’s Russian. Hardly a hotbed of cricketing culture. Still, he attends every coaching session going, all summer virtually last year. Winter nets. Parents are stinking rich. You know the tidal scheme on the Severn?’
‘Anderkai senior will have his paws over it somewhere along the line.’
‘What about the others from the dewo…’ Cape still could not quite get his tongue around the Latin pronunciations.
‘Duodecs,’ corrected Rance. ‘Well, not much promise among them either, Anderkai apart. If there was, there’d be more of them in the team. Baker can bat a bit but isn’t strong enough to hit it off the square.
Rance smiled for a moment. ‘Ahh, Pritchard. My reluctant leggy.’
Goodley said nothing, and Cape picked up the strategy. Rance filled the gap.
‘Little Pritchard, he’s a charmer really. I don’t know if he’ll make the grade, but I’m keen to give him a go.’
‘Better than Joseph?’ asked Goodley lightly.
Rance looked hard again.
‘You’ll see Joseph in a moment, if he doesn’t get stuck. The boy’s just not up to standard. In any way.’
‘They’re important to you,’ stated Goodley.
‘They are, Inspector Goodley.’
‘Can I ask sir, why you were out on the square in the middle of the morning the day Morris was killed? It seems a strange thing to do.’
‘Force of habit, Sergeant. From the days when being Master in Charge of Cricket meant doing everything. Laying out the boundary, setting up the stumps. Even, if we had a lot of games and the groundsman was busy, marking out the pitches. Of course, these days, that’s all done for us.’
‘Is it Sir? One of the other masters implied it was down to you teachers to get everything ready.’
‘No, not anymore. Who was that, Yates?’ Cape’s look told him the answer. ‘I shouldn’t take too much notice of young Yates, Sergeant. He means well enough, but struggles. The boys don’t respect him. He wants to be their friend. He’ll come good in the end, just, it might not be at Calfspool.’
‘Do you like to be the pupils’ friend, Mr Rance?’ asked Goodley, looking the man straight in the eye. Rance held his gaze.
‘Why an earth would I want that, Inspector? The relationship is simple, in my book. I’m the Master, and I say what to do. They are the boys,’
‘And girls,’ interjected Cape, getting a nod from the teacher.
‘They are the boys,’ he repeated, ‘and they do what I say. There’s nothing complicated in that. I’m happy with that arrangement, and more importantly so are they. It’s others who want to complicate things. Children like to know where they stand.’
‘Which is where?’ asked Goodley. Rance chose to ignore the interruption.
‘Look, I know it’s an old-fashioned point of view, but it will be boys like this who will be running businesses in twenty years, industry and the Government in ten after that.’
‘Not the girls, just the boys?’ asked Cape.
‘It’s the way it is,’ answered Rance. ‘And if the politicians, the judges, the doctors and the top teachers of tomorrow – even the police chiefs, Inspector – if they don’t have standards drilled into them from a young age, what hope do any of us have to hold onto?’
He paused, aware that he might have said more than intended. ‘As I say, it’s an old-fashioned point of view, it’s unfashionable. But essentially, the truth, whether people like it or not.’
‘You let the boys run the team?’
‘I call it guided independence, Inspector.’
‘You don’t worry about bullying?’
‘Boys have to learn where the limits lie. They do so by trial and error?’
‘And if some other children suffer as a result?’
‘It’s only short term, Inspector. There’s no long-term damage done. In fact, it does them good. Another old-fashioned view, Inspector. And I’m not going to say “it did me no harm”’
(‘You just have,’ thought Cape, realising he was disliking this man more and more.)
‘But the fact is, learning the way of the world is an important part of growing up for boys. Toughens them up. That’s the problem, these days, namby pambying around. I do keep on about standards, and frankly, they are slipping all the time. Sometimes, I feel like a dinosaur, I admit. But the boys who run through my hands, they leave Calfspool ready for their next steps. Calfspool is a Preparatory school, Inspector. We prepare boys for the next stage of their life. The next stages of their lives.’
‘And girls?’ whispered Cape?
‘Do you have daughters, Sergeant?’ Cape nodded. ‘And girls, of course,’ added the teacher, unconvincingly.
‘What are your standards, Mr Rance?’ asked Goodley.
‘Respect. Leadership. Presentation. Self-belief. Ambition. Competition.’ He recited them as though reading from banners on the wall.
‘You’ll see. When these boys come out of these caves, they will greet you politely. At the end of the session, they will individually thank the instructor, they will call him Sir and shake his hand. He will leave impressed, and he will remember Calfspool boys.
‘As we walk back, he will tell me how they have supported each other underground, out of their comfort zone. He will tell me which boys have taken charge. And whether the others have followed their lead. If they have not, then I will speak to them, because leaders must be allowed to lead. And I’m sorry, Sergeant, I keep saying ‘boys’, I mean, of course, children. When I started at Calfspool, the idea that one day it would educate girls as well was unthinkable. As I have said, I am an old-fashioned person.’
‘I’m fascinated by your standards, Mr Rance,’ urged Goodley, sensing that the teacher was loosening up, and if anything of use was to fall from his lips, it would do so soon.
‘Presentation. Like yourselves, gentlemen. Smart breeds trust. It breeds authority.
The lights went out for Daniel much less painfully than he expected. A tightness in the chest, an enormous rushing in his ears as though he’d fallen off his surfboard again, and Dad was glaring down at him in disbelief at his incompetence.
‘Dad, dad. I did it like you said,’ he was fighting the water flooding into his mouth. He reached out for dad’s arm, but already, his father was striding through the water, towards Lucy, who had already mastered the board, even though she was three years younger than him.
The new British crime fiction book 2020 from Alan Peters will be released on Amazon on 23rd August, just search for Calfspool Copse or Alan Peters on Amazon. If you would like email notice when the book is available, please let us know by filling out this contact form.