Perils in



The British Book Tour Mysteries | Book 3

Emma Dakin

Seattle, WA




watched the chocolate pour from the spout of a complicated metal tower into the vat below. The bitter-sweet, artisan product promised luxury, elegance, even romance. It was all in our imaginations, but we were entranced nonetheless. My tourists gazed in fascination, focusing on the rich, brown aromatic stream. Automatically, I counted heads. One missing. Phillip Saunders. Again.

That man was as elusive as a bat in the dark. I thought he would be captivated by our tour of the Shambles Chocolate factory in the center of York. He’d told me he was a chemist and interested in the chemistry of chocolate making. Where was he? My tour was The British Mystery Book Tours. I took tourists to the sites of mystery novels. This excursion to the chocolate factory was added as a relaxing way to start the tour. The only literary reference I could find was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I tapped Geraldine on the shoulder and whispered. “I’m going to look for Phillip.”

She rolled her eyes. “Good luck. A little ADD, that one.” She turned back to the white-coated young woman who was explaining the importance of temperature to her audience.

‘ADD’ Attention Deficit Disorder. Geraldine had been a teacher. She was used to assessing people. Still, I didn’t trust a snap diagnosis. There may be many reasons for Phillip’s constant movement. Even if he was ADD, that’s a normal human condition, giving energy to talented people. He might be anxious, bored, upset by something in his life. There were myriad motivations for his behavior besides ADD. What I understood from her comment was Phillip annoyed her. Not a good start to the tour. Phillip had been late for breakfast and kept us waiting about five minutes at the beginning of the tour because he had wandered onto the street to “get a feel for the place”. I wouldn’t have any problem with that if he would just tell me when he was leaving and when he’d be back. I run on a schedule, after all. Besides, why sign up for a tour, if you didn’t stay with the tour? I could feel a rising anger and suppressed it. I couldn’t react every time a tourist caused me trouble or I’d be a constant jangle of nerves. I had years of experience dealing with irritating tourists. I’d handle this one.

I was across the room and heading for the stairs when a uniformed young man touched my sleeve. “Madam, you must stay with your tour. I’m sorry. You can’t wander on your own.” He was tall, thin, with fair hair cut so close to his head he appeared bald. He had broad shoulders and muscled arms, and a patch on his sleeve that declared his status—security guard.

“I understand.” It was time for calm, smooth words, the oil on the water, the balm for the senses. I glanced at his badge ‘Jason’ and showed him my business card. “I’m Claire Barclay. I run British Mystery Book Tours, and I’ve lost one of my tourists. Did you see a man of about forty-five?” I described his height and weight with my hands. “Short, a little rotund, bright black eyes? He slipped away from the tour.”

Jason frowned. “He’s not allowed to do that.” He pulled out his mobile phone—he might have already had it in his hand as it was instantly available—and hit a speed dial. “Tourist wandering. Male.” Then he clicked it off.

“I don’t think he’ll do himself any harm,” I said. “He’s totally sane but independent.” I couldn’t be sure of that, although Phillip appeared normal enough.

Jason raised his eyebrows. “Oh, brilliant.” That sounded sarcastic.

“I haven’t got a maniac wandering around then, do I, luv?”

“No.” At least, I didn’t think so.

He sent me a searching look as if he could determine my veracity by mind-reading. “Can’t have him at large. He might wander into our kitchens, nick recipes or sabotage production.” He straightened, stood tall and peered down on me.

Obviously, he took his job seriously. He was protecting the factory as a responsible, dedicated employee. I sighed. He looked intense and young enough to be in school. I concentrated on how I could keep Phillip from being arrested.

“People do that?” I stalled.

He nodded grimly. “They try. They send their chemists here to see what they can learn or wiggle out of the employees. They offer bribes. We make the best chocolate in the world, you know. First class.”

I could debate that with him. Their chocolate was excellent but so was the chocolate from Belgium. Then his choice of enemy hit me. Chemists. Phillip was a chemist.

Jason strode toward a far door, his black trainers squeaking a fast rhythm on the tile floor. I’m five-nine with long legs, but I had trouble keeping up. I tucked in behind him as he thumped down the stairs. We emerged two floors below. He pushed open a swinging door and we were in a kitchen.

There was Phillip backed against a wall with three tall broad-shouldered men in professional whites confronting him. One of them had a cleaver in his hand.

“Phillip!” I didn’t quite yell, just projected a loud demand in the hopes of stopping any mayhem the chefs might be contemplating. “What are you doing here? This is out of bounds.”

The man with the cleaver didn’t take his eyes off Phillip. The other two glared at me.

“Sorry,” I said. “So sorry.” I had to get Phillip out of there. If they knew he was a chemist, they would call the police. They might even damage him first. Better they think he was slightly deranged.

I jettisoned the “totally sane” image I’d given Jason and cast Phillip in the role of the slightly odd.

“Phillip. Now you come with me. You stay with the group. You know you promised you would.”

I spoke soothingly and hoped Phillip would have enough sense of self-preservation to play along. “Come along smartly, now Phillip. It’s time to join the tour.”

“Okay,” he said. “Sorry. So sorry.” He smiled with the assurance of a five-year-old that charm generated forgiveness.

I took him by the arm and led him away, followed by the menacing stares of the chocolatiers. They weren’t about to forgive him. I escorted Phillip, backed by Jason who almost ran us up the stairs and into the lobby.

I shoved Phillip into a chair, more gently than I wanted to, took a few steps away and turned to face Jason. “Thanks, Jason. I’m going to remain with him and see that he stays put. Can you tell my tour I’ll meet them here when they’re finished?”

“Right you are. I’ll do that.” He sent one more suspicious look at Phillip and took a picture of him on his mobile. Phillip moved just as he took it, so I don’t know how clear it would be. “Don’t come back here,” he spoke directly to Phillip. “You’re banned.”

Jason would be capable of apprehending Phillip if he tried to return. He had youth and muscle on his side.

“Oh, certainly, certainly,” Phillip said and lifted his shoulders in a shrug.

Jason narrowed his eyes. “You understand me, mate?”

Phillip shrugged again, his hands palms up as if to say, “As you like.”

I pointed to the coffee shop tucked into one side of the lobby. “Order something for yourself and for me,” I directed Phillip and followed Jason as he headed back to the elevator. I planned to thank him again.

Geraldine Smith, one of the ladies from Tucson, half-walked and half-trotted toward me.

“Norma’s missing.”

Oh, no. Not another one. Norma was the one who looked like the fairy godmother in Disney’s Cinderella—rosy cheeks, curly grey hair but with more intelligence than I’d ever credited to the fairy godmother.

“Jason,” I called.

He stopped and came back to join us.

“Where did you see her last,” I asked Geraldine. Why were my tourists slipping away?

“She wanted to go to the rest room. I have to tell you; she probably just turned the wrong way when she left it. She’s always doing that.”

“Which loo?” Jason asked.

Geraldine pointed.

Jason moved quickly, heading for the hall, with Geraldine and me trailing behind him. I hoped Phillip remain in the lobby area. I promised I’d watch him. However, I couldn’t be two places at once. I felt as though I was trying to herd a clutch of wayward goslings who were drifting away from me. I had to know where they were at all times.

Jason stopped at the cloakroom door, scrutinized both ways and headed toward a corridor.

“What’s her surname?” Jason asked. “Channing,” Geraldine said.

Jason called, “Mrs. Channing.”

A head of grey curls popped out from around a corner. “You found me. Thank you.”

“Yes, Madam. If you would just join your group.”

“I’d love to. What’s your name?” She bustled toward us.

“Jason,” he said as he strode toward the lobby. Norma kept pace beside him.

“Well, Jason. Many thanks. I thought I might get stuck in the corridors like a lab rat, running from hall to hall never finding an exit.” She passed him a folded bill.

He raised his eyebrows but tucked it into his shirt pocket. “You’re welcome, madam. Just stay with your group.”

“Take one of us with you to the rest room next time,” Geraldine said.

“I’d do that,” Norma said, responding the worry in Geraldine’s voice.

I sent Norma and Geraldine to join Phillip. Jason and I stood for a moment at the elevator, watching the group of three to be sure they stayed put.

I touched his sleeve. “Thanks for finding Norma and thanks for not calling the police on Phillip.”

“We’re sweet. He was in the kitchens, though. That was bad enough. If he’d wandered into the research and development area, I’d have held him and called the police.”

What a mess that would have been. “I can be grateful for small mercies.”

He smiled a little. “I’ll send his picture around to the staff. We’ll make sure he doesn’t get in here again.” “I won’t bring him,” I said.

“Good. He’s French?” Jason asked me as he stepped into the elevator.

“No. British, I think. He has a British passport.”

“He has a French accent.”

That was true. Were the French more likely to steal chocolate secrets? Was that accurate? Or was that prejudice? I’d no idea of the state of corporate espionage in York. It might be reasonable to be on the alert for spies.

York was the center of the chocolate industry for Britain. At one time, it had four factories. The most famous was Rowntree owned by Quakers who had a firm belief in the value of workers and the moral imperative to treat them well. They provided their workers with medical benefits, recreational facilities, housing and pensions. The factory flourished. The owners of the others factories, including Terry’s, had Quaker religious connections as well, and because of that, the chocolate industry had a reputation for honest dealing. The public relied on the principled Quaker owners not to add wax to the chocolate or coloring poison to the candy. There were only two large chocolate factories left in York— the one that had been started by Roundtree, presently owned by Nestle, and this one, the Shambles Chocolate Factory. There were other smaller chocolatiers, but these two produced huge volumes of chocolate for export. Jason could be proud of The Shambles Chocolate Factory. It was world renown.

My plan was, after this tour, to shepherd the group through the sites of York before heading into the surrounding countryside tomorrow. The itinerary was supposed to be relaxing. I hoped it was for the others in the group. At the moment, it was stressful for me. I could feel my stomach knot and my shoulders tense. I took a deep breath. This was the first day. I couldn’t get wound up by my tourists on the first day of the tour.

I rejoined Phillip and tried to enjoy the excellent hot chocolate he’d ordered. Norma and Geraldine were standing in line to order mocha coffee. The ladies were willing to be cooperative. I wasn’t sure about Phillip. I had to try to get him to conform, or, at least, to stay out of forbidden areas, and I wasn’t certain he’d cooperate.

“What were you trying to do, Phillip? Were you trying to steal recipes? ”

He looked affronted. “Of course not. I was simply curious. You know they have these huge machines that bring the chocolate from one place to another. It’s fascinating.”

He sounded like a child who wasn’t apologetic for straying into the kitchen. He should be contrite. He knew he wasn’t supposed to wander into private areas. He couldn’t be that naive.

“Look, Philip. You came close to being detained by the police. Jason would have called them and handed you over. I can’t protect you from being arrested if you slip off and enter restricted areas.”

He waved his arms. “Those boys over-reacted. They should give us a tour of the kitchens. We need to see the kitchens if we want to understand the chocolate making.” His black eyes flashed. He almost bounced in his chair with energy. He was going to be a problem to supervise.

I wasn’t convinced that his foray into the kitchens had been innocent.

“You’re lucky they didn’t know you’re a chemist or the chef might have used that cleaver.”

He sat perfectly still for a moment. “I’ll be careful,” he said.

‘I’ll be careful’ wasn’t the same as “I won’t wander”. Before I could ask him to be more specific, the other members of the tour—two married couples and another woman from Tucson, Arizona—fluttered in from the tour of the chocolate factory. They chatted about what they’d seen and most ordered the hot chocolate. It was a blustery March day, and the hot drink was welcome. I noticed Allan White ordered coffee. He seemed a bit withdrawn, as if he’d rather be back in Bristol. Both he and his wife were in their sixties. Sheilagh was intrepid, curious and extroverted, while Allan looked as if his mind was elsewhere and he wished his body was with it.

I’d picked up the three American women yesterday after their long flight from Phoenix to New York and then, on Virgin Atlantic, to Manchester. The arrival time was about seven in the morning. I’d arranged for a VIP suite at the airport where they could have a bite to eat, freshen up, change clothes and sleep a little if they wished. That way, I didn’t have to be at the airport until ten. It was the most comfortable flight I could find for them, but it took over twelve hours. They had been tired and slept in my van most of the hour-and-a-half drive to York.

It was a normal tour for me except I’d left my dog Gulliver with my sister and her family in Guildford. On my last tour, Gulliver had traveled with us. This tour had too many people to include a dog.

“The kids will be glad to have Gulliver,” my sister, Deirdre, had said as she headed out the door for her law office. Her practice was in Guilford, not far from the kids’ schools. “It might pull Kala out of her funk.”

I’d studied her. “What’s the matter with Kala?”

Deirdre rolled her eyes. “I don’t know. Ten-years-old going on fourteen, I suppose.”

I didn’t agree that Kala acted older than her age. She was just right, I’d have thought. Curious, usually happy. She and her mother quarreled sometimes, but I hadn’t seen anything I’d describe as a ‘funk’. However, I hadn’t seen her for a month.

“Is she home?”

“Still in her room.” Deirdre had called up the stairs. “Get down here, Kala. You’ll be late for school.”

I’d caught a glimpse of Kala as I pulled away from the curb. She was climbing into Deirdre’s car, and she did look subdued. She glanced my way but didn’t wave. That wasn’t like her. I had a sudden worry that she was unhappy and then dismissed it. Deirdre and Michael were attentive parents. They’d get to the bottom of whatever problem she faced. I could listen to her worries later. My dog, Gulliver, might help her. He would be a warm body to hug.

I was going to miss him, but there were too many people on this tour to complicate it with Gulliver. Even with this big vehicle, there was no room in the back for all the luggage and his crate. My sister had given me the dog only a few months. I’d become used to him traveling with me, and there was an empty place where a panting, enthusiastic travel should sit. Enough, Claire. He will be fine.

Mr. and Mrs. White from Bristol were at the guest house when I drove from the airport with my American tourists as were Mr. Corbett and his wife, Amanda Atkinson, from London.

I established the three ladies and the two couples quickly in the small guest hotel. Phillip Saunders arrived from London just as I was presenting my credit card to the proprietor.

It had been difficult to get six rooms in one place in the heart of York, even in March. I hadn’t used this guest house before. I was impressed with the cleanliness, the existence of parking spot for the van, wi fi and the proximity of the Minster which was only a five-minute walk.

Everyone had retired to their rooms and stayed there until evening. We’d met for dinner at the Go Down Restaurant where I’d introduced them to each other, handed out itineraries, and hoped such a disparate group could manage to get along. All were over sixty which was usual on my tours—except Phillip who must have been in his late forties. The American women were over seventy and obviously friends. Geraldine was about five-two, had a clear complexion with only a few laugh lines around her brown eyes and some silver streaks in her brown hair. How had she managed to keep that complexion into her seventies when she’d been an upper form teacher? Her friend, Evelyn, was about my height perhaps a little taller. She favored L.L. Bean clothes and gave the impression of athleticism, someone who could run marathons. Their other friend, Norma, appeared to be someone who enjoyed the moment. She was plump with smooth, pink cheeks, curly, grey hair and the beaming benevolence of the kindergarten teacher she had been. I thought I’d like those women once I knew them better. I’d spoken a little with Amanda, a legal assistant and the wife of Grady Corbett, who sat beside me. She’d been pleasant. She was thin, but ate without fussily separating food into likes and dislikes the way I’ve seen others do. I’d managed a conversation with Amanda on one side of me and Sheilagh on the other. I watched the group throughout the dinner and saw that, for the most part, they were inclusive. Phillip was sociable and interested in others. Allan was the exception. He’d been quiet, almost morose. However, his wife, Sheilagh, had been garrulous enough for two. She’d told me all about her coming retirement from her nursing career. I thought she was worried about retiring. She was attractive with almost white hair cut in a cap around her head and large brown eyes. I expect she’d inspired many confidences in her nursing career with those eyes. She would have heard thousands of stories from her patients. It must hard to give up a productive career simply because one turned sixty-five. I wasn’t going to give up my life as a tour guide when I turned sixty-five, a long time from now. Even with a hefty bank balance, I’d wanted to work. Sheilagh might be the same. I thought the laws had changed and working past sixty-five was now a choice. Perhaps, the choice was worrisome.

Today was the official first day of the two-week tour of York, the Yorkshire Dales and Moors. Over the next two weeks, I planned to expose my group to the settings of the books by Reginal Hill, Peter Robinson and Frances Brody, although I wasn’t planning on taking them to Leeds where Brody’s character Kate Shackleton was based. I’d take them to Nicholas Rhea country where the Constable Around the Park and others in the series are set. His works aren’t considered mysteries by some, but they are engaging, and some of the tourists would have read them. His D.I. Montague Pluke series fit the mystery genre more aptly and might appeal to the British. I wasn’t sure if the American’s knew about them. They might like to learn. We were going to the Yorkshire Moors, the setting for Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte could provide some fodder for discussion. Usually, the tourists have pre-read mysteries set in the area and added information and tidbits of knowledge to the experience. I always learned something from them.

There had been no argument about allocating the rooms last night. The couples had their rooms, Phillip had his, and the American women were used to traveling together.

“Norma has to have her own room,” Evelyn said. “She snores.” That wasn’t unusual. Most of my tourists over sixty snored.

“I mean really snores. You’d think a train was shuffling cars in your room if you share with her. Elephants in rut make less noise.

Steam engines with faulty gears make less noise.”

“Enough, Evelyn,” Norma said. “She gets the point.”

Evelyn stopped describing Norma’s affliction and gave me directions. “Geraldine and I will have the twin. We’ll all sleep better.” So, I arranged it that way.

In the morning, we’d toured the Jorvik, the Viking museum. York was settled by Vikings when Ivar the Boneless conquered the resident Angle Saxons in 866. I didn’t know much about him, but I loved his name. He had a brother called Sigurd Snake-in-the Eye, another fabulous name. That Viking heritage is strong in Yorkshire today in the language, the place names and in the Scandinavian physique of some of the people.

We sat in a small train as it took viewers through the museum while a guide gave information on the various exhibits. Interspersed among some of the animated mannequins were real people. It was a game to try and distinguish which characters were human and which were dolls. It was often hard to do.

“It makes you think,” Evelyn said. “Some people are nothing but rigid dolls.”

“Mentally frozen, you mean,” Geraldine queried from the seat behind her.

I caught the eye of the mannequin as we passed—and she winked. Was she real?

We had finished our afternoon at the Shambles Chocolate factory situated appropriately in the Shambles district, the medieval heart of the city where narrow, winding streets and Tudor-style buildings jostled modern construction—modern in the 1960s that is. The group had enjoyed themselves and up to that point had been no trouble. Now, with all tourists restored to my care, I tried to relax. Norma had not stayed lost for long. Phillip had been hauled back to the tour without involving the police. I hoped he’d settle.

They finished their hot chocolate and coffee and wandered into the gift shop. I bought a chocolate football for my nephew Josh and a chocolate cricket bat for my niece Kala who was just learning the game. I stood in line behind Grady Corbett and his wife Amanda Atkinson.

“Those are beautiful, Grady,” she said.

I peered over her shoulder at Grady`s choice, a box of assorted, elegant chocolates.

“I thought the kids would find it acceptable,” he said.

“Chocolate is always acceptable. I buy them the chocolate oranges every Christmas, and they love them,” Amanda said.

I remembered those. My mother who had been poor when I was growing up always managed to have a Rowntree chocolate orange in our Christmas stocking.

“I’m not sure they will appreciate the quality,” Amanda continued, “but they will devour them. You order from this factory to distribute around England, don’t you? Didn’t I see some samples in your office?”

Grady lowered his voice. “Not Rowntree Oranges from here, but other chocolates, but I don’t expect wholesale price here in the gift shop, so don’t mention it, all right?”

“Oh, of course I won’t. Anyway, we’re on holiday. I shouldn’t mention business.”

He smiled at her. “That’s right. No business.”

“And you’ll stay off your mobi?” “I’ll try to,” he said.

She leaned over and rested her cheek on his shoulder for a moment. “I’m glad you agreed to this tour. I know it’s more my interest than yours. Nevertheless, it’s a treat to get away, just the two of us.”

They moved up to the cash register, and I held back.

It sounded as though Amanda had little time with Grady. He was probably a businessman beset by details. She sounded a bit needy. Oops. That was judgmental. Their relationship was none of my business. Honestly? I was curious.

Amanda had told me she had two children by her first marriage who were with their father while she was away. Nice that Grady thought of them and bought chocolates. In my observation, second marriages were often better than first because you learned what you wanted, what you couldn’t deal with and what didn’t matter the first time. My first relationship—ten years long—was a disaster. Of course, that didn’t necessarily mean my second one with Mark Evans was going to be rosy.

The rest of the group found something to buy, and it wasn’t long before we had collectively dropped quite a chunk of money in that gift shop.

Usually, I get hop-on-hop-off bus tickets for the group and send them on a tour of the city, but this March afternoon was cold. There was a brisk wind picking up the papers on the cobbled streets and fluttering them through the air. So, after everyone was satisfied with their purchases, we climbed into the rented van. This Mercedes Sprinter seats nine plus the driver while my van seats only seven. It was a little longer than I was used to but not hard to drive.

I activated my microphone and began the tour of York. At least in the van, Phillip couldn’t wander off. Allan fell asleep before I’d gone a block. He’d only come from Bristol, so jet lag couldn’t be a problem for him. Was he disinterested? Physically frail? Plain weary? The others didn’t seem to be sleepy and were interested in my description of the city and some historical facts.

I told them a little about the War of the Roses and the dissolution of the monasteries. The American’s were only politely interested and the British already knew that history. I moved on to talk about the setting of Julian Cole’s mystery Felicity’s Gate.

“‘Gate’ is Yorkshire for ‘street’, isn’t it?” Geraldine asked.

“It is. Do you know some Yorkshire?”

“My grandparents were from Thirsk, so a few sayings filtered down through American English.”

“You might feel right at home here,” I said. Language carries the culture. If a person knows the language, or even some of the idioms, they feel more comfortable in the culture.

“I might.”

“I didn’t know you had Yorkshire ancestors,” Evelyn said. “I’ve known you since you first started teaching, that has to be over fifty years, and I didn’t know that.”

“Ah,” Geraldine said. “I’m a woman of mystery.” Evelyn snorted.

“Does anyone else have Yorkshire antecedents?” I asked the group. No one did.

“Do they have their own language,” Norma leaned forward, her eyes bright and inquisitive.

“They do,” Sheilagh answered for me. “At least it’s English, but I find it very hard to understand. Some of the old Yorkshiremen have many words that are only used here in Yorkshire, so you have to guess what they mean. And they have a broad way of speaking, of running their vowels into each other.”

She’d given a good, if brief, summary of the language. I didn’t understand the old people myself, but I was interested in linguistics, I used to teach English to executives in different cities in Europe and North America and found languages fascinating. Yorkshire speakers were certainly unique. Usually, they spoke understandable English to foreigners, that is, people from outside Yorkshire. They slipped into broad Yorkshire when they didn’t want you to understand them—even the young people did that.

“Would you find that incomprehensible speech more in the countryside than the city?” Phillip asked.

“You would,” I responded. “City folk, like city folk everywhere, become more like the dominant language, in this case Midlands English.”

I parked as close as I could to the rampart walls that surround the center of York and allowed my group to scuttle out of the bus and up the ramp to the top of the walls. It wasn’t possible to move completely around the city on the walls. They could walk two sides of the square, descend, travel through the city and then ascend to complete the square. Still, it was March, and a cold wind sliced through scarves, hats and coats.

“A half-hour?” I suggested.

“I’m going to walk all the way around the walls using the paths through the city when I have to,” Phillip said. “Where should I meet you for dinner?”

I put on my tour guide pleasant face. “About seven, at The House of the Trembling Madness on Stonegate. Can you find your way to it?”

“Most assuredly,” he said. “Is that truly the name of the restaurant?”

“It is.”

I handed him a business card from the restaurant. York isn’t that big a city. He should be able to find it. If not, I had his number on my phone. I gave him my business card as well with mobile number on it.

“Call if you have trouble.” I wanted to add “and stay away from the chocolate factory” but decided he wouldn’t appreciate the reminder.

Merci,” he said and was off.

The rest of the group spread out along the walls. The American ladies found a shelter where they were protected from the wind. If they wanted to suffer the wind, they could look over the countryside. If they wanted the shelter of the walls, they could look into the Museum Gardens below. On this late March day, a few early daffodils heralded the beautiful display that would arrive in about three weeks. The variegated green of the trees and shrubs were lovely, and the birds singing from the bushes magical. I heard the faint peep of a ruby crowned kinglet and the determined, robust aria of a chaffinch. I left the Tucson women searching for the source of the songs and kept one eye on the Whites and the Corbetts who were braving the wind and peering out onto the Vale of York that stretched far north. In spite of the wind, they appeared to be enjoying the view. They might be appreciating the ancient nature of the setting. The walls gave a strong sense of the history of this medieval city. They had been here a long time and, if the planners and voters decreed, they would remain guarding the city for a long time.

I found a corner behind which I could hide from the wind and phone Mark.

I let it ring and then left a message. “Established in York with group of eight. Nice people with the exception of Phillip Saunders. I know he’s going to cause me trouble. Hope your conference is going well.”

Detective Inspector Mark Evans had been in Manchester with fellow police officers for the past week, studying how to deal with the rising problem of drug overdoses and the importation, distribution and manufacturing of the whole business. He was likely in a session and had turned his phone off. He wasn’t, strictly speaking, responsible for policing drugs, but he was responsible for homicide investigations and they often occurred in the drug world. His superintendent thought he should attend the conference and liaise with officers from the drug law enforcement community. He dutifully had been attending sessions and having a beer in the pub in the evenings with officers from the National Crime Agency. Policing in England is complicated with different local designated groups of officers and national specialized groups.

Mark and I tried to stay in touch. Keeping a relationship going when one or the other was often out of town was a challenge. I’ve enjoyed it. There had been a few harrowing moments when I`d stumbled into danger, more from my contacts than from his, but we tried to keep our professions separate. He was a good man. In spite of the twisted villains he dealt with, he remained a good man, and I was beginning to trust that he was a reliable one, even if I didn’t see him on a regular schedule. His job was demanding. A detective inspector runs into physical danger and personal threats quite often. I, on the other hand, only stumble into that kind of thing on rare occasion.