Lord Lank has died and detectives Frank & Creed are certain Lank's wife and lover are responsible, the only issue they have is proving how. *Free murder mystery*
Who Killed Lord Lank?
“Look – I know she killed that man. I don’t know how, but I know she did. At least look at the text messages.”
Frank held out a folder containing the printed transcripts taken from Shelley Lank’s phone and emails. A back and forth between her and the man she was now spending her dead husband’s money with.
Creed paused for a few seconds before he reluctantly took the folder and pushed his lunch to one side. He placed the folder down and pulled out the transcripts. Frank stood facing him, hands palm-down on Creed’s desk. Creed shifted through a few pages before placing them down. He leaned back into his chair, his hands braided behind his bald head.
“Well?” Frank asked.
“Well, it appears she was fucking Ranjit whilst she was married to the deceased,” Creed responded.
Frank blinked rapidly and shook his head, his mouth gaping slightly. He let out a small laugh. “You think?” he replied sarcastically.
Creed leaned forward, picked up the folder and gave it back to Frank before pulling his lunch back towards him.
“It’s an open-and-shut case. Old boy marries young tail, young tail has married him for the money, young tail makes sure the last years of his life are brilliant and she gets all his pinkies when he passes. Seen it a thousand times, a tale as old as the sea mate. There’s nothing to it. Now please let me finish my lunch – my kids are calling in five minutes, and I have to at least appear marginally interested.”
Frank shook his head. “You obviously didn’t read the part where Ranjit asks her how long she reckons Old Boy has.”
Creed bit down into his veggie patty. “So what?” he responded.
“Motive, Creed, motive! Look, Lord whateverthefuck-his-name-is – his son – wants us to look into the case. He has money to burn. Even if there’s nothing in it, we could make a fair bit while we try.”
Creed looked down at his half-eaten patty, then placed it on top of its brown bag. “You know why I’m eating a veggie patty and not a meat one nowadays?”
Frank stared at him blankly.
Creed smirked. “No? Well, let me tell ya. My wife thinks it’s the meat that makes a patty bad for you, but she’s mistaken. It’s the pastry. It’s all the sugar and shit they put in it to make it sweet and flaky. Those chemicals will kill ya quicker than rat piss on lettuce leaves.”
Frank just stared. “Seriously? This firm is barely surviving, and an opportunity comes along like this, and you want to give me allegories?” he replied in annoyance.
“Listen. Point is this. You are too focused on the money to ask the right questions. Lord Lank’s son has come to us because no one else will take it on. That women has amassed five hundred million pounds overnight. She could fight Lank’s son till all he had left was the lint in his pockets. We’d be seen as charlatans for even entertaining his query. Then we’d really be shegged.” Creed said.
“I disagree,” Frank replied.
“Disagree?” Creed responded, one eyebrow raised.
Frank drew breath, stood straight and exhaled slowly. The pair looked each other over.
“If we don’t take this case, I’m leaving the firm. Simple as that,” Frank said. He placed the folder on Creed’s desk and turned to leave.
Creed picked it up.
“Frank! Frank! You forgot this,” Creed shouted.
Frank gave him the finger from behind his back, walked through the door and slammed it shut behind him.
Creed released a sigh, picked up his patty and continued to eat whilst staring at the folder. A sheet peeked out from the pile and stared back. On closer scrutiny, Creed saw among the saucy messages that filled the transcripts one message that was so mundane it looked completely out of place.
Frank’s phone rang out into his darkened flat. He had to get up and walk all the way to the living room, where it lit up the room like a lone star over dark water. He looked at the screen. Creed. Before he could decide whether to answer it, it stopped leaving him stood in the dark, considering whether he should call back, when it rang again. He answered it.
“What kind of man sends his piece on the side a shopping list?” Creed asked.
Frank yawned, then rubbed both eyes with his free hand. “It’s three in the morning,” Frank responded.
“Three-fifteen, to be exact. What kind of man sends his mistress a shopping list, huh?” Creed repeated.
Frank sighed. “Do you have anything worthwhile to say right now?” he asked.
“Think about it, and we’ll discuss it tomorrow,” Creed replied.
Before Frank could respond, Creed had ended the call and Frank was left standing in the middle of his living room, the illuminated phone screen pressed up against his ear and cheek. He exhaled and brought it down by his side. He began to laugh, shaking his head.
The next day
Creed walked into the office, his step somewhat rejuvenated since Frank had last seen him. Frank was sitting with a steaming coffee and a muffin, scrutinising the shopping list that Creed had thought so important. Creed took off his coat, hung it, then stood by the office door, rolling his sleeves up beyond his elbows, Frank hadn’t seen him roll his sleeves up since they had conducted an investigation for the actress Janice Greg over the disappearance of her beloved Koi fish, worth £500,000, from her home. The culprit had turned out to be a co-actor from her show, who had thought it would be a funny prank to pull on Janice. Unfortunately, the fish had died in transit. Creed & Co had eventually whittled their list of suspects down to actor Rupert Quad after he had tried to cover it up. He was caught and sued for damages, and Creed & Co were paid handsomely.
Creed walked over. “Call the Lank boy – tell him we’ll do it,” he instructed.
Frank stared at him in amazement and asked himself why on earth he had stayed in the firm for so long. Creed wasn’t the easiest of people to work with, or to like; which was why the majority of people who worked there were desperate interns prepared to ride his roller-coaster to get to the next stop. He barely listened and could be rude, sarcastic and obnoxious without push or prompt. But Frank knew that once you got round Creed’s awkward shape, you realised he knew his shit, and was honest and true.
“Gonna be straight with you. I can’t see what the fuss is with the shopping list,” he said to Creed.
Creed stared at Frank blankly at first. Then a smile slowly crept across his face.
“Neither do I, but do you not think it’s weird that a lover would send a shopping list in between the smut?”
“Nah, I can’t say I see the weird in it. People shop. Maybe he’s hard up and he wants her to send him food. I dunno.”
“Okay, what exactly did Lord Lank die of?” Creed asked.
“Hang on,” Frank replied. He sifted through the paperwork. “Says here that he died of a heart attack, brought on by anaphylactic shock.”
“Okay, so I take it they tested for the presence of peanuts, sesame seeds and the rest in his system?”
Frank signalled for Creed to hold on for a second whilst he sifted through the notes once more, then responded. “Yeah – no trace of anything found in his blood.”
“When was that shopping list sent? I mean what’s the text date?”
Frank looked over it. “One day before he died.”
Creed cupped his jaw and hummed.
After a few seconds, Frank spoke. “What’re you thinking?” he asked.
“Have you gone through the whole file? I want to know whether there’s any more of those shopping lists,” Creed replied.
Frank held the folder up. It was thick as an old encyclopaedia, bending at his touch. Both sighed.
They sat across from each other and divided the contents of the folder into two piles. They sifted through text messages via Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and through emails, but although they could find proof of an affair, they couldn’t find plans for murder.
They both sat in silence for a few long seconds. Frank began to nod. He read a piece of the transcript. “How long do you reckon he’ll live for?”
Creed looked up at him. “Sounds like something, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t trust him down a dark alley, would you?” Creed said.
“Indeed.” Frank replied.
Creed circled the room. “Motive, intent, but no smoking gun,” he muttered.
“In flagrante delicto,” Frank said.
“Hmmm … so, he had allergies. I wonder if that’s declared in his medical records,” Creed mused.
“I haven’t seen anything about it here,” Frank said, waving the now-empty folder.
“Call his son. I want to know whether he had any unrecorded known allergies that Shelley might have known about. If I recall correctly, the son had power of attorney for his father. We need Lord Lank’s bank statements for the last six months.”
Frank called Henry Lank and told him they were taking on the case, and would need statements for the dates Creed had requested.
The next day
Henry Lank had the statements emailed over to them by mid-morning. The pair printed them off and sat with them, painstakingly scrutinising every page, line, debit and credit entry. Frank put the last page of statement down and shook his head.
“Nothing out of the ordinary here,” Frank said.
Creed sat looking just above Frank’s head – up at the clock which hung above the doorway to the office.
Frank stared at him staring. “Creed?” Frank said.
“That’s what you think …” Creed responded.
“Huh?” Frank replied.
Creed shook his head. He picked up the last sheet of the bank statement, then looked through the papers again and found the shopping list and another sheet. “Look at the delivery date for this item, and at the date this shopping was bought.”
Frank looked over them. “Okay, they’re the same. But what’s Blue Balls Ltd?” he asked.
“Viagra, mate,” Creed responded.
Frank nodded. “Okay, Old Boy needed a little help,” he said.
“Indeed. But did you notice that that was the only time he placed an order for those pills in the last six months?” Creed asked.
Frank pressed his hands together in front of him. Watching Creed investigate was like watching an artist paint by numbers – there was a systematic, numerical beauty to it. Frank often found himself more a fascinated observer of Creed and his ability to make dumplings from mere water and flour than a fellow investigator.
“He was really old – once a year is reasonable.” Frank said.
“Nah, it’s odd,” Creed replied. “The ordering of the pills falls in line with the ordering of the shopping list from the text message. Neither was the norm in their set-up. They normally had their items ordered and delivered at the same time for more or less the same amount of money, month in month out. Why didn’t she want to add the items Ranjit had requested to her main shop? She went off-script for a reason – trust me.”
Frank exhaled slowly. “I see where you’re coming from, but it’s just a list of food,” he replied. “Besides … maybe she didn’t want to add them because Old Boy would get suspicious.”
“Nonsense. According to his medical records, he didn’t know whether he was Elvis Presley one day or Mickey Mouse the next. You think he’d notice a few additional items?”
“Fair enough,” Frank agreed.
“There’s a connection there for sure – I just can’t put my finger on it.” Creed said.
They spent the rest of the day pulling papers out and pushing ideas around.
The evening drew in and they both decided to call it a day. Frank walked home. it was a warm summer evening, and he had rolled up his sleeves to the elbow and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. Sweat patches formed on his back and chest. He began to vape and to think about the case. He always thought best when alone and walking. He ran through the ingredients list in his head.
Jacobs white flour
Harmony white basmati rice
Cunningham Bakery bread
Caves red wine
Mountain Pulse water
Same brands, month in, month out. Who was so specific about labels? Creed, he thought. But Creed’s weird. Yeah, but so are murderers. He smiled at the thought. He stopped at a shop and bought two beers. Back at home, he showered, ate some food, watched a bit of TV, had a beer and crashed out.
Frank woke to a woman trying to convince him that purchasing bamboo knives and forks was not only beneficial for the planet, but for his soul. He sat watching the repetitive commercial looping the same catchy tropes and thought about some of the claims being made. Don’t they know we can easily look into this? he thought. The truth was a mere click away. The thought took him back to the case. After a few seconds, an idea hit him. It was so obvious that he couldn’t believe neither he nor Creed had brought it up. He reached for his phone.
“Creed—” he started.
“What the hell? It’s three-thirty.” Creed responded.
“Three-thirty-one, to be exact.”
“I didn’t want th … this’d better be good,” Creed said.
“We need a subpoena,” Frank replied.
“A subpoena for …?”
“Their internet search history.”
Creed fell silent.
“Hello ... you there?” Frank asked.
“First thing.” Creed responded.
The next day
Creed applied for the subpoena to gain access to both Shelley’s and Ranjit’s phone and laptop internet history. Normally, he would have had to wait a considerable amount of time for a request like that to be granted, but given that the case concerned old money and a young Lank man, it was granted immediately. It took several days for the internet histories to come back, but when they did, it made for mundane reading. There was hardly any porn or weird websites at all; it was mostly Instagram, Facebook, and loads of hotel and holiday enquiries from the pair. Planning their sordid weekends away on Lank’s purse, no doubt, Creed thought.
A few days later
They had all but closed the case and were about to call Lank’s son to tell him they could no longer pursue it. There simply wasn’t anything more to go on. Creed stood by an office window, listening to the beginnings of a summer storm lighting lit up the dark clouds that hung huge, like escaped Chinese lanterns. The rumble came shortly after. A sparse amount of raindrops did little to curb the heat that hugged the city. The office was so stuffy that the fan merely blew warm air from one end to the other.
Frank was typing up the invoice for Lank, pissed it wasn’t for the full amount. The full amount would have been a definite lifeline for them. An intern, Lauren, walked from the fax machine to her desk, placed some papers down and then walked over to a smaller office space reserved for those wanting to have lunch.
Frank walked over to Creed and stood by the window with him, looking out at the street. “Sent the invoice. He isn’t happy.” Frank said.
Creed nodded. “She did it, believe me. Both of ‘em are somehow responsible. What can we do, hey?”
Inside the little lunch room, the intern was watching her phone on loudspeaker as she ate.
“For one thousand pounds: what’s is the only nut in the world that can be sexually transmitted?” asked the presenter of the game show she was watching.
Both Creed and Frank turned and looked towards the lunch room.
“The brazil nut!” The contestant replied.
“Yes! The brazil nut can pass into male semen and through female secretions. Next question: for three thousand pounds, name three of Henry the Eighth’s wives.”
Creed looked at the intern, his mouth gaping.
Frank looked at Creed. “What?” he asked.
Creed pushed past Frank and made a bee line for the lunch room. “Pause that,” he commanded.
Lauren looked up at Creed, her fork dripping vinaigrette into her salad.
“Go on!” Creed said.
She reached out to her phone’s face and paused it.
“Rewind it to that last question,” Creed said.
Frank and Creed looked at each other as they listened to the question, then the answer.
“Is that true?” Creed asked Lauren.
“I suppose so – it’s on the BBC,” she replied.
Creed turned to Frank.
Creed ran past Frank to his desk, kicking over a bin on the way. Frank and Lauren watched his almost comical movements from the lunch room. Creed leaned over his laptop, went silent for a few seconds, then exploded. “Fucking hell! We’ve cracked it, Frank!” he screamed out.
Frank looked at Lauren, puzzled. Lauren responded with a shrug.
“The shopping list, Frank!” Creed ran over to Frank’s desk, grabbed the folder, and pulled out the shopping list. He stood over it.
“Here! DP brazils! The Viagra! She killed him through sex!”
Frank’s mouth dropped open. Lauren stood as if she wanted to applaud, amazement on her face.
Frank made his way over to Creed.
“What the hell …?” Frank said.
“Indeed.” Creed responded.
Frank shook his head. “I’d better call Lank.” He walked over to his desk and sat down.
“I want to know whether Shelley or Ranjit have seen that show, and if so, when,” Creed said.
Frank looked over at Creed. “Subpoena,” he replied.
Creed and Frank soon discovered that Shelley had not only seen the show - but privately had Lord Lank tested for allergies. The results had shown that Lord Lank could have severe issues with selenium, found in high doses in brazil nuts. It turned out that Ranjit had eaten the brazil nuts, before having sex with Shelley. With his ejaculation still within her, Shelley had gone on to have sex with Lord Lank, killing him.
The Lank case went on to be one of the most ground-breaking murder cases the world had seen in a long time. Murder by nuts! one tabloid had led with. Both Ranjit and Shelley were prosecuted. Henry Lank successfully argued that his father had not been of sound mind when he had altered his will days before his death and was able to reclaim his father’s wealth.
The case that Creed had claimed no one would touch gave his company a new lease of life, sealing holes in his sinking ship and helping both he and Frank set sail towards their final case. They would visit The Springs, a bizarre little town on the outskirts of London, in search of a daughter’s missing father. Unbeknown to Creed, it would be the biggest case of his life. His world would not be the same upon his return; his reality would be forever altered.
‘The Springs’ – the story of Creed and Frank’s final investigation – is available now from my Amazon page.
My new three part novel THE SWEAT is almost here. Hit this >link< to find out more
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