Detective Sergeant Martin Keynes feels trapped in Northamptonshire, where murder cases invariably turn out to be easily solved incidents of domestic violence or drug-related mishaps. He feels his intellect is under-utilised and under-appreciated, but when a string of killings dubbed the Charity Shop Murders occurs, he has the chance to test himself to the limit – and finds logic and a sound grounding in economic theory falling short when it comes to dealing with uncooperative members of the public.
After the first victim, an elderly lady found impaled inventively on a mannequin stand in a charity shop window, the bodies begin to pile up in unusual ways. Alienating his colleagues along the way, Keynes taps a range of sources, from Zulu, who seems worryingly intelligent for a homeless junkie, to carpet mogul Harpit Singh, an influential figure in the local charity scene, and overworked reporter Chris Shingles. As the line blurs between charity and big business, Keynes begins to think there may be more to the murders than second-hand clothes and poorly donkeys.
The Charity Shop Murders is a darkly comic crime thriller that marks the first outing for D.S. Keynes.
Dead Men Eat No Pies
A serial killer is targeting Northampton’s morbidly obese individuals, and Detective Sergeant Martin Keynes is at a loss to uncover a motive. Inspector Jimmy Biggs might be able to help, since one of the victims was an old drinking friend, but he is on sick leave after a traumatic pancake-related incident. Instead, Keynes is forced to work with recent transfer and fitness fanatic D.I. Kathy Carter, whose behaviour outside the office is mysterious in itself.
Keynes discovers that the county’s healthcare scheme for overweight patients may link the victims, while Biggs gathers information from the inside, as he is enlisted in the same fitness programme as part of his recovery.
Keynes efforts to solve the murders are complicated by interference from a deceptively intelligent vagrant named Zulu, a pair of local brewers with a unique selling point, an irresponsible newspaper reporter with his own agenda, and Keynes’ own attempts to impress a new friend with a shared love of obscure Russian literature.
Will Keynes be able to solve the murders before Biggs becomes next on the hit list? What is D.I. Carter hiding? And will ‘Killer’ Keynes ever be able to shake his nickname?
A Dirty Business
When Melvin McCraken, the owner of a Northamptonshire recycling facility, is found crushed to death in one of his own machines, leaving his wig atop a cube of compressed cardboard, Detective Sergeant Martin Keynes suspects foul play. As Keynes digs deeper into the murky world of waste management, it becomes clear that McCraken was part of a wider conspiracy that goes right to the top, and his partners show they are willing to take deadly measures to protect their business interests.
Meanwhile, Keynes has his own problems at home, after a pair of Welsh druids make an unwelcome visit that seems as interminable as their poetry. His visitors unwittingly become entangled when the murder investigation comes a little too close to home.
Zulu, the homeless troublemaker who has alternately helped Keynes and been a thorn in his side, urges Keynes to investigate the disappearance of his friend, Smelly John. After dismissing the case initially, and trying his hardest to avoid Zulu, Keynes comes to believe there may be a connection with the recycling conspiracy.
As Keynes’ enquiries bring him closer to the mastermind of the scheme, the conspiracy begins to unravel and the body count rises. He must tangle with a corrupt councillor, an irascible farmer, and Melvin McCraken’s cola-addicted son before getting to the bottom of the case – but will powerful forces prevent him from delivering justice?
The Northampton Tribune is facing declining sales, competition from online media, and now a murderer who has decided to target its staff. The newspaper has been dying for years, and now its employees are, too.
When the managing director of the publishing company is killed by a poison-tipped arrow, Detective Sergeant Martin Keynes is forced to cooperate with the newspaper’s deputy editor, Chris Shingles, a frequent thorn in his side. Shingles has enough problems already, having moved back in with his parents after breaking up with his girlfriend, whose career is turning out to be far more successful than his own.
Keynes and Inspector Jimmy Biggs must follow the evidence, starting with a scrap of newspaper with an enigmatic message, leading them into a world of unlicensed exotic pets, pub quizzes and a sub-editor obsessed by an alien conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Tribune editor Alan Richards tries to leverage his off-the-record briefings with the head of the local police force, to find out what is going on and save his own skin, and visiting executive Amy Mullett must summon up the confidence to take over the management of the newspaper company and try to convince the reporters to take her seriously.
Keynes faces a battle of wits with the murderer, who turns out to have placed clues to his intentions – but can Keynes solve them in time, and is he willing to swallow his pride and ask for help from an old adversary?