Pebble Deeping turned out to be exactly as I had imagined it.
The village was the epitome of English country life, tucked into a gentle valley in rural Shropshire. Pebble Deeping consisted mainly of a small cluster of grey stone buildings; some of the tiny houses had thatched roofs, others the grey slate from welsh quarries only an hour away. In total the entire village was small enough that I could count the houses as we drove through (there were twenty three) and I could inventory all of the amenities; A pub, a post office-cum-general store and a small modest looking church.
Edge was forced to slow the Land Rover to a crawl when passing the church due to a tractor that trundled along the main road bisecting the village. I looked out of the passenger window at a large gathering outside the church. The villagers all wore black and there were no smiles present so I ruled out the possibility that it was a wedding party. Using my awesome powers of detection I determined that a funeral had just concluded.
You see the way a trained mind can deduce the truth with the merest of clues? It was the hearse parked in front of the church's lychgate that really gave it away.
Less than a mile past the end of the small clutch of stone houses that comprised Pebble Deeping, Edge braked sharply and swung the Defender left onto a rough dirt track. Lining the track on the right was a crude wooden fence on one side and a line of tall leafy trees that gave a boulevard feel. Edge followed the track round to the right and pulled up next to a squat, stonewalled farmhouse.
Edge sighed as he turned off the ignition and sat motionless for a moment "Here we are."
"Châteaux Edge," I quipped.
Edge did not reply but after several more seconds he got out and made his way to the back of the Land Rover. I heard him dropping the board, rummaging about and the clank of metal on metal. He re-appeared at the driver's door with a large camouflaged rucksack over one shoulder and a folder and sheaf of papers under his arm.
"Come on in Satchmo," He said over his shoulder as he opened the oak plank door and stooped to enter the farmhouse.
Not having anything better to do I took him up on his invitation. The farmhouse was old, at least 150 years I guessed. It was granite-bricked and oak-beamed; the ceilings were low, and the rooms cool and slightly musty. There was no ornamentation in any of the rooms; no horse brasses, photos or trinkets. Morgan Edge was not one for keepsakes it seemed. The hall opened onto a sitting room with a single comfy chair positioned in front of an open fireplace laden with ash. I followed Edge through the room and into a large open kitchen.
Edge dropped the papers he was carrying on a broad dented table and began rummaging in the few cupboards that lined one wall. I moved to the old leaden window over a deep porcelain sink and looked out on Edge's property.
It was a lovely sight.
A meadow swept gently downhill from the house for about a hundred metres, at the end of which there was scrub, which turned into woodland creeping up the side of a hill in the distance. On one side of the meadow sat a curious, angular, grassy and rather incongruous mound maybe seven metres high and forty metres across at the base.
"Beautiful place isn't it?" Edge said, pouring steaming liquid from a thermos into the two plastic mugs from the lid.
"It is," I replied. "How much of the land is yours?"
"Well, Reeman and I went through the deeds quickly," He handed me a mug. I eyed the contents suspiciously. He stood next to me pointing. "It runs down the meadow here, across the river and about 50 yards into the wood, then out to the other side of the mound past the pool and boathouse."
YOU ARE READING
Quid Pro QuoMystery / Thriller
Satchmo Turner is a failed private detective from the rusting heart of the Black Country who is reeling from the loss of his sister and fiancee. He's going nowhere at work, and treading water in life, until he picks up a simple missing person case a...