A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

An introduction to the main characters


  Horace P Sorsse frowned as he was ushered into the untidy, tatty even, office where Jennifer Marple, late twenties, buxom and with hair that would possibly reach the floor if she stood up, was sitting behind a desk littered with goodness knows what, including several polystyrene cups and a screwed-up chip paper with grease stuck to it.

This wasn’t where he was supposed to be, surely?

He’d seen the ad in a newspaper and it had appealed to him, what with is interest in the arts and a brain that loved puzzles. He could just imagine himself researching the provenance of precious artefacts from the long past that was human civilisation? Artworks by the masters, wonders in three dimensions from Roman sculptors, delicate fabrics, even documents and books that pre-dated the age of print, and all prior to them being reverently auctioned off at Christies, where he was nervously awaiting an interview.

But this office wasn’t what he’d been expecting. The woman sitting there, with her cascade of admittedly gleaming hair and lipstick smile, wasn’t a valuer for Christies, surely? She didn’t look the sort. Weren’t valuers all sober middle aged men in even more sober suits, grey haired, serious to a fault? But this women was anything but that. Too young, he could tell that, and far from soberly dressed. He could tell that the clothes she was wearing were, well, too garish to be called sober, and he’d never expected to see that amount of cleavage since Penny Oldfoot had gyrated her way through the end of term ball just before he’d left Brumpton High School a fortnight ago.

Penny had proudly become what was known as the school bike and he’d always had a soft spot for her. But then, so did most of the other lads, at least those that weren’t gay.

But where he was now: it was all wrong.

I think I’ve come to the wrong place,” he said, surveying the litter on the woman’s desk, “I’m for an interview at Christie’s.”

She smiled at him, and stood up, revealing the fact that she was wearing the briefest skirt imaginable outside a re-run of the riskiest mid nineteen-sixties red carpet event.

Mr. Sorsse?” she asked, and giggled, “I was so attracted to your initials! Reminded me when I was back home and we always had a bottle of H.P Sauce on the dinner table. The number of times I read that label! It was my dad, you know, sadly passed away a year or so ago, but he loved his H.P. Sauce. Wouldn’t have any other on his chips!”

I’m sorry,” muttered Horace apropos the passing of the woman’s father.

It wasn’t your fault,” smiled the woman, “and you’re at the right place, I promise you that. This is Christie’s, all right, and I’m Jennifer Marple, CEO, a fancy way of saying I’m in charge.”

But…” stammered Horace, “antiquities…?”

Oh, you’re thinking of the Auction people?” laughed Jennifer, “No, that’s the wrong shop, I’m afraid. I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make, same name and all that. But this is The Christie Detective Agency. We’re well respected, I can assure you of that. Started by my grandfather way back after the war, the second world war, that is, and left to me in his will. Dad didn’t want it, but then, he was poorly anyway and not up to working. There’s just me here, and I’m looking for a researcher cum dogsbody, which is why I advertised.”

For a secretary?” frowned Horace.

She smiled at him, the sort of smile designed to make a man’s heart leap into his throat, which it did. Horace might only have been eighteen, but he did have a full set of hormones.

It was a bit cheeky of me,” she smiled, “but I see from your CV that you’re a dab hand with books and accounts. Looking at you I find it hard enough to be convinced that you’ve seen enough of life to have an eye for complex accounting, but hey, maybe I’m not the only one around here to tell porkies!”

He sighed. “I’m sorry,” he muttered, “but I do need a job. I’ve left school and until last week I was planning to marry a girl from the same class, but no sooner had I left than she chucked me! Said I was nice to know in the restricted environment of a classroom, but now she’s out in the world, she likes the look of a bigger number of fish in the much bigger oceans. But I still need to earn a wage because someone else might come along…”

Be careful, young man,” she told him, “marry in haste, and all that. Look what happened to me. Twenty-nine and twice divorced! I never planned my life that way.”

You don’t look that old,” he murmured, because to his eyes she didn’t.

You’re just too sweet,” she giggled, “now let’s see if you’ll fit in here… oh, of course you will! You and I get along all right, don’t we? In fact, we’re almost bosom friends already!”

I’d like to be friends with your bosom, he thought irreverently, but “you seem a nice lady,” he replied almost cautiously.

So you’ll take it?” she asked, almost anxiously, he thought.

Yes. I suppose so,” he replied, wondering why.

Then the job’s yours,” she pronounced, “now tell me: what do you know about murder?”

© Peter Rogerson 08.09.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

Author's Note

Peter Rogerson
So here's the introduction. What shall I write next?

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Added on September 8, 2021
Last Updated on September 8, 2021


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..