‘Find the murder weapon,’ He’d said, as though it were the simplest thing in the world.
I hadn’t really expected to land a gig, I wasn’t even looking for work. But when the Chief Constable rings you and invites you to his office, you can’t really say no, especially when he asks you to consult on a murder inquiry. Don’t get me wrong, a favour from the highest-ranking copper in the area is worth its weight in gold, but this was a big ask.
It got worse when they told me I would be consulting ‘out of area’. Worse still when ‘out of area’ turned out to be London.
Finding a murder weapon here would be like finding a needle in a pile of needles. Finding one in London, on the other hand, didn’t bear thinking about.
I was ready to tell him no when my sponsor was ushered into the office: Detective Constable Joanne Green. She gave me a little wave and a smile, and I knew I’d had it.
Less than two hours later, I was gripping the dashboard of a unmarked police with DC Green behind the wheel and hurtling down the motorway, at speeds far in excess of what I’m comfortable with, towards Kew Gardens and London.
The bar, now relocated to the Strand-on-the-Green, was harder to find than I remembered. We’d had to ask for directions in the end. It’d gone eight when we finally pulled off Thames Road and into the little car park belonging to the ivy-covered pub, the Thames Isis.
‘I thought we were visiting the river,’ Joanne said, climbing out of the car and stretching her aching muscles.
‘Just wait and see.’
We went inside.
The sweet, yeasty smell of hops met us as we pushed through the doors. The bar was busy. I had to force my way through heaving bodies to the front. The man behind the counter took my order, whisky for me and a diet coke for the on-duty police officer.
‘I’m looking for Tammy,’ I told him and gave my name. He pointed to a door which lead out onto the towpath.
I found her leaning on the railings looking out over the river. She smiled when I approached.
‘It’s nice to see you, Harlequin,’ she whispered. Her voice like waves lapping on the shore.
‘You too, Tammy. It’s been a while.’
‘You’re here about the murder?’
I nodded, ‘the police need help recovering the murder weapon. They know it went into the river around here.’
‘What’s this worth to you?’
‘A favour…and a tribute,’ I added, ‘just like the old days’
Her smile grew wider and she stared at me with watery, green eyes.
‘Tell me more…’
The Metropolitan Police, I was informed, had found the knife the next morning on the stones of the Embankment, in the shadow of Cleopatra’s Needle, less than ten yards from where it had been lost. It was as though it’d washed up from the river itself.
T is for Tamesis
Tamesis is a river goddess from the pantheon of the ancient Celt tribes. Her name means ‘Dark Flow’ and she is attributed with giving the River Thames, along with a number of other rivers, its name. A statue of her stands on the bridge at Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire.