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Gardeners, Ditchers, and Gravemakers

A DCI Thatcher Yorkshire Crime Thriller

Oliver Davies



Chapter 1

2. Thatcher

3. Thatcher

4. Thatcher

5. Thatcher

6. Thatcher

7. Thatcher

8. Thatcher

9. Thatcher

10. Thatcher

11. Mills

12. Thatcher

13. Thatcher

14. Thatcher

15. Thatcher

16. Thatcher

17. Mills

18. Thatcher

19. Thatcher

20. Thatcher

21. Thatcher

22. Thatcher

23. Mills

24. Thatcher

25. Thatcher

26. Thatcher

Chapter 27

28. Thatcher


A Message from the Author


The sky was still bright, despite the growing late hour of the day. One nice thing about this time of year, I thought, looking out of the window as I pulled a jumper on over my head. The neck hole was tight from accidentally being thrown in the tumble dryer, and my phone rang as I tried to pull my head through. I managed it, eventually, my ears a bit sore, and my hair scruffed up all over. Liene’s face lit up the screen, and I hastily answered it before it rang out,

“Hello,” I said breathlessly, tugging at the neck of my jumper and scowling it at. It was one of my favourites, an old birthday present from Elsie. I hoped wearing it would stretch it back out again.

“Hey, Max,” Liene’s voice jolted me back to the present, and I focused on her voice. “Look, I’m going to be a bit late. There are some last-minute things that need to be done here.”

A small stab of disappointment rang through me, but I swallowed it down. I’d made a very similar phone call to people regularly over the years. “No problem. I’ll meet you at the pub?”

“Sounds good. Give me another…” She trailed off for a moment, deliberating. “Three-quarters of an hour or so.”

“No problem. Everything alright there?” I asked, sitting down in my chair, scratching the incoming stubble on my jaw.

“We just have to make sure the new artefacts are properly stored.” She sounded annoyed about it, her voice echoing around the big empty rooms of the museum she worked in. “If something gets damaged on my watch, I’m screwed.”

I smiled, though she couldn’t see it. “Take your time,” I assured her. “Are you sure you don’t just want to reschedule?”

“No,” she answered firmly. “I do not. It’s Friday, and I want to go on a date with my sodding boyfriend.”

I laughed. “I appreciate the homage.”

“Anytime. I’ll give you a call if something else happens. Though it better not,” she added in a darker voice, and I could imagine her glaring at whatever poor co-worker was there with her.

“I’ll see you later then,” I said simply, still smiling. “Bye, love.”

“Bye,” she sang back before the dull beeping came, and she hung up. I dropped my phone to my lap with a slight sigh. Forty-five minutes was a weird amount of time. Not long enough to really start watching something on the telly and far too long for any of the other jobs I’d put off. Like folding my laundry, that could wait. Or maybe I could just start hanging everything up in the wardrobe from now on.

I picked my phone up again, shooting a quick text to Mills. I’d left the station before him, leaving him with the task of updating Sharp. A moment later, he was ringing, and I answered quickly, fearing the worst.

“Mills,” I greeted him. Please don’t say Sharp was unhappy. Please don’t say that someone was dead.

“Sir. Shouldn’t you be on your date?” he asked, his voice cheery. He was outside, walking somewhere. I glanced at the clock, to his car most likely. I relaxed, pinching my eyes shut.

“Slight delay,” I told him. “How’d it go over with Sharp?”

“She’s happy,” he answered, his voice slightly tinny. There was a pause as a door shut and his voice became clearer. “Reports all good, court date set. Pas de problem, Thatcher. She told me to give myself a pat on the back. Not sure about you, though.”

How unfair.

“You sound very cheery,” I observed, now that my initial relief had sunk in.

“It’s Friday,” he replied happily. “I’ve got the weekend with my nephews too.”

I winced, the thought of such a weekend not high on my list of something enjoyable. “Christ. Good luck with that.”

“Don’t need it, sir,” he laughed. “Some of us like children.”

“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the update, then. See you Monday.”

“Have a good one, sir,” he answered, the grin on his face practically audible even as he turned his engine on. I hung up on him and jumped up to go and look in the mirror. My hair had grown back since that short cut I’d endured through the start of summer, where I’d been acutely aware of my ears. The long waves were back, askew from my war with the jumper, but at least now I had something against my head. I had fewer shadows under my grey eyes than usual, and I’d been smiling more often. To Sharp’s eternally smug pride, much of that was accredited to Liene’s presence in my life.

I looked back at the clock and groaned, deciding to just head off now. If I was to be waiting, I might as well wait with a pint and some other people around to watch, rather than sitting here with a bottle of milk that goes off tomorrow and the cracking paint on the wall driving me slowly mad. I walked into the hall and pulled my coat on over my shoulders, sticking everything I needed into the pockets before sitting down and yanking my worn boots on. I left the entryway light on and locked up, waving to the old man across the road as he headed inside with his dog, before turning left and heading deeper into the city.

It was a good fifteen-minute walk to the pub, closer to Liene’s side for things than my own, and the place looked a little better dressed than the usual haunt that Mills and I frequented after a long day. It was a pretty sandstone building, all neat and tidy, blending in perfectly with its neighbours and the flowers growing up the walls. The front windows were open slightly to

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