“As you lived, so shall you die.” The death threat to the writer was baffling. The choice of murder weapon unravelled the mystery.
He was found on his swivel chair, strangled, several metres of thread bound tightly around his neck.
“You’d have thought it would have snapped,” observed Detective Sergeant Ringer.
One end of the thread was tied to a leg of the writer’s desk. DCI Stafford gave the loose end a tug between latex-gloved fingers. “Nylon. The synthetic threads are stronger. Who is he, anyhow?”
“ABC you what?”
“Angry But Calm Henri.”
“What kind of a name is that?”
“A made up one. Real name was Henry Burke. Author of the Detective Ron Moody series of novels.”
“Never heard of them.”
“Bestsellers if you believe him. The actual sales figures suggest otherwise. He had been dropped by his publisher.”
“Ron Moody, you say? Any connection with the actor?”
“Henri always claimed that Ron Moody the actor took his name from his character. Despite the fact that Ron Moody the actor has been called Ron Moody since 1930 and Henri’s first Ron Moody novel came out in 2004. He also claims that DBC Pierre – that is, Dirty But Clean Pierre, the 2003 Booker-prizewinning novelist – stole the idea for his unusual pseudonym from him. A year before Henri broke into print with his oddly similar moniker.”
“A bit of a storyteller then? Given to the odd porky pie?”
“Most writers are. Especially writers of fiction.” DS Ringer was a graduate, and liked to make pronouncements consistent with this.
“Well, that explains the choice of murder weapon. And the wording of the death threat.”
“Of course,” said Stafford, a perky smile flexing his lips. He was not a graduate and took pleasure in bewildering them. “He’s a spinner of yarns. And it’s yarn that’s done for him.” He stretched the thread taut and tweaked it, so that it gave out a musical twang. “Now all we have to do is find the perp. Mind you, I don’t think we have to look far. This is not so much murder, as self-murder. You could say it’s ABC Henri’s last yarn.”
DCI Stafford gave the swivel chair a kick and set it spinning, still holding the loose end of thread. As the chair rotated, the tight ligature around the dead writer’s neck unwound. “WD-40 on the chair mechanism so it spins freely. By the time it gets going, the momentum was such that he couldn’t have stopped it even if he’d wanted to.”
The Review section of the Saturday Guardian lay open at the paperback bestseller charts. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was in first position, followed by its sequels in second and third. “Good career move,” said Stafford.