Lesley Cookman

Murder to Music

The eighth book in the Libby Sarjeant Mysteries series, 2011



Libby Sarjeant

Former actor, sometime artist, resident of 17, Allhallow’s Lane, Steeple Martin. Owner of Sidney the cat.

Fran Wolfe

Formerly Fran Castle. Also former actor, occasional psychic, resident of Coastguard Cottage, Nethergate. Owner of Balzac the cat.

Ben Wilde

Libby’s significant other. Owner of The Manor Farm and the Oast House Theatre.

Guy Wolfe

Fran’s husband, artist and owner of a shop and gallery in Harbour Street, Nethergate.

Peter Parker

Ben’s cousin. Free-lance journalist, part owner of The Pink Geranium restaurant and life partner of Harry Price.

Harry Price

Chef and co-owner of The Pink Geranium and Peter Parker’s life partner.

Hetty Wilde

Ben’s mother. Lives at The Manor.

Greg Wilde

Hetty’s husband and Ben’s father.

DCI Ian Connell

Local policeman and friend. Former suitor of Fran’s.

Adam Sarjeant

Libby’s youngest son. Lives above The Pink Geranium, works with garden designer Mog, mainly at Creekmarsh.

Lewis Osbourne-Walker

TV gardener and handy-man who owns Creekmarsh.

Sophie Wolfe

Guy’s daughter. Lives above the gallery.

Flo Carpenter

Hetty’s oldest friend.

Lenny Fisher

Hetty’s brother. Lives with Flo Carpenter.

Ali and Ahmed

Owners of the Eight-til-late in the village.

Jane Baker

Chief Reporter for the Nethergate Mercury. Mother to Imogen.

Terry Baker

Jane’s husband and father of Imogen.

Joe, Nella and Owen

Of Cattlegreen Nurseries.

DCI Don Murray

Of Canterbury Police.

Amanda George

Novelist, known as Rosie

Chapter One

THE WIND BLEW GREY clouds rimmed with silver across a darkening sky and the house was revealed in a flash of lightning. A light shone briefly from a window on the left, turned into a flickering strobe by a whippy birch. The music came to a sudden stop and the light went out.

Fran parked her car as close to the hawthorn hedge as she could.

‘I can’t get out now,’ said Libby.

‘You’ll have to slide across, then,’ said Fran, climbing out herself. ‘The lane’s too narrow to park anywhere else.’

Libby levered herself across the gear stick and caught her jacket on the handbrake.

‘Blimey,’ she said, blowing out her cheeks. ‘This woman makes things difficult, doesn’t she?’

‘Difficult? Why?’

‘No buses, nowhere to park. Doesn’t she want visitors?’

Fran laughed. ‘Not everyone lives in the centre of a village, Lib. Just because it’s a little off the beaten track doesn’t mean she’s unsociable.’

Libby looked round. The lane ran between fields that stretched to further hedges, small hills and a few clumps of trees. High summer: there was a smell of meadow with an undertone of cowpat.

‘Come on then,’ she sighed. ‘Let’s get it over.’

‘Don’t give me that,’ said Fran, leading the way to a small slatted gate set in the hedge. ‘You were just as keen to meet her as she was to meet you.’

‘She’s a celebrity seeker,’ sniffed Libby.

Fran laughed even louder. ‘She’s a famous novelist, Lib! I hardly think she thinks of you as a celebrity.’

The cottage stood, like a Victorian painting, at the end of a short path bordered by hollyhocks, roses, lupins and a few early dahlias. All that was needed was a child in a bonnet and a kitten in a basket.

The door opened and a woman beckoned them in.

‘Come in, come in,’ she said. ‘Hello, Fran. And you must be Libby.’

She held out a hand and Libby shook it. The woman was only a little taller than she was herself, and not as tall as Fran. Her hair was fashionably streaked in shades of blonde, but was obviously white underneath – and distinctly untidy. She favoured, Libby was pleased to see, the same long and floaty clothes she did herself, although baseball boots peeped out from beneath the wide harlequin trousers. She looked at the woman’s round face and found herself being equally minutely studied.

‘I’m Amanda George,’ she said, ‘but only on the covers of the books. Mostly people call me Rosie.’

‘Hello,’ said Libby, suddenly feeling a little shy. The woman was at least ten years older than she was, successful and confident.

‘Well, come on in, then,’ said Rosie, standing aside for them to pass her. ‘Go through to the garden. I thought we’d have tea out there.’

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