It’s my last stop as part of Clink Street Publishing’s #blogival event and I am pleased to be welcoming back Matthew Redford to Novel Kicks.
About Addicted To Death…
Following the murder of Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs savagely beaten to death outside their home by an unknown, fedora wearing assailant brandishing a large metal spoon, Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and the leading food detective in the police force, is called in to investigate.
When the only food sapiens minister in the Government, Professor Perry Partridge, is murdered at the Strawberry Strip Club, run by the young damson Victoria Plum, DI Wortel suspects that the two cases may somehow be linked.
As the Head of the Food Related Crime Division, DI Wortel is ably assisted by his human colleague Sergeant Dorothy Knox. But as their investigation begins, four celebrity chefs are sent death threats. It’s a recipe for disaster as the incarcerated evil genius MadCow McBeef is seeking parole; someone appears to have crumbled Mr Bramley’s apples; and there is an anti-GM food protestor on the prowl.
And why do Oranges and Lemons think they owe someone five farthings? DI Wortel and his team must find out who is seemingly addicted to death. It will take all efforts – human, fruit and vegetable – to figure this one out.
Thanks to Matthew and Clink Street Publishing, I’ve got an extract from his novel, Addicted to Death. Enjoy!
Wortel eventually prised Dorothy out the KGB offices after hearing more gossip about a tax evasion scam that included many famous celebrities including Gary Barley and Jimmy Carp. Wortel navigated the evening traffic, dropped Dorothy home, wished her a good evening and set off for home himself comforted by the thought of slumping onto his sofa and watching something completely pointless on the television.
The all too familiar sight of a rickshaw parked outside the house caused Wortel to sigh outwardly. Warren. Bang goes a quiet night. He braced himself and opened the front door. And was hit by an overwhelming smell of paint.
“Stella, I’m home. Why can I smell paint?”
“Hello Mr Wortel,” called out Warren. “Mind how you go, the walls in the living room might be a little sticky. I wouldn’t want you to get paint on your suit.”
Stella poked her head out from the kitchen. “I’ll pop the kettle on. I hope you picked up some more that breakfast cereal.”
“What for?” replied Wortel feeling a little confused. “We’ve got four boxes in the cupboard.”
“Down to one box. It’s hard to stop once you’ve had a bowl and Warren certainly worked up an appetite today. He’s worked really hard.”
“Well I’ll have to get some tomorrow now. So, why can I smell paint?”
“Oh bless Warren. I mentioned how I wanted to get some decorating done but you’re always so busy. So he ran me to the superstore, helped me pick up some paint and he set to and painted the room for us.”
With Wortel feeling his shoulders begin to tense he walked into the living room to find the walls decorated a delightful shade of lettuce green.
“Warren thought it was a lovely colour,” said Stella following Wortel into the living room.
Wortel naturally hated the colour out of spite for Warren, and yet as much as he begrudged admitting it, he’d made a bloody good job with the decoration.
As night time approached and Stella insisted that Warren must be far too tired to cycle home, Wortel found himself in the loft recovering the inflatable bed. After blowing up the bed, and putting it into Jack’s room for their new guest, Wortel fled to the bathroom before he heard once again how wonderful Warren had been during the day. God, he hated that rabbit.
Wortel finished brushing his teeth, rinsed his mouth and spat the residue into the sink. The reflection in the mirror surprised him. He looked tired, more tired than he felt, but the lines around his orange eyes were prominent. He was always more anxious than normal when a case was on-going but there was more this time. He didn’t have a lead on the deaths of Darcy and Benedict Blacktail or Professor Partridge. He didn’t like Alexander Pine but there was something about him which meant Wortel didn’t believe he was capable of murder. Victoria Plum had gone walkabouts and Dorothy couldn’t track her down. There were the death threats to the four celebrity chefs, who were all bonkers in their own unique way, and to top to all, Warren was sleeping in the spare room and nobody seemed to care that he was a rabbit fraternising with a family of carrots. Oh, and not forgetting that the criminal mastermind MadCow McBeef was applying for parole. Other than that, life was grand.
He flicked off the lights, wished everyone goodnight, gritted his teeth at the jolly response from Warren and slipped into bed. It was a fitful sleep, with Wortel’s mind drifting between the various cases and a disturbing dream involving being chased by MadCow McBeef and Warren.
A cracking noise caused him to sit upright, sweat prickling on his forehead. Was that glass? He listened. Nothing. Damn these dreams. He laid his head back on the pillow, closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep. Footsteps. Yes, definitely footsteps on the stairs. He recognised the creek on the bottom step. Wortel slipped out bed, careful not to wake Stella who was dead to the world. He padded to the door, opened it and looked out onto the dark landing.
“Was that you on the stairs?” It was Warren coming out of the room next door.
“No, was it you making that noise?” Wortel whispered, eyes trying to focus on the stairs at the far end of the landing.
“No. I thought I heard glass smashing earlier. I’m guessing that wasn’t you?”
Wortel’s hand ran up the wall finding the light switch. He looked at Warren who nodded. Wortel stepped onto the landing, pulled the door behind him and flicked the switch pouring light into the landing. There at the far end of the landing, braced and ready for action, was a large bunch of grapes dressed in khaki, bandanas tied tight with knives drawn.
Wortel looked across at Warren who had taken up a defensive stance.
“Make sure the family are safe. I’ll handle this.”
“Warren, don’t do anything stupid. I’m a policeman. I’ve been in worse situations.”
“It’s fine. I’m a black belt in origami. I’ve got this sussed.”
Warren walked forward, turned his body slightly to the side, raised his front paw and took up position. The grapes bowed to Warren and muttered something in a language that Wortel did not understand. Warren bowed in return which was the signal for mayhem to commence. The grapes charged at Warren who rocked backwards and sent the first troop of grapes scattering with three sharp strikes from his hind legs. He pushed his weight forward and bared his front teeth biting sharply at the second troop of onrushing grapes. Wortel watched in amazement as the grapes regrouped and came again before being dispatched by the dynamic kung-fu rabbit.
The grape leader shouted something which Wortel did not understand but which suddenly saw the grapes turn and beat a retreat. “Come on, we need to get at least one of them,” shouted Warren who started chasing after the grapes. Wortel hurried along the landing and started to take the stairs two at a time in order to keep up.
Hearing a crash from the kitchen, Wortel rushed in to find Warren on the floor wrestling with three grapes. Warren kicked hard and sent one of the grapes flying across the room crashing into the kitchen table knocking him unconscious. He paused briefly to admire his work allowing the second of the three grapes to land a firm blow to his chin.
Warren staggered backwards and fell to the floor dazed. Wortel looked on in horror as the moonlight shining in through the open back door glistened on the blade being brandished by the grape attackers. Wortel pulled open the nearest drawer and found two spatulas, a potato masher and a number of other kitchen utensils. Grabbing the potato masher he threw himself forward as the second grape plunged the knife towards the prone Warren.
Warren saw the blade heading his way, and as he waited for to feel the incision, an orange blur appeared in front of him. Hearing the sound of metal on metal Warren realised Wortel had blocked the knife using the potato masher and was now engaged in arm to arm combat, knife versus masher. The third of the grapes, shocked at seeing a carrot dive into such a dangerous position armed with just a potato masher to save a rabbit, drew his knife and went into battle. Warren regained his senses and leapt to his feet and positioned himself between the third grape and the duelling Wortel.
The third grape pulled off his bandana, run his hand across his head and smiled at Warren.
“You are an expert origamist. I also. Enguard.”
“With pleasure,” replied Warren. “Enguard.”
The Wortel family kitchen resembled a scene from a Jackie Chantilly Cream movie as Wortel, using his potato masher with vengeance, tackled his assailant while Warren and the third grape traded spectacular kicks and blows, each trying to fold the other using the deadly paper swan technique.
Hearing the commotion taking place in her kitchen Stella came downstairs and surveyed the scene. She picked up a chair from the kitchen table, walked across to where her husband was engaged masher in hand, and bought it crashing down on the grapes head. He let out a little wine and slumped to the floor.
Stella took the potato masher from Wortel and threw it across the kitchen hitting the third grape on the temple. Like a boxer taking a hammer blow to the head, his legs wobbled before he fell forward into Warrens arms.
Stella walked over to Warren placing an arm gently on his shoulder. “Thank you so much Warren. I really don’t know what we would have done without you tonight.” Warren blushed while Wortel smarted.
Stella looked at her husband and shook her head. “You best get that door fixed and I want the kitchen tidied up before the morning. I called the station before I came down, so your boys should be here soon. Get those grapes out of my house. Oh and Wortel, we need to buy some toilet paper as well as more of that cereal. Don’t forget to get some tomorrow before you come home from work?”
A barely awake Janie appeared at the kitchen door, her brain struggling to absorb the scene before her.
“Mum. What’s going on?”
“Don’t worry dear. Warren has it all under control and your Dad’s going to tidy up the kitchen. Come and sit down in here,” said Stella gesturing towards the living room. “I recorded the latest episode of Masterbaker. Come on, let’s go and watch Donatella DiMaggio.
Born in 1980, Matthew Redford grew up with his parents and elder brother on a council estate in Bermondsey, south-east London. He now lives in Longfield, Kent, takes masochistic pleasure in watching his favourite football team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is a keen chess player and is planning future food related crime novels. To counterbalance the quirkiness of his crime fiction Redford is an accountant. His unconventional debut crime thriller, Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation was published by Clink Street Publishing in 2015.
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