Who would have thought golf could be such a deadly game?

When two players stumble upon a dead body in a bunker on the thirteenth hole of their favourite golf club, their discovery is about to set in motion a series of events that will lay bare some of the less savoury aspects of the human condition.

Inspector Leslie Dykeman and the irascible Sergeant Stanley Shapes find themselves engaged on a case that will drive them to distraction as they begin to investigate the murder of a man who seems, at first sight, to have had no enemies. But first sight, they will discover, can be a deceptive thing, especially when deceit, greed, envy and desperation are at work.


Chapter One


The Banbury and North Oxfordshire Golf Club had sat contentedly on a hillside overlooking a wide, shallow valley north of the small market town of Banbury since its opening in 1924. The architect who designed the original building had possessed the good sense to realise that a single-storey building would settle into its landscape in the way a taller construction would never do and, fortunately, no one had yet succumbed to ambitions for upward expansion.
 There were bigger, better equipped and more select golf clubs within a reasonable driving distance of the town, but none were, by general agreement, as attractively situated and pleasant on the eye as The BANO, as club members referred to it. Indeed, every year for as long as anyone cared to remember, applications for membership exceeded places available. It was rather uncommon for any of the existing members to leave and often only the death of a club member gave anyone new the chance of joining.
 Out on the fairway to the eighteenth hole, three immaculately dressed men were entirely focused on the challenge of playing their approach shots with sufficient accuracy so as not to send their golf ball into one of the two large lakes that flanked the fairway.
 The evening was drifting towards a close, sunset less than an hour away, and a gentle, steady breeze was coming across their right shoulders. It was barely sufficient to ruffle the surface waters of either lake. The greatest distraction they faced was a flotilla of noisy ducks that splashed around with abandon in the shallows to their right and the occasional call of a bird from amongst the trees, grouped in clusters on either side. It was, all three players had agreed, a fine evening for a round of golf.
 Standing on the wide veranda of the clubhouse bar, with a clear view of the approaching golfers, was a group of club members along with three of their guests, every one of them keen as mustard to comment on the standard of golf on show. The mood was a little boisterous, if also respectful of golfing etiquette, and it was clear that any mistakes by those on the course would not go unnoticed when they returned to the clubhouse.
 One of the players was a large, heavily-built man. As he set himself for his second shot to the eighteenth, he looked to critical observers rather awkward and uncertain. Expectations were somewhat low. He moved his feet once, then twice and practised his swing several times before finally committing. Those on the veranda could just make out the sound of the club head hitting the ball and watched closely as the small white sphere sailed up into the air and on down the fairway. It landed neatly on the front edge of the green, then bounced three times before rolling on to a halt five feet short of the hole.
 “Oh, what a shot. Just look at that, he’s rolled it up, what, five or six feet short of the hole,” declared one of the observers in genuine admiration.
 “Bet he couldn’t do that again if he tried a dozen times,” replied another, in a rather uncharitable manner.
 “You’re jealous, old man,” teased a third, a short, round man with red cheeks and matching nose.
 “I believe I am. That’s true enough.”
 “He ought to sink that one from there,” continued the first man, so tall and thin it looked like a stiff breeze would blow him off the veranda. “That will be two under for the hole. Wonder where that will leave him for the round?”
 “And Roger’s never going to get out of that rough and on to the green in anything less than two, so David should gain even more of an advantage on this hole. Wonder if Trevor can hit the green from there?” The second man was a little short-sighted and, as was often the case, too vain to have put on his glasses. As a result, he naturally leaned forward a little, towards the golfers. It made no real difference.
 “He’ll gain three shots,” predicted the third man, confidently. “Roger never can get out of the rough cleanly. It’ll take him two more simply to get on the green.”
 The group of men standing on the clubhouse balcony had been there for some little while, watching their fellow members take on the latter stages of the course, including the notoriously tricky fourteenth, which had provided much entertainment.
 The rest of the course was rather quiet, it now being almost six-thirty, and, to the best of their knowledge, there were only two other pairs still playing. Before long, every last one of them would be in the clubhouse bar offering up their excuses for missed shots or claiming glory for lucky breaks. So far as anyone knew, only two of the tables in the restaurant were booked for the evening. All in all, things were rather on the quiet side.
 As the rest of the watching group continued their critical observation, one of them, David Stoneman, returned to the bar to top up those in need of a fresh drink. Failing to get your round in when the time came was almost as unacceptable as showing up to play a round of golf without wearing the correct clothes. Being a relatively new club member, Stoneman was especially keen not to commit such a crime. As the barmaid busied herself with his order, he looked around the bar, which still felt alien to him.
 The room had a distinctly masculine air, more functional than decorative, with low-backed, firm chairs, a plain blue carpet and a small group of photographs of various size, clustered on one of the white-painted walls. There was the aroma of cigarette smoke and free-flowing conversations among the dozen or so members and guests occupying several tables. The room was, as his wife had noted on her first visit, unattractive and lacking in common comforts. He found it hard to disagree, but it seemed the other members liked it that way. Who was he to complain?
 The barmaid placed two whiskies on the bar in front of him, then moved along to the beer pumps. As she did so, another figure arrived at the bar.
 “Evening, David. You with that noisy lot outside?”
 Whilst the other man was rather nondescript in appearance, his warm smile and friendly demeanour were things Stoneman was familiar with. They had met on numerous occasions over the last four months.
 “Hello, Matthew. Yes, they are rather boisterous. Some members I’m not very familiar with are playing the eighteenth and their every move is being minutely analysed; not always in a complimentary manner.”
 “Ah, it’s always an easy game when you’re watching, eh?”
 “That’s very true. Still, I can’t risk upsetting them by pointing out the error of their ways. My car’s in the garage, you see, and I’m dependent on Anthony Clouch to get me home this evening. Best not tell the man he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
 “Anthony? You’re rather out of his way, aren’t you? You should let us take you home. We’re much closer. Will save poor old Anthony the extra miles.”
 “That’s very good of you, Matthew. If you’re sure that’s alright I’ll let Anthony know I’ve got a better offer. He’ll think I’m trying to butter up next year’s club captain. Speaking of which, can I get you a drink?”
 “No, I’m fine, thanks. I’m here with Emma. We’re eating in the restaurant. Indeed, as things stand, we’re the only ones eating in the restaurant this evening. It’s rather quiet. We’re having a meal to celebrate Emma’s birthday the week before last. Were supposed to have gone for dinner with the Swinnertons at the Churchill Hotel in Leamington, but Emma came down with a cold, so we had to cancel. Then Tom and Nancy Smith, who were supposed to join us this evening, had to call off. Emma decided, in the end, she preferred the idea of a quiet little meal for two.”
 As the barmaid placed two pints of bitter on the counter, a boisterous and warm welcome to the room as a whole sounded in the doorway. Both men, as well as the barmaid, looked across to see a tall, well-built man strolling into the room. He had the kind of effortless air of confidence and sociability that comes naturally to few people. As he moved, he greeted people with a firm handshake or a slap on the shoulder and a warm word or two.
 To the impressionable young woman serving the drinks, he had something of the movie star about him; a thought that had crossed her mind more than once before. She fiddled with the collar on her blouse and brushed a hand over a non-existent crease in her skirt. When Paul Fry arrived at the bar she wanted to look her best, or at least as good as could be expected in her work outfit.
 “Matthew. Took my advice on the new shoes, I see.” Paul Fry slapped a palm into Matthew Rose’s outstretched hand.   “Got that delicious wife of yours here with you this evening?”
 “She’s in the restaurant.”
 “Left her alone again, have you?”
 “She insists on it, from time to time. Says she needs the breathing space.”
 “I really must persuade her some time that life would be so much more fun with me.”
 “I suspect she knows that already, Paul. Fortunately for me, Emma seems to prefer the dull and reliable type. Or at least she does these days. Can’t comment on the younger Emma, as I never got to see that version.”
 Paul Fry laughed then turned to face David Stoneman. “David, did you pick that tie all by yourself? You did. Best leave it to Daphne next time, old man.”
 “By your command, Paul.”
 “Susie, darling,” quipped Fry as he aimed a wink at the barmaid. “Looking wonderful as ever. If only I was a few years younger. Now then, a bourbon for me, if you please. How about you chaps, what can I get you?”
 The other two men declined the offer, promising, at Fry’s insistence, to take it up later. With that agreed, he moved on to shake hands with another club member who had arrived at the bar. Before long, he would have made his way round the whole room, ensuring that everyone, friend or foe, known or unknown, would have received a warm greeting.
 As David Stoneman made his way slowly back to the terrace, a tray full of drinks gripped firmly in his hands, Matthew Rose lingered a little longer in the agreeable atmosphere of the bar before picking up his own drinks and setting off for the restaurant.


 Matthew Rose pushed his way through a pair of double doors on the far side of the room and, in so doing, left behind the hubbub of the club bar and entered the calm, almost silent world of the restaurant. All but one of the formally laid tables were empty and most of them, Matthew knew, would remain that way for the entirety of the evening. Aside from special events, the restaurant was usually only busy at weekends and, to a lesser extent, on Friday evenings.
 At a table for two by one of the windows sat a woman. She was, he thought, as beautiful as the day he had first seen her. That slim face with its high cheekbones and the small, flawless nose had always reminded him of the Danish women he had met in London during the war. But it was and always had been those sparkling hazel eyes that captivated him, especially when she paired them with a typically warm and wholehearted smile. Well, that and the fantastic figure she had retained.
 Emma Rose was inspecting the make-up on her eyelashes using the small, round compact she seemed to never be without. She didn’t notice her husband’s return until he placed their drinks on the table and pulled back his chair to sit down.
 “Sorry about that, darling. It’s pretty busy in there this evening and Paul Fry has just arrived. You know what it’s like when he’s here.”
 She snapped shut her compact and slipped it back into her black leather handbag.
 “You’re forgiven. Are they in good spirits in there? It sounds like they’re having fun.”
 “I think you can safely say they are having a good time.” He turned to one side as he added, “Shame it’s so very quiet in here this evening. Makes it feel as if we’re something of a nuisance, putting the staff to the trouble of keeping the restaurant open just for us.”
 “I’m sure they would rather have us here than have nothing to do,” replied Emma. “Although I do wish the Smiths had been able to join us. I was looking forward to hearing all about their weekend in Eastbourne. If it sounds worth the effort travelling all that way I thought we might get the train down there before the weather takes a turn for the worse.”
 “That’s fine with me. Always up for a couple of days on the coast, even if it is a bit breezy.”
 Emma picked up her drink and downed about half of it in one go.
 “Are we the only ones in this evening?” she asked.
 “Not quite. There’s another table booked for eight. Non-members.” Matthew glanced at the empty tables. “I suppose it’s just one of those evenings when no one feels like eating out.”
Emma reached across the table and took hold of her husband’s hand.
 “Well, at least it means I get you all to myself this evening,” she said, with the hint of a tease in her voice.
 “That’s true enough. There’s no escape for you,” Matthew replied, smiling.
 There was a short burst of raucous laughter from the bar. Matthew looked up, trying to pick out individual voices.
 “I would guess one of those poor sods playing the eighteenth has just messed up, right in front of the little audience on the veranda.”
 Emma let go of her husband’s hand and picked up the cigarette she had left resting on an ashtray.
 “I don’t understand why you all take such delight in seeing someone else play a bad shot. It’s not exactly friendly and I thought you were all supposed to be good sportsmen.”
 “It’s because we all make the same mistakes ourselves. It’s easy to laugh when you know it could be you that people are laughing at next time. Mind you, it’s fair to say some people are on the receiving end more often than others.”
 “Does that include you, darling?”
 Emma knew her husband was one of the better players at the club, but she couldn’t miss the opportunity for a little teasing. That had always been one of the most endearing things about him, his almost complete lack of self importance. It was more than could be said for some of the other club members. All the same, it would be nice if he occasionally made more of his status at the club; there was nothing wrong with doing that once in a while.
 The sole waitress on duty arrived to take their order. Emma had noticed her as soon as they’d arrived. She was new and the older woman thought she looked so young that she must surely still be attending school. Fortunately, the club were usually very good at training new staff.
 Main course selections were a straightforward affair. Emma chose the salmon with a Hollandaise sauce, whilst Matthew, as he usually did, went for the steak and kidney pudding. It was something his wife had never been able to cook properly and, since it had been one of his favourite meals from childhood, he took almost every opportunity he could to order it when they were eating out.
 “What time do you expect to get back from the hairdressers tomorrow,” Matthew asked his wife. “Only it doesn’t look like I’ll be needing to go to Buckingham in the afternoon after all. I thought we could eat early then go to the cinema to see that new film you’ve been talking about.”
 Emma blew cigarette smoke towards the ceiling through pursed lips, then stubbed out what remained of the butt in the bulbous glass ashtray.
 “Piccadilly Third Stop, with the yummy Terence Morgan,” she replied, with obvious relish in her voice. “That would be nice and there won’t be any problem with me getting home early enough. I’ve cancelled my appointment at Justin’s. Helen Toner phoned me this morning to let me know my usual hairdresser has had to go to Norfolk for a few days. Sick mother.”
 “No one else there up to scratch, then?”
 “She’s head and shoulders above the rest. I wouldn’t go there at all if she was ever to leave, especially at the prices they charge.”
 “Well, that’s settled then. I’ll be spending the evening watching you gawp at Terry Morgan.”
 There was another burst of laughter from the bar, followed this time by the just audible voice of Paul Fry.
 “Someone’s having a good time,” observed Matthew.
 “Doesn’t play very much does he, Paul?”
 “Not a great deal. I think he really comes here for a drink and a laugh with the other members. Not that he’s the only one who does that.”
 “Is he not very good? I can imagine him being the sort who doesn’t like to keep getting beaten.”
 “There are worse players, to be fair. But, no, he’s not all that good. Tends to try too hard with his approach shots and ends up sticking the ball in the rough or amongst the trees. He’s better on the greens. Does alright there.”
 “At least he dresses better than most of the men here. They’re all so starched and stiff. Old fashioned clothes their fathers would recognise. I much prefer the looser fitting Italian trousers and jackets Paul wears.” She ran a brief, quizzical eye over her husband. “Perhaps we should try something like that on you.”
 “I do believe you bought me this jacket,” observed her husband, raising an eyebrow.
 She smiled, as she retrieved a new cigarette from her handbag, well aware she had bought the jacket the previous summer.
 “Have you thought any more about that offer from the Stantons to stay with them in Scotland this Christmas?” Matthew asked, a little hesitantly. He knew his wife wasn’t terribly happy making such long trips, apart from those occasions when it was something she was especially keen on.
 Emma gently tapped into the ashtray what little ash had already formed on the end of her latest cigarette.
 “I don’t mind the Stantons and Scotland, Matthew, but it’s so far to go. We’ll be hours and hours just getting there. And what if it snows? They’re practically in the Arctic Circle.”
 “It is the Lowlands, darling, not the Highlands. We could always tell them yes, but make it clear it depends on the weather forecast closer to the time.”
 Matthew was especially eager to make this particular trip, despite his wife’s reluctance. The thought of spending Christmas in the Scottish Lowlands was one he relished and he secretly rather hoped it did snow. What a picture it would make, looking out over those beautiful Lowland hills, seeing them carpeted in a blanket of white. And then there was Robin Stanton, an old friend from his Army days, whom he so rarely got to see now. They would have so much to catch up on.
 “I’m not going to eat so much as a single teaspoon of haggis, if we do go,” remarked Emma. “No matter how much they try to persuade me otherwise.”
 There was a little sparkle in his wife’s eyes that suggested to Matthew she was prepared, after all, to make the trip north. He was about to tell her that he would eat any and all haggis that might end up on her plate, but was interrupted by the waitress.
 “Phone call for you, Mr Rose.”
 Matthew looked surprised. “Phone call for me? Here?”
 “Yes, sir.”
 “Did they say who was calling?”
 “No, sir. Just that it’s important.”
 “Oh, well. Sorry, darling,” he said, turning to his wife. “I suppose I ought to take it.”
 “Probably your fancy woman,” teased Emma.
 “They’ve put it through to the phone outside the admin office,” the waitress informed Matthew, already aware he knew where to find that.
 “Thank you.”
 A phone had long ago been installed in an alcove outside the administration office expressly for the use of club members. It was reached via a narrow corridor that ran from the restaurant all the way to the end of the main building, passing several store rooms and the first aid room on the way.
 As her husband disappeared from view, Emma stubbed out her cigarette, sighed deeply, then retrieved her make-up compact from her handbag.


 “I met that chap from Newmans Shoes the other day.”
 “The one with the big nose?”
 “That’s him. He had another go at trying to persuade me to sell my stake in Warren and Hastings. Persistent, I’ll give him that.”
 “Not taking no for answer, then?”
 “Seems not.”
 “Still not tempted to sell?”
 “If they offered me an outrageous price, of course I’d take it, but I’ve no need to sell up and those shares continue to pay me a very nice dividend. No need to rush into anything.”
 “Right, then. Here we are, the unlucky thirteenth.”
 “Unlucky for you, I’m hoping. Need to make up a few shots soon or I’ve no hope.”
 The taller of the two men pulled his driver out of his bag of clubs and strode purposefully on to the thirteenth tee. Having pushed his wooden tee into the firm, worn ground and placed his ball carefully on top of it, he stood up and pressed his thick-framed black glasses back into place. The light would start to fade soon and already, through gaps in the trees, it was possible to see the warm, soft glow of the evening sun lighting up the BANO clubhouse.
 It was a shame they had been forced by events to start their round almost an hour later than planned. It meant they were highly unlikely now to complete it before the light had gone. And it was such a fine evening too. Still some warmth in the air and no more than a gentle breeze coming in from the south-west. Charles Turner considered it a splendid way to end a late summer’s day.
 All the same, with so little light left, there was no time for delay. He set his feet and loosened his shoulders, as he always did, before addressing the ball. A quick scan down the fairway to ensure all was clear. Then he brought the club up over his shoulder and paused briefly before sweeping it back down, his eyes fixed on the dimpled white sphere. There was the feeling of a satisfying contact and the thwack of clubface on ball.
 Russell Head stood silent and motionless away to one side as his friend teed off, but as soon as the ball was sent skywards he winced. The thirteenth was a short hole and any half-decent golfer should be able to reach the green in one. Well, Charles was certainly going to reach the green, but in all likelihood, he was going to pass right over it. His club choice had been all wrong.
 The two men stood and watched as the ball rushed headlong through the air, straight as an arrow, both would have agreed, but also far too eager, surging on and on until finally it fell to earth out of sight, into the large bunker that lurked at the back of the wide, sloping green.
 “Damn it,” remarked the taller man. “You were right. Shouldn’t have gone with the driver.”
 “Chance for me to gain a shot or two here, I think,” observed Russell Head, sympathetic only up to a point.
 The shorter man set his stocky frame and played a fine shot on to the green that left the ball some ten feet from the hole. Even if he took another two to get down from there he was sure to gain at least one stroke. He might not have to buy the first round at the bar after-all.
 The men collected their golf trollies and began to make their way towards the green. A pair of enormous pigeons, their bellies full with a share of the late summer harvest, waddled into the deeper rough as the men approached. Overhead, half-a-dozen seagulls screeched as they carved their way across the sky.
 “They’re a long way from the sea,” commented Turner as he looked up at the sea birds. “Especially this late in the day.”
 Head looked up. “They come up the River Nene, apparently, then follow it back out when they’ve had enough of the countryside. Sensible birds.”
 The two men parked their trollies to the side of the green and Head waited while his friend, club swinging in front of him, went in search of his errant ball, hoping to find it wasn’t buried in deep sand hard up against the bunker’s edge.
Just before he reached the sand trap, a single magpie landed on the crest of the bunker ahead of him. It called several times then took off, disappearing amongst a copse of trees away to the left of the green.
 Turner stopped and looked all around him in a growing state of irritation before swearing to himself and muttering, “One for sorrow. Damn it, I’m bound to lose the hole now.”
 However, as soon as he crested the ridge, Turner’s mood brightened. His ball was neither pressed up against the bunker’s edge nor buried so deep it couldn’t be played. If he could play out in one and get the ball reasonably close to the hole he just might be able to keep his friend’s advantage to a single shot. That wouldn’t be a bad outcome at all, in the circumstances.
 With the sun beginning to drop a little in the sky, the front ridge of the bunker had cast a shadow across a large part of the sweeping ocean of sand. The ball lay within the arc of the shadow, towards the rear of the bunker, which encouraged Turner to walk right round the edge. That way he would disturb as little sand as possible and have less to rake over once he had played out.
 He stepped with care up to his ball, so as not to move it. Once there, he leaned down low over the ball to make sure he had sized up things correctly. Satisfied, he straightened back up and, as he did so, something caught his eye. In the shadow directly ahead of him, where the sand swept up against the highest part of the ridge, there seemed to be something poking up into the air.
 On closer inspection, he could see the sand was disturbed, as if someone in a hurry had not bothered to rake it properly back into place. There really was no excuse for such lax and inconsiderate behaviour. It didn’t take more than a moment’s effort to do the job properly and leave things neat and tidy for the next unfortunate chap who played his ball into the bunker.
 Turner resolved to rake over the area after he had played his own shot. But then something about whatever it was poking out of the sand nagged at him. It seemed familiar. It was no good, he had to take a closer look.
 A shout of enquiry came to him across the green and he held up his club to acknowledge it as he stepped with care across the soft sand. His friend could wait. It wouldn’t take a moment to satisfy his curiosity.
 He stopped and dropped down on to his haunches to get a better look. It took no more than a glance to identify what was pointing up out of the sand. He had to steady himself with an outstretched hand before he fell over with fright. It was a human finger, a long middle finger to be precise, and, as he gingerly brushed away sand he found himself uncovering first the hand and then the arm of a man. At that point he stopped. The bunker, it was clear, had been used as an impromptu grave.



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