Read A Village Deception (Turnham Malpas 15) Online

Authors: Rebecca Shaw

Tags: #Modern fiction

A Village Deception (Turnham Malpas 15)

Also by Rebecca Shaw

Barleybridge Novels
A Country Affair
Country Wives
Country Lovers
Country Passions
One Hot Country Summer
Love in the Country


Turnham Malpas Novels
The New Rector
Talk of the Village
Village Matters
The Village Show
Village Secrets
Scandal in the Village
Village Gossip
Trouble in the Village
Village Dilemma
Intrigue in the Village
Whispers in the Village
A Village Feud
The Village Green Affair
The Village Newcomers



Willie Biggs
Retired verger
Sylvia Biggs
His wife
James (Jimbo) Charter-Plackett
Owner of the village store
Harriet Charter-Plackett
His wife
Fergus, Finlay, Flick & Fran
Their children
Katherine Charter-Plackett
Jimbo’s mother
Paddy Cleary
Alan Crimble
Barman at the Royal Oak
Linda Crimble
His wife
Lewis Crimble
Their son
Maggie Dobbs
School caretaker
H. Craddock Fitch
Owner of Turnham House
Kate Fitch
Village school headteacher
Tamsin Goodenough
Zack Hooper
Marie Hooper
His wife
Gilbert Johns
Church choirmaster
Louise Johns
His wife
Greta Jones
A village gossip
Vince Jones
Her husband
Barry Jones
Her son and estate carpenter
Pat Jones
Barry’s wife
Dean & Michelle
Barry and Pat’s children
Revd Peter Harris MA (Oxon)
Rector of the parish
Dr Caroline Harris
His wife
Alex & Beth
Their children
Jeremy Mayer
Manager at Turnham House
Venetia Mayer
His wife
Tom Nicholls
Assistant in the Store
Evie Nicholls
His wife
Dicky & Georgie Tutt
Licensees at the Royal Oak
Bel Tutt
Assistant in the village store
Don Wright

Maintenance engineer (now retired)

Vera Wright

His wife and cleaner at the nursing home in Penny Fawcett

Rhett Wright
Their grandson


Also by Rebecca Shaw





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26



Chapter 1

By nine o’clock, Zack Hooper, well pleased with his attempts at getting the Church of St Thomas à Becket thoroughly organised for the wedding later that morning, decided to have a brew up in his new shed in the churchyard. It had a window along one side so he had a good view of the flowerbeds he’d planted and the ancient trees. Halfway through his mug of tea he became aware of a man studying the inscriptions on the gravestones. Not someone he knew, though. He must have come early for the wedding, he thought. His tea finished, he tossed the tea leaves out on the grass with a practised aim and suddenly the man was beside him.

‘Morning, sir, here for the wedding?’

‘Er, yes. Yes, I am. Yes, got here a mite early. Is it all right if I walk around for a bit?’

‘Of course, the main door’s open when you’re ready to go in.’

‘Lovely morning for a wedding, if it’s ever a good morning for one.’

‘Ah! Well, the two of them have found love for the first time very late in life, as you will know, so it’s a very happy occasion.’

‘Of course. Yes, you’re right.’ The man nodded his head in agreement.

‘Relatives of yours, are they?’

‘Distant. Come for my mother’s sake, really, she can’t manage to get here herself. She’s confined to a wheelchair, you see.’ Zack’s eyes followed the man as he wandered about.

Good-looking chap. Well dressed too, though the suit might just have seen better days. Tall, held himself well, might be an army man, fifties? No, perhaps late forties. Nice thought that, coming for his mother’s sake. Showed respect, like.

There were only six guests at the service, not including the man who’d spoken to him, who sat at the back, kind of half there and half not.

Zack tidied up after the service, checked the flowers had plenty of water, turned out the lights, and decided he’d done for the day. But the tall chap was still around.

‘Anywhere I could get lunch later on?’

‘The Royal Oak has a dining room. Very nice food.’

‘Do they have bedrooms?’

Zack shook his head. ‘No. Are you wanting somewhere for tonight?’

‘Well, yes, I could be.’

‘The only place in this village is my wife’s B&B. Down Shepherd’s Hill, go left at the shop. Or else it means going into Culworth, there’re hotels there.’

‘I like the idea of staying in this village. Has she a room for tonight?’

‘By chance, yes, she has.’

‘I’d like to take it. My name’s Harry Dickinson.’ He held out his hand and Zack found it a no-nonsense handshake, strong, firm and reassuring.

‘I’m Zack Hooper. My wife’s Marie Hooper, and the house is on the left-hand side going down the hill, Shepherd’s Hill that is, and it’s called Laburnum Cottage. It’s bigger than it looks.’

‘Thanks, I’ll go down there shortly. I’ll have a look round the village first though.’

‘Tell her Zack recommended you.’

‘I will. Certainly. Thanks.’

‘I’m off into Culworth now. Perhaps I’ll see you later.’


Zack gave Marie a brief blast on his mobile to warn her the chap might be coming, then went into Culworth for lunch and a pint at the Cricketers Inn and a visit to the betting shop. He missed his weekly racing tip from Barclay Ford, such a pity he’d had to do a moonlight flit. Altogether, he’d made about £500 from his tips and his luck hadn’t really been in since.

While Zack was lunching in Culworth, the man from the wedding, having bought some chocolate in the village shop, had a coffee in the bar of the Royal Oak, then sat on the seat on the green and watched the geese, was now walking down Shepherd’s Hill.

Harry Dickinson liked the look of Laburnum Cottage. A house rather than a cottage, and very smart in a country way. The front had no garden, nor pavement to separate it from the road, and its age showed in the old sash windows and the slightly bulging walls, which were painted yellow as befitted a cottage with the name of laburnum. The door was a gleaming, spotless black with an unusual knocker in the shape of a tree, polished to within an inch of its life. Looking at the upstairs windows he noted the immaculate lace curtains neatly draped and the flowers, real or fake, in each window. Yes, Harry thought, just the place for me.

He gave three loud, positive bangs with the brass knocker and waited. He must be living in country time because there was a long delay before the door was opened. When it did, he was confronted by a small, round woman looking remarkably like a rosy red apple just plucked from the tree; not a blemish on it and ripe and ready for eating.

‘Good afternoon. My name’s Harry Dickinson. You must be the verger’s wife? He said you might have a room available?’

Marie saw a tall, well-dressed man with a charming smile and something about him made her heart skip a beat. ‘That’s right.
I’m Marie. I do have a room with a lovely view of the garden and Sykes Wood at the back. Would you like to see it?’

Harry nodded. ‘Yes, please. It’s just for a couple of nights.’ He followed her into the house, remembering to wipe his feet on the doormat to make a good impression. The stairs led straight up from the tiny hall and he followed her up the shallow stairs, liking the pictures which scaled the wall as they went upwards. Not a speck of dust was lurking anywhere and the upstairs showed great promise.

She turned to the first door on the left and opened it, inviting him to go in ahead of her. The bedroom glowed with light, the duvet cover and the curtains matched, the carpet was rose coloured, and there was another door which Harry hoped would be an en suite, for he hated sharing bathrooms with strangers. He’d had enough of that.

Harry asked, ‘En suite, is it?’ Pointing to the door.

‘Oh! Yes, my rooms are all en suite. Everyone expects it now, don’t they? Gone are the days of nipping down the landing in your shimmy.’ She grinned at him and her rosy cheeks became more rounded. He liked her very much indeed.

‘I might stay a week, would you have room?’

‘At the moment, yes I have. If it’s a week, then it’s seven nights for the price of six.’

‘Which is?’

‘Twenty-five pounds a night with full English, access to your room twenty-four-seven and use of the sitting room.’

‘I wouldn’t want to be in your way.’

‘You wouldn’t be. Zack and I have ample space in the attic rooms, so you have the guest area to yourself.’

‘I see.’

Caution, born of experience, prompted Marie to say, ‘Your luggage?’

‘In my car. I parked in the village. If I may, I’ll go and get it now.’

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