GARGOYLE PIXIE DOG

Gargoyle Pixie Dog - Danny Lancaster

"If you like gripping crime thrillers this will be right up your street"

"An enjoyable read with twists and turns that surprise"

When young homeless street artist Cat goes missing her rough sleeper friend Hooper asks private investigator Danny Lancaster to find her. But how do you trace someone with no address, job, credit cards, no social media – a woman who lives off the grid? Danny’s only clues are a faded chalk drawing on a pavement and a lost dog. But an angry man is losing control. A frightened man is running for a train. Then an early morning walker finds a girl’s body on the beach. The clock is ticking as Danny hunts the Gargoyle.

PLUS six short stories:

THE CUCKOLDS CALLING: When Rebekah Court suspects husband Richard is cheating she hires Danny Lancaster. But the private investigator is out on a limb when infidelity weaves a tangled web.

SELFIE: A schoolgirl’s trust is abused when she reluctantly poses for her boyfriend’s intimate photos. Gemma is self-harming, bullied at school, terrified of what her parents and teachers will say. Her best friend Ashley’s last hope is Danny Lancaster.

THE HOODIED MAN: Student Sophie Medcalf was on the threshold of a new life when she was brutally murdered. The bloody unsolved killing drives her boyfriend Simon to the edge. Danny Lancaster tries to stop him jumping.

THE GERMANS CAN’T KILL ME: Melody Hamilton cannot accept that the sudden death of her sick and elderly father Lloyd, a war hero and talented artist, was an accident. Danny Lancaster must find out who might benefit from Lloyd’s passing.

INSIDE JOB: Models and fashionistas at a catwalk show are locked in and deprived of their mobiles until Danny Lancaster can find out which one is hiding the Duchess of Brighton.

SUDDEN DEATH: Aging gang boss Big Eddie Archer summons Danny Lancaster when someone starts murdering pals from his criminal past. Danny must hunt down the man behind this vicious vendetta before the body count gets out of control.

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GARGOYLE PIXIE DOG

CHAPTER 1

 

Funny things, blueberry muffins. They looked like a bun with a blotchy purple skin disease but tasted surprisingly good.

Danny Lancaster nibbled the last of it away from its crinkled paper wrapper, then dusted crumbs from his T-shirt. Filled a hole.

The street outside the cafe was busy with people dashing back and forth. Hard to believe everyone was in that much of a rush, no time to stand and stare.

Danny sipped his tea. A girl laughing into her iPhone bumped a short man in a worn suit. He glared. She didn’t notice. A guy with purple hair gelled into spikes ploughed through the crowd, panstick-white face completely blank. A Lycra cyclist leaned into a racing turn at the junction. Car horns bellowed.

Welcome to another day in Brighton.

Danny drained his tea and smiled at the waitress on his way out. Tall, high cheekbones, jet black hair, he thought her name was Vika.

He paused outside the door. While he’d been eating he had spotted the lurking shadow amid the churn of people. The guy had walked past three times. Lingered at the crossing. Hovered in a shop doorway opposite. Always peering at the cafe. Whoever he was, he had no skills in tailing people.

Danny set off towards the station, taking it gently, feeling the flow around him, people watching. He cut through the bus station, turned into Guildford Road and stopped, leaning against the wall, waiting.

The man who shuffled round the corner was wearing a frayed and filthy overcoat, face dark and dirty, hair matted to his forehead.

When he saw Danny he jumped as if he’d been burned, swayed, squinted.

“You’re Danny Lancaster.”

“Guilty.”

“We met before. You were pissed.”

***

Dennis Hooper stopped worrying away at a patch of flaking red skin on his wrist and clutched the cardboard takeaway tea cup in both hands. He squinted as he read from the weathered gravestone.

“In Memory of Phoebe Hessel… born in Stepney 1713… served for many years as a private soldier in the 5th Regiment of Foot… fought at the battle of Fontenoy… received a bayonet wound in the arm… died in Brighton 1821… aged 108 years.”

Hooper shuffled round on the bench. Danny had spotted the state of his teeth, now as the man turned he caught a whiff of the breath and blinked.

“Fifth of Foot, that became the Northumberland Fusiliers. Game girl, eh?” said Hooper.

“Some say it’s an old bar story.”

“Nah.”

Hooper wouldn’t be rushed but it didn’t matter. Danny had nowhere to be in a hurry. Both men sat back on the bench, looking out over the graveyard and the ornate row of expensive Tudor-Gothic homes in Wykeham Terrace once used to rehabilitate Brighton’s Victorian prostitutes. Beyond they could see the rooftops of the city centre and the sea. A chilly breeze was seasoned with salt.

“Beautiful spot, this,” said Hooper. Danny listened to the whistling wheeze in the man’s breathing as he looked down at the cigarette ends and sandwich cartons strewn around. It always puzzled him why a city full of environmental activists were too bone idle to take their own rubbish home.

“Oldest church in Brighton,” said Danny. “And the oldest building.”

“That right?”

“I read it in the library.”

“Do a lot of that, do you?”

“Yes.”

“Nice and warm in the library.”

“So what can I do for you, Dennis?”

Hooper sipped his tea, seeming to relish the heat on his hands as much as the drink. The two men looked out over the old tombstones of St Nicholas’ Church, their wording weathered away, edges smooth and rounded like well-sucked lozenges.

“We met before.”

“I remember, sort of,” said Danny.

“You were well pissed.”

“Everyone needs a hobby.”

“Those kids, yobs, they were chucking eggs at me. You bowled up and gave them what for.”

“They were out of order.”

“Wouldn’t have happened in the old days,” said Hooper, stifling a wet cough. “Sixteen years service, Northern Ireland, Falklands. No one messed with Lance Corporal Dennis Hooper. Different now.”

“We all get older, Dennis.”

“Don’t take the piss, son. I sleep rough, I drink, but I’m not stupid.”

“So what can I do for you?”

Hooper used a cracked black fingernail to attack the red skin on his wrist.

“I can’t find Cat.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’ve spent most of my working life as a journalist and was pleased and surprised to win an award for my travel writing. Before that I tried all sorts of jobs including furniture removals, photography, teaching and running a magazine group.

Travel writing is not all cocktails under the palm trees but it’s a fantastic job that has taken me to more than 40 countries, from the pure white wastes of Arctic Finland to the ancient deserts of Namibia.

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