Fiction Novel Excerpt The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook Writing Writing Fiction


The Endeavour Morse infatuated DCI Humphrey Middleton arrives in the sleepy market town of Didsbrook to investigate the unexplained death of its highest-profile resident, Jocelyn Robertshaw. In this sequence, he looks over the crime scene, and the corpse, and we find out that, when Humphrey first meets a cadaver, he likes to engage in a little one-sided banter.

Extract from The Doyenne of Didsbrook and a character insight into the bumbling DCI assigned to investigate Jocelyn Robertshaw’s death.


Humphrey stretched a pair of plastic gloves over his hands while walking toward the four-poster bed.  He leaned over Jocelyn’s body.

‘Hello love.  I’m Humphrey, and I’m here to find out what happened to you.’

He moved his head close to hers, just inches away. Age had treated her kindly, she was still a handsome looking woman.

‘You and I have met before, well, we shook hands, at any rate. My parents took me to see The Mousetrap at the St. Martin’s Theatre, just after I had taken my A-Levels. You came out front after the performance with Hercule Poirot and, Miss Jane Marple, I think.’  He remembered how stunning she was.  ‘I think it was one of your last performances before you got married.’

Jocelyn had played the part of the aloof Miss Casewell, who had a penchant for wearing men’s clothes. For quite some time after the performance, Humphrey’s teenage brain fixated on the image of Jocelyn’s portrayal of Miss Casewell. He became infatuated with her. It had never crossed his mind a woman could look quite so seductive wearing a pair of jodhpurs. Articles about the actress and socialite, Jocelyn Strand, regularly appeared in newspapers and magazines around leading up to her wedding, and Humphrey read every one. Forty years on, who would have thought he would be investigating her death? Jocelyn didn’t look quite so alluring in death, more of a tragic Anna Karenina figure. A woman who lacked nothing, but always wanted more.

He took a magnifying glass out of his suit pocket.  A slight, dried watery bloodstain on the pillow had caught his attention.  It looked like it might have seeped from the back of Jocelyn’s head. Where were the forensic team? They should have been here before him. He had been under the impression they were already on their way when he got the call, and it was almost midday.

He looked at the bed tray straddling her body, and the laptop perched on top.

‘Working up until the end, were you?’ He asked, watching Jocelyn’s face as if expecting a reaction. When he was alone with a corpse, he always liked to chat with them. After assuring them he would find out the truth about what happened to them, he enjoyed a bit of one-sided banter with them, as well as the odd laugh.

‘If you made a note of whodunit, that would be useful. It would make my life a lot easier.’

There were two empty glasses and a cocktail shaker on the bedside table. Humphrey picked the shaker and shook it. It was empty. Holding one the glasses to his nose, he sniffed it.

Juniperus communis.’ He said, looking at Jocelyn again. ‘You obviously liked your gin. Still the party girl, then?’

On a substantial chest of drawers, there were photographs of Jocelyn and Peter and their children. He could understand why the beautiful Jocelyn would have been attracted to Peter, with his rugged good looks and SAS physique. There were also many photographs of the children at various stages of their lives, including two wedding photos. The children. He must make contact with the children. He didn’t think for one minute Sergeant MacCorkingdale would have done it.

He wandered over to the dressing table. There was one photograph of a grinning Peter wearing his fishing gear, a set of silver hairbrushes, and an ashtray with cigarillo stubs in it. He turned to address Jocelyn.

‘Good Lord, even if you did nail the part of Miss Casewell, I would have never put you down as a cigar smoker. Perhaps it’s a thespian thing. Although I can’t see Jo Lumley puffing her way through a Cohiba?’

Thank you very much for visiting my niche-less blog! If you have time before you leave, would love you to tell us what you think. All the best, Tessa Barrie

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