The Blood Of An Englishman: A Kramer And Zondi Investigation by JAMES MCCLUREThe Blood Of An Englishman: A Kramer And Zondi Investigation by JAMES MCCLURE

The Blood Of An Englishman: A Kramer And Zondi Investigation

byJAMES MCCLURE

Paperback | April 17, 2012

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Six days into their search for a man who put a .32-caliber bullet into a South African antique dealer, neither Kramer of the Murder Squad nor his Bantu assistant, Zondi, has a single lead in the case. On the seventh day, Mrs. Digby-Smith opens the trunk of her car and discovers the hideous, tied-up corpse of her younger brother. Two violent crimes—seemingly unconnected. But as Kramer and Zondi pursue their investigation, startling connections turn up in the sordid underworld of Terkkersburg and in the secret, unresolved enmities of World War II.
James McClure (1939-2006) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he worked as a photographer and then a teacher before becoming a crime reporter. He published eight wildly successful books in the Kramer and Zondi series during his lifetime and was the recipient of the CWA Silver and Gold Daggers.
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Title:The Blood Of An Englishman: A Kramer And Zondi InvestigationFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:342 pages, 7.5 × 5 × 0.83 inShipping dimensions:7.5 × 5 × 0.83 inPublished:April 17, 2012Publisher:Soho PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616951060

ISBN - 13:9781616951061

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1Droopy Stephenson hadn’t been a dirty old manall that long. He was still adjusting. He was weighing up thepros and cons, and trying not to allow it to affect his work.Which wasn’t easy.“What’s this I hear, Droopy?” asked Sam Collins, his boss,crouching beside the Land-Rover from which Droopy wasremoving the sump. “Man, I’m shocked at you!” And off hewent with a laugh, slapping his thigh.Droopy extended a hand for a No. 8 ring spanner, andJoseph, his intuitive Zulu assistant, wiped the grease from itsshank and placed it gently in his grasp. Then for a while Droopyjust lay there on his back on the crawler board, staring up atthe sump’s drain plug.Three days ago, he had gone into the little fruit shop on thecorner, a few yards down the back street from the two-baygarage where he worked, and said to the proprietress, “Anotherscorcher, hey, Mavis? Okay if I feels your tomatoes?” He likedhis tomatoes crisp. And Mavis Koekemoor, who had knownDroopy for years, hadn’t even bothered to nod. Instead, she toldhim that her feet were killing her, and that while the heatwavelasted she had a good mind to get her young niece along to lookafter the counter side of things. As the shop had only a counterside of things, the idea, had seemed promising to Droopy, andhe had said as much. He had also asked politely after Mavis’syoung niece, whom he remembered vaguely as having helpedout in the shop during school holidays, and had learned that shewas waiting to start a job as a hair stylist. “Ja, she’s a big girlnow,” Mavis Koekemoor had observed with satisfaction, givingthe bag of tomatoes a quick flip, closing and sealing it all inone operation. Droopy had tried to repeat this neat trick afterenjoying two of the tomatoes with his lunch-time sandwiches,and had lost the rest of them down the lubrication pit.“The boss wants Number Six?” Joseph enquired uneasily,having heard no sounds of activity from beneath the vehicle.“Ach no, an Eight’s about right.”After applying the spanner to a couple of bolts, Droopy fellonce again into a reverie, going over and over the events leadingto his new image of himself.Two days ago, he had gone into the little fruit shop on thecorner to be confronted—there was no other word for it—by apair of amazing bosoms, and a hair style like an electric shock.“You know Glenda,” Mavis Koekemoor had prompted from acomfortable seat in front of the fan. “And will you just lookat her? I ask you! That’s this young madam’s idea of ‘catchinga tan, Auntie’!—she’s red all over.” Notwithstanding his normallyshy and retiring nature, Droopy was already looking.In fact he was staring fixedly at Glenda, rather less awed bythe fiery ravages of the sun than he was by changes of a morepermanent order.“Hi, Droopy,” Glenda had said, with such a sweet, innocentsmile. “Well, do you see anything you’d like?”“Er, okay if I feels your tomatoes?”“Really, Droopy!”And from there it had gone from bad to worse. Much worse.Until Droopy had finally fled, clutching a free cucumber andtwo oranges, while Mavis Koekemoor had collapsed, helplesswith laughter, into the arms of her unscrupulous niece.“The boss is sick?”Droopy had emitted an involuntary groan. “Ach never! Isn’tit about time you fetched my tea?”“Sorry, boss.”The next day, of course, which seemed like a million yearsago but was only yesterday, Droopy had avoided the little fruitshop like the plague, seeking to augment his landlady’s ideaof a packed lunch by a visit to the cake shop. Ordinarily, thethree girls in there seemed to take no notice of him whatsoever,but sold him his confectionery without pausing in theirconversations together. A tense silence had fallen the momenthe reached the counter, the first giggle had come from behindhis back, and then the house had come down when he’d asked,rather crossly, if they had any lemon tarts.“We never imagined,” said the blonde one, as she handed himhis change. “Still waters run deep, hey, Droopy?”It was enough to make anyone feel confused, baffled andbewildered, and soon it brought on a nasty headache. So, on hisway back to Sam’s Garage, Droopy had slipped into the chemistshop. The two girl assistants had clung together behind a caseof sunglasses, sniggering loudly, and then one, prodded forwardby her colleague, had said, “Just hang on a sec, Droopy,and I’ll fetch the manager to serve you!”“What can he sell me you can’t sell me, hey? All I wants isa thingy of Disprin.”Her plucked eyebrows had gone up. “You’re sure? You’venot run out or anything?”“Of course I’ve bloody run out!” Droopy had snapped, addingimmeasurably to their merriment. The last straw had comewhen, on his return to the garage, the scatty receptionist hadlooked on him with twinkling eyes and said, “Oh, Droopy—where have you been all lunch-time? What have you been up to?”Joseph’s gape-toed shoes scraped to a halt beside the Land-Rover. “Excuse, boss. Boss Sam he say does the boss want BossSam to put stuff in his tea?”“What ‘stuff’?”“Ungasi, boss. I go ask him?”“No, just bring me my bloody tea and stop fooling around,man! I’ve got work to do!”“Sorry, boss.”But still the No. 8 ring spanner lay inactive in his hand.Enlightenment had come on his way home, when little MissBrooks, who ran the Dolls’ Hospital round the corner, hadbeckoned him into her shop and said, “I just want you to know,Mr. Stephenson, that no matter what that hussy is tellingeveryone, I shall never be persuaded you’re a—you’re a dirtyold man.” Droopy had thanked her humbly, and returned tohis lodgings, where he’d tossed and turned on the small divanall night, trying to think of ways of killing Glenda Koekemoorstone dead. By the morning, he had admitted to himselfthat all he could do was brazen this whole thing out, and so,before arriving at the garage, he had called at the cake shop,the chemist shop, the travel agency, the film rental place, andseveral other businesses, including the little fruit shop. Glenda,Mavis Koekemoor had told him, would be coming in later thatmorning, and he left a message saying he’d like to see her.Actually, although he had dreaded the idea of doing the rounds,Droopy found that he had enjoyed himself.In the cake shop, the usual crowd of apprentices and virileyoung office workers, buying their sticky buns for eleven, hadgone ignored the moment he walked in. The girls there hadhung on his every word, and he had no need to say anythingmore than half-funny for them to shriek with laughter, andflaunt their charms at him. Much the same had happened in thechemist shop until the manager had intervened, and Droopyhad marched out with the first packet of sheaths he had ownedin forty years. As for the red-head in the travel agency, shehad titillated him beyond words by insisting that, for a manof his reputation, there was nowhere in the world he shouldsooner go than Gay Paree—and she would, given half a chance,accompany him. Even walking back down the street had beenexcitingly different; whereas Droopy had been accustomed topass by, shabby and unseen, now his progress was the focus ofalmost limitless attention.A pair of grease-soaked moccasins came up to the Land-Rover. “Morning, Droopy!”It was his fellow mechanic, Boet Swart.“Morning, Boet. How goes it?”“So-so, hey? But tell me, how do you do it?”“Do what?”“Ach, come on, Droopy—don’t play games with me, hey?The word is out—let me tell you that, the word is out!”“I know,” said Droopy, and surprised himself by quite likingthe idea; some of the titillation he’d received this morningwas still having a residual effect. “I heard it off Miss Brookslast night.”“Oh ja?”The misgivings in Boet’s voice pressed a needle point againstthe bubble of Droopy’s elation. “Why say ‘Oh ja?’ in thatfashion? Surely you would be glad if all the popsies—”“But Miss Brooks, hey?”“She calls me into her shop, and she—”“Hell.”“She was doing it out of kindness, and what’s so wrongwith that?”“Hmmmm.”Droopy crabbed his way out from under the Land-Rover,and got up off the crawler board. “That’s a funny expression,Boet—best tell me what’s on your mind.”“Well, maybe you haven’t heard about Miss Brooks, Droopyold friend. There could be another reason she’s suddenly sointerested in you. . . .”Droopy cocked his head to one side, waiting. “What couldan old woman like that want with me?” he said.“Man, it’s a question of what kind of old woman,” said Boetdolefully, “and she won’t be the only one after you, now theword is out. You’ll have them coming for you from every direction.”Then he spun on his heel and walked very quickly away,while the scatty brunette grinned at them from Reception.Panic rooted Droopy to the spot. Fantasies with nubileyoung popsies had been one thing, but not for a moment hadhe considered the possibility of dirty old women getting thehots for him. His brother had been a policeman, and he’d oftensaid he would rather face nine kaffirs armed with cane knivesthan one determined woman—especially the posh sort, likeMiss Brooks, when they were hysterical. Given another secondor two, Droopy might have been able to laugh the whole thingoff, but he didn’t get the chance.A high, cultured voice rang out from the open workshopdoor. “I don’t see what the difficulty is! Why can’t I have thatone? He doesn’t appear to be doing anything at the moment.”And when he turned round, Droopy saw a tall, skinny woman,with white hair and very red lips, pointing her finger at him.“Can you come over for a minute?” Sam asked, waiting untilDroopy had shuffled over before going on. “It seems that thislady has a problem you can help her with.”“Yes, lady?” said Droopy, ignoring Sam’s wink and the snortscoming from behind him at Reception.“My boot’s stuck—it’s absolutely infuriating. I’d just boughta mountain of things to put in it, but I simply can’t get the keyto work. It won’t even go in.”“I’ll leave you to it,” said Sam, turning away to his office.“Here,” the woman said, handing over her key-ring. “I’veleft it over there, and now I must dash, or I’ll be late for myhair appointment.”Droopy wandered out and down the road a short way. Thefirst thing that struck him about the car was that dogs had beenpeeing all over the back tires and the back bumper. This wasa bit strange, but shouldn’t have affected the lock. Then hecrouched down and inspected the keyhole.“Hi, Droopy!”He jumped. It was Glenda, bursting forth out of a thinblouse and quite unrepentant. His grip tightened on the shaftof the No. 8 ring spanner, which he still had with him.“You wanted to talk to me, Auntie says. I hope it’s not goingto be so embarrassing like the last time!”“Look!” said Droopy, before words failed him.It was no good, his common sense insisted. There wasnothing he could say that would change what she’d done. Allhe could pray was that something else would come along totake people’s minds off it, although that was the trouble witha back street, nothing ever happened.“Forget it,” mumbled Droopy.Glenda crouched beside him, nudging his left shoulder withher right. “What’s the problem?”“You’ve got eyes, haven’t you?”“Ja. There’s a bit of matchstick stuck in there.”Droopy hadn’t noticed that. He squinted, put down hisspanner and felt in his pockets.“Hairpin,” said Glenda, handing him one of her own.“That’s no bloody good.”“You haven’t tried it.”He tried it. The matchstick only became wedged morefirmly. “Bloody kids!” he grunted. “Trust them to. . . .”“Oh ja, it’s always kids—blame the kids! How do you know?”“Who else?”“Let me try, Droopy.”“You can push off, as far as I’m concerned!”Glenda stayed right where she was. She sniffed. She wrinkledher nose and made a face. “Hell, there’s a horrible smellaround here,” she said, disgustedly. “Where does this car comefrom—a farm? Must be stuck to the wheels.”“I said, push off!”“Ach, Droopy man, you mustn’t be like that, hey?” She laidher soft hand on his gnarled fist, and a tingle shot right throughhim. “You must learn to take a joke!”“What joke?” he scoffed. “Since when is what you did a joke?”“You mean me telling everyone about the tomatoes?”Her audacity took his breath away. “You need your pantiespulled down and your bottom spanked, young lady!”“Are you offering?”“Glenda Koekemoor!”“But naturally it was a joke,” she went on blithely, taking thehairpin from his nerveless fingers and trying her luck with thelock. “It wouldn’t have been funny if you was really a dirty oldman, would it? But you’re not—in fact, you’re probably themost unsexy man in the whole of Trekkersburg.”“Hey?”“Do you think anyone would dare to play up to you if youweren’t—you know, sort of a nice nothing? They’d run amile first!”“I—I—”“My boyfriend could open this easy—he just gives it a boot,and the thing flies up.”“I—”“Mind you, it’s got him in trouble with the cops before!”“God Almighty,” gasped Droopy, hurt as he’d never beenhurt before, “who are you calling a ‘nice nothing,’ hey? Whoare you to judge a man—?”“Ah!” Glenda laughed delightedly. “So you’re admitting nowthat there was some guilty feeling in the way you blushed redas a beetroot?”That did it. Droopy found the No. 8 ring spanner back in hisgrasp, and all he wanted to do was hit her and hit her, to hurther just as she was hurting him with every lash of her wickedtongue. More than that, he wanted to smash her whole headto pieces, splattering the brain that could think such things,penetrate so deeply into him, all over the road.“Droopy!” cried Glenda, jumping up in alarm.And he struck, delivering a terrible blow to the lock. Theboot of the car sprang open, a frightful smell choked the air,and there before them lay what was undoubtedly the dirtiestold man either of them had ever seen. He was covered in mud,excrement and blood, and he had his hands tied behind him ina knot tightened by some hideous strength, for the bones werebroken. Lastly, he was dead.  Glenda screamed and screamed and the whole street rushedto her rescue.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Blood of an Englishman“The writing sparkles with the wit and concision of the best traditional mysteries.... McClure was one of the great originals in crime fiction, a defier of categories, and very much worth reading for crime-fiction-lovers of all stripes.” —Detectives Beyond Borders Praise for James McClure:   "The pace is fast, the solution ingenious.  Above all, however, is the author’s extraordinary naturalistic style. He is that rarity—a sensitive writer who can carry his point without forcing."—The New York Times Book Review   “More than a good mystery story, which it is, The Steam Pig is also a revealing picture of the hate and sickness of the apartheid society of South Africa.”—Washington Post   “So artfully conceived as to engender cheers.... A memorable mystery.”—Los Angeles Times   “This well-plotted, well-written murder mystery is exceptional ... sometimes grim, sometimes sourly comic, always shocking.”—The Atlantic"Soho completes its reprinting of one of the finest police series to begin in the 1970s, James McClure's eight books about Tromp Kramer and Mickey Zondi, a South African biracial detective team in the days of Apartheid." —Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine