The Sleeping Salesman Enquiry

Contents

Acknowledgments

 

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-one

Twenty-two

Twenty-three

Twenty-four

Twenty-five

Twenty-six

Twenty-seven

Twenty-eight

Twenty-nine

Thirty

Thirty-one

Thirty-two

Thirty-three

Thirty-four

Thirty-five

Thirty-six

Thirty-seven

Thirty-eight

Thirty-nine

Forty

Forty-one

Forty-two

Forty-three

Forty-four

Forty-five

Forty-six

Forty-seven

Forty-eight

Forty-nine

Fifty

Fifty-one

Fifty-two

Fifty-three

Fifty-four

Fifty-five

Fifty-six

Fifty-seven

Fifty-eight

Fifty-nine

Sixty

Sixty-one

The
Sleeping Salesman
E
nquiry

ANN PURSER

Praise for

The Wild Wood Enquiry

“This is a series spun-off from the Lois Meade Mysteries, and all three books to date have been excellent. [The] plot is original, the characters realistic and often humorous, and I love the golden-age romance between Ivy and Gus . . . [It’s] a richly satisfying cozy mystery, fronted by a firecracker of a senior citizen sleuth. Readers who enjoy British mysteries, particularly the cozy sub-genre, will love this book, and I am confident that if you enjoy the Lois Meade Mysteries you won’t be disappointed by the spin-off series.”

—MyShelf.com

The Measby Murder Enquiry

“This cozy will keep you guessing until the last page. A very fast story with a very unique main character in Ivy. Full of wit, animosity and friendships to keep.”


Once Upon a Romance

“A pleasant read, evoking Saint Mary Mead and Miss Marple with its atmosphere of surface calm and hidden demons. It’s a solid book, cleverly plotted and tightly structured, with all the makings of a perennial favorite.”


Curled Up with a Good Book

The Hangman’s Row Enquiry

“A delightful spin-off.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

“Full of wit, venom and bonding between new friends.”


The Romance Readers Connection

“Purser’s Ivy Beasley is a truly unique character, a kind of cross between Jessica Fletcher, Miss Marple and Mrs. Slocum from
Are You Being Served?
—just a delightful, eccentric old darling that readers are sure to embrace. Pair this with Purser’s charming storytelling technique, and you have a fast-paced tale that will keep readers guessing to the very end.”


Fresh Fiction

Praise for the

Lois Meade Mysteries

“First-class work in the English-village genre: cleverly plotted, with thoroughly believable characters, rising tension, and a smashing climax.”


Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

“Well paced, cleverly plotted and chock-full of cozy glimpses of life in a small English village.”


Booklist

“Purser’s expertise at portraying village life and Lois’s role as a working-class Miss Marple combine to make this novel—and the entire series—a treat.”


Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Fans of British ‘cozies’ will enjoy this delightful mystery, with its quaint setting and fascinating players.”


Library Journal

“A strong plot and believable characters, especially the honest, down-to-earth Lois, are certain to appeal to a wide range of readers.”


Publishers Weekly

“The characters are fun. The setting is wonderful . . . Anyone who delights in an English village mystery will have a good time with this book.”


Gumshoe Review

“[Lois Meade is] an engaging amateur sleuth.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

Titles by Ann Purser

Lois Meade Mysteries

MURDER ON MONDAY

TERROR ON TUESDAY

WEEPING ON WEDNESDAY

THEFT ON THURSDAY

FEAR ON FRIDAY

SECRETS ON SATURDAY

SORROW ON SUNDAY

WARNING AT ONE

TRAGEDY AT TWO

THREATS AT THREE

FOUL PLAY AT FOUR

FOUND GUILTY AT FIVE

Ivy Beasley Mysteries

THE HANGMAN’S ROW ENQUIRY

THE MEASBY MURDER ENQUIRY

THE WILD WOOD ENQUIRY

THE SLEEPING SALESMAN ENQUIRY

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group, visit penguin.com.

THE SLEEPING SALESMAN ENQUIRY

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2013 by Ann Purser.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58984-7

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / May 2013

 

Cover illustration by Griesbach / Martucci.

Cover design by George Long.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

A
cknowledgments

With many thanks to Anne Sowards, my endlessly patient and skillful editor.

O
ne

Winter—January

“THANK GOODNESS THAT’S
over,” said Ivy Beasley to her fiancé, Roy Goodman.

She was, of course, referring to Christmas, a season of the year that she had not enjoyed since she was aged five, when she had come downstairs on Christmas morning to find no tree, no presents, and her father shut out to sleep in the shed as punishment for arriving home pleasantly drunk on Christmas Eve.

Ivy’s mother was long dead. Ivy herself was in her late seventies, early eighties—take your pick—but still occasionally heard her mother’s voice in her head. It was always caustic and critical, and although Ivy knew that sometimes her own voice was exactly like her mother’s, she tried her best to be her own self. Unfortunately, that self was sharp and self-righteous, so that when she arrived at Springfields Luxury Retirement Home in Suffolk, at the suggestion of her much younger cousin, Deirdre Bloxham, it was a huge surprise when she met Roy Goodman and they fell in love.

This was not the first time Ivy had experienced romance, but a never-to-be-forgotten suitor had left her standing at the altar. That had been in the village of Round Ringford, where she had spent all her life before moving to the retirement home in Barrington in Suffolk, and she was quite comfortable with a reputation as a tough spinster determined to arrange life as she wanted it, for as long as she was able.

And then Roy! He was a bachelor, already a resident in the home, and most of the time he had grown stiff and dull with boredom. Television, visits from a truly terrible singing group of patronising do-gooders, and the occasional trip out in a minibus labelled with a charity’s name writ large on the sides, were the chief entertainments in his life. When Ivy came along, he fell in love for the first time in his life. Properly in love, that is. He had been and still was an attractive man, and had had all the usual flirtations and affairs, but had never even considered taking a girl to the altar.

Now it was all different. He had carried on a campaign to get Ivy to name the day ever since they became engaged, and she had actually suggested Christmas as a time when the home would be festive, anyway, so they might as well make use of decorations and all that nonsense, and celebrate their nuptials at the same time.

But Christmas had come and gone, and still Ivy prevaricated. At last she could resist Roy’s blandishments no longer, and said May the fifth would do very well.

Mrs. Spurling, the person in charge of Springfields and a woman with very little patience, had sighed. She had given up all hope of getting this marriage out of the way swiftly and bringing routine and order back into the lives of her residents. However, her assistant, Miss Pinkney, a more gentle soul and a true romantic, persuaded her to begin planning, and offered to take as much of the responsibility off her boss’s shoulders as should be required.

Now Ivy and Roy sat in the lounge after lunch and were silent for a few minutes. Then Roy said, “I know you are reluctant to talk about our wedding day, my love, but could I suggest Enquire Within leaves the subject of our next assignment until after May?”

“Certainly not!” said Ivy, with some asperity. “For one thing, what are Deirdre and Gus to do with themselves if we are not usefully enquiring?”

Gus was Augustus Halfhide, a somewhat mysterious character who had moved to the village for no apparent reason, and maintained a protective wall of unwillingness to answer any nosey villager’s questions about his past. Along with Ivy and Roy, Deirdre Bloxham and Augustus Halfhide completed the enquiry agency team nattily entitled Enquire Within, and the team had solved several serious crimes in and around Barrington over the past few years.

Needless to say, the local police were reluctant to admit that two old folks in a retirement home, together with a merry widow and an oddly reclusive incomer, could be of any detecting use at all. They had been proved wrong, but still handled Enquire Within with suspicious reserve.

“As always, beloved,” said Roy, “I’m sure you are right. Shall we call an extra meeting for Tuesday, and meanwhile reserve some time having fun planning our wedding?”

Ivy, who had unbelievably softened in her approach to this particular man, stroked his hand and said that if anyone asked her, she would say she was the luckiest woman alive.

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