The First Casualty

The First Casualty

Ben Elton

Language: English

Pages: 419

ISBN: 0552771309

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Flanders in June 1917, a British officer and celebrated poet is shot dead, killed not by German fire, but while recuperating from shell shock well behind the lines. A young English soldier is arrested and, although he protests his innocence, charged with his murder. Douglas Konig, formerly a detective with the London police, soon discovers that both the evidence and the witnesses he needs are quite literally disappearing into the mud that surrounds him.

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aristocratic status the viscount had been given a room of his own in what had once been the house of the village priest, a house that had miraculously remained standing whilst the adjoining church had been reduced to rubble. Abercrombie lit the oil lamp which his new servant had thoughtfully procured for him and, taking out paper, pen and ink from a small leather music case, he began to write a letter. A letter to the mother of a fallen comrade, with whom he had been in correspondence ever since

douse the violence of the British guns. Abercrombie did not answer. On any other morning in his military career so far he would have answered. He would have given the sergeant a smile and produced some bit of dry wit to comfort his men, showing them that their captain was cool and in control. But on this morning Abercrombie could not answer; the cricket ball which he seemed to have swallowed had now grown big as a football. He was having trouble breathing, let alone trying to speak. His wit,

saying. There was something that these arrogant, supercilious men wanted him to do. Somehow they had spirited him from gaol by faking his death and now they were casually discussing killing him in earnest if he refused to cooperate with them. ‘I think that Inspector Kingsley will weigh all the options, apply his famous logic, add a dash of that derring-do for which he has also been so rightly celebrated and come round to our way of thinking. What do you say, Inspector? Am I right?’ It was a

passed through the huge front door of the prison had demanded that a warder run on ahead to the little courtyard and tell them to pause for a moment, till she arrived. ‘I will not run to my husband’s funeral,’ she said. ‘They must wait or, mark my words, they will never hear the end of in.’ They did wait, and Agnes was able to stand before the grave and bid her final farewells during a brief service, in which the funeral rites from the Book of Common Prayer were read out an breakneck speed by a

all came in shouting. The g-gun was in my lap.’ And try as Kingsley might, Hopkins could tell him nothing more. When Kingsley returned to the sergeant’s office he discovered that the policemen he was dealing with were not entirely useless; given proper guidance they could get things done quickly enough and Kingsley was informed that Abercrombie’s revolver had been located. It had indeed been returned to active service and issued to a Captain Edmonds, who was currently in a trench in the middle

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