In the book Ladies of Class, Richard Hayward’s promotion and move from the big city life to the sleepy town of Burshill, England, has been shattered. Sir John Bury needs a murder solved. Clues take him from Burshill to California, Paris and London and back in time. As the story progresses the plot thickens. Richard Hayward's reputation as the youngest officer to be promoted to Detective Chief Inspector precedes him. Richard hoped his recent transfer and move to Burshill would allow him a quiet convalescence from a broken leg. But his peace was soon to be shattered by a phone call from Sir John Bury, the Chief Constable.
A murder had been committed that night and Richard's ability to solve crimes, in spite of his unconventional methods, were needed before his duties officially began.
The results of his investigations and travels, in search of clues and answers to the apparently senseless murders are surprising. Several ladies of a particular ‘class’ become part of the inquiry. As the facts begin to unfold, they not only amaze Richard, himself and the community of Burshill, but extends all the way to the top brass of Scotland Yard. In the face of adversity, Richard manages to outwit the criminal and emerges triumphant.
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"Good Lord! Look at that fog. Hope it means another sunny day tomorrow. Now off to bed and don’t forget to say ‘Rabbits.’ First of April in the morning. In fact" - looking at the clock, "it’s almost that now."
Richard disappeared upstairs to the bathroom, Ella to the kitchen. While she was washing the crocks and tidying generally, a slight frown marred her usually placid face. She was recollecting the recent conversation, dismissed out of hand Richard’s gloomy forebodings. Of course Kate would return sooner or later, but better sooner than later.
For a moment she even considered writing to the girl herself; delicately hint that Richard was missing her; but she shook her head reprovingly. "Don’t be an interfering old bag," she admonished herself. "They must sort out their own problems."
Pity though that his first few weeks in Burshill should have begun under such inauspicious conditions. She was tremendously proud of her son although wild horses wouldn’t have dragged such an admission out of her. Following his father’s footsteps in the Police Force, Richard’s advancement had been nothing short of spectacular. It was generally believed he was the youngest officer ever to have achieved his recent promotion to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector, and with his promotion had come Richard’s transfer to Burshill...
...So he’d come to Burshill but of course his reputation had preceded him. There was a certain amount of antagonism to overcome - human nature being what it is - but Ella had no doubt he’d cope. In a way, he became a bit more human to his fellows when he broke the bone in his leg, not from some heroic deed but slipping on a patch of hidden ice! She smiled at the thought of his discomfiture over that episode, hung the tea towel up to dry, switched off the kitchen light and prepared for her own exit bed wards.
At that moment the telephone bell rang. Ella nearly jumped out of her skin. By official request the phone had been left from the previous owners, so probably this late call was from some friend who didn’t know of the change of an occupier. Curiously she picked it up.
A man’s voice asked if she was Mrs. Hayward.
"Mrs. Hayward, senior," she corrected him.
"Good evening, madam. May I speak to the Chief Inspector, please?"
Ella was a copper’s widow and a copper’s mother but at this moment the mother came uppermost.
"He’s in bed asleep,"she lied. The voice at the other end was polite but firm.
"I’m very sorry, Mrs. Hayward, but I’m afraid I must insist. This is urgent."
Ella felt like telling him to go to hell. She knew she was fighting a losing battle. "Who are you?" she asked crossly.
"Detective Sergeant Findon from Burshill Police. Your son will know me."
By this time Richard was at the top of the stairs in his pyjamas. "What’s going on?"
"A Detective, Findon or somebody, insisting on a word with you. I told him you were asleep."
Richard frowned but came down to the phone.
"Hayward here. What’s the trouble?"
"I’m really very sorry to drag you out of bed, sir, but the Chief Constable wants to see you."
Richard was incredulous. "What, now?" He glanced at his watch. "It’s past midnight. Look here, is this some kind of April Fool’s Day joke?"
Findon was shocked. "It most certainly is not, sir!"
A more human note crept into his voice. "I almost wish it was! Anyway, sir, my orders are to send a car for you right away. Sir John is at home and would like you to meet him there. Allowing for this perishing fog, the driver should be with you in about ten minutes."
Ella was fidgeting about beside him. "Surely you’re not going out now!" she remonstrated.
"Afraid I’ve got no option, luv. The Chief Constable himself wants me right away so it must be something important. While I throw a few clothes on, will you be a dear and make me a strong black coffee? That blasted sleeping pill of yours is starting to work and I need my wits about me."
... But before he’d had time to take more than a few sips of the scalding coffee, the police car was at the door. The fog, he noticed with relief, was much less dense. The driver introduced himself and they were off. Sir John Bury lived about ten miles outside the town.