Reporter Colin Crampton of the Brighton Chronicle has the afternoon off. He and his girlfriend are sitting in a tea shop, facing the beach, and playing a rather silly game. They’re inventing a story about another customer in the shop, a man with a briefcase. He has an envelope that he clearly wants to put into the briefcase, but he doesn’t want to open it in the shop. And then they see a young man, a James Dean lookalike (this is 1963), who seems to be watching the man with the briefcase.
In an instant, they look back, and the man with the briefcase is gone. And so is the James Dean lookalike. By this time, they’re so caught up in their game that it’s become real. They hurry to the nearby train station, and see briefcase man ready to board. And soon the James Dean lookalike shows up, knocks the man to the ground, and makes off with the briefcase. Crampton runs after him, chases him into car traffic, where the young man is struck and rather gruesomely killed. Crampton picks up the suitcase. Inside is about $20,000 in 100-dollar bills. $20,000 in US money at the beach in Brighton?
Returning to the station, Crampton finds the robbery victim has disappeared. His would-be robber has no identification except for two tattoos (both sayings by James Dean). The reporter will write a crackerjack crime and mystery story for tomorrow’s paper – only to find out his crime has been superseded by one of the biggest crimes in British history – the Great Train Robbery of 1963. But that story is in London, and Crampton is in Brighton. So he begins the slog-work it takes to try to solve what happened at the train station.
Murder in the Morning Edition by British author Peter Bartram is the first part of a three-part novella series linked with a common story, the other two being Murder in the Afternoon Extra and Murder in the Night Final. Each is self-contained, but with an overall mystery story serving as the common thread.
Bartram has had a long career in journalism, including being a reporter on a weekly newspaper, an editor for newspapers and magazines in London, and freelance journalism. He’s a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association. Bartram has also published a collection of Colin Crampton stories, Murder from the Newsdesk, and three other Colin Crampton mystery novels.
And he knows the business he’s writing about in these stories. Murder in the Morning Edition has all the hallmarks of an intriguing story about journalism, a dash of noir, and a solid mystery to solve.
Top photograph by Thomas Charters via Unsplash. Used with permission.