Looking down, I suddenly noticed my foot beginning to tap. I couldn't help myself. I parked my car in front of the house and felt the music draw me in like the Pied Piper’s enchantment.
I entered the great hall and was greeted by a tall man in a dark suit and white gloves. "My name is Chapman, madam," he spoke in a monotone drawl, "May I take your bags?" I gave him my luggage, and then enquired as to where that incredible beat was coming from; my foot was still tapping and now I found my hips began joining in too. "That, madam, is your entertainment for the evening, that is King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys." He spoke with an air of pride, this band must be a big deal I thought.
I elected to miss seeing my room and headed straight to the ballroom where the band were playing. My tweed, pearls and dried blood weren't exactly the perfect choice for the jive, but they would have to do. My head joined my feet and hips now, I was ready to dance my nylons off.
As I entered, I saw them. A six-piece band, dressed up to the nines in zoot suits, with slicked back hair and twinkles in their eyes. The lead singer was a man who gave me a thrill that I hadn’t felt for years. His voice made me want to kick of my sensible leather brogues, let down my tightly pinned bun and get shimmying. They were hypnotic. The song finished, I waited for another, the band started playing while the King excused himself to wet his whistle, I didn't blame him, and the way he belted out those tunes and blew that sax.
I was happily swaying to the beat, taking in those smooth tunes, when suddenly…
A blood-curdling scream came from upstairs. The music stopped, conversation was interrupted, and someone dropped a glass.
We heard a slam, then a rush of heavy footsteps clumsily descending the staircase. We all listened intently, frozen in fear, as the footsteps continued down the hall. Suddenly the doors to the ballroom were flung open and Lily, the young day maid burst into the room.
"It's the madam!" she shouted, "She's been m..m...m..m...murdered!"
There was confusion and panic. Ladies swooned, gentlemen sucked furiously on their pipes, but I was in my element. Quick as a flash I jumped up on stage and cleared my throat.
"Ahhhem! Please can everyone calm down," I started, when I suddenly aware of a hand clinging on to my arm. It was King Pleasure. I couldn't believe it, and I’ll have to admit a tingle I had long since forgotten resurfaced, and my cheeks flushed.
I continued with my speech.
"Please, let's just hear what this young lady has to say, shall we?“
"She's fainted," came a call from the door, "But we have smelling salts"
After she had come around, Lily started talking. She had just taken Lady Worthington-Bogmoor’s tea to her boudoir, but as she entered, she had noticed her Ladyship on the bed… a knife in her back!
"We must go up and see," I said, The King was still holding on tight, I looked at him and with my biggest doe-eyes I said, "Would you come with me, King. May I call you King?”
As we walked down the hall and ascended the long staircase, I thought it was time to get to know this King Pleasure man and his music, so I decided to ask him some questions.
“Are you really a king? The king of swing?”
His words were alien to my ears, but I liked them! What a side splitter even was, I had no idea but I wanted to know. I continued with my questioning. So, you’re one of the original swing bands and one of the best! How did you get started?
His music had flowed like hot soup on a cold evening, and I was hungry for it. I had only a small taste so wanted to know more, so I asked him if he could describe his band and its music.
The detective in me started working, “Do I detect a midlands accent?” I enquired.
Before I knew it, we were by the door to the mistress of the house’s room. It was shut, that must have been the slam we heard, and my suspicions grew. Why would someone shut the door after fleeing a room in blind panic? I turned the handle, and nervously entered.
His majesty and I looked toward the bed and there she was: splayed out, face first like a drunken dinner date, but with a large kitchen knife sticking out of her back. One thing was certain, she was most certainly dead. I shut the door again to catch my thoughts, I needed idle chit-chat to steady myself, so I carried on with my questioning.
“So, When did you first realise that you had made it?”
“I bet you've had a crazy career, what has the highlight been?”
“Wow!” I started, but before I could continue, Sir Frederick interrupted with a loud “Ahem! I thought we were here to find out about my murdered wife!" He spoke with a pipe in his mouth and a calm demeanor. Suspicious I thought, but politeness prevailed. I apologised and re-entered the room.
What had happened in here? I surveyed the evidence, it was a nice room, beautifully decorated, silk bedding, large windows, framed by heavy, decorative curtains, there was a beautifully crafted glass chandelier above the bed, and by the dressing table sat an old gramophone; the familiar crack, crack, crack of vinyl still turning but at an end. I removed the needle from the record, and placed it back in its holder.
I needed tea and perhaps something a little stronger, I couldn’t gather any more evidence from the scene, the windows were tightly shut and nothing else disturbed, it was time to start asking questions to some of the others, rather than just to King Pleasure. Although, maybe we would have time for one or two more…
I’d noticed that there had been a recent surge of jive and swing bands of late, I wondered if he found it suffocating? And was he proud that they are still considered one of the best?
One thing was for sure, at that time of the murder only four people had been absent from the room. The maid Lily, Chapman the butler, his Lordship Sir Frederick and of course the victim. So who was the murderer? Answers were needed.
"Where were you at the time of the murder?” I asked his Lordship
"I was in my room, tying my bow tie, I always have trouble with them," he said, shifting his eyes suspiciously. I noted his clip-on tie, hmmm…
"Where were you at the time of the murder?" I asked Chapman
"I was in your room, delivering your luggage and straightening the bed linen," he spoke with the tone of a man lying to save himself. Why would he need to straighten a bed that hadn’t even been slept in, I thought? Hmmm…
"Where were you at the time of the murder?" I asked the maid.
"I was in the kitchen, making tea! I didn't do it, honest I didn't! Tell her Frederick! If you truly love me! Tell her, for the sake of the baby!" she screamed, cradling her belly and staring wide-eyed at Sir Frederick.
So, the maid and his Lordship. Now there was a motive.
"You stupid girl" cried Chapman, "Now they know everything!"
"You knew!?" exclaimed Lily.
"Yes, he knew," confessed his Lordship "And he's been blackmailing me for months! He said he would tell her Ladyship if I didn't pay him."
"She already knew," Chapman spoke with disdain, "She's known for months, but I couldn't let you know that, or I would never have got paid."
This was all very interesting, but I had to continue with my questioning.
I turned to King Pleasure. I knew it was an odd line of questioning, but I just had to ask.
"Do you like any 'modern' music, your majesty?" I asked.
"I know what I'm doing!” I spoke sternly. “So your majesty, just one more thing. It seems that a lot of contemporary musicians - Amy Winehouse, Plan B - are using stylistic influences from the past in their music, how do you feel about this cross-era style? Love it? Or are you a purist?"
That was fun, and very interesting, but for now I had to establish a motive and solve this murder. I hadn't eaten since lunch and the game-hen on the menu did sound delicious.
"So, why would anyone want to murder her Ladyship?" I asked to myself. They could have all have done it, and they all had motives to get rid of her. So who did?
"I know who the murderer was. There is one person in this room who had both opportunity and motive. It was... It was..."
I paused for dramatic effect. Everyone leant forward in anticipation.
"The murderer…was King Pleasure!"
The crowd gasped, "But why? How?"
"During the song ‘Blues From The Booze’, The King disappeared offstage, claiming to be in need of a glass of water. It was then that he slipped silently upstairs. Covered by the sound of the music, he entered Lady Worthington-Bogmoor’s room and stabbed her! My suspicions arose when he returned and clutched my sleeve in the exact spot where my jacket was already bloody, thus rubbing any evidence off, and onto me."
"But why?" asked his Lordship. "Why would you do this? What possible motive would you have?"
"Now that conundrum was answered when I entered the room of the deceased and found this!!" I held up the undisputable evidence, the evidence that would see The King go down for a long time.
A Spandau Ballet album!
"I couldn't let her do it... I just couldn't!" King Pleasure pleaded, "They're… They’re…New Romantic!!"
I approached The King. "Just one more question," I said. "If you could create your ultimate band, who would you have - dead or alive?"
He answered with an air of calm.