PAPERBACK BOOKS
SEND FOR GEORGE OVERTON

SEND FOR GEORGE
 

 

Send for George Overton is a book consisting of five detective stories. They are set in the early 1950s and range from explosions on Sydney Harbour to a robbery at Randwick Racecourse.

In the first story Overton finds evidence of explosives and stops a plan to set them off all over the city. The second story centres around a murderer that copies exhibits from the Murderer’s Museum. The third finds Overton searching for a bank robber and stolen money and the fourth follows his investigation of the death of an elderly lady and her cats.

The final story looks into a horse-racing car park and also finds Overton with a lost memory for several days.

As with this author’s previous books the stories show a variety of interesting situations written with fast, page-turning pace.

 

In Store Price: $AU26.95 
Online Price:   $AU25.95

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ISBN:   978-1-921919-91-6
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 252
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins

Author: Roger Wood
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2013
Language: English

   

Roger Wood’s background is in television and theatre. He worked for BBC Television for 23 years in the design department before returning to Australia in 1987 and now he lives on the Sunshine Coast. Roger has written many plays for the theatre. This is his fifth collection of short stories.

 

THE CASE OF THE

DEADLY CARGO

Chapter One

Balmain, Sydney, Australia. Summer 1952

PART SAMPLE 

It had been a hot summer and George Overton was sweating as he pushed his way into the public bar of the Darling Hotel in East Balmain. The hotel, and indeed Darling Street that wound its way from Lilyfield all the way to Darling Street wharf that overlooked the harbour, had been named after Sir Ralph Darling, an early governor of New South Wales.

The heat seemed to affect Overton more as he got older, not that he was that old but he wasn’t as fit as he should be for his fifty-three years.

It was a typical Sydney pub with tiles up to the windows that were engraved with Public on one and Bar on the other. The bar was empty at this time of the morning but the landlord knew it would get busier later as Thursday was pay day for a lot of Balmain workmen.

The publican, Mickey Ross was standing on a chair cleaning the front windows when Overton entered, ‘Hello George,’ he said climbing down. ‘What brings you in before lunch?’

Overton just held up a string bag containing something wrapped in white paper and said, ‘I need a drink, it’s hotter than hell out there already.’

‘What’s that?’ asked the landlord.

‘Leg of mutton for Sunday dinner,’ said Overton sitting on his stool at the end of the bar. ‘I just picked it up from Beattie’s.’

‘I didn’t think you liked shopping.’

‘I don’t, but it gets me out of the house.’

‘Why would you want to get out?’ asked Mickey.

‘Margaret’s cleaning,’ he said. ‘Any chance of that drink?’

‘She’s like me, I always seem to be cleaning too,’ said Mickey moving behind the bar.

‘It’s always the same on Thursdays,’ said Overton. ‘She sweeps everywhere; I have to put the carpets on the line so she can beat the dust out of them. I think she makes more mess than she’s cleaning up.’

‘Does she clean every Thursday?’ asked the bartender as he poured a nip of Irish whiskey into a long glass.

‘Every Thursday,’ said Overton. ‘Monday washday, Tuesday ironing, Wednesday sewing, Thursday cleaning, Friday shopping, Saturday baking and Sunday church.’

‘You don’t go to church,’ said Mickey.

‘No, but Margaret goes regularly. She reckons I should go and pray for our boys in Korea,’ Overton said as he topped the glass up with water.

‘Do you want ice?’

‘Why would I want ice?’ asked Overton downing it in one gulp. ‘It’s not a bloody cocktail.’

‘Everyone wants ice in their drinks these days.’

‘Well I don’t.’

‘Do you want another?’

‘I should be getting this back,’ he said patting the piece of meat in the bag. ‘But one more wouldn’t hurt.’

‘What’s that about the boys in Korea?’ asked a one-armed man as he approached the bar.

‘Margaret wants me to pray for them,’ said Overton. ‘You’d have thought she’d have done enough praying over Christmas.’

‘I suppose you always know what she’s doing with a schedule like that,’ said Mickey.

‘As long as she doesn’t know what I’m up to,’ said Overton.

‘What are you up to?’ asked the publican as he poured Lefty a cold beer.

‘Nothing, I wish I had something to do.’

‘If you were younger you’d be fighting in Korea,’ said Lefty. ‘From what they say in the paper we’re fighting the Chinese now as well.’

‘This ANZUS mob might sort all that out,’ said Overton.

‘Who are they?’ asked Lefty.

‘Australia, New Zealand and the Yanks, they’re having a meeting in Hawaii.’

‘Nice place to have a meeting,’ said Mickey. ‘I expect they’re drinking fancy cocktails full of fruit and umbrellas.’

‘Umbrellas?’ said Overton.

‘Yeah, they decorate them with little paper umbrellas.’

‘Heaven preserve us.’

‘I might have to start doing that sort of thing if trade doesn’t pick up.’

‘The day you do that, Mickey,’ said Overton. ‘Will be the day I move to the London.’

‘You wouldn’t ...’

‘I’ll have another beer, Cap’n,’ said Lefty laughing as he pushed his empty glass across the bar.

Mickey Ross was called Cap’n from the days when he skippered a harbour ferry and now he was the Cap’n of the Darling Hotel although his wife Jess thought he was more like the cabin boy. She was the brains behind the business and did the bookwork but Mickey was very good with the customers she conceded.

 ‘I’d better go and check that the London’s got Irish whiskey,’ said Overton as he downed his drink and stepped off the stool.

‘You wouldn’t ...’ began the Cap’n again but Overton couldn’t keep a straight face any longer and burst out laughing.

‘Alright have your little jokes, will you be in later?’ asked the Cap’n as he climbed up on the chair to finish his cleaning.

‘We might be in for an afternoon cocktail. Eh, Lefty?’

‘If you say so.’

‘I’d better drop this home before it goes off.’

‘See you later, George.’

Overton picked up his leg of mutton and stepped out into the hot sunlight, he blinked at the brightness which is why he didn’t see the two large men who moved in on either side of him.

‘Into the car,’ was all one of them said as they guided him to a black car parked at the kerb and pushed him into the back seat. It was all over so quickly he didn’t have time to protest until the car was under way.

‘What’s this all about?’ he asked.

‘Shut up.’

They both looked as if they had done too many rounds in the boxing ring so Overton thought it was probably a good idea to take their advice.

 

 

They drove in silence around Rozelle Bay, through Glebe and over Pyrmont Bridge into the city. They took the back streets through the Rocks until they finally pulled up in front of the brick façade of the Fairmont Club in Gloucester Street. The Fairmont was in an old brick building that was supposed to hark back to convict times and had been used for many things in its lifetime. Now it was one of the better drinking clubs in the Rocks and had been on Overton’s patch when he was in the police force.

He had joined up in 1917 and had reached the rank of detective sergeant retiring from George Street North station at the end of the war, like a lot of civil servants, to make way for the influx of demobbed manpower. Overton had always had a good working relationship with most of the club owners and publicans and when they were in trouble he quite often gave them the benefit of the doubt.

One of the heavies opened the car door and pulled Overton out. Keeping hold of his arm, he opened the pink, painted door and pushed him through the foyer and into the club.

There were only a couple of regulars drinking at the bar as Overton was ushered through a door marked private and up the narrow stairs to the first floor. The man knocked on the shiny pink surface of another door and a voice from inside said, ‘Come in.’

Overton was pushed through and the door was closed behind him.

‘G’day, George,’ said a neat-looking grey-haired man in a blue suit sitting behind a large polished mahogany desk.

‘You didn’t have to go to this much trouble, Billy,’ said Overton sitting in a comfortable chair on his side of the desk.

‘I wanted to make sure you’d come,’ said Billy Lewis with a smile.

‘Why? I’m retired,’ said Overton.

‘You’ll never retire.’

‘I’m trying to,’ said Overton as he turned over the meat that was leaking blood through the white paper.

‘What’s that?’ asked Lewis pointing at the leg of mutton.

‘It’s my Sunday dinner if I ever get it home.’

‘So you’re doing the shopping now are you?’ said Lewis. ‘I hope you’re not cooking it as well.’

‘What do you want, Billy?’ asked Overton as he looked around the office.

There were some expensive paintings on the wood panelled walls and the furniture was comfortable brown leather, no sign of pink in here, he thought.

‘One of my bouncers was having a drink in a pub down near the markets.’

‘Dressed in pink was he?’ asked Overton.

‘No, and this is serious, George.’

‘Alright, Billy, tell me about it.’

‘There was a bloke bragging about blowing up a service station over at Mosman last week,’ said Lewis.

‘That would have been about Christmas time.’

‘What of it?’

‘That’s not a very nice thing to do,’ said Overton. ‘You know; goodwill to all men and all that tinsel.’

‘Will you take this seriously?’ said Lewis. ‘He made a bomb and put it in a servo.’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘So what’s it got to do with me?’ asked Overton.

‘He said it was better than the one he made to blow up this place.’

An attempt had been made a few months before to start a fire in the Fairmont Club and the man who made the device had never been caught.

‘The police would probably want to know about him.’

‘Water under the bridge,’ said Lewis. ‘They know I had good insurance, they won’t even be on the case any more.’

‘Alright, go on.’

‘He was saying his next job was going to be big.’

‘What do you mean by ‘big’?’ asked Overton.

‘Dunno. Joey said he was talking about blowing up military things, said it was going to wake up all of Sydney.’

‘Why’s he want to do that?’ asked Overton. ‘Is he a commie?’

‘He could be if it involves the military.’

‘When’s this going to happen?’

‘Soon, but it’s probably just boasting. He evidently said it was amazing how a little thing like a torpedo could sink a battleship or a depth charge could sink a submarine.’

‘So, it could be something involving the navy,’ said Overton.

‘Who knows?’

‘Do you know this bloke’s name?’ asked Overton.

‘It’s the same person that set fire to this place.’

‘I thought he was inside,’ said Overton.

‘The same bloke that made the device.’

‘The police said his name was Reg Cleary,’ said Overton. ‘According to the description, he’s a little bloke, wears a grey raincoat.’

‘I shouldn’t think he wears it in this weather.’

‘Do you know for sure it was this Reg Cleary that made the device they used on this place?’

‘You’ve seen the police report,’ said Lewis.

‘No, I haven’t,’ said Overton. ‘I don’t get on with the inspector over at Central.’

‘Well, I’ve seen it and they’re sure that was his name.’

‘How did you get to see the report?’

‘My insurance assessor was given it to read.’

‘What pub was this Cleary seen in?’ asked Overton.

‘It’s called the Arches, in Hay Street, near the markets.’

‘The Arches,’ repeated Overton. ‘Don’t know that one.’

‘When Joey told me about it I sent him back but there was no trace of Cleary by then.’

‘So, what’s it got to do with me?’ asked Overton.

 

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