Saturday, December 29, 2012

Clouds of Witness ch 9 continued



                Lady Mary turned very white at this and glanced at Parker, who replied rather to her than to the Dowager:
                “No. Lord Peter and I haven't had time to discuss anything yet.”
                “Lest it should ruin my shattered nerves and bring a fever to my aching brow,” added that gentleman amiably. “You're a kind, thoughtful soul, Charles, and I don't know what I should do without you. I wish that rotten old second-hand dealer had been a bit brisker about takin' in his stock-in-trade for the night, though. Perfectly 'straor'nary number of knobs there are on a brass bedstead. Saw it comin', y'know, an' couldn't stop myself. However, what's a mere brass bedstead? The great detective, though at first stunned and dizzy from his brutal treatment by the fifteen veiled assassins all armed with meat-choppers, soon regained his senses, thanks to his sound constitution and healthy manner of life. Despite the severe gassing he had endured in the underground room—eh? A telegram? Oh, thanks, Bunter.”
                Lord Peter appeared to read the message with great inward satisfaction, for his long lips twitched at the corners, and he tucked the slip of paper away in his pocket-book with a little sigh of satisfaction. He called to Bunter to take away the breakfast-tray and to renew the cooling bandage about his brow. This done, Lord Peter leaned back among his cushions, and with an air of malicious enjoyment launched at Mr. Parker the inquiry:
                “Well, now, how did you and Mary get on last night? Polly, did you tell him you'd done the murder?”
                Few things are more irritating than to discover, after you have been at great pains to spare a person some painful intelligence, that he has known it all along and is not nearly so much affected by it as he properly should be. Mr. Parker quite simply and suddenly lost his temper. He bounded to his feet, and exclaimed, without the least reason: “Oh, it's perfectly hopeless trying to do anything!”
                Lady Mary sprang from the window-seat.
                “Yes, I did,” she said. “It's quite true. Your precious case is finished, Peter.”
                The Dowager said, without the least discomposure: “You must allow your brother to be the best judge of his own affairs, my dear.”
                “As a matter of fact,” replied his lordship, “I rather fancy Polly's right. Hope so, I'm sure. Anyway, we've got the fellow, so now we shall know.”
                Lady Mary gave a sort of gasp, and stepped forward with her chin up and her hands tightly clenched. It caught at Parker's heart to see overwhelming catastrophe so bravely faced. The official side of him was thoroughly bewildered, but the human part ranged itself instantly in support of that gallant defiance.
                “Whom have they got?” he demanded, in a voice quite unlike his own.
                “The Goyles person,” said Lord Peter carelessly. “Uncommon quick work, what? But since he'd no more original idea than to take the boat-train to Folkestone they didn't have much difficulty.”
                “It isn't true,” said Lady Mary. She stamped. “It's a lie. He wasn't there. He's innocent. I killed Denis.”
                “Fine,” thought Parker, “fine! Damn Goyles, anyway, what's he done to deserve it?”
                Lord Peter said: “Mary, don't be an ass.”
                “Yes,” said the Dowager placidly. “I was going to suggest to you, Peter, that this Mr. Goyles—such a terrible name, Mary dear, I can't say I ever cared for it, even if there had been nothing else against him—especially as he would sign himself Geo. Goyles—G. e. o. you know, Mr. Parker, for George, and I never could help reading it as Gargoyles—I very nearly wrote to you, my dear, mentioning Mr. Goyles and, asking if you could see him in town, because there was something, when I came to think of it, about that ipecacuanha business that made me feel he might have something to do with it.”
                “Yes,” said Peter, with a grin, “you always did find him a bit sickenin', didn't you?”
                “How can you, Wimsey?” growled Parker reproachfully, with his eyes on Mary's face.
                “Never mind him,” said the girl. “If you can't be a gentleman, Peter——”
                “Damn it all!” cried the invalid explosively. “Here's a fellow who, without the slightest provocation, plugs a bullet into my shoulder, breaks my collar-bone, brings me up head foremost on a knobbly, second-hand brass bedstead and vamooses, and when, in what seems to me jolly mild, parliamentary language, I call him a sickenin' feller, my own sister says I'm no gentleman. Look at me! In my own house, forced to sit here with a perfectly beastly headache, and lap up toast and tea, while you people distend and bloat yourselves on mixed grills and omelettes and a damn good vintage claret——”
                “Silly boy,” said the Duchess, “don't get so excited. And it's time for your medicine. Mr. Parker, kindly touch the bell.”
                Mr. Parker obeyed in silence. Lady Mary came slowly across, and stood looking at her brother.
                “Peter,” she said, “what makes you say that he did it?”
                “Did what?”
                “Shot—you?” The words were only a whisper.
                The entrance of Mr. Bunter at this moment with a cooling draught dissipated the tense atmosphere. Lord Peter quaffed his potion, had his pillows re-arranged, submitted to have his temperature taken and his pulse counted, asked if he might not have an egg for his lunch, and lit a cigarette. Mr. Bunter retired, people distributed themselves into more comfortable chairs, and felt happier.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Nancy Austin encourages women to lead; mentor project starting

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:  Nancy Austin encourages women to lead; mentor project starting


SANTA CRUZ -- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born in 1815, spent decades working to get women the right to vote, outliving her husband and exhausting her allies.
Madame C.J. Walker, born after the Civil War, developed hair products for women of color and became the first self-made female millionaire in America. Dilma Rousseff grew up in Brazil, becoming that country's first female president two years ago.
This year, Debbie Sterling, a recent Stanford University graduate, founded Goldie Blox, a engineering toy company for girls, securing launch funds on Kickstarter.
What they have in common is innovation, creativity and leadership, according to consultant and best-selling author Nancy K. Austin, speaking to 95 people Thursday at the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Women in Business holiday luncheon at the Cocoanut Grove.
"Women are redesigning what it means to be a leader," said Austin, encouraging women in attendance to pursue their dreams, even if it means being a nonconformist, a rebel or unruly.
She pointed to a 2006 headline from the Economist: Forget China, India and the Internet: economic growth is driven by women.
"Any woman in advancing age is unstoppable by any earthly force," she added, quoting Dorothy Sayers. "If not now, then when are you going to do it?"
Austin's encouragement prompted wellness coach Lana Sumati of Energized Living Solutions to ask for advice on how to launch a project to mentor young women in business."I wouldn't let anything stop you," Austin said, suggesting many of the women in the room would be willing to help.
Afterward, Sumati, 43, of Santa Cruz, was surrounded.
"I am so excited you were here today," said Jessica Moore, 28, of Santa Cruz Core Fitness, who was looking for a mentor.
"Call me and we'll talk," said Frances Greenberg, vice president and business development officer at Wells Fargo.
"Kickstarter is a fabulous place to get started," said Pam Falke-Krueger, marketing teacher at Harbor High School, noting her son, Frank Scott Krueger, 23, raised $2,000 and got a camera from Kickstarter supporters to film a documentary in Colombia on displaced people.
Harbor High senior Kayla Zoliniak, who plans to study business, was honored as student of the quarter.
Falke-Krueger nominated Zoliniak, citing her involvement in designing a remotely operated vehicle for a team competition, mock trial, teen peer court, the Walk to End Alzheimer's and Camp Attitude for children with special needs. She also enjoys photography and has traveled to Mexico, Denmark, Greece, Italy and Vietnam.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New posting schedule

Now that I've got this new full-time job, I'll be posting in this blog twice a week - on Monday's and Wednesdays.

So the next post for this blog will be on Monday.

Thanks for your patience.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Posts resume this Wednesday

I'm a freelance writer and I am way behind on a job I have to do, so I won't be posting here until Wednesday..

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Clouds of Witness chapter 9



CHAPTER IX
GOYLES
“'and the moral of that is——' said the Duchess.”
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

                A party of four were assembled next morning at a very late breakfast, or very early lunch, in Lord Peter's flat. Its most cheerful member, despite a throbbing shoulder and a splitting headache, was undoubtedly Lord Peter himself, who lay upon the chesterfield surrounded with cushions and carousing upon tea and toast. Having been brought home in an ambulance, he had instantly fallen into a healing sleep, and had woken at nine o'clock aggressively clear and active in mind. In consequence, Mr. Parker had been dispatched in a hurry, half-fed and burdened with the secret memory of last night's disclosures, to Scotland Yard. Here he had set in motion the proper machinery for catching Lord Peter's assassin. “Only don't you say anything about the attack on me,” said his lordship. “Tell 'em he's to be detained in connection with the Riddlesdale case. That's good enough for them.” It was now eleven, and Mr. Parker had returned, gloomy and hungry, and was consuming a belated omelette and a glass of claret.
                Lady Mary Wimsey was hunched up in the window-seat. Her bobbed golden hair made a little blur of light about her in the pale autumn sunshine. She had made an attempt to breakfast early, and now sat gazing out into Piccadilly. Her first appearance that morning had been made in Lord Peter's dressing-gown, but she now wore a serge skirt and jade-green jumper, which had been brought to town for her by the fourth member of the party, now composedly eating a mixed grill and sharing the decanter with Parker.
                This was a rather short, rather plump, very brisk elderly lady, with bright black eyes like a bird's, and very handsome white hair exquisitely dressed. Far from looking as though she had just taken a long night journey, she was easily the most composed and trim of the four. She was, however, annoyed, and said so at considerable length. This was the Dowager Duchess of Denver.
                “It is not so much, Mary, that you went off so abruptly last night—just before dinner, too—inconveniencing and alarming us very much—indeed, poor Helen was totally unable to eat her dinner, which was extremely distressing to her feelings, because, you know, she always makes such a point of never being upset about anything—I really don't know why, for some of the greatest men have not minded showing their feelings, I don't mean Southerners necessarily, but as Mr. Chesterton very rightly points out—Nelson, too, who was certainly English if he wasn't Irish or Scotch, I forget, but United Kingdom, anyway (if that means anything nowadays with a Free State—such a ridiculous title, especially as it always makes one think of the Orange Free State, and I'm sure they wouldn't care to be mixed up with that, being so very green themselves).
Gilbert Keith Chesterton, KC*SG (29 May 1874 – 14 June 1936) was an English writer. He wrote on philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton is often referred to as the "prince of paradox",[2] The Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out."

Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both progressivism and conservatism, saying, "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected." Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius.”

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bront̩, KB (29 September 1758 Р21 October 1805) He was born in a rectory in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England, the sixth of eleven children of the Reverend Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine. He was a flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories. He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm and the sight in one eye. Of his several victories, the best known and most notable was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, during which he was shot and killed.

The Irish Free State (6 December 1922 – 1937) was the state established in 1922 as a dominion under the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed by British and Irish representatives exactly twelve months beforehand. On the day the Irish Free State was established, it comprised the entire island of Ireland, but Northern Ireland almost immediately exercised its right under the treaty to remove itself from the new state. The Irish Free State effectively replaced both the self-proclaimed Irish Republic (founded 21 January 1919) and the Provisional Government of Southern Ireland. W. T. Cosgrave, the first President of the Irish Free State had led both of these "governments" since August 1922.

The Irish Free State came to an end in 1937, when the citizens voted by referendum to replace the 1922 constitution. It was succeeded by the sovereign and current state of Ireland.

The Orange Free State (Dutch: Oranje-Vrijstaat Afrikaans: Oranje-Vrystaat) was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province. Extending between the Orange and Vaal rivers, its borders were determined by the United Kingdom in 1848 when the region was proclaimed as the Orange River Sovereignty, with a seat of a British Resident in Bloemfontein.

In the northern part of the territory a Voortrekker Republic was established at Winburg in 1837. This state merged with the Republic of Potchefstroom which later formed part of the South African Republic (Transvaal).

Following the granting of independence to the Transvaal Republic, the British recognized the independence of the Orange River Sovereignty on 17 February 1854 and the country officially became independent as the Orange Free State on 23 February 1854, with the signing of the Orange River Convention. The new republic incorporated both the Orange River Sovereignty and the traditions of the Winburg-Potchefstroom Republic. The U.S.A. and the Orange Free State mutually recognized each other in 1871.

Although the Orange Free State developed into a politically and economically successful republic, it experienced chronic conflict with the British (see Boer Wars) until it was finally annexed as the Orange River Colony in 1900. It ceased to exist as an independent Boer republic on 31 May 1902 with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging at the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Boer War. It joined the Union of South Africa in 1910 (which became the Republic of South Africa in 1961) as a province under its former name, along with the Cape Province, Natal, and the Transvaal.

The republic's name derives partly from the Orange River, which in turn was named in honour of the Dutch ruling royal family, the House of Orange, by the Dutch settlers under Robert Jacob Gordon. The official language in the Orange Free State was Dutch.

And going off without even proper clothes, and taking the car, so that I had to wait till the 1.15 from Northallerton—a ridiculous time to start, and such a bad train, too, not getting up till 10.30. Besides, if you must run off to town, why do it in that unfinished manner? If you had only looked up the trains before starting, you would have seen you would have half an hour's wait at Northallerton, and you could quite easily have packed a bag. It's so much better to do things neatly and thoroughly—even stupid things. And it was very stupid of you indeed to dash off like that, to embarrass and bore poor Mr. Parker with a lot of twaddle—though I suppose it was Peter you meant to see. You know, Peter, if you will haunt low places full of Russians and sucking Socialists taking themselves seriously, you ought to know better than to encourage them by running after them, however futile, and given to drinking coffee and writing poems with no shape to them, and generally ruining their nerves. And in any case, it makes not the slightest difference; I could have told Peter all about it myself, if he doesn't know already, as he probably does.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Clouds of Witness Chapter 8 complete



CHAPTER VIII
MR. PARKER TAKES NOTES
“A man was taken to the Zoo and shown the giraffe. After gazing at it a little in silence: 'I don't believe it,' he said.”


                Parker's first impulse was to doubt his own sanity; his next, to doubt Lady Mary's. Then, as the clouds rolled away from his brain, he decided that she was merely not speaking the truth.
                “Come, Lady Mary,” he said encouragingly, but with an accent of reprimand as to an over-imaginative child, “you can't expect us to believe that, you know.”
                “But you must,” said the girl gravely; “it's a fact. I shot him. I did, really. I didn't exactly mean to do it; it was a—well, a sort of accident.”
                Mr. Parker got up and paced about the room.
                “You have put me in a terrible position, Lady Mary,” he said. “You see, I'm a police-officer. I never really imagined——”
                “It doesn't matter,” said Lady Mary. “Of course you'll have to arrest me, or detain me, or whatever you call it. That's what I came for. I'm quite ready to go quietly—that's the right expression, isn't it? I'd like to explain about it, though, first. Of course I ought to have done it long ago, but I'm afraid I lost my head. I didn't realize that Gerald would get blamed. I hoped they'd bring it in suicide. Do I make a statement to you now? Or do I do it at the police-station?”
                Parker groaned.
                “They won't—they won't punish me so badly if it was an accident, will they?” There was a quiver in the voice.
                “No, of course not—of course not. But if only you had spoken earlier! No,” said Parker, stopping suddenly short in his distracted pacing and sitting down beside her. “It's impossible—absurd.” He caught the girl's hand, suddenly in his own. “Nothing will convince me,” he said. “It's absurd. It's not like you.”
                “But an accident——”
                “I don't mean that—you know I don't mean that. But that you should keep silence——”
                “I was afraid. I'm telling you now.”
                “No, no, no,” cried the detective. “You're lying to me. Nobly, I know; but it's not worth it. No man could be worth it. Let him go, I implore you. Tell the truth. Don't shield this man. If he murdered Denis Cathcart——”
                “No!” The girl sprang to her feet, wrenching her hand away. “There was no other man. How dare you say it or think it! I killed Denis Cathcart, I tell you, and you shall believe it. I swear to you that there was no other man.”
                Parker pulled himself together.
                “Sit down, please. Lady Mary, you are determined to make this statement?”
                “Yes.”
                “Knowing that I have no choice but to act upon it?”
                “If you will not hear it I shall go straight to the police.”
                Parker pulled out his note-book. “Go on,” he said.
                With no other sign of emotion than a nervous fidgeting with her gloves, Lady Mary began her confession in a clear, hard voice, as though she were reciting it by heart.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                “On the evening of Wednesday, October 13th, I went upstairs at half-past nine. I sat up writing a letter. At a quarter past ten I heard my brother and Denis quarrelling in the passage. I heard my brother call Denis a cheat, and tell him that he was never to speak to me again. I heard Denis run out. I listened for some time, but did not hear him return. At half-past eleven I became alarmed. I changed my dress and went out to try and find Denis and bring him in. I feared he might do something desperate. After some time I found him in the shrubbery. I begged him to come in. He refused, and he told me about my brother's accusation and the quarrel. I was very much horrified, of course. He said where was the good of denying anything, as Gerald was determined to ruin him, and asked me to go away and marry him and live abroad.
                I said I was surprised that he should suggest such a thing in the circumstances. We both became very angry. I said 'Come in now. To-morrow you can leave by the first train.' He seemed almost crazy. He pulled out a pistol and said that he'd come to the end of things, that his life was ruined, that we were a lot of hypocrites, and that I had never cared for him, or I shouldn't have minded what he'd done. Anyway, he said, if I wouldn't come with him it was all over, and he might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb—he'd shoot me and himself. I think he was quite out of his mind. He pulled out a revolver; I caught his hand; we struggled; I got the muzzle right up against his chest, and—either I pulled the trigger or it went off of itself—I'm not clear which. It was all in such a whirl.”
                She paused. Parker's pen took down the words, and his face showed growing concern. Lady Mary went on:
                “He wasn't quite dead. I helped him up. We struggled back nearly to the house. He fell once——”
                “Why,” asked Parker, “did you not leave him and run into the house to fetch help?”
                Lady Mary hesitated.
                “It didn't occur to me. It was a nightmare. I could only think of getting him along. I think—I think I wanted him to die.”
                There was a dreadful pause.
                “He did die. He died at the door. I went into the conservatory and sat down. I sat for hours and tried to think. I hated him for being a cheat and a scoundrel. I'd been taken in, you see—made a fool of by a common sharper. I was glad he was dead. I must have sat there for hours without a coherent thought. It wasn't till my brother came along that I realized  what I'd done, and that I might be suspected of murdering him. I was simply terrified. I made up my mind all in a moment that I'd pretend I knew nothing—that I'd heard a shot and come down. You know what I did.”
                “Why, Lady Mary,” said Parker, in a perfectly toneless voice, “why did you say to your brother 'Good God, Gerald, you've killed him'?”
                Another hesitant pause.
                “I never said that. I said, 'Good God, Gerald, he's killed, then.' I never meant to suggest anything but suicide.”
                “You admitted to those words at the inquest?”
                “Yes——” Her hands knotted the gloves into all manner of shapes. “By that time I had decided on a burglar story, you see.”
                The telephone bell rang, and Parker went to the instrument. A voice came thinly over the wire:
                “Is that 110a Piccadilly? This is Charing Cross Hospital. A man was brought in to-night who says he is Lord Peter Wimsey. He was shot in the shoulder, and struck his head in falling. He has only just recovered consciousness. He was brought in at 9.15. No, he will probably do very well now. Yes, come round by all means.”
                “Peter has been shot,” said Parker. “Will you come round with me to Charing Cross Hospital? They say he is in no danger: still——”
                “Oh, quick!” cried Lady Mary.
                Gathering up Mr. Bunter as they hurried through the hall, detective and self-accused rushed hurriedly out into Piccadilly, and, picking up a belated taxi at Hyde Park Corner, drove madly away through the deserted streets.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Clouds of Witness Ch 7 cont

“I can't understand how it could have made any difference to Mary,” persisted Miss Tarrant mournfully. “She liked being a worker. We once tried living in a workman's cottage for eight weeks, five of us, on eighteen shillings a week. It was a marvellous experience—on the very edge of the New Forest.”


The New Forest is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the heavily-populated south east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire and towards east Dorset.

The name also refers to the New Forest National Park which has similar boundaries. Additionally the New Forest local government district is a subdivision of Hampshire which covers most of the Forest, and some nearby areas although it is no longer the planning authority for the National Park itself. There are many villages dotted around the area, and several small towns in the Forest and around its edges.

Prehistory
Like much of England, the site of the New Forest was originally deciduous woodland, recolonised by birch and eventually beech and oak following the withdrawal of the ice sheets starting around 12,000 years ago. Some areas were cleared for cultivation from the Bronze Age onwards; the poor quality of the soil in the New Forest meant that the cleared areas turned into heathland "waste", which may have been used even then as grazing-land for horses.[1] There was still a significant amount of woodland in this part of Britain, but this was gradually reduced, particularly towards the end of the Middle Iron Age around 250–100 BC, and most importantly the 12th and 13th centuries, and of this essentially all that remains today is the New Forest.

There are around two hundred and fifty round barrows within its boundaries, and scattered boiling mounds, and it also includes about 150 scheduled ancient monuments. One such barrow in particular may represent the only known inhumation burial of the Early Iron Age and the only known Hallstatt burial in Britain; unfortunately, the acidity of the soil means that bone very rarely survives.

History
The New Forest was created as a royal forest by William I in about 1079 for the royal hunt, mainly of deer. It was created at the expense of more than 20 small hamlets and isolated farmsteads; hence it was 'new' in his time as a single compact area

                “In the winter?”
                “Well—no, we thought we'd better not begin with winter. But we had nine wet days, and the kitchen chimney smoked all the time. You see, the wood came out of the forest, so it was all damp.”
                “I see. It must have been uncommonly interestin'.”
                “It was an experience I shall never forget,” said Miss Tarrant. “One felt so close to the earth and the primitive things. If only we could abolish industrialism. I'm afraid, though, we shall never get it put right without a 'bloody revolution,' you know. It's very terrible, of course, but salutary and inevitable. Shall we have coffee? We shall have to carry it upstairs ourselves, if you don't mind. The maids don't bring it up after dinner.”
                Miss Tarrant settled her bill and returned, thrusting a cup of coffee into his hand. It had already overflowed into the saucer, and as he groped his way round a screen and up a steep and twisted staircase it overflowed quite an amount more.
                Emerging from the basement, they almost ran into a young man with fair hair who was hunting for letters in a dark little row of pigeon-holes. Finding nothing, he retreated into the lounge. Miss Tarrant uttered an exclamation of pleasure.
                “Why, there is Mr. Goyles,” she cried.
                Wimsey glanced across, and at the sight of the tall, slightly stooping figure with the untidy fair hair and the gloved right hand he gave an irrepressible little gasp.
                “Won't you introduce me?” he said.
                “I'll fetch him,” said Miss Tarrant. She made off across the lounge and addressed the young agitator, who started, looked across at Wimsey, shook his head, appeared to apologize, gave a hurried glance at his watch, and darted out by the entrance. Wimsey sprang forward in pursuit.
                “Extraordinary,” cried Miss Tarrant, with a blank face. “He says he has an appointment—but he can't surely be missing the——”
                “Excuse me,” said Peter. He dashed out, in time to perceive a dark figure retreating across the street. He gave chase. The man took to his heels, and seemed to plunge into the dark little alley which leads into the Charing Cross Road.

Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus (the intersection with Oxford Street) and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. It is so called because it serves Charing Cross railway station (named for the nearby Charing Cross).

Charing Cross Road was developed, in conjunction with Shaftesbury Avenue, by the Metropolitan Board of Works under an 1877 Act of Parliament at a cost of £778,238. The two streets and others such as the Thames Embankment, Northumberland Avenue, Kingsway and Aldwych were built to improve traffic flow through central London. It incorporated the routes of several older streets.

Charing Cross Road is renowned for its specialist and second-hand bookshops. The section from Leicester Square tube station to Cambridge Circus is home to specialist bookshops, and more general second-hand and antiquarian shops such as Quinto Bookshop, Henry Pordes and Any Amount of Books. Most of these shops are located on the ground floor of a block owned by a housing association, which decided in 2001 to raise the rents sharply to bring them closer to the market level. This was opposed by the book dealers, who felt that they were providing a valuable service and contributing to the unique character of the area, and should not be treated in this way by a not-for-profit body. The association's counter-argument was that if the booksellers did not pay a market rent they were being subsidized by its low-income tenants. The booksellers attracted considerable public support and a reduced rent increase was imposed. Several of the bookshops closed nonetheless, including Silver Moon, apparently Europe’s largest women’s interest bookshop, which became part of Foyles. Other shops closed more recently, Zwemmers art bookshop, Shipley the art bookshop in December 2008 and Murder One in 2009. Smaller second-hand and specialist antiquarian bookshops can be found on the adjoining Cecil Court.

The northern section between Cambridge Circus and Oxford Street includes more generalist bookshops such as the venerable Foyles and Blackwell's. A long-standing correspondence between New York based author Helene Hanff and the staff of a bookstore on the street, Marks & Co., was the inspiration for the book 84 Charing Cross Road (1970). The book was made into a 1986 film with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins and also into a play and a BBC radio drama. 84 Charing Cross Road, located just north of Cambridge Circus, has not been a bookstore for many years; at street level it is now a restaurant (entered round the corner in Cambridge Circus), but the upper levels of the building remain as originally constructed. A small brass plaque, noted by Hanff in her book "Q's Lecacy", remains on the stone pilaster facing Charing Cross Road.

The music venue the Astoria was located here, as is one of the sites of St Martin's Arts College, as well as the music shops on Denmark Street (known as Britain's Tin Pan Alley). A number of theatres are nearby, such as the Phoenix Theatre which has its entrance on the adjoining Phoenix Street.

An interesting local feature can be found in the middle of Charing Cross Road at its junction with Old Compton Street. Beneath the grille in the traffic island in the middle of the road, the old road signs for the now-vanished Little Compton Street can be seen. This road once joined Old Compton Street with New Compton Street.

Beside the road's southern end is a statue of Edith Cavell. Towards the north end is the Phoenix Garden - an environmental garden run by local residents.

                Hurrying in pursuit, Wimsey was almost blinded by a sudden flash and smoke nearly in his face. A crashing blow on the left shoulder and a deafening report whirled his surroundings away. He staggered violently, and collapsed on to a second-hand brass bedstead.