DCI Robbie Lewis drove through the back lanes of Oxford's busy streets on his way to his office at Lonsdale Police Station. He had been made DCI less than a month after DCS Jean "Bossy Boots" Innocent left to become Borough Commander at Kensington Police Headquarters. She was replaced by DCS Joe Moody who was a high flying copper who clearly got into his head that he would be Chief Constable one day. Lewis didn't like the man much he thought he was a pompous idiot. It felt like working with DCI Martin Johnson who had retired from the force and died recently. Moody seemed to operate under his own steam and didn't care much for the traditional way of policing or detective work.
To say that Morse was any different would have been an exaggeration but he did have a snobbish view of most things journalists among them. Innocent always ran the police like a business while Moody ran it as his own personal army. It wouldn't have been surprising if DI Alan "Action Man" Peterson worked with him before because he practically craved the action and physical side of police work.
As Lewis drove on through the back way of St Aldgate's his phone buzzed he pressed the control on the dashboard that operated the hands free mode on the phone. Lewis was almost glad that he saw Hathaway's name on the screen. "Oh at the office already are yeh"? Lewis said cheerfully. The deep voice of DI James Hathaway almost floated from the other end of the line.
"Actually there's a suspicious death in Bagley Woods Hobson, Maddox and me are there now". Hathaway replied. He sounded like he had been laughing and Lewis easily picked up on it. "What's so funny" Lewis asked curiously with an amused expression which although Hathaway wouldn't be able to see he'd still be able to detect it.
"You might laugh when you see this Robbie" Said Hathaway. "But the dead man is a clown." That got Lewis's attention he had only seen clowns in circuses and school fetes but seeing a dead one in Oxford was one the press would love to joke about. "This I have to see" Lewis responded before hitting the accelerator.
By the time Lewis had arrived in Bagley Wood Doctor Laura Hobson his recently married wife had already started doing her usual poking and examining at the deceased. It had taken hours for her and DS Lizzie Maddox to pull themselves together after laughing that a dead clown was in a rural part of Oxford. While Laura liked a joke as much as the next copper or pathologist she still had to keep professionalism as a priority. Unfortunately the same could not be said for DC Peter Burke who became Lewis's new bagman after Hathaway got bumped up to DI and got assigned to work with Maddox when his first sergeant DS Alex Grey legged it to DI Peterson's unit.
Burke was having problems with his note book while taking the witness's statement. He had been a given a dodgy one by Sergeant Cramer the quartermaster due to budget issues. His pen wasn't much good either. He kept leaking ink until DC Julie Lockhart took pity and lent him one of her spare pens. Hobson shook her head at Burke. She didn't have anything against the young officer he was just young and green. She just wished most DC's could have been more efficient like Julie, Grey or Gurdip. At least Burke wasn't like Hooper because he couldn't even detect a dog turd on the rug of a pub.
When Lewis got to Hobson his first words were "According to Hathaway we have a circus in town". Hobson looked up with a smirk saying "Well the shows over for this poor sausage there are signs of heavy stab wounds in the back most likely a frenzied attack".
"Knife or sword"? Lewis asked. "Not sure but most likely both". came the reply "and its going to be difficult to id him because his cosie doesn't seem to have any pocketses but as a start you could be dealing with a killer circus performer." As she said this she had a grin on her face that clearly showed she was enjoying this immensely.
Lewis returned the grin and suggested a made up name for the victim. "How about for now we call this poor sod Ronald McDonald, Barry Bozo or Charlie Chuckles. "He won't be chuckling for a while now even if his face says otherwise Guv". Burke remarked from across the way.
Hathaway had come over now with Maddox in tow. "I'll put out a description for any sword swallowers or knife throwers that have gone rogue". He said with a grin that would make Boris Johnson proud. Maddox grinned and reported that uniform had found a car that looked as though it belonged to the deceased.
"What was he driving? oh wait don't tell me a clown car" Remarked Lewis with a smirk. Maddox's reply said otherwise. "A Vauxhall Extra actually sir" She said trying to fight down a laugh.
"A clown driving a Vauxhall in Oxford has this whole bloody city gone mad". Lewis asked more to himself than the others. "You should have asked yourself that before you retired Robbie". Hathaway said even more cheekily. Lewis returned the grin and shook his head. "On the plus side though Robbie" Laura said joining Hathaway on the teasing "At least it'll give you ideas for Jack's birthday party".
"Don't remind me" came the world weary reply. Lewis had been racking his brains all week about what to do for his grandson Jack's birthday and had come up short but now with a dead clown on the premises it didn't sound like too much of a bad idea.
It had been a long day but the person responsible had been arrested for killing the unknown clown who had been identified as a Gary Shatner who worked part time as a children's entertainer but was also a paedophile that hadn't been checked or registered. The person responsible for the killing was a pensioner and retired police DSI known as Warren Anderson who made the mistake of hiring the man for his grandson's 6th birthday party during his final years on the force. He saw photos of several young children who all bore expressions that looked as though they had been forced to have their photos taken against their will and had been molested.
Anderson's grandson had been one of a few children that had been molested and Anderson being a strong believer of harder punishment for criminals swore to God that he would kill the bastard Shatner if it took him several years after he retired. Hathaway's theory about sword swallowers and knife throwers was quickly quashed by the evidence he and Maddox found on Shatner and used to arrest Anderson.
Maddox and Burke had tracked Anderson to the Oxford Health Centre where he was assaulting Shatner's psychiatrist and social worker. Just as Anderson was about to leave. Maddox turned the corner with Burke and some uniformed officers,placed him under arrest and cautioned him. By the time Anderson was finished being questioned in the interview room by Lewis and Maddox. Hathaway couldn't help but make a flippant quip about the man.
"Just as well he wasn't a circus performer or another sex offender otherwise the home office would really do their nuts." He said to Lewis in the pub later "You obviously read that news story about that slap dash force in Yorkshire then" Lewis replied. Hathaway nodded "Still with a circus in Manchester coming up at least Jack won't be disappointed on his birthday". Hathaway said after a bit. Lewis grinned again "I nearly joined the circus myself before I became a copper"
This part was too much for Hathaway who roared with laughter at the thought of his old guvnor in a clown suit. "What performer were you going to be"? he asked. "Acrobat, strongman, Lion Tamer or ringmaster"?
Lewis gave a no comment gesture and shook his head.