Jam Maker Inn
Inspector Tresillian of the
Cornish Constabulary examined the wreckage of the
fruit delivery van. The lack of skid marks and
the extent of impact damage showed that the
vehicle had hit the tree at full speed. He opened
the rear door and noted that the produce was
A lesser detective might
have attributed the crash to another case of
driver error in the fog and darkness before dawn.
Tresillians acute mind, however, was making
other connections. The flour tanker near Newquay;
the sugar lorry at St Ives; the milk float just
outside Padstow. Each had hit a tree in the early
morning fog, and the contents of all had vanished.
Back at the station,
Tresillian opened the Yellow Pages and began to
systematically telephone farms along the coast of
North Cornwall until he found what he was seeking.
Very early next morning in
an unmarked car he was following a van from the
Happy Hen Haven along the narrow country roads,
straining to keep the tail lights in view through
They were nearing Tintagel
when he heard the sound of the collision. He
parked his car off the road and crept along
behind a dry stone wall to where he could see a
large oak embedded in the radiator of the egg van.
He noted figures in dark clothing carrying boxes
of eggs to a small lorry. He could also see that
false direction signs and road markings had been
set to misdirect the vehicle from the road to its
destruction against a tree in a small copse. It
was as he had suspected - wreckers!
He heard the snap of a twig
behind him and then...darkness.
Tresillian awoke to the
smell of baking cakes. He tried to move and
realised that his arms and legs were tied to a
chair. He looked around him. He was in a large
kitchen where several middle aged women, in two
piece outfits and wearing pearl necklaces, were
making cakes or funnelling jam into jars. He
glanced at the moorland view through the window
and recognised, with horror, that he must be in
the headquarters of the Bodmin Moor Womens
Institute - Jam Maker Inn.
Tresillian, we meet again.
Tresillian recognised the
upper middle-class tones of Margaret Henderson-Smythe.
Most shops and bakeries in West Cornwall sold WI
cakes and jams, sometimes to the exclusion of
other brands. Stores that had refused to do so
found that their owners experienced mysterious
accidents, and two such premises had
unaccountably been burnt to the ground.
Tresillian had investigated, and Margaret
Henderson-Smythe had been his prime suspect,
though nothing could be proved.
Youll never get
away with this, he said defiantly.
Oh I will, she
responded. Its you who wont be
What are you going to
do with me?
You will be joining
us at Bodmin WI market on Thursday.
Margaret Henderson-Smythe threw back her head and
laughed demonically. WI meat pies are very