The villagers of Stoney Cross were bustling about like hyperactive ants. In gardens, houses, and the village hall, figures flitted to and fro, making last-minute preparations for their 'Great Event': the first Stoney Cross Arts Festival, which was due to commence on Saturday. The enlisting of a local radio presenter to advertise then review their efforts had added an extra frisson of excitement.
But the delight soon turns to dismay when the broadcaster, Marcus Willoughby, actually moves into a house in Stoney Cross the day before the Festival. He turns out to be someone from various people’s pasts; someone whom they had hoped never to see again, and who greets them with recognition – and malice – in his eyes. To those he had never met before, he simply proves to be a smarmy, spiteful bigot, who proceeds to take great delight in verbally shredding their artistic efforts.
When he is found dead at his desk in his new home, no crocodile tears are shed. His demise is even presented on air, during his pre-recorded radio show Marcus having been 'choked off' for good while in full flow. His arrival in the village had obviously caused a few already guilty hearts to beat faster, and precipitates the hasty confessions of dark deeds thought long since buried. Into this welter of emotions is dispatched DI Harry Falconer, his erstwhile Acting Detective Sergeant, 'Davey' Carmichael riding shotgun, as they enter 'bandit' country once more.
Choked Off is the second instalment of Andrea Frazer’s Falconer Files, a detective series chock-full of picture-postcard villages, dastardly deeds, and a delightful slice of humour.