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Authors: Gerald Hammond

With My Little Eye

BOOK: With My Little Eye
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Recent Titles by Gerald Hammond from Severn House

Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Recent Titles by Gerald Hammond from Severn House























Gerald Hammond



This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.


First published in Great Britain and the USA 2011 by


9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

This eBook edition first published in 2016 by Severn House Digital an

imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Trade paperback edition first published

in Great Britain and the USA 2012 by


Copyright © 2011 by Gerald Hammond.

The right of Gerald Hammond to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Hammond, Gerald, 1926–

With my little eye.

1. Surveyors–Fiction. 2. Housing developers–Fiction.

3. Police–Scotland–Edinburgh–Fiction. 4. Apartment

Dwellers–Crimes against–Fiction. 5. Murder–

Investigation–Fiction. 6. Edinburgh (Scotland)–Fiction.

7. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title


ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8093-2 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-377-9 (trade paper)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-794-3 (ePub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This ebook produced by

Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland


I owe to a passing remark the fact that I have spent thirty happy years of nominal retirement in a Scottish village. While visiting one of my sons I called at the local library for a visitor's ticket (of course), and gave the librarian my name. She said, ‘Would that be Gerald Hammond the novelist?' and I thought, Here I could be happy. And so I have been. Thus, at the age of 86 and with my doctor issuing ominous warnings about my heart, I feel that I should dedicate this book, almost certainly my last, to the ladies in the Aboyne Library, who have always helped me greatly in finding facts or references.

I would also like to thank Macmillan (editor Hilary Hale nee Watson), who gave me a starting shove and Severn House who allowed me to diverge from crime fiction and write (among two dozen other books) my three favourites,
Fine Tune
Into The Blue
The Outpost,
each about people rather than their naughty deeds. Also Anna Telfer, now Editorial Director of Severn House, who has patiently guided my footsteps along the riverbank and accepted without argument my often peevish objections to the copy-editor's assaults, as no other publisher has done. Anna also paid me the compliment of remembering me from a previous incarnation.

Finally I would like to thank every reader who ever wrote to say that they enjoyed one of my books (I have tried to answer each of them, even the Australian lady). I forgive the writer of the one anonymous letter that I ever received, from a lady (I presume) in Liverpool who objected to some of the language that my late friend Earl Bell introduced when I asked him to help me to translate some of the dialogue into Texan. They do talk like that. I feel that when one gets anonymous letters one has arrived.


uggah!' said Douglas Young aloud. He then chided himself silently, not for the use of bad language but because a six-year sojourn in an English public school had imposed over his mild, native, southern Scots voice the sort of accent that he was trying to shake off. It raises the hackles and the blood pressure of the diehard Scot whose ancestors have too often been imposed on by men with such accents. The original oath, however, had been provoked only because his feet had led him into an opening that turned out to be neither a neglected B-road nor a well maintained farm road, but the driveway to a substantial house that he had never known existed.

Underwood House stands in the busy, flat and fertile stretch of land lying between the Firth of Forth and the Pentland Hills. It is not far from Edinburgh and only a mile or two from the nearest small town.

Douglas read the name carved into one of the stone gate pillars and sensed puzzlement. Wood, yes. But ‘under'? The house lies in woodland which in turn is surrounded by undulating farmland.

The house was built for a minor industrialist during the Scottish shale-oil boom, but when Douglas Young (no relation to the James ‘Paraffin' Young who had triggered that boom in the first place) came across the house its state was rather neglected. Douglas was not looking for a house at the time; he was accompanied by Rowan and carrying a shotgun. Nor was he looking for the betrayer of his daughter. Rowan was a black Labrador retriever and, with the permission of the farmer and landowner, they were looking for any unwary rabbit or wood pigeon or, perhaps with luck, a pheasant wandered from a nearby estate and just come into season by a day or two. It would probably be one of last year's birds and tough as an old boot, but with even more luck it might be a hen pheasant released from the laying pens once the duty of laying eggs was done, in which case it might be both large and tender. His involuntary oath had escaped because he had missed a comparatively easy wood pigeon clattering out of the treetops. No wood pigeon is very easy but that one should have been less difficult than the average.

Curiosity led his feet to the pillared front doorway.

The front door of the house stood open. A visitor, a general practice surveyor, was inspecting the house on behalf of the owner. He was known to Douglas who, although he was a member of the same profession, worked for a different firm. The two had dined together on professional occasions or exchanged drinks rather more often when winding down after difficult meetings. They examined the property together.

The interior of the house was well laid out with some very handsome rooms. It happened that Douglas had arrived by way of the main drive from which there was no view of the frontage, the leaves still being on the trees. The simple, Georgian-style elevation should have been impossible to spoil but the original designer had managed that feat by means of some regrettable changes to the proportions that had become established for such houses over many years. If Douglas had studied the exterior at this early stage he might have lost interest – which would have been a pity. The house was surrounded by a strip of garden, now running to seed, but at no point could the viewer retreat to view it from further than he could have kicked a football; and the extra material that had spoiled the proportions had been used to add strength and durability to the components. It was robust rather than elegant. Built of weathered stone and roofed with blue-black slates, several Virginia creepers were still glowing vividly against the walls. Douglas could only admire.

As they walked round, it became ever clearer to Douglas that the house would lend itself to division into at least four really excellent apartments with perhaps a fifth, a granny-flat, in the semi-basement.

His companion let slip that the present owner was anxious to sell, and to sell quickly in order to finance an investment abroad. The house was not suitable for a small hotel or large enough for a hostel or a hospice. There was, as usual, an economic depression in Scotland and the larger private house without a sporting estate attached was not selling well. A bed-and-breakfast does not command a high price. An offer of or close to the asking price might well be accepted by return of post.

Douglas was tired of being a wage slave. He was adequately paid but he had an eye for the defects in a property, an instinct for property values and the patience to prepare a thorough report. Clients, he knew, came to his employers' firm because of his work. He also knew that this work was charged out with an oncost that made him feel like weeping. A move into becoming a property developer suddenly seemed very attractive.

The first and most obvious snag was that a property developer needs capital. Considering his assets, Douglas was forced to the conclusion that he had few if any. His car had been more expensive than he could justify even to himself, but it had been in an accident which would make it difficult to sell. He owned most of his flat in Morningside but it was small and dark and without parking space. The rest of his worldly goods might add up to a thousand on a good day, or perhaps double that figure if he threw in his two shotguns, which he had no intention of doing. His bank account would barely sustain him until his next salary cheque.

The next step was to visit his bank manager. After some rather unsatisfactory interviews had taken place at both his bank and at several building societies, it was confirmed that, in a time of recession, a customer without either funds or a long history of borrowing and repayment would have more chance of winning the lottery than of borrowing more than a fraction of the sum required. The lottery proving unforthcoming, he was left with the possibility of a private loan. His mind turned towards Seymour McLeish.


ttitudes vary remarkably according to how much money the other person has or is believed to have. The pauper sees every well-heeled passer-by as arrogant, condescending and probably a crook, while the rich man sees the pauper as jealous, idle and lacking any ounce of get-up-and-go.

Seymour McLeish had suddenly acquired wealth in mid-life when a novel that he had written during a holiday in Benidorm had hit the best-seller lists, been serialized on television and then made into a prodigiously successful film. Nobody had anticipated such success so an agent on his behalf had negotiated a very favourable contract. He never wrote another word but, as he said, why should he? Douglas had known him at the time of his success but had been unable to detect any change in attitude. Seymour remained just the same vague, untidy, likeable man. He continued to run and even to expand his garage-cum-filling-station and its agency for new and used cars with modest efficiency although, with his film being dubbed into language after language and being repeated regularly on television, he could well have afforded to retire in some comfort.

BOOK: With My Little Eye
2.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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