Framed: A Ryan Parish Short Story-scene three

I decided to visit the brothel to get a feel for Ellen Ford’s world. Well, I went to have a look at the building. It was ten in the morning when I parked in the street in front of the building housing the brothel and got out to have a look around.

The brothel was closed. A sign on the wall in the shade of the front veranda informed me the establishment opened nightly at six, and advised potential patrons to make an appointment online. I snapped a photo of the sign with my phone.

The place looked like it had once enjoyed a life as a pub. It was a two-storey bluestone building, with an impressive wrap around balcony, dating back to the early days of the twentieth century, when there was a pub on every corner that closed at six.

All of the ground floor windows were protected with iron bars. The main front door facing the street was locked. I counted four more doors as I walked around to the car park behind the building, where I spotted a staircase leading down from the balcony into the car park. The car park was deserted.

I looked for a security camera over the rear entrance. I couldn’t see one. I assumed, if they had one, it must be inside the building. I wondered which entrance Clive had used, and if every entrance was covered by a security camera during operating hours. A negative answer to that question would give a jury that little bit of wriggle room Maggie was looking for.

I knew from the police file that the room where Ellen’s body had been found was located on the second floor. I walked up the stairs and along the balcony past the rooms that opened onto it. There were no iron bars on the windows and glass-panelled doors. I peered through one of the doors and read a sign telling guests to use the outside stairs if there was a fire.

I tried one of the doors. It was locked.

A little voice in my head told me if they were using the balcony as a fire escape, those apparently locked glass-panelled doors would have to be easy to open from the inside to comply with fire regulations. That meant someone could easily let an accomplice into the building, if there were no security cameras covering the numerous doors that opened onto the balcony.

I peered into the recesses of the balcony’s ceiling. I couldn’t see any cameras covering the balcony and wondered how serious the owners were about securing the building.

As I walked back towards the stairs at the rear of the building, I noticed a sticker on a window. In bold letters, it alerted would-be intruders to the presence of an electronic security system monitored by Suburban Security Services. I stopped and snapped a photo of the sign with my phone.

To be continued…


Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

Framed: A Ryan Parish Short Story-scene two

The folder Maggie gave me was full of information on Clive. He’d told her his life story and named everyone he’d ever had a relationship with: business and otherwise. He’d even confessed to being abusive towards his ex-wife, and claimed she’d alienated his children from him.

Maggie had interviewed his brother, Charles. He’d told her Clive was a hard-headed businessman who’d upset a few people but no-one had ever threatened him, apart from his ex, who’d actually carried through with her threat and divorced him.

The police had interviewed his ex. She had an alibi for the night in question and no obvious motive. She’d received a generous settlement. His kids weren’t old enough to be visiting a brothel to strangle someone their father was paying for sex.

The more I read of Maggie’s notes, the less confident I felt about uncovering anything in Clive’s life that would explain why someone wanted to frame him for murder. And, every time I read the police report, I couldn’t help thinking he’d done it. But, he was paying me good money to come up with something to suggest otherwise.

When I got home, I ran the details of the case past Miranda while we were eating.

‘What do you know about the woman he’s supposed to have killed?’ said Miranda.

‘She was twenty-six, a sex worker, her name’s Ellen Ford, and she’s dead,’ I said.

‘A twenty-six-year old could be mixed up in a lot of things, Ryan,’ said Miranda. ‘I know I was when I was that age.’ Her face morphed into one of those smiles that warned me not to go there. ‘If your client thinks he’s being framed for her murder, don’t you think it might be a good idea to find out what this Ellen was up to when she wasn’t working?’

I knew she’d say something like that.

To be continued…


Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

Framed: A Ryan Parish PI Short Story-scene one

I spend a lot of time watching people cheat on their spouse or insurance company. Sometimes, I get involved in looking for missing persons. This assignment, though, wasn’t going to be anything like my usual cases.

Clive Richards had been charged with murder. According to the charge sheet, he’d strangled a young woman named Ellen Ford, a sex worker, after an engagement with her in a brothel in Brompton.

The police had lifted Clive’s fingerprints from the crime scene. They had a DNA sample extracted from semen left in a discarded condom found next to the body, which matched Clive’s DNA profile, and CCTV footage of him entering and leaving the brothel.

And, just to top off the case against Clive, his bank had confirmed he’d paid for services at the brothel on the night of the murder with his credit card.

It looked like a watertight case with precious little wriggle room for a jury to give Clive the benefit of the doubt.

But, Clive was protesting his innocence and insisting he’d been framed. The police weren’t buying his story, given the pile of evidence they had stacked against him.

Miranda’s friend, Maggie Clark, was defending Clive, which is why I was sitting in her office. You can probably guess how I got roped into finding out if Clive was telling her the truth or not.

‘What do you think, Maggie? Do you believe him?’

Maggie twisted her hands together and shrugged. ‘I really don’t know, Ryan. He’s an arsehole, if I’ve ever met one, but I can’t let that get in the way of his defence. I owe it to him to at least find out if there’s a possibility he’s telling the truth.’

I picked up the folder she’d asked me to read before our meeting. ‘The police case looks pretty convincing to me. We could be wasting our time,’ I said.

‘He’s got plenty of money,’ said Maggie, ‘and it would be nice to stick one up the police, especially if they haven’t done their job properly.’

That turned it into a bit of a challenge, and I liked a challenge, especially one that could expose a case based solely on the obvious. And, even if I wasn’t convinced of Clive’s innocence, I was willing to take his money.

‘What’s Clive’s story?’ I asked.

‘He’s in the import business. Fairly successful from what I can tell,’ said Maggie. ‘He’s in business with his brother, Charles.’

‘How long?’

‘They started in ninety-eight,’ said Maggie. ‘They have a warehouse on Norwood Parade.’

‘C and C Imports?’

‘That’s it.’

Small world. I’d bought stuff from them. ’What’s his version of what happened?’

Maggie looked at her notes. ‘He doesn’t deny going to the brothel. Claims he’s a regular, but he denies killing the girl. Says she was alive when he left.’

‘We know from the police report he was at the brothel the night she was killed,’ I said.

‘Yes. The CCTV confirms that.’

‘Have you seen the footage?’

‘Yes, but it only covers the area in front of the reception desk. There are no other cameras inside the brothel, according to the police,’ said Maggie.

’So, we know he went in and came out?’

‘Yes, and that he left before the girl was found dead,’ said Maggie.

‘How long before?’

Maggie looked at her notes again. ‘About twenty minutes.’

‘Doesn’t look good.’

‘But that’s enough time for someone else to act,’ said Maggie, ‘if Clive’s right about being framed.’

She had a point, but that someone either wanted Clive out of the way or was organised enough to capitalise on his presence in the brothel to terminate Ellen Ford for some other reason.

To be continued…


Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

The Cobalt Sky

The Cobalt Sky is book 10 in Keith Dixon’s Sam Dyke Investigations series.

The story is driven by the theft of an artwork and the dysfunctional relationships of the artist’s family. The more Sam looks into the people associated with the artist, the more dysfunctional the family appears, and the less likable the artist becomes as a person.

The investigation is hampered by a lack of honesty in several key players, one of whom is the thief. No surprise there, but there are a few surprises in the telling of this tale. A good read.

You can get a preview and purchasing details at: The Cobalt Sky.

The Bank Inspector

The Bank Inspector is the first book in a trilogy of crime stories, featuring Detective Sergeant Brian Shaw, set in the banking world of 1950’s South Australia by Australian author Roger Monk.

The world of the 1950s is a place most of us only know from television shows, and the intricacies of its banking and police worlds have slipped from our working memories.

Although I lived through most of the 1950s, as a small boy I had no idea how things worked in the adult world. This story is an intriguing look through a window into that world.

The tale is one of an almost perfect crime and an attempted murder that, at first, does not seem related to the main story. However, as the story progresses the pieces start to make sense as more and more connections are revealed.

I enjoyed the insight into the less sophisticated world of yesterday – a world where there were no mobile telephones, no photocopiers, no digital photography, and no computers. It was also a world where people trusted others to be who they said there were – an aspect exploited by the criminal mind driving the story.

As a writer of contemporary crime fiction, I felt a bit sorry for D Sgt Shaw. He has his work cut out for him in this investigation, in a world where the police have to rely on information gained through speaking to people, very basic forensics, and the criminal making a mistake.

And, of course, mistakes are made as they always are. It’s a good read with a pace suited to the times.

You can find out more about The Bank Inspector and the other books in the trilogy on www.rogermonk.com.au

Ebook edition is available from Amazon.

What it’s like being a teacher.

Here’s another social issue I slipped into After. This snippet comes from chapter two, where Sgt Marie Wood ponders why Josie Ford may have decided to take some time out.


She turned her thoughts to Josie. Why would an apparently happily married mother of two teenage boys disappear first thing in the morning? Well, she was a teacher. The things they had to put up with would be enough to push anybody over the edge. Teachers didn’t get much respect these days and it was becoming fashionable to blame them for everything that was wrong with today’s young people. So much for parental responsibility. Now it was all some teacher’s fault for not disciplining little Johnny or not teaching him properly. Parents were even going into classrooms and threatening teachers when their little darling was called to account for his latest outburst of anti-social behaviour and it wasn’t just the boys mucking up in schools. Just last week she had attended the local high school when an angry parent had turned up and threatened to shoot the principal.


Have you ever wondered what it’s like working as a teacher these days? It’s certainly not an easy task. Perhaps it never has been.

A lot of us have trouble managing our own children. Can you imagine what it must be like being responsible for other people’s children? And not just one or two of them but maybe twenty-five or more, all of them vying for your attention and some intent on making your life as difficult as possible.

It’s probably just as well most kids are good-natured and want to get the most out of what their schools have to offer, otherwise, there probably wouldn’t be any teachers. What would we do then?

Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

Are you a slave?

A thought-provoking extract from After, book 1 of the Inspector West series.


The bus arrived at his stop in the city. He got off and ambled towards the bank. No point in rushing in for another routine day in the world of banking.

Paul started his day, like he did most mornings, sharing a cup of coffee with Henry, his team leader for the last two years. It was an opportunity to sort out the day’s priorities and discuss the state of the world before they got down to the serious stuff.

‘I look at the people working here, Paul, especially the ones that have been here for twenty years or more, and wonder how anyone can work in a place like this for that long and be satisfied with a basic clerical position.’

‘I think I might know why. It’s called economic slavery.’

‘Slavery?’

‘Think about it. The first workers anywhere were slaves. I mean, who built the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China?’

‘I thought it was the emperor.’

‘Well, he got the credit but who actually did all the work? The slaves and all they got for it was food and lodging. The emperor lived in luxury while the ordinary working man slaved away building the great whatever.’

‘But you can’t be serious about slavery in today’s world.’

‘It’s more subtle these days. In the past, the rich could buy and sell slaves on the open market. They can’t do that anymore and they don’t have to. We turn ourselves into slaves. Think about it. The rich still own the means of production. They make all the things we need and want. They advertise all their wonderful stuff, which we can buy in their shops with money they will lend us, provided we agree to sign a mortgage, a bill of sale or credit card and work for them for minimal wages to pay it all off.’

‘Paul, you’re having me on, aren’t you?’

‘Henry, what’s stopping you from resigning this morning? It’s such a neat system most people don’t even realise they’re slaves, until it’s too late.’


One of the fun parts of writing crime fiction is you can tackle any social issue within the context of the story. Who knows how many others I slipped into this one?

Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

Racked by Sue Coletta

Racked is the fourth book in Sue Coletta’s Grafton County series, based on the lives of crime writer Sage Quintano and her husband, Niko, the Sheriff of Grafton County.

I imagine being the wife of a sheriff would be trying enough but, somehow, Sage Quintano manages to bring more excitement into her life by attracting people intent on doing her or her family harm.

The story in Racked centres around the unsolved disappearance of five boys and Sage finding out they were all given a similar item prior to their disappearance – a stuffed animal like the one someone has mysteriously given her two-year-old son, Noah.

There is plenty of tension, much of it generated by the actions of Sage, who takes things into her own hands – despite her husband reminding her that she’s the writer and he’s the sheriff.

It’s a page-turner. It’s one of those books where you want to know what happens, even though the main character is driving you nuts with her impulsive behaviour. 

But, be warned, It’s not your usual police procedural. Sage Quintano is an amateur investigator who thinks the State Police and her sheriff husband aren’t doing enough, so expect a bit mayhem. I enjoyed it.

You can find out more about Sue Colettta and her books on www.suecoletta.com.

Your Journey to Becoming Unskippable

This is sort of a business book. It’s full of business case studies and marketing advice. But, it’s also a book about encouraging you to think bigger.

Kukral sings the praises of what he defines as unskippable people and businesses. These are basically people you can’t ignore and firms you want to do business with.

The purpose of the book is to inspire you to become someone who can’t be passed over or to transform your business into one that attracts people.

I found the book both inspiring and depressing at the same time.

The inspiration comes from the stories and the advice on how to go about becoming unskippable. All good motivational and personal growth stuff.

The depressing part is Kukral’s reading of the state of society and its descent into intolerant tribalism, especially in its use of social media. Unfortunately, international readers can’t take much solace from the fact that his analysis is largely USA based. 

Kukral’s marketing message is to focus on the tribe that sees the world the way you do. He urges you to stand for something and stop wasting your time and energy trying to be generic – you’re never going to appeal to everybody, so choose which customers to pitch to, and pitching to people who share your values is the way to go.

It’s an interesting and thought provoking read with a message to get away from relying on the toxic world of social media and start getting back to dealing with real people, face to face.

You can find out more about Jim Kukral and buy links for the book on www.JimKukral.com 


Peter Mulraney is the author of the Everyday Business Skills series and My Life is My Responsibility.

Writing Mystical Journey

The initial working title for this book, when it was still an idea, was Field Notes for Pilgrims. At that stage, I thought I’d be taking a similar approach to sharing information as I’d followed in Field Notes for Writers. 

But, as the idea transformed into the book and the content started to fall into place, the title morphed into A Mystic’s Toolkit before finally becoming Mystical Journey: A Handbook for Modern Mystics.

By the time I’d finished writing, the book was more than a collection of tools for modern mystics. It told the story of how I became a mystic and explained how being a modern mystic was different to how mystics were in the past. That required a few reflections and a modern definition for the mystical journey.

When I first started looking into mysticism, I was under the misapprehension that mysticism was a special kind of calling to devote your life to God. That’s how the ancients saw it, and they often removed themselves from the world and retired into seclusion in monasteries, ashrams or the hills.

There are still people who do that, but I discovered mysticism is no longer restricted to such people. And, that’s what I wanted to share with you.

We are all called to be mystics, people who make space for the divine in their lives, but it’s often a difficult call to hear.

In the West, we are living in what are called secular times, where the influence of the major religions is falling away. Our churches are mostly empty and, yet, people are still searching for something that will give their lives meaning. They feel a yearning, a restlessness. They know they are missing something but they’re not quite sure what it is. 

That’s how the call often first shows up and, when we hear it, some of us throw ourselves into changing the external world. We seek our fulfilment through saving the planet, alleviating poverty or fighting corruption. 

Others stumble upon the inner, mystical journey and come to realise they first have to remember who they are, before they can effectively change the external world in which they are living their human lives.

And, let me warn you if you’re tempted to think being a modern mystic is a form of escapism – it’s also a call to change the world. Modern mystics are called to engage with the world; not hide away in sacred seclusion.

Mystical Journey: A Handbook for Modern Mystics is for those of you who have stumbled upon the inner way. Reading it will help you navigate your way along the path to self-discovery and wholeness. 

BUY from:

AMAZON Choose Your Store Other Online retailers

Your Local Bookshop