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Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's
Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's
Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's
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Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's

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Can you imagine it...? The Minister’s dead... The Police are doing strange things.... There’s a secret coven meeting in the boiler room and Daniel’s brother’s band is about to be famous! Can our 12-year-old hero take it all in his stride? Together with his best mate, Kavanagh, Daniel must solve a mystery. In fact, it’s the first trouble he’s ever had in his life, and he’s kind of in at the deep end. Turns out, the Minister had a double life and this opens the door to a world of possibility that most grown-ups, let alone schoolboys, would find hard to comprehend. Along the way, there are fights, frights, let-downs and child abduction. Who could have guessed there was so much going on in civilised Oxford? The real question is: will the future ever be the same again?

Release dateDec 19, 2019
Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's
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Oliver Franklin

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    Daniel Oriel and the Body in St Aldate's - Oliver Franklin

    Daniel Oriel

    and the Body in St Aldate’s

    by Oliver Franklin

    Copyright © 2013 Oliver Franklin

    The author has asserted his moral rights

    First published in 2015 by Buddlewood House

    Cover by P J Truscott – https://pjtruscott.wixsite.com/pjay/

    Logo by angwerproductions.co.uk. Typesetting, page design, layout by DocumentsandManuscripts.com

    The right of Oliver Franklin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the copyright, design and patents acts pertaining. All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this work may be made without written permission from the author.

    Chapter 1

    The Body

    The road was St Aldate’s in Oxford. That’s a well-to-do university town in Middle England. (By the way, ‘Middle England’ refers to a socio-economic group, not a place. But if we keep pointing these things out, we’ll never get on with our story.) You’ve probably heard of it. In actual fact, Oxford’s a city but people still talk about going into ‘town’. How many times have you heard a person getting on a bus say to the driver, ‘a single into town, please’? But, no matter...

    It was a chilly Thursday evening in mid-October and a boy was walking past the railings outside St Aldate’s Church. He was dressed in a school uniform and looked to be in a hurry. In fact, Daniel Oriel was on his way to speak to the vicar about resigning his position as altar boy. Being twelve years old, he wanted to spend more time on his homework, as the Dragon School – a well-to-do private school – demanded high standards from their students and he was worried about falling behind. Nonetheless, he would reassure the Reverend Blake that, whatever happened, he would stay loyal to the Church of England.

    He had pretty much decided what he wanted to say by the time he turned in at the gate and marched up the path leading to the ancient, oak door. He didn’t bother knocking as it was ajar, ready for choir practice later on in the evening, and the place was so cold anyway, it wouldn’t make much difference. Reverend Blake, for one, didn’t seem too concerned with his carbon footprint.

    Inside, all the lights were on and it looked much like any medium-sized church looks – Gothic windows, stone pillars, rows of pews – you know the sort of thing. And this was a few years before they raised all that money to do the conversion and modernisation, in which they rearranged the congregation in a semi-circle, added a stage, baptistry and sound system. There was a cardboard box on a bench in the nave, near the entrance, full of red hymn books – the music and words edition for the choristers – and the lamp at the organist’s chair was switched on. So everything was ready but the Reverend was nowhere to be seen.

    ‘Reverend Blake,’ Daniel called out, his voice echoing through the building. ‘Reverend Blake – I’m here! It’s me... Daniel...’

    Strange! There was no response. Daniel checked his watch – it was a quarter-to-six. The rush-hour traffic outside had all but gone and the place was exceedingly quiet. From where he was standing, in the aisle, he could even hear the slow, metallic click of the old clock in the base of the tower. There was no way the vicar would not have heard him.

    Somewhat puzzled by this, he thought he ought to investigate. Maybe the Reverend had just popped home because he had forgotten the hymn books? No, they were by the entrance. Still puzzled, he made his way up the aisle, past the great organ in the North transept and on up into the chancel. In the chancel, there was a door to the vestry: the little room where the minister would put on his robes and make a cup of tea if needed. It also served as an office of sorts. The vestry was a small, square room with only one small, arched window and there was green lichen on the walls because of the damp.

    Daniel went through the door and, as he came into the room, he had a terrible shock...!

    There, lying face-down upon the purple carpet, was the Reverend Blake. Daniel almost jumped out of his skin. It was all he could do not to cry out. There was no blood, no sign of injury, and no sign of a fight. Yet he seemed to know instinctively that the man was dead, and that he had not simply taken a fall and been knocked unconscious.

    For a moment, Daniel was frozen to the spot, but after a while, he crept over to the body and felt the man’s neck to check for a pulse, then he listened for any sound of him breathing. A sickening shiver went down Daniel’s spine. There was no doubting it now: the Reverend was dead, quite dead. The man had been Daniel’s friend and confidant, and he wanted to take one last look at him before running to call for help, although he knew it was too late.

    He crouched by the body. Gingerly he rolled him over... The minister’s kind, grey face turned suddenly upward! But, alas, it was a vacant, lifeless gaze. His casual suit was not creased, so he hadn’t lain there for long... but the noise of crumpling paper came from an inside pocket of his jacket.

    Charged with curiosity and thinking that the late Reverend would not mind too much, Daniel reached into the pocket and found a large, stuffed envelope. He turned it over and, to his consternation, he saw his name written on it! He gazed at it, quite bewildered, but there it was, in black ink:


    It was written in Reverend Blake’s own hand, which, of course, Daniel recognised from many long hours spent in church and often tidying up letters and scrawled sermon notes.

    What did it all mean? His heart was thumping. The vicar was dead. Not only that, but he’d had an envelope with Daniel’s name on it at the very time he’d died!

    Daniel was breathing fast; he had to do something. He didn’t carry his mobile phone on him, so he would have to run home to his parents and tell them what had happened. Then they could call an ambulance – or, rather, the police.

    He stuffed the envelope in his pocket and sprang up, then ran through the empty church and out of the door. When he came to the road he turned left and sped off down the street. Then he skidded to a halt. Of course! His mum and dad were out at a meeting and would not be home until later. Okay, what next? He would go straight to his friend’s house and tell him to tell his mum and dad. That was the best thing to do... He raced back the way he’d just come and continued on to the far end of the road.

    Kavanagh was in Daniel’s year at the Dragon School and probably his best friend out of a rather small set. He was very good at giving a second opinion – even if one hadn’t been asked for – so, Daniel thought, he ought to know what to do.

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