O for Obstructions – Azure Spark. Part 15

[Music treat at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

OBSTRUCTIONS – Saturday Late Afternoon

Odious odours and smoke obscure the scene at the junction of Snowdon and Madog. I thread my way through the onlookers and under the police tape. The fire was fierce, destroying most of the corner building’s façade. A charred signboard hangs dangerously loose.

A group of North Wales firefighters are dousing down. One acts officious.

“Late as always, Meinwen. I solved this hours ago.”

Unlikely. Owen Anwyl might be a fire investigator, but his solutions depend on others.

I’ve known him all my life, but I’m the eldest sibling by a year.

“Some of us have other cases to occupy our hours.”

His smirk prepares me for more taunts.

But a man in blue slacks, red shirt and white flannel jacket pushes his way through the barrier towards us. 5 foot 11, athletic, tanned, dyed black hair.

“Hugh Arbuthnot. I own this shop.” His voice pronounces every word like another royal invader. His icy stare flicks between us, then he selects my brother in his dusty uniform – casts me away. “Officer, I need to know what happened here.”

His equally posh lawyer will be next – or his accountant to count the losses.

“A car mounted the pavement and skidded into your shop front. Then the ruptured fuel tank exploded. Petrol – that’s the acrid odour. A simple accident.”

Owen leads the owner around the burnt out 4×4 – torched by the ram-raiders. No accident. Nor the petty thief we at CID are tracking.

I assess the interior. Any robbery evidence is obliterated by arson. Convenient – for the perpetrators.

Tattoos tingling, I tap my bracer. A for Arson. R for Robbery. O for Organised. Deliberate. ROAD. But not road rage.

“Why the police tape? Do you suspect a crime?”

“No, just routine to keep onlookers back.” More Owen bull-shit.

“I disagree, this is a crime scene.”

“Who are you?”

I’m not dressed as a cop. So, I reach inside my biking leathers for my warrant card.

“An opinionated observer who’s operating without her lezzie partner – for once.”

I scowl at Owen, but the posh Englishman flinches – one gesture short of crossing himself.

“I’m Detective Sparkle Anwyl, CID. This officer requested our involvement in this suspected arson, which I believe was a ram raid robbery.”

Glancing at my ID, Hugh Arbuthnot frowns, hands behind his back. “I demand another detective – a second opinion. Not from someone like you.”

“So, not Welsh,” I say, twisting his insult. “Not easy in North Wales. But my partner is Tamil – her family immigrated from South India. And she’s a more senior detective. Plus, our boss, Detective Inspector Ffion Baines approves of our teamwork. Now, do you want to obstruct us or resolve this case?”

I’m out of order but annoyed. Ffion would agree. Owen is stirring. He requested me on purpose. Petty sibling rivalry.

A for Arson and Arbuthnot. R for Ram-raid and Robbery. O for Owner and Obstructions. D for Disagree and Disgrace.

ROAD. Ignoring the rage, where to? Trace the 4 x 4.

“Officer Anwyl, finish off your fire investigation, then please allow our forensic team to gather what they need – like that vehicle.”

At the outside corner of the shop, I wait for Hugh Arbuthnot. He will talk to me. He has no choice.

I gather more evidence. The angle of the crash is deliberate. The torched vehicle designed to obliterate evidence but not destroy the building. Measured. Observed in advance.

Hugh interrupts.

“My official objection will be lodged. I can give my opinion but no more than that.”

“That’s your right, sir. For now, I need to know how long you’ve owned this shop, what would the robbers take, and have there been any other occurrences?”

He paces, throwing glances at the building and the burnt-out car.

“My wife bought The Jewel Box two years ago.” He grits his teeth and taps his left foot. “She died in the spring. I’ve attempted to run this gift shop, but I have my own work. I’m a movie producer with a demanding professional schedule.”

He hands me a fancy card – Hugh B Arbuthnot, Oriole Productions, Executive Producer.

“Who runs the shop when you’re working?”

“My daughter, Olivia and her husband.” He snorts, head held high. “Poulsen.” He slaps his left palm to his forehead. “He mixes in shady circles. Some of his cronies did this.”

Opportunistic thieves? Or convenient coincidence? Whose production?

For those that wondered, yes this is my #WEP/IWSG post for April so part of the 2019 WEP/IWSG Challenge. This incident will be explored further over the course of the next four #WEP/IWSG posts. In the meantime, please enjoy Azure Spark, another case for Sparkle Anwyl and her colleagues.

Word Count 731: MPA

Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP/IWSG Challenge, the following applies:

(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)

For further details on this A to Z theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –


And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

59 thoughts on “O for Obstructions – Azure Spark. Part 15

    • Classical and soundtracks for me, Olga. Back in the UK, there was a radio station called Classic FM that played both, so I had that on most of the day. As for the threats, I’m trying to tie them together in my Y post – well, some of them.


  1. Intriguing! I like your take on the prompt. Sparkle was definitely far more patient in dealing with Owen and his crap than I would have been. I wonder where this tale will take us next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dealing with pretentious/irritating siblings as we grow up takes patience – and becomes necessary. [I have one.] Tomorrow, Sparkle has her other case to focus on. But she’ll be back to The Jewel Box investigation and interviewing suspect next WEP/IWSG post.


    • I will post the whole A to Z story – Azure Spark – at the beginning of May; if you prefer waiting, Nancy. This scene however sets up a new case that will take longer to resolve.


    • Prejudice comes in so many forms and is often misrepresentation – focusing on petty or perceived differences. Even with MS, you must know, how perceptions can blind people. I will build on this.


    • Not exactly, Sue – more another case that Sparkle has to deal with at the same time as Azure Spark. But, tomorrow she goes back to her priority case. I’m trying to reflect police work a little – less paperwork though – from austerity to workload. This one continues after the other is resolved.


  2. Well done! I really liked this. Is it a separate case or the original one Sparkle and her partner are working on? Either way, neat flash – kudos also on combining the prompt with the A-Z, lots of great O-words in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the compliments. This is another case that Sparkle’s DI has asked her to investigate at the same time as the one I’ve called ‘Azure Spark’ which is my A-Z story. She will interview her first suspect next WEP/IWSG post in June.

      They may both become part of my current WIP – at least Azure Spark will be part of ‘Fevered Few’.


  3. Hi Roland – firstly love the Offenbach – takes me back a few decades I used to play this continuously when I still lived at home.

    Great I see you’ll be posting the whole at the beginning of May. We are an opinionated lot aren’t we … we don’t need evidence, we don’t need to think – we just point our finger: that’s them. I really like where you’re taking this … clever story – thank you – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I heard it a lot when I listened to Classic FM in the UK.

      The May post will only be Azure Spark, although this scene will be in there. But Sparkle will resolve the arson case later. Plus, I’m working on something in the Z scene that links to another case. Glad it’s working, Hilary.


  4. Hi Roland,
    I so enjoyed your submission. So much so, that I have prescribed for your blog so that I can read it to the end. What I like especially was your police character. I’m assuming that Sparkle is a kick ass policewoman and you gave her life. Great beginning and I look forward to each segment of this story.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blushing at the compliments, Pat. Thanks for subscribing to my blog.

      Sparkle is, as you thought, is a policewoman. A little kick-ass and a lot of mental lateral thinking. She’s the main protagonist in my WIP series, Snowdon Shadows. Her partner and lover, Kama – Detective Sergeant V Kamatchi Pillai – is of Tamil extraction and her approach differs.


  5. Sparkle is awesome. She gets the job done even when having to “deal” with people and all their personal prejudices. I like the use of the ROAD acronym and the overall tone of this mystery. It’s very clever. I’ve really enjoyed the way you’ve developed this character. Can’t wait to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t wait to read the entire story. I think Hugh did it and he’d like people to believe it’s his useless son in law. I was wondering, as I read, how you would bring in the Jewel Box theme.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the beginning of another case for Sparkle, and the next part will be for the June WEP/IWSG Challenge – unless there is the demand/need to do it sooner, DG. The sibling rivalry came to a head when Sparkle decided she wanted to become a cop like her dad – probably as he favoured her. The Jewel Box is the arson-devastated gift shop.


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