A Commonplace Killing



Harriet Walter reads a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby.

It's a summer's day in 1946 in North London. Lillian is facing the prospect of a two hour queue at Nag's Head for a small, stale loaf. Bread is about to go on the ration. Still, she applies her make up and makes sure her seams are straight; you'd never believe she was 43! She leaves her husband, Walter, lightly snoring in bed. It's not that she wanted him to have been killed when he was away during the war; it's more that she just hadn't wanted him to come back to her. Instead of looking forward, Lillian can't help but hanker for those war days when she 'did her bit' in a more unconventional way than was perhaps expected.

Divisional Detective inspector Cooper is enjoying his first break in weeks when he's called to a bomb site. A woman's body, probably that of a prostitute, has been found. That's all he needs; sex crimes are always difficult to solve. London is in the grip of a crime wave. The number of crimes committed on VE Day was more than double that on the same day in 1939, and the Met is short of thousands of men. Coupons and ration books and queuing for everything had made criminals of everyone. The war may be over but things are struggling to get better. Can things return to how they used to be, before the bombs and the filth?

The abridger is Lauris Morgan Griffiths.

Produced by Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Two of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby.

Detective Cooper doesn't relish the prospect of investigating the murder of a prostitute on a bomb site. In the middle of an unprecedented crime wave in that hot London summer of 1946, it seems like an awful lot of effort to put in for a commonplace killing. The only light relief in his life is the young Policewoman Tring from the A4 Women's branch who has been assigned as his driver.

Lillian Frobisher, meanwhile, is dreaming of escape from a life of chamber pots and ration books.

When her husband Walter had come back from the war, they'd agreed to give things a go for the sake of their son Douglas, but Lillian is growing increasingly resentful and irritated by him. She's still a good looking woman, despite her age, and she spends time on her appearance. She was a woman who had enjoyed herself during the war, and she can't help but long for the days before Walter returned to her.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby, abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths.

Producer:Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Three of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby, set in the North London summer of 1946. The victory party is well and truly over.

DDI Cooper suspects that he probably has more chance of marrying Ingrid Bergman than resolving a random sex murder on a bomb site. But there are a few odd things about this seemingly 'commonplace killing' that strike him as unusual. For one, the victim's appearance; un-darned nylons and a neatly laundered blouse - certainly not the usual garb of a prostitute. But also, where was the handbag? Every London woman had caught the Blitz habit of keeping your handbag close to you at all times.

Lillian Frobisher is an attractive mother of 43. She makes an effort to ensure she looks good whilst avoiding being seen as the sort of woman whom men regard as a 'possible.' Dreaming of a nice new life in Muswell Hill where she meets gentlemen for cocktails is the only way she can cope with the greyness of her existence.

The war has left it's mark on everyone, including a young man called Dennis who can't escape a recurring dream of flying through the air - to his mind, this was an odd dream for a sailor. He's got a nice little number going involving stolen suitcases which enables him to buy under the counter cigarettes and to dress well, and he can always barter and exchange what he doesn't want with any number of fences or spivs. The war has made criminals of everyone.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths. The producer is Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Four of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby, set in post war London. Both Lillian and DDI Cooper seek respite from the heat and the grime.

Dennis wakes needing something to eat to soak up the alcohol from the night before. He decides to go to the café where he can flirt with the squint eyed waitress before going on to King's Cross to pinch another suitcase. He could then do some deals with a woman at his lodgings and perhaps get hold of a few coupons; and if the waitress plays her cards right she might benefit from his ill gotten gains. That's his plan. But when he gets to the café, another woman takes his fancy.

Policewoman Tring is a bright and determined young thing sent from the A4 Woman's branch to drive DDI Cooper around as he investigates the killing of a woman on a bomb site. Cooper can't help but wonder what was one more dead body after a war that had killed millions, but he is touched by Tring's insistence that every effort should be made to resolve the crime 'even if some women do deserve it.' Perhaps her generation won't foul things up as his had, after all. He can't fail but be moved by her innocence and moral upstanding, and he allows himself briefly at least to imagine the possibility of a life with her. But he always found it difficult to think of the future. His last relationship had been with a woman he knew he could never have; his best mate's girl, and the memory of her still haunts him.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths

The producer is Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Part Five of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby.Lillian is pleasantly distracted by a well- dressed stranger, and the pathologist comes up with some new evidence.

Lillian and her young friend Evelyn (who lives rent free in Lillian's attic) have gone to a café where they meet a fat and vulgar woman called Nesta, but also a cocky young man called Dennis who calls her 'Blondie'. She notices the quality of his green jacket and his fancy tie - they make him stand out a bit. And his sneer gives him an air of contempt which gives her a queer sort of thrill.

Meanwhile DDI Cooper is becoming increasingly frustrated with the case, when a break comes along. The mackintosh they found at the murder site has been identified as a Westmoreland which Cooper knows is stocked at the exclusive Gamages department store. And the pathologist finds evidence that makes Cooper question if this woman was raped at all.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths.

The producer is Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Six of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby.

The discovery of an ID card leads DDI Cooper to Walter Frobisher, who is clearly hiding something.

Cooper takes an instant dislike to Frobisher and he allows Inspector Lucas ask the questions to start so that he can stand back and observe. He notices that this ostensibly pathetic looking man is seething with rage, and a lie is revealed.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths and produced by Sarah Langan.


DDI Cooper's suspicions about Walter Frobisher increase as he pays him an unexpected visit.

Frobisher has admitted that he rowed with Lillian before she left - she had even thrown her wedding ring at him in anger, and he tells Cooper that he thought she would have gone off to visit her sister in Jaywick. A conversation with their son Douglas brings some clarity, and Evelyn, under pressure reveals some interesting information that opens up a new line of enquiry.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths and produced by Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Eight of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby. The investigation follows a new twist.

The sham of The Frobishers' marriage is now out in the open. The couple had been trying to make a go of things since Walter came back from the war 'for the sake of their son', but Walter has admitted that he knew that his wife had affairs, and finally Lillian had become aware of Walter's deceit too. Evelyn's revelation that Lillian had met a spiv called Dennis in a café has sent the enquiry off in a new direction and Cooper is now armed with an artists' impression of him. Bright eyed Policewoman Tring has made some interesting discoveries and reveals, to Cooper's devastation, that she wants to join CID.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths and produced by Sarah Langan.


Harriet Walter reads Episode Nine of a dark and mysterious thriller by Sian Busby. DDI Cooper wants to find the spiv called Dennis.

Cooper is distracted temporarily from the case by a raid on a packaging factory. One of the apprehended villains though happens to be in possession of something that he hopes may lead him to the spiv that Evelyn said Lillian went off with. So next on his list of people to talk to is a barber called Manny Cohen, who it's said can fence anything from a cigarette to an elephant.

Meanwhile, Dennis has had one of his dreams again - the one that always ended with him flying through the air with the feeling that the bit that of his brain that had been blasted out of him in the war, was gone forever.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths and produced by Sarah Langan.

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Lillian was sick and tired of her life. The drudgery, the scrimping, and Walter's pathetic ways. She longed for some sophistication; for nice dresses, and for cocktails at Quaglino's. She had been looking for an excuse for whatever it was she felt she might just do, and discovering her husband's deceit with Evelyn was just the thing.

Dennis has woken from another one of his episodes, but this time something was different. Since the crack on the head he'd had whilst in action, he always suffered blanks when he had drunk too much, and he had definitely been drinking gin with Nesta in The Feathers. As the memories come back to him in fractured pieces, he realises that Nesta has made away with all of his money. His plea for help leads DDI Cooper to the devastating and heart rending conclusion of the case.

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby is abridged by Lauris Morgan Griffiths.

Produced by Sarah Langan.