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Cinema Detectives

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The problem with witnesses


Witness testimony remains a vital element in the detective's toolbox but, to sound a warning against relying on it exclusively, let me relate the story of the School Physics Lab:
In my school one day, our Physics class was split into eight groups to measure the timings of various experiments. Then, at the end of the

lesson, the teacher collected the valuable stop-watches to put them back in their box. One of the eight watches was found to be missing. Who in the class had taken it?
The class sat there in silence, wondering which of us had stolen the watch.
“You all saw the box of watches,” the

teacher said, “There were eight of them.”
Eventually, no-one having owned-up, the teacher had to let the class go on to our next lesson.
The next thing we knew, the eighth watch was back. Some other class had borrowed it before our lesson had even begun. Yet our teacher had shown us

the box of “eight watches” - and all of us had believed we had seen eight in there, the teacher included.

(c) Cinema Detectives 2015

Cinema Detectives: Crime Wave


Mystery Fiction
community seems to have survived for many years in Birmingham's Five Ways district. But now there is a subtle threat to the inhabitants of Laburnum House. Rosa Pleck and Ken Prime investigate!
Cinema Detectives: Crime Wave


Cinema Detectives: Broken Windows


KEN PRIME and Rudolf Brex have big plans for the Cinema Detectives!
Cinema Detectives: Broken Windows


Cinema Detectives: The Lost Mile



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Use a tell-tale


Often, if you're in the private detective business, you'll find yourself working, and sometimes living, in sub-standard, rented, accommodation. This means that the layout of these premises was often designed by a landlord who never had any intention of living in or working in the place himself.

Now, often these places are pretty badly designed. And so, there may be spots where you will find that you regularly bang your head on a heating boiler, keep catching yourself on a certain ill-positioned cupboard as you come through a doorway, and so forth.
The thing to do here is to copy an idea from the old-time railroads who used

to protect brakesmen working on the roofs of the wagons by having lengths of rope dangling down from a gantry to tap them on the head to warn them of approaching bridges and tunnels. My advice is to get a piece of folded paper and tape it onto the edges of these cupboards and boilers etc. Then as you approach a hit, the paper

touches you first and you get a warning. You might not think that this would save you from a knock, but it does.

(c) Cinema Detectives 2015

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Cinema Detectives Features

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The Cinema Detective ebooks

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The ABC Fugitive
Cinema Detectives: The ABC Fugitive
Battle Ground
Cinema Detectives: Battle Ground
Bull Ring
Cinema Detectives: Bull Ring
Cinema Detectives
Cinema Detectives
The End of Dark Matter
Cinema Detectives: The End of Dark Matter
The Dominus Club
Cinema Detectives: The Dominus Club
The Highway of Fear
Cinema Detectives: The Highway of Fear
I'm On My Way To Your House
Cinema Detectives: I'm On My Way To Your House
Advice for Lone Workers
Cinema Detectives: Advice for Lone Workers
The Lost Mile
Cinema Detectives: The Lost Mile
Cinema Detectives Omnibus
The Third Woman
Cinema Detectives: The Third Woman
Three Legged Man
Three Legged Man
Man at the Top
Cinema Detectives: Man at the Top
Cinema Detectives: Unrivalled
The Night Whisperer
Cinema Detectives: The Night Whisperer

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The problem of Sampling Error


One of the key points to watch out for when working out probabilities of the facts in a case is what I like to call Sampling Error.
What do I mean by “Sampling Error”? Let me explain:
Well, I read a book called “Unbroken” about the true-life adventures of a British submarine in the Mediterranean during World War II.
What came across in this book was an almost-incredible tale of survival

despite all the mishaps that befell the boat. I even wondered whether this submarine had been lucky enough to receive an almost-divine protection. But then I came across descriptions of the many other British submarines which had faced exactly the same dangers, all of which had been sunk and the crews drowned.
And then it occurred to me; the submarine in the book had only been written about because it was the one

which had survived. There were no books about the other boats because the crews were all dead.
A fortune-teller who prints perfectly-true testimonials from satisfied clients to advertise her services - ignoring the testimonials from the 50% of clients for whom the predictions did not come true and who  therefore did not write in with their congratulations.

A stage magician performing “cold-reading”(mind-reading) uses the same technique (among others) to amaze his audiences.
Famed stock analyst Warren Buffet makes similar case against looking at a stock's values from the end result only, without analysis of its origins.

(c) Cinema Detectives 2015

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Rosa Pleck from the Cinema Detectives
Rosa of the Cinema Detectives!
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Cinema Detectives: The Play

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Three actors, minimal staging!

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The Truth About Rosa Pleck and the Cinema Detectives

    Rosa Pleck won the certificate for ‘Most Gifted Girl’ at Winson Green Primary School.
    But this slightly went to her head so that when at Secondary she didn’t do quite so well she got a bit of teasing, although she was still clever and always had a wild imagination.
    Rosa left school at 16 – early – before taking her exams – because she wanted to take a job like her best friend Jane, in a busy office. She realised her mistake after just a few weeks but felt unable to correct it by returning ignominiously to school.

“...Kenneth Prime was looking for a girl to handle the office work at his new detective agency...”

    A little later on, aware of Rosa’s unhappiness, her mother urged her to reply to an unusual job advertisement she had seen in the Birmingham Mail: Someone called Kenneth Prime was looking for a girl to handle the office work at his new detective agency. Rosa followed her mother’s advice and was hired.
    Almost too quickly for Ken, Rosa rapidly moved across from office work to become Assistant Detective and soon she was working on more cases than Ken did.

Ken Prime
Ken Prime

‘The sparse writing style, unique drawings and touch of the absurd which make up the work of Chris Reynolds have led to his being heralded as perhaps the most exciting British talent in comics.’
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Rosa and Ken
Ken and Rosa discuss tactics


Cinema Detectives: The Play

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Three actors, minimal staging!


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The Dark Lady on Amazon Kindle

The Secret Behind Ken Prime’s Business Success

    After several years working in the field for Xerox Copiers, Ken was promoted to a job at head office.
    But after a few months of this he began to feel that life was passing him by. He missed the thrill of going out on the road and meeting people.
    The death of his brother on Ken’s thirtieth birthday shocked him into realising that time was pressing and so he quit his job and set himself up as a kind of free-lance salesman representing a wide range of products. This, like his original job at Xerox, enabled him to get out of the office and drive around the MidFs meeting people.

“ was while watching a film that he had the idea to use his ‘people skills’ to become a detective...”

    Ken had always been a film buff and it was while watching a film (Blade Runner!) that he eventually had the idea to use his ‘people skills’ to become a detective.
    At first his detective agency was called ‘Prime Services’, the same as his sales business.
    Then his friendship with Rudolf Brex, a film-maker and a major film distributor in the Midlands, led to an interesting project. Brex offered to make a series of ‘B-movies’ based on Prime’s cases, to run before the main features in Brex’s chain of cinemas. These films were surprisingly popular although they always struggled to be a success financially. Brex’s enjoyment of the film-making was wonderful though. It always made him laugh!
    The films brought a lot of business to the detective agency and led to ‘Prime Services’ becoming more generally known as the Cinema Detectives.

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Cinema Detectives: BY THE BOOK

    It was an interesting case even if it wasn’t one that Rudolf Brex could easily make into one of his films about us. It was the year they knocked down the old Hippodrome and Rudolf was angry because he’d wanted to buy it.
    But I’m getting ahead of the story. My name is Ken Prime and I run a detective agency in Birmingham, UK. My assistant is a girl called Rosa Pleck. At the time of this adventure she had just moved into a new flat with her friend Anne, and that day she was late for work because she was still getting used to her new route.
    ‘We’ve got a new case,’ I said. ‘The owner of some bookshop has just died and there are two lots of heirs. They can’t find the old man’s money and they don’t trust each other so they want someone impartial to go and search the shop, so I’m off there to look.’
    ‘They think the money’s in the shop?’
    ‘Yes, they were here just before you came, Mr. & Mrs. Moore and Mr. & Mrs. Lovell. They discovered that about six months ago the old man cashed-in practically all his savings but now there’s no sign of anything.’
    ‘Can I come and help?’
    ‘Would you really be interested in searching through piles of old books?’
    ‘Ken, I love old books! I just love that bookshop smell. Mouldy but kind of “holy”. I’ll come too.’
    We drove there in one of the Land Rovers. It was a sunny morning at the end of the winter. I even caught a glimpse of blossom on a tree somewhere. We found the shop in a row of old buildings that didn’t look as if they had much of a future but Rosa seemed very interested in the street, looking around her slowly as if she could see things that I couldn’t.
    ‘So much of this part of Birmingham has been knocked down,’ I said, trying to catch her mood. ‘Soulless buildings they’re putting up now.’
    ‘That’s only because there hasn’t been enough time for things to happen in them.’
    ‘I was trying to empathise with you, Rosa,’ I said testily, but she wasn’t listening to me.
    ‘I wonder who bust the window?’
    ‘Kids,’ I said. ‘Ball-bearing guns. It’s a craze.’
    We let ourselves in. I tried the phone on the wall, which was still working. I nodded towards the broken window pane. ‘I’ll ring for the boarder-uppers.’
    Rosa was standing in the middle of the shop.
    ‘I hadn’t imagined we’d have to check this many books.’
    There was the main area of the shop and a stock room, also full of bookshelves but in a mess, and a tiny office with a kettle, sink and toilet and a lot of ‘booky’ clothes that had obviously belonged to the owner. We’d probably have to go through those too.
    Rosa began taking books down from the shelves nearest the window, flipping through the pages and then placing the books in a neat row on the floor. I started on the shelf opposite.
    ‘Sad. No one’s ever going to read many of these again,’ Rosa said, putting some of the books back. ‘Hey, look at this!’
    I thought she had found something relevant but it was just another old book, some kind of dull novel from years ago.
    ‘About a girl detective,’ Rosa said, grinning, ‘Gail Storey – Detective!’
    Then someone came into the shop. It was Mrs. Moore, one of the heirs.
    ‘I thought it was agreed with you and the Lovells that we would be doing the checking of the shop,’ I said.
    Mrs. Moore looked at my stack of books on the floor.
    ‘I’ve come in case you two find the money and decide to keep it for yourselves. Not working very quickly are you?’
    Rosa was still grinning. I supposed it was OK that Mrs. Moore had come. She couldn’t gain any unfair advantage over the Lovells while we were there too.
My uncle was a tricky old man,’ Mrs. Moore said. ‘I wouldn’t have put it past him to hide his money deliberately just to annoy us all.’
    She went across to the desk. I followed her to be sure of what she was doing.
    ‘Look at this,’ she said, jabbing a finger at the blotter on the desk, ‘And I thought you were meant to be the detectives.’
    Two words were written there in large block capitals, ‘SEWER COVER’.
    ‘It’s a clue, isn’t it?’ said Mrs. Moore. ‘It’s like I said. The old fool’s left us a clue. A manhole or something. Is there one of those around here? There must be.’
    I gave the desk a quick once-over because Mrs. Moore was right, we should have checked the desk first. There were some rather more valuable-looking books lying flat in one of the drawers. I thought I’d flip through those but Mrs. Moore was already making her way out into the yard behind the shop. I followed and saw her staring back at me in triumph. She had found her manhole cover.
    ‘Lift it up!’ said Mrs. Moore.
    I fetched tools from the land-rover and got the manhole open. There was no sign of any money in the dark hole or of anything else either.
    ‘Go down and see!’ said Mrs. Moore.
    I didn’t like the look of it.
    ‘If you won’t go down then I will,’ said Mrs. Moore and stormed back out through the shop.
    ‘Where do you suppose she’s gone?’ I wondered.
    ‘Changing her clothes, I expect,’ said Rosa.
    ‘Well, let’s stop work for a bit. What do you want to eat, veggie-burger?’
    I left Rosa in the shop and drove round to a burger place I knew on the Bordesley Road but on the way I got a mobile call about some trouble that had come up in the Clearwater case. The trouble was unavoidable so I rang Rosa to tell her she wouldn’t be getting her promised lunch.
    ‘Stay and guard the shop in case Mrs. Moore shows up again. I’ll be back as soon as I can,’ I said. I knew that Rosa wouldn’t mind too much. She hardly ate anything anyway.
    The Clearwater case took me all the way across to Wolverhampton and I didn’t get back to the bookshop until six. I made sure I had some food with me then. The lights of the bookshop were on when I went in but Rosa didn’t seem to have gone through many more books. She was just sitting at the desk reading her ‘Gail Storey – Detective’ book.
    ‘Shouldn’t we be carrying on?’ I said. ‘Did Mrs. Moore come back?’
    ‘She did, and she went down the hole, got really filthy and got into a foul temper, and she told me that I’m “useless” and that a woman working as a detective is “little better than being a prostitute”, but I didn’t care because I knew she wasn’t going to find anything.’
    ‘What do you mean?’
    ‘Because I found it first, and I put it in my bag.’
You found … what? Are you sure?’
    Rosa held out a piece of folded paper. Inside was a large, flawless, diamond.
    ‘Just after you’d gone; I worked out where it must be. There was a receipt with it dated six months ago saying how much it cost – no wonder Mrs. Moore was jumping. Look at the size of it. It would only just fit under a thimble.’
    ‘A thimble?’
    ‘Yes, “Sewer Cover”, a cover for a someone who’s sewing. Like a crossword clue. I found it in a sewing kit by those old clothes in the back.’
    ‘Good Grief! Clever … clever girl! Let’s get it back to the office and into the safe! We’ll get it checked and then … then we can get the Moores and the Lovells round tomorrow so they can sort out what they’re going to do. Come on …’
    ‘… I just want to finish this book.’
    ‘Take it home with you! I’m sure they’ll let you keep it as a reward. Take it. No one else is ever going to be interested in it.’
    ‘I don’t like to … ’

    The diamond was sold and the money from it was split between the heirs. Rosa did keep the Gail Storey book, she kept it on her desk. But then one day I noticed it was gone. I thought Rosa had taken it home as I’d suggested.
    I was driving along the Bordesley Road about a month later when I decided to do a little detour to see what had happened to the old shop. It was sunny again so I thought I’d have another try at capturing Rosa’s ‘feel’ for that street. I never found out what Rosa had felt but I did find something else. The boarder-uppers had secured the broken pane and now there was a ‘For Sale’ sign up. I peered in through the door. The bookshelves were empty, the shop had been cleared. But just sticking out from under the pile of junk mail I saw a corner of the book, ‘Gail Storey – Detective’. Rosa had been there and even though the heirs were probably never going to visit again, she had given the book back.


Cinema Detectives: Crime Wave


AN IDEAL community seems to have survived for many years in Birmingham's Five Ways district. But now there is a subtle threat to the inhabitants of Laburnum House. Rosa Pleck and Ken Prime investigate!
Cinema Detectives: Crime Wave


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