It may be Boxing Day and some of you out there may have sore heads, but the saga continues nonetheless. Today we meet old Mr Firth, described as “the local mentalist”. It is possible that this is an example of the more modern usage of the term, meaning “nutter”, rather than “one who can read minds”. Then again, perhaps it hardly matters.

I should perhaps also mention that one of the younger members of the Verulam Writers’ Circle got quite excited at the opening line “Elizabeth dismounted from Keira and tied her up”, until I reminded him that Keira was a horse. Oh dear.