Hetty’s Casebook

We look at just some of the colourful cases which Hetty Wainthropp’s been embroiled in over the years…

Hetty

THE CASE OF THE ERRANT BIRDWATCHER

Now, you wouldn't think birdwatching to be a hazardous activity. Not unless you're clambering up a tree for that "perfect" view, or have a morbid fear of bird poo. Yet Hetty finds herself investigating a very curious case involving a sweet, innocent birdwatcher who's vanished into thin air after going out to a picturesque cliffside with his trusty binoculars.

The day had started off very Bill Oddie, with our cagoule-clad twitcher delighting in the sights of fluttering birds. But then he spied a less-than-delightful scene: another man piling an unconscious woman in a car and sending the vehicle off a cliff. The killer spotted the birdwatcher and charged after him, leading the birdwatcher to go AWOL. And it's down to Hetty to find him...

THE CASE OF THE CUT-OFF FINGER

When Hetty goes off on a dream holiday around Italy, it all starts off so well. Apart from husband Robert's constant moaning, of course. "You've seen one leaning tower, you've seen them all," is his blunt reaction to Pisa. And don't even get him started on the octopus dish he's forced to swallow down. But then, things take an even trickier turn when they're approached by a local family whose son has apparently been abducted by the Mafia.

How do they know they? Well, the "Mafia" (if that's who they really are) have posted then family an envelope containing one of the son's lopped-off fingers. Now there's a case Hetty can't possibly resist. And when Robert points out they're supposed to be on holiday, she goes all Poirot on him. "Detectives don't have holidays," she says. "Half the cases come when you're on a steamboat up the Nile."

THE CASE OF THE DEPARTED HERO

We've seen Hetty deal with all kinds of nasty goings on, but few sights have startled us more than her husband bawling his eyes out. Stoic, stern Robert - a man we would never have imagined even had tear ducts - getting all weepy? Yes indeed, and with good reason. News arrives that his Uncle Albert, a childhood hero of Robert's, has apparently committed suicide.

Naturally, Robert is having none of this. He's convinced there's something very strange afoot, and it's Hetty's job to find out what. Robert recruits his wife in his usual diplomatic, flattering way ("You call yourself a detective!"), and Hetty is off to Uncle Albert's town, which turns out to have a history of witchcraft. And there's definitely something very eerie about the local butcher's shop...

THE CASE OF THE LOST VOICES

Never mind Eurovision or the X Factor - the only singing competition worth winning is the Golden Voice of Blainthorp. Well, one person clearly thinks so, because they're sabotaging the vocal chords of the competition. As the wife of one affected singers says, "His lower registers are completely knackered. And as for his arpeggios..."

Is there a connection between the lost voices and the special Hardiman's Herbal Healing product they've all been given by the competition's sponsor? Hetty goes straight to meet company boss Mr Hardiman, a brilliantly gruff and rude man who's made his fortune with a nasal inhaler that can "shift industrial strength catarrah". While Mr Hardiman rubs Hetty up the wrong way by calling her a "supergran sleuth", she does of course take the case anyway. Mr Hardiman IS very, very rich after all.

THE CASE OF THE LANK-HAIRED RUFFIAN

Hetty has a few rules when it comes to what cases she'll take on. "No sex scandals, no divorce, no drug running and no industrial espionage". But what about dealing with a young yob named Lenny who is making life a misery on a housing estate? That's fair game to Hetty - and it helps that she's been called in by the police, who want her to go undercover in the estate to coax out eyewitnesses.

Hetty is terribly flattered/smug that the police need her help, and dismisses her husband's warning that "You shouldn't mess with the Lennys of this world." There's just one small problem: she has to join the local stitching circle. And put on a fake Irish accent. Let's hope her mimicry is as good as her sleuthing, eh?