The Author Peter Maughan 

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One hundred thousand pounds!' Clothesline told himself in awe. 'I wonder how much that is?'

"You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and you ended up pawning it, was his judgement on himself, standing hangdog in a dock of his own making ..."

Sheer Fiction Heaven!

(The Batch Magna Caper by Peter Maughan)

“Armed robbers, lost loot, missed trains, wrong turnings, double-cross, chaos, confusion and romance, and Batch Magna at its pottiest. Sheer fiction heaven …!” 

FelicityM Herefordshire (UK).

A Dazzling Display of Confusion, Chaos, Characters and Plot. 

(The Batch Magna Caper by Peter Maughan)

"... It would make an excellent comedy film. The characters and the plot are ready-made for a good cast of actors and await an inspired Director."

Peter Ellson (France) Amazon reviewer.

A Romp of a Caper Comes to Batch Magna.

James Ellsworth USA

"In creating the people and place of Batch Magna, Peter Maughan has made a marvellous and flexible platform for spinning a variety of novels, each having its own tone and its own interest. In this third outing he gives us a 'caper' novel. Its delight is due not only to the plotting but to the author's 'telling' of the story. His narrative gift is what ties these different books together.

"The story opens with a gang of disparate, small-time thieves plotting a fairly straightforward heist ... Most of the hilarious happenings in the book have to do with their elaborate stratagems to keep an eye on each other or their schemes to get away with more than their fair share of the proceeds. These problems compound when two of the gang take a wrong turn and end up in the treacherously laid out dead-ends and by-ways of the quirky British/Welsh village of Batch Magna, so well-beloved by fans of these books." 

Very Different Kettle of Fish But Oh So Tasty!

(The Batch Magna Caper by Peter Maughan)

"The third in the continuing saga of the Batch Magna denizens, a collective of terminally quirky, charmingly potty, elegantly eccentric, unique characters who celebrate the joys of living in a special place half in Wales, half in England ... Peter Maughan has courageously introduced a very different criminal thread that weaves its way through the well-loved cloth of the tales of Batch Magna.  It takes a brave man to muddy the waters that so many have become addicted to, but fear not:  he hasn't lost the plot but rather found another one ..."

Angelica Bentley, A  Maze of Reviews blog. Top 
500 Amazon reviewer. 

A Laugh a Minute.

(The Batch Magna Caper by Peter Maughan)

"This is the 3rd book in the series and is every bit as good as the first two ...

The book reminded me of the film The Ladykillers and there are also traces of Joyce Grenfell in the person of the lovelorn female Police Sergeant, (from the St. Trinians older films) desperately trying to get her man. The book has that sort of lovely Ealing Comedy feel to it ...

A laugh out loud story that will keep you rapt to the end."

By Pyewacket "czarnowice" (UK) - Top 1000 Amazon reviewer (Vine Voice). 

A Rollicking Good Read.
(The Batch Magna Caper by Peter Maughan)

"Peter Maughan has done it again! The Batch Magna Caper is a rollicking good read of a book! It has a well planned heist by experienced crooks, cases of mistaken identity, and the honest inhabitants of Batch Magna. Of course Phineas Cooke and most of the other residents are involved in one way or another along with a couple new characters from neighboring areas that the reader will hope to see again in future books ...
Peter Maughan has created a place and characters that seem incredibly real. This reader is very happy that she gets to travel there with each new book."
Serena E. Stout, (United States), Amazon reviewer.

The Batch Magna Caper

A hapless gang of Birmingham crooks, led by pawnbroker Harold Sneed, a self-styled criminal mastermind, pull off 'the big one', a wages snatch at a factory in Shrewsbury. Two members of the gang take the money from there by train back to Birmingham, changing at Church Myddle, a station almost on the doorstep of Batch Magna. 

   And it is then, at the first stage of Sneed's master plan, that things start to unravel.

Misunderstanding follows - and some time collides with -  misunderstanding, taking in Batch Hall and the river, train timetables and left luggage offices, all further complicated by the attempts of Sneed and other gang members to keep the money for themselves. Money which, by this time, has gone missing.

  Their nemesis arrives on a day when Batch Hall is busy with another wheeze to help keep the estate afloat - an historical re-enactment show, the Battle of Batch Magna, when the Royalists defeated the forces of Cromwell (or 'kicked the butts of the Roundheads for the King of England,' as Humphrey puts it), fought again on the Hall's lawns. 

   And among the replica firearms is a real gun, with real bullets, carried by Sneed with murderous intent and Humphrey in mind. Sneed, who was unstable to begin with, is by the time the unravelling of his master plan has driven him to Batch Hall, convinced that Humphrey - Humph, the overweight short-order cook with the Bronx accent and a taste for Hawaiian shirts and torpedo cigars - is a Mafia mobster laying low there, and one who has his - as Sneed now comes to regard it - money, and the spectators for the re-enactment find that there's an extra event on the programme. 

Chapter Seven

(In which the Major and twitchy Italian Tony set off by train for Birmingham, dropped off at Shrewsbury station with the loot in a holdall, and warned by Sneed not to get any ideas of their own about it  - which is precisely of course what the two men do have.)

The Major donned his British Warm and bowler hat, restoring some of his dignity as the Rover pulled away from the station front. The impertinences and incivilities that are one’s lot these days, he thought, gazing after it with distaste.

     He picked up the holdall and marched smartly off with his umbrella towards the entrance, where Tony, who had gone ahead, was pretending to study a wall poster extolling the summer joys of Prestatyn.  

     What, the Major wondered, had happened to trust?

     He glanced casually back on his way into the station. The Italian was following on, keeping close to the wall, skulking behind him like some damn native wallah.

     The Major paused on the concourse, seeking the booking office.

     There had been a flurry of activity from a few taxis pulling up behind Sneed’s Rover, the passengers from them hurrying into the station, and people on their way out.

    But now there was a lull, and Tony saw his chance.

     He slipped a hand into the inside breast pocket of his suit and crept towards the Major with elaborate intent, a cartoon cat closing on the mouse, the blade of the flick-knife springing into oiled, bright deadly life with the quietest of clicks.

     The point of it was touching the cloth of the Major’s British Warm, and Tony was about to give him a warning prod with it, his other hand stretching for the holdall, when the Major spotted the sign he wanted and abruptly moved off.

     Caught off balance, Tony stumbled forward a few paces, the knife jabbing at the air, leaving him standing there with it held out at arm's length, just as the concourse suddenly sprung more passengers.

     He shoved it hastily away in a side pocket.

    And then he realised what he’d done and his eye started twitching again.

    He hadn't retracted the blade he’d honed earlier that day to a razor sharpness, and not only had it gone straight through the pocket of a 100 guinea silk suit without stopping, it had neatly opened up a rent in the side of the coat on its way there.

      He shoved the the knife back into his breast pocket and stalked on after the Major, one arm covering the gaping slit in his jacket.

     The Major brought his ticket, leaving Tony smouldering a couple of places behind him in the queue.

     Following the signs for Platform 7, he stopped for a train of caged flat-bed wagons, pulled by an electric tug and piled with luggage and goods, that was about to cross his path.

     He glanced casually back. Tony was occupied buying his ticket.

     The Major, taking the initiative, nipped smartly in front of the wagons, and looked back again. The Italian was lost to view behind them.

     Facing him was a newsagent’s kiosk, a buffet, and two public lavatories either side of offices of some sort.

     The Major made a dash for them.

   Confounding the anticipated expectations of the enemy, as they’d taught him at Sandhurst, and trusting to his luck, he tripped straight down the stairs to the Ladies'.

     His luck was out.

     He thought at first the place was empty. His plan was to lock himself in a cubicle, and bunker down there until it was safe to assume Tony had given up. But his luck was out.

     He heard her before he saw her, and when she emerged from the end cubicle with a mop and bucket he recognised her immediately. He’d seen that face before, or something very much like it, under the peak of one sort of uniform hat or the other. It had bawled at him on the parade ground at Sandhurst, and could be found on the landings of the various HM prisons he’d been a guest of, and in a uniform of a different kind, implacably writing out parking tickets.

     He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, attempting an explanation, even an amused chuckle at the situation, while she, without saying a word, walked stolidly towards him with her mop.

     The Major, deciding on a strategic withdrawal, turned and scrambled back up the stairs.

     He saw Tony when he came out again, standing in the middle of the concourse, peering about, looking for him.

     He tried the door of the first office he came to. It was locked. He had his hand on the doorknob of the second office, had half-turned it, when his eyes met with the sign on the dark blue door. British Transport Police, it said.      He snatched his hand away as if burnt, and considering the buffet too obvious, made a dash for the Gents’.

     The Gents’, like the Ladies’, had steep flights of stone stairs down to it from two different parts of the concourse. Unlike his visit to the Ladies’, the Major didn't intend staying, but to go down one flight and then straight up the other, hoping to enough station between him and the Italian, maybe even allowing him to sneak out of another entrance and grab a taxi.

     But, again, the Major’s luck was out.

     He’d reached the bottom of the stairs when there was a rush of footsteps on them and Tony appeared, looking heated.

     The Major chuckled briefly. “Frightfully amusing, Tony. You’ll never guess what happened. I was caught short, and - ”

     “Give me the bag,” Tony said in a low fierce voice, one eye on the other occupant there, standing with his back to them at the urinals. “Give it to me.”

    “My dear fellow -  !” the Major blustered.  

     “You heard me.” Tony’s hand slid towards his inside coat pocket. “Hand it over … Yes, I – er - ” he said then in a louder voice, innocently brushing at the front of his jacket. “I – er -  ” he said again, stalling as the other occupant went past them and up the stairs.

     “Right. Give it to me,” he went on, just as more footsteps sounded on the stone stairs, a man coming down them in a hurry.

     Tony stalled again. “Got a light, mate?” he said to the Major.

     “Terrible sorry, old chap, afraid not,” the Major said, seeing his chance and starting to edge round him. “I don’t smoke.”

      Neither did Tony, but he bit his nails. And his eye had started twitching again.

     He grabbed the Major’s sleeve. “Give me the bag. Give it to me or I’ll cut you! Open you up!”

     “You won’t get far with it. You heard what Sneed said he’d do,” the Major said, both men speaking in near whispers.

     “I’m not going far,” Tony lied. “I don’t trust you with it, that’s all. Now hand it over.”

     “The reason I’m carrying it, Tony,” the Major said primly, “as well you know, is because I’m the one least likely to be stopped. You heard - ”

     “I haven’t seen any coppers about to do any stopping - have you? Eh?” Tony demanded, blinking rapidly at him, and looking, the Major considered, even for a Mediterranean type, quite demented. And then he noticed the state of his coat. The Italian was coming apart in more ways than one.

     “Now, why don’t we talk about it, hmm, Tony?” he said soothingly. “Perhaps over a cup of tea. We’ve got time.” The Major thought again. “Or a coffee. An espresso,” he said brightly, thinking that that sounded Italian. ”You’ll like that.”  

     “Give it me!” Tony hissed, and made another move towards his knife pocket.

     The Major put a hand on Tony’s to hold it there. Tony’s eye twitched, winking at him. The man who’d been in a hurry was now less so, and took in the scene on his way out.

.    “Disgusting!” he snapped. “I’ve a good mind to report you.”      

    “This is becoming all rather unsavoury,” the Major said stiffly. “And may I remind you, Tony, that we have a train to catch.”

     “No more talking, Major,” Tony said, pulling the flick-knife out and releasing the blade.

     He jabbed it towards the Major’s throat, dimpling the skin with the point of it, and as the Major’s head went up removed the holdall from his limp grip.

     And then more footsteps sounded on the stairs.

     They both looked up and saw two pairs of uniform trousers descending.

     “That chap reported us,” the Major said, and found himself holding the bag again as Tony thrust it at him and bolted up the other flight of stairs, with the Major close behind, both of them missing the rest of the uniforms, the appearance of the two railway porters taking advantage of the facilities after a prolonged tea break.

The Batch Magna Caper

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