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Eve aged 52, Penny 55 and Dorothea 60 have been the victims of a fraud. They lost money in a Ponzi scheme run by a man called Martin Cole. As a consequence of the trauma their husbands have died of a heart attack, suicide and cancer. The events have changed the women’s outlook on life. It has also brought them together after they met giving evidence at the trial of Cole who was given a five year sentence. Not nearly enough they think.

The ladies meet every week for Sunday lunch and they read about another con man, Simon, who has committed a crime and been given a short prison sentence. On release he has stolen again.
The discussion turns to what can be done about people like Michael Cole and Simon and the ladies consider a more permanent solution. They will kill fraudsters in the area and make life better for all the victims and potential victims. Having debated how to commit the perfect murder they set their plans into motion.
Having considered all the ways they could be caught DNA, fingerprints, CCTV, witnesses, mobile phone data and a direct link to the victim the women undertake their first murder. Eve has appointed herself the chief dispatcher and has studied a medical journal to find the best place to deliver the fatal stab. In order to avoid leaving any DNA she is improbably dressed in an all in one coverall made from an old curtain. Her green leaf embossed outfit may not be what she had imagined but it does the job.
Having dealt with the loathsome Simon who conned money out of women he met on dating sites, they search for a new victim. Their attention turns to Eddie Stringer who had run a boiler room scam selling worthless or non existent shares to elderly and vulnerable people. He is ambushed on the way home from the pub by Eve who is perfectly camouflaged in her green onesie as he walks through the park. 
The vastly overweight conman is left in the middle of a path by a park and is discovered by a jogger early the next morning. Specialist equipment has to be brought in to help remove his massive bulk.
The two con men are not good people and the police are conflicted about their duty to find the killer. Someone is doing the public a favour by taking out these felons. They have a duty however and carry on with the search for the person who the newspapers have dubbed the “Vigilante Killer”.
Detective Mike Nash investigates the murder of Simon and when other victims killed in the same way emerge he is put in charge of the hunt for the vigilante killer. He has recently separated from his wife and is distracted by her new boyfriend Gavin who appears to be less than trustworthy. Nothing comes to light which will help with the case and he is frustrated by the lack of clues.
Martin Cole is released from prison and is soon up to his old tricks. He takes advantage of the weak and is dreaming up new ways to make money without working for it.His fraud was effected partly because he thought he was clever enough to do it and partly to pay for his gambling addiction. He is forced to take a job in a factory when he first gains his freedom and he is not happy about it. His mother told him how special he was and he believed every word that she said.
At the factory he meets Jimmy who has suffered some brain damage following a car accident. Martin Cole, on learning that Jimmy was in receipt of a large amount of compensation, sets about taking advantage of his gullibility to separate him from his money. They play cards and after a few weeks of letting Jimmy win Martin starts to claw back the money and is soon in profit. His scheme is discovered by Jimmy’s mother and he loses his job as a result of his cruel greed.
The next target had been chosen John is a cowboy builder overcharging the elderly for shoddy or unneeded work. He is a large thug but the ladies decide that they cannot shy away from the task because of the risks involved. Maybe the presence of a gun will make the job easier. Penny will accompany Eve on this foray so that she can point the gun to control the burly builder.
Before they can undertake the next murder Dorothea’s family announce that they are visiting from America. The friends decide to take the summer off and then get back to business after Dorothea;s son has gone home.
During a barbecue which the ladies and their families attend they learn that Martin Cole is out of prison and they know that he will have to be one of their targets. They have got away with murder so far but they have a direct link to this particular criminal which constitutes a risk. 
The summer is over and the ladies focus again on John. When he breaks his leg and is stuck at home they see their opportunity. Eve and Penny, who is attired in a onesie made from the same green material, come face to face with the rogue builder. Having partaken of a few beers he is astounded by the sight of the two women in green. He declares that they are leprechauns but they are definitely not harmless.
There are now three dead bodies all killed by a stab to the jugular. The newspapers are full of stories of the vigilante killer and they too are torn about how to report on the murders. Of course the police should have caught the person responsible by now but they are quite gleeful about the number of villains that he is getting rid of. A tabloid asks “Which scumbag is next.” The police are convinced that the killer is a man with size nine feet after finding a footprint at the scene of one of the crimes. It was actually Eve wearing a large pair of shoes.
 The press have a field day with the fall out from John’s death. He has been seeing two women at the same time, neither of whom knew about the other. Rival papers print stories featuring each of the girlfriends and their assertions that they were the love of John’s life. Things come to a head when they attend the funeral and end up brawling in the car park of the crematorium. The pictures are in all the papers the next day.
Mike Nash is suspicious of the change in fortunes of his wife and Gavin. They have gone from arguing about money, as reported by his daughter Chloe, to having a new car and other items. Mike smells a rat. Some investigation reveals that Gavin has conned money out of women in the past. His good looks and charm have made it easy for him to part women from their money. His fellow detective Adam, finds evidence of Gavin reverting to his former money making ways and Mike knows that he will have to tell his ex Maria what has been revealed. 
The discussion about Gavin is heated and Maria reveals that she had never wanted to split up with Mike and now she is with a man who is cheating on her and lying to her.
Martin Cole is now the target and after an abortive attempt they women close in on their victim. He is busy planning his next get rich scheme with the help of another dodgy builder. Before his plans come to fruition he is visited by Eve who finally kills the person who was the architect of her and her friends misery.
As people caught up in Martin Cole’s fraud they are interviewed by the police but they are not suspects. The police are still looking for a man with size nine feet. A profiler has suggested that the killer will be a man in his thirties.
Gavin is bereft when Maria throws him out and he stalks and harasses her in the hope of winning her back. She has become close with Mike again and they are thinking about getting back together which infuriates Gavin even further.
The ladies are now getting on with their lives. They have agreed that Martin Cole was their final victim and they are now able to move on. Eve meets a man and starts dating. Dorothea, the chief planner of the murders, puts her skills to better use. As a retired teacher she decides to help adults who cannot read or write.
Penny, who was lost and lacking in confidence, decides to sell her husband;’s lock up garage which was used to store the equipment they gathered for the murders. She meets the prospective purchaser and drives a hard bargain. She makes a great deal of money which eases her financial woes.
When Gavin is found murdered in the same way as the ladies other targets no one is more surprised than them. Mike Nash looks back over the murders and regrets that there has not been an arrest. Maybe with advances in criminal investigating they might find the culprit in the future. Until then he is planning to write a book about the vigilante killer.
 

Chapter
1

Eve
left her two bedroom1950’s bungalow at a quarter to twelve to mouse. She would
arrive at about the same time as Penny who was coming from the opposite
direction. The ladies had lunch together every Sunday and rotated the cooking
duties between them. It was always a pleasure for someone else to be doing the
cooking but Eve particularly liked eating at Dorothea’s because she would
invariably serve up a spicy Caribbean dish.
Dorothea’s home also reflected her roots decorated as it was in bright
colours which enveloped you with warmth the moment you crossed the threshold.

The
three ladies followed a well honed routine. A cup of coffee and the Sunday
papers were the first order of the day. Interesting articles were mentioned and
discussed before lunch was served around one o’clock. Eve was fifty two years
old, the youngest of the three, and had an enviably slim figure. Her hair was
cut at the local salon into a short crop which she dyed blonde herself using
one of those kits. Gone were the days when she would languish at the
hairdressers for half a day having it all done for her.

Dorothea
was a statuesque woman of sixty who, at five foot ten, towered over her two
friends. She had been the positive force that had kept them going when things
had looked so bleak although it had been hard for her too. Penny was fifty five
and, she would say, slightly overweight. She was absolutely convinced that her
friendship with these two ladies had saved her life. “I swear to God that you
look thinner every time I see you while I get fatter.” Penny was looking Eve up
and down. “How do you do it?” Eve gave a wry smile. “Ah, the secret diet. It’s
called living on your nerves and not being able to afford a car so you have to
walk everywhere.” “Don’t worry Penny, I’ll give her extra today and try
fattening her up.” Dorothea chipped in.

They
were an unlikely trio who had been brought together by tragedy. Their husbands
had been businessmen who had invested in what turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
Most of their savings had disappeared, along with the fraudster, leaving them
in financial hardship. Long comfortable retirements to villas in sunny climates
were just shattered dreams. As businesses folded and assets were liquidated the
lives of all concerned were changed forever.

They
had thought that they were being financially responsible by investing for their
futures. They were persuaded to invest in a fund which would be managed by
someone who had worked as a trader in the city. Some of the money would go into
bonds and some into stocks and shares. This they were told was a balanced
portfolio and relatively low risk. The money was never invested. They received
dividends which were taken from the money invested by others which reassured
them that everything was fine. It was not.

Those first few weeks
after the discovery of the con were just the tip of the iceberg. As Eve’s
husband Frank closed the warehouse that had housed his small wholesale clothing
business for the last time he seemed to throw in the towel on life too. Three
months later he had died of a massive heart attack. Dorothea’s husband Royston was
a manager at an insurance company. He had started as a clerk after leaving
school and had reached the heights of senior management much to the pride of
his family. A couple of months after the loss of their life savings he was
diagnosed with prostate cancer and succumbed quickly to the disease. Would he
have fought harder for his life if he hadn’t been conned? Dorothea thought that
he would have. Poor penny, 
hers
was the most desperate story of them all. Her husband Derek had taken their
losses very badly and more or less stood back and watched as their catering
business faltered due to his inability to take any action. When it finally
folded he folded too. He was found in his garage in the car which was filled
with gas. He had attached a hose pipe to the exhaust and had died of carbon
monoxide poisoning.

The perpetrator of the
crime Martin Cole had been caught on the Costa Del Sol and returned to England
for his trial. It was during preparations for the court case that the three
ladies had first met. They would give testimony about the promises that were
made, the money that was lost and the devastation to their lives. There were
many other victims of Martin Cole but these three women who were now widows
would provide heart wrenching stories which would resonate with the jury and
skewer the accused. He was duly skewered and sentenced to five years in prison.
Any hope of recouping some of the money by seizing his assets was dashed when
it had 
been
revealed that he was gambling addict and most of the cash was gone.

As a result of the
change in their circumstances the women had been forced to make drastic changes
to their lifestyles’. Eve had sold her large executive home, paid off the
creditors and been revealed that he was a gambling addict and most of the cash
was gone. bought the small bungalow. She was now working at a department store where she used to
shop. Entering the job market after so long away with limited computer skills
had meant that she could not be choosy. At least she got a discount off the
clothes when she could afford them. Penny had downsized too and was now living
in her apartment supported by a small pension from a previous job and hand outs
from her children. She also worked part time for an accountant, the accountant who
had looked after her husband’s business and introduced them to Martin Cole. He
employed her to shuffle papers out of a terrible sense of guilt. She was not in
a position to reject his charity.

Of
them all Dorothea had been the most fortunate financially. She had received a
death in service benefit from her husband’s company and also a widow’s pension.
She had her own pension from her years working as a teacher as well. But she
too had decided to downsize her home as her children were no longer there and,
like her friends, had relocated to a part of town where the properties were
smaller and more crammed together. Thus they now lived in close proximity to
each other which was handy for their Sunday lunches.
 
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Author

Fiona J Roberts

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