Crime Petrol is a fast-paced serial mystery set in and around the seedy backstreets of an industrial city. The central characters are three young women working as petrol pump attendants who find themselves involved in investigating strange goings-on after their workplace becomes the site of a multiple murder.In this article we will be taking a closer look at each episode of this eight-part series, which was written by Howard and first broadcast on BBC Radio 7 in October 2008. Each instalment stands alone as its own self-contained story, but together they form a thrilling whodunit with unexpected twists and turns. This blog post explains the various characters, locations, vehicles and other important details that recur throughout the series. You can read it either before or after you listen to the episodes yourself—or if you’ve already heard them all, then perhaps it will help you to recognize where you are in case you get mixed up again!
Episode 1: Welcome to Crime City
This is where it all begins: a young woman on the run stumbles across an isolated petrol station in the middle of the night. She has been injured in her flight, and collapses in the arms of one of the attendants who tries to help her. This young girl, Maureen, is carrying a briefcase full of cash: the proceeds of a robbery in which she was involved, and so the mystery is already afoot in the very first episode. Who is she? Where did she come from? And why is she being pursued? The main themes of this episode are escape, danger and disguise.The industrial city we are in is home to two rival gangs, the Lizzies and the Razors. These two gangs are working their way up from street crime to industrial crime. The Lizzies are working on a petrol fraud scam that will involve illegally altering the pumps at the petrol station where the girls work. The Razors are planning a daring robbery that will take place at a nearby warehouse.
Episode 2: Meet the Pumps Girls
The young women who work at the petrol station take a break from their hectic lives in this instalment. This is a welcome opportunity to get to know each other better and to explore the city. One of the girls, Penny, knows the city well because she comes from a middle-class family that lives there. The others, who come from more humble backgrounds, are seeing it for the first time and are most interested in finding out about its famous nightlife. We are introduced to the city’s seedy side in this episode, as it is on their journey that the girls encounter the Lizzies and the Razors.The petrol fraud scam that is being planned by the Lizzies in the first episode is due to be put into operation very soon. They are planning to illegally alter the pumps at the petrol station so that they dispense less petrol than they should. The Lizzies run a protection racket, extorting money from the legitimate businesses in the city.
Episode 3: Dead Man’s Curve
This is a tense and gripping episode, as the girls come under threat from the Lizzies who are determined to get their hands on the briefcase full of money that has fallen into their possession. The episode title refers to a curve in the road, and a curve ball, both of which have relevance to the plot. A curve ball is a sudden unexpected turn of events, while the term ‘curve’ is used to refer to a woman’s body, particularly her hips. This episode explores the concept of identity, and whether our actions determine who we are, or whether we can be someone different from day to day.The Lizzies are furious about the money that has been taken from them and are determined to get it back. They hold the girls captive in a warehouse and are determined to get their hands on the briefcase, even if it means torturing the girls to get them to talk. During the resulting fight, one of the Lizzies uses a baseball bat to smash open the briefcase. The money is then spread all over the floor, and one of the girls steps on it, leaving her footprint behind.
Episode 4: Fan Mail and Fish’n’ Chips
The girls are still trying to work out what to do with the money that was in the briefcase. They can’t spend it or keep it, as they would be found out, so they decide to bury it, but first decide to spend some of it on themselves for a change. They go on a shopping spree, buying clothes and accessories, and also get something to eat. This episode explores the idea of compromise. The girls need to find a way of disposing of the money and getting rid of it, but they also need to think about what happens next and make sure that it’s something that doesn’t lead the Lizzies to them.
Episode 5: The Undercover Woman
In this instalment, one of the girls goes undercover and gets a job at the warehouse that is being targeted by the Razors. Her friend, who is posing as the undercover woman’s boyfriend, drives her there in their car, which has been disguised with false number plates. The Razors are planning a daring robbery at a nearby warehouse and have hired a team of professional criminals to do it. The undercover woman gets a glimpse of the criminals and overhears some of their conversations, but she is then discovered and has to escape. This episode explores the theme of disguise and what happens when people take on a new identity. One of the girls dons a disguise and goes to the warehouse to get herself arrested so that she can break out of prison and escape the Lizzies.
Episode 6: Double Trouble
This is a double dose of mystery and mayhem, as there are two crimes to solve: the warehouse robbery and the petrol fraud scam. As the girls try to work out what’s going on, they face a series of dangerous challenges and find themselves in greater danger than ever before. The word ‘double’ in the title of this episode refers to this double jeopardy. This instalment explores two themes: the consequences of taking shortcuts, and the difference between being lucky and being good.The girls, who have been working undercover, try to solve the two crimes, hoping to find a link between them. They think that the Lizzies are behind one of the crimes, but the Razors are behind the other. The girls take a shortcut to try to solve the crimes, but it leads them into a dangerous situation, and they are almost killed. They are lucky to escape, but they don’t deserve credit for it because they were just lucky.
Episode 7: Death on a Deadline
This is an episode of mounting tension and suspense, as the girls try to get out of the dangerous situation in which they find themselves. This is their most dangerous episode yet, and one of the girls dies at the end of it, which is a surprising turn of events. Death on a Deadline refers to the deadline by which the girls need to escape from the warehouse and the city. The theme explored in this instalment is the importance of saying goodbye and moving on. The girls are so busy trying to stay alive and escape from the warehouse that they don’t take the time to say goodbye to their friend.
Episode 8: The End of the Road
This episode explores the theme of endings and closures. The girls have finally escaped from the warehouse and the city, and they have also found a way of disposing of the money. They bury it and leave a clue that will lead to it later on, so that they don’t have to worry about it any more.
This is a thrilling series of mystery adventures with a strong and diverse female cast of characters. The series explores themes of escape, danger, disguise and compromise, and it also looks at the difference between being lucky and being good. This serial mystery was written by Howard DENDEL and first broadcast on BBC Radio 7 in October 2008.