The Egg Factory
I’ve a new ebook out. It'[s a medical chiller called The Egg Factory. It’s totally different from my Rafferty and Casey and Catt mystery series. Here’s the blurb:
Just back from a long work stint abroad followed by a short holiday, Virginia Casey is unprepared for the whirlwind that is about to engulf her.
Her younger sister has just died. There is something strange about her death, but it is only after the post mortem that Ginnie finds out her sister has aborted a baby. What comes next has her engulfed in the infertility industry and organized crime with guilt a constant traveller as she tries to get to the bottom of her sister’s lonely death.
Infertility expert Dr Sam French insists he wants to help her find out the truth of what happened to Karen, so why is it that he seems to be hindering her?
A new millennium suspense novel set in the infertility industry, The Egg Factory shows what happens when desperation turns deadly.
And here’s a short extract:
Eager to get out of the bitingly chilly February wind that blew off the River Thames by way of Siberia, Ginnie didn’t notice the fresh-faced policeman hovering near the entrance to her Docklands apartments. Shivering, she paid the cabbie, picked up the small case and hurried towards the main door.
She had landed at London’s City Airport less than an hour ago on the flight from Dublin, her writer’s mind was still wrestling with what selection of words would best describe the magical image Tower Bridge made from the air. Wearing its night-time illumination and cloaked in a cobweb mist from the River Thames, it had shimmered in an unearthly, ethereal way, its bulk, looking as insubstantial as thistledown, had seemed to float, unsupported, above the water.
It was the first time she had used the City Airport, the first time she had seen the famous landmark from the air, and it had given her an idea for a series of original travel articles.
On the theme Tourism for the Rich and Bone Idle, it would promote the idea of seeing major cities and tourist sites from the air, with in-flight 3-D videos providing close-ups and interior views. Instead of getting sweaty and footsore, their tourism would be done in the air-conditioned champagne-quaffing comfort of private planes.
Ginnie grinned and tucked her fine, red-gold hair behind her ears. All she had to do was persuade assorted private-plane-owning millionaires to allow her to hitch free rides in order to research it. Should be a cinch.
The wind was now at her back. It blew her hair over her face. Half-blinded by her flying hair, she jumped as a figure stepped out of the shadows and spoke to her.
‘Excuse me. Are you Ms Casey? Ms Virginia Casey?’
As soon as she took in the familiar police uniform and the anxious-looking young face Ginnie’s mind emptied of everything but the word Karen.
‘I’m Virginia Casey,’ she quickly confirmed. Her gaze swept his face. ‘What is it? What’s happened? Is it Karen? Is it my sister?’
The feeling of dread was as familiar and weighed as heavily as the sense of responsibility she had felt since their adoptive parents’ death. Always headstrong, always in scrapes of one sort or another, Karen, nineteen and living with a boyfriend, had barely matured from the fourteen she had been when their parents had died.
The youthful officer was joined by an older, woman sergeant who had been sheltering from the elements under the apartments’ concrete canopy. After introducing herself and her colleague, the sergeant told her gently that Karen had been found dead in her south London flat earlier that evening.
Ten miles south of the City of London, Croydon was the other side of the river. Since Karen had moved there with Terry, her boyfriend, Ginnie had come to know it well and often shopped there.
‘We’ve been trying to get in touch with you for most of the evening,’ the sergeant told her.
Numb, all Ginnie was able to say was, ‘I’ve been away.’ Between the writing assignment in the Far East for Womanhood magazine and her brief break in Ireland, she had been away for weeks. Consumed by guilt, it took a few moments for her to ask what had happened. When she did, suspicion flared as she thought of Terry, Karen’s boyfriend. He had a nasty temper and she had often wondered if he had caused the bruises Karen had so often sported. ‘Did Terry–?’
‘I don’t know anything about a Terry, Ms Casey.’ Her brown gaze compassionate, the sergeant told Ginnie, ‘A neighbour,’ she consulted her notebook, ‘a Mrs Belle Watson, contacted us. The police surgeon thinks it probable your sister committed suicide.’
Suicide. The word reverberated inside Ginnie’s skull. Through lips suddenly bloodless, she asked, ‘Where is she? I want to see her.’
‘Of course. She’s at a mortuary south of the river. We’ll drive you.’
Thirty minutes later, after visiting the south London mortuary and identifying her sister’s body, Ginnie sat in one of the interview rooms of Croydon police station.
Shock had left her exhausted. Dazed, feeling more like sixty-eight than twenty-eight, she was glad to sink on to the hard plastic chair Detective Inspector Rawlings pulled out for her.
The inspector’s words seemed to be coming at her through a thick fog. Ginnie shook her head, forced the tiredness back and tried to concentrate. ‘I’m sorry. But I don’t quite understand. You said my sister Karen killed herself.’
Inspector Rawlings nodded. The movement set his grey-stubbly jowls quivering. ‘Yes. There’s little doubt of that. Her neighbour confirms she was very depressed lately.’
Since Karen and her latest boyfriend had moved into the next-door flat in the small, privately-owned block, Belle Watson and Karen had become quite close. Ginnie had met the elderly Belle several times and had taken to her straight away. If anyone was likely to know the current state of Karen’s emotions it was Belle. ‘Then why the post-mortem?’ Ginnie frowned. ‘I thought they were only carried out when there were suspicious circumstances.’
‘Yes. Usually. That is–’ Inspector Rawlings broke off, gazed round the interview room as if he’d never seen it before.
Middle-aged, overweight, and no doubt counting the days till his retirement, the inspector appeared to find the interview room’s grubby, off-white walls and sparse, utilitarian furniture absorbing. Worryingly, he seemed to be having trouble finding the words to explain what he meant.
Ginnie wished he would try a bit harder. It had been enough of a shock to learn of her sister’s death, but at least she had thought the suicide itself was clear-cut. Even Inspector Rawlings had confirmed there was little doubt that Kaz had killed herself. Yet now he seemed set on muddying the waters.
Irritated by his failure to provide her with an answer, Ginnie broke into his reverie. ‘Inspector.’
He dragged his attention back and became suddenly voluble. ‘Sorry. It’s just that the police surgeon wasn’t entirely happy about the condition of the – of your sister’s body. Neither was I for that matter. It was swollen, when we found her, you see. Naturally, I thought at first she might have been pregnant, but her neighbour discounted that possibility.’
Ginnie, finding his verbose explanation as bewildering as she had his less-wordy efforts, could only stare at him.
The inspector tried again. ‘Your sister had only been dead a short time,’ he explained, ‘and given that she wasn’t pregnant, the swelling was odd. It wasn’t as if there had been enough time for– ‘ He broke off, cleared his throat again and then plunged on resolutely. ‘Not enough time for any swelling to be natural.’
Ginnie frowned as she tried to figure out whether the inspector was talking in riddles or whether she had suddenly developed terminal stupidity. The inspector had just said Karen hadn’t been pregnant. ‘So what had she been?’ she asked.
He shifted about on his chair as if her continuing questions and his inability to answer them to the satisfaction of either party made him uncomfortable. Finally, he admitted, ‘We don’t know. We’re still waiting for the results of the post-mortem. All I can tell you is that her abdomen was swollen. I don’t know why. Neither did the police surgeon. At least– ‘
As a frown creased his brow, he corrected himself. ‘He wouldn’t commit himself to an opinion as to why.’ He shrugged. ‘Beyond that, I can’t really tell you anything. Really it would be best for you to wait for the inquest.’
‘Was there a suicide note?’
‘No. But that’s not unusual.’ The inspector didn’t give her a chance to question him further. After assuring her that the police had finished in the flat and that she was free to go there to pack up her sister’s belongings, he had little more to say. Handing her the keys to Karen’s flat with a terse smile, he said again, ‘That’s really all I can tell you,’ and made for the door. ‘I’ll let you know when the inquest date is set.’ Pausing only to order a passing fresh-faced junior officer to organise a car to drive her home, he vanished.
Ginnie allowed herself to be shepherded out of the building and into the rear seat of a police car. She felt she was in the middle of a nightmare, but, dazed as she felt, she knew that this was one nightmare from which she wouldn’t waken.
Grimly, she registered that she had been spared one trauma. Any suicide note left by her sister would certainly have been painfully accusatory. Still it was odd that Karen hadn’t written one. Karen had always been emotional and had never held back from expressing her feelings. It seemed unlikely that, in planning her death, she would have so gone against the character that had been hers in life.
Sunk into a reverie, it was only when the woman sergeant touched her shoulder her that she realized they had crossed the river and arrived back at her Docklands apartment.
After thanking the police officers for driving her home, and telling them again there was no one she wanted them to ring for her, she let herself into her second-floor apartment. She didn’t bother to put on a light, but just dropped her bags and sat in the dark of her studio flat, watching the traffic on the river while she tried to make sense of the evening’s events.
Her sister was dead. Suicide suspected. And in circumstances which, while not suspicious, were, if she had understood the inspector correctly, unnatural. She still hadn’t made any sense of it by the time a subdued grey dawn floated across the river towards her windows. Exhausted, she was unable to think any more. After promising herself she would return to Croydon later today and speak to Karen’s neighbour, Belle Watson, to see if she could throw any more light on the circumstances of Karen’s death than the inspector had managed, she fell into a fitful doze.
Here’s the amazon links:
Hope you enjoy it.