All about the indie life v traditional publishing: See my article on the storyreadingapesblog

I wrote an article about my experiences both before and after I took up the indie author lifestyle for thestoryreadingapesblog. I enjoyed writing it and I’ve had some lovely, appreciative comments for my honesty (Rafferty’s family wouldn’t be impressed!). If you’re contemplating the indie life yourself, you could do worse than take a look. Here’s the link:

http://wp.me/p3mGq7-1QU

 

EXCERPT: DEATH DUES #11 Rafferty and Llewellyn mysteries

GEvans_DeathDues (2)

Chapter Seven

Another visit to Malcolm Forbes was indicated, but Rafferty said as Bazza’s front door shut behind them, ‘I think we’ll leave it till tomorrow. If he thinks he’s got away with lying to us he might just become over-confident in the interim and let something slip.’

‘You know he’s likely to deny being in that alley,’ Llewellyn put in. ‘We’ve only got young Bazza’s word that he was there at all. Even Tony Moran didn’t mention his presence.’

‘That’s why it’ll be interesting to see what he says when we question him. Hopefully, his car will show up on CCTV as he passed through the town. In the meantime, we need to see if anyone other than Bazza Lomond saw him. The four youths, for instance. As you say, it’s strange that Tony Moran never mentioned him. Though I suppose he was more concerned with saving his skin if he mentioned Forbes than he was with bringing Harrison’s killer to justice. Get the house-to-house team on to questioning around the neighbourhood again, will you, Daff? Someone else in Bazza’s street might have seen him drive up.’

Rafferty, conscious that they might have found the breakthrough that would provide the answers they sought, did his best to quell the burgeoning excitement.

‘I hear you’re looking for a cheap florist,’ Constable Bill Beard said to Rafferty as he and Llewellyn entered the station reception.

‘Not a cheap florist, no,’ Rafferty corrected him. ‘I’m looking for a professional florist who’ll do a good job cheaply for my wedding. Why? Know any?’

‘My auntie used to be a florist. She’s long since retired, of course. But she likes to keep her hand in. How much were you thinking of paying?’

Rafferty called to mind the quotes he’d had and halved the cheapest.

‘I’ll give her a bell. You want the usual, I take it? Flowers for the church and reception hall and bouquets and buttonholes?’

Rafferty nodded. ‘I can let you know how many nearer the time.’

‘Numbers aren’t a problem. My auntie can always call in the help of a few of her old muckers in the trade. Of course I’ll expect an agent’s fee.’

‘How much?’

‘Not the usual fifteen per cent. Not even ten. To you it’s five per cent. Can’t say fairer than that. Does a lovely job. You’ll be pleased with the result. It’s in her blood.’

Rafferty couldn’t believe that strangling a bunch of innocent flowers with wire could be in anyone’s blood. ‘It’s my fiancée who needs to be pleased. One bouquet looks much the same as another to me.’

‘Leave it with me. I’ll get it sorted for you.’ Beard prised his bulk off the reception counter and picked up the phone, looking far more willing and enthusiastic about tackling this little side-line than he ever did about his real job.

Rafferty nodded his thanks and followed Llewellyn upstairs to his office.

Malcolm Forbes said very little at first when they questioned him again at the police station. He waited while Rafferty placed the two tapes in the recorder, sitting silently while Rafferty spoke their names into the tape.

But once Rafferty began questioning him he was quick to deny being in Primrose Avenue at the time Bazza Lomond claimed to have seen him enter the alley.

‘What would I need to go there for?’ he not unreasonably asked as he leant back in his chair. He seemed enclosed in an aura of confidence as if he couldn’t envisage anyone being foolhardy enough to place him in the vicinity of a murder. And if someone had, his manner implied, that someone could easily be persuaded to change their mind. ‘I don’t do the collections. That’s what I hire staff for. I’ve got more important things to do with my time.’

‘OK, Mr Forbes. So if you weren’t in the alley or its vicinity around the time of Mr Harrison’s murder, which occurred roughly between two-thirty and three-thirty, where were you?’

‘I was in my office, Inspector. Where I’m normally to be found on a weekday. And where I should be now if you hadn’t called me into the station to question me on this unfortunate business. You can’t trust the staff to provide a decent valuation on people’s more valuable little trinkets. I see to most of that side of things.’

Decent for whom? Rafferty wondered, though he doubted the decent valuations went to benefit Forbes’s customers. He challenged Forbes’s claim. ‘You were seen, you know, going into that alley.’

Forbes’s mean grey eyes swivelled between them for a second before his gaze turned even meaner and he fixed it intimidatingly on Rafferty. It was clear he wasn’t used to being contradicted. It was also clear that he meant someone to pay for the necessity of extracting himself from the mire.

‘Nonsense,’ he barked. ‘Seen? How could I have been seen? I told you. I wasn’t there. Seen by whom, anyway?’

Rafferty smiled. ‘You know I can’t tell you that, Sir.’ No chance of that and give him the opportunity to put the frighteners on the bombastic Bazza Lomond. Though Bazza had been far from discreet in confiding his news and it must have been overheard by Jake Sterling and his friends. If they thought there was money in it they might repeat Bazza’a words to Forbes. For all they knew, the four youths were already in Forbes’s pay; certainly, not one of them had mentioned the loan shark being in the vicinity of the alley on the afternoon of the murder. ‘Which of your staff was on duty that afternoon?’

‘You’re surely not going to question my staff?’ Forbes put on a good show of outrage, though, given young Bazza’s evidence, it must have been an act. ‘I’m a respectable businessman. I would have thought my word good enough.’

‘In a murder investigation it’s of no more value than that of any other witness. Or suspect,’ Rafferty was quick to tell him. ‘We like to be even handed. And questioning your staff is the general idea. Was it that thin gentleman we saw last time we were at your shop?’

Forbes’s heavy face gave a tight nod. It made him look meaner than ever.

The thin gentleman must have been pursuing other business because he had been replaced by a woman when they had visited the pawnbroker’s to pick up Forbes for questioning. Though Rafferty suspected the thin gentleman would be no more use to him than Nigel had been. As soon as Forbes walked free from the interview room, he’d be on his mobile and all the staff would doubtless be suitably primed with the right answers as to Forbes’s whereabouts at the time of Harrison’s death. Or if they hadn’t already, they soon would be.

Surprisingly, Forbes gave way. ‘Very well,’ he snapped. ‘Question him if you must. But next time you question either myself or any of my staff I must insist on having my solicitor present.’

‘That’s your prerogative, Sir. Now, if I can have the name of the thin gentleman and his address?’

With a barely concealed ill-grace, Forbes provided the information. ‘Though he’ll tell you exactly the same as I’ve told you,’ he said.

Rafferty smiled again. ‘I’m sure you’re right, Sir. But it doesn’t hurt to be thorough. I’m sure you’d want us to be the same if it was one of your relatives lying on a slab in the mortuary.’

Forbes said nothing more except to bid them a good afternoon.

Once Forbes had left to be ferried back to his shop in a police car, Rafferty said, ‘Let’s have a scout around the neighbourhood of Forbes’s shop. See where Forbes keeps his car and question the people in the neighbouring businesses. They might be more forthcoming about our loan shark’s whereabouts than one of his minions.’

Forbes, it turned out, kept his car, a sleek silver Mercedes, in the yard at the back of the pawn shop. High brick walls separated Forbes’s yard from those of his next-door-neighbours on either side, so unless one of them had seen him driving off in his car, they would still have no more than young Bazza Lomond’s word that he had left the shop at all. Unless, that was, Tony Moran decided to expand on his story or the car showed up clearly on CCTV.

However, this time they struck lucky at the first of Forbes’s neighbours that they questioned and wouldn’t have to rely on either the easily intimidated Moran who, it seemed, had already lied to them once, or the often grainy CCTV footage. The town’s one remaining independent butcher whose shop was next door to Forbes’s pawnbrokers had had a delivery expected and had been keeping an eye out. He had seen Forbes drive out of the alley beside the row of shops. The butcher, a Mr Fred Fortescue, a big, burly man who looked as if he was over fond of his own wares, was adamant about what he’d seen.

‘And what time was this, Mr Fortescue?’ Rafferty questioned.

‘Time? It’d have been gone three o’clock. I’d just served Mrs Palmer – nice sirloin and some of my own sausages – and I was out on the pavement looking for the delivery chap, when I saw Forbes. I don’t like the man. Fancies himself. Blamed me when his car had some of the paint scraped off it the other week. I told him. I said, “Maybe if you didn’t drive so fast, your car wouldn’t get damaged”. You could see he didn’t like it. But I’m not frightened of him. I’m one for plain speaking. I don’t beat around the bush with anyone, me, as I told him.’

Rafferty gave Fred Fortescue a delighted smile. ‘And it was definitely Mr Forbes. You’re quite sure?’

‘As sure as I’m standing here, behind this counter. ‘Couldn’t mistake him. He was only a couple of yards away from me across the pavement. You should have seen the dirty look he gave me since we had words. Thinks he’s someone, that man. He’s nowt to me. I don’t have to kowtow to him and I’m damned if I will,’ the forthright Northern butcher told him.

‘Which way did he drive?’

‘He turned right out of the alley. Went past my shop. Heading out to The George Inn for a business meeting, I shouldn’t wonder. Got his fingers in more pies than I have, that man. None of them savoury.’

Rafferty gave the butcher a smile of acknowledgement at this witticism. A right turn would certainly have taken him in the direction of The George. It would also have led him to Primrose Avenue. Even if he still denied being there, Forbes had been caught out in a lie, which was interesting in itself.

Rafferty shook Fred Fortescue’s hand. ‘You’ll come down to the station and make a statement?’

‘Glad to if it means you get him for something. Time he was put in his place. I hear tell it were one of his collectors that got clobbered. Can’t blame people if they take the law into their own hands when they’ve got nowt and they’ve got someone like him on their backs. Man’s an out and out bully. That Forbes is as nasty a bit of work as you’ll see in many a long day. Mark my words. I’ve met a few in me time.’

Fred Fortescue promised to come along to the station to make a statement that evening after he’d shut up his butcher’s shop.

Rafferty grinned all the way to their car which they’d had to park down a side street. ‘That’s what I call a result,’ he said. ‘Wonder what Forbes will have to say for himself now?’

‘Very little, I imagine,’ said Llewellyn. ‘He did say he’d have his solicitor with him next time we question him, remember?’

‘Sure sign of guilt when they reach for their brief with so little reason.’

‘Or of someone who knows his rights and insists on having them. We may get nothing at all from him.’

‘True. But that’s two witnesses who say he wasn’t in his shop that afternoon.’ They had already retrieved the CCTV footage and now they’d checked out the car that Forbes drove they should get a third witness from that. ‘Ring through with the details of Forbes’s vehicle registration, will you, Dafyd, so the team can make a start checking the CCTV evidence? I reckon, with our questioning in the neighbourhood extended, we might unearth one or two more witnesses. It’d be nice to have a quiversful when we tackle Forbes again.’

But although they weren’t destined to obtain Rafferty’s hoped for quiversful of witnesses, the two witnesses they had were firm enough in what they said they had seen, particularly Fred Fortescue, who seemed a very strong witness. Rafferty thought it was enough to tackle Forbes again, be he with a brief or without.

Rather than behaving with hostility, as Rafferty had expected, when questioned again, Forbes said very little as Llewellyn had prophesised. Instead, he fielded his brief, who was small but deadly and stonewalled Rafferty at every turn.

The brief, Anthony Frobisher, was well known in the nick. He fronted several of the local criminal fraternity and was generally hated by the police for protecting his clients so efficiently. Today was no different.

Deciding to go on the attack rather than keep to the quiet polite manner that had availed him nothing, Rafferty said, ‘You realise your client is obstructing a police investigation by his denials? We have more than one witness who places him out of his office at the relevant time. More than one witness who places him at the scene.’ The last wasn’t strictly true – they only had young Bazza Lomond – but Rafferty thought a little exaggeration worth it. ‘Yet all you and your client do is deny he was there.’

‘That’s because he wasn’t there, Inspector,’ the brief replied coolly. ‘As I and Mr Forbes have repeatedly told you.’

Rafferty managed – just – to stop the scowl forming. ‘I must warn you and your client that every inch of that alley and every piece of CCTV film between here and there will be thoroughly examined. If Mr Forbes left the office, as I believe, we’ll find out and then we’ll be back.’

‘I’m sure my client will be happy to make himself available.’ The brief, sleek, smooth and deadly, added softly, ‘As shall I. But my client and I are both busy men, so I suggest you give us more warning than you gave us today if you wish to question him again.’

Rafferty had little choice but to leave it there. He could, he supposed, have arrested Forbes on a charge of obstruction, but as it was likely his brief would have provided his own form of obstruction to any questions, there was little to be gained beyond the satisfaction of forcing Forbes to cool his heels in a cell for a while. They must hope that either the forensic boys found something in the vicinity of the alley that proved Forbes had been there or that the CCTV came up with irrefutable proof.

However, as it was likely that forensic would be some time providing any useful leads, Rafferty didn’t waste any of it waiting for answers to come to him from that quarter. Other answers were out there, somewhere and he was determined to find them. To this end, he and Llewellyn set off to question young Bazza again.

The roads were busy. The welcome bright sunshine had brought people out of their homes. Unfortunately, it meant their journey was stop/start nearly all the way. Rafferty restrained his impatience. But eventually they reached Bazza Lomond’s home. His mother opened the door and led them upstairs to her son’s bedroom.

Bazza was playing some violent game on his computer and showed a marked reluctance  to be torn away from it to answer their questions. But eventually his mother persuaded him to abandon the game and help them, although at first he was inclined to be sulky.

‘Tell me, Bazza,’ Rafferty asked when he had got his attention, his mother making encouraging noises in the background. ‘How did Mr Forbes seem when you saw him on the day of the murder?’

‘Seem? How do you mean? I don’t know how fatso Forbes normally seems, apart from big and aggressive.’

‘What I meant was – was he furtive when he came out of the alley? Did he seem nervous? Did you see any blood on him?’

‘Blood? No.’ This got his interest and although he had turned halfway back to the screen, now he turned back to face them, though he seemed disappointed to have to make this admission. ‘He didn’t look anything in particular. Just big and red with that “get out of my way” look to him as if he owns the street.’

He certainly owned half of it in Rafferty’s estimation, judging from the number of the residents who were in debt to him.

‘You said before that he was carrying something when he came out of the alley,’ Llewellyn prompted. ‘What about when he entered the alley? Was he carrying something then?’

‘I dunno. I never noticed.’

‘Have you thought any more about what it might have been that he was carrying?’ Rafferty put in.

‘Yeah. I’ve thought and thought. But I didn’t see what it was. Do you reckon it might have been a knife?’ he asked eagerly.

‘It wasn’t a knife that killed our victim, Bazza,’ Rafferty told the boy.

‘No?’ He seemed disappointed. ‘What was it then?’

Rafferty didn’t see any reason not to gratify the boy’s curiosity seeing as he’d been so helpful and provided them with their first strong lead. ‘We believe it was a hammer, son.’

Bazza pulled a face. ‘That’s what old Lewis said. You know, the old bloke who found the body. Said Jaws’ head had been bashed in. I never believed him.’

‘Well, it’s true, so if you find a hammer anywhere on your travels, don’t touch it, but be sure to report it to me.’ Gravely, Rafferty took a card out of his pocket and handed it over. ‘If you find a hammer or learn anything else, you give me a bell, Bazza. Promise me?’

‘Cool.’ Enraptured, the boy gazed at the card as at a treasured possession, his desire to return to his computer game clearly forgotten.

It was nice, Rafferty thought as they turned away, that there were still kids about who didn’t think the police were the enemy.

Rafferty decided to go to see Father Kelly straight after work in order to get the wedding date booked. He found the priest in his study with papers, as usual, strewn over every surface. He had a new housekeeper, another young woman. She had a lush figure and a propensity to low-necked tops. Just the way the old reprobate liked them. He was in a playful mood. From the smell of his breath, he’d had a couple.

‘And isn’t it the wedding boy himself, young Lochinvar come out of the west,’ Father Kelly greeted him as he poured another glass from the bottle of Jameson’s whiskey standing at his elbow and took a hefty swig. ‘I wondered when you’d come calling. Your Mammy said you’re finally making a start on getting your wedding organised.’

‘That’s right, Father. Can you book us in for June next year?’

‘Sure and you’re already booked. Didn’t your Mammy book it months ago?’

Rafferty stared at him, stupefied. ‘How can she have booked it? We’ve only just decided on the date ourselves.’

‘Not a woman to hang about, Kitty Rafferty. She told me you and Abra would be dithering and she was right. Your Mammy’s a sensible woman and knew it was necessary to get it booked as soon as possible. I set aside a twelve o’clock on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. You can take your pick.’

Rafferty supposed, as he sipped the Jameson’s that the ever hospitable priest had poured for him, that he ought to be grateful that his Ma, at least, had shown some foresight. No wonder she’d pushed so keenly for June and had rubbished May. No doubt if they’d decided on June and she’d booked July, she’d have found something disparaging to say about that month as well. Oh well. It was done now. ‘Hold on a minute, Father and I’ll check with Abra which date she’d prefer.’ After a quick chat on his mobile, Abra confirmed they’d go for the second Saturday.

Father Kelly made a note in his diary. He beamed at Rafferty and insisted on pouring him another drink. ‘To celebrate your forthcoming nuptials,’ he said. ‘Never thought I’d live to see the day, not after your last lot.’

Rafferty and Angie, his late first wife, had had a shotgun wedding and the marriage had gone downhill from there. ‘It was just a matter of finding the right woman this time,’ he said. ‘And now I’ve found her.’

‘It’s glad for you, I am.’ Father Kelly raised his glass. ‘Here’s to your young lady. May you be blessed with many babies.’

Rafferty wasn’t sure the latter part of the toast was one he wanted to drink to, particularly given that Abra’s name meant “Mother of Multitudes”, but he didn’t say so to Father Kelly who, like the Pope, another bachelor, thought the world should be filled with Catholic babies and lots of them whatever the penury of the parents.

They clinked glasses and both took more than a sip.

‘Your Ma booked the church hall while she was at it,’ Father Kelly informed him. ‘She said you’d want the complete package.’ He gazed at Rafferty under his mad eyebrows. ‘You did, didn’t you?’

Rafferty, stymied by the manager of the Elmhurst Hotel on the reception venue front, gave a weak nod. ‘Of course, Father. Where else would we want to hold the reception?’ Especially since The Elmhurst Hotel and the other swanky places Abra had favoured for the reception were all booked up. It was Father Kelly’s church hall or nowhere.

He was feeling sorry for himself over his own ineptitude. But it got better as Father Kelly added, ‘Of course, Joseph, I insist on letting you and Abra have the use of the hall for free as a wedding present. After all, I baptised you, presided over your first communion and confirmation and those of the rest of your fine brood of siblings, so it’s only fitting that I set you off on the next of life’s cycles.’

‘That’s decent of you, Father. Thank you.’ It mightn’t be the glamorous reception location that Abra had set her heart on. But as he would tell her, it was the act of getting married, of making a commitment to one another in front of witnesses that was the important part, not all the frills and froth that too often surrounded and obscured the main event.

‘I’ll confirm it in my other diary.’ Father Kelly pulled another book, a red one this time, towards him and firmed up the booking. That done, he said, ‘Now that we’re all official, you must get your young feeancy along so I can give her some instruction.’

‘I wanted to talk to you about that, Father. Abra’s not very religious and—’

‘I wouldn’t worry about that my boy.’ Father Kelly beamed, showing his yellow tombstone teeth. ‘Such a lack of conviction leaves a vacuum. And doesn’t the saying go that nature abhors a vacuum? I’ll soon fill her head with the right stuff, don’t you worry about that.’

That was precisely what Rafferty had been worrying about. Abra had said she would be willing to get married in St Boniface only if she wasn’t forced to listen to a lot of religious mumbo jumbo before the big day. To have Father Kelly filling her head with the ‘right stuff’ was unlikely to go down too well. But again, unless they could get a cancellation to get married elsewhere, it was St Boniface or nowhere. Abra would just have to grin and bear the marriage classes and religious mumbo jumbo she would have to go through. It was that or find another, non-religious venue and possibly put their wedding back a year.

Father Kelly seemed cock a hoop, as if, with this wedding, he felt he’d got Rafferty into his religious clutches once again and knew exactly what he intended to do with him.

It was a pity, Rafferty mused later as he drove carefully home, mindful of the two large whiskeys he’d consumed and wary of the traffic cops, that neither of them had realised just how far ahead it was necessary to book a wedding; then they could have avoided this religious trap. But Ma, as usual, had got her way. Not only the month, but also the venues. Moreover, she’d managed to make them grateful while she was doing it. Rafferty shook his head in reluctant admiration. You had to hand it to her. Ma really was an adept at organising others’ lives to suit her own agenda. She should have taken up politics rather than marriage and repeated childbearing.

Abra would have to be told about the marriage classes, of course. But maybe not yet. She’d specified no religious mumbo jumbo if they were to marry in St Boniface, but surely even she must suspect that the Catholic Church wouldn’t marry anyone without religion entering the frame pretty strongly. He’d wait until the wedding arrangements were more settled. She might be in a calmer frame of mind then and more accepting of their necessity. Especially as the longer he left off telling her, the likelihood of finding an alternative venue became even more remote than it was now. He congratulated himself on his good sense as he parked up at the flats. A fait accompli was the way to go.

‘I’ve designed and printed out several possible templates for those invitations you asked me to do,’ Llewellyn said the next morning as soon as Rafferty got in. ‘See what you think.’

Llewellyn handed over three separate cards, each with a different design.

Rafferty studied them. Two were delicate in silver and blue. The third was in bold primary colours which straightaway attracted Rafferty’s eye. But a wedding day was somehow more the bride’s day than the groom’s, he acknowledged, so he’d leave it to Abra to choose. ‘Thanks Dafyd,’ he said as he pocketed the cards. ‘I’ll let you know which one Abra goes for. You must let me know how much the cards and inkjet cartridges will cost for the full two hundred print run and I’ll reimburse you.’

‘You’ll do nothing of the sort,’ Llewellyn told him. ‘Think of them as an early wedding present.’

Rafferty was touched. ‘Really? That’s good of you, Daff. Cheers.’ It made him feel bad about not asking Llewellyn to be his best man. Trouble was, he was in a bit of a quandary about it. Should he ask Llewellyn? Part of him wanted to. After all, not only had he been Llewellyn’s best man, but his sergeant had also played matchmaker between himself and Abra and had done a far better job than his Ma, for all her efforts, had ever done. He was also likely to make a better job of the best man role, too, being efficient and organised. But there again, he had two brothers and various friends who would all expect to be asked to do the honours. He couldn’t make up his mind. Whoever he chose, someone would be offended. Several someone’s. Now would be the ideal time to ask him, of course, and he felt awkward that he was unable to do so.

Still, he was more than pleased to be able to tick yet another wedding expense off on his mental check list. He was doing well. Surprisingly well. So far, he’d managed to organise a free hall for the reception – though, admittedly, that was more his Ma’s doing than his own – bargain priced bouquets and other flowers as well as a free wedding cake courtesy of Dafyd’s mother-in-law. Now he was getting the invitations done for nothing. He just hoped Abra didn’t find out what a cut price wedding she was getting.

It’s not that I’m mean, he mentally recorded his defence, just in case. It’s just that I don’t want us to start married life deeply in debt. And all for the sake of one day, when they hoped to have a lifetime of days together. ‘Just one thing, Daff. I’d be obliged if you didn’t mention to Abra or anyone else likely to let the cat out of the bag that you’re doing the invitations. I don’t want any of them getting the idea that I’m a cheapskate.’

Llewellyn’s lips turned up a fraction as he said, ‘Particularly not Abra.’

‘Got it in one.’

‘Don’t worry. She won’t hear about it from me.’

‘Good man.’

AMAZON US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00G2JOHCU

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00G2JOHCU

LATEST RELEASE ON KINDLE AND SHAMSHWORDS: RELUCTANT QUEEN

Well, I’ve now uploaded Reluctant Queen to kindle and  will put it up on Smashwords if my sales on there improve. This is my one and only historical. I may write more depending on the response I get.

It tells the story of Mary Rose Tudor, little sister to infamous, much-married, English king, Henry VIII. Here’s the blurb and first chapter.

BLURB

Mary, the beautiful, younger sister of English king, Henry VIII, reluctantly agrees to marry the aged and sickly Louis XII of France. But before agreeing, she extracts Henry’s promise that she may please herself for her second marriage. Mary is deeply in love with the low-born Charles Brandon, her brother’s boon companion, and is  determined to wed Brandon should King Louis die.
At the French court, Mary is pursued relentlessly by her aged husband’s debauched heir, Francis.  And with the death of her husband and Francis’s elevation to the French throne and absolute power, her situation becomes desperate. Unprotected, Mary is a captive prey to Francis’s lust for her.
Will she ever be free to go to her lost love? Because since Louis’s death, Mary has become increasingly anxious about the rumours she heard concerning her brother’s plans for her future. Does Henry intend to push her into another loveless marriage to suit himself and the State?
King Henry sends Charles Brandon to the French court on a diplomatic mission. Desperate, Mary persuades him to go through a secret marriage with her.
Then, fearfully, they await Henry’s reaction, aware that no one, not  even his much-loved younger sister, defies him with impunity.
CHAPTER ONE
‘No, I won’t marry that feeble, pocky old man.’ Mary Tudor stormed at her brother. For all that twenty-three-year-old Henry was the elder and had for five years been King of England, Mary was determined not to submit to his entreaties.
            ‘Now, sweetheart.’ Henry bent down from his great height and coaxed, ‘You know nothing about him. Louis, the French King may be no young stripling, but they say he’s very rich. He’ll be kind and loving, I doubt not. You will learn to be fond of him in time.’
            ‘I will not,’ Mary insisted. Louis was old and sickly; fifty-two to her eighteen. The thought of marrying such an old man appalled her. Henry was all sweet reasonableness now, but Mary knew that would soon change if she continued to defy him. Since becoming king, Henry had rapidly grown used to having his own way; he had not sacrificed himself on the marriage market. Instead, a few months after their father’s death, he had speedily married Katherine of Aragon, their brother Arthur’s pretty young widow, ignoring their late father’s advice. It had been a marriage made, at least, in part, for love.
            Mary didn’t see why she should not also marry where she would, as rumour had it their sister Margaret was determined to do. Now nearly twenty-four, Margaret had set her heart on marrying the young and handsome Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus. Just fourteen, Margaret had married their father’s choice of King James IV of Scotland eleven years earlier, carrying with her the forlorn hope that this marriage alliance would bring to an end the interminable wars between England and Scotland.        Forlorn hope it had proved. For Margaret had been widowed just the previous year when King James had been killed fighting Henry’s army at the battle of Flodden. Mary had no doubt that Henry’s present wish to use her for a similar, unnatural alliance, this time with France, would prove equally fruitless. Had he not been long allied with the Emperor Maximilian and King Ferdinand, the father of Queen Katherine? And although they had had a falling out after Henry had discovered Ferdinand had made a secret truce with the French, Henry would revert to the long-standing Hapsburg alliance in a second, rendering vain her sacrifice in marriage to old King Louis. His naming of Louis as ‘The French King’ rather than the ‘King of France’ was further proof of how unnatural such an alliance would be. Henry considered himself the rightful King of France. He longed for his own Crecy and Agincourt. Only the previous year, he had led his army against the French and had captured Therouanne and Tournai.
            Mary felt she had sacrificed enough for her brother’s ambitions. He had caused her to be spurned by young Prince Charles of Castile, the Emperor’s grandson and Queen Catherine’s nephew, to whom her father had betrothed her six years earlier. Now he wanted to replace this match with one far more distasteful to her.
            But between her brother’s alliance-swapping  Mary had fallen in love, just like her sister. Mary knew that if she wished to copy her sister’s example she must hold out against her brother’s demands. It wouldn’t be easy. But when she thought of the unheroic figure of Louis XII, the old French invalid whom everyone laughed at, her determination to defy Henry grew stronger.
‘You know where my heart lies, Henry,’ she reminded him now. ‘Where it’s lain these many months, whilst you’ve been toying with Castile and its prince.’ Mary’s gaze narrowed accusingly. ‘Where’s the magnificent dowry jewel they sent our father, but perched in your hat, brother?’
            Henry allowed a scowl break through before he gathered in the reins of his temper and tried more sweet reason. ‘As you say, King Louis is old and sickly and has been for a good long while; any marriage couldn’t be for long. Think of the honours and riches that would be yours and you could be free in a year or less. What’s a year when you’re only eighteen?’
            ‘No, Henry, I’ll not be persuaded.’ Mary smoothed her gown and tried some sweet reason of her own. ‘Surely I could be permitted to please myself, as you did.’
            Henry’s scowl escaped again and he shouted at her. ‘This is foolish talk. I’m a man, Mary and a king. You’re only a princess and princesses must dispose themselves where duty, not the heart, lies.’ Henry’s gaze turned longingly towards the window, for the day was fair. Mary, too, wanted to be out in the warm sunshine instead of cooped up indoors arguing with her brother. She hoped Henry’s love of pleasure and hunting would persuade him to give over trying to browbeat her. But this hope was a vain one. Even as she thought it, Henry dragged his gaze from the window and stared so consideringly at her that Mary realised he was about to try another tactic.
            ‘Do this for me, this once,’ Henry pleaded, ‘and when Louis dies, as he will, and that no doubt right soon, you may choose your own husband afterwards. On this you have my word.’
            Mary stared broodingly at him. Much as she adored this handsome giant of a brother, she had learned to be wary of Henry’s promises and this one had a too-ready air about it. But he had given his word on it, she mused. His offer weakened her resolve. Given Henry’s determination to have his own way in all things this might be her best chance to attain her desire and marry Charles Brandon. But the repugnant necessity of first marrying the sickly Louis invaded her mind and would not be ignored.
            Mary’s thoughts turned this way and that while the silence lengthened. How could she bear to let the old French king fondle her, couple with her, when all her senses craved only the touch of Charles Brandon? Yet, it was true that Louis was sickly, liable to die ere long, as Henry claimed. Perhaps his poor health would allow him nothing more intimate than a formal bedding with her for the sake of convention. If she could trust her brother’s promise she might soon be able to go to Charles freely. Upset, confused, wishing to be left in peace to consider what she should do, Mary was startled from her reverie by Henry’s angry voice.
            ‘What more do you want, Madam? Most girls do not need to be cajoled into marriage. They’re told whom they are to marry and they marry them.’
            Henry’s handsome face was flushed with a right royal temper and Mary knew he had taken her silence for wilfulness. Now, he towered threateningly over her and for the first time, Mary felt something of that fear that her brother’s rages so easily engendered in others.
            ‘I’ve been too indulgent towards you, Madam, too easy-going. You’ll come to your duty, sister, or perchance, I might have to find a teacher, one not as kindly as I.’
            Mary, with her own goodly share of royal temper, now forgot Henry’s promise, his kingly majesty and her own doubts and flung back defiantly at him, ‘Perhaps you should do that, brother, for I’ll not wed him else.’ Turning on her heel, Mary fled from the chamber, her steps echoing up the passageway, mingling with the sobs she could no longer hold back.
Thomas Wolsey, the king’s almoner, stepped from behind the curtained doorway. ‘That was not well done, Your Grace,’ he chided. ‘Your sister may be a sweet and loving girl, but she has a certain spirit. She should be gentled into agreement, for love of you and for the sake of the French alliance. Chivvying and harrying is not the way with her.’
            The king scowled. But Wolsey, aware that his young king valued honest counsel, was emboldened to continue. ‘With the help of Princess Mary’s friend, Mistress Popincourt, and our obliging French hostage, the Duc de Longueville, we’ve advanced the match this far; perhaps we should encourage them further. Mistress Popincourt is mighty friendly with your sister. Let her use her soft words at every opportunity. ‘Tis my belief, Your Grace, that between her and de Longueville, they’ll sway your sister to the match if we make it worth their while. De Longueville is kin to His Majesty, King Louis. He will, I’m sure, be doubly rewarded for providing the old King with such a lovely young bride. He will also get his freedom if he helps to persuade your sister to the match.’
            ‘What of Jane Popincourt?’ Henry asked. ‘What reward for her?’
            Wolsey gave a sly smile. ‘From what I understand, Your Grace, she has had her reward from de Longueville – a tarnished reputation. They have conducted their liaison with little discretion. For her, the gleam of gold will be carrot enough, but no further payment should be necessary. She will, I doubt not, expect to accompany your sister to France, but that is something I would counsel against, Sire. We do not wish your sister’s good name to be joined with such a wanton’s at the French court.’
            ‘No, indeed. But Mary will expect the girl to accompany her. They’ve been friends since childhood. If we are to get her agreement to the match it would be wise not to upset her on this matter.’
            Wolsey had already given due thought to the question of Jane Popincourt and as a natural diplomat, he had quickly found the obvious solution. ‘What need is there for us to upset her, Your Grace when others can be persuaded to do it for us? Our Ambassador, Worcester, has only to whisper in King Louis’ ear about Popincourt’s morals and His Majesty would, I’m sure, see to the rest. Princess Mary is young and innocent; he will want her to stay that way. He admires virtuous behaviour in a woman, so we may surmise that he dislikes the opposite. I think, Sire, we can safely leave King Louis to do our refusing for us.’
            ‘You may be right in what you say, Thomas. It would seem Mistress Popincourt has already led my sister astray, putting romantic notions of love in her head when there should be naught but duty, making her pert and disobedient. I like the idea of Louis banning Mistress Popincourt from accompanying Mary’s train. He who makes the rules must also take the blame.’ Henry’s amused laugh boomed out. But the laughter was quickly replaced by grim determination, as, with his little eyes narrowed, he vowed, ‘we will try the gentle option first to get Mary’s agreement to the match, but if she is still hot against it, we will need to use more ungentle methods.’
Mary raced into her bed-chamber, long, golden hair flying behind her, and threw herself, sobbing, on her bed.
            Lady Guildford, her governess, came up to her, tutting at such unseemly behaviour. Mary’s ‘Mother’ Guildford, in whose charge she had been placed since the death of her own mother, was all calm reason. ‘What’s to do, my lady? What’s to do? Get up, child, you’ll crush your gown.’
            ‘Whatever is the matter, Mary?’
            Through her sobs, Mary heard the concerned voice of her friend, Jane Popincourt, but she didn’t answer her. Eventually Mary’s sobs subsided and she sat up on the bed, her lovely face a mask of misery.
            ‘Now, madam, will you tell me what ails thee? Have you a pain? I’ll send for the physicians.’ Her Mother Guildford bustled to the door, but Mary called her back.
            ‘Nay, mother. This is a pain which no physician can cure.’ She raised her tear-stained face. ‘My brother wishes to wed me to old King Louis of France.’
            ‘Surely he’s not looking for another wife?’ Lady Guildford asked. ‘He’s buried two already. Besides, ’tis well known he’s too old and sickly to get himself any sons.
They say he only clings to life to spite, Francis, his son-in-law.’
            ‘But what riches you would have, Mary,’ Jane cajoled. ‘Think what your trousseau would be for such a marriage. It would make the one for the Castilian match look like a pauper’s rags. To be Queen of France – ’tis a magnificent honour for any girl.’ Jane’s soft French accent turned the words into a honeyed caress.
            Mary was not to be comforted. Sunk in misery, she caught the look of dislike her Mother Guildford cast towards Jane. But Lady Guildford was a stern and pious woman and thought her worldly friend Jane a bad influence. But then she had been a great friend of Mary’s equally pious paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort. Together, with her father’s sanction, they had ruled the court, over-riding Mary’s meek and gentle mother, Elizabeth, whose only duty was the getting of sons. She had done her duty in that as in everything else. Indeed, she had done her duty so well that she had died, worn out from child-bearing, but a short while after giving birth yet again. The baby, Catherine, had also died.
             Fresh tears filled Mary’s eyes as she thought of the gentle countenance of her dead mother. Now, apart from Mary, there was only her brother, Henry and her elder sister, Margaret left out of the brood of babes her mother had borne. Her father and grandmother were also long dead.
            The atmosphere at court had changed markedly after her brother Henry had replaced their father as king just before his eighteenth birthday. And although gaiety had not replaced piety – for Henry was devout – there had been so many balls and banquets that it had seemed Henry couldn’t run through their father’s carefully accumulated wealth quickly enough.
            ‘If you did marry him, my lady, it could not be for long.’ Practical as well as pious, Lady Guildford repeated Henry’s soothing words. ‘An old and sickly man and a young, lively bride is a sure recipe for an early funeral.’
            Although she knew it was sinful, Mary couldn’t help but be cheered a little by this and she asked curiously, ‘Is King Louis very sickly, Mother?’
            Lady Guildford nodded. ‘He’s been sickly these many years. They say he retires to his bed at six of the clock every evening. Even the king’s cocks and hens tarry later than His Christian Majesty.’
            ‘My brother seems very keen on this marriage,’ Mary confided. ‘Surely, if he loved me, he could have found a more suitable match for me?’
            ‘Would that someone would arrange such a match for me,’ Jane commented. ‘You’d not find me weeping and thinking on the age of the groom.’
            ‘You’ll be lucky to find anyone to marry you, madam,’ Lady Guildford told her tartly. ‘Your indiscretions with the Duc de Longueville are all over the court.’
            Jane gave a careless shrug. ‘What care I? Mary will take me to the French court with her and find me a rich husband.’
            ‘There’s many a noble lady ahead of you in the queue for a rich husband,’ Lady Guildford waspishly reminded her. ‘Why should you think you would be permitted to go to the French court?’ Suspiciously, she demanded, ‘Unless you and de Longueville have been plotting while you indulged your lusts?’
            ‘I don’t know what you can mean,’ Jane retorted.
            ‘Do you not? Can it be that you and de Longueville have decided that the best way for him to achieve his desire to return to France is by persuading the king to marry Mary into that country?’
            Mary saw that her Mother Guildford’s shot had hit home. De Longueville had been one of the French nobles captured by her brother’s forces the previous year at Therouanne.In his eagerness to return home had he persuaded her friend Jane to betray her? Mary remained silent while she listened to the continuing exchange.
            ‘A marriage alliance with France would be an ideal way for a prisoner such as de Longueville to return home,’ Lady Guildford continued thoughtfully. ‘Maybe taking his mistress with him into the bargain?’
            Mary found her voice and demanded, ‘Jane, can this be true?’ Mary looked reproachfully at the girl as she saw confirmation on Jane’s face.
            ‘For all your plotting, madam, I doubt you’ll get your way. Do you think King Henry will want his little sister’s name sullied by association with yours?’ Lady Guildford upbraided the unrepentant Jane. ‘And from what I hear of King Louis, he’s turned very pious in his old age – he wouldn’t countenance any immorality at his court. Or loose women either.’
            Jane shot a look of venom at Lady Guildford, before she flounced from the room. Lady Guildford snorted after the departed Jane before she took a hairbrush and, after bidding Mary to come and sit on a stool set before the glass, she removed her hood and began to smooth the brush through Mary’s disordered hair. Waist-length, and golden, it was one of her greatest beauties.
            ‘You know, my lady,’ Mother Guildford remarked, ‘perhaps there is something in what that wanton says about this French marriage.’
            ‘Not you, too, Mother,’ Mary protested. ‘Tis enough that my brother should harry me, without you start-’           
            ‘Hush, child. There are worse fates in this life than marriage to an old man.’ As Lady Guildford smoothed the brush through Mary’s hair, she told her, ‘King Louis divorced his first wife for her ugliness. He couldn’t abide her near him. His second, Queen Anne, he was supposed to be fond of, though she was on the plain side too. Do you not think that a young beauty like yourself would fare better than either? He would be ready to fall at your feet if it would please you, I vow, having first decked you in costly rubies and diamonds’
            Despite her fears, Mary smiled to hear the devout Lady Guildford speak so. ‘It is not like you to talk in so worldly a manner, Mother.’
            ‘I can be as worldly as necessary when it is for the good of my little maid. I have taken the place of your mother and grandam, and must think of your best interests, as they would.’
            ‘And would it be in my best interests, think you, to marry a man so old, with creaky joints and gouty limbs? What of love? What of romance?’
            ‘Foolish notions for a princess, as I’m sure your brother told you. Both your mother and grandam married for duty, though I’m not saying love didn’t come. You
should put such thoughts out of your head for I know none of high rank who were permitted to marry for love.’
            Mary, about to remind her of the love-match that had formed the basis of her own Tudor dynasty, remained silent as she recollected how that love-match had ending. The marriage between Catherine, Henry V’s young French widow and her own paternal great grandsire, Owen Tudor, the Welsh gentleman of her guard, had been a secret one, ending in tragedy with Owen eventually clapped into prison and Catherine forced to retire to a convent where she had died at an early age. Such was not the future Mary wanted for herself and Charles Brandon. So, although she brooded, Mary said nothing when her Mother Guildford told her she would submit to her duty, as many before her had submitted and that her brother, for all his gay charm, would see to it that she did so.
            Mary knew it was useless to speak to her Mother Guildford of love and passion. Like Henry, it was clear she thought the match an excellent one. But Lady Guildford was old. Piety was her passion. And neither she nor Henry would have to endure King Louis’ shameful fumblings. Beneath her lowered lids, Mary’s blue eyes darkened. But as Lady Guildford continued to pull the silver-backed brush through her silken hair, Mary’s mind quietened. And as thoughts of the future were so distasteful, she cast her mind backwards, to the carefree days of her childhood at Eltham which she and Henry had shared; their sister, Margaret, long married and in Scotland and Arthur, Prince of Wales, in his own establishment. Henry, as second son, had been destined for the church until Arthur’s early death altered his prospects. Mary had always found it impossible to imagine her tall, adored, handsome brother a man of the cloth. He exuded too much of the love of life and its many pleasures for that. Henry had basked in her adoration and loved her the more for it, far more than he had ever loved their elder sister, Margaret, who, once betrothal to King James of Scotland, had delighted in queening it over them.
            Mary wished she could remember more of her mother; but she had died shortly before Mary’s seventh birthday and all she had was an impression of soft arms and a gentle voice crooning lullabies. Her father, a thin, solemn man with a careworn face, she could remember more clearly. He had arranged the ‘great match’ for her with the young Prince of Castile. She could still remember the betrothal ceremony held at Greenwich with the great throng of nobles and clerics.Her betrothed, or more probably his grandsire, had sent her the brilliant jewel in the form of the letter ‘K’ for Karolus, made of diamonds and pearls, which Henry now wore in his hat. She had been proud of the jewel and had loved to show it off. It had an inscription on it, which, with childish notions of love, she had taken to her heart – ‘Maria had chosen the good part, which should not be taken from her.’
            But it had been taken from her. The marriage had been due to be finalised this year, despite her lately wayward-leaning heart. Her father had paid her dowry of 50,000 crowns, but had cautiously demanded a pawn for the money. Mary could still remember his delight when his demand had been met and a magnificent cluster of diamonds worth twice the dowry sum had been sent. But then her father had died. And although he had left her her dowry, in the form of the diamond cluster, when he had become king Henry had taken a great fancy to the jewel and refused to part with it. Mary had been left with nothing, not even her Castilian Prince who had repudiated her after many months of wrangling and recriminations.
            And now her brother proposed another, even grander, match for her. But Mary’s taste for grand marriages had turned to ashes. She had only to look at those of Katherine and her sister, Margaret, to know they often brought misery and humiliation in their wake. Had not Katherine, Henry’s queen, suffered near-destitution for seven years after the death of her first husband, Arthur? Her misery only alleviated when Henry became king and married her. Owing to her faithless husband’s ‘fatal weakness for women’ Margaret’s marital humiliations had been without number. Such memories strengthened Mary’s resolve to marry Charles Brandon. She wanted only to live in peace with her beloved. She must find Charles and persuade him to declare himself. Surely Henry, who could be sentimental, would relent when he realised how great was the love of his sister and his bosom friend.
                Before, caution had made Charles reluctant to claim Mary’s hand, but the time for caution was past. Unless he wanted to lose her to old Louis, he must speak out. She must find the words to persuade him to it. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about.

Here’s the link to my amazon page for anyone who’s interested in buying the book.

 

PUBLICATION DAY! DEADLY REUNION!

I”m delighted to announce that Deadly Reunion is published today. Deadly Reunion is my eighteenth novel and the fourteenth in my humorous Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series. Here’s the blurb:

Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty is barely back from his honeymoon before he has two unpleasant surprises. Not only has he another murder investigation – a poisoning, courtesy of a school reunion, he also has four new lodgers, courtesy of his Ma, Kitty Rafferty. Ma is organising her own reunion and since getting on the internet, the number of Rafferty and Kelly family attendees has grown, like Topsy. In his murder investigation, Rafferty has to go back in time to learn of all the likely motives of the victim’s fellow reunees. But it is only when he is reconciled to his unwanted lodgers, that Rafferty finds the answers to his most important questions.
Watch the trailer I made:
Read an extract:
DEADLY REUNION
A Rafferty & Llewellyn crime novel by Geraldine Evans
EXCERPT from Chapter One
‘Poisoned? Are you sure? Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty regretted his rash query as soon as it left his mouth. For Dr Sam Dally let him have it with both barrels.
            ‘Of course I’m sure. Would I be telling you the man was poisoned if I wasn’t? I never question your professional judgement’ – which was an out and out lie – ‘so I’d thank you not to question mine.  Conium Maculatum was what killed him. Or, to your uneducated ear, hemlock.’
            ‘Hemlock?’
           ‘That’s right. A very old-fashioned poison. Goes back to the classical Greeks, so I believe. Maybe even further back. Now, is there anything else you’d like to question while you’re at it?’
            ‘All right, Sam. Keep your hair on,’ said Rafferty. Which – given Sam’s rapidly balding pate, was another unfortunate slip of the tongue. But this time it brought nothing more than the testy,
            ‘Well? Is there anything else you’d like to question my judgement about?
            Rafferty felt – given his mounting foot-in-mouth episode – that a simple ‘no’ would suffice.
            ‘Hmph.’ Dally sounded disappointed as if he was just in the right frame of mind to have another go. ‘Ainsley had been dead between fourteen and sixteen hours before he was discovered. The first symptoms would have started after around half an hour. He’d have experienced a gradual weakening of muscles, then extreme pain and paralysis from the coniine in hemlock, the effects of which are much like curare. It’s probable he went blind, but his mind would have remained clear till the end.’
            ‘Christ. What a horrible way to go.’
             ‘Yes. Death would be several hours later from paralysis of the heart.’
            ‘Is the poison likely to be self-inflicted?’
            ‘’Well, it wouldn’t be my choice.’
            Nor mine, thought Rafferty. He couldn’t believe that a sportsman like Adam Ainsley would choose such a way to go.
            ‘But figuring that out’s your job, Rafferty. I suggest you get on with it.’
            Bang went the phone. Or it would have done but for the frustrations caused by modern technology, which didn’t allow anything so satisfying.
            ‘Sam and Mary must have had a domestic this morning,’ Rafferty said to Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn as he leaned back in the now shabby executive chair that Superintendent Bradley had decreed was the appropriate seating for his detectives. ‘He just bawled me out something chronic.’
            Llewellyn, who had never been known to make an ill-advised remark, gave a gentle sigh. ‘Dr Dally has never appreciated having his professional conclusions questioned.’  It was a gentle reproof, but a reproof nonetheless. ‘You were talking about the body found in the woods, I presume?’
            Rafferty nodded. Adam Ainsley had been found in Elmhurst’s Dedman Wood around eight in the morning two days ago by a local woman walking her dog. There had been no visible signs of injury and it had been assumed the man had had a heart attack while out for a too energetic run; the track suit and trainers had suggested the possibility. Ainsworth had been attending a reunion at Griffin School, an exclusive, fee-paying establishment for eleven to eighteen year olds situated two miles outside the Essex market town of Elmhurst, where Rafferty’s station was located.
            ‘Did I hear you mention Hemlock?
            Rafferty nodded. ‘I thought that would make you prick up your ears. That’s what Sam reckons killed him. Said it goes back to your pals, the ancient Greeks.’
            ‘Yes. According to Plato it’s what Socrates used to kill himself after he was sentenced to death. He drained the cup containing the poison and walked about until his legs felt heavy. Then he lay down and, after a while, the drug had numbed his whole body, creeping up until it had reached his heart.’
            ‘Yeah, Sam said it was paralysis of the heart muscle that would have killed him. Sounds like hanging would have been quicker, even without an Albert Pierrepoint to work out the drop required. Anyway, enough of this classical Greek morbidity. We’d better get over to the school,’ said Rafferty. ‘Can you get some uniforms organized, Dafyd? I’ll go and tell Long-Pockets what Sam said and meet you downstairs.’
            ‘Long-Pockets’, otherwise known as Superintendent Bradley, was obsessed with the budget, in Rafferty’s opinion, hence the nickname. As far as he was concerned, crimes took what they took, in time, money and manpower.
            The uniforms were quickly mobilized by the simple expedient of roistering those on refreshment breaks out of the canteen. After Rafferty had gone to see Bradley, he returned to his office and rung the school to let Jeremy Paxton, the headmaster, know the results of the toxicology tests and that they were on their way; that done, he went down to reception to meet up with Llewellyn and the woodentops and headed out to the car park.     
The August day was gloriously fresh and bright, just as a summer day should be, with a light breeze, to stop it getting too hot, and a deep blue sky without a cloud in sight. Rafferty, Llewellyn and two of the constables, Timothy Smales and Lizzie Green, piled reluctantly into the car, which was as hot as Lucifer’s crotch as it had been standing in the sun. Rafferty, not a lover of air-conditioning, which, anyway, would barely have started to work by the time they got to the school, wound his window right down and stuck his head out to catch the breeze.
              The run out to Griffin School was a pretty one, past lush farmland, via roads overhung with trees whose leaves formed a soft green bower over the tarmac. On days like this, it felt good to be alive, though this latest suspicious death lowered his spirits a little. Winter was a more fitting season for death.
Adam Ainsworth had been staying at Griffin for a school reunion. Unusually, the reunees had opted to get back together for an entire week rather than the more usual one evening and, conveniently for Rafferty, were still put up in the school’s dormitories. He wondered if they were regretting it now. Being cooped up beyond one’s desire with old enemies, as well as old friends, was a recipe for rising antagonisms that could be helpful to their investigation. There was nothing like spite for encouraging gossipy revelations

Links:
I hope you enjoy the book should you decide to read it.

MORE STOPS ON MY BLOG TOUR

Ten Tips for Writers with host Nancy J Cohen
http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/tips-for-writers/

Third excerpt of Deadly Reunion with host Debbi Mack
http://midlistlife.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/excerpt-from-deadly-reunion-a-guest-post/

An interview with host Wendy Gager
http://wsgager.blogspot.com/2011/02/mitch-malone-mondays-geraldine-evans.html

Fourth excerpt of Deadly Reunion with host Peg Herring
http://itsamysterytomepegherring.blogspot.com/

Fifth excerpt of Deadly Reunion with host Chris Redding
http://chrisredddingauthor.blogspot.com/2011/02/excerptuesday-geraldine-evans.html

How to put a video book trailer together with host Marian Allen
http://www.marianallen.com/2011/02/a-deadly-reunion-with-geraldine-evans

An interview with host Kaye George
http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/2011/02/guest-blogger-geraldine-evans.html

What a lot! Sorry – I should have been putting these up every day. Trouble is, I’ve been getting deeply involved in writing my next book as well as correcting the formatting of Death Line which I’ve had converted from an Amstrad disk preparatory to putting it up as another ebook, so, as you can imagine, my head’s been pretty full.

INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS VERSTRATE

Here’s the latest post on my Blog Tour. The Blog Host is Chris Verstraete and the post covers various topics: Ten Tips for Writers, plus What I Learned from series book numbers 1-14 in my Rafferty crime series, plus excerpt of Deadly Reunion. Thank you, Chris, you’re a star.