PUBLISHED AT LAST! All the Lonely People, Rafferty & LLewellyn #12

LONELY PPLE BRIT TEC SERIES EBOOKselfpub-72dpi-1500x2000 (13)
#12 Rafferty & Llewellyn series

Finally got over the last hurdles with this book and published it to Amazon last night. So pleased. And so relieved! I swear that malevolent fate that follows my poor DI Joe Rafferty around has transferred its attentions to me. 🙂

But it’s done now, in spite of the lost disc, in spite of the endless copy- typing to update the digital edition, in spite of my hatred of copy-typing and the unwelcome attentions from the fates, I finished sorting everything out. And it feels wonderful!

I’ll get busy today and upload it to the other retailers, too.

Heres the blurb and the links:

All the Lonely People

#12 of 15 in the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Detective Series 

A Little Laughter. A Little Mayhem. A Little MURDER…

For readers who like cozy mysteries, humorous mysteries and police procedurals. 

When Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty visits his local pub for a quick drink, he’s looking to forget his troubles, not add to them. His ex-fiancée Abra is still refusing to talk to him, and he’s fast losing hope of a reconciliation. But Rafferty is not destined to enjoy his drink in peace. Because a man is found dead – stabbed in the pub’s car park – and a preoccupied Rafferty is to lead the investigation.

What at first appears to be an open and shut case quickly becomes a lot more complex. The witnesses all plead alcohol-induced amnesia, and Rafferty’s habitually cautious sidekick, Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn, isn’t helping either—casting doubt on all of Rafferty’s conclusions.

And as Rafferty wrestles with the case, he also has to wrestle with Abra’s determination to avoid their problems. Soon, he is in despair on both counts…

The twelfth book in the quirky, not quite so Traditional British mystery series. 

LINKS:

AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Lonely-People-Detective-Llewellyn-ebook/dp/B00P5EPSXK/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415022404&sr=1-2&keywords=geraldine+evans

AMAZON US: http://www.amazon.com/All-Lonely-People-Detective-Llewellyn-ebook/dp/B00P5EPSXK/ref=sr_1_20?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415023098&sr=1-20&keywords=geraldine+evans

AMAZON CA: http://www.amazon.ca/All-Lonely-People-Detective-Llewellyn-ebook/dp/B00P5EPSXK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415023311&sr=1-3&keywords=geraldine+evans

AMAZON AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/All-Lonely-People-Detective-Llewellyn-ebook/dp/B00P5EPSXK/ref=sr_1_22?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1415023486&sr=1-22&keywords=geraldine+evans

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Slight Delay on the publication of All the Lonely People, Rafferty and Llewellyn series

ALL THE LONELY AMAZON EBOOK selfpubCOMING IMMINENTLY! BUT NOT, UNFORTUNATELY, QUITE AS IMMINENTLY AS I HAD HOPED. FOR WHICH APOLOGIES.

The digital edition of this book. 

I’m so sorry, but although I missed the pre-order deadline from Amazon, THIS BOOK WILL STILL BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE VERY SOON.

I’m just putting some more finishing touches to it and will upload the final edited digital edition within the next week.

Here’s the blurb:

All the Lonely People
#12 in the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Detective Series

A Little Laughter. A Little Mayhem. A Little MURDER…

‘Solidly written, with strong characters and realistic depictions of police work, Evans’ latest will appeal to procedural fans.’ BOOKLIST ON ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE

When Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty visits his local pub for a quick drink, he’s looking to forget his troubles, not add to them. His ex-fiancée Abra is still refusing to speak to him, and he’s fast losing hope of a reconciliation. But he’s not destined to enjoy his drink in peace. Because a man is found dead – stabbed in the pub’s car park – and a preoccupied Rafferty is to lead the investigation.

What at first appears to be an open and shut case quickly becomes a lot more complex. Because Keith Sutherland was a man who attracted enemies and with good reason: he was a serial adulterer who had never quite got that there are boundaries you don’t cross. As a businessman, he’d blocked a profitable takeover and his partner’s longed-for retirement. As a lover, he’d failed to commit to a long-term mistress who wasn’t getting any younger and whose other options were fast-fading. As a father, he didn’t seem to be much mourned. As for his friends; he had the knack of turning them into enemies. Sutherland was a victim made for murder many times over.

But a lack of witnesses makes the investigation challenging. The killer seems to have managed to appear, murder with one lucky thrust and vanish again like a will-o’-the- wisp and is rapidly turning into Rafferty’s worst nightmare. A nightmare riddled with questions that have no answers and with his every tentative theory debunked by his logical partner.

And as Rafferty wrestles with the case, he must also confront his fiancée’s determination to avoid him after their bust-up. He has to wonder if he’s the only one desperate for a reconciliation. With his love life and his latest investigation both going awry, he has reason to be in despair on both counts. His frustration and fear is such that it won’t take much, should Superintendent Bradley goad him one more time, for Rafferty to take a swing at him. With the inevitable – ‘goodbye career’ – result. Even if his love-life is falling off a cliff, if he can find the killer he might be able to restrain himself and hang on to his career at least.

 

NEW COVER FOR DEATH DANCE, MY LATEST DIGITAL RELEASE

I decided to change the cover on DEATH DANCE No 13 in the Rafferty and Llewellyn procedural series, my latest digital release.

While I loved the colours in my first choice, they didn’t blend with the black/red/white colour-scheme of the others in the series, so it had to go! One of my impulse buys, alas.

ORIGINAL

DEATH DANCE - Geraldine Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWEST COVER

DEATH DANCE LATEST AMAZON EBOOK Selfoubbookcovers 72dpi-1500x2000-4

DEATH DANCE
A wedding rehearsal.
A woman murdered.

THE SUSPECTS:

Several lovers.
The husband.
A stepson who loathed her.
The in-laws.
And Abra, DI Joe Rafferty’s affianced bride…

 

LINKS:
Amazon UK: http://qurl.com/pckc2
Amazon US: http://qurl.com/ps946
Amazon CA: http://qurl.com/9pgqn
Amazon DE: http://qurl.com/sfsns
Amazon ES: http://qurl.com/8z84n
Amazon FR: http://qurl.com/vc2q1
Amazon AU: http://qurl.com/g5dlk
Amazon IN: http://qurl.com/4w5bq
Amazon IT: http://qurl.com/9tw5s
Amazon BR: http://qurl.com/3vgnz
Amazon MX: http://qurl.com/ckbf8

BARGAIN BUY! Few Days Only 77p /99c DEATH DANCE No 13 Rafferty and Llewellyn series

BARGAIN BUY! Death Dance Digital Edition No 13 Rafferty and Llewellyn procedural series 77p/99c Few Days Only

Death Dance digital editionade_exclusive_book_cover_594_EbookDEATH DANCE Digital Edition No 13 in the Rafferty and Llewellyn procedural series has just been published. Grab your bagain copy! Only 77p / 99c. For a few days only.

As promised! I said I’d let you know when Death Dance was available in a digital edition. It’s out now and for a bargain basement price specially for you,

 DEATH DANCE

A wedding rehearsal.

A woman murdered.

 THE SUSPECTS:

Several lovers.

The husband.

A stepson who loathed her.

The in-laws.

And Abra, DI Joe Rafferty’s affianced bride…

Grab your copy while the price is right! Offer only available for three days. After that it will go up to $3.99 / £2.39 / Euro 2.91.

LINKS:

Amazon UK: http://qurl.com/pckc2

Amazon US: http://qurl.com/ps946

Amazon CA: http://qurl.com/9pgqn

Amazon DE: http://qurl.com/sfsns

Amazon ES: http://qurl.com/8z84n

Amazon FR: http://qurl.com/vc2q1

Amazon AU: http://qurl.com/g5dlk

Amazon IN: http://qurl.com/4w5bq

Amazon IT: http://qurl.com/9tw5s

Amazon BR: http://qurl.com/3vgnz

Amazon MX: http://qurl.com/ckbf8

WHY I DECIDED TO GIVE MY BOOK AWAY FOR FREE

Why free? Because you get reviews (good, bad, indifferent). And reviews sell books. That’s what we all hope, anyway!

 If you would like a FREE copy of DEATH DUES #11 in the Rafferty and Llewellyn procedural series (more cozy than noir), in exchange for an honest review, check out my StoryCartel Book Page:

http://storycartel.com/books/881/death-dues-11-in-the-rafferty-and-llewellyn-procedural-series/

DEATH DUES

REVIEW ‘Lively and fun, with absorbing interplay between DI Joe Rafferty and sidekick Sgt Llewellyn. Replete with strong protagonists, infused with British atmosphere, and filled with intrigue and personal concerns alike, Death Dues is a fine detective saga.’ D DONOVAN, eBOOK REVIEWER, MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW http://www.midwestbookreview.com/mbw/jan_14.htm#donovan

 GEvans_DeathDues (2)

BLURB

When one John ‘Jaws’ Harrison is found with his skull caved in, in an alleyway backing on to rundown Primrose Avenue while on his way to collect debt repayments from the residents, Rafferty and his intellectual partner, Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn, imagine the case will be easily solved. Armed with a list of local debtors, they begin their investigations. But they hadn’t counted on the conspiracy of silence amongst the residents — most of whom had good reason to want Jaws dead.

 Rafferty is forced to make some unorthodox decisions and stretch his intuitive powers to breaking point to find the solution.

 PLEASE SHARE. TELL YOUR FRIENDS. TELL ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO LIKES MYSTERIES (ESPECIALLY ONES WITH A BIT OF HUMOUR). ESPECIALLY IF  THEY’RE FREE!

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Detective Inspector Joe Rafferty riffled through the quotes from caterers and venues, photographers and florists, and thought, Why so expensive? It’s only a wedding, not the Second Coming.

When he’d proposed to Abra the previous Christmas, he’d been astonished that she’d said yes. His beguiling, spirited Abra could have married anyone, yet she’d chosen him. He’d wafted around in a rose-pink cloud for days. Then it had been all hearts and roses. But now the cold reality of a modern wedding hit him in the face with the force of a frozen kipper.

He ran a hand over his unruly auburn hair and muttered under his breath, ‘I can feel my credit cards wincing from across the hall.’ And he hadn’t even looked at the honeymoon brochures yet.

Abra reached across the breakfast table, took his face in her hand and forced an involuntary pucker. But she didn’t kiss him. Instead, she said, ‘You won’t be a tightwad about it, will you, Joe? We don’t want a hole-in-the-corner wedding. People will say we’ve something to hide.’

With no kiss forthcoming, Rafferty eased his head out of her grasp, picked up the stack of papers and let them drop again. ‘If we fork out for what this lot are charging, we will have something to hide. Us! From friendly, neighbourhood bailiffs.’

Abra tossed her chestnut hair. She slid around the table onto his lap to poke him slyly in the ribs. ‘Aren’t I worth it, then, love?’

He buried his face in her long hair and breathed in its just-washed lemon scent. ‘Of course you’re worth it, my little peach melba. But I’m not Rockefeller. Only a humble copper still paying off the re-decoration of the flat.’

‘That’s another thing.’ She gave him a lingering kiss which put him on his mettle, before she said, ‘I think we ought to sell this place and buy a house.’

‘But we’ve only just decorated,’ he protested. ‘All the new furniture!’

‘Exactly. That’s the most sensible time to sell. When the flat’s looking its best.’

‘I’d prefer to enjoy it looking its best myself,’ he said, disgruntled. ‘Anyway, I thought we were discussing the wedding, not moving home. Isn’t getting married big enough?’ It’s certainly stressful enough, he thought.

‘Where’s your ambition?’ she challenged. Then immediately softened. ‘Sorry, love. I’m being mean. But try to look at it from my point of view, Joe. This flat’s not mine, and it never will be. I want a place that we’ve chosen together. A place that’s ours. Is that so unreasonable?’

‘No,’ he conceded. ‘But we still haven’t settled a date for the wedding, poppet.’ Rafferty pushed her hair behind her ears and kissed her nose.

‘What about May?’

Rafferty nodded with relief. ‘May’s fine.’ That was one thing sorted. He eased her off his lap onto his chair as he stood up from the table. ‘And now I’ve got to get to work.’ He slid his arms into his jacket and straightened the frayed cuffs. ’Earn the money to pay for it all.’

Abra looked up at him with a winner’s grin. ‘Love you.’

‘Reckon it’s my money you love, you hussy.’ He bent and kissed her. ‘But I‘m pretty keen on you, too. Just try not to put my Mr Plod salary in too steep a debt spiral or we’ll be climbing out of the pit from here to eternity.’

As he picked up his raincoat and felt in his pocket for his keys, he shook his head. These wedding costs were getting seriously out of hand. Abra seemed to hope for the pomp of Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding—but look how that marriage turned out. His lovely fiancée had been taken over by an alien being—a mischievous wedding sprite, and he didn’t know how to get her back.

Abra shuffled the wedding quotes into a neat pile. ‘I’m off work today, so you can leave these to me. I’ll whittle them down. Some are charging way over the odds.’ She flashed her dimples. ‘I’ll ring round and see if I can’t knock them down a bit.’

Rafferty swallowed the sigh with the thought: A lot would be better. He bent once more, gave her a lust-filled kiss and made for the hall.

He only hoped this marriage worked out better than his first.


The weather was playing tag with Rafferty. A fierce wind blew his hair into that just-out-of bed look that was so fetching on Abra, whipping his raincoat into a veritable Irish jig as rain lashed him from all sides. He wished he was feeling as lively as his raincoat. He put down his head and dashed to the car, trying to restrain his flapping mac. Please God, let nobody get themselves murdered today. He didn’t fancy hanging around street corners in a downpour, musing on the type of house Abra might choose in her current mood. Buckingham Palace? Windsor Castle?

He hoped she hadn’t meant it. It wasn’t as though the flat wasn’t big enough. With three bedrooms, it could easily house a family. His Abra might long for Princess Diana’s fairy-tale wedding, but Rafferty—like Prince Charles—was no Prince Charming. And Rafferty lacked that princely income.

He threw himself into the car and slammed the door against the wind and rain, then glanced at his watch. His work day not even begun, and he was already behind.

Elmhurst was an attractive Essex market town that even the grey day couldn’t make ugly. Its quirky, individual architecture seldom failed to cheer him. Rafferty sped through it, quickly correcting as his back wheels aquaplaned through a puddle that had overwhelmed the drains and slid around a corner. He pulled into the car park off Bacon Lane, the police station’s back entrance. Naturally, the car park was full. Even the Super had beaten him to work today, his shining Lexus parked in the bay nearest the station’s rear entrance, a space sanctified by both Superintendent Bradley and, presumably, God. Rafferty had trespassed once or twice on its holy space and been roundly rebuked.

He parked in the last open space on the street and ran head-down and splashing through puddles to the station’s rear entrance. He opened the door and hurried dripping up the concrete stairs, leaving with each squelching step little slippery droplets to catch the unwary. Perhaps the sainted Super would have reason to come down shortly and injure his dignity. Rafferty smiled. A man can dream.

As he walked along the second floor corridor, he wrung out his hair and raincoat, wishing, in spite of the wedding arrangements, that he was still at home, in bed with Alba with her long, chestnut hair let down and her silky nightie soft under his hands. He quelled the thought. Inappropriate for work, isn’t that what they called it these days? He opened his office door.

His sergeant, Dafyd Llewellyn, was already at his desk, as usual. Llewellyn looked both industrious and bandbox-smart, also as usual, with a workspace as neat as conscientious industry could make it.

By comparison, Rafferty felt like something the cat dragged in. He glanced at his own desk and almost laughed as he realised that, like Llewellyn, he too was a good match for his workspace. Sometimes even the usually restrained Llewellyn’s fingers gave in to the itch to straighten the towering piles of papers, folders, and other impedimenta that covered the surface and threatened to spill over the sides.

Rafferty smoothed his unruly hair into some sort of order and sat down, shaking out the soggy ends of his trousers. ‘So what have we got, Dafyd? Anything exciting today?’

‘Not yet,’ Llewellyn replied evenly. ‘Unless, of course, there are any further muggings.’

‘Less of the fate-tempting, if you please.’

‘There’s still that report Superintendent Bradley wants you to read and initial.’ Llewellyn’s voice had the slightest tinge of disapproval. ‘It’s been on your desk nearly a week.’

Rafferty pulled a face. ‘I suppose you’ve read it?’

Llewellyn nodded.

‘Give me the condensed version, then, there’s a good chap. You know how wordy these bloody reports are. Mostly bumf.’

Llewellyn proceeded to explain the lengthy report in his calm, level manner, but as he proved almost as wordy as the report itself, Rafferty stopped him at Section 3 Subsection iv c. ‘Can you simply nod if the powers-that-be have ordered another meeting to discuss their preliminary findings?’

Llewellyn nodded.

Rafferty sighed. ’Meetings and more meetings. It’s a wonder we have any time to solve crimes. I’ll initial it. They’ll still be discussing it come Doomsday. Anything else?’

‘Superintendent Bradley asked for you to pop in to see him, if you haven’t arranged a prior appointment.’

‘What’s the old bugger want now?’ Sarky git, he thought. Trust the Super to assume he was given to making spurious appointments so as to avoid him. He’d only done it twice. Or it might have been thrice. But even so—Rafferty thumped the weighty report. ‘Not to discuss this, I hope.’

Llewellyn’s lips twitched slightly. ‘I think not. I understood him to say that he wishes to speak with you about the recent spate of muggings against moneylenders’ collectors.’

‘He wants to know what I’m doing about it, I suppose?’ Truth was, Rafferty wasn’t doing a lot. The local loan sharks’ collectors were nothing more than bullying thugs adept at putting the frighteners on little old ladies. Mugging was too good for them. ‘Throw a few grand-sounding phrases together for me, Daff. You know I’m no good at that sort of thing. Loads of long words and Politically-Correct bollocks. The Super’ll like that.’

Llewellyn raised dark eyebrows that were as neat as the rest of him. Rafferty swore he plucked them. ‘Something along the lines of: “We’re proceeding with our inquiries and have a number of promising leads,” you mean?’

‘That’ll do for starters.’ He felt in his pocket for some change. ‘But before you do that, can you get the tea in? I’m gasping. You can think up a few more bunches of bullshit while you’re in the canteen instead of chatting up the lovely Opal.’ Rafferty stifled a grin at his sergeant’s blush. Opal was a Caribbean lady of lilting accent, ample charms and an irrepressible sense of fun that believed flirtation should have a dangerous edge. She had taken a fancy to Llewellyn and seemed to find his puritan soul a challenge. ‘One of the muggers was thought to be Asian, so perhaps you can work in something about ethnic sensitivities.’

‘Wouldn’t it be easier to investigate the muggings?’

‘Probably. But I hesitate to interfere with anybody making the streets of Elmhurst safer. Oh,’ Rafferty shouted just before Llewellyn closed the door. ‘Fancy a hot-cross bun?’

Mock-serious, Llewellyn frowned. ‘I think you’ll find it is now called a hot-lined bun. Religious symbolism is also on the veto list.’

‘Veto my arse.’ Rafferty slammed the door for added emphasis. But he knew that no matter how many PC-worded explanations Llewellyn came up for his lack of progress , he’d have to do something about the muggings eventually.

Llewellyn was back in the office within minutes, a cup of tea in each hand and hot cross buns balanced precisely dead centre.

‘Managed to escape Opal’s blandishments again, hey?’ Rafferty teased.

Llewellyn placed Rafferty’s cup on a folded paper napkin which he’d earlier had the prescience to clear some space for on Rafferty’s cluttered desk.

Rafferty pulled a thin file on the investigation towards him. He began to read, liberally scattering crumbs across his front, his lap and his paperwork.

He was interrupted by the ringing of the phone.

‘Ah, Rafferty. You’re in, then?’ It was Superintendent Bradley.

The intimation that he’d been late wasn’t lost on Rafferty. He crossed his fingers behind his back. ‘Bright, shining, and ready to go, sir.’ Hey paused to swallow more tea before adding, ‘I’ve put in a couple of hours’ working from home.’

This brought a stunned, disbelieving silence, and across the room Llewellyn shook his head.

‘Right.’ The Super’s voice barked unexpectedly, so that Rafferty almost dropped his tea. ‘You can start by coming along to my office. I’m sure Llewellyn told you I wanted to see you first thing.’

Rafferty kept shtum.

‘I want to talk to you about these muggings.’


Superintendent Bradley was in lecturing mode. ‘You’ll have to do better than this, you know, Rafferty.’ The Super waved a thin sheaf of papers under Rafferty’s nose. ‘Your reports are sparse—very sparse.’

Rafferty began his explanatory spiel. He wished the Super hadn’t rung before he’d had time to get Llewellyn to prime him with the correct verbiage, but he hadn’t, so Rafferty did his best.

Superintendent Bradley interrupted him almost immediately. ‘It won’t do, Rafferty. It won’t do at all. I’ve had the Deputy Chief Constable on my back about these cases. He’s a golfing buddy of one of the moneylenders whose collector was assaulted. Man by the name of Forbes. That’s the wrong side of the brass to be on, Rafferty. Which makes it the wrong side of me. Do I make myself clear?’

As crystal.

Rafferty nodded glumly and made his escape.

He’d barely got back to his office when the phone went again.

It was Abra. ‘Hiya. Missing you already.’

‘Ditto, darlin’. The Super’s really not up to the job of standing in for you, more’s the pity.’

‘He’s dragged you into his lair already, has he? Poor Joe.’ Abra paused tellingly, then said, ‘I’ve been ringing round a few of the venues, and I simply can’t get them to drop their prices. I wondered—’ A more delicate pause this time.‘ How much might I spend?’ She named a figure that made Rafferty’s eyes water.

‘For a measly chicken salad and a few olives thrown in?’ He didn’t even like bloody olives. ‘What do they do in their spare time? Rob graves?’

‘It’s a normal quote, Joe. What did you have served at your first wedding? Sausage butties all round at the corner chippie?’

‘Abra, darling. You know I’d rather nip up to Gretna Green and forget this whole thing.’

‘I suppose Gretna Green is good enough for a man who’s been married once already. But this is my first—my only—wedding.’ The note of tears in Abra’s voice worked its magic. In truth, they’d never been far away once she set sail aboard HMS Romance. ‘I want to do it properly with all our family and friends there to wish us well.’

That was two people Rafferty had upset, and it wasn’t even ten o’clock in the morning. ‘All right, sweetheart. But can we talk about it tonight? I’m up to my eyes here.’

‘Tonight, then. Promise, Joe?’

‘Cross my heart. Love you, Abra. I’ll see you tonight.’ Rafferty had just set down the phone when it rang for the third time right under his hand. He braced himself.

‘Inspector Rafferty? This is Constable Smales. There seems to have been a murder, sir. Just called in.’

‘Where?’ Rafferty sat up straight, knocking his bun to the floor.

‘An alleyway adjacent to Primrose Avenue.’

‘What happened?’

‘Constanble Green, who’s on the scene, reports it as blows to the back of the victim’s head. Quite a mess, sir.’

‘Any idea of the victim’s identity?’

‘Not yet, sir. His wallet’s missing. Lizzie Green thinks he’s a man called John “Jaws” Harrison. Works as a collector for Malcolm Forbes, one of the local loan sharks.’

Oh great, thought Rafferty. Now he really would have to take action.

‘All right, Smales. I’ll be out there right away.’

Rafferty gulped his lukewarm tea, picked up his bun from the floor and dusted it off, before cramming its remains into his mouth. Muggings were one thing. But now they’d escalated to murder he knew he’d have to do more than a ‘little something’ He’d likely need the bun’s sustaining carbohydrates during the following busy hours.

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

I ADMIRE MARGARET THATCHER

I admire Margaret Thatcher. There. I’ve said it. No matter whether your politics are true Tory blue or socialist red, you must surely admit, in her heyday, Margaret Thatcher stood for something. Values. As a politician, she stuck to her principles. She was loyal. She believed in things. She had convictions. And even if they weren’t your convictions, you could value the fact that she had them and wasn’t ‘slippery’ in the way that so many of today’s politicians are slippery with their belief in hype over substance.
Sure, if you’re a miner or the friend or family of a miner who suffered during the Miners’ Strike, you might have reasons to feel differently. I won’t argue with that. What I will argue is that if Britain had more people like Margaret Thatcher, who believed in standing up and being counted, then the UK would be a much better place.
And if you have trouble finding people you can admire in today’s Britain, maybe you should look for them in the pages of fiction. That is partly the reason why we read novels and short stories, after all. To read about people we can admire. About people who give us courage and help us through the day. Maybe even just people who will give us a laugh when we’re feeling down.
That’s what I wanted to do when I wrote my first Rafferty novel. I wanted to write about a decent copper and I wanted just to entertain people. My motives weren’t a great deal higher than that. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Entertaining people in this vale of tears is a worthy calling. It’s better than lying to them. Better than cheating them. Better than being a politician without values.
My DI Joseph Aloysius Rafferty was brought up with old-fashioned values. He didn’t cheat people. He didn’t lie to them – unless it was for their own good, though occasionally he might tell a little white lie. Probably mostly for his own good!. He’s loyal and he’s honest. The honesty can be a bit of a trial to him when he comes from a family who have their own views on honesty. And having a Ma with a love of dubious ‘bargains’ and a slippery estate agent for a cousin, doesn’t make for an altogether smooth life. To add to the brew, we have Father Kelly whose mission it is to bring the lapsed Catholic Rafferty back to the fold and Jailhouse Jack ‘the world’s most incompetent criminal’, another ,more distant cousin, who occasionally puts in an appearance.
But Rafferty gets by. He has a solid partner. And although Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn’s own honesty can be a bit trying occasionally in its rigidity, he can be relied upon and has shown himself a staunch ally.
You can read excerpts of all of Rafferty’s adventures on my website: http://www.geraldineevans.com Just click on ‘Rafferty’ at the top and it will link to all my books in the series. There are fourteen so far. I’ve just finished Kith and Kill, number fifteen in the series and will be epublishing it as soon as possible. Probably some time in August. I also hope to bring out the rest of my backlist as soon as I can. And in the Rafferty series, that means, Absolute Poison, Dying For You., Bad Blood, Love Lies Bleeding, Blood on the Bones, A Thrust to the Vitals and Death Dues.
My next three books in the series: All the Lonely People, Death Dance and Deadly Reunion depend on my publisher bringing them out as ebooks as they have the erights.
I know Margaret Thatcher’s not in the best of health, so say three cheers for her and wish her well.

CRIME WRITING: CREATING A CRIME SERIES 2 OF 3 POSTS

I said this post would be about sidekicks, so here goes. It’s also about this sidekick’s effect on my main character.
As I said in my last post, my main character, Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty, is an Irish Catholic, working-class man who comes from a large family. A family who are into buying bargains of dubious origin and other pursuits of questionable legality. And Rafferty’s ma, Kitty Rafferty, often leads the field in these pursuits. So, as a sidekick, I wanted someone who was Rafferty’s polar opposite. Opposites always provide conflict. A genuine conflict, stemming from character and upbringing.
So Dafyd Llewellyn was born. The intellectual, university-educated, only child of a welsh Methodist minister who thought the law should apply to everyone – even the mothers of detective inspectors!
Llewellyn is a sidekick preordained from birth to look with a jaundiced eye on Rafferty’s outlook on life, his theories and conduct of cases, and his less than law-abiding family. Thank god i spend all my time in Rafferty’s head!
Dafyd Llewellyn is an upright man, with morals as high as an elephant’s eye. Certainly he’s not the type to turn a blind eye to ma Rafferty’s love of illicit bargains should it ever come to light. Which gives Rafferty something else to worry about.
The words duty and responsibility feature strongly in Llewellyn’s life, though his character is leavened with a sense of humour so dry Rafferty isn’t sure it exists at all.
Unlike Rafferty, Llewellyn likes to examine the facts of a case immediately rather than going off on flights of fancy.
Llewellyn has a tendency to run a coach and horses through Rafferty’s favourite theories, which are often outlandish, outrageous and tend to indulge his various prejudices to the full. Rafferty, of course, thinks the more politically correct Llewellyn takes all the fun out of police work. What’s the point, he thinks, of having the usual working-class prejudices, if you don’t occasionally indulge them. Besides, it’s amusing to tease Llewellyn, who needs taking down a peg or two.
You could say the pairing epitomises the famous George Bernard Shaw saying, with which i shall take a bit of artistic licence. You know the one:
‘it is impossible for a Brit to open his mouth without making some other Brit despise him.’
Yet before the end of Dead Before Morning, the first book in my fifteen-strong mystery series, they have learned to more or less rub along together, helped by both Rafferty’s overactive Catholic conscience, and Llewellyn’s stern, Methodist moral code. As the series and the cases progress, so does their relationship.
Once i had the basics of Rafferty, his family and his sidekick sorted out, I had to place Rafferty in his environment. And after all I’ve said about his background, Ii felt there was only one place i could use as a setting for such a character.
But this, Location, is the subject for the third and last part of this three-parter.

CRIME WRITING: THE CREATION A CRIME SERIES 1 OF 3 POSTS

Psst! Do you want a few tips on how to commit the perfect murder? You do? Ok. But, before asking my advice on planning the despatch of your mother-in-law, you’ll probably want to know why I can help you avoid having your collar felt. Stick with me till I’ve outlined the background to how I acquired such esoteric skills.
I come from an Irish Catholic working-class background and I suppose you could say I was one of life’s late developers in the area of personal ambition. I certainly had no idea what a criminal direction I would end up in. Killing people – and getting away with it, was far in the future.
When I took my the examination, at the age of eleven, which would decide my educational future, I confess, I was far more interested in winning Jimmy Smith’s prize 4-er marble than I was in taking tests. Darlings –I won the marble… but failed the 11+. Examination.
So it was off to secondary modern for me.  For those who don’t know, secondary modern existed to teach people the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and then send them out in the world at fifteen or sixteen to have jobs rather than careers. So I wasn’t off to a good start in my life.
Unsurprisingly, after I left school at 16, a long list of dead-end jobs followed. I won’t bore you with a litany of them. But, somewhere along the way, i found ambition. I realised that i wanted to do something with my life, rather than fritter it away.
I’d always been a keen reader, so trying to become a published writer seemed a natural step on the road. Oh boy! Was I in for a shock!
I first started writing in my early twenties, but I never finished anything. I was an amateur. A rank amateur. I knew nothing about research. Nothing about creating characters or plot. I hadn’t a clue, basically.
But hitting the age of thirty concentrated the mind wonderfully and gradually, I learned how to write novels and finish them. It was a long apprenticeship. Apart from what had gone before, from the age of thirty I wrote a book a year for six years before I achieved publication.  That book was a romance called Land of Dreams and set in the Canadian Arctic (don’t ask!). But after that brief brush with success, it was back to rejection alley.
By then i was pretty fed up. Nobody likes being repeatedly rejected. My ‘stuff you’ mentality came into play. I felt like murdering someone. So I did.
I turned to crime. I’ve done them all. Stabbings, poisonings, smotherings, bludgeonings. You name it and I ’ve done it. I’ve even hanged someone, but that was after they were dead.
The first book in a crime series is, I believe, the most difficult and demanding. You not only have to master the problems of plotting, clue laying and red-herring scattering and learn about police and forensic procedures, at the same time you have to create a cast of characters who are capable of supporting a series. A pretty tall order for a first effort in a genre I think you’ll agree.
There must be many neophyte writers who have fallen by the wayside in attempting to write crime novels. I might have been one of them if I hadn’t decided to do my own thing rather than follow the crowd.
Maybe the word originality explains why so many fail. That single word strikes terror into the hearts of a lot of new crime writers. I know it did mine.
After a writing history of five rejected romantic novels followed by the publication of the sixth, as well as the publication of various articles, the writing of a crime novel seemed not only much more demanding than anything I’d tackled before, but also extremely intimidating.
Just thinking of all those crime writers who are regularly praised for their devilish ingenuity, god-like intellect and masterly characterisation was enough to have more ordinary mortals, like me, quaking in their boots at the thought of trying to emulate them.
So, how on earth do you set about creating an original crime series? All I can tell you is how I went about it.
I suppose you could describe the Rafferty and Llewellyn mystery novels, which form my first series, as Inspector Frost meets Del Boy Trotter and family. For those who don’t watch British TV, Inspector Frost is something of a bumbler who’s anti-authority, but he’s smart enough to get his man. And Del Boy Trotter is a market trader (market stall not the stock market), who’s into buying dodgy gear. He’s working-class and a bit of a ducker and diver, but witty with it. So if you’re looking for the intellectual, Sherlock Holmes, type of crime novel – steer well clear! Though, having said that, I had one reviewer who likened me to Holmes.
 In short, the Rafferty family has more than their share of ‘Del Boy Trotter types’ whose leisure-time activities are far from Adam Dalgliesh and his poetry writing or Morse and his Wagner. The Rafferty family pursuits are nothing so refined. They’re into back-of-a-lorry bargains and other diversions of equally questionable legality.
And Rafferty’s ma ,Kitty Rafferty, often leads the field in such pursuits, using emotional blackmail to make Rafferty feel guilty when he upbraids her. Having far more than her share of blarney stone baloney, she always wins these little arguments.
Given the above, don’t restrict yourself to what you  think are the usual sort of police characters if something else would come more naturally to you.  Like me with Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty and his back of a lorry family – try to find the main character that’s right for you.
To get back to this business of originality for a moment, I think we can all agree that being original is a tricky business. A book that one person considers a true original might be thought of as over the top by another. While a third person might consider your hard won originality is nothing more than a poor copy of a well-known writer’s style that’s been given a bit of a twist.
So, originality’s a pretty moveable feast. Publishers themselves are often a bit vague when they try to define what they’re looking for. But, even if they can’t tell you what they want, they find it easier to tell you what they don’t want.
No editor is going to be impressed by a writer who’s a copycat. For one thing, it’ll put the publisher in danger of being sued. So – no second rate plagiarism.
Okay, so where do you start? You start by asking
yourself a few pertinent questions.  About yourself, your background, your family, warts and all and then maybe oomph it up a bit.
Maybe, like British Prime Minister John Major, your family has a circus or funfair background? Maybe you could have a sort of Gypsy Rose Lee type in there somewhere? A travelling crook detector with her crystal ball ever at the ready! Outlandish, perhaps, but then wacky might be just your thing.
Or maybe your working background’s a little more conservative? In insurance, for instance.
An insurance investigator could get to look into a lot of suspicious deaths. And he doesn’t have to be your average stereotypical insurance worker, whatever that is.
Maybe he desperately wants to get out of the insurance business and into the world of entertainment. An insurance investigator as comedian, perhaps, given to cracking tasteless jokes at the crime scene. A man who’s learned to judge the witnesses as he would judge an audience.
They’re just a couple of ideas to get you thinking. Feel free to use them. Or not!
To get back to me, and the choices I made when I was creating my crime series. I decided on the surname Rafferty because I wanted his name to suggest someone who was a bit of a scruff – a rough Rafferty, in fact.  I chose the name Llewellyn for his sidekick because i wanted to give the suggestion of royalty.
In Dead Before Morning, the first in tis fifteen-strong mystery series, alongside the main story runs a humorous sub-plot, in which Rafferty is ensnared in the first of the series’ many family-induced problems. I’ve just finished Kith and Kill, my fifteenth in the series, and, like the previous fourteen, it has Rafferty embroiled in more trouble than a Victorian lady of the night sans the morning after pill.
To return to similarities, I thought if Rafferty shared class and education with me he might as well have other elements of similarity. Why not? Other writers do. Would a non—classical music lover have created Morse? Would someone who knows little and cares less about poetry have created the poetry writing Adam Dalgliesh? Well, possibly, i suppose. But it’s far more sensible to make use of elements from your own life.
I wanted a character I could empathise with. One who was as near me as I could get. Believe me, it helps! (even though I’m not a man, I made Rafferty male because I felt the relationship with his ma was important and I felt, rightly or wrongly, that there would be more scope for humour with a male main character).
And with that first crime novel you’ll have enough trouble creating a plot that conceals as it reveals, with coming up with clues, red herrings, a satisfying denouement and the rest. You won’t need to increase your difficulties by having a lead character from a totally different social background from yourself as well.
My background is Irish-Catholic working-class. So is Rafferty’s. I was educated (sic) in a Roman Catholic secondary modern. So was Rafferty. I come from a large family. So does Rafferty.
There are a few differences, of course. Apart from the differences in gender. But the basic elements of similarity are there, which all help to give the writer a ‘feel’ for a character and their background, something I regarded as essential when I hoped to carry him through a series of novels.
There are a lot of working class policemen out there – just like Rafferty – who have risen up the ranks, perhaps leaving behind them the less savoury habits of youth and family. Often, they’ll have had to shed or at least conceal, certain aspects of their character: prejudices of one sort or another, for instance. Or, like Rafferty, a family with a love of dubious ‘bargains’.
But just because our policeman character has found it necessary to change doesn’t mean to say his family would be so obliging as to do likewise. He would have parents, siblings, nephews, nieces and so on, all with their own ideas of what constitutes right and wrong. And all beyond the lead character’s influence or control.
Imagine such a family. They’d be only too likely to embarrass your lead character.
Now, i know we’re talking fictional policemen here, but just think again for a moment, of John Major and his family. Of Terry and Pat and the trapeze-artist, gnome-loving father. Nothing criminal there, of course. But still, what ammunition they provided his enemies – of whatever political persuasion. He must have often wished he had been an only, lonely orphan. Rafferty often wishes the same!
It doesn’t take a major (go on – groan!) Leap of the imagination to see that a policeman, in a position of authority, with the need to be seen to uphold the law can easily be embarrassed by a less than honest family. He could even have his career put at risk by them.
I was well into my stride now and decided that if Rafferty was going to be working class like me he might as well have other elements of ‘me’ – it not only makes life easier, it also helps me relate to the main character and to the past which has helped to shape him
But in order to have a ‘past’, he’s got to have memories. And the best memories, from the point of view of believability, are one’s own memories.
Which is something else you might perhaps care to bear in mind if and when you start creating your own mystery series.
I’ll give you an example.
In Down Among The Dead Men, the second in the series, I had Rafferty reveal – just as I remember doing – that as a schoolchild he and his classmates would attend Friday afternoon Benediction at the local Catholic Church and sing Latin hymns without – as they had never been taught any Latin – having a clue what they were singing about.
Not much, perhaps, in the broad sweep of a novel, but it’s little touches like that which help to bring a character to life. Which perhaps helps a reader to identify with them, to the point of saying, ‘yes. I remember doing that.’ it helps to make it all more real.
Once i had Rafferty down on paper, i gave a lot of thought to his sidekick. But that’s for the second in my three-parter posts. So tune in next time!

DEAD BEFORE MORNING BESTSELLER IN ALL CATEGORIES!

This morning, Dead Before Morning is No 28 in UK Police Procedural Bestsellers in ALL categories, including print! Woo! Hoo!