Morning Cottagers: Finally I'm back on track into my blogging again. Today I'd like to introduce you to an author who was kind enough to host me on her blog spot. I'm reciprocating and Sue is offering a short excerpt and a bit about her and her mystery novel.
Thanks again for offering to host me on your blog.
Although my primary interest is writing and a good deal of my time is taken up with that, both freelance and creative, I am also a contract researcher.
I undertake community research either for my local university or for voluntary organizations and public sector on a contract basis. I love reading thrillers
of all kinds but my favorite read is the private eye novel, which is what led me to start writing 2 Women a Week which concerns domestic violence and murder of course. My main
protagonist is a researcher (like me) who sometimes helps a friend of hers out with missing persons cases (I wish) and which she does reluctantly. I thought that the best way of doing this was to give
you a brief excerpt from the prologue of the book and then to let you know more about the character from her point of view. I try to adopt a noir style of writing as Chandler and people like Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky have had a huge influence on me. If this is not really what you wanted then let me know and I will change it
Two Women a Week – about two thirds of the way through the prologue
Every night I wake up with the sweat rolling down my face. I tremble and shake myself, then rub my eyes as though to wipe out the grisly picture filling my dreams but the picture continues until the whole scene has been replayed. I hear the shots and see the body coming towards me, most of all I see the blood, so much blood. Then I reach for the switch on the bedside lamp. Once the room is no longer dark, and the trembling has almost stopped I get up and make myself a coffee, sometimes with a whiskey chaser. I sit at the kitchen table stifling a sob and thinking how my life has been turned around, wanting to put the clock back and cursing my friend Joan for her well meaning but ill thought out interference in my life. I rerun the events in my head, every night, from the day I first got involved. I go through the events and wonder how it could have happened, how had I missed what was going on. I sit there for a while until the sweating, the trembling and the unbidden tears fully subside. Then I take my cup and glass over to the sink and take myself back to bed. Each night thinking, all coppers are bastards.
Bev Stone Researcher and reluctant investigator, thought I would tell you a little bit about me and how I came to get involved in a murder that changed my attitude towards our wonderful British policemen.
I was not at my best when I got up that Monday morning. I had gone on a disastrous date the night before and then complicated matters by downing half a bottle of scotch when I got back. So I was trying to take things slowly when I sat at the kitchen counter, newspaper in hand and breakfast before me. Eventually I put down the paper I’d been reading over breakfast. I don’t usually bother much with the women’s column but something about domestic violence had caught my eye. Now I know that two women a week die at the hands of abusive partners, usually after they have left them. I sat for a while and finished my coffee, wondering what it was that attracted women to such men. Why on earth did they put up with that kind of treatment and why weren’t there more men in jail because of it. I shook my head and got up from the table. I’d never been able to understand why a woman would stay with a man who beat her but after reading that report it made me wonder whether fear was often the motivator to stay. Funny old world really.
Rocky, my springer spaniel lifted his head and looked at me.
“Yes, it is time for work boy. But you can come in the office for a while.” He wagged his tail and got to his feet, following me out of the kitchen and up the passageway to what had been the sitting room but was now my office.
My name’s Bev Stone forty one years old and counting. I spent most of my growing up years with my two Jamaican aunts. After my mother died, my father, their brother took himself back to Jamaica to drink away his grief. My heritage doesn’t show much. My hair is a bit thick and wiry but I’m light enough that most people think I’m white, that’s not a handicap but I sometimes wonder if I hadn’t looked so much like my mother, whether my father would have stayed. I’ m divorced and childless and likely to stay that way. I’ve grown to like my own space. I’m a freelance researcher and so I work from home, the ground floor flat of a Victorian terrace in the middle of Brixton. It belonged to my mother’s sister and I inherited it when she died two years ago. Along with the flat I also inherited Rocky her Springer spaniel. The type of work I do I don’t really need much office space it’s just that if I call it the office it feels more like going to work. It’s also a good idea to have somewhere other than the kitchen or my bed sitting room to take clients when they turn up, sorry, if they turn up. The research business isn’t always that great, you can go a couple of months between one contract and the next. This can make the financial juggling involved a nightmare, so occasionally I help out a friend who works for a charity that traces missing persons. Most of the work that I do involves following a paper trail, and that’s what I am good at, chasing paper and writing reports. The doorbell rang just as I reached the office. Rocky set up his usual Baskervilles routine but made sure that he was behind me when I opened the door.
I sometimes help out my best friend Joan. She decided she no longer wanted to work for someone else a couple of years ago and so she left her job and sunk her savings into a missing person’s agency, for which she received some government funding. Every now and then she would ask for my help, especially when it came to document traces but the last couple of times when I worked with her the cases became a lot more involved than simple document searches. Recently I’d been wary of accepting any offers of work with the agency and now she had just gone and dumped this in my lap. I was not amused.
I crossed to the desk, sat down and picked up the telephone receiver, drumming on the desk with my fingertips while I waited for someone to answer the call.
“Missing you” said the voice on the other end. No it wasn’t my long lost lover, just the name of Joan’s agency. We often argued over the name – me thinking it was a daft way to answer the telephone and her denying it.
“Hi Shirley, put me through to Joan will you?”
“Sure thing Bev, I think she was expecting you to call.”
“I’ll just bet she was” I whispered.
“Nothing Shirley. Just thinking aloud.”
“Okay. Putting you through”.
I didn’t give Joan a chance to say any more than hi before I started to give her a piece of my mind.
“You know damn well I don’t take on MPs so why the heck did you send that timid little guy round to see me?”
She laughed. The girl had the damn cheek to laugh when I was angry.
“Now look Joan-“
“No, you look, at the moment it’s a paper trail and that’s what you’re good at. If it changes to something else, well we’ll see.”
“What do you mean we’ll see. I’m a researcher not a bloody investigator yo-“
“Technically that’s just what you are. You work mostly with documents but you interview people sometimes, find out the facts. The facts ma’am just give me the facts, ergo investigator.”
She ended with a self-satisfied giggle, pleased at what she saw as her razor sharp wit.
“Yeah. Well if you keep pulling this stunt you’ll be getting closer to Joe Friday than you might necessarily want” I said and hung up. That’ll teach her to mess with me I thought, especially when I had a phone in my hand. Bev Stone, a rottwieler with the receiver. Big deal.