What’s the best thing about being an indie author?

You must imagine this next part as bellowed by Mel Gibson as William Wallace…. FREEDOM! *

As an indie author, beholden only to your readers and to your muse, you really do have freedom. Freedom to choose what to write, freedom to choose your covers, your editor, your print book formatter. You have the freedom to decide what (if any) marketing to do,  you have the freedom of choosing which platform on which to sell your books, the freedom to work from home, or from a favourite coffee shop or pub, freedom to pick up your kids from school because you did your writing earlier, freedom to take the day off because you can make up the time tomorrow.

Of course, you also have the freedom to starve and die in penniless ignominy if your books don’t sell, but hey, that’s the price you pay!

Anyway,  this is a very roundabout way to announcing that I’ve decided (‘cos I can) to swap around a few upcoming books in my publishing schedule. The Kate Redman Mysteries are doing so well now what with the recent publication of Echo – plus, I have a great story I want to get down – that it seems silly to put that series on the back-burner until autumn. So, Kate Redman fans,  you’ll be pleased to know that the next Celina Grace book out will be the 7th Kate Redman Mystery, due out for pre-order in July 2015.

For fans of Joan and Verity, don’t worry – their time will come (first n their series should be out around October 2015.

Now,  where’s my kilt  and my woad?

 

 

 

* and cold, hard cash. Freedom and cold hard cash.

The opening chapter of Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) just for you…

Prologue

For three weeks it had rained every day. For those past three weeks, daybreak was a gloomy affair. The skies gradually moved from a thick blanket of dingy white clouds to the deepest shade of grey, peaking here and there in ominous black thunderheads. The rain came down hard in rippling sheets, or softly, insidiously; pattering onto land already sodden, into rivers which threatened to break their weakening banks, onto roofs which leaked and dripped and twice collapsed under the sheer weight of water.

Munford Gorge was a local beauty spot nine miles from the West Country town of Abbeyford. A large lake at the bottom of an encircling bracelet of hills, their steep sides comprised equally of moorland and deciduous forest. On a sunny summer’s day, the sandy shore of the lake was swamped with picnicking families, small children running and splashing in the shallow edges of the water, bolder souls venturing out onto the depths on canoes and flotation-devices before their anxious parents called them into shore. On warm summer nights, teenagers built campfires, smoking weed and taking pills, losing their virginity to the lap and swell of the lake waters breaking in wind-ruffled wavelets upon the little beach.

Now, in February, nobody went there. No one save a few hardy walkers, braving the torrential rain, trudging along the shoreline before taking the footpath that led up across the moorland and over the escarpment of the first hill. Now, at midnight, no one went there at all. The wind pushed the surface of the lake into foam-frilled waves which crashed against the wet sand of the banks. Rain poured down relentlessly, hissing against the saturated  ground. Puddles became ponds, streams became rivers. Up on the far shore of the lake, as the ground inclined steeply towards the brow of the hill, subterranean groans became louder and louder, until, with a dull roar, a section of the hillside gave way. Mud, rocks and stones rushed downhill in a landslide. The shattered surface of the lake became even more turbulent, as the hillside cascaded into the water.

The rain eased a little, then slackened completely. After the thunder and crash of the last few minutes, the countryside by the lake grew quiet once more, the plink plink of falling drips the only sound to be heard other than the slap of the waves as they broke against new piles of mud and stone where the land had collapsed. Eventually the black clouds above were chased away as the wind strengthened. A thin sliver of moon cast a faint, tremulous radiance over the devastation below it. Even so, there was not enough light to bring a glimmer to the bones that could now be seen, poking out from the tumble of mud, tree-roots and stones that the landslide had brought to the surface.

Old bones were not white. The twisted remnants of what had once been a hand were brown; as brown as the earth that surrounded them. Even if a human observer had been there to watch, they would have seen nothing in the faint light of the moon. The bones stretched forward in darkness, in silent, unseen supplication.

 

Chapter One

 “Okay,” Detective Inspector Mark Olbeck said. “So what about this one?”

He regarded himself in the mirror anxiously. Such was his focus on the suit he was currently modelling, he failed to notice that his companion had slithered from her chair and was engaged in hiding her head underneath a pile of velvet waistcoats.

“Mark,” Kate Redman said, her voice muffled. “It’s a grey suit. It’s nice. It’s as nice as the fifteen other grey suits you’ve tried on. Can we please just pick one now and go and get a coffee or something?”

“Mmm,” said Olbeck, continuing to stare into the mirror. “I don’t know about the lapels, though. I mean, they’re seventies, but are they too seventies? I don’t want to look like an ABBA tribute act or anything.”

Kate, head still buried, suppressed a scream. Then, taking a deep breath, she pushed herself out from under the waistcoats and sat up. “Seriously, I had no idea you were going to be such a girl about this. Can’t you, you know, ask Theo about this? Ask Jeff? Please?”

Olbeck caught her eye in the mirror. “Sorry. Am I being a pain?”

Yes. Seriously, I know it’s your wedding and all, but…Mark, it’s a suit. It looks great. Please buy it. Please. Then we can go and do something else. Anything else.”

Chuckling, Olbeck turned the collar up and then down again. “Okay. You’ve persuaded me. I’ll buy it.”

“Thank God.” Kate pretended to swoon in relief.

“Who are you bringing?” Olbeck asked as they made their way to the exit of the department store. A grey and white striped bag with ribbon handles hung from his arm.

“What?”

“Are you bringing anyone to the wedding?” Olbeck asked patiently.

“Oh, God, I don’t know,” said Kate. They’d reached the pavement outside by now and both grimaced as the rain hit them. Kate fumbled for her umbrella and Olbeck flipped up the hood of his coat. “Stuart, maybe. If his new girlfriend lets him come.”

“Are you mad?” asked Olbeck. “We’ve sent Stuart his invitation already. He’s bringing his new girlfriend.”

“Oh bollocks,” said Kate. “Oh well. Do I actually have to have an escort? Can’t I come on my own?”

“Yes, of course. I just thought you might like to bring someone along, you know, for company.”

“Well, thanks,” muttered Kate. “I’m sure I’ll manage to scrape someone up. Besides, I know loads of people going. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“Mmm.” Olbeck paused at the kerbside, hesitating. The rain was coming down so hard, it was difficult to see across the street. “God, this weather. Has it actually stopped raining this year?”

Kate said nothing, engaged as she was in crossing the road without being hit by flying sheets of water from passing cars, but she agreed with the sentiment. Had there ever been such a wet start to the year?

They made it to the  multi-storey car park where they’d both left their cars. They reached Kate’s little Ford first and she fumbled in her handbag for her keys.

“Listen, I need to talk to you about the speech—“ she began, before both her and Olbeck’s mobiles started to ring at the same time. They shared a glance of mutual apprehension before answering their calls.

“Hello, sir—“ Kate heard Olbeck say before she heard a familiar voice on the end of her phone line.

“What’s up, Rav?”

“Oh, hi, Kate. Did I interrupt you?”

“Only doing some shopping. What’s the problem?”

“I’m with the chief now—“Rav began, and as Kate listened, she could hear Olbeck listening to Anderton’s voice on his phone in a rather eerie tandem effect, as both men were clearly calling from the same location.

“I’ll be right there,” Kate heard Olbeck say, just as she was saying, “Fine, Rav, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Olbeck and Kate both terminated their respective calls and turned to one another.

“Here we go again,” sighed Olbeck.

“No rest for the wicked,” agreed Kate. “That was Anderton, yes?”

“Yes. He’s at Munford Gorge, with—“

“Rav,” finished Kate. “They’ve found a body?”

“Yep. That’s it.”

“Right,” said Kate. “So I’m following you, yes? I don’t know the way.”

 

It was slow going making their way out of Abbeyford. Kate’s windscreen wipers struggled to clear the lashing rain from the glass and, more than once, she lost sight of Olbeck’s car as other vehicles overtook her. Eventually, she managed to find her way to the dual carriageway that ran from Abbeyford towards Bristol. She had a vague idea that Munford Gorge lay on the west side of the town, but where, exactly? She caught sight of Olbeck’s car up ahead, parked in the layby, with yellow hazard lights flashing, and breathed a sigh of relief. She pulled in behind him and tooted her horn.

Once out of the city, the traffic eased a little. Kate saw Olbeck’s yellow indicator begin flashing and a moment later, saw the brown road sign for Munford Gorge. The two cars drove slowly down a smaller road and then turned again into an unsurfaced track that ended in a small car park. It was full of police vehicles, the white vans of the scene of crime officers and the ambulance that would eventually transport the body to the mortuary to await the post mortem examination.

Kate struggled to pull her already wet coat on. The rain hadn’t eased at all – it still fell relentlessly from the sky. Rivulets of muddy water were already flowing across the stony, rutted surface of the car park from the slightly raised ground that lay to its rear. Kate thought of all the trace evidence that was being washed away, even as she and Olbeck made their way to the scene, and frowned. She said as much to her companion.

“I know,” said Olbeck. “But what can we do? Let’s just hope there’s something left.”

They reached the lakeside and walked towards the bustle of activity at the far end of the lake. Kate spotted Rav and waved. She was still unused to seeing him back at work. The thought made her smile; she was so pleased that he’d managed to make it back. Rav had been terribly injured in the course of duty two years ago, and Kate knew he’d sometimes wondered whether he would be able to come back at all.

SOCO had already erected the white tent that hid the body from public view; not that there was any public to screen it from – the hissing rain meant that the only people here were professionally involved. Kate, Rav and Olbeck ducked through the entrance flap of the tent and straightened up. Kate’s eyes immediately went to the tall figure of Detective Chief Inspector Anderton, who stood looking down at the body. Her first feeling was one of surprise. She’d expected to see a body but here, amidst the tumbled earth, was just a sad collection of bones. For a moment, she was reminded of something else, something quite innocuous, but the exact memory eluded her. Then it came to her: a trip to London and to the British Museum, looking at the exhibition of the body found in the peat bog, thousands of years old and still perfectly preserved.

Anderton looked up as they approached. “Morning,” he said. “Something slightly out of the ordinary here.”

Olbeck crouched down to look more closely. “This is old. Isn’t it? We’re talking years, here.”

“Mmm.” Anderton made a noise of assent. “I would have thought so.”

Kate recollected her first impression. “I suppose it is a suspicious death, sir? It’s not actually an archaeological find?”

Anderton looked at her briefly and smiled. “I admit the thought did cross my mind, Kate. It’s not as if this area isn’t thick with historical artefacts – and bones. But, look here—“ He crouched down beside Olbeck, pointing, and Rav and Kate leant forward to see. “Look here.” His pointing finger indicated a fine metal chain around the base of the skull, too clogged with mud to make out any fine details. “That’s modern jewellery. Twentieth century, at least. No, I think we’re definitely looking at a job for the team.”

Kate ran her gaze over the rest of the body, what she could see of it. Half of the torso was still buried in mud. Now she was closer, she could see slimy scraps of cloth adhering to some of the bones. Was it a man or a woman? An adult at least, she thought, with an inner shiver of something like relief.

“Excuse me, please.” They all turned at the sound of the voice. A burly middle-aged man stood behind them, white-suited.

Anderton raised his eyebrows as he rose to his feet. “And you are?”

“Ivor Gatkiss. Pathologist.”

“Oh right.” Anderton made a sweeping gesture with his arm towards the rest of his team. “All right, guys, move back. Let the doc get to work.”

They reconvened by the entrance to the tent, nobody suggesting moving outside into the pouring rain. Kate could already see water beginning to trickle under the edges of the tent, running towards the slight hollow in which the skeleton rested. The techs would have to work fast to preserve the scene, she thought. A drop of water fell on the exposed skin on the back of her neck and made her shiver.

“Right,” said Anderton. “Now, there’s not a lot we can do with this one until we know a bit more about the body. There’s no point going back and pulling MISPER records until we know when he or she died, who they might possibly be… you get my drift. Someone needs to stay to see if the techs can give us anything immediate to go on. You never know, there might a wallet or a handbag buried underneath that lot.” He gestured to the sea of mud that surrounded the bones. “Always think positively. So, who’s going to stay?”

There was a moment’s silence. Kate could feel her own reluctance echoed in both Rav and Olbeck’s demeanour. The tent was cold and draughty and her feet were starting to become uncomfortably wet.

“I’ll stay,” Rav said, after the silence stretched on for an uncomfortable minute too long.

“Oh, no, don’t worry. I’ll do it,” said Kate immediately. Rav still looked so frail she couldn’t bear to think of him standing about in this miserable place.

“Well done, Kate,” said Anderton, who had clearly been thinking along similar lines. Kate smiled a little, warmed by his approval.

“Thanks,” Rav said gratefully. She said goodbye to the three of them and watched them leave. At least I’m in the dry, she told herself, trying to make the best of it. Another drip fell on the back of her neck and she shivered again.

The work inside the tent went on. Kate watched, shifting from numb foot to numb foot, wondering whether there was really any point her being there. She stared at the brown bones protruding from the earth, wondering who they belonged to. The jewellery suggested that the body was female, but not necessarily. How long had it been here? Could it conceivably be a natural death? But then, how had the body been buried? Kate mused, pacing up and down and stamping her feet.

After half an hour, she moved over to where Doctor  Gatkiss was still examining the body.

“I don’t believe we’ve met before,” said Kate. She was tired of standing about silently.

Doctor Gatkiss looked up and just as quickly looked down again. “No, I don’t think we have. I haven’t been working at the labs that long.” He had a quiet voice and a shy manner that Kate found rather endearing.

“Are you Andrew’s replacement? Sorry, Doctor Stanton’s replacement, I mean?”

Doctor Gatkiss nodded, with another quick look at her, before turning back to his work.

“How’s he getting on?” Kate persisted. She knew Andrew had taken a bit of a career swerve, leaving the pathology labs for a stint on a team with Medicin Sans Frontieres, working in Sierra Leone to try and halt the current Ebola epidemic. Kate and Stanton’s relationship was long since over but she couldn’t help still worrying about him a little. Kate had finally – reluctantly – joined Facebook and occasionally saw a picture from Andrew’s timeline; smiling children in African villages, happy faces under intensely blue skies, but nothing more than that.

“I – I think he’s fine. I’m sorry, detective, would you mind – I just have to concentrate—“

“Of course. Sorry.” Kate stepped back and let the doctor get back to work. She pushed her cold hands deeper into the pockets of her coat and felt a faint buzz under her fingertips. Her mobile phone, set to vibrate. Clearly it was Anderton or Olbeck wanting an update. She groped for her phone, grabbing it just as it fell silent. Kate pulled it from her pocket and looked at the screen to see who she’d missed.

Doctor Gatkiss concluded his examination and got to his feet, ineffectually trying to brush the mud from the knees of his protective suit. He turned to see Kate staring at her mobile phone screen as if turned to stone, finally frozen into immobility by the biting cold.

“Detective?” he asked tentatively. “Detective?”

Kate gave a start and snapped back to attention. She put the phone back in her pocket and turned her gaze on him, forcing a rictus smile. “I’m so sorry. You wanted me?”

She could see that Doctor Gatkiss had an inkling that her full attention was not immediately on him, but he obviously decided to speak anyway. “I’ve finished the preliminary examination. I’m afraid that I can’t give you any firm indication on cause of death yet. I believe the body to be that of a young woman, possibly late teens, early twenties, but there will need to be a post mortem before I can give you any other information.” Kate nodded, unsurprised. Doctor Gatkiss continued. “You may actually need the services of a specialist forensic anthropologist. These remains have been here for years. Most probably decades.”

“Right,” Kate said. The small part of her mind that was always focused on her work came to the fore, leaving the rest of her brain in utter turmoil. “Thanks very much. We’ll speak later, I’m sure.”

She watched the pathologist leave the tent, the movement of the entrance flap momentarily showing the driving rain that still continued to pour down outside. Kate stared blindly after him for a moment and then turned back. She conferred briefly with the senior investigating officer, Stephen Smithfield, going through the motions, working on autopilot. Then she left the tent herself, slogging back to her car through the mud and the rain, head down, almost oblivious to the discomfort.

Once she was in the driving seat, her wet coat flung into the back of the car, the engine running and the heater turned up to full, Kate drew her phone from her pocket again and stared at it. She hadn’t been mistaken, then. She hadn’t hallucinated it. Mary Redman, the screen said, showing the telephone number from which the call had been missed. Kate looked at her mother’s name, the words blurring a little as her hand shook. She hadn’t spoken to her mother in almost five years. She looked at the name a moment longer and then tossed the phone in the back seat, clamping her teeth together as she put the car in gear and prepared to drive away.

Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) is now available for pre-order from Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo. Published 19th April 2015.

Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) is now available for pre-order!

You can now get your shiny new copy of Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) on pre-order at Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo (and when I pull my finger out and get it up there shortly, on Google Play as well).

The blurb:

The West Country town of Abbeyford is suffering its worst floods in living memory when a landslide reveals the skeletal remains of a young woman. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is assigned to the case but finds herself up against a baffling lack of evidence, missing files and the suspicion that someone on high is blocking her investigation…

Matters are complicated by her estranged mother making contact after years of silence. As age-old secrets are uncovered and powerful people are implicated, Kate and the team are determined to see justice done. But at what price?

Thanks  to the lovely readers on my mailing list, Echo is already charting in some of the genre charts on Amazon US and UK. You’ve got until Monday 30th April to grab a promotional-price copy, so what are you waiting for? 😉

Cover Reveal! Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) is almost here…

 

echo_CG_V4

Drum roll, please! My fabulous cover designer, Chris Howard of Blondesign, has come up with the goods yet again. This is the cover of the newest Kate Redman Mystery, Echo, book number six in the series. This probably the most gruesome of my covers so far but I love it.

The blurb:

The West Country town of Abbeyford is suffering its worst floods in living memory when a landslide reveals the skeletal remains of a young woman. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is assigned to the case but finds herself up against a baffling lack of evidence, missing files and the suspicion that someone on high is blocking her investigation…

Matters are complicated by her estranged mother making contact after years of silence. As age-old secrets are uncovered and powerful people are implicated, Kate and the team are determined to see justice done. But at what price?

Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) will be available for pre-order at the end of March 2015.

 

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I always thought this question was a bit of a writer’s myth – but people really do ask me this. And in answer? Real life. That’s where I get my ideas (as tempting as it sometimes is to reply ‘the Ideas Shop dot com’).

It’s always a bit tricky to pin down the real source of inspiration but for my current work in progress, it’s easy. This time last year, Somerset (the beautiful county in which I live) was suffering appalling flooding. I remember watching a report on the news – a landslide had revealed the long-buried remains of a Viking long boat. In the instance of watching that thirty second clip, an idea went FIZZ – what if what was revealed was a long-buried body? This also tied in with the reportage around the same time (if memory serves) of Jean McConville and the rest of The Disappeared (a term that still sends shivers down my spine).

In fact, all of the Kate Redman Mysteries have plots based on real life events – all apart from the first, Hushabye. I can’t remember exactly how the plot for Hushabye came about but I do remember having a conversation with my mother which encapsulated the motive the murderer has in the book. It’s also a recurring theme on the forums on Mumsnet :) I think, basically, my plots come from two things. A specific scenario (e.g. the landslide) and character motivation (how people might really behave in real life). The big challenge for me, always, is to create a plot which is a satisfying mystery but also is always believable in terms of character. There’s no point having an incredible mystery if it means that the solution comes from characters acting in a way that doesn’t make sense.

Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6) is available for pre-order in March 2015.

A working blurb for Echo (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 6)

This is the book I’m currently writing – the first draft is about half done and I’m happy with it so far. Each of the Kate Redman books has an overarching theme to the plot and with Echo, it’s the investigation of historic abuse. Rather a timely subject, what with all the current news stories.

Here’s the blurb, just to whet your appetite…

The West Country town of Abbeyford is suffering its worst floods in living memory when a landslide reveals the skeletal remains of a young woman. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is assigned to the case but finds herself up against a baffling lack of evidence, wiped files and the suspicion that someone on high is blocking her investigation…

Matters are complicated by her estranged mother making contact after years of silence. As age-old secrets are uncovered and powerful people are implicated, Kate and the team are determined to see justice done. But is the truth worth dying for?

Echo is the sixth in the bestselling Kate Redman Mysteries series. Available for pre-order in March 2015.

 

Mailing list subscriber goodies and a print copy prize draw!

  

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2015 is to take my writing career to its next level – really step it up a pace. Now I’m a limited company, it’s time to start getting business-like about things such as branding, marketing and production. So, starting early, here’s business resolution number 1: grow my mailing list.

Every indie author should have their own mailing list (hell, every trad-pubbed author should too). Facebook, Twitter, etc are great, but with a mailing list you can reach your readers directly and your list belongs to you, not to some third party. You can appeal for reviews and for beta readers (just as I have in my wonderful Advance Reader team who get free advance copies of my new books – if you’re interested, drop me an email and I’ll add you to that list), you can respond to reader queries directly… suffice it to say, get yourself a mailing list, pronto!

But you can’t expect people to sign up for yet another email newsletter without an incentive. I always used to give my subscribers a free copy of my short story collection A Blessing From The Obeah Man but now my subscribers will also get a free copy of Requiem (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 2) AND a free copy of A Prescription for Death (The Asharton Manor Mysteries: Book 2) as well. I’m nice like that 😉

And, so my already subscribed readers don’t miss out, I’ll be running a monthly giveaway where one lucky subscriber will win a signed print copy of one of my books. Names will be drawn at random from my mailing list so sign up to be in with a chance! First draw will be on New Year’s Day…

The opening chapter of Chimera, just for you…

Just to whet your appetite, here’s the opening chapter of Chimera (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 5). It’s available on pre-order from Amazon if you fancy reading the rest of it!

Prologue

The night sky over Abbeyford was spangled with a million little explosions of light; red, blue, gold and green lit up the dark clouds before falling and fading into oblivion. In the town below, the crowds thronged the pavements and the open space of the fairground that lay to the north of the town park gardens. Along the high street came a fantastic beast, jointed in three places; a giant, scaled snake with huge yellow eyes. Children yelled and pointed, and adults clapped and cheered at the sight. Beneath the snake costume, fifteen sweating men held up the frame that supported its body. The night air carried the acrid tang of cordite from the fireworks and billowed with smoke from chestnuts cooking on braziers. It was thick with the greasy smell of the fast food vans offering chips and hot dogs and candy floss. Thumping bass music blared from the funfair on the park ground itself, pierced by the shrieks and delighted yells of those on the fast rides and the bumper cars. Abbeyford was enjoying its annual pagan festival; for one night in late September the town celebrated the myth and legend of the Abbeyford Wyrm, a giant snake-like creature once rumoured to have lived in the woods and forests surrounding the town.

Olly Chandler had something more than the festival on his mind. He and his girlfriend, Mia Smith, strolled through the fairground, hand in hand. Mia wanted to go on the Ghost Train but Olly scoffed. “Got something even better than that,” he said, pulling Mia close. “A quiet place just for us and some decent weed. How about that?”

Mia looked at him, pouting. Then she giggled. “Let’s get stoned and then go on the Ghost Train,” she said, close his ear. Her warm breath and the way she licked his neck after she spoke made him even more anxious to get her to where they were going.

“Come on,” he said and pulled at her hand. They ran, Mia a little awkwardly in her high heels, over the dusty, bruised grass of the park towards the dip of the hill and the river beyond it.

“Where we going, Olly?” Mia asked as they left the lighter area of the park and walked into the darkness, relieved only here and there by dim streetlights.

“You’ll see. We used to go there when we were kids. It’s private – no one ever goes there.”

“Okay.” She sounded doubtful. Olly found the footpath somehow – it was much more overgrown that it used to be – and pushed aside tree branches and brambles.

“Down there?” said Mia. She actually sounded nervous now. “What is it?”

“S’alright,” said Olly, conscious of a little spike of uneasiness himself. “It’s a row of little houses. They’re empty now, been like that for years.” The two of them pushed through the last of the undergrowth and came out onto a little back road. There were no lights but the moon had emerged from behind a cloud and cast a silvery radiance over the tumbledown buildings before them.

“Are you sure this is safe?” Mia looked down at herself, strewn with leaves and bits of undergrowth, and tutted. “Look at my top. This had better be worth it.”

“It’s fine,” Olly said impatiently. The desire he’d felt at the fairground was ebbing away, down here in the darkness and silence, not to mention the faint unpleasant smell that hung in the air. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. But where else did they have to go? He thought resentfully of his older brother, who’d recently gained his driving license. Only another year to go before Olly could take his test. He couldn’t wait.

Mia was still hanging back, and Olly felt protective. He pulled her close to him and kissed her, and she responded enthusiastically. “Come on, it’ll be fine,” he said. “You want to, don’t you?”

“’Course.” Mia took his hand trustingly and he led her through a space in the front garden wall of the first house in the row of three, where a gate had once hung.

Olly chose the first house because it was the nearest. If he remembered rightly, the door looked closed but could be opened with a shove. Though the house on the end had no front door at all…perhaps they should go there? No, they wanted a bit of privacy. Definitely this one, Olly thought to himself, a decision that would prove to cost him years of therapy.

They stumbled up the garden path to the front door, black in the moonlight. Olly put a hand out to the peeling paint and gave it a shove. The door creaked open and he felt a quick moment of triumph before the smell hit them in the face.

“Ugh, ugh, that’s disgusting,” shrieked Mia. “I’m not going in there.”

“It’s okay, it’s going, it’s going.” A night breeze whipped up and carried the worst of the stench away. “Come on,” said Olly, desperately. He couldn’t have said himself why he was so hell bent on getting into the cottage now, though his family would have told him it was because he had a stubborn streak a mile wide running through him.

He almost dragged Mia into the darkness of the cottage. Once inside, the smell returned and Olly almost gagged. Mia made a small, choked noise behind him. The inside of the cottage was pitch black, so black that as Olly inched forward, fumbling for his phone in order to use its pale screen light as a torch; his feet collided with something hard and he tripped and fell.

His phone went flying and he put both hands out to break his fall. Both hands connected with something that, while ostensibly solid, broke open under the impact of his body. Olly felt his hands sink into something peculiarly liquid and the smell, which had already been terrible enough, intensified to something so repulsive it felt almost like a physical force.

Behind him, Mia held her phone aloft and it cast a pale, ghostly light over the room, showing Olly what he’d actually fallen into. Mia began to scream, but he hardly heard her because, by that time, he was screaming himself.

Pre-order Chimera on Amazon, to be published on 14th December 2014.

Now available for pre-order! Chimera (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 5) is here…

Yes, it’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here! Chimera is now available for pre-order and is published on 14th December 2014. It’s currently available at a special promotional price until the day of release so if you want a cheap copy, go grab it!

Currently only available for pre-order on Kindle but it’ll be published to the other eBook retailers on 14th December. There will also be a print copy coming out very soon as well.

The blurb:

The West Country town of Abbeyford is celebrating its annual pagan festival, when the festivities are interrupted by the discovery of a very decomposed body. Soon, several other bodies are discovered but is it a question of foul play or are these deaths from natural causes?

It’s a puzzle that Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and the team could do without, caught up as they are in investigating an unusual series of robberies. Newly single again, Kate also has to cope with her upcoming Inspector exams and a startling announcement from her friend and colleague DI Mark Olbeck…

When a robbery goes horribly wrong, Kate begins to realise that the two cases might be linked. She must use all her experience and intelligence to solve a serious of truly baffling crimes which bring her up against an old adversary from her past…

Cover reveal for Chimera (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 5)

chimera_CG_V2

I don’t know about other authors but my books start to feel ‘real’ to me once I get the cover from my very talented cover designer, Chris Howard of Blondesign (he designs all my covers). Chimera (A Kate Redman Mystery: Book 5) is currently being finished and is soon to be sent for editing and then out to my lovely team of beta-readers (if you fancy joining them,  just sign up to the mailing list and await instructions!).

Chimera should be available for pre-order from Amazon in the next month. It’s taking longer than I anticipated to finish, mostly because it’s the most complex plot I think I’ve ever attempted and there are a multitude of plot strands to weave together. I’ll get there in the end…

Look out for the opening chapter which I’ll post here as soon as pre-orders are available – as a little taster… :)