I really am counting down as quickly as I can to announcing the publication of my next book, Saltpans! just a few technical issues to do with the cover, a couple of last-minute flying edits, and then, and then…
Here is an excerpt. Thomas Radwinter is enjoying his first day in his tiny new office above the veg shop in the little town of Easthope. To his delight an unepxected client calls – his delight fades somewhat as he realises who it is…
Hmm… my first day in my new office… well, half a day. I have to collect various kids from various places and then I’ll be home getting dinner ready for us all and doing dadly things… perfect!
There was a ‘dong’ and I enquired through the entry phone who it was, feeling rather full of myself – I’d only been here an hour on my first day; I had plenty to do, and wasn’t expecting anyone, but here was a client.
My optimism deflated like a punctured football – I’d been playing footie on the beach with Kenneil and Terri and I confess I really booted the ball, it hit a rock, bounced off and then sat there deflating…
“Come up, Inspector Graham!” I said with false heartiness. I slapped down a feeling of anxiety, I had nothing to be anxious about, I’d done nothing wrong… well, nothing that anyone apart from my friend David knows about.
After a few pleasantries Thomas is getting impatient to find out what Inspector Graham wants:
I wanted to find out why he was here, because I was beginning to feel sure it was nothing to do with me, and more to do with him and something he wanted me to do.
He made some jovial remark about how we managed work with five young children! Well, this was another massive change – and reflects, I guess, how stable and secure we are financially. We have John’s sister-in-law Gabriela living with us to help with the children. In return we give her accommodation and meals, and pay her too, and she goes to college to improve her English. She has the small bedroom which Marcus used to have, and Kylie and I now have our bedroom downstairs in what used to be the front room.
“Actually,“ I said, remembering there was a plan which we’d put so far on the back burner it had almost fallen off the stove, “We’ve going to look for a bigger house – we’re just about bursting at the seams, and as the kids keep growing…” I gave what I hoped was a rueful blokey shrug.
He nodded, thinking about something, judging what to say. I have an imaginary poker team – if you play poker in teams which I’m not sure you do, and I always thought Inspector Graham would be one of the star players; he really does give nothing away… usually… I was beginning to feel he’d be relegated in the rankings…
“I hear Paul’s fiancée has taken over the Waterside,” he said which threw me completely.
The ghastly, life-threatening events which happened to me last year, took place at the Waterside Hotel. I think I’ve come to terms with it – at least, I pretend I have…
Ruthie bought the Waterside, now renamed McCaw’s, last autumn when it was not unexpectedly put up for sale, and Kylie is project managing the renovations, just as she did at the India Inn.
I murmured something with what I hope was a perky, inquisitive look on my face… but gave up the pretence of being laid back and normally interested when he asked me if I knew anything about hotels and guest houses.
Where the hell was this going? No, I know nothing about hotels and guest houses.
“Saltern House, it’s a small hotel here in Easthope, have you come across it, Thomas? Owned by Sylvie Monnet… Like the artist, Monet, but with two ‘n’s?”
My heart began to sink. I’d got dragged into visiting the Waterside, now McCaw’s because it was supposedly haunted… don’t say this Saltern House of which I’d never heard was haunted, don’t say he was going to ‘commission’ me to investigate it?
“Is it haunted?” I asked, ready to turn him down flat, because he was definitely here to ask me to do something.
Now he looked surprised; no he didn’t think it was, he’d never heard Sylvie mention anything (Sylvie, hmm? Not Mrs Monnet, but Sylvie, hmmm…)
No, it was to do with the shelly beach he said as if I should know what he meant. We have a beach in Easthope, and it does get shells on it, but… but? Luckily I said nothing just looked quizzical – I hoped.
He seemed surprised again that I had no clue about what he was trying to tell me, but then he smiled, and he rose back up in the poker team rankings. He took a couple of folders from his case and laid them on my desk.
“That, in actual fact, is excellent Thomas, excellent. Well, I’ll leave all this with you; get in touch if you need anything, but really I’m leaving it completely in your hands. I know you will be discreet, ultra, ultra discrete; let me know if you have any unexpected expenditure on the way, but otherwise… Whatever the outcome, send me the account when you feel you have come to the end.”
He sprang to his feet and was at the door before I could even stand up.
“Regards to Kylie and the sprogs!” and he was gone…
Kylie and the sprogs? Good grief!
Both extracts © Lois Elsden 2018
If you haven’t read Thomas’s adventures in the supposedly haunted hotel where the ‘ghastly, life-threatening events ‘ took place, here is a link to ‘Earthquake’, my previous book:
… and here is a link to my other Radwinter novels in case you need to catch up on them: