I’d like to share another excerpt from my latest book, Winterdyke. This is chapter 3, and Thomas Radwinter has just arrived at Athelmond Grange where he has been commissioned to investigate the family history of a very wealthy family, the Robespierres; needless to say, his task is not as straightforward or simple as it appears:
The chauffeur got out in one of those fluid movements you see on TV and opened the door and I heaved myself out and hefted my bags onto my shoulder. Snow always makes me excited and I momentarily lifted my face to the flakes whirling round my head. The driver was telling me he’d bring my luggage and someone was standing in the open doorway, a massive, baronial doorway. She had a wrap over her head and shoulders – was this Mrs Robespierre?
“Do come in Mr. Radwinter, come into the warm, I hope you’ve had a pleasant journey Brian will take your bags to your room!”
My hand was shaken by a very attractive woman with red hair peeping out from the wrap and unusual green eyes. I used to babble compulsively in new situations but I hope I’ve got over this. I replied that I’d had a comfortable journey, and enjoyed the ‘in-flight,’ refreshments, no point in pretending I’m used to having coffee and muffins in the back of a big fancy car, she’d know I’m just an ordinary bloke. I was struck by the strangeness of it all; I have some very wealthy clients, but this was in a different league.
The door was shut, the elements left outside, apart from a few rapidly melting snowflakes on my coat and I was enveloped in the warmth of the house.
“I’m Audrey Stone,” she said. She wasn’t as young as I’d thought. “I’m Mr. Robespierre’s major-domo. If there’s anything at all you need while you’re here, please let me know. Due to this unprecedented snow, we are very short of domestic staff, so I hope this won’t impact on your stay with us.”
I’d never met a major-domo before but I refrained from saying so; I no longer become the nervous idiot in new situations – unless I want to.
I thanked her and she asked me to call her Audrey; I reciprocated with ‘call me Thomas’, but should I have kept to being Mr.? She took my coat and directed me to the palatial ‘facilities’ which I appreciated. Hair brushed, all checked and done up, and an absence muffin crumbs on my tie, I returned to the large and gracious hall. It had a beautifully tiled floor, wood panelling hung with paintings, and numerous arched doorways leading off. There were elegant tables with lush plants, and a huge fireplace with an ornamental arrangement of dried flowers. I looked up a sweeping staircase which led to a mezzanine gallery and from the distant ceiling hung a huge light fitting way up in the heavens
I followed the sound of a murmur of voices through an arch and came into a smaller, cosier vestibule with another sweeping staircase, and here was Audrey talking to a tall gangly young man in one of those Scandinavian jumpers which became popular after the amazing Danish TV series ‘The Killing’. Sara Lund, the main character, always sported one; we had a family joke because when Marcus found some old photos, there he was wearing one too. I must say we all laughed a lot, particularly at Marcus’s skinny legs and bony knees.
If you want to find out what exactly Thomas has been asked to do, and how such a relatively simple commission can lead him into difficulties and danger, then here’s a link to where you can find the paperback and eBook, Winterdyke: