Tag Archives: Detective Fiction

A Man Walks Into a Bar

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I was sipping a drink, researching my latest Sam Smith mystery when a man walked into the bar. He looked distressed. 

“Quick,” he said to the barman, “I need a glass of water.”

With a quizzical look on his face, the barman poured water into a glass. The man grabbed the glass, gulped the water then ran to the rest room.

Two minutes later, the man returned, still looking distressed. “Nope,” he said, “that didn’t work. I’ll have a Bacardi and lemon.”

The man sipped his Bacardi then chewed on the lemon. With a pained expression on his face, he ran to the rest room only to return two minutes later.

“Nope,” he said, “that didn’t work either. I need a radical solution.”

Then, to gasps from the clientele, the man produced a gun and handed the weapon to the barman. “Shoot me,” the man said.

“You must be crazy,” the barman said. “I’m not touching that gun.”

“You, lady,” the man said to me, “shoot me.”

Of course, by now I’d twigged what was happening so, nonchalantly, I placed the gun in my hand. I raised my arm, pointed the barrel at the man’s head and eased my finger against the trigger. Before I could squeeze the trigger, the man sighed and walked out of the bar.

“Phew,” the barman said. “What was that all about?”

“Didn’t you notice?” I asked, sliding the gun across the bar. “The man had hiccups.” 😀

 

The Detective’s Gambit

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I’m a chess addict and my Sam Smith mystery, Mind Games, is about a chess player. Chess and mysteries have a common thread, the solving of a puzzle. With that in mind, I decided to research the connection between private detectives and chess. 

August 1957 saw the television premiere of The Chess Player, series one, episode eight of the Richard Diamond Private Detective series. In this episode, the wife of a wealthy industrialist hires Richard Diamond to discover who is trying to murder her husband. The plot is standard for the genre. However, David Janssen’s portrayal of Richard Diamond is engaging and it foreshadows his starring role as Richard Kimble in the television series The Fugitive. In The Chess Player, Julian Tyler, the industrialist husband, mentions that he played Capablanca and that he introduced a new variation to the Ruy Lopez.

When not tangling with femme fatales or dodging bullets, Raymond Chandler’s private detective, Philip Marlowe, could often be found brooding over chess puzzles. Marlowe preferred puzzles to over the board games with real opponents, which served to highlight his mistrust of his opponents, and humanity as a whole. 

Chess served as a literary motif in Chandler’s novel, The High Window, while Marlowe himself confessed, “I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things.” Maybe Chandler, and Marlowe, had a love-hate relationship with chess because, in The Long Goodbye, Marlowe stated, “Chess is the most elaborate waste of human intelligence outside of an advertising agency.” Yet Marlowe constantly returned to chess, including in the novel and television movie, Poodle Springs, a story written by Robert B Parker, another great of private detective literature.

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There are other examples of chess and the private detective, although in truth they are not numerous. In my Sam Smith Mystery Series, Sam (Samantha) is a budding chess player, keen to learn about the game. Chess is the ideal game to use as a metaphor in detective fiction. Furthermore, knowledge of the game suggests a certain level of intelligence. To win through, both the chess player and the private detective know that they have to make the right moves, and that one slip could be fatal.

 

Research, Cover Reveals and Translations

Having stepped off the Amazon eBook promotional treadmill, I wondered if I’d want to climb back on. After a period of reflection, the answer is ‘no’. Been there, done that. Why go round in circles when there are so many paths to follow? Besides, I’ve achieved all I want to achieve with eBook sales. Time to move on.

Currently, I’m researching my latest Ann’s War story, Escape. This story is based on a true event, the mass escape of 76 German prisoners of war from Island Farm POW Camp 198. This plan shows the facilities at the camp, which included a concert hall, a coffee shop and a football pitch. You will also notice two escape tunnels indicated on the plan. More of them later.

Island Fam Map

This week, I published Boston, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fourteen. Meanwhile, here is the draft cover for The Devil and Ms Devlin, book fifteen in the series. The Devil and Ms Devlin with be published in the spring of 2019, and will be available for pre-order soon.

The Devil and Ms Devlin eBook Cover

To celebrate the fact that I published four books this week in four different languages – Bulgarian, Dutch, English and French – I have a new section on my website, Translations. You will also find books in Italian and Japanese in this section with many more to follow.

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Mini Mystery #6 Hard to Swallow

Adelaide de la Tremouille (pictured) was born on 19th December 1855. She married Edwin Bartlett, a wealthy London grocer, on 6th April 1875. For ten years the couple enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. Then, in 1885, they met the Rev George Dyson. The Rev Dyson and Edwin enjoyed long conversations, particularly about marriage and relationships. During one of those conversations, Edwin revealed that if he should die, he would like the Rev Dyson to marry Adelaide. Sure enough, on 1st January 1886, Edwin did die, of chloroform ingestion.

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The police investigation revealed that, when alive, Edwin had allowed the Rev Dyson to kiss his wife. This led to suspicion and the arrest of Adelaide Bartlett for murder. The Rev Dyson who, on 28th December 1885, had bought four bottles of chloroform, was also arrested, but his case was dismissed.

At the trial, the jury wrestled with one question raised by the post mortem: how did the chloroform reach Edwin’s stomach without burning his throat or mouth? No one could supply an answer and although the medical experts found the verdict hard to swallow, the jury allowed Adelaide to walk from the court, a free woman.

 

Saving Grace – The Inquest Begins

Saving Grace, an Amazon top 100 Hot New Release

Victorian Gull Inquest

Professor Vernon Pennington, called as the first witness in the Charles Petrie Inquest. Professor Pennington suspected suicide, however none of the evidence supported his theory. Therefore, the question remained: who poisoned Charles Petrie?

Victorian Crowd

Crowds gather outside the Seabank Hotel as the inquest into the poisoning of Charles Petrie reveals sensation and scandal. People are so keen to get into the courtroom that they are bribing police officers and court officials.

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Grace Petrie breaks down while questioned by advocate Lewis Murdoch. Murdoch is convinced that Grace poisoned her husband, Charles, and his questions lead the jury to share his opinion. With the gallows rope beckoning, can Grace’s advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her?

Victorian Verdict

As the witnesses reveal the scandals in Grace’s life, the press make eager notes for their newspapers, and the search for justice is lost amidst the sensation. The courtroom drama of the Victorian Age, everyone had an opinion on who poisoned Charles Petrie. I have constructed the courtroom scenes in Saving Grace from these newspaper reports, each authentic word adding detail to the drama.

Victorian Inquest Gull

The inquest into the poisoning of Charles Petrie reaches its conclusion. Will Grace hang for the murder of her husband, or can Daniel Morgan and Professor Vernon Pennington, called to give last minute evidence, save her?

Victorian Foreman

The court of inquiry has heard the evidence and the foreman of the jury rises the deliver the verdict. Is Grace guilty? Who poisoned Charles Petrie? You can discover the answers and the solution to the greatest poisoning scandal of the Victorian Era in Saving Grace, available now for the special pre-order price of $0.99/£0.99/€0.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Grace – The Prime Suspects

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Easter 1876. Who poisoned wealthy banker, Charles Petrie?

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Prime Suspect #1, Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harbouring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career. Did Dr Collymore poison Charles Petrie?

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Prime Suspect #2, Florrie Williams, an innocent-looking maid. However, Florrie supplied Charles with his final bedtime drink. Did Florrie Williams, pictured at the inquest, poison Charles Petrie?

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Prime Suspect #3, Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, a man sacked by Charles and thrown out of his home, a man who used poisons in his work, a man who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day. Did Bert Kemp, pictured at the inquest, poison Charles Petrie?

Victorian Cox Inquest

Prime Suspect #4, Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons and a deep fear of dismissal. Did Mrs Quinn, pictured at the inquest, poison Charles Petrie?

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Prime Suspect #5, Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman suspected of poisoning her first husband, Captain Gustav Trelawney, a woman shunned by polite society. Did Grace poison Charles Petrie?

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Based on a true story, Saving Grace, “the courtroom drama of the year.”

Saving Grace will be published as an eBook, paperback and audio book in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese with more languages to follow. The book will be backed by a major promotional campaign in America, Australia, Britain, Canada and Europe. Reserve your copy now for the special pre-order price of $0.99/£0.99/€0.99

Amazon Link