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Radio silence ahead – sing ho for the rolling main!

Oh aaarh me hearties, we be off on the main tomorrow in search of doubloons and me internet will be patchy (if not non-existent) so if we be a-silent, don’t ye be a-panicking.

To put it in proper English, we’re off to the Canaries on a sort of floating Harrods. Our third cruise in just over a year (sure sign we’re getting old) and actually our third cruise ever. Suspect we’ve got the bug for it.

If we see any of these we’ll be lost:

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although I do hope for one or two of these:

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Latest charity bookshop bargains

Been a good few weeks for finds. Edmund Crispin’s Swan Song (that was a re-read), a bumper crop of Biggles (put into the TBR pile) and an excellent study of the Charles Bravo case (a great unsolved mystery that I hadn’t heard of until recently – am halfway through the book and really enjoying it).

However I had one great disappointment. I don’t mind reading a modernly written classic era Holmes (the Anthony Horowitz ones are rather good) and this one began with an intriguing premise – that Watson was set up from the start to spy on Holmes. Started well, went downhill rapidly. The original scenes were much better than the retelling of the Conan Doyle bits which were, frankly, dull. Such a curate’s egg of a book. I wish Alex Beecroft or Elin Gregory had written it.

Rainbow snippet – Don’t Kiss the Vicar

Just been to a lovely service at church so this excerpt from Don’t Kiss the Vicar feels appropriate.

“Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.
“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”
“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”
Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?
“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.
“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.

More excerpts at Rainbow Snippets.

Charlie’s latest newsletter

Hello all – hoping you’re well and that storm Gareth (or any of his nasty relatives) hasn’t blown you away. I suppose he’s better than last year’s Beast from the East but only fractionally.

News

Our “Great Detectives panel was a success, with lots of nice feedback. Alas, Cadfael lost out to Hercule Poirot in the meaningful vote. My next gig has me with my romance hat on, celebrating love in literature. I’ve done a round for the quiz, which I’ll post to my blog once the big night is done.

My ‘find a title’ challenge was won by George Loveland, who suggested lots of excellent variations on the lines of Seasons of Love. Clever lad!

This week I’m featuring a guest author, Elin Gregory, whose latest book, Midnight Flit, looks a right bobby dazzler. (Let me state here and now that I’d only ever feature guests who are a) pals of mine and b) blooming good authors. I’m not into random newsletter swops.)

Midnight Flit:
Book Two of The Carstairs Affairs: Miles Siward and Briers Allerdale return for another thrilling Jazz Age adventure.
“Silk stockings on expenses.”
Miles’s aristocratic mother has information of importance to the British Government and he must escort her home from Bucharest immediately, but their plans go violently awry and Miles and Lady Siward find themselves on a train to Belgrade – where Miles’s lover is posted. Since their pursuers are looking for a man and a woman, might two women slip past them unnoticed?
“Is anyone on this train who they say they are?”
Briers doesn’t know whether to kiss Miles or punch him but is delighted to accompany him and his mother on their journey. All he has to do is keep an eye open for their enemies – but who exactly are they; the enormous Russian, the sinister priest, the handsome jazz pianist, or maybe the winsome young movie star? And his mother-in-law might just be the most terrifying of all!
All aboard for the ride of a lifetime, with a cast of characters you’ll never forget!

Elin and I collaborated on a Cambridge Fellows/Miles and Briars crossover, which is available to download free here.

Excerpt:

“Is she dead?” A deep voice. Miles could hear it clearly and suspected he might be able to put a name to it from some deep cavern of memory, but he could neither open his eyes nor respond.
“No, she’s breathing, you clown. Hopefully nothing worse than being out for the count. And a pint of claret down the front of her dress.” Another voice, one that Miles instantly recognised, although what Jonty Stewart was doing here, God alone knew. Unless Miles was dreaming, of course. Or really had died and Dr. Stewart and his colleague—that’s who the other voice must belong to—formed an unusual pair of heavenly ushers. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“I know. It was that other idiot going far too fast. Worse driver even than you.” The colleague—what was his name again? Wainwright? Copperberg?—sounded beside himself with worry. “We should have gone for the doctor. The car would be quicker than a cart.”
“And leave the farmer here with a team of spooked horses? Have you seen the size of those things or have any idea what sort of damage they could do? Better to look after h— Ah, hello.”
Miles had managed to force his eyes open; there were worse sights to greet a man than Jonty Stewart, even though he must be into his fifties by now. Classically handsome face, high cheekbones, a scar that added rather than detracted from the whole effect. Miles couldn’t deny that he’d fancied his tutor during his years at Cambridge and just hoped he hadn’t made too much of an exhibition of himself at the time. Although wasn’t he making an exhibition of himself now?
“Hello,” he managed. “I don’t think anything’s broken.”
“Only most of the front of your car.” Stewart, grinning, drew out a handkerchief then applied it to Miles’s nose. “And your cover, Miles. Although not as badly as it might have been had I let the farmer perform first aid.”
“Oh.” He morphed Millie’s voice into his own; a more nasal version than normal, although he didn’t think his nose was actually broken. “Is it so obvious?”
“Only to somebody who admired your Rosalind.” Stewart busied himself with taking Miles’s pulse and checking him over. “You remember Siward, don’t you, Professor Coppersmith? One of the less vile dunderheads.”
Coppersmith peered closer. “The one who was quite useful at whist. Yes. Is this what they’re wearing in London these days?”
“Only when they’re involved in Room 40 type stuff. Just as well they didn’t ask you to get dolled up in a tea frock. You haven’t got the legs for one thing.

And finally – a picture of the panel from the Great Detectives event. Why can I never keep my eyes open when the camera goes off?

Charlie

Rainbow snippet – Old Sins

Just had a smashing review for Old Sins at Creative Deeds: “The mystery was only part of the story though and that’s just one of the reasons why I love this series.”

Today’s excerpt is unexpectedly serious.
It was after lunch, a beer, and half an hour of kip that they actually got around to discussing the morning’s events again. Robin hadn’t received any further messages and nothing definitive was featuring on either the news or social media yet, so they’d made themselves comfy on the sofa, with Campbell stretched out on the floor like a living rug.
“I hope himself’s asleep and can’t hear what I’m about to ask,” Adam said. “What’s the law on killing dogs?”
“Long story short, if you’re a farmer and a dog’s trespassing on your land, worrying your sheep, you can kill it, preferably in one clean shot. You’d need to prove you were justified in taking the action, though. Long story longer, if you asked your pal to come over and he brought his dog and it starts worrying the sheep, you’ve lost the right.”
“That’s sounds straightforward enough.”
Robin grimaced. “It isn’t. You’re supposed to try to contact the owner first, and only shoot if absolutely necessary. You’re supposed to report it, afterwards, too.”

Loads more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets Group.