A year ago today my song was Silver Bells and I chose the Aled Jones/Terry Wogan version. I still miss the old bloke. I’ve also got a ‘new’ tune to share, Bethlehem Down, which I only discovered this last fortnight, when I’ve started listening to the Classic FM Christmas playlist. That’s a good way to avoid being Whamageddoned.
Am over at the BSB blog, chatting about change and how this year hasn’t been all for the bad. Do drop over and share any positives you have had from 2020.
I had completely forgotten that last Advent I shared my favourite seasonal music every day – until Jay Mountney reminded me. She’ll be posting her fave music over the next few weeks, so I’m cheating by reposting mine, although I may make some changes.
As last year, I won’t necessarily go with the obvious choices (this will be a Wham and Slade free zone). First up is Taverner’s The Lamb which I first heard at Nine Lessons and Carols in Romsey Abbey. So beautiful…
I’ll be popping up at all sorts of events over the next few weeks, bearing gifts for competition winners, of course. But there are two things I wanted to give a special heads-up about. One is a free, seasonal Lindenshaw Mysteries short story, with Robin investigating a potential in-law who may turn out to be an outlaw. The other thing is a special draw on 31st December, simply for my newsletter subscribers. One lucky soul will win a book or a Brit-themed goodie bag. You can sign up from any page of my website/blog.
Next Sunday is the first in Advent! That’s either exciting (for those of us who have already started playing Christmas music) or depressing, thinking how quickly the year has gone past. Still, as Mr C says, we have to learn to appreciate what we can do rather than fret over what we can’t. He’s a wise old bird, Mr C.
A reminder that there’s a new Cambridge Fellows Novella out in time for Christmas. Lessons in Solving the Wrong Problem will be released on December 21st and is available for pre-order here.
There will also be a free short Lindenshaw story (date in December to be announced), with Adam and Robin having to solve a dilemma about whether they can invite Robin’s aunt’s new boyfriend to Christmas dinner. Or have they potentially got an outlaw for an in-law?
I’ve got all sorts of ‘gigs’ coming up at events other authors are holding in the run up to Christmas. I’ll be offering prizes at all of them, but I thought I should offer a prize for my mailing list regulars, as well. So I’ll be doing a draw on New Year’s Eve, picking out one winner who’ll get their choice of an audiobook code, an ebook, a print book or a Brit goodie bag.
Here’s a tidbit from the upcoming Cambridge Fellows story. The lads are visiting an archaeological dig.
Orlando looked over to where a well-dressed chap in tweeds had entered the marquee. Without Applecross’s words, they’d have been able to guess the newcomer—every inch a peer of the realm—was the landowner. The deference shown by those present would also have sealed the case. His lordship surveyed the company, then made a beeline for Applecross, where the empty seat which had been so puzzling now made sense. Had it been kept free deliberately in case the man himself made an appearance?
Lord Henry paused, hands on the back of his chair, eyeing Jonty, who had turned his head round to get a view of the visitor. “Is that a Stewart I see before me?”
“It is, sir.” Jonty rose, then offered his hand to be shaken. “Jonathan, known as Jonty.”
His lordship pumped the hand up and down. “Very pleased to meet you. You’re the image of your mother, but I suppose you know that.”
“I’ve been told so often, yes.” Jonty beamed. “And I count myself lucky to have inherited her bone structure.”
“Magnificent woman. Like many of my generation, I’d have married her in a trice, but your father was too swift and determined for the rest of us.” He patted Jonty’s shoulder. “I’m far from alone in saying that I might have been your father. Perhaps you get tired of hearing men of my generation express that thought.”
“Not tired, no, although I no longer keep tally. I’ve realised how many heads and hearts Mama must have turned in her pomp.”
It was quite a familiar conversation with anyone of his lordship’s generation. Jonty never appeared to tire of the esteem in which his parents were held so neither, by association, did Orlando. He felt part of the Stewart family and always would. As if the thought gave birth to the act, Jonty words of introduction were, “Lord Henry, this is Dr Coppersmith, my colleague at St Bride’s and an old friend of the Stewarts. Almost an adopted son, in Mama’s eyes.”
“Splendid, splendid.” His lordship shook Orlando’s hand with equal enthusiasm. A plate of food, borne by Kane, appeared on the table. Lord Henry thanked the student, then they all took their seats. “I’m so pleased that you’re both present, gentlemen. I hear you’re a regular Holmes and Watson.”
Orlando forced a smile. How he hated the man from Baker Street: any comparisons with him were odious. “We’ve been fortunate to be consulted on certain mysteries that have evaded previous solution, yes.” He was aware he sounded pompous and those who knew him well would have recognised that meant he was getting worked up. Was it the mention of Holmes that had made his hackles rise or something about Lord Henry that rankled?
“I’ve read about some of your adventures, of course. Your father’s accounts of them always make amusing reading. Better than much else one finds in The Times. Might I enquire as to whether he has employed much artistic licence?”
“You may and the answer is not a single bit.” Jonty didn’t appear to be as insulted by the question as Orlando felt about it. How dare anyone imply that the accounts of their investigations had in any way been embroidered? If anything, they’d been moderated somewhat, real life being so often tinged with events that would be frankly unbelievable if put on paper. “You’ll be aware that my father has a reputation as being a stickler for the truth in all situations.”
If he didn’t know, he damn well should have, the tone implied. Evidently Jonty had been affronted, despite the charming smile he still wore.
Lord Henry either didn’t notice the indirect rebuke or ignored it. “That reassures me greatly. I have a question and I’ll come straight out with it. Would you be interested in casting an eye over an old mystery that puzzles my family? No hidden codes or gruesome murders, but something I would hope worthy of your cerebral capacity.”
The Venetian Waterways in Great Yarmouth. The nearest we got to ‘abroad’ this year!
Now with the proper link! I’m appearing at the Bold Strokes Blog talking about what inspires me to write.
Am blogging about that today at the Bold Strokes Blog. Come and find out about some of the odd things that have made me pick up my pen and write. And share your odd pieces of inspiration, too.
Autumn is well and truly here. The leaves are changing colour very spectacularly, there’s the smell of bonfires in the air and – when we get a clear sky – the quality of the light is wonderful. Hope it’s as lovely wherever you are.
Just a brief update this time round.
The big news is that there’ll be a new Cambridge Fellows Novella out in time for Christmas. Lessons in Solving the Wrong Problem, which I gave a sneak peek of a month ago, will be out on December 21st – I’ll post the buy link once it’s available for pre-order.
Would you like to win a copy of either Best Corpse for the Job or Jury of One in audiobook? That’s the giveaway I’m offering to one winner at Jay Northcote’s publishing anniversary party on Facebook. Just comment on my post to be in with a chance of winning.
Lume Books have had some of the Cambridge Fellows books popping up as freebies on kindle. They pop up and pop down again like the targets on smack-a-rat, so keep an eye out for them!
Last chance to bid
Children in Read is now live, with lots of books for auction, all in aid of the BBC’s wonderful charity for children. That’s a cause I’ve supported for many years and am pleased this time to be offering a copy of A Carriage of Misjustice, which I’ll sign – with a message of the purchaser’s choice – and post anywhere in the known universe.
Life at Cochrane Towers ploughs on as usual. We were sad that Duxford air show was cancelled, but we pootled off to Cambridge anyway and went to the National Horse Racing Museum, instead. Can’t recommend it more highly. Then we had a few days in Great Yarmouth, where we used to holiday when I was a child. All of twenty years ago (she lied).
This week’s freebie is Capital Crimes, an anthology of stories including Game of Chance, which features Jonty Stewart himself. Get the book free to your kindle.
You can also grab a bargain and help charity by placing a bid for a signed copy of A Carriage of Misjustice,
in the 2020 Children in Read auction, which goes on for another 36 days. I’m happy to post it to any part of the known world!
Don’t forget that the first two Lindenshaw books are now available in audio format. You can listen to a sample of Jury of One here.
Here’s a snippet from Game of Chance, which you can get free in the Capital Crimes anthology.
Jonty Stewart had faced death before.
The first time it had come in the form of a demented Cambridge undergraduate wielding a cutthroat razor. He’d also been at the wrong end of a firearm, when a less crazed but equally determined killer was trying to make his escape from justice. Not exactly the sort of thing that every Cambridge don was used to dealing with, but not every Cambridge don investigated crimes when he wasn’t investigating Shakespeare’s sonnets. He’d supposed these experiences would work to his advantage, making him better prepared for the dangers of France and Belgium than many of his fellow officers.
He’d never anticipated that the first time his life would be under threat in a time of war would be from another British soldier. A soldier who at present had a revolver levelled at him from the other end of a large kitchen table. A large kitchen table, in a small house. A small house on English soil.
“I wasn’t intending to.” Jonty sat stock still, weighing up options that were trickling away like sand.
“I told you not to move.” The soldier’s solid northern tones seemed unused to giving orders.
Jonty could barely see the man’s face by the guttering light of a candle, but he was certain it wasn’t smiling. “I wasn’t aware I had moved.”
“Don’t get clever.”
Jonty drew his lip between his teeth, biting back the smart response that came automatically. The key in this situation was to survive, not win points; this wasn’t a Cambridge debate.
“If you shoot me,” he said eventually, “you’ll be found and court martialled.”
“If I’m found I’ll be court martialled anyway.” The soldier with the gun moved it steadily from hand to hand, as though weighing options as he weighed it. Privates had rifles, surely, so where, or who, had this been pilfered from? “Absent from my post without leave.”
A deserter. Jonty remembered seeing some Military Policemen maybe half a mile away, looking like they were on the hunt for somebody. The same soldier he’d found?
“Why? What made you—” best to avoid the word “desert”, “—leave?”
“What made me? Have you been there?” The soldier—a private, by his uniform, a poor bloody private who’d probably been coerced into signing up, unlike Jonty who’d given up the safety, and secrecy, of Room 40 to do his bit—jerked his head backwards, in the rough direction of the coast, and by association France.
And finally, me with one of my TV heroes…