Latest blog posts

Old Sins available for pre-order

Fancy another Lindenshaw mystery? Adam, Robin and the star of the show – Campbell the dog – are back for another adventure in Old Sins which you can pre-order right now. Cover reveal coming soon, but here’s a snippet:

“Are you awake?” a bleary voice sounded at Adam’s side.
“No. I’m fast asleep.”
“Pillock.” Robin turned, laying his right arm over Adam’s stomach. “Am I dreaming it or did you volunteer to cook breakfast today?”
“Yes. It’s my turn.” Which was why Adam had been lying in bed thinking, putting off the inevitable. “Although I can’t do so unless you let go of me.”
“Shame.” Robin kissed Adam’s shoulder. “I need to clone you so you can be cooking breakfast and romping about here with me at the same time.”
“If I were a woman, I’d accuse you of being a sexist pig. As it is, I’ll call you a lazy sod.” Adam threw off Robin’s arm, rolled him over, and slapped his backside. “Don’t lie here too long or I’ll give all your bacon to Campbell.”
“I’d fight him for it.”
They both got out of bed, Adam heading to the bathroom for a quick relieving visit before his partner got in there. On a work day, Robin showered and shaved speedily, but on occasions like this when he had the opportunity to take his leisure, he enjoyed lingering over his ablutions. And why not? He worked hard, so he should have the chance to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. As long as he didn’t linger too much and risk being presented with an incinerated sausage.
When Adam got down to the kitchen, Campbell greeted him with a rub against his legs, followed by a dash for the kitchen door. Lie-ins were great for the workers in the household, but not helpful for canine bladders. Opening that door took precedence over everything else first thing in the morning. Once that was done, Adam could get the kettle on, fish out the bacon—always best done while Campbell was otherwise occupied—put on some music, and potter about the kitchen content in the knowledge that the two creatures he loved best were happy. And long might that state of affairs continue.

Year starts off well

 

Always nice to make someone’s ‘Best of 2018’ list, in this case Padme’s Library, for Two Feet Under.  Aklso good when two old pals start yakking at me again:

Jonty Stewart woke to find the morning sun streaming through a gap in the curtains yet the bed beside him empty of the usual occupant. It wasn’t unusual for Orlando Coppersmith to make the most of what promised to be a lovely day, taking himself downstairs in his dressing gown to sit with a coffee in his study and ponder over some abstruse sum or other. One full of squiggles and symbols, with many a neat crossing out and not a few arrows linking one bit of working to another. Jonty had seen such things in their gestational form and while Orlando’s hand was tidy and his neat to present things well applied even to rough drafts, the average set of equations resembled a trail some small sea creature might have left on the ocean bed.
Jonty leaped out of bed, stretched, twitched the curtains back to admire the blue sky, put on his own dressing gown and pottered down the stairs. Orlando was indeed in his study, although evidence of sums there was none. Instead, the man concerned was sitting is his chair, coffee untouched by the look of it, and brows knotted.
“Good morning Orlando. Lovely to see you.”
Orlando leaped in his seat, almost knocking over his cup. “Must you sneak up on people?”
“I did knock, albeit softly. You resemble some civil war era painting, entitled, When did you last see someone so consternated?
“I’ll consternate you.” Orlando picked up his cup, sipped from it, made a face, then pushed it away. “Nothing so vile as cold coffee.”
“Yes, there is. Cold tea. And you keeping secrets from me.”

Charlie’s latest newsletter

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that 2019 treats you well. My inspiration for this year is a bit of graffiti which has appeared under a bridge in Romsey – have courage and be kind. I don’t think you can do much better than that.

News

Rather slack on the news front, although it’s lovely to have a bit of a quiet time after Christmas and before the madness of the next few months sets in. Very much looking forward to the Portsmouth Bookfest where you can have tea with the Deadly Dames (including yours truly) on February 22nd. I’ll also be on a panel about favourite detectives on the 7th of March.

Last time I promised a free story to newsletter subscribers. It’s the third instalment of my shifter story, in which the full moon doesn’t cause lycanthropy, but whatever the equivalent is for glyptodonts. You can find the first two parts, Shell Shocked and Gobsmacked, for download here although the third part won’t be uploaded there for a couple of months. If you can’t wait, sign up for my newsletter (from any page of my site) and I’ll send you the link to it.

Excerpt:

Anyway, to return to my muttons, as Hercule Poirot doesn’t quite say, it was December 3rd and Jonny couldn’t go to evensong, because the moon was rising late afternoon and even if it was black as your grandfather’s moustache out there I don’t suppose he could have lurked in the churchyard listening to the choir belting out “Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel” because he’d have hurried some of the old dears’ progress towards the pearly gates if they’d seen him.
As a result he was in a right mood. No Advent carols, no candles, no Advent wreath; I suggested he go to the morning service but it’s not the same, apparently. “Not the same numinous sense of wonder.” Whatever that is. Then I thought he might listen to the service on the radio, because Radio 3 or 4 must put on that sort of stuff, probably from King’s college Cambridge. That idea went down like a lead balloon, too. Jonny used all sorts of words I bet he’d never use in church. In a final effort to cheer him up, I put forward the idea of taking him up onto the old airfield before he shifted.
We’d discovered this little part of West Wales when we’d been out on a scenic drive one day—there’s not a lot there and the only people who seem to use it are the model aircraft buffs. The views are spectacular, but more importantly it’s got flat stretches which are wheelchair accessible, which isn’t typical of your average hill top with a sea view. We decided to have a gander up there of an evening—don’t ask what we got up to in my car in the pitch black cos I ain’t telling—and had the place entirely to ourselves.
Which made me think it might be a great place to come on a full moon night so that himself could indulge his giant armadillo side to its full extent. It would take a bit of planning, because I couldn’t just abandon him there and return to pick him up when he’d changed back, but the logistical side of things is just my cup of tea. Sleeping bag, thermos, snacks—I’d just have to park up, let events take their course, then take him home and let him sleep it off. There’d be risks, of course, although not to him so long as he didn’t go haring down a hole and getting stuck. Somebody might  spot my car and report me, although what crime I’d be guilty of I can’t imagine, although my previous run in with the law had left me wary. Somebody might see Jonny, of course, but even if they believed their eyes and went calling 999, no doubt the police would put it down to the caller’s over indulgence in Brains. By which I mean the beer, not what Hercule Poirot would call “the little grey cells”.
Anyway, it took me a while to get my act together on this idea, what with the moon sometimes rising before the sun’s set and all that mallarky, but December 3rd seemed to be the date, what with overcoming Jonny’s disappointment about Advent carols, etc. It would be the perfect time of year, too, for giving the plan a try. All those Christmas parties going on and people ending up off their faces, nobody would believe they’d seen a giant armadillo rolling over the old airfield.
When I suggested it, this strange expression came over his face, so I thought I’d cocked up well and truly. I was about to apologise and tell him to forget I ever made the suggestion, when he got all teary. He said he was blown away at the idea, especially because it would involve a lot of sacrifice from me—night on a bare mountain, or at least on a draughty airfield—and because it would let him have the sort of freedom he so rarely gets.
He gave me a great big snog and would have given me a lot more, favours in advance of his treat to come, but a bloody man from DPD rang the doorbell and we had to sign for a parcel.

And finally – my highlight of 2018. The arctic!

img_4920

Charlie

2018?

Everyone seems to be doing the ‘year in review’ thing, so here’s mine:

Did our first cruise. Crossed the Arctic circle. Saw a killer whale off Norway. Saw the Northern lights twice. Walked an alpaca on the IOW. Went on a sleeper train. Saw a killer whale off Nairn! Discovered that whisky is drinkable if taken with a bit of fudge. Saw Brigadier Nils Olaf. Visited Sarries’ home ground for the first time, then saw them win the Premiership title at Twickenham. Visited Imber. Went to the opening of the new Chemical Engineering site at Cambridge. Had a night at Thornbury Castle. Saw lots of sport and listened to lots of music. Laughed a great deal.

Did quite a bit of adulting. Published several books. Had other books republished. Enjoyed UK Meet. Met up with old pals. Made new ones. Rarely disgraced myself.

img_0633IMG_0417IMG_5943

Last Rainbow snippet of 2018!

Here’s a smidgeon of Second Helpings, a bittersweet story (with a happy ending) of taking your chances when you can.

“Stuart! Thank God you’re here,” his father said as he opened the door and almost dragged his son through it. “Got a crisis.”
Stuart’s heart sank. He wasn’t prepared to deal with any sorts of crises.
“First batch of Yorkshire puddings sank. Like a U-boat had torpedoed them.”
“Is that all?” Stuart replied, relieved.
“All? All! It’s a national calamity.” Dad flung open the kitchen door. “Look at them.”
“Blimey.” Stuart poked one of the sad little flattened rounds, then ran his finger along the tin. “Is this new?”
“Yes. I decided the old one was too disgusting.”
“Don’t tell me you threw the thing out? You can’t make Yorkshires except in a grotty old tin.”
Dad threw up his hands, sending a flurry of flour into the air. “How was I supposed to know? It’s here somewhere.”

Loads more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.

Old kitchen table rural cottage morning

The Unfinished Violin

On my Christmas list I had a couple of CDs – Mack and Mabel and Pictures at an Exhibition – that Mr C duly purchased and stuck under the tree, but he included another one with it. Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin.

You may have come across the story of the fiddle which, although old, looked new because it had only been completed nearly a century after it first began to be made by a soldier who died in WWI and left it unfinished. Sam Sweeney’s album features him with this remarkable instrument, mainly playing tunes that date from the Great War. Such incredibly beautiful and poignant music.

b_W1sicmVzaXplIiw1MDBdLFsibWF4Il0sWyJ3ZSJdXQ==

(Picture from Sam’s website.)