Casualty of Court: Vikki stirs the pot …

Vikki Winner is a regular sight on the red carpet here on the Algarve. Armed with her trusty microphone she seeks out all the juicy gossip for her weekly column: Vikki’s Vices, and has never been one to hold back with her opinions, even when this has led to the occasional legal writ coming her way.

Tonight she’s attending an event at the Municipal Theatre, hosted by the local Expat community. Fern Mortimer is expected to attend after tickets from an ‘unknown’ source were sent her way, supposedly with the generous intention of taking her mind off the upcoming trial. Strangely enough, and allegedly unrelated, Vikki has suggested in her column that she’ll be targeting a certain young woman tonight. I think we can all draw our own conclusions from that. 

The event in question is a theatre production to be performed by a local drama group, notwithstanding a cameo appearance by homegrown talent and oft-nominated Jose Rosco (he’s particularly “big” in Brazil).

It’s getting noisy here as people flock into the theatre. Rumour has it there will be an auction in the interval, raising money for Access4All, a charity promoting wheelchair-friendly tours around the globe.

Here comes Vikki now with an entourage of photographers close behind; those  flashing bulbs give her an angelic aura, although I doubt she’ll be remotely heavenly once she gets her prey in sight.

Well, talking of prey, Fern has just arrived with Raven at her side. Vikki has spotted her too and the glare of the cameras now falls upon the startled young women.

RH: (whispers) I think we’ve been set up.

FM: What? I can’t hear you.

RH: (leans in closer) Don’t look now but there’s a woman with a huge microphone heading our way.

FM: Our way? Why?

RH: No idea, but maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all.

VW: Miss Mortimer, Vikki Winner here from The Courier. How are you feeling?

FM: Fine, thank you. (She looks to Raven with a ‘what the heck’ expression)

VW: Great. You must be nervous, what with the trial starting tomorrow.

FM: Must I?

RH: Come on, let’s go back to the hotel. You don’t need this, not tonight. (She steps in front of Fern’s wheelchair and thrashes her arms about as though to clear people out of the way)

VW: Going somewhere?

RH: We’d like to, yes, please. If you could just …

VW: You’re not staying to lend your support to the charity. My editor thought it would be perfect for you, that’s why he sent those tickets.

FM: You sent them?

VW: (beams and turns to the camera) Not personally, although I might have suggested it to him.

RH: Are you going to let us pass?

VW: You really aren’t staying? That’s a shame. Maybe the stories in the other newspapers were correct. Not that I like to talk about them …

FM: (taps Raven’s leg and nods to her to move aside) What stories? I wasn’t aware of any.

VW: Really? That does surprise me. It seems the defendant’s father has been … shall we say, loose with his words.

RH: (now interested) But, surely that’s not allowed? Not until after the trial, anyway.

VW: Well, maybe in some places. Besides, the Pereiras are a local family. Very successful too – Mr Periera Senior mentions moving his law practice back to the area. Such news went down very well with the local Chamber of Commerce.

FM: Did he mention me, then? By name?

VW: Not exactly, but as you must realise this is a small community. People talk. Names are irrelevant. Let’s just say there aren’t many young blonde Brits taking a local man to court right now.

FW: So, what do these stories say?

RH: Fern, don’t get involved. you can’t risk anything that might harm your case.

VW: Harm it? Are you unsure about the case then? Having doubts, maybe?

RH: (Jumps in front of Fern again) No she is not! But as we are not familiar with legal formalities here, the less said right now, the better.

VW: That’s a shame. My readers are very interested in you, Fern. (She gently shoves Raven aside) They really want to know why you’re accusing Mr Pereira’s son of assault. It’s common knowledge there are no witnesses.

RH: (stepping forward again) She does have a witness, and a strong case.

VW: Really? Based on whose evidence?

RH: Based on a little thing called the truth. You might need to look that up, I know journalists are prone to ignore it.

VW: Hmm, can I quote you on that? (She spins to the photographer and mumbles something to him. A flashlight goes off. She turns back to Fern)

FM: Raven, you’re not helping. Come on, let’s go. (She looks up at Vikki as she passes) Please inform the organisers that we are unable to stay, but we’ll be making a substantial donation to the charity before we leave the country. Goodbye, have a lovely evening.

(The two cross the road and head away from the theatre, not caring where they’re heading so long as Vikki and her cameras are not close by)

VW: (Back outside the theatre, she faces the camera and winks) Seems we scared them off, guys. That spoilt little girl tag sure does seem appropriate now.

Well, what do you make of that? Has Vikki thrown a spanner in the works? I’m not so sure she has. Fern looked pretty composed to me. Raven, on the other hand, well, that  young lady certainly gets riled easily. This trial certainly promises to be addictive. Then again, I would say that, wouldn’t I? 😉 

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened to her last summer.

NB: Access4All is a fictitious charity, created purposely for this series of interviews – although it sounds like a great idea to me.

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Casualty of Court: A change in proceedings

Press Release – March 18th.

Issued on behalf of the team for the prosecution in the case against Stefan Pereira. 

Due to the imminent trial (hint, hint – Casualty of Court is released March 21st), it has been declared unfeasible to continue with the interview of Mr Stefan Pereira and Miss Nessa Sullivan by Dr Ed Case.

Due to concerns of the prosecution team , working on behalf of Miss Fern Mortimer, about the defendant being released (albeit with the appropriate guards) so close to the start of legal proceedings, it has been decided to remove this interview from the calendar of events.

A spokesperson for Miss Mortimer states that while previous interviews have gone ahead – with Annie Skillsett and CeeCee Dedmann – this latter one has come too soon before the commencement of said trial, in which the defendant, Pereira, is accused of assault against Miss Mortimer.

Talks are underway to see if Dr Ed Case can pursue said interview at the remand centre. Although not ideal and certainly not conducive to the atmosphere in which the renowned psychologist prefers to conduct his assessments, it remains the only avenue currently available should the interview proceed in time.

In the most likely event that this interview will not now go ahead, Detective Hugh Dunnitt will make his judgement on the case according to the information at his disposal.

A media event this coming Tuesday is expected to produce the final interview in this series, that of Fern Mortimer and the notorious Showbiz Reporter, Vikki Winner. Ms Winner’s column in the English press has not been wholly complimentary to the young British woman. It will be interesting to see how she handles the forthcoming encounter.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened to her last summer.

A spotlight for Casualty of Court

Coming March 21, 2018, from author L.S. Fellows: Casualty of Court, a courtroom drama with unexpected genre-bending twists. Available for pre-order until March 21 at Casualty of Court. Interview with L.S. FELLOWS From far-away Spain comes my mystery author friend, L.S. Fellows, to share with us the inside story on her newest novel, Casualty of Court, that […]

via Interview: author L.S. Fellows — Author_Iris_Chacon

Casualty of Court – No couch for Dr Ed

We’re having a change of venue this week, since Dr Ed Case has own office in a rather affluent location in the City Centre. Much to Annie’s relief – she gets her space back, although she has requested a full steam clean to get rid of the lingering fragrances from CeeCee’s incense sticks. I think the Cedar wood was a step too far for her.

Anyway, Dr Ed’s therapy suite is on the thirteenth floor of the auspicious Rizzolo building, with spectacular views of the city and the River Rizzle. It should make the characters feel relaxed, unless they have a fear of heights, that is.

First up, as is the norm, we have Fern. She’s taking the lift right now and will be with us shortly. She won’t be alone, however. Dr Ed has asked Raven to join her. He has an altogether different approach to his questioning; his focus being on what drives the two young woman in this case and beyond. Eddie, as he’s asked to be called when the duo arrive, wants to be sure they’ll both come through this trial experience unscathed, and for that they’ll need to rely on and support each other.

So, while we wait for them to arrive, let’s take a tour of Dr Ed’s chambers and, if we have time, we can check out his credentials as well.

A steel door opens into a room bathed in natural light as a result of the floor-to-ceiling window directly opposite. The remaining walls are painted in a soft shade of green – I’d hasten a guess at a pistachio blend – with grey fixtures and fittings. Overstuffed armchairs – upholstered in a grey, paisley print circle a low, glass-topped table to the left, another chair and couch, in the same fabric, sit to the right. A steel desk and black, leather chair take the centre stage, with the cityscape in the background.

It’s rather low-key, but nonetheless elegant. Nothing like CeeCee’s makeover of Annie’s office at all.

Dr Ed Case, MD, Psy. D, sits at his desk, reading case notes, I imagine.

A knock on the door alerts him to their arrival. We’ll have to check his credentials another time.

EC:  Come on in (He stands and walks to the door as Fern enters, followed by Raven) Welcome, ladies. please, make yourselves comfortable (he directs them to the grey armchairs)

RH: What a stunning view (she wanders over to the window – it’s the artist in her – always a sucker for a view)

FM: Hello, Dr ..

EC: Call me Eddie. It’s not as though you’re here as a client. (He smiles, revealing a dazzling display of expensive veneers)

FM: Thank you, Eddie

Fern’s voice is rather faint. I’m not sure she’s comfortable in this environment. Maybe she’s seen too many doctors in the last few years. 

(Raven joins them, and takes a seat, sinking into the well-upholstered seat with a sigh. Fern shakes her head and pulls up besides her.)

FM: I’ll stay in my wheelchair, if that’s alright with you, Eddie.

EC: Of course. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Now, would you like coffee, tea?

(Fern shakes her head – again) Someone is determined not to relax.

RH: I’d love a cappuccino, or failing that a simple white coffee. (she catches Fern’s disapproving look and mouths “What?” to her)

EC: No problem. This machine can handle that. It’s why I bought it – bit of a coffee connoisseur myself. Fern, would you prefer a cold drink?

FM: I’m fine.

That’ll be a “no” then! 

(With coffees poured, Eddie sits opposite them and takes a sip, discreetly observing the two women during a moment of silence)

EC: So, I understand you’ve met with Annie and CeeCee already? What did you make of those sessions? (He directed his question at Fern)

FM: Annie was professional, as you’d expect. CeeCee was … well, let’s just say, we didn’t hit it off.

EC: Why was that?

Oh, Eddie, you’re pushing it now.

FM: I don’t believe in “magic”, Eddie.

 Air quotes too. Well, you asked for it, Ed.

EC: Really? And, you, Raven, what’s your experience been like?

RH: Much the same. CeeCee’s attempts to connect with my dad were just too ridiculous for words. when she started talking through Blanche, her spirit guide, I knew it would end in disaster.

EC: Did it?

(Raven furrows her brow)

EC: End in disaster?

RH: Well, she certainly didn’t make any sense. Just spouted some nonsense about it not ending with the trial.

(Both women laugh – at CeeCee’s expense. Dr Ed gets up and fetches his notepad, then sits again and scribbles away. The women exchange glances.)

EC: Then you must have plans. After the trial?

RH: Too right we do. Once this is over, we’ll be focusing all our attention on a new business venture. Won’t we, Fern?

(Fern blushes) Is she as on board as Raven is with this?

FM: Correct. (she straightens her posture – a tad too much, possibly) Once this trial ends, and that creep is behind bars for good, all this will become a distant memory. Despite what CeeCee says, it all ends here, and I – we – get to return to normal.

Methinks she doth protest too much.

EC: Have you worked together before?

RH: (she jumps in to answer) No, but we have complimentary skills. I’m trained as a PI and Fern has the business brains. We’ve got this sorted.

(Fern nods)

EC: That’s good to hear. All too often, people who have been involved in a crime and subsequent court case, particularly those who are attacked, they struggle to rebuild their lives. Haunted by memories. It takes some people years of therapy to get over it.

FM: (laughs) are you touting for business?

EC: Just stating facts, Fern. You’re lucky to have such great support.

FM: I know that. And we will make this business work. Trust me.

Hmm, famous last words, maybe.

EC: (he bows his head in acknowledgement) Raven, you’ve given up your time to accompany Fern. You must be firm friends?

O-oh. Eddie’s messing with fire now. 

RH: (fidgets in her chair) We’ve not known each that long. Certainly not as long as I’ve known Nessa.

(Fern scoffs. Ed makes more notes)

RH: As I was saying, (she glares at Fern) despite that, we have lots in common. We’re both fighters for justice.

EC: You sound like a new superhero duo. (He smiles, but the comment stuns the two young women)

FM: I’m not sure where this is going, Eddie. I assumed you’d be questioning us about the case, not about our future plans.

EC: My role is to examine your reasons for taking on this case, Fern. And to ensure you have adequate support once it’s over.

RH: What business is it of yours to examine her reasons? She was assaulted, left to drown, abandoned. What more reason could there be?

Mother Justice strikes again.

EC: You’re right. But not everyone has the fortitude to pursue a case like this. Especially in person. We all know Fern need not have travelled to Portugal to present her case. The system allows for her to work through a legal practitioner. I’m merely curious why she chose to re-live the assault – your words, not mine.

(Fern remains silent throughout this exchange)

RH: Tell him, Fern. You are doing this because you want to see justice done. Not to hear about it from your solicitor. Tell him. (She is staring hard at her friend by this point)

Fern’s silence speaks volumes. Is she regretting giving her account in person? She has to face him in court to do so. I wonder if she’s really as ready as she thinks. 

EC: Fern?

FM: (She coughs, clearing her throat) That’s it exactly. I want to see the man who left me to drown, who tried to kill me despite only being on an assault charge … I want to see him found guilty.

EC: And you’re sure of the outcome?

RH: Of course she is. What other outcome could there be? I think we’ve answered your questions anyway. Thanks for the coffee. (Raven stands) Fern, are you coming?

FM: She’s right. You know my reasons and future plans. I think we’re done. Goodbye, Dr Case.

(Both make for the door)

EC: (stands and watches them leave) Thank you for coming, ladies. It’s been most informative.

Summary: Fern is more scared than she cares to admit. Raven, however, is determined to see this through to the end. Which is fine, considering she’s not the one in the hot seat, giving a statement. As for the future, can they really work well together. Only time will tell.

***

Dr Ed will see Nessa and Stefan together for his next session. 

His approach certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons this time. Does that mean more fireworks to come? 

***

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened last summer.

Did you miss this?

Every two months or so, I cook up a few book-related morsels and serve them up to a faithful few – actual real people who have signed up voluntarily to receives my “goodies” – in the hope of entertaining and enlightening them on my writer’s life.

This time, in the bleak mid-winter season of flu and sneezes, ice and snow, freezing fingers and toes, I thought it called for a dose of Vitamin C.

Here’s what unravelled eventually. You, too, could be in receipt of such a treat if you were to sign up to my newsletter. There’s a link in the sidebar, on the right … just over there.

Down a bit.

Yep, that’s it. 🙂

***

I’ve been busy picking up oranges and lemons as they drop from my trees in this cold spell.
What on earth would I do with them all?

Have no fear. Help was at hand in the form of José Luis, a little Spanish chap who arrived, armed with a carrier bag, asking if I had any lemons to spare.
“Sí, Sí,” I answered readily, telling him to help himself.
He passes regularly to admire the abundance of fruit. Each time he tells me he has a tree in his garden and hasn’t had a lemon on it in four years. I don’t like to ask if it really is a lemon tree. He used to be in the Guardia Civil (police force), so I don’t fancy offending him.

Anyway, citrus fruit aside, the launch day for Casualty of Court is drawing ever closer, and many of my author friends have been helping me with its promotion. I’m not a keen marketeer, would much rather be writing.
So, instead of pushing it on any of you who might actually read this newsletter (I figured if you were interested, you’d clink the link above – you would, wouldn’t you?), instead of that, I thought I’d give you a glimpse at where the series is heading from here on.
Sound good to you?
I can’t hear you, but I imagine you’re nodding along … or just skimming through looking for the special offers 😉

Well, Casualty of Court introduces The Blackleaf Private Investigations Agency where my trainee PIs launch their new business. The next book is titled:In Heirlooms & Heiresses, after finding several missing dogs, lost cats, and straying husbands, they finally get their first serious case: a painting has been stolen from a guest’s room at the village’s only hotel. With the ‘thief’ soon revealed as the guest’s brother, you might assume the case is over. But, this is just the start of an adventure that takes Raven and Fern to The Netherlands. Tracing the painting’s provenance uncovers a link to WWII and some underhand dealings in the art world.
To further challenge them, a close friend calls upon their help to find her baby. But is it really a case of kidnap if the child is with her father?
Clearly, they have their hands full. As do I – and not with lemons anymore.
Heirlooms &Heiresses is two-thirds complete, and my mind is already on their next case.
You can tell I love a good mystery, particularly ones relating to art and culture crime. But I am also a big fan of beautiful settings and scenery, hence my reasoning behind these lovely locations in Europe. Casualty of Court is set in Portugal and Heirlooms & Heiresses in The Netherlands (apparently, Holland only covers 2 of the 12 regions within the country) The next adventure – Druids & Drachmas – is off to Ireland & Greece for a huge family celebration and an archaeological dig.

If you were to choose a mystery to read and a dream setting, what would you come up with? 
Send me your suggestions, and I’ll put all the senders’ names into a draw to win a copy of Casualty of Court when it
releases in March.

I’m having way too much fun, aren’t I? It only seems fair, then, that I offer you some reward for having got this far. Here are a few treats, made available to you by some dear writer friends of mine.


Who fancies a dark mystery set in Hawaii? I, for one, could do with some tropical sunshine right now.
House of the Hanging Jade offers just that.

“A dark presence has invaded the Jorgensen’s house. On a spectacular bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, something evil is watching and waiting …”

Amy’s book is on offer at only 99p/99c until March 4th, so I’m saving your pennies with this one.


If that not’s for you, how about Twelve Stories for Spring.
I love a short story collection. It’s perfect for those times when you have half an hour to spare. Whether you’re stuck in a waiting room or cosy on the sofa, a little escapism helps in any circumstance.
American author, Linda Mansfield, offers a baker’s dozen of seasonal, fictional stories, suitable for all age groups. These quick, light reads were designed for stress relief in today’s busy world.
Well, that almost makes me a doctor – prescribing stress-busters to you all 🙂 


My last treat for you is free until Feb 11th, so you might have to hurry up and grab your copy quickly. Unclaimed Baggage (US link) is a heart-wrenching story that will have you gripped from the very first page.
(Click on the cover image for the UK link)


Well, that’s it for. After taking care of your pennies, relieving your stress and – hopefully – bringing a smile to your face, I’ll get back to my lemons – I have a hankering for lemon meringue pie now, so anything could happen. I really hope you’ll enter the giveaway, otherwise I’ll be sucking on those lemons for a long, long time.

It’s all over now 🙂 Well done you for sticking it out until the end. 
Stay safe, warm and smiling!

***

So, that’s what you may have missed. But, you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. You know what to do 😉

Thanks for reading

Casualty of Court – CeeCee attempts to charm the Charmer

CeeCee’s confidence is back for this final interview. As is the costume. The sophisticated look wasn’t for her. Detective Dunnitt, however, did compliment her on her report, but he also added that maybe she’d been a little too soft on Nessa. As a result, the old CeeCee takes centre stage once more, ready to perform as only she can, in this her swan song.

She’s out to impress, but whether Stefan Pereira will oblige is anyone’s guess. I’m not holding my breath. 

CeeCee lights the incense; she’s chosen Cedar wood this time. Like all wood-based incense, it is fire associative, generally seen as denoting strength or power. She’s making a statement as to who’s in control right from the start. 

Here comes Stefan. Let’s not forget, this man has already used a fake name to win over Fern. Quite effectively, too. I doubt he’ll think twice at adopting another personality. Can CeeCee find the real soul behind those piercing eyes?

He steps into the room and strides across the room to shake CeeCee’s hand.

Hmm, so it seems he’s going for the charming and polite gentleman approach. We can only hope CeeCee is not taken in. 

SP: Good afternoon, Madame CeeCee. (He scans the room and fixes his gaze upon CeeCee, looks her up and down, and smiles) You’ve done wonders with this room.

Could he be any more condescending?

CD: Hello, Stefan. Please, sit.

SP: (sniffs the air) That fragrance is heavenly. Reminds me of my mother.

Cedar wood? Really? 

CeeCee is stunned momentarily into silence. She didn’t see that coming.

CD:Talking of your mother, I understand you’ve chosen the crystal ball and wish to communicate with her?

He nods.

CD: How nice. How long since she passed? You must miss her.

SP: It’s been a while now, and … yes, I miss her a lot. I was her carer. It was just the two of us for years.

CD: What do you want to ask her?

SP: I need to know if she forgives me? I tried my best to care for her. She was not an easy person to live with.

OMG! Are those tears in his eyes?

SP: (blinks back the tears) I’m sorry, Mother.

CeeCee taps her heart, overcome by his apparent sincerity.

Oh no, this isn’t looking good for CeeCee; she’s falling under his spell.

CD: Why are you sorry? It wasn’t your fault, was it?

Stefan squirms, his right eyes twitches.

That’s more like it. He can’t hide from the truth.

SP: I’m sorry she had to die.

CD: (gasps) Had to die? What do you mean …?

SP: (sniffs) Let me finish, CeeCee.

Uh oh! Who’s in control now then?

SP: I’m sorry she had to die alone. I wasn’t there when she breathed her last. It broke my heart to learn I hadn’t been in time.

CD: (sighs, tilting her head to one side) I’m sure she knows that; if you were so close she would have appreciated you looking after her.

SP: I only ever wanted her approval. She wasn’t very forthcoming with such things. Did I fail her, as a son?

CD: Let me ask ..although I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.

CeeCee runs her fingers lightly over  the crystal ball. she hums softly … before snapping to attention.

CD: (blushing) oh, firstly …your mother’s name?

Oh dear, I think we’ve lost her.

SP: Elsa. I named my boat after her.

CD: Thank you (sighs again) Aww, how sweet. (She moans) Elsa, are you there? Elsa, your son is here.

SP: She’s not there is she? She hates me, doesn’t she?

CD: Now, now …it’ll be something or nothing. Don’t fret yourself. These sessions are not always easy. The spirit world is fraught with obstacles.

SP: Mother loved the spirit world …she was very fond of spirits (vodka, gin, aquavit, he mumbles so CeeCee cannot hear him)

CD: (smiles brightly) That’ll be why she’s not here then. She’ll have left you a sign herself. I bet you’ll find a memento soon, a déjà vu, a reminder of her and her feelings for you.

SP: Do you really think so? I hope I get out of here soon then. I have to make my peace with her.

CD: She’ll sense that, I know she will. Mothers know these things

SP: Thank you, Madame CeeCee, I feel much better. Of course, if I knew how the trial ended, if I knew I’d be free to visit her grave with flowers …I’d cope better.

CD: I can’t do that …well, I’m not supposed to. But, you strike me as such a nice man. I’m sure it won’t be an issue. Let me see …it’s blurry.

SP: Really?

He’s not convinced. Then again, nor am I.

CD: (stutters) I, I can see you in a small room. Bars on the door. But, wait …I see a white van. You’re a passenger, smiling, laughing.

SP: I am? Are you sure?

Even he doesn’t believe that.

CD: (indignant) I’m quite sure.

He leans across the table.

SP: Can I see?

CD: (wraps her arms around the ball) Oh no, no. Only those with the gift—

SP: (impatient) I think my time is up. Thank you. You’ve been most helpful.

He stands and approaches the door, where he pauses, turns and smiles. His gaze falls upon CeeCee once more, and his sad eyes seem to bewitch our psychic. She is lost for words.

SP: My mother would have loved this. It’s so sad she never made it. Goodbye, Madame CeeCee.

CD: (gulps) Um, yes, it is. Goodbye, then.

SP: Have a lovely day, and thanks again. I enjoyed talking to you.

Shutting the door behind him, he mutters ‘what a waste of time that was’.

CeeCee stares after him, both hands clasped over her heart. Moments pass. It’s embarrassing how long she sits there, transfixed. A knock on the door shatters her reverie.

EC: CeeCee, my men are waiting to bring in my couch. Are you going to be long?

It’s Dr Ed Case, the psychiatrist, who is the next member of the interview panel to take on the four characters.

CD: Just need to write up my notes, Ed.

That won’t take long, seeing as she never made any. I’m afraid CeeCee blew it, didn’t she? We can only hope Dr Ed is more effective. 

CeeCee’s Summary: What a lovely young man. Polite and charming. Very charming. Beautiful eyes. Rather elegant too. His mother would be so proud. Such a shame she wasn’t available. I can’t imagine him hurting a fly.

Please, CeeCee, tell me those are not the notes you’re going to give to Det. Dunnitt, are they? Please!

***

Thanks for reading 🙂

Casualty of Court is available to pre-order now as an ebook, releasing March 21st 2018. Click here to view on Amazon

In the meantime, you can read The Fifth Wheel – A Prequel now and find out what happened last summer.

Join me next time, when the characters are invited to share their innermost thoughts with Dr Ed.

 

Arty-farty? Moi?

Maybe just a little bit, but hopefully not in an annoying way.

I’m still me – none of those hoity-toity airs and graces to be found here. Just the kid from the council estate with a keen curiosity for something a little different. I don’t know where it came from, though – this sudden love of paintings. It kind of snuck up on me. Although, I do remember feeling ecstatic when my pastel version of Van Gogh’s sunflowers was put on display in the school corridor when I was twelve.
Not that I developed any further skill after that. I may have peaked too soon, resorting to paint by number kits after my family members erupted in laughter at my efforts during a game of Pictionary (Seriously, it was only meant to be a finger …)

A BBC programme – Fake or Fortune – in 2011 triggered something deep in the recesses of my mind, introducing me to a new kind of mystery: art and culture crime.  The series featured journalist, Fiona Bruce and art dealer Philip Mould — dubbed “the art detective” — and, together, they investigated remarkable stories delving beneath the surface of paintings. From Paris and Amsterdam to Cape Town, the banks of the Nile, and New York, the team employed old-fashioned detective skills and the latest forensic testing to reveal compelling tales of lost masterpieces, forgers and Nazi-looted art.

OMG! I was hooked.

I had to have more. And more is exactly what I found in the form of a course about Antiquities Trafficking & Art Crime run by the University of Glasgow. (I sound almost cultured now, don’t I? Don’t worry, it’s all a front – as my mum would say ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.)

This course was dynamite, firing off all sorts of explosions in my curious mind. I learnt about the looting of cultural treasures from archaeological sites around the world; smuggling networks; the demand for illicit antiquities; high-end art heists; fraud and forgery; art vandalism and thankfully also about repatriation, recovery and return of those stolen, priceless pieces.

Brain overload … yet, I wanted more … and not just a weekly newsletter about the progress being made in finding these lost works of art, or more awful news of another heist or a site being plundered.

It’s at this point my mind did a little flip – and a sequel I was writing (Casualty of Court) morphed into a series.

Hey presto, the Blackleaf Agency was born and my newly qualified PIs were thrown into the murky depths of the art world.

It meant I could pursue my love of writing and combine it with my other unhealthy obsession, that of endless, methodical, jaw-dropping, fascinating research into a topic that had inspired, educated, and enthralled me. Not a bad way to pass the time, is it?

Doing something you love is not always an option, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

So, to answer my own question: am I arty farty?  Not in the pretentious, snobbish way (I hope), but when it comes to a mystery in that scintillating, almost out-of-reach world then I’m in up to my neck – granted that’s probably only waist-high for most people, but it’s a serious immersion for me 🙂 and I’m more than happy to be there.

Thanks for reading 🙂