Posted in Cornwall, Costal Romance, Romance, Writing, Writing Journey


September seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye. We spent a week of it in Cornwall, where the days were warm, but with the chill of autumn lingering in the air once the sun had set. Unlike June and July, when we stayed in Cumbria and Suffolk, our return did not have us looking forward to more warm, bright weather and time away. There were no more lunches in the garden, or getting in early morning reading time just as the world was waking up. Even the pigeons, our usual early morning alarm clocks, have gone. Instead, it’s now about the darker evenings creeping in, the trees turning colour and swapping the summer duvet for something a little more substantial. It has also seen me changing short sleeves for longer, warmer ones. Of course, there have been moments when the summer has poked its head around the door to remind us it hasn’t quite disappeared. But today being the very last day of September, I don’t think it will linger for long.

This year I have missed the usual mists rising up from the river valley to the south of the village. We have had one or two of these mornings where a first look out of the window has found our road covered in a fine curtain of white. Houses have appeared as shrouded indistinct shapes, which soon materialise once more when the sun breaks through. Now we are looking at clearing up the garden ready for winter months. Clearing leaves, planting more bulbs and filling the hanging baskets and tubs with pansies. I do hate the restrictions of the winter months, when the garden is a foreign, damp place and lunch on the decking outside the dining room is only a memory. Of course, as there is less to do outside, it does give me more time for writing. Our stay in Cornwall did trigger some positive thoughts about my next project. But hey! I still have an unpublished book to sort out.

The Secrets We Keep – and yes that is it’s final title – has been a bit of a stop/go writing experience. I’ve been blessed through my adult life with good health, but I guess that couldn’t last for ever. I don’t do illness. It’s not me. But this year I’ve had problems which I’ve found more disruptive than debilitating. At the time of writing it seems I’ve reached the end of the tunnel and emerged into daylight once more. Currently I’m fine and my energy levels are on the up. So it’s all about making the most of things. Because of the disruption, my writing journey has suffered and frequently been put on hold. An anticipated publication date in August had to be moved. To give the whole thing my best shot, I decided to suspend any thoughts of publication until the new year. That means I’m now looking at an end Jan/beginning Feb date for the final part of my Cornish trilogy to step into the spotlight. Watch this space!


These are my September reads. I have now completed 55 books so far this year, ten more than my Goodreads challenge of 45. My favourite of this month’s selection is definitely The Three Loves of Sebastian Cooper. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year and one I can highly recommend.

Well, that’s it for another month. I’ll be back in October. By then I should have had my Covid and Flu shots so hopefully be fully protected for the coming winter months.

Best wishes….Jo

Posted in Author Promotion, Bookouture, Crime Thriller, Madison Harper, Publication Day, Writing


Catch Her Death (Detective Madison Harper book 5)

Available in ebook, audiobook, paperback and on Kindle Unlimited.

As snow falls on the small town of Lost Creek, Colorado, a three-year-old boy is found playing quietly in his car seat, his mother, cold as ice, slumped against the steering wheel in front. Tearing herself away from reconnecting with her special agent father who abandoned her for his career, Detective Madison Harper is haunted by the fear in the boy’s sky-blue eyes, and vows to find justice for this innocent child, left motherless just days before Christmas.

Madison works around the clock on her only clue: a perfect circle of clean glass found on the car’s rear window. But she’s stopped in her tracks the moment another mother is found dead outside a church during Midnight Mass, her young boy left sucking his thumb on the frozen ground beside her. It can’t be a coincidence.

The need to spare the children might hint to the suspect being a woman, but the deeper Madison digs, the closer she gets to a serial killer her own father spent a lifetime chasing. Has the killer followed her father here? Could Madison, single mother to a son herself, be next?

As a blizzard closes in, wreaking havoc on the investigation, Madison hits the same dead ends her father did all those years ago. But when her closest friend goes missing, Madison must dive into the mind of this twisted soul and risk it all to stop another heart-shattering tragedy. But will she make it in time?

Amazon link:

Author bio

Wendy is the bestselling author of the Detective Madison Harper crime series.

She is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who writes a mixture of standalone thrillers, crime series and short stories. Some of her books have been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions and awards, including the Mslexia novel competition and the International Thriller Writer Awards.

You can find more information on her website:

Twitter: @WendyDranfield


This is the fifth book in the Detective Madison Harper series and is every bit as gripping as the previous four.  It begins with a killer who murders a woman in a parking lot but leaves her small son alive.  Straight away the story plunges you into the investigation, with Madison determined to find the perpetrator. When a second woman is murdered under similar circumstances, she begins to wonder whether a serial killer is operating in Shadow Falls.

All the familiar faces are there: Madison and her team, her son Owen, father Bill who has recently returned from Alaska, as well as Nate Monroe and his dog Brody. 

It’s a complex plot. Nothing is as it seems. It’s well written, with the usual twists and turns and red herrings which predictably take you in the wrong direction.  One thing I love about Wendy’s writing is the detail. It gives an authenticity that leaves the reader feeling they are actually there with Madison.  Bill and Nate’s sub plots dovetail in well to the main story, which as usual, ends with a situation that tells us Madison will be back.  It’s Wendy Dranfield at her best – another great five star read!

My thanks to Wendy, Bookouture and Netgalley for an ARC of Catch Her Death in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Costal Romance, Holidays, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, Writing


Yes, I know that seems a little depressing, but for me, the August Bank Holiday weekend has always been a symbol of the ending of summer. It feels like a door closing behind us, moving us on towards autumn. Looking back on this month, I have to confess that it’s been one of the most uncomfortable ever. Sunshine is definitely therapeutic. It energises me, makes me feel relaxed and puts a different face on the world. However, although the heatwave that arrived in the UK during August was very welcome, it soon turned uncomfortable. Despite having all the windows and doors open, some days there was little air. And nights, with most of those windows still open, still meant at times it was difficult to sleep. Open windows also proved an irresistible invitation for insect life. Moths are an expectation. Crickets maybe not, but the worst intruders were spiders, who seem to get bigger and bigger each year. All were given a helping hand out of the bathroom window never to be seen again.

I was around during the 1976 heatwave/drought (whatever you want to call it), when we had ten whole weeks without rain. Gardens were watered with bathwater, lawns went from green to brown (as they have this summer), and stand pipes were issued in some places, leaving people to queue with buckets to collect water. The stand pipes didn’t reach my road and thankfully the country has not experienced such draconian measures now. I remember ironing in my underwear because it was so hot and wondering if it would ever rain again. Comparing them both, Summer 2022 has definitely been the worst experience of the two. In those days there were no talks of global warming, it was just a very long, hot summer. Now what is happening has far reaching implications for both the planet and us in general. Looking forward, I guess the downside of all this is that we will have a very wet autumn. Mother Nature normally balances the seasons, and despite global warming, I have a feeling when the rain does arrive, there will be lots of it.

WRITING: At the beginning of the month my manuscript left the building for editing. Unfortunately, part way in my editor hit a problem. One which needed it to be returned and some comprehensive rewrites undertaken before she could continue. It’s the first time this has happened to me, and I guess it won’t be the last. Even after eleven books, I’m still learning. The delay has meant my hope of a late September publication date has had to be shelved. Instead, I’ve moved it to the New Year, probably late January or early February.

HOLIDAYS: In three weeks we’ll be in Cornwall. Fowey is a place I never tire of. It’s somewhere that really influences my writing. It’s a place where Daphne Du Maurier wrote in her house on the estuary next to the Boddinick Ferry. In fact, in my latest novel, I have taken something from the town – the Old Quay House Hotel – as inspiration for the Estuary House Hotel, which is central to my story. At this moment, with the completion of the third and final part of my Cornish trilogy imminent, I’m fairly open minded about what happens next. It’s always good to discover another part of the West Country where I can put down ‘roots’ and create another community, weaving romance and mystery around the lives of everyday folk. However, there are still characters in my fictitious estuary town of Kingswater who might be able to provide enough interest for a fourth book. I’ll just have to see what soaking up that Cornish atmosphere does. Watch this space!

READING & REVIEWING: And finally, my reading for the month. You can find my reviews on Goodreads

So that’s all for now. I’ll be back at the end of September. In the meantime take care everyone…

Posted in Cornwall, Costal Romance, MONTHLY UPDATE, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, Writer's Journey, Writing


Another month over and a milestone reached. Yes, at last I’ve arrived at the point in my writing where I can finally type THE END.  At just over 103,000 words, it’s the smallest book I’ve written so far. And it has been one of the toughest. Some books almost write themselves. This one hasn’t. Part of the problem has been I’ve had one or two health issues. They have been irritating rather than worrying ones but nevertheless distracting enough for my writing to go into stop-start mode.  Not a good thing when you have a timetable to keep to.

This month has seen another trip – a mid-week break to Alderminster, just outside Stratford Upon Avon. The Bell is a favourite stop over of ours. I can highly recommend this as a place to stay if you’re planning to visit Stratford. Not only is the accommodation first class, it has a really good restaurant if you fancy staying put for the evening.  And if you want to leave the car behind, there’s a good bus service into Stratford with a bus stop right outside the pub.

We had a two night stopover, giving us a whole day to ourselves. Deciding to make use of our National Trust membership, we decided on a trip to Coughton Court, near Alcester (about 12 miles away). A Tudor Country house with extensive grounds and gardens, we spent a few hours there before returning for a late lunch in the pub garden.


Book News – The manuscript has left the building, which you would think leaves me with a huge amount of time on my hands. Not so. In fact I seem to be busier.  As a great fan of period drama, I managed to get some chill out time watching Jane Austen’s Emma and Persuasion. I loved Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role of Emma Woodhouse and Bill Nighy did a great job as her father.  Netflix and Persuasion not a good mix. Not only was this my set book for English Literature ‘O’ level, the action takes place in Bath (my home town) and Lyme Regis. That means I’ve always had a special affection for it. I’ve also carried with me my own idea of what Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth should look like – which as any reader knows is dangerous once a book finds its way onto the screen. I have seen two previous versions, one with Ciaran Hinds (1995) and the other with Rupert Penry-Jones (2007) taking the role of Captain Wentworth.  Although Hinds was quite imposing as a senior naval officer, I preferred Penry-Jones (far more handsome), and was keen to see how this twenty first century version compared.  Unfortunately, all I managed to watch was 33 minutes then sadly, I gave up.  Maybe my expectations were too high, who knows? The whole thing simply didn’t work for me, particularly having Cosmo Jarvis as Frederick Wentworth.  


And finally, when I next post, I will be including a cover reveal for my new romantic suspense novel Secrets That We Keep. It is the third part of my Cornish Estuary series set in the fictitious town of Kingswater. When I finished the first book Shadows on the Water I had no plans to turn it into a series. However, with three young women featuring, I soon saw the potential for two more stories. What happens next? Well, that’s all in the lap of the gods at the moment. We’re staying in Fowey during September so perhaps I’ll pick up those Cornish vibes and return home with the inspiration for another book. Who knows?

Until next month, take care and enjoy August…

Posted in Writing

Flaming June? Yes it was…

I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly. It feels as if May and June are part of the same month. And now, here we are almost at the end of the first half of 2022. I feel I’ve blinked and missed something, but not quite sure what.

Mid-month we’ve been away again, back to our studio apartment in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. We were first here in June 2019. This one bedroom apartment is situated on a leafy, unadopted road of large properties. It’s quiet, five minutes walk from the town centre, and has parking.  I found it quite by accident back in 2018 and it seemed perfect.  The apartment is situated at the rear of a small hotel and sits on top of a huge garage that belongs to the owners.  There is a glass fronted balcony with a small bistro table and chairs, ideal for  that cup of coffee or a relaxing glass of wine.  It also faces west, which means it gets the afternoon sun.  The weather in 2019 didn’t disappoint, but was no way as Mediterranean-like as this year.  Most of the small businesses in Aldeburgh seemed to have survived Covid and the place was busy.  We had a great week, revisited some good eateries and discovered new ones. We ventured north one day and had lunch on the Broads at a waterside pub. We also did quite a bit of walking and caught up with friends who live locally.  All in all, a great week, helped, of course, by that amazing weather. 

This year we also booked to go to Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, home of the Great Ship Burial.  We had not got around to visiting there back in 2019 and watching The Dig, a Netflix drama starring Cary Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes showing how the treasure was discovered, reminded us that we needed to remedy that on this visit.  For those, like me, who enjoy history, it proved an interesting day, and well worth the visit. 


Bookish Stuff

My WIP has now hit 90,000 words.  I have a deadline ahead when I have to get the finished item to my editor. The good news is that I’m a good way down the road now, and looking forward to publication in September.

And finally, my June reads…

I’ll be back at the end of July but in the meantime, have a good summer everyone…

Posted in Writing


May is my special month. One for celebration. I gain another year. Since last years it’s also a little sad. In May 2021, I unexpectedly lost one of my best friends.  It made me pause and remember how we first met when her husband’s job moved them from Southampton to Wiltshire. She came to work as a PA in the same company as me.  Eighteen months later I left, but we kept in touch with regular meals out and dinners at each others’ houses.  She was slim and stylish and made a lot of her own clothes.  And she was a brilliant cook.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2021 and that was both a shocking and scary moment. But she fought back and although the tumour was inoperable, medication had shrunk it and she seemed to be coping well. But in a matter of months, out of the blue. two strokes changed everything and she was gone.  I guess it made me reflect on how important it is to make the most of now. To value friends and never take anything for granted.  I do miss her but have some wonderful memories of our times together.

Moving on. We spent a week in Cumbria this month to celebrate my birthday.  We rented a barn conversion on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  The development of refurbished buildings where we stayed was where the Bronte sisters went to school.  So quite an appropriate place for a writer to spent a holiday.  

Journeying up from the West Country, we expected delays. I’m not a lover of motorway driving, but for Cumbria it is a necessity if you want to keep your journey time to a minimum.  Just as the M5 joined the M6 everything began to back up. There was a bad shunt up ahead which caused a hour’s delay.  Coming back it was roadworks, but this time the hold up only stopped us for around twenty minutes.

While we were there, the weather behaved itself, with most of the rain falling during the night.  This was planned as a chill out holiday and we split our time between the Dales and the Lakes.  The day we decided on boat trip on Windermere, the sun came out and it was really hot.  The surrounding countryside is breath-taking with, of course, wall to wall sheep giving endless opportunities for photographs.  And there lies a sad tale.  Despite making lists and ticking off things as I packed them, I managed to come away without my camera!  I had my phone and an iPad, but it wasn’t quite the same. Therefore I became artistic director (!), pointing out good photographic opportunities to my OH. So I now have a holiday file of his photos on my PC as a reminder of the great week we had.  


We also returned to Ambleside, somewhere we had first visited in August 1982.  It had been a spur of the moment decision. Pack a case, jump in the car and drive.  One of our memories of that time was eating out at Zeffirelli’s, a vegetarian restaurant with a small cinema.  Retracing our steps we were surprised to find it still there.  It’s now an award winning Italian vegetarian restaurant and the single cinema has been moved upstairs and expanded into a multi screen venue.



We’re now back and looking forward to returning to Suffolk in June. I didn’t get to visit Sutton Hoo last time around and after seeing The Dig (which reminded me) want to make sure of a visit this time.  While we are there, it will also be an opportunity to meet up with some Norfolk based friends and a catch up over lunch.

Book Progress: Everything is going well,  but I have had to reschedule publication due to all sorts of unexpected issues arising.  I’m now hoping for early September and the MS should be with my editor by end June.

Reading and Reviewing. Five titles this month. All very good.   

So that’s it for May. The scary thing is that next month will mean we are half way through 2022 – where does the time go?

Posted in Holidays, Madison Harper, Psychological Thriller, Update, Writing


Here we are, once again, saying goodbye to yet another month. We are now a third of the way through 2022. Where has the time gone?

On the writing front, I’ve had a complete overhaul of my writing timetable.  I had planned to have my ms ready for editing by the time we go away in May. That is now definitely not happening, which has had a bit of a domino effect, pushing the publication date to later in the year.  I’m now looking to publish in early September.  Having agreed this change with my editor and formatter, as you can imagine, it’s taken a whole lot of pressure off me. The delays which have caused me to fall behind have been due to health issues. Nothing serious, but it has definitely impacted on my writing.

Note sure whether any of you know, but I live in a village on the eastern side of Bath. We’ve been here many years and have been lucky enough to look out onto open fields at the rear of our property.  When we first moved in, a farmer rented the field and we had a herd of Friesians as neighbours  Then it was sold off to someone in London and there was talk of them wanting to sell it for building.  We realised that things change and although not ideal, this could well happen.  A retired businessman not far from us used to pay for the field to be mowed twice a year and then, last year, we heard that he’d managed to purchase it.  The great news now is that it is now being developed as a nature reserve.  Last September we noticed seed being sewed and automatically thought it was meadow flowers. However, with the arrival of spring, it’s clear they were planting different types of grasses.  This week a team have arrived and given an oak tree, which stands a few hundred yards away, a bit of a makeover, cutting out the dead wood.  In addition, young trees are being planted in small copses around the field, which when established will provide a useful habitat for wildlife.  


I think everyone in the road is relieved that any new neighbours will be of the fur and feathered variety rather than the human kind.  Living in an area of outstanding natural beauty and having been incorporated into the Cotswolds it’s a relief to know the area behind the houses will be preserved and won’t be given over to another extension of suburbia.

Our first holiday is imminent. We are spending a week in Cumbria and have chosen a location which gives us the benefit of being able to visit the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales.  We’ve not been to the Lakes since the 1980s when we stayed at Ambleside.  I have to admit to not ever having visited the Dales, so a new adventure for me – and hopefully plenty of photo opportunities!

And finally, my April reads. I went slightly mad this month. The problem was there were so many good titles to choose from. I ended up with seven in all, which I set out below.  Although I enjoyed all of them, two in particular became favourites – Gone To Her Grave by Wendy Dranfield, the fourth in her Detective Madison Harper series. One which I have to say gets better and better with each book.  The second was Out of Her Depth by Lizzie Barber.  A gripping read, helped by the wonderful Tuscan backdrop which brought back memories of holidays in places like Florence,  Sienna and San Gimignano. 

So that’s it for another month.  The next time I’m in touch, I hope to able to post some holiday shots. Until then….

Best wishes


Posted in AUTHOR PROMOTION, Crime Thriller, Madison Harper

Happy Publication Day to Wendy Dranfield. Madison Harper is back in a fourth unputdownable Crime Thriller…

Gone to Her Grave

(Detective Madison Harper book 4)

In the golden morning light, a beautiful young woman lies diagonally across the bed, dressed for a night out, her long lashes pressed against her cheeks as if she’s sleeping. But the crimson that creeps across the sheets tells the story of an innocent woman who has drawn her last breath…

Detective Madison Harper is pulled away from Thanksgiving preparations when a local care worker, Terri Summers, is found dead in her home on the outskirts of Lost Creek, Colorado. Terri’s inconsolable mother can’t understand who would hurt such a kind soul who had dedicated her life to helping others. But analysis of the blood spatter at the scene indicates Terri knew her attacker, that she looked them right in the eye before her life was taken.

The awkward way Terri’s body is positioned catches Madison’s attention. Carefully moving her, she finds a bracelet—possibly a child’s—with a single red bead clenched in the woman’s fist, as if she was hiding it. It’s the lead Madison so desperately needs, but the sudden death of one of her own team sends the investigation into a tailspin.

With her coworkers crumbling around her, Madison must work day and night to trace the bracelet and crack the case. But when she’s dragged back into the disappearance of a woman and child from years ago, and finds a link to someone in her own family, can Madison stop this twisted killer before another precious life is taken? And at what cost?

Amazon link:


Wendy is the bestselling author of the Detective Madison Harper crime series.

She is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who writes a mixture of standalone thrillers, crime series and short stories. Some of her books have been shortlisted for various writing competitions and awards, including the Mslexia novel competition and the International Thriller Writer Awards.


Facebook & Instagram: Wendy Dranfield Author


While Detective Madison Harper is in charge of investigating the murder of a care worker, PI Nate Monroe has been hired to look into a cold case. A woman and her grandson who disappeared six years ago.   When Madison receives upsetting news that a close colleague has committed suicide, she refuses to believe he has taken his own life. And when she finds a connection between the care worker and the dead lawman, she requests another autopsy, convinced the two deaths are linked.

This is the fourth book in the Madison Harper/Nate Monroe series and in my opinion the best yet. The storyline is gripping and keeps you guessing all the way (although I have to say I had my suspicions about one character). Wendy’s writing simply flows onto the page. I love the way the relationship between Maddie and Nate is developing and also the addition of one new character who looks as though they are going to stay around for a while.  Nate’s dog Brody has also become an essential part of the team.

As with the other books in this series, you get the feeling although everything has been wrapped up and the case solved, there is more to come – I do hope so!

Looking forward to what’s in store next for our crime fighting couple.

Posted in Writing

Goodbye to March…

Well, I thought February came and went fairly quickly, but March, even with three extra days, seems to have passed even quicker.  Here we are, almost in April and it’s gone back to winter with falling temperatures and a bitter north wind.  Despite this, it’s good to see colour coming back into the gardens and blossom everywhere, making a statement and reminding us that the better weather is not far away.


The word count on my WIP has progressed well and I’ve reached 65,000 words.  I have a cover organised – a great incentive to get on with the writing – and my editor lined up for May.  

This month I also met up with writer Lizzie Lamb, whose contemporary romances feature hot kilted heroes. We had lunch in Bath and it was a lovely opportunity to chat and meet each other for the first time (and hopefully not the last).


Home projects include a new gazebo for the back garden and some tables for the patio.  We’re lucky to have a south facing garden which gives us the benefit of sunshine well into late afternoon. Nothing is better than spending time (when not writing) relaxing with a glass of wine and a good book.


So far this year the weather has been very anti-social and my walking has suffered. However, during the last couple of weeks, it seems to have turned a corner and I’ve been able to get out to exercise without the threat of getting caught in a downpour.  I hope to build on this during April and get back to a regular five days of walking. With our first holiday on the horizon, I need to get in shape for our visit to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

And finally, reading.  Seven books this month.  I’ve reduced the number next month as I really need to push on with writing and meeting that May deadline for editing.

So that’s it for now.  Back next month.

Best wishes




Posted in Writing


i’m delighted to be part of the above tour for Fair Game, which is the second, gripping novel in the Clifford-Mackenzie Crime Series from the brilliant R.D. Nixon.

It’s autumn in Abergarry.
The nights lengthen and the weather turns and the atmosphere darkens as the community is rocked by a brutal roadside murder: a loan shark’s ‘bag man’, Craig Lumsden, is found bludgeoned to death in his car in the early hours of the morning.
The season for murder.
The case seems simple enough, and the fingers quickly point to the most obvious suspect. But things are rarely as simple as they seem…
A murder that’s too close to home.
Too close for comfort, and definitely too close for complacency for private investigators Maddy Clifford and Paul Mackenzie. Delving into the case brings at least one of them face-to-face with danger… will life in Abergarry ever be the same again?


This book is the 2nd in the PI Mackenzie & Maddy series.

It reads well as a standalone, although there were references to book one which made me feel I maybe should have invested some time  following Mackenzie and Maddy from the beginning of the series.

The story begins in the 1980s with five friends and a tragic accident. It then moves on twenty years to catch up with these characters and their now grown-up children. A body is found in a car park. An anonymous tip off sends the police to the door of Maddie’s fiancé Gavin, and an arrest is made.  But have the police made a serious error of judgement?

All through the book there are many twists and turns and when the murderer is revealed, I really didn’t see it coming.

 Set in Scotland it is a well written story with engaging characters and a pace that never lets up.  Highly recommended.

My thanks to R D Nixon and Anne at Random Tours for a copy of Fair Game in exchange for an honest review.

Now Read an Extract…

New Year’s Eve, 1987

The downstairs rooms had been opened up, and the hallway of Glenlowrie House transformed into as close to a ballroom as the Wallaces could make it. The wilting Christmas greenery had been thrown out and replaced with fresh, glossy holly, artificially studded with berries where it fell short of perfection. Two enormous Christmas trees, one at either end, twinkled with tiny white lights, and more lights were draped over the stags’ heads that adorned the walls.

The Glenlowrie Hogmanay parties traditionally started in the late afternoon, and it was still early when Mary Wallace signalled for music, rearranged her red tartan sash, and swept everyone away from the dining table and into the makeshift ballroom.

Will Kilbride was around somewhere, but, contrary to his usual attempts to include the relative outsider, Duncan drew only Rob and Sandy into his office and poured them drinks.

‘To absent friends,’ he said, raising his glass. ‘To Mick.’ ‘Mick,’ Rob and Sandy echoed.
‘You’ve forgiven him, then?’ Rob asked after he’d drunk. ‘Nope, he’s made me look a proper fool tonight.’ Duncan  shrugged and sighed. ‘Aye, of course I’ve forgiven the annoying little gobshite. He’s still our friend.’

‘I saw him yesterday,’ Sandy put in. ‘Took the boys’ presents over. You know he asked his family to buy him a mobile phone for Christmas? A Cityman 1320, exactly like Will’s.’

‘No!’ Duncan couldn’t help laughing. ‘The only thing that does surprise me is that he didn’t buy it himself.’

‘Probably didn’t want to admit he wanted one,’ Rob said. ‘This way he can deny everything.’

‘Turns out Will was telling the truth about what it cost, too,’ Sandy went on. He put his glass down to dig around in his wallet. ‘He gave me his number, asked me to share it with you.’

‘To do what? Call him and tell him he’s missing the party of the century?’ Duncan shook his head. ‘Serves him right!’

‘It’s not his fault,’ Sandy said, predictably loyal. ‘He’s never missed one before.’

‘And he won’t miss one again,’ Duncan said, with deliberate emphasis.

Rob eyed him suspiciously. ‘Meaning?’

Duncan re-filled his glass, and offered a top-up to the others. ‘Meaning I think we need to teach him a friendly little lesson.’

Rob and Sandy looked at one another, then back at him. ‘Go on,’ Rob said, clearly interested, while Sandy just looked uncomfortable.

‘Is he staying overnight at that shindig he’s gone to?’

‘No, he’s got meetings first thing. He said he’ll be heading back soon after midnight.’

Duncan put down his glass. ‘Right, now don’t go interrupting, just hear me out.’

‘Sounds ominous,’ Sandy murmured.

‘Shut up!’ Rob and Duncan said in unison, but both were smiling.

Sandy grinned and held up his hands. ‘Fine! Stop beating around the bush and get on with it then!’

‘Okay. We’ve all read John Macnab?’

‘Aye,’ Sandy said, but Rob pursed his lips.

‘Remind me?’


R.D. (Terri) Nixon is a prolific writer, with thirteen books under her belt now. In
addition to this crime series, she also writes historical fiction, family sagas and
mythical fiction. When she’s not writing, Terri works in the Faculty of Arts,
Humanities, and Business at Plymouth University, where she is constantly
baffled by the number of students who don’t possess pens.