Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Bookseller is Here!

Hi Folks!
It's been a bit quiet around here lately and for that I apologise. Writing has taken a backseat in my life this year but I'm here to announce that I have finally taken the plunge and published my novel, The Bookseller.

As anyone who has followed this blog will know, The Bookseller has been in the pipeline for several years. I got the original idea in - ooh, must be 2006 - and it's been through a few drafts since then. 

It's a mystery involving two very different characters.  Greg, running a little antiquarian bookshop, begins to make some disturbing discoveries that undermine his world. And Gary, a cynical policeman about to investigate a case that changes his world view. 
Both must solve the mystery of Jedza's Gate before it is too late.

Here is the prologue. I hope it whets your appetite for more. If so you can find the Kindle ebook here.  The paperback version is now available here.

Prologue: June 2004

Killigrew woke with a jolt.  He was aware of that odd murmuring again but it took his befuddled brain several minutes to settle on where it was coming from.   He pinched the bridge of his nose under his wire rimmed spectacles and strained to listen, his eyes closed.  These days it took him a good long time to come to his senses, even after so short a nap.  He squinted at his watch, registering the time with momentary disbelief.  It was after eight; he should have gone home long since.  How had it got to be so late?  Elizabeth’s dinner would be drying up in the oven.  He was surprised she hadn’t already phoned to check up on him.

He felt the weight of the book on his chest and lifted it, scrutinising the kid leather binding.  It had been years since he’d read a whole book at a sitting – no wonder it had sent him to sleep, he mused.  Had it been worth it?  He tried to remember, flicking through the pages for a prompt.  The paper was thicker than normal and silky under his touch in a vaguely erotic fashion.  Like the skin of young virgins, he thought suddenly.  The idea amused him.
The murmuring came and went, like crashing waves on a distant shore.  Right this moment it seemed to emanate from the small corridor leading to the washroom and the cellar.  He craned his neck to hear better, privately dreading the prospect of having to get his arthritic legs down there again.  Once had been enough for one week.  Still, it had netted this remarkable find, he thought, his eyes fixing again on the haunting frontispiece.
To his relief the sound receded again.  Pulling himself to his feet he shuffled along the corridor to the wash room, stopping a moment to listen at the cellar door.  All he could hear now was a dull rustling, like autumn leaves in an eddy or a bird trapped in an enclosed space.  Once, when a boy, he had watched as a servant freed a trapped crow from behind a bricked-up fireplace in his father’s house.  For hours they had all heard the frantic flutter of wings behind the wall, like subterranean rumbling, invisible claws scratching wildly at the brickwork.  After careful chiselling a brick came loose enough to remove and the servant tentatively inserted a gloved hand to pull the frantic bird to freedom.  Even after all these years Killigrew still recalled the wild expression in its soot dulled eye.
All week he had heard it come and go, until at last he’d gone reluctantly down to investigate.  He’d had rats before so he knew it wasn’t an infestation.  A trapped bird would have been obvious.  He had found nothing of any note – apart from the book - and the strain of getting down the stone steps and back up had left him breathless.  Not only with exertion; something had frightened him, although he didn’t like to admit it.
Shuffling along to the washroom he rinsed his face under the cold tap and dried off on a grubby hand towel.  A draught of air caught the back of his neck and he looked up to see the cellar door handle start to turn in the washroom mirror.
He gasped.  Come on, Des.  You can’t be awake yet….
He spun round unsteadily.  Whatever he had seen, or thought he had seen, there was no sign of it now.  The cellar door stood firmly shut, no sign of movement.  He sighed with relief and started back for the office, the prospect of getting home to Elizabeth and dinner more attractive than ever. 
All was silent until he reached the cellar door when the most almighty crash threw him recoiling against the wall.  Something had smashed against the inside of the door with such force he expected to find the wood splintered as he stared aghast.  After a moment another crash made him sink to the floor in terrified anticipation of what was about to burst forth.
“Let me out!”  A furious voice cried, filling Killigrew’s weak heart with ice.  He cowered there transfixed, waiting and listening, his heart pounding in his ears.  After what seemed several minutes he pulled himself up.  All thought of investigation had left him.  He would call the police.
In his hurry his foot caught on something in the gloom, kicking it towards the cellar door.  Without looking he knew it must be the book which has fallen from his grasp.  Desperate to escape, he nevertheless hesitated and forced himself to reach down for it, but as his fingers stretched out it shot away from him into the now open cellar door.  The bony hand of a dark hooded figure caught the book with magical precision.
The last thing Killigrew heard was his own scream as the hood fell from the stranger’s face.

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