Work in Progress

Although I frequently decide to concentrate only on one book at a time, I inevitably find myself with more ideas than I need, so end up with several works in progress. At the moment, I’m busy with several new books, including:

The Jansson Tapes


It was a slate sky, sea-and-mist sort of day—the sort of day that’s going nowhere, when all a man can do is count the minutes until knocking-off time.

Given the excitement of recent weeks, I had no reason to feel bored, but already the hum-drum reality of not being in fear for my life had taken the shine off things. With a piece in the local paper along the lines of local-boy-does-good, I’d expected to see a few enquiries flooding, or at least trickling, along to my newly acquired website, but there was nothing, and not even Ralph’s encouraging texts were going to make me feel better. With summer fast approaching, I wasn’t looking forward to long days sitting in a hot car, sweaty tourists yapping in my ears and old wifies whinging about the price of a ride home.

To be fair, I didn’t exactly relish the thought of investigating murders on a daily basis, and the threats to me and Carol had proved more than a little scary, but I had to admit, it was a damn sight more exciting than sitting in a car all day.

Even so, my response to Caravan Queen Sheila Carver’s requests to see me tended to run along the lines of sorry, too busy, not feeling good, a bit over-tired—in fact any excuse that might keep her at bay for a few weeks or, ideally, several years.

As it turned out, it wasn’t Sheila who dragged me back into the sleuthing game that Friday afternoon, but another woman with rather more to offer.

Movement on the taxi rank had been slow all day and by two o’clock I’d only had a dozen pick-ups, so when a familiar leggy blonde slid into the back seat, I wasn’t about to complain.

“Mr Bell,” she purred, long fingers slinking over my shoulders. “I thought you might like to take me home.”

Elise Andersson had never flounced along a catwalk or strutted her particular stuff for the paparazzi, but as Fat Barry would say, she had the teeth, the tits and the legs to do the job very nicely, if the need arose.

“Still living at the same place?” I said, trying to drag my gaze from her plunging neckline.

“Still there,” she said. “In fact, why don’t you come in for something to eat? Sven’s making sausages.”

I remembered all too vividly her husband’s penchant for pumping minced lamb into phallic forms. “No, you’re alright. I had a burger earlier.”

She laughed and sat back. “Coffee and a chat, then?”

“We’ll see,” I said. Keying the mic, I called the job in. Then pulling out into traffic, thought about the last time I’d visited the house, when the truth of my pal Frank’s death had emerged, along with a lot of stuff involving sex-slaves, and other sordid goings-on. Not to mention who may or may not have been responsible for killing Big Ronnie…

The Phantom of Fiddler’s Lane

Book 3 in my middle grade Christie McKinnon Adventure series, finds young Christie targeted by an old enemy:

“Gracie. Come away.” The boy beckons to the girl, but her eyes are still fixed on the man at the corner, or rather, the strange creature dancing around on top of the music box.

She watches the man’s grimy fingers fluttering over the keyboard, his feet pumping away on pedals underneath the contraption. Grinning up at him, she holds a hand out to the monkey.

“Careful lassie, he’ll hae your fingers off.” The man smiles, his mouth a veritable graveyard of blackened teeth.

“Oh,” she says, withdrawing her hand sharply.

Robbie trudges back up the lane. “Come on, now,” he says, taking her sleeve. “We’ll get a row off Ma if we’re late.” He watches as the monkey holds out its tiny hat towards them.

“Can we no give him a penny, Robbie?”

He glances at the old man and a wave of guilt washes over him. “Next time, maybe. Now come away, will you?” He smiles at the man, but the musician’s happy face has gone.

The girl finally takes her brother’s hand. “Fine, but we’ve tae come again tomorrow.”

“Aye, maybe,” he says, pulling her away from the busy street and down the alley towards home. The snow begins to fall as the two children hurry away, their coats pulled tight against the cold.

The man in the black cap steps out of the shop doorway opposite and crosses the street. He watches the animal’s antics for a moment, then digging into his pocket, holds out a coin. The creature stops jumping around and reaches towards him.

“A fair exchange – a ha’penny for a bit of entertainment.”

The old man stops pumping the pedals and lifts his hat. “Most grateful, I’m sure.” His tired eyes flick across the stranger’s face, but there’s something in the newcomer’s expression that prompts him to drop his gaze. Nudging the monkey, he takes the coin from its leather pouch and drops it into a bag tied to the musicbox. The animal screeches and performs a miniature bow, while its master resumes pedalling, grateful to turn his attention back to his task. He begins the tune again with renewed vigour.

Terry McManus gives a sullen nod, digs his hands into his pockets and moves off down the lane, following the two children. With any luck, they’ll be the perfect bait to lure that interferin wee lassie Christie McKinnon into his trap. And this time, she’ll no be gettin away so easily.

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