End of the Bay is now live on Amazon! Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of the launch at this strange time. Below you can read the opening chapter, but first, here’s the description.
Everything must go from one affluent street on the English Riviera. The cliffs are crumbling and the substantial detached properties are sliding into the sea.
The residents try to pull together but they are pushed to the brink when one of them is found horribly murdered.
Laura has washed up there after studying and is living in the empty home of plastic-goods retail magnate Ron Royce. She tells anyone who asks she is the house-sitter.
When her neighbour Charles, retired engineer and relentless gardener, falls under suspicion of the murder, they join forces to clear his name.
Can they channel Torquay’s most famous daughter, Agatha Christie, to solve the crime?
Or does Laura have other fish to fry?
End of the Bay – extract
He was holding a shovel by the neck. Like a hatchet. Laura knew it was a shovel because it had a curved blade, not a straight one. That would have made it a spade.
‘You’ve come from Al-Andalus?’ he asked.
She couldn’t say what her new neighbour had been doing with his shovel. While she was proud of her grasp of the nuances of English, she was not a gardener.
‘I’m the house-sitter,’ she said, and they both glanced at the house, standing proud at the end of the street, turning its back on the sea. A thirties villa, now substantially extended, with Moorish arches and Roman pillars and a Miami Beach balcony in smoked glass and steel.
She didn’t move, so he had to stay facing her, facing the sun and the brilliant blue sky, screwing up his eyes under his floppy hat. She saw a hint of white hair and an extravagance of eyebrows. He could have been a model in an advert for winter cruises or retirement apartments on the Costa del Sol.
‘Just till it goes,’ she said.
‘Indeed.’ He rested the shovel on the ground. ‘There’s a meeting tonight. Some of the residents are concerned about squatters moving in.’
‘Surely that doesn’t matter now.’
‘They think it does. You’d be welcome.’ He could be a grandfather. She had never knowingly had a grandfather.
‘I’ve got plans,’ she said. She had already seen the Agatha Christie statue and the poison garden. ‘The Museum of Fishing Quotas and the Crazy Paving Trail.’
‘The vote is likely to be close.’
‘And what will this vote do?’ she asked.
‘They think it would have moral force,’ he said. ‘Set the tone.’ His voice died away at the end of the sentence, but his eyes momentarily lit up with a mischievous gleam. He was a rebel in search of an ally, she thought, despite his conventional appearance.
There was something else. She recognised his condition. He was lonely.
‘No thanks,’ she said.
He nodded and began to walk away. ‘I’ll let you know what they say about you.’
He turned slowly.
‘Why would they talk about me?’
He sighed. ‘These are people on the edge.’ They both involuntarily looked out beyond Al-Andalus, to the beautiful, treacherous blue of the sea. ‘Hostile to any change in atmosphere, open to seeing threats where there are none.’
She imagined a shark on the horizon, but even the sharks round here were said to be harmless.
‘We’re meeting at Passchendaele at seven-thirty sharp,’ he said. He nodded towards the house opposite his. ‘I’m Charles, by the way.’
‘I’m Laura,’ she said.
‘Low-ra,’ he said carefully, mimicking her Spanish pronunciation. ‘Rhymes with vow,’ he mumbled to himself.
As he walked away, she looked at ‘vow’ in the dictionary on her phone. A promise or decision. Maybe it was this random association that made her somehow feel she had committed to go to the meeting, although she had done no such thing.
So what if they did talk about her? What could they do?