<i>Cometh the Hour</i>: New Excerpt Cometh the Hour: New Excerpt Jeffrey Archer The penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles <i>The Silence of the Sea</i>: New Excerpt The Silence of the Sea: New Excerpt Yrsa Sigurdardottir The 6th in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. <i>Apricot's Revenge</i>: New Excerpt Apricot's Revenge: New Excerpt Song Ying A thought provoking detective novel. <i>The Orion Plan</i>: New Excerpt The Orion Plan: New Excerpt Mark Alpert An extraterrestrial thriller.
From The Blog
February 12, 2016
6 Memorable Cop Shows that Never Were
Hector DeJean
February 12, 2016
Minder: A Valentine's Day Mystery Dating App from Minotaur
Crime HQ
February 12, 2016
Happy Birthday to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think)
Barry Lancet and Anthony Franze
February 11, 2016
History as Mystery: Part II
Jeannette de Beauvoir
February 11, 2016
False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons by Malcolm Braly
Brian Greene
Sat
Feb 13 2016 12:00pm
Excerpt

Cometh the Hour: New Excerpt

Jeffrey Archer

Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer is the penultimate book in the Clifton Chronicles where a suicide note has devastating consequences for Harry and Emma Clifton, Giles Barrington and Lady Virginia (Available February 16, 2016).

Make sure to follow Criminal Element on Twitter and Facebook to find out how to win an ARC copy of Cometh the Hour by Jeffrey Archer!

Giles must decide if he should withdraw from politics and try to rescue Karin, the woman he loves, from behind the Iron Curtain. But is Karin truly in love with him, or is she a spy?

Lady Virginia is facing bankruptcy, and can see no way out of her financial problems, until she is introduced to the hapless Cyrus T. Grant III from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who's in England to see his horse run at Royal Ascot.

Sebastian Clifton is now the Chief Executive of Farthings Bank and a workaholic, whose personal life is thrown into disarray when he falls for Priya, a beautiful Indian girl. But her parents have already chosen the man she is going to marry. Meanwhile, Sebastian's rivals Adrian Sloane and Desmond Mellor are still plotting to bring him and his chairman Hakim Bishara down, so they can take over Farthings.

Harry Clifton remains determined to get Anatoly Babakov released from a gulag in Siberia, following the international success of his acclaimed book, Uncle Joe. But then something unexpected happens that none of them could have anticipated.

HARRY AND EMMA CLIFTON

1970-1971

1

THE JURY WAS out.

The judge had asked the seven men and five women to make one final effort to reach a verdict. Mrs. Justice Lane instructed them to return the following morning. She was beginning to think a hung jury was the most likely outcome. The moment she stood up, everyone in the well of the court rose and bowed. The judge returned the compliment, but it wasn’t until she had left the court that a babble of chatter erupted.

“Would you be kind enough to accompany me back to my chambers, Mrs. Clifton,” said Donald Trelford, “so we can discuss the contents of Major Fisher’s letter, and whether they should be made public.”

Emma nodded. “I’d like my husband and brother to join us, if that’s possible, as I know Sebastian has to get back to work.”

[Read more of Cometh the Hour here...]

Fri
Feb 12 2016 2:30pm

6 Memorable Cop Shows that Never Were

Cop shows are such a mainstay of television, and have been for so long, that turning on a TV and randomly clicking through four or five channels is guaranteed to lead you to at least one trip down the mean streets with a grizzled detective and a fresh-faced rookie. They're such a part of our daily lives that one can naturally assume that even people in fictional universes have their own multitude of police programs to choose from—CSI: Atlantis, perhaps, or Boise Beat, or The Hunk & The Geek.

Here, then, is a list of cop shows you might have missed owing to their never having existed—at least not in our world. But glimpses of them appeared in films and TV shows, where they naturally provided color and background activity to their respective realms, as cop shows always do.

[To protect and serve—as entertainment...]

Fri
Feb 12 2016 1:00pm

Minder: A Valentine’s Day Mystery Dating App from Minotaur

Our friends over at Minotaur have put together this fun little Valentine's Day mystery dating quiz featuring a few series protagonists that know how to get the heart racing.

Swipe your favorites right, and discard the scrubs to the left to see who you match with below:

[Oooooh! I think I've got the vapors...]

Fri
Feb 12 2016 12:00pm
Excerpt

Even the Dead: Audio Excerpt

Benjamin Black

In the seventh Quirke series audiobook, beloved Irish pathologist, Quirke returns to investigate a car crash/fire where he suspects foul-play, and his daughter Phoebe is visited by a mysterious pregnant woman who goes missing. Quirke calls on his friend Inspector Hackett for help, and the two investigate and uncover secrets which lead them to one of the city’s most powerful men. Black’s story is complimented by the soft Irish accent of longtime narrator of the noir series, John Keating.

Perhaps Quirke has been down among the dead too long. Lately the Irish pathologist has suffered hallucinations and blackouts, and he fears the cause is a brain tumor. A specialist diagnoses an old head injury caused by a savage beating; all that's needed, the doctor declares, is an extended rest. But Quirke, ever intent on finding his place among the living, is not about to retire.

One night during a June heat wave, a car crashes into a tree in central Dublin and bursts into flames. The police assume the driver's death was either an accident or a suicide, but Quirke's examination of the body leads him to believe otherwise. Then his daughter Phoebe gets a mysterious visit from an acquaintance: the woman, who admits to being pregnant, says she fears for her life, though she won't say why. When the woman later disappears, Phoebe asks her father for help, and Quirke in turn seeks the assistance of his old friend Inspector Hackett. Before long the two men find themselves untangling a twisted string of events that takes them deep into a shadowy world where one of the city's most powerful men uses the cover of politics and religion to make obscene profits.

[Listen to an audio excerpt of Even the Dead here...]

Fri
Feb 12 2016 10:00am

Happy Birthday to the Most Famous Lawyer/Thriller-Writer In History (It’s Not Who You Think)

Who’s the most famous lawyer-author of all time? Nope, not John Grisham.

  • Here are some hints:
  • Today is his birthday.
  • He grew up in a log cabin.
  • He wore a tall top hat.
  • And, oh yeah, he helped free the slaves.

Surprised? We were, too.

But in April, 1846—or eight-score-and-ten years ago—then-lawyer Abraham Lincoln published a short crime story in a Quincy, Illinois newspaper. The tale, published under the awkward title of “Remarkable Case of Arrest for Murder,” found its way over a hundred years later into Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine as “The Trailor Murder Mystery.”

Our sixteenth president was—according to various accounts—a “great admirer” of Edgar Allan Poe, and wrote the story “based on a peculiar murder/disappearance case he defended, and which is detailed in several biographies.” 

[See what Lincoln's true crime thriller was like...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 3:00pm

History as Mystery: Part II

Yesterday, in History as Mystery Part I, I explored why I love historical mysteries so much and offered 10 of my absolute favorites as sort of a crash course reading list to get you started. Now that you’re clearly convinced of how great these stories can be, it’s your turn to start exploring topics for the next bestseller!

Part II offers some great material for the would-be writers of historical mysteries: 10 mysteries from the past that have never been solved. I’ll bet that you could craft a story around at least one of them!

[It's a mystery which mysteries will be on the list...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 12:30pm

Getting to Know Deadpool: Marvel’s Newest and Mouthiest Movie Star

The Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox films inspired by Marvel Comics feature a variety of very different super powered heroes and villains, but if there's one trait many of them share, it's the propensity to crack wise or offer up sarcasm in the face of danger. On February 12th, moviegoers will meet the one Marvel character whose tongue is as sharp as the two katanas he swings.

I'm talking, of course, about the title character of Fox's new Deadpool film, starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson—a smart-mouthed and sarcastic mercenary with cancer who volunteers for an experiment that transforms him into a manic, horribly disfigured, unkillable super soldier. Think Bugs Bunny with the fighting skills and healing factor of the X-Men's Wolverine.

Now, some of you unfamiliar with Deadpool's comic book background may be thinking, “Hey! We've seen this character before in the first Wolverine movie!” And you sort of did. Ryan Reynolds played Wade Wilson in the flashback portions of the movie, but the character he became in the present day—that definitely wasn't Deadpool!

Reynolds is actually a huge fan of the character, and a faithful Deadpool feature film adaptation, inspired by the character’s comic adventures, has long been a passion project for him.

Fans of Deadpool comics understand why, too. The character was introduced to the world twenty-five years ago this month, in the pages of “New Mutants” #98, by his creators, Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld. Since then, a number of creators have had fantastic, imaginative, and incredibly hilarious runs on the character.

He's evolved over the years, too. He's still the same mouthy, manic, merc his fans have come to know and love, but these days, he's married to a demon queen, he’s a member of the Avengers, and he’s even a successful business man!

So, in this piece, we'll take a look back at the character's comic history, his core traits, and offer up some suggestions for readers looking to become acquainted—or reacquainted—with Deadpool’s exploits as a comic character.

[Shhh. My common sense is tingling...]

Thu
Feb 11 2016 10:15am

False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons by Malcolm Braly

Previously, I wrote an appreciation of Malcolm Braly’s 1961 prison novel Felony Tank as part of my Lost Classics of Noir series for Criminal Element. I singled out the book for being a noteworthy and under-appreciated work of edgy crime fiction, as well as a standout tale about life behind bars. There’s a reason—besides his writing talent—that Braly (1925-1980) wrote so well about his prison life, via Felony Tank and his more celebrated correctional facility novel, On the Yard (1967): he spent the majority of his adult life in penal institutions.

Thanks to Stark House Press’s new reissue of Braly’s 1976 jailhouse memoirs, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons, those of us with an interest in the author can now read his non-fiction account of the penitentiary existence.

False Starts is really more than a prison memoir, despite its subtitle. It’s more like a full autobiography up to that point in the writer’s life. In the first chapter, Braly describes his childhood and early teen years in the parts of California where he was raised, letting us see how, and perhaps why, he drifted into the life of crime that found him detained behind bars for so many of his adult years.

[See what lead him down this path...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 2:45pm

History as Mystery: Part I

What’s so great about the past?

It’s true that historical mysteries are rarely the most popular crime fiction sub-genre, but I’m a dreamer—I’d like to change all that.

There are amazing mysteries to be plumbed; stories already pre-assembled and ready to be told. When you read a historical mystery, you’re not just looking into the mind and life of a person who’s very different from you (assuming, of course, that you don’t happen to be a murderer), you’re also taking your own personal Tardis to a time and culture that can be foreign to you as well.

And there are some seriously great historical mysteries out there. Here are 10 of my favorites, in no particular order:

[See what made the list...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 12:30pm

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson 1.02: “The Run of His Life”

Yesterday, I had to endure a jammed up commute, a long day’s work, my annual co-op board meeting, and the New Hampshire primary broadcast. None of these were unreasonably unpleasant, but they were really draining.

I was looking forward to last night’s episode of American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, if only to see a portrayal of a guy who was far more exhausted than I could ever even imagine being.

We left off last week’s premiere with some dead bodies, Simpson in cuffs, a few key Simpson freak-outs, a media circus, a suicide attempt in Lil’ Kim Kardashian’s room, a daring escape, and then, of course, the white Bronco—cruising down the freeway toward one of the most memorable media moments of the decade. It was like a human Hindenburg disaster when we were watching it live. We were witnessing an icon, a legend, self-immolate on every channel.

[And now we're witnessing it again, on one channel...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

The Silence of the Sea: New Excerpt

Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is an Icelandic thriller and the 6th book in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series that features a mysterious luxury yacht that crashes into the pier completely empty leaving Thora to investigate this “cursed” ship (Available February 16, 2016).

A luxury yacht crashes into a Reykjavik pier. But the boat is empty; no one is on board. What has happened to the crew? And what has happened to the family who were very much present when the yacht left Lisbon?

What should Thora Gudmundsdottir, the series sleuth, make of the rumors that the vessel was cursed? She is spooked even more when she boards the yacht and thinks she sees one of the missing children. Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

Chapter 1

The repairman scratched his neck, his expression a mixture of exasperation and astonishment. “Tell me again exactly how it happened.” He tapped a small spanner on the lid of the photocopier. “I can’t count how many of these I’ve dealt with, but this is a new one on me.”

Thóra’s smile was devoid of amusement. “I know. So you said. Look, can you mend it or not?” She resisted the temptation to hold her nose in spite of the stench rising from the machine. In hindsight it had been an extremely bad idea to hold a staff party in the office but it had never occurred to her that someone might vomit on the glass of the photocopier, then close the lid neatly on the mess. “Maybe it would be best if you took it to your workshop and carried out the repairs there.”

“You could have limited the damage by calling me out straight away instead of leaving it over the weekend.”

[Read more from The Silence of the Sea here...]

Wed
Feb 10 2016 8:45am

Man Tosses Live Gator at Wendy’s Cashier

A live three-foot long alligator tossed through a drive-thru window.

A man who allegedly tossed a gator through a Wendy's drive-thru window has finally been taken into custody, reports ABC News

The man, Joshua James, 23, has been accused of throwing a live three-foot long alligator through a drive-thru window at his local Wendy's.

According to the Sheriff's report, James pulled up for his order, and after a server handed over his drink and turned around, he tossed the gator into the drive-through window.

While the incident happened about a year ago, the suspect was just apprehended by a US Marshall this week. Newly-obtained CCTV footage of the act led to his recent arrest.

His mother told the local TV channel WPTV that her son hurled the gator as part of a joke aimed at a friend who worked there. “He's a prankster. He does stuff like this because he thinks it is amusing”, she claims.

James faces charges of unlawful possession and transportation of an alligator and aggravated assault.

Tue
Feb 9 2016 4:30pm

The X-Files 10.04: “Home Again”

SCULLY: Back in the day, didn't we ever come across the ability to wish someone back to life?

MULDER: I invented it. When you were in the hospital like this.

SCULLY: You're a dark wizard, Mulder.

MULDER: What else is new?

There's a cost for gentrification.

And I'm not just talking money—when cities decide to “clean up” certain neighborhoods and make them more appealing to businesses and families, what do you suppose happens to the poor and homeless who used to walk those alleys? The ones that used to shelter in those run down buildings?

It's a fraught topic of debate; a real bone of contention. And in this week's episode, Mulder and Scully face some unusually bloody ramifications from such a project.

The opening shot of men using power hoses against the homeless sure does hit straight to the gut, especially given the demonstrations, protests, and marches in recent years. Right from the get go, we're meant to sympathize with the people who are literally being washed off the street like trash, treated as less than human.

So when a garbage truck pulls up outside of the offices of the men responsible, and a hulking, rotting figure steps inside, we already know what's coming.

[I bet he “takes out the trash”...]

Tue
Feb 9 2016 1:00pm

Murder Ballads: William Shaw and Lisa Levy Talk Music, Crime Fiction, and the 60s

The glory of the historical mystery is in recreating a time and place both familiar and new. Too often (for me, at least), I find the details in historical fiction maddening and anachronistic, a result of superficial research or the easy belief in old tropes about a period.

Happily, William Shaw has avoided these traps in his Breen and Tozer series, set in the much documented days of Swinging London. Shaw cannily makes his two detectives—Cathal “Paddy” Breen, a man bewildered by the social and political changes of the 1960s; and Helen Tozer, a rock and roll fan and a pioneering female police officer in the conservative Met—excellent foils for one another and keen observers of their time.

A former music journalist, Shaw integrates the uprising of British youth and the surging popularity of rock and roll into his trilogy: She’s Leaving Home, The Kings of London, and the recent A Song for the Brokenhearted. I asked Shaw about his research and his relationship to music, in his work and his life.

[Let's join them...]

Tue
Feb 9 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

Apricot’s Revenge: New Excerpt

Song Ying

Apricot's Revenge by Song Ying is a thought provoking detective novel about a high-profile murder that explores social issues in modern day China (Available February 16, 2016).

A business tycoon in China is found dead; he apparently suffered a heart attack while swimming. His body is washed onto a beach in a popular resort known as the Hawaii of the East. But soon it becomes clear that he was murdered. Three immediate beneficiaries of his death become the suspects: the vice president of the company, Zhou, who is in line to take over his position; his young widow, Zhu, who stands to inherit a huge amount of wealth; and his arch business rival, Hong, who is competing in a bid over a piece of hot property.

Nie Feng, a young investigative reporter for a magazine, interviewed the victim just a few days before he died. Through his own research, Nie Feng discovers a new suspect who is not on the police’s radar.

ONE

Fog Over Lesser Meisha

— 1 —

Lesser Meisha, an enchanting beach.

A famed seaside resort in Shenzhen, it was known as the “Hawai’i of the East.” Swarms of vacationing tourists came every weekend to relax on the sand, ride the waves, or just play in the water.

A line of beach tents along the water’s edge created a unique scene as night fell. Shaped like yurts or pyramids, they came in a variety of colors—reds and blues and yellows—and from a distance looked like flowers blooming in the setting sun. At eighty yuan a night, they were the favorite lodging choice for young tourists and lovers on vacation, both because they were so much cheaper than the five-hundred-a-night Seaview Hotel and because they were much more romantic. The tents were thrown up as dusk descended, when a pleasant breeze blew in from the sea. Young vacationers began to sing and dance, while others slept to the relaxing accompaniment of ocean waves. Was there anything better than that?

Six o’clock, or thereabouts, on the morning of June twenty-fifth. Dawn had barely broken when a couple emerged from one of the tents. Lovers, apparently. He was wearing glasses and was dressed in jeans that failed to hide his beer belly. The woman, in a yellow T-shirt over a short white skirt, was not pretty, but her youth made up for that. He had his arm around her waist, contentment from a night of pleasure written all over his face. She smiled shyly and playfully pushed him away. They had arrived the previous afternoon. Beer Belly managed a computer company; she worked as his secretary or, to use the popular term, his Secret Sweetheart.

[Read more from Apricot's Revenge here...]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 5:00pm

Jason Bourne: New Trailer

Last night, some of us focused on the athletic competition of a sport's elite teams battling it out for the championship; some of us focused on the theater of what was a memorable half-time show (see: Chris Martin's shoes); and some of us focused on what went on between the broadcast—the ads—particularly the new movie trailers.

And last night, we got a 30 second peak at the upcoming Bourne movie marking the return of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Paul Greengrass directing him. Apparently, Jason Bourne is back (in the aptly titled Jason Bourne), he's ripped, and he remembers everything.

[Watch the trailer here...]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 1:00pm

Believe the Lie: Looking Back at Season Five of The X-Files

MULDER: Well, maybe you don't know what you're looking for.

SCULLY: Like evidence of conjury or the black arts? Or shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs, or any kind of the ritual tableau associated with the occult; Santeria, Voudun, Macumba, or any high or low magic...

MULDER: Scully?

SCULLY: Yes?

MULDER: Marry me.

He kids, but he really doesn't.

Regardless of what Chris Carter said for years, it's obvious to anyone half-awake that Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) are, to quote Clueless, “stupid butt-crazy in love.”

Sure, they have an unusual courtship that involves running from black ops bagmen, shape-shifting assassins, and clones that melt into green goo—but then every relationship has its ups and downs.

Yet even five seasons in, we still haven't tasted the sweet satisfaction of vindication. Ah well—we're halfway to the finish line by now, and we can take comfort in the knowledge that they'll lock lips eventually.

And Mulder calls Scully his “one in five billion,” which is basically a marriage vow.

This season features the end of the cancer arc and some mondo vital plot points—as well as the best episode of the entire run—so strap in and get started with:

[Oooh! Oooh! Is it Episode 1?]

Mon
Feb 8 2016 10:00am
Excerpt

The Orion Plan: New Excerpt

Mark Alpert

The Orion Plan by Mark Alpert is an extraterrestrial thriller that sees an alien species find a way to send a probe across hundreds of light-years to begin the process of colonizing Earth unless NASA scientist Sarah Pooley and her team can stop them  (Available February 16, 2016). 

Scientists thought that Earth was safe from invasion. The distance between stars is so great that it seemed impossible for even the most advanced civilizations to send a large spaceship from one star system to another.

But now an alien species―from a planet hundreds of light-years from Earth―has found a way.

A small spherical probe lands in an empty corner of New York City. It soon drills into the ground underneath, drawing electricity from the power lines to jump-start its automated expansion and prepare for alien colonization.

When the government proves slow to react, NASA scientist Dr. Sarah Pooley realizes she must lead the effort to stop the probe before it becomes too powerful. Meanwhile, the first people who encounter the alien device are discovering just how insidious this interstellar intruder can be.

ONE

Ventura, California | June 20, 2016 | 12:09 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Sarah didn’t see the asteroid until it was too late. By the time she glimpsed it on her laptop’s screen, the rock was just an hour away from impact.

She wouldn’t have seen it at all if her neighbor’s dog hadn’t woken her. The stupid mutt had started barking at midnight for no reason. Unable to fall back to sleep, Sarah had turned on her MacBook and downloaded the latest images from the Sky Survey observatory. The telescope was five hundred miles away, in southern Arizona, but all the members of the Sky Survey team had twenty-four hour access to its observations. Although Sarah loved her work, this particular task—looking for slight changes in the pixilated images of the constellations—was tedious and tiring. After just ten minutes of squinting at her laptop she was usually ready to return to bed.

But not tonight. Instead, she stared in bewilderment at a sequence of images of the Scorpius constellation. In the first picture, captured by the telescope at 9:24 P.M. Pacific daylight time, a faint dot appeared next to Antares, the star at the center of the scorpion’s body. The next five images showed the dot drifting eastward and growing steadily brighter. In the last picture, taken just before midnight, the object glared like a spotlight above the scorpion’s tail.

[Read more of The Orion Plan here...]

Sun
Feb 7 2016 1:00pm

Top 5 NFL Criminals

Tonight, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will square off with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay Area of Santa Clara, California. And while this is the biggest annual sporting event in America, football players are not necessarily saints (even if they do play for New Orleans)—many of them are hardened criminals, some sinister enough to rival the most gruesome hard-boiled villains.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to bring you my Top 5 Worst Criminals in NFL History:

[See who made the list...]

Sat
Feb 6 2016 11:30am
Excerpt

Murder on a Summer’s Day: New Excerpt

Frances Brody

Murder on a Summer's Day by Frances Brody is the 5th installment of the Kate Shackleton Mystery series where Kate must work to solve the inexplicable murder of Maharajah Narayan found shot through the heart and placed in the woods (Available February 9, 2016). 

When the India Office seek help in finding Maharajah Narayan, last seen hunting on the Bolton Abbey estate, they call upon the expertise of renowned amateur detective Kate Shackleton to investigate.

But soon a missing persons case turns to murder. Shot through the heart, Narayan's body has obviously not been in the woods overnight. Who brought it here, and from where? And what has happened to the hugely valuable diamond that was in the Maharajah's possession?

An inexplicable murder ...

As Kate digs deeper, she soon discovers that vengeance takes many forms. Was the Maharajah's sacrilegious act of shooting a white doe to blame? Or are growing rumors of a political motive too powerful for Kate to discount?

One thing Kate is sure of: her own skills and insights. Qualities that she is sure will help her unravel a mysterious murder on that fateful summer's day.

One

Light found its way through the gap in the curtains. I sleep with the window open so usually the birds wake me before the clock does. Reaching out to stop the repeater alarm clock, I sent it flying from the bedside table onto the floor. It landed face up. Squinting at the luminous figures, I made out the time. Big hand at twelve, little hand at five, but I had not set the alarm. The ringing continued. Not the alarm, the telephone.

Somewhere in the garden, or the wood behind my house, a wood pigeon cooed itself silly. I stumbled out of bed, blinking away sleep. The ringing grew louder as I stepped onto the landing. Whoever was telephoning to me at this ungodly hour on an August Saturday morning did not intend to hang up and try again later.

As I hurried downstairs to the hall, my first thought was that something might be wrong with my mother or father. This anxiety led me to stub my toe on the foot of the hall stand. Cursing inwardly, I picked up the receiver.

[Read more from Murder on a Summer's Day here...]