Christmas is Coming

Christmas is upon us. Either that or some greetings card company is spamming me via snail mail.

And right now, of course I have not one but two Christmas titles on the go. The first of Mrs Capper’s Casebooks, Mrs Capper’s Christmas is live and selling, while A Deadly Twixmas, the 24th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, is on pre-order, scheduled to go live on December 23rd.

But while you lot are out there planning to take life easy over the extended holiday, I shall be slaving away over hot keyboard working on the early titles for next year, and principle amongst them are the second of Mrs Capper’s Casebooks, working title Mrs Capper’s Curse and the 25th Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery, working title A (Dead) American in Sanford.

And as a special, pre-Christmas treat, let me show you what’s in store for 2022 (aside from another half dozen Covid variants). Here are excerpts from the opening chapters of both projects, starting with…

Mrs Capper’s Curse.

It’s early February and Christine Capper is determined to take life easy, stay indoors where it’s warm, but circumstances might demand otherwise. Now read on.

***

Dennis once said that when he looked into the bedroom before leaving for work, he had a toil telling the difference between the various lumps populating the bed. He didn’t know which was the ruffled duvet, which might have been Cappy the Cat, and which was me. Naturally, he only ever said it once. Not that I would necessarily disagree with his observation, because I did tend to bury myself in the duvet, especially during the winter months, and Cappy the Cat was not only the laziest cat in Haxford, but also the untidiest.

Even so, I refused to let my husband get away with describing me as a ‘lump’. “You didn’t think I was a lump all those years ago when you were having your wicked way with me on the back seat of your father’s Ford Cortina, did you?”

“There was less of you then.” Before I could react to this, he went on, “And as I remember right, it was you having your wicked way with me.” While I tried to think of a suitable response to this, Dennis pressed on. “And it wasn’t a Ford Cortina. It was an Austin Allegro.”

“Well, thank God it wasn’t a Robin Reliant or neither of us would have got our way, would we?”

“Reliant Robin.”

I seem to recall that he left for work at that point, making sure that a) he had the last word and b) a proper argument couldn’t develop.

Winter. Even without Dennis’s unkind comments, I loathed that time of year, and in a curious way, February was the worst month of all. You expect it to be cold, icy, snowy in December and January, but with the dawn of February, the nights are drawing out just little, and you’re anticipating the spring. Warmer days, trees and flowers budding, Cappy the Cat disappearing for longer than thirty seconds at a time. But February could be so varied, and so it proved on the morning of Thursday the third. The previous day had seen sunshine all day, no wind to speak of, and the opportunity to bask in genuine, spring-like temperatures, albeit in the cocoon of our small conservatory.

But on the morning of the third, mists clung to the hills, and the cloud threatened rain, sleet, possibly even snow. I had nothing on that might tempt me to get out of bed in hurry. The body of Dr Graham Ainsley had been found in Wickersley Woods the previous day, and I wanted to do a little research into him before preparing a tribute. Whether as a text blog or a video, that piece would probably go out on the eleventh, and once it was prepared, I planned to idle away the day in front of the computer, preparing and possibly recording my vlog for the episode on the fourth.

***

A (Dead) American in Sanford

Not to be outdone, in the run up to Easter, Joe Murray and his pals from the Sanford 3rd Age Club are ready to greet  party of American visitors, members of the Sanford 3rd Age Club (Florida) and we open with Joe arriving at The Lazy Luncheonette in his finery.

***

Joe Murray walked in through the rear door of The Lazy Luncheonette, passed through the kitchen and stood in the centre of the dining area, where he turned, held his arms wide, and asked, “How do I look?”

It was early afternoon, the lunchtime rush was over and the few staff were cruising down to the four o’clock closing time. There were only a couple of customers in, both of whom gave Joe a quick glance and went back to their muted conversation, leaving him at the mercy of his nephew, Lee, Lee’s wife, Cheryl, and their friend and fellow assistant, Kayleigh Watson.

In place of his customary whites, Joe wore a dark grey, three-piece suit, a pale blue shirt with a matching, soft-patterned tie, and on his feet, where normally they would find a pair of shabby trainers or ageing loafers was a pair of brand new, shiny, black leather shoes.

Cheryl looked him up and down, pursed her lips to show how impressed she was, and turned to The Lazy Luncheonette’s newest assistant. “What do you think, Kayleigh?”

The young woman smiled as she looked her boss over. “I think you look very smart Uncle Joe.” Kayleigh had always called him Uncle Joe, even though, unlike Lee and Cheryl, she was not a relative. “It’s just like you’re off to a funeral.”

He frowned. “It’s a reception not a funeral.”

“A wedding, eh? And will there be a cake, you know, for you and the receptionist to cut?”

Joe sighed. There were times when getting the simplest of concepts across to Kayleigh was like pulling hen’s teeth. “It’s a civic reception, luv. Me, Sheila, Brenda, the mayor of Sanford, we’re all there to greet a party of Americans visiting Sanford.”

“Oh. Right.” A frown crossed her pretty face. “America’s a long way for people to come just to see the mayor get married, though, isn’t it?”

Joe gave up the impossible argument. “Yes. Yes it is.”

From the kitchen where he was cleaning down those appliances he would not need for the remaining two hours of business, Joe’s nephew, Lee piped up. “Funny thing, though, Uncle Joe, I thought the mayor were already married. Is he having two wives or what?”

“Yes, Lee,” Joe agreed. His nephew had long been the numpty of The Lazy Luncheonette’s small crew, and he seemed determined not to let Kayleigh usurp his number one spot.

“But I thought Big Amy were illegal.”

“She is.” Joe looked to the ceiling as if pleading for patience. He wanted to cry out, ‘bigamy, not Big Amy’, but it would be a waste of breath. If Lee thought it was Big Amy, then Big Amy it was. “They’re making a special case for the mayor.”

“Blooming typical,” Lee grumbled. “One rule for us and another for them.”

***

So there you go. That’s what’s in store of the first quarter of next year… or at least that’s the plan.

I’ll be with you again this side of yuletide, in the meantime, chill out with a riveting read.

A Deadly Twixmas, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24, published by darkstroke, exclusive to Amazon, available for pre-order at:

mybook.to/dtwix

Mrs Capper’s Christmas, Mrs Capper’s Casebook #1, exclusive to Amazon, on sale now at:

mybook.to/capperxm

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Introducing Mrs Capper, Private Investigator

It’s four days to Christmas, the town centre is gridlocked, her car is off the road and she’s waiting for her husband to pick her up and take her to town for a nine o’clock appointment at the library .

That’s the opening scenario facing Christine Capper in…

Mrs Capper’s Christmas.

It’s the first of a brand new series of light-hearted, cosy mysteries starring the eponymous Mrs Capper, a blogger, vlogger, and private investigator.

Over the course of the following four days, she looks into the theft of expensive books from the library, a supposed armed robbery at a bargain shop on the High Street and as Haxford’s very own serial killer, the Graveyard Poisoner, picks up his nefarious activities, Christine finds herself drawn into the case.

Along the way she confronts pernickety council employees, a local self-styled hard man, a tearful teenager, and the obduracy of a police inspector who would prefer it if she kept her nose out. And all this is while she’s dealing with an automobile obsessed husband, a tight-lipped son, and a cat which is both moody, sulky and bone idle. Is it any wonder she keeps forgetting to put Christmas decorations round the wall clock? It’s all part and parcel of a busy life.

Just to whet your appetite, here’s the opening of Chapter One.

***

“… You’re tuned to Radio Haxford with Reggie Monk, and that was Greg Lake telling us all about how he believed in Father Christmas. Didn’t we all? Ha, ha, ha. It’s half past eight on a cold and gloomy Tuesday morning, we have just four days to Christmas, and here’s a bit of traffic news for you. You know that the news on Reggie Monk’s breakfast show is always good, it’s fun, it’s upbeat? Well, this time it isn’t. Ha, ha, ha. Sorry, folks, but if you’re thinking of hitting town for some late Christmas shopping, then put it off. Police are warning of what they describe as a serious incident on the High Street in the vicinity of Benny’s Bargain Basement. Someone must have found Benny’s wallet. Ha, ha, ha. Seriously, Haxforders, the police tell us that the High Street is closed to traffic while they deal with the incident, and that means Yorkshire Street, Market Street, and Huddersfield Street are gridlocked. Is that one for your weekly vlog, Christine Capper? Ha, ha, ha. We’ll press on regardless and what better way to pass the time in a traffic jam than listening to Radio Haxford and Slade wishing everyone a merry…”

Reggie’s garrulous announcement hit me as a triple whammy. First and foremost, he mentioned me by name, second, would the incident, whatever it was, have any potential for my weekly vlog, and third, I had an appointment at the library at nine o’clock; would the traffic jam make me late?

Hands shaking, anxiety climbing towards panic levels, I looked through the window, saw no sign of him, so I picked up my smartphone, swept my finger over the lock screen, and hit the icon for my husband. While I waited for Dennis to answer I reconsidered my priorities. The library staff, all two of them, were expecting me, so that had to come top of the list. Re the incident’s potential as a vlog post, I’d need a lot more information, and finally, it wasn’t the first time Reggie Monk had mentioned me and my vlog on his breakfast show.

Picking up the call Dennis broke into my thoughts. “Hey up, lass, Reggie Monk’s just mentioned your name.”

I could imagine Dennis’s features split apart by a wide grin. “Yes, I heard it too. Listen—”

“You’re getting too well known, Chrissy. Time you were advertising Haxford Fixers on your fillums.”

“Dennis—”

He interrupted me again. “I mean, it costs us a fortune to advertise in the Recorder, you know. If you could give us the occasional plug—”

This time, I cut in on him. “Shut up and listen, Dennis.” When I was satisfied that I had his undivided attention, I went on. “You’re supposed to be taking me to the library.”

“I am. I’m on me way to pick you up now.”

“Yes, well, Reggie Monk says the town centre is gridlocked, so you’d better get a move on or I’ll be late.”

“Where do you think I am other than right in the middle of the jam?”

***

Tempted? And so you should be.

Mrs Capper’s Christmas is exclusive to Amazon, available now in e-format and paperback.

Just follow the link below and immerse yourself in the trials and tribulations associated with…

Mrs Capper’s Christmas.

It’s exclusive to Amazon, available as a Kindle book and in paperback, and if you’re member of Prime, you can read the e-book as part of your allowance.

You can find it…

Here

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A Scare and a Celebration Still On

It’s coming up to a year since my granddaughter became Mrs Victoria Mottram.

Victoria and I are dogged by bad timing. I was determined to be in Cambridge for her graduation, but the missus and I were on a plane coming home from Tenerife at the time and the pilot wouldn’t lend me a parachute.

Then I was determined to be at her wedding last year… but coronavirus got in the way and many people – including us – couldn’t go.

But this coming weekend, she is making up for that with a blessing and celebration, again in Cambridge, and I’m determined to be there.  I don’t see enough of her and her sister, Hannah, and nothing short of World War Three would get in my way.

Then disaster struck.

Over this last weekend I’ve felt quite manky. Nothing strange about that. I feel that way most days, but this time, my sense of smell changed. A couple of years ago, I’d have thought no more of it, but as we should all know, one of the first symptoms of Covid is a loss  OR CHANGE to your sense of smell. If this was Covid, I could forget Cambridge for the third time.

And yet, I was persuaded it was a touch of sinusitis, but the missus wouldn’t have it. We could not reasonably travel and mingle with a roomful of people if I was infectious. So yesterday, I tootled down to our nearest walk-in centre for a PCR test.

They give you the kit and you do the job yourself. The lad gave me the kit and said, where your tonsils are, rub it one side and then the other for five seconds each. My tonsils were removed in 1956.

Anyway, I got on with the job but my hands shake so badly (it’s old age) that I dropped the tickling stick and I had to start again.

Eventually, we got the job done, and waited for the result. A few hours they said. This was at quarter past three. When it hadn’t arrived by one this morning, I buggered off to bed. Her Indoors wasn’t talking to me anyway because the result hadn’t come through. Obviously my fault. But throughout the evening, I was preparing to deliver the news to Victoria and her husband, that I wouldn’t be there on Saturday.

At twenty five past seven this morning, the phone tweeted for an incoming text message. It was the result.

Negative.

I do not have Covid-19, it is (probably) sinusitis.

Cambridge here we come.

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Christmas is Coming

With the successful launch of Confusion in Cleethorpes (above) at the beginning of this week, I’m turning my attention to the near future.

Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #23, Murder on the Movie Set, has been with my publisher for a month or two, and is scheduled for release on September 8. Make a note in your diary.

But what about beyond that?

I’m working on the Christmas novel, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #24, working title, Have Yourself a Merry Little Murder, and I’d like you to imagine the situation. It’s mid-July, the temperature outside is a sweltering 25°, I’m sitting at the laptop wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, and I have a small, desk fan whirring away, helping to keep me cool. And I have to get myself into a Christmas mood. Not easy.

But we persevere, and below is a short extract from HYMM.

It’s a few days before Christmas, The Lazy Luncheonette is packed with customers, and in walks a well-dressed stranger, a man Joe doesn’t recognise.

Now read on.

***

Joe prepared his teapot. “What can I do you for, squire?”

“I’d like to speak to Brenda Jump, please.” For all that the stranger’s enunciation was perfect, Joe nevertheless detected a deeply ingrained Sanford accent.

“Just step to one side, pal, so I can carry on serving my customers.” Joe turned his head. “Brenda, there’s a suit out here wants a word.”

Wiping her hands on a tea towel, Brenda emerged from the kitchen and smiled on the stranger. “I’m Brenda. What did you want?”

“I’m Ken Steele… your husband’s brother.”

Serving the office workers, Joe gave half an ear to the exchange. Steele’s announcement was a surprise. As far as he knew the late Colin Jump had a sister but no brothers. And if this man was Colin’s brother, how come his name was Steele?

Brenda, too, greeted the announcement with temporary silence. It did not last long. When she spoke it was with rising anger. “Get out.”

“Now, listen, luv—”

“You heard. I said get out. My husband had no brothers.”

“Oh yes he did.”

“You’re a liar. I don’t know what kind of scam you’re pulling but don’t you dare drag my husband’s name into it. Now for the last time, get out.” She half turned and reached for the wall behind where Joe’s kitchen knives hung.

Joe stopped her. “No, you don’t.” He faced Steele. “I don’t know who you are or what you want, but you don’t come in here upsetting my staff. Now go, before I throw you out.”

Steele smiled. “You think you’re big enough?”

“NO. But I know someone who is. LEE. GET OUT HERE.”

His mountain-like nephew lumbered from the kitchen. “What’s up, Uncle Joe?”

Joe did not answer. His gaze was fixed on Steele. “Ex-rugby player. He’ll bundle you up and roll you down the road like a bowling ball. Now for the last time, get out and don’t come back.”

Steele cast a glance over Lee’s huge frame and chose discretion over valour. He glowered at Brenda. “You haven’t seen the last of me.”

***

What happens next? Well, you’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out.

In the meantime, you’ll find a list of all the Sanford Mysteries HERE

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Robert Devine

Although I’m probably best known for light hearted whodunits, such as the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, I do write darker material; the Feyer & Drake mysteries under my real name, for example.

Robert Devine is a different proposition. Under this pen name I turn out seriously dark and often violent psychological thrillers, with master hypnotist, Allan Cain as the central character.

Many years ago I took a short course in hypnotherapy. I did so to combat increasing arthritis. As an analgesic, hypnotism has no equal, and it has fewer side-effects than drugs. Note the word ‘fewer’ not ‘none’. There are side effects and under the wrong circumstances, they could be irritating, but they are mostly beneficial. I practised for a short time, but I lacked the necessary counselling skills, and soon gave it up. I’m a writer, a novelist, not a mender of people.

The entire subject became an area of fascination for me, and in the mid-1990s, I turned out a five hour TV drama for a production company based in Devon. We never got a commission and at the turn of the millennium I transcribed it as a novel entitled, The Handshaker. It was published by Crooked Cat Books in 2012, and it flopped. Some years later, I took the rights back and retitled it Dominus, and self-published it. Once again, it flopped.

It was a mystery. Reviews, although few in number, raved about it. Since the reprint, in common with its sequels, The Power and Ryman, it has taken no reviews, and sold almost no copies, and I long ago gave up on it.

And then, in May and June of 2021, something strange happened. Without any prompting, all three books began to take page reads in Kindle Unlimited. In less than a month, they had garnered over 1000 page reads, all of them exclusively in the United States. Towards the end of June, my wife and I took a week’s holiday on the coast and while we were there, I re-read (and made occasional corrections to) all three.

Although I say this myself, they are detailed and structured, and generally well-written. I have now republished them (Kindle only) and all three are posted in Kindle Unlimited, which means that members of Amazon Prime can read them free as part of their allowance.

But be advised, they are far stronger than the Feyer & Drake series, graphic and not for the faint-hearted.

You can learn more about the three individual titles HERE

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We’re Back

Last week I decided it was time to change web hosts, and my very good friend Iain Pattison introduced me to Hodhost. The switch would save me a considerable amount of money, and as a true son of the white rose, a diehard Yorkshireman the next best thing to free is saving.

The job involved transferring the domain name, dwrob.com to the new host, and with my usual level of technological articulacy, I hadn’t a clue how to go about it, so Gareth Hodson, the main man at Hodhost, dealt with everything for me, and it was still a bloody nightmare.

As at yesterday evening all the world could see the site but me. I tried everything to get my laptop and phone to visit the bloody site. I even went so far as downloading a free registry cleaner, which souped up the laptop by deleting no less than 16,000+ bits of rubbish cluttering up the hard drive. It made no difference I still could not get into my site.

But by this morning, everything was working. I could access the site and the back-office to make whatever changes I need.

I’ll be spending the next couple of days faffing with odd bits and pieces, but the site is up, it is running, and you’re welcome to visit, spend a bit of time scouting around, and pick up all the latest news.

On which subject, let me remind you that if you sign up to my newsletter, there’s a free download waiting for you in the shape of Nostell, a Feyer & Drake novella.

If you don’t want to sign up to the newsletter, that’s okay, but you’ll still find a free download in the shape of Liquidated in Lockdown, a Sanford Mystery special novella which sees Joe tried to solve a murder while self-isolating during the height of the coronavirus crisis. You’ll find details on the page, Free Stuff.

And of course, I can’t let this morning pass without mentioning the really, seriously BIG NEWS, the forthcoming release of Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #22, Confusion in Cleethorpes.

It’s due out on July 19, which would have been my late brother’s 70th birthday. He passed away from a massive heart attack fifteen years ago, and to this day I still miss our occasional telephone chats. RIP, Terry.

Published by darkstroke, Confusion in Cleethorpes is exclusive to Amazon, and it is available for pre-order at:

mybook.to/cleethorpes

As always, that’s a universal link which will take you to your local Amazon site.

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Cleethorpes or Bust

The next Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery has been a while coming, but yesterday, April 17, the script went off to my editor, the estimable Maureen Vincent-Northam so that she could exercise her red pen. It should be back to me before the end of the week, at which stage I will make the necessary corrections, send it back to Maureen for her approval, and from there it goes to darkstroke.

It’s far too early to put a release date on it, but I’ll let you know in due course.

There’s a fair bit of me in Joe Murray. He’s quite an astute man, but in other areas he’s a complete idiot. Like me, he suffers from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). In plain English, his lungs are shot. So how does he deal with it? He has his inhaler (I never go anywhere without mine) and when his chest gets tight, he takes one or two puffs. It works. But he’s stupid. He stopped smoking a few years ago, and then started again… Just as I did.

As I get older, the COPD is making life not just difficult but almost intolerable, so once again, I’m on the road to quitting. Am I going to put Joe through the same agony? That remains to be seen.

In Confusion in Cleethorpes, we find the Sanford 3rd-agers going to Cleethorpes, would you believe? They’re looking forward to a carefree weekend with a swing band, the Shoreline Swingsters, providing entertainment at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel just off the seafront of what is one of North Lincolnshire’s prettiest little resorts.

But then someone is poisoned. And then Mort Norris disappears. And Joe’s chest is getting worse. It all adds up to stress, stress, stress for Joe and his faithful friends, Sheila and Brenda, and a lot of falling out between the various factions.

As always, there’s a good deal of light-hearted banter, particularly with regard to Cleethorpes. Situated on the south side of the Humber Estuary, the place is renowned for the vast spread of sand between the promenade and the actual sea. I remember going there as a child, and I never saw the tide come in. My wife and I went back quite recently, and I still didn’t see the tide come in.

Will this bother Joe and his friends? Probably not. But the hassles of the weekend will have their effect on our heroes. Do they triumph? I’m not going to tell you (evil laugh). You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Confusion in Cleethorpes, Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery #22 is scheduled for release on July 19, which coincidentally, would have been my late brother’s 70th birthday, but it’s available for pre-order right now at:

mybook.to/cleethorpes

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What about the Sanford Mysteries?

Joe and the crew at The Lazy Luncheonette come from a world I know well. I spent most of my working life in haulage and distribution and I knew most of the truck stops in Great Britain. I created the fictitious town of Sanford, dropped Joe Murray behind the counter of The Lazy Luncheonette where he could hassle the truckers, and made him an amateur sleuth.

But it wasn’t enough. He needed another angle. One that would bring him face to face with the various mysteries.

I had to retire early through ill health, and it was sitting around the house twiddling my thumbs which made me think of oldies with nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I made Joe, Sheila Riley, and Brenda Jump the management trio of the Sanford 3rd Age Club, a bunch of financially independent crumblies savouring the delights of excursions all over the north of England, the Midlands, and occasional forays into foreign climes.

Joe is an unlikely hero. He’s short, slender to the point of emaciation, irritable and outspoken and when it comes to fighting, if he got into a scrap in a pre-school class, the children would win. But he doesn’t lack courage, and there’s something about him which makes him slightly attractive to women… including his ex-wife Alison, who now live in the Canary Islands. And he secretly hides a heart of gold and an abiding concern for law and order and defence of the innocent.

Sheila and Brenda often save his bacon. Both are widowed, both were career women who changed course when their respective husbands passed away, and they’re now kingpins in The Lazy Luncheonette and the Sanford 3rd Age Club. Both are determined women, the kind who are difficult to fool, and it happens quite often that one or other of them will make a passing remark that allows Joe to tumble the solution to the puzzle nagging at him.

The tales are filled with the kind of quirky characters you meet in everyday life, from the stuffy, military bearing of Les Tanner, to the fun-loving, beer-swilling scrapper that is George Robson. Suspects so full of airs and graces that they pronounce the word ‘pounds’ as ‘pineds’, various police officers, some of who take to Joe and co, others who hate him and his interference, an ageing billionaire captivated by heavy metal rock music, and the gormless Lee, Joe’s amiable, but clumsy nephew who, by the way, was not based on Crusher Milburn from Last of the Summer Wine. Lee fulfils a much more important role in The Lazy Luncheonette than Crusher did in Ivy’s place.

As for locations, I’m familiar with every single setting of the books, right down to the architectural eccentricities of the hotel in Palmanova, Majorca (pictured above). There is one exception, one place I’ve never been to: Sanford. That’s because it doesn’t exist. However, I grew up in an area of South Leeds not far from the boundary with Wakefield, and I know that part of West Yorkshire well. If I had to place Sanford accurately, it’s probably somewhere in the Castleford area.

There’s a strong vein of cynical, northern humour running through all the titles, but at the core of each tale, there is a murder, sometimes more than one, and Joe, as irascible with the police as he is with the truckers, finds it impossible to keep his nose out.

They’re often described as ‘cosy’ mysteries. In common with my good friend Lesley Cookman, creator of the Libby Sarjeant series, I dislike that term. Say what you like, there is nothing cosy about murder. IMHO, it’s one of the two most despicable crimes any person can commit (the other being rape) and I prefer the description ‘traditional mysteries’. No serious violence, no seriously bad language, and when it comes to sex, we stop outside the bedroom door.

And that’s about it for now. If you’re new to the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries (or even if you’re a seasoned reader) there’s a FREE TITLE available, Liquidated in Lockdown. No strings attached. Just go to the page, Free Stuff for more information, and you can find details on the individual titles HERE.

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A Snowy Sunday in Mid-April?

I’ve just come through what is one of the worst weeks of my life. Nine days since I had the second Covid jab and I haven’t been right since. I’ve felt weak, shaky, generally lacking in both motivation and the energy to look for some. My sleep pattern, such as it is, is severely disrupted and my appetite shot… although, on that last point, I have managed to shed a few pounds.

A couple of times this week, I’ve insisted I’m back to 100%, but in no time at all, I go down again. So what is it?

I blame that second jab, but the truth is the problems simply coincided with that, and some of the areas I was suffering are posted as side-effects. Others aren’t, and there are several possibilities. Blood sugar slightly out of whack, increasing rheumatics and arthritis, and let’s not forget smoking. It gets blamed for everything else, so I might as well chuck it into the mix.

There’s one other candidate: the weather. Here, take a look at this.

That photograph was taken half an hour ago. It’s a glorious sunny morning, but colder than a penguin’s arse. And where the hell did the snow come from? It’s the middle of April. I live on the outskirts of Manchester, not Murmansk (look it up. It’s in the far North of Russia the wrong side of the Arctic Circle.)

Still and all, you can’t let trivia like illness get in the way of work. I once drove from Edinburgh to Leeds while suffering from flu. I had no choice, and it’s the same now. I have no choice.

But how do you write when your mind is full of cotton wool?  With difficulty is the short answer.

Course, writing’s not all about knocking the tale out. There are other aspects to it, such as research. So when a friend suggested sending Joe to Inverness and putting him in a kilt, I looked into the possibility. At the prices they want for a bespoke Murray clan kilt, I could buy a decent second-hand car, but it makes for a fun scene.

Another friend was saying she’s read The Squires Lodge Murders three times and that caused me to wonder what was so attractive about that title… so I spent a day re-reading it. I’m not much wiser. It’s good (he says with all the modesty of a modern novelist) and it’s slightly more varied than most of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries.

A week or two back I came to the conclusion that I’m better sticking with the lighter whodunits than the hard-boiled stuff. That’s doesn’t mean there will not be more Feyer & Drake titles. There will, but they take time to fully develop. I had other darker works planned, and when I came to this decision, I looked at them with a view to conversion. After all, what’s the difference between The Anagramist and a Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery? Graphic sex, violence, language and elements of realism, I would say. Aside from that the principles are the same.

With that in mind, I now have a third Sanford on the boil, involving a burglary which leads Joe and Co into a twenty-year-old cold case.

As I write, therefore, I have three Sanford Mysteries on the go. A weekend in Cleethorpes will likely be first, followed by a visit to Inverness, and by the autumn, the cold case should be heading your way.

You can’t wait, can you?

Just time to remind you that there are free books available on this site. Check out the Free Stuff link above, and don’t forget The Cutter is scheduled for release on May 25th, and you can pre-order it now at: mybook.to/cutter

Finally, if you want sign up for my Valued Readers’ Club, that link, too, is above, and the first newsletter is scheduled to go out very soon.

That’s it from the madhouse. Have fun, stay safe and read, read, read. It’s so much better than real life.

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Second Jab & Three Freebies

The missus and I were called to the local health centre this morning for our second Covid jab. We’re not top of the list but we’ve always been fairly high up because I’m clapped out and she’s just… old, I suppose, but don’t tell her I said that.

There was the usual trip round town first, and by the time we got to the health centre, I was worn out. She treats me like a pack mule. But I was in better fettle than her because she suffers from white coat syndrome. She’s terrified of doctors, nurses, medical procedures and inoculations. They don’t bother me. My only complaint is when I was a kid, I used to get a barley sugar after a jab, and now I don’t. But as the nurse pointed out, I’m diabetic, so I couldn’t have one anyway.

No side effects… yet. Not even an aching arm, and I get that after the flu jab every year.

Failing that, I am now invincible… well, I will be in a couple of weeks when it’s fully bedded in. Course, that means as invincible as an ageing, eccentric, arthritic diabetic who suffers from COPD can be.

Enough of this drivel.

It’s Easter weekend and what better time to hit you with a triple whammy of freebies.

First, one of the early Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, The Chocolate Egg Murders, is free from today until Tuesday. Published by darkstroke, it’s exclusive to Amazon, but it is free, gratis, for nothing. Just follow THIS LINK and download it to your Kindle, tablet, smartphone and get reading.

Second, here’s another buckshee Sanford Mystery, Liquidated in Lockdown. This is a special. It’s a novella which sees Joe asked to solve a murder while self-isolating at the height of the coronavirus crisis. I’ll tell you no more than that. It’s available only via this site, and there are no strings attached. It’s just there and you can help yourself. Grab it by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, a third giveaway, and this one is a Feyer & Drake novella entitled Nostell, which sees Drake called to his old school to defend his nephew who’s facing a charge of murder, and naturally, Sam Feyer is with him.

Once again, you can only get this book from this site, and this time, you’ll be asked to sign up to my Valued Readers’ Club. You’ll need to submit your email address, but before you do, let me hasten to reassure you. I’m not in the business of selling names and addresses. Your details will never be passed to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe the moment you’re sick of hearing from me. But it’s a brilliant and fun way of keeping up with what’s happening, what’s due, what’s dropped, and so on.

You can access Nostell by signing up on THIS LINK.

And that’s your lot for now. Remember, comments welcome, but they’ll need to be moderated, so it may take time for them to appear.

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