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