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Genre: Crime Thriller Published by: Witness Impulse Publication Date: 7/15/2014 Number of Pages: 320 ISBN: 9780062301604 Purchase Links:
The warmth of him, the glorious warmth, was fading by the minute.
In a huge old school house by the sea, full of precious paintings, Thomas Porteous is dying. His much younger wife Di holds him and mourns. She knows that soon, despite her being his sole inheritor, Thomas’s relatives will descend on the collection that was the passion of both of their lives.
And descend they do. The two needy daughters, who were poisoned against their father by their defecting mother, are now poison themselves. The family regard Thomas’s wealth as theirs by right, with the exception of young Patrick, who adored his grandfather and is torn between his parents and Di, the interloper.
The family know Di’s weaknesses, and she has to learn theirs. After all, she met Thomas when she came to his house to rob him. With the help of an unlikely collection of loners and eccentrics, she sets a trap to hoist the family members on their own greed. And on the night they are lured to the house, Di will be ready.
Or will she?
Read an excerpt:
‘Come on Thomas, come upstairs and look at the view,’ Di said. ‘Look at the clouds.”
She hugged him closer.
‘I’ll keep you warm,” she said. “Will you come with me? There’s this painting I want you to see. Thomas?”
The warmth of him, the glorious warmth was fading by the minute. She was sitting in his lap with her arms around him, cradling his head with its shock of thick white hair, talking into it, nuzzling it like a cat. She stroked his profile, a beak of a nose, the handsome, furrowed forehead suddenly smoothed and by that token, the very lift of his face, she knew he was dead. She had known the imminence of his death from the moment he came in, gave her the flowers and then sat in the chair and closed his bright blue eyes: she had known it for months of illness, and all the same, when it happened, it was incomprehensible. Because he was still warm, and she was realizing, slowly, slowly, that most of the warmth came from her.
She told herself not to be silly. He would wake up in a minute, give her the smile that lit him like a light from within and then he would start to teach, talk in rhymes or sing. Such a voice he had, such a lovely voice with a light rhythm, as if there was a song already in it.
‘It’ll be alright, she said to him. ‘Won’t it, love?’
There was no answer. She continued to speak, stroking his hair, still thick, but so much thinner than it had been. She straightened it with her fingers and touched his ears. Cold, but then the lobes of his ears were always cold, even when she breathed close.
‘A word in your shell-like, darling,’ she said, softly. ‘Do you know, you look just like a bird? All beak and chin, that’s you, not an ounce to spare. You’ve been on the wing long enough, you’re just tired, you are. You know what? That’s good. You’ve lost your voice, that’s all. But you can still hear, so you’ll know I’ll never say a bad thing about you, ever, because there’s nothing bad to say, and I don’t tell anyone anything ever. Any secret’s good with me. You know me, I’m good for that. Can’t talk, can’t tell secrets, except about what a good man you are. Mustn’t swear, you said, a waste of words, innit? Ok, Thomas? Shall we go upstairs and look at the view?
He lay, sprawled and twisted, his arm holding her because she had curled herself into him, and he made no response. She began to cry, soaking his jumper. Then she got up and bound his knees with a blanket to keep him warm, backed away from him, got a drink and moved, lurching around her own house like a crippled ghost.
“I grew up in rural Derbyshire, but my adult life has been spent mostly in London, with long intervals in Norfolk and Deal, all inspiring places. I was educated mostly in convent schools; then studied English and went on to qualify as a solicitor, working for what is now the Crown Prosecution Service, thus learning a bit about murder at second hand. Years later, writing became the real vocation, although the law and its ramifications still haunt me and inform many of my novels.
I’m a novelist, short story writer for magazines and radio, sometime Radio 4 contributor, (Front Row, Quote Unquote, Night Waves,) and presenter of Tales from the Stave. When I’m not working (which is as often as possible), I can be found in the nearest junk/charity shop or auction, looking for the kind of paintings which enhance my life. Otherwise, with a bit of luck, I’m relaxing by the sea with a bottle of wine and a friend or two.”-Frances Fyfield