The story that refuses to behave...
“The Best Corpse for the Job” was my first contemporary romantic cosy mystery, although not my first mystery per se. I’ve got a running series, the Cambridge Fellows mysteries, set in the early twentieth century. So I guess it was natural for people to ask me whether “Best Corpse” would be the start of a whole new series, my answer to which was a definite “maybe”. I’d hate to commit myself, even in passing, to something I couldn’t definitely deliver.
But the idea nagged at me, although I didn’t have any burning ideas for a new mystery for Detective Inspector Robin Bright and his newly acquired boyfriend, Adam Matthews, to investigate. Then I remembered. The dreaded WIP. I’d better explain. I have a story I started maybe five years ago, which I keep getting out, poking at and putting back again. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve revised the first few chapters to perfection, then given up. I even gave it a major overhaul, changing some of the key details of the storyline to try to kick start it, but without success. Those of you who are authors will quite possibly be nodding sympathetically at this point as I suspect many of us have such a problem story in our vaults.
What was the problem with this WIP? Too much/too difficult specific research needed for the setting I was using, maybe. Unconvincing storyline and main characters, possibly. Lack of an overarching story arc, the sort of thing you could put into a one-line “elevator pitch”. Quite likely a combination of all of those.
Then I had a bright (excuse pun) idea. That WIP could be cannibalized effectively to provide a new story for Robin and Adam, combining elements from the original storyline and a character from the major revision. So far so good, although it’s only early days. At least I feel I can actually finish it, this time. So, Norma, I have to ask, have you got a story that refuses to behave?
Tea and sympathy have never been so deadly.
Schoolteacher Adam Matthews just wants to help select a new headteacher and go home. The governors at Lindenshaw St Crispin’s have already failed miserably at finding the right candidate, so it’s make or break this second time round. But when one of the applicants is found strangled in the school, what should have been a straightforward decision turns tempestuous as a flash flood in their small English village.
Inspector Robin Bright isn’t thrilled to be back at St. Crispin’s. Memories of his days there are foul enough without tossing in a complicated murder case. And that handsome young teacher has him reminding himself not to fraternize with a witness. But it’s not long before Robin is relying on Adam for more than just his testimony.
As secrets amongst the governors emerge and a second person turns up dead, Robin needs to focus less on Adam and more on his investigation. But there are too many suspects, too many lies, and too many loose ends. Before they know it, Robin and Adam are fighting for their lives and their hearts.
As if on cue, the rozzers—it had to be the police, Adam thought, as no other grey-suited individuals would be lurking around the school—came through it.
“Ah, Inspector Bright,” Victor said. “We were just wondering when you’d be here to tell us what’s going on.”
“A murder enquiry’s going on.” The inspector’s voice preceded him into the room.
Christine clasped her hands to her mouth. “Murder? Oh . . .”
The inspector appeared, nodding sympathetically. “I’m afraid so. Which means we’ll need to get a statement from each one of you before you can go.”
If the policeman said anything else, Adam didn’t quite catch it. He was feeling confused enough, so to have—Wright, Bright, what the hell had Victor said his name was?—walk through the door looking like that sent his thoughts off in ten directions. Policemen weren’t supposed to be so tall, dark, and stupidly handsome. Apart from in Adam’s fantasies.
Oliver’s voice interrupted the unwanted germination of some inappropriate thoughts in Adam’s brain. “Perhaps you could take Mrs. Probert’s statement first? She has two small children at the school, and they’ll need her to pick them up at the end of the lessons.” His unexpected thoughtfulness earned him one of Christine’s stunning smiles.
“Happy to oblige,” the inspector said with kindness.
Why did Adam never seem to meet blokes who reacted to his smile the way they reacted to Christine’s? Why couldn’t this policeman favour him with a flash of those dark eyes?
“Perhaps you could come along now, Mrs. Probert, and my sergeant could take you through things?” The sergeant looked like that was the best news he’d heard all day. “Anyone else need to get away urgently?”
For a moment—only a moment—Adam felt like shouting, Take me, take me now! but this was serious business. Was it defiance or denial in the face of sudden death that made him feel like behaving like a schoolboy? Or was it simply the incongruity of somebody like the inspector walking through the door? Instant chemistry, that’s what they called it, but he’d never come across such a sensation before. It was the romantic equivalent of being hit over the head with a sock full of wet sand.
Then he remembered why the police were here—Youngs’s body, those awful teeth—and felt sick again.
As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR, Riptide and Lethe.
Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
Find Charlie Here