The follow excerpt is from my very first book in the Loveday Ross Cornish Mysteries Series. I thought you might enjoy coming with me to have a look around Loveday’s stamping ground in Marazion, Penzance and Truro.
Cornish Folk magazine office is right there in Lemon Street, plus the pub where Loveday, Merrick, and DI Sam Kitto all hang out. And above is a picture of Penzance, where Loveday does her shopping. Enjoy the read….
A CORNISH REVENGE
A bleak Cornish cliff top strewn with the derelict remains of old tin mines.
It seems, to magazine editor, Loveday Ross, an odd place for an art class, but then her artist friend, Lawrence Kemp, has been acting strangely recently.
As her camera clicks taking pictures for the article she’s planning to write, a grim sight emerges from the receding tide below.
It’s the body of a man! He’d been staked hand and foot into the shingle cove.
But why has the discovery made Lawrence so edgy?
And why are his students, Kit Armitage, and Abbie Grainger, so affected by the killing?
Detective Inspector Sam Kitto doesn’t appreciate finding a journalist at the murder scene…but Loveday isn’t happy being a suspect.
He stood between the fluted pillars of the big granite villa, a small dapper man in a dark silk shirt and matching needle cord trousers. His grey eyes narrowed as he watched his wife’s red MG disappear down the drive. Magdalene was off to meet her lover! She’d thought he hadn’t known about them. How stupid was that? Paul Bentine knew everything about the people in his life. That was where his power lay. Well his smart little wife was in no doubt now that she’s been caught out.
He grimaced after the retreating car, listening until the purr of its engine faded before turning back to his study. He pulled the crumpled paper from his pocket and smoothed it out on his desk. The letters had been clipped from a newspaper. It was a tabloid. He flicked the grubby sheet across the desk and narrowed his eyes. It was shoddy, incompetent, amateurish rubbish – and bloody insulting if anybody actually believed he could be intimidated by it.
Reaching for his brandy glass he swirled the amber liquid before raising it to his lips. ‘Your Time Has Come!’ the note had said. He threw back the contents of the glass in one gulp and smirked. It was some pathetic attempt to rattle him, but it wasn’t working. Lawyers got threatened all the time, it was the nature of the job…and with his little sideline…
But this was the third note. The first had arrived in the mail eight days earlier. ‘I Know What You’ve Been Doing!’ It was followed four days later by the second stark message. ‘I’m Watching You!’
Taking them to the police was not an option. He didn’t want any flat-footed coppers ferreting about in his business. But he hadn’t destroyed them either. The vile thing on his desk now would join the others, locked away in his safe box on the boat. He’d pondered the sense of keeping them at first, but his legal mind had persuaded him not to destroy potentially valuable evidence. Besides…they might even come in useful, once he had discovered who sent them – and he would. Discovering things about people – things he could use to his advantage – was what Paul Bentine did best.
Did his beautiful, rich wife really believe he would not find out about her little liaisons with the amorous vicar? They were the mice and he was the cat…and what fun he would have with them. The thought made him smile. How righteous would the Rev Martin Foley appear in the eyes of his flock then? Bentine poured himself another brandy and savoured the thought of how much he would enjoy tormenting them, teasing out their misery until it suited him to end their affair.
He went to the wall safe, took out the small black laptop and booted it up. They were all here, all the supreme mugs, the ones who had it all – until he made it his business to discover their seedy little secrets. He scrolled down the list. The names were impressive – a banker, the principal of a well known public school, a barrister, an artist, and two prominent company directors…all of them with something to hide.
The brandy bottle was empty now and he went in search of another. The computer was still open on his desk when he returned. He didn’t hear the catch slide on the French windows behind him, or notice the soft footfall on the thick green carpet.
… But he felt the sharp pain as his arms were grabbed from behind, his wrists trussed together with a coarse twine, and a chloroform soaked rag forced over his nose.
When he came round he was in total darkness, and for a moment he wondered if he was dead….But there was a noise…something familiar…he concentrated on it. It was the roar of car tyres on a tarmac road. He was moving. He was in a car…in the boot of a car. Suddenly, he couldn’t breathe. He felt the panic rising. When he moved, there was a stab of pain across his shoulders and he realised that his hands were still tied behind him. His head throbbed. Pain was good. He could focus on pain.
The car stopped. There were muffled voices, then feet crunching gravel. What the hell was happening to him? The boot opened, but no light came in, only a rush of cold, damp air. Paul filled his lungs. He had no idea what time it was, not that it mattered, not if they were going to release him. He wondered if he was still in Cornwall? How easy would it be find his way home?
Somewhere in the distance he could hear the sea…waves pounding rocks…he could taste the salt. A torch beam shone in his face.
‘So, you’re back with us?’
He’d heard the voice before…but when…where? He tried to think, to clear his mind, but everything was muddled. How did he know that voice?
‘We’re going for a little boat trip,’ it said.
Rough hands grabbed him and yanked his body to a standing position. He swayed and the torch beam swung round – and Paul Bentine was looking into the eyes of his abductor.
‘You! It’s bloody you, isn’t it?’ he stared open mouthed at the face he recognised. ‘Why are you doing this? No, don’t tell me.’ Now that he knew the identity of his abductor it gave him power. ‘Ok, so you’ve got your own back. But your little joke has gone far enough. Now untie me!’
His gag was removed and the harsh twin lashing his arms was sliced through. His hands were suddenly free. His wrists felt raw and he knew they were bleeding. He looked around and saw only blackness. ‘You’re not going to leave me out here in the middle of nowhere?’ He tried to sound threatening, but the relief that filled his veins when he assumed he was being set free, turned to chill when he saw the barrel of the gun.
‘No Paul.’ The voice was cold. ‘You haven’t yet served your purpose.’
He felt hands on his back and staggered as he was propelled along the sand. Was there more than one of them? He wasn’t sure.
They stopped. And in the watery light of a half moon he made out the shape of a dinghy.
‘Push the boat.’ The order came with a sharp jab in the kidneys from the gun.
‘Have you lost your mind?’
‘I told you…we are going for a little trip, now do as you’re told.’
Paul was long past arguing. He pushed, and felt the icy water flow around his ankles.
‘Now get in and start the engine.’
He hated water…had an uncontrollable fear of it. He did, sometimes, secretly board Magdalene’s boat in Falmouth marina, but even she knew better than to suggest that he should go sailing in it.
He was betting his captors knew that. Was this to be his punishment?
He stumbled on board, aware of the dark sea all around. Waves of nausea swept over him and he swiped at the beads of sweat on his forehead with a shaky hand. He was pushed into a corner and the engine sparked into life as they chugged away from shore into the blackness of the sea. He could see pinpoints of lights along the coast but they were too far out now to hope for help from that direction. He toyed with the idea of making a grab for the gun, but it might go off in his face. He wasn’t that brave. Paul had no idea how far they had travelled before the order came to turn in to land. He got the impression of cliffs, then a patch of beach. The torch beam flashed again.
‘Over there,’ the voice commanded. ‘Make for over there.’
It was a shingle cove, protected all around by the sheer black face of the cliffs. They beached the boat and climbed out. Then the order came.
‘Are you mad? It’s freezing. I’ve had enough of – ‘
But the moon slid from behind a cloud, and its silvery light picked out the glint of the gun barrel. It was pointing at him.
‘Clothes off!’ His kidnapper was getting agitated now.
Paul undressed, shivering, to his boxer shorts.
‘Now down on your back’
Paul’s eyes were wide with terror. He made one last desperate bid for mercy. ‘If you want me to beg, then I’ll beg. I’m sorry. Is that what you want to hear?’ He was trembling. ‘Look… I made a mistake. I’ve admitted it…And I’ll keep my mouth shut about what’s happened here tonight. I know you’re only trying to frighten me – and I deserve it.’ He waited for a response, but none came. ‘Please,’ he pleaded into the darkness. ‘Please let me go.’
He felt the cold steel of a gun barrel against his temple.
‘Do as I say or it’s a bullet in the head…and at this range, I won’t miss.’
He dropped to his knees and winced in pain as a push sent him splaying across the sharp shingle. His body tensed as a rope went round his wrist and was pegged into the grit. He screamed and tried to break free, then heard the cocking mechanism of the gun.
‘OK. I’ll do whatever you want…just don’t shoot me.’
He allowed his tormentor to peg down his other wrist and do the same with his ankles. He was now spread-eagle in this sinister cove. He could see the stars…a whole heaven of stars so close above him. There was a crunch of feet on the shingle…then the sound of an outboard springing to life. The dinghy was pulling away, chugging into the night.
At any moment he would see the flash of a camera…the giggle of those hiding amongst the rocks. Humiliation…that’s what this was all about. He waited, but no sound came save for the noise of the waves. He could hear them lapping close now, feel the first sting of the icy sea as it reached the soles of his feet.
No one heard his screams. The water crept higher, moving up his legs… his torso…covering his chest. His eyes were wide with terror when it reached his neck. He fought frantically to free himself, but the pegs that held him down had been forced deep. He opened his mouth to scream again, but no sound came.
A tight pain flashed across Paul Bentine’s chest before the darkness came down. The stars had gone!
You can read the rest of the story here
And this is where you can find me if you want to link up –
…If you follow the Loveday Ross Cornish Murder Mysteries (or even if you don’t) you can download A Cornish Malice, Book 5 in the series, right here on the website – and it won’t cost you a penny.
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