Anne Bonny #BlogTour Character Profile ~Natalya Ivanova ~ Black Wolf by @garry_abson #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Russia #NatalyaIvanova #BlackWolf @TheMirrorBooks

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Black Wolf by G.D Abson

Synopsis ~

A young woman is found dead on the outskirts of St Petersburg on a freezing January morning. There are no signs of injury, and heavy snowfall has buried all trace of an attacker.

Captain Natalya Ivanova’s investigation quickly links the victim to the Decembrists, an anti-Putin dissident group whose acts of civil disobedience have caught the eye of the authorities. And Natalya soon realises she is not the only one interested in the case, as government security services wade in and shut down her investigation almost before it has begun.

Before long, state media are spreading smear stories about the dead woman, and Natalya suspects the authorities have something to hide. When a second rebel activist goes missing, she is forced to go undercover to expose the truth. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Not only could her pursuit of the murderer destroy her career, but her family ties to one of the victims threaten to tear her personal life apart.

A captivating, pacy thriller that plunges right into the beating heart of Putin’s Russia.

Character Profile Natalya Ivanova ~

The hero of my series, Senior Investigator Natalya Ivanova, lives in Vladimir Putin’s birthplace of Saint Petersburg (actually there is some doubt that Putin was even born a Russian citizen, but that’s another story). After spending her teenage years in Germany, Natalya has become an idealist, a European liberal who refuses to adapt to morally grey Russia; something that isn’t a problem for her pragmatic husband Mikhail, a more senior officer in the Criminal Investigations Directorate.

In MOTHERLAND, the first in the series, a disillusioned Natalya is responding to domestic violence calls, knowing the offenders will only be prosecuted in the most serious cases. When a Swedish student goes missing, she’s offered a chance to run a major investigation. The theme of MOTHERLAND, though, is of corruption. Webster’s dictionary describes it as powerful people engaging in illegal or dishonest behaviour, but there’s an older sense too, of corruption as an agent of decay. And while Natalya wants to be an idealist fighting the corrupt elite of the Russian establishment, the decay leaves no one untouched, not even an investigator and her family.

When a young woman’s half-frozen body is found by a road in BLACK WOLF, and the woman turns out to be a member of the Decembrists – a secretive group of anti-government activists – Natalya’s idealism goes into hyperdrive. She sees a killer at work despatching people she has more in common with than her own colleagues. After being removed form the case, she refuses to stop. As for the black wolf of the title, that’s Natalya. In this exchange with her superior, Lieutenant Colonel Dostoynov, he forces her to confront the darker origins of her idealism.

Dostoynov chuckled. ‘Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of a black wolf, Ivanova?’
‘No, Colonel.’
‘It’s a mutation caused by wolves mating with dogs in the distant past. Black wolves are outcasts, destined to be neither one thing nor the other. The wolves in their pack attack them for being different and they are shot for their trouble when seeking human company. That’s you, Ivanova. The Decembrists don’t trust you, and neither do we.’
‘Yes, Colonel.’
‘The interesting point though, Ivanova, is that despite outward appearances there is little difference between a black wolf and a grey – merely a few genes for the colour of the pelt. As for you, there is no record of you attending anti-government demonstrations or joining political groups. You rail against corruption, while married to an officer under investigation, and you live in an apartment beyond both of your means. Do you know what I think?’
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘There you are again with your little quips. I’ll tell you though, because it’s clear to anyone who looks at your file. Your rebellion started when your parents divorced. You were a resentful teenager who listened to punk long after it was fashionable. You hated your mother for bringing you back to Piter, and your father and sister for letting her do it. You think you’re fighting the Russian state, but you’re fighting your own family.’

Garry Abson
G.D. Abson
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Ted Bundy Conversations With A Killer by Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth #Netflix #TedBundy #SerialKiller #TrueCrime @TheMirrorBooks

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Ted Bundy Conversations With A Killer by Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth
Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

The book behind the sensational Netflix series The Ted Bundy Tapes.

Now the subject of a major motion picture, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron

Ted Bundy: Conversations with a Killer was born out of more than 150 hours of exclusive interview footage with Bundy himself, recorded on death row before his execution in a Florida electric chair.

Bundy’s shocking eleventh-hour confessions to journalists Stephen G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth provide a horrifying insight into the twisted mind of America’s most notorious serial killer.

He was a sadistic monster.

A master manipulator.

His grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead.

This is Ted Bundy in his own words.

Extract ~

TB: Uh huh. That would be fair to say. The sexual activity was very responsive and very energetic. Uh, at certain parts of the evening he felt himself on the edge of taking her life, just, just out of the desire to do so. But the justifications were not there. Nor was that malignant condition that active at that time. It was active, but not at high strength. But when morning came around and they dressed and he took the girl back to the area where she lived, he felt like he’d accomplished something.

He deluded himself at that point into thinking that he had really conquered those impulses. But within a period of time he discovered that that was an inaccurate conclusion. He didn’t recognize then, or perhaps he did not want to recognize, that just the matter of a week or two later he probably would have killed her.

SM: What happens when the malignant part cannot be controlled or insists on gratification? At Lake Sammamish, for instance, there were great risks taken. But what if the urge is there and it can’t, for some reason, be met?

TB (pause): In the wake of a particular crime, he was not in a state of remission. That is, he actively wanted to go out and seek a victim. But he knew that he could not afford to do so without creating an intolerable amount of more public frenzy and panic, as well as police activity.

But while driving one day, he saw a young girl walking along a deserted area. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up. So he exited his car and approached the girl and shoved her into a bushy field. Without any preparation. No planning. Without any disguise. Just an impulsive kind of thing. And then he was faced with the prospect:
What should he do with her? He’d have to debate a considerable amount. There had been an illegal act of rape. Yet he refrained from harming her physically and left the scene and returned to his car and drove home. Had it occurred a few weeks later, he wouldn’t have acted in the same way. Or a few days later. But he did not want to create a great amount of public furor because it would reduce the opportunity for victims later on and it would increase the possibility of eyewitness reports. And he knew enough about these circumstances that, in all likelihood, it wouldn’t be reported. Or if it was reported, nothing much would be done about it. They wouldn’t necessarily link it to the other crimes. It would have been a simple act of rape of the type that is fairly common.
(Bundy said that the act of rape alone did not satisfy “the entity.” But during the last segment of this last interview, he described another scene in which, he maintained, the object was rape. Two days before his execution, Ted told Dennis Couch of the Salt Lake County sheriff’s office how he had murdered sixteen-year-old Nancy Wilcox in October of 1974. According to Couch, the account Bundy gave of the crime matches this story, almost verbatim.)

TB: As we’ve discussed before, frequently after this individual, uh, committed a murder, he would lapse, uh, into a period of sorrow, remorse, et cetera. And for a period of time he would do everything to overcome and otherwise repress the, uh, the overt behavior. Indeed, on one particular occasion he went to extraordinary lengths to do this following a crime, and he felt that he had succeeded, that the abnormal course of conduct had just sort of, uh, extinguished itself. He became somewhat satisfied and secure with the feeling that he had accomplished this.

But in this instance, the cracks in the façade, as it were, began to appear. He then would attempt to channel the desire within him into a different area, into something which was still, uh, improper, immoral or illegal, but something that was less serious, less severe.
Uh, and so he, in sort of a, uh, a compromise decided that rather than go out and inflict this mortal injury on a someone he would search out a victim in such a way that there would be no possibility of detection and he would not be forced into a position of having to kill. In essence he compromised into just going out and performing an act of rape, as it were.

So, he, uh, began to just go out driving around the suburbs, uh, in this city, uh, that he was living in, and one particular evening he’s driving down a fairly dark street and saw a girl walking along the street. Okay?

SM: Uh huh.

TB: Because the area was dark and she was alone, he decided to select her as the victim for this intended act of sexual assault. He parked his car down the street, and, uh, then ran up behind the girl.

Just as he came up upon her, they were at a place where there was an orchard, or a number of trees or something. As he came up behind her she heard him. She turned around and he brandished a knife and grabbed her by the arm and told her to do what he wanted her to do. You know, to follow him.

SM: Yeah.

TB: He pushed her off the sidewalk into this darkened, wooded area, and uh, told her to submit and do what he wanted her to do.

She began to argue with him and he kept telling her to be quiet. She said she didn’t believe he would do anything to her, anyway. Then he began to try to remove her clothes and she would, uh, continue to struggle in a feeble manner. And also voice verbally her objections to what was going on.

And then, uh, the significance, now, is that his intent with this victim was not to harm her. He thought this was going to be a significant departure; perhaps even a way of deconditioning himself, to climb down that ladder or, uh, I can’t think of a good word, de-, de-escalate this level of violence to the point where there would be no violence at all. Even no necessity for that kind of encounter at all.

SM: I see.

TB: But he found himself with this girl who was struggling and screaming. Uh, not screaming, but let’s say just basically arguing with him. There were houses in the vicinity and he was concerned that somebody might hear. And so, in an attempt to stop her from talking or arguing, he placed his hand over her mouth.

She stopped and he attempted to remove her clothes and she began to object again. At this point, he was in a state of not just agitation, but something on the order of panic. He was fearing that she would arouse somebody in the vicinity.

So, not thinking clearly but still intending not to harm her, let’s say, he placed his hands around her throat.

SM: Uh huh.

TB: Just to throttle her into unconsciousness so that she wouldn’t scream anymore. She stopped struggling, and it appeared that she was unconscious. But not, in his opinion, to a point where he had killed her.

SM: Right.

TB: Then let’s say he removed her clothes and raped her and put his own clothes back on. At about that point, he began to notice that the girl wasn’t moving. It appeared, although he wasn’t certain, that he’d done what he had promised himself he wouldn’t do. And he had done it, really, almost inadvertently.

Uh, so he took the girl by one of her arms and pulled her to a darkened corner of this little orchard and then, in a fit of panic, fled the scene. He got back in his car and drove back to his house, still not knowing if the girl was alive or dead.

But once he returned to the house, upon reflection he began to wonder. He didn’t know if he’d left anything at the crime scene. He hadn’t thought about publicity and physical evidence.

So he decided to return to the scene and if the body was there to recover it and take it somewhere else where it wouldn’t be found.

SM: Is this the same night?

TB: Huh? Oh, yeah. But he faced two problems in returning to the scene. First, prior to the incident he was in a state of intoxication, and he didn’t know the area that well. So he couldn’t remember exactly where it was he had to return, couldn’t find his way back, as it were.

But let’s say, after a considerable period of time of driving about in the general vicinity, uh, he was able to locate the area. It was getting fairly late about this time.
Nobody was in the vicinity, so apparently she hadn’t gotten up and gone away and the police hadn’t returned to the scene. Or she was still there.
He parked his car at the curb in front of this small orchard and walked into it and saw that, in fact, the body was still in the same position he’d left it.
So it was clear that the girl was dead.

So he carried the body to his car and put it in and covered it. Then he returned to the general area with a flashlight and scoured it to pick up everything that he may have left there – her clothing, et cetera. He placed that in the car and then returned to his apartment.

SM: Did he find everything?

TB: I don’t know.

SM: Would he have worn a mask?

TB: No, I don’t think so. I mean, he didn’t… it was dark and he…

SM: Well, the reason I asked is that if the intent was not to kill the victim, you would think that there would have been some kind of measure taken to disguise his identity.

TB: In a way, it was planned, but in a way it was like a spur of the moment thing for this person. He figured the object was to do it in such a way that it would be done in a very dark scene. Eventually, he found that kind of opportunity.

Stephen
Stephen G. Michaud
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Murder In Belgravia & A Death In Chelsea by @LynnBrittney2 5* @TheMirrorBooks #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #London #ADeathInChelsea #Mayfair100

MIB cover
Murder In Belgravia by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

The first in the exciting new Mayfair 100 series of nostalgic crime sagas.

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair, London in 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.

Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is tasked with investigating the murder of an aristocrat. The man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.

As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.

Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?

My Review:

The novel opens with a confession and a problem…
Lady Harriet makes an emotional and desperate confession to murder. However, due to her society class and position, she refuses to elaborate unless she is allowed to speak to a female. This causes quite a conundrum for Chief Inspector Peter Beech, as there are no females currently on the staff.

Eventually, Peter is able to negotiate the formation of a new team, which will include an unlikely bunch of amateur detectives. Met Commissioner Sir Edward Henry is reluctant to agree, believing females have no place in the police force. Can the team prove him wrong?

The team is formed, it includes Caroline aka Dr Allardyce a young woman who has already defied her class, taking a role in the medical profession treating women. PC Billy Rigsby aka ‘The Creek’ a young and novice police officer. Retired Detective Sargent Arthur Tollman re-recruited back to the police force due to lack of man power with the war. And finally Caroline, a lawyer with an eye for mystery and an old flame of Peter’s.

‘Times had changed with a vengeance and the police force had a long way to go to catch up’

Lady Harriet’s physical condition worsens and it becomes apparent to Caroline and Peter, that she would have lacked the physical wellbeing and strength to commit the murder of her husband Lord Mucheson.
So who killed the Lord?

The team must dig into the private lives of the Lord and Lady and their serving staff. Can they gain the trust of the upper classes and the serving staff? Or will the culprit remain at large?

The historical depth within the novel is insightful, accurate and really enhances the story as a whole. We learn about the impact of the great war on the mental wellbeing of the returning soldiers, the injured and the families left waiting for answers.
Recently I watched author Marlon James give a talk at Oxford Uni about JRR Tolkein; within the talk he breaks down the difference emotionally and on the male psyche between the great war and world war 2. It is easy to see, how this could provide ample inspiration for historical fiction writing and Lynne Brittney does not disappoint, at all!

The novel also touches upon the discrimination women faced in the early days of their relationship with the Met. Ironic really, given that now in 2019 the met is now ran by a female!

Rich in historical detail with a real sense of the era. 1915 is brought alive on the page and I was so pleased to learn this is the first in a new series! 5*

DIC cover
A Death In Chelsea by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair.

A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered.

Can the group uncover the truth?

My Review:

The novel offers a brief introduction for those readers whom may not have had chance to devour Murder In Belgravia. It does cover the necessary facts, but I am glad I had the chance to read the first in the series as there is four individual characters that form the team and each have great background stories.

July 1915, Chief Inspector Peter Beech is summoned to the office of the met commissioner. There he is introduced to the case which forms the basis of this novel The death of society ‘it girl’ Lady Adeline Treborne. Her mother the Duchess of Penhere, believes it to be a murder…
Adeline was estranged from her family due to the scandalous nature of her profession.
‘Whoever heard of a society columnist who never actually went to any of the events she wrote about’

We are briefly introduced to a new team member Miss Mabel Summersby. I really loved the introduction of a new female team member and I hope the author continues to layer the novels with more intriguing characters.

Adeline’s post mortem brings more mystery to the case and we are left to wonder, who do you solve the death of a woman, many had motive to kill?
Is Adeline the most hated person in all of London?
The team must dig into the pasts of Adeline’s family and those that knew her.

This novel shines a spotlight onto the working relationship between team members Tollman and Billy. I really loved the mix-up of the old and new police tactics and their ability to create funny moments within the novel.

The novel covers differing themes to Murder In Belgravia with blackmail, hidden desires, secrets and hushed up crimes playing a central role in Adeline’s career success…

A real sense of the team spirit and impressive characterisation. 5*

LB
Lynn Brittney
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour ~ Extract Unrest by @jesper_stein #NordicNoir #CrimeFiction #NewRelease @TheMirrorBooks #Unrest #AxelSteen

UNREST_HIGH
Unrest by Jesper Stein
Translated by David Young
Synopsis:

When the bound, hooded corpse of an unidentified man is found propped up against a gravestone in the central cemetery, Axel Steen is assigned the case.

Rogue camera footage soon suggests police involvement and links to the demolition of the nearby Youth House, teeming with militant far-left radicals. But Axel soon discovers that many people, both inside and out of the force, have an unusual interest in the case and in preventing its resolution.

With a rapidly worsening heart condition, an estranged ex-wife and beloved five-year-old daughter to contend with, Axel will not stop until the killer is caught, whatever the consequences. But the consequences turn out to be greater than expected – especially for Axel himself.

Extract:

Piver went into Nemoland. He felt safe enough in here to turn his attention back to the camcorder. He bought another gold label and settled in a dark corner on an old sofa and took out the camera.

A section of Nørrebrogade right next to the Box appeared on the screen. The full light of day. Pavement, cycle lane, road, cycle lane, pavement, wall and a section of the cemetery. He estimated that the camera covered 100 yards along the street and 50 yards wide. The time indicated that it was set up at 10.21 on Thursday morning. He spooled forward and saw the riots, demonstrators throwing stones, rubbish bins being pushed over, the police driving wildly after people in their transport vehicles. He relived the whole day.

At 15.23 he saw three plain-clothes officers chasing a man and smacking him up against the wall of the cemetery. There didn’t appear to be any demonstrations at that point. Piver stopped, spooled back and tried to find a button he could use to zoom in. He couldn’t, but there was no doubt what was happening on the small screen. The man had his hands twisted behind his back by two of the officers, while the third pressed his hand against his throat in a half stranglehold. The man’s cry for help came through clear as a bell. The officer holding the man around his throat now began hitting his upper body with his baton. At the same time, the other two had put him in handcuffs, and now they lifted him up and began to drag him off. Both had their batons out and used them several times. They were really hitting him hard – on his back, neck and head, before throwing him into one of the police vans. The man didn’t resist at any point.

Was that what they were afraid of? Was all that talk about a murder just a smokescreen to hide the fact that they were looking for some footage that clearly showed pure, unadulterated police violence?

Whatever – it looked completely crazy. Piver was agitated.

He carried on watching on fast forward. Yesterday’s riots flowed across the screen like a surreal ballet with activists and uniformed officers in the leading roles and curious Copenhageners and the press as passive spectators. Occasionally, it went quiet, and the grey asphalt of the street lay bare like an abandoned stage. At one point, two containers were set on fire and the white light of the ames rose and disappeared at express speed. He kept an eye on the cemetery as it moved towards evening and darkness fell. He stopped the tape whenever he saw someone moving into the murk under the trees behind the yellow wall. There were uniformed police officers on patrol, plain-clothes police and individual citizens, but nothing that looked like a murder.

Until 01.33.

They came out from under the trees inside the cemetery just opposite the camera. One of them was wearing dark clothes and a cap pulled down over his head so that his face was obscured. The other was bareheaded with dark hair, but walking as if he were drunk or dizzy. The first one had an arm around him and it looked as though he was helping him along. They disappeared behind the wall exactly where the cops had been bustling about with their projectors all morning. A couple of minutes passed and the man with the cap appeared again. He stared at something that was hidden behind the wall. There was a white flash. He put something in his pocket, which Piver guessed was a camera or mobile, lifted his cap and first looked up, then to the sides before turning around and disappearing under the trees into the cemetery.

Piver’s whole body went hot. His pulse was pumping so crazily that he got earache for a moment. Could it really be true? Here it was. The evidence the cops would do anything to get hold of. There was no doubt. Now he understood why it was crucial for them.

Jesper Stein, journalist, forfatter
Jesper Stein
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UNREST_blog tour 2018 (V2)

Anne Bonny #BlogTour Death Of An Actress Q&A with #Author Antony M Brown @ccjury & #Extract #TrueCrime #NewRelease #NonFiction @TheMirrorBooks #DeathOfAnActress Sex, lies & Murder on the high seas. . .

DEATH OF AN ACTRESS FC
Death Of An Actress by Antony M Brown
Synopsis:

Published in time for the 70th anniversary of one of the most dramatic trials in British criminal history.
DEATH OF AN ACTRESS is the second in the Cold Case Jury Collection, a unique series of true crime titles. Each case study tells the story of an unsolved crime, or one in which the verdict is open to doubt. Fresh evidence is presented and the reader is invited to deliver their own verdict.

October 1947. A luxury liner steams over the equator off the coast of West Africa and a beautiful actress disappears from her cabin. Suspicion falls on a dashing deck steward with a reputation for entering the cabins of female passengers. When the liner docks at Southampton, the steward is questioned by police. Protesting his innocence, he makes an astonishing admission that shocks everyone, and is charged with murder. His trial at the historic Great Hall in Winchester draws the world’s media. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang.

But was the verdict sound?

Many believe not.

Now for the first time, Antony M. Brown has secured unprecedented access to the police file, enabling the definitive story to be told. Included in the file are original court exhibits, including a hairbrush with strands of the actress’s red hair. Could a personal effect left behind in her cabin provide clues to how she might have died? Take your seat on the Cold Case Jury…

Q&A:

Q) What’s different about the Cold Case Jury true crime collection?

A) It is a series of cold murder cases, normally from the first half of last century, which combine history with a mystery. I have three goals. First, to engage the reader directly. Rather than passively describing events, I use dramatic reconstruction to show what happened and what might have happened. Second, to present key evidence in a special section. Where possible, I introduce new evidence, too. In Death of an Actress, I am the first author to have seen the police file, and new evidence and photographs are published for the first time. Third, to invite readers to deliver their verdicts online on what they think happened. Hence the reader becomes part of the case, helping to bring it to some closure.

Q) What is Death of an Actress about?

A) The second book in the series is about the tragic death of 21-year-old Gay Gibson in 1947. She disappeared from the passenger liner Durban Castle as it sailed from Cape Town to Southampton. A deck steward, James Camb, was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to hang, although many believe there was insufficient evidence to convict. Others believe he was innocent.

Q) Why is it an interesting case?

A) First, it is a murder on the high seas, which is rare. Second, there was no body – it was dumped into the sea. Again, this is unusual in a murder case because the body reveals the cause of death, and without one, the evidence is circumstantial. Third, there was no body because the only suspect confessed to disposing of it while protesting his innocence at the same time. Lastly, the case is from 1947, a different era from today in terms of travel, moral values and medicine. All these factors play a part in this fascinating case.

Q) Why did you select the excerpt below?

A) The extract dramatically reconstructs the first encounter between Gay Gibson and James Camb on board the Durban Castle. It is based solely on James Camb’s account, of course, but many details were gleaned from other evidence and witness testimony. We know from the statements of her friends – unheard at the trial and published for the first time in the book – that Gay talked intimately to strangers. Did this conversation spark attraction between her and the steward? Or was everything distorted in the mind of the man who would later be charged with her murder? Whatever you believe, it is no exaggeration to say that this encounter started a chain reaction that lead to the death of an actress.

EXTRACT:
Camb returned, holding a tray aloft with the palm of his right hand, his left tidily tucked behind his back. As he placed the cocktail glass carefully onto the drink mat in front of her, he observed the spark in her beautiful brown eyes.

“A John Collins, madam. Enjoy,” he said, bowing theatrically. Gay giggled and took a sip. “That’s perfect. Thank you.” She replaced the glass on the table, which gently moved up and down with the swell, as if the ship were breathing.

“So, you’re returning from holiday?” Camb asked, eager to restart the conversation. “No, I’ve just finished performing in a play in Johannesburg – Golden Boy. Have you heard of it?” Camb shook his head. “Well, my leading man was Eric Boon. I bet you’ve heard of him.” “Yes, of course, the Thunderbolt. He’s a good boxer.”

“He’s also an actor, you know. He’s already been in a film, Champagne Charlie.” The steward looked blankly. “With Tommy Trinder and Stanley Holloway?” Gay could see he was still none the wiser. “Well, I guess he brought some star quality to the production, being famous ’n’ all.”

“Is the play coming to London? I could come and see it when I get some leave.” “No, it finished early. It received good reviews and everything, but they closed the theatre.” “Sounds like tough luck. What will you do now?” “I’ve got some introductions to theatres back home.” She took another sip of her cocktail. “And your boyfriend’s joining you later?” Camb asked cheekily, although his only interest in the answer was to assess her likely availability.

“Charles has to run his business, so he couldn’t come with me, but I can’t stop thinking about him.” She placed both her hands across her breast. “We’ve been going steady for only a month, but I’m already crazy about him. He’s taken me to all the best restaurants and clubs in Johannesburg, you know.”

Camb was not deterred by her proclaimed affection, but her answer seemed a little odd. “Why not stay and act in South Africa, then?” he asked. “Well…” Gay hesitated, glancing down to the table. She took another sip of her drink. “Things are a little delicate right now.” “You mean he doesn’t feel the same way?” “No, he’s crazy about me, too. I just know he is,” she gushed. “Well, if you were my girl, I wouldn’t let you go,” he joked. Camb expected a giggle in response but instead Gay suddenly looked pensive. “It’s just…” she started, taking a puff of her cigarette. “Well, let’s just say, things may have become a little… complicated.” Camb asked jocularly, “You don’t mean to tell me you’re having a baby?”

Gay didn’t take offence at Camb’s familiarity. “Well, it’s rather too soon to know,” she replied cautiously. “If that’s the position, why don’t you marry the man?” There was a long pause. “It’s not quite as easy as that.” “The longer you leave it…” “He’s already married,” she cut in.

Camb said nothing, as he surmised the probable purpose of her trip to England. Gay changed the subject, her mood brightening a little as she spoke. “I’m going to have a rest after lunch. I always feel a little sleepy then. Would you mind bringing me a tray of afternoon tea in my cabin? At about four o’clock?” “I cannot leave the Promenade Deck, especially at that time,” Camb explained. “I’m busy with the tea service. When you want afternoon tea, summon the cabin steward and tell him what you want. I’ll prepare your tray and he will bring it to your cabin.” Gay nodded as a male voice called out, “Steward, is it possible for someone else to get served here?” “You’d better go,” she smiled.

Camb slid a printed Manila slip and a stubby pencil across the table. “Could you sign and date it. You settle your account at the end of each week.” Gay filled out the docket. “And your cabin number, please.” He took the slip and circled five pence in the top corner, although he was more interested in knowing the cabin number. He said goodbye, and promptly left. The next time he looked into the Long Gallery there was only an empty, lipstick marked cocktail glass on the corner table.

Image from the inside the book:
Image for GP2

Antony M. Brown
Antony M Brown
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