This could be an interesting newsletter, given that I have a nightmare cold which has not only affected my nose, ears and throat, but has decided to affect my brain, too. Yesterday I tried to put the newspaper in the fridge… News The big news this week is the release of Old Sins, the fourth Lindenshaw book. That means a blog tour and a blog tour means a prize, in this case a bag of goodies which I’m happy to send anywhere. I’ll choose the winner from among the commenters on the posts – the more places people comment the more chances they have of the random winner generator choosing them. All the blog stops are listed here. Some smashing reviews already including this one: If you love cozies like I do, this is one mystery series for you. Start at the beginning and make your way here! I highly recommend them all. Read more here. I’ve got several gigs coming up in Portsmouth, both as part of the Bookfest and for World Book Night. If you fancy afternoon tea with the Deadly Dames on February 22nd or the big ‘Who’s the greatest detective/’ discussion on March 7th, then get your tickets now. I always like to have an offer to give you and today it’s for the first Lindenshaw Book, Best Corpse, which is cheap as chips on kindle at present. Here’s the first ever mention of what I suspect is the readers’ favourite character in this series, Campbell the Newfoundland. A scratching noise at the back door made them both turn round. “Excuse me. That’s Campbell.” Adam hopped off his chair. “Campbell?” “The dog. I inherited him with the house too. Come in, boy.” He opened the door for a large Newfoundland to make a regal entrance. “Does he bother you? I’ll lock him in the bedroom if he does.” “No. I like dogs.” Robin tapped his leg, encouraging Campbell to come over for a pat. “I don’t have the regular hours to let me keep one.” Adam slipped back onto his chair. Funny how the arrival of the dog had eased the atmosphere immediately, creating a common point of contact that had nothing to do with dead bodies or schools. “Unlike us teachers with our allegedly short days and long holidays.” “I didn’t say that.” Robin smiled, caressing Campbell affectionately behind the ear. “You’ve made a friend. Just don’t give him any biscuits. He’s spoiled enough.” “Noted.” Robin flashed another one of his devastating, dark-eyed smiles. “You were saying?” “I was going to say that there are plenty of people who’d leap at the chance to run the school.” Adam watched the interaction of dog and rozzer. George had never really established more than a wary truce with Campbell, even when he’d been living here for weeks on end. Didn’t they say that animals knew? “If someone comes in and turns us around, it’ll be a real feather in his or her cap. Campbell!” The dog, suitably chastened, took his nose out of Robin’s pocket where it might have hoped to find a stray custard cream. “Where’s your chewy toy? Go find it. Go on, boy.” Campbell, reluctantly, went to his bed, rooting around under it. “He’s a daft beggar. I’m sure it’s not there. Still, it’ll keep him out of mischief.” Adam sighed. “For whoever gets the headteacher job, there’s every chance it’ll turn out to be this year St. Crispin’s, and two years down the line some failing inner-city primary school with a mega salary to boot. People should be falling over themselves to get it.” “Really?” Robin made a sour face, swiftly hidden. “If the job’s such a plum, then why did nobody decent apply the first time?” Campbell, proving his owner wrong, waddled over with a teddy bear firmly clenched in his jaws, depositing the vile object in Robin’s lap. “I said you’d made a friend. You’ll have to pretend to be pleased, even if it’s revolting.” Adam found the sight of dog and man together strangely comforting. And finally – thoughts of what should be just around the corner. I love spring, especially when my flowering cherry bursts into bloom. Charlie
Last day of my blog tour and I'm blethering on about some of my favourite books at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. I'm also at Dog Eared Daydreams and Creative Deeds. "Cochrane’s characters are so beautifully crafted that it’s sometimes hard to tell which way the plot will fall, who will be the villain or the victim?" Read more at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words.
Today I'm at Bayou Book Junkie, where I'm thinking about Happy Ever Afters and how close to them gay characters have been allowed to come in the past. Also at Wicked Faeries Reviews where my hot topic is playing fair with readers. Also at TTC Books. You know the drill - comment to be in with a chance of winning a goodie bag.
More blog tour stops today. Am discussing the appeal of having ordinary, everyday protags in our books rather a parade of soldiers and firefighters, say. That's at mmgoodbookreviews. Then at Love Bytes reviews I'm talking about how you read about characters and produce a mental image that isn't always matched by what you see on a screen adaptation. Don't forget to comment at any (or all) stops to be in the hat for a goodie bag. All stops listed here.
Release day excitement never gets old, nor does the fun of a blog tour. As usual, I'm offering a bag of Brit goodies (which I'll post to anywhere in the known universe, even Littlehampton) for one winner. Comment at any blog stop to be in with a chance of winning. Every comment is an extra chance to win. Today I'm lurking at La Crimson Femme and pontificating about what I think of as the reader/writer contract (ie what we expect of the books we read) at OMG reads. All stops for the week listed here. Nice to see some positive feedback for release day. IMHO reads already looking forward to the next book!
Old Sins is the latest Lindenshaw mystery. Here, in the interest of the case, Robin and Adam are attending a wedding fair at a stately home and the guide isn't impressed at some of the questions... “I hear you’re thinking of a holiday village,” said the partner of the man who’d made the unfortunate joke. “A holiday village?” Debbie shuddered. “I can’t imagine anything worse. I’m sure the owners would have no desire to see the estate transformed in such a common manner.” The inflexion on the word common and the peering down her nose put an end to any further questions and meant Robin and Adam could escape from Debbie’s clutches to the relative peace of the garden. “Please don’t tell me you’d like this as a venue,” Robin said, as soon as they’d found a seat in a quiet corner. “Not in a million years. Might be some useful stuff in here, though.” Adam jiggled the bag of brochures. “Got to say I liked Ben’s pal. A photographer has to be a given, whatever the rest of the event consists of, don’t you think?” “I do.” The phrase—with all its connotations—hung in the air between them, before the impending arrival of bad-joke-man, whose moaning voice reverberated like a foghorn along the path, made them share a glance and decide to move on. They were a touch too late. More excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.
I promise I don't get all my books from the local Oxfam book shops, but I do turn up some right gems there. I had no idea CS Forester (yes, the Hornblower chap) wrote murder mysteries, but he did! I've just finished "Plain Murder" which is a really interesting study of a killer's mind. In many ways it feels much more modern than its publication date of 1930. (Anyone in the UK want it? I'm happy to post the thing off to you.) Am also rereading Dominic Hibberd's wonderful biography of Wilfred Owen. If your perceptions of the poet, his life and his family's life, are based on Harold Owen's biographies of his brother or books that take those as their source, please give Hibberd's book a try. His meticulous research debunks a number of Harold's assertions about what happened when, assertions that are important to the picture of his brother Harold was trying to create.
The random Charlie story picker decided today's excerpt should come from Awfully Glad. The conversation turned to a gentle probing of where the officers came from. Gradually they lost their unease, opening up their hearts to pour into Madeleine’s willing ear—to the extent that they became bold, bolder than was perhaps wise, in the circumstances. “Sorry if we’re being forward, but we wondered if you would join us for a drink, afterwards? There’s a little estaminet…” Hampson’s words petered out under Madeleine’s piercing blue gaze. “But of course. Once I’ve changed out of my working clothes.” “Oh, yes. Come on chaps, let’s leave the lady to it.” Whether Hampson was in a hurry to leave the room to spare Madeleine’s modesty or hide his own blush, who could tell. The blush deepened to an ugly red at her reply. “Oh, no need for that.” She favoured Corry with a wink. “Stay and keep me company.” “I…ah…we…oh!” Hampson’s eyebrows shot up as Madeline unpinned her wig and removed it, to reveal short cropped hair, a couple of shades darker than his, dark auburn with sweat. She smiled, but not her usual coquettish smile; this one was masculine, the lines of the mouth suddenly hardened. The illusion had been broken. “Lieutenant Samuel Hines, gentlemen. Female impersonator extraordinaire. And a very old friend of the family,” Corry added, maybe in case his officers thought he spent all his off duty hours hanging around with men wearing lipstick. Plenty more excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.
I said last time the spring flowers were in for a shock and it arrived last night. We haven’t got it as bad as other parts of the country but there’s enough to snow to make a snowball or two. I can neither confirm or deny the fact that I made and threw one at Mr Cochrane in Waitrose car park this morning. News First off, a challenge. I’ve just taken back the rights for the stories I had remaining at MLR, so if you’re after one of them please mail me direct and I’ll sort you out with a copy. My plan for them is to stick them all – and any other stories currently out of print – into a self published collection. Now, the challenge is to find a good title for it, so if any of you have a brilliant idea for a miscellany of Charlie stuff, please let me know. A free copy of anything out of my back catalogue for the best suggestion! Talking of giveaways, I’ll be doing my usual giveaway of a British-themed goodie bag (which I’ll post to anywhere in the known universe) as part of my Old Sins blog tour. I’ll link all the tour stops at my blog and will choose the winner from among all the comments made. The more times you comment, the more chances to win. A reminder that Lessons in Love and Lessons in Desire are still on offer on kindle. Catch ‘em while you can. Today’s excerpt is from an older story, Dreams of a Hero, which was the first story I had published by Carina. “It’s beautiful.” Roger Searle peered into the display case, his long, expressive fingers dancing on the glass, obviously itching to break through the protective barrier and touch the golden mask. This would be the high spot of their visit so far. Three hours on a plane, airport transfers, a coach trip and a lot of Shank’s pony had brought them from a cold and wet English spring to within inches of one of the greatest icons of the classical age. “It’s beautiful, but is it Agamemnon’s?” Miles Storrie admired the stunning face, trying to penetrate the metal and the years, to work out whether this really was an image of the great king. Mycenae had kept her secrets to herself for a long time. “I don’t know.” Roger peered closer. “I’ve read too many arguments on either side to be convinced one way or the other. I thought if I stood before it I’d be able to tell.” “And can you?” “Not a cat in hell’s chance. Not even sure that I care anymore.” Roger stood upright again, nursing a back which had started to twinge on the plane. “Does it matter whether this particular mask has adorned that particular face? It’s magnificent. The historical significance has transcended its particular provenance.” “That sounds far too clever for me.” Miles fanned himself with his elegant straw hat. It might only be early May, but Greece was a damn sight warmer than Surrey, and a holiday which had started at Gatwick in sweaters and raincoats had ended in shorts and shirts, hastily put on at the hotel within minutes of arrival. Still, it was more pleasant here than it had been in the city, so the exhibit they sought being on temporary loan had worked to their advantage. Staying too long in Athens might just have been a trial too far. “Heat getting to you?” “As always. It’s all right for some.” Miles considered his partner—official civil partner as pronounced by the registrar—in admiration of how cool he appeared even when the sun blazed down. Roger had slightly olive-toned skin, as if some Mediterranean blood had somehow inveigled itself among the strictly Norman Searle family stock, a line which alleged it had come over with the Conqueror. “I think it’s quite a pleasant change from the Arctic conditions of Epsom Downs.” Roger grinned, dark eyes alive with delight. “Can yae Gallic blood nae stand it, hen?” Roger may have been some throwback to an Adriatic ancestor, but when Miles looked in the mirror he thought himself all Celtic edges. “It’s never this warm in Edinburgh. Except for the week before.” “Sorry?” “When I used to go and visit my granny, it always rained, and she’d say I should have been there the week before because it had been lovely.” Miles gave up fanning himself and tapped his partner’s arm. “So why this outbreak of apathy towards the mask’s provenance?” “Not apathy, imagination. I don’t care if it really was Agamemnon himself bearing this burial mask, or one of his generals. To me it’s more than that—I feel I’m within a few feet of the Trojan War.” Roger’s fingers inched towards the glass again. “Degrees of separation. This is as close as I’ll ever get.” Miles smiled, always delighted at his partner’s ability to make connections and gain enjoyment from them. There’d been one notable occasion when Roger had almost clambered over the side of a Dart River pleasure cruiser to get eight inches closer to Agatha Christie’s old house up on the hillside. Their journey through Greece had been littered with him getting excited at how he was treading the same paths trodden in the great age. His battered copy of Mary Renault’s Fire from Heaven had been dragged out time and again, along with joyous cries and fingers jabbed at the text. This is where this scene happened, Miles. Look. And Miles had smiled indulgently. And finally – it isn’t quite this snowy in Hampshire today, but we’ve had our Norway boots on! Charlie
A did a sort of 'eeny-meeny-miny-mo' and decided on an excerpt from my contemporary novella, Second Helpings. A few weeks back we had a Sunday lunch scene with Stuart and his dad: this time it's the other leading man, Paul, and his mum. “You’ve got me all to yourselves for twenty minutes. Then I’m back to the vegetables.” His mother took a large swig of wine. “This feels like Sundays back when you were a boy.” “You only let me have lemonade then.” Paul swirled his wine, admiring the rich colours in the bright sunshine. “You used to do that with your lemonade, too!” She grinned. “Nothing changes.” Paul just smiled in return. The whole world had changed since then—that was before he’d come out and while Dad was still here. Pre-university, pre-work, pre-Richard, pre-America, pre-Ben. University and work had both been a blinding success, but Richard had turned out to be a lying, cheating bastard and as for Benjamin Hewitt III . . . “How’s Ben?” his mother asked, as if reading his thoughts. “Working too hard,” Paul replied, avoiding her gaze. That email hadn’t come by the time he’d left the café, and he wasn’t ready for the third degree. Not until he had something concrete to share. “Sounds like you, then. Has he had any luck finding a job over here?” “Not yet. It’s only been a couple of weeks since he started to look.” Paul had begun to suspect the answer would be the same in another couple of months—or another couple of years. Looking at their relationship with the benefit of a long-distance telescope, he’d started to see all sorts of signs that hadn’t been apparent close up. “It’ll happen when it happens.” More excerpts at the Rainbow Snippets group.
I made a ranty Facebook post about how I'd become disenchanted with the Father Brown TV series, not least for anachronistic language, and it turned into a thread about other detective series with mistakes. Which reminded me that I've long had the desire to write a story that is full of apparent 'errors', such as: people watching floodlit sport in the 1890's, an oarsman taking part in the boat race with his cap on modern style back-to-front, folk using words like punk or conspiracy theory in the Edwardian era, etc etc (I have a list). Then people would shout at me and I would - tah dah! - produce evidence to show that I'd got everything historically correct. And in re Deadly Code, Padme says: Mystery, romance, friendship, flirting, death, humor -- oh yeah, Miss Cochrane has done her readers proud with this addition to the Cambridge Fellows. Speaking of the author, one of my favorite things about a Charlie Cochrane story is her attention to detail, to the little points that may or may not actually affect the mystery...
Spring appears to be rearing its very welcome head above the parapet of winter although I fear it may be a touch too early. Those daffodils that have appeared on a verge outside Romsey could well be in for a shock over the next few weeks. (As could the citizens of Hampshire, who get into a flummox over half an inch of the white stuff falling.) News The cover for the next Lindenshaw book, Old Sins, has been revealed at Love Bytes. You can hop over there and enter for a chance of winning the first Book in the Lindenshaw series, The Best Corpse for the Job. Nice cover, isn't it? Talking of Adam and Robin, I’m delighted to see that Two Feet Under, book 3 in the Lindenshaw series, was named one of the reviewer’s top choices of 2018 at The Novel Approach. “There’s a dead body. Of course there is a dead body! But who is she? Aaaand, this is where Charlie Cochrane excels.” Switching series, Lessons in Love and Lessons in Desire are still on offer on kindle. The excerpt today is from Don’t Kiss the Vicar, simply because I’ve just been filling in some interview questions for a guest blog and this story got mentioned. This scene takes place after Dan the vicar and Steve, the parishioner he fancies, have had an argument over a dog bite, of all things. Well, Dan was human. What a surprise. If they’d wanted a saint, they should have said so and he wouldn’t have taken the job. “Forgive us our sins”, right? Not forgive them. And they should be grateful. What was a bit of effing and blinding and losing your rag compared to touching up choirboys in the vestry? Maybe the PCC would have preferred a vicar like that, with a show wife and a holier-than-thou image, preaching hellfire and damnation from the pulpit while he scanned the Sunday school for his next victim. He bustled into the vicarage, thought about writing the sermon, ignored it, thought about the gin bottle, ignored that, thought about ringing Jimmy, damn nearly succumbed to that temptation then remembered he’d already bothered the bloke today and was likely to put him off their lunch date. Instead, he closed his study curtains, sat down, put his head in his hands and sighed. Dear God, it’s me, Dan. Up to my neck in it again. Sorry. Should do better. Can’t help it. He sat in silence, listening to his own breath and the distant cries of children playing. I know I should just grow a pair and get on with life. I know I should turn the other cheek and all the rest of it, but I don’t find it easy anymore. It had been a lot easier when he’d had Jimmy as wingman. In that last parish, he’d got a lot closer to living the life as defined by Christ’s teachings than before or since. I know I shouldn’t ask, but is there any chance of finding me somebody else to keep me on the straight and narrow? I seem to work better when I’m part of a pair. I know there are more important things to get to grips with, like children who’ll go to bed tonight hungry, but... The sudden, insistent ringing of the phone broke his intercessions. Normally Dan would have ignored it if he was at prayer. Using the 1471 service or responding to an answerphone message was always possible so nobody would go completely unanswered, especially if the need was urgent. But this time, with a whispered, “Sorry, got to go”, he reached over and picked up the handset. “Vicarage. Hallo?” “Vicar.” Steve’s well-modulated, surprisingly calm tones came down the line. “Sorry to bother you.” “That’s fine.” Dan waited, not inclined to make this easy in any way. “I wanted to say I’m sorry. For being such a clown about my hand.” “Oh. Right. Yes.” Tongue-getting-tied time again. He hadn’t expected quite such a gracious apology. “You were right. The hand’s a bloody mess.” “You should have it seen to. And tell them if your jabs aren’t up to date.” Tetanus. Dan had seen somebody die of it in his gap year. “Will do, matron.” “Less of your cheek.” Was he being flirted with? No, he couldn’t be that lucky. “Do you need somebody to run you down to casualty?” “It’s not dropping off! I’ve rung the surgery, and they reckon I just need to see the nurse. I can drive down there myself. But thanks for the offer,” Steve added belatedly, although not, it appeared, begrudgingly. “Anyway, if I do die of blood loss en route, at least I’ve squared my conscience beforehand. I was a pillock, and I hope you’ll forgive me.” “You were, and I do.” Dan toyed with offering to cook the bloke dinner, or at least get some fish and chips in, but decided that was a step too far. Steve was volatile and—so the doubting voices in Dan’s head kept hissing—was probably apologising for theological reasons rather than romantic ones. Life didn’t pan out like a gay romance e-book, not least because neither he nor Steve resembled the oiled, chiselled, six-pack bearing guys who always seemed to feature in them. “Hello? Are you still there?” “Sorry.” This habit of day dreaming was getting worse. “The line went a bit odd. I was trying to tell you to let me know if there’s anything I can do.” And finally – memories of last spring! Charlie