This week I’ve been doing a lot of thinking rather than a lot of writing. Being stuck in traffic is like that. And I’ve been thinking about my victim. Well one of them. A chap by the name of Sir Martin Hamblebee. In my head he’s a nasty piece of work. A bully. A pompous boar of a man who deserves to die.
But he’s not coming across like that on the written page . Yes he’s short tempered. His family don’t like him. But so far there’s no evidence of brutality. No evidence of ruthlessness. No reason to fist pump the air on discovering him face down in his Times.
My gut tells me he needs to threaten some of the house guests but not about their private lives. He doesn’t have enough interest in them as human beings to do that. So, if I may, let me work through my thoughts, dear reader…
Both Sir Martin Hamblebee and his brother are bankers. They are new money and the baronetcy was earned by their father for services rendered. Probably murky. Definitely underhand. So I can see Hambleebee senior threatening to call in a loan, or the like. It’s also true that threatening someone with financial ruin is a good motive for murder. But doing it in a way that doesn’t seem contrived is the difficult bit. Miss Marple always overhead such threats because people thought she was asleep in a chair, or didn’t see her in a chair. Byrd can’t do that. His legs are too long. They’d be seen. And everyone knows he hears in his sleep. Poirot would just walk down a corridor, or step out from behind a curtain after a threat had been issued. He’s small enough to get away with such things. The rest of Byrd is like his legs. Tall and lanky. Besides if Byrd’s the only one to witness such outrages, his reactions are going to be private. And that’s not going to help the plot at all. No. Any threats of financial ruin must be seen and heard – by a lot of people including Byrd. Which means one of the business meetings must be the venue for such a thing. That could then lead to long simmering hatred. Though plotting long term revenge is surely more a woman’s weapon than a man. And Hamblebee doesn’t believe women have a business brain. So there won’t be any of them involved in his financial dealings. Good God no!
Which leads to the second area I need to elaborate on. Hamblebee isn’t just a banker. He’s a bully. So how to bring that out? Physical and emotional abuse are his weapons of choice. His youngest sister in law – Leticia – is the victim of his emotional outrages. Something Hamblebee can get away with because Fortinbras Hamblebee doesn’t have the cajones to stand up to his older brother. There’s a tale there, and one – you’ll forgive me if I keep close to my chest.
But while Fortinbras will say nothing to the verbal abuse. Surely, if Hamblebee , his brother will do something? Especially if it’s a public thing. Purse strings or no purse strings. There’s male pride at stake… No. I think I need to rule out Hamblebee hitting Leticia. But he needs to hit someone. Byrd would just laugh. CC might deck him back. And if he hit a servant, Sampson would have something to say about it. So I need to look closer to Hambleebee’s home.
The wife – Georgette – is an obvious route for long term physical abuse. But given Hamblebee is a social climber, he can’t risk public condemnation for such things. This is Symington Byrd’s world not Eastenders. He needs the approbation of the King and his set. But a bruise, a broken wrist – that’s a possibility. A hint of violence. It could be easily explained away as an accident. But would it really be a a motive for murder?
I suppose Georgette herself might kill him, driven beyond reason like Ruth Ellis. But it’s 1901. A wife has some rights in a marriage. And through her sister in law, she has access to a king who would help her achieve a divorce in return for a kiss or two and a bit of how’s your father… And there are no children to tie her to the brute…so she does have an alternative to murder. Though I’m not sure sleeping with the King of England to achieve it would be every woman’s idea of a way forward. So unless she had a lover waiting in the wings… or a knight in shining armour determined to avenge her… or there’s someone who overhears such things and adds it to the list of crimes Hamblebee’s committed, we’re no futher forward. How do I contrive a beating behind closed doors that can be witnessed/overheard by all the suspects? And how do I make it believeable?
I think I need another traffic jam…
My computer that is. How does it know that I’m on holiday and desperate to write?
Because it’s done it again. Refused me access to the cloud. Done the whirly thing. Overloaded the T’Internet! Spun itself inexorably towards blue screen of death.
I was trying to go pro on Cold Turkey. For those of you writers out who gave no tried it, it provides distraction free writing. You can block websites for a period of time; leaving the temptation there but no way to get to it. I find it brilliant.
Or at least I would if I could upgrade.
Determined to thwart its plans I changed tack; went to the cloud. Tried to download book 2
Time to implement plan B!
I’ve plugged a cable in. It’s no better. Still blue spinning thing. Still no cloud. This computer is determined to thwart me at every turn.
Sod this! Plan Z!
Does anyone know where I’ll find a typewriter and twenty million pieces of carbon paper?
here it is…the cover reveal for A Cowardice of Crows.
Millicent Jones committed suicide… until a House of Commons cufflink is found wedged in her throat.
Given Queen Victoria is dying, the last thing anyone needs is political scandal, which means there’s only one man for the job: Symington, Lord Byrd; playboy and gentleman detective.
But someone far cleverer is one step ahead, and she has personal reasons for wanting Millie’s killer caught.
With suspects galore and no obvious solution Byrd and his cousin, Chief Inspector Sir Charles Carter, find themselves drawn into the criminal world of the Pawnbroker and his Apprentice: a world so seductive that Byrd is in danger of losing his soul.
As part of the promotional week, my publisher sent me some interview questions. I love his questions; beautiful open ended things that allow you to think. I enjoyed answering them, especially as they bridge the gap nicely between the world of Lucy and Mark, and that of Symington, Lord Byrd.
Like Emily, Mordecai Gold has changed in the last year or so. Still a pawnbroker, still a man who has sweets in his pockets; he has fleshed out. He is a criminal through and through – not just running an empire in the East End of London. His empire is bigger; one that would give Victoria’s a run for its money. He is a spider in the centre of a web: the crow of the title?
And his relationship with Emily has evolved too. But to find out how, you are going to have to read the book
I have been having a look at this blog in the last few days, making a few changes here – tweaking there; preparing for the summmer when I can blog and post to my heart’s content.
Doing so, I came across an old post – It’s all in the clothes. This post contained my initial musing about the relationship between Emily and Symington. And boy have things changed!!!! BIG TIME.
A Cowardice of Crows, the first of the Symington Byrd mysteries, is now with the publisher; and I can safely say the Emily and Symington I blogged about in 2014, are not the people you will meet in this book.
For a start – the timeframe for the books has changed. The first book takes place in the dying days of the Victorian Era. Emily is far more mysterious woman, who has no need to work for the earl…
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