Let’s start with Murder on the Menu: Fiona Leitch
We all need a bit of a lift for 2021. Times are tricky. This year, my weekly blog foregrounds INSPIRATION. Every author also gives you a FREE sample of their work!
Inspirational words plus free reading: get it here every Friday.
That’s my plan for you in 2021.
First up is the wonderful Fiona Leitch , novelist and screenwriter. Fiona’s new novel, the cosy mystery Murder on the Menu, has just been released in ebook and will be available in paperback in April. See all Fiona’s books here.
I asked Fiona about her inspiration.
Fiona says: I love a good murder mystery, but I’m a bit of a wuss; I don’t like anything too graphic. On the other hand, I don’t like anything too twee either. I enjoy TV programmes like ‘Midsummer Murders’ and ‘Death in Paradise’, and they inspired me to create something similar with my new cozy mystery series, the Nosey Parker Mysteries.
I’m also inspired by location. My previous books have been set in Venice (my favourite place in the entire world), Paris and Berlin, so I thought I would set this series in my OTHER favourite place, Cornwall. I lived in St Ives for a couple of years, and my mum and sister still live in the West Country, so it’s a place I know and love well. Although my protagonist Jodie lives in a made-up town, Penstowan, it’s based on two real life places: Holsworthy, right on the Devon/Cornwall border, and Bude, a seaside town on the North Cornwall coast. It’s a beautiful part of the world, loved by holidaymakers, but it’s not always an easy place to live. There’s not much work out of the summer season, and it’s very cut off from the rest of the country, with just one road in and out. I have sat on the A303 for more hours of my life than I care to count!
I’m inspired by strong women, too. There are so many women out there, juggling careers and businesses with childcare (and increasingly, caring for elderly parents), while still managing to have a social life and maybe even a bit of romance. Jodie (the protagonist of the Nosey Parker mysteries) is a single mum, an ex-copper turned caterer; so not only is she a dab hand at solving murders, she can whip up a smashing Victoria sponge while helping her daughter with her maths homework AND encouraging/fending off attractive men all at the same time. Jodie is warm, funny, flawed and ultimately loveable, like so many of the amazing women I know.
Now here’s your gift sample of Fiona’s writing. Enjoy!
EXCERPT FROM MURDER ON THE MENU :
Tony stood by the top table, where yesterday he should have been toasting his new wife and being embarrassed by his best man’s speech. Instead, he was holding the middle tier of the beautifully iced wedding cake. I didn’t need to ask where the top tiers were; they were on the floor, dropped and then trampled on, absolutely destroyed. His face was flushed with anger as he raised the cake above his head.
“Tony!” I cried. He stopped for a moment and looked at me, but it was as if he didn’t recognise me. “Tony, calm down. Don’t take it out on the cake! Or the hotel carpet.” It was a right bugger getting fondant icing and marzipan out of a deep pile carpet – I’d learnt that the hard way after one of Daisy’s early birthday parties. Half a mermaid had ended up ground into the Axminster when a game of Pass The Parcel had turned bad.
“What’s the point?” he said. He shifted the cake – which was a big hefty fruit cake, going by what was on the carpet – and looked at the delicate purple sugar paste flowers that decorated it. “Do you know how much this cake cost? Two grand. Two grand on a bloody cake.” He lifted it over his head and threw it as hard as he could across the room, where it hit a sideboard covered in glasses. I heard something smash.
“Tony, mate – ” Callum held his hands out in a placatory gesture, but Tony just glared at him.
“Callum, mate, did you know? I bet everybody knew.” He reached out and pulled a chunk of cake off the next layer, and I couldn’t help but look at it, rich with mixed fruit, and think, damn that looks like a good cake.
“Know what?” Callum genuinely didn’t seem to know what Tony was talking about.
“I bet everyone knew but me,” said Tony, smearing the cake between his fingers and then studying them. He was losing the plot. “I bet even Nosey knew about it.”
“Tony – ” I started, watching as he began to pick lumps of cake up and throw them at the glasses stacked up on the sideboard, like a petulant child at a coconut shy.
“You knew she was a wrong ‘un, didn’t you?” He threw a lump, but his aim was off. “You didn’t like her. No one liked her except me.” He threw another, hard. It hit a glass, knocking it on the floor where it shattered into tiny pieces. He did a mini fist pump and picked up another piece of cake.
Bloom trotted into the room and stopped, aghast at the devastation before him.
“Mr Penhaligon!” he spluttered, as Tony turned to him holding the baked projectile. I stood in front of him, my arms spread out wide to protect the hotel manager.
“Tony, stop it now!” I said.
“Or what? You’ll arrest me?” he said sarcastically.
“She won’t but I will,” said a voice behind me. DCI Withers. Damn.
Tony shrugged and lobbed the fruit cake in his direction, but I darted forward and caught it, staggering slightly under the force behind it. Two uniformed officers appeared from behind Withers and ran at Tony before he had a chance to reload with cake, so he just picked up what remained of the tier, smashing it onto the carpet before they grabbed his arms and pinned him down on the table. I ran over to them, closely followed by Withers who reached out to pull me out of the way.
“Oh come on, there’s no need for that,” I said, as one of them began to cuff him. Tony struggled and swore and somehow managed to wriggle one hand free before the cuff went on, flinging his arm out and accidentally smacking Withers in the perfectly formed nose. Despite the fact that the situation was rapidly going pear-shaped I felt dangerous laughter rising. The whole scene must look so ludicrous, and Withers getting slapped was the icing – I nearly choked – on the cake.
“Anthony Penhaligon, I’m arresting you for breach of the peace, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer,” began Withers, although what with him holding onto his wounded nose it sounded more like ‘Andony Pendalion’. If the situation hadn’t been so serious I really would have laughed.
“Come on – it was an accident!” I said, getting in Withers’ face. “Caused by you sending the boys in when we could’ve talked him down.”
“Get out of my way, Ms Parker, before I arrest you as well for obstruction.” Withers did not look like a happy bunny; I think he felt a bit daft clutching his nose, which had just started bleeding.
Tony had finally calmed down, only now of course it was too late.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking like he was going to cry again, “I didn’t mean to – I just don’t know what’s going on – ” He looked lost, and I felt my heart break for him. “Jodie – I’m sorry, don’t let them – ”
But I couldn’t stop them. With one last glare at me, Withers and his two officers marched Tony out of the room, out of the hotel, and into a waiting police car.
Wow! I can’t wait to read more. What fun!
Thanks to Fiona Leitch for being first cab of the rank in Last Word of the Week 2021.
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