Excerpt: What Lies Ahead

Vince Conway looked up from his desk as Ruth entered the office. “Any luck with the Morgans?” he asked brightly.

Ruth shook her head. “Not a lot to be honest.”

“What did you find out about their relationship with Frances Donovan?”

“Well,” Ruth said, seating herself opposite Vince. “It sounds as if Cathy Morgan and Frances were quite good friends up until a few months ago. Then they had a bad falling out.”

Vince sat forward in his seat, his azure blue eyes glittered with interest as he lightly tapped his Parker pen on the desk. “Any idea why they fell out?”

Ruth nodded. “Yes. It appears to be over some bingo win. Frances won fifteen thousand pounds at that Castle Bingo Hall in the town. According to Cathy, the pair always shared any winnings between themselves, it was an unwritten rule. Though this time…”

“I’m guessing Frances became greedy and refused to share her winnings?” Vince studied Ruth’s face as if it held some clue to what might have gone on.

Ruth nodded. “You’ve got it. Mostly their winnings were small over the years, the odd hundred quid here or there, but now this was in the thousands, the goal posts changed. Apparently, Frances claimed all the money for herself.”

“Any idea what she spent it on?” He placed his pen down on the desk in front of him and stroked his stubbled chin.

“Aha,” Ruth nodded. “She jetted off to Las Vegas for a fortnight and spent the rest on a new conservatory.”

“Hardly seems worth losing a friend over, though…” Vince said, lifting his pen once more and twiddling it thoughtfully between his fingers.

“Yes, I agree. And Cathy is very bitter about the whole thing. Very bitter indeed. In fact, she said she thinks it was partly to blame for her recent breakdown.”

“Breakdown?” This was the first he’d heard of any mention of a breakdown. Then he remembered how she’d dithered about calling into the station to see him almost as though she were afraid to leave the house.

“Yes, she’s been off from work for some time now as a result, she was nursing at Prince Charles Hospital, a ward sister. A good nurse by all accounts, dedicated to her profession.”

“That’s extremely interesting.  That young woman who was murdered in Cyfarthfa woods a few years back worked there. Can you get onto the case and find out if there’s any link with her and Cathy?”

“Will do, boss. So no one has picked this guy up as yet?”

“Nope. The Woodentops have been searching outhouses and sheds that kind of thing but it’s my guess he’s gone to ground.  What we’re dealing with here is a very clever individual. He strikes, retreats, strikes, retreats. His form of defence is attack and he works with a military precision.  I think it might be worth getting him profiled.”

Whatever or whoever this man was, there was no doubt in Vince’s mind that he would strike again, the question was, ‘but when?’

 

 

What Lies Ahead

What Lies Ahead

The loss lies where it falls…
Cathy Morgan has recently suffered a breakdown, which causes her to take sick leave from her work as a ward sister. One morning, she is awoken by her husband Denzil, who has some distressing news for her. Someone she knows well has been murdered. Not only that, but there appears to be a connection with that murder and that of a young nurse called, Alison Marsh, who died some ten years ago.

It’s Detective Sergeant Ruth Carter’s first day back in work after giving birth to her son, Jacob  Not only is it her first day back on the job, but now she’s a single mother after breaking up with her long term partner, Pete. Her partner at work, Detective Inspector Vince Conway, is concerned for her welfare. They’ve missed one another, especially after being involved in solving the case of another serial killer the following year.

As the pair investigate the recent murder and other events that occur, it becomes apparent that the crimes are linked to a secret organisation operating in the community who call themselves the, ‘Inner Sanctum’. But who is committing the murders and why?

Crime Fiction Book #2 in the Trilogy:

#1: What’s Left Behind
#2: What Lies Ahead
#3. What Doesn’t Kill You

Fans of Peter Robinson and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in Welsh crime fiction.

The Workhouse Waif [Available now!]

cover-ww

The perfect heartwarming romance, rich in historical detail.

When she returned to the Workhouse, the dark foreboding building made her stomach lurch, it was then she realised that she had never been allowed out of its confines on her own during the hours of darkness before, that was another strike against her. It had been daylight when she’d departed…

Eleven-year-old, Megan Hopkins, is an inmate at Merthyr Tydfil Union Workhouse. Megan’s family has fallen on hard times. Her hardworking collier father, was killed in a mining accident at Castle Pit Troedyrhiw, and her mother has six mouths to feed, besides her own, so they all find themselves interned at the local workhouse.

One day, Megan has been asked by the matron to fetch some shopping as there’s a Board of Guardians meeting that afternoon, she is skipping past the Temperance Hall holding a wicker basket in her hand, when she’s stopped in her tracks by the most melodious voice she has ever heard in her life. It’s the voice of an angel, called, Kathleen O’Hara.

Megan doesn’t realise it, but their paths are about to cross and maybe a little magic is about to occur…

Available here in Kindle and Paperback formats! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Workhouse-Waif-Winds-Fortune-Book-ebook/dp/B01M8JN9H4

 

Excerpt: Red Poppies

** Throughout the month of November ALL royalties for my book, Red Poppies, are being donated to the Royal British Legion Poppy Fund. **

She had to admit, she’d shed more than just a tear that night and fallen onto her bed thoroughly exhausted. The bed itself was little more than a narrow camp bed, with a couple of army blankets to keep her warm, but it was a better condition to sleep in than those who slept on the floor on pallets who were at risk of being woken by rats that often found their way to the encampment. Though the relative few she saw, were nothing compared to the ones the soldiers themselves described in the trenches as being as ‘fat as cats’.Wounded Canadian being carried into the receiving room at a Can

She had drifted into a deep sleep of dreams of her homeland and family when she heard a soft female voice beckon her.

“Och, Adele, wake up. We’re expecting another few ambulances full of injured men. I’ve brought ye a cup of tea before they arrive.”

For a moment, she thought she was still dreaming, until she opened her eyes and saw Morag, a young Scottish nurse from Dundee, holding out a tin mug of tea in her hand. Adele sat up and took it gratefully from her, it would be many more hours before she’d have the chance of another.

“Thanks so much, you’re very thoughtful.”

Morag smiled. Even in the dimly lit tent, where there were only a couple of lanterns lit, she could see the young woman’s dazzling smile. She was the sort of person who lit up a room with her presence, always positive, forever cheerful, an asset to be around.

Morag sat in a chair sipping her own tea, it would be hard work for her too later. Harder in some respects as she had to run hither and thither, looking for this and that for the medical team, whilst they only had to attend to the task-in-hand.

The nurses, though, sometimes did the doctors’ jobs if they were not around and were well-experienced. She knew that herself from the time she’d spent as a nurse back in Merthyr. The ward sister there could diagnose as well as any of the doctors, and more often than not, was correct with her diagnoses.imagesEIHQLYFQ

At first light, the ambulances arrived and the stretcher bearers brought in the casualties to the clearing station. Adele had had hardly any time to draw a breath for the first half hour or so, the large tent was in chaos as the injured were sorted into those requiring immediate surgery and those that could afford to wait. All the other casualties were in another tent. Some could wait, others were already dead by the time of arrival or else on the brink. Often Adele heard one or another of the men cry out with delirium, their limbs shivering, lips trembling. Shell shock, they called it. Some of the poor men would never be the same again. Fortunately, for some, with the right help, support and guidance, they became physically whole again, though they’d never forget the mental anguish, ever.

Worst of all were the firing squads—who on the command of a senior officer would shoot a deserting soldier, as they brought shame on the army and could prove a security risk if they fell into enemy hands. Adele often wondered if those poor men were just shell-shocked and refusing to take any more, their bodies shutting down, their need to escape, their only outlet from a hell on earth. Life in the trenches was arduous. Often they were stuck in inches of wet muck with no means of washing, changing or drying their clothing. Although they were told to change into clean socks and dry their feet, it didn’t always happen that way and as a result, many soldiers developed something known as ‘trench foot’, a painful condition. The constant mud and rain had exacerbated the condition for many. Often the foot would crack and change colour, then swell up as blood vessels and nerves were damaged in the process. If untreated, then gangrene could set in resulting in amputation to save the soldier’s life. One soldier arrived at the clearing station and his toes fell away when his socks were removed, the stench being unbearable. Adele had to inform him that his limbs had to be removed as soon as possible.

The sounds and smells they endured as they worked at the encampment was like nothing she’d ever witnessed before. Here, there wasn’t much cleaning up of areas, like at the hospital. It was very rough and ready, often a quick sweep and mop of the floor were all they had time for. No time to disinfect operating tables as time was of the essence, a delay could mean the difference between life and death. Often wounds were already infected from mud and manure from the fields, the medical staff were really up against it.

One young man lay on a gurney whimpering in the corner of the tent. There was no time to attend to him. Adele wished she could split herself in two, realising that a lot of her decisions meant the difference between life or death. She was in the midst of suturing a wound when the young lad cried out, “Mam! Where are you?”

Morag left the operating table as Adele was able to manage alone for a while. She knelt beside the gurney and took the lad’s hand. He wanted and needed his mother, but she was in a distant land. Adele watched Morag stroke the soldier’s head and softly kiss his cheek. A smile appeared on his face, he held out his arms as if he was embracing someone, and then he was gone, in the belief his mother was him. If there’d have been time, Adele would have wept, but there were many more casualties to attend to and she just didn’t have the time to spare. No time to ponder her decision on whether she’d have saved the lad if she’d operated on him first. Only God knew the answer to that.

Adele didn’t have the time either to dwell on her dry mouth, aching back and limbs, and her growling stomach. Something spurred her on, propelling her to get through the day’s work. James Bellingham was beginning to leave more and more cases in her capable hands to work at another hospital over the Belgian border in Northern France. That one was in a large château that had been taken over for the war effort. The men were transported there by ambulance and even trucks after their operations. If then found to be chronically unwell, they were shipped back to Britain, where special hospitals were set up to deal with the aftermath of burns, amputations and shell shock.

At that time, there was also pioneering plastic surgery being carried out at various British hospitals. Some of the men had received horrific burns to their faces and other parts of their bodies, making them barely recognisable to their families and friends.

The first time James had left her alone with the nursing team, she had trembled from top-to-toe, but a professionalism had taken over, along with a comforting word from Morag. After a couple of minutes of adrenaline coursing through her veins, she had calmed down, realising she was doing the best she could under the circumstances. James, who checked out her work when the casualties arrived at the hospital, informed her he was very pleased with her work indeed, which gave Adele an immense feeling of satisfaction.

It wasn’t planned that she would head a surgical team but there was little choice as one of the senior surgeons had fallen ill, so it was either in at the deep end or let the men die. There was no other choice.

Apart from a quick cup of tea and a small corned beef sandwich, it was 4.30 p.m. before Adele got to go off duty, when another surgeon, who had rested most of the day, took over for another long shift.

The cost of this war was high and seemed totally futile to Adele.

Red Poppies is now available in Kindle format on Amazon!

UK Readers: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

US Readers: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Poppies-Seasons-Change-Book-ebook/dp/B01HBQ7BU2

 

The Workhouse Waif [Excerpt]

one-young-girls-struggle-in-the-face-of-adversity-1

The Workhouse Waif by Lynette Rees

Available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Workhouse-Waif-Winds-Fortune-Book-ebook/dp/B01M8JN9H4

When Megan got to the High Street she made her way to the Vulcan Inn by the side door, it was heaving with men, most looked like colliers like her Dad and ironworkers too, no doubt blowing off steam after a night’s graft. Some were spilling out into the alleyway, pewter tankards in hand. Their chatter and laughter echoing out into the busy main street, she jostled her way past them. The pubs seemed to be open all hours in the town. She found the barmaid Griff had spoken of and asked her if Griff’s Uncle Berwyn was around, but she hadn’t seen him since the previous day. Dis-spirited and head down, she made her way out of the pub.

Just as she was leaving the alleyway, a tall man in a shabby long tail coat and battered top hat, grabbed her by the arm, so forcefully, she almost dropped the basket she was carrying. “Say, Miss, how old are you?”

“Almost twelve,” she said, trying to not allow the fear to seep through into her voice.

“Hmmm nice and young and good looking too. Want to make some money?” He twirled his thick black moustache. If he cleaned himself up and wore nice clothing, she guessed he might be considered quite handsome. Though there was something about him that warned her not to hang around.

She blinked several times. This sounded too good to be true that she could make some money, but wouldn’t it help her brothers and sisters? It could help them get out of the workhouse now her mother was no longer alive.

“How?”

“If you go over to the washhouse in China and tell them Twm Sion Watkin sent you, they’ll give you a job.”

The mention of a washhouse immediately put Megan off, she’d had enough of the laundry at the workhouse the other day, and her inner voice seemed to warn her he was bad news. Someone most people feared.

“’ere leave that gal alone!” The barmaid, Florrie, had followed her outside.

The man shook his head and scuttled off down the alley.

Megan blinked at Florrie in surprise. “Who was he?”

“Let’s just say he’s not someone you’d like to know. He’s a pimp, cariad. You need to keep away from people like him.”

A pimp? So that’s what a pimp looked like. She remembered Mrs Woodley’s words. “So is he something to do with a prost a something?”

“Prostitute?”

“Yes, that’s the word. But what exactly are they?”

“Or ‘nymph of the pave’ as we sometimes call them. Bad ladies who do wicked things for money. Now I’d get out of ‘ere if I was you, it’s not safe.” Florrie shook down her dress as if shaking off the man’s evil presence.

“But I need to find my friend Griff,” she protested, her chin jutting out with determination.

The barmaid’s face softened. “I know the lad well as he comes in here often enough to take his uncle home when he’s in a state.”

“Any idea where Griff could be right now?”

“He runs around with a lot of bad lads called the Rodneys. They’re a bunch of barefooted urchins, some people don’t like them as they think they’re a load of pickpockets. But they’re just starving half to death, bless ‘em. Some like Griff, got no mothers or fathers and have fallen into bad ways. Two of them are due to go to court and my guess is they’ll end up transported to Australia. It’s not right, those kids are blooming starving.”

“They’d be better off in the workhouse where I am,” Megan said softly, remembering Griff’s recent theft of apples.

“Maybe,” the barmaid said, “but it’s become a way of life for them. They know no other. China is a dangerous place for a young lady like yourself to be. Please don’t go looking for Griff’s house on your own, will you?” She gave Megan a stern glance. “I’ll take you there myself, if you like, I’m due to finish soon enough. I know where he lives as I had to help him get his uncle home once.”

Megan beamed. “That would be grand. I’ll just go and get my shopping from the marketplace and meet you back here.”

“No, I’ll come with you right away,” the barmaid said. “If you go walking through there with a basket full of goods, you’re liable to get jumped. Some are starving half to death.”

Megan took heed of the barmaid’s cautionary words. “Very well and thank you, Miss. I don’t have a lot of time to spare as I’ll be missed from the workhouse and the goods I need to purchase are for dinner time.”

“Don’t worry, it shan’t take us long. I’ll just pop back inside and tell the landlord I’m due to finish.”

She was as good as her word and a few minutes later they were stood outside a small, dilapidated, grimy house in a dark narrow alleyway. The houses seemed to be on top of one another and the stench made Megan want to heave.

“That’ll be the open canals of people’s waste,” the barmaid began, “they throw it all out into the street and it finds its way into the River Taff. People blamed it all for the cholera outbreaks that took so many lives…”

Megan had heard all about that and some at the workhouse had died, but luckily most had been segregated to the infirmary part where they were isolated from the other inmates. Else it could have been far worse.

“This is Griff’s house,” the barmaid said, then she tapped on the door.

After a lot of shouting from inside, the ramshackle wooden door with its peeling paint, swung open. Griff stood there, blinking. “Megan, is it really you?” he asked.

She nodded. “Of course it is. I don’t have long as I’ve been sent from the workhouse kitchen to pick up some shopping. Would you like to come with me and we can walk and talk along the way?”

He nodded enthusiastically. “I’ll just tell my uncle I’m going out then. All that shouting was him, he’s in a bad mood as he has no money to buy booze.” He looked at the barmaid who gave a knowing smile.

“Well, I’ll be off then,” she said, turning back in the direction from whence she arrived, leaving Megan and Griff staring at one another.

She heard him shouting to his uncle that he was going out for a while to hear some muffled shouts from inside the home. She was so glad she didn’t have to live with an uncle who was permanently drunk, and she got the impression that Griff was more than happy to leave that little scene behind.