Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.
Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.
Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.
Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?
Tessa walked around the tenement, avoided touching anything and similarly avoided the curious gazes of the constables and the hysterical sobbing of the deceased’s daily woman in the kitchen. She had found his body and raised the alarm and it seemed to be taking a significant amount of the dead man’s whisky to calm her down. It struck her that the woman would be out of work and that she was in need of a charwoman. Perhaps she ought to offer her a job? Then she saw the whisky glass being refilled and decided against it, if only for the sake of her liquor bills.
Although his name was indeed familiar, Tessa couldn’t remember much about Callum McKenzie. She was pretty sure that they’d never been introduced and she didn’t remember James mentioning him. Not since he’d been demobbed, at least. Which was slightly odd; most soldiers kept in touch to some degree with former comrades, especially those who lived so close by.
It seemed that McKenzie was a tidy man: clothes folded with military precision, books in alphabetical order, tins lined up in the larder. Although the lock on the front door had been forced, there were no signs of a search or a burglary. Whoever had broken into his apartment and shot him had come with that sole intention.
The body was in the bathroom, slumped on the floor with its head towards the window. Tessa went in, the constable at the door too surprised to do anything other than step back out of her way. McKenzie had been shot in the back of the head; the entry wound was less than an inch in diameter. Blood, bone fragments and things that Tessa would rather not think about, pebble-dashed the whole room and she knew that the exit wound would be substantial. She bent over to study the injury near his hairline at the back and saw that there was a little scorching around it and what looked like a tiny feather. Then she noticed a cushion in the bath, a blackened hole through it. If the murderer had hoped that would muffle the sound of the gunshot they would have been disappointed. Perhaps one of the neighbours had heard something.
‘Lady Kilpatrick, if you’ve quite finished, may I see the body?’ Rasmussen’s tone was clipped, his annoyance barely concealed.
Thank you, Vanessa Robertson and Love Books Group Tours.
About the author
I grew up in the Midlands where my main interests were horses and drama. Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artiste or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.
My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.
I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.
I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.