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Maliha knew she should just walk away.
She glanced along the Pondicherry beach. The waves rolled in on the ebbing tide without the slightest concern for the naked body they had deposited on the sand. A cluster of fishing boats bobbed in the distance, perhaps half a mile out, just silhouettes against the brightness of the early morning sun.
She turned inland to see if anyone was watching her. Beyond the breakwater, the early morning life of White Town moved to and fro along the roads she could not see. The French-looking seaside houses stretched along the front.
But there was no one close to her. No one to see the woman’s body lying face-down in the sand, her straight black hair a bedraggled halo and the darker tone of her skin marking her as a native, just like Maliha herself. Native but a stranger in the land of her parents.
She considered the possibility of leaving the woman to the crabs and gulls, but it was no more than a thought.
There was a gash in the skin, about three inches long, located halfway between the ribs and the rise of her buttocks. The sea had cleaned the deep wound and its edges were well-defined. It looked to be the work of a broad-bladed knife or perhaps a sabre. She moved closer.
Her Grandmother did not have to be present for Maliha to hear her bitter words. Will you dishonour your dead mother?
It was the last day of her mother’s funeral rites. The only day Maliha was able to take part since she had arrived too late to carry out the rites herself. A distant female relative she only vaguely recognised had been given the duty since Maliha’s Aunt Savitha was not permitted.
For a year after performing the rituals a person could not be involved in a wedding, and Maliha’s cousin was due to be married in a few months. They would not have cared if Maliha was tainted. She was only a half-breed and an excuse not to invite her would have been the perfect solution.
Maliha moved around to the woman’s feet. Her skin was not bloated so she had not been in the water very long. The soles of her feet were not heavily calloused which meant she was not of the lowest castes. She was not completely devoid of adornment, there was a thin chain around her ankle. Maliha bent over awkwardly in her corset and layers of dress, leaning on her stick, she peered at the links.
They looked as if they might be silver. It was not the finest work but good nonetheless. It was not cheap.
Maliha stood up straight and stretched her back, settling the corset back into position. Refusing to wear a sari or salwar was her rebellion against her Grandmother. It did not really amount to very much but after years at Roedean School, Maliha still felt more comfortable in the defensive shield of so many layers rather than the revealing looseness of Indian dress.
Perhaps she had been killed for her dowry. Maliha could not see her face but her skin said she could not be much older than Maliha, if at all. If she was a bride with a decent dowry it would not be at all surprising. Women had no value beyond their bride price and their ability to produce healthy male heirs. Even the simplest logic could reveal the long term unworkability of that viewpoint.
With both her parents killed in the fire, and her father holding a patent on a number of devices as well as being well paid by the British Government, Maliha herself would be worth a considerable sum—sufficient fortune to be independent—as long as the legalities could be worked out. Grandmother was satisfied by this because it meant that it should be easy enough to dispose of. She wanted nothing more than to get such a headstrong, disobedient, invalid and, worst of all, educated girl out of her life.
There was no bruising, at least not where Maliha could see.
Settling her feet in the sand, Maliha used her walking stick to move the woman’s hair away from her face. As young as Maliha. Pretty.
The question was now, what should be done?
The remains of her father’s body were already on their way back to England by the time she arrived. They had gone by sea since there was no hurry, his ashes were not going to rot during the journey. She would visit his memorial one day.
But if she reported the body to the authorities her Grandmother would declare her to be tainted and unable to join the funeral rites. It was not that Maliha was particularly religious, her years in England had put paid to that, but she did not want to give Grandmother the satisfaction of denying Maliha that final chance to say goodbye.
On the other hand, how could she deny this woman her proper end, and allow her spirit to move on to its next life with the proper rituals of her own family, simply because Maliha herself wanted that choice?
The sea boomed behind her, gulls screamed above, and the world continued. The world did not care that another woman had been robbed of her life.
But Maliha cared, even if it was not in her best interests, and even though she knew she would receive no thanks for it. It never was, and she never did.
Maliha leaned on her walking stick and watched from the edge of the promenade as the two untouchables lifted the woman’s body on to a wooden cart and covered it with an old blanket. They proceeded to drag the cart laboriously up the beach. Its thin wheels cut into the sand.
Once they had mounted the ramp on to the boulevard Maliha led the way. The dead girl had most likely come from Black Town—that part of Pondicherry reserved for the wealthier Indians, just across the ditch from the European colonials.
The un-British architecture fascinated Maliha, as did the people themselves. Pondicherry had been acquired by the French East India Company as part of the effort to rival the British. Unfortunately, they had not only been late to the party—all the best spoils had already gone to the British and Dutch—but they were terrible businessmen. The French traders had gone to the wall long before their British equivalent had been disbanded. All efforts to revive the company failed.
But they left behind a part of India that would be forever France.
Who is John Seal?
He’s a rookie CIA agent.
His job is to protect America against cyber attacks from enemy organizations and terrorists whose tactic is to disrupt lives as a means to leverage their agenda.
John finds himself in the middle of Barcelona during the Saint Joan Festival where he meets his handler for the first time. During his high stakes first mission, he is faced with hard decisions and is forced to go against his moral compass to complete his assignment leaving him to wonder if he is the right man for the job.
Does John have what it takes to be a covert operative, or will he fail and possibly lose his life?
Caught Fire is a novella and the prequel for the John Seal Series and by no means the end of the story.
Doctor Rowena Halley needs a job. But it may cost her more than she’s bargained for. During one of the worst years on record in the academic job market, newly-minted PhD Rowena Halley has, against all odds, gotten a job. For one semester. At poverty wages. In New Jersey. But with so many of her fellow PhDs bagging groceries-or worse-instead of teaching Russian, this is the best chance she has. New jobs come with a lot of stress, everyone knows that. But Rowena has more problems than just learning her way around a new campus and convincing all these Yankees that yes, she really is from Georgia. Tensions in the department are high, her family wants to know when she’s going to get a decent job and a decent man and her ex-boyfriend is as usual in trouble with the Russian government. It’s when students start coming to her for help that she really gets into trouble, though. Rowena got where she is because she wants to help people and save the world, but if she’s not careful, her idealism may get her killed. Witty and suspenseful in the vein of the Stephanie Plum novels, Campus Confidential is an insider’s look at the gritty underbelly of academia, where the struggles are so vicious because the stakes are so small. Only sometimes, they’re a matter of life and death. *Content warning: Adult language*
When Chris Haynes is mugged one evening, a nightmare begins. Struggling to cope as a single parent, Chris is attacked again – only this time the mugger uses his name. More menacingly, the attacker hints at knowing a disturbing secret about his volatile son, Bradley. How does Bradley’s friend, Gordon know the mugger, too? And what is hidden under the floor of the Haynes’ summerhouse? As the intimidation and violence intensify, someone is heading for a fall, and someone stands to lose everything – even their life.
Grieving the loss of his best friend, while covering for colleagues killed and wounded by the unknown Haymarket bomber, Sergeant Billy Doran is not a happy man. The rookie he has thrust upon him to complicate his working and personal life only adds to his frustration, but when a madman appears from the shadows to stalk his city and endanger his own family, Doran knows he must find a way to work with his new detective if they are to catch the killer, or it will be more than the city of Chicago that will lie in ruins.
Newly divorced novelist, Cheyenne Harrington, is trying to put her life back together. But from the moment she moves into her shiny, new apartment and meets her peculiar new neighbour, Cheyenne wonders if she ever will be whole again. Her apartment is ransacked, and her best friend is brutally murdered. The authorities have no answers leaving Cheyenne to question her sanity and who she can trust.
Money ain’t nothing if you’ve got a lot of it. But then again, a lot of money won’t necessarily buy happiness either. In this Anthony Carrick mystery, hard boiled detective Anthony Carrick is asked to solve the murder of a rich dame’s son. Police think it’s an accidental death, but could it be something more sinister?
From the moneyed streets of Mulholland Drive to the trashy trailer park home of white trash Goths, Anthony’s quest takes him into the dark underbelly of humanity’s seedy side. Love may be blind, but the love of money is a sure path to murder and regret. The rich may be protected from most of life’s hardships but nobody is beyond the reach of the reaper.
Young love is full of promise and vigour but also of hot emotion. Mix 2 parts spurned lover with 1 part trailer trash and another part quick cash and you’ve got a recipe for murder. From vixens to victims and rich bitches to Hispanic snitches, watch Anthony bring murder to its conclusion. Was it accidental or homicidal?
Ride along with the New Orleans Police Department as the officers work together to solve unusual happenings in this unique, historic city.
You’ll meet Zack Nelson, a former police officer, now living in a retirement centre because of his daughter-in-law’s illness. While he’s not keen to move, he does so temporarily to help his son, Tom, and Patty copes with the medical issues.
Zack still got a lot of detective in him and senses that something is wrong with all the supposedly natural deaths that are happening, not only to his family but with the older folks who are seemingly in good health. He works with the police officers to help untangle and solve several ongoing crimes that seem to surround and affect him.
Along with his new roommate Dave, and two engaging sisters, Pearl Ann and Emma Lou (genteel Southern women), the foursome are involved with touring New Orleans, getting involved in social events, tasting an amazing array of New Orleans food and drink, participating in shoot-outs, and creating a few hijinks of their own.
This fast-paced story is filled with mystery, humour, international black-market sales, Southern charm, and characters you won’t soon forget. You’ll visit the French Quarter, the Garden District, the Warehouse District, and be a guest at an unusual funeral held in a true New Orleans custom.
This is the first book in the True Blue Detective series. The author, Vito Zuppardo, is a former resident and New Orleans expert who helps create a visual tour through the Crescent City that makes it come alive for the reader.
Revenge is a dish best served quickly.
Chicago in 1958 is a very dangerous place. When private eye Lou Fleener and his friend Dion Monkton are tricked into helping a Chicago mob boss in his takeover of Mayor Daley’s office, it makes the other mobs angry enough to kill.
Through guns and bombs and the unsteady affections of Cassidy Adams, a blonde with a heart for pure gold, the scary attentions of a hitman who prefers a scalpel to a .38 and a baseball fan who’ll kill them if the Cubs lose, Lou and Monk devise an amazing plan of vengeance against the mobs. All of them. At the same time.
If it works, they’ll be rich. And who knows – maybe even alive.
A past he can’t escape. A sin he can’t forgive. Once a feared underworld enforcer, Marc Rinaldi had escaped his old life of murder and extortion, devoting his skills to fight for his country. When forced to return home, he is confronted by his dark past before he can even leave the airport. Everybody wants a piece of him from rival criminal factions to the FBI. Even his friends have their own agendas. But he expected all that. What he didn’t expect was for one of his old enemies to come back from the grave. Old wounds are ripped open as Marc is consumed by revenge. His war with his past soon becomes entangled with a conspiracy in the new criminal order of Chicago, claiming casualties on all sides. In his search for answers on the streets that forged him, Marc must choose between becoming the monster he was and the man he is desperately trying to be.PRODIGAL is a gritty, hard-boiled crime thriller packed with mystery, drama, visceral fight scenes and fast-paced action.
A sequel to “Not Far Enough From Worries”. Set in Hua Hin and Bangkok, Thailand. Horror with humour. The tourist town of Hua Hin is considered as a quiet place where nothing happens. Don’t you believe it! How can Thai twins become Siamese twins? You will have to think about that. No need to feel sorry for them, they like eating people! Meet Randy, an American who has a problem with split personalities. A mother and son team of debt-collectors have a nasty habit of setting fire to their victims. Camilla, the ex-reporter lesbian, is central to most of the action. Would she really give her daughter away? Any movie fans out there? Do you know of 1932 black and white classic, ‘Freaks’? A casino owner has a dream, to remake the film in Bangkok. It is not easy, you need some deformed actors and real Siamese twins. Camilla can solve most things. Are there any ‘nice’ characters in this book? Well yes. Skylab is a darling.
An apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches.
The first book in the bestselling British horror trilogy.
Tom is a layabout ex-student waiting for his life to start or the power to get cut off, whichever comes first. Jen works two jobs, hates both, and most days is too hungover to deal with either. Detective Burnett is trying to work out who the hell has turned his sleepy English village into a murder town.
Then the skies fill with a mysterious storm, and each of them wakes to find streets filled with bodies. The world they knew has gone, and their old lives with it. Now Tom finds himself at the hands of a deranged mercenary, Jen finds herself trying to keep two lovestruck teenagers alive, and Burnett must track down a killer who sees the apocalypse as an opportunity for more mayhem.
Who will survive this gripping and blackly comic saga of murder and stale sandwiches at the world’s end?
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