Sweet Little Billie-Jo

by Colin Devonshire – Listen or read at http://www.dark-novels.com

Sweet Little Billy-Jo

“Where is my angel?”

“Here I am daddy.”

“Now, what are these police officers doing to you?”

“Nothing, they are just asking me questions.”

“Where is your mum?”

“She is in there,” Billie-Jo points across the corridor.

“She won’t be long, sir,” a policewoman said.

“What happened?”

“There was a nasty accident. Your daughter, uh, witnessed it. We need to ask her a few questions.”

“Are you okay, princess?” Jack asked his smiling daughter.

His darling daughter was thinking back, she was replaying the scene in her mind.

“How can I dance with a boy in a wheelchair?” she asked her dad.

“Don’t say things like that, I know you are in shock.”

“But, dad, I promised the winner of the race could accompany me to the school fete. I don’t want to date a loser.”

Her father hugged her and stroked her blonde hair.

Both boys had fallen in love with their eleven-year-old classmate. All they had to do was to be first to the ice-cream shop at the bottom of the hill. The difficulty was the steepness of the road and the fact that the racers had to get over three crossroads. Yes, there were traffic lights, but this was a race.

The loser pulled out of the race as the first light turned red. Head bowed, he sloped off home.

The leading boy did not know he was the sole racer. He pedalled on, beating the first light by seconds. The second light was green. Billy-Jo crossed her legs with excitement. The third light was red, the brakes were hot as the cable snapped. Charlie-boy broke the passenger window of a pickup. He also broke his neck. Billy-Jo jumped and cheered, to the dismay of a pedestrian as she too witnessed the collision.

The lady’s report was the reason for the visit to the police station.

Billie-Jo smoothed out the wrinkles in her skirt and grinned at her father. 

A door opened, “We can go, no action will be taken,” stated Billy-Jo’s mum, “Come on, let’s go home.”

“No action? What do you mean?” 

“She caused it,” cried her mum.

“Can’t we visit Charlie?” asked Billie-Jo, trying but failing to keep her solemn face. 

“Maybe we should?” asked her dad.

“Yes, great idea,” sarcastically answered her mum. “Remember the parents of the boy who ate the bee? They too blamed her, and they weren’t too happy when we took him some sweets,” pointing at the little princess, “Do you remember what she told their son, ‘Bees taste like honey’? So, no, I don’t want to go through that again.”

Her dad hugged his only daughter close, “Come on darling, cheer up, let’s find you an ice-cream.”

Mother studied the skies.

That was three years ago.

“Are you ready, angel? I can drop you at school.”

Father and daughter rolled up at the gates.

“Who is that? Does it look like he is waiting for you? My sweet little girl has an admirer.”

“Just a boy, dad,”

“Can I take you to the school dance?” Andy asked as he hopped from left to right.

“Pete has already asked me,” answered a beaming Billie-Jo.

She flicked her hair away from her steamy blue eyes, straightened her school skirt, and grinned at him.

“Oh, sorry,” he moved away.

“How about we have a test? The winner takes me.”

The lad brightened, then he remembered, his opposition was his mate.

“I’ll ask Pete, and see what he thinks,” Andy was thinking about losing a friend or gaining a girlfriend.

The following morning, the three of them met outside class.

“What sort of test?” the first boy asked.

“Not French, I hope?” said Andy.

“Don’t worry, it won’t be like a school exam. Much more fun, you can be sure of that. Are you boys up for excitement? One of you will have the night of your life at the dance,” acting shy she left them nodding silently with a wink each. 

Andy and Pete were the best of friends. It was surprising they had not mentioned their intention of partnering Billie-Jo before they had got up the nerve to ask her.

“How come you said nothing about taking Billy-Jo to the dance?”

“It scared me. What if she said no?”

The boy’s embarrassment was all the more fun for the sweet innocent little girl, who was enjoying thinking up the next danger. She stood, brushing her hair, eyeing Pete and Andy. 

Each boy watched the other as they tried not to be seen ogling their dream girl. The boy’s temper was barely simmering, trying not to show their feelings for her to each other. There was no hiding their adolescent feelings.

Billy-Jo was stumped, struggling to think of an exciting quest. She didn’t want another bike race. She wanted to enjoy the race by watching first hand. The idea, sadly and literally fell in her lap. She was about to enjoy breakfast sitting at the patio table.

The ear-piercing scream made her mum drop the toast and ran outside.

Billie-Jo was shaking, quaking in fear. Speechless in fury, she tore her eyes from her mum.

“Who could have done this? Miss Jingles wouldn’t hurt a fly!” she stammered through tears.

“Oh, darling, let me take her.”

The cat had tried to get home; it died as it attempted to jump from the fence.

“It looks like a dog attacked her. I’ll fetch a shoebox and we can bury her in the garden. I’m so sorry. I know how much you loved Miss Jingles,” her mother said as she gently lifted the bundle of blood-soaked fur from her daughter’s lap.

Billy-Jo’s tears stopped. She now had a plan.

Silence on the school run, Billy-Jo shrugged off her mother’s attempt at a kiss goodbye, slammed the car door as she stomped into class. She didn’t speak to classmates, ignored the teacher’s questions, only smiling when the break bell rang.

“Right, you two. Do you still want to take me to the school dance? Yes, or no? If you are serious, I’ll tell you what you must do to win my hand.”

The two boys looked at her, then at each other, and nodded.

“They murdered Miss Jingles this morning.”

She lost the boys.

“Miss Jingles, my cat.”

“Oh,” they nodded none the wiser.

“The killer must die.”

“Who was the murderer?” asked one boy.

Ignoring the question, she looked at each, like a teacher waiting for a pupil to own up.

“In my hand are two pieces of paper, both with a dog’s name, the boy who kills that dog in the most painful or ‘elaborate’ way, takes me to the dance. Clear? Easy enough? Who wants to kill the first dog?”

“You mean now?”

“No, idiot, I mean after school. Whoever takes the first name, kicks the game off, we’ll start as soon as it gets dark. Then the second contestant does his bit an hour later. I will watch and decide who wins.”

She held out a hand. The boys looked at the folds of paper, neither moved. She glared at each nervous lad and stabbed her hand forward.

With three pairs of eyes focused on the paper, male hands nervously took their pick.

“Ah, ha, ‘Snatch’, that’s the Doberman next door. Better you go second. And Andy, you picked ‘Cutey’, she is not cute. You go first. Meet me at the street corner up from my house at eight pm. Pete, you come to mine at nine. The rules are simple, there are no rules. Okay?” Billy-Jo breezed off with a smile brightening the corridor, nodding to girls she had ignored the entire term. The boys were not smiling.

Billy-Jo saw Andy creep past her house. She rushed out to join him.

“What are you using to kill the bitch?”

“I read somewhere that if you give a dog Viagra, it will have a heart attack and die. I stole some of my dads,” he laughed.

“Boring.”

“I’ve got my Scouts knife to make sure,” he said hopefully.

“Still boring,” she killed his hopes. 

The house was in darkness.

“Great, they must be out. Come on, climb over the fence,” she pointed.

The dog started barking.

“Sounds big?”

“Yes, bigger than my cat, get on with it.”

Andy tested the wooden strapping and hauled himself up and balanced across the top of the wood.

“Here you are Cutey, a lovely hamburger just for you,” he lobbed the patty down.

“Go on then, finish her!” screamed Billy-Jo as she shoved Andy.

Cutey swallowed her snack, then went after the main course.

Billy-Jo skipped her way home.

At exactly the allotted time, Pete rang the doorbell.

“How did Andy do?” he asked.

“You’ve got something to beat. Do you want to wait for him? Or start now?”

“No, let’s get on with it.”

Billy-Jo tried to hide her enjoyment.

They went to the bottom of Billy-Jo’s garden.

“How are you going to kill it?” she whispered.

“Look what I’ve got,” he pulled a hoop of wire from under his jumper.

“And?” she sniggered.

“When he attacks me, I slip this over his head and tighten it until he can’t breathe.”

“Right. Good luck then,” she pulled back part of the hedge.

Pete crawled on his hands and knees through the hole.

Suddenly, his legs started trembling, then kicking. Billy-Jo pushed his feet harder until he was through. She made a gap in the leaves, but no good.

“Shit, I can’t see a damn thing.” 

But she could hear the crunching of soft boyish bone. The neighbour’s back door opened to the owner’s scream. Billy-Jo quietly nipped indoors.

Minutes later sirens disturbed her tv programme, flashing lights shimmied across her ceiling. She smiled. She would dance with someone else.

The END

If you enjoyed that short story, you may like a full-length novel?

amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Romancing the Stones’

Listen or read at http://www.dark-novels.com

A short story by Colin Devonshire.

Romancing the Stones’

“Why did you drag me in here?” she asked while adding red to her lips.

“A chance to be alone, why else?” Nathan fidgeted.

“Christ, Nath, there are loads of parties we could go to.”

“Yes, but everyone knows us. Here we can be together.”

“What’s in your bag?” 

Shirley looked at him and tutted.

“This my dear is a tent, a heater, and a box of chocolates. What more do you need?”

The tuts got louder.

“I don’t suppose you have a five-star hotel in there, do you?”

There was a break in the clouds, the full moon shined on them. The gravestones surrounding them quivered in the new light. Nathan sighed, Shirley grunted.

She then shivered. 

“What about your wife?”

“She’s okay. After her medicine, she’ll sleep through the night.”

“And what about my husband?”

“You said he was driving tonight?”

“Yes, but I never know what time he’ll be back.”

She knew exactly what time they expected him and his grumbling about French drivers. He had a lorry load of wine to deliver from Toulouse. 

“You know he won’t be back until lunchtime at the earliest.”

“Depends, his French tart might kick him out early,” she grinned.

Nathan leaned across, shoulder to shoulder. Clasping her hand, he sucked on her little finger, winning him a half-hearted smile. She pulled away from his hand and snorted.

“What?” he whined.

“Let’s go back to your place?”

“You know we can’t, it won’t feel right.”

“Your wife won’t know.”

“Yes, but… What about your home?”

“Yeah, right! My husband will kill you. His thug mate next door is certain to see your car.”

“So, we can have fun here.”

“I suppose so.”

Nathan failed with the bra clasp, it stung her back.

“At least set up the tent first,” Shirley said, freeing her ample bosom.

Nathan opened his bag and emptied its contents on the ground. Hands-on hips, Shirley tried to read the gravestones, “Chuck me that torch, can you?”

“I need it.”

“Just give it here.” She studied her grandfather’s name, chiselled in ancient stone.

Nathan sat in a huff with his back to her.

A rustle of leaves and scuffed steps broke the silence.

“Finished reading when the stiffs died yet?”

Nathan turned to find the torch laying on the ground.

“Hilarious, you just joke around, don’t worry about me, I’ll finish setting up everything for your comfort.”

The childish tent took longer than expected. After twenty minutes it was erect and waterproof, necessary as it was now drizzling.

“Enough of the games, you can come in now,” he called.

No answer, he peered through the flap.

He sat at the tent’s opening for a further ten minutes.

“She must have gone to the toilet?” he asked himself.

“I bet the silly cow is jammed in the loo. Or scared to come back in the dark, I’d better find her.”

After zipping up his jacket, he set off to the church’s gates. The public convenience was just outside.

He hammered on the locked door. 

“Are you in there?”

Deciding he had better go to the gent’s, he found that too locked and secure.

“Bollocks. Where is she?”

He searched between each gravestone and every tomb, thinking she may have slipped and cracked her head.

“Bollocks,” again he cursed under his breath. “My phone is in a tent.”

The rain fell harder. He slipped and skidded back to the tent. Half expecting to find her inside, he called, “Okay, a good one, Shirley. Got me there.”

He pulled the flaps open and dived in… Empty.

“Where is my phone,” he pulled stuff aside. Grabbing the mobile, he dialled her number.

Nathan poked his head outside.

“Is that her childish ring tone? It must be, no one else has such a stupid sound. Where is it coming from?” He peered through the trees.

The rain was clattering down.

Nathan put his jacket above his head, braved the rain to sprint to the shelter of an enormous oak tree, and tried calling again.

“Where are you, Shirl?” he bellowed. “I can hear your phone, answer the damn thing.”

He looked around, squinting between raindrops as they cascaded from leaves out of sight.

Dashing back to the shelter of the tent, he sat considering what could have happened.

“One, she went home. Possible, but why can I hear her phone? Two, she is playing a trick on me? Maybe, but not in this rain. Three, she’s had an accident? But how? And where? And why didn’t I hear anything?” shaking his head, he thumped the ground.

Suddenly, he didn’t need his torch. A glow was illuminating the tent and the surrounding area. Rain fell harder. Nathan’s head popped out of the tent. The light brightened. So much he had to cover his eyes.

“What the hell?”

As the centre of the light dimmed, a shape appeared.

“Shirl, is that you?” his eyes strained.

The tent collapsed, it whipped guy ropes across his face.

He covered his eyes against the sting of the nylon cord and the sting of the lashing rain. Pushing his dank fringe aside, he glared at the vision. Recognition dawned.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed with me? Instead of playing lovers with that tramp.”

“Darling…” he stammered. “You shouldn’t be out in this weather.”

His wife tipped her head back and roared, “Neither should you.”

A rope wound itself around his ankle, another around his wrist, then the remaining loose joints. It tugged him away from the tent material and hoisted him higher until he was breaking through tree branches, cuts causing him to scream. Lifted higher, acorns fell.

He was jagged to a halt and given time to look around. Before jagged higher.

“Shirl?”

Her red bloated face gave no reply. A cord wrapped tight across her throat, twigs sticking out of sightless eyes.

Nathan didn’t struggle for long. Slim branches impaled him.

***

Nathan’s neighbours thought it odd. Lights were on in the house. Their car was not in the drive. 

“It’s unusual not to see him preparing his wife’s wheelchair for a trip to the park. Ring him. I hope his wife has not rushed to the hospital again in the night?”

Squirrels and an owl heard the bleep of his mobile.

Shirley’s husband arrived home, not seeing his wife caught up on lost sleep.

“She’s probably shopping again!” he decided.

In the churchyard, the vicar whispered a curse at the kids who left their broken tent for him to tidy up. 

Later that day, the police called him to Nathan’s home, to say a prayer for the poor woman who had died alone.

The END

If you liked that short story, have a look at Colin’s full novels – amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Viking Visit

A FREE short story, read or listen

Viking Visit

Freja was thrashing the sopping sheets, mumbling what sounded like curses.

‘Wake up,’ her boyfriend shouted, even though he thought it was the wrong call. 

‘Is waking someone from a nightmare the thing to do or not,’ Jack asked himself.

Soothing her wet face. He was the one who needed a calm hand on his brow. These dreams disturbed his sleep too often. 

‘For God’s sake!’ he shouted, punching the mattress in fury.

Seconds later he froze rigidly. She paused, all movement stopped, silent, her eyes opened, and they lost her pupils in her head. Her arms were wide, as were her legs. Then the shaking started, faster and faster, limbs were thumping the bed, as quickly she stopped, staring directly at the ceiling, her head turned to face the quacking Jack.

‘You burned my feet,’ she screamed.

Later that morning, after tears and a long list of Jack’s questions accompanied by a pot of soothing tea, they had set off to Brighton’s shopping area. New sheets were top of the list.

‘I’d better buy a lamp to replace the one we knocked over too,’ said Freja.

‘What do you mean “we” knocked over?’

The couple glared at each other; they worried the shop staff.

‘What is up with you? Do you want us to split up? Is that it?’ he turned and stalked off.

She stood there watching him disappear into The Lanes. There would be no shopping today. And no more boyfriend, she decided.

Freja turned and strolled along the pavement and waited for a bus to take her home. She was pleased with her decision. 

‘I should call Patsy,’ she said to herself as her smile spread. Her reflection on the keypad turned sad. She wanted comfort from her only genuine friend.

Patsy rushed to her pal’s home, she was twenty-five, beautiful and smart, they had been friends since their days at Brighton Met Collage. Freja had needed help with the more advanced English Language course they were completing. Patsy had always been there for her.

Patsy sniggered as she recalled Freja saying, ‘I can’t do it. English is crazy!’

Today’s problem wouldn’t be the English language, she guessed?

‘Freja, what’s up? You’ve been crying.’

Red eyes blinked. ‘Coffee?’

‘Yeah, please. It seems more serious than English spelling. Boyfriend trouble?’

Freja turned and grunted a ‘yes’ as she clicked on the kettle.

Patsy rushed out to the kitchen and hugged her friend. 

‘What is it, babe? Not that low-life? Has he hit you?’

‘No, it’s not him. We are through.’

‘Then what upsets you?’

‘I want to tell you, but then again, I don’t.’

Patsy threw her jacket over the back of the sofa, ‘Now you are worrying me. Tell me.’

Freja splashed in some milk and picked up the mugs.

‘Sit,’ said Freja, studying her friend’s still staring eyes.

‘Come on, I know when you are lying. Did he hit you?’

‘No, no, nothing like that. It’s not him. It’s me.’

Patsy had seen her friend upset many times over the years. She had not had a smooth settling-in process on arrival in England. Her Danish father had thrown her and her mother out of their home in northern Denmark. Her English mother had decided they should return to London. Now Freja was living on the South coast in a boring, poorly paid office job. 

‘Are you going to tell me?’ asked Patsy.

‘Yes, I mean no… You will think I’m cracking up. You remember why my Dad hated me?’

‘You told me once when you were drunk and then denied it. About you setting fire to things?’

‘Yes, and no. I don’t want to think about it. Or to talk about it.’

The conversation was going nowhere, Freja looking vacant, lost in thought.

Patsy just stared into her eyes, at a loss for words. 

‘Okay, I’ll be off then, anytime you fancy wasting my time call me.’

The door slammed, Freja let the tears roll down her cheeks. Slowly she got to her feet and started cleaning the mess in her bedroom. The real reason she needed to talk to her friend is the scorch marks on the windowsill.

Her mobile vibrated. She didn’t want to answer, but did, ‘Hi Mum. How are you?’

‘Freja, did you call me at three in the morning?’

‘No, did I?’

‘I have a missed call with your number. What’s wrong? Not that boyfriend of yours?’

‘No, Mum, we’ve split up.’

‘Is that why you called?’

‘I don’t remember calling, I slept from midnight until seven this morning.’

‘Okay, as long as you’re all right, why not come up and spend a few days here?’

‘Sorry Mum, I’ve got work. Can I ask you something?’

‘Dear, anything.’

‘Do you ever have weird dreams?’

‘I think we all do. What has been troubling you? Don’t tell me your dreams have started again?’

‘A few days ago I started seeing flames on the sea.’

‘In a dream, you mean?’

‘No, actual flames, a few hundred yards out to sea.’

‘And… Oh God, it’s happening again.’

‘When I look again, they weren’t there.’

‘How odd, maybe a barbecue on a cruiser?’ Her mother hoped, dreading a replay of the reason her husband threw them out.

‘No Mum, it’s not. Then I dream about ships burning, old ships.’

‘I guess the dreams are because you see the fire at sea?’

‘Mum, it’s too crazy, I’m worried. Tell me the truth, what happened when I was young?’

‘Not now and not on the phone. Please come and see me, we can talk it through.’

‘I must work. Thanks anyway.’ Freja had no intentions of dragging up the past and yet again pretending she had no memory of her youth.

She gently placed the phone on the bedside table, Freja continued cleaning the scorch marks from the windowsill. 

Freja was drifting off in front of the telly. Her nose was twitching. Her dream started as a fun Guy Fawkes party, popping, whizzing and the smell of burnt sausages. The burning smell got stronger. Suddenly she leapt from her dream. Her bookcase was aflame. She needed water. Dropping the kettle lid by the kitchen door, she hurled the still warm water at the smoking books. 

She could hear a voice, a man was talking, the powerful voice was strong, but the words were unknown. She thought she picked up a trace of Danish but did not understand what he said. Or where the voice was coming from. It seemed to be all around the room. Stillness returned to the living room. Smoke drifted towards the ceiling, but no flames. Just a quiet drip of water from the shelves. At first too terrified to move, she edged her way to her cosy romance novels. The bare-chested men on the covers scorched beyond recognition. She was more concerned about how the fire started. Sitting in a puddle on the carpet, she searched for the cause of the flames. 

Freja’s mind decided quickly. She grabbed her phone.

‘Patsy, grab a bottle of wine and your nightdress. I need to speak to you, it will take all night.’

‘Have you gone mad? Last time you wouldn’t speak, now you want me to leave my sexy boyfriend to spend the night with you?’

‘Yep, I will tell you the full story.’

Twenty minutes later Patsy arrived. She didn’t have a bottle of wine, so she brought a 3-litre box.

‘Are you cooking?’

‘On the table, glasses on the sideboard, be with you in a sec.’

‘This is more like the Freja I love.’

‘Sorry, it has been weird lately. I must talk to someone,’ said Freja.

‘Well, I’m here,’ she slugged her glass back.

‘Patsy, I’m not mad, you may think I am when you hear what’s been happening.’

She reeled off her recent experiences, starting with the nightmares and ending with the fires. She rattled away without interruption for half-an-hour.

‘It must be that idiot boyfriend trying to scare you?’

‘No, it’s not him. I want you to watch me as I sleep. I’m scared that it’s me doing it.’

Patsy decided they had drunk enough wine. Also, she needed her wits about her if her friend had cracked and she set the place alight.

‘Come with me,’ Freja lead her friend to the doorstep and pointed, ‘See, there.’

‘What are we looking at? Seagulls?’

‘No, can’t you see the flames on the ocean?’

The girls went back in and prepared for bed. Both nervous, one, not knowing what would happen next, the other fearing for her friend’s sanity.

‘As you know, I’ve only got one bedroom. Do you want the bed, the sofa, or shall we share the bed?’

‘It’s a double, so there is plenty of room for us little girls,’ Patsy said with a forced smile.

‘I’ll get the Cocoa you get ready,’ said Freja.

Soon they cuddled up moaning about men and how useless they were. The chatter dulled. The girls were settling down. Then Freja’s expression changed. An icy blade was lurking.

‘I keep seeing the fire out to sea. The coastguard told me there is nothing alight, you couldn’t see it. Just now I looked out and there it was again. Can you see it?’

A warm glow spread across the ceiling, but only one girl could sense it.

‘There is nothing there.’

‘I’ve been having weird dreams and somehow all linked to the fires. Also, I keep seeing a man with, long scruffy blonde hair, a wispy beard and filthy. What does it all mean?’

‘Are you under stress at work?’

‘That’s a good one. The work is so easy it is mind-numbing.’

‘There must be something deep down troubling you? What about what’s his name?’

‘It all started before we split up, but no, I can’t blame him. Dreams are one thing, but the fires are freaking me out. How do they start?’

‘You mean, the ones at sea, or the ones here?’

‘The ones here could be dangerous.’

‘Let’s get some sleep.’

‘Grrrr, mein mein, Achh, Grrr, mein mein, Achh.’ Freja repeated the phrase over and over, waking Patsy.

‘Hey, what is it? Christ, you are freezing,’ Patsy gently shook her friend.

Freja kept mumbling gibberish, only getting louder. Her head was shaking from side to side, scaring Patsy.

‘Oh God, what should I do?’ she rushed to find her phone, ‘Nine-nine-nine, come on…’

An unearthly growl made her drop the mobile. 

‘Who the hell are you? And how did you get in? I’m calling the police,’ she bent, without taking her eyes off the intruder. He smiled, his blue-grey eyes glinted in the dark. He reached the phone first and slid it towards the door with his foot. Eye to eye, he suddenly grabbed her throat in one powerful hand.

The wail from the bed caught both their attention. Freja was floating above the crumpled quilt.

The man dropped Patsy; she balled into a quivering heap. She rolled towards the door and her phone and heard, ‘9-9-9 what service do you require?’

‘Please quick, we need police and ambulance….’ she whispered.

He kicked the phone from her hand. 

Patsy screamed as her eyes focused on her friend, the girl above her was no longer her friend, the beast looked like Regan from The Exorcist, cracked and battered. She was not plunging a crucifix into herself, just floating across the room. She became bathed in a cloud of dust, no; the murk was biting midges. Freja laughed, bellowing a roar as her mouth swelled and another cloud of mini-flies burst forth, Patsy was struggling to see through the fog. A ring of flames imprisoned her. Her untimely thought was ‘at least it stopped the insects’. A perfect circle of heat from floor to ceiling surrounded her.

Freja screeched at the man now prostrated on the scorched smoking floor.

Patsy had heard her friend speak in Danish before. That wasn’t it. Whatever she bellowed, the man understood. Like a chained dog, she dragged him to the door.

A crack of thunder and they disappeared.

The sound of sirens shocked Patsy out of her daze. Firefighters burst through the open front door, pulling hoses as water splashed onto Patsy.

‘What did you do?’ Was the first of many questions aimed at her.

‘I don’t know. Thank God you came when you did,’ said the teary girl.

‘How did you make such a perfect ring of fire?’

‘I didn’t!’

‘Who did? You’re the only one here?’

‘Did you not see my friend with a man?’

As she spoke another firefighter interrupted, ‘Look at the flames on the sea,’ he pointed at a line of fire moving across the Channel.

A ball of fire rose above the sea and disappeared behind the clouds. 

The END

If you like my short stories, you may enjoy full novels? Have a look amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

My Sister the Dandelion

My Sister the Dandelion

“I didn’t feel it, I didn’t hear it. I knew it was there. Like a dandelion seed floating by my ear. I sensed it.” Jim said to his sister. He expected no answer.

A tear dropped, splashing closed eyelids.

“I know you are here, I feel that too.”

“Come on, Jim. Time to close the lid,” said the coroner, putting his arm around the boy.

Jim’s mum eased him away from the polished wooden box holding his beloved sister. Jim’s father sat, head bowed behind them.

The three family members walked on the gravel path to their car. A gentle crunch with each footstep. Jim felt a smile spread. His mother nudged her husband, who studied Jim. 

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“She is walking with us. Can’t you hear her?”

“Don’t be so silly,” said his mum, eying her husband, hoping he would do or say something. He just screwed his face and opened the car door.

***

They had parked a police car outside their house.

“Can I help you?”

“Mr and Mrs Palmer?” asked the female in blue.

“Yes, Peter and Anthea, what do you want?” 

“Can we come in?” the larger officer asked.

“Up you go, while I make tea for the officers,” said Anthea.

Jim trudged up to his room, still smiling.

“What is this all about?” asked Peter.

“First, we were very sorry to hear the sad news, but we have to do our job and ask the questions,” said the male.

“But why?”

The smaller petite officer put her hand in front of her colleague, signalling she was in charge and wanted to be tactful.

“Do you take milk and sugar,” asked Anthea sensing awkward questions coming their way.

“They reported young Jilly had bruises on her legs. What can you tell me about them?”

“No, she didn’t,” said Anthea.

***

Upstairs, Jim was searching through his sister’s doll collection.

“Found you Barbie, can you feel anything?”

***

Downstairs the officers raised their eyebrows, “Really?”

“Look, I bathe her every night, I should know if she has bruises. Oh, wait a minute,” she looked at her husband. “That night you took her for a bath, didn’t you?”

“Yes, yes, I remember now, but she had no bruises. I’m one hundred percent certain. She only ever had them after chasing about with her brother.”

***

“Barbie, at the undertakers, I felt her. My sister was with me. It was just that fluffy seed blowing past my ear. Now I can sense something bigger, stronger. Like dried leaves in the wind. What does it mean? I think Jilly is nearby.”

***

“As you know, there was no obvious cause of death. Also, the forensic pathologist reported no marks on the body. But we have a credible report saying she had bruises. Sorry, but we have to follow it up.” 

The tall officer was fidgeting, “Was she naughty, causing you to smack her?” 

His colleague stared at the ceiling but kept her mouth shut.

“No, no never, I have never struck either of the children. Nor has my wife, at least not to my knowledge?”

“Of course not!” she shouted.

“Have you two been having problems? I see you have a temper, Mrs Palmer,” asked the female.

***

“Barbie, can you hear that? Jilly is whispering. I don’t know what she is saying.”

***

“If you have nothing better to do than accuse us of beating our children, you had better go,” said Anthea.

“That will be all for now. We may have to talk to your son next time. Thanks for the tea.”

Mrs Palmer glared at her husband.

“What?” he asked.

“Not to my knowledge…” she mimicked.

“She had no marks on her in the bath,” he fumed.

“Her brother?”

“No way, he loved her.”

***

“Barbie, come closer, can you hear her?”

***

“I’m going to see the head-teacher, and find out what is going on,” said Anthea, “Are you coming with me?”

“Er, no, I have to go back to work.”

“That’s no surprise, okay, I’ll go on my own.”

Mrs Palmer snatched her coat from the hook. 

She shouted up the stairs, “Jim, come down here, we are going to school.”

They walked up to the top of the hill, then a determined march led them to the school office.

“Jim, sit there and wait for me.”

“I need to see the head,” she said to his secretary.

“Yes, yes, let me see if he is free.”

“Mrs Palmer, please come through, I heard you speaking from my office. I am always available to speak to the parents of our children.” 

He turned and ordered two teas.

“On behalf of the entire school, let me offer condolences. We are all so sorry.”

“Yes, I’m sure. Thank you. Somebody here told the police that Jilly had bruises on her legs. These did not happen at home. So, somebody from here must have slapped her.”

“None of my staff would hit a child at this school. Have you asked Jim?”

“No, maybe I should have first?”

“Ask him now.”

Jim pulled Barbie from his coat pocket and whispered in her ear. He jumped when his mum appeared and stuffed the doll away.

“Jim, have any of your mates ever been hit by a teacher?”

“No, mum, Tim had his favourite sweets taken, that wasn’t fair.” 

“Okay, wait there, I’m going back to the head-teacher.”

As she tapped on the head’s door, Jim was skipping down the corridor. He skidded to a halt outside his sister’s classroom.

***

“See Barbie, that is Jilly’s room. Wow, can you feel that? It is suddenly chilly. Somebody must have left the door open.”

He looked around, all the doors were closed, he looked up; they had shut the corridor skylights.

“That is odd, Barbie. Jilly is talking to me, but I can’t make out what she is saying.”

***

A bell rang, excited children poured into the corridors rushing for home. Jim sat on his own outside the room.

“I told you to wait back there! They think I can’t control my children. Why do you look so miserable?”

Realising what she said, hugged him, “I’m so sorry,” she said. “Let’s go home. What do you want for tea?”

Her son looked at her, wishing daggers could be aimed straight into her eyes. He shook off the thought; it wasn’t like him. Throwing Barbie down the length of the corridor, he felt better. Turning, he stalked ahead of her all the way home.

***

“Jim, please give mummy a cuddle,” she said as he stomped upstairs.

She was crying into her mobile, “When will you be home? Jim has locked himself into Jilly’s room.”

“About six. Can’t you handle it?”

***

She crept upstairs and listened at the door.

“Jilly, why are you being so rude? You never swear. You are lucky mum can’t hear you.”

Anthea was on her knees weeping.

A scratching sound was coming from the door, like a teacher’s nails on a blackboard. Anthea stifled a gasp as the paint was peeling away from the door. The noise got louder; the scratch got deeper.

Words appeared, but not English.

In the bedroom, Jim had not noticed the scratching noise, he was arguing with his sister. They never argued.

“Do it. Do it,” louder and louder she yelled.

“No. Never,” wailed Jim.

“Do it. Or you’ll never talk to me again. But if you do it, I’ll let you see me.”

“But Jilly, why are you being like this?”

Outside, the scratching had stopped. Words had formed. Children’s writing. It puzzled Anthea. She was not one for word games, but REDRUM flashed a memory in her mind.

“That’s it, it’s backwards.”

She ran to fetch her make-up mirror.

“I will not!” screamed Jim. 

He felt a tug from behind on his shoulder.

Spinning, he saw the words on the door. The words were not a mirror image on his side.

Anthea arrived as Jim pulled the door open.

“IT IS NOT ME!”

Scrawled in Jilly’s handwriting on the wood.

Mother and son hugged, hard, not wishing to let go, with all the love they could muster.

Jilly appeared, blew kisses and waved. Then she disappeared.

The END

If you enjoyed this short story, you can find more at http://www.dark-novels.com or you may try my full-length thrillers, at amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Art of the Arcane – FREE books!

Wow, nearly 50 FREE reads. And my book come out on top! Luck of the draw and all that. Enjoy one or more of these exciting tales.

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A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way!

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Two Englishmen have dreams of setting up a business in the sun, but trouble follows them.

Their first brush with death came at Bangkok’s airport on Nick’s first day in the Kingdom.

Action, laughs, romance and tears follow as the story moves at a breathtaking pace. 

Violence and tender moments collide as the gullible pair meet a dodgy ship’s engineer, two lovely French girls more interested in dogs than romance, and a tall Welsh man, with a very chequered drug background who leads them all into more trouble. The last person they need to encounter is a lesbian newspaper reporter with a deadly family secret. 

The tale unfolds into an action-packed finale.

“I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, 

all very worrying.” Janet Brookman

“How can anybody have so many 

worries on a paradise beach?” Tim Mellish

Published by dark-novels.com

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In Quake City, don’t go down to the docks at night…

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Quake City at night. Smugglers at work. A dockworker found dead in the morning. Private investigator Danny Ashford suspects foul play. Investigative reporter Deepa Banwait follows a lead to the docks to land a story. When Danny and Deepa cross paths, trouble mounts.

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A piper gets shafted with his own sgian dubh, and his sworn enemy must find the killer.

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At the biannual Highland Games in the small Texas town of Daunder, bagpipe player Nigel Pauley is ruthlessly stabbed with a sgian dubh, a knife pipers wear as part of their costume. Carl Geiger, a fellow piper and Nigel’s sworn enemy, is the prime suspect.  After all, he’d been seen arguing with Nigel just hours before he turned up dead.

Carl didn’t do it, but convincing the voluptuous deputy sheriff in charge of the investigation is another matter, which is further complicated by the growing attraction between them. In order to prove his innocence, Carl is determined to find out who actually murdered Nigel, and why. But the deeper he digs, the more people he discovers who might have wanted Nigel dead. Nigel’s last-minute act before he died may lead Carl to Nigel’s murderer—or to his own death.

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Prequel short story to The Lance Gedrin Series

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Meet Gedrin.

Heavyweight champion boxer who always finds trouble.
If you like the wit and grit of Myron Bolitar, Jack Reacher, Elvis Cole, or Spenser, then you’ll love Gedrin. 
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“The fear he has created lingers, and it will do so for some time.”

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The once peaceful town of Little Green has been rocked by a series of murders. Three residents of the town have been killed, and the killer always chooses the 13th day of the month to commit his foul crimes. Soon after, another body is inevitably found. As the next 13th day approaches and the town braces itself for another death, residents are fearful. They ask: “who is the killer?” and “will I be next?”

For the residents of Little Green, the killings are both horrific and captivating. They spread their theories across social media, invoking everything from government conspiracies to urban legends. But 18 year old Shelley Matheson is certain those theories are wrong. No one believes Shelley, so she must search for evidence to support her theory; a search which will put her firmly in the frame as the killer’s next potential victim.

From international bestselling Crime Fiction and Murder Mystery author Laura Greene comes The 13th Day, a thrilling small town mystery that will keep you at the edge of your seat from start to finish.

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Maria was the witness the family couldn’t kill

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Maria Bartonelli was the witness that the family couldn’t kill so they locked her away where they thought the FBI could never find her. Decades later, there are those who are interested in Maria’s fate, as well as the mysteries surrounding the place in which she lived; but those who get too close find themselves pushed to the edge of insanity.

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One woman’s journey from oblivion to recovery

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A troubled relationship, a damaged past and a bottle of wine mixed together make a volatile cocktail for Sophie.

Her journal documents the destructive descent into the grips of alcohol addiction. Full of suspense, as life takes its toll. Is she too trusting? Can she save her friend in time?

Sophie Brown likes to work hard and play hard. Trapped in a relationship she can’t escape from, alcohol becomes her only companion. Unable to accept she has a problem, she becomes increasingly dependent on booze. Full of remorse and afraid of her own behaviour, Sophie finally agrees to accept help and enters rehab, where the road to recovery begins. Hoping for a safe haven, not everyone is as they seem. Then one of her friends disappears, and Sophie is up against time to find and save her.
Sometimes harrowing, sometimes poignant, this funny yet sad novel shows you a real glimpse into what happens when the life of a promising, talented young woman spirals out of control. 

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Everything is changing, and nothing is as it seems.

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Set in the cradle of New England, the story finds Maya caught in the middle of the mysterious death of her husband, and someone very connected trying to pin the crime on her. Maya is a highly accomplished Air Force Colonel at the cusp of leading a storied life when all of it comes crashing down.

She ducks and dodges the plan to pin the murder on her while she runs from Boston to Chicago and DC.

The entire time this icy cool character has everything under control. From knowing how to lethally engage and kill an assailant to figuring out the clues to what is about to happen next, follow Maya on this whirlwind adventure through the Northeast.

Can you figure out who is behind this? Can you figure out who the target is and what the plot was? The clues are in every line and every chapter. Figure it out while Maya shows you how the pros do it.

Each chapter folds into the next to reveal the danger that lurks at every turn. Find out how Maya will find the killer, avenge her husband, protect her kids, and do it all without breaking a heel.

Don’t be surprised if you can’t figure out the plot and who is behind it. Most can’t. Go ahead and try. You’re going to have a ton of fun in this fast-clipped adventure, punctuated by a lazy vacation pace to cool your heels.

Get it, now. It’s the first of five books that will change the way you see the world around you.

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The Scent of Bones

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There’s a mysterious murder hiding in the darkness… and it knows your weakness.

Recently returned home, Detective Claire finds herself in the craziest situation, she thinks she can escape the craziness of a quiet island, but she now finds herself up against the monster.

She is close to you. She’s spent years honing her craft.

This is no ordinary killer; she seems to stalk her prey. More importantly Claire can’t shake this feeling, that this killer is around her, and knows the victims well.

Will Claire be able to stop the killer in time before he strikes? (
Can she find out who killed her brother?
Can save the island’s people?

If you like suspense mystery books, then you will love The Scent of Bones.

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For fans of puzzle mysteries and twist endings.

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The local butcher in a small Italian town fell to his death during a hike. Most likely an unfortunate accident, but his mother cries murder. By a member of the US Military no less. Enter Mark Novak, the Military’s Special Investigator and not the detective he used to be. 

An old lover works the case alongside him. She’s still as enticing and willing as ever.  As the case unfolds, Novak uncovers mostly new questions, not answers. Soon, the accident looks more like murder.  And she only adds to the confusion.

Novak must either find a way to trust his skill and intuition again, or a murderer walks free.

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How could he tell her no? Even if saying yes could get him killed.

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She had a simple request.

Help recover some money from a guy she dated.

Easy enough for Jake Burbank to say yes.

Until the guy shows up dead and everyone thinks he did it.

And she’s disappeared with his alibi.

Grab your copy of the first in a brand new series and keep checking out books two through six in this fast paced page turner for fans of Hap and Leonard and Longmire.

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Transporting a homicidal chimp across America. What could go wrong?

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A chimp guilty of murder. 

A mad scientist with a penchant for animal freakery…

…and a private detective who needs quick cash.

Just another day in Los Angeles.

In this prequel to the satirical private detective series, Heidi LaMont is a Private Dick, foul-mouthed and snarky British ex-pat Heidi is broke, and her private detective agency is on the verge of closing before it officially opens. She needs a client and fast, but her first case as LA’s newest private investigator is more than she bargained for as a not-so-perfect opportunity arrives on her doorstep…

Transport a homicidal chimpanzee across America.

As if a road trip in a van with a maladjusted simian isn’t bad enough, there’s another problem.

A psychopathic scientist is waiting for them on the other side. 

Every stop on this wacky journey exposes disturbing truths, unbelievable coincidences, and the heart-stopping reality of a scientist gone mad. Can Heidi save herself from a crazed doctor while navigating the complicated dynamics of a burgeoning friendship with a trigger-happy chimp?

Discover how the UK’s own Heidi LaMont earned her stripes in the cutthroat world of private investigators in this adrenaline-rushing dark comedy-thriller because everyone needs a good laugh.

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Psychiatrist Grant Garrick had it all: a thriving therapy practice, a bright, loving, and beautiful wife, a 15 year-old son filled with potential, and a gorgeous home on acreage overlooking the Puget Sound. Life couldn’t get much better.

Then tragedy struck.

Read the novella, Book 1, the prequel to the Psychiatrist Grant Garrick suspense-thriller series.

Learn why he defies danger and adventures beyond the boundaries of his profession to help solve his patients’ problems.

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Is Tom destined to fail? Will the grip of alcohol and easy women destroy the agency

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Tom’s throat aches, and he swallows the sobs to the deepest part of his gut. He wraps his arms around himself and feels wetness on his body. Glancing down, he sees his once white shirt is stained with Claire’s dark crimson blood.

After Tom Grant’s fiancé is murdered in their bedroom, he drowns himself in whisky— until The Agency calls. He is requested personally to infiltrate an extremist left-wing group threatening to disrupt the visit of a U.S. Senator.

He’s The Agency’s best.

Was the best. 

Tasked with intelligence gathering while protecting the Senator, this job should be child’s play. But the dulling effects of alcohol obstructs his usually sharp brain, leading to chaos.

The U.S. Senator is shot dead. On Tom’s watch.

Tom is given an ultimatum. Fix himself. Or he’s done.

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Get your FREE copy of SHOCK

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Katie Boles finds her life turned upside when she finds a dead body on her driveway. The mysterious death is reminiscent of the work of a serial killer who terrorized Katie’s hometown five years ago. The police arrested Katie’s brother for the murders, but the trial and her brother’s behavior left her with plenty of questions.

After a second killing nearby, Katie is afraid that the Shock Killer, the man who had forced her into hiding, was back to involve her in a second round of murders. Even more frightening is the fact that Katie might have to come face-to-face with her brother and learn the truth of the murders.

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Short Scary Stories to play with your mind…

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Horrors Next Door is a collection of short Mysterious, Psychological, Suspenseful, and Horror stories that will arouse your senses and puzzle your mind. Some of the stories are inspired by true events. Find out which ones inside this scary collection. Check out the full collection here: https://amzn.to/2zg4JZB

 “Night Visitors”
Once or twice a year, dark creatures show up at the foot of Annie`s bed and take her with them to conduct grisly experiments on her. This is happening for years now. She doesn’t understand who they are and why they do this. But this, last time, it’s different. This time she gets the answers, and nothing on Earth will be the same afterward.

“The Girl I Married”
Jonathan noticed that after marrying Jeanette, she started acting strange. As if she is not the same girl he dated. Why is she so different and what secrets is she hiding?

“White Silk”
Tommy is a low self-esteem teenager who has a hard time finding new friends and blending in, especially in a new school where he transferred after his parents’ divorce. But, a PC game might change everything. However, this game requires serious sacrifices, can Tommy endure them?

“The House Next Door”
Mr. Spaulding looks like an ordinary old grumpy neighbor with a penchant for growing roses, but he has a dark secret hidden deep inside of his house. A secret no one knows about. Sarah decides to find out if he is just a sweet lonely widower or a twisted man with a mysterious past. What she encounters at his house is beyond her wildest dreams, but this is a nightmare which she can’t wake up from.

And many more…

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It’s never too late for love or suspense.

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The entire Stone family is home in Flint River for Christmas the first time in over ten years. Mary Stone couldn’t be happier. The holiday season brings her a new love as well, in the form of Elijah Jefferson.

Everything is as it should be until a young woman goes missing and there is a robbery at the Gem Emporium. Mary never imagined the events that took place over of the next several days, nor did she know how necessary her particular brand of wisdom would be.

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“There’s a simple way to solve the crime problem: obey the law; punish those who do not.”

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Four bullets, one dead, four suspects.

A struggling police officer, Jake Michael, is introduced to a new case by the FBI. The case is related to a random shootout taken place at a bridge; with four bullets being shot and one man dead, the police take in three people in custody. 

All of them with the same suitcases and the same pack of cocaine. With this new lead, the three victims turn into suspects.

Diving deeper in the case Inspector Jake finds out this is more than just a random shoot out. It is a preplanned game by an anonymous to murder someone on the bridge.

He needs to find the link between all three of the suspects, a link that placed them on the bridge that day when the shootout took place.

Or, is there no link at all?

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Destiny is nothing but a series of moments. From man… to demon… to something more.

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This is the moment Mathias’s whole life has led up to. A picnic, a bottle of wine, and a ring—today, Victoria will be his forever.

The next moment, it all comes crashing down. In the darkest night, beneath the red eye of the lunar eclipse, everything that matters to him is torn away.

The most important moment remains: he can end his miserable existence, or he can drag himself from Hell and embrace his dark new purpose.

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WHEN A YOUNG BOY GOES MISSING, HIS PARENTS ARE DEVASTATED AND WHEN ALL ATTEMPTS TO FIND HIM ARE EXHAUSTED , THEY MUST TRY TO MOVE ON, BUT THIS MAY COST THEM MORE THAN JUST THEIR SON..

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A YOUNG BOY DISAPPEARS ON HIS WAY TO SCHOOL FOR NO APPARENT REASON. HIS DISTAUGHT FAMILY SEARCH EVERYWHERE AND THE POLICE ARE UNABLE TO TRACE HIM. IS THEIR SON ALIVE OR IS HE DEAD? THEY WILL NEVER REST UNTIL THEY FIND OUT THE TRUTH. BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

When Tim, Maria and Bob’s fourteen-year-old son goes missing, they are baffled and distraught. He seemed happy with them and was doing so well at school. But as the police delve into his past, it appears he wasn’t quite the model pupil they thought.

As time passes, they become frantic with worry. Although they fear he is dead, they refuse to give up on him and their search becomes an obsession. It takes over their lives and the stress involved causes them to split up. When out of the blue they find out the truth, and get the biggest shock of their lives. And discover if he is dead or alive.

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She Can’t Trust Anyone…Not Even Herself

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As a bestselling author, Marlowe strives to live the simple life while saving the intense storylines for her readers. So far, she’s succeeded…

Until she wakes up one day in a cabin she doesn’t recognize. A year is missing from her memory, and the man serving her breakfast? That’s Nate, the long-time boyfriend she just dumped. Or so she thought.

While Nate has all of the perfect answers to her persistent questions, she can’t help but feel as if there is more than he is telling her…

And that he has much more to do with it than he lets on.

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In a world where everything is done “For the Greater Good,” exposing the truth is a death wish.

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Life isn’t easy for Claren Greenwood. Her mother was killed by rebels, her father was exiled, and her brother is walking dangerously close to a similar fate. But Claren has a rare skill, and once the government identifies her as an Empath her world is flipped on its head.

Now Claren finds herself straddling two worlds—one begging her to work for “The Greater Good,” and the other threatening to tear it all apart.

With the help of a tall, handsome Outsider and a house full of other Empaths training for government work, Claren must discover the truth in order to save her brother and countless other lives.

And she must do it without losing the trust of either side.

From the Dust is full of action, suspense, love, and espionage. Fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games should prepare to get hooked!

Strap in for the first three chapters in the highly addictive dystopian world of the Ember Society Series.

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Exploring the ocean is scary. It’s much worse when something is stalking you down there.

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Being in a plane crash is traumatic, but what if you survived the fall only to find yourself in an unfamiliar forest, with something stalking you and your fellow survivors?
What if you moved to a new apartment that had a locked storage door, but every night when the door opens on its own, you see that doesn’t lead into a storage at all?
What would you do if you applied to work as a night guard, but upon arrival to your new job, you see a list of irrational and strange rules to follow?
Or if you got an emergency alert on your phone, but the more you listened to the sounds outside, you realized that this was no weather warning?

Immerse yourself in ten award-winning Nosleep stories which are guaranteed to keep you at the edge of your seat with their unpredictable twists and compelling storytelling.

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In the Blood of Justice

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A local Sheriff’s daughter gets caught up in a string of murders. Luckily, Anonymous is the only one who can help make her feel safe again. He’s the man destined to take down the worst of the worst.  

In the course to learn about his mysterious past and solve the case, Anonymous must overcome the Sheriff’s hellbent stance on keeping him from taking the lead. The question is—-is it merely pride that has the Sherriff so twisted, or is he perhaps keeping bigger secrets?

From bestselling author Nadia Siddiqui comes In the Blood of Justice, part one of Anonymous, a thrilling series of short stories about a lost man who’s contracted to kill with no recollection of his past. Follow him in each story and see if he finally solves the mystery behind his identity.

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A Julia Rawson Murder Mystery

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Julia spends her days with the dead. This makes sense because she is the first female death investigator for the Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office. She has worked hard to become a forensic artist, recreating faces from only bones. Julia faces new challenges navigating the profession, and now a suspicious death hits close to home.Will what she discovers unravel everything she has worked for?

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The Universe is a Tough Place

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In the future, as humanity spreads throughout the galaxy, the ideals of justice for all, integrity, and honesty are nothing more than outdated concepts to many who have benefited as members of the wealthy, elitist ruling class.

To the incorruptible lawman, Thomas Sullivan, these ideals are all he has left to cling to. Betrayed by those he respected and admired, the very institutions he served, Sullivan has paid a heavy price. The loss of his mentor, friend, and woman he loved are just the beginning.

In a shadowy future, where the dark ideals of greed, lust for power, and a sense of entitlement govern the choices of many, there are those who still stand for justice. Men like Thomas Sullivan.

With little more than a job he loves, Sullivan struggles to find his way in a universe that increasingly seems to have no place for him. Damaged by the events of his life and in conflict with himself, Thomas Sullivan is The Fractured Man.

Fans of classic crime noir stories and science fiction will love the cross-genre novella The Fractured Man. Mostly human and part cyborg, Thomas Sullivan is a classic noir lawman, tortured by his past and faced with an uncertain future. Betrayal, corruption, and murder await his every turn.

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A cold-blooded killer or an unlikely hero, one man has to make a decision that will change the course of history.

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Tom is an artist with a darker side. He feels no guilt in killing the occasional bad guy to make the world a better place.

Helen, onto the scoop of a lifetime, finds herself carrying a murderer’s child, and becomes a pawn in an international conflict.

On another continent, General Hawke will stop at nothing to put Tom – and his unborn child – under the microscope, even at the risk of an international crisis.

Even Tom doesn’t know what’s driving him, or what the dark shadows from his nightmares actually want from him, but as his adversaries close in, it becomes a race against time to find the answers before freedom, or even his life, are taken from him.

A standalone thriller with the compulsive drive of a Tom Clancy – international espionage with a hint of Stephen King.

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The last normal day of her life… was yesterday.

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International bestseller Michaelbrent Collings 
brings you the Bram Stoker Award finalist… 
and invites you to along for
the most dangerous ride of your life.

It was supposed to be just one more ridealong…

… a night when high schooler Melissa Latham accompanies her father on his patrol. But when a serial killer targets them for a dark, disturbing game, the night turns into a high-speed chase where there is no prize for second place.

“Keeps you guessing till the end, and in the end the twist will leave you shocked.” – Dread Central


They have to find a killer before he murders the next one of their friends.

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An Indispensable Guide to the Essential Authors & Mysteries of Murder

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It was an era of exotic poisons and smoking pistols. Of unbreakable alibis and elaborate charades. Of shrewd spinster sleuths and effete gentleman detectives.

Nestled comfortably between the First and Second World Wars, the Golden Age of Detective Fiction captivated readers with twisty tales of murder and mystery. The crime is presented as a game—a puzzle with all its pieces and players left on the table. Nothing is hidden, and the solution is in plain sight, if one only knows where to look.

This brief guide offers a curated list of ten of the most prolific and influential writers from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. While today some names may be more familiar than others, in his or her prime each was a creative force from the earliest days of the murder mystery craze. The guide also includes three titles by each author that shouldn’t be missed.

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Get this book free and join us in the Awkward Squad

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He wanted peace. He found a life-changing adventure…

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He wanted peace. He found a life-changing adventure…

Tristan Blake’s time in the army left him scarred and broken. Now that he’s home from war, the atheist bishop’s son wants nothing more than the peace and quiet of the New Zealand coast. When a Maori priest named Rau offers him a lift, neither of them expect a ride that could change their lives forever.

On a beach up north, a mysterious man scores Rau a colossal snapper with no bait. As Joshua joins the atheist and the priest on their journey to the heart of the nation, Tristan is surprised by his provocative friendship. As word of the jean-sporting guru spreads, the prime minister and Tristan’s father take notice…

Tristan is left with a choice: follow a man who demands love that could transform his life, or thwart Joshua’s influence by doing the unthinkable…

A New Kind of Zeal is a spiritual and psychological suspense novel for people of all walks of life. If you enjoy compelling characters, a new take on ancient teachings, and stories with a New Zealand flair, then you’ll love Michelle Warren’s book of faith under fire.

Download A New Kind of Zeal to explore a whole new world today.

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A thriller with dark supernatural overtones.

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Female psychic detective, Epiphany Mayall is on the track of stolen antiquities and a clay tablets relating the Epic of Gilgamesh. Through a combination of her psychic abilities and the technological resources of PI Maro Gaido and the FBI’s art crimes division, they zero in on the mysterious conspirators who people the shady global underworld of the arts and antiquities black market. Can they find the Gilgamesh tablet with its map to the “flower of immortality,” or will the treasure disappear forever into the private vault of a billionaire art thief?

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Are Family Secrets Worth Killing Someone?

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When the Patriarch of the Woodcrest Family, Gerald Woodcrest, is found dead in the flowerbed under his bedroom window, the local police department rules it a suicide. His son hires Private Detective Emmy Grimm to uncover the real truth behind his father’s death.

Surrounded by so many individuals who could benefit from his death, now it depends on Emmy to figure out who is responsible. When Emmy starts talking to the heirs, the Woodcrest family’s secrets begin to emerge.

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Is the evil lurking in Sunshine House human or something much worse?

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Once an exclusive Hollywood hotel catering to the likes of Rudolf Valentino and other great stars of the Silent Film Era, the Bockerman Hotel now is the Sunshine House, an assisted living home for seniors.   

And its residents are dying…in droves.

Sara Caine, paranormal investigator, couldn’t believe she got an invitation to hunt for ghosts in the most haunted building in all of Los Angeles, The Sunshine House. Her excitement turns to horror as the mysteries of Sunshine House reveal themselves to be more terrifying then she could have ever imagined.  

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Surviving Is A Skill, Killing Another.

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He is a secret IRA operative.

He is one of the most successful City banker in London

…then the 2008 Financial Crisis happens.

Nancy Wu, former eminent Queen’s Counsel, now prominent patron of the arts, receives the most unexpected call for help. Henry Crowne is accused of murder in a case that seems decided from the very beginning. His Irish background, financial terrorist connections and investment banking success inexorably tilt the scales against him. Nancy’s own lingering darker past calls for her to mount Henry’s defence but her client is the biggest obstacle. Will she manage to unpick the devious manipulations of a most twisted mind? 

COLLAPSE is a financial and espionage thriller, the first book in the Henry Crowne: Paying the Price trilogy. If you like The Big Short, The Fear Index and A Week in December you will enjoy the twists and turns of Freddie P Peters’ latest fast-paced thriller. Discover it now…

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Detective Shelby Griffin is sworn to serve and protect the city of Los Angeles. That doesn’t mean that she has to like it.

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Actually, Shelby hates LA, and she can’t wait to get out of here and return to her hometown in Rhode Island. For now, though, she needs this job, and she works the streets every day with her partner Trevor Morris. There’s no shortage of cases, either. Shelby’s neighborhood is on the very brink of an all-out gang war, and it’ll take just one spark to light the tinder-dry atmosphere. That spark comes in the form of a dead gangster who might just prove to be the catalyst for a gang war that could kill hundreds and cause devastating collateral damage. Or does it?

When Shelby discovers that the murder is not what it seems, she’s determined to find the real killer, but a kidnapping turns the whole case on its head. The murder Shelby is investigating has led to a terrible choice. Either way, people die. And if she doesn’t find the killer and stop him, those people could include Morris. The vigilante roaming the streets makes life even more complicated for LA’s most reluctant detective as she fights back in this fast-paced first installment of a five-book series.

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Daniel was just your average, run-of-the-mill serial killer.

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Daniel is learning that being a serial killer is hard work. Luckily, he has one friend in life that is just like him, but far more experienced. Greg is more than happy to teach Daniel everything he knows about killing and not getting caught. But when a mysterious woman shows up, she takes Daniel on a reckless ride of passion and murder, making him question everything Greg has taught him.

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Lock your doors. Bolt your windows.

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“Hudgins is a Horror-Meister to reckon with!” 

VICTOR MILLER – Writer of Friday the 13th 

If you like fast reads, this is the author for you!

Steve Hudgins uses a screenplay/novel hybrid writing style that keeps the descriptive portions of the story brief, allowing the narrative to push forward at a blazing pace. 

MANIAC ON THE LOOSE

An exceptionally dangerous patient has escaped from the local psychiatric hospital. 

Fearing that he’ll lose his job if word gets out, the head of the hospital, Dr. Franklin Grimm, secretly sends his mysterious head of security on a mission to apprehend the deranged psycho before anyone can gain knowledge of the escape. 

Meanwhile, a small town is clueless that an infamous serial killer now walks among them, seeking his next victim. 

Will Dr. Grimm’s devious plan work or will blood be on his hands as a slaughter ensues? 

Terrifying, eerie and incredibly unpredictable, Maniac on the Loose will keep you up all night gripping the blankets in suspense! 

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Here One Moment. Gone The Next.

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“If you ever speak my name, or tell anyone what just happened, I’ll find out where you live, I’ll break into your home, creep into your bedroom at night, and stab you to death with a knife from your mother’s kitchen. Do you understand?”

All hell breaks loose when a teenager goes missing in a close-knit neighbourhood in East London. Avery sees her quiet, predictable life viciously turned on its head, and watches in horror as the people she loves crumble.

Destitute, and determined not to return to walking the streets at night, Dolly will do anything, and hurt anyone she can to grasp the better life she’s craved for so long.

Worlds collide, death is at every turn as two very different women find themselves thrust into a hidden world of money laundering, kidnap, and ritual killings – all in the name of freedom and justice.

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A not guilty verdict.  A kidnapping.  A midnight trial.  Six sitting in judgment, and one empty chair.

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Coach Terrence Jackson is the man who has divided the town of Marston. There are those who believe in the coach and his innocence and then there are the victims who despise him, his smile and his crime. He has a dark past- a previous life no one knew about until the not guilty verdict.

Only one victim, Rose Canter, has the courage to ask for justice. The others quietly watch as her justice slips away with the verdict. 

He goes back to his life wearing his signature smile, and Rose is left picking up the pieces of hers. She doesn’t know she is not the only victim who has lost the fight to the coach. 

Coach Jackson’s signature smile is an integral accessory of his wardrobe. In fact, he doesn’t leave home without it. He has one son-Jonas, a dead wife, and a young, blonde bombshell by his side. He has money and status which he earned on the football field. Now he’s giving back to the community by helping high school students afford a college education. One thing he does not have is the contentment of his victims. They want revenge and the setup for his demise begins. 

There is more than one way to catch a criminal. 

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BloodLaw

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ADA Alastair Maddox is at the top his game in Prohibition Chicago where mobs paint the town red with blood. Despite being beaten, shot, and almost killed by the mob, Alastair continues his war on the city’s criminal underworld.

But when his former police chief comes in asking Alastair’s help with what he call a “bizarre case,” Alastair can’t help but be interested.

The woman in the red dress sitting in the interrogation room is beyond beautiful. Confronting her feels like standing in the presence of a predator.

Alastair soon stares down the face of death, but he soon learns, death isn’t as permanent as he’s been led to believe.

Obsession. Lust. Murder. A dark thirst.

It all awaits in the lawless streets of Vampire Chicago.

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Between a Rock and a Deadly Place

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Cedar Fish Campground was supposed to be a peaceful refuge, not grounds for murder.

Thea Pagoni is desperate to flee her stress-filled city life for the quiet of the woods after a painful divorce. When her grandmother passes away and leaves her the family campground, it seems like the perfect opportunity to find peace. But not everything is crickets and campfires.

The handyman she was promised is less than handy, the campground has fallen into severe disrepair, and with a dwindling reservation list, there’s no money to make improvements. Things are looking grim, and then a dead hiker makes everything worse. Can Thea find the killer before Cedar Fish Campground is forced to close forever and she loses everything… again?

Between a Rock and a Deadly Place is the first novella in Zoey Chase’s Cedar Fish Campground cozy mystery series. For lovers of the outdoors and clean mysteries with a side of romance.

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Moonlight is hired to investigate the brutal murder of his lover. But he has blood on his hands. Her blood…

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Intriguing short story … excellent introduction to Rick Adelmann’s jazz-age mystery series!

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When David March shows up, unexpected, former Pinkerton detective Sherwood Garth can’t possibly know what mystery he’s about to step into. He’s been asked to visit David’s home, undercover as a former professor, while secretly investigating why the perfectly healthy, but elderly patriarch, and powerful Hollywood studio chief, Francis March, has suddenly begun to experience hallucinations and visions of his dead wife. David is very concerned. Garth is intrigued and agrees to investigate.  What he learns while getting to know this family will make anyone shiver, but never fear … this intriguing short story is a great introduction to Rick Adelmann’s jazz-age mystery series.

Praise for Rick Adelmann’s new series:

 “Spellbinder! A great first book. I can’t wait for the next one. Great surprise ending!” – 5 stars online review (on The Greek Coins Affair)

 “Sherwood Garth and James Mallory seem like an unlikely partnership in sleuthing, but their skills and experience provide a unique combination in the fine art of solving murders. Garth is reminiscent of our old friend, Sherlock Holmes, while Mallory, the retired cavalry officer, embodies the spirit of the old West. Rick Adelmann’s debut novel takes you into a world where automobiles are replacing horse-drawn buggies and the Jazz Age is coming into its own. Set against the rich backdrop of turn-of-the-century Americana, The Greek Coins Affair is sure to please.” –Mysticmoods book review  (on The Greek Coins Affair)

 “Sizzles with Jazz Age mystery and intrigue” –J Shaw, online review (on The Hilltop Ranch Affair)

Scrumping

by Colin Devonshire – First published on http://www.dark-novels.com

SCRUMPING

“I thought you were going to get me some apples?” Abby glared at her husband.

“I am, give me a chance,” Andy tutted, “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“Put your betting slips away, and get outside, find me at least thirty cookers for my pies. And I mean now!”

Andy ducked as a wooden spoon skimmed his head and thudded into the television.

“And don’t forget a bag to carry them in. Unlike last time. Idiot.”

“Bloody women,” he breathed as he searched for his unused work boots. He looked around to make sure she hadn’t heard him.

The front door slammed behind him. He was in control at last. But not for long.

“Oy, goofy, where are you going?” next door’s thirteen-year-old daughter laughed.

Andy pulled up his coat collar and ignored her. 

“Morning, Andy, you are early today,” called the newsagent, stepping back from the doorway as Andy made his way to the counter.

“I’ll have The Sun please.”

“What a surprise, you always buy that rag.”

“It is good for racing and football. And I like it,” grunted Andy. Under his breath, he whispered, “It is none of your business.”

Grabbing the sports section, he buried his nose in last night’s game reports. 

“Shit, they lost again,” Andy crumpled the paper and stuffed it in his pocket next to the precious bag. His temperature was rising.

“Where are you going so bright and early?” The over made-up fifty-year-old woman called. “If you’ve got a tenner, I could make your morning,” she laughed. 

Andy continued walking towards the farm, still hearing the woman’s giggles.

The farm dog chased to the gate, gnashing teeth and letting Andy know he was not welcome.

“Ha, I’m not coming in the front gate, thick dog. You’re as stupid as your owner,” whispered Andy. The last thing he needed was a double-barrelled shotgun aimed at him. 

With his shoulders slumped and head ducked, Andy briskly marched past the farmhouse, continuing up the lane and beyond the woods towards the farm’s far orchard. The chirping birds brightened Andy’s mood, but not for long. There was a battered truck parked near the gap in the hedge. Andy’s entrance to his prize, thirty cooking apples to keep his wife off his back, at least until she found something else to take him away from the tv.

“How am I supposed to make a living, if I don’t get the chance to study the odds?” he thought.

He ducked his head halfway through the hole, listening for any sign of the truck owner. Was the farmer working in the orchard? Silence. Andy rubbed his hands more because of the chill in the air than the pleasure of collecting the prize fruit.

Andy squeezed through the gap, straightened and brushed the leaves off his jacket. He looked around for low-hanging branches laden with plump apples. Walking ahead he spotted a tree almost breaking with the weight of ‘cookers’. He hurried ahead. Stopping in his tracks, frozen. A man was sitting his back resting against the tree trunk, casually smoking. There was a small pile of dog ends next to his right hand.

“Hello, what you after?” the man asked.

“The same as you, I guess,” Andy spotted a small pile of apples in front of the man’s outstretched legs.

“Good timing mate, I was just having a break, before I went to my truck to fetch a beer crate to stand on, as you can see the best fruit is out of reach. Now you can fetch it. Off you go, I’ve left the back door unlocked.”

Andy looked at the man, recognition was dawning, it was ‘Smithy’ the school thug. 

“Oh, no.”

“What are you looking at?”

Andy turned.

“Wait a minute, do I know you?”

“Yes,” stammered Andy. “We went to school together.”

“Wait a minute, let me look at you. Christ, it’s ‘Goggles’, I remember you. Haha, you wore those National Health glasses, with little curly bits around the ears. Yes, it’s coming back, you had pink ones,” he roared with laughter.

“I only had pink ones because you broke my blue ones, I had to wear my sister’s.”

Smithy was rolling around on the ground, his laughter got louder as did the slaps on his thighs. He struggled to stop long enough to issue an order.

“Get the crate, I’ll climb up and for every three apples, I get one for you. That’s fair.”

“I only need thirty, my wife said.”

“Christ, you sound like you are back at school. The teacher said…” he started cackling again.

Andy stomped off to the truck.

“There’s a good boy. Put it there and I’ll clamber up and drop the fruit to you.”

Smithy standing tall was stretching and twisting the fruit free. Then lobbing them to Andy, who dropped more than he caught, causing rounds of hilarity from above.

Memories of thirty years ago came crashing between Andy’s ears, the bullying, the teasing and the torture he had suffered at the hands of this person. Even now he was laughing and giving out orders.

“Do you remember the day that fat cow, what was her name? I can’t remember, the girl reported me for playing tricks on you, anyway I got expelled ‘cos of her and you,” he chuckled.

Andy’s face was glowing like a winter’s poker, “Her name was Abby, she is my wife.”

“You must be joking? Who would marry her?”

Smithy was on tiptoes, stretching across a ‘V’ section of branches. Grunting as he reached. Andy took hold of Smithy’s thigh, twisted it and pulled down with all the force he could muster. There was a yelp and a loud crack. The crack was not wooden.

Smithy toppled from the beer crate, but the branches held him tight by the neck, throat pushed against the ‘V’. His legs swinging slowly, feet twitching.

Andy’s fingers moved his newspaper aside and shook open his plastic bag. Then counted in thirty fat and juicy apples. He whistled as he ducked through the hole. 

His smile broadened, as did his stride, as he passed the farm gate. The dog, tail between its legs, growled and ducked into the barn. Andy was almost skipping as he swung his bag up and down. He slowed only at the newsagent’s doorway to flash the ‘up yours’ to the puzzled owner.

Pushing back his front door, he bowled straight to the kitchen. His glare stopped any comments from his wife about taking his footwear off.

“There are your apples, make the pie sweeter this time. I’ll be in front of the telly picking out my winners. Oh, and I’ll have a cuppa. Make it snappy.”

The END

For more of Colin’s ‘tales’ go to Short Stories – right here!

If you prefer full novels – amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

WiFied Piper

Book 3 of Petal and Ben’s Adventures in Thailand.

WiFied Piper

Chapter 1

At School

“Sorry Petal, you cannot take your phone to school,” mum said.

“But mum, everyone has got a mobile but me,” said the unhappy girl.

“What about me?” asked Ben.

“No. Neither of you, phones, have been banned at school. We received a letter from the headmaster. He said that too many went missing and caused too much trouble. So, sorry, no, and that’s final.”

“That’s not fair,” echoed along the hallway as the siblings trudged off to school.  

“It’s no good asking me,” said their father as he started the car.

Their pet dog, Giggles, felt nothing like giggling. She hated it when ‘her’ family argued.

Petal and Ben entered the school gates, “That’s funny, why is everyone looking at us?” asked Petal.

Their school, like every school, was a place where you met your friends, a place of fun, and a place of noise, lots of it, at least until the school bell rang, but today it was different. Where was the noise, the running, the squabbles and all the chatter?

Everybody was looking at Petal and Ben… in silence.

“What’s wrong?” she said as she checked her uniform. Ben was making sure his zipper was up.

Then… as quickly as it started, all their friends were running, shouting and playing as normal.

A gang of Petal’s friends pulled her off to join their gossip about who had forgotten their homework. Ben’s buddies invited him to join one team engaged in the FA Cup Final under the basketball hoops.

Later at home, Petal pulled Ben out of earshot of their parents, “What happened earlier at school?”

“Dunno, weird, wasn’t it?”

Chapter two

School – as normal?

“I wonder what will happen at school today?” said Ben.

“What do you mean?” asked his dad.

“Oh, nothing, I was talking to Petal.”

Petal kicked her brother in the backseat of their car.

“Sssh,” she whispered.

“Come on you two, what’s going on?”

“You know mum said we can’t take our phones to school?”

“Yes, I remember what she told you,” said their dad.

“All our friends still have their phones.”

“That is up to them, if they want to get in trouble and have their mobiles confiscated.”

“Yes, but dad, no one is losing theirs.”

“They will, I expect.”

“Not only that…” started Ben, as his sister kicked him again.

They were nearing the school dad was losing his patience, “And?”

Petal put her hand over Ben’s mouth to stop him answering.

“Nothing really,” she said. “They looked at us funny, that’s all.”

Petal and Ben quickly jumped out of the car and waved a hasty goodbye to their father as they entered the school drive. As the car slowly moved off, their father was watching. 

The same thing happened as the day before. Silence, stillness, and everyone had turned to look at Petal and Ben.

“I don’t like this,” said Ben.

“Nor do I,” agreed his sister.

They continued walking towards their classrooms, then shouting, playing and jumping continued, but this time it took longer to return to normal.

Petal approached one of her friends, “What was all that about?”

“What do you mean?” she answered.

“The silent treatment to my brother and me?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Forget it,” Petal groaned.

They lined up for the morning assembly.

“It has come to my attention that some students are still using their phones at school,” said the headmaster.

“All except us,” whispered Ben to no-one in particular. 

 “You were all told, and your parents received a letter,” continued the head.

Petal looked around. All the children were tapping messages into the phones. Nobody was listening to the speaker on stage. 

The teaching staff were oblivious, in fact most of them were checking their phones.

As soon as assembly was over Petal ran to find her brother, “Keep your eyes open, I feel something odd is going to happen today.”

“Come to my office,” bellowed the headmaster.

“You mean now,” said the science master Herr Hoffenheim.

“Yes, this minute,” said the head as he waltzed through his door.

“What can I do for you, Sir?”

“Your appointment was a mistake, I blame myself. The children can’t understand your English.”

The science teacher smiled.

“What is so funny?” 

“Oh, nothing, trust me and I’ll sort it out.”

“What are you talking about?” The headmaster was fidgeting in his chair. The meeting was not going as he had planned.

Herr Hoffenheim leant back in his chair and lit a cigarette.

“What are you doing? You know there is no smoking in school.”

The science master blew out a long cloud of smoke.

“See you later,” he said, as he dropped the cigarette and marched to the science block.

Chapter 3

Rushing around

Ben was looking over the second-floor balcony. There was a great deal of rushing around by pupils. He could hear Herr Hoffenheim bellowing orders.

“What is going on?” Ben said to himself. As his classmates pushed passed him and rushed to the staircase. Just then he saw his sister looking perplexed.

“Petal,” he shouted. “Wait there, I’m coming down.” 

Brother and sister watched in wonder, their friends, classmates and other students were all walking in the same direction with their arms stretched in front. All were looking at their phones.

“Let’s follow them,” suggested Petal.

“I wish we could phone mum,” said Ben.

“I don’t know why, but I’m glad we haven’t got our phones with us.”

The column of school children stretched all the way to the gates, with Herr Hoffenheim at the front. Everyone was skipping from one leg to the other. The security man guarding the entrance was too busy with his mobile to even look up.

Herr Hoffenheim halted the traffic by raising his arms. Drivers on both sides of the road were unhappy, having to wait for the long line of children to cross to the beach side of the road. Eventually they entered a small Soi, or lane as we know it in England. This narrow road starts as concrete, but as it nears the sea, it is a dusty narrow footpath on to the sand.

Nobody was speaking, the only sounds that could be heard were the slap of school shoes as they skipped from foot to foot.

“Where are we all going?” whispered Ben.

“Look, they are turning right at the beach,” said Petal.

“Maybe they are going to our house?”

“I hope they are not. Mum will go mad.”

“Where then?” asked Ben.

Back at the school, the headmaster was busy writing a note to parents. He looked up.

“Miss Yangaluk, come into my office, please.”

The door did not open. The headmaster slid his chair back angrily and marched across the office. He pulled the door open.

“I asked you to come in.”

The lady continued tapping keys on her phone. The headmaster shouted, “Why is there no noise? What is going on?”

The secretary ignored him again. The master tried to snatch her phone.

First she glared, then she growled. The man let go instantly. The lady continued tap tap tap.

The headmaster went to the window and looked out. There was nobody in sight, no noise, nothing. He checked his watch and ran down the stairs to the ground floor.

Chapter 4

Skipping

The skipping column of boys and girls was nearing Petal and Ben’s house. Ben grabbed his sister’s arm.

“They are going to ‘our mountain’, I want to keep it as our secret place.” he said.

“I think you are right, they are going that way, but why?”

“Petal, look up there,” Ben pointed to an enormous circle of birds flying round and round above the rocks. “I think I can hear the monkeys squabbling?”

“Yes, I can hear them too.”

In Petal and Ben’s house, their mother was folding the washing as she saw all the children coming along the beach.

“How lovely, they must have a school excursion. I wonder if our two are with them?” she called to her husband. He left his laptop to check.

“I can’t see them, they are too far away, but getting nearer quickly.”

“Is that them? Near the back.”

“The school didn’t inform us about a day out of the classroom.”

“I’d better ring the secretary and check alls okay. It is odd that all the children leave school together. Do you know the teacher at the front?”

“It’s that German fellow. Why is there only one person looking after such a vast group? My goodness, it looks like the entire school.”

Petal’s mum looked worried as she put her mobile on the ironing board.

“No answer from the school secretary, I tried Ben’s class teacher, no answer from her too.”

“This is strange, we had better keep our eyes on them all.”

“There, I can see them, the only ones without arms sticking ahead.”

Yes, what are they doing? And why are our children not copying the rest? Look, our two are not skipping in time with the rest. We had better try phoning some parents.”

Herr Hoffenheim clambered over the rocks at the base of the hill, followed by the leaders of the pack. The birds were now squawking louder and louder. The large circle had now broken into half-a-dozen smaller circles. It was as if the rings were bouncing on the children’s heads. The kids didn’t seem to notice, all except for Petal and Ben, who were ducking as each bird dived at them. Monkeys were jumping and waving their arms like cavemen hollering as loud as they could.

Giggles came rushing from home barking. She rushed up to Ben, and tried to knock him over, Ben remained on his feet so she tried Petal. She was stronger than her brother, Giggles failed again. She jumped and bit into Petal’s school shirt, and pulled for all she was worth.

“Giggles, stop it, you’ll tear my blouse.”

Giggles was shaking her head with a mouth full of uniform. By slowing the two down, they were now at the back of the line. The leaders were halfway up the rocks. 

The parade kept skipping forwards over rocks, marching higher and higher.

Monkeys got noisier with their screeching, bouncing higher and higher. The birds flew closer and closer to the unaware children.

“I don’t like this, Petal, let’s go home,” said Ben as he tugged his sister’s arm. It was as if Giggles nodded in agreement.

“No, we’ll follow them to see what they will do.”

Chapter 5

Call the police

“Should I ring the police?” asked the children’s mum.

“I don’t think they have broken any law.”

“What about an ambulance?”

“No one has been injured, yet,” told her husband.

“We must do something!”

“Our children are there, possibly in danger. I’m going to catch them. You stay here. When I wave my arms ring the police. Okay?”

“I don’t want to stay here. I’m coming too.”

“Right, grab your mobile, let’s go.”

Petal’s mum and dad put on sensible shoes to prepare for the climb. They briskly walked to the hill.

Herr Hoffenheim and the leading children were now out of sight at the top of the hill. Petal and Ben were halfway up. The birds tried to fly between them and the rest.

“It’s okay birds, thanks, but we need to see what is happening to our schoolmates,” said Petal.

The birds flew back to the front. The monkeys were also at the front, making themselves as noisy and distracting as they could.

Ben pulled his sister to a stop, “Look, they are going into our hole.”

Giggles bark to a halt. She knew what the hole meant, danger. A year ago, when Giggles was a puppy, she had gone into the hole and faced danger with the plastic monster. She wasn’t keen to do it again.

“Don’t worry, Giggles, the rubbish has all been cleared away,” said Ben.

“But what is in its place?” wondered Petal. “Come on!”

“I don’t like this,” said Ben as Giggles was pulling him backwards.

“If you want to go home, go,” said Petal.

The children’s parents were now jogging across the sand, they could no longer see the children as they had all reached the top and were hidden by rocks.

“Nearly there, are you ready for a climb?” called their father.

Ben and Giggles were both in two minds. Shall we go, stay, or run home? They both thought.

“Come on, I’m with you Petal,” Ben and Giggles climbed on and up.

“Look,” she pointed, “They are going down the hole.”

“Then what?” asked Ben.

“Let’s watch.”

There was a queue at the hole. Gradually the children were dropping from view. Petal and Ben knew only too well that after clambering down the rocks inside, then you have to drop into the sea. They could hear, splash, splash as their friends were entering the waves. 

“Quick, quick, we are nearly there,” shouted their father.

Mum grabbed his arm, with a terrified look, said, “What, what if we lose our children?” Tears were running.

“Come on, let’s rush.”

They ignored the screaming animals and screeching birds and raced forwards as quick as they could move.

Petal, Ben and Giggles were at the entrance of the hole, “Now or never,” called Petal as she went down, followed by Ben and Giggles.

Chapter 6

Where are they?

“Where are the children? Our children and the rest?”

“What was that teacher thinking of, bringing hundreds of young ones up here?”

“Oh, God, they must have gone down the hole!”

“Quick, let’s go,” they rushed to the edge, and looked in.

“Petal, Ben, stay where you are, do not move another step,” shouted their father.

“We are not going with them, we just want to see where they go,” called up Petal.

“Stay where you are, then gradually turn and get up here,” screamed their mother.

By the sound of her voice, she really meant it, no arguing.

Petal knew she was risking big trouble. Petal lay down and peered through the hole.

“What is it, Petal? What can you see?” called her brother.

“They are jumping into the sea, and… and…”

“And what?”

“You two, get back up here now! I mean it!” shouted their father.

Petal looked terrified, “Dad, run around the rocks to where you can see the sea. Are the children there?”

“What does she mean?” asked her mum.

Father ran around the big rock to the edge of the cliff. He peered at the gently waving sea. The birds were now flying in their giant circle formation out to sea. 

He put his hands to his mouth and bellowed, “There are no children here, none I can see.”

He rushed back to his wife and children. 

Ben helped Giggles back to the top, then climbed out of the hole. Petal followed him. The only sounds you could hear was the lapping of waves at the bottom.

The children were full of questions. Dad only said he would ring the police and then the school. It delighted giggles her family were safe. A worried mother put her arms around her children and guided them home.

Chapter 7

Here come the police

Both mother and father’s mobiles were hot all the way home. Petal kept looking around to see if her friends were following, they weren’t. Ben’s eyes were red and puffy from tears.

Soon sirens could be heard and father rushed out to meet the police chief and the ambulance team.

When he came home, he had slumped shoulders and said, “Sorry, children, there is no sign of Herr Hoffenheim or any children. I must meet the headmaster and tell him what we saw. Cheer up. I may have some better news later.”

An hour passed. Mother tried to brighten the mood of brother and sister. They didn’t even want to look at their phones.

Dad came home. He shook his head and gathered his thoughts.

“Have you ever heard the story of the ‘Pied Piper’?” he asked.

Mother knew the story, but only the Disney version. Giggles settled down for a long rest.

“Many years ago in Europe, I think it was Austria. Rats and all the germs they bring invaded a town. The town folk insisted the mayor did something.”

“What has that got anything to do with our town?” asked Petal.

“Let’s see if you can tell me. When I finish telling you the folktale, okay?”

She nodded.

“The mayor employed a rat catcher. This man played a pipe. The rats were at first transfixed and then followed the ‘Pied Piper’, they tailed him all the way to the outskirts of the town. The town-folk and the mayor were all so happy, no more rats. All was well until the ‘Pied Piper’ asked for his payment. The mayor laughed at him and refused to pay. The ‘Pied Piper’ walked out.”

“Just walked out? Wasn’t he annoyed?” asked Ben.

“I haven’t finished,” said dad, “The ‘Pied Piper’ started playing his pipe… All the town’s children followed him, off and away, never to return. It is an ancient tale, but historians say there is a lot of truth to it.”

Petal spoke up, “How has that got anything to do with what happened here?”

Mother understood, Giggles grunted and turned over, Ben was scratching his chin. Petal was deep in thought.

“So, you are saying, Herr Hoffenheim was our ‘Pied Piper’?”

“Yes, he had been fired by your headmaster.”

A little while passed with Petal and Ben deep in thought.

“The rats are today’s mobile phones?”

“Yes, Ben.”

Tears were rolling down Petal’s cheeks, “Did those children ever come back?”

“It was a long time ago. We don’t really know what happened.”

“Was it not on the news?” asked Ben.

“They had no WiFi then,” answered dad.

 The END

By Colin Devonshire

NOT FAR ENOUGH FROM WORRIES 

WORRY NO MORE

CHILDREN WITH NO WORRIES

WE HAVE MORE WORRIES

All in the ‘No Worries’ series –  Available from

amazon.com/author/colindevonshire

Serve It With Floss

by Colin Devonshire

Serve it with Floss

“Hi, Mr Perkins, your father is in his room.”

“Is he okay? No dramas?”

“He is fine.”

“Thanks, I’ll go and see him. Oh, my son is in the garden with one of your carers. Can you show him the way to his grandad’s room when he’s ready?”

“Of course. Have a pleasant visit,” the nurse smiled and bustled down the corridor.

“Hello dad, how are you feeling today?”

Silence followed by a grunt, then, “I don’t know why you are here.”

“Dad, please, do we have to go through this each day I come?”

“Please open the window, I can’t smell the flowers.”

John Perkins smiled and pushed the windows wide.

“Beautiful day dad, the sun is shining.”

“I can tell when the sun is out, even with these eyes.”

The grey orbs could detect changes in light, but not much else.

“Yes dad, can you smell the roses down there?”

“I can list the flowers by smell if you want me to. By the way, who are you again?”

“Your grandson is here today. He is growing fast and will start school next term. He is very excited about it. Please say pleasant things about school.”

“What is his name?”

“His name is Paul. Here he is.”

A timid lad was hiding behind a green uniformed lady. Left and right she moved, young Paul remained behind her.

The old man suddenly beamed, “I can smell candy-floss!”

“Where did you get that, it’s bad for your teeth,” said son to grandson.

“One of our residents loves it. Her daughter always brings a stick when she visits. Unfortunately, the lady is unwell. Young Paul was in the right place at the right time,” the lady explained.

“Once in a while won’t hurt, I guess?”

The lady smiled and led Paul to his father.

“Can I have a taste?” said the old man.

Paul carefully placed the stick in his grandfather’s hand.

A grin spread across his face as he breathed in the sweet aroma.

“Let me tell you a story, young man. Come and sit next to me.”

A gentle breeze blew the curtain as the old man drifted back in time.

“I was just older than you when I first thrilled at the travelling fair. It came to our village every summer. My granny had saved up a jar full of coppers, which she emptied into my jacket’s pockets. I can feel the weight of those old pennies pulling me down now. Off we went to the common, I could feel the excitement growing as we neared the fairground. The first thing I spotted was the helter-skelter. ‘Can I can I’, I asked. ‘It’s your money’, she said. I raced off to join the queue of boys and girls all waiting their turn.”

His grandfather’s every word entranced Paul.

“It was while I was looking at the children sliding, round and round, that I got a whiff of heaven. A huge lady was spinning a stick in a vat of pink sugar. When she finished her creation, a cloud of rose-coloured candy-floss, the prize handed to a pig-tailed young lass, she skipped away. I no longer wanted to clamber up the stairs up to the top of the ride, I wanted the pink treat.”

Son and grandson were speechless, both entranced by the speech. That summer day all those years ago had started a train of thoughts they would never forget. Young Paul pinched a hand full of sticky floss, bringing delight to his grandfather’s face.

“I was standing, holding my prize, staring at the dodgems when my granny grabbed my hand and led me to the stepped rim of the circuit. The rumble of the wheels, the squeals of excitement and the thrill of the chase was all too much for a young boy, I had to have a go.”

The small audience grew as two of the nurses heard him talk at length for the first time since he arrived at the care home. Soon the room packed with residents and more staff as people crept in to hear more.

“I fell in love with the dodgems. Every year when the fair came, I worked for ‘Old Pikey’ the owner of the ride. My job was to knock at neighbouring houses and collect newspapers which were used to clean the ‘cars’. In exchange for a pile of newsprint, I handed them tokens for free rides. My wage was also tokens, but I got free candy-floss too. The candy-floss lady was ‘Old Pikey’s’ wife. My mind is drifting away from the dodgems, just as they skidded across the steel floor. That lady always smelled sweet, but her husband smelled of fish,” he grunted at the thought.

The afternoon’s tea trolley pulled up outside and offered a steaming cup to all inside, the bedroom filled with intrigued listeners.

“It was then I met your grandmother.”

Paul’s hair standing on end, ruffled by shaky fingers, his head now rested on his grandfather’s chest.

“‘Old Pikey’ had a daughter. He kept her away from the ragamuffin customers and workers. I included. We did not know about her, we didn’t know she existed. One day I was delivering papers, the door to the caravan opened a little, a slender finger signalled me to go near. I crept over, ‘Take me to the bus stop please,’ I heard whispered from behind the door.”

He stopped talking, frozen in time and deep in thought. He shook his head, then slowly and confidently continued his race on the memory circuit.

“She was just fifteen, I was fifteen going on sixteen. The lass told me she wanted to run away. Her father and mother kept her locked away, she didn’t go to school and had no friends. The girl had secretly watched me each year when the fair arrived on the common. She desperately wanted to speak to me, but couldn’t get her nerve up, until that incredible life-changing day. She was beautiful. I was in love.”

Again the storyteller drifted, lost in ancient memories. The audience transfixed by his tale. Holding their breath until he continued. This a resident who didn’t speak more than a handful of words each day.

“We ran away, we went to Brighton, thinking we would find work. It wasn’t to be. We had nowhere to live and were starving. My mum allowed us to return. The police had been to the house and scared the life out of her with talk of kidnap and such things. We were both sorry for all the distress we caused. Sally fell pregnant, we had a hastily arranged marriage, and I found a job. John here was born, fit and healthy. All was well until one day there was a knock at the door. It was a Sunday, my mum was at church. I opened the door and smelt candy-floss.” 

Tears ran down his cheeks.

“I never saw her again. Her sweet-smelling mother dragged away her. Her father punched me, then used a tool from the dodgems and poked my eyes out. Sally was screaming as they frogmarched her away. Years later ‘Old Pikey’ died and Sally tracked me down. She had sold the fair and came to live with our son, yes, John you, and my mum.”

A burst of applause shattered the silence. An old man wondered what all the noise was for? Why were the people in his room? And who was on his bed?

The END

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

If you enjoyed that, you may like my full-length novels?

Not Far Enough From Worries (No Worries Book 1) by [Colin Devonshire]
$0.99

A drug lord fathers his lesbian niece’s child, but not in the usual way! 
Set in Thailand late 1980s. Action, fun, romance, and tears. Breathtaking violence and tender moments add to a fast-paced read. Two young and gullible Englishmen move to Hua Hin to start a new life in the tropical heat. Along the way, they meet a dodgy Dutch ship’s engineer, two lovely French girls who are more interested in dogs than romance. A tall Welsh man with a chequered history of drug abuse, but a unique skill of mixing things to make other things. This talent gets the attention of seriously evil people. A lesbian newspaper reporter rides a powerful motorbike has an important family secret. The whole story unfolds in an action-packed finale.

Worry No More: Thai Thriller (No Worries Book 2) by [Colin Devonshire]
$3.99

Set in Hua Hin and Bangkok, Thailand. Horror with suspense and a touch of 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.

Children With No Worries: Do Children Scare you? by [Colin Devonshire]
$3.99

Aren’t children lovely? Most are. 
Philippa’s mother was killed. Philippa didn’t care. She now lives with her ‘half-brother’ Nick, a French lady and a large dog. They all live in a beach house in Hua Hin.
An English film make-up expert comes to Thailand to enjoy a second honeymoon with her husband. To say he has an ‘eye’ for the ladies is true, in more ways than one.
Gail is naturally upset when her husband goes off to enjoy his holiday without her. The children decide he needs to learn a lesson. Was he being set up for murder? The victims all lose a body part. Is there a message hidden in the deaths?
Skylab, fresh from the temple, along with her boyfriend, Kev, set about finding out. They team up with a friendly Thai detective to solve these crimes. 
The action moves from Hua Hin to Pattaya for a fast, hard-hitting surprise. Horror when you don’t expect it!

We Have More Worries: Thai Thriller (No Worries Book 4) by [Colin Devonshire]
$3.99

A twisted young man has dreams, one is to be straight. People suffer. His grandfather would not accept anything which goes against his Far Right beliefs. His second wish means baby girls must be killed. It is raining in Thailand, a monsoon hits land and upsets his plans. Deep in a cave, kidnapped baby girls wait. Parts of these children will be used to further evil. Kev and Skylab are expecting their first child, a girl. They are drawn into a chase to stop the horror and to save the child inside. 
A god-fearing backpacker, Debbie, is swayed by the handsome monster to assist him in deadly acts. Her parents fly from the UK to find out what has happened to her. They need Kev and Skylab to help. Little did they know all the crimes were linked. Is the strange Burmese girl holding the key to unravelling the mystery?

Books with a Thai flavour

Keep on Running by Ben Coulter

A masterclass in Crime Fiction, taking you to places other authors fear to tread. Addressing raw social issues such as addiction and violence, whilst giving you action, humour and on the edge of your seat suspense.
Keep on Running will draw you into its Far Eastern whirlwind, gnaw at your soul, then spit it out to leave you craving for more. Ben Coulter truly is in a league of his own.

Billy Stone is an ex-Marine and boxing champ living a lavish criminal lifestyle whilst on the run in Thailand. But, when a botched hijacking on the Burmese border leaves three men dead, Billy must make new alliances with a feared mafia boss, whilst trying to keep hold of new-found love and himself out of one of the world’s toughest prisons.

“If you thought Poisoned Saints by Ben Coulter was fast-paced, put your Nikes on for Keep On Running. With great research and intelligent writing, Coulter has given us another roller-coaster. A book that should go on your bucket list.”

In this follow up to the Amazon number 1 best-seller Poisoned Saints, Billy runs head first into trouble whilst on a marijuana run inside the treacherous Burmese border. Back in Thailand, Billy is forced to make a new deal with a murderous crime lord whilst keeping Islamic terrorists and ruthless Russian gangsters at bay.

As love unsuspectingly enters his life in the form of all American girl next door, Mel, Billy struggles to keep his gang of criminal misfits in line; Che, his old Stambro friend and struggling drug addict, Nate, a former US Marine and Compton psycho and Orly, the laid-back, weed-smoking Frenchman.

Can Billy keep up his affluent lifestyle whilst cultivating his new-found romance? Can Che resist the hedonistic delights of South East Asia? In the contrasting land of Buddhism and the death penalty lessons will be learnt. Billy must stay one step ahead of his past whilst outsmarting the present, or be forced to Keep on Running.

Ben Coulter was born in 1980 and raised in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, England.
He has been writing ‘as long as he can remember’ in one form or another. The aim with his debut novel Poisoned Saints, was to portray to the reader an authentic criminal lifestyle through the art of fiction, whilst using the regretful foundation of experience.
Poisoned Saints was released at the end of 2012 to a pleasing on-line response and soon became a number 1 best seller.
The follow up ‘Keep on Running’ was released in May 2013 and is fast catching Poisoned Saints on the Amazon Kindle charts.
The third and final instalment of the Saints series was released in December 2013 – ‘When The Saint Comes Marching Home’.
Ben’s fourth novel set in L.A. ‘A SoCal Story’ is a dangerous thrill ride through Hollywood, dealing with addiction, fame and love!

Killing Time in Bangkok by Robert Jamieson

Rob Jamieson has spent almost 20 years living in South East Asia. During that time, he taught at several universities, worked at the Stock Exchange of Thailand, and while in Cambodia, wrote research papers on development issues.

Two books for the price of one.

“Killing Time in Bangkok” is a fast-paced thriller that ticks most of the usual boxes – and adds a couple of new ones. Bolton is a protagonist with depths of character not always found in the genre. A seemingly innocuous assignment quickly hurls him into a maelstrom of murder and violence involving a cast of characters who are seldom what they seem: American Vietnam vets with mysterious connections to human trafficking, drug-dealing, property-development and possibly CIA; local Thai officials who seem a little too educated and Westernised; Muslim nationalist separatist groups in the region with links to known and unknown terrorist forces in Iran, Lebanon and Somalia. Throw in a Chinese government flexing its global muscles, and a conspiracy to rival the Twin Towers bombing and shake Americans out of their complacency and you have a plot that will keep you guessing until the last page.

And book two – It is easy to lose your moral compass in Cambodia

Bolton meets the enigmatic Norman with his two beautiful Thai assistants and decides to try his luck in Cambodia, a country still recovering from the trauma of a tragic past. Life in the small ex-pat community in Phnom Penh seems like a welcome change from Bangkok, but after the murder of a close friend, it proves to be much more complicated than he would ever have expected.

Same Same But Different by Gerald Hogg

There is a saying in Thailand: “Same same but different.” I asked a Thai lady once what the meaning was and she answered “You and me the same, but different”, which I think sums it up. It has become quite a catchphrase here in Thailand, and it is seen on tee shirts, coffee mugs and heard all of the time, wherever you go. You might ask a local what’s the best beer in Thailand, Chang, Leo or Singha? And the answer would generally be “Same same but different”, or what’s the difference between Thai red curry and Thai green curry? “Same same but different”. So when I am asked what’s it like retiring to and living in Thailand compared to Australia, England or the USA? My usual answer is, “Same same but different”, very different, very cheap and very enjoyable. Thailand is a magical place and I feel blessed that I can live here. Thailand is within easy reach of many other Southeast Asian countries by aeroplane, car or bus, and I travel to these areas and try to have new experiences whenever I can. Being a retiree I have to look after my money to make sure that it doesn’t run out before I do, so I always travel within my means, on a budget, and with a plan.
It has been eighteen eventful months since I first arrived in Thailand to start my retirement. The time I have spent here has been full of highs and lows (mainly highs), and I know now that I made the right decision to make Thailand my new home. It hasn’t been easy, in fact, if you have already read my first book, The Retire in Thailand Handbook (The first six months) you would have seen that it was quite difficult to establish myself here and sometimes very frustrating and time-consuming. That was then and this is now. After the first six months, everything seemed to fall in to place. I moved from Phuket to Koh Samui and rented a nice villa on the beach. I met and fell in love with a beautiful Thai lady, who is now my partner. This book starts where the last one left off, in Phuket and will take you on an exciting journey through Thailand, stopping off at many of the cities and towns ex-pat retirees now call home. I decided to take the road trip to find the ideal town in Thailand to eventually settle down and call home. Thailand has so many beautiful places to choose from, tropical Islands, beach resorts, rural towns, farming towns, large bustling cities, and fishing villages. The choice of where you may want to live depends on your outlook on life and how you want to enjoy spending your new life once you have retired. As Thailand is 95% Buddhist a lot of the attractions around Thailand’s rural and inland areas revolve around Buddhist temples, markets and national parks are also a big feature in rural Thailand. Bangkok, the coastal areas and the beautiful islands offer more entertainment, amusements, and nightlife, but if you want to see the real Thailand, not just the Thailand that the tourist see you should head to the heartland, to places like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani, and Khon Kaen.
Being on a pension, it was important for me to live within my means and within my budget, but I still wanted to be able to travel when I want to, and live my life to the fullest. To be able to do this and get the best deals you have to shop around. I am amazed at the people I have spoken to on my travels who have just booked their trip with a local travel agent, and not checked prices elsewhere. Though we may have travelled on the same aeroplane, gone on the same tour or be staying in the same hotel, the price I paid was sometimes half of what they had paid. This book will give you some great ideas on how you can save money when you travel, as well as an insight into great retirement areas within Thailand.
The way I look at it, the more you save the more you can travel and enjoy your life and your retirement.

Gerald Hogg, 
Lamai Beach, 
Koh Samui. 

More about the author.

Originally from the UK, Gerald moved to Australia in 1974. Since then he has travelled the world working in hotels and restaurants, gold mines, cruise ships, Antarctic supply ships, custom patrol vessels, rig tenders, and oil tankers. Gerald has also lived in Jamaica, Bermuda, Singapore, the Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the USA. He has now retired to Thailand where he lives on the island of Koh Samui and travels extensively throughout SE Asia. To keep active and to pursue his love of travel Gerald has also written three travel books in his Retirees Travel Guide Series.

Book one in the retiree series “The Retire in Thailand Handbook (the first six months)”, is a step by step guide for ex-pat retirees and baby boomers, who may be considering retiring to Thailand, where their pensions will stretch much further than it does in their home countries and where the climate is wonderful for most months of the year. One of the main reasons Gerald wrote this book was to help future retirees avoid the pitfalls and frustrations that always arise when moving to live in another country.

Book two in the retiree series of travel books is “The Retirees Guide to Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Laos”. This book takes the reader on a two-month journey that Gerald embarked on as a retiree to four exciting South-East Asian countries.

Book three in the retiree series of travel books is “Same Same But Different” is a journal of a four-week road trip that he took driving throughout Thailand, looking for the best cities and towns for ex-pats to retire to within the country.

Book four in the retiree travel series: Gerald is currently travelling and doing research for The Retirees Guide to Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali.

Gerald has also written a biography: You will never amount to anything. This book revolves around the hateful words one of his teachers said to him on the day that he left school for the last time at fifteen years of age. It takes the reader on a lifelong journey around the world, to prove that his teacher was wrong and that anyone can have a successful and exciting life with the right motivation and the will to succeed. 

All of Gerald’s books are available through Amazon. Two of Gerald’s books, You Will Never Amount To Anything and The Retire In Thailand Handbook have been accepted for worldwide publication by Austin Macauley publishers and are due to be released in bookstores in late in 2019. Gerald’s other two books have also been accepted for publication by Austin Macauley.

Freedom, Sex, Meat Cleavers by Sherman Miles

FREEDOM SEX AND A MEAT CLEAVER is a young man’s quest for personal freedom and self-discovery. It’s the riveting stories of Pierce Colter, a naïve American, seeking adventures in Southeast Asia during the tumultuous period from 1973 to 1978. Inspired by actual events, Pierce’s adventures extend beyond Thailand to the neighbouring country of Laos during the CIA’s secret war with the communist Pathet Lao. From border towns of Cambodia during Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh to hidden Chinese waterfront opium dens on the island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia. And on and on, and on to one too many slings in Singapore. In his quest, Pierce discovers, as with all freedom, there’s a price to pay with each step.

Sherman Miles was born in Virginia, USA, June 26, 1948. After studying at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1970-1974. In 1973, he was assigned to the headquarters of the Armed Forces Thailand Network located on the Royal Thai Airbase in Korat, Thailand.

Following his discharge from the military, he returned to Thailand during the tumultuous years 1974-1978 at which time he travelled extensively throughout the Kingdom and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia.

In 2008, after a 25-year career in the securities industry, Sherman retired to the northern city of Chiang Mai, Thailand to play golf and study writing.

Freedom, Sex, and a Meat Cleaver is Sherman’s first book. He’s currently working on a new novel set in Bangkok in 1978 that follows Pierce Colter as he’s unwittingly lured into working for the Italian Mafia’s heroin smuggling ring. This novel, like Freedom, is inspired by actual events.

The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Vincent Zandri

Trust no one. Not your best friend, not your wife, not the police—and certainly not yourself.
Sidney O’Keefe just wants to spend a peaceful weekend alone with his wife and daughter in the vacation paradise of Lake Placid, New York—now that he’s been paroled after a ten year stretch in a maximum-security prison.
But any illusion of a peaceful future is destroyed when his eleven-year-old daughter, Chloe, suddenly disappears from the iconic beach scene, leaving Sidney and his wife, Penny, stricken with fear and panic. When it’s determined that his old crime boss, Mickey Rabuffo, might be behind the abduction, it becomes apparent that the past has not only come back to haunt Sidney, but it’s come back to kill the entire family. With the village police assuming that Sidney, an ex-con with a history of prison violence, is responsible for his daughter’s disappearance, Sidney is left with no choice—he needs to take the law into his own hands—not only to expose the truth about what’s developing into a conspiracy of Biblical proportions, but also to render his own particular brand of rough justice.

Vincent Zandri is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of more than forty novels and novellas. His books have been translated into several languages; he has been featured in the New York Times; and has appeared on Bloomberg TV and Fox News. Zandri’s awards include the ITW Thriller Award, the Shamus Award, and was nominated for the Derringer Award. An MFA graduate of Vermont College, he is a freelance photojournalist and has written for many magazines including New York Newsday. Zandri is an active supporter of libraries and a lecturer at several New York colleges and universities. He lives in Albany, New York.

He has written books set in Thailand – Tunnel Rats.

One Thousand Years of Rain by Michael Lipinski

This is Thailand. Legal, illegal … those terms are defined by who you are, who you know, how much money you have. Alex Marek’s once idyllic life in southern Thailand is being shattered. He is about to lose his job. The woman he loves is facing financial devastation that could separate them forever. He desperately needs to save her and ensure their life together. It is then that the reclusive and sometimes violent offshore oil worker John Hunter tells him of his wild scheme to make money, lots of money, by looting an ancient temple hidden deep in the Thai jungle. And he needs a partner.


Michael Lipinski’s first overseas job was as an English instructor at the University of Tehran, at a time which coincided with the Iranian revolution and the fall of the Shah of Iran. After evacuation from Tehran, he taught at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and was later hired as a teacher and editor for an oil and gas company in Songkhla, Thailand. Lipinski has had stories published in the Chicago Sun-TimesBangkok PostThe Nation and the Phuket Gazette. He lives in Bangkok.

A twisted young man has dreams, one is to be straight. People suffer. His grandfather would not accept anything which goes against his Far Right beliefs. His second wish means baby girls must be killed. It is raining in Thailand, a monsoon hits land and upsets his plans. Deep in a cave, kidnapped baby girls wait. Parts of these children will be used to further evil. Kev and Skylab are expecting their first child, a girl. They are drawn into a chase to stop the horror and to save the child inside. 
A god-fearing backpacker, Debbie, is swayed by the handsome monster to assist him in deadly acts. Her parents fly from the UK to find out what has happened to her. They need Kev and Skylab to help. Little did they know all the crimes were linked. Is the strange Burmese girl holding the key to unravelling the mystery?

Thailand – A good place to write?

It must be. Just look at these. If you want to read the book click the cover or the price, the link will take you to the author’s Amazon page.

Street Music (A Poke Rafferty Novel Book 9) by [Timothy Hallinan]
$12.99

Timothy Hallinan splits his time between LA and Bangkok. He is an American but enjoys working and writing in Bangkok.

Timothy Hallinan has written twenty-one published novels, all thrillers and mysteries, all critically praised. He currently writes two series, one set in Los Angeles and the other in Bangkok, and in 2017 he also revived his earlier series, which was written in the 1990s about the overeducated slacker private eye Simeon Grist. The new book, the first since 1995, is “Pulped”.

His 2014 Junior Bender novel, “Herbie’s Game,” won the Lefty Award for Best Comic Crime Novel of the year. His 2010 Poke Rafferty Bangkok novel, “The Queen of Patpong,” was nominated for the Edgar as Best Mystery of the Year.

The Junior Bender mysteries chronicle the adventures of a burglar who moonlights as a private eye for crooks. Six titles have been published to date, and “Herbie’s Game” (2015) won the Lefty Award for Best Comic Crime Novel. The other titles in the series are “Crashed,” “Little Elvises,” “The Fame Thief,” “King Maybe,” and “Fields Where They Lay,” which was on many “Best Books of 2016” lists. Coming in 2018 is “Nighttown.”

The Junior Bender books are presently in development as a primetime television series.

In 2007, the first of his Edgar-nominated Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers, “A Nail Through the Heart”, was published. “Hallinan scores big-time,” said Kirkus Reviews, which went on to call the book “dark, often funny, and ultimately enthralling.” “Nail” was named one of the top mysteries of the year by The Japan Times. 

Rafferty’s Bangkok adventures have continued with “The Fourth Watcher,” “Breathing Water,” “The Queen of Patpong,” “The Fear Artist,” “For the Dead,” and “The Hot Countries.” Coming in 2017 is “Fools’ River.”

In the 1990s he wrote six mysteries featuring the erudite private eye, Simeon Grist, beginning with “The Four Last Things,” which made several Ten Best lists, including that of The Drood Review. The other books in the series were well-reviewed, and several of them were considered for motion pictures. The series is now regarded as a cult favourite and is being revived, with “Pulped”.

Street Music – Eight years ago, Poke Rafferty, an American travel writer, and his Thai wife, Rose, adopted a Bangkok street child named Miaow, forming an unconventional intercultural family. That family has weathered extreme challenges — each of its three members carried the scars of a painful and dangerous history — but has stuck together with tenacity and love (and a little help from some friends). 

Now that family is in jeopardy: the birth of Poke and Rose’s newborn son has littered their small apartment with emotional land mines, forcing Poke to question his identity as a dad and Miaow to question her identity as a daughter. At the same time, the most cantankerous member of the small gang of Old Bangkok Hands who hangs out at the Expat Bar suddenly goes missing under suspicious circumstances. Engaged in the search for the missing American, Poke was caught completely off-guard when someone he thought was gone forever resurfaces—and she has the power to tear the Raffertys apart.

AND BROTHER IT'S STARTING TO RAIN: An August and Tay Novel (The Mean Streets Crime Novels Book 11) by [Jake Needham]
$5.99

JAKE NEEDHAM is an American screen and television writer who started writing crime novels when he realized he didn’t like movies and television all that much. Since then, he has published eleven titles in The Mean Streets Crime Novels series. 

For nearly thirty years, Jake lived and worked in Europe and Asia. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Washington DC and on the Gulf of Thailand. 

You can learn more about Jake and his books at his web site: JakeNeedhamNovels.com.

And Brother – It’s Starting To Rain – Inspector Samuel Tay has retired from Singapore CID so he’s no longer Inspector Tay. It wasn’t entirely his idea, but that’s another story. John August is a guy who has saved Tay’s butt more than once over the years. He’s an American who may or may not do something for the CIA. 

Now August wants to collect on all those favours Tay owes him. He needs Tay’s help to investigate a homicide.

‘Whose homicide?’ Tay asks. ‘Mine,’ August tells him.

Tay’s little inner voice is shouting at him not to get involved. He’s a cop, he keeps telling himself, not a spy — well, at least he used to be a cop — but he’s bored and curious so how can he resist? There’s a woman who knows who tried to kill August, and that’s a good place to start if only Tay can figure out who she is.

When Tay picks up the woman’s trail, he follows her first to a beach resort on the coast of Thailand that is surely one of the most notorious towns on earth, and then on to Washington DC, another equally notorious town, although perhaps for slightly different reasons.

Tay doesn’t want to go to Washington since he doesn’t like Americans very much, but he’s onto a murder plot that lies right at the heart of the American intelligence establishment, and Washington is where all the answers are. 

Washington doesn’t frighten Samuel Tay. He’s the kind of man who lives to blow away the smoke and break the mirrors. This time, however, Tay is going up against people who may be too powerful to be exposed, people who know exactly how to protect themselves.

If Sam Tay gets too close to the truth, they’ll simply kill him.

Murder at the Horny Toad Bar & other Outrageous Tales of Thailand by [Dean Barrett]
$2.99

Dean Barrett first came to Asia as a Chinese linguist with the American Army Security Agency specializing in Intelligence Operations. He later did graduate work in Asian Studies at San Francisco State College and received his M.A. from the University of Hawaii.

Originally from Groton, Connecticut, Dean was a playwright in New York City for 14 years and a librettist/lyricist at BMI and a member of Dramatist Guild. He was also a board member of Mystery Writers of America. Almost all of his books – fiction and nonfiction – are set in Asia or have a close connection with China or Thailand. His novel set in New York City, Murder in China Red, stars a Chinese detective.

His detective series set in Bangkok includes Skytrain to Murder and Permanent Damage. His erotic novel set in China – A Love Story: The China Memoirs of Thomas Rowley – is available on Kindle and in Bookworm Beijing. Hangman’s Point is an adventure novel set in 1857 Hong Kong and has recently been followed by its sequel, Thieves Hamlet, published in mid-2014. His latest novel is set in Manhattan but also related to China: Pop Darrell’s Last Case.

His musical, Fragrant Harbour, set in 1857 Hong Kong, was selected by the National Alliance for Musical Theater to be shown to producers and directors on 42nd Street, NYC. His play, Bones of the Chinamen, set in Swatow (Shantou) in 1862, won the South Asian prize of the BBC International Playwriting Competition, coming in among the top 8 selected out of 1200 entries. His one-act plays have been staged in ten countries. Dean now lives in Thailand.

His websites are: http://www.deanbarrettmystery.com and http://www.deanbarrettthailand.com.

Murder at the Horny Toad Bar – Among several exotic and erotic tales of Thailand, readers are introduced to Bangkok’s sexiest, most daring and least principled detective, Harry Boroditsky, who solves not one but two bizarre cases including, Murder at the Horny Toad Bar. Hard Bones Haggerty is a haunting tale of the Vietnam War, and, in Obsession, a man obsessed with his Thai girlfriend seeks revenge.

In the non-fiction section of the book, the author writes of searching Bangkok for his Vietnam War-era barracks; he describes his encounters with the Khmer Rouge in eastern Thailand including a meeting with a beautiful and mysterious Cambodian woman, and his need to flee a Vietnamese army; and what happens when a traveler boards the wrong train in southern Thailand.

In the section “Memoirs of an Oversexed Farang,” the author writes of his several decades of encounters with the often enigmatic but, always beguiling, ladies of Thailand.

Next Life in the Afternoon: A Journey Through Thailand by [Carl Weaver]
$4.99

Carl Weaver is a writer and photographer living in the Washington, DC area. In addition to travelling to Thailand, he has also eaten brown cheese in Bergen, Norway; watched footie matches on the telly in London pubs; scoured Albuquerque and Santa Fe for the best huevos rancheros; and even photographed Kansas City, Missouri from the top of the famous Liberty Memorial. Weaver, a travelling man by profession, is a perpetual nomad and considers himself to be the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest guy in the world.

Next life in the afternoon – This is the story of what happens when the author’s plans to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Thailand are derailed after he has arrived in the country. Next Life in the Afternoon is spiritual, funny, at times irreverent, and full of personal lessons learned along the way.

From Next Life in the Afternoon:
“I’m squatting naked on a concrete floor in the predawn coolness of Udon Thani, pouring water from a washbasin onto my head to rinse off the bar soap I used as a shampoo. My hair is long and stringy. I had counted on it being shaved off by now, so I had let it grow out a bit leading up to the trip. It’s about fifty-five degrees, and I am trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake the monks and my travelling companions. The splish-splosh of water is punctuated by my sharp, pronounced inhaling, a result of being doused with such breathtakingly cool water. My toes tingle against the cold floor, and I am momentarily brought back to Boston, where my trip began. It seems to be a different planet, almost, although the air and water hold a familiar chill.

“A week into the trip, I still haven’t acclimated to everything, and I am stuck somewhere between amazement and culture shock. My mind tries to escape like the cool sudsy water that pools at my feet. The sun is nearly on the horizon, and the temple is coming alive with slow-moving footsteps along the rainy paths outside. I should get going. The morning alms rounds have begun, and I hear familiar voices muffled outside the door. I can’t make out many words, but hear one that is familiar: Farang. A half-derogatory Thai word for ‘foreigner’ and the name I have in this country that keeps me at arm’s length.”

What’s with the name?

“Next life in the afternoon” is a translation of the Thai idiom “Chat na bai bai.” It’s a lightly humorous expression of frustration in plans not working out as intended. This seemed to me to be an apt title since I was not able to become a monk. It also ties in the concept of reincarnation, which is key in Buddhist belief and thus Thai culture.

$18.99

PAILIN CHONGCHITNANT was born and raised in Thailand. After attending the University of British Columbia, she made her way to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in San Francisco and began cooking for both Western and Thai restaurants. She is the creator and host of Hot Thai Kitchen, a popular cooking show on YouTube, which takes an educational approach to Thai cuisine. Visit her at http://www.hot-thai-kitchen.com

Hot Thai Kitchen – Growing up in Thailand, Pailin Chongchitnant spent her childhood with the kitchen as her playground. From a young age, she would linger by the stove, taking in the sight of snowy white coconut being shredded, the smell of lemongrass-infused soups, and the sound of the pestle pounding against the granite mortar. 
   Years later, as a Cordon Bleu–educated chef in San Francisco, Pailin vividly remembered the culinary experiences of her youth. And so, on YouTube, Hot Thai Kitchen was born. Combining her love of teaching with her devotion to Thai food, Pailin immediately connected with thousands of fans who wanted a friend and educator.
   In this much-anticipated cookbook, Pailin brings her signature warmth and impressive technique to Thai food lovers everywhere. She begins by taking readers on a beautifully photographed trip to Thailand to explore the culinary culture and building blocks central to Thai food. With foolproof and easy-to-follow instructions, Pailin breaks down the key ingredients, flavours, equipment, and techniques necessary to master authentic Thai cooking. Then, she shares her must-make recipes for curries, soups, salads, and stir-fries, including entire chapters on vegetarian and vegan dishes, dips and dipping sauces, and sumptuous Thai desserts. With QR codes to video tutorials placed throughout the book, you’ll be able to connect with Pailin online, too.  
   Both a definitive resource and an extraordinary exploration of Thai cuisine, Hot Thai Kitchen will delight and inspire you in your Thai cooking journey.

And please don’t forget my books –

The box set is $4.99.

Not Far Enough From Worries $0.99

Worry No More $3.99

Children With No Worries $3.99

We Have More Worries $3.99

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