Friday, July 31, 2020

Ice And Flames in the Highlands

Back in the day when I was wee – those old days when politicians were considered statesmen, those evenings when if your favourite programme was on the tele and you went out, you missed it. When the telephone sat in the hall of a posh lady round the corner and you used it in dire emergencies and left money to pay for the call. Or it was a long walk to the telephone booth in the village….  You remember I'm sure, three channels on the TV and even then you had to walk across the room to turn the dial.

 It’s your judgement whether  I am that old, or Glasgow is a bit backward.

The other things that used to happen when I was in secondary school were one day skiing trips to Glen Shee. I never went as it cost money and my dad thought skiing was ridiculous sport when you could be out on a bike. He said he grew out the need to slide down a hill and then climb back to the top when he was about four.

Interestingly when talking about the blog 'him indoors' rolled his eyes and said 'so I went on a school trip to glen Shee once. To go skiing.'

I was surprised.

He was sick on the bus on the drive up; he went up on the chair lift, fell off his skis and spent the rest of the day behind the toilets, him and his mates, chatting up the girls from the posh school, rolling about in the snow and starting snowball fights.

It doesn’t happen now (the day trips to go skiing I mean, not the chatting up girls behind the toilets…)

The weather is too warm now in winter, and if it snows, it snows all over and the road are blocked. I think global warming or a natural ebb and flow of seasonal weather has put an end to it being snowy ‘up north’ while it was drivable rain ‘down south’ so that folk could get away to ski.

Glen Shee is over near Braemar and that very posh part of Perth where the queen goes her holidays. Glen Coe is the great glen up the middle and home of the Glen Coe ski resort centre.

It has a phoenix like ability to exist, even when the sole purpose for its existence is absent.
It has a ski lift, an old chair lift type that yanks folk up, and down the ben. It must be 15 years or so since I saw somebody go up there with skis. Mountain bikes, trail runners and wildlife photographers are much more common now. Folk go up, soak in the view and come back down again. The tearoom had expanded hugely, the toilet block extended into a shower block. Overnight hobbit huts started to appear at the side of the car park. Crime writers were known to rendezvous here for coffee, cake and gossip as no matter where you were going on the west coast… this was theee road. It was expensive but you could understand why, it wasn’t just the coffee, it was the stop, the leg stretch watering the dog etc.

So it survived the lack of snow, then the whole thing burned down on Christmas day 2019.  I knew that, of course I knew that but it had slipped from our consciousness as we drove up to the car park saying thing like… they must be doing more work on it etc. etc… then it dawned on us.

The owner probably spent the first three months of 20 20 clearing up after the fire.

Then the virus hit and the highlands were effectively closed by the police – the joys of having only two roads that go up and down the country. Many (not all English as some would have you believe) thought the best way to go into lockdown was to sit in a tent or a motorhome in a remote Scottish glen, 50 miles from any other human being. The argument against that was of ‘well what would happen if everybody did it.’

These villages rarely have a gp and the emergency room transport is via helicopter, probably taking you back to where you came from!

Here’s what social media is saying about the café

“Our main cafe building was burnt down on Christmas day 25th Dec 2019. A new cafe is currently being designed and will be in place by the summer of 2021. In the meantime we have an amazing temporary cafe which will be serving the same great home cooked food as normal from 9am until 8.00pm.
However during the Covid Crises the café will only be providing take-away food. Outdoor seating is available. We will review this arrangement regularly and may introduce some limited indoor seating–with appropriate social distancing built into the layout:
– We are providing hand sanitiser at all entrances
– Movement through the building is clearly marked with direction arrows and spacing marks
– Only takeaway food will be provided
– We encourage you to make contactless payment whenever possible
– All surfaces will be cleaned frequently by staff member
Cafe opening times may be subject to change during periods of bad weather in order to ensure staff safety.”

 I like that last line!

The temp cafe and toilets

The white corries cafe

As close as  I could get without my telephoto.

The white shepherd of the glen 

Scottish crime writer in height of summer

Something was here but burned

The new seating arrangements....

What is left....

Still clearing the site

The road back to the main road

him indoors and hound on the rubble

I think those hills see us as tiny specs on their timeline.

Going to try the new blog thing now.
I may be some time.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Andrew Mlangeni

Andrew Mlangeni

Andrew Mlangeni, the last survivor of the infamous Rivonia Treason Trial, was laid to rest this week.

Aerial view of Liliesleaf Farm
The treason trial followed a swoop by the South African security police on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia near Johannesburg. All the men arrested there were wanted on a variety of charges including treason, sabotage, terrorism, and a plethora of other offences including belonging the banned SA Communist Party and the banned African National Congress. Those arrested were White, Black, and of Indian descent. The defendants were a precursor to the Rainbow Nation—a common purpose where race was not the issue.

Nelson Mandela was the most famous of those arrested, and he was already under sentence for leaving the country illegally and for inciting workers to strike (yes, that was illegal also). He was hiding at the property in full view, pretending to be a gardener. Whites never looked twice at Blacks dressed in shabby work clothes on White properties.

Supporters outside the trial
The trial itself in 1964 was designed as a showpiece, the Apartheid government demonstrating its invincibility. Instead, it became an opportunity for the leaders of the ANC to speak out to the world. In the end, all but one of the defendants was found guilty. The charges carried the death penalty and most people thought that the accused would receive it, joining the throng of prisoners executed for many types of offense. (South Africa had the highest number of executions in the world at that time. Chris Marnewick, a South African lawyer now living in New Zealand, wrote a memorable, if gruelling, novel on the destructive effect of the death penalty on everyone connected with it called Shepherds and Butchers, which was made into a critically-acclaimed film.)

When the time came to pass sentence, each prisoner made a statement. This was when Nelson Mandela made his famous speech that included the words:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, my Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mlangeni, never one to seek the limelight, made a short statement asking the judge to “remember what we, African and nonwhite people, have had to suffer. That is all I have to say, except to add what I did was not for myself but for my people.” All the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment. The non-White prisoners were sent to Robben Island, South Africa’s answer to Alcatraz. But they were grateful. “Life is beautiful,” one of the men told his mother after the sentencing.

Mlangeni was one of the twelve children of a farm labourer who died young and left his family to fend for themselves. Andrew worked as a golf caddy and became a devotee of the game. He was recruited to the ANC’s armed wing, uMkhonto WeSizwe, and went for training in China where he even met Chairman Mao. One can imagine the impact that would’ve had on him. Then he returned to South Africa to try to pressure the government through acts of sabotage.

On Robben Island, he was the first of the prisoners to take advantage of being allowed to study, and obtained a BA from UNISA, South Africa’s correspondence university. He was studying law at the time of his release, 26 years after the trial.

Mlangeni liked to describe himself as a "backroom boy". He wasn’t interested in ministerial positions. He served a term for the ANC in the first democratic parliament, but then stepped down and was influential behind the scenes. It gave him time to be with his family, time that had been stolen from him for twenty-six years. 

Socially distanced funeral
Remaining true to the principals that had sent him to prison in the first place. He attacked Jacob Zuma vehemently for corruption when most others were turning a blind eye at best and helping themselves to the spoils at worst. Zuma was a friend and colleague from the struggle days so this was a painful task. He might have been a backroom boy, but when the time came to speak out, he did so without hesitation and whatever the consequences. He was ostracised by the party and even by some of his friends, but it was remembered at his state funeral this week by several speakers. “Social distance, corruption, nepotism, arrogance, elitism, factionalism, manipulating organisational principles and abusing state power… are deeply entrenched,” former president Thabo Mbeki said of the ANC. Another minister said, “You saw it, tata (father)… instead of fighting for the development of our people, we are fighting for positions.”

Andrew Mlangeni died this month after a sudden illness at 95 years of age. Hamba Kahle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Mexican Gothic: Talking With Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The most exciting kind of travel has been taken away from us. Borders are closed, flights cancelled, museums shuttered. And who dares go to a restaurant? Yet we can still escape quarantine with books. And nowhere has seemed more mysterious, gorgeous and suspenseful to me than the inner world of a book called Mexican Gothic.
This remarkable novel by Silva Moreno-Garcia is narrated by Noemi Taboada, a smart young single woman who's sent by her wealthy family in Mexico City to check up on a cousin who's sent a worrying letter after having moved to her husband's family estate in the mountains. This is a true Gothic novel, with the benefit of being enriched with Indian mythology and surreal dream imagery, and colonial history, warped eugenic theory, and biology of plants, animals and insects. Critics are calling it intoxicating and pitch perfect gothic and admire its chills and thrills. It debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and is still in the top 15 three weeks later. 
I am grateful to Silvia for answering my questions about the book and her writing life.

Silvia, this is a very special book. To me it feels like part historical suspense, part gothic novel, part Latin-American magic realism, part horror. Were you aware you were doing something ground-breaking with this book? Did you hear "this book doesn't fit any category" when you were in the submission process? Was this book an easy sell or a complex sell?

Gothic fiction is a hybrid genre. It contains elements of psychological suspense, sometimes of outright horror, sometimes romance, sometimes supernatural elements, often a historical setting. It can have a mystery. It’s the literary grandparent to modern domestic noir, but also an ancestor of modern romance. It’s why I was interested in working in a Gothic mode. It can spill out of categories. 

As to how it sold, it was easy in the sense that Del Rey bought my previous novel, Gods of Jade and Shadow, in a two-book deal. So this was the second book I delivered and because I was under the contract we didn’t have to shop it around.

However, that ease is relative. I’ve had a hard time selling almost everything I’ve ever published. Right after finishing Mexican Gothic we tried selling Untamed Shore, a noir, and it was basically impossible to move that. We ended going with a new, small press called Polis/Agora for a very modest advance of a few hundred dollars and a print run of 2,000 copies. 

English Pantheon
by Diego Delso, Lic CC-BY-SA

Is this book coming out in any other countries, and any film interest yet?

I’ve never had much luck with translation but Gods of Jade and Shadow and Mexican Gothic will be translated into a handful of languages. And there is film interest. Nothing firm, though.

Mexican Gothic has been on the NYT bestseller list for two weeks, and hopefully more, as word spreads. What is different about life for you now that you are a NYT bestselling author? 

I can hopefully worry less about my future. As I indicated above, it hasn’t necessarily been easy to sell my work. My vampire narco novel Certain Dark Things and my fantasy of manners The Beautiful Ones both went out of print very quickly. Publishing houses expect very quick successes and have little patience in nurturing talent. And they didn’t think much of my genre-switching ways. I’m not interested in writing in just one category, I don’t want to write series, I write a lot about Mexico. All those were minuses for me. But now that might not matter. 

This book presents an old-fashioned Mexico with most characters living elite lives, rather than the stereotype of suffering that is predominant in novels published in English about Latin America. Did you intentionally wish to share a different Mexico?

All my books show different slices of Mexico. In Certain Dark Things one of the POVs is a homeless teen, in Untamed Shore we have a woman in a very small town in Baja California with limited social mobility, in Signal to Noise the characters are different shades of middle class. There are programmers, cops, radio announcers, small business owners, translators, and everything else.  

It’s the 1950s, and two regions are central to the novel—sophisticated Mexico City and the quiet mountains, where peasants still labor in silver mines for foreign landowners like the Doyles. What is your relationship with these areas? Had you visited each place over the years and how else did you learn such intimate details of these places?

Mexican Gothic is inspired by Real del Monte (also known as Mineral del Monte), which is a town located in Hidalgo in central Mexico. It was mined by the Spanish and then by the British, which earned it the nickname of Little Cornwall. It has a very unique look and feel because of that. There’s an English cemetery and it is high in the mountains, so it can get chilly and foggy. Yuri Herrera by coincidence recently released a non-fiction book about this region and its mines called A Silent Fury. If you want to learn more about it, check it out.

The Pool Las Pozas
by Rod Waddington of Kergunyah, Australia Lic CC-ASA-2.0

It’s also worth mentioning that Edward James built a surrealist garden in Mexico, in Xilitla. I didn’t include this in my book but at one point I wanted to have structures inspired by it, with stairs that go nowhere and things like that. I think it has a very haunting look.    

A Stairway to Heaven in the surrealist garden
photo by Pavel Kirilov from St Petersburg, Russia

The novel's heroine, Noemi, is a pampered society girl who wants to study anthropology rather than marry. She longs to enroll at the national university, and her father promises to pay for it if she'll check in her cousin. Noemi arrives at the remote Victorian mansion with a suitcase of lovely clothing, cigarettes and a lighter. Tell us more about the inspiration for your protagonist.

My family on my mother’s side was poor, my great-grandmother was a maid and my grandmother wanted to be a doctor, but her father forbade it. He said she couldn’t go to medical school because there would be men there. Plus, they expected her to bring money in for the family. So at 15 she finished secretarial school and by her early twenties she married, which was what you did in the 1950s.

My father’s side of the family, my aunts came from a family with some money so they were able to live a life of leisure, and a couple of my great aunts remain unmarried (solteronas) because the family had enough money to support them. One of my great aunts that did marry had a bad marriage and stayed for a while because she was terrified of what people would think if she separated. And in the case of my own grandmother, my grandfather abandoned the family and divorced her, but she couldn’t say that publicly. They lied because if anyone knew about it, my father and his siblings would have been expelled from their Catholic school. There were a lot of secrets that we kept because of the prevailing morality. 

My heroine is going to rural Mexico in 1950. Women don’t even have the right to vote. She can’t just phone the authorities and drag her cousin out of a house, even if the people there are creepy. And the family wants to keep this all obviously hush hush.

Mexico was never a British colony, buts its land and people were exploited by British and American businessmen, following Spain. Discuss the Doyles and how they fit in with this picture.

Spain was the first European nation that exploited Mexico, but obviously it wasn’t the only one. We didn’t get a French empire in Mexico for a few years just because we were bored. Colonialism is not something that ends and everyone says let’s go home. One reason why Latin America is an absolute mess nowadays is because the USA intervened in many countries there, backing coups and destabilizing countries. My next novel briefly mentions some of the CIA’s work in Mexico in the 1960s when they helped train Mexican forces so they could repress and violently neutralize Communist activists. The Doyles are in many ways a much easier boogeyman than the horrific legacy we have in Latin America.

The description of ghostly people in the novel ring true to paranormal experiences people have chronicled. Can you share if you used real accounts of hauntings as background for what happens in the house, or is it all a glorious fantasy?

Ghost stories are fun but it’s all completely made up.

When the pandemic is over and we can travel, what are a few must places in Mexico, that are beautiful and historic, you’d recommend? 

Mexico has very different regions. In the south you have the jungle and a number of Maya archeological sites, in the middle there are many cities that were colonial sites, in Baja California we have desert and water and whales and sharks, and we obviously have beaches too. And then there’s Mexico City which is huge. So it really depends what you feel like doing.

Can you tell us about the crime novel that you released earlier this year?

Untamed Shore combines a coming of age narrative with a noir sensibility. It’s set in the 1970s in a small shark fishing village where a young Mexican woman becomes entangled with some American tourists. I’ve seen people compare it to Jim Thompson’s work. It had two starred reviews (Booklist, Library Journal) but because it came out from such a small press not many people heard about it. LA Review of Books said “Brutality takes on an almost divine quality.” So, maybe check that out. 

I think once people have finished Mexican Gothic they'll be ravenous for your other work. I'm grateful you've got all these books waiting for me, and that you continue to take risk and tell the stories that are in your heart. Thanks you for visiting with Murder is Everywhere.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What I'm reading 'I Came Out of France'

I'm reading Cecily Mackworth's journey from Paris as the German's took over France in her book, I Came Out of France,  published in 1941. Her story reads like a thriller. Even more is that it's heart poundingly true. Cecily lived this. Her account mirrors what many women experienced during the war that was rarely, if ever, talked or written about then. Or now.

TS Eliot read it and invited her to tea in Russell Square, interested to meet her. She worked for a spell with the Free French in Carlton Gardens in 1940. In her life, Cecily was a poet, critic, novelist, biographer, journalist and globetrotter. 
But I knew Cecily when she'd slowed down and was in her 90's in Paris - what a wonderful character - a grand Dame who was totally down to earth! I'd been introduced by a friend who lived in the same building in the Marais (blue double doors). 
Cecily's ground floor apartment - a small treasure box - was full of bits of her life journeying in the middle East and North Africa and all over working as a journalist and exploring. Plus it held the most wonderfully soft blue and white sofas with matching blue Ming vases nearby.  'From my husband, the Comte you know, I'd never have gone with Ming,' she would say. For all her British mannerisms - she was born in Wales -  she was very French having lived in France since 1936 and marrying first a Belgian, was widowed then a titled Frenchman.

An afternoon with her on the comfortable blue and white sofa, a fire burning and the view onto the 17th century courtyard - was just about perfect and became more so when Cecily would talk. She was in Berlin for the burning of the Reichstag, an account she wrote up but could not get published. One time she spoke of that nasty Henry. Henry as in Miller. I never totally understood that relationship in the 30's. In 1937 she met Henry, then living at the Villa Seurat, in his studio in the Rue de la Tombe Issoire. He took to her and she became part of his Paris circle. Through Miller she met Lawrence Durrell, newly arrived from Corfu. "Send me everything in your jam cupboard," Durrell once wrote on a scrap of paper he slipped under her door.  Miller and Durrell below and always good pals.
At that time she wrote poetry and Henry Miller published her poems in a short lived arts magazine I think it was Picasso who she referred to as an ugly toad or that might have been Jean-Paul Sartre.  Pre-war she'd hung with the artistic and writing crowd - expats and locals - which steered her writing from poetry to fiction.

Reading I Came out of France now - which imho should be titled - I Walked out of France - makes me wonder why any one in the British government didn't heed or note any of her observations. Was it because she was a woman?

If you can find it - libraries might have a copy - please give yourself a chance to go on an amazing ride out of Occupied France joining in the footsteps of Cecily.
Cara - Tuesday

Monday, July 27, 2020

Update NYC: July 2020

Annamaria on Monday

It feels like dawn here as NYC enters Phase IV of reopening.

Silhouettte of an iconic New York rooftop water tower
taken from my bedroom window at 5:37 AM 21 July
Stores are opening.  Neighborhood restaurants are setting out tables and awnings for outdoor dining.  We've been to hell and are coming back out into the sunshine.

But most of us are keeping in mind the old saying: Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Our pandemic statistics are all still good.  Here are some screenshots from  our Governor Andrew Cuomo's press conference from last Thursday.  They remind us where we have been and why we are where we are.

Starting on March 3, hospitalizations in New York State went up in pretty much
a J-curve.  We were the worst-off place in the country.  Our State government began to report the numbers daily and share with the citizenry the best advice available on how to stop the virus.  Things were pretty chaotic, but little by little as the experts got a handle on best procedures, numbers got under control.  By May 15th, we began a gradual, ultra-careful reopening process, watching the numbers and--at that point--worried that reopening would lead to a new rise in cases.  But, mirabile dictu, the numbers continued to go down.  We now have the best numbers in the nation.

Left: NY State; Right: USA as a whole/

New York's success in quelling the transmission of the virus comes because we never bought the prevailing theory across the nation.  That the choice was between defeating the virus or boosting the economy--a false dichotomy foisted on the public by the White House.  Defeating the virus is precisely what country needs to do to BOOST its economy.

While most of the rest of the country is being overwhelmed and struggling to get on top of the spread, New York and our neighboring states are opening up.  So far, so good



Here are the words of the head epidemiologist in the USA, Dr. Anthony Fauci.  They are his answer to an interviewer on National Public Radio:

This is precisely the "red sky" warning the Guv has given:

I liked this slide a lot.  It made me feel like a very cool old lady, because
"You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party," a racuus song by the Beastie Boys
 is on my daily dance/exercise playlist.  

The Guv has put teeth in this advice.  Bars that allow patrons to congregate in large groups will lose their liquor licenses.  Some already have.  I pray they smarten up before the whole mess gets out of hand again. 

New York is replete with reminders of what to do.  Posters about masks and social distancing grace every building entrance.  Here are my absolute favorites of New Yorkers giving good example in the time of Covid.  At my beloved New York Public Library:

These lions are called Patience and Fortitude, precisely the virtues we all need in these times.

Here is the wonderful Art Deco statue of Atlas holding up the world in Rockefeller Center.  

Though I have long since tired of isolation, I have to say that MORE than ever--
I love New York!


Sunday, July 26, 2020

How to Hide the Money

Have you ever considered the best ways for you to hide money from your nearest and dearest?

No? Ah, just me then…

Actually, I should state at the outset that I looked into this as a purely hypothetical exercise. (Trust me, that horse has long since bolted.) Researching methods erring spouses use to hide away funds from their partners is something that may have entirely fictional relevance, but it’s an intriguing subject.

A recent survey by a credit card website discovered that twenty percent of Americans who are in a relationship admit to spending $500 or more without the knowledge of their partner. A smaller percentage even confess to holding hidden bank accounts or credit cards.

Scaling up the numbers from the sample the website questioned, this means that up to seven million people commit financial infidelity with their loved ones.

At one point, I would—and did—happily have joint bank accounts with my spouse. Around sixty-six percent of married couples do the same. I handled the business accounts and relied on my partner to handle the personal side, pay credit cards when they were due, and to warn me of any impending situation that might put us into debt.

Now, I’m slightly OCD about not accruing debt. I don’t owe anybody anything and intend to keep things that way. But I can appreciate how easy it is for one partner to bury their head in the sand, particularly during current times when employment in all kinds of fields is looking precarious and many have been on furlough at reduced pay. Just because income has gone down, that does not mean expenditure can be cut to match.

Sometimes, it’s purely a case of mismanagement. One partner can’t resist retail therapy in one form or another, and credit cards provide the means of instant gratification. It’s tempting to squint past the outrageous interest rate charged. Many people do not realise that when a credit card company offers a zero interest rate on balance transfers, either the fees charged for such a transaction or the existing balance will still be charged at the full rate—and those amounts will, of course, be the part of the debt paid off last.

But in other cases, things take a more deliberate edge. These are some of the ways I’ve discovered that some couples keep financial secrets from each other.

To begin with, if any of your income is derived in cash, then it’s all too easy to pocket some of it before it reaches home. Equally, paying for goods by card and asking for an additional sum as cash-back at the till also allows a private stash to be stealthily accrued. The resulting amounts will show on statements purely as spending at a particular store rather than as a cash withdrawal.

If you are salaried, then any new income, like a raise, can be diverted to a new bank account. I am told that the Human Resources departments of most large companies are able to split your pay and send it to different destinations if required. As long as you aren’t trying to avoid paying tax…

Speaking of which, I understand you can overpay your tax and have this excess refunded at a later date. I haven’t yet investigated if this is something only possible in America or if it applies to the UK as well. If so, then obviously you will be able to choose where this eventual refund is sent and what account it goes into.

Opening an online account accessed from an encrypted app allows one partner to open additional bank accounts without tell-tale statements or paperwork turning up at the marital address.

Equally, credit cards can usually be managed entirely online. I don’t think I’ve seen a paper statement for any of mine for some years. Although, as the name implies, this gives you only a line of credit, not a means of hiding assets or squirreling away money.

However, you can buy gift cards, load them up, then stash them in a safe deposit box or some other safe place.

Of course, if any of these shenanigans are discovered, you will still have to hand over the amount the courts decide upon when you reach your financial settlement. Perhaps, in that case, the only way to prevent your soon-to-be-ex from getting hold of their share of the loot is to spend it before they get the chance?

What anecdotes have you heard about the extremes warring couples have gone to in order to keep money out of their exes’ pockets? And does it simply end up all going in legal fees anyway?

This week’s Word of the Week is abibliophobia, which means the fear of running out of things to read.

My latest publication is CHARLIE FOX: THE EARLY YEARS, an eBoxset containing the first three complete books in the series featuring soldier-turned-bodyguard Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, back when she was still a self-defence instructor with a motorbike and an attitude. Find out where it all began…
With Foreword by Lee Child

He thought she was an easy target. He was wrong.

Charlie was no good at being the nice girl her parents wanted, so she joined the British Army and acquired a whole new set of skills. And just when she thought she’d found her calling, she was dishonoured, disgraced, discharged.

Now she puts those painful, hard-won lessons to good use, teaching self-defence to battered women. When her work brings her to the attention of a vicious rapist, will those skills be enough to save her—and those she cares about most?

Fear kept people down. Until she helped them make a stand.

Charlie is supposed to be dog-sitting for a friend, not leading the resistance, but what’s a girl to do when the woman’s housing estate turns into an urban battlefield?

With her motorbike on hand and a big dog by her side, Charlie is more than able to take care of herself, until a ghost from her Army past comes calling.
Someone she was trying very hard to forget…

The British Army let her go. Big mistake.

Charlie didn’t really care who shot dead her ex-army comrade during a bodyguard training course in Germany. But when old flame Sean Meyer asks her to go undercover at the elite school and find out what happened, she just can’t refuse.

Keeping her nerve isn’t easy as events bring back fears and memories she’s doing her damnedest to overcome. And trying to blend in by playing down her abilities proves a real challenge.

She expected training to be tough, but will she graduate from this school of hard knocks alive?

Available in all territories except North America.
ISBN: 979-1-909344-53-2