I hope you were able to download my new book, Hunter's Christmas and Other Stories on your new Christmas Kindle or unwrap it amongst your Christmas gifts. However, if you haven't done so yet, here is a little extract from the Jane Renwick story The Bruntsfield Book Group which I hope you enjoy.
DI Hunter Wilson is looking forward to spending a holiday in India with his girlfriend Dr Meera Sharma, away from the cold, wet winter of Edinburgh. He looks to share his happiness with others when he is attacked by Santa Claus, he says.
His team swing into action to catch his attackers but then receive information about an elf found dead in a car park and a car stolen by Mrs Claus.
Are the crimes by these Christmas characters connected?
Can Hunter’s team restore peace and good will to Christmas?
Hunter’s Christmas and Other Stories includes tales about DI Hunter Wilson and DS Jane Renwick along with those about new and different characters in this gripping collection of short stories especially for crime fiction readers.
It was raining heavily as they drove out of Edinburgh and headed towards the A9 for the long drive North to the lodge. As they drove over the Queensferry Crossing above the River Forth, Rachael began to explain the intricacies of the book group dynamics to Jane.
“I’m the newbie. The group was set up about fifteen years ago by Howard and Cynthia after he retired, and she’d had her stroke.”
“No, don’t be like that. She’s recovered well. But because they’re a couple that’s why all the other partners go on the outing. This year our themed colour is red.”
“Hmm, so that’s why I had to wear red socks. Why is there a themed colour?”
“I don’t know. I never asked. You can ask Howard.”
“Not likely. I don’t care that much.” Jane frowned. “This rain is heavy. I don’t like to think what it’ll be like up north. It’ll be snowy and could be deep.” She glanced at Rachael.
“Anyway, tell me the rest. Where do Lydia and Simon fit in?”
“They’re both retired too.” Rachael heard Jane sigh. She ignored it. “They live next door to Howard and Cynthia. Only Lydia comes to the group. Simon and Howard can’t stand each other. They’re always making snidey, sarcastic remarks when they meet. That can be funny, but most of the time it’s a bit wearing.”
“I can see Howard’s point. Simon is an arse. I can’t imagine what it was like working in the council when he was Lord Provost. Oh why did I say I’d come to this? It’s a weekend of my life I’ll never get back. Look! That rain is turning to sleet. I told you it would.”
“Stop moaning, Janey. You’re coming because you love me and because I bribed you into it.”
“You did! You little shit.” Jane grinned at Rachael and told her to carry on with her explanation of the dynamics of the group.
“Theo and Ryan are a nice couple. Of course I don’t know Ryan so well, because he works for a lawyer in Glasgow and is never back in time for the book group. Theo works in as a barista at Café Nero since his breakdown. Before that he was a lawyer with the council. He worked with Simon then.”
“That’s probably why he had a breakdown. Are there any normal people in the group?”
“I’m not going to fuck you, you’re driving, and it might be dangerous, especially when we get onto the single-track roads.”
“Shut up. Single track roads in the snow. That’s all I bloody need.”
“I’ll drive if you want. Just stop complaining.”
“No, you won’t.” Jane sighed. “Who are the others?”
“Paula and Sean. Only Paula comes to the book group. She’s a retired teacher. But Sean always reads the books, so we get his opinion whether we want it or not.”
“What a control freak.”
“Don’t think it’s meant that way. It’s just he was chief librarian back in the day, I think. He had problems with Simon and the council then.”
“Yeh. That’s why he doesn’t come. And Sylvia and Bert both come. They’re retired, but he was a lay preacher, so he always talks about their time working as missionaries in Uganda and finds a religious angle to whatever we read. It can be funny if it’s a crime thriller. Sylvia is lovely. She was a nurse, but her concentration. She rarely finishes a book now.”
“Please save me!” Jane exclaimed. “This sounds even worse than I thought. Do we really have to go, Rache?”
“Yes, I said we’re coming. And we’ve bought all that food. It’ll be fun.” Rachael squinted through the windscreen. “Can the wipers go any faster.”
“If they go any faster they’ll turn into helicopter blades!”
Rachael grinned at Jane. “We’re cooking with Theo and Ryan tonight. You said you like them. Of course, we play games, go for walks and the book for this weekend is an Alexander McCall-Smith, so it’s not too long.”
“Cook? Games? Read? Bloody hell, Rache. You never told me any of this. On top of all that this weather is getting worse. It’ll be even deeper snow the further north we go. This is crazy. Can’t we turn around?”
“Shut up. You know we can’t. We’d look like real wimps if we said we couldn’t get there and everybody else did. Anyway, the highlands are beautiful in the snow. I brought Scrabble.”
Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.
Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.
Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.