Get a Sneak Peek at a Chapter from James Lalonde, Book 2
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Hello, Book Lovers!
I’ve been considering sharing a few scenes of the second book in the James Lalonde series, titled Duplicity, for quite some time. And, I’ve finally overcome those nerves and pressed publish. So, here is a heavily revised draft of the sixth chapter of my mystery novel, Duplicity. I’m due to send the book off to my editor within the next month or so, depending on availability.
For the sake of clarity, the events of this novel occur a few months after the first book, Suspicion. However, you don’t need to read Suspicion to enjoy this new story.
Since sharing this chapter with you, I’ve added a prologue to the mystery novel, and I’ve moved these scenes back, plus added a few new scenes from the point of view of the villain, so it’s now chapter six.
The timeline at the start of the story jumped around a four-hour window. Over time, I realised that it made the reading experience a little more enjoyable if the story flowed in a logical sequence. I hope this helps explain the changes I made and why I chose to share chapter six instead of the opening chapter or prologue.
About the Mystery Novel, Duplicity
A Murdered Professor. A Priceless Manuscript Stolen. A Journalist Caught in the Crossfire.
This was not the reunion James envisioned.
His friends are squabbling and keeping secrets. At the centre of the drama is a medieval manuscript.
Moments after James discovers a secret code on the pages of the manuscript, a hooded figure murders a professor and steals the manuscript from Oxford University.
While James is receiving medical attention, he discovers a secret about his past that he was never supposed to know.
Instead of staying on bed rest, James decides to leave town and uncover the truth. But, DI Alice O’Donnell puts a hold on his passport, believing James organised the murder and theft. Before he leaves for New York, James must investigate the truth behind the lab break-in.
As his investigation digs deeper, James discovers everyone has means, motive, opportunity and something to hide.
With an endless list of possible suspects, James must clear his name, find the manuscript, and identify the murderer before they strike again.
Duplicity is the second novel in A D Hay’s gripping reporter mystery series. If you like cloak and dagger mysteries filled with twists and turns, then you’ll love this instalment from the series.
Wednesday: 11:48 p.m.
The leaves of the giant oak tree whispered overhead in the breeze. Assistant Professor Manesh Warren hunched over and wrapped his arms around his torso, bracing himself against the cool summer evening as he strolled under the tree’s ever-expanding branches. The wind tousled his curly dark-brown hair as he scurried up the path towards the entrance hall.
Manesh froze. He took a deep breath and listened to the quietness of the college grounds. Recently, every late-night sound had put him on edge. He was becoming paranoid, as he had reassured himself over the last few evenings. Then a gentle, flapping noise caused his heart to race. Manesh turned around, but there was nothing behind him. He was losing it.
As Manesh resumed his stroll, the edge of a black coat disappeared from behind the empty bike racks only a few metres away. He paused. He had no time to give in to his paranoia.
All he’d wanted to do before drifting off to sleep was read a book—the perfect end to a long day—when he’d gotten a text from Liam. Guilt had dragged Manesh out of bed, not the message asking him to discuss the college’s latest acquisition, a Commentary on Daniel by St Jerome.
Manesh was in his fifth year as a research fellow at All Saints College and had contemplated starting a second PhD in Mediaeval Literature nine years after finishing his first. But that was not the source of the pain shooting through his head. That pain resulted from dehydration and excessive alcohol consumption, a perfectly acceptable consequence of a reunion dinner with friends. He and Liam were friends, in a way. Although, if Manesh was honest, he would admit he was a lousy friend.
He’d first met Liam the year the class of 2008 began their undergraduate degrees. Manesh was in the final year of his first PhD in Mediaeval and Modern Languages.
Liam and his friends took Manesh’s Introduction to English Language and Literature class and befriended him. They all kept in contact after they graduated. Liam and Kate stayed on to study in the master’s and PhD programmes at All Saints. The invitation to their reunion flattered him. But a phone call at twelve minutes to midnight to discuss a manuscript was pushing the boundaries of friendship. Although it was late, he walked to the entrance archway.
As he passed through the archway and towards the rear buildings, Manesh glanced over his shoulder. He again had that feeling of being watched. A lone figure in black lurked in the shadows under the archway. Am I dreaming? This can’t be real.
Manesh darted across Whittaker Quadrangle and through the second archway. He picked up his pace and sprinted across the Garden Quadrangle and towards the bright-blue door of the back building. Sweat trickled down his brow and glistened against his caramel skin in the moonlight. The tall figure in black passed through the second archway.
After some panicked fumbling, Manesh located his keys. He surveyed the square as he slid the key into the lock and turned the handle while his stalker inched closer. A creak called out, disturbing the eerie silence of the grounds. He opened the antique door and sprinted up the stairs, leaving the figure in black in the chilly summer evening.
Inside the safety of the building, Manesh walked down the dark corridor lined with doors. Ahead of him was the entrance to his lab. Access was permitted via an iris-scanning machine mounted on the wall. He wondered whether he would be safe in the lab.
The front door to the building slammed shut, disturbing the tranquillity of the offices. Manesh rushed to the end of the long hallway. He didn’t know why the man was chasing him or what he wanted.
He had made a terrible mistake by entering that building. But it wasn’t the only mistake he had made of late. He had taken advantage of people and not just anyone but friends—good people. Karma was catching up with him. Maybe he could outrun it that day, but eventually, it would catch up with him.
Gasping for air, he reached the security door and the iris scanner, which led into the airtight laboratory. Getting past the layers of security would take time, and time was running out. Even though gaining admittance would take less than thirty seconds, it wasn’t worth the risk of getting caught. Manesh turned the corner and kept running. He gazed over his shoulder. The figure in black was getting closer. He directed his attention to the path in front of him.
In the distance loomed a grey door bearing the word “Janitor.”
‘You can’t outrun me,’ the figure in black called out from over his shoulder.
Manesh turned his trembling body to face the figure in black.
Towering over him at six feet tall and with broad shoulders, the figure in black stood in the shadows with a large hood and a gold Venetian mask concealing his face.
‘Where is it?’ the figure asked as a hand with five chipped, painted fingernails protruded from the sleeve of his thick winter coat, clutching a gun.
Manesh’s heart quickened as he stared down the barrel of the pistol. Does the figure in black know about the riddles in the margins? Manesh swore he hadn’t told a soul about the existence of the riddles except for Professor Xavier Watson. Or maybe Stanley Whittaker knew more about the Commentary than he’d let on. It made little sense. A sliver of moonlight shone through a nearby window and scattered across the metal barrel.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Manesh replied with a shaky voice, knowing lying wouldn’t help him.
He needed time to figure out how to get away, or hopefully, Liam and James would come out of the lab—if they’d heard the commotion.
‘You’re lying,’ the figure in black replied. ‘You know I want the manuscript.’
The stalker stepped into the light, but all Manesh could see was a pair of bright-green eyes, hypnotising and familiar. It was as if he had stared into them before now.
A click from the revolver broke the silence. ‘Perhaps this will jog your memory.’
‘It’s in the lab over there.’ Manesh glanced over his shoulder. ‘There are many layers of security. You’ll never get in without authorisation.’
‘Then open it.’
‘No, the bio-security won’t work when I’m in a panicked state.’
A loud bang echoed around the corridor. The bullet sped towards Manesh and buried itself in his chest. An overwhelming wave of pain rushed through Manesh’s body as the bullet’s momentum flung him backwards. As he fell to the ground, Manesh remembered he had seen the figure in black before. They were friends.
‘Wait, I know you—’ Manesh clutched his chest and gasped for air. Blood poured out of his chest and drenched his white-collared shirt.
I hope you loved these two opening scenes of my mystery novel, Duplicity. These scenes are called ‘On the Run’ and the second is titled, ‘It’s You.’ Yes, the titles are a tad on the spoiler-y side, but they will not be featured in the official published book.
If you want to be kept updated as I go along, and receive exclusive bonuses, deleted scenes, then become a James Lalonde Insider by filling out the sign-up form below this post.
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Happy reading, everybody!
I’m Amelia. I write amateur sleuth mystery novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of The Candidate, The Locked Room, The Lawn, Suspicion and Duplicity. I’m also the host of the Mystery Novel Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast™️. Right now, I’m writing the first novella in a cozy mystery series, and writing the third book in the James Lalonde Mystery Series. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband, drink tea, and eat pizza.