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, Thriller Novel 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 fourth 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, Missing. However, you don’t need to read Missing 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, so it’s now chapter four. 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 four instead of the opening chapter or prologue.
About the Mystery Novel, Duplicity
What do trust when everyone has something to hide?
On the evening of an impromptu reunion with friends, James and Liam discover a secret code on the pages of a medieval manuscript in Oxford University’s, All Saints College. Moments later, a hooded figure murders the man leading the manuscripts research team and steals it from the laboratory.
While James is in the hospital recovering from a stabbing, he discovers a secret about his past that he was never supposed to know. Instead of nursing his injuries back to health, James decides to leave town and uncover the truth. In the meantime, Detective Alice O’Donnell puts a hold on his passport.
Before he leaves for New York, James must investigate the truth behind the laboratory break-in while attempting to piece together the missing moments in his memory.
As his investigation digs deeper into the events, James discovers everyone has means, motive, opportunity and something to hide.
With an endless list of possible suspects, James must identify the murderer before they strike again, and find the manuscript before it falls into the wrong hands.
Duplicity is the second novel in A D Hay’s gripping reporter mystery series. If you like a cloak and dagger mystery filled with twists and turns, then you’ll love this instalment from the series.
Wednesday: 11:58 p.m.
The leaves of the giant oak tree whispered overhead in the evening breeze. Assistant Professor Maxwell Warren hunched over and wrapped his arms around his torso, bracing himself against the cool summer evening temperature, as he strolled under the tree’s ever-expanding branches. The wind tousled his dark brown curly hair as he scurried up the path towards the entrance hall.
Crack. Maxwell froze—took a deep breath and listened to the quietness of the college grounds. Of late, every late-night sound put him on edge. He was becoming paranoid—as he constantly reassured himself over the last few evenings. A gentle flapping noise caused his heart to race. Maxwell turned around, but there was nothing behind him.
I’m losing it.
He rolled his eyes. As Maxwell turned around out of the corner of his eye, he saw the edge of a black coat disappear from behind the empty bike racks, only a few metres away. He turned back around and paused. There was no time to give in to his paranoia.
All he wanted to do was read a book before drifting off to sleep—the perfect end to a long day when he got a text from Liam. Guilt dragged Maxwell out of bed. Not the message to discuss the college’s latest acquisition, a medieval manuscript.
Maxwell was in his fifth year as a research fellow at All Saints College and was contemplating starting a second PhD in Medieval 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 Maxwell was honest, he would admit that he was a lousy friend.
He first met Liam, the year the class of 2008 began their undergraduate degrees. During this time, Maxwell was in the final year of his first PhD in Medieval and Modern Languages.
Liam and his friends, who all took Maxwell’s Introduction to English Language and Literature class, had befriended him. They all kept in contact after they graduated. Liam and Kate stayed on to study with the Masters and PhD programme at All Saints. The invitation to their reunion flattered him. But a phone call at this time of night to discuss a manuscript was pushing the boundaries of friendship. Although it was late, he walked toward the entrance archway.
As he passed through the archway towards the rear buildings, Maxwell glanced over his shoulder. That feeling of being watched returned.
That’s when he saw it.
He wasn’t crazy. A lone figure in black lurked in the shadows under the archway. Was he dreaming? Was this happening to him?
Maxwell darted across Bathurst Quadrangle and through the second archway. He picked up his pace as he sprinted across the Garden Quadrangle, towards the bright blue door of the back building. Sweat trickled down his brow and glistened against his caramel skin in the moonlight, as Maxwell ran. He peered over his shoulder and saw the tall figure in black, pass through the second archway.
After a few moments of panicked fumbling, he located his keys. Maxwell surveyed the square as he slid the key into the lock and turned the handle as his stalker inched closer. A creak called out, disturbing the eery silence of the grounds. He pulled open the antique door and sprinted up the stairs leaving the figure in black, out in the chilly summer evening.
Inside the safety of the building, Maxwell 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. Would he be safe in the lab?
Bang—the front door to the building slammed shut, disturbing the tranquillity of the offices. Maxwell picked up his pace and rushed towards the end of the long hallway. Why was this man chasing him? What could he want?
Then he realised.
He had made a terrible mistake by entering this building.
Gasping for air, he reached the security door and the iris scanner which led into the air-tight laboratory. Getting passed the layers of security would take time—and time was running out for him. Even though gaining admittance would take less than thirty seconds for the scanner to recognise him, it wasn’t worth the risk of getting caught. Maxwell turned the corner and kept running. He peered over his shoulder—the figure in black was getting closer. His dark brown eyes dilated as he directed his attention to the path in front of him.
Looming in the distance was a grey door bearing the words “janitor.”
‘You can’t outrun me,’ the figure in black called out from over his shoulder.
Maxwell turned his trembling body to face the figure in black.
Towering over him at six feet tall, with broad shoulders, Maxwell’s stalker stood in the shadows with a large hood and a gold Venetian mask concealing his view of the figure in black’s face.
‘Where is it?’ the figure in blacked asked as five chipped painted fingernails protruded out of the sleeve of the thick winter coat clutching a gun.
Maxwell’s heart quickened its pace as he stared down the barrel of the pistol. All of this drama for a manuscript. It made little sense. A small slither of moonlight shone through a nearby window and scattered across the metal barrel.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Maxwell replied with a shaky voice, knowing lying wouldn’t help him.
He needed time to figure out how to get away or for Liam and his friend James Lalonde to come out of the lab.
‘You’re lying,’ the figure in black replied. ‘You know I want the manuscript.’
Maxwell’s stalker stepped into the light, but all he could see was a pair of bright green eyes. They were hypnotising, and there was a familiarity. It was as if he had stared into them before now.
A click from the barrel of the revolver broke the silence. ‘Perhaps this will jog your memory.’
‘It’s in the lab, over there.’ Maxwell glanced over his shoulder. ‘There are many layers of security. You’ll never get in without authorisation.’
‘That’s for me to worry about.’
A loud bang echoed around the corridor as the bullet sped towards him and buried itself in his chest. An overwhelming wave of pain rushed through Maxwell’s body as the momentum of the bullet flung him backwards. As he fell to the ground, he remembered, he had seen the figure in black before, every single day since he first worked at All Saints College.
‘Wait, I know you—‘ Maxwell said as he clutched his chest and gasped for air, as 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.
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Happy reading, everybody!