Copyright © 2021 A.D. Hay

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address the publisher at: hello at authoradhay dot com.

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!


After publishing the last blog post where I shared the opening scene of The Candidate, I felt a little mean. So, I decided to share the next chapter in the murder mystery novella, with you. As you might have guessed, the candidate is the first novella in a new series called the “Rookie Reporter Mysteries”, featuring James Lalonde. If you want to know more about this new series, check out this blog post and YouTube video.


A few weeks ago, I shared the first four chapters with my James Lalonde insiders. As I pressed the send button on that email, I realised that I hadn’t shared a sneak peek with you. So, if you want news before anyone else, I highly recommend signing up to become an insider.


Without further ado, here is a bit about the story.


About the Murder Mystery Novella, The Candidate


A Murdered Judge. A Dark Secret Silenced.


Rookie reporter James Lalonde is bored. And, he isn’t a journalist. He’s an all-round dogs-body, to editor-in-chief, Rhys Kelly. But, his luck has finally changed.


After eavesdropping in on the morning editorial meeting, James learns he has his first-ever story. There’s one catch. If the story gets too complicated, it will be taken away from him and given to another journalist with more experience.


Sure it’s a boring interview with the soon to be sworn-in magistrate, Albert Harrington, but it finally gets him out of his six-month slump as an editorial research assistant. He finally has a chance to prove himself.


The following day, James turns up to his interview with Albert to discover a trail of blood smeared through Albert’s house, an empty safe, the murder weapon on the floor, but no body. Detective Anwar Khan turns up to the crime scene, puts two and two together, and believes James murdered the controversial magistrate.


Can James clear his name and write his first-ever story before his editor takes it away from him?


Sixteen hours earlier


The early-morning sun shone through the third-floor windows of the Northampton Tribune newsroom as James Lalonde sat in his cubicle and sipped an espresso while he read the morning’s edition. To his right, a pile of overdue library books and past editions of the Tribune all begged for his attention. James ignored them as he listened to the hum of the photocopier outside the chief editor’s office.

The newsroom smelled like a concoction of ink, paper, old coffee, and mildew. The scent was nothing worth bottling, but Rhys Kelly, the chief editor, wore it like aftershave. And James could smell it permeating the room from Rhys’s open door. Glancing across the walkway, James spotted the six-foot, seventy-year-old Rhys slamming the phone back onto its cradle. 

It was another day at the grindstone, and James was doing everything but his dream job. By night—in his mind, at least— James chased leads, solved crimes, and helped put bad guys behind bars with his page-one exposés. The innocent dreams of youth. 

During daylight hours, James worked as an editorial research assistant for the Northampton Tribune. It was a fancy term for an all-round dogsbody, or that was how it felt. He was a lackey.

As he sipped his espresso, James watched the real journalists drag their bodies across the newsroom floor to Rhys’s office. By chance, James’s workstation was outside that office. Every day, he got to watch the comings and goings, like a pauper begging for change outside the station during rush hour. 

For six months, James had slaved away researching and editing other people’s work and helped Rhys manage his workload. But to James’s dismay, all of that hard work had gone unnoticed. He was still a gofer. 

A mini shock wave shook his desk as Will Thatcher plopped his slender frame on the white laminate desktop. Deep-set wrinkles formed at the corners of Will’s eyes as he smiled at James. That smile was never good news. With a shrug, James put down his espresso then turned towards his screen and pushed his thick-rimmed glasses up on the bridge of his nose. With a few brief clicks, a note-taking programme was open on his screen. 

Swivelling his chair at a slight angle, James glanced over at Will.

‘Wow, you’re in a good mood,’ Will said with a hint of laughter in his voice.

James raised his eyebrows. ‘You’re always late for the morning meeting. And you know how Rhys loves that.’

Will frowned. ‘I’m also the only person in this building who’s interested in writing for the culture section.’

James rolled his blue-green eyes then glanced at his screen.

‘Fine.’ Will shook his head. ‘I need you to research the history behind Delapre Abbey for my upcoming piece on the Mediaeval Festival. Some mediaeval society and the council are putting on an event, and it would be great if I knew the history.’ Will waved his hand dismissively.

Tilting his head, James looked at Will as he continued to type. ‘At least it sounds interesting. Maybe someone will accidentally get stabbed with a sword and make things exciting.’

Will leaned back as his eyes widened. ‘Things aren’t interesting for you unless someone is injured or loses a limb.’ Will chuckled.

‘What?’ James leaned back in his chair.

‘Have you ever seen blood?’ Will draped his arm on the top of the upholstered grey partition. 

James smirked as he peered over Will’s shoulder. ‘Today might be the day.’

Will froze then turned to find that standing in the doorframe was a tall man whose dark hair had more than a dash of grey. His dark-brown eyes were fixed on Will. 

‘I’m just—’ Will pointed over his shoulder at James.

Rhys groaned as he surveyed the newsroom. His daily ritual was to groan at Will for gossiping then scan the newsroom for his next victim. Will’s green eyes pleaded with James. Don’t look at me. I’m just here to bury the bodies.

Hunched over, Will slid off the desk and walked the short distance to Rhys’s office. Then he paused behind Rhys, who was towering in the doorframe.

Will stood on tiptoes, attempting to peer over Rhys’s shoulder. ‘My story needs to be in the next edition of the paper because the Mediaeval Festival will be held the following weekend on the tenth of July.’ 

James rolled his eyes then studied his screen and opened a browser window. Four years of study to be someone’s lackey.

A wiry man with spiked grey hair offered James a thoughtful expression as he sauntered past. The polo shirt Gavin wore was his personal uniform. Even on weekends, he always wore a polo shirt. As James waited for the browser to load, a pair of hands squeezed his shoulder. 

‘It won’t be like this forever. One day, you, too, will have your own gofer,’ Gavin whispered, then he brushed his hand down his polo shirt and sauntered into Rhys’s office. 

James combed his fingers through his thick dark-blond hair and sighed.


Twenty minutes later, James clicked the print button on the screen then listened as the printer spat out pages. James picked up his espresso cup and took a sip. He groaned. It was empty. Hunched over, he dragged his lanky frame towards the copier. As James leaned over and grabbed the papers, he listened to Rhys barking orders in the editorial meeting. 

‘Maybe I’ll get Lalonde to do the interview and shove it somewhere in the back.’ Rhys stared at the tattered edges of the notepad in his hand and ran a red pen through his thick, greying hair. ‘If it gets too complicated, I’ll take it off him and give it to someone with more experience.’ 

Rhys glanced up at the door and pointed. The meeting was over. 

James beamed as he walked towards his desk with a spring in his step. He opened the manila folder and placed the printouts on top of the pile. This lackey is now officially a journalist.

I hope you loved the first chapter and found it intriguing. Unfortunately, I’m no longer providing advanced reader copies. But you can buy The Candidate direct from me for £2.49 by clicking the button below.

Now Only!


The Candidate is the novella in the Rookie Reporter Amateur Sleuth Mysteries series. It can be read as a part of the series or as a stand-alone story.


Happy reading, everybody!


Amelia xx

Amelia D. Hay

Amelia D. Hay

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.

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