Read Chapter Two of My Next Murder Mystery Novella
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!
I dropped the ball. Or, more accurately, I have a goldfish memory. After I published the prologue and chapter one, I had every intention of sharing the next chapters. But rewrites of book two, podcasting and other publishing-related tasks stole my attention away from this blog. I realised my error and I’m back. For those of you who are stumbling across this post for the first time, 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.
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?
June 29, 8:55 a.m.
A thick layer of mist covered the sleepy Millway Lane. James glanced at his polished brown boots and adjusted his grey suit jacket as he stepped out of his car. After locking his vehicle, he trekked along the path. The cobblestones introduced James to a new level of foot pain as he strolled down the narrow lane from the only sensible place he’d found to park his red Peugeot. Upon arrival, he took one look at the English stone mansion—or as his inner French peasant would describe it, a château—and parked his cart and horse out of sight.
As he reached the black iron pedestrian gate, James grabbed the rail then pushed. He shook the gate then groaned—it was locked.
Surveying the English-style front lawn, James spotted the pristine-white front door ajar. Resisting the temptation to climb the stone fortress walls, James wandered along the path and entered the property via the driveway. As he strolled past the open gates, James noticed a massive dent and scraping of silver paint on the iron fence. This will be an expensive repair.
As James slipped his hands into the pockets of his suit trousers, his stomach churned, and a wave of panic swept through him as he inched closer to the house. Merde. I’m going to screw this up.
James adjusted his suit jacket and tie. This was the outfit his grandmother Valerie Lalonde had suggested as the most appropriate thing to wear when interviewing a magistrate on the eve of his appointment. Who am I kidding? I’m way out of my depth.
James took a deep breath then resumed his pilgrimage towards the Honourable Albert Harrington’s front door. As James admired the Georgian-era architecture, he staggered over a loose stone tile in the driveway.
After he regained his composure, James’s eyes looked over a series of blood spots splattered along the path. Following the trail, James stared at a bloodied handprint on the pristine-white door. Merde.
With a racing heart and against his better judgement, James pushed the door open. A rock formed in the pit of his stomach as he surveyed the crisp white foyer scattered with crimson droplets. On his toes, James darted through the lobby then froze as he glanced down the hall to his left.
A dark-crimson smear lined the hall on one side. Out of curiosity, James crept along the corridor towards the first open door. Though frightened of what he might find inside, James stepped into the study.
The array of blood droplets was scattered among the sea of mahogany furniture and floor-to-ceiling walls covered in books. Next to a pool of blood lay a lone mediaeval-style arrow. It was something from a bygone era of fantastical tales featuring knights and aristocrats turned thieves. Nestled in front of the corner bookshelf was a polished suit of armour. A familiar mediaeval battle poster flashed into the forefront of James’s mind. Is Albert Harrington a part of the Mediaeval Society?
All the telltale signs of an accident or potential murder were present. Only one thing was missing—the body. Did the magistrate injure himself?
James tiptoed out of the study and glanced down the hall towards the narrow stairs that led to the sitting room. The blood either ended or began here. And the house seemed quiet, almost eerie. Maybe they left in a hurry and forgot about me.
James sighed. Then he headed back into the study and around the scattered droplets of blood. He paused. His blue-green eyes followed the droplets scattered across the tabletop and onto the antique globe in the corner, near the fireplace. Before him lay the arrow.
His heart rate sped up. This was no accident.
The thick, plush carpet near the window was curled back, and the door of the floor safe was open. A robbery gone wrong? Careful not to disturb any evidence, James flicked through the papers on the black desk tray. I shouldn’t be doing this. All I need is enough information to start my investigations.
A silver laptop lay closed on the centre of the tabletop. Not a single scratch was on the lid. Five more minutes, then I’m calling the police. James released his hand from the tray, and a file under the laptop caught his eye. As he lifted the computer, the Northamptonshire police logo came into view. James froze.
After minutes of deliberation, James slipped the file out from under the laptop and flipped through it. No matter what, he needed to return to the office with a story, or it would be his blood on the floor. He slipped out his smartphone. The words “no signal” glared back at him from the top left-hand corner of the screen. Perfect. James took a few notes then slid the folder under the laptop. Why would a magistrate have a file about a solved murder case from twenty years ago?
In the silence of the room, James slipped his phone back inside his suit jacket. He glanced out the window at the row of hedges that lined the path leading to the pedestrian gate. Should I phone in the story? Rhys Kelly’s words filled his mind. It was up to James to prove that he was up to the task. No phoning it in. Just chase the story that’s here.
With that quick pep talk behind him, James reached down and pulled the handle on the desk drawer. It was unlocked. Inside lay a leather-bound daily planner. He flipped through the pages and turned to the current date. On the entry for the day before, someone had written “Rachel Spencer-7:07 a.m.” Farther down the page, in the nine-thirty a.m. time slot, a familiar file number was scribbled. That sounds familiar.
After pulling out his smartphone again, James tapped the screen, opened the notes app, and stared at the name on the screen: Yvette Spencer.
James bit his lip as he studied the phone. A few seconds later, he added more notes to the app then looked at the next page of the planner. Other than a notation regarding his own interview, there was only one name on the page along with a phone number and the words “battle rehearsal.”
After typing more notes, James slipped his smartphone into his pocket. Peering down, he spotted the bloodied handle of the walking cane next to his boot. I should search the rest of the house, just in case.
Happy reading, everybody!
I’m Amelia. I write mystery and thriller novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of Missing the first book in the James Lalonde series. I’m the host of the Book Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast. Right now, I’m editing my soon to be published mystery novels, The Candidate, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband Roland, drink tea, and eat pizza.