The Christmas Pudding

December 19, 2018

It was Christmas Day.

     “That was a strange pudding,” said Claire.

     “I made it,” said Marcus.

     “What was in it?”

     “Plums.”

Claire fled to the bathroom.  After a long wait, Marcus tapped on the door.

     “I’m alright” called Claire.  “I’ve done a test.  We’re having a baby!”

 

©Keith Jahans

www.peatmore.com

 

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Villains in Fiction

November 30, 2018

Just as every book needs a good hero, the same book needs an even better villain.  Good heroes linger in the memory long after the story has finished, but what makes them memorable are the actions of the villain and I give and example of those encountered by one hero below.

James Bond is probably the best known thriller hero but what makes him so good is his confrontation with a really nasty villain and he comes up against some very unpleasant ones.  Most come across as deluded madmen who seek to dominate or destroy all that is good in the world.  But my favourite is one of the most unexpected, an evil woman called Rosa Klebb, who appears in the novel and later movie “From Russia With Love, and trys to kill Bond with a poisoned blade in the toe of her shoe.

I try to portray the villains in my books in the same vein.  In the novel “Magic Bullets”, a few characters appear to the hero as people who have harmed him or hindered his progress in some way but turn out to be “good guys”.  The real villain starts out as being entirely opposite but towards the end of the novel turns out to be entirely despicable.  In this way I hope the various twists in the story serve to keep the reader on his or her toes.

Keith Jahans

http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm


Book Excerpt – Victim of Compromise by Luke Johnson

November 27, 2018

The naked body of a young woman lay face down on the double bed like a discarded doll, a towelling cord wrapped tightly around her neck.

            “Dressing gown cord,” explained Donovan.  “The ‘otel supplies gowns for their guests.  The room’s been checked and photographed.  Mr Wallace said everything should be left as it was found till you arrived.  The doctor’s been and gone, and Forensic are waiting to move in when you’ve finished.”

            Ray had no idea why he had been summoned.  He had only received news of his promotion a month ago and was due to take up his new post in the Serious Crime Squad in two weeks.  The previous night he’d been out with the lads from the Flying Squad celebrating his promotion.  The evening had started well, then some bastard had put something in his drink.  Now his head was pounding and his tongue felt like an old dish-rag.  He had no track record of leading a murder inquiry.  However, investigating a suspicious death was part and parcel of police work, and he’d seen far too many corpses in his career – more than he cared to remember.  At least this one was relatively fresh and thankfully there was no blood.

            “When was she found?” he asked

            “About nine o’clock this morning, by the cleaning maid.”

            Ray looked at his watch.  It was one p.m.  He bent over the body, hoping he gave the impression he was an expert.  The girl was a brunette with short straight hair, cut in a bob, and may have once been pretty, but the blue and swollen face had changed all that.  He checked her fingers.  There was a silver ring containing a semi-precious stone on the right hand.  Her left hand showed no sign of jewellery, past or present.

            “Has her next of kin been informed?” he asked.

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Was she married?”

            “I don’t think she was.  We’re checking ‘er background – boyfriends etcetera.  The room was registered in the name of Mr and Mrs Roberts.  The receptionist says the register was signed by a man who was probably in ‘is forties.  She thinks she recognised him from somewhere but can’t think where.”

            Ray straightened up, glad that the examination was over and he had not felt sick.  He surveyed the scene.  A pile of clothing lay in an untidy heap on the floor.  His eyes registered a smart-looking black dress, black tights, black bra and pink panties.  He knew better than to touch anything.  They were in a double bedroom, expensively furnished with oak panelling, matching furniture and a marble en-suite bathroom.  In the bathroom, the towels were neatly folded and it looked unused.  The weather outside was hot, the hottest spring ever recorded, but both rooms were cold and he found himself shivering.

            Donovan noticed.  “I turned the air-conditioning up.  The doc suggested it – we didn’t know when you’d get ‘ere.”

            Ray nodded, relieved that it wasn’t the proximity of death that chilled the air.  He spoke quickly to maintain his air of professionalism. “Okay, tell me what you know.”

            Donovan opened his pocket book.  “The victim, as yet not formerly identified, is thought to be Mary Rayner, a twenty-two-year-old white female – up until the end of December, last year, she was a Detective Constable here at Wellstone.”

http://amazon.com/dp/B005HFLB4C


The fate of fictional heroines

November 22, 2018

I have often wondered what happened to the heroines that James Bond ended up with at the end of Ian Fleming’s novels.  It is a long time since I read the books but I seem to recall that Bond fell in love with all of them.  I like to think that there must have been a breakup scene between one book and the next.  Two died (Vesper Lynd and Tracy Draco) so any problem Bond might have had with dissolving his relationship with those were resolved.  But it seems more likely he just abandons them without so much as a goodbye when he begins a new adventure.

Another hero I was a fan of at about the same time was the Leslie Charteris character, Simon Templar, better known as the Saint.  Templar seemed to treat his women in the same manner as Bond but one heroine, Patricia Holm, appeared as his long standing girlfriend in some of the novels despite the fact that he had other lovers in between stories.  Again, like the Bond girls, I have no idea how he broke up with these beautiful women, as they were always described as being beautiful.  It must have been hard on all concerned.

The above are only a few examples of heroines from two popular thriller writers and their effect on me is such that I may have regarded them as models for female characters in my own stories.  But the problem of how to resolve what happens to them at the end of a story remains.  I remember watching the TV western series Bonanza as a teenager in the 1960s and pitying the women who fell in love with Adam, Hoss, Little Joe or even Ben (Pa) Cartwright for they were most always doomed to die.

I have been tempted to develop some of my books into a series.  Such series can help to develop a fan base and become very profitable so it is extremely tempting.  But I am not a great fan of sequels.  My heroes tend to be men and what to do about their heroines will remain a problem that I have a difficulty in grappling with.

 

Keith Jahans


Writing Crime Fiction

November 16, 2018

I find writing crime fiction easy but the editing process is hard as I am slightly dyslexic.  I am also lazy which is why my stories take a long time to write.  I began my newly released novel, Magic Bullets, a ridiculously long time ago in the 1970s.

My first draft is always bad and contains all kinds of spelling, grammar and continuity errors because I am a story teller and not a literary writer.  I write ideas down as they come into my head while I sit at a computer.  I do think about the story as I go about my daily life, planning plot lines and sometimes endings.  But the story really evolves into something I feel worthwhile publishing during the editing.  The advantage of this style is that I do not recall getting writer’s block.  I subscribe to the Raymond Chandler view, “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand”.  I don’t take this literary but I do like to throw in something to put my protagonist reader, and occasionally even myself off guard.

I self publish and therefore have to be extra vigilant with my editing.  Online and offline spelling and grammar checkers are invaluable.  Oh, if only I had these when I grew up in the years BC (Before Computers) when dyslexia was unheard of.  But even these tools are not good enough.  I get computer text-to-voice software to read my writing back to me and at least three people, whose views I respect, to read through what I consider to be my final draft.  In reality it never is.  Even after all these checks a few mistakes creep through.  But the beauty of self-publishing and publishing-on-demand means that I do not produce more than ten or twenty copies at a time.  This means that by the time my work gets to the reader the mistakes are gone and, who knows, some of the early error filled copies may eventually be worth a lot of money as collectors’ items.

Keith Jahans

http://peatmore.com/magicbullets.htm

 

 


Book Excerpt – Gifford’s Games by Jack Lindsey

November 13, 2018

Guy sat back from the computer screen, folded his hands behind his head and sighed with satisfaction.  “Great, I’ve just withdrawn five billion from the Bank of England.”

“That’s cool,” murmured Howard from where he was sitting huddled over his monitor on only the other computer console in the room.  “Great hacking.”

The room was part of the Telesoft offices.  The main entrance led from the twin lift doors.  To the left of the lift was a coat stand on which hung two wrinkled anoraks, one green and one blue.  A large desk spanned the left wall.  It contained the two computer consoles and two telephones.  Guy and Howard were each sitting at one of the consoles.

“Not me this time, my son, Trickster Trader,” explained Guy.  “It’s a game I’m road testing.  You’ve got to withdrawal as much money as you can from the world’s largest banks, escape from Hong Kong, keep out of jail and catch a plane to the Bahamas without the world’s press, your wife and your mistress, in Newport Pagnell, being none the wiser.”

http://peatmore.com/giffordsgames.htm


We shall remember them: Book Excerpt – MY WORLD WAR II. A Wren’s Story by Vera Jahans

November 2, 2018

Being on the top floor, we were also exposed to air raids and doodlebugs but I couldn’t leave the board.  The Commander would send the teleprinter girl down to the basement during raids, but he instructed me to stay at my post, to always wear my tin helmet and if it got very noisy to get under the board for a bit.  If it got very busy, the Commander would send for a matlow in Royal Albert Dock to come over to KG5 to give me a break for half an hour.  Our board was manned for 24 hours.  There were 4 of us and we took it in turns to have weekend breaks.

There were also, girl boat crew members, termed ships messengers, who would deliver messages to the ships to tell them the next destination of their boats.  Part of my “Board” worked for Dock Turco which controlled the arrival of the boats and when they could go across the channel ferrying troops and supplies for the D Day Army.

As mentioned earlier, we were also known as Port Radar.  The radar equipment on top of the boats were very vulnerable to attacks from the German aircraft and army and the view from my window at KG5 was excellent for watching craft return from across the channel often with their radar antennae shot to bits.  My board had 3 or 4 private wires (PWS).  Telephone engineers would climb up ladders and tap on my window for me to open and let them take a wire through to attach to my board.  Then crew on the ship could ring for whatever was needed so that the ship would be ready for the next crossing.

There were a number of switch boards around and we would chat to each other to pass the time.  One matelow had a great voice and would sing “When the blue of the night meets the gold of the day”.  Sadly the Albert Dock had a direct hit and I believe he was killed.

http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B075DGR1HC