Only two more days before “The Body in the Snow” can be delivered to your kindle.
Since my main character Bebe Bollinger is first and foremost a singer and only gets involved into the investigation reluctantly, I had to give her a professional side-kick.
So please meet Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper in this excerpt when she first appears in the novel:
Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper was in a foul mood. Working weekends didn’t agree with her, and things weren’t helped when she spilled a water bottle on herself as she tried to switch off her iPhone alarm. The sound of Bob Geldof singing I Don’t Like Mondays filled the room. Lately, every day felt like Monday morning for Beth. Today she was hungover and damn tired.
The bottle of water next to her bed had been to help detox her but she had forgotten to put the lid back on. Probably too tipsy to bother with it last night . . . She dried herself with the sheet and looked at her Buddha statue. There’d be no chanting this morning. Loving kindness and forgiveness were not coming naturally to her right now. Since she had been dumped a few weeks’ back she had been in a bad state and spiritual ambitions had given way to bottled spirits and nights out in town. Why had she allowed herself to be led astray yet again? she lamented. Her body craved a greasy breakfast, not Bircher muesli, and she longed for a cigarette, a habit she only recently had beaten for good.
The first one of the day was the one she missed the most. No other cigarette ever gave her quite the same rush. Unlike the straight-A students in her school, from an early age onwards, Beth saw herself more like as a society’s misunderstood and stigmatised outsider and smoking befitted that image. Her decision to join the police force raised a few eyebrows.
Poacher turned gamekeeper was how her friends described it.
She ended up a Detective Sergeant for the murder squad in Cardiff.
Now at the wrong side of thirty – or teetering on the abyss of forty to be more precise – the rebel in her was still alive, albeit less active and noticeable. Going to the local Buddhist centre and living healthily wasn’t the panacea she had hoped it would be.
She slipped out of bed and grimaced as she stepped barefoot on her jumper, also wet from the water spillage. She ignored her pressing bladder and put the kettle on to be one step closer to that much-needed caffeine fix. As she entered the kitchen she saw that there were several mugs on the table. Fred (nee Fredericka) her ex-lover and now ‘friend and flat mate’, must have had another book group meeting yesterday. Surprise, surprise: There was no coffee left.
Her only choice was herbal tea. Ill-tempered, she assembled the progress report on her current case files that she’d have to present later in the day. Her case had been stagnating for a long time and she knew a scheduled early morning meeting with her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Warwick, would be a rough telling off.
She had a quick shower. Once she had dried herself she glanced in the mirror. Her dark short curly hair was just on the verge of turning into something longer and more difficult to manage. A quick dab of gel took care of that though. Who needed expensive trips to the hairdresser? She preferred to just slick it back and be done with the issue for the rest of the day, but it was exactly this lack of vanity that got her under constant fire from her friends and family – let alone her boss.
“Why are you going out of your way to make yourself ugly?” was her mother’s favourite line. “You’ve got a beautiful figure, curvy and all, you should be showing it off, not hiding it behind baggy jumpers and tucking it away in those horrible jeans. You’ll end up an old spinster!”
Beth rolled her eyes just thinking of those words. She, too, wanted to be sexy and admired but not in the same way and certainly not by the type of men that her mother regularly tried to set her up with. The fact was Beth was gay and, for the entire 16 years that had passed since she had come out, her stubborn mother had insisted on trying to find the ‘right one to put an end to that adolescence phase’.
Beth made herself put on a dress, tights and high heels. She was going to be scrutinised for her incompetence by her choleric boss and hoped this would lessen his anger. Her dressing up was in a sense an admission of guilt if ever there was one.
She liked what she saw in the mirror. Maybe her skin was a little worse for wear and her complexion paler than could be thought of as healthy. Some make-up covered the paleness, but a critical eye could still detect the signs of nicotine and vodka abuse. She sighed.
“All right!” she said to herself in the mirror. “Let’s see if we can pull this off.” She put on extra lipstick, grabbed the large leather handbag her mother had given her on her last birthday and wobbled on her heels towards the door. Beth could do sexy very well but she had to be in the mood for it. Today just wasn’t one of those days, and she would have preferred to shout at the people on the pavement who would not get out of her way rather than smiling seductively and obediently at men who had no clue how little she was interested in them. Still, she tried hard to get herself into an agreeable and inoffensive frame of mind.
On the bus she sat opposite a ‘briefcase’, the name she had given to the middle-aged men she guessed were accountants or advertising executives of the lower ranks who were either on the phone to Terry in the office to talk about the email they had definitely sent yesterday or who were reading tabloids and dirty magazines. Today’s specimen was shuffling some documents on top of his briefcase but spent a considerable amount of time staring at Beth’s cleavage. “Well, you put them on display!” he’d probably tell her if she complained about his obvious drooling.
She got her phone out and pretended to be talking to a friend
“Oh yes, thanks, the interview went very well,” she said loud enough to make sure the pervert opposite would hear every word of her fake conversation. “. . . The filthy swine was staring at my breasts the whole time . . . of course not. He was wearing a wedding ring naturally but you know the type. Greasy hair, growing belly and a moustache, thinks he’s god’s gift to women and that I dressed specifically to cater for his sexual appetite . . . probably not getting any at home . . .”
She was very pleased to see that her words hit the mark. ‘Briefcase’ was no longer paying any obvious attention to her but was sorting his documents head down. As she was basking in her little victory over chauvinism on the underground, her phone rang while she was still pretending to talk to her imaginary friend. ‘Briefcase’ was looking at her with a mixture of contempt and hostility. Unable to think of a face-saving way to recover, she answered the call. It was her boss, Warwick, to enquire why she was late.
“So sorry,” she said in her sweetest voice. “I’m on the bus and won’t be long.”
She hated giving ‘Briefcase’ the satisfaction of witnessing this transformation − if he was still listening.
“Listen Coopette,” her boss DCI Warwick shouted into the phone, as he always did. She hated when he called her that name. “Don’t bother coming in today. I’ve given your current cases to someone more reliable. I have statistics to run and need to show that the department can solve at least some cases. I know that you’ve got nothing on the Schreiber case, and nothing to report on the Miller murder. I want you over in Carmarthenshire. They’re struggling after the snowfall. Yesterday, a body turned up in the snow, near a hamlet – Llangurrey. I’ve emailed you all the details. Go home, read the file and head over to Carmarthen police station. You’ll be in charge of the investigation.”
“But . . ,” she began to protest, but her boss had already rung off.
Darn it! This was the worst possible punishment: A Midsomer Murder setting, a ninety minutes’ drive into the motorway-less Welsh countryside. God, how she hated Warwick . . . He had done that on purpose.
The Body in the Snow” is now available as e-book on Amazon via these links:
For those who can’t wait, I have some ARC copies to give out.
THE BODY IN THE SNOW – A BEBE BOLLINGER MURDER MYSTERY:
Fading celebrity Bebe Bollinger is on the wrong side of fifty and dreaming of a return to the limelight. When a TV show offers the chance of a comeback, Bebe grabs it with both hands – not even a lazy agent, her embarrassing daughter, irritating neighbours or a catastrophic snowfall will derail her moment of glory. But when a body is found in her sleepy Welsh hamlet, scandal threatens.
Detective Sergeant Beth Cooper has a string of unsolved cases to her name. Her girlfriend left her and she’s a fish out of water in rural West Wales. Things couldn’t get much worse – until the case of the Body in The Snow lands in her lap.
Can Beth solve the case and save her career and can Bebe make her comeback? All will be revealed in this light-hearted, cosy murder mystery by best-selling and award winning historical and crime fiction novelist Christoph Fischer.