Monday, April 26, 2021

Now On Tour Co-Vid 2020 by Mike Scantlebury with Exclusive Excerpt

April 26 Paranormalists (Guest Blog)

April 26 Momma Says: To Read or Not to Read
April 27 The Book Junkie Reads
April 27 Roxanne’s Realm 
April 28 The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom (Guest Blog)

April 28 Supernatural Central
April 29 Lisa’s World of Books

April 29 Jazzy Book Reviews
April 30 Sapphyria's Books

April 30 Serena Synn (Interview)

May 3 Fang-tastic Books 

May 3 JB's Bookworms with Brandy Mulder (Interview)

Co-Vid 2020
Amelia Hartliss Mysteries
Book Twenty One
Mike Scantlebury

Genre:  Crime Fiction mystery thriller
Date of Publication:  27th August 2020
ISBN:  9781393529453
Number of pages:  88
Word Count:   26588
Cover Artist:  Mike Ather

Tagline:  “It’s the biggest buried treasure in North West England. Who wants it?”

Book Description:  

Melia is facing yet another change of boss. Somehow the government doesn't seem happy unless they're shaking up British Security Services and making the agents uncomfortable and insecure. Captain Gibson isn't around. Some say he has been sent for 're-education'. Meanwhile, a jumped-up little idiot from London has been sent up north to Salford to show the natives how to do stuff. So far, according to all reports, he has been a miserable failure.

Meanwhile, an older woman from Melia's past, Jan Branch, re-appears after many years away. Jan's mother has died and she is there to clear her old house and tidy up loose ends.

Unfortunately, she is not the same person she was when she left town. Where she lives now, in the East Indies, they call her the 'Gun-running Granny', for that is her new profession. She hadn't planned on staying long back in England, but two things delay her departure. One, there is an Arms Fair in the city and she sees an opportunity to do some deals and make some money. Second, she hears that a successful property developer, Jimmy Batter, has amassed a fortune which he intends to divide amongst his ungrateful family. Unluckily for them, the 'Treasure' is hidden, and although various relatives are falling over themselves to find the money, Jan thinks she has a much better chance than most. After all, she used to be a film-maker, and captured Old Jim on video, back in the day. Those films, made by the group known as 'Co-operative Videographers', maybe provide all the clues necessary to unearth the fortune.

Melia might care, but she has other things to do. After the trauma of the last few months, a holiday in Spain led to a liaison with a young man who wants to save an unfairly imprisoned journalist. Melia is eager to help, and for one reason only - she is in love. She doesn't want anyone to know, but John Lewis has stolen her heart. She would do anything for him, and before long, we find out exactly what that is.


Chapter TWO

"I'm sorry we killed your lodger," the arrogant young man said to Melia.

'Young' was such a variable term.

Here was Melia, barely brushing thirty, being talked down to by a kid who looked like he was still not old enough to study at University. Unfortunately, as he had made clear, he was her superior in the British Security Services and felt he was justified in patronising her.

Where's the Captain? Melia asked herself, yet again.

For here they were, in Regional Office on Salford Quays, and this unpleasant individual was actually sitting in Captain Gibson's chair! Where was he, the old man? He would understand. He had always had a soft spot for Melia. He liked her. He was like a Father to her.

This young man - well, that was part of the problem. He was acting like he thought Melia attractive, and she found the attention repellent.

Of course, he couldn't be blamed.

Melia was tall, dark, with shoulder length black hair. She had a full figure, which she preferred to hide under skin-tight thin sweaters and a leather jacket. She had long legs, hidden underneath blue jeans and finishing in brown leather boots. The whole outfit was like a 'uniform' for her. It made her recognisable. She was happy with that. She wanted her enemies to quake when they saw her approach.

The young man, nameless up to now, was clad in a drab suit that did nothing for his physique, but he had a bold head, brownish hair and strong features. He was handsome, of course, but he knew it. He was almost daring Melia to flirt. It wasn't welcome.

While he was obsessing about that, he wasn't give her any details about what happened to her lodger.

Her lodger, but not her friend.

Melia had recently been recovering from horror and trauma involving kidnapping, and had decided to spend time at Mickey's house, her long-time colleague and on-off boy-friend. Melia's friend Romla, an older woman who Melia had worked with several years ago, asked for a favour. Romla had once been a lecturer at Salford University, and her research had meant she spent a lot of time with Refugees and Asylum Seekers. That concern had faded of late, as she'd taken up a post with the elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Barney Weston. Romla's current responsibilities included her supporting the Mayor's campaign to abolish homelessness in the county. Not surprisingly, many of the homeless people the Mayor's office found on the streets were refugees. No surprise. Where else were they going to live? Especially if their applications for Leave to Remain were refused, and they were denied all help and Benefits. Many such people simply went 'underground', vanishing from view, but still there, in the cellars of society, living in abandoned buildings and woods and parks. They couldn't live in Britain, but they never left.

Romla had one such person in her sight. When she heard Melia wouldn't be in her flat for a while, she asked to borrow the property.

Melia couldn't see the harm in that, and since she hadn't heard anything while she was living at Mickey's, assumed it all went well. She had no idea that NS19 had swooped in one night, dragged the lodger out and put him in a Safe House in North Manchester. The house wasn't that 'safe' for the prisoner, of course. He ended up being tortured for information, sometimes for days on end. Bad luck for them, he died.

NS19 weren't Melia's favourite Unit in the Service. She'd encountered them before and found them cruel and uncaring. They acted like they had a licence from government to commit any amount of horrors, as long as they could claim it was in the interests of 'National Security'.

He was my guest, Melia was thinking. He was a visitor to this country, fleeing an oppressive regime, and we killed him. Us.

The Good Guys.

"He was a refugee. He came to this country because he was being persecuted," she said gruffly.

"Many people tell that story," the kid said. "The terrorists are using it as a cover to enter Britain."

Melia found her mind wandering. She had been away from 'work' for so long. First there was the kidnap. Then there was recovery at Mickey's. Then, one day, waking up and feeling better, she took a train across to France, saw Paris and travelled to Spain.

That's where she met her own favourite young man, and he was nothing like this jerk in front of her now.

He was special.

The man, young, devilish and smart, was working behind a bar. He entertained her immediately. Later, she found he was someone she could really talk to. They had nothing in common.

The man, not young, maybe her own age, called himself 'John' but she guessed that wasn't his name. He'd had a really interesting life. It had all started, he said, when his grandfather refused to go to Vietnam. It was a 'filthy war', the ancestor said, and declined to participate. Fleeing the Draft, he found himself in Europe, and that's where he met and married a local girl. John's Dad was the product of that, and was the first and only child.

The family went on the run.

Melia didn't know much about the history of the conflict, and she couldn't understand why John's Grandad would be a Wanted Man, but that, John claimed, was precisely the problem. The old man adopted a series of false names and dragged his wife and child from one country to another. The parents worked at casual and menial jobs, and they often lived in one room and eked out a living. John admired his grandfather, he said. The man was a 'Conshie', John said, a Conscientious Objector, and John copied that aspect, at least. He had never, he said, served in any Armed Forces and never would. That was an awkward pause in the conversation, but Melia wasn't one to be flustered. Calmly, logically, she laid out her own position and told John a few stories she had from the front line of Law and Order and Anti-Terrorism. He nodded phlegmatically and accepted her choices. They didn't agree - on anything, it seemed - but he respected her. As the talk went on, she developed respect for him too.

It was like a frisson of excitement between them, and the attraction they felt for each other was intoxicating and alive.

They became lovers.

About the Author:

What can you say about Mike Scantlebury -that isn't taught in schools already

Well, he says he was born in absentia (the small town on the Bay of Biscay), beside the dock of the bay, but moved to England when  young, and not yet able to navigate astutely. His family settled in the West Country of England, near a cross cultural crossroads called Temple Cheney, where his father became a map maker and mushroom farmer.

When the borders were changed in the 1980s, and old maps became outdated and invalid, Mike packed a service record and moved to an apartment in the nearby city of Bristol. This is where he first got involved in folking, flaking and faking. Later, he became disenchanted and moved to the other extreme, the North West of England, where he encountered education.

One of the books he read was by Raymond Chandler. It started him off in an exploration of Private Eye fiction, (which he doesn’t do), Police Procedural and cosy mysteries, (which he can’t write), and romances set in exotic parts of the world like Los Angeles. When Mike met the lost angels of Manchester he decide to set his novels around that area, using their stories as a bedrock. His action adventures have never strayed far from the North West of England, but then, what happens there today, happens elsewhere tomorrow, as they have always said.







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