On behalf of Des Burkinshaw and Rachel’s Random Resources I am proud to host an extract form Dead and Talking – an historical, supernatural detective novel. I cannot wait to fully read this unique and fascinating novel.
Giveaway to Win 3 x Signed Copies of Dead & Talking (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.
If a ghost appeared from nowhere, rescued you from suicide and then ordered you to start solving crimes to help dead people, what would you do? When it happens to Porter Norton, he just wants to put his head in his hands and have nothing to do with it. But now he has to atone for the family curse that has seen all the men die at their own hands for five generations. The Gliss, the sarcastic spirit that rescues him, says he can now and see and hear the Dead – if he’s close to their remains. Porter has to use his unwelcome gift to clear up past injustices. Or else. Forced to investigate the murder of a WW1 British Tommy executed for spying in 1917, he begins to suspect the case has links to his own family history. Along the way, Porter enlists the help of a bickering group of misfits, who struggle to stay involved – because only fools believe in the supernatural, don’t they? Full of pop culture references, banter and twists, the story takes us from present-day London and Flanders to scenes from World War 1. As Porter, The Gliss, and friends, get deeper into the explosive case, they discover their own lives and sanity are at stake. An evil from WW1 pursues them all.
Guest Post – extract from Dead and Walking
The following extract is taken from my debut novel, Dead & Talking.
Porter Norton is a solicitor whose life has become a bit of a mess but he is stopped from committing suicide by a strange spirit – a bit like a sarcastic version of Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. Porter is told he has to atone for a string of suicides in his family by solving some historical injustices. He picks up an motley crew of helpers along the way as he tries to find out what happened to a couple of soldiers executed in WW1.
He has been given the ability to hear the dead’s last words as a sort of echo, if he is near to their remains. In this extract, one of his helpers, a sceptical ghost-hunter called Feng Tian has arranged for them to visit a funeral parlour to test his powers out. At this point, everyone is very sceptical. Only Porter can see and hear the strange spirit, who calls himself The Gliss.
Mustham & Sons, Stoke Newington Church Street, Hackney
Thursday, 23rd March, 2017: 10am
“I’m not going in,” said Porter staring at the black & gold Victoriana of Mustham & Sons funeral home.
“Relax, Porter. It’s not illegal to pay your respects,” said Feng, looking svelte in another Paul Smith suit. “I’ve done this before with the Doves.”
“Seriously Feng, I’m not happy about this.”
The Gliss appeared. “Your friend’s right. There’s no real danger here, but maybe there’s something useful to be gained?”
Porter wasted a few seconds perusing the street. It retained a lot of its 18th-century charm, including narrow bends and curves no modern road designer would dare contemplate. Porter had walked it a thousand times, eaten in many of the restaurants and cafés. He knew the sights – World War Two camouflage patterns still visible on the Town Hall; Defoe Road named after its former resident, the Robinson Crusoe author; The Auld Shillelagh where he once magically got off with a model called Deidre. Pulling back to the perilous present, all that cosy history disappeared. Mustham & Sons, which he could swear he’d never seen before, sucked energy like a black hole, leaving him shaking, nervous and besieged by uneasy conscience.
“What’s the plan?” he said, coming to some kind of acceptance.
“According to the Hackney Gazette,” said Feng, “there’s a woman in her 20s in there called Soraya Adair. Overdose. Funeral’s next week. The parents talked about her in the article, and I’ve checked their address. More than enough info to get us in.” Nodding at the entrance, he said, “They’re expecting us. Well, they’re expecting Nick Flavell and Joe Crenshaw anyway.”
“And they are?” said Porter.
“You’re Nick, I’m Joe.”
“Joe Crenshaw? Sounds like a lumberjack from the Mid-West, not a Chinese Brit,” said Porter.
“It’ll do,” said Feng. “It’s too late to change it.”
Porter slapped his forehead. “For heaven’s sake. Let’s do it then. Nick Flavell. Sheesh.”
“This,” said The Gliss, “is going to be interesting.” And he made sarcastic noises which, Porter only realised as he opened the door, were meant to sound a little bit like cars crashing.
Despite his panic, as the door closed, with a sweet tinkling bell, Porter prosaically wondered how they managed to keep the place so quiet with old sash windows. It was, appropriately enough, deathly quiet.
A man with an outrageous 19th-century pompadour and coppiced moustache slipped from behind a black velvet curtain.
“Gentlemen. I’m Eric Jeune, director of Mustham & Sons. How may I help you?”
Porter glanced at The Gliss and did a double take. Through his translucent form, he could see a CCTV camera pointing straight at him. A small blinking light confirmed it was on. Great.
“We spoke on the phone? Joe Crenshaw? Nick and I are…were… friends of Miss Adair?”
Porter noticed Jeune’s raised eyebrow at the mention of Crenshaw. Jeune had no doubt been anticipating a beefy American.
“A terrible loss,” said Jeune. “Her parents and brother came yesterday.”
“Yes, she was stonkingly popular,” said Feng.
“Stonkingly? Her parents said she was reclusive and isolated?”
“Yes, she went through a bad patch but was virtually a socialite before her illness,” said Feng.
“She became reclusive, but we still managed to work together, right up to the end,” said Porter, thinking he ought to make a contribution.
“I thought she hadn’t worked for over a year?”
“True, but before that, we worked together.”
Porter couldn’t read Jeune’s reactions, but he thought he saw him glance up at the CCTV camera.
“You’d like to pay your respects today?”
“Yes, we can’t make the funeral next week, unfortunately,” said Feng.
“If it was the week after…” said Porter, “…but you know. Work. And stuff.”
“Shut up, Porter. He’s not sure about you two,” said The Gliss. “Neither of you should take up poker.”
Jeune ran a finger through his moustache with a sound like riffled cards. Unsure of what else to do, he put aside his long-cultivated distrust of everyone and invited them to sign the visitors’ register.
“If you could wait five minutes, please. We will go prepare Ms Adair for viewing,” said Jeune.
“Seriously, that guy is straight from a Frankie Howerd sketch,” said Feng.
They sat, side by side, hands on knees, looking like two statues guarding an ancient cave. They moved simultaneously, sitting back and folding their arms identically.
“Me forward, you back?” whispered Feng.
“We look like synchronised swimmers. Relax a bit. Don’t look but there’s a CCTV camera…I said ‘don’t look’.”
“So what? We’re just seeing our friend.”
“The one you both evidently know so much about?” sighed The Gliss.
“I don’t like it. My headache’s getting worse,” whispered Porter.
The Gliss chipped in. “I’m glad you dosed up? This could be intense. Remember, you’re a sensitive now. Don’t touch the body or you’ll find yourself in the room with a tiger.”
“Oh, I can’t wait to see this,” said Feng. “Lions and tigers and bears!” He patted the device in his pocket.
Eric Jeune returned and ushered them into a room where an open coffin lay ready for their inspection. Porter kept his back to the wall waiting for a reaction. But when it came, it wasn’t the one he was expecting. It wasn’t even supernatural. With a jolt, Porter realised he hadn’t seen a dead body since crying beside his parents’ bodies as a child. His legs jellified, but there were no blinding flashes of light or pain, no voices.
“I’ll leave you gentlemen for five minutes to pay your respects. Press the buzzer if you need me.”
Author Bio – Des Burkinshaw
Born in the middle of the Summer of Love on a pre-fab council estate in Luton, teenage bitterness and a chance viewing of the Watergate movie, All the President’s Men, made him vow to become a journalist and bring down the government.
First he had to pay for his journalism course, so he became a civil servant. Literally the day he had enough for his fees, he packed it in.
Twelve years on from watching the film, he was a journalist at The Times and had a big hand in bringing down John Major’s government. News ambitions sated, he packed that in too.
Several years of working for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC as a senior producer saw him working across the world, but he eventually got fed up with asking bands how the new album was coming along, and packed it in.
He set up his own production company magnificent! in 2002 and simultaneously worked on the BBC Live Events team for another 10 years. But then six years of work on the Olympics came along, so he packed the BBC in. Again.
Des has jammed with many of his heroes from Paul McCartney to Brian Wilson, Queen to Nancy Sinatra. He has interviewed many A-listers, including David Bowie, Michael Caine, John Cleese and even Noam Chomsky.
He has directed/produced a fairly long list of people – Muse, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Jay-Z, produced BBC3’s Glastonbury coverage for a couple of years, made films about leprosy in India, comedy shorts with Miranda Hart and Lenny Henry and played guitar for Chas and Dave at the Hackney Empire.
He has made 300+ short films for the Queen, MI5, the BBC, Sky, Discovery, EMI, the British Academy and dozens of authorities, charities and private sector firms. His most recent publication was a series of interviews with leading academics like Mary Beard on the state of the humanities which was published as a standalone magazine by the British Academy.
Fed up with travelling and determined to be a half-decent dad, he now works in London as often as he can. He runs the Young Directors Film School making movies with young people and is about to head up the Digital Film and Video MA at Tileyard. An avid musician and producer, he releases his third album as Romano Chorizo (he plays drums, bass, piano, guitar and really bad sax).
He hates to be pigeon-holed, thinks creativity is a learned state of mind and wishes they would teach people memory and learning techniques at school.
Dead & Talking is his first novel, the first in a series of Porter & The Gliss investigations.